102 days till Christmas

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

That’s right, there is just another 102 days till Christmas.  I’m not sure why, but we seem to forget sometimes that Christmas falls on December 25th every year.  It doesn’t change.

We need to start thinking about Christmas when we are creating our budget.  Plan where the money will come from (bonus, extra paycheck, weekly/monthly savings), and put that plan into action.

If you did not include Christmas in your budget this year, or maybe you don’t even have a budget, I have a few ideas for you.

  1. Take a little money out of each payday
  2. Use found money (rebate check, change, a surprise over payment refund).  This is basically money that you didn’t expect to have coming to you.
  3. Give experiences rather than just a gift.  Sometimes people are trying to scale down on “stuff”, live a little simpler.  Why buy just another gift?  Give them an experience.  Maybe a free lesson, movie or theatre tickets, membership to a museuam or if your budget is small, just tickets for one entrance will be appreciated?  You can package the tickets or certificate in an inexpensive basket bought at a thrift store or garage sale.  Throw in some candy, coffee or tea for added color.
  4. Re-purpose a thrift store or yard sale find.  Maybe an item you find is a perfect shelf or picture frame.  Paint it, clean it up and add your own personal touch.  This would make a great gift.
  5. Make your own gifts.  Start browsing on Pinterest.  Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles love photo gifts.  Watch for photo deals that I will post here on the site, or check out these ideas:

Make your own Silhouettes
Pajama Pants Tutorial
T-shirt Dress

Stay tuned for more DIY ideas over the next couple months.

If you haven’t yet planned for Christmas, it’s time to get the budget ideas flowing. Remember that if you get paid weekly or every two weeks, you may have an extra check in  November, where there are 5 fridays.

Remember to keep things stress free.  Stressing over the holidays takes the joy out of the season.

Make it a goal to use cash only for Christmas.  No credit allowed.  Try to purchase everything with cash or if you have to order on a credit card, pay that amount online to your card right away.  Waiting till the bill comes in, for most people, results in the balance not getting paid right away.  This only accumulates more debt.

If times are really hard for you financially, now is the time to talk to your family about drawing names, exchanging only homemade, or just forgoing gift giving this year.

Get your creative juices flowing.  No matter what you do, Christmas is 102 days away and it’s not going away.  Whatever your circumstances may be, it’s time to approach the subject.

Always remember that when ordering online, you can shop thru sites like these below to earn on your purchases.  I personally use both of these sites.  For more information read my post on Earning Money When Purchasing Online.

Shop At Home

ShopAtHome Banner

Ebates

How do you budget for Christmas?  How do you deal in situations where there is just not enough money for gift giving?  What ideas do you use to save money?

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

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Creating a Budget Series: Cutting out the unnecessary

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

There are some things that I pay monthly for that really aggravate me.  Take for instance the DSL I use from our phone company.  We must have a home phone to get DSL provided to us.  That costs $50 a month alone!  So for the phone and DSL service I pay roughly $104 a month.  Ridiculous isn’t it?  We live in the country so we really have no other options than internet through a cell provider.  My contract is up in November so I will be researching alternatives.  I see no reason to pay that much a month for DSL, because we sure don’t use the home phone.

Satellite service is another thing that just burns me up.  We have Dish Network and just like all the others, as soon as your first year is up your package price increases by like $25 a month.  These companies have no rewards for your loyalty.  Not even after your contract is up.  If it wasn’t for Razorback football and the Discovery Channel, I bet we could survive without satellite.  I do pay for Netflix streaming which is less than $8 a month, but I also need a way for hubby to watch the college games.  He doesn’t ask for much.

Recently I was talking with a friend about this very subject.  She mentioned about wanting to go back to a plain old cell phone so she could get rid of her i phone plan.  She could save $30 a month.  Her complaint is that she has 5 people in her house with i phones. That makes a very large phone bill.  Why can’t they just offer a family package for i phone service like they do for texting?  My guess is because we are already paying for it! Anywhere you look people are on their i phones.  They don’t have to do anything special to get people to buy their product, we have already done that.

I too have thought about giving up my i phone.  Now this I have not really researched much.  I do use it frequently, but I feel like it’s out of boredom sometimes when I am sitting somewhere waiting.  Not because I needed it.

So what do you do when faced with bills like these?  First, I ask readers for their suggestions.  Second, I research until I find an alternative solution.  I’m bound and determined to lower the amount of my budget that goes towards these bills.  I also think we should really think about why we have these items.  Is it a need or a want?  We must be honest with ourselves.

Have any suggestions for lowering these bills?  Have any bills that really aggravate you? Hoping my readers will get the discussion going here and offer up your great suggestions or ask your questions.  

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

Creating a Budget Series: Christmas in July

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

I know it seems too early to think or even talk about Christmas, but back to school time is just about here and right after that ….. surprise ….. it’s almost Christmas.  Really this should be no surprise to us.  It’s not like it happens on different days in different months every year.  December 25th is Christmas every year.

Right now you need to be planning for Christmas.  You need to decide who will be on your list to buy for and how much you will spend.  Write these things down in a notebook.  As you think of things that you may want to buy for a certain recipient, make note of it in the notebook.

Now that you know how much money you will need for Christmas it’s time to decide where you will get the money from.  Total too high?  Decide if you really need to buy gifts for some people or can you make some things for certain people on your list.  Many people do not have a special skill like knitting or baking and would absolutely love a handmade item.

Maybe you will need to save a certain amount of money each payday or save that bonus check .  Maybe you can save that 5th Friday check.  Right now is time to decide how you will fund Christmas if you haven’t already done so.

Make a point to include Christmas in your budget categories for the next year.  That way Christmas won’t surprise you again.

How do you plan for Christmas?  Does Christmas surprise you every year?  Have trouble staying in budget?  

 Making a habit out of living frugal …..

Creating A Budget Series: All Aboard

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

Your working on your budget right?  Did you know what one of the most important factors is in creating and sticking to a budget?  It’s that everybody has to be on board.  That’s right, the budget train is loading and if everyone is not on board the train is likely to derail.

Your spouse must be on board for a budget to work.  Many people find that a weekly/monthly budget meeting makes it easier for spouses to communicate their financial concerns and/or frustrations.  Maybe your spouse is not the one that pays the bills.  Maybe he/she needs to see what comes in and what goes out on paper to really appreciate the need for a tight budget.  Maybe he/she needs to see how much you plan to contribute to a long term goal.  Just maybe seeing things on paper will get them on board. If you are in debt, it would be wise to list all your debts in one easy to see place.

Keep the lines of communication open and allow both parties to be able to make suggestions and/or changes to the budget.  Sometimes a too tight budget may cause one partner to excessively spend in response to the extremely tight budget.  Talk things over and be realistic.

Children also need to be on board too.  Not that they need to attend weekly/monthly budget meetings, but they need to know that there are limits.  They need to know the goals of the family.  They need their parent’s to talk to them about money.  Teach them how to make it, save it and spend it wisely.

One of my favorite parts of Dave Ramsey’s talks is when he talks about young adults get an education and go to work and want to have everything that it took their parent’s their whole lives to get.  Think about it.  It’s so true.  Buying your kids the latest and greatest of everything is setting them up for failure and debt.  Most children will not be able to maintain that standard of living when they get out on their own.  Not to mention the fact that many of the items barely get used.  Many times they are not taken care of.  Children often take care of things better when they worked and saved for the items.

Teach children how to shop on a budget.  Talk to them about why you budget the way you do.  Maybe you have goals you would like to tell them about.  Let your children save for some of the latest and greatest items.  Many times they will forget they even wanted a certain item by the time they get the money saved.  I promise they will live.

Make a rule as a family to plan any major purchases ahead of time.  Spend time researching options, sales, coupons and deals.  Set a limit as to what dollar amount constitutes a major purchase.  Agree to wait a certain number of days before purchasing to see if you still want the item.  Just like children, adults often change their minds or decide that the item is just not as important right now.

How do you get everyone on board with the budget?  Have trouble getting someone on board?  How do you handle major purchases in your home?  Talk to your children about why you budget?  

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

Creating a Budget Series: Some Ideas For When Life Happens

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

Just the other day I was talking with a friend about her families’ recent “life happens” moments.  It happens to all of us.  The dishwasher dies, the water heater quits heating, the washer quits spinning, the mower won’t start or the car air conditioner quits working.  Add these events to other life events you may be saving for and it’s enough to stress anyone out.  It  gave me the idea for this post.  It got me thinking about what I would recommend to someone that had multiple “life happens” events at a time.  What would I do if I had these multiple “life happens” events right now?

The first thing I would do is pray.  I would pray for help remaining calm.  I would pray for help handling things with the least amount of stress.  I would pray for guidance.

The next thing I would do is to step back and assess the situation.  Don’t just run out and get it fixed.  Making a quick, hasty decision can cost you more money than necessary.   Maybe there is something you can do to “make do” until you can budget the repairs.  If your dishwasher goes out, you can wash dishes until you get it fixed.  Sure we don’t want to, but it won’t kill us.  If your car air conditioner goes out it may force you to stay home more until you can fix it.

Search the internet for possible do it yourself fixes for the problem you are having.  Make sure you enter the model number and brand along with your problem in the search or enter the year and model along with a description of the problem on a car.  This is my favorite thing to do for cars and appliances.  Many times you will find other customers that have had the very same problem.  Often they will post a video or text showing or detailing how they fixed the problem on their own.  Make sure you read the comments attached and see if the fix was a help for others who also read the information.

If the problem requires professional help it may be that you don’t have the money right now.  Maybe you haven’t quite gotten an emergency fund started, or maybe another recent event left your emergency fund struggling.  What can you do to get the funds you need for the repair?

  • Eat out of the pantry, refrigerator and freezer for a week or two.  Just buy the perishables you need and get creative with your meals.  We don’t have to eat a large meal every day.  Many times, especially in the heat, we may eat crackers, cheese and fruit or something else simple like that.  Eat what you have.  This means taking lunch to work if you normally go out or buy from a cafeteria.  Make a pledge not to eat out for a week or two or however long it takes to save the money you need for repairs.
  • Say no to the stores.  Don’t look at the sales papers, don’t look at the sale emails.  You do not need anything right now so why tempt yourself by looking at the sales or going to the stores.  Stay home and tackle a project you have been wanting to do.
  • Have a yard sale.  You can probably round up enough things to sell in a week.  Clean out closets, cabinets, storage and your garage.  Get rid of the things that you do not use.  You would be surprised at what sells at yard sales.
  • Sell on ebay or craigslist.  Have a collection you are no longer interested in?  Have items that you don’t want to sell at a yard sale?  Why not try ebay or craigslist?  These are great ways to reach a large audience.
  • Buyers remorse?  Ever buy something and get home and wonder why you bought it?  Ever buy something that is still sitting around in the package?  If you have the receipt, just take it back.  If you don’t have the receipt you can call the store and ask about their return policy.
  • Have a hobby?  Try to sell some items that you make.  Many people sell their homemade items on Etsy.  Grow your own garden?  Sell your extras.  Many people would love to have some fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Skip the convenience store or coffee shop stop for a drink.  It’s amazing how fast these things add up.
Finding money for repairs is all about patience and planning.  Just like paying off debt, saving money on groceries or saving time, it’s all about proper planning.  Make a plan, put it in place, stick with it and monitor your progress.
How do you handle the “life happens” events?  Where do you cut back to get funds or replenish your emergency fund?  
Making a habit out of living frugal …..

 

Creating A Budget For Every Dollar and Sticking With It: When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

Sometimes it just happens and things don’t quite go as planned.  Sometimes errors just happen.  Sometimes life just gets in the way.  Your budget got messed up, now what do you do?

By now you may realize the need for that emergency fund.  Maybe an unexpected car repair got you off track this month, or an unexpected illness required prescriptions to be filled.  These are reasons it is great to work towards an emergency fund.

An emergency fund will be there to help with emergencies, but is not to be used as a “cushion” for mistakes or overspending each month.  You must break those old habits.

After you establish an emergency fund and pay down debt you then will start funds for things like medical and car repairs, but for right now it will just have to come from the emergency fund.  Each time you use money from the emergency fund you will then need to budget in paying back the fund the amount you used.

So you overspent this month.  What does this mean?  It means that you will need to lift your head up and keep going.  We don’t give up or quit easy.  We pick our heads up and figure out where that money will come from.  You may need to skip a grocery trip this week  and eat from the pantry and freezer or plan cheaper meals for the next few weeks to save a certain amount each week.  You may need to sell something on ebay or craigslist.  There is no magic answer as to where you will get the money from.  Just take a little time and come up with a plan.

The important thing is to admit the mistake, find a solution, fix the cause and keep on going.  The reason we get ourselves into debt in the first place is because it was easier to ignore the problem, it was easier to just go along with it.  We need to break that way of thinking.  We need to remain in control of our money regardless of how much or how little we have.

Saving money, getting out of debt, being frugal is not always easy.  It takes patience.  It takes faith.  It takes planning.  Most importantly it takes you.

It will get easier as you get more experience.  Stick with it.  Take control and remain in control.  Taking charge of your finances can change your life.

What do you do when things don’t go quite as planned?  What helps you keep your budget on track?  

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

Creating A Budget For Every Dollar and Sticking With It: 5 Fridays

Did you ever realize that some months have 5 Fridays?  Maybe you have been so caught up in getting your budget together that you didn’t realize that when creating the budget draft, we only allowed for 4 paychecks each month.

Photo Credit to RambergMediaImage

Now I realize that not everyone gets paid on friday and that not everyone gets paid weekly, but weekly paid people sometimes have 5 checks a month and bi-weekly paid people sometimes get 3 checks a month.  Pretty cool isn’t it?

Now you want to know what you can do with that money?

You can:

Once again it is important to plan where this money will go before you get it.  Use these extra checks to help reach one of your goals or start a much needed fund.

How do you spend those extra checks?  What would you like to spend them on?  

Making a habit out of living frugal …..

*Please remember I am not a financial expert or professional.  I post about what has worked for me and what I have learned from research and helping others.  I cannot be held responsible for any ideas expressed here.  You are to plan, read, follow at your own risk. For more read my disclosure/privacy policy.