What defines happiness? I guess the answer is probably different for everyone. However, I would predict that many people think money would in fact lead to happiness.

I personally feel that money could buy happiness to. a. point. I also wholeheartedly believe that you can be happy no matter what your income level is. After all, happiness is a choice

You will experience some level of unhappiness no matter how much money you make if you;

                                                      ♦ Have a good amount of debt


                                                      ♦ Value stuff/things more than experiences


                                                      ♦ Lack an appreciation of time/people


Of course – if you don’t make much money and don’t currently have much money then YES, an increase in money coming in will inevitably make you happier. But don’t get too excited because it won’t last forever. Your happiness does not keep going up and up and up as the money rolls in.

So how can you increase your happiness even though you might not be making the money you want…or need?

Eliminating Debt and Creating Some Security. In my opinion this is the easiest way you can immediately feel more happy. Even merely coming up with a plan and a budget and feeling motivated to stick to it can make you feel less stressed. Imagine how you could feel when you actually start seeing the benefits of sticking to your budget. When you see your debt dwindling and your emergency fund growing I promise you will feel happier. And yes! – this can be accomplished with any income level. It doesn’t matter if you are making $20k, $40k or $75k. This step is about making choices and taking control of your finances and understanding that it won’t happen over night That means you no longer live outside your means, pay down your debt and start saving little by little.

Value Experiences More Than Things. We get super excited when we get a new gadget, pair of shoes or a brand new car but how long does that excited feeling stay with us? Not very. Almost always the stuff breaks, gets lost and or we lose interest. Sometimes this crap even costs us more money than to begin with if we have to repair or replace something. Experiences however gives us a memory for a lifetime which, again, almost always is worth more than any ‘thing’ you can buy.

Although – this does NOT mean you go and charge a week long vacation and come home to debt. That is a sure way to decrease your happiness and increase your stress. So please do not misconstrue what I am saying. I think you get it though.

Have an appreciation for time and people. It really is as a matter of fact as saying ‘start appreciating what you have’ and don’t get all hung up on what you don’t have. I don’t mean to sound so harsh but time goes by so fast and people die. Screw whatever it is that you don’t have and make the most out of today with your loved ones and for yourself.

This might mean you don’t buy that dream house that causes you an hour + commute to work so that you aren’t missing out on playing with your kids or whatever else you could possibly miss out on. I haven’t conducted any studies but pretty much every person I’ve personally known who commutes hates it and tries to find work closer to home. Ultimately – don’t chase a big salary that will probably take up a lot of your time and could cost you relationships just to have more money.

I try to follow these guidelines and I feel pretty darn happy. We all have our moments of overspending, wanting new things, comparing our lifestyle to others, etc.. It’ll happen. Allow yourself some time to whine and feel bad. But be prepared for it and don’t let it consume you.

Happiness is a choice! No matter what happens you are in control of how you view your life.

Besides – I actually believe that HAPPINESS can bring you MONEY. Generally it seems that people with a brighter disposition on life have more. It seems that these people tend to do what they love and the money just comes. What do you think?


Finances, Life


This topic is one that has weighed heavily on my mind for the last month. To be very honest I have never even heard the term before. But when I did it was like a light bulb that went off for me. Financial Abuse! Financial abuse is the main reason that someone stays in an abusive relationship and it is the #1 reason the someone ends up returning to an abusive relationship. What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse prevents victims from acquiring, using or maintaining financial resources. Financial abuse is just as effective in controlling a victim as a lock and key. Abusers employ isolating tactics such as preventing their spouse or partner from working or accessing a bank, credit card or transportation. They might tightly monitor and restrict their partner’s spending. Victims of financial abuse live a controlled life where they have been purposely put into a position of dependence, making it hard for the victim to break free. In 99% of all domestic violence cases, financial abuse helps keep victims trapped in the abusive relationship.  This was taken directly from their website, click here to get the facts!

My eyes were opened to this form of abuse when I randomly saw Kerry Washington on The Ellen Show. Considering I am never home during the day it was very random that I was able to catch Ellen interviewing her. I was pumped – I just love Kerry Washington! Little did I know she was about to spread awareness for Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse – I was intrigued…What is the Purple Purse??

The Allstate Foundation has been around for 60 years helping to make communities stronger in many ways. Purple Purse is just one of those ways. This foundation’s goal is to help domestic violent survivors by giving them the support and tools to become financially independent. They have invested more than $50 million to help women get out of abusive relationships.

Financial abuse is not openly talked about yet it is THE reason women stay in abusive relationships. We all know talking about our personal finances is not very socially acceptable. Money is such a personal topic and I understand that, but HELLO…for the love of everything holy…this is just another reason EVERYONE needs to be talking about it (among many other reasons).

What I mean by that is we need to be educating kids; elementary through college, and giving our future generations the knowledge and tools to know how to be financially responsible and how to take care of financial matters on their own. This would include a segment on what to do and not to do if you ever choose to be financially dependent on your spouse. Heck! At this point we need to start bringing awareness to all kids on domestic abuse in general, considering financial abuse mostly stems from physical, mental and/or emotional abuse.

It baffles me how I never put two and two together on this topic. Considering myself, me being who I am…it has always been extremely important to me to be financially independent and not need to rely on anyone. I am pretty sure this was instilled in me because of my experiences growing up. I saw first hand how my mom was dependent on my dad and did not have a secure way out of a toxic relationship.

Financial abuse can be anything as straight forward as not having ANY access to money, spending is very tightly monitored, being left out of all financial decisions, not knowing the state of your financials, intentionally ruining your credit, or just the mere threat of ‘if you leave you will not have a dime’. It’s all financial abuse.

I would encourage you to go to their website and read up on this form of abuse. It is a pretty great foundation supporting a cause that is basically silent. Empowering domestic abuse victims with the financial knowledge and tools could maybe help them to leave a bad situation.

Have you personally known of someone being in a financially abusive situation?






Budget, Finances, Life


Earlier this year I decided to take a look at my bills and make a real effort to reduce any that I could. The word to focus on in that sentence is EFFORT.

This is something that I should have done a long time ago, this is something that everyone should do…but this little thing called life gets in the way. After just barely making it through a day the last thing that I am usually thinking about is calling a company to question, research and change my bills. Besides, by the time I get home these places are usually closed. This means I have to schedule time during my work day to deal with more work…??? I’ll pass!

BUT (there’s always a BUT isn’t there?) … sometimes you just gotta get over that hump, and JUST DO IT! Although it takes some extra effort this is not something to procrastinate on. You can get your bills lowered and you will relieved and happy at the end of the day.

I wanted to share with you the bills that I focused on and got lowered. It did take some phone calls, some discussions, some decisions, and some finalization but it was oh so worth it.

I zeroed in on three bills and here are my savings:

  1. Homeowner’s Insurance    BEFORE: $1,550.00/year     AFTER: $1,250.00   SAVINGS: $300.00
  2. Car Insurance                          BEFORE: $1,200.00/year     AFTER: $660.00      SAVINGS: $540.00
  3. Mortgage                                    BEFORE: $11,220.00/year   AFTER: $7,848.00   SAVINGS: $3,372.00


That is a whopping savings of $4,212.00 per year!!


I started this mini project with the Homeowners insurance. Every year I noticed it was rising and rising and I always meant to call but of course never did. When I finally did it didn’t take much to run the new numbers. I also reached out to another insurance provider for a comparison.

Both of those conversations naturally led to my car insurance. With that bill being next on my list this was like a two for one savings deal. As you can probably guess by combining my car and homeowners insurance I was able to get a pretty good discount for both. To take it even further I signed up for e-statements for another small discount and decided to pay my car insurance premium in full which gives another discount. I ended up staying with my current homeowner insurance provider and moving my car insurance to them as well. At the end of the day I just had to go in and sign a couple of documents. Not too big of a deal.

My big bill saver came from refinancing my mortgage. I wrote a post about this one because I did the refinance using the HARP Program. Same as with my homeowner’s insurance, my mortgage payment was steadily rising every year due to a) the homeowners insurance increasing and b) there was craziness going on with the property taxes for a few years. My mortgage had creeped up to $935.00 over the course of 9 years. I couldn’t take it anymore and looked into refinancing. Interest rates are still low (who knows how long that will last) right now and if you can it is worth looking into possibly refinancing. My mortgage payment is now $654.00.worth


For not feeling like putting in the EFFORT into looking into these bills it was most certainly worth every 421,200 pennies that I did. LOL!

Next on the bill saving agenda… CABLE!

What bills have you cut? I’d love to hear about them!

BTW – My title was inspired but the song “Cut it” but O.T Genasis. Do you know it? Now sing the title. 🙂 Catchy right?



Did you know that yesterday was National Fight Procrastination Day?!

So typical of me to procrastinate a day to write this post!

I can be described as a procrastinator from time to time. Hey! I personally believe that I do my best work when it is done at the last minute. Forget the fact that I might fret about it until I finally take action and frantically try and get stuff done with seconds to spare. I don’t know what it is or why I am a procrastinator but I am. I fully admit it.

There are times when I am on top of it though. I get things done quickly and if something goes wrong I have time to address it and fix it. And let me tell ya- I have never felt stressed when going this route. Dare I say, but… I usually feel accomplished.

Even though things have never gone totally haywire for me because of my procrastination I still don’t like this quality. I would love to improve this flaw of mine. Based upon my own experience (of when I’m super motivated), some good ole’ research and the fact that today is National Fight Procrastination Day I wanted to touch on some ways you can stop being a procrastinator.

This first one will be a shocker…

Design your Outline

The night before you intend on killing your procrastination habits sit down and plan for the next day. Plan for the little things first. Have an outline for your full day to put your head in the right space of just being ready to tackle the day. Plan your breakfast, your outfit, the time you want to be out of the door, plan your lunch, your dinner and any errands you need to complete that day. This can simply be an outline in your head but for me, I would probably write some of this down. Just to keep me on track.

Make a list of what you need to get done or goals that you would like to accomplish

This can be any and everything that is important in your life; personally and/or professionally. Arrange your list in order of importance and write down a deadline by each task.

Break up your tasks

We all have stuff that we have to get done everyday. That is a given. But if you have a bigger project to do break that up into more manageable pieces. Decide this early on and not as you are moving along. Set new deadlines for each piece of this project. This will help you to not feel overwhelmed by something big that you need to do.


You can stay accountable in different ways. If we are talking about a work project then make an appointment at the end of each day to update your team or your boss where you are at in the process as of that day. Or this can be a weekly meeting where you update your supervisor in general of what you accomplished in the previous week and what is still outstanding.

Talk to your family and friends about your goals. Saying them out loud alone could make you feel more motivated to get something accomplished. You could also ask a few people whom you respect to help you remain accountable. They can help by checking in with you on a regular basis. OR – you could start a blog. LOL


Envision the outcome of your projects in both a good and bad light. How will you feel if you don’t get something done and you fail your boss or yourself? How will you feel when you accomplish the items on your list?

Just do it already

If you’re feeling lazy or if you’re feeling scared to face a task and you know procrastination is about to take over, sometimes the answer is to JUST DO IT. Duh, right? We’d all ‘just do it’ if we didn’t have a procrastination issue.

What I really mean by this is if you just get up and do one thing that is productive that will usually get the ball rolling to complete other tasks on your list. Sometimes all it takes is quick pep talk to yourself to get one easy thing done even when you do not want to at all. This technique helps me quite a bit actually.

My day goes a little something like this: When I am at work I am super motivated to do housework and personal stuff and when I am at home I tend to feel like doing work stuff. I know! I am a** backwards sometimes. LOL

At the start of my work day I usually have to force myself to complete one task and then I am usually pretty productive for the rest of the day. Once I get home from work I don’t want to do anything – but if I force myself to do the dishes that almost always turns into wiping off counters and tables and picking up the house. That is just how I work.

handwritten motivation words - Do it! on the school blackboard

At the end of the day any of this advice will be helpful IF you are ready to stop being a procrastinator. It’s the same with any vice in life though, if you don’t think you have problem or if you don’t want to make a change none of this will matter. Being a procrastinator sometimes is not the end of the world. But if you procrastinate on EVERYTHING you are undoubtedly going to cause yourself some unnecessary stress. It ain’t worth it! 🙂

If you are a procrastinator, how do you stay on top of your daily tasks and big projects??








Budget, Finances, Life

goodbye august

I can’t lie – After analyzing the spending numbers for August I am feeling a little bit down. There were just so many one time expenses and as you know from my last post a very big unexpected expense that really did a number on my savings. You can read about that here, just click on cars suck so make sure you’re prepared to fix them! 🙁

In life things happen that we cannot always make an exact plan for. The best way to plan is to have an emergency savings account so that you don’t totally lose your head when something happens…because something WILL happen. I don’t want to come across as a negative Nancy but I am a realist. If you do read my last post, hopefully it encourages you to start ramping up your emergency savings account. You will thank me later.

Other irregular expenses came up this month as well, which just added to the BIG car repair bill. In August here is where my extra spending went:

  1. School clothes & supplies        $297.00  <<< *You can read about back 2 school shopping here.
  2. Car insurance premium           $314.50  <<< *I have been paying my car insurance in full for 6 months of coverage.
  3. Car Repair                                  $1,600.00  <<<*UGH!! That’s all I have to say about that.

That is over $2,200 of extra spending. My family could go on vacation with that kind of money. It’s just nuts!

And…If I want to continue down this honesty road I still overspent on fast food. I overspent on wasting money in gas stations the entire month (on drinks/snacks). I spent $10 alone in the stupid vending machine at work. That just annoys me — I am annoying myself!

So I am writing this post to say GOOD RIDDANCE to August. I will not dwell on this crazy month anymore. Instead I will focus on September and try to make this a great month, both personally and financially. Here are things I would like to accomplish:

september goals

  • I will replenish my savings account with the full $1,600.00 I just had to withdrawal.
  • I will try my hardest to reduce my spending on food. This includes groceries as well.
  • I will try not to buy anything from the gas stations other than gas. Duh!
  • I will minimize the amount of stuff in my house – Time do declutter!

Happy September! What are your goals? Finance or not, I love to hear what you have on your goal list.



Budget, Finances, Life

ecard car

Why should you have an emergency savings? Unfortunately – I can answer this for you from my recent personal experience. I noticed life had been rather uneventful lately. It caused me to have an inclination that something was about to go down.

It was last Friday morning (TGIF, right?!?) when I was driving my kids to their bus stop. I park the car and we all get out and enjoy the Thank God it’s Friday feeling. It was a beautiful morning thus far. The bus arrives and the kids get on, I get in my car and…DUN DUN DUN…you guessed it my friends – IT WOULDN’T START!

I was only slightly panicking. Surprisingly, even though my car wasn’t starting for me I still had a pretty sunny disposition. I didn’t really want to be dealing with this but I also thought the worse case scenario would be that I needed a new fuel pump and it would be around $500-$600. So I get my car towed and sent off to get the diagnosis while I got dropped off at work. All day I worked and waited…still feeling pretty happy that it was Friday. So naïve! 1a1676880332afac44abdd0d0dc10ab9

Finally at the end of the day I called the mechanic to get the update. When I told him which car was mine his whole tone changed. “It’s not good.” he says. This is the point when my positive outlook slowly started to disappear. I know longer gave a crap that it was Friday!

The mechanic finally gets to the point and tells me I am looking at $1,600 in repairs. $1600!!!! Un-fricken-believable! I could have cried but I held it together. It’s not like I own this car. I am still paying for it so I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I need my car, which means I need $1,600.

Lucky for me I made a decision a couple of years ago to get my financial life together. I created a savings account where I, dare I say, actually saved money. Initially the goal was to save $1000. I did that and it felt so good. It felt so good that I continued to contribute to that savings. It was only a few posts ago where I was deliberating what I should do with my accumulated savings. It’s not like I have a ton of money but this is the most I have ever saved so it makes me feel really proud.

Am I happy that this happened and I have to pull from my precious savings account? Hell no! But I am happy and relieved that I even have the money to pay for this very unexpected expense. What in the world would I do if I didn’t have it?

I would have been without my car until I could scrounge up the money. This would have probably caused me to miss work, inconvenience friends/family for rides, ultimately use bill money to pay for it all, be very behind on essentially all of my bills and be very stressed out. Ew! No thank you!

I could probably come up with a list of reasons you should have an emergency savings but let’s just skip all of that (for today) and get to the #1 reason:


Considering I have had no car all weekend I spent my entire weekend at home. I was able to reflect on the possibility of not having the money to cover this emergency. I know I would have been a hot mess. Stressed to the max and my kids and I would probably have had a terrible weekend because of the stress on my part.

Instead, I was able to accept the situation for what it is and be comforted by the fact that I have an emergency savings for this reason. My kids and I spent some good quality time together and I am grateful for this peace of mind.

Major car repairs aren’t the only emergency to plan for. Keep in mind you could lose your job, have a health/dental emergency, unexpected home repairs, etc. Plan for it as best as you can.

Have you had any unexpected emergency with no savings to cover it? How did you handle it?



I know that we all have wasted money here and there. I will fully admit that I have a time or two. Most of the time it has been on accident but there have been times where I legit wasn’t able to make a payment on time…back in the day. I just had to accept it and suffer the consequences.

Now that I have dug myself out of living paycheck to paycheck and I am more financially conscious I try to avoid having any unnecessary expenses…at all costs. <<— Does that even make sense? LOL You know what I was trying to say. 🙂

I like to think that no one wants to waste money but sometimes we do. I was thinking maybe you just need a list of the top ways that either I have wasted money or ways that I have witnessed other people wasting money to open your eyes and NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY! Some of it is common sense and some of it you actually have to make a change in your life in order to not waste your money. Either way if you always try to be aware of these things you will always end up with more money in your pocket.


Free checking accounts seem to be rare these days. Make sure you aren’t being charged and don’t know it. Call a customer service rep at your financial institution. Sometimes they have certain requirements to get the account for free like signing up for E-statements. If you can’t avoid the fees then shop around for a new bank. There are still free ones out there.


I think that this is one of my pet peeves. Some people will know dang well that they do not have any money in their account but go into a store and buy something so minimal, like $3 to $4, with their debit card and end up paying an extra $34 in an overdraft fee. What the what??!?! This one is common sense. I know that most people do not keep a register of their account…shoot, I don’t even do that, but I do look at my account online or through the app and make sure I have money. If I’m getting low I just don’t use my debit card. I would rather pull out the little bit of cash and when it is gone it’s gone. I do not want to play around with overdraft fees — they add up real quick and then you will have yourself in a real negative situation.


When people have multiple bills to pay I know that accidentally skipping one can happen. This is why it is a good idea to write down your bills each month and check them off as you pay them. I have a very sloppy spreadsheet log that has each of my pay dates for the whole year and under each pay date I list which bills I need to pay with that pay check. As soon as I pay it I highlight in yellow. You are looking at a $25-$35 late payment fee, not to mention the ding you will get on your FICO score.


This is a sneaky little trick that can get many people. For instance, I know someone who recently was duped into this. What happened was he used Equifax to check his credit report/score for free. Well it was one of those where after you received your free package you were then automatically signed up to receive monthly credit report updates at a cost of something around $30.00. You had to manually opt out of that yourself and I bet you can guess what happened… he never opted out. 6 months went by being charged $30 and he didn’t even realize it.

Lesson here: unless you know that you will opt out of whatever subscription you come across on time don’t bother taking advantage of any of the one time offers.


This is one that I finally started doing a year ago. I know I know – it was stupid of me that there was a time I did not do this. It does save you money though. I live in Northern Indiana and we experience all seasons. During the day while we are at school and work we do not need so much heat or A/C. If you don’t have the ability to program your thermostat all you need to do is adjust it before you leave and then again when you come home.


Quitting an unhealthy habit like smoking, drinking every single day, eating fast food every day or cutting out pop can save you tons of money. I realize this would be a hard change to make but the benefits are two-fold: you save money and your saving your health. The average price of a pack of cigarettes in Indiana is about $6.00. A pack a day will cost you about $2,190.00. Holy cow! This topic is personal to me because my dad smokes and the struggle is real. I know he wants to quit but it is so hard and I understand his struggle t to a point. My best advice is to never start.


Payday loans may seem so convenient and easy to get and if you can pay it back right away then you might be asking what the big deal is. Well typically your average payday loan customer is a low-income worker who is living paycheck to paycheck. The odds of a payday loan being paid back right away is small — and most of the time people find themselves extending it or just repeatedly taking payday loans. This eventually catches up to most people and causes them to sink further into debt. I personally think this should be illegal as I feel these places do more harm than good for people’s finances. On average, you will be charged $10-$15 per $100 borrowed for 2 weeks. If you can’t pay it back right away you can easily owe more than you borrowed. Don’t do it!


“He who fails to plan, plans to fail”

This is me! This is my struggle that I am working on. This can cover many areas that could end up costing you more money. For me though – it’s all about meal planning. I don’t plan meals which causes us to eat out often. I don’t even like eating out that much but I get caught up in it for the convenience. We have cut back on eating out but it still happens, especially during busy seasons. This can cost me any where from $20-$50 per week depending on how much or where we go. Ideally I’d love to eat out only 2 times a month but man oh man is that hard! I am working on it though.

If one would stop doing all of these things for a month, how much would they save?
Based on my situation and family size I would guess that if were wasting money by doing this list of things we could save around $300 per month.


Do any of you waste your money in these ways? Do you have other ways we could be wasting money…that we should stop doing!

photo via sharefaith

Budget, Life, Parenting

back-to-school2The back to school countdown is officially beginning for us. School starts on August 17th around here which means we they have 16 more days until the big day.

I am happy to say that we are done shopping for back to school supplies and uniforms and I did it all in one weekend. I am super proud of myself because typically we are rushing around from store to store, sometimes just days until the first day. #GOME

This year we did all of our shopping at Target for the school supplies and we went to Old Navy for school uniforms. Only going to two stores made the process so much easier and less painful. No dragging my kids from store to store hearing them ask over and over again “Are we done?” #NO

I can usually rely on Old Navy for good prices and sales. And just maybe there is something to not shopping at the last minute because they actually had a good supply of choices and sizes. #DUH In the past, when I would wait until the last minute we would have to hop from store to store because lots of things were sold out or they didn’t have my kids sizes. Lesson learned! #ALWAYSGOEARLY

My kids attend public school and our school system requires uniforms. I personally don’t mind this at all. It makes shopping for clothes a little more easy and it makes getting ready in the mornings a heck of a lot easier. I also feel like I don’t overspend on clothes anymore and we aren’t feeling the pressure of buying the best name brand items.

Shopping for school supplies is a lot more fun. My kids are usually excited to get the supplies and pick out their folders, notebooks and backpacks. I have to admit I enjoy it too – except when we are paying.

This year my daughter will be in the sixth grade and my son will be in second grade. This will be the very last year that my kids will be going to the same school together and I am starting to get very sentimental about that. Which means this is going to be an emotional year. I foresee tears at every event and school function. #SIGH

All in all – I don’t think the amount I spent on back to school shopping was too bad. I am so happy we are done. My son could probably care less about school starting but my daughter is pumped. She has already started organizing her supplies and getting ready for the first day of school.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES         $102.00 *includes backpacks


TOTAL                                 $296.00

What is your back to school budget? What supplies are you required to buy?



Finances, Life


When it comes to saving…time really is money!

And this my friends is just more of a reason to participate in a retirement plan as soon as you get your first gig, that is IF your employer has one set up – and NEVER touch it! The younger you start the absolute better off you will be.

I know, I know – a 401(k) plan is no pension plan with an expected rate of return but unfortunately those plans are kind of a thing of the past. And if you have an employer who offers a 401(k) plan that includes a match (AKA…FREE $$) then you better take advantage.

It pays to start early! I am by no means a wizard at using excel but I wanted to quickly put together a chart that shows what starting early could mean for you.


This data includes the assumption of a 6% return on investments. Yes – I realize that seems so unbelievable at the moment but remember we are thinking long term…not short term.

We are looking at two people; one who starts contributing $100 per month at 25 for 10 years then stops, and the other one who starts contributing the same amount starting at 35 for 30 years.

This just goes to show you that time is on your side. Time is your BFF! One of the main things to take away from this is that the earlier you start saving the less you will have to save out of your pocket. In this example, between two people one only had to put away $12k, as opposed to $36k, to end up with about the same amount of savings.

If you are reading this I urge you to saving NOW and to encourage your younger family/friends to start saving ASAP.

At what age did you start saving?

Photo via: