Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish

Penny wise and dollar foolish is a saying I have heard since I was little.  I will admit, it has been me on occasion – okay, maybe more occasions then I care to admit!  🙂

Halfway through the year and starting a new fiscal year at Thirty One this month is when review my goals and my finances.  Doing it mid-year check helps me keep things in balance or get back on track if I have wavered.

Life with MS (#MSwillnotdefineme) has been interesting to say the least.  No excuses, just the realization processing things doesn’t work unless I have a system.  A system to stay on track with bills.  A system to work my business.  Admittedly, the the money system faltered some in the first few months but I have grabbed the bull by the horns and am back on track with a new plan.

I hate to admit I am still learning money matters in my 60’s, but there are a few things I wish I had learned in my 20’s.  Learning is an ongoing process and I am determined not to give up on my goal.

#1 A bigger and better job doesn’t mean you get to spend more.  By keeping your costs the same when you increase your salary you’ll be able to save some.  I always thought more money meant I could spend more.  Silly me!

#2 Never spend more than what comes in.  And limit your cards to the lowest amount possible. This has been the toughest for this recovering addict to conquer. 

#3 Pay off any debt first.  Pay your credit card debt as soon as possible, those high interests won’t be doing you any good. Then once they are paid off DON”T use them anymore.

 

#4 Student loans on autopilot.  Students loans usually have a really small interest rate so make regular, steady payments to pay off your loan and it’ll soon be a thing of the past.  Check out too if you are eligible for a “forgiveness program”.  Make 120 payments on time & the balance of your loan is forgiven.  Works for the kids but not the parents.

#5 Build a back-up.  YES, saving is still important even if you have debt.  Make sure you always have a few hundred set aside for unexpected costs and bills.

#6 Insuring yourself is essential.  A crashed laptop, unforeseen doctors bill or stolen bike can wreak financial havoc if you’re not insured. The cost per month will pay off in the long run for any unexpected mishaps.

#7 Set long term goals to help you focus on what you really want. Figure out how much you’re gonna need and start saving now.

#8 Monetize your talent if you can.  Write blogposts, take photographs or try to monetize your special skills as (additional) income.  I have been a crafter for as long as I can remember.  I just wish I had of saved some of that money.

 

#9 Think about retirement.  This is especially important if you are your own boss.  Sadly, I learned too late it’s essential to put away money for the future.

#10 Lastly, here is a marvelous piece of advice given by StickleyMan on Thought Catalog. It’s reaaaaaally good.

Take some more chances. You know that idea that’s been ruminating in the back of your mind for years? That one that doesn’t have anything to do with your job or your mortgage. That one that falls outside your schema of living and routine and that you shrug off as some immature or impractical idea; as just some silly fantasy. Maybe it’s a crazy business idea or a trip to go live in a hut in India for three months or to breed Pygmy hippos or to become a juggling street performer. Whatever it is, explore it. Maybe even try it. I don’t mean take a stupid, life-threatening risk. I’m not suggesting a trying a lifestyle of meth addiction and bare-knuckle Fight Clubs. But something outside your comfort zone. Try it. Maybe you’ll fail miserably at it. But just try it. Because in about a decade when you’re responsible for more things and more people, you won’t be able to. And you’ll find yourself in a self-imposed mental prison of ‘what-ifs’. And take it for someone who didn’t because I was too scared, too embroiled in my own insecurities and addictions, and so heavily conditioned to fear failure – you’ll wish you did.

Any cash lessons you learned in the past year? Tell us in the comments, we’d love to hear how you spend and save.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Spend Less

Thank you Carrie Wilkerson for these AWESOME tips on how to spend less….

  • If you want to make more, spend less. #truestory
  • If you’re complaining about being broke, spend less.
  • If you’re stressed about minimum payments or juggling dollars, spend less.
  • If you’re mad at yourself or your spouse or fighting about money, spend less.
  • If you’re jealous of other folks because of ______ then spend less.
  • If you want more choices about where to live, what to drive, where the kids go to school, quitting your job or having some options… SPEND LESS.

It all starts with SPEND LESS!  I know, I have been there.  We struggle with wants versus needs especially during the holiday season.  YES – we can make more with our business. YES – we can still work to change our circumstance- but first we need to SPEND LESS.60b970c17dbc402287d7382d2eb326f7

Trust me, I know this is NOT the time you want to do this.  BUT this is the exact time you need to do this before we get caught up in the holiday craziness.

Evaluate EVERY expense. Is is NECESSARY or just something you ‘deserve’?  Is it a want or a need?  What if you did ‘without it’ for a few weeks/months? Would it change your quality of life?

How do you do this?  First, print out 3-6 months of credit card and debit card statements.  I know it will be scary.  Take a deep breath and jump in.  You can do it!

  • Highlight EVERY recurring charge.
  • Highlight EVERY disposable thing.
  • Highlight EVERY spontaneous purchase.
  • Highlight EVERY expense for something you don’t wear/play with/use/cook with/read or watch anymore.
  • Highlight EVERY unlicensed therapy expense (meaning you were self medicating with food/shopping/movies/girl time/drinks/etc.

Now for the hardest part – STOP spending on those things!

This part, may be a little easier….Evaluate insurance, credit card rates, cable plans (unplug it), phone plans (downgrade) and new clothes (seriously. stop buying them)

I love how Carrie shares her story of getting ahold of her sloppy financial habits (a process, she has used to pay off boatloads of debt MORE THAN ONCE #slowlearner).  Her story helps me to remember, I am not alone.  I have done it too.  Paid off debt, then got sucked in with the thought “I can manage it”.  WRONG!  My addictive behaviors come back in the form of spending money.  So here I am again paying off some debt.

We need to put the blinders on and here is how Carrie did it:

  • UNSUBSCRIBE from email ‘sales and newsletters’ – you can’t buy what you don’t see!
  • THROW AWAY catalogs that come in the mail.  Don’t bring them INTO THE HOUSE. Do NOT fool yourself ‘I’m just getting ideas, I’m making a wishlist, I’m just planning for when I can afford it.’ – NO NO NO NO – THROW IT AWAY. It will still be available for purchase when you can afford it. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER SALE.
  • Do NOT click on Facebook ads (they follow you around, wearing you down until you can’t help but buy. STOP IT)!
  • Do NOT attend home parties or demonstrations or trade shows or craft fairs or open houses or garage sales or ANYTHING WITH THE CHANCE TO BUY. This is a tough one for me since it is part of my business.  How I manage this is I don’t take any money with me or my cards!
  • TAKE THE APPS off your phone… Amazon, Starbucks, Instacart, ZigZag, Macys – ALL OF IT — OFF THE PHONE. If we can purchase with a click and without a brain, they WANT THAT. STOP THE MESS. TAKE OFF THE APPS.
  • During commercials on TV pick up a project. Tidy the sink or move a load from washer to dryer or go outside with the dogs – AVOID MARKETING MESSAGES. It is extreme but so is debt, financial stress and possibly bankruptcy. 
  • SHOP your CLOSET. Sounds silly, right?  Try it and see what happens. See an outfit you like on someone else or on FB, go into your closet and drawers to put together something similar. Or do without.
  • Grocery shop ONCE a week and plan meals ahead of time to avoid mealtime meltdown and drive through overspends.  
  • Use cash instead of cards.  My hubby swears by this!

What if you were to think of every purchase in terms of the effort it takes to make the money to purchase it?  For example, “how many xx do I have to sell or hours do I have to work to pay for this delivery pizza instead of doing a frozen pizza?”

Many of us are victims of marketing messages, bad habits, lack of will power and deserve levels.  We play the comparison which usually results in spending more.

  • Think of what you what MOST (financial stress-lessness and freedom) instead of what you want NOW (cute shoes or a top).
  • Think of WHY you’re so quick to spend and what you are self-medicating about or delaying…

Carrie suggests a spending freeze at least once a year.  It’s wot be fun, I’m sure BUT it may help to keep you in check.  I know you are thinking NOW, it is the holidays….
but HONESTLY it is the MOST EFFECTIVE time of year to do it!  If you wait until JANUARY… how many more THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS will you have overspent??

Change your habits.

Change your life.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Saturday Spotlight: Money Saving Apps

We all love to save money but who has the time.  Do you cut coupons to grocery shop and then forget to take them?  I am definitely technically challenged but I am on a mission to pay off debt so I learning how to use digital coupons and money savings apps. So, pull out your smart phone and check out some of these money saving apps.

My favorites are:

Shopkick – rewards you with “kicks” when you visit participating retailers like Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.). Admit it, you go to at least one of these retailers every week. You also can earn “bonus kicks” for scanning specific items while in store. NO, you don’t have to purchase them, just scan the UPC code. Once you’ve earned enough reward points you can redeem them for retail and restaurant gift cards.  This is a fun way to get the kids involved in grocery shopping by letting them scan the products.  They have also added online rewards too.

Ebates – my favorite site for saving money when shopping online! You have seen the commercials right, where people are getting thousands of dollars back.  Well, the truth is I do’t get thousands back but I do average about $25 per month which is pretty good. Right now, you can earn $10 for clicking my link and joining as a new member.  Then get your referrals link so you can earn $25 for each person who joins using your link.

Cartwheel – Are you a Target shopper?  Be sure to grab their Cartwheel app so you can save additional money on products you buy.  This is a savings on top of the 5% they offer by using your Target credit card or debit card.  There is no need to open a credit card to get the 5%, you can link your Target card to you checking account and use it like a debit card.

For the grocery shoppers who love to use coupons, here are three apps just for you:

Checkout 51 – to save on groceries. Every Thursday morning, Checkout 51 updates with a new list of offers. Simply choose the offers you like, purchase them at any store then upload a photo of your receipt through the mobile app or website. When your account reaches $20, Checkout 51 sends you a check.

Ibotta – Before heading to the store, choose the offers you like then go shopping. (The more offers you select, the more you can earn.) After you check out, take a photo of your receipt which Ibotta will verify and then credit your account. Cash rewards can be deposited directly into a PayPal account. Every time you redeem an offer a new one will be sent to you.

What are YOUR favorite money saving sites? Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Tips for Saving on National Savings Day

National Savings Day was set up by Capitol One.  A great way to market their business, right?  Despite the marketing aspect, it is a great way to encourage people to gain confidence about their relationship with money.  Believe me I get it!  Savings accounts have come and gone in my life and at the ripe old age of 60, I think I am finally feeling better about my relationship with money.

Most of us are great at collecting sentimental items – pictures, scrapbooks, or jewelry passed down through generations of family.  Why?  Because they mean something to us and they evoke emotion. These collections are the thing which helps me on the days when brain fog and MS lesions cause me to forget.  To same it is just “stuff” while for others it has a different meaning.

Why is it then so hard for us to transfer this concept to a portion of our paycheck every month?  Why is it so hard to pay ourselves FIRST in preparation for a rainy day or retirement?  What if you were to consider a savings account like your junk drawer or the sock basket?  Would it make it any easier?

Growing up my mom had a bottle she kept half dollars in.  When she was at work, if someone paid with a half dollar, at the end of the shift/day, she would swap bills for those coins.  She took the coins home and dropped them in the bottle.  Her savings account when she started working.

Life and my addictions got in the way of my saving money.  From drugs to credit card debt, I always had an excuse NOT to save.  I needed money for bills or groceries or whatever.  I know I am not alone, right?  Does the thought of paying yourself first and NOT touching the money seem crazy?

Here are a few tips which might help you get started on the savings road:

1. Organize your grocery shopping

Being organized when you go grocery shopping can help you save money. Have a list of what you need to buy, and coupons (I’m still working on this one).  Shop early in the week to avoid the stress of over crowded stores.

2. Eliminate one service each year you can do without

YIKES  Scary, right?  We cut our cable bill by almost half.  We went from what seemed like 1000 channels to about 300 although the cable company said there are only 143.  We use our cell phones all of the time.  We have a landline for doctors to leave messages.  So I cut the cost to less than $30 per month.

3. Don’t buy “off the shelf”

There are so many ways to buy things – Facebook, Craigslist are on top.  Then there are thrift shops, yard sales, and church rummage sales.  Surf the web for the lowest price, or upcoming sales.  You may not want to do this for small purchases but maybe say $50 and above.

4. Participate in – and use – your rewards programs

Admit it!  You have tons of reward cards, right?  How many of them do you actually use?  Sign up for them where ever possible, and keep tabs of your points. I love Ebates because the notification pops up about a rebate when I am shopping online at a store which offers it.

5. Sell what you no longer need

Instead of throwing away items you no longer use, try selling them first to make some additional money. Then put the money towards a bill.  We are not allowed to have yard sales at our condo complex so I have tried Facebook and Ebay.  Those require a little bit more time and organization.  When items don’t sell, donate them to a local non-profit and be sure to get a receipt for tax purposes.

6. Buy clothing in thrift or discount stores

I have been a fan of thrift stores for years, since before Belinda was born.  Thrift stores don’t have a huge selection, but you can often come across the perfect item from time to time, sometimes barely used. This is great  for kid’s clothing since they outgrow them so fast.  If thrift stores aren’t your thing, then take a look at discount stores like T.J. Maxx or Marshall’s.

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Thirty One’s Soft Utility Tote is perfect for these kinds of trips.  It can be a large purse and then expands to carry all of your treasures home.

7. Buy when everyone else is selling

Retail sales usually fall off in January, so nearly everything goes on sale. Wouldn’t it be better to do the bulk of your buying in January rather than November and December.  Buy your winter clothing in late winter or early spring, when winter items go on clearance.

What are some of your best tips to save money?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How to Stop Impulse Shopping

As I was cleaning out closets for the church rummage sale, I wondered why I had some things.  Shirts never worn, “stuff” on shelves which became dust collectors, things in boxes never used… what made me buy them?

During my early years in recovery, shopping was a replacement to my addiction.  It was something I did to fill the void.  Yes, we all like nice things but when did our wants become our needs or at least in our own heads.  I am more apt to imps shop during the holiday season.  Buying things for others and those sales!  This holiday season, I am determined to stay in control of my impulse shopping…

Have you ever thought about why you shop impulsively?

For many, impulse shopping or buying items we don’t need is usually a way to meet certain emotional needs.  We spend money in the hopes what we purchase will make us more confident, presentable or happy. Basically, we try to put ourselves in a better mood by buying things we don’t need. “Retail Therapy” as it has become known may help for a little while then it may turn into buyer’s remorse.

We say “If I could just get X, then Y will be all right.”  And for the moment, maybe we feel better.  Today’s marketing campaigns help to reinforce those internal insecurities which draws us to buy impulsively.  Did you know almost 90 percent of the items we buy impulsively are usually on sale?  We are easily seduced by the notion of paying less for things, coupled with the fear of missing out on the window of opportunity during the sales period which results in unnecessary spending.

How can we tell if our impulsive shopping is out of control?

Do you have credit card debt?  Do you wonder what you actually charged on the many credit cards you have?  Impulse shopping wrecks havoc on our budgets and can put us in a serious financial situation.  I don’t mean those small impulsive purchases, it’s those bigger high ticket items we buy with our credit cards which cause our debt to quickly spiral out of control.

Here are some signs you may be a compulsive shopper:

  1. Are you unable to afford basic items because you spent all your money on high-ticket purchases like clothes?
  2. Are you arguing with the people in your life because they don’t approve of your spending habits?
  3. Do you feel a certain high, a sort of euphoria every time you buy something nice?
  4. Are you lying to your family members or friends about the cost of some of your possession because you think they would see it as a waste of money?
  5. Are you sneaking purchased items into the house to put them away when no one is looking?

Impulse shopping is a form of addiction, so if you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you might be an impulsive shopper.

What can you do to curb your tendency to shop impulsively?

Like other addictions, food and drugs, for some it will be easy to kick.  While for others there may be struggles along the way.  The key to success for those who want to curb their impulsive shopping tendencies is willpower and dedication.

First, avoid using credit cards, instead use cash for all purchases. I know it will be tough.  I struggle with this.  I am a debit card girl and seldom have cash in my wallet.  I broke the habit of carrying credit cards in my wallet which has helped tremendously.  Face it, is is easier charging a $100 purchase on a credit card than handing over a  $100 cash for something.

Next, if it is a BIG purchase – sleep on it or leave the item in the cart when shopping online.  When you feel the impulse to buy, train yourself to WAIT.  If you are in a store, go home and sleep on it.  If you are online, leave it in the cart and close the tab.  Then see if you still have the desire to purchase it in a day or two.  Chances are the answer it NO!

This is a big one…create a budget to help you monitor spending.  This will help you  appreciate the effect of every potentially impulsive purchase you want to make.

Lastly, being accountable to someone will definitely help. “The Someone” could be your better half, a friend, or a family member,   When we are accountable by sharing our receipts with others, they might be the nudge you need to be more responsible in your shopping.

What are your best tips for managing the urge to impulse shop?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!