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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Budget Tips, Food, No Spend Month Tips

How This Single, Millennial Spends Less than $200 a Month on Groceries!

Saving money on food can be one of the hardest things sometimes! I mean, you need it to survive, right? I have done good about keeping my grocery budget under $150 a month! Here are a few of my tips on how to keep your grocery budget low!

I recently posted a picture of my budget on Instagram and I have been talking about my No Spend Month Budget a lot lately. My grocery budget for the month is usually about $150-200 a month! A ton of people have asked me how it is possible. During my No Spend Months, I often cut it down to $100. I will start by saying that I do not fall into “organic” traps. I don’t have any special dietary needs and I haven’t cut any major food groups out of my diet. While I think there is a healthy balance of proteins, fats, and carbs, I also think that life is far too short to deny yourself of anything you want. Your body is also designed to run off of all three macros. That being said, I am not a nutritionist, so you don’t have to listen to what I am saying about food! People are asking, so I am sharing the raw truth of how I eat so cheap so I can pay off more debt. In 2017, I paid of more than $15,000 in 12 months and I have continued to pick up the momentum with every month so far in 2018. Here is how I keep my grocery budget under $200. I work in a restaurant I could write a whole post about how working in a restaurant has cut my grocery budget! This is probably my number one reason my budget is so incredibly low. I spend 40+ hours in the restaurant most weeks. At least one day a week, I am there from open to close, which usually means that I eat 2-3 “meals” at the restaurant. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know there is usually “dead”/extra or messed up food that is up for grabs. There are nights of eating wings that were tossed in the wrong sauce or extra fried chicken that was never used. I am definitely not saying it is the healthiest, but it works and it’s free. I always make sure that the food is extra before…

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Budget Tips, Christian

Tithing During My Debt Free Journey

Tithing has been on my mind and heart an awful lot lately. I have started a new bible study over Proverbs and it talks a little about it. Tithing is the act of giving your first 10% of your income to God. I have often thought about it as I do my monthly budget. God has always had a line in my budget, but I am now thinking about increasing it. The Bible talks about it in Leviticus 27:30, “Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD. It is holy to the LORD.” Leviticus is talking about produce and fruit because that was a valuable currency, but it is now translated into the money that we make. 10% seems like a lot when you start doing the math. I have always thought that I was a generous person, until I started this Bible study. Last week, I was talking with a friend who is also trying to pay off her debt. She was telling me how she just sold some clothes for $17. While it was very little, she brought it up that she was excited to tithe the $1.70. Her message to me really stood out. “It’s important to me to tithe 10% of anything I make. Regardless of the amount. Showing God my heart, you know?” No. I actually didn’t. I was so speechless about her message that I actually just sat there staring at it for a minute or two. Sure, on the weeks that I went to church, I would throw a $10 or $20 in the basket as it came around. I had seen my parents do that for YEARS. Actually, I remember being really small sitting on my dad’s lap in church. When the offering plate would come around, he would hand me the folded up check and I would get to put it in there.  I remember being so incredibly excited about dropping it in there. But it is easy to give when the check is coming out of someone else’s bank account.…

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Budget Tips, Food, Money, Uncategorized

13 Daily Habit Changes that Will Change Your Bank Account

Recently I read the quote “You aren’t going to change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Ouch. That hit hard. I wanted the success. I wanted to work from home. But, when I was tired after working two jobs for other people. The last thing I wanted to do was work on my own blog and my own dreams. I knew that I had to reconsider what I was doing daily and if it matched up with my goals. Shocker, it didn’t. I was working every single day and paying off debt, but I wasn’t getting anywhere on any of my other goals. Bartending is not my calling and I don’t want to be there the rest of my life. I needed to make a change. Remember that your daily habits aren’t going to change overnight. They are small intentional things that will take a little bit of time to change. If you haven’t read S. J. Scott’s Book, Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness, I STRONGLY recommend this book! I also began applying this to my finances. What things do I do daily that match up/ don’t match up with my financial goals. There were a ton of things that I do daily, but thinking of how they affected my financial goals was eye opening. I started implementing SMALL daily changes. I started with one or two of these habits and have worked up to doing more of them as time progresses. 13 Daily Habits That Will Change Your Bank Account 1) Making coffee at home or at the office It is no secret that coffee is crazy over priced. If you can get into a habit of making your coffee at home daily instead of swinging buy Starbucks to get it every day, your wallet will thank you big time. Any coffee shop usually charges $3-6 for a cup of coffee. Even McDonald’s “McCafe” drinks are $3+! At one point I figured out the math that with the purchase…

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Budget Tips, Making Money, Money

Financial Apps You Must Have When Trying To Pay Off Debt!

Do you ever feel like you have a million apps on your phone but you are still searching for the best one? I have been working hard at pay off all of my debt and in the mean time, I have been compiling a list of my favorite tools. There are so many financial tools out there to use that it can be hard to know which tools to use and which ones overlap to do the same things! I have spent a ton of time looking and trying different apps for my phone to get cover all of my needs. Here are a list of my favorite financial apps that have helped me on my debt free journey! Ibotta It is no secret that I love Ibotta. I have shared this multiple times on Instagram. Ibotta is a grocery rebate app. I am all about saving money on groceries. Instead of saving money up front like with coupons, it is a receipt scanning app. The app will pay you for scanning your receipt when you purchase certain items. I love Ibotta because there are a ton of different things on there. Alcohol, produce, meat, frozen foods, and household items can all be found with rebates. Checking it regularly can mean getting cash back on things that you are already getting! When you sign up for Ibotta, you will get a $10 welcome bonus when you redeem your first rebate! (Who can beat free $10!) Acorns Acorns one is pretty new to me, but I have been checking it out lately and I am totally in love so far! It is an investing app for dummies. I have set up my debit cards to round up the purchase so money goes into my investing account when I make a purchase. Acorns also allows you to set up recurring payments. It takes all of the guess work out of what to invest in, because you can just choose your risk level. The app does the rest for you! I have figured out that if I started investing $600 a month (which…

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Budget Tips, Money

The Ultimate Guide To The Cash Envelope System

  Cash Envelopes are the best way to curve your spending because it has been proven that cash is mentally harder to spend than swiping your card!  This system is nothing new to the budgeting world. In fact, this is probably how your great-great grandma carried her budget! If it worked for her, it could definitely work for you! Cash Envelopes are exactly what they sound like. Envelopes or Clips to hold cash that is specifically allocated for a certain category. Things like eating out, groceries, and misc/personal spending are usually the most popular categories for your envelopes, but they can be so many more than that. Cash envelopes allow you to assign a certain amount of money to a category. Once the money in that envelope is gone, there is nothing left for you to spend! They take a few months to get the hang of, but soon you will be rocking and rolling your way to spending less! How to Set up Cash Envelopes? Gather all of your materials To get started you will need envelopes, a pen, a small notebook (small enough for a piece of paper to fit inside of the envelope), clips, and a place to put them! I also use sticky notes to label each clip. I use an old recipe box to keep all of my envelopes organized. The old, decorated milk jug is my coin jar where I put all of my loose change. It actually adds up pretty quick and it is a nice extra $50 every other month. I have seen people use all different kinds of envelopes as well. There are plastic envelopes (which will hold up a little bit longer), or paper envelopes with a ledger if it makes it easier for you to track. Or you can decorate your own. I started with basic office envelopes, but I have been thinking about upgrading! Make a list of budget categories that cash spending would help with These can be all different kinds of things based on your budget and your family. Because I am a waitress, I have…

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Budget Tips, Money

15 Things I Did To Pay off $15,000 on a $30,000 Income

Have you ever felt like you were just a hamster, running on the same wheel every day but not really getting anywhere? You just wanna pay off everything or just run away? That is kind of how I felt in 2016. I had been paying minimums on my student loans. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t have any credit cards or car loans, but that changed by the end of the year. I was working what felt like a billion hours every week waitressing, but every night after my shift I was going to the bars with my coworkers because we “had a rough shift.” Even though I was working a ton, I had zero savings to show for it. I had pictures from a few travel adventures (which I definitely don’t regret), but nothing really extravagant to show for all of the hours that I was working. By mid- November, I had no money for the new car that I “needed” and barely enough money to go on the trip that I had planned for my birthday. On top of that, my other student loan account was due for $190 a month in January. Where was I supposed to get that money. Add in $3,000 of interest had accrued on my student loans since I had taken them out. $3,000!! What? I was over it. 2017 was going to be different. I picked up Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, which had sat on my bookshelf for quite sometime, and started taking notes. In 2017, I paid off over $15,000 including the Jeep that I “needed,” that birthday trip to Texas on a brand new credit card ($700), and a ton of student loans (including that $3,000 in interest). I want to be up front. This isn’t one of those “We sold our house and paid off all of our debt overnight” stories. I am happy for those people, but this is a “I worked my butt off and said no a lot” story. I spent a stupid amount of hours working during this year. There was ALWAYS…

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Budget Tips, Money, No Spend Month Tips

5 Things To Prepare for a No Spend Challenge

Preparing for a no spend challenge is extremely important.

I have been on my debt free journey for almost exactly a year now! One thing that has helped me tremendously with paying off $15,000 on a $30,000 income was No Spend Months! They may seem a little crazy, but you can accomplish anything in 30 days if you set your mind to it! No Spend Months are great for resetting your finances after a splurge or really just focusing in on what you already have. The last year of 2017 has been a bit of a cheat week for me because my roommate came home from her military training for Christmas break. I haven’t exactly stuck to my budget, but I also budgeted to splurge (All in cash). Does that mean I’m not breaking the budget? I am making January a no spend month for me, but you can definitely do it any month out of the year. I will probably have multiple throughout 2018 and beyond. Whether your goal is to not spend for one week, a month, or even a whole year, you have to be realistic about your goals. Everyone has to set their own rules for a no spend month. The best thing you can do for your goals is to prepare for obstacles that might come up throughout your no spend time. Here are 5 things to do to prepare for a No Spend Challenge: 1. Set your goal. When setting your goal, really think about why you want to do this challenge. Is it because you know you have been spending too much? Or maybe you have too much stuff in the house already and you are going to focus on getting rid of stuff and not bringing more in. Another great goal is to pay off the rest of a debt. If you are super close on one of your snowball accounts, maybe the whole point is to really focus on getting that student loan/credit card/car loan gone! When preparing for your no spend month, make a list of the things that you hope to get out of this month. I don’t recommend your…

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