5 Greatest Financial Tips for Young Adults

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It’s no secret to my faithful followers that I have a senior in high school.  Now could not be a better time for me to gain financial knowledge, develop investing skills, and understand credit education.  I’m anxious to learn and share that information and the practices I’ve implemented to improve my financial situation with not only my audience but my children as well. Especially my teenager getting ready to soon transition into young adulthood.  Although, I have a wealth of information to share,  below are the greatest 5 financial tips for young adults!

5 Greatest Financial Tips for Young Adults

1.  Use Credit Wisely

When I started college in 2001 and even still now, freshman are bombarded with credit card opportunities.  It was those opportunities that introduced me to credit card debt myself.  I’ve been educating my high school senior on good credit practices.  This includes encouraging her to avoid credit (as best practice) or to only charge what she can afford to pay back at the next bill cycle.

2.  Avoid Student Loan Debt

As my high school senior approaches college, and even before, I’ve encouraged her to avoid college loan debt as much as possible.  I’ve encouraged to take advantage of the early college option which would allow her to have completed all her college prerequisites by high school graduation.  Taking college courses is another option available to juniors and seniors at her school.  Finally, picking a major and determining if she can reach the same goals with an associates degree as opposed to a bachelors.

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3.  Save 

My daughter has been working for about 6 plus months now, after quitting her first job.  Originally, we encouraged her to save something from her paycheck and she would, like $5.00.  Afterwards we challenged her to save $500 by Christmas, which she has and wants to continue.  She decided that she would like to save as much as possible so she will not be restricted by money (or the lack thereof) in college.

4. Minimize Expenses

Approaching college, I’ve taught my daughter how to shop with coupons, plan as much as possible, and determine needs vs wants.  These are all imperative in minimizing expenses.  Beyond college, we’ve discussed moving back home as opposed to renting, and avoiding purchasing a new car with a new job during or after college.

5.  Be Patient

If you are wondering what patience has to do with finances, I’ll explain.  In my debt story, most of my debt (aside from student loans) derived from wants over needs, and satisfying those needs immediately with credit.  Emphasizing the importance of patience as a life virtue, will hopefully prevent my daughter from those impulse purchases and additional costly (and unnecessary) credit transactions.

Honestly, all of these financial tips could be learned and implemented at any point in life.  Hell, I’m just learning them within the last 16 months or so.  As a parent, we can appreciate our mistakes so that our children can benefit from the lesson!

If you have a child in college or on the way, be sure to begin a Target College Registry.  Target has all the college essentials to make the college dorm room feel like “their room” away from home!

What financial tips are you teaching your children?  What financial tips would you have liked to have learned earlier?

5 Task I Complete at the Beginning of Every Month.

5 Things I complete at the beginning of every month.

July is just 8 days away, along with nearly half of the summer.  Although I hate to see the months pass by, I always get a fresh feeling at the beginning of the month.  If you read this post then you are aware that I like to plan as far ahead as possible so it should come as no surprise that there are certain task that I like to complete by the first of every month.  Honestly,  I usually start planing the next month about the second week of the previous month.   However, several of the below task can not be completed until the beginning of each month.

5 Task I Complete at the beginning of Every Month

Track and total my income

I have a Google Docs spreadsheet that I write down and track all of my income.  This includes income from my full time job, my part time job, doing hair, GDTH, selling items, milage, and any “gifts” that  I may receive for the month.  This is important for me because I would like to know how to better plan for the following year.  Tracking my income also allows me to hold myself better accountable with my debt elimination and savings goals.

track and total my debt payment progress

Tracking my debt payments is a major motivator for me.  To see the numbers continue to decrease and think about the additional money that I will soon have gets me more excited about the future!  If you are not tracking you debt totals, I encourage you to do so!

Check and update my calendar

Checking and updating my calendar is not necessarily money or debt related.  However, it’s as equally important since I have multiple employment responsibilities and a large family.  I make sure to write down appointments, extra circular activities, deadlines, payments, tune ups, even when I need to cancel a free subscription to avoid charges!

Set goals

Setting monthly goals for the month is one of those task that are already completed by the second week of the previous month.  I’m always looking and researching ideas for self improvement which I incorporate into monthly goals. I usually set one finance goal, a personal goal, a fitness/health goal, and a self improvement goal.  With so many goals, I NEED to write them down constantly.

Plan ahead

I’ve said before how important it is for me to plan ahead which is why this task kind of goes along with updating my calendar.  Planning ahead is imperative to ensure that I avoid crisis moments, stress, over scheduling, as well as ensure that life runs as smooth as possible with multiple roles.  Most times, “planning ahead” is done way before the month but at the beginning of month point, I’m making final arrangments and tweaking. The one thing I do plan ahead on a month to month basis are meals.  Meal planning is very helpful.  Meal planning keeps money in my pocket as well as ensures that I’m making healthier choices. I also like to plan blog post and my budget as far ahead as possible.

 

Do you have “First of the month routine?” Please share!

 

 

10 Helpful Tips for Parents with Side Hustles

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In my thirty three years of life, I’ve already worked half of it, beginning at 15 and most of that time, I’ve had more than one job or more than one stream of income.  I’ve also been a parent since 17 so, in my opinion the dual responsibilities  have gone hand in hand for so long that I think I have balancing the two down packed.

Although there are some times, that I feel stretched way too thin, which I discussed a little here and here, for the most part I do pretty well managing the multiple responsibilities of multiple roles.  Since I consider myself an expert side hustling parent, I’ve decided to share my tips with other parents who may want to begin a side hustle or are currently doing a side hustle and are feeling discouraged and overwhelmed.

My Helpful Tips for Parents who Side Hustle

  1. Determine what you can do, how to do it, and when and stick to that.

When considering a side hustle, obviously you want to do something that you can do or have passion doing and do well.  If you have that figured out, next it’s important to determine how much your willing to work and sticking to that.  It’s easy to lose yourself once you realize the earning potential.

Write everything down.

With so many responsibilites, schedules, meetings, and additional activities it’s important to write everything down possible.  I’m most creative in the morning (usually in the shower) and once out the shower, I write down all my daily plans, and blog topics, any connections or emails I need to make/send and even meal ideas.  I try to sync all important meetings into my phone so that I’m alerted prior too.

Plan as far ahead as possible

Planning as far ahead as possible is as equally important.  Planning ahead helps to release some of the stress that can come from the demand of pleasing or being available to multiple people.  Also planning ahead, in my opinion prevents the chaos that can come from having multiple responsibilities.  Some things I like to plan ahead are blog post, meals, appointments, activities, trips, and minor events.

Set goals

It’s important to determine why you want to side hustle and set goals to reach while doing so.  Otherwise you may begin to feel empty or feel that your working hard for nothing.  Before I set a goal to eliminate all my credit card debt, I was literally working part time and spending my money.  At the end of the month, I couldn’t remember where my money had gone. Afterwards, I set a goal to contribute at least half of the previous months earnings towards debt, place a fourth in savings and keep the other fourth.  When I felt burnt out, I had something to reflect on to bring back the motivation.

Celebrate accomplishments.

To go along with the previous tip of setting goals, celebrate once you’ve accomplished them.  I’ve successfully paid off six of my eight credit cards from side hustling this year and once the other two are completely paid off I plan on celebrating.  Also once I paid off cards with a thousand dollar limit or more, by or before my goal date, I placed the payment amount in my savings to celebrate!  I also treated myself to a new book and DIY materials.

Make time for yourself.

As previously stated, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of parenting, adulting, and side hustling especially if the money is good.  To maintain the stress of all the above, I like to make time for myself.  I recently made a “space” for myself where I can enjoy reading books or my morning coffee or gather my thoughts.  I’ve decided to do this daily. I also attempt to walk at least three times per week for an hour and have “no obligation” time on Sunday.

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Develop a support system

I would not be able to do all the things I do, if it wasn’t for my support system.  It’s important, especially as a parent, to have those people in place to help support you and the children when you’re unavailable.  My current support system consist of my mom is always willing to fill in where I’m supposed to be but unable, my husband for ongoing encouragement, and my friends for emotional support when I really just want to quit and live mediocre.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If your side hustle happens to be your passion or part time job for someone else, you may still have questions or experience feelings of defeat or overwhelm at times.  If this happens, do not be afraid to ask for help.  Obviously this blog is a side hustle for me, as well as a place to demonstrate my creativity, but wordpress and plug ins confuse.  I’ve been able to reach out to other bloggers and members of Facebook groups to ask for help with various questions.  I’ll also ask my support team for help when needed.  You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help because they believe in you and do not want you to fail!

Know your worth

About three months after I began blogging I began making money writing blog post for bigger blogs.  For one blog I was paid $15.00 per blog post and the other $20.00.  Three months into blogging, my purpose for writing was to get exposure and be able to build a portfolio in addition to GDTH for future options.  However, I think it’s important to know your worth, set a price, and stick with it.  The quality and time that went into those 1000 plus blog post, in my opinion was worth much more than $20.00, but the exposure was valuable as well.  Once you’ve determined your worth, then determine if you’re willing to barter for something else or not.

Be confident

Side hustling can definitely take a toll on you over time.  There will be moments of defeat, overwhelm, and burnout.  There is will also be times that you question yourself.  Which is why it’s important to be confident in yourself and you ability.

 

Did I miss any tips?  If so add them in the comments below!

5 Reasons you should unplug NOW!

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It is happened before, maybe more than once, and maybe more than once in a day.  You hop on social media with the intentions of sending a direct message or inbox message to one person.  You scroll your timeline first.  You then notice your old college room -mate got married, your ex has a new boo, and your mom has joined facebook.  Then you spend another “while” searching through all the recent pictures of each individual to see “how did I miss this” and then begin to piece their life together to make sense to you.  Now it’s been nearly an hour and a half and you still have not sent the direct message.

Okay, now you search the person to send the message, but wait, you have to check your own messages.  Another hour or two reading and responding to messages.  This is just one social media site.  You are also on three-five others. With all the various social media platforms, from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and new ones developing quickly it’s no wonder the average person spends a ridiculous amount of time on social media.  That may be just for leisure.  What if you are a developing brand and social media is key to marketing that brand?

Despite your intentions for social media, there needs to be time when you unplug from the computer and phone and refocus your attention.  With summer around the corner, NOW would be a great time!  If you can not at all imagine when those times to unplug from social media may be, I’ve listed just five below.

Five Reasons You Should Unplug

  1. You have work to do.

Whether you work from home or in an office, or not at all there is still work to be done. There are work related task, or home related task, that need to be completed and Social media should be avoided completely to eliminate the distractions until the tasks or assignments are completed.  Because of the huge distraction social media can become, I usually avoid it the entire work day.

  1.  Special someone(s) are requesting your attention or time.

It may be your children, spouse or significant other, or maybe just your pets that are nagging to “come do this with me” or “watch me” or just place their heads in your lap.  All the above should be considered as a plea for your time or attention from social media.  If that is the case, close your computer and turn your phone off and give them that time and attention.

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  1.  It’s too time time consuming.

If you begin to run into situations similar to the introduction, spending hours on what should have been a 10 minute task then maybe it’s time to unplug altogether or limit your time.  Consider setting time limits for each site or writing a to do list on what needs to be accomplished on each site, if more than one.

  1.  Social Media has become overwhelming.

With new platforms developing quickly, in addition to platforms you are already on, and the time suck that comes along with each site, social media can become overwhelming.  It can begin to feel like a job in itself trying to build and increase a following, market your brand, or remain relevant.  If the task and time associated with social media become overwhelming, then you should again unplug from social media, making a point to disconnect from it all and refocus your energy and relax. You can always com back to it.

  1.  It’s time to unwind.

I’m a big advocate of sleep.  For me, sleep is essential and in order for me to sleep well I need to unwind and calm my mind before even beginning the sleep process.  Unplugging from social media and the internet is essential for unwinding and relaxing my mind to calm.  For me this means, turning off my computer and television and silencing my phone so that I’m not at all tempted to engage.

Above are only five reasons you should consider unplugging from social media, but I’m sure there are more.  The reasons above may apply, or not, depending on your lifestyle, your goals, and how and what social media is used for by you. It’s up to you to determine what “unplugging” means to you.  Unplug can mean leave and come back later or only accessing on certain days or times, or not at all.  However you decide to unplug, creating a balance is key.  If the above reason are completely irrelevant to you and your situation, below are some additional reasons to consider unplugging from the internet.

Additional reasons to unplug

  • You are exceeding your cell phone data plan.
  • Family and friends are complaining.
  • You are over extended.
  • Your timeline never really updates.
  • You have way too much knowledge of everyone else’s life.
  • You compare your life to those on social media and feel inadequate or like a failure.

On average, how much time to do you spend on social media?  How do you feel about it? 

Reasons I Really, Really Want to be Debt Free!

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FIND YOUR WHY?  WHY is the most important thing to determine when beginning any journey.  It is one of the main questions asked in any interview of anyone whom has overcome any obstacle.  Dave Ramsey ask “why” in various forms.   His and Her money always ask “what was it that made you to become debt free?”  Which translates into “why.” If you’ve read this post or this post, you may have gotten a sense of how my journey began and what pushed me to the point that I wanted to become debt free.  However, with over $200k in debt at the age of 30 something, I need more than just one reason to keep on,  what may be a long journey.  In fact, I’ve come to up with about seven main reasons why I want to get out of debt.

I want to be a better mom.

The frustration and burden of debt can leak over into my at home life with my family.  Being stressed and frustrated with the constant credit card bills and the amount of interest charged results in short patience and sometimes disabling head aches, in turn taking me away from my children.

Aside from the stress and head aches, I want my children to have the things I didn’t (cliche) but not the latest electronics and shoes, but experiences.  You see, I don’t really remember what I got for some Christmases or birthdays but I do remember summer vacations, going to my first concert and meeting the members of the boy band.  I want my children to have better experiences, which goes great with my love to travel!

I don’t want to work to live.

The Mister adores the weekend, as do I.  However he goes out on the weekend and splurges just about everything that is left after bills.  We had a conversation about that went something like:

Him:  I work hard during the week, and I deserve to enjoy the weekend and spend my money how I want.

Me:  And with that attitude, you’re setting yourself to always have to work and then live.

Him:  SILENCE!

Yeah so I won that argument. My point however is that continuing to enjoy the weekend from a hard work week, sets us up to have to continue working.  And I don’t want to live that like.  I’ve mentioned before how I want work to be optional within four years and I think I’m on the right track .

I don’t like the “hands” in my paycheck

It’s ridiculous how much of my budget is consumed by lenders.  Of the $1500 -$2000 I may bring home bi-monthly about $2600-$3500 is to lenders.  LENDERS, not utilities or insurance (although insurance is pricey too) but Lenders like Wells Fargo and Honda Financial.  I absolutely hate it.  As I think of ho much money would be freed once I’m debt free, I get so excited which is why I’m unsure if retiring in the four years mentioned above is realistic.

My future is uncertain

My husband and I have been separated before.  The hardship I faced living on my income alone was difficult.  I hustled really, really hard and have been ever since.  Unfortunately, my absence from my children was even more difficult.  Although, I’m not hoping to be separated from him again, it’s a reality of my reality.  Meaning, since I know it has happened before, I’m not naïve that it could happen again.  If so, I’d like to be better financially prepared.

Debt is a stressful burden.

This is pretty self explanatory.  The burden of owing someone and being indebted to them and havoc that can result I decide to not pay or not pay timely is stressful enough to motivate me to eat beans and rice to make sure that any extra penny available is applied to lowering balances.

I HATE restrictions.

I absolutely hate restrictions of any kind.  I just want to do what I want to do. Right now, I’m restricted to my home iced in and I really wish I could fly to the tropical island and absorb some sun. 

Right now I want to see Beyoncé, and Adele, and some comedians but can not afford many of the tickets because of my debt journey and my determination to become debt free.  Even if I wasn’t on a journey, my budget would be restricted from purchasing tickets to ALL the events because of the minimum payments to ALL the LENDERS.

I no longer want to be a statistic.

I’ve had a child at 16, two more by 25, dropped out of college (but returned) and been a recipient of welfare.  Those are all unchangeable statics of my past.  However being a household of consumer debt, with $100k in student loan debt can and will be changed.  I refuse to be a statistic of consumer, student loan or what is also defined as “good debt” at all.

I’m certain as I continue on my journey, I’ll find more reasons that continue to motivate me to accomplishment.  As for now, these are the ones the are plastered in my brain, on journals, in calendars and hand written and folded up in my Bible.

What are your reasons?  How many do you have and how often do you remind yourself of them?

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Mommy and Money Issues: Series 1

Mommy and Money Issues: Series 1 appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!
Mommy and Money Issues: Series 1 appeared first on Goal Digging to Happiness!

Right now valued readers of GDTH, I’m struggling internally. Here is why.  My Big Girl (BG) just got a job!  I still tear up when I think about the fact that she can work now.  Literally, she was hired on January 8, 2016.  She worked Wednesday 1/13, Saturday 1/16, Sunday 1/17, and was supposed to return Tuesday 1/19.  On Tuesday 1/19 she contacted the supervisor and quit.

BG let me know the night before.  We had a long talk text about her decision.  She says that she thought it would interfere with her semester because she is taking 3 core classes necessary to graduate. She also said the environment made her anxious, her supervisor’s were unsupportive and sat in the back of the store on their phones, and her crew members and/or store was disgusting, too disgusting for her to bare.

I encouraged her to finish the pay period and then talk with them about her concerns with school, she did not want to.  I then attempted to convince her to at least finish the schedule and suggested that maybe she could better tolerate her personal issues with her working environment once she got her first pay check, again NO!  I finally said that if she was certain that it was not a good fit and she was determined to quit then call first thing in the morning and explain why she would not be returning.  She did and she states that she was thanked for calling and letting them know.

Now I’m struggling with how I handled the situation.  I attempt to prepare my children for the real world and I’m not sure that I did this in this situation.  In the adult world, is it that easy to quit a job or should it be?  Should I have given her the “in the real world” talk?  Should I make this a teachable moment?  Or should I support her decisions and continue to encourage her keep looking for suitable employment?

The other reason I struggle is because I blog, study, and breath personal finance.  I feel like I should be living the example and demonstrating what I want my children to learn about responsibility and money management.  Therefor, because I would never walk away from my employment (unless I already had something else) nor quit something because of how uncomfortable it was, I’m uncomfortable with not encouraging or maybe demanding her to do the same.

Additionally, I’m a firm believer in when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  I’m living proof.  In high school, I had a child, maintained the honor roll, was in the National Honor Society, and worked!  I took 5 classes for three semesters to graduate in 2008, with three children, and a job.  I entered grad school with three little children and a full time job.  One semester I had to complete an internship at night so I literally worked from 7:30 to 5:30 pm and then went to an intern at a mental health facility from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am for an entire semester.  I now work a full time, 2 side hustles, and blog.  My ish is tough, so I’ve gotten tougher.  But is that unrealistic for her.

I often struggle with traits of my own that my children lack.  I internalize it, and feel that I’m insufficient.  I get hard on myself to feel better about what I think are their inadequacies.  This may very well be one of those moments.  Maybe I’m more upset that I didn’t have the opportunity to teach her more about money management.  I don’t know.

I am very proud of her.  She was determined to get a job and she got one!  She is standing for what she thinks is of more value which is her education, and I agree.  Finally, she still does want to work, and is diligently putting in applications for weekend employment, so no disappointment there.

So valued GDTH readers, what do you think?  What would you have done?  Would you have handled the situation differently?

 

Life’s Lemons: How I’m making lemonade.

Life's Lemons

I recently posted my 2016 goals and the mini monthly goals to accomplish them. To refer back to them click here.  More specifically, my goal was to fully finance out-of-pocket our home  renovation of finishing the upstairs to add an additional bedroom and full bathroom to total but not exceed $10k.  The monthly mini goal(s) to work towards accomplishing this was to get the permit, purchase the floor boards, and have the mister to install the floor.

Long sigh….

Well, I thought I would jump start that goal on Wednesday January 31, 2015.  I contacted the city to inquire about a permit and am informed that I would need to get permission permit from environmental health to ensure that the renovation can be accommodated by the septic tank and well that we already have.  “Okay!” That seems simple was my initial thought and I proceed onto the health department.

Well… I arrive and complete the application.  As the man, Bill, overlooks that application frowning and shaking his head he concludes with depressing news.  The septic tank will not accommodate and additional room and bathroom because the current septic tank only accommodates three rooms and up to six people.   To fully assess our property there is a $300.00 fee (nonrefundable).  If any accommodations can be made the cost could range from $3k-$10k placing the total for the renovation at $13k-$20k.  There is no guarantee that they can come up with a solution, although they try very hard, and if not they do not refund the $300 assessment fee, nor do they grant the permission permit to get the building permit.

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The upstairs renovation was only a portion of the home renovations we had planned to make to our home over time.  We would like to extend our bedroom to add a sitting area and an updated bathroom to include a tub, update our kitchen, and add a detatched two door garage/man cave.  The total of all these renovations could range from $50k-$100k.

This brings me to the lemonade making process.  Do we:
  1. Continue with the out -of- pocket renovation
  2. take out a loan to cover the unfinished attic renovation
  3. sell our home and purchase what we really want and can afford within our means

Financially, option one makes the most cents (see what I did). However, we needed the room finished yesterday and could potentially take close to a year as we plan to accomplish many goals based on our pay periods.  The plus is that we have contractors that understand and are willing to work with us.

Option 2, could provide quicker results that option 1, however we would not apply for the loan until I have eliminated at least three of the five cards I have left.  Hubby would eliminate all of them by June which is when we are considering applying for the loan if that’s what we did.

Option 3, is only being introduced because of the time and money that would be required for options 1 or 2.  We wouldn’t be able to place our home on the market until October 2016.  This would allow us to aggressively eliminate debt, maximizing our affordability and ability to manage a possibly larger mortgage.

Our plan is to talk with a realtor and/or mortgage lender about our options.  In the meantime, you guys are so financially wise…what would you do? What other options would you consider?

2016 Ready! 2015 Outcome

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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?

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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