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From Her Profits

The day after I wrote the steps in Profitable Savings I ended up out and about shopping with no plan or budget in mind. I broke all my rules and paid for it. Literally. It wasn’t too crazy but it did remind me how important it is to go in with a plan!

I had an opportunity recently to get the local newspaper for half off. I thought about it for the coupons but I don’t think I am ready to commit to couponing just yet. I cannot justify the expense otherwise. So there is another tip, be realistic. If you are spending money to save are you ready to do the work it will take to save the money? Is it worth it? Also keep in mind that if you will be saving money in an area you weren’t planning on spending originally then its not worth the cost. For example coupon books. If you purchase to donate to a cause that’s one thing but few people ever actually use them and those that do probably would not have spent money in the places they used the coupons if they didn’t have the book. So be realistic.

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Profitable Savings
Wednesday Web Sitings
Saving Christmas

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Saving Christmas

This is the perfect time of year to be discussing saving money. We are heading into the holidays. Obviously one big way to save is to take advantage of sales such as Black Friday. Another option is to save some money after Christmas and use that to stock up for next year on things (not necessarily gifts but decor or other items that go on a really good clearance). This is how I have found a majority of my decorations.

But what I really want to address is the homemade gift. One year for Christmas my parents decided to make a memory. We didn’t do regular gifts that year. We could only give one gift to each person in the family and we had to make that gift ourselves. I can to this day name every single gift given and received that year. Why? Because they held much more meaning than the gifts that we thought we wanted.

Because I work at church we have a lot of volunteers that help us and I like to do a little something for those that I work closely with. Over the past several years I have started doing more homemade items.

Note of caution, be sure to price out your DIY items per person and make sure that you aren’t losing money in this. Include how much the item itself costs to make as well as if you need to put it in a container.

Last year I gave out jars of homemade laundry soap. This year…well I can’t share that, but it will be super easy and a big hit!

Strangely enough, when it comes to Christmas cards, it is actually becoming cheaper to do photo cards. These can also be much more meaningful. I would suggest ordering those soon so that you don’t end up with a last minute holiday stress!

So those are a few tips. You know what you can and can’t do but keep in mind if you are doing to do homemade gifts you should start soon!!!

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Profitable Savings
Wednesday Web Sitings

Profitable Savings

She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31:16

Unless you own your own business you probably aren’t making any profits. The focus of this week will not be business management, for I fear I would ruin you all. But we will look at money saving techniques. This is a way that anyone can see some profit. At the very least you could put the savings in the bank and profit through interest. But I tell you, anytime I save money, I feel like I have profited.

The following are some of my random tips and tricks:

My current personal favorite money saving techniques are to make some of my own cleaning products. I have been making my own laundry soap, dishwashing soap, conditioner and toothpaste for a while now. I am enjoying making them and really enjoy the savings.

I also make a lot of foods from scratch. Now this started more as a necessity due to my food allergies but I have found that I can make more of the food for cheaper. This has grown from simply cooking a meal to making my own spice mixes and seasoning sauces. Many times we are paying a lot more for a mix of spices or a sauce that is much cheaper to make on our own.

My next post will have my favorite websites and online tools for saving money but another tip that I can pass on today is to do searches on multiple websites when buying things online. I tend to check several of my favorite known sources to find which is the cheapest and in the best shape. This is a really useful tool if you are willing to shop online. I generally do this for items that I have tried already.

Obviously buying in bulk is great if you are able to use all the item prior to its expiration date. Some of the items you can freeze or place in airtight containers and store elsewhere. Most grocery stores list the price by ounce (or other type of measurement) on the price tag along with the total to make it easy to compare the different sizes. This is a great tip when buying in bulk. Sometimes its not worth saving a few pennies if you need the storage space, but generally you can save money in this area.

Don’t buy on impulse either. As a child my dad taught me a great trick, he made us write down the item we wanted and wait a week. After a week if we still wanted the item we were allowed to then go buy it. I don’t actually write it down anymore but I do try to wait some time before purchasing something. It is amazing how often I find something that I just have to have in the store only to completely forget about it as soon as I leave. This has saved me loads of money.

Look for sales and clearance items but beware of the trap of buying something based on how much you saved. That is not a good technique of saving money. If you can’t pass up the deal for the deal’s sake then it’s probably a deal you should pass up. If its an item you already wanted and were going to purchase or something you needed then buying an item that is a good deal is a good deal. I had best move on before I continue this pun.

Always walk into a store with a plan. If you know how much you can spend then you will be more likely to stick to that. If you walk in aimlessly with no amount in mind you might find yourself with buyers remorse later. When you do have buyers remorse try to etch that feeling into your brain so that next time you are more willing to pass something up to avoid that feeling.

Avoid stores that cause you to spend too much. This might sound obvious but its not always the expensive stores that do it. I love shoes, I cannot go into Payless because they ALWAYS have a sale and I struggle walking out of there having stuck to my plan. So my solution is to only go in there when I absolutely have to.

Those are a few of my personal tips and trick. We will see some websites and youtube channels in an upcoming post.

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Shopping!!!

Now that you have a budget and are working towards your financial goals the next step is to keep within your budget. You may find that tracking your spending in certain areas weekly rather than monthly is much more helpful.

My own budget breaks down with my utilities and other bills being monthly, but the areas that I can easily overspend I track weekly. So my grocery budget I know how much I can spend a week to stay within my monthly budget. This allows a little flexibility week to week as well, if one week I have friends coming over and I know I will be spending more than my week’s allotted amount, the week prior I will spend a little less to make up for it.

I also track my play money this way as this is another area that I was constantly overspending. Now I “save up” for items by waiting several weeks for that budget to build up and I can then go purchase larger items. Then the very next week I have a small amount to spend again, rather than having to wait until the following month to spend again.

But what do you do when you are in the store and you have that dreaded moment at the register, the moment when you realize you have gone way over budget? Some tricks I have learned when shopping, especially for groceries, to keep track of how much I am spending is to round the item up to the next dollar. That accounts for tax and I am not trying to add change in my head. Each item that gets added to the cart I simply round up and add to the previous total. This is simple enough math to do in your head when it is smaller items like groceries.

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However, as I said in my previous post , I have short term memory issues and I am addicted to media, so I have an app for this as well. I use Cart Buddy, which is not a free app but it does have a lite version. Once you put in your local tax rate (you can find this by doing a simple search for your cities name and tax rate), you can enter that in and then everything you put in your cart you put it in the app with the price. When I use this app I never leave the store surprised at how much I spent. I am more in control.

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What Does Peace Mean To You?

Building Momentum

Building Momentum

Companies can die without it, it can cause the death of a marriage, in its absence it will always cause stress but its presence doesn’t always bring peace, what is it?

It’s a budget. Budgeting is one of the most difficult things to do, it can bring much strife into a household. But a good working budget is definitely something that can bring a lifetime of peace.

As you have realized, if you have read my other posts or my About Me section, I am single. So I am not here to try to tell you how to work this out as a couple, but I do know that if you don’t work it out together it won’t work. So please, figure out what works best for the two of you, what areas you each need to compromise to meet your financial goals together as a team.

Creating a budget is the first and hardest step. One of the most important things is to find what works for you. What motivates you to do something you do not like to do? What style of managing things helps you the most?

For me its media. I have a smart phone and I use it constantly. I have said many times “there is an app for everything” and I truly believe that. I also have no short term memory and can plan to do something when I pick up my keys but have forgotten in the time it takes to walk to my car. So anything media driven and immediate works best for me. This means that an app is my best budgeting tool. I can follow where I am at, see it wherever I am at, and update it instantly.

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I use Ace Budget, which is not a free app but there is a lite version. Whatever budget style you use I suggest remembering that nothing is set in stone. Once you create your budget be willing to play with it and change it. Make it based on now, and adjust it as necessary (i.e. changes is utility bills throughout the seasons, Christmas shopping, etc.).

I am not here to tell you how to create a budget. A simple search will give you all the tools you need to budget. Here is one good wordpress post on How To Create A Budget to help you get started. But keep in mind that a budget is always changing. And, especially in the beginning, needs a lot of changing and adjusting to get it to fit your needs. But once you get this in place you do build momentum. You can even start to enjoy it as you see how you can save money by spending less in certain categories, and as you start to reach your short term goals you will build even more momentum.

So it is difficult, but budgeting has great rewards in store!

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Shopping!!!

Celebrate Your Victories

I went grocery shopping today and walked out having stayed under budget for the first time in quite a while! I also really wanted to hit fast food on the way home but made the better choice of coming straight home.

When these things happen, when you make good choices, celebrate! Don’t celebrate with a shopping spree but enjoy the feeling you get when you make good choices, tell a friend, enjoy budgeting!

What Does Peace Mean To You

What do you want to be when you grow up? What type of person do you want to marry? What is your ideal vacation? How would you like to spend the holidays?

We do it in so many areas of our lives, dream, plan, create goals…granted sometimes these goals are not realistic but as we grow and get older we don’t really stop dreaming, we just dream more realistically. Now I am not here today to try to get you to dream the impossible, but to apply your now grown up dreaming capabilities to your money.

If I were to ask you what peace meant to you, you might have an answer for me that would involve Scripture, trusting God, etc. But if I asked you what financial peace meant to you would you know how to answer?

Create a financial goal. A goal structured around what would bring you peace financially. The first step to this might be to go over your prayer list from yesterdays post. It might be to simply write down what things would need to change so that managing your money doesn’t stress you out, or perhaps you have already achieved this and you are simply verbalizing what needs to continue to maintain that peace.

Here is an article that has 10 tips on writing financial goals.

My own goal looks something like this:
To manage my money in a way that I can pay my bills without worry, to have money saved up in case of an emergency, and to manage my spending in a way that I can still make some fun purchases and save up for big wants.

Now that I have that goal verbalized I can look at what short term goals I need to make to reach that goal. Depending on your long term goals, whether it be getting out of debt, paying off your house, or something similar to mine you may need to write several more layers of goals. Here are my next layers:

To build an emergency fund
To have money left over at the end of the month for savings
To stick to my budget and stop overspending in certain areas

So now that I have verbalized that I have a clearer path of where I am going next and what I need to work on. Keep verbalizing your goals until you get to a manageable layer.

My goals aren’t very specific but here is another example of what someone’s goals could be:

Long term financial peace goal:
To have money invested, no debt, and money in the bank.

Short term goals to reach that goal:
To pay off mortgage
To pay off other debts (credit cards, car payment, etc.)
To pay more than the minimum payments on my debts
To eat out one time less a week and apply that money towards debts

What are some of your goals? Please share in the comments section!

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Prayerful Beginnings

Building Momentum

Shopping!!!

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