Budget Tips, Money

13 Tips to Stay Motivated on a Budget

I have heard so many people say that they have created a budget, but after it's done, they don't know how to stay motivated to stick to it! Here are 13 tips to staying motivated on a budget!

  “I Just Don’t Want To….” has been my motto a few different times while paying off my debt. I am going to call it the seasons changing as well as life just happening. Let me tell you, being in your early 20’s on this journey has been TOUGH..  When you spend 2 years paying off debt, you are likely to have highs and lows. Life happens and it is easy to get side tracked by all of the things going on in other people’s lives when you are trying to stick to a budget. Budgeting gets harder and harder when you aren’t able to keep up with normal life events, let alone extra things. I recently asked my Instagram “what do you need help with when it comes to budgeting?” I would say one of my top answers was “motivation”. That hit me pretty hard since that seems to be one of the things that I have been struggling with the most lately. Let me make this clear first, if you are miserable on your budget, CHANGE IT. Budgeting is not meant to make you miserable. If you find yourself not motivated to stay on budget, it might not be you. It might be your budget. Budgeting is NOT meant to punish you. If done correctly, you should be budgeting so you can say YES to things you want to and no to the things that aren’t necessary. BUDGETING DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO HAVE FUN!! So if you are consistently finding that you are breaking the budget, it’s time to evaluate what is wrong with your budget. But, if you are just in a valley and having a hard time sticking with it. You might just need a little tool to stay motivated. “How do you stay motivated to stay on budget?” 1. Weekly/Pay Period Budgeting I don’t know how many people I have seen that post their budget at the beginning of the month, but by day four, they have completely blown it. “Maybe next month,” they say.  You do not have the willpower…

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Budget Tips, Millennial Stuff

Budgeting Doesn’t Mean NO Fun Allowed

So many times when I start talking about budget, I can see people roll their eyes in the back of their heads. I get the response, "But I want to have fun!" Budgeting doesn't have to mean that you don't get to have fun. It means that you get to plan for fun and for your future. Find out the four things that budgeting can mean for you!

  I have been budgeting for the last two years consistently. Budgeting isn’t something that I would say is a ton of fun unless you are a huge nerd. (Like me.) I am slightly obsessive about my budget. But I know that not everyone has the desire to track everything that closely. I asked what people’s first thought was when it came to a budget. So many people said that to them, a budget mean restrictions, only buying what you need, cutting out fun, or simply STRESS.  When I talk to people about having a budget, the usual response I get is “I know I need to be better with my money, but I just like having fun too much.” or “I prefer to just have fun and see what happens.” I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), if you don’t have a written budget of some kind, you are NEVER going to hit your financial goals unless someone else manages your money for you. If you associate a budget with having zero fun this post might just be for you. I still remember when I first started budgeting consistently. In 2017, I was living with 2 other girls and we ALWAYS had Sunday girl’s nights. I never once stopped budgeting for them while we were living together. Instead, I just started putting money aside for it so I knew that the money was there. We started doing more budget friendly items, but didn’t stop having girl’s night until we moved. In the past two years, I have budgeted and worked my way out of debt and into working 3 days a week. I am getting ready to buy a house with less stress, but I have had a ton of fun memories along the way! A budget DOESN’T mean that you can’t have fun. Here is what it does instead.   1. Tells you that you have enough money to cover your bills When you are first setting up your budget, you might be a little overwhelmed at all of the things that you pay…

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Millennial Stuff, Money

Books that You MUST Read to Change Your Finances Today!

Reading has always been a HUGE part of my life. During my debt free journey, it is one thing that has kept me motivated and taught me a lot that I didn't know about finances. Here are a list of just a few of my favorite books!

Reading books has always been a huge part of my life. I am such a huge reader and I have been since I was super little. Reading to me came at a young age and it has stuck with me throughout my entire life because I was good at it, and to me it was fun. While the genre of my books have changed tremendously, I still curl up in bed or bring a book with me to the bathtub as I take a bubble bath at the end of the day! It has always been my belief that reading will teach you far more than most classes ever will. I have learned more about finances from reading a few books. Sure, college classes will teach you some very specific things, but how specific do you really need to know. I have learned a ton in just the last year of intentionally reading almost every single day. One of my favorite things in the world is when I get to suggest books to people, and they tell me they LOVED it. This isn’t an extensive list of all of my favorite books, but instead, it is a guide of a few of my favorites that have helped direct me on the path that I have been on with my finances. This list covers the books that I read during my debt free journey and ones that I hope to read as I continue. I actually put off writing this post for a while because there are always going to be more books that I want to add to any list of books. While I don’t feel like this will ever be complete, I hope that it helps you get a start on your own reading list! Here are a few of my favorite money books.   Total Money Makeover (By Dave Ramsey) This is a no brainer. Pretty much every one who is working on paying down their debts will tell you that they have at least skimmed through this one. This book completely saved my 20’s. It has changed…

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Baby Step Three, Budget Tips

5 Things I am Adding Back Into The Budget in Baby Step Three

When I started my debt free journey, I cut a lot of things out of my budget. Now that I am done with baby step two, I am adding a few things into my budget! Check out these 5 things that I will spend money on again!

  When I first started budgeting, I was clueless as to where my money was going. I was spending money on pretty much anything and everything that I wanted, when I wanted to spend it. Restaurants, pedicures, clothes, makeup, food, and so many other things stole my money before I even had the chance to think about where it was going. Originally, I thought “I am paying in cash, so it could be worse. I could be putting it all on a credit card.” I was unknowingly throwing $1,500 out the door every month! But when I realized that I had no money going towards savings or any of my goals, I knew it was time to get a budget down on paper. I started budgeting and putting money towards my goals. This was when I started my debt free journey.  During baby step two, I cut out a lot of things from my budget. It was key to me paying off $15,000 in the first 12 months of my debt free journey. Cutting things from my budget was one of the big ways that I was able to pay off debt. A while back, I wrote a blog post on the things that I do still “waste” money on. A lot of those things are the things that people usually add back into the budget during baby step three. Things I am adding Back into the Budget in Baby Step Three: Coffee Shops I am excited to add coffee back into the budget. While I didn’t totally cut it out of the budget, I only gave myself coffee money a few times over my debt free journey. If I did get coffee, I used discounts, rewards programs, or gift cards. I used Ibotta to get free cash back on my grocery purchases and cashed them out for coffee gift cards! In the last two years, I have probably spent less than $50 of my own money on coffees. Now, during baby step three, I plan to add $25 a month back into my budget for coffee stops. I love…

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Budget Tips

How I Went On a 2 Day Vacation for $130

Sometimes a mini vacation is exactly what you need to feel refreshed and ready to work again! A weekend getaway is the PERFECT way to do this, but it doesn't have to be expensive! Here are a few tips for how I did it for $130

  As I wrote most of this blog post, I was sitting in a cabin in the middle of no where. I wrote most of this the week before I was debt free, while I was on vacation. Crazy, it sounds, but I did actually take vacation the week leading up to me being debt free. It. Was. Wonderful. Work offered me paid time off, which is quite unheard of as a bartender in the U.S., but since I got it, I thought I would take advantage of it.  Getting that paycheck is also actually one of the things that was going to help me hit my debt free sooner because I took my paid time off for days that I usually have off anyway (one tiny perk of working in a restaurant that is open 364 days of the year) After the holiday season at a restaurant in a mall, I knew that I needed to get away. I needed to escape from reality a little bit, so that is exactly what I did. A friend and I rented a cabin at a state park just 30 minutes away from my home. We packed up groceries, books, wine, and blankets and headed to the cabin. We spent 2 days sitting by a fireplace with our phones off, reading, writing, snacking, and napping. To the old traveler in me, this is exactly the opposite of a vacation that I used to take. Before starting this journey, in 2016, I took a 5 day vacation and traveled into six states and two national parks. In five days, I saw multiple people and slept somewhere different ever night. I LOVED this type of vacation, but it was an extremely expensive five days. I knew that I couldn’t do that after being on a pretty strict budget for the last two years. My vacation breakdown: Cabins for 2 nights: $175 Aldi Food we brought with: $50 Food we went to get: $15 Gas to get there: $20 Park permit: $30. (I didn’t include this into my total cost because it is something we…

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Debt Free Journey Reports, Money

10 Things I Did On My First Day Being Debt Free

After working on paying off my debt for over 26 months, I am finally debt free! Check out how I spent my very first full day of being debt free! I bet it isn't what you would expect or maybe it is exactly what you expect?

I finally did it! I am finally debt free! In case you missed it, I paid off my very last student loan after 26 months of working my tail off! Two years ago, I posted my plan to pay off all of my student loans. However, at the time, I had hoped that it would only take me 12 months. I more than doubled that timeline, but I still accomplished it. If you are new to this blog and you haven’t read my story, here it is. My name is Elyse. I am 24, not married with no kids and I am DEBT FREE! I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. Everyone has student loans, so it never really crossed my mind that I was in debt. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that “showed up” that month. For that month of December 2016, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. I was excited about all of my new things, until my student loan bill came due. I had officially been “on break” from college for 6 months. My grace period was over. A $415 student loan payment showed up in the mail. I didn’t think that I had $415…

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Budget Tips

Self Care Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

Self care seems to be a hot topic lately. Maybe it is because in general, we are pretty bad about taking care of ourselves until it is really bad. I have been looking for different self care ideas, but they don't need to be expensive. Here are 51+ self care practices for under $15.

Lately, Self care seems to be the big topic. With all of the news about mental health and working hard, it is inevitable that self care is going to come up often. Taking care of yourself is obviously important, so why do we always need to bring it up. More and more people are advocating for more mental health care because of the celebrities in the news that are struggling. But it isn’t just celebrities that struggle. Because so many people have gotten into the “I am fine” mentality and they often refuse to take time for themselves. When you are working for others for so long, you start to burn out and break down. Being burnt out seems to be a way of life instead of just a temporary period of time. In the American culture, we even tend to brag about how much work we have done or how busy we are. At one point during my debt free journey, I was regularly working 60-70 hour weeks. Between my full time government job, waitressing/bartending, being in the National Guard, trying to run a blog, and trying to maintain my fitness, I was finding myself burnt out at the end of every week. I was exhausted. Most importantly, I was tired of people. When I spent all day every day trying to do other things for others, I was ready for a break. Working two jobs, I quickly found out that I needed to carve out time for myself in the middle of my busy schedule. I needed to do a better job of unwinding, unplugging, and relaxing. Even working one job, I find that there are times in my life that I need to remember this. Life is too short to constantly stress about your life. Self care has been a big conversation topic. It doesn’t have to be all about lavish bubble baths or expensive trips to the spa. Self care is really focusing on what makes you feel good and doing those things. I would challenge you to schedule in time for yourself at least once…

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Budget Tips, Money

The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Funds

Pretty much everyone knows that they need an "emergency fund," but where do you even start? Here is the what, where, how much, and how to emergency savings!

When I first started paying off debt, I didn’t want an emergency fund. I wanted to jump straight into paying off debt instead! “Emergencies never happen to me, so why do I need one.”  That mindset is totally wrong, because as soon as you don’t have your emergency fund, you will need it. I am so thankful that I have maintained my savings throughout the journey because I know that I would have needed it. Having a little rainy day fund can be the most important part of getting started on changing your finances for the better. It can also give you a sense of security when your checking account is looking a little low from a large debt payment. In fact, having an emergency fund was one of the biggest things that I credit with allowing me to pay off $15,000 in 2017. At that point in my journey, I was only making about $35,000 a year, but still managed to knock out $15,000 in car payments and student loans.. Let’s start with the very basics. I will caution you with this, if you share finances with someone, this is a topic that both of you should figure out before making any long term financial decisions. What is an Emergency Fund? An emergency fund is really exactly what it sounds like. Extra savings put aside in case of an emergency. Before you start throwing excess money at your debt, it is a great idea to have money in savings to work as a buffer in case something were to happen. If you are following Dave Ramsey’s Plan, he recommends starting with a “baby emergency fund” and then moving into a “fully funded emergency fund” once you have paid off all of your debts. Whether you are following Mr. Ramsey or not, having a little money set aside, just in case is an important step no matter what you are planning to do after that! What is Included as an “Emergency?” This is totally up to you (and your partner if you share a budget with someone else.) Things that…

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Budget Tips, Making Money, Money

8 Steps To Take Today To Start Changing Your Finances!

Starting to make any change in your life can be difficult. Any changes can be terrifying if you don’t know what you are getting into, but if you don’t make any changes, you will be in the exact same spot as you were one year ago. I think being stagnant in life is scarier than making a few things different in your life. Making a step by step plan to start changing can make the change not so hard. If you have been following my journey for a while and you are ready to get started, here is super simplistic steps of getting started. I will tell you that working on your financial goals isn’t always fun. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t start your debt free journey.  The question I get the most often is probably asking for advice on how to get started. My response is usually “just start.” Just do one simple thing to change your finances. Even little things are going to help more than trying to figure out everything you need to know before you begin. My best quote is, “A year ago from now, you will wish you had started today.” So start today. Here are 8 Steps to Take to Start Getting Your Finances Together! Step One: Start an Emergency Fund Emergencies will happen. It is almost inevitable to have something happen that you weren’t planning for. Having an extra rainy day bank account can make the blow of an emergency a lot easier to take. The first 3-6 months of following a budget will be sure to throw you for a loop. You will continuously be surprised by how many things you didn’t realize you were spending money on until you start tracking it. Everyone’s emergency fund looks a little different. When you are first starting out, I recommend $1000 in an separate bank account that isn’t easily accessible. For me, I chose Capital One 360 Savings account.  This account provides me with a little bit of interest every month, but it is still accessible enough that if I needed the…

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Budget Tips

15 of the Best Summer Money Saving Hacks

Summer is by far my favorite time of the year! The warm weather, my fun tank tops, playing in the water, and eating ice cream.  The days get longer and my tan gets darker. I love being outside and just enjoying the “American” summer favorites. Throughout middle school, I spent almost every single day at the waterpark in my small Nebraska town. I was surrounded by friends and we could swim from open until close every day of the week! During the winter, it feels so much easier to just stay inside and not spend any money. With the cold weather, you may just want to go home and stay at home all evening, but in the Summer you want to get out and enjoy all of the nice weather and fun activities! Summer can make it easy to let loose on the budget. But staying on budget in the summer is just as important! Here are a few of my favorite summer savings hacks! How to Save Money in the Summer:  Food and Drinks: Grocery Store Ice Cream ​​Instead of going out for ice cream, pick up some ice cream bars at the grocery store. Even an expensive box of ice cream is cheaper than 2-3 ice cream treats at a fast food restaurant. The other day I went to Dairy Queen and got a small blizzard. $3.30. I could have gotten a small pint of ice cream at the store! Getting your great summer treats from the grocery store can save you a pretty penny instead of trying to get it at a restaurant! Fire Up Your Own Grill Instead of going out for steaks and burgers, grill them up yourself. Creating your own masterpieces at home can be a ton of fun and can actually be a ton cheaper! Inviting people over for a barbecue can mean that you can split the costs of dishes with a few other families as well! Having someone cook a nice steak for you at a restaurant is great, but those can vary between $15-70 depending on the steak. Get good at…

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