31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 28 *Favorite Money Saving Websites*

Monday, October 31, 2011

For today's post I thought I would share with you some of my favorite money saving websites.

Two great websites for money saving coupons and tips for daily deals are:


My absolute favorite sites for kids clothing and other fun things are:

These sites each have a daily deal that is available only until quantities run out.  Items are one sale for 50% and over and you can really find some great deals.  Beware not to buy something just because it is on sale though ;-)

Do you have any favorite money saving websites or tricks?

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 27 *OOPS I DID IT AGAIN*

Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is actually really horrible, but I am going to be completely honest with you here....I know my post is a day late (again) I promise I am trying really hard, but sometimes life just gets in the way and I was not prepared ahead of time for my 31 days of posts ;-) Anyway, here is the reason why (which is perfectly fitting for today's subject)...

Yesterday we had a budgeted plan to attend this seafood dinner at a nearby winery with some friends.  The food was fabulous and the wine was great.  We had a babysitter for the afternoon and had planned to be home around 7pm.  Well, some how our well planned evening turned into a 2 hour limo drive and night of dancing until 3am!  Needless to say we had such a fabulous night!  However, this budgeted event turned into a much bigger ordeal and we spent well over what we had planned for our big date of the month!

Now before you freak of the friends that was wine tasting with us owns the limo company and so he nicely donated the limo ride ;-)  That doesn't take away from the fact that way too much money was spent on gas, tip, and a night out - not to mention the babysitter until 4am - YIKES! 

It can't get much worse than missing doing my blog post about saving money because I am out spending money like we just won the lottery!! 

I could have chosen to sit here today and pretend that I was deathly ill and just couldn't possibly muster up the energy to write last night, but what good would that do anyone?  I am not going to pretend to sit here and act like I have it all together and have never fallen off the horse on this long journey towards financial freedom.  I am human, just like everyone else, and this journey is not without its ups and downs.

My husband and I sat here for a bit this morning looking at the receipts from last night and we both started to get down and frustrated with ourselves.  But you know what?  Life is way too short for that!  Although we will need to eat top ramen for the next two weeks to make up for it, it is in the past and after all is said and done I don't think I would take it back, money and all.  It was good for us to let loose last night, like we haven't done in ages.  We haven't been in a limo since our wedding 7 years ago and the fun we had just driving around with our friends was priceless.

Now this is not to say that you should forget all my advice about budgeting and making hard decisions, but I am here to say that making a financial mistake doesn't mean that you should throw in the towel and give up.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  It is like dieting, sometimes you will do well for a month and then you have a night of binging on cake and ice cream.  One night doesn't ruin the whole plan, but if you don't make adjustments to stay on track after that, then you will find yourself back in your fat jeans ;-))

So please, if you find yourself in a situation like I am in today, get back on the horse and try again.  And please please please, if your spouse messes up don't be too hard on them!  Luckily, last night was a decision that we made together so there is no blame to be had.  But I would hope that if I made a poor financial decision on my own, that couldn't be rectified by just returning an item, that my husband would forgive me and help me to move on.

The key is to learn from the mistakes, adjust your budget as necessary, and move forward.  Don't live with regrets, just learn from them.

Anyone have a story of a poor financial decision that you've made while on the journey towards financial freedom? 

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 26 *BUYING A HOUSE*

Friday, October 28, 2011

With today's housing market and the cheap interest rates, many are wondering when it is a good time to buy a house. 

So many people only think about a house being an "investment" and buy the lie that you are throwing away your money when you rent.  It is true that you are not investing your money when your rent, but you are paying for a roof over your head.  To me this definitely doesn't mean I am throwing away my money when I rent.  I am spending money to live in a warm, lovely home.  I don't have to worry if my dishwasher floods all over our kitchen floor...if our water heater breaks, we don't need to take cold showers for a month until we can afford a new one.  We make a phone call and things are fixed.  There is something to be said for renting :-)

Obviously most of us want to be able to own our dream home some day.  It is a wonderful feeling to actually own your home, but it is not that warm, fuzzy feeling when you home owns you!

No matter how big or little the house, the same rules apply (just a different sum of money).

Here is Dave Ramsey's advice as to when the right time to purchase a home is...

"We call it Baby Step 3(b). Baby Step 1, the very first thing you do after you get current and have your written budget, your first goal is you squeeze every dollar out of your budget and your life until you have $1,000 saved as your beginner emergency fund. Once you’ve done that—and you’re not saving any money anywhere else until you’ve done that—and you’re not paying any extra until you’ve done that, then you start attacking your debts. You list your debts—everything but the home—smallest to largest. You pay minimum payments on everything but the little one, and attack the little one with a vengeance. You work your way through your debts with great focused intensity, living on nothing. Rice and beans, beans and rice. Once you’re debt-free, everything but the house, then you move on to Baby Step 3, which is you’re still not saving or investing. You’re not paying any extra on the house. You’re not saving for college or retirement. We’re going to go back to that $1,000 account and raise it to a fully funded emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Once you’ve done that, before you start saving for retirement, which is Baby Step 4, or saving for college, which is Baby Step 5, or paying off your home early, which is Baby Step 6, at Baby Step 3(b) is where we’re going to save for a home. “Purchase house” is right there. I would not buy a home while you have debt and no emergency fund. You need to get yourself out of debt and get your emergency fund in place.
A home is a huge financial blessing if you have money. If you don’t have money, it becomes a curse, because the water heater breaks. The heat and air system goes out. The winds blow shingles off the roof. Houses cost money. They’re a good investment, but they cost money to operate these things. You’ve got to be prepared. If you move into a home with three student loans that have been around so long you think they’re a pet, MasterCard, you’ve Discovered bondage and American Excess, and two fleeced car payments with no money, you move into that home, Murphy will move into your spare bedroom and bring his three cousins Broke, Desperate, and Stupid. Don’t do that.
Get yourself cleaned up before you buy a home. Debt-free except for the home and have an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. That is the route to go."

I definitely couldn't have said it any better myself!  Take a look at all the foreclosures around this nation and tell me how many people wish that they would have gone this route.  It is not to say that even if you plan things perfectly that they can't still go wrong, but you are much less liable when you actually have a large down payment paid on your house, no debt, and your 6 month emergency fund in case you get in a pickle. 

*One last little bit on getting your mortgage if you have all your debt paid off and your 3- 6 month emergency fund saved and you are ready to start saving for your house...put the maximum amount of money down and do a 15 year mortgage to get out of debt sooner than later.  The end goal in all of this is to have absolutely ZERO debt, including your mortgage :-)))

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 25 *STUDENT LOAN DEBT*

Thursday, October 27, 2011

There is this crazy epidemic running wild in our country called Student Loans!  They are sleeping giants that wake up and destroy lives!

I was one of the unfortunate souls who did not think twice about having a student loan because going to the best college was the most important...I am here to tell you that a college education is a college education, regardless where you get it.

I am working as a recruiter for a 2 billion dollar corporation and I can tell you, even when looking at candidates for Director and VP positions, 9 times out of 10 the fact that they have a degree is what I look at not where they attended school.

It breaks my heart to think of the poor students who graduate with their Master's carrying a hefty $100,000 in student loan debt and think that they will land a great job so their debt will magically disappear.  Sadly, they land a job at $40k and will be paying off their loans for a very long time. 

College really does you a diservice if you think you are coming out ahead and going to be starting your big career, making the big bucks, and you have student loan debt worth more than a house!

If you are the one who will be going to school in the near future and don't have your money saved up, please go to community college and work your way through school or start finding a way to save and work your way through the University of your choice.  I PROMISE you will not regret that choice!

It you are working on paying off your debt please make sure you add these student loans in your debt snowball and treat them like you would any other debt.

Pinterest Recipes

I have been in a real rut lately when it comes to cooking.  I really love to cook, but I am so sick of making the same things that I don't feel like cooking a thing!  I have decided that I need to spend more time looking at Pinterest to find some new recipes to try.  So here they are :-))

Is there anything else to say, other than YUM!?

Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Cups

I hate Zucchini, but I love Zucchini sticks in restaurants.  I definitely need to try this at home so I can get some veggies in me ;-)

I love Chinese and Japanese food, but am completely stuck in a rut over the stir fry recipes I make.  I can't wait to try this!

This looks so good and simple!

What's on your menu tonight?  

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 24 *EMERGENCY FUND #2*

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Your debt is paid off!!!  Now what?!

Remember back on Baby Step #1 you saved your baby emergency fund  which was only about $1000 or so?  Well, guess what!?  Now it is time to get that piggy bank really full!!

At this point in the game you should have ZERO debt, except for your house payment.  This means no car debt, no student loan debt - NADA! 

This is not time to start investing or saving for college or trips, this is where you save for a 3 - 6 months of expenses in an emergency fund.  This is absolutely necessary so that if something major should happen, like a job loss, you will not go back into debt.

This step should move a lot more quickly than paying off your debt.  All of the money that you were so diligently putting towards paying off your debt you put into your savings account.  Determine for yourselves whether you need 3 or 6 months of expenses saved.  This is a personal decision based on personality - are you a the type who needs to feel the security of 6 months to feel safe? and based on the risk of your situation - are you at risk for losing your job? are you both working? and so on...

This step may seem easy and great, but for some it may be the hardest.  You finally get to the point of paying off your debt and now you still have to stick to that strict budget!  Just think of the freedom when you have no debt and actually have a full funded savings!!  Push through and make it through this step.

One more thing...remember those rewards you set for yourself?  It is probably wise to have some type of reward before you jump into this step, after all you are DEBT FREE!

Check out the other posts in this series:

Day 1 ~ Budget

Day 2 ~ Cash is King

Day 3 ~ Change Your Mindset

Day 4 ~Shaving Down the Grocery Bill

Day 5 ~ Think Outside the Box

Day 6 ~ Baby Steps

Day 7 ~ Get Together

Day 8 ~ The Reluctant Spouse

Day 9 ~ Reward Yourself

Day 10 ~ No Credit Cards Allowed! 

Day 11 ~ Emergency Fund 

Day 12 ~ Bye Bye Debt

Day 13 ~ Earning Extra Income

Day 14 ~ Infrequent Payments

Day 15 ~ Avoid Impulse Shopping

Day 16 ~ Consignment Stores

Day 17 ~ Making Cuts

Day 18 ~ Be Careful Who Your Friends Are

Day 19 ~ To Tithe or not to Tithe

Day 20 ~ Making the Hard Decisions

Day 21 ~ Co-signing

Day 22 ~ Borrowing from Family or Friends

Day 23 ~ Start Young

Day 24 ~ Emergency Fund #

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 23 *START YOUNG*

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One of the most important things you can give your child (even above the hefty college funding) is to teach him or her the proper way to handle finances. 

This is especially important in today's society where kids are inundated with credit cards and instant gratification everywhere they turn.


There needs to be some sort of foundation and training that they can come back to so that they don't fall into those bad habits.  It is just like anything - you are either going to let society train them or you can teach them some foundational principles and hope that they will make the right decisions in the future.

I believe that it is important to allow your children the opportunity to understand some of the real reasons that you are not going out to dinner tonight or that attending a soccer camp will require some extra funds or some cuts somewhere.  I don't believe that they need to know the ins and outs of your family budget and struggles (they need to feel the security that they are taken care of) but I do think it is important that they realize there are sacrifices and hard work that go into the perks in life.  If a sport or activity does need to get cut because of the budget, it should be explained as to why.  Don't make up excuses, your children deserve to know.
I know I certainly don't want our girls to grow up with the entitlement attitude!

I think it is wonderful to give your children an allowance (we have already started Charlee at $1 a week now that she is 4).  We do not tell her what she can and cannot spend her money on.  If she wants to blow her $1 on candy that day, so be it!  But she will soon realize that if she wants the bigger items that she needs to save.  She is very proud of herself when she saves her money.  She even told me the other day when she saw a Christmas animal she wanted at Home Depot that she was going to save her money until Christmas to buy it :-))  We do not say that she doesn't get an allowance for not doing her chores, but we do tell her that if she doesn't do her chores then we will have to take a portion of her money to pay her sister, dad, etc.  to do the chore for her.  This works every time!

For Heaven's sake please don't buy your child the nicest car as soon as they turn 16 and the designer shoes right when they come out, even if you can afford it!  Many parents mean the best and they don't want their children to struggle.  They have worked hard and enjoy spoiling their kids rotten  giving their children the latest and greatest things.  A child/young adult doesn't learn anything from getting everything they ask for.  They learn from their hard work paying off.

Now, I completely believe you can go too extreme on this.  They are still children after all and are going to school, involved in sports and so on.  They obviously should not be paying rent, doing the grocery shopping, or paying you for gas (except maybe in their own vehicle).  Find what works for you and your children...maybe you pitch in $2 for every dollar they earn towards a new car, you pay for gas - they pay for insurance (may reduce the number of speeding tickets ;-)), you buy the prom dress - she pays for getting her nails done, if he gets at least 3 A's you take him out to buy the new pair of Nikes...

If there is no awareness early on of what things cost, where the money goes, how to budget, etc. it is much harder to learn when you graduate college and the creditors are handing out free credit cards on the college campus.  It's like trying to learn Chinese after you moved there instead of knowing the basics before you go.

Any tips or tricks you have about teaching your kids?

Versatile Blogger Award!

I am so excited today!  First off, I have had some fabulous features this last week for my  tea light wall art(Nifty Thrifty Things,  Too Much Time on My Hands,   Addicted 2 Decorating,   and Flamingo Toes) and I can't even begin to tell you how it makes my day to get a feature, and then I got this!!

From 2 wonderful ladies!!!

Kelli @ The Turquoise Piano and Laura @ Our Prairie Home picked me along with other fabulous bloggers to receive the Versatile Blogger Award!  I am super flattered and so grateful :-))  To have them pick my blog out of the million out there means so much!

The rules of this award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave the award to you.  (Done - twice)

2. Share 7 things about yourself.  (Stay Tuned)

3. Award it to 15 other bloggers (Kelli did 10, so I too - this part is so hard!!)

7 Things about myself...

1. I {love} candy!  I don't mean it's good and nice when I can have it, I mean I can spend $10 at the Sweet Factory and eat the whole bag in an hour kind of love!  Especially sour candy...Zours, sour gummi bears, sour balls, lemon heads, those sour tape thingies, etc.  I also adore chocolate covered gummi bears!!!

2. I use to show horses and dogs.  I grew up riding horses and showing in both Western and English and then sold my horse before college.  After college we bought a barrel horse from my cousin and he was amazing!  I got addicted to barrel racing and was having a blast, but we decided to sell him a couple years ago because I just didn't really have the time or money to invest in it that I needed after having our girls.  I miss it everyday, but I wouldn't change a thing. 

"Just" My old barrel horse
3. My husband was a bull rider :-)  Not really about me, but it was a huge part of our lives when we got married.  Our first couple years were spent traveling all throughout California and Nevada going to PRCA rodeos.  It was a really fun experience and we spent so much time bonding on those loooonnnngggg car rides.  I miss that world a lot, but it is so nice being home on the weekends and having our house and family now.

4. My husband and I have known each other since we were youngin's (sorry about the poor picture quality)

Weren't those McDonald's B-Day parties the best?!
5. I have a super big fear of heights!  I'm not afraid of skydiving or hot air balloon kind of heights, but standing on a ladder or jumping off rocks scared the jeepers out of me!  It is super embarrassing to admit, but when I climb up some of the playground equipment with our girls, I get a wee bit nauseous and only continue to go on because I would probably scar my girls for life if I backed out ;-)

6. I love Christian music, especially K-Love!  I blare it loud and sing along with a voice only God could love (when no one else is in the car of course).

7. I HATE to bake!  I love to cook, but me and baking just don't get along.  I will fully admit that I tried to make these cupcakes that I blogged about earlier this month and they came out so poorly that I was almost embarrassed to have the kids take them.  They did taste good though, so I guess it's not all bad.


Now on to the good part!  The 10 other well deserving bloggers that I am passing this award onto...

1.  My 1929 Charmer - she is so sweet and does fabulous makeovers and has recently started a new link party!

2. The Essence of Home - I absolutely adore every picture she shows of her home!  It is just fabulous, you must check her out!

3. Rolled Up Pretty - Don't you just love the name of her blog!?  Her blog is just as fun as her name...some fashion, some personal, some sewing, some DIY - just love it!

4. Hello Lovely - if the ballet shoes on her header to get you hooked, her posts sure will!

5. White Whimsy - I got hooked on her blog when I saw her Halloween black and white mantel.

6. Huge Love - Not only is Tiffany one of my bestest friends from elementary school and my old horse showing days...she also has such a fun and inspirational blog.  If you are looking for a mood boost, get you tushy over to Huge Love today!

7. Emerald Cidade - Stephanie's blog just makes me smile when I go to her home page!  Her blog is crisp and clean and full of great inspiration!

8. The Salvage Collection - I just became a new follower today :-)) after seeing an adorable dresser she re-did.  My jaw about hit the floor when I started viewing all her work, she is amazing!!

9. Mom's Fun Money - Katie is so great!  She found my blog when looking for blue hutch inspiration and now has let me do a weekly post on her blog.  She has great money saving tips and coupons practically every second!

10. Adventures in Creating - Rachelle has wonderful cheap and simple DIY projects that are beautiful!!

Well, that's it!  Please go check out all these amazing ladies, included the generous ones who awarded me this award.  You will not be disappointed!

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 22 *BORROWING FROM FAMILY OR FRIENDS*

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Day 21 we talked about the dangers of co-signing, so you may be thinking it might be better off to borrow a little cash to get the purchase that you so desperately need. 

The same principle that applies to co-signing also applies to borrowing...a big fat NO!!! DO NOT DO IT!!!!

Borrowing money can actually be worse.  No you aren't chaining someone to an unwise purchase, but you are purposefully driving a wedge in your relationship.

Money can drive a wedge between any relationship.  Even if it was not a loan, but a gift to help you with some type of purchase, there will be some underlying feelings there.  (The only time there will not be feelings of disappointment, frustration, guilt, etc. is if the money was a gift out of pure generosity, not because the person felt you were in need).

Your brother loaned you $2000 for the down payment on your car with the agreement that you just make payments of $100 per month to him with no interest.  What a great brother you have and a fancy new car!  Life couldn't get any better!

Life is going are making enough money to pay your car loan and your brother the $100 each month (you even made a couple extra $50 payments to your brother for good measure).  Then your friend calls you and tells you that she wants you to come on a trip to Napa with her and your other 2 best friends!!  Of course you can go - you'll even drive your new car!! 

You had a great time in Napa and rush home to tell your family all about it...the fancy restaurants, the wine, the massages and so on.  Upon hearing this your brother, knowing you still owe him $1500, walks out...and so begins the wedge...

It is just simply not worth it!  A good friend may start avoiding you because she knows she owes you money, you may form resentment towards your child because she hasn't paid you back anything you loaned her but she shows up to your house in new clothes and a new hairstyle...
Please do yourself a favor and NEVER borrow money from family members or friends again!  Also, if you are lucky enough to be the person with the loaning abilities please DO NOT DO IT!  If you want to give someone a cash GIFT for no other reason than to be nice, go for it, but be very clear in your motivation and expectations.

If you are in debt with anyone, please move this to the top of your debt snowball and you will feel an enormous sense of freedom when this has been errased, I promise :-))

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 21 *CO-SIGNING*

Today's post is extremely simple and to the point, but also EXTREMELY important!

Never ever ever ever ever ever co-sign for someone or have someone co-sign any kind of loan for you EVER!!!

Please don't make any excuses for this.  No BUTS, IFS, or EXCEPTIONS! 

Co-signing not only ruins credit, it ruins relationships.  It truly doesn't matter what side of the coin you are on, this is not a good deal.

Let's take a look at a couple different scenarios... 
dream house
1. You just got married and you and your wife found the perfect house!  You go apply for the loan and unfortunately they will not approve you, unless you have a co-signer.  Great news - your wife's parents volunteer so everything is great right?!  Well, 5 years down the line you lose your job and can't afford the house payment.  After several months of trying everything your only way out is for the house to be foreclosed upon, short-saled or ask her parents for help.  No matter what choice you choose it falls on your wife's parent's lap.  How do you think your relationship will be after this?

"You don't understand, my situation is completely different!  There is no way I will lose my job," you say... {okay then, how about this situation}

2.  You just got married and you and your wife found the perfect house!  You go apply for the loan and unfortunately they will not approve you, unless you have a co-signer.  Great news - your wife's parents volunteer so everything is great right?!  Well, 5 years down the road you decide that things are going really well and you want to sell the house and buy something with more room for your growing family.  Your wife's parents are not on board with this.  Their names are on the loan after all they feel they should have a say.  They feel that the market is rising still and they should get a portion of the proceeds for the home since you wouldn't have been able to buy in the first place without their help.  You have a few options can do it anyway and risk your relationship, you can go ahead and sell and then offer them a portion of money to thank them and salvage the relationship, you can offer for them to take over the payments and keep the house, or you can just agree with them and stay.

"Not in a million years! Our situation is completely different," you say... {how about this one}

3.  You just got married and you and your wife found the perfect house!  You go apply for the loan and unfortunately they will not approve you, unless you have a co-signer.  Great news - your wife's parents volunteer so everything is great right?!  Well, 5 years down the road things are going really well for you guys, you haven't even had one late payment.  But guess what?  Your wife's parents decide to purchase a new car...they are denied for the loan (too much debt showing for them because they have co-signed for your loan). 

There are rarely happy endings when it comes to co-signing...there is a reason the bank is asking for a co-signer {if you were living within your means, I doubt there with be an issue with getting a loan}. 

Ok should just borrow some money to make the desired purchase then right!  WRONG - stay tuned for Day 22 :-))

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 20 *MAKING THE HARD DECISIONS*

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When you have tried to make cuts and earn extra income and you still can't seem to get ahead, then it might be time to make some hard decisions.

I always thought that I would be a stay out home mom when we had kids.  I was blessed to have been able to work out of the house for Charlee's first three years.  However, when we had Colbie and the economy went south we realized that we were in for a rough time.  Unfortunately, no matter how much we tried to cut the bills we just too many and the income was just to small and we knew we would never be debt free at the rate we were going. 

We decided that I needed to look into finding a job outside of the home.  We even contemplated moving and making some drastic life changes.  We prayed and put our faith in God that he would open the right door and He definitely did.  I was lucky to find a great job locally and found a wonderful woman to watch our girls.  It certainly wasn't easy though, Charlee screamed and cried every morning for almost 5 months and I felt like the world's worst mom. 

However, it has turned out to be such a blessing.  Charlee has thrived and has grown so much confidence through this experience.  My job was a saving grace when we needed it and Brian's work is going strong now.

We have had to make several hard decisions regarding finances and letting some things go, such as selling my horse, cancelling trips, etc.  But every single one of those decisions has truly helped us on our road to financial freedom. 

When you truly have a goal of being debt free, you may need to make some tough decisions, but just remember nothing is permanent.  You will be so happy in the long run that you went the hard road to live on the easy side in the future.

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 19 *TO TITHE OR NOT TO TITHE, THAT IS THE QUESTION*

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obviously if you are not religious, you can ignore today's post :-)

However, for those of you that believe in the Bible and try to truly live your life according to The Word of God tithing may be a bit of a struggle for you, especially when money is tight.

There is a big argument on each side of the fence here and I am in no way a means of authority on this, I am only here to offer my humble opinion.

I firmly believe that God has asked us to give back.  I believe that more importantly than giving 10% is giving with a joyful heart and it should be enough of a sacrifice that it hurts. 

By this I mean that if I give you $10 in my pocket when I have $500 to spare, is it really a sacrifice?  Am I giving all I can and truly feeling like I am putting my faith in Him?  I am not saying that you need to give every penny you have and trust that God will feed your family and pay your mortgage, but I do believe that God wants to see you actually take a step out in faith.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7
6The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Luke 21:1-4  (Words of Jesus in red)
1He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; 2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3He said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; 4 for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on."

It is a real challenge for me each time I write out our budget and I see that 10% come right off the top...that money could really be put to some good use somewhere down the line.  But, I can tell you first hand that whenever I have gotten greedy with my money, I have not been given or rewarded much in that month.  In the months that we have had complete faith and given all that we could, God has truly rewarded our efforts. 

It is very important for us to pay God (the church, charities,etc) before we pay ourselves.  It has been way too easy in the past to say that we will pay God X amount at the end of the month, because usually that X amount was spent on something else.

Now if you are behind on your payments I believe it is a little different. 

I personally believe if you are behind on any of your bills that it is your obligation to pay that back before you spend any anything, including tithes.  Once you are current on your payments I believe that you should then begin tithing.

Psalm 37:2121  The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; 

What are your thoughts on tithing?  Has God blessed you when you were faithful with your money, even though times were tough?

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 18 *BE CAREFUL WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE*

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yes, I know I sound like your mother here...but you know your mom was right when she told you, "now honey be careful who your friends are..."

Don't worry I'm not going to tell you that you can only have broke friends.  I am however, going to tell you to be careful that you don't let your friends with or without money influence your decision to win with your finances.

In reality if you have wealthy friends (not pretend wealthy, but truly financial fit friends) they are most likely the best influence.  They are usually financially fit for a reason. 

One the other side of the coin, we all know those who try to keep up with the Jones and spend their money on frivolous things to either look good or just because they have no self discipline {not that any of us have ever been guilty of that ;-)}

Hopefully through this series you have learned to get rid of some of your nasty habits and have changed your mindset a little bit.  However, if you have a long way to go before you are financial free you need to make sure that you have people encouraging you and motivating you. 

Plan wisely when friends ask you out for dinners or to the movies.  We don't want to totally alienate ourselves from our friends so we have an entertainment budget each month so that we can still try to hang out and go to dinner now and then, but we do so within our budget. 

Just because you don't have the money doesn't mean you have to say no.  Just get a little creative...if your friends ask you and your spouse out for dinner and you only have a little cash to spare then split a meal or let them know that you can't make it for dinner but will join them after. 

Let people in on what you are working towards.  Don't be ashamed for budgeting.  Be proud of the journey you are on and excited and your friends and family will hopefully be excited for you. 

However, be careful not to make them feel guilty.  Don't condemn your sister for her shopping trip or your friend for his new car purchase, this will only make them look at you like you have a "holier than thou" attitude. 

Lead by example and remember to think about the long term rewards.  Don't look enviously at what other's have.  Remember instant gratification will only satisfy you for so long.  When you work hard and reap your reward, the payoff will be much bigger.

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 17 *Making Cuts*

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You are trying to make ends meet and make your Budget come out just right and you just can't seem to scrape together the money you need. 

This is where you may need to bite the bullet and make some cuts in your expenses, especially if you haven't even built up your Emergency Fund yet.  I am going to highlight some areas of your budget that you might want to take out the magnifying glass and look at.

1. Insurance - Some of you are paying way too much for insurance (especially car insurance).  It is very easy to shop around for car insurance and you can switch at any time with no penalties.  One thing to make sure with your insurance, especially when you have an emergency fund is to make your deductible higher so that you have more money to put towards paying off debts.

2. Utilities - Are you really being efficient here?  Pay attention and shut off your lights when you walk out of a room, unplug things when not in use, turn down the heat a little and wear a sweater, etc.  It is amazing how all these things add up when you actually make an effort.

3. Cell phones - Is it necessary to have the most expensive plan and the newest phone?  Consider cutting this to the bare minimum if you are not yet out of debt.

4. TV (YIKES!!) - So many people now have cable bills well over $100, is this really necessary!?  Consider going to the basic plan or completely cutting it out.  We cut our cable about 8 months ago and it has been great!  I wasn't sure how I would handle this, but it actually made me start thinking more and spending my time more wisely.  I wouldn't have started my blog if it wasn't for cutting out the TV :-)) 

5. Eating Out - We all know how quickly this adds up!  Bring your lunch to work, pack snacks in the car and just plan ahead.  You will save so much money and so many calories too ;-)

6. Gas - Try to do as many things as possible in one trip.  *I will fully admit that I am horrible at this! Sometimes I need to just get out of the house and go somewhere just because, so I end up spending a lot more on gas than I need to :(

These are just some things to think about when looking at your budget.  The main thing is to really comb through your expenses and think of any way that you can cut things down.

Don't feel guilty if there is something that you know you should cut, but don't.  Some could never cut their cable and want to stop following me right now just because I suggested that ;-)  There are some things that we choose to spend more on because it is more important to us and to make up for this we cut TV. 

It is all a personal decision and you can be as extreme as necessary when looking for ways to make your budget work for you.  Just make sure you work together, if you're married, and be realist so that you set yourself up for success not failure.

Do you have any helpful tips or areas in your life that you cut?

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 16 *Consignment Stores*

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First off I want to say I am so sorry that this post late...The good news is that it was because I have been busy working on a big project!  I finally started on my hutch that has been sitting in the garage for a few months now.  I worked on that so much Sunday that I just wanted to hang out with the family that evening and not even turn on the computer.  Then last night I stayed up till 11pm writing this post and somehow it all got erased!  So instead of killing myself to get it done when I needed to get up for work at 5am, I decided to wait and finish it before work this morning :-)

That being said, here is Day 16!

Have you ever been to a consignment store?  If not, you MUST go!  They are just fabulous! 

My first experience with a consignment store was probably about 15 years ago and all I remember is it smelling like my grandmother's sock drawer (not that I ever smelt her sock drawer, but you get the
picture :-)) and all the clothes looked like they were for the 80's business woman with the shoulder pads and all.  Definitely NOT something a teenager would be caught dead in!

Boy have I been missing out all these years! 

We recently had an upscale consignment and coffee shop open up in our town and it is awesome!  You would never know it is a consignment store.  They only accept clothes in EXCELLENT condition and they have to be fashionable! 

This particular store takes 15 items at a time and you get paid 50% if/when your item sells.  I have taken in approximately 20 items, from clothes to jewelry and shoes.  I check in once a month to see if they have a check waiting for me.  I have made approximately $60 in a past few months (nothing to call home about, but money is money). 

My absolute favorite consignment store is a store called "Kid to Kid."  They sell children's clothing, toys, and even maternity clothes.  The nice thing about them is that you can take in as many items as you want and they will give you cash for them right away.  You can also choose to receive store credit, which amounts to more than you would receive in cash.  Right now I have over $50 in store credit there and I can get a crazy amount of stuff for my kids for that!

I have purchased some of my daughter's favorites from Kid to Kid.  I got Charlee a cute little red pea coat for $5 that looks like it has never been worn, cute flower headbands, tutus and so much more!

So, next time you clean out the closets make sure that instead of just a Goodwill pile, that you think about what good quality items you might be able to earn a little extra income with.

Check out the rest of this series:

Day 1 ~ Budget

Day 2 ~ Cash is King

Day 3 ~ Change Your Mindset

Day 4 ~Shaving Down the Grocery Bill

Day 5 ~ Think Outside the Box

Day 6 ~ Baby Steps

Day 7 ~ Get Together

Day 8 ~ The Reluctant Spouse

Day 9 ~ Reward Yourself

Day 10 ~ No Credit Cards Allowed! 

Day 11 ~ Emergency Fund 

Day 12 ~ Bye Bye Debt

Day 13 ~ Earning Extra Income

Day 14 ~ Infrequent Payments

Day 15 ~ Avoid Impulse Shopping

Day 16 ~ Consignment Stores

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 15 *AVOID IMPULSE SHOPPING*

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We all know the walk into a store and see the chair what you have been eyeing every day for the past month and today it is marked down 20%!!  LIMITED TIME ONLY!  You buy the chair and after the a couple weeks the excitement wears off and the money is gone.  Then you come across the same chair in another store, but in a color you like even  more and guess what? it's $15 cheaper (not on sale) than the one you purchased at the special marked down price! 


We all get the fever from time to time and blow our budget.  For some of us it is when we see an item we just fall in love with and have to have and for others (like myself) it happens when I have been budgeting for so long and doing so well and then I just have a day where I splurge!  Kind of like a dieter at a Christmas party staring at all the goodies...


You don't stay within the diet and have just one, you eat 8 cookies, a piece of apple pie, mashed potatoes and gravy and on and on!  Then you want to just want to give up all together! 

This is why it is necessary to have a plan to try to cut down the impulse shopping.

1.  Have a Plan When Shopping - If you need to pick up some items at Target or the Mall, go in with a list and your budget.  Do not allow yourself to pick up anything that is not on that list. 

2.  Sleep on it - If you see an item you just have to have, don't buy it that day.  Go home and look at your budget and sleep on it.  In most cases you will most likely decide that it isn't the right choice.  If it is something that you decide you want, just adjust the budget to make it happen so there is no guilt.

3.  Keep the Tags on - If you do get the fever and act on it, don't fret.  Just keep the tags on it and keep the receipt and follow step #2.  In most cases the purchase will not be final and you can return it if you made a poor decision.

The most important thing is not to allow an impulse buy to knock you completely off the Financial Freedom wagon.

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 14 *INFREQUENT PAYMENTS*

Friday, October 14, 2011

So your budget is planned and equalling ZERO for the month and then that bill comes in the mail...

You completely forgot your quarterly insurance payment is due this month!  $300!!!  You already cut up the credit cards so you have no backup!

To avoid this situation you need to set up an account specifically for these types of expenses.  Any infrequent expense including gifts, insurance payments, taxes, etc. should be saved for monthly. 

For example, if you insurance payment is $300 a quarter than you should be budgeting $100 per month to go toward this expense so that you aren't scrambling when it shows up.

This should be done for big yearly expenses such as Christmas, furniture replacement, tires, and so on.

Budget how much you want or need to save for each of these things and work them into your monthly budget.

Then you won't feel one ounce of guilt when you are out there buying your Christmas gifts or much needed sofa to replace the 10 year old one ;-)

Choose the best place to keep this money where you won't be tempted to use it before you are supposed to, but make sure it is easy to get when it's needed.  We choose to keep ours in a separate savings account that is linked to our checking account so that we can easily transfer the money (but it is not an overdraft protection account).  

It is amazing the peace of mind that planning for this irregular expenses will bring you!!  You no longer look at the calendar dreading the Birthday's and Holidays because it means more money... you no longer worry about the oil change or the car repairs that you will inevitably need. 

I told you having a budget is freeing :-))

31 Days Towards Financial Freedom ~ Day 13 *EARNING EXTRA INCOME*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So remember how I started out this series by telling you to get on a budget and stick to it? 

Sounds simple enough, unless you are one of the lucky one's who find out that they don't have the means to even stay in the budget no matter how much they are trying to cut.

So what do you do if your bottom line comes out to be a negative number?

The answer is pretty straight forward - you either need more income or more cuts...

I am going to offer a couple ideas for making a little extra money.

1.  Clean houses, do yard work, etc. for those in need.  When we needed a little extra income and I was trying to avoid having to go back to work so that I could still stay home with my girls, I started cleaning on the side to make a little extra.  This was a great option for me because I actually like to clean and it gave me some alone time ;-)  The great thing about this work is the schedule is usually flexible.

2.  Sell things.  I absolutely love having garage sales to make some extra dough and do some massive cleaning and purging.  Another option is to put some ads on Craigslist or EBay.  I will admit that I have several items cleaned and ready to sell on EBay, but I am an EBay virgin and have no idea what I am doing!  That is my next actually put an ad up ha ha! 

3.  Make money online.  This takes some patience and work, but it definitely can be done.  We all know that there is money to be made in blogging, but it takes time and a good blog ;-)  There are also sites, like hubpages where you can write posts about anything you choose and make some side money.  Your main form of income is writing good hubs about topics that people will search and find online.  It is actually quite fun and if you already have a blog it is easy to just stem from there.

4.  Up cycle furniture.  Not only is it so fun for me to re-do furniture that someone would normally throw out, it can turn a profit as well.  The key here is to not spend a lot on the piece to start out with.  Here is an example of a $25 dresser and hutch that we turned into two different projects...

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  All the little things add up, so get creative and work hard and I promise it will pay off!