Month: November 2018

Are we cheap or just money efficient?

Nobody wants to be seen as the cheapskate. As parents, we fear being seen as the parent who is not willing to spend money on their kids. With that thought, we spend a fortune on brand new strollers for each child we have, new playpens, new clothes, shoes, bikes, backpacks, lunchboxes, etc, tec, etc. Before you know it, you have spent a fortune; literally, thousands of dollars.

The worst is when we buy the same clothing item but of a different color just because we have a child of a different gender. What a great idea it was for all industries to latch on that idea of blue for boys and pink for girls. Think about what a difference it would make if there were no stereotypes about what color clothing our kids wear. We would save tons!

Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case, and kids can be really nasty towards other kids if they brake some of these stereotypical rules. But that should not be the reason for you to spend tons and conform to all these social pressures; especially in these times when technology is at our fingertips.

Recently our little boy was in need of some snow pants. He wants to be outside playing and the early snow kind of got us off guard. He wore some hammy-down from the older sisters and sure enough, they were some pinkish red color.  It was becoming an issue for him at school because even some of the teachers were mistakenly thinking he was a girl; I don’t blame them, all kids are in coats, bundled up and it’s hard to tell, so you just let yourself roll with the stereotypes. With whta you are used to.

So, we decided to go to our favorite shopping place. Facebook, marketplace. In no time we were able to find a pair of snow pants for $6.00 right around our neighborhood. They look brand new and fit him perfectly.

The cheapest pair I found online was at target for $16.99. But the story doesn’t end there. Besides the price tag, don’t forget that “the man” takes his cut. Illinois takes 6.25%. In this case $1.06. Total $18.05. Which also means we scored a 66% savings.

Think about all you could do and invest if you could cut all your discretionary expenses 66%. That’s the way we live. We could go to the store and buy what we need and want at retail price. But why? why would I do that if I can get it for cheaper and just as good?

I don’t think we are cheap. I just think we are very efficient with what we have.

I would love to hear from other people’s hacks and savings. Information is power. Let’s share.

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Budgets are important for rough times

Your life depends on a budget

Besides using a budget to make the most out of your earnings, a budget can be a lifesaver during rough times.

Most people go through days caught in the hustle and bustle of life. You drive your kids to whatever practice, it gets late, maybe pick up some fast food for the convenience of not cooking. Maggie broke her ballet shoes and bang! Amazon delivers for you.

The one thing that we are unable to order from Amazon and solve so easily is a new job. If you lose your job and you lose your income it can throw your family on the street in no time; especially when you are in debt and if can’t make drastic changes quickly.

We tend to think these things won’t happen but we know they do happen, and in a slow job market it can be very destructive.

That has always been something in my mind during those times that have had credit card debt, despite having a very “secure” job personally; as a teacher at least that’s what people say.

One of the greatest things about creating a detailed budget is that you can clearly see what your minimum income must be to keep yourself afloat covering the basic needs of shelter, food and heat. If rough times come into your life that would be the worst moment for you to try to figure out where your money is, or what you truly need to cover the basics.

I like to call this sort of preparedness “pulling the plug.” If I happened to lose my job tomorrow I might not have the money runway to keep my family’s current expenses for very long. However, I can quickly look at my spreadsheet and in a minute I can make drastic decisions about what needs to be cut so that we can make our savings go much farther.

If you have not beefed up your emergency fund make sure you are at least ready to tackle rough times by having a budget, so you can pull the plug in case of an emergency.

Budgets are important for rough times
Are you ready to pull the plug?

Do you really need a budget?

Do you really need a budget ?
The importance of a budget when you want to be live debt free.

Making a budget can be a daunting task and a deal breaker for a romantic night with your spouse or significant other. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we change our mindset.

Is it necessary? Absolutely! Does it really matter even when you make more than enough to cover your expenses? It does if you want to take charge and go from just having enough to having a surplus of diligent mighty dollars that go to work 24/7 for you.

In my personal experience, nothing has helped me more than budgeting. And to be fair, I have always made a budget along with my wife. We go through expenses, making sure we have enough to cover our monthly expenses and move on.

However, I am talking about going beyond covering expenses and really analyzing every item, so that we can maximize our income and make those dollars go farther.

In the past, we would take a piece of paper and jot down mortgage, utilities, groceries, kids lessons and other expenses. However, every month it seemed like the $400-$500 we were supposed to have left at the end of the month had simply vanished. 

It wasn’t until about a year ago when I heard this idea of thinking of myself as a CFO, managing my household income and expenses as if it was a company. With that came our monthly meeting report, where we both sat down to discuss different items; decisions were made, and before we knew it we went through a whole year with no debt for the first time ever. We even managed to put a brand new roof on our house without any credit or financing.

If you are in a financial predicament( We have all been there), first of all, take control of your money. For that, you need to know where your money goes. I highly recommend using either Excel or Google Spreadsheets. 

Start by knowing how much income you earn in a month; that’s the easy part.

Next, start by noting what your fixed expenses are. Understand by fixed expenses your mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, etc; anything that you pay for, that is a need ( Not cable) and has somewhat a constant value each month. If the value is no constant, try to work it so that it becomes constant. In other words, if you have fluctuations in your grocery bill from month to month you have to find the sweet spot of what you should spend every week for your groceries. 

After that, the game is on! Subtract your expenses from your income and whatever is left challenge it. Notice how much you are paying for it a month and yearly. Question how you are allocating your money in movies, restaurants, all the new crap you buy and ends up in the closet, garage, garbage or even worse a storage place. Are all those things necessary? Could you have made it through life without those new things?

The minute you start analyzing your finances that way and you take control things will start falling into place. You will feel better about yourself and the decisions you are making for you and your family.

And what once was a deal breaker for a romantic night, might become nothing short from candles and wine /;-)

Why cable is the biggest waste of money

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Zx0JJjM_0
 
You better cut it and open your eyes!!!!!

Not too long ago I decided to hire a cable service. More than the cable service itself  we felt that we wanted the security system offered by one of the big companies in the country.

Sure enough we started with a promotional rate in the sixty dollar range and before we knew it we were close to $100. No much later after that, we decided to move and according to the cable company TV commercial you could just call them up and they would move your service at no charge. So we did.

We moved, settled in, and a month later bills started coming in. To my surprise the almost $100 we were paying, now had become $158!!! That was an immediate what that …!!! I called them up and I was informed that when we moved my service from one house to another they had re-initiated my 2 year contract; of course, at their current rate. I was livid! That was $1,896 a year!

Luckily we were able to find another company that bought our contract out, and we went from paying $158 to $35 a month for only internet connection. We added the $10 no-contract Netflix service, and we never looked back. That is 72% savings every month!

Cable is a terrible option to watch anything. You are paying to watch commercials and roam from channel to channel to find nothing. Cable service and cable companies are deceiving predators taking your money ( You may already know it). Always trying to trap you in a cage of small prints and skim your account; don’t let them!  Just cut it! Save yourself a big chunk of cash!

What would you do with extra $1,300 a year? Put it in your 401K/403B? Pay and extra month on your student loan? Pay an extra month on your mortgage? Remember, once you cut it the savings will be forever.

 

 

Thanksgiving’s greatest savings!!!

Alright. This post doesn’t come with a print-out coupon but actually you don’t even need it to get some wicked savings! You won’t have to get in line the night before either and sleep in the cold.

As you know I have a large family, and without budgeting your food expenses food can really eat up your monthly savings. Would you believe me if I tell you that we have amazing meals under $1.50?

Yep! And it isn’t cardboard or merely crumbs for each plate. 

Usually we budget $150 for each week, for this family of six+one. That’s about $21 per day, $7.14 per meal; $1.02 per person. Pretty good as it is, I’d say.

However, comes Thanksgiving and my wife is ready to stock up our freezer. She just pays attention to the deals at our local grocery store by looking at the weekly ads they send in the mail.

Well, that’s it. No magic. We just got 4  twelve pounder turkeys, each at the amazing price of about $5.00!!!

On Sunday night we cooked the first one and had it for dinner. We made turkey sandwich lunches for the next day, then we had it again for dinner with stuffing and salad.

As we carved the turkey and uncovered the carcass, we decided to throw it in the Crockpot with some onions, canned corn, and spices to make some soup we had for dinner.  Next day, guess what we had for lunch? Turkey sandwiches! Dinner was another repeat of turkey, salad, stuffing and soup. The kids love it and so do we.

We have easily two more meals left and potentially one more of just soup. 

$4.77 for the turkey, $2.50 for the stuffing, $1.45 for celery, $1.25 for a can of corn. Total $9.97! Divided by seven meals it comes to $1.42 per meal. Divided by seven people, 3 adults and 4 kids, we come to $0.20 per person. If my calculations are right we are all eating like kings for under $2.00! That is a 81% savings, if you take the original $1.02 (102 cents) we usually budget per person  and divided by the 20 cents of our turkey hack.

Don’t miss out. In the meantime, I will keep an eye out for even better sale prices right after Thanksgiving! I might get it cheaper.

Saving big on Thanksgiving
That’s it folks. $4.77 for seven meals!
Thanksgiving super saving
We might buy some more to ensure the protein supply for months to come.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lao Tzu

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