If I’m being completely honest, I don’t really follow a budget. Now, that’s not to say I don’t know where my money goes, don’t save and spend frivolously. In fact, I do the opposite of all of those things. But an actual budget? I’ve just never really taken the time to create it and follow it. It seems too time-consuming and stressful, and I personally like my method of managing money. It’s allowed us to save, move across the country, invest and work for ourselves. Not to say not having a budget is for everyone, but here’s why I don’t follow one and what exactly I do instead.
Ahh, the great debate – Is it better to save as much money as possible and live an extremely frugal life OR seek out side jobs to make more money?
Natalie Bacon over at The Finance Girl discussed this in depth a few weeks ago, and I wanted to share where I stood on this issue.
Based on the title of this post, I’m sure you can guess that I’m more about earning and than saving every penny. I wasn’t always this way, though. In fact, it was just in the last few months that I decided I really wanted to focus on earning more instead of save, save, save. Don’t get me wrong – saving money is good. But, what you save is somewhat (read: very) dependent on what you make.
Ways that I save include couponing (I’m new at this, but will be sharing tips and tricks as I go), purchasing necessary items off of Craigslist (tools for my husband’s job, used vehicles, etc), not paying interest (paying credit cards off EVERY month), buying generic items at the grocery store, buying items on sale only, shopping at Costco and more. I will say, though, that the main way I save is by simply not buying stuff I don’t need. Yesterday at the mall I was browsing through Bath & Body Works, and while I would love to own every single delicious smelling candle, I didn’t buy anything. I was there to walk around with the girls and let them play – not to shop. I try to avoid impulse buying and would say I succeed 90% of the time.
Now, I’m looking to earn more money. I work from home, so my options really are endless as I’m discovering. Of course, there’s only so much I can do in any given day as my two girls are my main priority 🙂 I am excited to explore more income-earning avenues as time goes on, though. My husband is also working for himself, which means the more he works, the more he’s able to make. Once we buy a house, him and I have a few ideas for side businesses that we want to start. We need space for those projects, so unfortunately we can’t start those businesses while living in our apartment.
While both earning more and saving more are absolutely necessary to financial independence, you can’t make millions quickly simply by saving (assuming you make an average salary). You need to bring in more money that way you can save more money. You need to invest your money, develop passive streams of income, possibly own and rent out real estate, minimize your bills and so on and so forth.
My husband and I are very good at saving money and living within our means. Going out to eat is spending $15 at the local BBQ restaurant to feed all four of us! We love cooking at home, going on walks and to the library, watching movies, playing cards, reading and more. This past week, though, BOTH of our cars wound up in the auto shop (more on this later) and cost us $400 (we got off VERY lucky!). Still, that was $400 we could have saved but instead had to go to our auto repairs. Unexpected expenses happen ALL the time, so instead of stressing about not saving as much, I’m changing my game and focusing on earning more!
What are your thoughts? Are you a spender or a saver? Do you focus on saving more, earning more or both? I would love to know!!
John and I opened our first high yield savings account this past week! After some research, we went with Synchrony Bank. No fees (as long as your balance is over $50) and a 0.95% APY, this is definitely something I wanted to get on board with.
We deposited $20K to start, and if we never add to it, we’ll make about $200 per year. Not much, but quite frankly that’s MUCH better than the interest rate of a regular savings account (.01%).
I plan on tracking our progress and updating the blog to let you know how much we’re contributing. As of right now, we don’t plan on adding a set monthly amount. With my husband just starting his own business, we’re not quite sure what he’s going to be taking in per month and what we’re going to be able to save. The goal would be to contribute $500 per month minimum, but of course we’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible.
This is probably the easiest passive income stream to exist. While the returns aren’t great, there’s zero risk involved! I highly recommend moving your savings account or emergency fund into a high yield savings account (and no, I was not compensated to say that!!).
Do you have a high yield savings? Any tips? I’d love to know!!
I woke up yesterday to temps in the 50s, today…the low 40s!! For this gal from AZ, this weather is COLD!! So, yesterday most definitely called for some fall decorating, or decorating on a budget!
How to Decorate on a Budget
When we moved, I was forced (by none other than my husband) to get rid of my fall decor and Christmas decor. We majorly downsized, and if it wasn’t a necessity, it had to go. Unfortunately, fall decor just didn’t qualify as a “necessity” (to him, anyways). The good news is we did budget some money for some festive items. Yes, I’m always on a budget and prefer to save my money rather than spend it, but I’m still a girl, and when it comes to fall decor I’m just not quite ready to give that up.
Shop at Discount Stores
So off I went to Kirkland’s to stock up on a few essentials. I spent $48 (including my $10 off coupon) on the items you see on the fireplace mantle – the “Be Thankful” banner, two ceramic pumpkins, a “Harvest Home” sign, a burlap white floral arrangement, a festive light-up mason jar and a vanilla-scented candle on an antique candle holder. Looks good, right??!
My shopping didn’t stop there, though. We don’t have a dining room table and eating in our small apartment kitchen just wasn’t cutting it. I had found a table a few weeks ago at World Market that I liked, but at $990, I wasn’t sold. Then we had the brilliant idea of having my husband make me my dream farmhouse table. We priced it out and it would have cost roughly $150. Yes!! He agreed, only to later decide it just wasn’t possible in our small apartment. So back to square one we went.
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After I got back from Kirkland’s, we searched on Craigslist for farmhouse tables. We ended up finding the cutest shop just 20 minutes north of us – The Painted Owl. Owned by three ladies, they find old, antique items at estate sales and refurbish them. Tables, benches and chairs are custom-made by one of the ladies’ husbands. We drove down there and walked out with not only a custom table with a matching bench (chairs coming soon), but also an antique, refurbished desk with a black chair adorned in burlap.
We will eventually paint the legs bright white, but for now – this table is perfect. I can’t wait to serve Thanksgiving dinner on it!
The antique desk! While I normally work from the couch so I can keep an eye on the little ones, this desk will come in handy when my husband’s home so I can sneak away to our room to work. Also, this is a classic piece I plan on having for a very long time.
How much would you guess this costs? If you guessed $550 total, you would be correct. My home is my happy place, and I’m willing to spend money to make it look nice.
Take it One Room at a Time
Since originally writing this, we moved into a rather large house and we had very minimal furniture to go along with it. We’ve lived here almost a year, and I can say with confidence that we are *almost* fully-furnished. The only two rooms that are unfurnished are the office (other than a desk) and the sanctuary in the master bedroom. That room will eventually be made into a media room, but I’m guessing that’s a few years down the line.
Instead of furnishing our entire place on credit, we saved up and took it one room at a time. The family room was the biggest concern since it’s where we all hang out. We purchased a media console from Walmart and a Chaise lounge from Costco to complete the space. The kitchen nook is now furnished with a white table that I purchased off of Craigslist for $100 and painted. We’ve had to add some knick-knacks to hallways, like console tables, that I either purchased and repainted from Craigslist or bought at my favorite store – Kirklands.
In February, we saved up $1,500 to purchase patio furniture for our screened in porch. We definitely could have gone the cheaper route and bought used, but we had a good month income-wise and decided to splurge a little!
Now, we’re working on the nursery for our third baby girl, due on Halloween. We’re painting the room a pale pink and doing one wall in shiplap. I’m buying a grey crib from Walmart for $200, including the mattress. We currently have a queen sized bed in there that will remain in the room in case I need to crash in there one night. Since the bed’s there, I don’t see the need to purchase a rocking chair, so we’re skipping that expense. The baby also won’t have a dresser but will instead use the shelves in the closet.
Keep it Simple
I hate clutter – both because it makes it so I have more stuff to put away and keep track of and because it means I have to spend more money. Our house is big, but it’s simple. No rooms are overly decorated and everything has a place. If you’re decorating on a budget – keeping the areas simple is going to be the best way you can save money. Purchase the essentials, and then slowly add decor. Overtime, the space will come together. But in the meantime, there is nothing wrong with having a few bare rooms while you save up.
Any tips for decorating on a budget??!
Why did we move? Because we wanted to. I work from home and John works in construction. We didn’t get transferred, we don’t have family out here and, in fact, John had never even been to NC before and I had only been once (and to a different city than we live, no less). Simply put, we’re here because we want to be!
Since we didn’t have a job to come to, we knew we needed to save every penny we could during the move.
We got rid of a lot of our stuff
For two months, whenever I had time, I would go through closets, cabinets and drawers and get rid of what wasn’t a necessity. I cleaned out my closet three separate times and donated roughly 12 full-size bags of clothes and shoes. We got rid of some of my daughters toys, kitchen gadgets, a couch, a dining room table, a grill, miscellaneous pieces of furniture, tools and more. If it wasn’t a necessity or something one of us treasured, it got donated or sold.
*As a side note, I can’t tell you how good it feels to downsize and get rid of clutter! With less stuff comes less stress, less to clean, less to keep up and less to worry about!
We rented a 6 x 12 U-Haul trailer
We packed our entire 3 bedroom + loft house into a 6 x 12 trailer attached to the back of our SUV. That’s how much we downsized!! One thing I refused to part with was our couch that we bought in July 2013. We paid $1800 for it and there was no way I was going to sell it for not even half that. The couch, by the way, is MASSIVE. It easily took up half of the trailer.
We also took a fake fireplace we had purchased the previous Christmas, our girls cribs and mattresses, our mattress (but not the box spring), some of John’s work tools, a few boxes of sentimentals, one box of kitchen items, half a box of bathroom items, clothing and some artwork.
Cost of the U-Haul: $550
We packed ourselves
No one likes to pack and load boxes into a trailer, but if you can physically do it yourself, I highly recommend going that route. I got quotes from movers and it easily would have been $8K to have all of our belongings packed up and moved across the country. Instead, John and I packed everything up ourselves. It took a day and a half and we did it while watching our girls in the 110 degree weather!
We drove one car
Part of why we downsized so much is we didn’t want to rent a full-size U-Haul moving truck. Those cost way more than the trailers plus we would have had to pay for gas for our SUV and the moving truck. Not to mention, we had two babies and two dogs with us, so it just made sense for all of us to be in one vehicle.
Total spent in gas: $650
We stayed in La Quinta’s
La Quinta’s are pet-friendly and don’t charge extra. Our trip was five days, four nights so we stayed at four different La Quinta’s across the country (Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Knoxville). We booked a two-room suite each time to allow for plenty of space for all of us. Prices ranged from $120/night to $160/night.
Total spent on hotels: $550
TOTAL: $1750 plus food to move a family of four across the country!
You really can’t beat that!
Readers: Have you ever moved across the country? What advice would you have for others?