Shout out for NO SPEND SATURDAY

OK so we DID get our Costco groceries haul for December, but just necessities..right along with milk and eggs, Cheez-it’s are totally necessary right?! Also, my uncle and cousin were passing through town and kind enough to take us out to lunch so we could catch up.

2.6 mile trail walk with kids FREE

Impromptu photo shoot FREE

Finding a tree stump to sketch FREE

Finding a cool leaf FREE

New walking stick FREE

New pet caterpillar FREE

Is it just me, or have you noticed that the less you spend, the more freedom you have to enjoy yourself?!

No stress of watching your hard earned money leave your bank account or worrying about if you got someone the right thing or if it’s the right size or color or whatever the many stressors that come with shopping are. No stress about how the other bills are going to get paid now that you decided to make this purchase, or the extra hours it will take to cover what you spent. I know that when I spend money, the dynamic changes. I now have expectations and pressure to make sure it’s a fun time or a good meal or the best most memorable gift. Maybe it’s just me, but if I take spending out of the equation, then I literally don’t have to worry about it. It then becomes about enjoying the moments and making memories with my peeps.

The weekends, and especially those leading up to the holidays are HARD. Everyone has a deal going and all of our senses are inundated with smells of candles or food, seeing a must have item advertised for $5 off, touching all those soft blankets and stuffed animals, hearing the ads and workers at the store telling us today is our last chance, etc. This is all that most of us are used to..our society has been like this for as long as I can remember, and as long as we continue to consume at the rate we do, nothing will change. We truly have to make an effort to avoid, so if you are able to stay strong on any shopping front, you are winning. A great way is to start with a No Spend day or weekend. Another great way to do so is 1) to set a Holiday budget and 2) stick to it. Know who is on your list, know how much you want to spend, and make sure you have the funds to cover any of this. If not, your family and friends would much rather you bake some cookies, or spend time with them than to have you go into debt to show your love. Trust me on this one!!

Who else left their stress at home and their money in the bank today? Any other tips for surviving the holiday season?

Value Based Budgeting

I know I’ve shared in the past that I am a big fan of the zero budget, which means that before each month starts, I go count every single penny I will have coming in, compare it to what’s going out, plan for any variable expenses for the month, and then put the rest to work. Since paying off the last of our debt, these remaining funds have grown as high as almost 70% that I am using to fund our real estate portfolio and other savings/ investment goals. When I put that all in writing, I know some of you on the FIRE journey (Financial Independence Retire Early) are probably pretty in line with this strategy and aiming for the same, or maybe already achieving it.

I also realize for someone who is anti-budgeting or brand new to budgeting, then my current path probably seems pretty extreme and even intimidating. Just know that I didn’t start here..I started somewhere though, and sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. So I have a middle ground solution for those that just want to dip the very tips of their toes into figuring out once and for all the following two things without counting every penny 1) where is my money going and 2) is that where I want it to go?

So here is a really quick and easy way, inspired by the book “Your Money or Your Life” By Vicki Robin. If you haven’t read this book, please do yourself a solid and follow the affiliate link below and pick up a copy, and maybe grab a few extra for gifts. It is a very influential book that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

https://amzn.to/376Bipl

One way to get started thinking about the two questions posed above is to make two lists. One should include your top 3-5 things that you value, and the next should list your top 3-5 things you spend the majority of your money on each month. That can give you an idea on if your values align with your spending each month. For your first time doing this, you should expect some room for improvement, so don’t be too hard on yourself and just focus on how you can get better. Before any purchase, simply ask yourself “is this aligned with my values?” If the answer is no, put that delivery menu up or put that shirt back on the rack.

Want to really make some value based budgeting and spending become your new normal? Another eye opener activity to help with this is to go back and add up how many hours you have worked for all your life and how much earned income over your lifetime you have made, and then compare it to what you have in savings/investments/assets. Is there a huge deficiency? Great way to see how all those little things quickly add up. Find 3 ways right now that you can start keeping more of your money and write them down.

Does anyone else currently do value based budgeting?

7 ways to increase your net worth

I posted back in May with our first 6 month check in on our net worth, and I cant believe another 6 months has passed since that first post I made on this topic. Here we are though, so you know I had to do some reflecting on our progress. I knew that we had made a lot of money moves, but I was like damn girl..go on with your bad self. 💃🏻 I was very happy with seeing a 58% increase since this time last year, and wanted to help others with ideas on how you can do the same!

So, how did we do it?!

1. Goal Crushing-Did you know that you are 42% more likely to achieve a goal JUST BY WRITING IT DOWN?? This is one of the easiest ways to increase your net worth, or really a way to change anything in your life, even outside of finances. You’ve heard me talk about always having 2-3 goals and then a few “micro goals” to help you break it down and make a plan to get to those bigger goals. Go ahead..go get your paper and pen..I will wait. 📝

2. Becoming Debt Free-It’s always nice to increase those assets, but make sure you are decreasing those liabilities first. See number 1 if you aren’t sure how to become debt free and also do some research on debt snowball vs debt avalanche. While we are on this topic, please promise yourself that you will stop adding new liabilities. 🙅‍♀️

3. Investing in myself-Two years ago, I only read two books the whole year, and I used social media as a rabbit hole of memes and scrolling through pictures of people that I didn’t even talk to in high school, binge watching Netflix, drinking several nights a week and I listened to a ton of murder podcasts and rap music. This past year, I have read almost 40 books, created a community of sharing and encouraging others changing their lives through financial literacy, stopped drinking, started exercising more consistently, and I still listen to murder podcasts and rap music, but sprinkle in podcasts about financial independence and real estate investing also. 📚😎

4. Buying real estate-Did you know that 90% of self made millionaires grew their wealth through real estate? Refer to numbers 1,2, and 3 above or refer to my previous posts on real estate if you’re not sure where to start.

5. Investing in our 401k’s and other tax advantaged accounts-If there is a match and/or tax advantages, that’s a good indicator you should be maxing these out. If maxing all of your options out seems like a lofty goal that makes you want to stop reading anything I ever write again, then please start with the employer match, then next open a Roth, then contribute to your HSA. You can choose your contribution amount, sometimes as little as $50, and even pause contributions if needed. Always remember that something is better than nothing.

6. Lifestyle Design-Read my previous post on lifestyle design vs lifestyle creep. Inflating your expenses to match your income is a silent wealth deflater. It’s easy to let your WANTS slip into your NEEDS category. Trust me..I know because I was guilty at one point myself. 🙋‍♀️ Once I got real real honest with myself, we were able to cut out unnecessary expenses that weren’t in line with our values, got back to basics and are now sitting at a 66% savings rate. 🙌🏼

7. Increasing self worth-Not only should you focus on increasing net worth, you should focus on increasing self worth. I promise you the two go hand in hand. Leave behind those limiting beliefs that are holding you back already-bye Felicia. 👋 You ARE amazing and you CAN blaze your own damn trail and you CAN become whatever you want to be..yes you!

What are you waiting for?? Go get you some worth. 😉

The Debt Epidemic

🚨Keepin it real rant ahead🚨

This is us..this is America..scary huh? What if I told you that we are all responsible for this culture of debt and living above our means and we all have to contribute to putting an end to this. It’s hurting us, our kids, our health, our planet, it’s an epidemic and I wish more people were feeling terrified about the topic. It just keeps getting worse each year, small credit card purchases, car payments, student loans, slowly adding up to over $13 trillion. 💳

Who’s ready to break the cycle?? And I don’t mean just pay off the minimums and maybe a little extra to continue to be a slave to debt for the rest of your life. I don’t mean to just do a debt consolidation or home equity loan or line of credit to pay off..because debt is still debt..whether it’s paying ten different people or paying one. And now that you’ve consolidated, guess what, you’re probably just going to add MORE debt now that you’ve freed up those credit cards. 🤷‍♀️

Your past will continue to haunt you if you aren’t ready to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that YOU created this mess, and YOU have to do the hard work to not only get out of it, but STAY out of it. You have to STOP talking about how you don’t make enough money, you’re just barely scraping by and don’t have any extra to pay, maybe once you pay off the car or once you get that tax return you will, or once you get a raise you will, you are lying to yourself. STOP playing the victim and STOP making excuses for your spending habits. You’re only hurting yourself.

Also, those student loans, yeah those suck just as bad as the credit cards, but you CHOSE to go to school and you took them out, so guess what? You owe it..so PAY that shit back already!

YOUR kids SEE you living that lifestyle, and they HEAR you fighting about money, and they FEEL your stress at the end of the month when there’s not enough paycheck to go around. They see you treating yourself “because you earned it”, and they are learning that shopping makes everything better..new stuff will take away that rough week..only it wont.

Harsh words, but let me ask again..who’s ready to break the cycle??

Carnival Season

It’s carnival season around here..one of my favorites for watching my kids just be kids and enjoy some screen free fun time, it’s also my favorite for people watching, and don’t forget the funnel cake.😋 🎡

The one thing I don’t like is how much it all adds up in price..parking, vendors, a ride here, a ride there, games and then of course the drinks and food. 🍕🍦🍿🥤

This year..we just picked one of the three carnivals we usually go to. I also avoided the $10 parking by finding a spot on the street for free. We ate before we left the house and brought our own water.

My best move was convincing my kids the games weren’t as much fun as the rides. Since they only care about the prizes anyway, I told them we would go to Dollar Tree after, and they could pick out any item in the store. They didn’t even ask to play any games, and we even saw another kid asking his parents to play and Caleb told him that “the games were a rip off because they were just trying to take his money to get rich” 😂

We did splurge on the $20 all you can ride wristbands for each kid, and a $5 funnel cake to share, so with my Dollar Tree promise, I was all in for $47. I was proud of this, because we usually spend at least double, if not triple this during carnival season, and we end up with meltdowns about “one more game”, and end up with a bunch of crap toys or stuffed animals we don’t need also. 🧸

To be honest, the spending less part was great, but we had more fun this year with one carnival and without all the extras. Getting used to a more simple minimalist lifestyle gives us a chance to really enjoy the best things in life that have always been free..the memories. 💕

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

8 ways to eat out for less

Chipotle is my weakness and I love everything about it..except that it would cost my family around $750 a month if we ate it for dinner every night. 🤑

So we try to limit it to be a once a month treat, and try to find ways to make it even more affordable than it already is. Today, we got 6 servings of food for $16.72!! I also got enough napkins for both of our car glove boxes for the next few months..lol.

But while I was ordering today, I thought about some different ways that you can save money while eating out, no matter what you’re craving.

1. Don’t eat out at all..and if you’re like me and know that not eating out at all is a recipe for disaster, then limit it to once or twice a month and budget for it. (if I don’t eat out at all, then I will fall HARD off the wagon and go on a wildly expensive and unhealthy eating out binge)

2. Eat before hand. Yes you read that right..grab a snack first so you aren’t ordering more than you need or super sizing because you’re starving. Or if you’re eating out for dinner, make sure you had a good lunch that day.

3. Does everyone really need a meal or at minimum..their OWN meal? Likely not, so do like we do and make quesadillas at home for the kids and let them eat a little guacamole and chips as a side or you can share an order of food also.

4. Much like the previous tip, the portion sizes are ridiculous these days and WAY more than one person needs in one sitting. I ask for extra rice because it’s free, and I can make 3 meals out of one bowl.

5. Find some add ins or sides from home. We usually do chips from home and add some carrots and grapes for sides. Or if you’re ordering a pizza, skip the breadsticks and make a salad at home with it instead.

6. Look for promotions! Chipotle was doing BOGO for wearing a youth soccer jersey this weekend, so I dressed my soccer star in his and got a free bowl for it. I know Chick-Fil-A does similar dress like a cow promotions. This makes it fun also, because you can dress ridiculous and get some crazy second looks from people.

7. Join the rewards program. Don’t get me wrong..don’t use the rewards program as an excuse to eat out all the time, but if you can earn a free entree down the road for when you do plan to order, then take full advantage of that. If you’re like me and get excited and forget, Chipotle has a way to upload receipts afterwards. (as long as you do it within 30 days of ordering)

8. Do carry out. If you dine in, you are more likely to get pressured into adding on drinks, appetizers, and desserts that you don’t need. Also, you will need to add a minimum of a 20% tip, and tipping is also something you have to do for delivery. So avoid it and go grab your food and take it to the park or take it home to eat. Save the fancy sit down meals for extra special occasions, like an anniversary or birthday.

Those are some of my secrets to saving money while still getting your favorite fast food fix. What are some ways you save when eating out?!