Personal Finance

  • Starting A Supplies Stockpile For Emergency Preparedness

    Are you prepared for an emergency? Do you have supplies to last multiple days if you lose power or must be quarantined? Most Americans don’t and until a few weeks ago – we didn’t either.

    Recently we decided to start a stockpile of supplies and emergency needs in order to weather different emergencies – from coronavirus shutdowns to weather events and power outages. 

    Why We Decided To Start Building A Stockpile

    First, I dont think there is any need to get hysterical about the current virus circling around the world. Mostly it is a mild virus going around even if the death rate is higher than the flu. Most people won’t die, most people will be fine and it appears kids hardly have an issue with it at all.

    The problem is that people do panic and throw things off because as the CDC website says, most people don’t have supplies or plans for health and safety doing a natural disaster, power outage or flu pandemic. 

    What we are doing is not necessarily to prepare for this specific virus but more the potential of having our lives disrupted by not being able to go to work due to a shutdown or having to stay home due to daycare and school shutdowns.

    Having a stockpile and being more prepared also applies for things like a tornado or power outage which is something we’ve been through multiple times. It’s similar to preparing for a major weather event too. We are very likely to lose power during a storm since it happens at least once a year in our area. We’ve been lucky they haven’t lasted long but we want to be prepared in case it does!

    What We Are Doing To Prepare

    Being prepared is just something responsible to do before you end up in a situation where you need something essential but can’t get it.

    So here is a rundown of what we are personally doing to prepare:

    • Building a basic food supply in cupboards focused on canned goods, dry goods, and foods that we won’t have to store in a fridge.
    • Making sure we have all the basic medicines you might need if you have a cold or small problem that wouldn’t require a hospital or doctor visit.
    • Having a job and daycare plan in case either closes down. Kids are actually doing well with this virus and it’s super mild but again hysterical notions can end up closing down daycares and such.
    • Having pedialyte and fever reducers in the house in case illness does occur and we want to treat it at home.
    • Improving hygiene habits. I’m bad about biting my nails, obviously, so I bought fingernail clippers and lotion for my purse so I’m better about taking care of my nails before I want to pick and bite at them I also am just making sure I routinely use hand sanitizer at work and home, which we were better about when our daughter was small.

    What we focused on at first was what we were already completely out of or near the end of our current supply: hand sanitizer, children’s Tylenol, cold/flu medicine, emergen-C, paper towels, toilet paper and pantry foods. These are all things we would have bought in the next couple months during regular grocery shops anyway, so we just decided to buy ahead of time and stock up. This ended up being a good decision because people started panic buying things and many stores near us ran out of items on this list.

    For pantry foods we made sure this is stuff we can use and store even if power goes out during a storm, which is actually a pretty big problem in our area. Many of our neighborhoods have had multiple day outages so stocking up on pantry food can be useful in this case especially.

    We also made sure it was food that we would actually eat at some point so it wasn’t something in danger of never being consumed. The great thing about stockpiling food for emergencies is that much of the food is very frugal and the total amount spent isn’t very high.

    Here is a current rundown of what we have included in our personal stockpile.

    Food:

    • Canned vegetables
    • Canned beans
    • Canned fruit
    • Canned tuna
    • Peanut butter
    • Ramen
    • Rice (5 lb)
    • Frozen meals ready to be reheated

    Medical:

    • Cold/flu medicine
    • Elderberry
    • Children’s tylenol
    • Children’s natural cough syrup

    Cleaning:

    • lysol wipes
    • bleach
    • paper towels
    • vinegar
    • dishwasher soap
    • laundry detergent

    Additional things we added to our buying list that we have never previously stockpiled before included

    • extra dog food
    • ramen (which Jason actually likes but I never buy)
    • cleaning supplies

    We actually have been meaning to better stock our cleaning supplies so the decision to stockpile these came at a good time.

    Things we already had stockpiled from big sales and freebies were counted and considered too: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant. Our existing stockpile was mostly personal care items.

    It’s not about being hysterical over current sensational news headlines but instead just about good planning. We will use all of this stuff eventually and it’s stuff we needed anyway, but it feels even better to know that we are prepared for a potential emergency situation.

    Building A Basic Emergency Kit

    One thing to do when thinking about emergency preparedness is to build a basic emergency kit. 

    The CDC says after an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

    A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

    • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
    • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
    • Flashlight
    • First aid kit
    • Extra batteries
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Manual can opener for food
    • Local maps
    • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
    • Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF) and continue to add to the stockpile of supplies

    Additional emergency supplies recommended to have:

    • Prescription medications 
    • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
    • Glasses and contact lense solution
    • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
    • Pet food and extra water for your pet
    • Cash or traveler’s checks
    • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
    • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
    • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
    • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Matches in a waterproof container
    • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
    • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
    • Paper and pencil
    • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

    Those are all things that we either have or will have within the next couple weeks as we continue to build our stockpile! 

    Long-Term Survival Foods

    We also plan to increase our supplies for long-term survival foods beyond just the initial emergency survival supplies. We’ve been looking into what we need to include for longer term foods and through research have made the list below. Most of these items are freeze-dried or designed to last for years.

    • Water. Water is always the most important survival item and it’s quantity would increase for long term survival needs.
    • Canned food. We have a good bit of canned food for our short term stash and it also works well for long-term disasters.
    • Freeze dried fruit. Freeze dried food is a great way to prepare food for long term use and it doesn’t take up much space either.
    • Freeze dried veggies. Again, this style of preserving food saves space and you can easily add water and rehydrate vegetables.
    • Dried meats. Dried meat can last up to a year and is a great medium term food option.
    • Freeze dried meats. You can store this kind of meat in mall spaces and it lasts much longer than canned options.
    • Beans and rice. Beans and rice are cheap and have incredibly long shelf lives. They require more cook prep than many things on this list but offer a great option for storage long term.
    • Instant mashed potatoes. These potatoes make it easy to have carbs without lots of prep and they store well.
    • Powdered milk. Powdered milk in cans will last a lot longer than many items.
    • Emergency instant meals. You likely won’t find these in grocery stores but many companies sell meals designed to be stored for long times.
    • Honey. Honey lasts for a long time and can also be used to flavor other foods that need it.
    • Preserved food. You can make pickles and other preserved foods that can be stored for long times.

    It is really unfortunate that most Americans don’t have anything prepared or planned in case of an emergency, but if that is you then you can make plans to change it today!

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  • No Spend Challenge Tips & Printables

    Have you tried a no spend challenge? In many personal finance and debt free communities online you will encounter the idea of doing a no spend month in order to save money more quickly. Many people use no spend challenges to save money quickly to pay off debt or save for a goal.

    If you are new to a no spend month challenge and wondering if it might be for you, then keep reading! In this post I’ll cover what a no spend month is, how to set up a no spend month challenge, tips for completing your no spend challenge, and lots of printable options to keep you motivated during your no spend challenge.

    no spend month challenge tips and tricks

    What Is A No Spend Challenge?

    So what exactly is a no spend month? How do you do it? What are the rules for a no spend month?

    At it’s most basic, a no spend month is simply a challenge to not spend any extra money during a month long period. You cut out all luxuries and extra spending and only allow the most basic expenses during the month.

    This allows you to save a lot of money during a typical month since you won’t be spending like normal.

    Most people have a strong WHY behind doing a no spend challenge. Many people do no spend challenges for great financial reasons like the following:

    • To put more money toward paying off debt
    • To quickly save up to pay for a big upcoming expense
    • To reset your spending habits after a period of overspending
    • To build up an emergency fund
    • To build up a savings buffer to get ahead on expenses so you can live on last month’s income
    • To pay off the mortgage faster with a lump sum payment
    • To finally become debt free entirely

    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!

    Setting Up A No Spend Challenge Month

    Once you learn about a no spend challenge and decide to do one, you’ll need to set up your own no spend rules and guidelines for your challenge.

    Depending on where you look online you’ll find different sets of no spend challenge rules. This is because there is not one set of rules and guidelines. The best way to set up a no spend month challenge is to set your own rules, guidelines, and exemptions.

    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.

    That’s it! As you can see from my no spend month setup, I set my own rules regarding our spending.

    For my no spend challenge I decided to leave our grocery budget alone but slashed out eating out money, my personal money, and 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!

    No Spend Challenge Rules

    If you are feeling like you have no idea where to start, try one of the following ideas. These are just no spend challenge ideas and you should pick ones that will work for you!

    • Cut all eating out. Plan all of your meals to bring lunch to work and not eat out at all for any meals.
    • Cut out all discretionary spending. If it’s not planned or in your grocery budget, write it down and wait a month.
    • Cut all of your personal spending. If you get any allowance monthly, cut it out entirely.
    • Cut out any entertainment spending. If it’s an event or concert already planned make it an exemption for the month but don’t add anything new.
    • Cut your normal grocery budget in half from what it normally is. Get creative with items you already have an things on sale.
    • Cut your food budget entirely. If you are able to eat out of your pantry and freezer for a month, consider cutting out all food spending. You could make an exemption for a small amount each week for fresh produce.
    • Cut something out in your own budget once you’ve looked through for things that could be eliminated.

    Typical things cut during a no spend challenge:

    • shopping
    • vacations
    • fast food
    • restaurants
    • coffee shops
    • clothing
    • entertainment
    • extra activities

    Typical allowed spending during a no spend challenge:

    • rent or mortgage
    • paying bills
    • contributing to retirement
    • gas for vehicles
    • groceries in a budgeted amount

    These are just a few different ideas and ways other people do their own no spend challenges. As always you have to pick what will work for your family. It should be enough to make a difference in savings and really be felt by the family, but not so extreme that you can’t accomplish it and give up on day 2.

    No Spend Challenge Tips

    If you are thinking of giving a no spend month a try, you are likely looking for tips on how to achieve a full no spend month.

    Below are my best tips for completing a no spend month. I used many of these myself and found others while researching how to do a no spend month before I started.

    • Take an inventory before you begin the month.
    • 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.

    My No Spend Month Recap

    In January 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.

    During my no spend month I realized that despite all the cutting back I’ve done in my regular spending, there was plenty of room for improvement. I found lots of little daily expenses that weren’t expensive but definitely occurred without much thought. 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. Not spending on multiple categories though the month helped us save money.
    2. No spend challenges are useful for short term goals. These challenges work best for short term goals to save up money very quickly. I don’t think they are 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 and creating more than working to minimize expenses. That is why I’m planning to work on increasing income with side hustles more than cutting expenses. I still plan to be mindful of spending but due to my personality I’d rather spend time earning more money.

    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.

    Because I’m very visually motivated and love having encouragement where I can see it, I also made a couple printable wall art sheets with motivational quotes. I printed these and kept them in my office so I’d be motivated to keep going during the month.

    These printables were very helpful during my no spend month. I’ll admit that not spending for an entire month was more of a challenge than I expected, so having these sheets to keep me motivated and on track really helped.

    I also created a couple printables in order to work on my spending mindset during the month.

    The impulse spending list is designed to let me write down things I wanted to buy on impulse but said no to instead in order to stick to the challenge and not spend money.

    The post spending list allowed me to think through the spending I didn’t miss during the month and the spending I needed to resume once my no spend month was done.

    Free No Spend Month Printables

    You know I love free stuff, so I wanted to also share some of the best free no spend printables out there! All of these printables are ones that I found on various websites online so I’ve linked to each one for your convenience.

    While I went further in my no spend printable bundle and made extra sheets designed around the mental aspect of impulse spending and motivation, there are lots of basic no spend month trackers out there for free!

    Here are some of my favorite free no spend printables that can get you started with your challenge:

    No Spend Month Template from Don’t Pay Full

    No Spend Month Printable from Lively Lotus

    No Spend Printable from Debt and Cupcakes

    There are tons of free no spend printables out there so there is no reason to no jump into a no spend month prepared and ready to go!!

    Whether you use my no spend month printables, free no spend month trackers, make up own, or just skip writing stuff down altogether – it may be worth giving a no spend month challenge a try! You likely won’t know if a no spend month will work for you or not until you try it. Since there is no downside – it’s worth giving it a try!

    Other No Spend Challenge Ideas

    If you are thinking of doing a no spend challenge but aren’t sure which one to do, consider them all!

    Most no spend challenges differ in the length of time you commit to not spending. Below are the most popular no spend challenge lengths.

    No spend weekend – A quick weekend with no spending is a great way to dip your toes into the process and free up money for a quick small goal. This type of challenge needs the least amount of planning, so it is the easiest to setup and do quickly.

    No spend week – If you’ve committed to a no spend week challenge you will have to change up your daily routine and pay more attention to your choices. It’s more challenging than a weekend and requires a bit more planning.

    No spend paycheck period – For most people this two week period of no spending is the best option to reset some spending habits and force a look at your daily spending habits. Two weeks is long enough to hurt and force you to take a real look at daily habits. This requires more planning but is not too much of a burden. I recommend this period for most people to try and found it the most beneficial personally.

    No spend month – A no spend challenge that lasts for a month requires lifestyle changes and a shift in mindset to overcome spending habits. A no-spend month is a great way to reset spending habits and force you to look more deeply at the what you really need and want out of life. You definitely have to do a lot of planning to fully complete a no spend month. While it requires more work and planning ti also is the best period to show you how you can live on less!

    No spend year – Spending no money on extra things for a year long period is a true test of frugality. A no spend year is a huge commitment and you have to truly cut out lots of spending and habits that encourage spending. A no spend year won’t just adjust your spending habits but it will adjust your entire outlook on life.

    No matter which no spend challenge you decide to do, your spending habits will never be the same!

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  • Starting Dividend Investing on Robinhood | Penny Portfolio

    I love watching investing videos on YouTube about dividend stock investing, but I’ve put off doing it myself for almost two years. But no more, dear friends, because I’ve got a goal and taking action toward that goal is more important than fear.

    Dividend Investing on Robinhood

    Why Start Dividend Stock Investing Now?

    I’ve put off investing in dividend stocks for a long time because it’s not a main financial goal for us and I also felt overwhelmed by the concept of research “the best stocks”.

    I didn’t want to dedicate lots of time to learning and analyzing stocks one by one, but I also knew that dividend stocks could provide a huge income once you have a portfolio of a certain size.

    Because I’ve seen many videos about the power of dividend stocks when you reinvest the dividends, so I wanted to find a way where I could start small and invest without risking much.

    I like easing in to things that are new to me as I learn about them and get more comfortable. Investing in single stocks is something that I’m not comfortable with since I’ve always been an index fund investor in my retirement accounts.

    Because of that I’m dipping my toes into stock market investing with a specific goal – building a dividend portfolio that eventually helps provide for my daughter in the future.

    Why Invest In Dividend Stocks?

    So why invest in dividend stocks over other investments? Why not invest in something else?

    I chose building a dividend stock portfolio for this purpose because I want to play with investing in single stocks that build a larger portfolio that provides dividends and growth.

    Since I only invest in index funds in my regular retirement investments, I want to build an asset that provides either dividend income so I can later use that money for a monthly allowance or something I can sell to pay for my daughter’s education if the 529 plan isn’t enough.

    Another reasons is simply because I needed to take action on something I’ve been interested in doing. I’ve literally been watching dividend investing videos for over a year and a half and talking myself out of doing anything with it. I’ve watched over a year of possible investing opportunities slip out of my hands.

    I could easily tell myself its not the right time because the market is too high or I don’t have extra money for it, but I realized that if I keep doing this it will be another five years later and I still didn’t do anything. I could easily talk myself out of ever investing at all. Too much risk. Too much unknown. Too many other financial goals.

    However, action towards a goal is always better than nothing. Even if it’s a small action, movement toward a goal is better than just thinking about doing something. We all know small consistent actions add up to success.

    Also, I’ve realized that because the WHY behind everything I’m doing here on this channel and blog is FREEDOM, this is yet another way to eventually build freedom.

    Dividend stock investing eventually leads to an income that is not tied to selling your hours of labor. That income not tied to a job means freedom and that will be amazing for me and for Penny and everyone else in our family.

    Where To Invest In Dividend Stocks

    Once I decided I wanted to finally jump in to investing in single dividend stocks and building a dividend portfolio I had to decide where I wanted to invest in dividend stocks.

    I looked at several options but my Robinhood account I owned years ago – and ignored for literally 3 or 4 years – finally emailed me to say I was open to fractional shares and that made the decision for me: I’m building a dividend stock portfolio inside of Robinhood.

    Fractional shares just means that instead of having to purchase a full stock at the full price – like a $750 investment in one share of Tesla, I could instead invest a smaller amount of money – even just $5 or $10 – and buy a fraction of a share. This ability to buy a fraction of shares opened up many most possibilities for a small beginning dividend stock investor.

    This sounded perfect for how I planned to use the account, so I decided to go for it and buy my first dividend stock inside of my Robinhood portfolio. I realized I also am very comfortable with Robinhood because I watch dozens of investing YouTube channels that all use Robinhood and have portfolios there. 

    How I’m Investing In Dividend Stocks

    My plan for investing in dividend stocks in my “Penny Portfolio” is a little bit different than the normal way most people invest. I will be investing a small amount monthly, but I mostly plan to use this as another impulse spending tool. I plan to fund this account irregularly in a couple different ways.

    First way I will invest in these dividend stocks, whenever I want to impulse buy something my daughter doesn’t need like cute clothes, I will instead invest in her account. She has enough clothes to last til she goes to kindergarten so I don’t need to buy them, I just want to. Instead I plan to buy a stock share with that money and continue to create an asset that will last for decades instead of a piece of clothing she will outgrow in a few months.

    Second way I will invest in dividend stocks is whenever I sell something of hers that is currently not being used I will invest that amount of money. I have a pile of toys that need to be out of my house soon, so when I declutter I will contribute that amount earned into the Penny Portfolio.

    The final way I will invest in dividend stocks in this portfolio, is to contribute $10 a month in our normal budget. As you guys know, I like having small amounts like this in our budget just as a reminder of our bigger goals. While it may not be a focus, those little amounts add up in the background as we are doing other things with the majority of our money. Plus, $10 isn’t much and doesn’t hurt out budget since we’ve cut so many regular expenses and focus on free fun activities!

    Finally, you guys who watch my videos and read my blog will probably help build this portfolio of stocks. I’m going to be including my referral link in the description box for Robinhood. If you sign up, you will get 1 free stock and I will get 1 free stock as well. So if you use my link you will be contributing to the Penny Portfolio and we will all be building this up to provide an amazing future to the cutest kid I know.

    Why I’m Talking About Dividend Stock Investing

    I wanted to share this little dividend stock portfolio project I started in order to let you know why there was a $10 Robinhood line item in our budget for those who were curious.

    February 2020 was the first month for this account and we currently have a balance of $23 all invested in Disney. We invested the money so far in fractional shares of Diseny because I’m going to invest in companies I know, understand, and use.

    This is the perfect time for a reminder that I am not an expert at all and this is just me sharing my personal experience. This is not financial advice, this is just entertainment and me sharing my experience. My stock picks are personal and never a suggestion that you should pick the same. Do your own research!

    So that’s it! I’m excited about complimenting my debt payoff and side hustle strategies with also building assets that will provide income. There are so many ways to achieve financial success and this is just another one of them. I’m dipping my toes in the dividend stock investing world and I couldn’t me more excited about it!

    Want to join me in building a dividend stock portfolio? Learn about how to start with dividend stock investing!

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  • 11 Money-Saving Tips For College Students

    I’ve spent years paying off debt accumulated during my college experience so these days I spend a lot of time trying to help young people not make the same mistakes. Student loan debt has surpassed the trillion dollar mark and student graduating with student loan debt have to delay purchases like buying a home or spending more on things they love.

    It’s important for college students to prevent crippling student loan debt by saving money while they are in college. This can be done by saving money on school expenses and by adjusting lifestyles to save money as well.

    Here are a few of the many tips for college student to budget and save money in order to graduate without massive amounts of student loans.

    1. Choose the Right School

    Unless you’ve always had the dream of going to a specific school, it can be beneficial to find a university with a lower price tag for your education.

    In-state tuition and public schools often offer much lower tuition than private or out-of-state schools. Generally you won’t see much return on investment for a middle of the road school and employers rarely ask where you went to school after you get the first job.

    You can also consider an online education in your respective field such as an online social work degree, a business degree, or an information technology degree. However, make sure to see if these schools have the proper accreditation, otherwise many employers won’t recognize them.

    2. Get a Part-Time Job

    Many students use their student loans to pay for their everyday expenditures such as food, rent, and entertainment during their college years. It’s possible to use student loans to cover all living expenses during school but it’s not the best path you can take since doing this can cause you to incur much more debt than necessary.

    Instead to help offset living costs, you can find a part-time job to earn money to pay for your normal expenses. You can preferably find a job in something geared towards your field which will further help your future career earnings.

    Getting a part time job doesn’t usually hurt your grades and employers will recognize your initiative and work ethic. It’s a smart way to save money in college.

    3. Live Frugally

    There isn’t a class at most schools on how to create your first budget but you should seek out sources that teach you how to budget and live more frugally.

    Basic living expenses are generally cheap but can be problematic for many college students who want to spend more than they earn so they can have the latest gadgets, top fashions, or a swanky residence. Living frugally should be your goal in college – not to have the best things among your classmates.

    Luckily, being a “broke” college student isn’t that unusual if you are in the right circles. Cutting living expenditures can help you save tons of money in the long run. Consider cost cutting alternatives, such as public transportation instead of keeping a car on campus, living with parents to save on rent, pregaming alcohol instead of buying drinks out, and shopping at thrift stores for your clothes.

    4. Make a List of Income & Expenses

    Many times it isn’t good enough to simply make a budget in your head. If you only track spending based on what you remember then you will likely end up spending more than you need to spend.

    In order to save money you must list you expenses and track your spending in order to make sure you stay below the income you are bringing in each paycheck.

    Writing down your income and expenses can help you track your spending and make sure that you aren’t spending more money than you should be. There are tons of options to help you do this, such as the online site Mint.com, budgeting printables, excel spreadsheets, and other budgeting tools.

    5. Make Budgeted Spring Break Plans

    You are in college so spring break is a given. It’s perfectly alright to make plans for travel over spring and summer breaks, but don’t overdo it.

    Transportation, hotels, and entertainment can add up to a pricey break, especially if you haven’t planned for it. Instead of going to Mexico or the Caribbean, consider going to a cheaper stateside beach, renting an air B&B at a lake, or even going home to see old friends. You’ll save a lot of money that way if you make plans to do something you know will cost less.

    You can also switch off which breaks you use for travel. Maybe you do spring break one year so you don’t travel over the summer. Or you skip spring break and plan more small trips over the summer. Check to see which options will save you the most while still giving you the travel and social aspects.

    6. Avoid Credit Cards and Loans

    When money is tight, you might think of turning to credit cards and signature loans as a way to get by. However, most of these loans have such a high interest rate that you may be able to not pay them off for an extended period of time. If you do get a credit card, have discipline and use it only in an emergency.

    Though it can be difficult at times, budgeting for college students is crucial not only for the present, but for life in adulthood. Developing good habits will help you save money now, and enable you to budget in the future for expenditures such as a house, car, and student loans.

    7. Get a To-Go Cup

    One of the easiest ways you can save money as a college student? Get a to-go cup for your drinks!

    Eliminate those expensive coffee shop visits with a to go cup. Either make your own coffee or use your cup at the cafeteria but any way you look at it, to-go cups are less expensive than coffee-house coffee.

    As an added bonus, you’ll be saving the environment by not using disposable cups. You also can get extra savings at places that give you a discount for bringing your own cup.

    8. Pay Your Bills On Time

    It’s easy to forget about bills if it is your first time paying them on your own. However, you need to make sure you are paying all of your bills on time. This will save you money and a lot of headaches as well.

    While avoiding those annoying creditor calls is one reason you’ll want to pay your bills on time, it also costs you less money. Late fees on bills can be expensive and they add up if you pay your bills late over and over.

    You probably know that many companies assess late fees and interest charges if a bill is not paid on time, but it can also affect your credit. If your credit score takes a tumble because of late payments, you won’t be eligible for the lowest interest rates on things like car loans and mortgages. What seems like only a few extra dollars now could end up costing you thousands down the line.

    9. Split Your In-Class Time

    Online courses are generally less expensive and more flexible than traditional on-campus classes. Online courses are a great way to stretch your tuition dollars.

    If you’re one who has to work full time or has an extremely busy schedule, splitting up your in-class time will be a huge factor in getting your degree. For example, if you’re going to school for nursing, it can be an incredibly stressful profession, and nurses tend to work long hours that span through weekends and holidays. Thankfully, online nursing programs offer flexible schedules that allow students to cultivate their various abilities. This way you can split your time between volunteering with hands on programs and getting your degree via online simultaneously.

    Using online classes to knock out some of your pre-requisite classes will help lower your overall bill and you won’t miss out on much of the college experience.

    10. Use Your Library Card

    Did you know that your library card is the key to savings in multiple ways? Libraries might not be your favorite place but they can offer savings and knowledge you need to take advantage of while in college.

    The library has more than just books and your metropolitan library is a great place to check out music and videos for free. Just make sure you return them on time. You don’t need late fees.

    You can also often get free online courses and access to many paid platforms just by having a library card. Check with your library to see what your library card gives your access to.

    11. Use Your Abilities

    In addition to being more careful with your money, there are also ways to earn some extra money while you are in college.

    Since finding a traditional job and scheduling classes around it poses difficulties for the average student, using your talents and creating your own side business on the Internet is a great way to earn a little extra money. If you’re good with the Internet, help people sell things through an online auction site like ebay. If crafts are more your thing, sell your designs on Etsy. If you’re in computer science or design, market your skills as a web designer.

    As a student you’ll make less than an established professional in the field but that’s a selling point for many small businesses.

    Saving While In College

    Being a student is a time for frugality. Cutting costs doesn’t have to mean giving up on pleasures entirely, it just means finding creative ways to do them.

    Being a student can be an expensive time of your life. With minimal money coming in, it’s more important than ever to watch the money going out. That’s why every student needs ways to save money. I hope you enjoyed these quick and easy money-saving hacks!

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  • How To Get A Reluctant Spouse On Board With Budgeting

    How do you get a reluctant spouse on board with budgeting? How does everyone convince their spouse to pay off debt? Why does it seem like everyone is working together on their finances except you?

    If you’re like me and my husband, it wasn’t easy to get on the same page with money instantly. While I had big dreams of budgeting our money tightly and paying off debt my husband wasn’t ready to make the changes we needed. He wanted to keep spending money like he wanted, when he wanted, and every month I ended up in tears when what I had budgeted didn’t match what we had actually spent.

    After 3 years of marriage and creating budgets for two years, we’ve finally recently gotten on the same page with money. It took A LOT of trial and error since my husband was reluctant to pay off debt or save heavily for goals.

    Today I’m sharing many of the things I did to get my spouse on board with budgeting and paying off debt.

    Have a positive money conversation… or two.

    Having an honest conversation about why you need help and support with budgeting and why it matters to you is the first step to getting your spouse on board. For many couples this can be the first and last step because many supportive spouses immediately get on board once they realize how important it is to their partner.

    However, not every spouse gets on board with budgeting and spending wisely with just one conversation. For many of us, there must be many conversations about this topic.

    Unfortunately when you are having the same conversation over and over again with a partner it can often devolve into a negative experience full of blaming, shaming, nagging, and overall negativity. To really be effective with having these money conversations you have to do them without shaming or guilting or nagging.

    If you can’t get through this type of financial conversation without defaulting to the negative habits of blaming and shaming, try writing a letter or email where you aren’t as emotionally charged. Sometimes you can get your thoughts out about why succeeding with money is so important when your brain has a chance to rational process your reasons without the impulsive desire to get defensive or angry.

    write your spouse a letter about why budgeting matters

    Focus on your money wins together.

    Focusing on the wins that you’ve made with budgeting already while including your spouse is a great way to slowly engage them and bring them on board.

    Instead of constantly nagging or feeling like your conversation is at a standstill, focus on talking about the wins and things that went well. Instead of screaming at your partner that they went over budget or spent too much or whatever frustrates you, tell them about what went well. “Say honey, last month we managed to spend less on our utility bill! That money will really help us reach ___ financial goal. I’m so proud of us.”

    You can praise your partner for the things that went right first and foremost even if the thing that went well really had nothing to to with them. Tell them how the wins will help you get other, even bigger wins with your money. Include them on the team to share in the successes not just put them in the place of the enemy doing all the wrong things until that is all you can see.

    This is something I had to learn to do after many fights with my husband and analyzing my husband’s nature. He wanted to be my teammate but he kept falling into the role of my adversary because all I could see were the places he wasn’t on board. Once I started talking about that less and giving him more credit with out successes he got more and more on board. 

    Try separate spending money accounts.

    One way to get your spouse on board is to give the more freedom with separate spending money. While I think it’s important to have your money together when you are married and you should NOT separate your money altogether, it can be very helpful to separate your spending money.

    I firmly believe even when budgeting as a team, everyone needs a bit of freedom where they don’t have to account for each dollar they spend. 

    You may also want to increase your spouse’s spending money or budget categories where you constantly butt heads. Maybe you can spend $100 on groceries when you are the only one eating. As a single person that might work but as a pair, maybe it doesn’t and it makes your partner rebel even further. If your spouse needs more spending money than you do, try increasing what they get and don’t have to account for in order to win overall.

    Adjust your timeline expectations.

    You may also just need to adjust your expectations about how quickly your spouse will get on board. Sometimes getting your spouse on board with budgeting takes a couple months. Sometimes getting your spouse on board with paying off debt can take a long time. You may not be the couple that gets on the same page instantly.

    If you are continually butting heads on money but your partner is amazing in every other way, maybe you need to adjust your expectations of how quickly you think they should get on board. Sometimes it takes people longer than others to grasp a concept or to change their habits. Financial habits can be very hard to change for some people after years or decades of doing things one way.

    You might be expecting your spouse to change instantly because it makes so much sense to you, but ultimately you need to adjust those expectations to better fit the reality of your situation. Your expectations are probably making everything harder when they are not meeting your expectations about getting on board with budgeting or paying off debt.

    Take your spouse to a financial class.

    Taking your spouse to a financial class like Financial Peace University can be very helpful when you are trying to get them on board financially.

    I add this last on the list because actually having the knowledge on what to do doesn’t mean certain people will do it. Sometimes going through a financial literacy class does not change habits. My husband and I went through FPU before we got married and that didn’t solve our money problem or prevent our money fights.

    Knowing what to do doesn’t always mean someone is going to comply or change deep seated behaviors to change. For many people doing a class like FPU is the step that is needed in order to finally get on board and make handling money click.

    getting your spouse on board with paying off debt

    Keep trying to make it work together!

    Remember there is not a one size fits all answer here on how to get on the same page with your finances. Every person and every couple approaches money differently and getting on the same page needs an unique approach.

    There are lots of behaviors and habits and emotions around money and those vary from person to person. Finding what works for your reluctant spouse and you as a couple can take a while but you should keep trying to find the right solution. You have to find the things that encourage and motivate your partner to get on board. 

    It may take a lot of work, tears, and trials but eventually getting a “reluctant spouse” on board is totally worth the effort! Working together on your financial picture with a spouse on the same page is amazing!

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  • Side Hustle Ideas For Moms

    As a mom you may need to bring in more money to your family but struggle for various reasons. Luckily there are tons of side hustle ideas for moms who need to earn extra money.

    Watch more: Side Hustle Ideas For Moms Video

    Side Hustles Ideas For Moms

    Below are some side hustle ideas for moms that may work for you. There’s a variety of skill levels and types of work represented and this is just a small list of side hustles ideas. Once you get creative the ways to make money are endless.

    Caring Side Hustles

    • Watch other people’s kids during the day. In home daycare are popular for parents because they don’t cost as much, but when you are providing the care it’s a great side hustle and gives you the ability to be with your own child. In our state you could have 3 children besides your 1 child and if each child is paying $200 a week then the side hustle can offset not having a traditional job.
    • Host parent’s night out nights. Charge $30 per kid for a couple hours of babysitting. Add in several kids and you’ll have a nice side hustle on a weekend night especially. You can advertise on sites like Next-door or Care.com and you’ll grow a lot by word of mouth.
    • Dog walk and dog sit. This is something you can do with your little ones. There are plenty of people who work during the day or have to travel but need their dogs taken care of while out of the house. Fill that need. You can use sites like Rover.com and your local Next-door of Facebook groups. You can offer dog walking, dog sitting, drop-in visits, overnight stays, etc. Even better? You can also accept and decline jobs as you have time and availability. For an animal lover this one is perfect!
    side hustle ideas for moms at home

    Creative Side Hustles

    • Photo Booth operator at weddings. Photobooths at weddings are very easy to run and most owners don’t want to work every wedding – or they can’t when double booked. For this hustle you drive the Photo Booth to the venue, set up, stay on site to help or leave depending on the style and contract, and then breakdown and take the booth back. You can reach out to the photo booth owners or photographers in your city to find ones that need help. You can work 5-6 hours working a wedding Photo Booth as a side hustle or for more money, buy and operate one yourself as a side business! 
    • Create a cute setup for photographs and offer sessions using it. You can charge up to $20 for 15 minutes of time using a beautiful setup in your yard or home for people to take family photos or Christmas photos. People bring their own cameras and you just provide the space! You could also work with a professional photographer to loan them the space for a flat fee like $100 for the day and have them do mini sessions there where they earn more but don’t have to worry about setup.
    • Bake and sell cookies, cupcakes, or cakes. Multiple people I know in real life have done this and one made it into her full time job. If you can make cute cookies with designs or pretty cupcakes that taste good, then you can definitely do this as a side hustle. Once people know you are doing this and taste your treats then word and business spreads.

    Physical Side Hustles

    • Officiate sports leagues as a referee. If your kids are playing sports then you likely already know plenty about the sport, especially if you also played it. You can sign up to referee games in the same league or others to earn money while your kids are playing as well. This is usually a weekend or weeknight activity which can work well if your partner can watch the kids if they aren’t also playing.
    • Clean houses. My mom was a stay at home mom but I remember going with her to clean people’s houses. She’d clean large houses for country music stars and smaller houses in nice suburbs and it gave her enough money to stay at home with all of us. People love to pay for a clean house since most of us hate cleaning. If you love it or are good at it – offer up your services! One day a week of cleaning houses can bring in a couple hundred dollars. 

    At Home Side Hustles

    • Plan other people’s trips and vacations. Travel agent from home is an option where you can plan trips for others and get paid for it. There are agencies that offer these jobs or you could also sell your services and promote yourself like a business. People who specialize in certain areas like planning Disney trips seem to do well with this as they become known as an expert.
    • Teach English online or tutor kids on a specific subject. There are plenty of people making $1,000 of more teaching English online to kids in China with services like VIPKids. For more money per hour you can tutor children in your own area on a specific subject you excel at. Even better can be SAT or ACT prep tutoring which pays well per hour due to the payoff for the student at the end. You can advertise your services on local sites and once you get one client word of mouth can spread your skills.
    side hustle ideas for moms with a computer

    Sales Side Hustles

    • Sell old stuff. It’s a great option to sell stuff you have instead of donating it. You can sell stuff on Ebay, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Poshmark and Mercari. You can decide which site to use based on what you are selling and whether you want to meet up in person or not. With this side hustle you can also use garage sales and thrift shops to find items to sell. There are tons of cool Youtube channels where people do this for a living and you can learn a lot from them.
      Read more: Things To Sell On Etsy For Extra Money
    • Resell items you find at yard sales or via clearance sections. Reselling can be super lucrative once you figure out the things that will sell well for you. There is definitely a learning curve but there are many resources out there to assist your learning. You can buy things cheaper at yard sales or in clearance sections and then resell on sites like Ebay or even locally on Facebook marketplace.
      Read more: Start A Reselling Side Hustle
    • Sell items from home with direct sales companies. Don’t be annoying but direct sales opportunities are an option for side income. Don’t be super salesy on your friends and family in a way that puts them off, but be available if anyone is interested in your product.

    Other Side Hustles

    • Driving delivery gigs. Similar to Uber and Lyft, you can drive for Postmates, Uber Eats, Instacart, Doordash and any meal delivery service that pays drivers and you collect tips for running errands for people. This is great because you can do it when you want and close it off when you aren’t interested or are busy. 
    • Mystery shop for stores. This won’t be super consistent or huge income but you can sign up with mystery shopping companies that give you assignments to check our stores or restaurants. You go and buy something and fill out paperwork in order to get paid per shop. It’s easy to do around your kids schedule.
    • Work side jobs opposite shift of your partner. If your partner works during the day, look for jobs that have night time hours like waitressing or bartending. Even just a few hours a week can help your income situation if things are tight and you won’t be missing time with your child. Sometimes this can have an added benefit of giving you a social outlet you need too!

    These are a few side hustle ideas for moms who want to earn extra money without sacrificing family time.

    Online Side Hustles

    I’ve personally always chosen to do online side hustles like blogging, video creation, and more. I shared my online income reports from the time I made around $500 in a month until I was making about $10,000 a month and the side hustles became my full time job.

    If you’re interested in any online side hustles, I have lots of content on penniesnotperfection.com about how to make money online. It’s not quick or easy but with persistence it does work!

    Here are some online side hustles you can do:

    • sell digital products
    • create YouTube videos
    • write blog posts
    • create short form TikTok videos
    • promote products for brands
    • create niche websites
    • promote affiliate products
    • design graphics and social posts
    • manage social media accounts
    • edit videos for content creators
    • manage brand deals for creators
    • create and sell a course
    • open up a patreon account

    The list could go on and on! That is just a short list of ways I’ve personally earned money and ways I’ve paid people to work for my business as well.

    And here are a few articles to help you get started:

    You can learn how to create income online thanks to other content creators sharing their journey.

    To help others I’ve organized a lot of my tutorials into category pages:

    Hopefully these side hustle ideas and tutorials get you started on your next income stream to help support your family!

    side hustle ideas for moms

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  • 50 New Year’s Resolutions About Money

    Happy New Year! It is the beginning of a new year and like many people out there you are likely planning to make new year’s resolutions to improve your life this year.

    Many years I make financial related goals and resolutions for improving our finances for the new year. My goals are generally about being more frugal and spending less money to improve our savings rate.

    Being more frugal is just one type of New Year’s resolution but there are many other ways you can plan to improve your finances in the coming year. Today I’m sharing 50 of the best financial New Year’s resolutions you can make to improve your personal finances.

    If you haven’t already set your goals for the year, consider one of these 50 ideas for different financial related New Year’s Resolutions you could make this year. It’s a great time to get your money in order!

    50 Financial New Year’s Resolutions

    1. Update your personal finance goals. Set new goals for the year and the next decade too so you know what you are aiming to achieve.
    2. Track all of your spending every month. Tracking your spending is the key to budgeting success.
    3. Check your credit score and learn how to improve your credit score. A good credit score will lead you to better deals on mortgages and more.
    4. Grow your net worth each month. Do this by increasing your savings, lowering your debt, and tracking your net worth each month.
    5. Lower your monthly food expenses by spending less on groceries and finding ways to plan cheap meals.
    6. Lower your entertainment spending for the year. Find ways to cut your expensive entertainment in favor of cheaper options.
    7. Lower your overall spending per month. Find ways to spend less on what you are already buying or things to stop buying.
    8. Have more free entertainment weekends where you do fun things without spending money.
    9. Take up a frugal or free hobby. There are many options and you can look online for new ideas on things you can learn to do for free.
    10. Stick to your budget monthly. If you have not created a budget before, the new year is the perfect time to create your first budget.
    11. Live within your means. This means resolving to never spending more than you are earning in a month.
    12. Build an emergency fund. Emergency funds are incredibly useful and can come in handy when unexpected events happen.
    13. Start or increase donations to charities. Find the charities you love and plan to give them more each month this year.
    14. Start a retirement account and increase retirement savings for the year so that you are funding your future.
    15. Fully fund your 401k for the year if you are not already doing so.
    16. Fully fund your Roth IRA for the year. Start a Roth IRA is you are eligible and have never started one before.
    17. Transfer high interest debt to 0% offers so you can pay your debt off with less interest.
    18. Pay your credit card bill monthly. Using credit cards responsibly is a smart way to get extra rewards.
    19. Pay off your credit card debt if you have any.
    20. Pay off your student loans if you have been dragging them out.
    21. Pay off your car auto loan if you have a monthly car payment.
    22. Pay off your mortgage or contribute more toward your balance this year so you can pay off your mortgage faster.
    23. Review your life insurance needs and adjust or buy policies.
    24. Review your disability insurance needs and adjust or buy policies.
    25. Review your home insurance needs and adjust or buy policies.
    26. Review your auto insurance needs and adjust or buy policies.
    27. Plan your estate in case something tragic happens. Have a will in place so your loved ones know what to do with your estate.
    28. Talk to your loved ones about money more often and plan to have monthly date nights or family meetings where you talk about money and your spending. It is important to get on the same page about money with your spouse.
    29. Save for and go on a vacation without going into debt to afford it.
    30. Save for and buy one expensive item you really want this year without using debt to buy it.
    31. Save for and buy a large stock in a company you believe in. You can start or build a portfolio of stocks with companies you love.
    32. Save for a down payment on a house if you are feeling ready to purchase a home.
    33. Make plans to get a raise at your job. Make a list of steps you can take in order to further your career this year.
    34. Look for better paying jobs. This is especially smart to do if you are needing a raise and couldn’t get one.
    35. Go back to school to gain better skills. Look into programs for new careers that earn more money.
    36. Start a side hustle to earn more money. There are many side hustles you can start with little upfront cost.
    37. Start a business and learn how to grow it in order to earn more money.
    38. Start a money making blog so you can earn money online in the new year.
    39. Become recognized as an expert in your field. Look into opportunities for speaking and improving your reputation.
    40. Organize all your receipts and important financial papers so that you can go paperless and get organized.
    41. Simplify your finances by finding ways to make things automatic or simpler.
    42. Watch less TV and read books about saving money or improving your finances and career instead.
    43. Cut your cable/phone/internet bills for savings. You can save over $100 a month on your cell phone bill or cable bill.
    44. Travel by bike or walking more to save money. This financial resolution can overlap with physical resolutions to get into shape!
    45. Learn to cook to save money by eating at home. This is another resolution that can be financial and also help you get into shape!
    46. Clean out the closets and sell unused items for extra income. Decluttering your house and earning money is a great two for one resolution.
    47. Read more educational books about personal finance, employment, and getting out of debt. Reading books that improve your life financially is a great resolution to make.
    48. Plan your future goals that will take more than one year. Sometimes resolutions are the beginning of a longer journey!
    49. Stop being lazy and accomplish more! This resolution is perfect if you feel like you haven’t worked on much in the previous years. It’s definitely one I’ve made before!
    50. Celebrate and be grateful for what you have already. Contentment is the best way to improve your financial life because when you are content with what you have you don’t want to spend money buying new things.

    Happy new year! I hope these ideas for financial new years resolutions help you make this year your best year yet!

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  • How To Budget For Christmas

    Christmas spending derails many budgets but with planning and organization you can have a debt free and stress free Christmas this year.

    I love Christmas but in the past I had several that left me with a massive hangover from the anxiety and stress of spending too much on credit cards.

    I wasn’t full able to enjoy the season because I fell into the trap of consumerism and debt. It’s been years since that has happened buy I remember the stress that ruined several holidays and never plan to make that mistake again.

    Having a written plan and a budget is now crucial for me to enjoy the Christmas season. It saves me from stress and helps me get through the holidays debt free.

    Preparing for Christmas early instead of waiting for December to roll around has eliminated stress and debt from our lives.

    How To Budget & Save For Christmas

    Today I’m going to share our process for having a debt free Christmas and the printables I’ve created based on my Christmas planning process to get through the holiday season debt free.

    Start Planning Early

    The earlier you start planning for Christmas the more opportunities you have to cover all your bases and skip stressful last minute issues. We are starting our planning for Christmas right now in July and will start our actual Christmas savings plan next month in August.

    Set A Budget First

    Big key to having a successful debt free Christmas is creating a holiday budget. Several months before Christmas you should think of an amount you’ll need to accomplish all the fun activities and gift purchases. Another way to do this is set a spending limit for each gift and write out a list of all the people you have to buy for and work from there.

    Count out how many paychecks you have left til Christmas and set a goal amount of how much you will need to save per paycheck until Christmas.

    Start Saving Early

    Making Christmas into a sinking fund and saving early makes a huge difference. I start saving earlier and earlier each year and each time I move it up it makes it easier.

    If you start saving in January or even the week after Christmas then you have much more time and can contribute smaller amounts than if you start in October. This year we are planning to start our savings in August after our beach trip is over.

    The sooner you start saving the easier it is to take advantage of other tips like buying special gifts on sale throughout the year, because you already have the money available.

    Open a savings account just for the holidays. Open an account at Capital One 360 and you can get a bonus to use for the holidays to start your savings account. Then you can fund Christmas throughout the year each time you get paid or make extra money.

    Get Organized

    This Christmas planning bundle I made is based off all my old lists in my past planners. When thinking about planning ahead for Christmas I went back and looked at all the things I’ve created in my planner the last few years that we’ve had debt free Christmases. It helps so much to write everything down so you can plan out a budget for everything.

    how to save for christmas

    This is important for us because we always have a lot of people to buy gifts for at Christmas. I write down everyone’s name and then decide how much we want to spend on that person.  Writing everyone down and giving them a gift budget helps keep us organized and make sure we don’t overspend or forget anyone.

    I haven’t bought new decorations or wrapping supplies for a couple years now because I purchased a ton at 90% off one year after Christmas. This means my gift budget is larger than some people’s but my decor budget is really small. But having all the expenses planned out helps make sure it is all accounted for.

    One last thing I’d recommend is keeping track of the gifts you’ve bought for each person! I know some people who get so into buying things that they have given the wrong gifts to people because they didn’t stay organized or on budget.

    Cut Your Christmas Budget

    There are several ways to cut your gift budget in half.

    • Do a gift exchange with family where you draw names and only buy a gift for one person.
    • Look for great gifts throughout the year in clearance sections to score big savings.
    • Remember that not everyone needs or wants a gift so cut our gift giving where you can.
    • Use ebates if you shop online so you’ll get money back for things you are buying anyway.
    • Get creative and make gifts for people on your list. There are tons of easy things to make like homemade soaps, bath bombs, etc.
    • If you have a big group of people, make something in bulk that you can then split up. You can make a huge batch of cookies and deliver it in a cute Dollar Tree bin for example.

    Christmas Is About More Than Gifts

    When you are writing out your holiday budget remember that the season is more than just Christmas gifts.

    Remember that what really matters is spending time with the people that you love.

    The ultimate goal is to get through the holidays debt free, skip the stress and spend your time with your loved ones.

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  • 20 Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

    Christmas is a wonderful holiday but the consumerism culture has taken much of the joy out of it and instead given us credit card bills, stress, and piles of junk. I’m not a fan of that so I try to give and receive meaningful and frugal gifts each year instead.

    In the video above I go through my favorite frugal gifts that I give over and over again. Many of these gifts include low waste wrapping so the whole gift is a present, which makes it even more frugal!

    If you are looking for even more frugal Christmas gift ideas, keep reading for my favorite frugal gifts!

    We all know Christmas has wrecked many budgets and it is a particularly hard time for some people to say no to spending. With emotions high and sales pressure up, many of us spend more than we planned.

    That’s why having frugal Christmas gifts on hand and ready to go is so important to keeping your Christmas budget in check!

    Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

    If you’re doing your Christmas shopping and need a list of frugal but awesome gift ideas, look no further!

    1. Baked goods. Everyone loves baked goods during the holiday season so this is a frugal gift that is also a crowd-pleaser. You can make Christmas cookies or banana bread or any number of yummy edible gifts for very little money. Consumable Christmas gifts are a huge hit and many people appreciate not being given something that will contribute to clutter. This is a great option for any minimalists you know.
    2. Scrapbook. Make a scrapbook or a photo book showing your most fond memories with someone. You can do this very cheaply with supplies you have around or can get on clearance at craft stores. Print out some photos and it’s very frugal but meaningful. Adding sweet notes of memories and inside jokes will mean more than anything you can buy.
    3. Handmade Christmas ornaments.  You can make personalized Christmas ornaments for your friends and family for next to nothing. There are tons of great ideas on YouTube and Pinterest for ways you can cheaply DIY very nice looking items. Just because the supplies came from the Dollar Tree doesn’t mean this frugal gift can’t look expensive!
    4. Regifted items. Let’s be real, regifting is a great way to do frugal Christmas gifts! If you’ve gotten duplicate gifts or items you’ll never use then there is nothing wrong with giving it away the next Christmas. Make sure you don’t regift to the same person, but otherwise it’s fair game. Just because you can’t use it doesn’t mean someone else won’t!
    5. Recipe box. You can make a beautiful recipe box or buy an affordable one and fill it with blank recipe cards along with your favorite recipes. This can be especially sentimental if you collect family recipes or go with another meaningful theme. Go the extra mile to delight the gift recipient and make one of the meals to go along with it!
    6. Photo Collage. If you’re handy with Photoshop or Canva, you can create a photo collage/montage, print it out and frame it! You could also do this the old fashioned way with scissors and glue. It’s a great way to give a creative memory that can be done for hardly any money.
    7. Framed family picture. Take a picture of your family or kiddos, frame it, and give it as a gift! We do this every year for grandparents and they love it! It’s frugal but delightful for those who want photos renewed each year. You can get nice looking frames at many stores on clearance or just stop by a thrift store for one.
    8. Coupon Books. Sure it’s a corny gift idea, but a personalized coupon book can also be super fun! You can go with classic  favorite coupons as “back rub”, “dinner” or “clean the house”. Or spice things up with adult themed coupons or go super silly with practical jokes. There are lots of options for personalization here and none of the items in the book have to cost money to do! Most people would prefer experiences and time with you anyway.
    9. Family history. Put together a family history for someone with photos, written family histories, a family tree, a video and anything else you can think of that will bring their family history alive. This is an especially great gift you can give to siblings or a whole side of a family to knock out multiple gifts.
    10. Appreciation book. Use a blank journal to create a book about how much you appreciate the person! You can fill it up with reasons why you appreciate them, gratitude over their qualities, shared memories, and photos. If you can’t fill up a book, try doing this in a letter form and list as many things as you can.
    11. Your skills. Give the gift of service by offering up your skills as a gift. It won’t cost you anything but time. You can offer to cook a meal or offer your design services or tech support. If you don’t have any specific professional skills to offer, then offer up housesitting or babysitting.
    12. Groupon experience. Groupon offers frugal experiences perfect for gift giving. You can give a certificate for an experience like a massage, painting lesson, or outdoor adventure. Keep an eye out for a huge discount deal on something that you know will make a great gift for someone on your list.
    13. Card game kit. Buy a deck of cards, and a book of card game rules for different card games. You can have hours and hours of frugal fun once you learn multiple games you can play with one deck of cards. I loved playing card games on camping trips when I was younger and still love to pull out a deck of cards for good quality family time.
    14. Book gift pack.  Look through the books on your own shelf that you’ve already read and put together a gift pack of books that you loved. You can package the books in a cute way that makes them feel like a special gift of hand selected books. Write a note about why you loved each book and why you think the recipient will love the book as well.
    15. Breakfast gift box. Put together a cute morning breakfast gift basket with some cheap basics: pancake mix, syrup, and pancake mix-ins. These items don’t cost much but they are super handy to have on hand for most people.
    16. Picnic gift basket. Grab some Dollar Tree utensils, plates, and tablecloth and then wrap the items up with a blanket inside a basket. Write a note inviting the recipient to go on a picnic lunch with you once the weather is nice. You could also pack snacks into the picnic basket as an extra gift.
    17. Memory jar. Write down favorite memories of the person receiving the gift on small pieces of paper and add them to a decorated jar with instructions to open daily. This works best when you can get lots of sweet and funny memories!
    18. DIY Coasters. You can make coasters for a very small amount of money and the personalization of using photos special to the recipient makes this a meaningful gift. DIY coasters are very easy to make, cost hardly anything, and can be a great sentimental item to give people.
    19. DIY bath and body items. You can make sugar scrubs, face masks, body butters and natural skin care products from items you already likely have in your home like sugar and coconut oil. These are cheap to make but feel luxurious when you get to use them, so they make perfect gifts! My mom loves and requests my peppermint sugar scrub as a gift each year.
    20. Change jar savings kit.  This is an especially great gift for young children who are just starting to learn about money. Give a child a change jar or cool piggy bank and some starter change already in it.  Then you can teach them about saving and spending their own money later in the year!

    No matter which frugal gift you decide to give, remember that it is the thought that truly matters with the gift. Most sentimental and meaningful gifts are not expensive ones. They instead incorporate emotions, memories, and experiences.

    Remember that spending the most doesn’t necessarily mean the most! Having a frugal Christmas is a great way to keep your financial goals on track and still please those in your life!

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  • 33 Money Saving Tips For A Frugal Christmas

    Having a debt-free, frugal Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays but it does mean you’ll have an enjoyable holiday without feeling broke. 

    When you’re mindful and intentional about your spending during Christmas you can have a frugal season and enjoy everything the holidays are meant to be about. 

    There are many ways you can save money during Christmas and have a very frugal season. In the video above I share my favorite frugal living tips for the holiday season and Christmas gift giving specifically.

    Here are 33 more tips for you to have a frugal Christmas. If you’re wanting to save money on the holiday season, keep reading!

    1. Make a budget for your Christmas spending. Put a limit on your total spending for all things for the holiday season and commit to sticking to that dollar amount. Promise yourself that you won’t spend over the amount you’ve assigned to the holidays.
    2. Assign dollar amounts to each type of Christmas spending. Give yourself a firm budget for all the types of spending you might do. Going to buy decor? Set a strict budget. Buying Christmas presents? Give yourself a budget for gifts.
    3. Create a Christmas sinking fund in a high yield savings account and save up each paycheck in order to pay cash for Christmas. You’ll save less per paycheck if you start early but even a few paychecks before Christmas can make a difference.
    4. Make a commitment to a cash-only Christmas using only what you’ve saved in your sinking fund or can cash flow. Promise yourself you won’t be using credit to buy more than you can afford.
    5. Let everyone know you are committed to a cash only Christmas. Be open with all of your friends and family and let them know about your decision to have a frugal Christmas.
    6. Be prepared to say “no” when needed to additional spending when it is outside of your budget. If you can’t afford another holiday season excursion or special meal out, then be prepared to say no. Offer more frugal suggestions but be firm in your decision not to overspend.
    7. Manage your kids and family expectations by sharing what your budget is for gifts. If they are old enough, let your kids know what to expect based on the budget for the year. 
    8. Choose a “shop for the kids only” rule with extended family gatherings. Buying for adults is unnecessary in most cases and children opening gifts will provide joy and savings to everyone.
    9. Do a White Elephant or Yankee Swap with friends or extended family or choose a fun game to play like the Saran Wrap game. This can be a fun experience together instead of trading expensive gifts. 
    10. Give cookies or other baked goods and food items as presents. Most people love to get cookies or other delicious treats as gifts and all this takes is a bit of time and a small amount of money.
    11. Give a service or use a talent/skill/hobby as gifts instead of buying something. Use whatever you are naturally gifted at to offer as a gift. 
    12. DIY your gifts for friends and family. There are lots of cute DIY gifts on Pinterest that are easy and delightful to receive. 
    13. DIY your Christmas decorations by using what you already have or can scavenge outdoors and at thrift stores. Again, Pinterest and YouTube videos are your friend for DIY ideas! 
    14. Use a fake Christmas Tree this year and for many years to come instead of buying a new fresh tree each holiday season. With a fake tree you only have to spend once and can get them very inexpensively with coupons and sales.
    15. Set a dollar limit on gift swaps and gift exchanges. If you’re doing a white elephant or drawing names or anything in a group then make sure to set a max dollar amount for your spending. During the price setting you can help guide the conversation to keep the price reasonable. 
    16. Use the 4 gift rule for kids where they receive 4 gifts. 1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, and 1 thing to read.
    17. Set aside a set amount of money for unplanned miscellaneous holiday expenses. Planning for the unexpected makes those unplanned expenses not strain your budget or cause any stress.
    18. Use coupons and sales to save money on your holiday meal shopping. During the holiday season many of the favorite items go on sale so use the opportunity to your advantage!
    19. Take advantage of your supermarket’s gift card promotions. You can buy gift cards at a discount or for major bonus fuel points. Combine that with a credit card cash back and Fetch rewards for even more savings and then give those cards as a gift or use them to save when buying other gifts.
    20. Use cash-back and reward apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, SavingStar and Shopkick. For everything you buy you can receive cash back which adds up and allows you to have even more money to spend on Christmas.
    21. For online shopping, use Ebates for cash back and find store discounts by using RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin, and Coupon Sherpa. Install Camel Camel Camel to track prices for things you may want to buy on Amazon to get the best price.
    22. Sign up for stores’ email lists to get a discount and download store apps to get coupons and further discounts. Most stores will offer coupons within their apps. 
    23. Give gifts that meet a need and will be used throughout the year. For your family this is easy since you likely know what they need. If people ask what you want, request something you need and would buy anyway.
    24. Take advantage of post Christmas deals. Plan to buy yourself or your kids clothing after Christmas when clothing is deeply discounted for the season. Get all of your Christmas decor and wrapping paper for next year after Christmas when it’s 70-90% off.
    25. Gift coupons for future services or experiences. Things like making a family member dinner or giving parents a night of babysitting can be a wonderful gift to be redeemed in the future.
    26. Comparison shop before you purchase items to find the best prices. Take advantage of stores that have price-matching policies or lowest price guarantees to get the absolute best price on anything you want to buy.
    27. Consider buying used where you can or regifting things that you haven’t used. Not every gift has to be something new. Team up with family that’s also trying to be frugal and swap items the other will use. 
    28. Use daily deal opportunities to get gifts at a much better prices. You can use flash sale sites like Fab.com, and Zulily and also browse Amazon’s Today’s Deals, Black Friday Deals, and Outlet Deals
    29. Plan to use coupons and follow coupon sites like Living Rich with Coupons, Money Saving Mom, and Krazy Coupon Lady to find deals throughout the season. These sites are dedicated to finding coupons that will save you money. There are tons of sites and YouTube channels you can follow to find the best deals.
    30. Sign up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial if you are not already a Prime member. You can take advantage of sales and free shipping during the holiday season. 
    31. Plan your meals outside of your holiday meal. Prepping your meals can keep your wallet and health together during the holidays and stop you from heading to an expensive restaurant. You can use a service like $5 Meal Plan to eliminate stress of meal planning.
    32. Find ways to earn extra money on the side to afford the Christmas spending you want. If you want to spend more without dipping into debt then you need to earn more money to cover the difference. You can offer skills or services like dog walking or just sell unwanted clutter around the house to earn money for Christmas.
    33. Skip gifts altogether for Christmas this year. Think about doing a special activity together as a family or volunteering instead of buying gifts to give each other.

    Remember that ultimately the holiday season is not about buying things or spending money. If you’re religious then it is one of the holy days and if you’re not then it’s a time to spend with loved ones. Find the reason for celebrating Christmas beyond consumption and you’ll be able to keep it frugal with no problem.

    Remember that usually presents for Christmas are not life changing and you likely do not remember what you received last year. Focus on spending time with your loved ones and making memories together instead of items you’ll buy that will be quickly forgotten.

    Loved these frugal tips? Sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to the YouTube channel to get more frugal tips for saving money throughout the year!

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