In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘expenses’

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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Travel Lessons from a Frugal Grandma

travel lessons from a frugal grandmaTraveling is something I have always enjoyed ever since high school. Growing up my family did not travel anywhere but our yearly trip to Florida where we  visited the grandparents. And no unfortunately this trip did not include a theme park visit. However, I still have fond memories of my travels to visit the Grandparents. I think  that is how I got bitten by the traveling bug, one summer when visiting my grandmother Mildred.

My Grandma the World Traveler

Written on the back by my grandma "Peace Treaty Signed 1919 Verselle France"

Written on the back by my grandma “Peace Treaty Signed 1919 Verselle France”

During one of our visits, she showed my some amazing photos of her recent trips. It turns out that grandma was doing more then just playing pinochle and going to the clubhouse during her retirement, she had become a world traveler. Going all over Europe, and Asia.

My grandmother Mildred was a working mom before there were working mom’s. She was fairly serious and never very talkative or emotional but you could tell sharing these pictures was a joy to her. Being able to travel the way she had is something I had wanted to do ever since she described her photos to me.

During that time I asked her a ton of questions about her trips. I asked about how she had planned for traveling, what she would have done different and where she liked to travel best. She gave me some great advice.

Something else I learned was that my grandmother was not only adventurous but she was a frugal planner who was ahead of her time. Her careful handling of finances are what made these trips possible.

My grandmother has long since passed away but many off her lessons stay with me. I realize now, I am a lot like her in that I want to see and explore the world. Also like her handling of the family finances are what will make my dreams of traveling possible.

Written on the back "8/86 Le River Guliane China"

Written on the back “8/86 Le River Guliane China”

She approached life in a frugal way with the end goal being to retire and travel. Although I want to travel, I do not want to wait for retirement to do it. So what does that mean for a working mom with two kids? Planning.

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom that helped her save enough to travel in retirement.

Plan out your trip cost long before your travel date

She advised me to get as clear an idea of where I wanted to go and estimate how much those visits will cost. Have a long timeline to save for these trips, and break them down into time increments to save for. Credit was should not be an option. It wasn’t for her.

If possible travel Europe when you are young and save the U.S for retirement age

She said it was much easier to travel in the U.S at an advanced age. There were more senior discounts for attractions and travel and it was easier to navigate then Europe. She added due to the age and make-up of most of Europe it is not as easy for older bodies to handle cobblestone streets an centuries old staircases.

Don’t be afraid to have experiences when travel

I will never forget a picture my grandmother showed me of her standing in front a plane. It was taken in Communist China and she admitted that she felt pretty scared when she was there but was grateful she got to see a part of China usually restricted to travelers.

Written on back "Aug 86 Beijing China, Great Wall"

Written on back “Aug 86 Beijing China, Great Wall”

Sacrifice now to reach your travel goals

My grandmother always functioned in a frugal manner with her end goal of travel in mind. Like with any type of goal setting, you want to having a clear picture of what to achieve and formulated plan on how to achieve it. This will probably mean making sacrifices and being creative with your finances in order to free up money for travel. It mean giving up some things now (like those expensive lattes and dinners out.) to save for travel later.

 

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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.

5 Ways To Have A More Enjoyable Disney Vacation

disneyJust recently we came back from a wonderful family vacation to Walt Disney World. It was fantastic! We had fun, family bonding and great food. It was a trip that we will remember all year. Being a South Florida resident, I have made it my missions to travel to Disney at least once a year. I would go more but my husband adamantly refuses.

Why? Why would he not want to visit the happiest place on earth more then once a year. (Crazy I know?) Mainly, the steep price tag. It is not cheap to visit the Mouse. With the price rising year after year, we have had to scale back our Disney travels. For this reason it has become very important to me to make our time the most magical it could be. Here are some tips I have learned in my Disney travels that might improve your stay.

  1. Take advantage of discounts programs

    Most companies and organizations like AAA have a discount program that could save you some money on your trip. Sadly, in my experience it is near impossible to get a discount on tickets. Even Florida residents only save something like $8-9 for a one-day park pass. However, you can save a pretty penny on a resort stay and food using these types of discounts.

  2. Do not go for a high-end hotel if you are spending all you time at the parks

    It is not worth spending $250 a night for a comfy bed if you are spending every vacation day at a theme park. It is much more cost effective to stay at a value resort or off premises, where the per night cost is considerably lower. Don’t get me wrong the more expensive resorts are beautiful and have some great fun things to do like lazy rivers, bonfires, movies under the stars. But if you are spending everyday in the packs you will never get the time to fully take advantage of theme, making the higher price just not worth it. These type of resort are a vacations destination by themselves. If you must stay in a high end hotel, leave one day free for pool, exploring and leisure time at the resort.

  3. Bring or make breakfast in your room

    While you are staying in Orlando you and your children will be waking up bright and early (mine woke up at 5 am) to get to the parks. You can hit the snooze button a bit longer by having a ready-to-eat breakfast in your hotel room. Food such as a protein bar, smoothie or to-go oatmeal cups you can make using hot water from your coffee maker will make breakfast a lot easier quicker, easier and cheaper. A sit down breakfast for four can cost you $30.00 to $50.00 in some cases. Go to a local convenience store like Walgreens or CVS and stock up a cooler for the week. Eat breakfast in. This will save you time and money.

  4. Use Fastpass and plan out your day

    I am someone who likes to have a plan for my day. However, even if you are more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of person, it will make your trip a million times better by mapping out what you really want to do on your Disney trip. Is Disney history your thing, character greetings? Maybe there is a ride or two you just have to go on? Take advantage of the new Fastpass feature to see if you can preschedule the most busy rides, making your time in line much shorter. Also by knowing what you really want to see, you can prioritize where to spend the bulk of your time because lets face it you can not see everything (A lesson I had to come to terms with myself.)

  5. Nap your kids and yourself

    [ctt title=”This is the most important, most vacation changing advice I could give to any would be Disney traveler. NAP!” tweet=”This is the most important, most vacation changing advice I could give to any would be Disney traveler. NAP!” coverup=”Du8Vq”] I can not tell you how many times me and my family have arrived back at the park after an hour nap to witness meltdowns in every corner. It is hard when you want to see everything in a single day. It can be a pain to travel from hotel to park and back again. Disney is a lot of walking, a lot of stimulation, a lot of activity, and a lot of sweating in the heat on lines. You and your kids will benefit greatly from a mid-day rest. It doesn’t have to be long, only an hour will do to reset. Trust me, when you get back into the park you will feel refreshed and ready to enjoy the remainder of the day. Instead of short tempered, irritable and tired. Plan a nap into your Disney schedule. You will not regret it.


Online Budget Checklist Freebie

free online budget checklist

 

Use this checklist to make online budgeting easier to setup

on line budgetingI know when I first decided to set-up an online budget, it was a pain to constantly search through my files and documents to find pay stubs and account information.

I would be part of the way through the set-up and have to stop what I was doing, go back to my bill folder to find another piece of account information.

This constant stop and start made it so much more inconvenience to create a budget at all. It would have been so much easier if there was a checklist to guide me. If I could have had everything I needed right there in front of me before I started it would have made the Save money with online budgetwhole process so much easier.

That is why I created this checklist. It will help you before, during and after the process so you can overcome the overwhelm budgeting creation might cause. This checklist is designed to go along with the upcoming release of my new e-book ‘How to choose the Online Budgeting tool that will save you Money,” due out July 23.[ctt title=”I created this helpful list to make online budgeting easier for you. Get yours today! #freebie, #budget” tweet=”I created this helpful list to make online budgeting easier for you. Get yours today! #freebie, #budget” coverup=”d61bR”]

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

 

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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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