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Be More: Financial – Plugging up money leaks

I’m back with another in the Be More series of posts.  Today, I want to discuss the idea of “money leaks,” although I think in our case, the term should be money floods.  I think of money leaks as those places where you don’t really think about how much money you’re spending until you sit down to look at the totals.  Then, you’re shocked at just how much money is going out of your pockets and into someone else’s.  In 2017, I want to make plugging up these money leaks a priority in my life.  So, I thought I would identify my top five money leaks and then report to you on how my plumbing project is going in 2017.

plugging-the-money-leaks

  1.  Eating out.  This is the real flood threat for our family.  We eat out constantly.  When my husband works a full day, he sometimes eats breakfast ($7.50) and lunch ($12-13) out.  That is basically two of his eight hours of pay gone.  Such a waste.  But, it isn’t just him.  I often get fed up with cooking and cleaning the kitchen and will voluntarily go out instead.  With the three of us, that is often between $30 and $40 a pop.  Today, we went to lunch and although we ate relatively cheap, my husband had two beers and it brought the tab up to a hefty $45!  We had a $25 gift card to the restaurant, but that was still $20 even with the gift card.  I’m tired of this money flowing out of my wallet into the pockets of others when we often don’t enjoy the food or the experience all that much. When I was younger, eating out was a weekly event.  And I do mean event.  We went out almost every Friday (when my dad got paid) and it was seen as a big deal.  When my dad was off work, we did NOT eat out.  And I don’t remember ever going out for lunch or breakfast much.  I want to make eating out something that is an experience, not something done out of desperation.
  2. Food waste.  Seriously.  This is another flood threat in our house.  I throw out so much food.  It makes me feel a little ill and very guilty.  I just can’t figure out how to buy efficiently.  I buy too much of some things.  Other things I buy planning to use them and they don’t get used because we eat out instead (see #1).  Still other things, I think I’m going to use, so I don’t put in the freezer and they go bad.  I want to be a meal planner and in fact, I’ve signed up for Plan to Eat‘s Make Ahead Meal Challenge for January.  I am a horrible meal planner.  But, I am bound and determined to make it work in the new year so we will eat at home and save money.  If you’d like to join me at Plan to Eat, they are having a 30 day free trial for new members right now and it gives you access to all their recipes for the challenge.  You can look me up as a friend and we can share recipes!  I’m under 2ndheartmom and I focus on cheap and easy food stuffs!
  3. Cell phones.  This is an area I really struggle.  I feel like I NEED to have a smartphone with data plans, etc.  Because I travel so much for work and I’m constantly going places, I feel like I need to have one to access email, etc.  But, obviously, NEED is a strong word for that.  I could live without a smartphone with a data plan.  I definitely did not need to have an iPhone 6s that is costing me an exorbitant amount of money each month.  I’m going to look into Freedom Pop in 2017.  I need to figure out if I can get out of my current contract, how much that will cost and what the trade-off will be.  But, I have a feeling that getting a limited plan would really save me quite a bit.  We spend over $200 a month for two phones.  That, my friends, is ridiculous.  By the end of the year, we’re spending $2500 just to have a device that 15 years ago, we survived without just fine.  Plus, I feel like my phone sucks up a lot of my time and attention that I could be spending on other more meaningful things.
  4. Stupid Taxes.  That’s a Dave Ramsey phrase, but it totally fits these things.  I pay a lot of late fees, overdraft fees, parking tickets, and other such nonsense each year.  I am afraid of adding it all up as it would easily be thousands of dollars.  I’m too smart to be paying so much in stupid tax.  I need to get my sh*% together and start doing thing the right way: on time and paid in full.
  5. Coffee and things at coffee shops.  It is a close tie between this and books, but I think this wins out.  I love me some Starbucks.  I have a Gold Card.  I keep track of stars.  I buy food there.  My daughter likes to get snacks there.  Sometimes I even buy bagged coffee there (pretty rare, but I do).  I get a latte almost every day I work at some point during the day.  That is three or four lattes a week at $4.25 a pop.  That is somewhere around $15 a week.  Now, there are weeks where I don’t get that much, but there are also weeks where I get much more than that.  So, on average, $10-15 a week is no exaggeration.  And the funny thing is, I make coffee at home almost every day as well.  But, I often want something later in the day or something stronger or something more fun.  So, I go to Starbucks.  Next year, I want to start drinking the coffee I make at home and nothing else UNLESS I have a gift card balance I can use.  And even then, I would like to make it only once a week (because gift card balances don’t usually go real far).  I also want to find cheaper drinks there (see this Pin related to this idea – I need to study up).  Finally, I will not buy food there (because it is outrageously expensive).

So, there you have it.  My five major money leaks that are threatening a flood.  I’m hoping that I can do some plumbing work and get those leaks fixed in 2017.  What about you?  What are your major money leaks?

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Make Your Holiday Shopping Pay!

Affiliate links included.  I don’t do a ton of reviews, affiliate links, etc. on my blog because I only want to be “affiliated” with things that I trust and that really are beneficial.  So, I decided to do a little plug for Ebates today and if anyone joins and makes purchases, I will get a “bonus” in my account.

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Today is the biggest shopping day of the year (maybe) and I won’t be doing any!  I used to work retail when I was in college and I HATED Black Friday!  And that was before everyone was opening up ON Thanksgiving!  But, I hated that so many people would go out shopping and act like the lines and the chaos were unexpected in some way.  I hated that people would be so rude to each other and to the workers (me) in the name of a deal.  And I hated the long hours that it meant (not just on that day, but the remainder of the holiday season – earlier opening and later closings the whole time).  So, I now do not shop on Black Friday.  I haven’t in years.  But, I still love a good deal!

I started using Ebates a while ago, but I didn’t realize just how many places I could use it until I installed their Chrome extension a while back.  This gives me an alert on the top of my screen whenever I land on a website that offers cash back for purchases.  I now have been cashing out well over $100 each quarter (that is how often Ebates pays out – you have an account where the money builds up and it is then transferred into an account of your choice).

I use it for my regular online purchases (which is usually a pretty small amount), but I have also started using it on my hotels.com bookings and that has me getting pretty good amounts of money when I book hotel rooms.  And for Christmas shopping, I will definitely be using it to save a little extra on every online purchase.  If you aren’t already a member of Ebates and plan on doing online shopping or travel purchases for the holidays, get your membership now!  And be sure to install one of their “buttons” for your browser as there are so many retailers who offer Ebates rebates that you may not think would!  You’ll never miss a rebate that way!

Thankfulness Challenge

365 Days of Thankfulness – Day 22

Another day at home.  My DD is not feeling “bad,” but she just wants to be at home.  I think she is a bit under the weather still, but more of it is just wanting to hang out and take it easy, with which I can totally relate.  There is a lot going on tonight – the Advent event at our church and our city’s Christmas Preview, but she said she just wanted to stay home today (and I assume that also means tonight).  So, that is what we’ll do.  I am going to come up with a few advent things of my own (I already planned on doing a Christmas book a day for advent and we can make a paper chain with acts of kindness and bible verses like they did last year at the church advent event).  And maybe she will want to go later on after spending all day at home, but if not, it will be okay.  I’m still feeling a bit under the weather myself, so taking it easy and just watching a bunch of Hallmark Christmas movies sounds like an okay way to spend the day to me.  Currently, I am watching Charming Christmas.

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Today, I am thankful for great childhood memories.  Not all of my childhood memories are great, but I have a number of really good ones.  I am thankful to have grown up in a house that was full of laughter.  Today, I found the Carol Burnett show on a cable channel we have and I was so excited because that show just makes me laugh thinking about it.  And it wasn’t even that the show was that funny (although it is a hilarious show – they don’t do humor like that anymore), but that I remember both my mom and dad laughing until they couldn’t breathe when watching that show.  Both of my parents had great laughs too.  My dad’s laugh made me not afraid to laugh out LOUD when things were funny.  And my mom’s laugh was contagious.  I loved watching funny shows with them.  And Carol Burnett was one of their favorites.  Another that came up recently was the Thanksgiving show from WKRP Cincinnati, which was and still is hilarious (I watched it in my living room yesterday and it made me laugh out loud in a very cackling way, much like my dad used to).  Laughter is so important.  And I’m thankful to have had it all during my childhood years. I want to spend lots of time laughing with my DD as well.  I want her to have memories of her mom’s loud and contagious laugh!

 

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Returning with Renewed Focus

Well, it has been a while since I posted.  And even before then, I had not been posting regularly.  Once again, my Fall Frenzy of a schedule piled up on me and things I care about other than work and keeping my house up fell to the wayside, including this blog.  But, I went to a retreat last weekend sponsored by the Women’s Ministry at my church and realized that I need to view this blog (and some other things in my life) as an “open door” that has been provided by God and which I can choose to walk through or stand outside of, saying I don’t have enough time or it just isn’t that important.  I have an opportunity to do more with this blog and my words and I do love to write and interact with other bloggers and such.  So, in honor of recognizing this “open door” and walking through it, I am going to participate in BlogHer’s November NaBloPoMo to get back in the groove and share a few things about myself.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

I’m also going to be getting back to the basics of the blog – Being More in Your 40s and beyond.  There are a few areas of my life where I need to “Be More,” so I will be focusing on those for a bit:

Being more….healthy.

Being more…wealthy.

Being more…intentional.

I think everything fits within those categories – there are a number of sub-categories, but they all would fit within those larger categories.  NaBloPoMo has daily post ideas, so I will probably use those for some of the days, but I would like to move out of November with at least six posts a week – one for each of the areas listed above, a Five Minute Friday, a Six Word Saturday and some kind of review post.  I will then take Sunday off unless I have something really important to say (one of my health things is realizing I need “rest” in my week – I can’t take every Sunday off because my job often has me working on that day, but I am trying to take breaks from responsibilities during the week when I can if I don’t have Sunday off – so Sundays will be my break from blogging).

So, what am I talking about in each area?

First, health: Well, I need to take better care of myself.  I am constantly chiding myself on my lack of exercise and poor eating and lack of rest, but I never have done much about it.  I’m not going overboard and trying to change everything, but I would like to commit November to resting more (getting more sleep and taking those breaks from work, etc. during each week).  That’s it for November.  Not going crazy with change over here.

Second, wealth: I need to get on top of our budget and I need to consider ways of increasing income.  I feel like I’ve had opportunities put in front of my the past few years and I’ve refused to take advantage of them out of fear of having even more change (even good change at some point becomes overwhelming when your life seems to be only about change).  I want to be more aware of those opportunities and start trying to take advantage of them.  As we discussed at our retreat, I want to walk through those open doors rather than slamming them closed and running away out of fear.  I feel like some of those have to do with wealth for sure.  It is an area of my life I struggle with being totally open and comfortable.

Third, intentional:  There are a lot of things in this area for me.  But, it all boils down to not living from moment to moment with no intentionality.  Or planning and planning but never doing.  I want to live life with intention, which means I need to simplify some things in my life and then focus on making other things more prominent. I need to be present and do things that are memorable, valuable and meaningful.  I need to declutter my life, specifically all the things I have in my house and all the things on my to-do list.  I want to do things with purpose and intention and meaning.

Speaking of which, my daughter just asked me to play Candyland.  Something I would have said no to before.  But, if I am living with intention and purpose, I need to make time to be present in her life and DO things WITH her.   So, here I go…see you everyday in November!

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Six Word Saturday

Six Word Saturday

Will I ever get it together?

That, my friends, is what I feel like this week.  And, in reading some of what I wrote three and two and one year ago, it is what I feel like a lot of the time.  I try to do self-help, organizing, decluttering, etc. projects constantly and nothing sticks.  I feel like I can pull it together short term and then I just get tired and can’t follow through.  What is my problem?

I know I need the following things in my life to truly get it together:

1)  A routine/family schedule that includes the following items:

  • Exercise
  • Meal plan
  • Chore list

2)  A budget.

Really, those two things would do wonders toward me getting it together, whatever IT is.  I have a calendar hanging on our wall that no one much checks other than me and often I will forget to write things on there because I put it in my Google calendar or something.  I’ve been trying to follow a plan where at the end of each month (so today for example) I sit with the wall calendar and my Google calendar and “sync” everything so-to-speak.  But, mid-month, things fall through the cracks.  I don’t really exercise.  We are constantly eating out despite having tons of food in our fridge, freezer and pantry – often a lot of that food goes bad before we eat it.  I am the only one who does stuff around the house on a regular basis.  And I get bogged down in other things or leave on a work trip and the whole house becomes a $#%* show.  I’m not kidding.  Garbage piles up on the floor and every flat surface (because Lord knows that walking the five feet to the garbage can to throw away a fruit treat wrapper or a fast food wrapper would be overly onerous).  Clothes are EVERY where – on the living room floor, bathroom floors, bedroom floors, piled up in the laundry room.  I don’t even know what is clean and dirty sometimes.  Dishes get left everywhere.  It is seriously like I live with people who were raised by wolves – and I’m currently raising one of them.  So, what does that make me?  So, I need a new plan.  I need a new determination and discipline.  I need some motivation for myself and others…ideas would be appreciated.

The budget thing is a whole other beast.  Both my husband and I are impulsive spenders.  We have some things we plan for, but nothing is ever budgeted out.  We just spend money until we run out pretty much.  And we end up with a lot of stuff we don’t need/want.  So, that contributes to my overwhelm in the first department – cluttered living conditions.  But, every time I try to set up a budget I realize just how much we overspend, get depressed and just give up.  I vow to stop spending, but don’t really do it and so, here I am. I must admit that I’m also one of those people who feel like I “deserve” things because I work a lot.  But, I don’t realize how many “things” I have/get.  So, yeah.

I need a counselor…that’s what I really need.  Or a life coach.  A serious, kick-me-in-the-butt, make-me-do-what-I-don’t-want-to-do life coach.  Volunteers?

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Financial Fridays – From “Red Dread” to “Cred Bread”?

saving-money

The time has come to overcome procrastination and “rather not deal with it right now” and “don’t have the finances to deal with it right now” and just get ‘er done!  I am over being anxious and embarrassed and just plain tired when it comes to our finances.  So, I’m going to take the bull by the horns, buckle down and make this the summer of money woes be gone.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to work – or if it will work – but it has to get better rather than worse if I focus my attention on it for three months and really get my act together financially.  So, the three things I see as necessary to do at this beginning point is:

1.  Get a full and complete list of money owed, including (1) taxes, (2) meds and (3) past due items.  Prioritize and start paying them off one-by-one as money becomes available.

2. Get on a strict budget for the summer months.  Nothing extra without the money coming from somewhere other than our budget.  Beans, rice and basics is all we get this summer.  Every extra bit of extra money goes toward paying off debt, bills, etc.

3. Make extra money in any way possible and as much as possible, putting it all towards debt, bills, etc.

If I can do these three things and seriously be stubborn about it, I think I can end the summer in a much better place than I will start the summer (which is a pretty crappy place).

So, what’s the impetus?  Well, we had our debit card hacked this past week by someone who then spent about $1000 on it in one day.  And although the bank stopped it there and the money was back in our account as of this morning, it still made me realize just how totally unprepared we are for an emergency.  In addition, our renter for our condo that we own gave notice last month.  Luckily, they were able to rent it immediately and for slightly more every month, but if we had to go a month or two without that income, we would be in bad, bad shape.  And if anything goes wrong with the place majorly (e.g. AC or something) we have no money saved up for the repairs.  That is not a good place to be.  We don’t have a reserve, an emergency fund, a backup plan.  It just is not good.

So, the summer will be “get it together time” and the Fall will be “build it up (emergency fund) time” and then hopefully next Spring can be “save and plan time”.  I will be a much more secure and happier person if I can get all this financial stuff taken care of once and for all and feel like a responsible and stable person.

I will need some encouragement, I fear.  I will need some support.  I will need some straight talk – Dave Ramsey style – I assume.  I need to stop the “stupid tax” and start being as smart with my money as I am smart!  I need to move from this state of “red” in our finances that I dread to a place where I am a credible manager of our income – or bread.  Hence the title. Anyone with me?  Maybe we can ride this road to responsibility together?

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Struggling…

That is where I am today.  Struggling.  I am struggling to figure out what it is that makes me incapable of keeping an uncluttered space.  House, car, garage…it is all just piles of stuff and I’m tired of looking at it.  I feel like I pick up quite a bit every single day, but to no avail.  I am also struggling with why I can’t get my act together financially.  I also have problems keeping up with my work load at work.  I’m doing better this semester with some things, but am still quite a bit  behind with other things.  I am also struggling with being a defacto “single” parent so often.  My husband left this morning and will not come back until next Tuesday and when he does, he will be completely exhausted.  I was gone all weekend, arriving home very late on Sunday night and I will once again leave next Thursday for Friday and Saturday.  It is as if we are going through revolving doors, waving at each other as we pass.

So, today is short and sweet.  I’m doing my best to play catch up today…hope to talk to you soon.