In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘bills’

Are you Black Friday is broke?

Black FridayDid you get bitten by the Black Friday bug last weekend? These advertisers know what they are doing, making you feel that you will totally miss out on the best deals ever by not being first on line in front of their big box store at 5:30 in the morning.

So how many of us take the day off work. We crawl out of bed, leave behind a sink full of Thanksgiving dishes to drive over the nearest superstore. Only to fight out way to what we are told is a great deal. If you don’t go then someone else will get all those sweet deals. Right?

Well, maybe not.

Remember it was only a few years ago that Black Friday sales actually started to creep into Thursday evening. It began as a midnight madness type of sale but then inched closer and closer to 4:00 pm. The Black Friday frenzy was overtaking Thanksgiving dinner. Retail employees we’re wolfing down their turkey and stuffing because they had to head out to work on a day that was designated specifically for home and family.

Luckily, after a few years of consumer pushback many stores dropped the early Thursday sales and moved it back to Friday where it belonged. However, that didn’t necessarily stop shopping. They just moved it to cyber space.

According to NBSNews Black Friday Online sales it a new high this year. These followed quickly by Cyber Monday show that more people are buying online for the holiday’s. And why not it’s easy, convenient and might be less expensive. Or is it?

The online ease of time sensitive flash sales are still tapping into a buyers urgency to not miss out on the savings. I know from my own experience that I have said to myself, “I better buy this (insert useless item I don’t really need) because I won’t ever see it for this price again.”

I don’t care what it is at that price I need it!!

The issue then isn’t the price of the item it becomes the fear that you will miss out on these insanely low prices. (which are usually not insanely low at all by comparison.) Advertisers have become so adept at creating a feeling of scarcity we don’t think twice about parting ways with our money for the Memory Form cat bed, (although cats can find comfort on a car tire.) We really need that water resistant shower speaker (can’t sing in the shower without one…oh wait you can.) Can’t forget about the Ukulele Starter Pack (because one day you will sing tiny bubbles in the shower to your cat on their form bed.)

Cyber Monday

Black Friday and its online twin Cyber Monday help you fulfill that Christmas anxiety with the words BUY NOW. But when you look at the credit card bill sticker shock is an understatement. I remember thinking “What did I buy?”

There is something to be said for the physical presence of counting out bills that makes you more aware of what you are spending. Couple a click of a mouse with the new internet urgency and you have the makings for an overspending disaster. That is no way to have a happy holiday.

Black Friday sales can be a force of good if you give yourself limits. Here are 5 ways to use the Black Friday frenzy to your advantage.

  1. Know what you intend to purchase before the sales come out.
  2. Remember most sales are cyclical and these prices will come and go.
  3. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer a single day event but have been extended to weeklong sales with most merchants so do not rush into anything. Take time to consider your purchases.
  4. Just like Santa says make a list of what you intend to buy for whom. More importantly make a budget plan and stick to it.
  5. If you missed Black Friday don’t forget you can still compare prices between stores and prices match at some retailers to pay the least for an item.
  • Most importantly…remember the holiday season is not about your Black Friday 50 inch TV or other electronic item. Matter of fact it is not about things at all. It is about  people. You are giving gifts from the heart to show people you love them. Despite what advertisers tell you it is not about putting yourself into debt impulsively buying to combat the feeling of FOMO. (Fear of Missing Out.)
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How to Get Back on Track When Financial Calamity Strikes

When financial calamity strikesUggg…bye-bye savings, hello debt… again.

These are moments when financial emergencies erase everything you have worked so hard to achieve. Dave Ramsey would say it is in those moments when Murphy comes to visit… as in Murphy’s Law. It happens to us all from time to time and well it just sucks. It is hard to watch your progress be undone, your savings melt away, or your fun money become not so fun.  When the planets collide, the stars explode, and everything conspire to screw you.

It is those moments when a calamity of costly events converge. For example, you find yourself with illness or injuries that require medical attention (aka doctor bills.) At the same time your car breaks down, your roof leaks and the washing machine explodes. It is during these times when you feel like you are being buried financially.  Really it is all just the timing of things. If we planned a little better we might have been able to avoid the stress of converging events.

So then we have to ask ourselves what could we have done set ourselves up better when these things occur. Lets face it, stuff happens and more often then not it is going to happen at the most inconvenient time. Like right before a major trip, or after you just finished unburdening yourself from a large debt. Here are some things to consider when financial calamity parks itself at your door.

Don’t beat yourself up

Sometimes all the planning in the world won’t prevent Murphy from coming to town. The best thing you can do is accept the situation and make a plan to prevent it from happening again. Yes, it sucks. Give yourself a few minutes to feel bad, then get down to the work of digging your way back out.

Know it is only temporary

You got out of debt once your will do it again. Even though your situation might seem like it will never go away (like the college loan that takes forever to pay off.) If you keep in mind that you have already know the way to get out of debt and get on better financial footing. So this time around it will not take as long to recover.

Don’t give up

I know it is easy to start spending when you are already outlaying a huge chunk of money for car repair, home repair or another big expense. You might think, “what is another few grand I might as well tack on a couch or vacation expenses to the bill.” This will only dig you in deeper. It is a slippery slope once you start to spend. Soon you will find an excuse to wipe out your hard earned savings or run up that credit card you worked so hard to pay off.

Make a new plan

The key to this experience is to get though it and learn from it. After going through a major financial set back you are that much more educated to prevent it from ever happening to you again. We can all be caught off guard when these things happen. That is why an emergency fund is used from “emergencies.”  Here is your opportunity to make a new step by step plan to avoid this type of setback in the future.

For People about to Blow Their Wad: 5 Ways Not to Spend Money

5 ways not to spend moneyI know what you are thinking. Is this girl nuts? We need food. We need clothing. How do you not spend money? I know that sounds weird. Eventually, we all need to buy stuff. There comes a time when we have to spend some money right?

But what if you didn’t have to always spend money. What if we worked to make spending less of a habit? What if you could change your mindset so that buying was not the first impulse. If you are trying to save for a large purchase, pay off debt or recover from some other large outlay of money this might be your a pretty good option.

I get it. It is so easy to need that instant gratification and want to loosen the purse strings. Society in general reinforces spending instead of saving. It becomes harder ad harder to watch new things advertised and talked about and not feel like you need them. See that’s the key…do you really need them? It is almost as if we can no longer tell ourselves “NO”. That not buying lunch out or not purchasing new is no longer socially acceptable behavior. Buying and spending has become so commonplace it has become the norm. But if we can shift our perspective the financial benefits could be great.

So how do we get into a saving mindset and not spend money? Here are 5 ways to shift your thinking and get away from a free spending attitude.

  1. Use what you have – In past generations this was the norm. They would never have gone out and purchased a new car for example, unless the old one just stopped working. Past generations didn’t feel the need to fall pray to the newest shiniest new toy on the block. Surprisingly, to us they lived perfectly happy lives without things we feel are necessities like TV, cell phones and programmable coffee pots.  If we really examine our possessions, most of the time we have more than enough items just lying around unused or even forgotten that we had even purchased. That shirt we bought months ago on sale, that electronic gadget we had to have, you get the idea. Look through what you already have and well…use it.
  2. Create something new out of something old – There has been a resurgence in creating new home furnishings out of driveway discards. There is good reason for this since most of what we throw away is still in good condition, we just want it to be new. Most of what we throw away can be transformed or reused into another purpose. This might take some imagination and creativity. Many people have found it fairly easy to refinish a piece of furniture and create a like-new functional item for their home. All you need to do is look at things from a different perspective and see if you can find a new use for something you already have instead of discarding it and buying it new.
  3. Clean stuff up – Often a bit of elbow grease will do the trick in. Instead of purchasing new, search Pinterest for a way to clean something old and bring it back to life. I tried this with my car headlights instead of having them replaced. You will be amazed at the results.
  4. Stay in – Sometimes we lose track of how much we spend when we go out to dinner, a concert or movie. There is more than just tickets and entrance fees, there is additional food and beverages, t-shirts and souvenirs. More often than not it is healthier, easier and cheaper to cook it at home or watch it on video. Plus you will get the best seat in the house.
  5. Remember people mean more than things – In our over-consumptive society, we feel an intense need to buy, shop and consume in order to feel connected to the latest trends, hottest events and newest things. What really matters is the people that we share our time with. Spending time with a friend over coffee means more than all the overpriced lattes consumed on our own. Sharing a walk with your family means more then the next complicated computer game. Making time to spend with the important people in your life has more value then working overtime to pay off purchases you never really needed in the first place.

You spent how much on school supplies?????

school suppliesRemember when back to school meant getting some new clothes, maybe a new pair of sneakers, and socks. Remember when the only school supplies asked for were a few pencils and pens, notebooks and a compass (what did we even use that for except to stab our seat neighbor with the pointy end.) My kids attend public school and this year I was floored by the laundry list of school supplies needed for my daughter entering 4th grade. There are personal items, classroom items and community items. These together stretched down the page.

My sons list was not as long being that he is only going into first grade, but still it is a lot of supplies. Let me preface this all by adding that on the list it is stated that these are voluntary donation. However, if parents don’t bring these supplies who is paying for them? Apparently not the school board any longer.

Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming teachers in any way. I know that if parents don’t provide these supplies most good hearted teachers will dip into there personal paycheck to get needed items for the classroom. Which I also don’t feel is right thing either. After tallying up the cost of school supplies for each kids my total came to over…$150. and I used BOGO’s people!!!

I am sorry, I just don’t get it what has changed so dramatically in the 20 or so years since I have been out of school? Why can the school system, funded by the lottery, taxes and government programs, no longer provide pens, and paper? I mean that is kind of a schools life blood. Reading, writing and arithmetic. For the writing you can’t really go without pens and paper. And I only have 2 kids. I can’t imagine the cost for supplies in larger families. It must be like a mortgage payment for school supplies.

It’s not like clothes, you can’t hand me down supplies. Plus after asking for an absurd amount of supplies (like 144 pencils for 1 student) they have the nerve to be brand specific! You need to get the premium crayons. Only Crayola will do, as specified in bold on the school supplied sheet. No low class Rose Art or sub-par Target brand, no cutting corners here.

There are many school districts that are hurting and need the additional parental support and this is not about them. This is about the schools who clearly can cover the cost of copy paper and are being excessive in the (donation??) request of supplies. These schools now have to use what was school supply funds to pay for something dumb, unnecessary or redundant.

In my high school there was an entire wing of the school that no student ever went to because it was for administrators only. What? If you are not interacting with the students what exactly are you administrating over? Look, I really don’t know what goes on in the hallow halls of the administration wing but clearly it is not as much a benefit to students or teachers if they are sequestered away, given tenure and no parent has a clue what they do. I sure don’t.

What I do know is I am not only paying for them to “administer,” I am also paying for the paper they do it on. If my rant is ill placed and I am totally off base with this feel free to educate me. I have never been a teacher,  or in the education field so I welcome anyone in the field to explain to me how things have gotten this way. Thank you all for listening to my rant. Now to load the massive amount of crayons, pencils and notebooks (and my paycheck) in a suitcase (Yes a suitcase!) and hand them over to the people in charge of educating my children.

7 Ways to Save While Planning Your Vacation

7 ways to save on your next vacationSo you went on summer vacation.

Had a fantastic time and made a ton of wonderful memories. You arrive home unpack your suitcase and there it is. Staring at you like a dog waiting for dinner( Which mine are doing as I write this)…The credit card bill. You know you need to open it but really don’t want to face the damage you have done.

In your head you run a quick tally of what you think you might have spent on vacation. That souvenir T-shirt, drinks at dinner, the novelty tote bag…did I really spend that much? It is all adding up in your brain and it comes to more then you expected. While we are away it is so easy to lose track of spending. We tell ourselves “I’m on vacation I can spend fast and free.” We live it up and pretend that there is no bill to come home to. It’s fun and freeing for the moment. Then the moment ends and the bill comes.

I’m not saying this to be Debbie Downer, only that I have done this myself. Have spent more on vacation then I should have and had to dig myself out of debt upon returning home. It puts a damper on your happy memories and makes you wary of relaxing the purse strings on your next trip away.

But life shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to enjoy out vacation without the fear of getting in debt hanging over our head. With a little planning this could be the case and believe me you will enjoy your vacation a whole lot more knowing there is no ballooning credit card bill waiting in your mailbox.

Here are 7 ways to plan out your vacation and save a little money in the process.

  1. Book your vacation as far in advance as possible – This give you ample time to save for the trip. You will be completely aware of the true cost of your vacation and can make adjustments in your household spending to put aside for the cost of your travels.
  2. Be as flexible as possible with your travel dates – This will save you money in airfare, car rental and hotel bookings. You can shop around for the lowest prices based on the date.
  3. Monitor your travel bookings to see if the fare goes down in price -With many travel sites and companies if you see that the price is cheaper, they will allow you to rebook the fare at the lower price. If the price drops in the first 24 hours many airlines will allow you to rebook at a lower price and refund the difference without change fees.
  4. Prepay your vacation – This may seem obvious but it is often overlooked. Even if you pay a small amount per month towards your vacation, that small amount overtime adds up! It can take the sting out of the full vacation bill.
  5. Investigate before buying dining, photo, or beverage packages – For some families this may be a savings. However, in most cases there are many stipulations to these programs that prevent them from really saving you anything. Find out before you go and don’t sign up for these programs on a whim or under pressure.
  6. Look for no/low cost souvenirs – Do you really need another fridge magnet or coffee mug? Look for souvenirs that cost little or no money but will hold all the memory of your vacation, like a coaster from your favorite restaurant or postcard of your most beloved attraction.
  7. Have a Staycation – During 2008 when there was massive job loss, and financial uncertainty, the Staycation became the new vacation. Look around your town, your city or your state even. Are there local spots that want to see but never got a chance? Is there a great attraction within a days drive from your home? Explore the world right outside your front yard. Forgo the hotel stay and save yourself a bundle.

It’s Finally Here!! My new Online Budget EBook!!

I am so excited to finally release my new ebook…Since it is release week, look towards to bottom of this page for a special introductory price. This is only good for this week only.

How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you $$$$ 

Are you struggling to get your finances in order but don’t know where to begin? Do you want to set up an online budget but don’t really have the time? Are you tired of sorting through spreadsheets and high tech programs just create a simple budget?

I know how you feel. I have been there. All I wanted to do was find some information about online budgeting programs. All I really wanted to know was which one would be the easiest to maintain with the least amount of hassle to set up? Problem was I could not find a simple review and comparison that would tell me what I needed to know.

So I created one.

Through a blog series I embarked on a journey review four of the most popular online budgeting programs. The results of over four months of research are right here in “How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you money.” My aim in this book was to sort through on-line budgeting programs and see which one offered the most bang for your buck (or for no bucks.)

When I was looking for an online budget to use for my personal finance, I had difficulty determining which one would be the best fit for me. The reviews I found were sparse and lacked the amount of quick consumable detail I was interested in. Truthfully, I didn’t have the time or inclination to stop and start each program. I figured if I was on a hunt for this information then other people might be as well.

You can save yourself the time and effort of having to wade through each of the online budget programs yourself. It is all right here. Avoid the hassle of setting up multiple online profiles only to find that program wasn’t the right fit for you.

I review BudgetSimple, EveryDollar, Budget Tracker and Mint.com, four of the most popular free, on-line budget programs on the internet.

In the pages of “How to choose an online budgeting tool that will save you money.” you get a detailed, step-by-step walk-thru. There I review each tab and section available for free within these programs. I tell you the positives and negatives of so you can make an informed decision on which would be right for you. I complete the series by revealing which one I choose and why.

The reviews I found we’re sparse and lacked the amount of quick consumable detail I was interested in. Truthfully, I didn’t have the time or inclination to stop and start each program. I figured if I was on a hunt for this information then other people might be as well.

To make things even easier, I created a free checklist available with email sign-up, of what information you might need to gather before setting up an online budgeting account.

With the checklist and ebook  you can get setup with the right online budget for you and be ready to get started on your way towards easy budgeting today.

monySpecial Release Week Price of $2.99

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The Choices of the Non-Poor Poor

Poor Money choices people make

Has this ever happened to you?

A co-worker or acquaintance you are friendly with constantly talks about their money problems. Your heart goes out to them. You say to yourself, “I have enough I should really help them.” Maybe you can reach into our wallet and find something extra to get them out of a bind. Give them a little loan to keep them afloat, they have kids after all,” you rationalize.  You think all this until you notice that they are arriving to work in a brand new Lexus while you are diving your beat up Corolla. Hmm…. Matter of fact, while they are relaying their money problems, they are sipping on a $4 fancy pants coffee. Interesting???? Then you start to notice that the shoes they are wearing are not the $50 knock off’s like yours but the $250 real thing, name brand. Really??

Ok, this exact situation has not happened to me but a version of this scenario has popped up in my life more times then I can count. These same people who are telling you they are short on their mortgage payment are also the same individuals that you see eating lunch out everyday while you brown bag it. It is also these people who cry poor that are driving in with their brand new leased Mercedes. Do you see a pattern here? I do.

I use to feel bad for them. I would make a second lunch and bring it in from home. I would sacrifice something for my family to buy them clothing, mistakenly thinking they needed them. I would give them a ride out of my way thinking they had no transportation. Often times the lunch would go uneaten (eating out was much better), the clothing unworn (it was not name brand), and as it turns out they were driving a nicer, newer car them me but couldn’t afford the gas.

Many people, even myself at times, claim they have no money. But in most cases this is far from the truth. We have money but we have just chosen to spend it on one thing over another. We have exchanged our money for something we want in the moment and have forgotten about those things in the future. We have chosen instant gratification of a Starbucks coffee or fancy new car, rather then the cheaper home brew or used model.

We all have choices in life. After several years of seeing this type of person, I am a bit sick of hearing the pity party sob story. When it really comes down to poor financial choices and lack of fiscal responsibility. In truth, for most of us, we have all we need. We are just making bad choices. We need to put our big boy pants on and not buy the thing we want when we want it.

Yes, you heard me we need to tell ourselves a big fat “NO, you can not afford it.” We need to deny ourselves stuff until we actually have the money to pay for it. financiall insanityIf we don’t have the money we should not get the biggest house on the block, or not drive the newest car. When we do this, we are choosing piece of mind. We are choosing to be responsible.

Now I know the Wimpy’s of the world are not going away. (I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today…) But I for one will have a deaf ear to their money complaints. We all make mistakes but those that continue to make the same money mistakes over and over, and expect you, their family or the government to bail them out well…isn’t that the definition of insanity?

If you have encountered this type of situation I would love to hear your story. Please share it with me in the comments below.

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