Tag Archives: Budget

Cost Per Wear: Frugal Living

A new way to look at your wardrobe – how much do you pay for cost per wear on your clothes?  It may cost $40 to purchase the items, but how many times are you going to actually leave the house in it?  That’s the way to perceive the value of your wardrobe.  That’s how my Dad made me look at my clothes.  Especially when we were out shopping.

There are two ways to determine your cost per wear for your wardrobe:

1) The price to purchase the item divided by the number of times you see yourself wearing it.  For example, $40 blouse divided by the 5 times you see yourself leaving the house in it equals $8 per wear.

2) Take the price to purchase the item divided by the value you imagine each wear will bring.  Let’s say that you buy a dress for $80 and you imagine each wear worth about $20.  That means you at least have to wear the dress 4 times to get an equal cost/value.

See?  Simple.

Next time you are out shopping the racks ask yourself, “is the price per wear worth it?”

If it’s yes and you have the extra spending money then buy.  If the answer is no or you do not have the extra cash then walk away.

Cheers!

Having An Emergency Fund Pays

J and I have been talking money lately, working on saving money, and paying off debt.  Luckily we have been able to listen to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University before we get married (if you haven’t heard of FPU, you have to check it out!).  The first baby step is $1,000 in the bank.  Seemed easy enough, right?  It took budgeting and being diligent, but we reached our goal at the end of September.  Awesome!

Then comes the first Monday of October… dun dun dun and my tooth starts to ache.  I try to “live” with the pain, but it just got worse.  I caved by Friday and had an appointment with the dentist.  The outlook of my teeth was not so great and the final cost for the repairs – $1,050.

Without our emergency fund, we would not have been able to take care of this bill without sacrifice.  We do not have to give up food for the month or better yet, I do not have to live in pain!  It’s hard to see that $1,000 we worked so hard to achieve walk away so quickly, but at the end of the day that is why we have it.

We did not plan for my teeth to have a meltdown, but things happen.  Life happens.  We must adapt, take care of ourselves, and move on.  That is exactly what we are doing.  Starting with our first paycheck of October we will commence the rebuild.  In a short time we will have our emergency fund back to full again and start working towards paying down our debt.

I have to admit that it feels pretty good to be able to take care of this medical bill without help from family and without having to put it on a credit card to pay interest on.  It feels real good.

Want to know something that I find humorous?  The week after we get married is when J can apply for insurance through his work and since we will be married, so can I.  His work has basic dental coverage and if only my teeth could have lasted a bit longer that $1,050 may have only been $700.  But that’s the way life goes and we keep moving.

If you do face a dental emergency like me then do not be afraid to ask questions:

1) does this office do payment plans?  Most would like payment up front since the work is done at that time; however, there might be a Care Credit option that you can apply for.  That way you get the work done and pay a minimal amount of interest.

2) does this office offer a discount plan?  My dentist does!  It was great to learn about it.  For a small annual fee they discount all of the procedures.  I asked for an example – my cleaning and exam that day would normally be $300, but with the plan it was only $175.  The plan more than paid for itself in that moment.  I looked through my costs of what I need done and without the plan it would have been $1,700 or more!  That’s crazy!

3) does your work have to be done right away?  A lot of dentists will be honest with you and tell you what are emergencies and what aren’t.  Those are nice dentists.

It pays to talk to the office staff to learn more.  Each place is different and at the end of the day they need your business.

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!

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!

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

Wedding Budget Tips

wedding-budget

photo credit.

Budget. That word alone can usually cause stress in most people, including me.  However, it is imperative to have/know your budget when planning a wedding.  There are several ways to determine your budget and I was lucky to have parents that helped A LOT with my budget.

TIP 1: I determined that amount of money that J and I would have to plan our dream wedding after talking with my parents.  Then in my typical fashion I cut my budget by 15%.  Wait… what?! I cut money out of my budget? Crazy, huh?!

Well… hear me out before you think I’m that crazy.  In my mind, I know… I just know that unexpected charges or needs will come up during the planning process and I don’t want to be scrambling for money.  By taking 15% of the budget away on paper then I know that if an emergency arises, we are safe and okay with money.

TIP 2: Prioritize the important parts.  When J and I started thinking about what we wanted our wedding to look like we had to prioritize what was most important to us.

We came up with three categories.  First, highly important.

Photographer
Venue
Music
Cake

Next, important.

My Dress
Food
Flowers
Groom’s Tux
Groomsman Cake (well in J’s case a cookie cake)
Hair & Makeup
Stationary (invitations & thank you notes)
Favors

Finally, not that important.

Bridesmaid Dresses
Transportation
Seating Chart

Tip 3: Knowing your guest number limit.  J and I started crunching numbers and decided that we would ideally like to invite 175 people.  Knowing that on average 20% of those invited will not be able to attend.  That would leave us at about 140 guests.

Tip 4: Don’t forget about tax and gratuity.  Those charges can add up pretty quickly.  For example, let’s say that you’ve budgeted $2,000 for flowers.  You start talking roses, lilies, carnations, baby’s breath and next thing you know the subtotal is $1,999.  You’ll be surprised to learn that your total will be over $2,140 (at least in Southwest Missouri because our sales tax is 7.06%).

Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors what the tax rate is and how it is applied.  I learned that there is no tax on linens because the vendor pays the tax during the purchase and cannot pass that on to each customer.

Also, gratuity is another hidden budget balloon.  I talked to one caterer that charged a pretty high gratuity, which after the tax put her way above my budget.

Tip 5: Ask your vendors if they are running any specials for booking that month.  Since I started planning in February for a November wedding a lot of my vendors were running specials.  For example, my caterer through in a house salad for each guest at no charge, which will save us about $2 per guests (140 guests x $2 = $280 savings).  Also, my venue had a free champagne toast for booking… that saves a lot of $$$.

Hope these tips are helpful during your wedding budget planning! Let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Mere