Personal Finance

  • M1 Finance Free Stock

    Since I use M1 Finance every week on my personal finance YouTube channel people often ask, does m1 finance give free stock to new users?

    Some investing apps like Robinhood give out a random free stock when new users sign up. Does M1 Finance do this too? Can you get a free stock by signing up for M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance Referral Link (I also get a bonus!)

    M1 Finance Free Stock

    Technically M1 Finance does not give you a single stock when you sign up like Robinhood or some other apps do. Instead they give you a cash bonus that will invest in ANY stock slice you pick.

    Depending on the current M1 Finance promotion you can get anywhere from $10 to $50 in free stocks.

    The stocks you get will be whatever you pick to be in your M1 Finance pie.

    This is actually the best possible way to get free stocks from an investing platform because YOU get to pick what free stock you get. Instead of getting a throwaway stock from a company you’ve never heard of you can pick the stocks you want. If you get $30 when you sign up then you can by $30 of Apple stock or Tesla stock or an ETF of the whole market like VTI.

    Because M1 Finance allows for fractional share investing you can buy a fraction of whatever stock you want with the sign up bonus.

    What Is M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance started as an investment platform but their tagline now is M1 Finance: The Finance Super App™.

    You can invest, borrow, and spend your money in one easy-to-use platform. At M1 Finance they are striving to have all of your financial needs taken care of in one place.

    M1 blends the best of modern financial technology with personalization and automation. They allow you to take control so you can make your own money moves easily.

    It is designed for long term investors who want a simple design with powerful automation. M1 has been very clear that they are focused on long term investors not day traders. It’s a great place to invest long term and offers retirement accounts like Roth IRAs.

    M1 Finance is regulated and safe to use. Your investments are covered under Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in case of the firm’s insolvency or misconduct. You can feel secure that your M1 Finance investment account is covered.

    Feel free to read more about the details of SIPC insurance here.

    For all the details behind M1 Finance you can look them up on FINRA’s Broker Check.

    You can see my full M1 Finance review here.

    M1-Finance-Review
    M1 Finance Review

    M1 Finance Free Stock Bonuses

    M1 Finance offers many different bonuses for people signing up to use their services.

    There is almost always a M1 Referral Bonus. These bonuses have ranged from $10 – $50 bonus when someone signs up and opens a new account through a referral link.

    The most common free stock sign up promotion is $30 for using a referral link. (It changes often so double check to see how much they offer at the moment.)

    M1 Finance has also offered rollover bonuses in the past. This is where you get a cash bonus for rolling over an account to M1 Finance. You can then use that cash that you get to buy stock for free. If you roll over an account to M1 Finance from another platform you could get up to $4,000 for their recent transfer bonus.

    You can check out there current bonuses and promotions on the website.

    How To Sign Up For M1 Finance

    How To Open A M1 Finance Account Via Referral Link

    Sign Up For M1 Finance

    Here are the steps you should to take to get the M1 Finance bonus:

    1. Click on this referral link to open M1 Finance
    2. Enter your email and password and then click “Sign up now”
    3. Follow the sign up instructions to open the account type of your choice (the video above walks through the setup if you want to watch how to do it)

    Account Funding Requirements

    You must contribute a specific amount per account type to get the referral bonus:

    • Individual brokerage – $100
    • Joint brokerage- $100
    • Custodial account – $100
    • Trust account – $5,000
    • Retirement (Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA) account – $500

    Important M1 Account Notes

    • You must fund the account after opening in order to get the bonus. Always double check the amount you must contribute to get the bonus to make sure the requirement hasn’t changed.
    • The bonus can take a few days to show up in your account. It will automatically drop into your investment account once it is processed. If you have auto invest on then it will automatically invest into your investment pies. Otherwise you can invest into the stock or ETF of your choosing.

    M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    How much will you get as a sign up bonus when you join M1 Finance with a referral link?

    The standard sign up bonus with a M1 Finance referral link is currently $50.

    You can only get this bonus if you are referred to M1 Finance. If you just go to the website without a referral link you will not get it.

    The referral has changed multiple times. It has been $10, $30, and $50. The have periods where the amount changes and increases.

    The same is accurate for how much you can earn by referring people with your own referral link within the app. The amount can range from $10-$50 for what you can earn when you refer your own friends.

    Get More Free Stocks & Cash Bonuses

    I love giving out free stocks and cash via app referral links. You can check out my full list of referral codes and links for free bonuses.

    referral codes for free stock bonuses
    Best Referral Code Bonuses

    M1 Finance is one of my favorite platforms to use and recommend because of their mission and how easy the app is to use. I also love that they have given out major amount of free money via sign up bonuses!

    I hope this M1 Finance review was helpful to you! If you’d like to support my work feel free to do one of the follow:

    1. Use my M1 Finance referral link
    2. Buy me a coffee

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  • Fun Low Cost Activities

    Finding fun low cost activities can make being frugal much easier.

    When I’m working on a big financial goal like paying off debt I often need a temporary period of frugality. Drastically cutting back my spending on entertainment and frivolous purchases helps us make faster financial progress. That’s why I’ve occasionally done no spend month challenges and love to find fun cheap activities.

    The biggest hurdle to frugal living personally has always been how to entertain myself on the cheap. In the past I’ve spent $100+ on a night out with dinner, drinking, and other activities that cost a lot of money. I’d also go shopping for fun when I didn’t have anything else to do for a couple hours. Most of my entertainment options in the past cost me a ton of disposable income!

    But after a little thought and time spent doing no spend challenges, I now spend most of my time doing very frugal or cheap activities.

    There are plenty of ways to have a lot of fun without spending a lot of money. Let’s look at some of the fun low cost entertainment ideas you might want to try.

    Frugal & Fun Low Cost Activities

    Here are some examples of frugal activities that I use and you might want to try if you are looking for low cost ways to have fun.

    shallow focus on blond haired woman in white long sleeve shirt carrying a baby on her back

    Outdoor Activity Ideas

    Go for a hike. Nature is amazing and free. Even if you aren’t in a mountainous area you probably have a park with at least rolling hills and lots of trees. We live in a city and still are within a short drive of a nice hike. Even in flat areas there are ways to get outside and walk in nature that are enjoyable.

    Go out and exercise. Bring a friend or your dog for company while you exercise outside and enjoy nature. Run, walk, skip, bike. Just move your body outside. It’s free, fun, and a great way to improve your mood and life.

    Visit a park. You probably live near a park and don’t utilize it nearly enough. Visit your local park and take advantage of what is there for free. Parks around here offer playgrounds, fitness equipment, sports fields, and more. There is always something free and fun to do there.

    Community Activity Ideas

    Go to the library. A library card is so useful for low cost fun! You can check out books, DVDs, music, etc. all with one library card. You can also rent new e-books that are released. A good book can keep you entertained for hours at no cost.

    Take part in community events. Most local community events are free or very cheap to start with in cities and towns. Check your local newspaper or neighborhood groups online to find community activities you can participate in on the cheap. You can usually find parties, performances, speakers and more.

    Volunteer at events. Volunteering at events is a two for one deal – you get to volunteer and enjoy an event. You can get into a lot of events and festivals for free just by offering to volunteer for a few hours. Work then enjoy the festivities.

    Be a volunteer. Volunteering at shows or sporting events often lets you watch for free or gives you a chance to view at another time in exchange for your labor. Volunteering is usually a win win for everyone and a great frugal way to spend your time

    Food Focused Ideas

    Pretend you’re on “Chopped” for dinner. Chopped forces constestants to cook with random non-matching ingredients, but you can do this yourself at home! Give yourself a pantry challenge for dinner and see what you can make with wacky ingredients. It’s fun, challenging, and helps you prevent food from going to waste.

    Host a tea party. While hosting a party usually requires big expenses, hosting an impromptu tea party can be fun and frugal. Bake a treat from scratch and offer up tea to all your guests for a fun part for less than $10.

    Host a BYOB game night. Game nights with friends are super fun and cheap. Have everyone bring their favorite game and make it BYOB so everyone can enjoy what they want to drink or eat.

    Host a potluck. Similar to the game night, host a dinner where everyone you invite brings a dish. It’s a low cost way to have a really fun evening and delicious dinner.

    group of people making toast

    Frugal Activity Ideas

    Try a dollar store craft. Visit your local Dollar Tree and challenge yourself to making a pretty craft for less than $5 for all the supplies you need. Get creative with supplies from the dollar store and what you already have or can find for free. You can search Pinterest for a ton of frugal dollar store craft ideas.

    Explore thrift stores. Not only can thrift stores be a great source of secondhand deals, they can also be incredibly fun and entertaining. Visit several in your area and discover the weirdest item for sale you can find.

    Plan your next shopping spree without spending. Instead of impulsively buying items, do a little window shopping and pre-planning to find out how you can get what you want at the absolute best price. Check out when there might be a sale next and see if Ebates is offering cash back.

    Destination Activity Ideas

    Go to free concerts. If you live in a city with any type of music scene then there will often be free concerts happening. My city has a free summer concert series which are incredibly fun for a free event. There are lots of other free concerts throughout the year.

    Visit the zoo on free day. Zoos always have a free day or at the very least a free afternoon for locals. Our local zoo is super fun to visit on the free day even if it gets a bit crowded. It can be worth the savings.

    Go to museum free days. The museums in most major cities have free days or free hours where locals can come in for free. These are a frugal way to experience the culture and history in your city. In some cities there are even museums that are always free to visit. Find out when admission is free or reduced and plan a visit to the museum without breaking the bank.

    Take a tour. Touring local neighborhoods or businesses nearby is a frugal option for family entertainment. Many places charge nothing for entry and a tour while others charge a nominal amount. I’ve enjoyed touring places that make things like dairy products and manufactured items.

    aroma beverage breakfast brown

    Education Focused Ideas

    Take a free course. Thanks to the internet there are now free courses on hundreds of topics available online. Pick something you’re interested in and sign up to learn more!

    Watch free things online. Between free shows on Hulu and Ulive plus a million things to watch on YouTube, you can be entertained for free for days if you simply plug in and search for things to watch online.

    Listen to a podcast. Put on your favorite podcast or find a new one to try out. You can learn a lot while listening to podcasts and also pair it with another activity like taking a hike outside.

    Find things to do without money. There are literally hundreds of things you can do without spending money. Here are 50 things to do without spending money to get you started.

    Those are just a few of the low cost activities that can be useful when you want to have fun but not spend money.

    There is a lot that you can do that is active, social, and fun without spending a lot of money. Sure it’s nice to spend a ton on a night out now and again, but it’s totally not necessary to have a fun time!

    Want To More Low Cost Frugal Activities?

    Try a no spend challenge! The no spend challenge printable bundle has a long list of no spend ideas that can help you figure out ways to have fun without spending any money.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF Spending Control - Pennies Not Perfection

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable

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  • How To Grocery Shop On A Budget

    Learning how to grocery shop on a budget can save you thousands of dollars per year. It’s one of those financial skills you can pull from your back pocket to fix your household budget in an emergency situation.

    I’ve never been an extreme coupon user or someone that enjoys living frugally. However, I love growing my money by investing so I like to save money in order to invest more. To do this I’ve learned some frugal living hacks like how to grocery shop on a budget.

    How to grocery shop on a budget? It just takes planning!

    Saving Money At The Grocery Store

    Rushing through the store shopping for groceries is unfortunately what many of us do in our day-to-day lives. This is the most expensive way to shop. Without knowledge, planning, and conscious effort the typical grocery shopping method ends up costing you hundreds of dollars per month extra.

    You cannot save on groceries if you rushing through the store or too rushes to plan before hand. Once you take the time to go through this process once you will be able to refine it and improve over time.

    This post will cover a few of my favorite tips on how to save on your grocery bill, especially if you have children.

    Start With Educating Yourself

    Saving money on groceries begins with education. Unless you know how to cook and what to buy then you won’t be able to succeed in cutting your budget down. Buying all convenience foods will make your grocery bill substantially higher.

    There are two forms of educating yourself on grocery savings:

    • First, you need to learn about ways to cook foods that are easy to fit into your lifestyle.
    • Second, you need to educate yourself on how grocery stores work and the ways you should shop.

    Learn About Cheap Meals

    There are a ton of great books on how to cook great food on the cheap. A couple good ones include:

    budget bytes cookbook to slash your grocery bill

    Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half – This book and the blog by the same name are a great resource for learning easy recipes that don’t cost much to make. Beth makes simple recipes and breaks everything by the price per serving of the recipe. It is a great way to educate yourself on how much your favorite foods cost to make at home.

    ten dollar dinners to save money on food bills

    Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week – This book is another fantastic option for educating yourself about affordable meals that you can make during the week. Dinners can be an expensive meal so it will save a lot of money learning how to make these.

    Learn About How To Grocery Shop

    You can also educate yourself on the basics of how to grocery shop and how to save money on your groceries.

    There are many ways to do this from watching YouTube videos and reading blogs to taking a course about saving money on groceries.

    This course from my friend Kelly shows you

    • how to learn the grocery store sales cycles
    • how to utilize grocery pickup
    • ways to use apps to save money
    • tips to shop smarter and use what your have
    • how to meal plan efficiently
    • ways to track sales for the best deals
    • how to make a plan for your leftovers
    • shopping for the best price per ounce
    • how to stretch your grocery money further
    • more tips and tricks to save money

    The course gives you a lot of real world examples and tips Kelly learned while keeping her grocery budget very low during her debt payoff. It also shows examples of Aldi grocery hauls that you can recreate in order to save money.

    My favorite way to save money at the grocery store I learned from the course is by using apps like Fetch & Ibotta. Check out these posts to learn more:

    Before The Store: Make A List

    First and foremost, make a list.

    Before any other step to save money at the grocery store is the fact that you need to make a list. It is mandatory to help you not buy things you don’t need.

    Most people, myself included, spend too much money because we are disorganized. We don’t really know what we have at home or what we need at the store. We shop without a list and end up buying things we don’t need and forgetting things we need.

    We hit the store with no list, just vibes.

    It is a terrible and expensive way to shop.

    When you start your grocery shopping experience with a list you are much more likely to save money on food. You’ll know what you need to buy and stick to it.

    Let’s look at the steps to take in order to make a money savings grocery trip.

    Step 1: Check Your Pantry

    Before you make your grocery store list you need to first check your pantry. What do you already have on hand? What foods have you already bought and need to use? This is the first step to saving money.

    You can pick some of the items you already have on hand to plan your meals for the week.

    You can also decide what items might need to be replenished if they are missing.

    Keeping an inventory of what is in your pantry is the best way to make this happen quickly. By always having a list available and updating it when you run out of items you will be able to replenish when things are on sale.

    You can try a pantry inventory printable like this one to keep you organized:

    Use a pantry inventory list printable to get you organized for grocery shopping on a budget!

    Step 2: Set Your Grocery Budget

    The next step after seeing what you already have is planning the amount you can spend.

    What is your grocery budget for this week? What amount are you able to spend after paying yourself first in your budget? Is it higher or lower than normal? Do you really need to scrimp or is this a week you can stock up on sale items?

    Your grocery budget is one of the most flexible line items in your budget and you should take advantage of the weekly flexibility.

    When you have a little more to spend you can stock up on pantry staples and sale items for your freezer. If you are short for the week then you can figure out the cheapest meal plan you are comfortable with for a week and make it work.

    Set the amount you are able to spend for the week based on your budget and other spending. Once you have this number written down you will then plan everything else around it. You will not go over this amount so your plan will have to account for the budget.

    Next you will look at the current grocery sales to see how to grocery shop on a budget.

    Step 3: Shop The Sales

    When you are learning how to grocery shop on a budget the sales will be your best friend.

    Using coupons, sales, and apps all starts before you actually hit the store. It’s the second step in saving money after taking inventory of what you already have.

    In this step you’ll look at the weekly grocery sales and determine what foods are cheapest. The sales will include the foods that are currently in season which makes them less expensive. This sale information is how you will plan your meals for the week.

    You will also want to check the store coupons and any other coupon sites you enjoy using. Compile these coupons to help you choose the foods you will buy at the stores. take the time to look for coupons or write the manufacturer of your favorite brands and they will send you coupons. Most of them like you to take a survey and then they send you the coupons you check off and some even send samples, can’t beat that.

    Finally you will also look at the grocery saving and cash back apps like Ibotta. This will give you another layer of information about the price of foods for the week.

    Next you will take all of this price information and plan out your meals for the week (or longer).

    Step 3: Make Your Grocery List By Planning Your Meals

    Once you have the coupons and sales matched up then you can think about what will go with these items and stay within your budget.

    You’ll want to plan out meals for the week based on sale items, typical cheap meals, and things that you love. I know when my children were little they loved spaghetti and meatballs because we would have it average of twice a week. It was a big money stretcher since pasta was a cheap pantry staple. It is really a good meal for children and I always made my own sauce which helped a little for their taste buds.

    Make a plan based on all the information you have already. At the very least you should plan for 7 dinners and 7 lunches. Some of those can be leftovers or planned meals outside the home. But you need to have a written plan for your grocery list.

    Once you have planned out the meals you have then you need to make a list for the store. Look through the planned meals and add items to your grocery list that you need to complete each one. If you already have it in the pantry you can skip it or add that to the list to replenish your pantry staples.

    So we have a list, we have coupons, and we have a meal plan, what is next? Heading to the grocery store!

    Shopping To Save

    Are you starting to see how prep work is key to how to grocery shop on a budget?

    Now that you have the list ready you have several ways to shop:

    1. In person at multiple stores
    2. In person at the store
    3. Shopping online for grocery pickup
    4. Shopping online for grocery delivery

    Which option you go with will depend on how much you want to save. I wrote the list above in order of most savings to least savings.

    If you shop at multiple stores you’ll be able to get items at the best price depending on who sells them at the lowest price. This option can save you a lot of money but will take considerably more time. If you shop in person at just one store you’ll still save money but you will not always be able to get the lowest price in your area.

    Shopping online will save you money because you can easily stick to your list. If you do grocery delivery due to the convenience you’ll need to pay a little bit more. It’s possible you can save enough with good planning to make delivery worth it!

    Shopping For Groceries With Intention

    When I shop I go to Kroger since I have found that their prices fit my budget. I always make sure I have my list and I am never in a hurry, that can cost you too! Taking my time and shopping with intention saves money in the long run.

    When you rush through you may miss something that has been marked to clear out or mistake prices which can give you additional savings.

    For instance, I found pork sirloin (tenderloins) mis-marked one day and they said “save 14.97” instead of “save 5.37” like it was supposed to, so I got them for the 5.37 total. If I had been rushing through I would have missed a great deal. Now instead of one meal, I will filet them and into butterfly chops and have many meals for the price of one. I picked up all of the ones that were mis-marked, three in total. I do this often with clearance items too as long as the date is workable. Shopping slowly with the intention of looking for deals that aren’t on your list can help stretch your money further.

    That is just one of the many times I have slowly walked the isles and found great bargains to stretch my dollar. This is along with my planning. I always search for bargains that I may have missed or not known about. It is like a big treasure hunt. Each grocery dollar you find can be saved or invested!

    Enjoy Feeding Your Family Well

    Remember you can feed your family healthy flavorful food for a lot less that you might think. Shopping with a plan and with the intention to save goes a long way. It is easier to to learn how to grocery shop on a budget and make delicious meals.

    After you learn to shop for groceries you can then move on to the process of cooking. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking it is possible to learn how to efficiently make meals you enjoy.

    Feeding yourself and your family well can be a source of joy when you know it is saving you money to spend on things you love.

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  • How To Save Money On Dog Food & Expenses

    My dogs are my babies and they take up a significant percentage of our monthly budget. I’m always looking for ideas on how to save money on dog food and other expenses.

    Americans spend a ton of money on household pets. In fact, each year we spend over $50 billion on pet expenses. That’s a huge amount of money spent on our pets!

    Budgeting For Dog Food & Expenses Is Part Of Life

    As a pet owner, budgeting for your pet is just part of life. I include my dogs each month in our budget and they have their own sinking fund. It is similar to budgeting for expenses for kids or any other dependent.

    We spend money, we make tough choices, we sacrifice at times to get them what they need.

    Everyone has to decide what matters most for them when spending money on pets. However, it’s always a great idea to try to find ways to save so let’s look at some cost cutting ideas for dog expenses.

    (I personally have dogs which is why I default to talking about dog related spending but this applies for all pets!)

    How To Plan For Pet Expenses

    The best way to take care of your pets is to plan ahead for the expenses they will encounter.

    1. Make a budget line item for dog expenses.

    Pets deserve their own line in your budget. You know you will spend at least some money each month on your pet and your budget should reflect that reality.

    I have a line for monthly dog food and other pet expenses. I also break down the yearly cost of things like heartworm medicine and flea medicine to either save up monthly or purchase when needed.

    2. Have an emergency fund for pet emergencies.

    Everyone should have an emergency fund for things like a job loss. However it can also be helpful to have a dog related emergency fund specifically for any dog related emergencies.

    Going into debt for pets should not happen. It often makes hard situations much harder when you have to pay off debt for vet bills. If at all possible you should try to avoid vet debt and instead always have a pet emergency fund of some kind.

    Emergency Fund Savings Tracker Bundle | Emergency Savings Printable By Amount 1
    Emergency Fund Savings Tracker Bundle | Emergency Savings Printable By Amount

    Pick a reserve amount you are willing to spend in an emergency and save up that amount. Maybe that’s $1,000 or maybe it’s $5,000 or more. Whatever you can save and feel comfortable spending should be set aside in case of an emergency where your pet needs care.

    We’ve had to use our emergency fund on vet bills in the past. Having money set aside for this purpose can make the experience so much easier.

    How to Save Money on Dog Food & Expenses

    Let’s look at some of the ways you can actually save money on dog food and other expenses.

    1. Save money on pet medicine

    Medicine can be one of the most expensive things you have to buy for your pet. Unfortunately when it is something your dog needs it is impossible to say no regardless of the cost.

    My dog definitely has had to have some pricey medicine and I always find a way to make it work.

    For routine medicine you can save a lot of money by ordering online instead of at the local vet’s office. You can also use GoodRX for pets online to find deals on medications.

    You can also get many pet medicines at cheaper co-ops as well if you have one nearby. Since I grew up in a semi-rural town we had one and this helped save a ton on medicines. This is super useful for medicines given over and over like heart worm medicine or allergy pills.

    2. Save money on pet toys and supplies.

    Specialty pet products can suck you in and cost you a lot of money. It can be tempting to constantly buy new dog toys and outfits for holidays and suddenly you’re spending way too much money.

    The most important way to save here is to mentally prepare yourself. You can do this by realizing your precious pet doesn’t really need a memory foam bed or custom clothes for each season. They are perfectly equipped to be happy with less of these modern items.

    If you want to buy dog toys, then it is best to shop the sales. Pet stores offer coupons, have sales and also have clearance sections for toys. You can buy toys and special items for the entire year during a sale like Black Friday.

    Your dog won’t enjoy it more because you spent more money, so save on toys and stock up for when it’s time to replace toys with new ones.

    3. Save money on pet food. 

    Feeding your pet will be a regular expense each month and should be in your monthly budget.

    There are lots of high quality high dollar pet foods out there all claiming to be the best thing ever created. I used to buy my dog a top dollar dog food when she was a puppy. I spent thousands on food during her first year of life buying those $100 bags of dog food! I changed my plan after her vet told me it was not necessary and many cheaper brands were just as good.

    Save Money On Dog Food

    You can save money on pet food by not overthinking this area. Most bulk bags of dry dog food or cat food are perfectly fine for your pet. In fact, our vet recommended one of these lower price brands over any other and that is what we now buy. It’s the same one my husband fed his dog for 15 years.

    Just because a dog food costs more doesn’t make it automatically better, so save money on pet food this way!

    Other ways to save money on dog food:

    • look for coupons for your preferred brand online and in store ads
    • sign up for email newsletters for dog food discounts and samples
    • buy during sales and stock up when it is cheapest
    • ask your vet if there is another brand that costs less but provides what your dog needs

    Those dog food savings tips will get you started!

    4. Save money on vet care.

    Vets can be incredibly expensive for both routine care and emergencies. This will likely be a large amount of your yearly pet budget. When you have a big emergency it can cost even more than you expect.

    To save money on standard vet care you can investigate the discount plans some vets offer. There are variations of this with many different vets and animal hospitals. Some vets offer discount payment plans where you pay a smaller monthly fee that covers vet appointments, any emergency visits, and medicines. I personally have used one of these plans. It saved me money each year and it saved me over $200 when my dog had to go in for an emergency.

    What about when your pet needs an expensive operation? You can sometimes arrange for discounts with vets for various circumstances like paying in cash. Ask you vet and see what options are available – sometimes you can save money just by asking.

    This is also a time when pet insurance might come in handy. The best time to get pet insurance is when you first get a puppy because otherwise it does not cover as much.

    Paying For Pet Expenses

    Pets are incredibly important and a huge part of your life, but they can be an expensive part of life. Paying for all of these expenses can be difficult but worth it.

    Here are a few ways to make sure you can pay for all your pet expenses:

    • include your pet’s in your monthly budget
    • start a sinking fund for your yearly pet expenses
    • save up a pet specific emergency fund

    Make sure you take care of your furry friends by including them in your financial plans.

    From one dog mom to another: They are worth it!

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  • 100 No Spend Challenge Ideas To Save Money

    During a no spend month challenge you vow to spend no money outside of your essential bills and necessities. Doing a no spend challenge month can save you money but it will also test your creativity. You’ll need to come up with no spend challenge ideas and activities to keep yourself busy.

    This list of 100 no spend challenge ideas will give you a jumpstart on things to do for free during your challenge.

    By cutting out your normal luxuries from your spending you can reset your spending habits, save money faster, and achieve your financial goals more quickly.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF - Stop Spending Money Pennies Not Perfection
    No Spend Month Challenge Printable

    What Is A No Spend Challenge?

    What is a no spend month? Why would anyone do a financial challenge like this? What are the rules for a no spend challenge?

    A no spend challenge is simply a challenge to not spend any extra during a set amount of time. The most common length of a no spend challenge is one month but you can also do other time periods. During the no spend time frame you cut out all luxuries and extra spending and only allow the basic expenses.

    Doing this type of money challenge allows you to save a lot of money since you won’t be spending like normal. For many people it can also break bad habits and unconscious spending.

    Why Do A No Spend Challenge?

    Most people have a strong WHY behind doing a no spend challenge.

    Many people do no spend challenges for reasons like the following:

    • Putting more money toward paying off debt
    • Quickly saving up to pay for a big upcoming expense
    • Resetting your spending habits after a period of overspending
    • Building up an emergency fund
    • Building up a savings buffer to get ahead on expenses so you can live on last month’s income
    • Paying off the mortgage faster with a lump sum payment
    • Finally achieving debt freedom

    These are all great reasons people do no spend challenges.

    You may be doing it for one of these reasons or one completely unique to your situation!

    Can This Actually Be Fun?

    Unfortunately no spend months get a bad rap as being no fun, but there are plenty of ways to have fun without spending money!

    I’ve shared a list of 50 things to do without spending before and today I’m sharing 100 fun no spend challenge ideas you can implement. These will help you stay busy and have fun without spending money.

    Even if none of these ideas sounds appealing, remember that you’ll save a lot of money during the no spend month. Saving money can be fun because it will allow you to do fun things in the future!

    100 Fun No Spend Challenge Ideas

    If you’re planning to do a no spend month, make sure you plan to have a lot of fun activities scheduled for the month! Making a list of no spend challenge ideas to pull out during the month makes it easier to complete the challenge.

    Having lots of free activities planned during your no spend challenge gives you little time to miss the things you normally spend money on each month.

    The key step to having a great no spend weekend is planning. You’ll need to plan around old habits and fill up your time with free activities.

    Below you will find a list of 100 things to do on a no spend weekend or any weekend when you don’t want to spend money.  

    1. Family movie night
    2. Binge watch a show on Netflix
    3. Go camping outside, even just the backyard
    4. Start a gratitude journal
    5. Play board games
    6. Hike local trails
    7. Listen to a new podcast
    8. Read a book
    9. Learn a new language with free resources
    10. Walk in the park
    11. Go to the playground
    12. Walk around your neighborhood
    13. Start a side hustle
    14. Play games on your phone
    15. Build an indoor fort
    16. Have a fun dance party
    17. Play with your kids and their toys
    18. Visit a local farmer’s market and just browse
    19. Visit the library
    20. Set a goal or vision for the year with your partner
    21. Plan a date night or four
    22. Plan a future trip with your family
    23. Walk dogs at the animal shelter or local rescue
    24. Have a garage sale to declutter and make money
    25. Deep clean your house
    26. Declutter your belongings throughout the house
    27. Play in the garden or backyard
    28. Take surveys (you can earn money for this!)
    29. Take a long nap or two
    30. Inventory your pantry and meal plan
    31. Tackle something on your to do list
    32. Start a blog by writing some blog posts
    33. Practice yoga with free videos
    34. Go for a bike ride
    35. Go for a run through a new neighborhood
    36. Bake cookies from scratch
    37. Have a picnic and eat lunch outside
    38. Create a scrapbook of a time period
    39. Volunteer locally
    40. Make coffee at home and invite a friend over
    41. Explore a new to you part of your city
    42. Take a hot bath and relax
    43. Write a kind note to someone
    44. Write emails to people praising something they have done
    45. People watch in a crowded place
    46. Watch the stars at night in a secluded place
    47. Attend a free festival
    48. Rearrange all your furniture at home
    49. Have a craft night
    50. Attend a free class at your local store or library
    51. Watch some exercise dance videos on youtube
    52. Organize your stockpile of supplies
    53. Lay in the sun for vitamin D exposure
    54. Collect rocks
    55. Take photographs around your city
    56. Go geocaching in your city
    57. Plan a staycation for your city in the future
    58. Cuddle on the couch under a blanket
    59. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while
    60. Set up a video hangout with friends or family far away
    61. Host a neighborhood potluck to get to know your neighbors
    62. Attend a free church function
    63. Attend church on Sunday morning
    64. Have a home spa day to treat your body
    65. Read a book you’ve been wanting to read
    66. Read a book too your kids
    67. Play with bubbles outside
    68. Make a budget for planning your next paycheck
    69. Find more ways to save money
    70. Write out your goals for the rest of the year
    71. Tour a local museum with free entry
    72. Watch educational videos on YouTube
    73. Learn how to make YouTube videos for money
    74. Visit your family and catch up with each other
    75. Collect recipe ideas for meals on Pinterest
    76. Plan out a remodel with a Pinterest board
    77. Make a vision board to represent your goals
    78. Host a themed dinner party
    79. Rewatch your favorite movie
    80. Listen to a free audio book with a trial membership
    81. Have a themed movie marathon
    82. Research a topic that interests you online
    83. Have a tea party at your house
    84. Play an instrument (or start learning how)
    85. Challenge your brain with online games and puzzles
    86. Play lawn games with what you have already
    87. Do something artistic or try coloring pages
    88. Try doing as many pushups and squats as you can
    89. Learn how to be more frugal
    90. Learn a new skill
    91. Teach your kids a new skill
    92. Go fishing if you have the supplies
    93. Clean out the garage
    94. Go fly a kite
    95. Write a letter to a friend or loved one
    96. Clean out your email inbox to hit inbox zero
    97. Make a video with your smartphone
    98. Find a nice place to watch a sunset
    99. Go on a mural hunt and find the murals in your city
    100. Attend a free fitness class at a local church

    Those are just 100 no spend challenge ideas that can help you fill up your time during the month in order to stop spending money and feel good!

    My No Spend Challenge Month Experience

    In January 2020, I decided to do my first no spend month challenge.

    I set my own rules, exemptions, and guidelines based on what I thought would work best for our life that month but also giving up enough to make sure it would save money.

    Challenge Rules

    The only real rules of a no spend challenge are:

    1. Set your own no spend challenge rules.
    2. Follow the rules you set for the entire time.

    You can see this in my no spend month setup where I set my own rules regarding our spending.

    My No Challenge Month Set Up

    For my no spend challenge I decided to leave our grocery budget alone but slashed these categories:

    • eating out money
    • my personal money
    • all extra luxuries

    It was as bare bones as I could go without also adding in a grocery challenge/pantry challenge. For us that was a big enough challenge!

    Challenge Results

    After a month I was pretty thrilled with the results and everything I learned from my no spend challenge.

    My No Spend Challenge Month Recap

    During my no spend month I realized that there was plenty of room for improvement.

    I found lots of little daily expenses that weren’t expensive but definitely occurred without much thought. Even by adding in many free activities during my no spend challenge I had to fight the urge to spend money freely. It also was a challenge to think up no spend challenge ideas since I didn’t give myself a long enough list to start.

    Lessons Learned

    I learned several lessons from my no spend challenge:

    1. No spend challenges are very effective. Regardless of whether you like them or not, they work. We definitely saved money during our nor spend challenge.
    2. No spend challenges are useful for short term goals. These challenges work best for short term goals. If you want to save up money very quickly then it can be effective. However, it is not a way of life most people can sustain long term.
    3. Cutting spending is effective but you can only cut so much. You can only cut so much spending out before you are left with nothing else to cut. While spending challenges are effective, they can only be so effective due to the nature of cutting expenses.
    4. I’m happier increasing income than cutting expenses. Due to my personality, I like earning money. I prefer creating extra income more than working to minimize expenses. That is why I’m planning to work on increasing income with side hustles and online businesses more than cutting expenses. I still plan to be mindful of spending. But my main focus? I will spend my time earning more money on YouTube and making money on Etsy.

    Overall I found the no spend challenge to be effective but not something I’ve implemented over and over. This is mostly due to preference and personality type because the challenge does work.

    Tips For Completing Your Challenge

    If you are thinking of giving a no spend month a try, here are are few tips:

    • Take an inventory before you begin the month.
    • Use a no spend challenge printable to organize your rule and goals.
    • Plan your meals. Look into ways to use the items you already have.
    • Find free fun activities in your area.
    • Make a list of free things to do that you can do during your no spend challenge.
    • Get creative in the kitchen with leftovers and pantry items.
    • Play around with ways to increase your income with side hustles without spending money.
    • Tell other people about your no spend month for extra accountability.
    • Learn frugal living habits that help people live well without spending money.
    • Make sure the whole family is on board with the plan and why behind why you are doing a no spend month.

    No Spend Challenge Printables

    When I was doing my no spend month during January, I used my free time to create printables that made the process more fun for me. Without shopping or eating out during the no spend month I had a lot of time to get creative and think about how different worksheets and techniques could help me get the most out of a no spend month.

    Printables have been the easiest way for me to get organized in order to accomplish my goals during a challenge like a no spend month.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF - Stop Spending Money Pennies Not Perfection
    No Spend Month Challenge Printable

    When I started the no spend month month I had just the basics – a no spend month tracker with the rules and exemptions and guidelines.

    And I also had a no spend month recap page that would be waiting for me to fill out at the end of the no spend month.

    During the month of my no spend challenge I really thought about the things I was trying to accomplish during my no spend month and how I could create tools to help myself and others achieve it.

    My goals for the month were to cut back on spending of course but to also reset my spending habits. That meant working on finding free things to do and ways to make it more fun.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF Spending Control - Pennies Not Perfection
    No Spend Month Challenge Printable

    I made myself lists of no spend activities, no spend bingo cards to fill out, and lists to make things more fun.

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  • 7 Money HABITS Keeping You Broke & In Debt

    Do you know the money habits that will keep you broke and in debt? Do you know what financial habits prevent you from saving as much money as you would like?

    We’re all creatures of habit and those habits can be either good or bad. Those bad habits might not seem so bad in the moment but they can have long lasting effects.

    Let’s talk about some of the bad habits that keep you poor and in debt. Replacing these bad habits can help you go from living paycheck to paycheck or struggling with debt to saving money, investing, and building a financially free future.

    money habits keeping you poor
    Money Habits Keeping You In Debt

    Before I identified these bad habits I was in debt and not earning enough money to live comfortably. Removing these bad habits allowed me to build multiple income streams, pay off debt, and start building wealth.

    Let’s go over these bad money habits and I’ll share some ideas on how to improve them as well.

    Not Investing

    One habit keeping you poor is not investing. You are never going to build wealth by putting off investing because you feel like you don’t have the money.

    If you are not investing your money is not going to grow over time. Without investing you are ultimately setting yourself up to be poorer in the future.

    In order to be better off in the future you will need to be investing. That investing can be in the stock market, real estate, or some type of investment. But to improve your future you need investments that will grow and compound and work for you. Otherwise you are losing the value of your money through inflation when more money is printed and your money does not go as far in the future. 

    Not investing is not something you can afford to do because this habit of avoiding investments will keep you poor. To change this bad habit you can start investing even a small amount each paycheck. You can start with tax advantaged retirement accounts you have access to at work and build from there.

    Being Disorganized

    You know how hard it is to find something you’re looking for in a messy house? You spend extra time trying to find the thing you are looking for often. Some people end up buying duplicates of things they already own because they just can’t find things.

    Disorganization on any level will keep you poor. If you are disorganized with your finances there are many many ways to lose money. 

    When you are disorganized you are more likely to miss due dates. You will pay late fees. You could end up ruining your credit score of even with bills in collections. When you are disorganized are also much more likely to overspend and end up in debt when you are disorganized.

    Getting organized is one of the best ways to improve your financial life. Need a bit of help getting organized? Check out the Budgeting Bundle | All In One Financial Printable For Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff.

    Budget Planner Printable Bundle | Financial Printable Bundle | Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff 1
    All In One Financial Printable For Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff

    Impulse Purchases

    Buying things you want in the moment for instant gratification is one way people stay poor. 

    Unfortunately there are many factors here since stores and websites make impulse purchases as easy as possible. When you are online there is so little friction when you are making a purchase on a site like Amazon that it doesn’t even feel like you are spending money. It’s very easy to get into an impulse one click purchase habit with sites you love but this habit can cause you to overspend and keep you poor in the long run.

    If you are an impulse purchaser, you can combat this in a few ways like implementing a wait 24 hour rule, unsubscribing from emails that encourage shopping, and removing your credit cards from any websites that store them to make checking out easier. 

    Not Having Goals

    If you want to achieve something, then you need to create clearly defined goals. Not doing this means you’ll be less likely to use your money wisely and much more likely to spend it on things that don’t move you forward. 

    It is a good idea to set some short-term and long-term goals for your money so you know what you are working towards. I highly recommend you set big goals for long-term things like retirement but also throw in some fun ones too for the short-term like saving for a vacation in a few months. 

    You will need to have goals to work towards in order to stop being poor but you need to balance it with fun goals so you don’t burn out on saving too. 

    Not Tracking Your Numbers

    The biggest habit I see that keeps people stuck financially is their lack of tracking. People who don’t track their progress and don’t track their spending and don’t track any of the actual details of their financial life are more likely to fail at achieving their financial goals.

    It’s especially useful to track your progress when you are working toward a big financial goal. When I was paying off $43,000 in debt I made sure to track my progress by creating visual debt payoff trackers and also making youtube video updates about my progress. This kept me focused and improved my ability to achieve the goal.

    Tracking your numbers allows you see how little bits of progress add up. Maybe you aren’t always perfect with your plan but you can see through tracking that over time even 90% effort builds up to something substantial with money.

    There are lots of ways to track your numbers so pick one that works for you. Maybe it’s visual trackers that you color in or a spreadsheet that you update or an app like I use to track my networth. I’ll leave links in the description to my favorite options for these to help you out.

    Not Using Credit Cards Properly

    Credit cards can be a great tool but they can also be a terrible mistake that keeps people poor. Learning how to using credit cards properly and then actually doing it is critical because if you don’t you’ll wind up paying a lot of interest on consumer spending. Paying that interest is working against you financially and will keep you poor.

    using credit cards responsibly
    How To Use Credit Cards To Improve Your Credit Score

    Not using credit cards properly also will ruin your credit score which means you’ll pay more when you need to borrow money for things like a car or a house. Bad credit can be very expensive when you make long term purchases using debt. 

    A few basic tips to improve your credit card use include always paying off your cards each month and never paying interest, paying your payment on time and never late, a low utilization rate meaning you don’t max out your card limits, and reevaluating your spending to see if credit cards are working in your favor or not.

    Buying The Most You Can

    Another habit that keeps people poor is buying the most they can for big purchases like a home. You’ve likely heard the phrase “house poor” before and it’s a bad place to be in where you have purchased a more expensive home than you can comfortably afford each month.

    Buying a house that is too expensive for you means you’ll be cash strapped every month. You have to put so much of your monthly cash flow into your home. In these cases it might even be better to rent cheaply than to buy.

    It’s important to purchase a home in a price that allows you to comfortably cover the mortgage payment with 25% of your monthly income. You can run many home affordability calculators to get a reasonable price range. Otherwise you’ll be strapped and have less money to save and invest and move forward financially. 

    Spending Time With The Wrong People

    They say you’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with so it’s easy to see how spending all your time with certain people could keep you poor. 

    money goals calculate budget and plan for financial goals
    Who You Spend Time With Affects Your Money Habits

    If the people you are always with spend all of their money and always feel broke those habits are likely to transfer to you. If they have expensive tastes you’ll feel the pressure to keep up their level of spending. The people we surround ourselves with impact how we spend money and how much money we spend.

    It’s important to find groups of people in your life that have similar views and goals for their money. This will allow you to further your financial progress by being surrounded by like minded people.

    Lifestyle Creep

    A lot of people spend more money on their living expenses as they make more money which is how people making six figures often end up living paycheck to paycheck and feeling poor.

    Lifestyle creep is very easy to fall into as you get raises and age and want nicer things. It can happen slowly as you start to upgrade things here and there but a lot of times this lifestyle creep habit gets out of hand because we don’t realize how far it’s gone. 

    Moving into bigger living spaces, buying more expensive cards, upgrading all your furniture and phones… all of these things are lifestyle creep that can keep you poor. Unfortunately some people even go so far they continually take on debt to fund these lifestyle upgrades. This will compound on itself as you are spending more and more and more as your lifestyle goes up.

    To combat this you need to actually track your spending and see where your money is going and your spending makes sense compared to your income. Instead of increasing the amount you are spending on your lifestyle you want to evaluate your savings and see if you can raise your savings rate. 

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