Posted in budget, finances

Where does your money go?

When 2016 started, I began trying to save receipts from all our purchases and place them in an envelope. The goal is to add up all the receipts for particular stores or types of purchases to see where all our money goes. Where does your money go?


I have an envelope for every month in 2016 thus far. I know these envelopes are missing some purchases since I’ve found balled up pieces of papers in the laundry or made purchases where receipts were emailed to me. Luckily I keep most emails that are receipts!

The envelopes have not been touched since the months ended. I plan to start calculating where our money goes this week. I’m also planning to place us on a tighter budget since collecting enough for rent has been really rough. 

I’ll post my findings after I calculated here we spend our money!

Posted in Brightpeak Financial, budget

Simple Living Challenge with Brightpeak Financial

Yesterday, I received an email from Brightpeak Financial. I first signed up for their emails when I saw an advertisement for a free book about budgeting. Hey, I wasn’t going to pass up a free book! I love books! Every now and then, I get an interesting email about tips and tricks for budgeting. But, yesterday’s was a little different. The email suggests 14-days for their Simple Living Challenge.

Immediately, I subscribed to this challenge. This morning, I got Day 1’s challenge. It’s simple enough, really. Get a box and every day during the challenge place something in it that you are willing to donate. Place it somewhere you’ll see it often to remind you to place something in there and take pictures and post it on social media with the hashtags: #SimpleLivingChallenge and #ownless.

There are additional links that lead to blog posts regarding the living simply. It doesn’t sound too hard now, does it?

Why don’t you join me on this challenge? Register here. Then, I’ll see you on the other side of the challenge!

Posted in Uncategorized

Jumpstart with enough nutrients to start the day!

They say the most important meal of the day is breakfast, right? It’s the meal you eat to start your day. You’ve just spent hours resting and your body has been working so very hard to digest all you are the previous night and now it’s time to start the day. 

Usually for me, I go with no food until about 10am. I’ve never really been a breakfast eater. I can last a few hours before going stir crazy. 

For several months, I’ve been filling my empty tummy with a venting chai tea latte from Starbucks. Needless to say, it’s not the healthiest breakfast and it’s over $5 a crack! What?! 

Startling, right?! Well, I’ve been convinced to try out BeachBody’s Shakeology. I tested couple samples from a friend. I prefer the strawberry flavor and when mixed with a cup of cashew milk, it’s absolutely creamy yumminess!

  
Unfortunately, I ran out of cashew milk an my hubby had almond milk. This is good, too, but not nearly as good as the cashew milk. So, at least now I know what to buy!

The strawberry Shakeology that I’ve been drinking for my breakfast is much healthier than my other options. And it’s about a buck a day cheaper than the daily Starbucks. 

After doing some research, some say it’s expensive for a 30-day supply, but I’m actually preferring it over the empty stomach or the Starbucks. I feel like I’m eating better, it lasts me until lunchtime, and I’m getting much needed nutrients from the start and not starving my body of much needed food!

What do you eat for breakfast and how is it jump starting your day??

Posted in budget, finances, Gratitude Journal

Be careful what you wish for…

It’s been a crazy weekend of oddball events. Several events occurred that I never imagined would happen and a slew of thoughts I never thought I’d think! Don’t let me get ahead of myself here, it seems to happen a lot lately. 

I’ve heard throughout mane phases of life to be careful of what I wish for. It goes the same for being careful what you pray for as well. 

If you pray for patience, whoa will you need tons of patience the next few weeks! You might think you have everything BUT patience. It will seem like everything is blowing up at the spur of the moment and all hope feels lost. 

In the same manner, if you pray for financial stability, you just might get everything BUT what you asked for. Trust me. This is a hard lesson to learn! But when I ask for financial stability, I end up with bank fees and overdrafts left and right! 

How about we change our focus here. This goes back to the previous post about gratitude. Have you been working on a gratitude journal? Yeah, me neither. But what better than to start right now? 

Okay, three things I’m thankful for today:

1. I am thankful for my family. I would be so extremely lonely without them and there would be less hope. The love I give and receive is an amazing feeling. 

2. I am grateful for my job. Even though we don’t get paid much, I’m so thankful to have a job where I can be there for my clients and assist in their transition.

3. I am thankful for the freedom to read my bible and spend time with God. There are so many places across the world that are seriously persecuted for their faith. Here in America we are also persecuted, but in a more subtle way. 

So, if I focus on being grateful, then I won’t be so concerned about finances. And wherever God takes me financially, I will be ready for Him. Thank you, Lord, for your guidance. 

Posted in Broke, Freebies

Treasure the moments before they’re gone

Imagine your kitchen has the basics that is necessary to feed you, your dresser has clean clothes, the car has enough gas to get you through the week, the bills are paid for the moment, and you have a job that you can get to. 

But, you’re flat broke until the next payday before the routine starts all over again to get those bills paid and you’re back to this moment again. 

Has that ever happened to you? Sometimes I feel like that’s me, after every payday. 

Why is it so hard to get ahead? It doesn’t help one bit that we live in Hawaii and our cost of living is astronomical, but we still need to really LIVE, right?

There’s the parks that the young ones can run around and play, but that only lasts a few minutes before they require you to join in, too. Reluctantly, I’ll participate a few minutes, but not enjoy it. Why am I not enjoying my time with my son? These moments are fleeting, I need to enjoy it! 

There are many free events of activities we can engage in. But I must get past the idea of how it affects me personally and focus on how I need to be present with my son and treasure those moments. He’s only young once and these are moments I can never get back. 

We may not have a lot of money to buy every toy that my son wants, but we have a few moments to give him. What will he remember when he gets older? What will I remember? Will remember the trips to the store and the toys we bought? Or will we remember that one day we went for a walk and fed the black duck and the white duck?

 

these ducks are always begging for food when we walk by
 
There were five ducks the last time we fed them, but we couldn’t find the others. Feeding the ducks is an experience to remember. It doesn’t cost us anything besides some old, stale bread or crackers that we aren’t eating anyway. 

It’s possible to make memories without actually spending any money. There are often fun activities with the simplest of things that will create fantastic memories for families. Reusing containers and fabrics and creating something new is fun, too.

What do you do to create memories for your kiddos?

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.