Tag Archives: Personal Money

9 Creative Ways to Save Money

When you’re serious about becoming debt free, it changes your everyday spending habits. You have to go from your normal tendencies of buying on impulse to saying “no” time and time again when it comes to purchases. Without a change, you will never be debt free. But a little self-discipline can go a long way in your desire to dump the debt.

In the long run, you will be more than happy that you said ‘no’ to the many purchases that you otherwise would have indulged in, but in the moment it seems so difficult to do. I don’t think it has to be difficult. It’s a matter of changing your habits, your way of thinking and creating ways of saving money while still getting what you want.

As we have talked about in our “Creating a Bulletproof Budget Series”, we each get a personal budget that we can spend however we want to. Let’s just say this has saved many conflicts in our marriage.

The funny thing is, in the beginning of following a budget, I was the one to save all my personal money for months and Wesley would spend his the same day he got it. That has somehow changed over the course of several years and Wesley has now become quite a saver and I’m also saving more than I’m spending. This shows me that there can easily be a change in your habits. You just have to retrain your mind and actions and it becomes second nature.

Here are 9 creative ways of saving money while trying to be debt free.

1) One of our subscribers made a comment that she shops at thrift stores and has really found some great deals on high end brand name shoes. I would highly recommend this as a viable option. There are some really nice thrift stores out there where you can find some great deals!

2) Shops such as Marshalls and TJ Maxx are great options as well to get some well made clothes and accessories at a great price.

3) One rule that I put into play that has helped me dramatically is if an item is over $25, I have a 24 hour rule that I have to think about that potential purchase to make sure I actually want it. I have found that 9 times out of 10 I end up not buying that item as I talked myself out of it in that 24 hour period. This has been a huge tool that has helped me in purchasing habits.

4) Another rule I give myself is that I only buy something if I love it. If I’m on the fence about it, or it would be nice to have, I do not buy it! I only buy it if I truly love it and if I know I’ll regret it later if I don’t buy it. I’m pretty picky, so this might not relate to all those people out there that love everything they put their hands on. But it has helped me say no to a ton of purchases.

5) When it comes to groceries…a great way I’ve saved money is to look in the fridge and freezer and decide what to make for dinner that week based on what we already have in the house. Now, this has made for some interesting dinners, but it was nice to feel like I was using what we already had instead of constantly buying more food. Even if I had to buy a few items to make a full meal, I didn’t feel wasteful by filling up the fridge even though there were options already available.

6) This one is not new, but when you find a really good deal on something you eat at the grocery store, then by all means, stock up! My husband has helped teach me this principle. I came home with 12 jars of Emeril’s speghetti sauce once because it was on clearance for $1. My husband’s response to this….”why didn’t you get more?” Good question, I should have bought them out! Stock up when things are really on sale, not just when you save $.20, but when you’re saving dollars it becomes worth it.

7) At home, close the vents to rooms you don’t use much so that you don’t have to pay for utilities that aren’t getting used.

8) Consider cancelling cable and joining Netflix. Cable can easily cost you $35-50 a month. Netflix costs $8 a month. You really have to be open minded to consider this, but not having cable really isn’t that bad. It’s actually really nice and promotes more family time NOT in front of the TV.

9) If you have a cell phone, consider cancelling your home phone. This would easily save you $20 a month, and most people don’t use a home phone when they have personal cell phones.

Well there are 9 things to consider that could help you save a bit of money on your expenses and make this debt free journey even more enjoyable!!

Please comment with any ways you have found to also save money! We respond to 100% of our comments!

Committed to Your Success,

– Beth

Continue reading...

3 Ways a Budget Eliminates Stress & Creates Freedom in your Marriage (Part Two)

#2 – A Budget Eliminates the Fear of the Unknown

Fear of the unknown. It’s the reason we love scary movies and hate doctor’s visits. Here’s a few words from Beth on how the fear of the unknown has recently affected our lives:

When we first found out that I was pregnant, we were overwhelmed with joy! Due to the risk of miscarriage being highest early on, fears and stress quickly started to sneak in due to the unknown. Do we have a healthy baby? Am I doing everything right to ensure the baby’s health? Are we going to miscarry? These unanswered questions created stress until we could go to a doctor and find out that all was well. When we did go to the doctor around 8 weeks, we found out the good news that the baby was perfectly healthy. Immediately the unknown facts were known….and the stress melted away. It’s amazing what information can do in regards to bringing you peace of mind.

Similar to my wife’s story, people often deal with the fear of the unknown on a daily basis. Whether it’s a health problem, job related issue, or even something minor like a strange noise in your car’s engine, we deal with unneeded stress because we’re afraid to take the steps needed to escape the unknown. So we just ignore the issue and hope it goes away.

Wake Up Call

How many stories have you heard of people who refuse to lose weight or even go the doctor until there is a major emergency? If you’ve seen the CNBC show “Till Debt Do Us Part,” you’re probably just as amazed as I am at how so many of the couples have literally no idea that they’re spending two to three times their income each month. As sobering as this wake-up call can be to the couples on the show, it inevitably brings peace, because, often for the first time, they know exactly where they are.

This is a simple but powerful truth: You will never know how to get to your destination until you know where you are starting from.

Fear Factor

If you and your spouse have never created a budget or communicated openly (and more importantly, honestly) about your finances, it can be a little scary. You may have to own up to making some mistakes. But you tell me which is better: One difficult conversation that has the power to lead to healing and intimacy, or continuing to live in fear and deception?

So many marital issues could be solved through open and honest communication. I’m astounded by the stories I hear of how a husband is hiding debt from his wife, or a wife who lobbies for separate bank accounts so she can shop without accountability, or probably the most common, the guy who drives home with a new car without consulting his wife.

A budget is a very simple thing. It’s just a sheet of paper that details how much money you have coming in this month, and how much money you have going out (specifically where it is going out), this month. Yet despite the simplicity (it really doesn’t have to be complicated), only 40% of Americans have a monthly budget.

The issue isn’t ignorance, or the difficulty of creating a budget. The issue is primarily fear. People ignore the problems because they don’t have the courage to face the issues in their life when it comes to spending. The tragedy in this is that ignorance is not bliss. On the contrary, ignorance is seriously stressful. And stress creates all kinds of issues: anxiety, fear, depression, sleeplessness, etc.

If you’re facing financial stress, the best first step you and your spouse can take together is to set aside an evening together, push past the fear, and create a budget. Without this indispensible first step, you’re desire to become debt free is little more than a daydream.

However, with a budget, you will be armed with a peace of mind in knowing your financial status. You will silence the fear of the unknown. You will be able to track your spending and know where your money is going. You will be able to chart your financial future, and can set a “We’re Free” date. And then the real fun begins in trying do everything possible to make that date sooner than later!

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Leave us a comment below (we respond to every comment)! What emotions confront you when trying to create a budget?

Continue reading...

3 Ways a Budget Eliminates Stress & Creates Freedom in your Marriage (Part One)

#1 – A Budget Eliminates the Tendency to Judge

Beth has always loved Starbucks. When we were dating, she only worked a couple of blocks away from one, so I would sometimes run by and pick up her favorite drink, an iced tall nonfat caramel macchiato, and surprise her at work.

Likewise, I love books. I worked close to Books A Million, and would spend many lunch hours there, getting a good dose of both caffeine and inspiration. I discovered one of my favorite books, “Three Cups of Tea,” during one of these times.

When you’re dating, you don’t think much about the “little” purchases your future spouse makes on a frequent basis. However, when you’re married, you and your spouse are pulling money from the same pot, and those little purchases suddenly go from being “cute” to competing with each other.

If she spends $20 a week on “Starbucks Therapy,” that’s $20 I don’t have to spend on the next book that grabs my attention….you can see how a simple thing as a book or a cup of coffee can quickly turn into a battle for control.

Your Values Drive Your Spending

In the first few months of our marriage, we had to make several adjustments to our budget, as we found that our different spending habits were creating conflict in our marriage.

As an example, I went through a couple of months of our bank statements, and figured out that we could buy an espresso machine for less than what we were spending at Starbucks in a year. But the reason Beth loved Starbucks wasn’t for the drink itself; it was an emotional retreat from the daily grind of work (sounds like she needed more than a macchiato).

Similarly, my love for books was driven by a desire to grow and change. I would buy a book for the promise it offered me, but more often than not, that promise went unfulfilled as the book usually sat on my shelf without getting read.

Be a Jury, Not a Judge

Most couples get angry with each other over what they see as wasteful spending. “Why spend $20 a week on coffee which has no lasting value?” “Why spend $20 on a book that you’re not even going to read?” You know how the conversations go. They usually result with spouses passing judgment on one another and deciding that conversations about money aren’t worth the stress.

You should confront wasteful spending, especially when you’re in debt. However, often what we see as wasteful is really a difference in value. For example, clothing & fishing. I could blow a lot of money at Bass Pro; my wife could drop a lot of cash at Anthropology. I value sport and nature; she values beauty & elegance.  We could easily call each other wasteful, or we can take the time to discover what our spouse values, and then work together to find an affordable way to fulfill those values.

What really helped us was to stop judging each other’s purchases, and start communicating with each other to try and understand why the other person values that purchase. Once we understood that this was a legitimate value, we were able to make room for it in our budget.

Don’t Miss The Power In This!

The answer for us was to add two new line items to our budget (simply titled Beth Personal & Wesley Personal), where we allot a set dollar amount each month for each of us to spend any way we wish. When we were buried in debt, I think it was $25 or $30 a month. Thankfully it’s a little more now since we’re debt-free.

What this did was eliminate the tendency to judge each other based on our differences in opinions on what should or should not be purchased. Don’t miss the power in this principle; this reduced a lot of financial stress in the early days of our marriage.

Post a Comment! We respond to every comment!

What’s one expense that seems to always create conflict for you & your spouse? What is the hidden “value” behind this expense?

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Continue reading...