Author Archives: Meredith Rines

Meredith Rines, a budget and financial strategist helping fans pay off debt and live the life they've always wanted.

Not Worth the Sacrifice

sacrifice

Is sacrifice really worth it?

Recently I have come across a multitude of budgeting and personal finance blogs.  All have something great to offer and little bits of advice that are great to know.  While I was reading what things people gave up to become debt free, I realized that there were some items that i just wasn’t going to sacrifice.

Now hear me out for a second.  If I had a large monthly car payment along with a multiple credit cards that were maxed out then I would be having second thoughts; however, J and I are in a pretty good position.  We are making substantial progress so far and we are not quite finished with our Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

I have my reasonings besides money for why I will not give up certain things in my life.

sacrifice

First up – my makeup.  The majority of what I use is Clarins and MAC makeup – both somewhat on the not-so-cheap side of beauty expenses, but I just cannot leave them.  My main reasoning is my allergies.  I struggle trying to find makeup that does not cause an allergic reaction.  I’ve used MAC and Clarins for awhile now and have never had a problem, so I will continue.

As a side note – I do not have a ton of makeup and I use my extra $50 a month to save for what I need.  I simply cannot just head to the makeup counter and buy 5 eyeshadows, the newest mascara, and a blush – it just does not happen that way.  I guess that is one sacrifice I gave up – impulse shopping.

Second – my hair appointments.  At least not until after the wedding.  We just moved, so I am in need of finding a new hairstylist.  But I refuse to find someone new and/or save money on my appointments until after the wedding.  I have been to the same amazing woman for 7+ years now and I just do not trust anyone else to touch my coif until after the day I am photographed the most out of my life is in the past.

Third – Vet appointments for the pups.  Their health means a lot to me and with Tiny being the most skittish dog I have ever had the pleasure of having, I need a Vet that will be gentle and is knowledgeable.

If the times comes and I need to cut to pay bills then I will re-evaluate, but until that time comes these are three that I will not sacrifice and will shell out money for without blinking an eye.

Cheers!

The Perfect Gallery Wall

tips for creating a gallery wall

I love a good gallery wall, they are eclectic and a good way to express my personality. Which obviously consists of a whole lot of mis-match items that when combined create something beautiful.

Now that we are FINALLY in our new place and most of the boxes are unpacked, it was time to hang some pictures.  I promised J that I would keep his beloved fish that was caught by grandpa and passed down the family.  I needed items that can balance out the fish and make it look like it belongs on the wall.  Not like I just stuck it in the corner, behind a door to say that I was good partner because it was on a wall.

create a gallery wall Here are some tips for creating a gallery wall that is perfect:

1) find pictures that are unlike each other – either having different frame types, coloring, or are pictures of landscape, sculptures, and people.
2) lay your arrangement on the floor.  Play with it and make sure you love it.  It took me awhile to get it just right.  A lot of frames came in and out of this arrangement.
gallery wall tips3) get someone’s opinion.  I asked J what he thought before  putting one nail into the wall.  Not that he actually cared what it looks like, but it was nice to have that affirmation.
4) start nailing it! We measured out the wall space to find the middle, then measured out the arrangement to find the midpoint.  Match those two up and start hanging.
5) stand in awe of your awesome gallery wall.

creating a gallery wall

Cheers!

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Budgeting To Have Freedom

Budgeting Tips

I never wanted to be someone that lived paycheck-to-paycheck or had to ask my Husband if I could take a trip to the mall just because.  I learned early on, thanks to my awesome parents, that two people working together to build a life could still have freedom to do what they wanted.  J and I are working towards financial freedom and are taking steps before we are even married.

 For me it was important to not have to ask permission to go to the mall, just like J didn’t want to have to ask permission to grab a beer with friends while watching the big game.  I truly felt like that would ruin us.  I did not and do not want a life where we have to answer to one another about spending money.  It’s not for me. 

We budget everything, including our no-questions-asked-blow money.  Each month we get $50 handed to us that we can do whatever we want with, for you it might be $200 or it might be $25.  That is what we can comfortably afford.  We can save it or we can blow on the first day – the best part is that it does not matter.  It is my money.  It is his money.

It’s nice to have some freedom when we are being careful with every other dollar we make.

Cheers!

Weekend Recap

weekend recap

A simple weekend recap.

J went out of town for his Bachelor party this past weekend, which left me alone for the first time in our new place.  I’m not complaining because the dogs and I got the whole bed to ourselves.  Plus, they slept in an hour longer than usual as their gift to me.  I’m pretty lucky.

weekend recapweekend recapWhile, I did miss J, I had an absolute blast.  I got to check out places around the city that I’ve never been to – Gus Pretzel, Anheuser-Busch Beer Garden, Winery, and then the local dive bar.  Overall it was a great weekend!

Cheers!

15 Super Easy Ways to Save Money Without Thinking

I’ve learned saving techniques from my Dad at a young age.  I mean, what 12 year old was given “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George S. Clason as a free-time read?  I was.  And… I loved it.  

Easy Ways To Save Money

I learned at an early age that saving was important.  You want something, you save for it.  You want to go somewhere, you save it.  It is a no brainer.  I have learned to trick myself into saving money on top of the obvious ways to save.  Let’s get it started: 15 Super Easy Ways to Save Money Without Thinking

Savings in the Bank

1) Transfer 10% of each paycheck into a savings account off the top.

2) Get any bonuses or work overtime? Put directly into savings.  You have live off an income without the bonus, so why not save that extra dough?

3) Cash in spare change. J has the worst habit of leaving spare change everywhere.  I find it on the coffee table, the kitchen table, the dresser, the washing machine – everywhere.  It adds up.  Right now we have about 2 steins and 1 change jar full of coins.  It’s about time to wrap it and trade it in for some cold-hard cash.

4) Tag-along on a yard sale.  I will be the first to say that throwing a yard sale just seems like too much work for me.  However, I am happy to bring my items over to a friend who is hosting.  She gets the joy of my company all day and I do not have to find folding tables, hang flyers, or post on Craigslist.

Spend Less

Easy Ways to Save Money

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5) Pay cash.  On average people will spend less when eating out, buying groceries and just about anything when they pay cash.  It hurts more to hand over that green bill then it does a ‘magic’ card.

6) Calculate your grocery List.  When I go into a grocery store I have my list, a pen, and my iPhone in hand.  As I put items in the cart, I look at the price tag and enter it into my calculator.  We budget $75 a week in groceries and ever since I started calculating the prices, I spend on average $65 a week.  That’s a savings of $10 a week … or $520 a year!

7) Find a coupon site.  I have been known to get an entire dinner table to download a coupon app to save a few bucks on a meal, so it should come as no surprise that I search for coupons to almost everywhere and for almost everything.  I work on our grocery list for a few days before we go and look for printable coupons on the brands we buy.  The savings can add up.

Vehicle Savings

8) Save on miles per gallon costs.  For the first week or two in our new home I had the opportunity of working from home and J had to drive about 20 miles to work.  One day as we were heading to meet family, I had the light bulb moment and asked J why he was not taking my car.  My little SUV compared to his big ol’ truck saves quite a bit in gas.  My car sat in the driveway most days and even when I do go into the office it’s not as far away as J’s work.  Now he drives my car to work and if I need to go in I take his truck.

9) Shop for lowest gas prices.  I downloaded the app GasBuddy.com for my iPhone and check local gas prices before I fill up.  Usually driving an extra mile will save me $.05 a gallon and we fill up J’s truck that’s a big savings to us!

10) Improve your gas mileage.  Have you air-filter changed, make sure your tires are inflated properly, and don’t have a lead foot.  Simple, small changes can help add up and make your gas last longer.

Around the Home and Bills

11) Turn off lights.   This one was a big one for me to learn.  J used to clap for me whenever I would leave a room and remember to turn off the lights – that’s how rare it was!  The longer we have lived together, the better I am getting about turning off lights.  The savings from turning off lights and not leaving every single light on for hours and hours will add up.

12) Stay on the family’s cell phone plan.  It’s no lie that a family plan is the way to go when looking at phone plans.  J’s work provides his cell phone at no charge, which is great for the budget but also means that he is on call at all hours of the day.  My parents are willing to let me stay on the family plan for a while longer.  My portion is cheap compared to a plan by myself.

13) Become healthier.  By picking up healthy habits you can avoid getting sick often and that means less doctor appointments, and in turn less co-pays.

Eating Out Savings

Easy Ways to save money

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14) Pack your lunch.  It may seem easy to just run through a drive-thru and eat off the dollar menu every day, but that adds up.  Let’s do the math – $3.50 a day for lunch is about $17.50 a week, which is about $910 a year!  Most grocery stores will have deals on lunch meat and bread each week, plus any coupons you can find.  Let’s say a pack of lunch meat for $1.80 and a loaf of bread for $3.50 will make about 7 sandwiches, give or take a sandwich.  For all of the work days throughout the entire year you will have to buy 45 packs of lunch meat and loaves of bread, which is only $238.50 a year for sandwiches.  That’s a savings of over $670 a year! Whoa!

15)  Share dinners when eating out.  Restaurants’ portions are outrageous and most of the time, they can feed two people comfortably.  Use the the portion control and size guide for an idea.  Some restaurants may have a plate sharing fee but typically that’s just $1 or $2.  So, order one entree and split it.  It’s the right portion for your stomach and your budget.

Cheers!

How We Are Gaining in Our Personal Finance

managing personal finance

J and I are working hard to get control of our personal finance before we are married, which is why so many of my posts lately have been about money.  Well, that’s not the only reason – I actually am interested in it.

  Here’s how we are gaining control:

1) we communicate.  It may come as no surprise, but to work out a budget with 2 incomes the people bringing in the money must talk to one another.

2) bi-monthly budget meetings.  J and I get together when we get paid which is every other week to talk about what bills need to be paid and how we are doing on our personal finance.

3) allocating money.  We know how our money is going to be spent before we ever spend one dollar.  Basically, we know that J’s income goes to certain bills and mine goes to certain bills.  At that point anything left over goes to our savings and/or debt.

4) talk to someone we look up to.  My Dad is really good with money.  I mean scary good with money, but that’’s his job and that’s probably why is so good at it.  We talked to him about what our goals.  It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas that has been there done that.

5) we are taking Financial Peace University.  This is probably one of the biggest things that has helped us so far with our personal finance.  First our number 4 point, my Dad pointed us in this direction and encouraged us to take the classes.  Second, everything else that we were already being successful at prior to FPU (points 1-3) were taught in FPU, which made us feel that we were on the right path.  We are learning how to save money and pay off debt with the snowball effect.

That’s it.  5 simple steps and we are gaining control over our personal finance, our budget, and building a savings while paying down our debt.  It’s pretty neat how it’s all coming together.

Cheers!

The Start of Our Debt Snowball

Debt Snowball

It’s probably no surprise that before J and I get married we are trying to take a good hard look into our finances.  I used to say while we were dating (not soon after we started dating because that would have been weird) that I was going to marry his debt and he was going to marry my debt.  He used to hate that because he thought that it was a bad thing for his truck payment and little credit card bill, but I would always assure him that it was not bad – it was just the truth.  I had several credit card and one big school loan that he was going to say I do to.

Yes, I know that debt incurred prior to marriage is technically separate.  His name was nowhere on my school loan and mine was not on his truck loan; however, it is still ours.  We are getting married.  We are combining incomes, which means that after we are married and the payments we make on our separate debts are now paid with marital income.

Anyway, back to what this post is suppose to be about.  J and I would sit down about once a month and go through our budget, we talked about how to pay our bills and this idea of paying off our debt.  My Dad told us about Dave Ramsey and told us not to reinvent the wheel – well, J already knew about it and had read the book; I had heard of Dave Ramsey, but that’s about as much thought as I had given it.  So, fast forward and J and I are taking FInancial Peace University together, before we get married.

Honestly, I think it is a genius idea.  We keep talking about getting our marriage off to a good start and statistics show that the number one cause of marriage problems is money.  So why not agree on the number one problem area before we even tie the knot?

Last week we developed our new budget and I talked about it here.  This week we started looking into all of our debt and devised our debt snowball plan.  I have to tell you that the idea of combining payments to knock off debt one-by-one is a pretty sweet feeling.  We only have 8 separate debts and when we were writing down what the new payment would be on no. 8, it was a satisfying feeling.

I know that we are not there yet and at the rate we are going, meaning if we are unable to put any additional money into our first debt payoff it will take us approximately 18 months to pay it off.  Not because it is a high-valued debt but because we are only able to pay so much.  But the good news is that we are able to pay on every debt.

This feeling is good and the place we are in is even better.  I am excited about our future together as a team.  The thought of being debt free and saving for a home is pretty priceless.

Cheers! 

10 Bad Working From Home Habits to Kick

bad work habits to break

Lately I have had the pleasure to work from home some and I found myself picking up some bad habits.  Let’s face it, we all have bad work habits and I am no longer in denial about mine.

Here we go, 10 habits to break when you are working from home:

1) turning on TV.
2) sitting on the couch, not at a table or desk.
3) not setting alarm as if you had to go into an office.
4) not logging onto your work center at 8:00 so you can see everything that you need to get done for the day.
5) getting distracted by other sources of entertainment, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, or OMG! Yahoo
6) spending time during the workday doing laundry or other household chores
7) not forcing yourself to continue working until 5:00 or the agreed upon quitting time from your boss.
8) getting annoyed with people back at the main office – you do not know what their day is like and therefore, cannot get upset when they have you do something that only takes 30 seconds and they could have done it in the time they took to send an email asking you to do it… yes this one might be a bit passive aggressive, but it’s a habit to break.
9) procrastinating
10) taking too many breaks

I know I am guilty of some all of these from time to time.  I’ve made it a priority to refocus my energy and pretend that I am in the swankiest office.

Cheers!

Bridal Shower

bridalshower-tiara

A few weeks ago my absolutely, wonderful, amazing family threw me the BEST bridal shower in my hometown.  There were over the 100 photos taken that day, don’t worry I’ll spare you and here is only a few.

bridal showerbridal showerbridalbridal shower

Organize Your Desktop, simple easy steps with a template

organize your desktop

I have seen on Pinterest a few organizing tips to cleaning up your desktop icons.  I thought it was genius, but there was not a template that quite made a place for all of my icons.  Of course, I decided to create one on my own, because that’s just what I do while J and I watch TV.

First, I looked at my desktop and arranged them in categories that made sense to me.

Second, I created an image in Photoshop with labels for all of my categories.  My favorite is the Money one, mainly because I used dollar signs…

Third, any icons that did not fit into my new categories got deleted from the desktop.  My thoughts were that if I didn’t need a category then I did not need an icon junking up my screen, simple as that.

I have added the image I used and an image with the category titles removed.  Hope you find it useful!

organize your desktop organize your desktop

Cheers!

 

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