Bargain Hunting

I don’t know about you, but I love to find a great bargain.  I am the one who, when you tell me you like my dress, will yell out “and I only paid $20 for it!”.  I really struggle to pay full price for anything, and I also don’t like to pay more than something is worth.

Bargain hunting can be fun, but it is usually just that – a hunt.  I have to admit sometimes I just want to walk into the small boutique, find just what I want, pay for it, and walk out.  But, honestly I always feel better when I wait, and score that illusive deal.  

What would I say to newbies??  The number one thing to remember is patience.  You may not be able to find exactly what you are looking for at exactly the right price, right now.  So, obviously the next thing you need to remember is flexibility.

Don’t be afraid to check out your local thrift stores. Find the ones that run sales, and have the best prices and check their stock frequently.  People donate great stuff!!

Garage sales are fabulous, and a great way to spend a Friday or Saturday morning.  My kids were raised on garage sale and thrift store items!!  

Dollar stores are great for some really basic items. I’m sure everyone has their go to items there.  I but all more plastic organizing bins there.  Plus, greeting cards, gift bags, tissue paper, paper party supplies, and contact paper.

I have signed up for way to many email lists over the years, but this is a great way to know when your favorite stores are running sales and on what.  This is how I stock up on my favorite things.

These are just a few ideas on bargain shopping.  I’m sure you have your own tricks, so please share them in the comments below.  I love learning!!

Blessings and Peace!!

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The Envelope System {for the cash}

Now that you are operating with cash, you will need a way to keep your cash categories separated and organized.  This is affectionately called “the envelope system”.  People have been using cash forever, but oddly this seems like a totally new concept to most people – I know it was for me.  I mentioned that I use the envelopes that I received when I participated in the Financial Peace class.  Nothing fancy – they look like this –

There is a log on the outside of each envelope, which I used in the very beginning, and then I decided stuffing the receipts in the envelope worked just as well. Truthfully, for me, I don’t need to know how much I spent where on what.  If there is money left in the envelope then great, if not then….  

I have seen a lot of cute envelope systems floating around the blog world, and etsy, via pinterest.  I only had to spend a couple of minutes to find this cute DIY, and this one, oh and this one looks simple, and I love that it’s not too bulky.  Also I found this one on etsy which I really like, and I even found a man’s wallet on etsy that is designed for this system!!

Sometimes the tricky part is making sure that the right person has the cash.  Sometimes, I would ask my hubby to pick up a bag o salad or something on his way home, but he didn’t have the grocery cash.  Major stumbling block.  Typically he would be smart enough to use his ‘blow’ money and then reimburse himself from the grocery money when he came home.  

This is so doable!!  Take heart my friends.  It is so much better, and peaceful to live within your means than beyond them. 

Blessings and Peace!!
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Record Keeping {Budget Binder}

I mentioned here that we use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of our budget and bill paying. This is only half true.  Several months ago, when my anxiety level was off the charts, I surrendered the money management to my hubby.  I have been doing it solely because I had more time.  Truth be told, he’s probably better at it than I am – but don’t tell him I said so ;).

He uses the excel sheet to look at, but then he scratches out his own (illegible I might add) notes on whatever scrap piece of paper he happens to find.  Bless him, he just prefers pencil and paper.  

So, today I decided to check out my own pinterest budget board, because I knew I had pinned some things on budget binders, and budget planning sheets.  {What did I ever do before pinterest??}

There are so many options, some free – like this one, some at a low cost on etsy – like this one.  I also came across this site with some very basic financial pages to print.  And of course there are the starter pages from Dave Ramsey.

Honestly, I had trouble finding something that was exactly what I wanted.  So I made my own, with a table in Word, and printed it out.  Now, I am assuming that these sheets don’t take too long for someone who knows how to use these programs fairly fluently, but for the basic beginner – me, it took a little bit of time to get everything in place, and looking the way that I wanted. Let’s just hope hubby likes it.  

Blessings and Peace!!

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Cash, Cash, Cash

Okay, so maybe you remember what I said here about debt.  The worst of which is credit card debt.  A lot of us use credit cards for convenience.  Maybe you pay the bill off every month – good for you!!  We are not that disciplined…at. all.  Maybe you use your debit card, cuz that’s really the same as cash, right – I mean it’s your money, coming out of your account.  Yes, this is true, and debit cards are a great combination of convenience and responsible spending.  For us however, and maybe for some of you, debit cards were still a downfall for us. The reason?  We did not keep a very good record of how much we were both spending.  We also set no limits on how much we were spending on what. Sometimes we were both spending away, unaware that the other was doing it, and we ran our checking account dry – not. good.  So, we chose to set aside our debit cards and use cash for our everyday expenses.  This is also recommended by Dave.  

This is a great way to keep track of how much money you are spending on what.  It is also a great way to limit your spending in a lot of areas.  If you budget $200 for groceries and you are using your debit card to pay, then maybe it’s not a big deal if you spend $250 instead. But, if you only have $200 in cash, then you learn to work within those boundaries.  Also, you probably know it is much easier to swipe a card than it is to hand someone cold hard cash. There’s more of an emotional connection with that cash.  I think it’s definitely true – we know that once the cash is gone, it’s gone.  With a credit or debit card we feel like there is an endless supply of money.  🙂 (even if that is not the case)

Just a side note – when you are swiping your card – credit or debit doesn’t matter – you’re kids think the same thing, that there’s an endless supply.  Because there’s no visual cash being used.  I have said to my kids before “we don’t have the money for that”, to which they have responded, “can’t you just use your credit/debit card?” Ouch.

So, how does this work.  Look at your list of expenses and choose the ones that you think would be best to use cash for.  Maybe the ones that might trip you up the most, and then others that are just obvious.  We use cash for:  groceries, gasoline, commission/allowance, blow/adult allowance, housing, clothes, and gifts. Create an envelope, or a special place for each category. Then, when you get ready to shop for something, make sure you are pulling cash only from that envelope – no stealing!!  Some people keep track of what they spent by writing it down on the envelope – me, I just stuff the receipt in the envelope with the remaining cash.

Maybe this sounds crazy to you, but I promise it works. One of my favorite categories is my “blow money”, or our adult allowance.  I used to feel like I had to hide every nickel and dime I spent before, knowing that we probably couldn’t afford those “luxuries”.  Also, I used to gripe at my hubby all the time for all the money he wasted at 7-11 on pop and snacks.  So much freedom came from simply allowing each other basically $20 a week to do with whatever we wanted!! Changed our marriage for the better!!  🙂

Blessings and Peace!!

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Emergency Spending

So, ya, you know when the washing machine leaks all over your laundry room and into your kitchen.

The dryer stops heating.

You have a leak in a pipe in the foundation.

Or maybe you have a car (or two) that need repair. (This is our reality right now. :))
How do you handle those things?  Do you pull our your credit card that you have “just for emergencies”, are you forced to call a friend or family member for assistance, or do you have a savings account just for these emergencies?  

For obvious reasons, the latter is the ideal.  Credit is for dummies.  I’m sorry if that offends you, it’s just the truth.  I admit I have been a dummy, and still am one, but it truly is one of the craziest things we do.  We all have our ways of justifying it.  For me it’s the need for instant gratification – I don’t want to wait and save, that would take WAY too long.  🙂  Truthfully, other than a home loan, we should not have any credit, but we will talk about that more later.

So a savings account just for these emergencies is necessary.  If you own a home, or a car, or any other sort of thing – they are gonna break at some point.  Am I right? So, Dave Ramsey suggests the first thing you do, when you are ready to take control of your money,  is tuck away $1,000 for these sorts of emergencies.  He calls it an emergency fund.  

$1,000 is a starting point, and a pretty good one, but one emergency and that very well may drain that fund, so you will probably want to continue to add a little to that as you can.  Remember on the sample budget yesterday – where there is a line item for things like home repairs, and car repairs.  Even for things like gifts, and vacation.  What we have found that works best for us to do with this money is put it in savings. Then when you need it, it’s there, and easily accessible. No more stress!!

Obviously, if you take money out, you will want to replace that money as you can.  🙂  Because there will always be another emergency.  Also, as you are adding to, it is good to keep a log of how much you have in each category.  Especially if you are adding money for vacation or such. That way you don’t take more out than you should.  

Please feel free to ask any questions that you have in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.  Thanks for taking this journey with me!!

Blessings and peace!!

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