How I Save Over $800 Doing One Thing!

how-i-save-over-800-a-yearI’ve been on my Debt Free Journey for over a year now.  It’s ongoing (hence the name journey).  I’m always looking for ways to trim excess spending from my budget to increase my debt snowball payments and get out of debt much sooner.  Additionally, I reflect often and run some numbers to track my progress, successes, and failures.  So you can imagine my surprise when I realized I was saving over $800/year by doing ONE thing!

How I save over $800 Doing This 1 Thing!

I Cut Subscriptions!

That’s Right!  I cut subscriptions.  Five subscriptions to be exact.  Often, subscriptions are broken down into smaller payments to market as “affordable.”  Companies advertise “just $9.99” or “for only 10 bucks” to grab your attention and make it seem affordable!  Well I eliminated those subscriptions which put a little more than $800 back into my pockets.  That $800 does not include the $1000/year I save from cutting cable! Let me share exactly what I stopped subscribing to.

Newspaper  $12.80/month

The newspaper was the first subscription to go after cable.  I was only receiving the Sunday paper (for the coupons) and had absolutely no use for the remainder of the paper.  As a result, papers stacked up.  In addition to unused papers, the customer service was awful and sometimes I wouldn’t receive the paper.  As a result…I cut it.

Teen Magazine $22.00/ year or $1.83/month

My girls deny subscribing to the magazine and I don’t quite remember signing up myself.  However the magazines came and I accepted UNTIL my account was automatically debited $22.00 for an annual subscription.  I contacted customer service and complained and stopped the subscription (and got my money back).  Teen Magazine also gave me a year free.  After that year, it was over.  My girls don’t miss it because very similar content is found other places for free!

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Just Fab Shoes $39.95 + Shipping/monthly

“For just $40.00/month” I could get the latest shoe fashions delivered to my door and be considered a VIP member, accumulate points, and receive free items…is what hooked me in.  “Cancel anytime” they said.  “Skip at no additional charge anytime” was something else.  $39.95 would turn into $120 as the shoes piled up in my virtual cart to earn “free shipping.”  I attempted to cancel 4 times as I was charged the $41 something fee, because I forgot to “skip” my month and discovered that “skip any time” really meant “anytime by the 5th of each month” OR PAY THIS MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEE!  Finally I was able to survive the temptations offered to keep me as a “VIP valued member” and gain an additional $40.00/month!

Amazon Prime $99.00/year $8.25/month

Canceling this subscription may have been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.  The only other retailer I love more than Amazon is Target!  But I pulled up my big girl panties and made the executive decision to cut the cord after evaluating why I loved the membership so much.  Amazon Prime membership was convenient because I had an Amazon Credit Card.  However when I paid Amazon off, I no longer had the urge to conveniently browse Amazon for “knick knacks” and “whatnots”  Since I was no longer “busy shopping” I no longer needed the convenience of 1 day shipping (which appealed to me the most).  That was it!

Microsoft Office $10.51/month

Social work sometimes can equate to work at home.  Before, at my previous job, completing documentation at home meant I needed compatible software to what was used at work.  This resulted in me paying to rent Microsoft Office for $9.99/month, equaling $10.51/ month with tax.  About 6 month into my journey and about a year renting the software, I noticed I had already paid for Microsoft Office, had I purchased it out right.  Google Docs has become a much more affordable option, is user friendly, and I love the fact that the documents can be easily accessed by logging into my account!

If you’ve done the math that is a total of $74.39/month and $892.68/year!  $892.68 from these cancelled subscriptions plus my $1000/year saved from canceling cable is nearly $2000!  Unfortunately, I was not immediately able to see the benefits in my debt snowball payments.  These expenses actually brought me down to “my means” which is as equally important!

So actually this was a couple of things but fell under one category!  As much as I would love for this post to reflect my Debt Free Expertise, I am still flawed.  I’m recently paying for the Careful Scents Freelance Subscription which is $39.00.  However I see that as an investment which will hopefully have a return pretty soon!

Would you consider cutting subscriptions?  Have you already done so?  Do you miss any of them?

How to Stop Spending Too Much Money NOW!

How to Stop Spending Too Much Money

Hello!

I’ve recently shared that I’ve been on my Debt Free Journey for a year now.  I plan to share exactly how much debt I’ve managed to eliminate within this year in a later post.  Now, however, I’m addressing what got me into debt and what exactly I’ve done to get out of debt. My first step was to stop spending too much money NOW.

By now you should know the key to getting out of debt is to earn more and spend less! While I definitely don’t consider myself an expert at earning more and spending less, I do think that the things I’ve done to stop spending too much are achievable and can be helpful to someone.  

What I did to stop spending too much money  

1. Track and Analyze my Spending

On a monthly basis, I review my bank statements.  I categorize my spending into gas, fast food, groceries, clothing, and bills and totaled my spending in those areas.  An additional category is miscellaneous which is where I payed close attention to see where exactly where I could cut cost.  I was able to realize just how much “little things” added up such as vending machine trips, candy and sodas from the gas station and random trips from the grocery store, Dollar General, and Target.  Afterwards, I would attempt to decrease spending in all areas by at least 10 percent.

2. Avoid triggers

If you follow me on Instagram, then you’re aware of how tempted I was by Target.  I would take random trips to Target, browse every isle, and spend hundreds of dollars on things I did not need, and some I did.  After maxing out my card, I did the same to my Mister’s card until we had TWO maxed out cards for one household.  Shortly after, I decided to begin my debt free journey.

To avoid behaviors that placed me back in debt, I removed my Target from my pocket book and had my mister place at the top of my closet in a pocket book without me looking.  Afterwards, I cut it up.  Now, to continue avoiding triggers, particularly emotional spending, I’ve unsubscribed from email list to avoid the temptation of online shopping, removed all my cards from my wallet, and shop with list in most cases.

How To Stop Spending Too Much Money-2

3.  Use cash

It took me a long time, like a really long time, to develop the habit of using cash instead of swiping my debt card. It also took me a long time to remove my debit card from my wallet and use cash only or the cash envelope system.  The cash envelope system is not working so well for me right now, swiping my cards had become so normal.  I plan on being more diligent and consistent in my efforts.

4. Develop a Budget

I developed a budget about three months into my debt free journey.  That budget did not work out so well after one attempt and I went back to my old system of paying bills, however I made sure to assign an increased amount towards my debt snowball payment.  I’ve since developed a zero based budget, which continues to be a work in progress.

All the above techniques have been helpful in preventing me from spending too much money and paying off debt in this first year of my debt free journey.  It does require lots of determination and discipline, which I didn’t have in the beginning.  Which why, it’s probably called a journey!

In addition to the techniques above, I’ve stopped spending money on these 4 things as well:

  1. Dunken donuts coffee
  2. Manicures and pedicures
  3. Fast food
  4. Pocket books and shoes

Here is a video explaining exactly how much debt I’m in and why I began my journey!

Please add any tips you have to help people from spending too much money below?  Is there anything that you stopped buying that you added back into your budget?

 

December Goal and Budget Review

December Goal and Budget Review appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!
December Goal and Budget Review appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!

I know that it’s super late in the month to be doing a goal review but umm…better late then never right!

December was a super busy month at first then I like crashed for like 7 days where I didn’t do anything but the basics.  Literally, all I did was eat, sleep, and watch tv.  Somewhere in there I would bathe, check mail, and attend to the little ones.  I completely eliminated social media during this time and enjoyed every minute of that as well.  As a result, I’m pretty sure some of these goals fell by the wayside. Lets see.

FINANCIAL

1. Stick to my Christmas shopping list and budget.

SUCCESS-I had no choice but to maintain my budget and my shopping list, once I created it.  I had absolutely no access to go overboard which was a great thing.  And more importantly, I did not add any  additional debt on my credit cards because I’m so serious about getting out of debt.   

2. Improve my household budget.

SUCCESS-  You’ll see below how my budget improved compared to Novembers.  Actual payments were much closed to Novembers actual payments and the totals were not drastically over.  

I always get excited at the end of the year.  I go overboard with goals and plans for the following year which may be reflected in this post.  Also upon reflection and reevaluation, I realized that I did not want as many hands in my paycheck. So I worked diligently to eliminate as many hands in my paycheck as possible. 

3. Open a Christmas account for Christmas 2016

SUCCESS-I actually opened the account in December and made my first deposit this past pay period.  I hope that it continues to grow.  We’ll see.

I hated the feeling of being restricted when it came to being prepared for Christmas so I wanted to get better ahead this year.  I will continue to shop throughout the year for gifts as well to off set the cost in December.   

HEALTH

Take my vitamins daily

FAIL-I was not consistent with taking my vitamins in December but I have drastically improved and have only missed one night thus far.  

 Reach my FITBIT STEP Goal

FAIL-There were some days in one week that I reached my fit goal and then there were some weeks where I didn’t reach my step goal at all.  Now my fit bit it broken and needs a band replacement so I’m not even wearing it at all.  But I have decided to workout at least three times per week and I’m successful with that thus far. 

MENTAL

 Be content

SUCCESS-Surprisingly!  I think maintaining my Christmas list and budget, working hard and then getting a much needed break and regrouping towards the end of the year allowed me to maintain my peace.  I was well rested for my return to work and was actually excited to get back, although it did not last long. 

January 2016 goals

  • Purchase materials for the Mister to lay the floors
  • Get a builders permit
  • Pay half of my AM credit card balance- Completed
  • Earn or exceed at least $400.00 side hustle income
  • Work out at least once/week
  • Blog at least twice/ week and begin building my email subscibers
  • Save $50.00-Completed
  • Read one book-Completed
December Goal and Budget Review appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!
December Goal and Budget Review appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!

December Budget

You can refer back to November’s budget here to compare progress.

Fixed Expenses Projected Actual
Mortgage $1000.00 $1000.00
Utility $319.00 $319.00
Cell phone $60.00 $98.29
Cell phone2 $298.00 $330.00
Cable $123.00 $102.11
Car payment1 $354 $365
Car Payment 2 $414.00 $414.00
Car Insurance2 $165.00 $165.00
Life Insurance $70 $70
Total $2,813 $2,863.40

 

Other expenses Projected Actual
Groceries $300.00 $247.33
Eating out $50.00 $112.10
Clothing 0 $42.54
Transportation $160.00 $75.00
Entertainment 0 0
Credit Card (s) $394.00 $621.00
Miscellaneous 0 $222.86
Allowance $20.00 $20.00
Savings $25.00 $0
Totals $949 $1140.40

My highs

  • My major high was just being diligent, consistent, and determined to get out of debt by any mean necessary.
  • Also being aware of my miscellaneous spending amount from the previous month made me more conscience of what I purchasing and for what.
  • I was still able to pay an excessive amount of money on December’s bills and even a final payment despite the Christmas holiday.

My Lows

  • I continue to go over on my cell phone bill and really need to make the change to a lesser plan.  Maybe I’ll make that a February Goal.
  • I went over in areas that I zero’d out.
  • I still did not save anything in December despite the good money I made from my side hustle.

January I’ve continued to stay focus on eliminating debt aggressively.  I’m also doing lots of research on how to build my blog, subscribers, improve content, as well as continue to search for freelance and guest blogging opportunities.  I’m also considering other ventures but don’t want to speak as much on those as of yet.

So far how is January going?  Have you been successful on your goals thus far? Have any had to be adjusted.

 

How to Accelerate the Debt repayment process Pt 2: Cutting the Spending

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How to Accelerate The Debt Repayment Process: Part II appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness.

Tuesday I blogged about my Accelerated Debt Repayment Process. Since then I’ve been analyzing my spending habits and my budget’s highs and lows, adding and subtracting to come up with a FAIL proof plan to ensure success on my accelerated debt payment process.

We all know that, or should know by now, or will know by the end of this post that the key to eliminating debt is to spend less and earn more.  In order  to determine where I could spend less, I combed through my spending from the previous three months.  I categorized each purchase, specifically of the miscellaneous category .  In the miscellaneous category, I discovered three monthly subscription fees that I immediately cancelled.  

  • Newspaper subscription #1    $11.99
  • Newspaper subscription #2    $8.99
  • Microsoft subscription             $ 10.66

Total                                                $31.64

Next, I discovered that I pay about $36.00 of insufficient fund fees that usually spike around the mid month paycheck.  I discovered this is the result of more than half of my monthly payments coming out of this check.  My resolution was to 1.) add overdraft protection by linking my checking account to my savings and 2.) switch two bills to the end of the month pay period.  This should eliminate the NSF completely.

Additionally, I’m incorporating two No Spend weekends.  I did this back in October and was pretty successful.  I usually do well planning , which reduces the chances of unplanned grocery store trips and/or fast food purchases. If anything is purchased on the weekend it is usually gas.  However because I am dedicated (for right now) I’m planning lots of ‘Netflix and chill’ weekends!

Finally, I’m ditching eating out from the budget completely adding another $50.00 per pay period as excess.  I’ve decided to adapt to vegan eating habits (but do not want to be labeled a vegan).  Since Wilson, NC has not joined the vegan bandwagon, my fast food options are limited to foods that are still not considered healthy (i.e.  Bojangles Cheese biscuits or KFC potato wedges) that I’m not eating either!

With success, I should have an additional $167.64 of excess to apply towards credit card debt payments.  If my calculations are correct, I should be able to eliminate each card in two months or less.  However, I’m still not sure if I will have had the truck  paid off by my target date.  We’ll just have to see!

Now that Christmas is over or a New Year is here, have you reevaluated your budget?  Did you make changes? Add or subtract catagories?

2016 Ready! 2015 Outcome

www.goaldiggingtohappiness.com-9

Hello!

I hope you guys enjoyed your Christmas and got everything that you hoped for.  My Christmas was great and I’m so excited that it is over and 2016 and a day away.  I’ve got plenty of catching up to do so lets jump right to it.

My vacation began Sunday December 20, 2015.  I was fully prepared with post topics and rough drafts for my vacation but then my computer got a virus.  To fix the virus was $50.00/hour which was not at all in my budget since Christmas completely drained me….like completely.  I just got my computer back but was on a social media fast this last week of the year to gain clarity and direction for my 2016 goals.

I recently came to the conclusion that my blog is less social media since I earn an income from it (or attempt to) and logged back on today.  I even commented on some blogs.  I was surprised to see that even on my nearly two week hiatus, I still managed to get nearly 20 page views/ day and a couple of comments.

2016

In 2016, I’ve decided (for now) on main goals and then decided to break those goals down into mini goals to make achieving them more successful. these goals include:

  • Fully finance our home improvement
  • Establish and build an emergency fund
  • Stop using all credit cards and be out of credit card debt by December 2016
  • Earn or exceed $1,000 blogging income by December 2016
  • Lose 10-15 pounds
  • Generate or exceed $5,000 in side hustle money
  • Increase my income my 10%
  • Increase my financial knowledge
  • Self improve
  • Eliminate overpayment loan

January 2016 goals

  • Purchase materials for the Mister to lay the floors
  • Get a builders permit
  • Pay half of my AM credit card balance
  • Earn or exceed at least $400.00 side hustle income
  • Work out at least once/week
  • Blog at least twice/ week and begin building my email subscibers
  • Save $50.00

I discussed some of my 2016 plans in this post.  I’ve already removed that CF credit card from my wallet, opened the Christmas fund and scheduled my first draft, and plan on opening that savings account on or before Mid January for my car fund. I also purchased this Purpose Driven Planner from Amazon and immediately begin tracking my goals!

TEXT HERE

2015 Outcome

December 2015 debt progress

Card August September October November December
Target $36.10 PAID
HHG $457.02 $280.90 PAID PAID
AM $703.92 $699.27 $693.89 $639.12 $660.08
PP $1232.14 $1215.20 $1197.02 $1144.35 $1136.65
BML $827.70 $1093.39 $1097.26 $1076.36 $1157.99
WF $2716.12 $2679.26 $2714.26 $2588.49 $2562.76
CF $1811.83 $1802.87 $1901.30 $1867.19 $1925.70
CP $579.36 $561.89 $296.08 $194.45 PAID

TOTAL           $8364.19    $8051.88     $7899.81    $7509.68    $7,443.18

I began 2015 with $9,850.45 in credit card debt and I’m ending with $7,443.18, a difference of $2,407.27 and four less credit cards, with the majority of my progress beginning in July with my journey to financial freedom.  Check out previous debt payment progress below.

I’m also ending 2015 with a total debt number of $171,792.33.  Check out my total debt number here, from when I began my journey to financial freedom.  $171,792.33 does not include my student loan debt since I have not intentions of aggressively paying them off because I’m on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Side Hustle Income

I do hair as a side hustle.  I usually work about 2-4 hours on Friday and about 5 hours on Saturday during the winter months.  In the summer months, while the children are out of school, I work Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  In 2015 I generated $3,980.05 in side hustle income.

 December 2015

I earned $707.55 in side hustle income for December 2015. The break down is below.  

  • Doing hair side hustle                                $480.90
  • Milage reimbursement                              $127.19
  • Shopping reimbursement apps              $84.46
  • Selling items online                                    $15.00

December 2015 was my first month tracking all my additional income in order to set realistic goals for 2016.  I’m sure I’ll be able to make more money selling items (mostly my children’s clothes) online now that Christmas is gone.  Also the shopping reimbursement apps is the amount earned the entire year but cashed out in December for Christmas.  I did online (freelance and a review) work but have not received payment for them due to me just being able to turn them in.

As for NYE plans, I’m looking forward to dinner and a movie with my love. By dinner and a movie, I mean our favorite take out and a Red box/ Netflix movie and off to bed looking forward to a prosperous 2016!

In one word, how would you sum up 2015?  What are your 2016 goals? What are your NYE plans?

2015 Money Mistakes

TEXT HERE

This post should be titled 2015 Money Tragedies. I’ve made and continue to make serious money mistakes.  I’ve probably made more detrimental money tragedies in previous years, but I’m focusing on 2015 since that is when I committed to my financial freedom journey.

I began my financial journey in late July early August of 2015.  Since beginning my journey I’ve developed an ongoing changing budget, cut some expenses, and paid off four of my nine credit cards using the snowball method.  In some opinions, I’ve been very successful in a short time, however financial freedom is a journey, not a destination and I have much farther to go.  To gain a better understanding of where I am financially check out my debt totals  here.

Some of the money mistakes below are obvious mistakes even before committing to a financial freedom, gaining more knowledge, and making changes.  However, old habits die hard, and making adjustments that have “gotten me by” have been difficult to change, stop or both.

2015 Money Mistakes

Continue to use/ depend on credit cards

One of my biggest mistakes (in my opinion) is continuing to use and depend on my credit cards while trying to pay them off.  What usually happens is I stop using the one credit card that I’m applying extra payments to and trying to pay off, unfortunately I continue to use one or all of the others.  As a result, at the time that I begin applying additional payments to pay them off, I have a larger balance to pay and more interest.

I know this habit continues to slow my success.  I thought developing a budget and sticking to it would help, but again “old habits die hard” and in situations where I’m facing a financial deficit because we ran out of Ziploc bags or one or all of the children have to contribute to a holiday party, I find myself whipping out my credit card.

In 2016, I will be removing all my cards (paid and unpaid) from my wallet.  This should definitely prevent  my habit of relying on them once at the store.  I will also be more diligent in following my budget. Successfully doing so, should allow for some money to be available between pay days to prevent me from having to depend on the cards.

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 Saving

If you’ve read my November Budget Review,  you will see where I budgeted to save only $25.00 and was unsuccessful.  You will also see where I had unexpected car expenses that resulted in a partial car payment being made, a balance carried over into December even after having my December 2015 car payment applied to the end of my loan or being skipped (also not good).

In 2016,  I plan on paying myself first.  I will still only be saving $25.00 per pay period totaling $50.00 a month and more if allowed.  Additionally, I will be setting up two additional accounts.  The first account will be a Christmas fund to offset the money spent during this time of the year and the financial arrangements I make to accommodate that spending.  The other account, as discussed in November’s Budget Review will be an account to set aside money for car expenses, unexpected and expected like car taxes, fees, oil changes and tire rotations.  These two accounts will also have the money automatically applied to them so that they receive the money first, before any ongoing bills come out.

Overspending

In 2013 I was making about $80k per year, brining home about $5k/month.  Since then, my income has reduced drastically, however I think my family (myself included) still lives off that budget.  At the time my hubby stayed home with the baby and I worked two jobs.  Now we both work one full time job and hustle on the side and although we probably make more than the $80k together, we continue to drown in the financial mistakes of 2012 to 2013.

Also what happens is  I write down all my anticipated bills and financial obligations and total them up.  Usually that number comes below my paycheck.  I then become fixated on the excess number and ball out of control.  Although lately, I’ve been applying the entire or most of the amount on my credit cards.  I then forget a bill or have an unexpected expense and no money for it.  OR, I have no money until next payday which results on me again depending on credit to get my through.

In 2016, I plan on being diligent with my budget.  Specifically, I will first pay myself (or savings), then my bills.  Once all bills have cleared, I will transfer the excess, if any, to another account (but not my savings).  Either at the end of the month or once more money is deposited, I will then decide where to spend or apply the excess.  This seems realistically unrealistic to even myself because of how simple it sounds, but I’m going to at least attempt it and hope that I’m successful.

Different Financial Goals

My hubby and I have similar long term financial goals but do not have the same plan to accomplishing them.  In the long run, my hubby and I would both like to eliminate consumer debt, pay off our home early, purchase some rental property, retire early and travel.  My plan to accomplish those goals is to make wiser financial plans, save money, avoid additional debt, and relying on credit.  His plan is to hit the lottery!

Our plans are completely different.  In most cases the how doesn’t matter and what is important is that we get the same outcome right?  WRONG.  The Mister seems to have less confidence or patience that the long terms goals can be accomplished and would rather focus on them when he or we have large amounts of money.  He does pay his balances and  save, but he is less focused on the long term goals because of the length of time needed to  accomplish them. As a result, we pull against each other, try it our own ways and in most cases lose money or take longer time to accomplish the goal.

In 2016, I’d like to work more as a team to accomplish goals faster.  I would like to start by having that very serious conversation about what needs to be accomplished in my opinion and his.  Then I’d like to get his opinions on how to accomplish it and see if we can come to a compromise while working together.  

This may be more difficult because I’m so used to taking the lead and working separately on task (at home and work).

Other money mistakes that I have made include:
  • paying my credit cards just to use them
  • applying for credit to get the things I want
  • deferring my student loans from 2008 until 2015
  • not checking my credit score or monitoring my credit

What money mistake(s) have you made and what did you learn from it or do differently?

 

November Budget Review

Finally...My Budget

I was able to put my budget into place for the month of November.  Check out my original budget post here.  Prior to completing my actual budget, I tracked my spending carefully with hopes of developing an accurate family budget that would prevent overspending, encourage disciplined spending habits, and allow money to be saved.   I had mini budgets for transportation and groceries but not a complete budget.  So lets see how we did.

November 2015 Budget

Fixed Expenses Projected Actual
Mortgage $1000.00 $1000.00
Utility $319.00 $329.00
Cell phone $60.00 $120.10
Cell phone2 $298.00 $293.00
Cable $123.00 $102.11
Car payment1 $354 $365
Car Payment 2 $414.00 $150.00
Car Insurance2 $175.00 $165.00
Life Insurance $70 $70
Total $2,813 $2524.91
Other expenses Projected Actual
Groceries $300.00 $302.05
Eating out $50.00 $83.09
Clothing 0 $119.76
Transportation $160.00 $181.00
Entertainment 0 0
Credit Card (s) $394.00 $601.00
Miscellaneous 0 $356.37
Allowance $20.00 $20.00
Savings $25.00 $0
Totals $949 $1664.08

As you can see my budget was unsuccessful.  I had way more red areas than green. After reflecting, I’ve discovered what I did right, what I did wrong, and what needs to be changed in the following months to be more successful.

What I did right

  • My projected bills compared to actual bill amount was pretty accurate.  I tracked the spending accurately and usually do not have a problem ensuring they get paid.  Now that the Mister and I have switched bills, due to pay schedules, he usually is able to pay bills so that we avoid the late fee (although not the case in November with the utility bill).
  • I was able to drastically decrease my “eating out” budget from the high $100’s to just below, although not sticking to my $50.00 monthly budget.
  • I actually really spent $289.12 on groceries, coming in under budget, after uploading receipts to Ibotta, Saving Star, and Walmart Savings Catcher.
  • I was able to pay extra on Car payment number 1 because of how we have the payment arranged.  I do not mind, although I should be contributing it to my credit card, but I plan on having this paid off by next year and don’t mind paying the extra $11.00.
  • I was able to pay almost double towards credit cards, resulting in another card being paid off in December.

What I did wrong

  • As you can see, I only paid $150 of my car payment as a result of car taxes and registration fees along with an inspection which totaled $277.00.  I was prepared to pay for the registration fee but not the other fees.
  • I did not originally set a budget for miscellaneous spending and ended up adding it once I totaled the amount spent on  items that were not originally in a category.
  • The cable and telephone bill was not paid timely resulting in a late fee.  In addition to the late fee, I drastically went over my data causing my bill to double. However, I will be moving over to a prepaid plan that is much less and includes unlimited data.
  • Although gas prices are at an all time low of $1.89 in NC, I went over my travel budget which was developed when gas was almost twice the amount per gallon that it is now.  However, I received a milage reimbursement of $302.06, so I actually came in under budget for transportation expenses.
  • I did not save a penny.  ALL my money went to “something or someone” which resulted my realization that we may be living way above our means even after paying off four credit cards!

What I will do differently

  • To be much more successful in December, I will better track the items I’m purchasing and categorizing the “miscellaneous” items.
  • I plan on setting up a savings account for the coming year to avoid having to skip bills to pay the taxes, registration fees, and any additional car related expenses for 2016.
  • Make sure I pay myself first, even if it is just $25.00 at each pay period.
  • Change cell phone carriers to an unlimited package to better meet my needs and avoid additional fees.
  • Continue to look for ways to reduce or eliminate bills.
  • Be more diligent in tracking spending throughout the month instead of totaling the amount at the end of the month.  Periodic or routine checks will help to prevent my overspending in all areas.
  • Continue to notice weaknesses and make improvements or changes where needed.

Developing this budget and reviewing it has encouraged some 2016 money goals to put into action.  I’ll share those goals closer to the end if the month.  I’ve most recently been inspired by Chone @ My Debt Epiphany who has recently paid off her car loan and was contributing $1000/ month towards debt!

 

What helps to keep you on track with your budget?  Are there any applications that assist with tracking spending?  Any advice on how to be more successful in the future.

Absolute Best Frugal Gifts

 

This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission for items purchased with the link and NO additional cost to you. I promote quality products, that I personally use. All opinions are my own.
This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission for items purchased with the link and NO additional cost to you. I promote quality products, that I personally use. All opinions are my own.

As the holiday approaches,  we may all begin to feel the pressure of a commercialized and costly holiday season.  Commercialized and costly, do not align with my family’s long term financial goals.  This is why I’ve developed a list of the absolute best frugal family gift ideas!

My family and I have been on a disciplined journey towards financial freedom since August 2015.  Since beginning our journey we’ve been able to develop a budget and are well on our way to paying off credit card number 4 by the end of 2015, leaving us with five more credit cards to pay and nearly half way out of  consumer credit card debt.

My family, like many others would consider themselves a frugal family for one reason or another.  We limit eating out, we avoid shopping as much as possible and limit any costly activities.  We’ve also have cut cable and home telephone packages, and are currently shopping around for a cheaper cell phone carrier.  If you know a family living paycheck to paycheck, struggling financially, or on a disciplined journey towards financial freedom, like mine  the following gifts would be very appreciated.  Not too mention, purchasing a family gift can be budget friendly for the gifter as opposed to purchasing individual gifts for everyone, especially a big family of seven like my own.

Absolute Best Frugal Family Gift Ideas

The very first gift I would gladly appreciate is no gift at all. I would accept the no gift policy from friends or family members.  I actually have a best friend with as many children and me whom has agreed to never expect a gift from her or her children to mine in exchange for the same expectation.  Our gift to each other’s families is not to give or expect a gift at all.  This applies to birthdays and holidays.  However if you just can not see yourself doing something like that then the following gifts are just as good or better!

 Family passes

Family passes to movies, theme parks, a zoo, or aquariums can be a great frugal gift to a frugal family.   As stated above, our family has limited our costly expenses of going out to maybe once every other month or more (in some cases). This gift may or may not be as financially friendly, however the valuable time spent together at your expense I’m sure will be priceless to the family in addition to the memories that will be created.  Depending on your location, Groupon and Living Social provide some great family passes to theme parks and indoor activity centers that could be more affordable (in most cases) than purchasing them directly.  If you decide to gift a Groupon, read this first.

Receive up to 20 percent off of your first transaction.  Groupon usually is running a special with a percentage off often on specific purchases, such as family getaways.  Finally, Groupon is great to have even when visiting places outside of the home or to give to families in other cities or states.

Family Board Games

Family board games or card games can be very cost efficient and encourage also encourage priceless family time.  Some of my favorite board games are Monopoly, Trouble, and Uno.  Our family really enjoys playing Uno.  We sometimes, purchase a big bag of candy to barter while playing cards. All of these items can be found reasonably priced at Target and Amazon.

 

My absolute favorite family game is Monopoly!  It’s a great game to teach children about money, investing and saving!

Life is my second favorite family game.  It’s a great simulation of real life problems and should promote problem solving skills.

Memberships

I’m sure a frugal family, at some point, has considered or actually has eliminated cable with efforts of reducing household cost.  If that is the case a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime membership would be an appreciated gift as a cable alternative for a fraction of the price. An Amazon Prime membership provides television shows, movie rentals, and the option to watch free movies, Kindle book borrows, and free two shipping as an added bonus.  Amazon Prime memberships are renewed annually.

Additionally, Netflix and Hulu memberships can be set up for automatic payments and can even be paid with a Paypal account.  Finally, Hulu offers a variety of options as well as premium channels that you may have only thought come with cable such HBO and Showtime, as well as a “no ads option” at an additional cost.

Why I love Hulu
  • Only $7.99
  • Contains all the popular Prime time shows and seasons
  • Offers a student discount
  • Automatic billing

absolute-best-frugal-gifts-2

Hand made or special made items

My neighbor makes my family an assortment of edible treats, peanut butter cookies are one of my favorites, that we really look forward to.  Other hand made or special made items you could consider are matching monogramed pajamas (which would be great for a Christmas day photo), monogrammed t-shirts, or hand and special made quilts, blankets, or knit scarves and toboggans.  Be mindful of the extra time making these crafts may cost you and determine if it’s worth it.

Gift Cards

My personal favorite is a gift card, specifically to a restaurant.  Most frugal families not only have considered or actually eliminated cable, but they have probably reduced or eliminated eating out as well.  If this is the case ( like in my home) a restaurant gift card would be make you a God sent.  Not only is mom relieved of preparing a meal, but the children will be excited to actually return to eating out and again the memories and encouraged family time is priceless!

Not interested in any of the above gifts?  Additional gifting ideas to consider include:

  • weekend getaways
  • family fun day activity passes (bowling, ice hockey, indoor or outdoor golf)
  • sport game tickets or equipment (we have a huge enough family to play basketball with just us)
  • family photo session
  • other cable alternatives such as Amazon Fire Stick, Ruku, Apple TV, or Google Chrome Sticks.

Do you give a family gift or individually?  How has your gift ideas changed since being on a journey towards financial freedom?

 

November Goal Review and December Goals Too!

November Goal Review

So December is here and I’m actually excited.  December for me is a great month.  I love the Christmas holiday, the week long vacation I take with the children, and the end to a year!

I’m excited to begin thinking of 2016 goals and developing a plan of action to have them completed.

November was a not so great month for me.  I faced a few challenges that completely got me unmotivated, hence the week break that I took from blogging altogether.  I didn’t post anything nor did I read or comment on anything.  You can read more about that here.

I do goal reviews to document my progress, evaluate my success, assess my weaknesses, and plan for improvements if needed.  Ideally, my goals would evolve from month to month.  For me, having a goal or many goals is necessary for me to avoid becoming complacent in life and making sure that things (whether big or small) get done. So without further delay, lets look at how successful (or unsuccessful) I was.

1. Stick to my budget.

FAIL.  I  posted  my prospective, trial budget mid October which you can read more about here. Although I thought my budget was an accurate reflection of my spending habits, it was not, and I really need to do some revisions to better prepare myself for success as opposed to failure in the future.  I’ll go into more detail next week when I do my budget review.  Just note, the numbers are very depressing.

2. Plan my meals and eat healthier.

SUCCESS.  About the second week in November I decided to give up meat.  I went a total of 13 days before I ate meat which was turkey on Thanksgiving and the day after.  I am back to not eating meat, reducing sugar, and eliminating (or at least reducing) fried foods.  These food decisions have basically left me with healthy options only.  

3. Invest in myself.

SUCCESS then FAIL.  I started off really great but then life became hectic, I got stressed and lost my motivation.  As a result, I did not follow through with my planned GDTH investment. I had planned on getting a blog analysis to see changes should be made to improve GDTH and increase traffic and I was going to pay for advertisement via Fivrr.  As for myself, I gave up all those bad eating habits above which I think was a great self investment!

4. Check my credit report.

SUCCESS. I checked my credit report, and got my credit score.  I even signed up with Credit Karma and did some credit simulations to determine what will have the greatest effect on increasing my credit score over the next 6 months to a year.

November Goal Review

 

Goals For December

In December I would like for my goals to prepare me for 2016, despite feeling like I’ll be too consumed with Christmas shopping.  I’ve already attempted to have better control over Christmas shopping to a) avoid unnecessary spending and debt and b) avoid the last minute shopping and the crowds that come along.

Since December already has a lot going on as it is, I have to prepare for a long vacation at work as well complete shopping, I tried to focus on whats most important and more closely related to 2016 goals.  December’s goals include:

FINANCIAL

1. Stick to my Christmas shopping list and budget.

In order to stick to the list, I guess I need to develop one.  I’ve kept mental notes and a list and crossed some of those off in my head, but I know I would be more successful if I kept a list to refer to.  Sticking to my Christmas budget will not be difficult, because there is no additional money or credit to pull from.  Every cent is already accounted for this month.  The credit cards, that do have a balance have already been cut up, except one, so that I do not continue to use, and the ones that are paid off have been cut up as well to avoid reusing.

2.  Improve my household budget.

As previously stated, I did not do well on my November budget.  However, I anticipated that I would not because it was my first month.  I kind of gave myself a pass (or an excuse to be less disciplined)  I would like to do much better this month and be much more conscience of my spending.

3.  Open a Christmas account for Christmas 2016

I’d like to already have some money (if not all) set aside for Christmas 2016 to avoid making arrangements to cover the expense.  I would like to open a Holiday account with my credit union and begin having money automatically debited beginning in January 2016.

HEALTH

  1. Take my vitamins daily

Since I am not eating meat, I’d like to make sure I take my vitamins daily.  I’d also like to improve my hair and skin and would like to have a vitamin to help with that.

2.  Reach my FITBIT STEP Goal

I have a fitbit and my daily step goal is 10,000 steps.  I rarely reach the goal but would like to reach the goal at least once weekly.  If you have a fitbit, send me your email so that I can request you!

MENTAL

1.  Be content

This may be easier said then done.  With the business of the holiday season, I’d like to avoid the added stress and focus on being content.  I’d like to be satisfied with what I accomplish instead of focusing on how much more I should’ve or could’ve done.  I’m not planning on being lazy or giving myself an excuse to do so.  I still plan on being productive at home and work, but I’d like to reduce or eliminate the extra anxiety of “what else can I do” or “I need to do this, this, and this.”  I plan to focus more on my motto of “I’ve done all I can do, and that’s all I can do” and be content with that.

So much for “taking it easy.”  It was difficult to eliminate any of the above goals.  I had much more than that.  I just hope I’m not setting myself up for failure come January 2016.

What are your goals for December?  Do you center around the holidays or not?

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4 Things I’m doing in October to save money-OUTCOME

4 Things I'm doing to save money in September-2

October has come and gone.  It’s officially Christmas season (for all the stores).  I went into the Dollar Tree and the Christmas stuff was already out.  We also did some Christmas shopping at the mall on Halloween and the Christmas decorations were already up, on Halloween!

So October was an okay month for me as far as my goals are concerned.  I think I need to do some check ins throughout the month to keep me on track. I usually either a) lose motivation, b) stop as a reward for doing good the first half of the month or c) forget what I was supposed to be doing altogether.

Continue reading “4 Things I’m doing in October to save money-OUTCOME”