Posted in budget, Debt management

I’m still in debt…

I don’t know about you, but I. Am. Still. In. Debt. 

How do you get out of this limited mindset? I want to be debt free, have more and spend more. I want to buy our first home. I want to take my family on debt free trips and pay for all of it with my abundance. I want all my debts completely eliminated!

After all these years of having this blog, I feel like I’ve gone nowhere! Here’s to a future of paying off bills and eliminating debt! 🥂

Step 1. Buy only what you NEED, not what you WANT. Yep, there’s a difference. Now to explain that to my 8 year old. 

Step 2. Create a budget. Yes, a BUDGET. And stick to it!! Intentions get you nowhere unless you FOLLOW THROUGH. 

Step 3. Track spending for 30-days. Where does the money go?

Step 4. Track business expenses in a valid app or computer software. This will help make the tax season easier next time!

Step 4. Coupon. Use coupons and track how much you’re saving from week to week!

Step 5. Keep blogging!

Follow me. Let’s go on this journey together. Send me your tips and I’ll share mine. Let’s become debt free together!

Posted in budget, Debt management, finances, MONEY: Mastering the Game

Budget yourself!

In my last post, I mentioned how I have been saving receipts each month since January. I’ve started to add up the receipts to find out where we spend our money. Keep in mind, the cell phone bills, utilities, car payments, insurance, and after school care is not included in my receipts as those remain pretty constant. 


Wow, we spend approximately $800 a month combined at Walmart, Target, and Safeway. Whoa! What are we buying at these stores?! Mainly food items and occasional clothing (at Walmart and Target). We also get household items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and school supplies. But $800??

And we’ve been spending about $300 at restaurants. What?! The more popular restaurants we seem to eat at include Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Chili’s, and this cute little restaurant that I really enjoy called Spicy Ahi. Granted one month we had our son’s birthday party at California Pizza Kitchen, which ended up being costly, but not nearly as bad as what we spent at another birthday at ChuckECheese (and I’m not trying to make it seem like it’s okay to spend so much, but we didn’t throw him a party last year, either). So we have all this foods at home, but we spend many meals out eating someone else’s? Hmmm, there’s something wrong with this picture…?
So now that May is right around the corner (tomorrow to be exact), here’s to trying to be on a budget. Let’s cut in HALF the spending at the combined Walmart, Target, and Safeway. Only purchase what we really NEED and do lots of researching for coupons and price matching. That leaves us with $100 a week to these stores.

Also, cut in HALF what we spend at these restaurants. Why do we need to eat out so much? Take home lunch, even peanut butter and jelly will do for me. However our son needs something with a little more substance and not allowed to have peanut anything. Cut the restaurant spending to $25 a week. 

By the way, the ATM withdrawals are usually for things like after school care or medical co-pays. Andasbi usually do not have any cash on me, I’m starting to prefer having at least some cash for the ocassional small purchase I need to make. 

I will check in each week to see how we progress and stick to this budget crazy. There are other areas that I found unnecessary spending, but I really believe starting with these two big whammies will help to focus our spending.

And I just started reading the latest book by Tony Robbins, MONEY: Master the Game. It sounds enticing and I look forward to reading it through. I’ll be posting as I read and what I’m gaining from it as well. 

Happy last day of April and first day of May weekend!!

Posted in budget, Debt management, finances, Payday

Auto bill pay or calendar reminders to pay?

It’s a relaxing Saturday, a small breeze (here in Hawaii we call it trade winds), it’s a mostly cloudy day (mainly due to that fabulous disruption in our beautiful weather that’s causing high temps and tons of humidity), and I’m sitting in our back porch. With nothing else better to do, I asked Siri, “How many seashells does she sell by the seashore?” A list of websites pop up. Then I asked Siri, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Response? “Haven’t you got anything better to do?”

As a matter of fact, “Siri, is there anything I should be doing today?” And Siri’s immediate response is to show me my calendar:

  
All the yellow items are books I was planning to be reading but I’m super behind. Green items are bills that are due. “CareCredit?!” I asked out loud to the coconut tree in front of me. Whoa! I’m so glad I added that reminder in my phone! I’m on a mission to avoid bank and credit card fees the rest of the year. I think the bank got enough of my money the first half of the year!

Phew! I was able to get that payment scheduled without any snafus. Now I’m curious if I have anything else due that I failed to input into my calendar. I would mess up like that!

There are some bills on autopay, like tithing, Compassion International, and the electric bill. It means I need to be much more aware of what I spend on due to the need to have enough funds to pay the autopay items. It forces me to be more aware of what’s going on. 

In my current employment, we get paid every other Friday. It has its benefits, but managing for the month by dividing up the bills makes the bill paying much easier. I’m so thankful that I do it all via phone these days. Life is so much more convenient. Maybe too convenient?

My main question is: Auto bill pay or calendar reminders to pay? Which is better? I suppose it all depends on your needs and your bills. Unfortunately I allowed my bills to get out of control, so trying to spend less so I can pay off credit cards is proving more difficult that I imagined.

How do YOU manage your bill payments?

Its a mostly cloudy day
Posted in budget, Debt management, finances

Mint, do you like it?

Years ago, I completed my federal and state taxes online. Towards the end of this tax filing journey, I came across a website, Mint, that suggested the ability to view a budget online through connections with my bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and spending. I noticed it was offered by Intuit, who seemed to run the tax site I was using and I figured it’s pretty safe.

Soon after I found myself with a smartphone and I learned there’s an app for that! So, I downloaded it and started using the app more frequently. But my use with Mint has varied and I’ve deleted it and reloaded it several times since.

You see, I didn’t feel like Mint did what I need. Yet at the same time, there isn’t another app out there that does what I want either and I wasn’t about to pay for an app that doesn’t accomplish what I want. I often end up going in circles and emit seems each time I load it, I find better options with the app. It’s growing on me. 

  In Mint, users have the ability to connect to bank accounts, many credit cards, and users can categorize spending. Mint can show users how money is spent throughout the month. There’s helpful tips for saving, investing, etc. overall, I like the ability to recategorize expenses. For example, whenever I get gas at the Sam’s Club gas station, Mint automatically categorizes the expense as groceries, when it should go under gas. But, not all Sam’s Club purchases are gas, so having the ability to categorize is useful. 

There is an issue with some store credit cards who use Synchrony Bank, though. Synchrony is currently not allowing Mint to connect to accounts, which is personally frustrating since apparently three of my credit cards are now with Synchrony, after previous banks sold their accounts to Synchrony Bank about a year ago. Hopefully, this will be resolved in the next 30 days, says the notice in Mint.

Having visuals with my spending is useful because it deters me from spending unnecessarily. I’m sure there are other apps that have the same capabilities. I have recently downloaded Mint again on my phone in hopes of getting a better grasp on the crazy spending and fee paying that I’ve been wasting money on. 

Do you like Mint? Have you ever used it? Do you use any other personal budgeting apps? Please comment and share your thoughts!

Posted in budget, Debt management, finances, Payday

Bill is past due

Have you ever had a bill to pay and you plan for it, payday is coming, the bill is due that day so you’re prepared for it, then all of a sudden it’s two days after the due date and now your bill looks impossible?

That’s where I’m sitting at this very moment. Normally I split my car note in half and pay half each paycheck (I get paid every mother week). So normally, that works out just fine. But for some reason I put it off last week and the note was due last Tuesday. 

Today when I look at my bill it’s already scheduled for next months payment and whatever I was supposed to pay last week and the late fee have been included. Hmmm, yay. So unnecessary fees again. Great, way to start the second half of the year that I told myself in on a budget. Seriously? 

Wait, there’s 2 more paydays before the bills is due. I should break it into thirds. That will give me more to split for other bills, right? And still make it? Hmmm, there’s got to be a better way to arrange my finances. Why is it all so confusing?

Now that I’ve gotten that figured out, let me go back to that payment and reconfigure! Y’all are wonderful, thank you for helping me get through that. I was in a small panic there!

As you were 😉

Posted in budget, Debt management, finances, Payday

My bank is broken

My 6-year old often refers to my bank as “broken”. It’s his interpretation for “Mommy’s broke and can’t afford to buy toys.” He started saying it when he was around 2 or 3 and still says it occasionally. 

I may have just gotten paid on Friday, but it seems I have not budgeted for anything this paycheck. I have a notice that the oral surgeon I went to last year to pull a wisdom tooth will seek collections if I don’t pay within 10-days. I have all my bills I still need to pay on top of it all, plus gas and food. 

Maybe starting to pay off school loans was premature? I had to start at some point and I thought it was good timing. Now, I’m not so sure. I cannot forget my credit card payments and vehicle lease I need to pay as well.

It really stinks when your expenses outweigh your income. How did this all happen and how do I get myself out of this cistern I dug myself into? The Old Testament mentions cisterns, I hear that it was used to store water, like a reservoir. But when it’s dry, it’s difficult to pull oneself out of it. It’s what Joseph’s brothers threw Joseph into before selling their dear brother to the Egyptians. 

My cistern bank account is dry. It’s hard to pull myself out of it. I am in need of some rain or someone to fill it to get myself out. While I attempt to do this on my own, I do hope you will stick with me! All the accountability and suggestions and uplifting comments are welcome. I dug myself into this and I will dig myself out.

Posted in budget, Debt management

Reverting back to debtfreemoneytree.wordpress.com

The site I’ve been using, debtfreemoneytree.com, has cost me about $26 a year. And since I’m not the active blogger, gather new viewers, and promote my site kinda gal, I don’t believe it’s all that worth it really.

So my annual payment is due and I’ve decided to put that $26 to good use. I’m canceling the pay site and it is supposed to revert back to the debtfreemoneytree.wordpress.com. Hopefully, it does.

Now, what can I do with that $26? Well, it’ll buy us tonight’s pizza dinner, or 5 trips for my beloved Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks, or some wings at Wing Stop, or maybe just pay part of a credit card bill? It’s amazing where this money could go, but it will likely just disappear into my son’s school meal card or a new backpack for school.

What would you do if you had an extra $26?

Posted in budget, Debt management, Freebies

Budget goals for 2015

Yes, I know it’s already February. It’s been over a month since I’ve posted here. I apologize, much has been happening for our household! We moved to a new apartment and we are nicely settled now. My son is back in soccer, too.

My budget goal for 2015 is to pay off at least one credit card and remove it entirely from my monthly debts while not falling behind on the others. I’d like to start paying on my college school loans, but I think I need to call the loan company to get a low rate that I can actually afford.

We pay our own electricity now, so I need to budget for this as well. All in all, bills are growing but the income shrinking. Income shrinking?! Yes, the company I work for is taking out 1% more a paycheck for 401K, so even though I no longer have vision insurance ($12/check), my take home net is $4 less per check. You might be thinking it’s only $4, but that’s one less Starbucks a check! Haha, not that I really spend that much on Starbucks, just enough to maintain my gold card!

Anyway, it’s a process and I’m trying to actually stick to this goal since I wasn’t able to last year. I actually made more bills last year when I added another credit card. Yikes! Now I’m paying for that mistake!

Also, I’m praying for a promotion, a decent raise, or a new position entirely that can assist with these growing bills. I’ve been blessed with amazing freebie ebooks to read and fantastic parents who pitch in to keep me afloat. January has been successful. Now that it’s 1 February, that’s a whole new month of managing our finances!

Keep us in prayer and the good Lord will provide in some way, shape, or form.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬ ESV)

Posted in Black Friday, budget, Debt management, Payday

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! On this Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for those deployed and away from their families. A good friend of mine recently returned from Afghanistan and much has happened in her life and family in the last 6 months. Thank you to all who have and are serving in our nation’s military, this includes family members as well!

In addition, I have noticed a ton of advertisements for pre-Black Friday sales. While some began a week ago, there are retailers having sales today and tomorrow. I even saw a local mall that will be open until midnight tomorrow. Thank you to all who work in retail and spend countless hours dealing with the endless shoppers! I pray you will keep your cool and make time to complete your own shopping as well.

Speaking of tomorrow, it is well known as Black Friday, when retailers no longer operate in debt, rather their sales are historically higher than the rest of the year as consumers begin their holiday shopping. Tomorrow is also my payday. Can there be anything worse than payday falling in Black Friday?

Personally, I’m not a big shopper. I like to walk around and pick out items. Sometimes I’ll carry the items around the store only to put it all back because I really don’t need it. Knowing that I’m getting paid on Black Friday encourages me to stay away from shopping because I am afraid my paycheck will get spent before I pay the necessary bills. And I can’t have that happen!

Now, if you’re a Black Friday shopper, please be safe. Be sure to keep your belongings and items you want to buy close to you as there are some who will snatch it out from under you when you’re not looking. And most of all, be mindful of your budget!

Posted in budget, Debt management, income, Payday

Paycheck budgeting

Depending on how often I’ve gotten paid throughout my adult life, it’s affected how I pay bills. I’ll admit, it was much simpler when I got paid once a month and just pay all my bills with each check. And it forced me to budget what was left over much easier. And I always felt broke for the rest of the month.

Then there’s the weekly paycheck. I’ve been through the weekly. It felt like I actually had money, but it forced me to divide my bills up into 4 pay checks and hope I get everything paid off at the end. It was quite stressful for me.

More recently, I’ve been paid twice a month or every other week. The results are quite similar for these two, at least in my experience.

Now, I divide my monthly payments into two payments. For the most part, the bigger payments I actually divide in half. The smaller payments, I can divide it into two payments each or I can pay one bill one week and another at the next check. It’s all about keeping track of what’s being paid and how much is owed when.

The last thing I want to do is miss a payment and end up paying late fees. I’ve been known to pay late fees and right now, I’m trying to avoid that! I could save so much money if I stop the late payments!

I’ve attempted the Excel spreadsheet budgeting, but it hasn’t been very effective for me. I’m going to start using a calendar to show myself when and what I’m paying and how much is going where. I’m a visual learner, so I need to see my due dates and payments. It is a new way of tracking my budget and payments that might be a lot of work, but I’m sure it’ll be useful for me in the end. I’ll post later on my progress.

I want to do the cash spending as well, so any spending money for the week or specific time period is to using cash only. I still need to work on this as I’ve already failed with this paycheck.