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!

 

Got A Pay Raise?

Thank you to Julie of The Hallway Initiative for the inspiration for this post which appeared in MoneySavingMom.

“Nothing stimulates creativity like a good crisis.”

Living on a budget has never been a strong point for me.   I can remember very short periods of time in my adult life when I was credit card/debt free.  Then those addictive traits reared their ugly head and it was back.

Finances were almost always tight as a single mom.  As my own boss, my income depends on me which means it is sometimes inconsistent.  I have been  reading books on personal finance, working on a detailed budget (YKES!), and always on the look out for money-saving ideas. I ran into MoneySavingMom.com awhile ago and am eating up every penny-pinching post.  My initial thought is always to go back to work full-time then the realities of health struggles and age (everyone wants young social workers) hit me.  I will admit, I am great at managing money for others but when it comes to my own account it is a totally different story.

I don’t know about you but when I used to get a pay raise at work, my spending increased.  I mean now I could pay the bills (at least the minimums) and have extra money in my account.  The truth was (and still is) despite how much money is in the bank, I need to remember how I budgeted during the lean times.

I love these four strategies to maintain a frugal mindset:

1. Think in terms of stewardship.

I often forget everything I “own” is a gift on loan from God. When I remember it’s all His, no matter how much or little He’s given me, I am challenged to be a better steward with His things. I need to work with my money the same way I manage other people’s money.  Even during lean times, I found ways to help others in need.  It may not have been in cash but it may have been in groceries or time.  It is when I do things like this, the blessings come back in multitudes.

2. Keeping a budget.

This is probably the hardest thing for me.  I don’t remember much talk about budgeting when I was growing up.  I have tried to stick to a budget off and on for years with limited success.  I think I was the most successful with a budget when Elsie managed my money and bills in my early days of recovery.  I couldn’t trust myself to have cash laying around so she monitored it all.  Bills got paid and money got saved.  sticking to a budget is one of the best ways to maintain control of your spending.  It helps you keep track of your expenditures and reminds you to be wise with what you have. And, if finances permit, it’s perfectly okay to increase certain budget categories, such as giving, saving, and splurges! Just make sure you’re doing it deliberately rather than on a whim.

3. Keep up with penny-pinching resources

There are a lot of them out there…. I don’t necessarily mean “Extreme Couponing” unless it is something you love to do but I do have a few favorites besides MoneySavingMom.com.  I am always scrolling through financial blogs, keeping up with new frugal tips and making sure I am remaining a good steward of my money.

Some of my favorite resources include:

4. Save for the next crunch

This is where I made my mistake years ago.  When my finances were Just because your freed up for a moment, I didn’t plan for the next squeeze.  I didn’t listen to Dave Ramsey and other financial giants recommend building up 3-6 month’s worth of living expenses. If you’ve never been able to do so before, do it now while you have money left over at the end of the month (even if it is $10).

I haven’t done a perfect job of thinking in terms of stewardship, continuing to keep a budget, keeping up with penny-pinching resources, and saving for the next financial crunch, but those are the four strategies I’m working toward at this time.  I tried to keep in mind it is progress  not perfection.

What are some of you favorite money saving tips or resources?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!