Personal Finance

  • 25 Frugal Living Tips For 2022

    Are you looking for frugal living tips in 2022? You may want to live frugally to achieve a big financial goal like paying off debt or buying a house, or maybe you have to live frugally to survive.

    Being frugal isn’t my natural state but I’ve learned a lot of easy ways to be more frugal in life thanks to the debt free community (#debtfreecommunity) on YouTube and Instagram!

    I’ve learned so much and continue to stock up tips to implement in my life to make us spend less money and live a better feel with a strong financial future! Living more frugally allows us to hit our financial goals faster which improves our lives overall. Being frugal is a great tool to have in your financial toolkit.

    Here are the 25 frugal living tips I’ve learned that have helped save us money!

    1. Plan meals around what you have.

    Planning your meals around food you already have will help you save a lot of money in your food budget.

    You can save money from your grocery budget by first checking your pantry and fridge to see what you already have on hand. Make your weekly meal plan based on items you have for the base of your meals. This way you won’t be buying duplicates or items that don’t work with what you already have in stock.

    Shopping your pantry before you shop the grocery store will also help you save a ton of money by reducing food waste. You'll be less likely to waste money by throwing away unused food if you regularly use your pantry to create meal plans.

    2. Learn to DIY things for free on YouTube.

    Even if you don't consider yourself handy you are likely to be able to DIY many things you would otherwise spend money on hiring someone to do.

    You can learn how to fix almost anything thanks to YouTube and the content creators that share how-to videos. If you need to have something repaired, check to see if you can learn how to DIY the repair on YouTube.

    You’ll save a lot of money by using this technique and you will learn some new skills as well. We've managed to do small car repairs, fix plumbing issue, and more thanks to YouTube diy videos.

    3. Evaluate expenses based on hours worked.

    Many people fail to practice frugality on large purchases because they often have such emotional weight attached to them.

    When you are considering a large purchase, it helps to put it into perspective by dividing the price by your hourly wage. You’ll find out how many hours you have to work to pay for that item which will likely give you a better idea of whether the purchase is worth it or not. Do you really want to work all those hours to buy that item?

    We often don’t think about how long we must work to pay for the items we purchase and this exercise can stop you from buying a number of items.

    frugal living tip: money goals calculate budget and plan for financial goals

    4. Consider consuming more frugal friendly content.

    Have you considered how much the content you consume affects your spending habits?

    If you are constantly watching hauls and commercials and shows that encourage spending then you will likely want to spend more. Continually watching or reading content that encourages spending will make you want to spend more money.

    I found this true in my own life and had to limit the amount of YouTube haul videos I watched because I found myself wanting to buy items I didn’t really need. Swap out more frugal friendly content and skip ads so you will be more likely to stick with your frugal living goals.

    5. Use appliances singularly at off peak hours.

    Sometimes going against the crowd is a great way to be frugal and save money. This is definitely true with your electric usage!

    When you are trying to cut back on your utility bill you can do a number of things to reduce it like only using major appliances one at a time. You can also use these appliances – like the washing machine, dryer, dishwasher – during off peak hours when the rates for electricity are cheaper.

    If you don't know when your off peak hours are then you can check with your utilities provider to find out when you would get reduced rates.

    6. Buy a smaller home.

    Frugal people generally don't live in mansions filled to the brim with stuff in every room.

    Buying a smaller home can be a conscious decision to stay frugal. You will have less space to fill so you will naturally spend less money furnishing and won't be tempted to overfill the space with items you don't need.

    Our first home was a smaller home and we chose it because we knew we didn’t (and probably never will) need a 4,000+ sq ft house. Buying a smaller home saves you money in many ways from less furniture spending to fill it up to cheaper electricity bills keeping it cool.

    7. Declutter your house so you don’t lose things.

    Disorder and clutter leads to financial mistakes and disorganization.

    Often living in cluttered spaces or letting items build up over time makes it hard to remember what you actually even own. Have you ever been unable to find an item you swear you already bought but couldn't... only to find the item after you bought a replacement? That's a frugality fail my friends.

    Keeping things decluttered and minimal will allow you to find the things you need instead of accidentally buying duplicates because you can’t find what you need.

    8. Sign up for birthday freebies and discounts.

    Everyone loves getting free stuff on their birthday! I definitely love all the perks and freebies available on my birthday each year.

    Even if you don’t get birthday gifts any more you can still get free things thanks to many companies that offer birthday freebies. Even more companies offer birthday discounts, so sign up for the mailing lists of the companies and products you love the most to get these when your birthday rolls around each year.

    9. Inflate your tires properly.

    It might seem like a small thing, but keeping your tires properly inflated will save you a lot of money on gas because it improves your car’s gas usage.

    You’ll get the best possible miles per gallon out of your car with properly inflated tires, so make sure they stay inflated and immediately air them up when the light comes on. This is something that only takes a small amount of change to do. You can also buy an air compressor tire inflator and do it at home. We bought one for under $40 and have kept our tires inflated for years with the DIY method.

    10. Learn to sew and care for your clothing.

    Basic clothing care doesn’t take a lot of skill so learn but can ultimately save you a lot of money by taking care of your items.

    Learning how to do basic clothing care like sewing on buttons can save you time and money. This will help extend the life of your clothing and allow you to get more use out of each piece. You won't have to replace clothing as often if you are able to do basic maintenance.

    11. Close off rooms you don’t use regularly.

    If you’ve bought a house much bigger than you need you can close off rooms you don’t use. This will save you money on furniture and home decor and it will also keep your utility bill down.

    We did this when we first bought our home and it save us a ton of money that first year! All you do is leave rooms empty and unfurnished and then shut the doors and vents! You don’t have to heat or cool the space you aren’t using regularly.

    12. Buy reusable food storage containers.

    Instead of using disposable food container products or even plastic tupperware that eventually gets thrown away, buy durable reusable food storage containers. This will likely cost more upfront but you will ultimately same more money in the long run.

    We purchased a set of glass food containers a while back and have been using them successfully since then. We haven’t had to buy new containers which has saved money!

    13. Order light ice or no ice in drinks.

    If you eat out and order drinks, ask for light ice or no ice at all. You’ll get more of the actual drink you want and it will still be cold enough to enjoy.

    Again, this might seem like a super small frugal tip, but that's the beauty of all these tips. There is no item too small to save on!

    14. Use cashback apps on top of sales and coupons.

    Coupons are the bedrock of frugal living but cashback apps are the icing on the cask and my personal favorite way to shop frugally.

    The great thing about cashback apps is that you can stack them on top of store sales and regular coupons for additional savings. You can use as many money savings apps on one purchase as possible to make the products you buy as cheap as possible. I like to use Ibotta along with Fetch Rewards and others.

    Some of my favorite cash back apps even give you a bonus when you sign up:

    frugal living tip - use cashback apps

    15. Use reusable dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

    Instead of disposable dryer sheets you can buy dryer balls that are reusable. Both make your clothes fluffy soft but the dryer balls can be used over and over again. This saves you money in the long run by making a one time purchase versus buying dryer sheets over and over again.

    This worked out perfectly for us since the dryer balls I bought worked well and my husband hated dryer sheets in his laundry. We've actually tried two different types of dryer balls: spiky dryer balls and wool dryer balls. Both worked great!

    16. Save delivery packaging for future shipping.

    When you receive packages from places like Amazon, save the packaging! Find a safe place to store this packaging material for future shipping so you won't have to buy it again.

    You can use the boxes or the padded envelopes for future shipments. This will save you from buying packing supplies at the post office. You could also use it as boxes to wrap for birthday gifts or frugal Christmas presents!

    17. Stock up on household items on sale.

    You've likely got a list of household items that you know you’ll eventually need to use. These things like furnace filters or laundry detergent are staples in running your household. Anything in your household that you need to use over and over again is a great candidate for buying in bulk when it goes on sale.

    When something you use often is on sale at a great price you can stock up and save yourself a lot of money for the future.

    18. Stretch laundry detergent with baking soda.

    This one was completely new to me entirely, but you can combine baking soda with your laundry detergent to stretch your detergent a bit further!

    It also makes your whites whiter and your brights brighter so you’ll save money and have nicer looking clothes! Baking soda is incredibly inexpensive and it will save you a lot of money.

    19. Buy used clothes on Ebay to update your wardrobe.

    Buying clothing second hand is an obvious frugal choice but buying clothes via Ebay in a lot can help you change out your whole wardrobe on a dime.I’ve bought used clothes often before but I love this tip for switching out your whole wardrobe by buying a “lot” on Ebay in a certain size!

    I’m actually planning to sell my own winter wardrobe this way. It’s a cheaper way to shake things up and get lots of new clothes in a frugal way.

    Bonus tip: resell your clothes on Ebay too as a side hustle so your clothing costs are eliminated entirely!

    frugal living tip buy second hand clothes

    20. Use grocery story bags for dog poop.

    Let's be honest: dog poop is gross and buying bags to pick it up is expensive.

    You can buy special bags with fragrances to pick up dog poop… or you can just reuse plastic grocery bags you get from the grocery store.

    (Let's be honest, you can also skip both of these all together if you really love the earth).

    21. Dress for the weather to save on heat/air.

    If it’s cold outside, wear layers and keep the heat down. If it’s hot outside, wear less clothing and keep your temperature higher.

    Adjusting your clothing to the temperature rather than adjusting the temperature in your home will save you a lot of money. No matter the weather, dress for it and keep your house slightly off the “normal” temperature to save money on your utility bill.

    22. Eat less meat overall.

    Eating less meat each week can be very good for your body, your budget, and the earth. It’s a win, win, win.

    Buying less meat will lower your grocery bill so even a couple vegetarian plant-based meals each week will help you reduce your spending.

    23. Cut your own hair or go to a cosmetology school.

    Cutting your own hair can save a ton of money if you need it regularly. My husband learned how to cut his hair on YouTube and has been giving himself haircuts for years. He got so good he also gives his family haircuts!

    If you aren’t sure of your skills you can go to a cosmetology school where students will do the work and charge much less than a normal salon. I’ve done it and the savings is substantial over a high end salon.

    24. Shop based on unit price.

    Grocery stores design their stores to make you spend more money overall. This means you need to keep an eagle eye, and possibly a calculator, when you are shopping.

    Shop for everything based on the unit price instead of the item price. Often the smaller item with the lower price is a better deal than the large bulk buy based on the unit price.

    25. Use YouTube for workouts.

    You can use YouTube for almost anything, including getting fit! There are many different workouts on YouTube and there are channels dedicated to giving you free and ever-changing workouts, from yoga to HIIT to pilates.

    I love doing yoga videos from YouTube. My therapist actually recommended Yoga by Adrienne and I’ve loved doing her videos for free at home!

    Bonus: Have frugal friends around you!

    You tend to become like the people closest to you so surround yourself with budget conscious friends who want to support your frugality!

    Even if you aren’t planning to be frugal forever, it can truly help to put more frugal people in your life for a period of paying off debt for instance.

    Financial Bundle: Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff

    This financial planner bundle is a grouping of everything you need to plan your budget, grow your savings, and achieve your debt payoff. It is perfect for anyone who wants an all-in-one solution to get started and get organized!

    More Frugal Living Tips

    I'm happy to be your frugal friend! I love thinking about ways to be more frugal in my own life and share posts about frugality like these:

    Enjoy more frugal living, friends!

    Frugal Living Tips

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  • Best Budget Planner Stickers On Etsy

    Since I've been budgeting on paper my methods have evolved to include budget sticker kits made for planners. Budget planner stickers allow pen and paper budgeting to be more organized, beautiful and fun!

    Best Budget Planner Stickers On Etsy

    There are many different Etsy sticker shops creating and selling budgeting planner stickers and I've tried many of them! Here I'm sharing the ones I've tried and found to be the best budget sticker kits you can buy.

    If you're wondering where to buy budgeting stickers for your planner, then check out any of the shops below!

    Where To Buy Budget Planner Stickers

    The best source for unique monthly budget sticker kits is Etsy.

    Many budget planners have opened shops where they sell budget sticker kits for each month designed to help you track your budget and make it look good.

    Below are some of my absolute favorite budget sticker shops!

    Since it's hard to pick a favorite I've shared them in alphabetical order and included videos where I used the stickers for my monthly budget in my planner. This will give you a good idea of what the stickers look like in action.

    Best Budget Sticker Shops On Etsy

    Below are all the awesome shops I've used monthly budget sticker kits from. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it does include some of the best budget stickers out there!

    Caffeinated Cait

    caffeinate cait budget stickers

    Caffeinated Cait's budget stickers are one the very first sets I used!

    Each set she comes out with has beautiful layers of rich colors and her style of creating a budget fits very well in most planners.

    She also offers printable budget sticker kits now that you can print and cut at home to save money.

    Caffeinated Cait's Budget Stickers In Use

    Check out Caffeinated Cait's budgeting sticker shop here!

    Stickers By Cindy (Previously LaTruce Paperie)

    Cindy is a fellow YouTuber who opened a sticker shop and it's as incredible as her channel. She offers beautiful floral stickers, monthly budget kits, and useful transparent budget related stickers.

    Stickers By Cindy In Use:

    Check out Sticker's by Cindy budget sticker shop here!

    Plan Heal & Be Mary

    plan heal and be mary stickers

    Plan Heal & Be Mary's sticker shop on Etsy offers monthly budget kits perfect for an Ericn Condren or Happy Planner. You can see examples on her channel every month when she shares her budget.

    Plan Heal & Be Mary's Stickers In Use:

    Check out Plan Heal & Be Mary's budgeting sticker shop here!

    Shays Budget Shop

    Shay's one of the first budget YouTubers I saw start an Etsy store and she's always produced amazing monthly budget kits. She's also got lots of budgeting sticker extras and savings chart sticks too!

    Shay's Budget Shop Stickers In Use:

    Check out ShayBudgets sticker shop here!

    Types Of Budget Planner Stickers

    There are many different types of budget related stickers available. When you first start buying budget planner sticks you'll probably be overwhelmed with all the options!

    Here are some of the most common budgeting planner stickers options:

    • monthly budget sticker kits
    • weekly budget sticker kits
    • paycheck budget sticker kits
    • spending trackers
    • expense tracker stickers
    • bill due stickers
    • pay day stickers
    • mortgage due stickers
    • rent due stickers
    • gas purchase stickers
    • no spend day stickers
    • spend day stickers
    • mystery bag stickers
    • and more!

    All of these are potential options for you as a planner who wants to incorporate budgeting. You'll just need to determine which sticker shop and type of stickers is right for you.

    Closed Budget Planner Sticker Shops

    Since I regularly update this list some budget sticker shops on Etsy close! Below are some that are no longer available on Etsy.

    Callie Pie

    callie pie budget stickers

    Callie Pie Stickers reached out to me to try a budget sticker kit one month and I was thrilled with the result! One of my favorite floral monthly budget kits ever came from Callie Pie stickers.

    Erika LifeVlogs

    erika life vlogs stickers

    ErikaLifeVlogs sticker shop offers a variety of budget kits and stand alone stickers. Her bill due and monthly kits are some of the most vibrant ones I've ever used and the colors are always so fun.

    Erika not only makes beautiful budget sticker kits but she's very supportive of fellow YouTubers which makes me personally love her even more!

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  • 12 Frugal Beauty Tips | Beauty On A Budget

    Do you love beauty products and makeup but don't want it to destroy your budget? Welcome to the beauty on a budget club! Today I’m sharing my frugal beauty tips and my own personal favorite budget beauty products as a collaboration with Cents and Purpose and Kate Kaden!

    Makeup and beauty is one area where I don’t spend much honestly and get very, very frugal. That’s honestly because this is not an area where I put a lot of my focus or care much about it. Most days I don’t even wear makeup, but I do love to have a quick easy makeup look and get dolled up for events.

    Favorite Frugal Beauty Products

    Below I've listed some of my favorite budget beauty products and my personal favorite makeup splurge item!

    Frugal Beauty Products I Love:

    Splurge Beauty Products I Love:

    Frugal Beauty Tips

    Some of these frugal beauty tips you have probably heard and others may be new. Take what you can use from this list and leave the rest. Finding what works for you and your preferences is the beauty of frugality and personal finance.

    You can find ways to be frugal and cut costs in areas that don't matter as much so you can spend in other areas.

    My favorite frugal beauty tips:

    1. Drink lots of water. Drinking a lot of water will lead to better looking skin. You look better when you are well hydrated, I promise. The better you take care of your body overall with drinking water and eating healthy foods, the better your skin looks.
    2. Use a makeup primer! It makes your makeup look so much better in most cases and is a frugal way to make the makeup you do actually use look better. 
    3. Figure out what works for you and stick with it. You don’t have to try every new trend and product that comes out. People overspend and waste the most when constantly buying new products that end up not working for them. When you find a product you like, you can find ways to get it on sale.
    4. Shop sales and deals and use drugstore reward points. Makeup is always going on sale and many brands offer coupons. Only buy things when it’s a good price.
    5. Choose one splurge item, instead of spending heavy on everything. Pick one thing that is most important to you and buy the higher end item. For me this is a higher end foundation that works well with my skin type.
    6. Find ways to use one item in multiple ways. Can you also use a shimmer item for cheeks, lips and eyes? Can you use a brown eyeshadow for your eyeshadow and you’re eyebrows?  
    7. Always take care of your skin! Most of the basic skincare stuff doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to make it a habit. Use a moisturizer during the day. Use retinol for anti aging at night. Again, give your skin what it needs. Always remove your makeup at night.
    8. Spend time improving your technique instead of buying more stuff. If you don’t know how to apply makeup well then the expensive items you buy still won’t look as good as the drugstore makeup another girl uses who has worked on applying it perfectly. 
    9. Remove advertising for beauty items where you can. Unfollow brands and send those newsletters to the trash or unsubscribe.
    10. Set a budget for your beauty spending. Figure out what your beauty budget includes: makeup, hair products, skin care and set a budget. This make be a separate category or it may be within your personal spending money like mine, but set a limit for yourself.
    11. Create a beauty sinking fund. You know I love sinking funds and for good reason - there is no guilt when spending on items it you have saved up for them. If you want that fancy foundation, start a beauty sinking fund and save up over a couple months and then buy it.
    12. Find bonus money to spend on beauty. Finding extra money for your budget makes things like beauty feel less budget busting. In my description box I share things like Rakuten, which sends me checks that I can use on beauty items outside of my budget! I also always use gift cards from birthdays or bonuses from work on beauty items! ➝  Try Rakuten for earning cash back on purchases to spend and get a $10 bonus.  

    Those are just some of my favorite ways to be frugal with makeup and beauty products! There are tons of other ways as well!

    Frugal Beauty Strategies To Save Money

    There are many other strategies for saving money on your beauty routines and skincare regime. Some of the strategies actually involve your mindset and approve to beauty.

    Take care of your whole body.

    Beauty begins with things that don't cost any money at all and that's taking care of your whole body. This includes doing things like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating healthy foods. These things make your skin look better and your overall beauty will shine!

    Spend where it matters.

    For an example: have the mindset to prioritize what matters. Decide what you really care about most in your beauty routine and splurge there. Then choose to spend less in other areas or cut them out all together.

    Use less product.

    If you want to get very frugal, you can water down things like shampoo or otherwise dilute beauty items to make them go further. This makes items last longer and gives you much more bang for your buck. Another option to use less is to actually use less products. You likely don't need as many items as you think.

    Find ways to do it yourself.

    You might not be able to DIY every beauty or personal care item in your budget but there are many ways to diy personal care expenses to save money. Take a look at what you currently spend and decide where you might be able to DIY: could you do your nails at home? could you trim your own hair instead of going to the salon? could you make beauty products at home with less ingredients for less money?

    Learn what makes you feel beautiful.

    Sometimes what makes us feel beautiful matters more than anything we spend money on. Find the things that make you feel beautiful, whether that is fake eyelashes or facials or simply a lovely outfit that fits well. Prioritize those in your budget and day because when you feel beautiful you will also look beautiful!

    If you enjoy being frugal, check out some of these other posts about living a frugal life:

    Being beautiful and living a full life is possible while being frugal and staying on a budget.

    Read More

  • 50 Things To Do Instead of Spending Money

    When you're trying to live on a budget then it is essential to cut spending in certain areas. Cutting expenses isn't always fun but there are lots of things you can do instead of spending money.

    Since I still like to enjoy life and have fun, I've created a list of 50 fun things to do instead of spending money.

    It’s great to have a list you can refer to when feeling bored, so you have something fun to do instead of thinking there is “nothing to do” without spending money.

    Hopefully this list of things to do instead of spending money helps you cut down on spending while still enjoying life.

    There are tons of fun things to do without spending money! Want to take it a step further? Combine these ideas with a no spend challenge!

    50 Things To Do Instead of Spending Money

    Things To Do Instead of Spending Money

    1. Invite friends over. The best way to spend time and not money? Invite friends over just to hang out and talk with each other! It's great to catch up with friends and chat about your lives, futures, and fun topics too.
    2. Attend a free event. If you live in a major city or near a college there are probably free events happening all the time. Look online for community calendars and check at the local library for listings of free events. Check out the local blogs or newspapers in your area for listings of free things to do during the weekends.
    3. Write a letter to a friend. Receiving real mail is rare these days so it has become extra special. Make someone’s day by writing and mailing a letter. The stamp will cost a minimal amount of money but writing the letter is a fun and free activity.
    4. Call your mom. No matter how old you are your mom (or other special person in your life) will always love to hear from you. Give her a call and tell her about your life or reminisce about good times. Just remember to say I love you!
    5. Write a letter to your representative. While this might not be the most "fun" item on the list, but it can be impactful. You might find making a difference in the world makes you feel good. We all have causes we care about. Take the time to write a letter to your representative to voice your opinion on an issue. This stuff matters!
    6. Read a blog. Want tons of free entertainment? Browse new posts and dig through the archives of a good blog for a few hours. There are thousands of blogs online with archives of free content on any topic you could possible imagine. Go find one you like and read through posts for a while in order to learn something.
    7. Write a blog post. Creating content can be fun! Write something for your own blog or another existing blog about a topic you are passionate about. You likely have something you can share about a topic that other people need to hear! Don’t have a blog yet? Start a blog NOW. It's also a great way to earn a side hustle income!
    8. Organize your things.  Go through a room and organize the items in it. Throw away old things you don't need, straighten up things that are staying, and make things look nice and tidy.
    9. Organize your photos. Spend a little bit of time looking through your digital photos! Go through your iphoto library and organize everything. You probably have some photos you need to delete. You can take the opportunity to select photos for ordering prints the next time you are spending money.
    10. De-clutter your house. Work room through to get rid of extra clutter and errant items. Decluttering might sound like a chore, but a clean space can be life-changing and the process can be fun too.
    11. Sell your stuff on Craigslist. All that stuff you found during organizing and decluttering? Put it up on Craigslist for sale! This is a great free activity because it will actually earn you money that you can use for doing things later!
    12. Host a yard sale. Anything that doesn’t sell on Craigslist or is too small to be sold there can be offered up in a yard sale. You can advertise for free on sites like Craigslist and Facebook neighborhood groups. You can get rid of clutter and potentially make a few hundred dollars on the venture.
    13. Find free stuff. If you happen to need items rather than getting rid of them, sign up for curb alert groups and browse Craigslist and Freecycle for free items. You can also check Facebook neighborhood groups where people are trying to get rid of things and doing curb alerts of items they want to give away.
    14. Rearrange your furniture. Change up your living room by moving furniture around and trying new furniture configurations. Try something new in your space and see if you like it. This can be super fun and invigorating.
    15. Clean your house. Cleaning your house can make your environment better and save you money. Scrub the bathroom, floors, windows, everything. Make the house the cleanest it’s ever been, or at least in a while.
    16. Clean your car. Clean out all the junk that accumulates in a car and give it a nice wash inside and out. Make it look like a million bucks and you'll feel like you have a brand new car without spending any money.
    17. Do some yard work. Getting outside can improve your mood and doing yard work can make your home more appealing. Cut your grass, trim the shrubs, rake the leaves. Manual labor is free and productive. You’ll be able to enjoy the landscaping for many months or years after!
    18. Make a to-do list. Making lists is free and useful! Make a list of all the things you need to do and have been putting off or make a list of all the things you want to do in the future. The things you want to do might cost money but making the list doesn’t!
    19. Tackle a nagging task. Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project) suggests this super tip for happiness. Tackle one of the pesky lingering tasks always on your to-do list and cross it off forever. Doing something you've been avoiding might sound boring or painful but it will lead to a boost in happiness.
    20. Go for a walk or run. Explore your neighborhood or a new part of town by foot. See things from a new perspective and get exercise. Running in different cities can be a fun and free way to see a new place.
    21. Go for a bike ride. Check out the trails or popular bike routes in your city. Ride your bike in a new area of along your favorite route for some exercise and fresh air.
    22. Go for a hike. Explore the nature near you by hiking in the woods. Hiking is a fun, free activity and every area has hiking trails even if it's relatively flat. Look at your nearby parks and national forests for hiking locations.
    23. Try an at home exercise challenge. Look up an exercise challenge on Pinterest or another site and get to moving! Do the 100 pushups or 100 situps challenge. Or try to do a ton of burpees in a row. It’s free, fun, and challenging!
    24. Test out a new gym for free. Almost every gym out there offers a free trial period where you can go to the gym without spending any money or signing up for a contract. Test out a new gym and change up your work-out for the week. There are also lots of free workouts available in most communities that you can find and join in.
    25. Enjoy the sun. One of the nicest things to do on a sunny day is to spend time outside walking or laying out and enjoying the sun. Be sure to use sunscreen while you gloriously bask in the sun for free. This free activity will boost your vitamin D levels and improve your mood and health.
    26. Gaze at the stars. This free night time activity involves a blanket, no lights, and your eyes. Go for a drive out in the country away from city lights and find a secluded place where you can just lay down and watch the big beautiful universe spin by you.
    27. Take a nap. Relax for a bit and let your body rest and recover from the daily grind it goes through. Naps as an adult can be glorious! They are also a free activity that your body likely needs as much as anything you could buy.
    28. Take a bath. Sure water isn’t truly 100% free, but you have to get clean anyway! Take a relaxing warm bath at home, play some music and enjoy the little luxuries.
    29. Try a new hairstyle. Create a list of hairstyles you would like to try out and attempt one. You can create a Pinterest board of ideas you'd like to try recreating and then test one out for free. It might take a few tries to get right so your time will be well spent creating a new look for yourself.
    30. Try a new outfit. Chances are you only wear a percentage of your closet and even that is worn in the same way. Try out some new looks with the clothes you already in your close. Take what you have and try new combinations and accessories for a different look. Shop your closet for free!
    31. Mend your clothes. You most likely have a pile of clothes to mend or hem that you’ll get to “sometime” in the future or things that don't fit perfectly. Tackle the clothes that need a little TLC and restore your wardrobe to it’s glory days without going out and buying new things.
    32. Host a clothing swap. Host a party where friends come over and bring items they want to give up to get other items. You'll all walk away with new clothes and accessories without spending any money. You all save money and get free new items to wear. It's also super fun to try on new clothes with friends!
    33. Read a book. Curl up with a good book and you’ll have a free adventure that lasts for hour or days. Hit up your library or Amazon’s free ebooks list. Here’s the top 100 free ebooks on Amazon, and there are plenty of free ebooks out there that you can spend hours enjoying for free.
    34. Write something. Writing can be fun, creative, cathartic, and best of all it is free. Use your imagination and create a story or draft a blog post or jot down old memories. If you don't like to write things other people can see, just journal!
    35. Write a list of reasons not to spend money. Write a list of reasons why you want to save rather and spend and put your future goals in writing. It will motivate you to do all the things on this list rather than spend money!
    36. Babysit. Sure teens use babysitting as a way to make money, but it’s also a nice gift you can give new parents. If you have a couple in your life with kids, offer to watch their kids for free as a sweet thing to do. It's a great gift, kind thing to do, and also can be very fun!
    37. Make a card. Get crafty and use the materials around your house to make a card for an upcoming holiday or just because. You can even stockpile these and use them throughout the year and have a collection of handmade cards to give away during the holidays.
    38. Make gifts. Christmas is coming and birthdays go year round so there is almost always an occasion for gift giving. Check out easy DIY gift guides for ideas and use what you already have to make cute gifts for friends and family. Need ideas? Read 20 Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas and 33 Money Saving Tips For A Frugal Christmas.
    39. Make a Pinterest pin. Most of us have a Pinterest account with hundreds of pinned ideas on it. Take the time to make one of those pins with the supplies you already own. You can search Pinterest based on things you already have so you don't have to spend money.
    40. Go on a photo scavenger hunt. Take your camera or just your phone and complete a photo scavenger hunt around your area. You can make up your own list of items to find or borrow one from an existing website.
    41. Take a pantry recipe challenge. Challenge yourself to use what is in your pantry to create a new and exciting dinner for your family. There are many ways to use the items in your pantry that you might not have considered before.
    42. Create a meal plan. Write out your meals for the next week or month. Getting organized is free and will also save you money on groceries and eating out in the long run. Consider combining the meal plan with your pantry recipe challenge. Food can be a hue expense so meal planning along with budget grocery shopping is the way to go!
    43. Host a potluck. Want to see friends and keep expenses down? Try making a pantry dish and have others come over to provide the rest of the meal. Potlucks are always a fun and inexpensive way to get together with people.
    44. Watch a new show. You can check out the free shows on Hulu or most network channel websites. There are even shows and movies on YouTube you can watch as well. Pick a show and watch a new episode or two.
    45. Host a TV or movie marathon. Invite friends over and collectively pull together a marathon based on shows and movies you already own. Try to base it around a theme or genre for a more cohesive evening.
    46. Check your finances. Take a few hours and do a thorough review of your finances. Look at your spending levels, adjust your budget, and review your investment choices. Use Personal Capital or Mint.com to get an overview of your finances and make adjustments as necessary.
    47. Write out your future goals. Nothing is more motivating than dreaming. Take some time to dream about your life and write down the major things you want to achieve. Give yourself the free time to decide what you really want out of life. Figuring out your life goals might just inspire you to make a big change.
    48. Write a gratitude list. One thing I love to do when I’m feeling restless and wanting to spend/buy/consume is to make a list of what I already have. Listing out what you have and what you are grateful for reminds you that life is wonderful and you already have a lot. It gives you something to do without spending money!
    49. Volunteer. Volunteering is free except for your time and it’s extremely rewarding. You can find volunteer positions online and select a nonprofit you really want to support in the long term.
    50. Leave positivity where you go. It’s free to offer a smile or leave a positive note in a library book. It's free to help someone complete a task or get something they need. You can always look for ways to impart kindness daily among those you cross.

    This is a long list of free things to do instead of spending money because there are many options!

    If you’re ever wondering what you can do with your time for free, then make sure you refer back to this list!

    Life is not all about the money and this list proves there are plenty of things you can do without spending any money.

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  • How To Get Money When You’re Broke

    If you live paycheck to paycheck then an emergency expense could send you spiraling financially. You might be there now, wondering how to get money when you're broke.

    It's a tough place to be when you're broke but need money.

    How To Get Money When You're Broke And Car Breaks Down

    Emergencies Happen When You're Broke

    Many people without savings live in fear of "Murphy".

    That phase is based on Murphy's law of "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong". When you have no money that is exactly when you have an emergency.

    People know that one unexpected financial burden can send them into a money tailspin. You are barely hanging on financially and then a costly emergency pops up. This starts a chain reaction of financial problems that can take years to recover from.

    If you're living in that fearful place, you might be wondering:

    • How to get money when you're broke and don't have an emergency fund?
    • Where to find funds when an unexpected expense comes up?
    • How can you pay for something unexpected if you are broke to begin with?
    • Are there ways to get money for an emergency?

    The answers to these questions will depend on your situation but hopefully this article can give you some ideas or a little hope.

    Related: How to Build an Emergency Fund

    How To Get Money When You Have None

    There are several ways to get money when you have none in the bank, but they might not all be ones you want to use depending on your situation.

    These are ways to get money in an unexpected emergency that you probably wouldn’t resort to unless you are facing an emergency situation .

    If you need money but have no other options this list might help you brainstorm ways to pull together the money you need for an unexpected expense of $1,000 to $2,000.

    They are the ways to get money for a financial emergency. The list ranges from the best to the worst ideas:

    • Raid any savings that you currently have
    • Sell anything at home that you don't need
    • Beg or borrow from family and friends
    • Use a credit card
    • Start a GoFundMe page
    • Get a short term loan
    • Get a payday loan or alternative
    • Take a loan from yourself via a 401k

    Believe me, I don’t recommend many of these options on a normal basis. In fact, I know that these options are not the best options. Each one brings about another problem.

    Many of these options can cause relationship problems or get you into a bad debt cycle.

    But if it’s life or death and you need money? These financial options exist for a reason.

    Related: Is $1,000 Enough For An Emergency Fund?

    How To Get Money When You're Broke

    How To Make Money When You Have None

    A different and perhaps better option on how to get money when you're broke is to work.

    In this situation you simply work as hard and fast as possible and earn all the money you can quickly. This is often work beyond and outside of your regular job.

    When you are broke and don't know how to afford something, the best place to go is to work.

    There are many ways to earn a little bit of extra money quickly in case of an emergency. In fact I love learning about side hustles for moms and ways to earn income on the side.

    • Have a yard sell
    • Sell as much of your stuff as you can
    • Raid your piggy bank
    • Pawn your valuable items
    • Sell your gold and jewelry for cash
    • Sell blood or plasma
    • Sell used books on Amazon
    • Bake and sell cookies or cupcakes
    • Check Craigslist for a weekend gig
    • Offer up babysitting skills
    • Sell handyman or lawn care services to neighbors
    • Start driving for Uber or delivering pizzas tonight
    • Rake yards, mow grass, and do yard work for neighbors
    • Sign up for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and complete tasks
    • Rent out extra space in your house or garage

    There are tons of other ways to make money quickly when you really need it. You have to be creative, be willing to ask, and be willing to work.

    For longer term side hustles you can continue making money through things like blogging for money or making YouTube videos.

    Related: Start A Reselling Side Huste

    How Would You Get Money When You Need It?

    MSNBC summarized a study that asked respondents the following question:

    “How confident are you that you could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose within the next month?”

    The results of that study showed how many people have trouble coming up with just $2,000 in an emergency situation.

    Half of all U.S. households say they “certainly” or “probably” could not come up the funds to cope with such an ordinary financial emergency, according to a new study on financial fragility.

    Of households making between $100,000 and $150,000 annually, nearly one-quarter said they “certainly” or “probably” would be unable to come up with the $2,000. The amount was meant to suggest a major car repair, a co-pay on a medical expense or a home repair. It is far lower than the three to six months’ worth of expenses that financial planners typically recommend people have in savings. Yet 28 percent of respondents said they could be “certainly” unable to cope with the $2,000 expense, while 22 percent said they “probably” would not. The survey was conducted in 2009 near the depths of the Great Recession, but the findings were broadly consistent with other data about Americans’ financial resources.

    Basically half of Americans do not know how to get money when they are in a financial emergency. It's not surprising that most people can't come up with that amount of money.

    Before I got my financial act together I know I couldn't. Honestly even when I was working for many years I wasn't able to get far enough ahead to save $2,000 for emergencies.

    I knew that if something happened, I'd have to get creative with money to cover an unexpected expense.

    My Experience Getting Money For Emergencies

    Unfortunately my family has a lot of experience in this area where money is tight during an emergency.

    Various family members in the last few years have hit financial hardships and found themselves without the money they needed for everyday expenses… myself included.

    Unfortunately family has turned to things like payday loans, short term cash loans, credit cards and borrowing from family & friends. In a pinch things like these are not a bad thing but they can spiral out of control quickly and lead you to overwhelming debt.

    They can help you get through one situation quickly but if you are not careful these short term loan options can drag you into a revolving door of debt that is hard to get out of easily.

    Payday loans and credit cards can give someone the chance they need to get through a tough situation.

    While I have never used a payday loan, I don’t ever judge anyone negatively for utilizing these short term financing options. Even if some people don’t consider them the best because of the tricky terms attached, I understand why people turn to them.

    I have used credit cards in the past to float me through tough times like when I lost my job unexpectedly. I wouldn't recommend this method to most people but it did get me through until I had a steady stream of income and then paid off the credit card balance.

    My family and I have almost always fallen into the “probably would not” category, meaning we would probably not be able to cover an unexpected expense. Unfortunately that is why various family members have resorted to the short term options I’ve mentioned earlier. Thankfully those options existed because otherwise, what would we have done?

    My Plan On Getting Money In An Emergency

    Looking at my own life and finances these days, I realize I want to have a plan in place before a situation like this arises. Since getting my financial life together I prefer to be prepared. It's why I budget and create sinking funds.

    It's always more comfortable to have an emergency fund and sinking funds before a need for money arises.

    Luckily I've gotten past what I assume to be the most tricky financial transitions, but I'm always one huge medical bill or job loss away from needed emergency savings.

    So what do I personally consider the best plan to get money if I needed it for an emergency?

    Here are the steps I would take to gather up $2,000 right now:

    1. Gather up any money I already have available. Raid my emergency fund or any bank accounts to get the amount needed.
    2. Hustle, hustle, hustle! Do as much side work as quickly as possible to fill the gap and replenish the emergency fund. Mow lawns and watch kids and donate plasma if I need to.
    3. Reach out to friends or start a GoFundMe. I'd pray that after years of giving to others I'd be blessed in return.

    In the past before I was financially responsible, I would have turned to a credit card to cover the expense without a plan to pay it back. Of even if I had a plan for repayment, I wouldn't have had a plan to pay for the expense before it happened.

    Luckily after years of hard work I am in the position where if a $2,000 expense unexpectedly arose, I would be able to cover it from my emergency fund. We would pay for the expenses and move on to replenishing that amount in our emergency fund.

    If it was a slightly bigger expense? Or multiple months of $2,000 expenses? That might actually lead us into a tricky situation.

    If a very large expense arose that went beyond our minimal emergency fund, then I would work as many side jobs as possible to pay for the expense.

    I never again want the stress, overwhelm, and anxiety of a credit card balance that I can't pay back. The stress and worry debt causes is one of the main reasons I paid off debt to begin with.

    So instead of turning to that option now I would definitely do as much as humanly possible to cover unexpected expenses.

    I know I can work enough hours to cover the expense quickly even if it’s not fun. I never want to go into debt again just to cover an emergency. It's just not worth all the stress that the debt brings.

    Whatever your plan is, it is important to have a plan in place. You never want to ask yourself again how to get money when you're broke. You deserve the ability to cover emergencies and have money you need!

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  • Sinking Funds List Of Categories

    Sinking funds can change your life financially. Creating a sinking funds list and using them in our budget radically change how we handle money.

    You may want to start several sinking funds once you learn how sinking funds work. But which sinking funds are best? Is there a sinking funds list?

    If you are wondering what sinking funds your should start, then you are in the right place.

    sinking funds list and instructions

    Many people stumble with sinking funds in the beginning, but this list of common sinking funds can help you determine which sinking funds you need to make your budget work.

    What are sinking funds?

    Sinking funds are accounts with a purpose.

    They are accounts you save into regularly for spending on expenses that are irregular expense, non-monthly expenses, unpredictable or big one time expenses.

    It’s a mini savings account for an expense you know you’ll have in the future.

    Sinking funds make saving for these hard to budget items strategic and stress free. You set a little bit aside each month until you hit your goal… and then you spend it!

    So if you’re saving up for an event 6 months from now, you put a smaller amount aside into the sinking fund each month until the event where you spend it all. Sinking funds are designed to let you spend without stress or worry.

    Common Sinking Fund Categories

    Below are some of the most common and often most helpful sinking funds that you can add to your budget. This sinking funds list can help you get started!

    1. Car Repair Sinking Fund

    Car repairs will eventually happen. Every car needs repairs at some point even if it’s just general tire rotations or oil changes. Maintenance on cars is a necessary expenses if you own a car.

    You need to be putting money into this car repairs sinking fund account each month so that you are ready when your car needs repairs. Even just $20 a month into this fund can add up and help with the car repairs that do come along.

    Without a car sinking fund these unexpected repairs can quickly sink your budget for a month.

    2. Car Replacement Sinking Fund

    Cars don’t last forever unfortunately. This means you’ll eventually need to replace your current car. Saving up a little bit every month into a car replacement fund will make the purchase of a new car much less painful and will prevent you from going into debt to get a new car when the time comes.

    If your current car is paid off you should be at least putting the amount of a regular car payment into your car replacement sinking fund. This will quickly build up when you are saving a payment instead of paying a payment toward a car loan!

    3. Home Repairs Sinking Fund

    Just like a car, you know your home will eventually need repairs. Because this is an expense that is inevitable, you need to be saving up for home repairs that will come along when you own a home.

    Most guidelines suggest you’ll have to pay 1% of the home value price on repairs each year. You can figure out this number based on your home's value and then divide it by twelve to get an amount to save per month for your home repairs sinking fund.

    4. Water Bill Sinking Fund

    Many areas have annual or quarterly water bills where several months add up before payment is due. When these big, irregular water bills hit it is helpful to have the money in a sinking fund ready to pay the bill.

    Depending on you regular bill price, divide it by the number of months until it’s due and save that amount. You can also do this for other utility bills you may have that are not monthly.

    5. Pet Expenses Sinking Fund

    For most of us, pets are our family members. Our expensive, expensive family members who require monthly and larger annual expenses.

    Your pet may require regular grooming, special medicines for health issues, special diets and foods, and of course regular vet care. That's not to mention anything like toys, doggy daycare, beds, clothing or any fun pet expenses. Add in an expensive emergency vet visit and you’ll definitely be glad you have a pet expense sinking fund.

    We put at least $50 a month into our pet fund which only covers a portion of these pet expenses but it still helps us manage our spending on our dogs.

    6. Christmas Sinking Fund

    Christmas happens every year so it should not catch you by surprise and lead you into debt. Your Christmas sinking fund can be for gifts but also for things like decor, Christmas cards, foods for special dinners or anything else for the holidays. 

    Saving for Christmas in a sinking fund makes it much less stressful around the holiday season. Planning out your Christmas gift list in advance and saving up for Christmas expenses will make it much less stressful during the holidays.

    If you're not sure where to start with planning and saving for Christmas, you can grab the Christmas budgeting planner from my shop or the Christmas savings tracker to help visually plan your savings.

    7. Gifts Sinking Fund

    Throughout the year we buy gifts for birthdays, weddings, holidays, baby showers, house warmings and more special occasions. While we love gifting those around us with things they will treasure, it can definitely add up and ruin the budget if we don’t plan for it!

    Because we still want to give our loves ones gifts, we made a sinking fund for gift giving! We put a little bit into our gifts sinking fund each month and it usually builds up so we can buy gifts when they are needed. Having a sinking fund that builds up allows us to never stress about giving gifts.

    8. Clothing Sinking Fund

    You might not buy clothes every month, but you will eventually need to buy clothing or shoes as items wear out. Hardly any clothing pieces last a lifetime so you'll need to plan for buying new clothes and shoes at a certain point.

    That’s why this is a great sinking fund category because you are going to need it even if you don't need it monthly. You can save up a little each month and then eventually buy a higher quality item when you are ready to shop and replace items.

    9. Travel Sinking Fund

    Travel is generally a high price tag item which is why many people create a travel sinking fund to save up for trips. If you save just $100 a month into a travel sinking fund then you can take a $1,200 vacation each year. $100 a month doesn’t seem like much but it’s amazing what you can do with that amount. If you want to travel more or go on better trips then you can increase the amount you save monthly.

    For us, vacations are usually once or twice a year but because the high price tag, they are great sinking fund candidates. We only save when we have a trip planned and know the cost but many people save up a certain amount each more dedicated toward trips.

    travel sinking fund

    10. Car & Life Insurance Bill Sinking Funds

    Many life insurance bills and car insurance bills are due every 6 months, quarterly or yearly. Because they are not a monthly expense, these bills can throw a wrench into a normal monthly budget.

    We pay our car insurance every six months, so we put $55 a month into a car insurance sinking fund. Then when the payment is due we withdraw the amount, pay the bill, and start over again! We do the same thing with our life insurance because our life insurance is due quarterly. We put away $35 a month for that quarterly bill and then pay it when the balance has built up.

    11. Medical Bills Sinking Fund

    Unfortunately medical bills can be a huge financial problem in the United States. Even with good insurance you can have co-pays for appointments, shots, or medications to pay for when you do get sick or hurt. While this is unfortunate, it is also a reality of the world we live in.

    A sinking fund (or a medical FSA or HSA) can help make these irregular costs more manageable when they come along. If you have a very high deductible you need to be saving each month into a sinking fund for medical expenses that could come up. Your life will be much less stressful if you have the money saved when a medical emergency strikes.

    12. Back To School Expenses Sinking Fund 

    If you have kids, then you probably want a “back to school” sinking fund. You’ll need clothes and school supplies when school season rolls around. Kids also have a lot of expenses for signing up for extracurricular activities at the start of the school year.

    Back to school can be expensive, especially if you have multiple children to buy for each year. To soften the blow you can save up a little bit each month and you’ll be ready once school runs around.

    13. Yearly Renewal Sinking Funds

    If you have memberships or subscriptions that renew yearly, they can be put into a yearly sinking funds account. Things like a Costco membership fee, zoo membership fee, Amazon Prime membership are all items that can wreck a monthly budget so saving up for them each month can help keep you on track.

    You can create individual sinking funds for each yearly expense item or you can create a "yearly expenses" account where you add up the amount of all items, divide by 12, and save that amount each month.

    How do you set up sinking funds?

    Setting up sinking funds with Capital One 360 is very easy and super quick! From start to finish they have made the process of setting up sinking fund savings accounts very easy.

    If you want to see how we set up our sinking funds, you can see the whole process in the video below.

    Setting up sinking funds is a great way to keep your budget together throughout the year so the ups and downs don’t derail you.

    Need a bit more help? Check out these useful budgeting posts:

    Find What Works For You

    Once you have set up sinking funds you are able to play with the categories you use for your own life.

    There is no perfect sinking funds list. Everyone has different needs so you have to play around and find which categories make your life easier.

    You may even want to start with just one sinking fund category to save for and then go from there!

    One great category to start with can be car repairs or car related expenses. These are irregular expenses that come up for everyone as some time but can be hard to predict.

    From there your sinking funds list can grow as you experiment and learn how to make sinking funds work for you!

    Read More

  • Sinking Funds For Beginners

    Sinking funds seem confusing when you’re new to budgeting. They actually make budgeting easier and this guide to sinking funds for beginners will show you how.

    This sinking funds for beginners guide covers:

    • what sinking funds are
    • reasons to love sinking funds
    • how to set up your sinking funds
    • how to figure out what to save in sinking funds.

    I even show you how we set up our sinking funds in our own accounts in this video!

    Since we started using sinking funds we have had less problems with our budget being ruined by unexpected expenses.

    Sinking funds remove stress from budgeting. They make it much easier to pay for items in cash upfront. If you want to live a debt free life then you need to implement sinking funds.

    Sinking funds truly can be a total game changer once you understand them! They can be pretty hard to understand at first when you start using sinking funds but they can revolutionize your financial life which is why I wanted to explain sinking funds in an easy way.

    Dave Ramsey fans will talk about sinking funds a lot so hopefully this video explains what sinking funds are and how you can set up your own!

    Typical sinking fund categories might include things like car repairs, home repairs, holidays, Christmas, gifts. I've also shared a lit of 13 common sinking fund categories.

    What are sinking funds?

    Sinking funds are accounts with a purpose. They are specific savings accounts designed to achieve a purpose.

    They are accounts you save money into regularly for spending on expenses that are yearly irregular expenses, non-monthly expenses, unpredictable or big one time expenses.

    It’s a mini savings account you create for an expense you know you’ll have in the future whether it is planned or unplanned.

    Sinking funds make saving for hard to budget items strategic and stress free. You set a little bit aside each month until you hit your goal… and then you spend it!

    You get to spend guilt free because you saved up the money for a specific purpose, so when you spend the money on that item you don't have any guilt attached!

    Using sinking funds is easy. Let's say you are saving up for an event 6 months from now. You put a smaller amount of money aside into the sinking fund each month until the event where you spend it all.

    Sinking funds are designed to let you spend without stress or worry.

    Types of Sinking Funds

    In general I’ve seen there are a few common ways to set up sinking funds.

    1. Cash envelopes sinking funds. Since a sinking fund is money you will be spending, it makes sense to sometimes do them in cash. For these you can use cash envelopes or a more secure set up like a safe.
    2. Multiple savings accounts. You can set up multiple accounts with some banks like Capital One 360 and give each sinking fund it’s own account. This is my preferred method.
    3. One savings account with a spreadsheet. Many people like to put away money into one big savings account but then track what everything is assigned to with a spreadsheet or app.

    Whichever way you decide to set up you accounts, the point is to save for those expenses that would otherwise stress your budget.

    In the video I show you our sinking funds and how we’ve got them set up in Capital One 360 where we keep our savings. I’ll also be opening new sinking funds so you can see how that works.

    How do you set up sinking funds?

    Setting up sinking funds with Capital One 360 is very easy and super quick! You can complete the whole process in less than 10 minutes in most cases.

    If you want to see how we set up our sinking funds, you can see the whole process in the video below.

    I walk you through everything you need to know about sinking funds. It shows how to set them up and even how to give them nicknames that match your budget.

    What sinking funds should I set up?

    In general you should look at your life and consider using sinking funds for things that are unusual budget items.

    This includes:

    1. Large one time purchases like a new car or your vacation.
    2. Yearly or quarterly bills that aren’t paid each month like life insurance or car insurance.
    3. Yearly expenses you are expecting but only happen once like Christmas or new clothes at the start of the school year.
    4. Unexpected expenses that you know will happen but you don’t know when like car repairs.

    These are the common types of expenses you can make stress free by using sinking funds. An easy way to find the expensive events you might want to start a sinking fund for is go through the last year of expenses. See where big bills hit and where you struggled to cover something during a normal month’s budget. These things might need to be sinking funds for you.

    By contributing to sinking funds each month from your normal budget you will be able to handle these expenses that are hard to budget for monthly. You will never touch your emergency fund or go into debt.

    Common Sinking Fund Categories

    I've previously shared 13 sinking funds and there are many other sinking funds you might want to try.

    Common sinking fund categories include:

    • Car replacement
    • Car maintenance & repairs
    • Vehicle insurance
    • Car tags
    • Home maintenance & repairs
    • Home decor
    • Furniture
    • Vacations
    • Medical expenses
    • Dental expenses
    • Pet expenses
    • Kid expenses
    • Clothes
    • Gifts
    • Birthdays
    • Christmas
    • Holidays
    • Life insurance
    • Annual bills

    The sinking funds you set up will be based on your life stage and events you expect.

    Some, like saving for Christmas or planning for car repairs, will apply to most people.

    How do you calculate the amount to save?

    One way to guesstimate the amount to save in sinking funds for unexpected expenses is to look back at your spending over the last year.

    How many times did you car need repairs? How many times did you get your oil changed? Add all of that up and divide it by 12 for an amount to save monthly for estimated car repairs.

    If you anticipate any large repairs in the future you can get quotes for how much it might cost and then divide that amount by months or paychecks to determine how much extra you need to save.

    When you have a specific date for an event is easy to determine the amount to save. You simply take the amount you need for the event or bill and divide it by the number or months or paychecks until you need the money.

    To find out how much you need to save, you take the total needed and divide it by the amount of time until the event.

    In the example of this event if you needed $1,000 you would save $166.66 a month. If you got paid bi-monthly you would save $83.30 per paycheck (2 paychecks per month for 6 months).

    If you are a visual person like I am, then it might help to have a coloring tracker to visualize your progress saving with sinking funds. My Etsy shop has a variety of savings goal trackers and sinking fund tracker tools.

    How do you get money out?

    One questions I've commonly been asked about setting up sinking funds with Capital One 360 is how do you get your money out from the account? Since many traditional banks make this process complicated it is easy to wonder how you actually get the money out of your sinking funds in order to use it.

    With my sinking funds at Capital One I simply transfer the money back to my checking account when I'm ready to use my debit card. When I know the final amount for the purchase I move the money over instantly and then swipe my debit card. This process is what works for us.

    The only downside to this is that the number of transactions moving money from one savings account back to a checking account is limited to 6 per month. This hasn't been an issue for us since we normally only use the sinking funds once or at most twice in a single month. If you are saving in a sinking fund in an online account it should probably be for thinks you aren't spending on frequently. If you are spending in the category often it might just need to be a cash envelope category in your budget.

    What bank do I use for my sinking funds?

    I've been using my Capital One 360 account since before it was Capital One 360.

    It was originally ING Direct but they did such an amazing job that Capital One bought them. Ultimately they changed the branding but kept all of the things that made the bank account awesome in the first place.

    I've been a customer for over a decade now. I've only had good experiences with the account and Capital One in general. The customer service has always been excellent. There are no overdraft or gotcha fees. And for sinking funds moving money is quick and easy.

    There are plenty of other banks that also offer high yield savings accounts perfect for sinking funds.

    If your bank doesn't offer it, check out online banks like the ones I've reviewed here or peek around the site for reviews on other savings accounts perfect for sinking funds.

    Financial Bundle: Budgeting, Savings, Debt Payoff

    This financial planner bundle is a grouping of everything you need to plan your budget, grow your savings, and achieve your debt payoff. It is perfect for anyone who wants an all-in-one solution to get started and get organized!

    How to include sinking funds in your budget

    Once you are budgeting regularly it is an easy task to include sinking funds into your routine budget. The great thing is that planning for these bigger and unexpected expenses in advance means you'll be unlikely to ruin a budget in the future because of those pesky expenses.

    Once you've got the sinking fund categories you want to save for, you'll figure out the amount you want to save per month and include that in your monthly budget. Because you are saving for things in small chunks instead of all at once it is easy to include these in your budget.

    Remember that sinking funds are separate from your emergency fund. While there may seem to be some overlap, sinking funds are for planned expenses or irregular expenses you know will be coming. While things like car repairs may seem like unexpected emergencies, they are actually expenses you should expect to come every once in a while since all cars need maintenance.

    True medical conditions and extensive home repairs that take you by surprise can fall under your emergency fund.

    Start Your Sinking Funds Today

    Sinking funds can help you budget better. You'll be able to save for large expenses and prevent budget disasters.

    Sinking funds also give you the freedom to spend guilt free on bigger items because you've already saved up for them.

    Sinking funds are pretty much the best thing ever! Once you've gotten started using sinking funds in your budget it will be hard to stop.

    If you have not already started your sinking funds, then what are you waiting for?

    Want to learn more about budgeting? Check out these helpful posts:

    Sinking funds for beginners: how to use sinking funds in your budget

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  • Welcome to Pennies Not Perfection!

    Welcome to Pennies Not Perfection!

    I've been oversharing my life online for over a decade now and Pennies Not Perfection is the ultimate connection of where my communication and passion meet: talking about handling money without stress and anxiety.

    Over the years after I graduated college I taught myself the basics personal finance by reading personal finance blogs, books and magazines. I knew that I was doing it wrong when I felt overwhelmed and stressed every paycheck.

    I also knew that debt could ruin my life. I'd seen my half-sister take her life due to debt and depression and I'd seen my mom lose her house to foreclosure. I know that without knowledge and a plan, I'd likely end up in a bad situation because I'd seen it happen to the people closest to me.

    That desire for financial success and knowledge led me on a decade long adventure to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt, $22,000 in student loans, and $43,000 in parent plus loans, which I'm currently still tackling, along with paying off a car and cash-flowing a wedding and multiple large vaations. It's also inspired me to buy a home, invest my money for the future, and learn how to budget and cut impulse spending.

    There is no one path to financial success. I pull from different "financial gurus" taking the advice that works for our family and leaving the rest. There's no one size fits all plan.

    Ultimately I've learned you don't have to be perfect with your financial decisions to win. You just have to make a choice, pay attention, and keep learning. Perfection is not required to win with money.

    In the decade of learning about personal finance, I've made plenty of mistakes. There is always more to learn and our world and stage of life is constantly changing and requiring adjustments.

    Today I'm working on this brand, Pennies Not Perfection because I want to inspire other women to take control of their financial futures. To learn how to budget. To learn how to deal with the emotions and problems around impulsive and emotional spending. To start or increase investing for a beautiful and secure future.

    On this blog and my YouTube channel I plan to continue sharing our own journey to financial success for inspiration along with sharing tips, tools, and information that might work for your situation too. Remember that I'm always still figuring money out and am not a financial planner. More of a financial motivator, because I know that YOU have the strength and ability to learn about money and make good choices for yourself.

    If you've ever internalized the messages from society that you're bad at math or not good with money or not smart enough to invest, let them go now. None of that is true and you are 100% capable of winning with your money.

    I'm not a financial expert or a financial advisor, but I am a financial encourager. I will be here to motivate you and encourage you every step of the way.

    I hope my experience and transparency helps you see that you too are capable of doing anything. You've got this!

    Read More