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!

 

Friday Finances: The Energy of Money

Vintage RadioRS

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Today’s post is courtesy of Soul Purpose Expert and 3-time Best Selling Author, Jennifer Longmore! Here is her “101″ on how to tune into wealth with 4 basics about the energy of money:

Let’s go back to basics here – what do we mean when we talk about the energy of money?

To start, the actual word ‘currency’ comes from the Latin word currens, which means “condition of flowing.” So think about a rushing river – the way the water flows, clean and clear. If this river became blocked, the water would stagnate and be unable to go neither here nor there.

This same way of thinking can be applied to money. You do not want your money to stagnate.

Of course I’m not suggesting you should spend everything you have and be completely irresponsible! While many of us have struggled with financial issues, we should think of money as a gift – a tool to be utilized to help us live our best lives possible. If we misuse this tool we can end up in trouble, which these days with credit cards and loans it’s much to easy to do by spending money we don’t have.

To help better understand the energy of money (especially your own!) consider the following points.

1. Money is energy.

Most often, money is exchanged because of a need. You may desire an aesthetically pleasing yard, yet not have the time or the ability to create it yourself. Thus, you hire a landscaping company to do so for you. In exchange for the output of energy the workers provide, you give them money.

2. Energy needs to flow.

This might sound like an open-invitation for reckless spending. It is not. In order for your life to be in the best financial health possible, the flow of your money needs to be balanced. You cannot have more going out than you have coming in. You will quickly find yourself out of balance.

3. Energy is infinite.

There is enough money to go around. This might be difficult to believe at first, especially if you are struggling. Too many people believe there is not enough, and this collective belief is preventing money’s energetic flow to be equally accessible to everyone.

4. The Ripple Effect.

While it is easy to fall into the trap of spending too freely, it is also possible for the reverse to happen. Saving money and planning for your future are certainly integral steps to having a healthy financial life, but remember, money needs to flow both directions. Responsibly spending your money will have a ripple effect that will be beneficial not just for you, but for others as well.

If you take these points to heart and believe them on a soul level, it’s the first step to opening yourself up to unlimited abundance and wealth. Watch for the miracles that are about to begin!

So, what do you think?  I have talked to many who are struggling to pay off debt or to make ends meet.  Living paycheck to paycheck, We budget to the penny and with it, we may be strangling the energy flow.  I am ready to look at money in a different way, what about you?

 

About the Author:

JenniferLongmore-FreeGiveawayJennifer Longmore, Forensic Investigator turned North America’s Soul Purpose Expert, is the internationally acclaimed host of “Soul Purpose Central,” 3-time best selling author, and founder of the Soul Journeys {Registered Trademark} School For Akashic Studies and creator of the popular Spiritual Leadership and Legacy Program.

For over 15 years she has been helping people remember who they really are through over 30,000 soul purpose sessions, including the whos-who of actors, professional athletes, CEO’s of leading companies, and other influential luminaries.

Saving Money 

I don’t know about you but I always find summer a harder time to save money.  From farmer’s markets to flea markets, a little here and a little there is spent.  Before long, you are over your spending budget.  Yes, there are lots of things to do which are free BUT I always found the more we are out and about, the more tempting those quick stops are for snacks or dinner.

Here are some tips on how you can save some money and trick yourself into a fatter bank account.

Play A Mind Game
Target shopping for me is deadly.  I usually go in for just a few things and before long my bill is up to $75 of things I must have (or at least I think I need).  Try this mind trick (courtesy of the Peaceful Mom):

When deciding whether or not to purchase the cute new outfit or decorative item for your house, imagine someone holding the item you want to purchase in one hand and offering you the cash equivalent with the other hand. If you would take the cash then skip the purchase.

Carry a Savings Reminder
If you are a visually-oriented person, which I am, try this. Researchers at Duke University found study participants who kept a gold coin in their wallet as a reminder to save, saved more than twice as much as study participants who didn’t. I’m adding an arrow charm (to symbolize reducing debt) to the zipper on my wallet (see photo above).

So far, it’s working “like a charm” to help me remember to spend less.

Leave It In the Cart
How many of you are an impulse spender?  Admit it, many of us want instant gratification when we are happy, sad, angry or you can substitute in your reason.  I’m trying to curb the impulses.  When online, I put it in the cart and walk away from the computer.  It is easier for me to walk away in a store but online, I seem to quickly hit “order”.  This has really helped me to reduce my spending.  I have also found when I leave things in the cart, the store I am shopping with will usually send me an additional discount to encourage me to submit the order.  Another win, if I decide I really do need to place the order.

Use Automatic Withdrawal
I have an automatic withdrawal at the bank so when checks are direct-deposited, $25 or more goes directly into a savings account. If you don’t see it, you can’t spend it, so it’s probably one of the easiest ways to save more money every month.

Save All $1 Bills
If you are a cash person for spending, use this savings trick. Every time you break a larger bill and receive dollar bills for change, place those bills into a separate part of your wallet so you don’t spend them. Then every evening when you arrive home place those one dollar bills in a jar or an envelope. I have a friend who told me about this a long time ago but she uses $5 bills.  You will be surprised at how it adds up.

Calculate Your Cost of Time Spent
I haven’t tried this but maybe I should…..Whenever you want to spend money on a non-essential item, try converting the cost of the purchase into the amount of time you had to work to pay for it. YIKES!  Being self-employed, this could be ALOT! For example if you are paid $10 an hour then your $50 dinner out would cost you five hours of your life.

Thinking about your money in this way can help you to evaluate if the cute dress or dinner out is worth so much of your time — and many times it’s not.

Focus on the Positive
You know I am all about focusing on the positive to bring more positive into your life, right?  A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found people who focus on their reasons for saving (a fun vacation, a better car, buying a home, etc.) saved more than study participants who concentrated on specific strategies for cutting back like eating out less often or using coupons.  When you shift your mindset to focus on what you will be gaining, rather than what you are giving up, you will save more.

Saving money can be much easier when you “trick” yourself with these simple ideas.  What are your best tips for saving money?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Time to Get Your Finances In Order

I’ll admit, I am not the one to give financial advice because I still struggle with staying on budget as well as paying down debt.  As hubby says “You will never be a Rockefeller” which is why I was a perfect fit for social work and non-profits.I am always looking for tips on how to get better at this because:

Managing your money is the key to success!

So, if you’re looking to try and get your finances in order, stop spending, and start saving, here are some top tips are for you to try….

 

1. Create a Spreadsheet 

Do you know how much you owe?  If you have debt, do you now how much your interest rate is on each one? To easily organize your finances, a spreadsheet is a great way to see your income and your expenses.  You can create one in Google Drive so you can stay on top of it.   I have a list including interest charges so when there is extra money, I can pay down on the highest interest rate first.

2. Set Up Savings 

I know this sounds crazy if you have debt BUT you need to start saving for an emergency.  It can be as little as $10 a paycheck or $25 a month.  Check with your bank too for some of those instant kind of saving programs.  Bank of America takes the change from your ATM transactions, rounds up and the money is put in your savings account.  Those pennies add up quickly.  It all helps!

3. Organize Direct Debits 

I used to advocate direct debits but when my income varies, it is better for me to have repeated reminders set up. I have reminders set up on each of my credit cards when payments are due – 14 days out and 1 week out.  This ensures I avoid any late payment fees and any (further) damage to your credit score.

4. Refrain From Impulse Purchases 

Yup, we are all guilty of it.  Sometimes it is easier said than done.  Be sure to have some room in your budget for treats – large or small so you can occasionally splurge!

5. Make A List – Stick To It How many times have you gone to the store and your list is home?  The end result, you buy more than what you need and usually forget what you originally went to the store for.  I have started putting my grocer list on my phone.  When was the last time you left home without your phone?  Whether shopping for Christmas, clothing or groceries – always stick to the list!

6. Set Budgets for Events 

Everyone’s salary is different so why not set a budget for Birthdays so you don’t feel pressured to match what everyone else is spending.

7. Emergency Fund 

This goes back to #2 when we set up a savings account.  What happens why you have a surprise expense – car repair, etc?  Tempted to pull out the credit card. DON’T!!!  Use your savings account or emergency account.  By saving a little each money, you are ready for those unexpected events.

8. Don’t Be Drawn In By Offers 

Sales.  How often are you drawn in by the offers non things you may not really need.  If you need it, great.  If you don’t, why buy it.  I mean do you really need the  half price Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?

9. Make a Packed Lunch 

Taking lunch to work is so much cheaper than a daily visit to the local sandwich shop.  Think of the money and time you will save.  Have an hour for lunch?  Imagine being able to enjoy a full hour of leisurely eating your lunch and catching up with friends instead of waiting to order food and then gulping it down.  Bringing your lunch to work is better all around as well as far healthier for you.

10. Cut the Coffee 

Yes, I went there.  When I was commuting to work, I would do a WAWA stop on the way to and from work.  That came to at least $5 or more a day or $25 per week or over $1,300 per year.  I’m now hooked on Starbucks unsweet green tea and thankfully, I don’t commute or it would be about $1,000 a year on ice tea.  What could you use a $1000 on?

 11. Use Your Legs 

If you live in the city or your commute is to an area where there is good public transportation, this is a great way to save money.  Growing up in NJ, there really is not a very good public transportation system unless you are headed to NY to work. In addition to saving money, you can also burn some extra calories by walking to and from the stops.

12. Seek Out Deals 

Yes, I have gotten lazy when it comes to looking for the best deals.  Whether it is car insurance, phone service or our cable bill – I haven’t shopped around for the best deal in ages.  When I did call Comcast to re-negotiate our bill, I was able to save about $50 per month which is $600 to apply to paying down credit card debt.

13. Sell And Buy Online

I used to do this all of the time – selling on eBay was a regular thing.  It has gone by the wayside but it may be time to revive this old habit.  When it comes to shopping online, I am always looking for the best deal using apps like Ebates and others.

What is YOUR best tips for getting your finances under control?  Share them with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Home Business or Hobby?

It is Monday morning and the last week to get Thirty One’s Summer Essential Enrollment Kit to start your own business for just $50.  Are you wondering whether you want to be a true home business owner or just a hobbyist?

The truth is not everyone has the same goals. Some people treat their business as a business and others dabble basically running a fun hobby.  You can do either one which is why direct sales is perfect for everyone.  If you want to truly run a home business which leads to financial success, you need to know the difference between the two!

There are five questions which can help you determine which category you are in – true home business or hobbyist.

1. Do you have a plan of action?

Although having a successful home business can be flexible, you need to have a plan. The plan needs to include what needs to be done and when.  It can also include plans for marketing, knowing your competition, and follow-up.  Customer specials, hostess benefits and company incentives are usually set up by the company so you will just need to include these in your plan when they are announced.  Have a plan on what you are going to do to grow your business?  Contacts?  Parties? Fundraisers?

2. Do you have a schedule?

Remember I said, your business can be flexible?  It is BUT you need to work at your business on a consistent schedule.   Set aside time in your day – EVERY DAY- to work your business in a profit producing way.  Have you scheduled and SHARED your “office hours” with your loved ones and your customers?  Remember working your business doesn’t include reading emails, checking Facebook, blogging, etc – these are all time-consuming activities to help maintain your business.  Working your business ONLY includes actual person-to-person interactions, such as making sales calls, booking parties, setting up recruiting appointments, Hostess Coaching, pink bag calls, etc.

3. Do you have a budgets for your business and are you investing in your business properly?

I struggle with a budget in my business but I am learning to reinvest in my business and myself.  Remember – you must spend money to make money.  I know it is difficult when you want the extra money to pay off debt or for emergencies in the house but your business will not grow when you put zero dollars into building it.  No one “got rich” without some investment.  You invested in the initial Enrollment Kit but it doesn’t end there.  I always tell my team, you are in this to make money – not spend it.  You need decide what to spend, how much and where you are going to spend it so you can grow your business. It doesn’t mean you need every product in the catalog. Things like: business cards, thank you cards, giveaways, etc.  According to the Diva Success System, you should never invest or spend more than $50 per month into your business.

4. Do You know if you ARE making any money? 

The enormous difference between a hobby and a business: Hobbies COST money, Businesses MAKE money. So, do you  KNOW if you are making any money?  I don’t mean, do you have money in you bank account because it only shows what you took in and spent during a given month.  You can use a calculator or a spreadsheet to figure it out.  Let’s look at your last party and see if you made a profit. Look at your expenses  for the party – including gas/mileage, any giveaways or freebies you offered to guests or your hostess.   Once you see your “profit”, look at what you did with the money.  Be honest.

5. Are you investing in your education?

Continuing education is important for business owners as well as in Corporate America. Learn something new- every day. Invest in your education through seminars, courses, and magazines or books. You are investing in yourself, your business success and your future when you take the time to continuously learn. This is a great investment in your greatest business asset … YOU.

I have been working my business for six years, and I will admit, I have fluctuated between hobby and business at times.  My ultimate goal is for a business 24/7 so I have been making changes this year to achieve my goals. You don’t need to do it all at once, take baby steps… Trust me, I get it.  Having tried my own home based business before, it is tempting to play and enjoy your new-found freedom but in order to succeed, you need a solid foundation.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

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