Category Archives: Budget

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!

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!

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! 

Developing A Budget As A Couple

tips for developing a budget

It’s no lie that finding someone, dating them, and then planning a wedding with them can be a bit difficult at times.  Combining two ways of doing just about everything to create one unified way can be frustrating and asks for a lot of compromise from both people.  That is the same for when you are asking two people with separate incomes, separate budgets, separate bills, separate bank accounts (wow! that’s a lot of separation) to come together to make a single family unit.

A team approach is the best.  You have to realize that the debts are no longer his and hers, they are now yours.  You have to plan to payoff the debts together and in a way that works best for the family unit.

Developing a budget is key.  As Dave Ramsey (roughly) says “You have to spend every dollar on paper before you actually spend it.”  That means calculating both incomes, all payment of bills, and putting aside some to savings.

As you might guess, J and I have been taking Financial Peace University.  While we aren’t finished with the classes yet, we are making progress.  Recently, we sat down to make a new budget that worked for us.  We kept finding reasons to not commit to a budget, but then we weren’t getting anywhere.  Here were our excuses reasons:

1) we just moved and had a lot of unusual spending – such as our final bills for our old utilities, moving truck, extra gas for driving further than normal, etc…

2) weren’t sure what J’s new monthly income after taxes and 401(k) draws was going to be

3) I switched to salary with my job and again, we weren’t sure what my monthly net income would be.

See, reasons.

tips for developing a budget

We were tired of reasons and it was time to get started.  I took Dave Ramsey’s forms and made a basic template using our monthly bills that we can hang on our fridge to talk about when monthly bills come in and get paid.

Cheers!

My Day: wedding planning

Wedding Planning – less than 4 months away from the big day.  EEK!

I love paid days off of work, they are my favorite.  I get to sit in my PJ’s most of the day watching trashy reality TV while getting paid.  What’s better than that?  I woke up, made myself some cheesy pasta because that’s normal, right?  Then I plopped down in the big comfy recliner with Tiny in my lap to watch my favorite TV show – Dog the Bounty Hunter.  I will pause while you laugh…. done? okay.

As you may know, I have been working on my wedding planning for awhile now:
I said yes / wedding budget tips / Ranking What Is Important / A few Engagement photos /6 months to go

wedding planning

wedding planning tips for budgeting

I have some wedding planning details to work on today, mostly dealing with money.  Think it’s time, like every bride would do … re-evaluate the wedding budget.  It’s important to take a look at the budget from time to time to know if you are still on target and don’t have any surprise expenses popping up.

For J and I we were originally under the impression that our friend’s Uncle would be our officiant and that would be our friend’s wedding gift to us; however, that was months ago and we have yet to hear anything about it.  So, now enter my panic mode and have decided that we need a backup officiant.  I talked to our wedding planner and that’s going to cost about $150.

That’s $150 that we were not planning on spending for that… we had other ideas for that money.  You know, like favors or programs.  Now, I have to re-evaluate so that we can afford it all.

Oh wedding planning!  It’s fun, but also stressful.  Don’t get too overwhelmed with it, that’s what I have to keep telling myself or that’s what J keeps telling me.

Wedding planning helps you get an idea of the big picture.  Know what parts will cost the most, for us it was the venue, photography and alcohol – you know, the important parts – the booze and the part that will capture those moments!

I will be sitting in this big, comfy chair for most of today working on some wedding planning – crunching numbers, stressing out, and thinking that I’m wanting to do too much; however, in the end it will all work out and I will get to marry my best friend.

Cheers!

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Will you be my bridesmaid?

bridesmaidgift

I saw a pin on Pinterest awhile back and it linked to lauren.david.style’s blog here.  I fell in love with the idea of packaging all the details and knick-knacks about the wedding into a nice box to give to my bridesmaids.

I had already asked the fabulous ladies to be my bridesmaids and now it was time to get them some info about J and I’s big day.

bridesmaidgift-open

I decided early on that it was not worth the stress to find a dress that fit in with the style of the wedding that made each girl feel beautiful.  Each of my bridesmaids are their own woman and knows what fits them the best.  I have given them some guidelines and details of what our style is so that they can find a dress that fits them and their budget.

bridesmaidgift-box

I included information about:

the big day – when, where, what time, and paint chips to see the colors.

my bridesmaids – a little introduction about each of my girls and how they came to be such a large, important part of my life.

their dress and accessories – navy blue, knee-length dress with eggplant (plum) heels or wedges.

their role – to feel beautiful, to have fun, and know that I am truly grateful for them standing with me on my day.

Cheers!

How To Rank What’s Important At Your Wedding

wedding-rings-wallpaper1

photo credit

Earlier this week I posted about how J and I are budgeting for our wedding (check it out here).  I mentioned prioritizing what is important to both of you for your wedding.  J and I both had different ideas of what was important, so we had to come together in agreement.

I have some tips on how to rank what is important to you:

Tip 1: Have both of you come up with a list or an idea of what you want your day to look like.  Then once you have an idea, talk about it with each other.  See which parts match up and make those a high priority.

Tip 2: Discuss the differences.  When J and I were talking about photos of us as a married couple we realized that we had a problem.  You see, I wanted to see each other before the wedding to take our pictures.  I figured it would save time between the ceremony and reception so that we could have the ceremony later in the day and a shorter reception.  However, it was important to J that he not see me until I was walking down the aisle.  After discussing our views for a while, I finally realized just how important it was to him.  So, now we have bumped our wedding time up and added a cocktail hour so that we can have pictures taken after the ceremony.  We understand that taking pictures after the ceremony is going to increase our budget because we will be having a cocktail hour, but it was great to learn what was important to him and listening.

Tip 3: Don’t get emotional when talking about it.  I am one that can go from 0 to 90 in less than two seconds when it comes to discussing a topic.  J is really good about calming me down and making me breath.  So, just remember that the two of you are just having a conversation and nothing is set in stone at that moment.  If you need to walk away and think about it for a day, that’s okay.

So, sit down with your future spouse and discuss what matters most to you.  Remember this is your day, so make it what you want.

Cheers,

Mere

Good Buy on a Printer

J and I were talking about investing in a printer for our new place.  It’s a struggle now that I’m not a student to print anything out.  I used to just e-mail myself and then head to campus for printing.  Now, I can’t do that.  Being an adult can have it’s down moments sometimes. haha

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Anyway, I found this printer here on Office Depot’s website.  It is originally $199 printer and on sale for $99 (through this Saturday). That’s about a 51% savings!  Now, I called the store and talked to an employee who instructed me on using a coupon online.  Well I was highly disappointed when the coupon code wouldn’t work for a technology item.  I refused to be defeated, so I started an online chat with a customer service representative.  After two conversations with two different agents, I was allowed to apply that $15 off coupon through her.  Now we’re talking here!

Let’s do the math:

199-100=99 (51% savings)
99-15 coupon = 84 (58% savings)

Wow! I’m one happy lady!

Cheers,

Mere

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