Budget, Finances, Life

expense-record-software-quickbooks-in-nigeria

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

omg

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?

Life

procrastinate-now-and-panic-later-20

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.

Accountability

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

Visualize

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:

PEACE OF MIND! FINANCES STAY IN TACT AND YOUR FINANCIAL WELL-BEING ISN’T COMPROMISED! LESS STRESS!

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?

Finances

churchmoney

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.

CHECKING ACCOUNT FEES

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.

OVERDRAFT FEES

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.

AVOID LATE PAYMENTS

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.

AUTOMATIC SUBSCRIPTIONS

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.

PROGRAM YOUR THERMOSTAT

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.

QUIT UNHEALTHY HABITS

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

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!

POOR PLANNING

“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

SCHOOL UNIFORMS     $194.00

TOTAL                                 $296.00

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

ARE YOU READY?

 

Finances, Life

Time-is-Money1

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.

DATA

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: BlogActiv.eu

 

 

 

 

Finances, Life, student loan

student loan debt

We all need an edumication…I mean, education – right?! But at what cost? My personal take on college is that it costs too much damn money. I know that it can’t be 100% free for everyone (yet), but I think we can all agree that we are being robbed blind. Am I wrong?

I will tell every high school senior I know that I do not believe going to college is worth it if you do not have a plan to pay for it.

I have approximately $19k in student loan debt – that is a lot! And from what it sounds like, in comparison to my counterparts, I may have the least amount of student loan debt. If I have a lot then how much do they have? From the people that I personally know their student loan debt ranges from $50k-$100k. Ew!

If you have not secured any significant scholarships, if you do not have parents who are going to fully pay for your education or if you are not 100% sure what you want to major in then…HOLD YOUR HORSES ON GOING TO COLLEGE. I’m just being real with you. #sorrynotsorry

In all seriousness, I want everyone to further their education, it just really pisses me off when kids get sent off to school uneducated about the reality of what going to college could cost you. Which causes them to come out of school with a debt burden that gets in the way of starting their life and enjoying it. And to think all they did was want to learn more.

Why aren’t kids more educated about the cost of going to college? I think there are a few answers to this. In some case kids are made to feel like college is the only option they have; either from their parents and/or society itself. Also, sometimes kids can’t wait to go off to college and have their independence so they will do whatever they need to do to make that happen.

As much as high school seniors think they know everything…they don’t. As mature as some high school seniors may seem they still need to be schooled on this topic. They all should be sat down and informed of the reality of what the costs are associated with going to college.

The following will be my list of things NOT to do, my big red warning signs of things to avoid – or maybe it’ll  be a list that includes my tips and advice. I don’t know really…I’m winging this list. It is an accumulation of things I learned the hard way or learned from others. And just a word to the wise – it is ALWAYS smarter to learn from someone else’s mistakes. 

student loan

  1. If your parents are going to take out a parent loan for your education with the expectation that you will pay it back at some point kindly reject that offer. It is very nice of them to be willing to do that and you should be very appreciative of that fact but think about for a minute. Once it is time to pay it back you will have zero options in the terms of paying it back. Since it will be in their name you will not have the opportunity to call the lender yourself and apply for a deferment/forbearance or to change the payment amount. The loan payment amount will probably be based on your parents income which in most cases would result in higher payment than you could afford just starting out. These would be possibilities if the loan was in your name. Unless they are going to out right pay for any loans that they take out for you don’t get stuck in this situation.
  2. There is nothing wrong with going to a community college! A local college is going to be less expensive than a big named school or an out of state college. You can decide to take all of your general education and pre-requisites at a community college, focus on excelling in your classes and you can later transfer to the school of your choice. I know a lot of people who did this. It did save them a ton of money. They not only saved money by starting out at a less expensive school but they were also able to pick up some scholarships to use at the school they transferred to.
  3. If you do not know what you would like to major in I would hands down suggest that you start out at a community college. Again, this will be less expensive and it will give you the opportunity to explore your interests in hopes that you will figure out what it is you want to do.
  4. If you go into college unsure of what you want to major in OR you change your mind after already starting school you could potentially waste not only a lot of money but your time as well. I urge all high school seniors to really give your future some actual thought. What could you picture yourself happily doing day in and day out for the rest of your life? <<– Hint Hint: That is what your career should be.
  5. Looking back at my high school life I feel bitter about one thing. I was not a high achiever nor was I an under achiever – I was your average B student. I sort of feel like because I was not in the top of my class academically AND I was not a low income student, that may have caused my situation to be over-looked by my counselors or a possible mentor. I didn’t have totally involved parents guiding me through high school who talked to me about college and what I wanted to do. I could have really benefited from having some guidance from a school counselor who could answer questions that I didn’t even know to ask. I went to a larger more diverse high school so I know it is hard to have a one-on-one with every single student. But as a senior, I do believe counselors should talk to every senior on a personal level. If you are a senior and you feel like you don’t have someone to help you please seek out your counselor or a teacher you have a good relationship with and ask for guidance. Or just email me!
  6. Apply your butt off for every single scholarship you can! The chances of you receiving a scholarship are greater the more you apply for. And it doesn’t matter the amount the scholarship is for – every bit of money helps. If you can get a one time $500 scholarship you better be excited. That could pay for your books one semester. Hello!
  7. You should totally look into work study programs at the schools you are thinking about attending. If you can, do it! Do whatever you can to help pay for school so that you do not have to take out so much in loans.
  8. Back to the community college thing. If you go to a local college chances are you can live at home. Think about that for a minute…you will save so much money not paying for on-campus residence. Plus, if your parents are awesome and let you live at home for free while getting your degree, you better kiss their butts! Seriously. If living at home does not sound appealing to you ask yourself this: Would you rather live at home now or live at home later as a grown adult when you can’t afford anything due to student loan debt??? #justsayen
  9. If you are sure of your major and you have a career plan that you are happy and excited about then GO TO SCHOOL AND GET THAT DEGREE YO! If you have to pay for your schooling yourself my main advice for you is to take out the least amount of loans as possible. That means you need to look in to scholarships and any grants you could qualify for to use towards school. You should look into the work study programs offered at your school. If you can swing working and college at the same time you should try and pay for as much as you can out of pocket. Do any and everything you can to minimize the student loan amounts you will need to pay for the remainder of costs.

 

I hate leaving this so-called list at only 9 (such a random ending) but I feel like this was a rant more than anything. A legit rant though — a rant that you should really give some thought to.

The realization is this:

When you are as young as you are when you start college and money is literally being GIVEN to you to pay for school it feels fake in a way. Everything happens behind the scenes when your schooling is getting paid for – you don’t physically have money being given to YOU to then have YOU turn around and PAY the college. In the midst of all of the excitement of getting accepted to college, the school is handing you loan documents to sign to pay for school. You don’t see this happening – you just know that it’s being paid for and you can go on your merry way, right? Wrong!

The fact is when you are done with college (good job, btw!) and your grace period is over, that loan becomes very real and you really have to pay it back – with your money! So…please, please, please keep that in mind before you make the big decision on where to go to school, what you want to go to school for and how you intend on paying for it. ~Drops mic!

Please pass this along to every high school senior you know.

Photo via Lending Memo

Photo via Occupy

Budget, Life

Goodby June Hello July

I think that I got a little bit ahead of myself in June. I was getting too excited about actually trying out a budget and I didn’t even think it through. I failed miserably! I’m glad to be starting a new month.

Fail #1

I failed to think through the fact that I have two kids. How could I possibly forget those adorable little money sucking crumb snatchers?? Here is what having two kids cost me in June:

  1. School Book Rental Fees:     $317.94 *For the entire school year
  2. Theatre:                                  $100.00 *This included tickets & sponsorship
  3. Cheerleading:                         $175.00 *This is a one time cost for the year

TOTAL:                                        $592.94

Wow! This practically took up all of the extra money I was planning on having in June to put towards debt. These are all annual expenses so I will not be seeing these again until next year. I really did not set myself up for success here. I knew about these things yet I did not plan for them or even remember they were coming up. *Smacks self in the head*

SOLUTION: I need to be realistic and ask myself at the beginning of each month what do we all have going on. My kids are involved in extra-curricular activities and most of the time those cost some money depending on what they do. This could be anything; birthdays, activities, school clothes, etc.. Every month there is usually something. I have to keep that in mind. It was poor planning on my part and that is because I am not used to budgeting. Must do better next time!

 

Fail #2

If you recall I took a very important test in June. I spent a solid week studying and wigging out about this test. I was virtually non-existent at my house. This meant that I made ZERO meals. #SorryNOTSorry I mean, I passed the test and no one starved so it all worked out, right?. The truth is we ate out a lot that week. I didn’t want to deal with making food, cleaning up food and I wanted needed the convenience. Here’s what our food spending looked like in June:

  1. Groceries      $184.14
  2. Restaurant    $  74.86
  3. Fast Food      $134.01

TOTAL:              $393.01

 

SOLUTION: The solution here is that I probably should have went to the grocery store, spent half of what I spent on fast food and restaurants and got easy meals that my family could prepare on their own and put them in charge of the cooking and the cleaning it all up. To be honest – my mind was so hyper focused on the test that I wasn’t thinking straight. Since I do have another test to take around November I will try to implement this solution. Family must step up to the plate!

 

Fail #3

I failed to track my expenses for a period of time and I failed to be real with myself. I just jumped in to a budget I was not mentally prepared to follow. I know that we all have to start somewhere but looking back I made my so-called budget while writing my budget post, which took like an hour or two. It looked so easy – it looked so do-able. Well, well, well – it’s not that simple for me and it’s probably not that simple for most people who are new to budgeting.

SOLUTION: There must be something to the whole track your spending thing. I sort of thought that was a waste of time but now I can see that studying your spending habits for a month or two could help you plan for your personal spending pitfalls, so to say. If you want to start a budget I would suggest that you track your spending. I already dissected my transactions in June and I want to track my spending in July. I plan on making new budget in August/September, with the hopes that I have a realistic idea on what to include in my budget and how much to allocate to each item.

 

*ATTENTION ALL BEGINNER BUDGETER’S*

Have the following things in mind when creating a budget for the first time ~
  • Think of the bigger expenses you could encounter throughout the year. Take a calendar and write down when birthdays are, vacations you might take, kids school expenses, kids activities…this list could go on. Write them down and try to plan for them.
  • Even though you run into feeling stress from time to time, you should intentionally try to not spend money in response to that stress. If you must – keep it at a minimum. We are human. However, don’t be drastic with it.
  • Track your spending. Get to know your spending habits, bad and good.

All in all – I am not super disappointed. I am actually excited to learn these things and to try again. I’m ready for you JULY! 🙂

Help a sister out – What are your secrets to successful budgeting???