February Savings

I get paid bi-monthly, which usually happens on the 1st and 15th of the month.  I was able to save $500 on the 1st and $150 on the 15th.

Unfortunately, it’s tax season, and we finally filed our taxes.  Thankfully we got $300 back from federal, but owed California $700.  Most of my discretionary spending went to paying the rest of our taxes, and luckily we’ve kept our spending to a minimum so we’re still able to save.  With all the market fluctuations, from dropping 1,000 points last week to rebounding this week, I’ve decided to save in a regular savings account before moving it into the stock market.  My plan is to buy at a lower price when the market self corrects again.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Four Nights for $1200?!

Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself because I’m debt free.  I have an upcoming trip that’s been planned since last year and somehow things have not gone to plan.  I was thinking of switching accommodations to be closer to the event I’m attending, but after finding out the cost, I stopped in my tracks.  Even with a 20% discount it’ll cost $1,200 for four nights stay.  That’s just insane to me.  No thanks I’ll just stick to my original accommodations even though I have to drive quite a bit.  To me the $1,200 could go into other things like an international trip or set aside for real emergencies.  Frankly, I just don’t see the need to be closer to the event all for the sake of convenience.  To each their own I’d say.

2 Reasons Why You Should Shop On a Budget

If you’re still in debt but feel the need to buy beauty and skin products, or even new clothes, then at least make a budget for these things.

Shop on sale or look for cheaper alternatives.  There’s just no need to buy a luxury brand while still in debt.  Not that you can’t, but logically it’s impractical.  Even if you refuse this advice, then at least save for what you want and account for it in your budget.

Buy things slowly and within your means.  You’ll appreciate what you have and you’ll stop making impulse purchases.

10 Simple Tricks to Save Some Money

  1. Don’t put on the heat until it’s absolutely freezing.  We got through several winters just by layering, going under blankets, and keeping our curtains open during the day to naturally warm up our place.  Our highest heating bill was $39.76, which was actually our last bill.
  2. Ditch cable and go for Netflix, Prime, or for sports enthusiasts, get Sling TV.  These are all options that are a fraction of the cost of cable.
  3. Bring a packed lunch to work, and stop eating out.  Not cooking your own food is a budget killer.
  4. Just drink water.  Not only is it healthier, it’s cheaper than soft drinks, sports drinks, or flavored teas.
  5. Make your own coffee at home or drink the office coffee.
  6. At one point, I didn’t wear makeup for two years just to save money to put towards debt.
  7. I also started cutting my own hair and giving myself manicures and pedicures.
  8. My husband and I stopped going to the movie theaters, and if we do go, we go to the very first showing, which costs $9.50 versus $13.50.
  9. Don’t get caught up in FOMO. Everyone is different.  There’s just no need to keep up with your friends, neighbors, or co-workers.  You will eventually get there.  It may not be today, but you will.
  10. Don’t upgrade your digs until you’re out of debt or have saved enough for a down payment on a house.  Upgrading to a luxury apartment complex because you want to treat yourself or because you want to experience living in such a place just eats up your chance to save, and will make paying off debt longer.

Blogs that Inspired Me to Debt Freedom

When I was knee deep in debt, I read countless personal finance sites and ‘get out of debt’ blogs in search of inspiration to help me towards debt freedom.  My favorites are:

  1. Six Figures Under.  A mother documents her family’s journey in getting out of $130,000 in student loan debt.  They were living in her in-law’s basement before buying a home after paying off their debt.
  2. Frugalwoods.  Although this couple was not in debt when I started reading their blog, their frugal lifestyle was inspiring to read about.  They were able to purchase their homestead out in Vermont, and currently living their dream life.
  3. Financial Samurai.  Sam shares a great deal of his own knowledge on personal finance.  He started out as frugal and a super saver who eventually retired from investment banking to become a fulltime blogger.
  4. And Then We Saved.  Anna, the main blogger, got me into cutting my own hair because she was doing it to save money.  Her site also inspired me to stop making unnecessary purchases, which I still do today even though I’m debt free.
  5. Dailyworth.  Dailyworth is a personal finance site targeted towards women.  They put out a good amount of content for daily inspiration.  I still look at this site from time to time.
  6. Learnvest.  Similar to Dailyworth, Learnvest also puts out a good amount of content for daily inspiration.

Using the Site Honey to Get Gift Cards

I’m fairly new to the site called Honey.  It was something that popped up on my Facebook feed that I decided to give a try.  Basically it’s an extension to your browser that finds promo codes when you’re shopping online.  At checkout, you click on the H icon at the top right corner of your browser (you’ll see the icon when you install it).  Honey will tell you how many promo codes are available, and it will input all of them to find the best discount.  Sometimes you won’t get a discount, however, just by using them alone will earn you points toward a gift card.  So for every 1,000 points you accumulate, you get $10 applied to a gift card of your choice.  Currently, they have 10 gift card options, which are the following: Wal-mart, Ebay, Sephora, Groupon, Nordstrom, Target, Sears, Amazon, 1-800-Flowers, and Brookstone.

It’s definitely a win-win and super convenient to use.  I think I’ve only been using this since October of last year and so far I have 2,271 points with 723 pending (takes 60 days for points to clear).  I’m excited about this because of the option for a Nordstrom or Sephora gift card!  I’ve been eyeing some beauty products, which I can’t get myself to purchase because it’s so hard to justify the price, but maybe just maybe I’ll be able to offset the cost with my $30 gift card.

If you’re interested in signing up, please click here!

 

How I Spend Money These Days

I wish I could tell you that I’ve been good about saving money and that I’ve been living a frugal lifestyle, but I can’t.  Instead, I’ve been buying all kinds of things.  Mostly clothes, some fashion jewelry, handbags, and beauty products.  But with a start to the new year, I think it’s a good time to start getting serious about financial matters again.  The simple plan for the new year is to increase my 401k contributions from 4% to 8%, and then consistently set aside $400 each month to be invested in the stock market.  Whatever I have leftover will basically be fair game –for entertainment, shopping if necessary, beauty or skin products, or even just to save more money.  I’m basically going to figure things out on the fly instead of sticking to a structured budget like I did in the past that way I don’t feel like a failure if I don’t meet the month’s savings goal.

I do, however, want to scale back on my shopping though.  I feel like I have more than what I need in my closet, and anymore excess would necessitate a closet clean out, which I’ve already done last October.  Hopefully if I have the will power, my goal is to not shop for clothes until maybe the beginning of June.  We’ll see how long my spending freeze will last, but it’s a good goal to strive for.

On a side note, I can’t believe January is almost over.  I’ve been sick for majority of the month with a nasty case of the flu.  Luckily it didn’t turn into pneumonia, but I still have an annoying lingering cough.  I’m sure there are others out there in the same boat as me.  According to media coverage, the flu has been rampant throughout the U.S. and apparently the season hasn’t even peaked yet.  Hopefully we all get better and stronger soon!