With the holidays coming up, accruing some debt is not a surprise. So what do you do when it starts to spiral out of control? Pay it down, a dollar at a time!
Okay, so I am pretty sure you’re looking at this and saying ‘yeah, no duh genius.’
So let me explain… What I mean by dollar down debt is that you take your monthly expenses, find ways to cut a dollar here or there and use that to add to your monthly payment. An example, you ask? Why of course! So let’s say you are buying lunch today at work and you can pick between the large combo for $10 or the medium for $8. Now you might be super hungry but what does the large give you that the medium doesn’t? Usually, it is just a larger drink or larger side by a handful so are you really getting more for that money? So you opt for the medium and use that $2 to put towards that debt payment on top of the minimum.
Now, instead of just paying $50 for your minimum payment which will accrue an exorbitant amount of interest, you’re paying an additional $2. That doesn’t seem like a lot but if you can stash aside an additional $50 from analyzing your expenses and cutting back on some of those frivolous upgrades then you can double or triple your monthly repayment.
So you are literally knocking down your debt, a dollar at a time!
How do you save these dollars and not apply them to other expenses? Put them aside…literally. You can have a secondary account that you transfer the funds to if you aren’t using cash OR in the event that you are using cash, put them in a “debt jar”! Or you can always set up apps that help manage your funds and track your spending habits to help you squirrel away some money to help that debt dwindle down faster!
So inquiring minds want to know… What are you doing to pay down any debt? Do you have CC that you have a revolving balance on? Do you follow Dave Ramsey’s snowball or avalanche methods?
With it being the first weekend in October, the tingling sensation to go out and buy everything pumpkin, boots, flannel, and anything fall is literally gnawing at me. It is taking every ounce of my will to not go to HomeGoods or Kirkland’s (or Michael’s thinking yeah, I totally can craft…). I love fall and everything that comes with it, especially being outdoors or bringing the outside in! I love to decorate and I love to warm up the home with scents and flavors of fall. There is something about roasting acorn squash or baking maple cookies during this time of the year…
But alas, with this time of the year comes the mental recollection that the holiday season is literally around the corner. There are 90 days left of the year (okay, less than that but I didn’t want to officially panic) and for my family, the holidays also mean birthday season (my husband, my father, then me…)! So I cannot overindulge despite my inner Martha Stewart wannabe.
So I am taking some time to make some budgeting plans, which will be a challenge with a couple of travel opportunities coming up. But I need to make sure that I have all my affairs in order so I am making some drastic changes!
As you may know from earlier posts, my husband and I are saving a LOT of money by cooking exciting new meals at home during the week (and cooking them together is a great way to spend time together AND cut down on the time it takes). Sunbasket has been great and with their organic menu, we are eating cleaner and healthier while saving money — now THAT is a win-win. If you are interested in getting a box of your own and saving $40, I do have an affiliate code you can use: click here.
So with groceries off the list, there are a few other items we have to account for, like bills and yes, some fun even for an introvert like myself! So here is the plan for October:
I get paid bi-weekly and get my paycheck a day early thanks to my wonderful bank. I get those funds deposited into a checking account. So I am allocating my take-home into four expense categories: Standard Frivolous Savings Miscellaneous/emergencies
Let’s start with the “Savings” expenses: I immediately, and automatically, pay myself in terms of a savings account. I consider ‘savings’ as a bill so without thinking, I set an auto-transfer and don’t touch that account. It is associated with my checking and is a fail-safe in case of a rainy day but otherwise, I don’t acknowledge that account at all. So ~10% of my pay, every paycheck, goes here.
Then I look at “Standard” expenses: This is the bulk of my expenses as I strive for a debt-free lifestyle (with the exclusion of my student loans because, well, education isn’t free). So in this bucket are expenses like rent, credit cards, utilities, and car payments. This is ~60% of the month’s income.
“Frivolous” expenses: Withdraw $100. That is my spending limit for anything frivolous outside staple items like medication or groceries. So if I want to go out at lunch or want to go to the movies – that’s all I have for the whole month. ~2.5% of the month goes here.
Miscellaneous expenses or emergencies: Use my debit card and spend less than 10% for the month. This is for those desperate food cravings or emergency items that we didn’t have in the house. When we can, we go to our local farmers’ market for those one-off items like zucchini for bread or peaches for dessert. “Miscellaneous” items do not count towards frivolous purchases like clothes, makeup or unnecessary items (see how that works?).
Only allowing myself $100 cash means I will not need to go into my wallet to grab a card OR allow me to spend any additional money. Credit cards should not see any daylight with the exception of our rental car or hotel (this is a preplanned trip). And if I don’t have the money, there is no way to spend it -so I have to spend wisely! I also have gift cards that I can and need to use so those will come in handy.
So inquiring minds want to know… What are you doing to prepare for the holidays? How do you budget? Who is ready to join me!?
So back on August 20th, I wrote about a way that I am trying to cut back on excessive spending when it comes to my groceries, reducing waste with unused food, and reallocating time that was previously spent running from store to store. Well, 2 weeks in and going on to week 3, I wanted to share an update! Also, I want to add that this is not sponsored.
When I posted about HomeChef in my New Take on Groceries post, I wasn’t sure what to expect – honestly. I grew up with a mom that worked fulltime but also cooked every week. She taught me to love cooking and that the kitchen is all about organized chaos. She taught me that a little of this and a pinch of that were real measurements for ingredients. She taught me that the kitchen is the heart of the home. And with all of those lessons, I learned about cultural foods, how to basically cook for an army (I am having a really hard time cooking for just 2), and how cooking can bring people together. So when I decided to take a leap into these pre-planned meals, I thought I was shaming my up-bringing. I was not going out and buying my groceries, one cucumber at a time. I was not examining my produce or selecting that portioned ground beef (you know, the one that was priced $6.98 and not $7.02). I was not coming up with my own concoctions. I was not experimenting or playing with food. I honestly felt slightly ashamed.
But I knew I had to do something to help my husband and I cut down on cost, cut down on overindulgence, and reallocate time that has become so precious and so limited (working fulltime, going to school fulltime, and managing some personal side projects really take a toll). So I told myself that this is an experiment so the scientist in me could rationalize the change and took the plunge.
As I mentioned, my first order was curtesy of a promotion code and subsequent orders would cost a bit more but still be less than what we normally would spend on just the groceries themselves. I did a breakdown in my earlier post (you can find it here). So to date, these are the expenses we have incurred for any and all groceries:
Now, I have to admit that some of the local grocery shopping was for our pups who eat home-cooked food which we mix with their kibble, but for the sake of the cost analysis, we will include it. Additionally, there were some expenses that were for work functions, but I cannot find that recent and it was partially reimbursed so we will exclude that. I also excluded non-food items like hand soap, detergents or aluminum foil (Costco for the win though). Also, I had cooked a storm before we started this so we had a LOT of food in the freezer so, for those 2 days when we didn’t have a HomeChef meal, we still had food without having to go out to eat or scramble for last-minute ingredients.
So if we look at what I had predicted for expenses for a month, we will go over $500 in groceries BUT we have had less waste, less time spent shopping (hence my weekend of homework), less gas running from store to store, and less stress during the week. In fact, I opened my fridge this morning and realized it was basically empty – and by empty, I mean full of milk, eggs, and those other staples but not full of food in every Pyrex we own.
Yes, we still have to make some additional improvements but overall, this is still a savings for us. On a given month, we could easily surpass $600 in groceries alone.
Now, let’s talk about the food itself.
I am still feeling guilty about not having my mother’s recipes sprawled about the counter or making up my own concoctions, but I have to say that some of these meals are going to become part of our regular meal rotation when this little experiment is over!
The food is really quite good and I am still able to play with the recipe a little bit – mostly because we cut out a lot of salt (some of these have 50% of your daily intake!). My husband and I also still cook together, most days. And on those days we aren’t cooking together, the recipes are simple enough that one can cook and the other can do homework or personal tasks and he doesn’t yell at me that “a little of that” doesn’t mean anything! Most importantly, we eat together, at the dinner table, and have 1 serving – and we aren’t hungry!
I am currently editing my first unboxing video of the HomeChef delivery, which comes every Tuesday for us and is well packed! So stay tuned as I hope to have that up this weekend.
And just to leave you with an idea on the meals we have had…
So inquiring minds want to know… How important is home cooking in your household? Do you eat out often? If so, how often? How do you manage your budget with groceries?
Some of you that read my post on “No Spend Week”, know that my household has opted to have one week where, unless it is a bill or medical, we do not spend money! That means no frivolous expenses, no outside meals, and no grocery shopping! While we will be starting our second No Spend Week on July 9th (through July 16th), I have learned a few helpful tips & tricks as well as wanted to share our results from our first run!
Update Overall, drum roll please, we saved about $250 during our first No Spend Week! How? We did not grocery shop at all! We did some fresh produce shopping on the Sunday before our week started and then reverted to eating the food items we already had on hand. It did force us to get a little creative with our meal planning (see my take on a burrito bowl dinner) but we did not find ourselves tossing any expired goods and started to cleanup our deep freezer items! Another way we saved is putting some of our desired items on ice and came back to them a week later. We did this in three ways: first we literally just put items in our online shopping carts and then closed out of the page; secondly, we put items on our grocery list so we knew exactly what we needed when we could shop again (added bonus is we had the time to go through our cabinets, fridge, and freezer before adding an item to the list or purchasing only to find out we already had it at home); and thirdly, I put things on ice meaning I could not even add it to my shopping cart! The last way that we saved is through finding free things to do with each other. So instead of going out to eat, we cooked at home -together. We played video games, watched Netflix, went to the gym, played with the dogs, went on walks, and other fun things at home that we normally have to try and squeeze into the day.
Apps So I mentioned that I learned a few tips and tricks during this time to help us save those big bucks. Some of the tips are apps that we never really got around to researching before while another is an extension I was able to add to my browser (Chrome).
Starting off with “putting things on ice” – introducing Icebox. This extension is free to add to your Chrome browser and reduces your impulse buying at many online retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Sephora. How it works is it literally replaces the “add to cart” button with “put on ice” and it saves it for you depending on the “thaw” period you set, with the recommended 30 days window as a default. This means that those impulse buys you may regret later or even forgot you ordered when you’re scrolling through the Amazon abyss at 2 AM instead of sleeping, will be saved instead of purchased so when the thaw period is over, you may find yourself realizing you don’t need that hipster cat throw pillow after all. But if there is an item that you really need to purchase, you can override Icebox and purchase the item!
Another two extensions that I automatically added to my browser for those times that I can shop help me save money by either offering cashback or adding coupon codes that I did not previously have. These two extensions are Ebates (which is now called Rakuten) and Honey. Just install and when you are shopping, these two extensions will automatically notify you when they can save you money!
There are three main apps that we have been using lately to help us save money through scanning our receipts, and in the case of the latter two, matching them up with savings within the app for additional money in our pockets.
Receipt Hog – This also has a Chrome extension and can automatically link to your Amazon purchase and email, With this app, you get tokens that you can redeem for cash through a visa gift card, PayPal, or an Amazon gift card.
Fetch Rewards – This app scans your receipts for points and can link up with additional savings. You can also make money for gift cards at several retailers or donate your profits to charity.
ibotta – When you scan your receipt with this app and match it to a number of specific, or general, products, you will get money added to your account that you can cash out after accruing $20. Some items that are specific to a brand can save you up to $4+ dollars while some of the “any” items will save you less but you can still save money and those pennies add up!
So for our first No Spend Week, we were able to do a lot with a little and decided that we will be doing this every month! This is a good way to take back some control in an economy that strives on spending! Plus we get to take our debt down and save more by finding ways to use our time more effectively and get back to basics.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate and will pay me through a sign-up or utilization bonus. This does not impact your experience or my honest review of the services.
Please share with me any tips you have used to curb your spending and if any of these methods are tools you will use for yourself.
Part of adulting is learning to put some money aside in case of that rainy day or emergency or, if you are being really frugal, for those long-term goals like vacations or holiday shopping. However with the state of the economy and the cost of living increasing and paychecks not keeping up, how can we conscientiously put away $$ every week, paycheck, or month?
Introducing AI that helps you save automatically and in increments that your budget allows! I have been using Digit for over a year now and have created several different goals over the course the year which has helped me save over $1.5K with me barely noticing and not having to be actively calculating my bottom line.
Digit is a secure app that links to your bank account to automatically withdraw small increments on a daily basis per your goal(s). The way that it saves you money is by tracking your spending and calculating upcoming bills so it never depletes your account. Plus, you can setup a “low balance protection” clause so when your account dips below your set amount, Digit will automatically transfer money back to get it above that minimum.
For example, I currently have three goals – “Rainy Day” which is simply a pot for emergency funds; “Credit Card” which is a newer feature of Digit that automatically saves money from your checking account and pays your credit card, lowering your monthly balance; and “Gifts” for the Christmas season (this one also has a count down so it’ll automatically stop saving after December 1st).
So yesterday, Digit reviewed my account and my spending habits and automatically saved me $19.94 across my three goals. I also have a maximum amount setup so Digit can never pull more than $10 per goal, regardless of what my checking account says.
There are some days that Digit does not save me anything at all because of what I have upcoming financially. There are others, like yesterday, that it moves over higher amounts. Additionally, you can pause your savings if you ever need to for any reason and set an automatic window so Digit resumes without you having to stress.
Every new Digit subscriber gets about 90 days without a charge and there is a $2.99 charge monthly thereafter, but between its efficiency and ease, I feel that the charge is justifiable.
You also get a savings boost which essentially similar to your savings account interest. This is quarterly and it does start at 1%, so it is not that big, but I have been able to accrue about $7 since October 2018.
If you want to save some money without the stress of having to move money every month or want another way to save, try Digit! And let me know if you find this app helpful OR if you have another way that YOU save!
Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored and it my personal opinion of the app. There are links in this post that are affiliate and do provide a small payment to me but do not alter the experience or savings benefit for you.
Being an adult is hard! The worst part are the bills that come every month and the cost of living that continues to increase despite salaries not being able to keep up.
So in order to combat some of the mundane adulting tasks, the I have decided to start installing some “frugal tips” into day-to-day living. Some tips have helped me save money. Some tips have helped me knock down some debt. Some tips have helped me find some new and exciting adventures. And since they have been fairly beneficial, I wanted to share some of them!
This week’s challenge/tip: No Spend Week
While the title of this week’s tip, and challenge, is pretty obvious, the purpose behind it is to not spend any extra money! This may have been something that has been written about before, normally called “no spend months,” but there were always exceptions – food being one of them.
While that is difficult, I feel that food shopping is one of my vices – I can go to 4 stores on a given day and shop way beyond my list. Hubby and I do eat it all, but that also feeds into the cycle of over-indulgence and our healthy journey. So, this upcoming week, we will not allow any food shopping as well as no erroneous spending except for health/medications and bills. Anything we normally would have purchased is put “on ice” and can be revisited the following week. That also means that we have to only eat items we already have – think of it as a food clean-up too! We cannot spend money on anything from Amazon or other retailers, and if the appointment for any personal indulgent item (like my nail appointment) can be moved, it should be!
The challenge starts today: June 17th and ends on Sunday, June 23rd.
The rule: if you were going to spend money on any “fluff”, it has to be deposited into the savings account. That way, at the end of the week, we will calculate how much we saved. That means that if I was going to buy lunch on Tuesday, I would transfer that $8.00 (or whatever the price) to savings instead.