Ways to Save on Buying Clothes (Besides Buying Used)

Sure, we all enjoy going clothes shopping; it makes you feel good to wear something other than the tired outfits you continue to pull off.  The problem though, when does it become overspending and waste vs. a need.  Since we no longer need to do the “back to school” shopping ourselves, how often do you find yourself getting new clothes?  When you need something for the night?  Any every week or so experience?  Or do you just buy when you start to find holes?  No matter how often you purchase, there is definitely no need to overspend.

Take Proper Care to Last

As long as you are not buying clothes that fall apart with a couple of washes, you should be able to make them last quite a while.  I learned the hard way about not turning a couple items inside out, and a sports jersey started to peel off, but had I washed correctly, it would have lasted for years.  Pay attention to the tag on the inside, whether it’s dry clean only or machine wash (learned that the hard way as well).  Care can also matter when it comes to storage.  For sweaters, since you only wear, hopefully, one season a year, by hanging you can create stretches in the shoulders, so those are best to be folded.

Never Shop Without Coupons

This seems like it would be common sense, but a store’s sale, even a clearance, may not be enough.  There are always stipulations on what you can/cannot use when it comes to clothes purchases, but if you can gather coupons before you go, the better off you will be.  Stores like Express always have coupons with spending minimums, such as if you spend $100, you might get $25 off.  That is great, but keep in mind a lot of their items can end in 90 cents so it can sometimes be tough to hit the minimum exactly.

There’s Nothing Wrong with Generic

I know for me these days, my friends and I just wear plain solid color t-shirts, both V-neck and crew, and that is pretty much the extent of the shirt piece of the wardrobe.  That being said, who is to tell if I’m wearing a $40 solid color t-shirt, or a $8 shirt from Target.  The answer, no one.  So why bother spending more than you have to on a t-shirt when no one can tell the difference anyway.  I suppose you can tell a little more with a women’s dress, but I know my wife likes to “accessorize” and she can spruce up and outfit, expensive or less-expensive.

Shop for Need vs. Want

If you find yourself buying something to wear that night, or just because an item is on sale, you may want to evaluate and only go when it is a need.  If you can limit yourself to going once a year especially, but I know that may seem unreasonable, so maybe at least once in the winter and once when it gets warm may be better?

A Few Easy Tricks to Help Reduce Monthly Expenses

If you are looking to cut expenses down you are on the right track when it comes to saving a few extra dollars a month, in addition to just taking a look at unnecessary expenses.  Sometimes items that you use (or don’t use) could be cut as well, so it might be a good idea to take a look at what might have thought were normal expenses, and see if you can tweak a little.

Cancel Your Gym Membership

So as soon as January rolls around, maybe even December if you want to get a jump on the deals, you write down your New Year’s resolution that you want to start going to the gym to lose a few pounds.  You get into a rhythm, start going regularly and you see the weight start to come off.  Well something happens where you have to miss a day, and then another, and it’s the whole week you haven’t gone.  Well it gets harder and harder to go back once you missed, and pretty soon you are paying every month and not even going.  Save yourself the $25-50 a month you are spending and start to run, or at least walk, cut the grass, and work on your landscaping outside now that it is nice.

Cut the Cable Cord

Speaking of the weather and being outside, what are you doing inside watching TV anyways?  What better time to cut the cable cord then now.  With all of the streaming like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, cable is becoming less and less like a priority with the rise of DVR and binge-watching, showing little need to watch live, and therefore increasing the need to cancel the always rising cable bill.  Without the need to pick specific channels to watch, it is less realistic to pay for all of the channels that are going to waste along with the money in your wallet.

Use Cash Instead of Credit

When you make a purchase and hand over your debit card there can be little thought about the money you have in your account and where you will be after the purchase, let alone use a credit card with virtually an endless amount of spending that could occur before you hit your limit.  In an effort to reduce purchases and at least give thought before handing over your card, try using cash instead of plastic.  You can then physically see the money leaving your hand, and only leaving you a certain amount until your next paycheck.

Skip the Bottle and Drink Out of the Tap

Yes, if you buy a case of bottled water from Costco it can only be a few dollars.  If you’re grabbing a couple for work, having after dinner, and taking one upstairs when you go to bed, you could be going through a case every few days, which if you add up over the course of a month or even a year, it could be huge savings if you could just take a water jug and fill up with the tap water as needed.

Banking, you ask? I keep it Simple

bankingsimple
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information. 

I prefer to keep everything in my financial life as simple and transparent as possible and Simple has definitely made that more possible for me this year! At the start of this year, I wanted to transition into all online banking as I really have no need for a brick & mortar bank location. I researched many different possibilities, plus I considered online banks where I hold savings and retirement accounts. I was even denied for an online checking account at one popular online bank (huh?), but the best free account for me was definitely the one offered by Simple.

I’m always looking for convenience and NO FEES when it comes to managing my money. My Simple account offers both. As someone who often runs the balance on my bank account down to a minimal amount, I always have to know my balance. With a typical bank account, written checks don’t always appear out of your online balance in a timely manner and if you forget you wrote one, say hello to overdraft fees! That doesn’t happen with my Simple account. First, Simple doesn’t offer paper checks with their accounts, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to record a check and keeping a balance in check! Second, the Simple mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) shows an up-to-date balance that reflects your scheduled payments and any savings goals so that you have set up so that you don’t overspend.

goals_ios_060216

Speaking of fees, Simple is serious about no fees. There are no monthly fees, maintenance fees, and no minimal balance is required. It’s so much easier to keep more of my money this way. Once you sign up with Simple, you will receive a Visa Debit card so you can spend your money almost anywhere. If you need to withdraw from an ATM, there are 50,000 network ATMs nationwide that you can use without being charged a fee!! WHAT!? Without any physical branches, this makes it super easy for you to grab cash when you need it! However, if you have to use an ATM outside of the network, you might be charged a fee. I’ve never had an instance where I’ve been too far from a network ATM, even in my not-so-populated Midwest city.

emv_card_jennasmith_bbva_2

Simple accepts direct deposit and mobile check deposits up to a certain amount. However, if you should need to deposit a larger check, you can mail it in to be processed. The mobile check deposit system is very easy to use and you have your money within 2 days at most.

product-hero-1

My favorite part of the Simple platform is the way it lets you plan for expenses and goals. I plan for my rent each month and all I have to do is set the date and the amount I need and Simple automatically puts a little aside each day to meet that set goal. It would be so easy to set up special savings goals (events, travel, weddings, etc.) and set a bit aside each day without any extra thought. After planning for expenses, my next favorite part is being able to track my income and spending over periods of time. For each charge or deposit on your account, you can add notes, photos, and categories to help you remember and track purchases. Another thing I really enjoy about Simple is when I go to a restaurant or use an Uber, for example, the app automatically assumes I’m going to leave a 20% tip, which means my available balance includes that amount so that I’m not setting myself up to overspend! Obviously, I have many praises to sing about Simple.

transaction-detail-image_ios_060216

I only have one downside that I’ve ever experienced with Simple. ONE. It has to do with depositing cash. Since they have no branches, there’s no place to deposit cash. As someone who often gets cash as income, this can be tricky, but it has never been impossible to deal with.

If you’re in the market for a new and SIMPLE (see what I did there?) account to manage your money, I certainly hope you’ll consider Simple. It’s been an amazing tool for me when tracking my money, paying bills, and saving for goals.

Have you heard of Simple? Do you use it? How was/is your experience?

Share-the-wealth-Sunday-button-150

All photos courtesy of Simple. 

A Budget Update!

budgetupdate

Well, it’s been way overdue, but I’ve finally decided to redo my budget. The PearBudget spreadsheet that I have been using was no longer serving my budgeting needs. Since I quit my job a little ways back, it’s time to make a new one to reflect what I’m making now.

There’s a million reasons to adjust your budget, but I think a ginormous change in income definitely warrants a new direction. I’m not having any babies or anything, but I know it’s worth re-evaluating. For me, it’s been about TWO YEARS since I’ve reconsidered my budget. The numbers have even stayed pretty similar across the board, but life has warranted some changes, so here we go!

The old form was basically way too complicated for my much simpler financial picture at this time. Plus, I was just tired of entering a line for every single day of the month – now, it’s just categories. Since things have changed, I’m taking it WAYYY back. We’re going old school, down to my simplest “zero budget” spreadsheet.

Look below to see just how simple I’m planning to keep it. You’ll notice that it’s no longer a day by day breakdown. I’m still tracking my daily spending so that I can add it to these appropriate categories in bulk. I usually sit down and look at my bills and numbers about once a week, sometimes more. Hopefully, my simpler budget breakdown won’t take nearly as long to maintain.

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-35-40-pm

Next time you see this, you’ll see it with September’s numbers filled in! Hope your fall is off to a great start! Got some reviews to finally post next week! Yes, I know you’re thrilled!

How often do you re-evaluate your budget? What would you add to mine above?

April 2016 Budget Wrap-Up!

Oh man! April was a doozy of a month, that’s for sure! My nine day vacation, shows wrapping up, shows and gigs starting back up…you name it, it all happened! Life-wise, it was a really great month. Budget-wise, the numbers look atrocious. However, you’ll be pleased to know that I only used SAVED money for this trip that’s reflected in this month’s budget snapshot! I’m a firm believer in the “No-Credit-Card-Vacation” and that was successful this month, so I’ve already knocked off a 2016 goal!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time now, you’ll recognize this handy-dandy budget spreadsheet that I love to use – PearBudget! This spreadsheet really makes it easy to see where I’m spending money. Also of note, some individual things like rent, insurance, etc. aren’t listed here – but are all conglomerated under “regular expenses” in the second picture.

AprilBudget1  AprilBudget2

Housecare (Utilities, Internet, Netflix/Hulu, etc): OVER $4.61 – Well, this was fairly close, but not quite there.

Groceries: OVER $106.93 – My first CSA payment came out of this month’s grocery budget, so naturally, the budget overage is way too high.

Dining Out: OVER $521.55 I knew this was going to happen, but this definitely reflects vacation food spending.

Car Gas: OVER $39.27 This reflects vacation spending as well. I added my transit passes to this category.

Miscellaneous: OVER $336.60 – Again, vacation spending here.

Credit Card Payments: UNDER $55.00 Payments were made on the actual May due date.

Businesses: UNDER $9.88 – Just a couple of lessons and random fees popped up this month – still under budget!

Even though these numbers are atrocious, I’m super pumped that this was all in cash! No debt added to my credit cards. Take that! 🙂

How was your April? Anything exciting or surprising come your way?

 

March 2016 Budget Wrap-Up!

Well, here it is nearing the end of the month and I’ve finally got March’s numbers all ready for you to see!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time now, you’ll recognize this handy-dandy budget spreadsheet that I love to use – PearBudget! This spreadsheet really makes it easy to see where I’m spending money. Also of note, some individual things like rent, insurance, etc. aren’t listed here – but are all conglomerated under “regular expenses” in the second picture.

March2016_2 March2016_1

Housecare (Utilities, Internet, Netflix/Hulu, etc): UNDER $2.05 — This was an unexpected surprise, but I’ll take it. 

Groceries: OVER $120.75 — Ugh. My food spending is off the charts right now!

Dining Out: OVER $115.66 — See the above. 

Car Gas: UNDER $18.00 — Winning!

Miscellaneous: OVER $284.94 — This definite reflects some money that I’ve spent towards my vacation (starting MONDAY!). I didn’t adjust my budgeted amount for the month, but that might have been wise. 

Credit Card Payments: UNDER $50.00 — I ended up making my big credit card payments at the top of April instead of March, so April’s report will show some higher numbers here. 

Businesses: UNDER $25.00 — No major extra expenses related to any of my endeavors! Winning!

How was your March? Anything exciting happen?

 

Disease Called Debt
Share-the-wealth-Sunday-button-150

At long last…Goals for 2016!

Hello dear ones!

It’s been a very hectic start to 2016 for me, but I’m not surprised! I always have great intentions of sitting down and writing blog posts, but I am easily distracted with other projects, but no more! Today, you get a doozy of a post!

GOALS FOR 2016!

Goals2016

Since I’m getting this post up at the END of March, I’m going to skip listing anything for January, February, and March. For most months, I’ve got a goal that I wish to have accomplished or at least have made direct and marked progress toward.

January: Skipping

February: Skipping

March: Skipping

April: Pay for my weeklong vacation in cash. This was a goal last year and one that I successfully achieved. I don’t have regrets for trips that don’t add to my debt load. I budget for the trip, I save for it, and I always look for deals and freebies! I’m already counting down the days until I leave – less than a month to go!

May – July: At this point, I don’t have anything for here financially. Got some ideas for me? I think the summer months might be a good opportunity for me to focus on some side hustle things for myself. Since my side hustle income varies greatly, maybe I can set a goal for a certain amount of money I plan to make each month. So I’m open if you have any ideas. Giving is also huge to me, so I have also thought about dedicating a certain amount of my side hustle money specifically for a tax-deductible gift. My goal for giving could also be put in one of these months.

August: Based on my rough 2016 budget, this would be the soonest month that I could have BOTH of my credit cards completely paid off. As soon as my April trip has past, the majority of my extra income will go to knocking this down.

September: By the end of September, my goal is to have added $500 to my general slush fund savings. I may be able to hit this one earlier based on how I’m saving now, but I think September is a safe place to put this goal. Pending no major needs to pull from the account, of course.

October: In October, I plan to make the last of my 2016 contributions to my nephew’s 529 account. I’ve highlighted how I do this already, but based on how I’ve (roughly) budgeted for the year, the last contribution should come out during the month of October.

November: Something I plan to achieve in/by November is to bring down the balance of my smallest student loan significantly. I want it to be UNDER $2000 before the end of November. I don’t care if the balance reads $1999, that would still be under $2000. Click here for my current debt standings.

December: This is a month that I think will be big for me, both professionally and personally. By this month, I’m hoping to have a new job and to have moved to a different city, but LOTS of things will have to go down for this to succeed.

If you go back and look at my 2015 goals, you’ll see that some of these are exactly the same. I think those unmet goals have obviously inspired my goals for 2016!

Stay tuned for the updates!

Disease Called Debt

February 2016 Budget Wrap-Up!

YES! It’s March! Thank goodness! This is the month where my mood and life always seems to pick up, so I’m thrilled it is finally here! So let’s talk about some numbers!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time now, you’ll recognize this handy-dandy budget spreadsheet that I love to use – PearBudget! This spreadsheet really makes it easy to see where I’m spending money. Also of note, some individual things like rent, insurance, etc. aren’t listed here – but are all conglomerated under “regular expenses” in the second picture.

Click the thumbnails to see the budget breakdowns up close!

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.27.53 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.28.11 PM

Housecare (Utilities, Internet, Netflix/Hulu, etc): OVER $49.15 – Blast an extra-large electric bill this month. Harrumph. 

Groceries: OVER $64.33

Dining Out: OVER $61.48

Car Gas: UNDER $20.00 – I swear I do drive places! Just thankful that the majority of my life happens within just a few miles of home!

Miscellaneous: OVER $8.63 – So close, yet so far. 

Credit Card Payments: UNDER $30.00 – Ugh. Just the minimums paid this month. 

Businesses: OVER $22.42

My income was excellent for this month, but I blame that on my tax refunds and a couple small performance gig payments that came through this month. Oh well, extra vacation savings and ending the month in the green! Even though I went over most of my budgets, I still had some left over! Let’s see if that carries over into March.

How was your February? Any major gains or losses?

Share-the-wealth-Sunday-button-150

In debt and owning a 529 plan

529_blogimage

(Photo Credit: The Public Domain Digital Collection of the New York Public Library)

I call myself a professional aunt. As someone who loves the children that belong to other people, I’m more than ok with spoiling my nephew on any and all occasions. Gifts? Of course! Ice cream dates? Often! Things he needs? Whenever I can. With that, I own my nephew’s 529 account.

One of the best things I think I can do for my nephew is contribute regularly towards his education. Saving for his college education is not a priority for either of his parents and it hurts my heart because he is SO smart. He’s the little guy who gets jazzed about building robots and machines and I truly believe he’ll do something really cool once he grows up. I know all too well what happens when there’s no planning for funding a college education (I mean, look at my Debt Payoff page) and I want to avoid that for my nephew. I know how far my student loans have put me into the black hole of debt, but I think I can still alleviate that for my nephew on whatever educational path he chooses to take.

I know that my goals mostly focus on PAYING OFF debt, but saving for my nephew’s education has been a goal of mine for the past three years. By no means do I intend to pay for the entirety of his education, but I can help make a dent. Rather than give him a gift for each little holiday (Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc.), I opt to just move a little cash into the 529 account. His birthday is also super close to Christmas, so I don’t want to shower him with too much stuff either! Even though I have student loans, I know that making a few small contributions will continue to add up over time! Plus, it’s important to me to help out as I am able.

With help from his parents, I was able to obtain all of the necessary information to open the account. It seriously took all of five minutes!I’ve also made it possible so that his grandparents and great-grandparents can contribute to the account as well. Our state’s plan seems to fall in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to overall returns, but I’m not terribly worried about that. Here’s the basic plan of what I’ve done each year:

[Age] x [Months/year] = Amount added each year. 

  • Age 1: 1 x 12 = $12
  • Age 2: 2 x 12 = $24
  • Age 3: 3 x 12 = $36
  • Age 4: 4 x 12 = $48
  • Age 5: 5 x 12 = $60
  • …and so on and so forth…

If I continue to do it this way, it’s not breaking my budget in any way as my income continues to grow each year. Most of the time, the monthly amount is hardly noticeable as it comes out of my account. I’m hoping that the account continues to get it’s approximate 3% return over the next several years. If it does, my nephew will have a little tiny nest egg of college money.

Don’t worry, I’m continuing to meet all of my debt payments AND save for retirement. I’m hoping my nephew continues to love his school and that he maintains his curiosity throughout his life. I’m glad that I can be a part of the little man’s educational path.

How do you save for college? Do you contribute to accounts for kids other than your own? Tell me your college savings and 529 tips & tricks!

Disease Called Debt

Fun Money Mom

January 2016 Budget Wrap-Up!

Happy February, ya’ll! I can’t get over the fact that we’re already a month (and a few days) into the New Year! I swear that time just keeps on moving faster and faster and faster!

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time now, you’ll recognize this handy dandy budget spreadsheet that I love to use – PearBudget! This spreadsheet really makes it easy to see where I’m spending money. Also of note, some individual things like rent, insurance, etc. aren’t listed here – but are all conglomerated under “regular expenses” in the second picture.

Click the thumbnails to see the budget breakdowns up close!

Jan16_Big Jan16_SM

Housecare (Utilities, Internet, Netflix/Hulu, etc): UNDER $64.02 – My electricity bill didn’t show up until February 1, so I was able to stay under for this month. Just delightful <sarcasm>.

Groceries: OVER $76.09 – Yup, not surprising.

Dining Out: OVER $62.32 – Again, not surprised. I still working to keep this under budget, but it’s been a struggle.

Car Gas: UNDER $5.00 – Success!

Miscellaneous: OVER $112.66 – Ugh. Lots of extra expenses popped up for January. I also bought the plane ticket for my spring trip and that added to the overages in this category.

Credit Card Payments: OVER $0.08 – Even though this is technically “over” my budget, that’s a double credit card payment for the month…so #WINNING!

Businesses: UNDER $100.00 – This is a new category that I’ve added for some of my job-related expenses since I seem to accrue many over the course of the year! However, for January, there were no expenses in this category!

So far, February has already thrown me over budget in the ‘Housecare’ category, but here’s hoping I can keep the others in check!

Back with more later this week!