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!

 

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!

Getting Unstuck

unknown

Are you stuck?  Maybe in the same job, you don’t like?  Maybe financially unable to pay down debt, just maintaining the status quo?  Maybe it is trying to get off those few pounds of winter weight BEFORE the warmer weather finally arrives?

You can get unstuck in just THREE simple steps.  If you are like me, you are wondering why no one ever told you this before, right?  It almost seems like the “magic wand” to getting unstuck.  Andy Andrews is AMAZING.  If you haven’t read his books, get busy because you will be motivated in a way you have never been before.

When you hear success stories about other people, do they feel unrealistic?  The truth is there is a way for you to get unstuck and start living a life you want to live…

Here is Andy Andrew’s 3 step process:

1. Identify where you want to go.

unknown

First, you need to know what your end goal is so you know where you’re going. Think about it…. if you could wave a magic wand and make your life look like anything you want, what would it look like?

  • Where would you live?
  • What would you be most excited about?
  • Who would you spend most of your time with?
  • How would you feel when you wake up in the morning?
  • What problems and fears would no longer weigh down your thoughts?

Remember NOTHING is impossible so answer them honestly. This is how you will identify your target.

2. Align your life with your key talents.

The path you choose in life needs to be aligned with your talents because they reveal what you were made to do.

If your dream is to be a professional singer but you the gift of voice or pitch, it won’t happen. Get the picture of how to pick your path based on your key talents.  Believe it or not, the right path will begin to open up and become clearer than ever when you are using your key talents.

Not sure what you are talented in?  Everyone has talents – most have multiple talents.  Here are two things which hold you back from identifying those talents:

1. It’s much harder to evaluate our own talents than the talents of others.

Overconfident people tend to inflate their talents which don’t match up with reality, while people who lack confidence tend to massively overlook or undersell their talents.  Discovering your talent will begin to increase your level of belief in yourself.

2. We tend to have a narrow definition of talent.

Maybe you don’t think you have “cool talents” like running fast or singing great. What I have found, is one of my talents is making people smile when they are struggling which can help to make a huge differences in their lives. My biggest fear is “how will earn an income from it?”, but the truth is when I stopped worrying about it and started making a difference, things slowly started to happen.  I am working on building on it and making it the foundation of my career.

3. Discover the skills you can develop to complement your talent.Think of your talent as your main asset.  Then add your skills to the mix and they will help to make your talent  stronger.  Skills can be learned and you can incorporate just about any skill into your life.  It is important to identify the right skills to complement your talent.

If you’re a great singer, you’ll probably want to hone your stage presence.  As for me, I am finding my writing is am important skill – this blog.  So I am working on my writing skills.  I am also working on ways to make a difference each day in someone’s life.

So ask yourself…

  • What skill would allow me to impact more lives with my talent?
  • Is someone with a similar talent using it to do great work? What skills do they seem to possess?
  • Who do I have to become to live a life in perfect alignment with my gifts?

Keep asking yourself these questions.  As you build your foundation, the answers will change.  Believe it or not, you will become more valuable than you could ever imagine.

A word of caution: It’s important to keep in mind that no pathway in life is straight—no matter where you’re going or where you want to go, you have to be flexible.

Consider the bumps along the way as an essential part of the process instead of setbacks.  Don’t let “Negative Nellie” zap your energy and steal your dream.

What ways are you developing your skills and using your talents? Tell me in the comments!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What is Your New Year’s Resolution?

Monday-Again

The first Monday of the New Year….. some are off from work, while others are struggling to get it together.  Some are ready to JUMP right into their New Year’s Resolutions while others are wondering why they made them.  Which are you?

For me, I am looking forward to the New Year with anticipation of all God has in store for me.  Leaving my part-time job.  Trusting and having faith God will provide for our needs (without the use of credit cards).  Excited. Scared, Nervous.  #changeisintheair….

So what were your New Year’s Resolutions?  Here are the TOP 10 for the year (and most years).

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Let me help you with YOUR New Year’s Resolution…..

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

How To Embrace Your Life At Any Age

It’s FRIDAY!!!!!  I always say that “age” is just a number.  Some might disagree BUT I think I have a great attitude about getting older.  Some would never believe that I am 59 – yes, really!  I am ready to embrace life instead of worrying and dreading it.  I read recently that only 25% of our genes are responsible for visible signs of aging. Most of us have preconceived notions about what getting older looks like – do you?

If you are approaching 45 (mid-life for some), are you in a “mid-life crisis”?  What if you took the word ‘crisis’ away from the word mid-life ‘crisis’. The second half of your life could be the best part of your life….

Here are some ways to make the second half of your life as exciting as can be:

  1. Get your finances in order. Your will, insurance policies, retirement statements and estate planning should all be done. Be sure to know where all your documents are.
  2. Live in gratitude. Be thankful for what you have, look forward to what is still to come.
  3. Try to shoot for 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
  4. Get a mammogram, pap smear, colonoscopy, full skin check up and a full blood work up. You will feel better knowing you did.
  5. Take a new route to work. Mix it up. Enjoy the scenery.
  6. Connect with like-minded and interesting people. Spend time with the people you enjoy being around. People that lift you up not bring you down.
  7. Tell your loved ones that you love them every day
  8. Look in the mirror, tell yourself, “I love you!” (Sometimes harder than it sounds ;-))
  9. Make exercise a non- negotiable. We lose muscle over the age of 40 and more over 50! Take the steps.  Take a short walk.  Start somewhere BUT keep moving.
  10. Take on new and exciting opportunities
  11. Do what you love and love what you do!
  12. Learn new things. Attend conferences, workshops, and read at least 1 new book per month.
  13. Avoid stress and drama as much as possible. Do not let someone else’s drama become yours.
  14. Up your water consumption. I was told the rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces daily. This isn’t always easy for me but I try.
  15. Enjoy your journey and where you are in life in the present time.
  16. Health is the most important thing we have. It feels good to know that we can create better health through the simple steps and actions we take each day.
  17. Schedule ‘me’ time. Self- care is imperative. Get a massage regularly. Enjoy your pampering time without guilt. Go out with girlfriends you can be silly around and be yourself with.
  18. Unplug from your cell phone and all social media whenever you can. We all need a break from everything. It will all still be there when you plug back in. I know this one is hard from personal experience but it needs to be done.
  19. Take a vacation just for fun at the very least once a year. Travel to try new things and to meet new and interesting people.
  20. Don’t spend money on things you do not need to impress people you really don’t care about. What you do with your money is your business, period.
  21. Not everyone is going to like you so accept it and move on. Stick with the few people that have your back and are always there for you and distance yourself from the rest.
  22. Understand and appreciate your worth. Be proud of what you have done and what you are still going to accomplish. With age does come wisdom. Don’t let anyone younger try to take that away from you and never let them try to under value your worth.

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Life will always be filled with its uncertainties.  I may not always get the tips that I shared right BUT when I do they have given me the opportunity to experience better health, more peace, and happiness in my life. I hope some of them can help you too!

positive thoughts

I know that by thinking positively and doing positive things, I create a foundation to live the best, most energetic life possible. My intention moving into my sixties, and beyond, is to age gracefully while engaging a purpose-filled life.

Will you join me?  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

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