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?

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Garage Sale Season

With end of summer upon us, I start thinking about all of the garages full of stuff that is no longer used, too small or has been upgraded. I have memories of being a kid and getting up early every weekend to go to garage sales. (bribed with donuts and the hopes of a new toy of course) 🍩 🧸

Nobody asked me about my opinion on garage sales, but I’ve decided to tell you anyway. I can say that I had one several years back and made around $800 when I was on maternity leave. I also did one for a work fundraiser and made around $500 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling team. For mine, I sold a bunch of maternity stuff and baby stuff we weren’t using and all of Kylie’s clothes we had saved from NB-4T, after picking out the gender neutral stuff for Caleb of course. 😉

Looking back..I definitely think people with babies up to 4 years have the best luck. Also, people in a high traffic area or neighborhood having a lot of sales the same day can also be successful. But I also think we can avoid the need for a garage sale by sticking to the bare minimums and borrowing stuff that we will only need for a short period of time. Babies seem to be a reason to buy everything, and baby registry’s make it easy to add a bazillion things you will likely be too exhausted to figure out how to use once parenting shows you it’s true colors. Then it will end up in your pile for the sale, likely priced at half what it costs, just to have someone ask you if you’d take five dollars for it. (I know because I’m a garage sale hardcore negotiator) 😂

If your sale includes clothes, shoes, and household items, and you still have a closet full after outing for the sale, then it might be time to just stop and reflect on your stuff strategy. Not only did that clutter used to be money, but that money used to be your time.

I will say if I’ve finally persuaded you to join my minimalist lifestyle and you are simplifying your life and need a fresh start, one big sale may be a good idea. But only if it ends there, and you don’t just go out and accumulate more stuff to replace what you sold. Also, think about the time and energy that goes into one. If setting up, pricing, getting nasty warm lemonade for the kids to sell and dealing with them badgering your customers for 5 hours on your Saturday morning with extreme temperature variations like smoldering heat or pouring rain and going back and forth with hardcore negotiators like me sounds like a good time to you..well start borrowing those tables my friends. 🤷‍♀️

If that sounds comparable to a root canal, then selling things in “lots” on Facebook Marketplace is a great alternative. Or let’s be honest, we all know that person that’s selling clothes that are so loved they should be donated. Just saying..don’t be that friend..also don’t be the friend that sells hand me downs you got from a friend. (Totally did that on accident and still getting shit for it two years later) 😂

When it comes to shopping at garage sales, this can be a double edged sword. I remember finding a rocking chair with foot rest at a garage sale for $15 that I used with both kids. I negotiated it from the $30 it was marked at and was so proud. But I’ve also lost all common sense and self control at a sale and just bought the whole damn table of baby clothes I didn’t need. So be careful when you shop..they can be sneaky and fill your trunk up before you realize you only needed a few things. 🤷‍♀️

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. 😊

Teach Them Instead

I always hear people and have even said myself that “I want to give my kids everything I didn’t have” or “they deserve the world” and obviously that doesn’t mean buying a bunch of crap and “spoiling” them. But let’s be honest..it kind of starts to look like that no matter how much you try not to spoil them.

We make sure they have all of the latest and greatest name brand clothes, hot toys or electronics “because their friends have them” or “because we just couldn’t resist the clothes sale and went a little overboard”. We make sure they are attending all of the activities and getting them top of the line sports gear and paying a little extra for that personal pitching coach (or whatever your sport is). We’ve all been there, and even though they are persuasive, I don’t think they really care about any of those “things” they get.

I decided to change the game this year while I still have the chance. Instead of spending money on them, I’m more interested in spending time with them. My kids both still want to hang out with me, and the older one could change her mind tomorrow (she’s turning ten soon and really into herself and her friends these days, so my window is getting narrower by the day).

So why wouldn’t I use this opportunity to spend as much time with them as I can and start teaching them the things I wished I would have known instead of buying them what I didn’t have? We had both kids help with painting and cleaning up at our rental house, and we explained all the details and why we bought it. I also recently read The Latte Factor with my oldest and we talked about it as we went along, and how the little things add up financially. We’ve also been doing a lot of walks and pool time and there’s so many options that don’t cost money.

So why not save that money you were going to spend on junk, invest it in some real estate or other retirement account and instead invest your time with your kids. I have a feeling the kids will hold on to the memories with you for a lifetime and forget all about that new outfit or toy before they even outgrow it.

No Spend Year Check-in

There have been 107 days that have come and gone in 2019. Of those 107 days, I am very proud to say that I have stuck with my no spend challenge!! If you haven’t read my original post, I started with saying no clothes, no shoes, no purses and no accessories will be purchased for the WHOLE year. Once I saw how easy it was and began to see my savings build, I quickly made the decision to add on no dying my hair and no makeup. I’ve also had a few questions along the way that I wanted to answer.

Yes..I can still eat out or grab a coffee if I choose. I am continuing to live off my monthly allowance like I’ve done for years, and once it’s gone it’s gone (until the next month).

No..I do not have a giant stash of makeup somewhere that I’m using up. I have decided to go makeup free and only use a tinted moisturizer/sunscreen and occasionally curl my eyelashes. Never been more confident in my own skin!!

Yes..my family is supportive..for the most part. 🤣 My husband rarely shops, so it’s not a big deal for him to go a year without. The kids did recently get new shoes, socks and undies, so I’m not depriving anyone of necessities over here. My son had a growth spurt, and I did also get him a few pairs of pants and shorts the next size up.

We also have lucked out and scored some awesome free stuff (love our neighborhood and finding freebies). When we have outgrown stuff, I usually try and post it to pass on to another family. It’s like a free exchange of goods and it’s awesome!! It’s where I get almost all outdoor toys, sports gear and this month alone, I got all the clothes pictured below, including a nice Adidas jacket and bonus Christmas gift bags they came in that I can reuse, a few nylabones for the puppy, a used IPOD, a wicker outdoor set, a bike and a puzzle. I have given away some clothes, pull-ups, a few toys, Tupperware, slime making supplies, etc. It also helps me with an outlet for purging while downsizing to a more minimalist lifestyle. Do some research and ask around if you don’t have a neighborhood page..there are free (or practically free) resources everywhere!

Like I mentioned, I have LOVED my No Spend Challenge so far and have gained so much from it.

1. I’m forever changed when it comes to spending habits. If it doesn’t bring me value..I don’t need it. Through this process..I’ve also learned about and refocused on what I truly value.

2. I don’t miss anything..none of it..the cute new outfits, the freshly dyed hair, the $100 random Target trips, the sales at Old Navy, Ann Taylor outlet, etc. I honestly don’t even remember where all I used to shop, because I’ve been unsubscribed and haven’t gone into a store in so long. So nice having my money and time back!!

3. I love using what we have and swapping with neighbors because it makes me feel like motha earth would totally high five me for respecting her ass and I’ve met some cool peeps along the way.

4. I secretly love being rebellious to societal norms of consumerism and taking a path less traveled. It’s just icing on the cake if I inspire a few people through my journey who also begin to think twice about their own habits and values.

5. The little things DO add up and I’ve been able to do some big things because of it (the big things took years of hard work, but the no spending certainly helps). In the past 107 days, I have used my new relationship with money, and the savings I’ve had while not consuming, to get one step closer to being debt free (paid off car last week). In the past 107 days, we have also purchased our first rental property.

Interested in joining? I encourage you to give it a test run on a no spend weekend, week, or month and see how it goes. If it’s surprisingly easy, or you are ready to dive right into the deep end, you can jump on in for the whole year with me. 😉

And don’t forget the power you hold in your life and beyond!!!

Credit Cards and why I will NEVER carry a balance

I can almost see 18 year old, broke, irresponsible, partying, college kid me opening my first credit card offer like I had just won the lottery. Wait..you mean to tell me you’re going to GIVE me access to $2,000, and in return, I only have to pay you a minimum balance of $25?! What?! Why are you so nice and how did I get so lucky?! I was so impressed with your timing and that it was almost like you really KNEW me and were there for me with a credit increase when I was at my lowest..what would I ever have done without you?! Now I didn’t have to worry about that new phone I wanted, that dinner out, that new outfit, etc. Then you even told your other credit card company friends, and they also wanted to give me credit cards?

Fast forward to 24 year old me, who didn’t end up getting her degree, and had spent the past 6 years racking up $15,000 in credit card debt. I kept spending and they kept increasing my limit (I’m starting to figure out at this point they weren’t doing this to be nice). I was paying their minimums and it wasn’t even enough to cover the interest and was affecting my credit. I remember the exact moment where I thought that bankruptcy was my only option and feeling so overwhelmed and thought I would never get out of the hole I had dug.

I was on my way to a job interview for my first job in the insurance industry. I literally had to use two different credit cards for gas in my gas guzzling Durango to make it to the interview (insert whole other soapbox on the car). I was so broke and my cards so maxed out that I could barely even afford to make it to the interview.

Luckily, I got the job that started a very rewarding career path for me. I also got introduced to Dave Ramsey Financial Peace through a coworker at that job, and this was a totally new concept to me. I just thought everyone lived this way and walked around with debt, and honestly had no idea that there was any other way. I read that last sentence over and over, because I fancy myself a semi-intelligent person and it just sounds so stupid..but it’s the truth and a reflection of me being a product of my environment (also for another day).

I then met my husband two weeks after that and we knew right away that we were going to get married. Unfortunately for him, that meant marrying a smart, pretty, hilarious woman..who just happened to have a lot of financial baggage. 🤷‍♀️ I’m not even going to discuss the $30kish of student loans because that’s for another day.

Apparently my brilliant personality won him over, and he decided to hang out in his moms basement with me for 18 months to help dig “us” out of that debt. Talk about sacrifice. But we made it work and paid all of that credit card debt off, got pregnant with our first human, and saved up a down payment for our first home.

I think back to that $15k once in a while and wonder..what if I had never opened that credit card offer. What if I was able to pay my student loans off sooner, or what if I could have put that in a 401k, or as more towards our first house. And you know what? I do have regrets, but I learned a very valuable lesson that I will carry with me and pass along to my kids. It changed the way I view money, and things and debt. Looking back, I was not living within my means, and because of that 18 months of sacrifice and a rough start to our financial future..I will NEVER carry a balance again. If I can’t afford it..then I don’t need it. Plain and simple. I haven’t carried a balance in over ten years and it turns out I am just fine. What are your thoughts on credit card debt and has it affected you negatively or positively during your financial journey?

My Makeup is FREE

Does anyone else have memories sitting cross legged on the floor in front of a mirror, and putting on layers and layers of makeup that were 3 shades off from your actual skin color?  Your friends would all lie right to your face and tell you how good you looked? (thanks friends)  Maybe your makeup game has stepped up a bit from the teen years, when most of us started wearing makeup on the daily.  With your new routine, maybe you now get the higher quality stuff, and that quality helps to justify the higher price tag from the cheap Wet N Wild stuff we started out with.

Well, I guess you are wondering why I am claiming to have free makeup.  Turns out, my new favorite makeup is water.  You read that right…high quality H2O.  So I guess if you want to get technical, I actually pay a monthly water bill.  But for the sake of this post, let’s not ruin the fun and get technical.  What I have decided is to start drinking more water in hopes that it makes my skin more hydrated and radiant looking.  I’ve never really been a fan of makeup, so it hasn’t been that big of an adjustment TBH.  It’s only been 2 weeks, but I have already noticed my face is softer and I have had a lot less breakouts.  I really stumbled across this idea as I was trying to deal with flaky, dry skin, and thought a makeup “detox” would help, which it did.  I have also not had one single person come up to me and be like “girl…where’s your makeup?  Your face is looking ratchet today.”  To be clear, I wouldn’t care if they did either. 

I honestly don’t see a difference between my makeup free face and the one that I spent 15 minutes prepping…can you?  Full Disclosure:  Matt isn’t wearing makeup in either picture. 

I am literally shooketh about this post and had to share with all you lovely folks what I found out.  Does anyone want to take a guess at what the average woman spends on makeup…and how much time they spend applying each day?  Go ahead…go google it now, or I can spare you the troubles.  The average woman spends roughly $8 a day and 20 minutes a day applying.  This adds up to around $200,000 in your lifetime and a gazillion hours of your time.  That’s more than double what the average person has saved for retirement, so maybe I just helped you plan for your own retirement…your welcome.  Holy Moly!!!  That’s a lot of cash and time!!

Slow down over there…Nobody’s telling you that you have to be a crazy person like me and go all extreme (unless you want to, then all the crazies are welcome).  I found it to be an interesting topic, and just wanted to give you another thing to think about when considering how you are spending your time and money  😉