Tag Archives: frugal

eggs-diversify

Diversify Your Money

Recently I was a victim of debit card fraud and it reminded me of the importance of diversification. I am always saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket” and that is so true even when it comes to your bank account. Some jerk decided to copy my debit card and went shopping at a Walmart in Texas. I have never even been to Texas and I live in Pennsylvania. I have no idea how this even happened, but I am glad it was my credit union account and not my account with my other bank where all of my bills come out of.

My credit union was amazing at getting things resolved, but it took 3 days to have the funds returned back to me and I had to wait about 7 days to get a new card in the mail. If I would have only had one banking institution, I would have been so out of luck. Do they even still take checks in the store anymore? I can’t even tell you the last time I saw someone write out a check in the grocery store.

The point of me writing this short blog post is to encourage you to diversify your money. When I say this I mean all aspects of your money because you will never know when something bad will happen. You need to have multiple income streams, multiple bank accounts for checking and savings, a diversified investment portfolio, etc. I am working on that diversified investment portfolio so don’t you worry. I am building my empire one brick at a time to create lasting wealth for my family. The goal is to build generational wealth.

How do you diversity?

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soft cup

Product I Love: Instead Soft Cup

Ok Just His Mommy readers, I have a product that I love that is worth sharing with you. Not only is it healthier for your body, but I have found it to also be more economical. Sorry if I have any male readers, but this product is for the women out there that still get their monthly friend. The Instead Soft Cup has been a delight and I have used it for 3 period cycles so far. I can honestly say I like it better than tampons, which we know aren’t always the best thing for you. I have never been a fan of pads so this was a no brainier for me. Check out this chart below for the comparisons:soft cup comparison 2

 

Instead Soft Cup is literally a cup that catches everything so yeah it is kind of messy taking it out. The best thing to do is to make sure you are sitting on the toilet. I used the Nuva Ring at one point so insertion and removal was a breeze for me. Once removed you can empty the cup or dispose of it. The Soft Cup can be purchased in either the disposable or reusable form so it really depends on your preference. The color and material differ, but I can honestly say I reuse the disposable version at least twice before discarding. It seems to work just fine for me and I have yet to have an accident. I always wear a panty liner just as an extra precaution.

My box of 14 cups cost me $5.98 at Walmart and I don’t know about you, but to me that is a pretty good deal. Considering the amount of tampons I was going thru, the Soft Cup has helped me cut cost in this area. When using tampons, I have to buy the light, regular and super tampons for my monthly cycle. Plus I was using pads when sleeping during the really heavy days. The Instead Soft Cup has been a dream for me so far and I stumbled upon it when I was looking for a much healthier product.

Bonus Alert!!!! It is quite comfortable for my partner and I during sex which is amazing!!!! What other menstrual product do you know of that can be used during sex? He can feel it but says it isn’t annoying and yes we have a towel down just to make sure nothing gets on the sheets. Warning- Do not try to use this as a form of birth control because that is not what it is made for. This informative video will show you just how easy it is to use.

I hope you find this post beneficial and I would love to get your feedback if you have used the Instead Soft Cup.

 

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Budget Graphic

When Your Budget Doesn’t Work Out

Things are not always going to work out according to plan, so you are just going to have to put your big girl or big boy panties on and problem solve. Sometimes you will have to really sacrifice until you are able to pull yourself afloat. I know this to be true because I struggled with this the past few months. No matter how much you budget things are going to happen and that is why I stress the importance of having an emergency fund. We all have to start somewhere so it doesn’t matter how much you start putting into it at first. Pennies will eventually add up to dollars so don’t be afraid to pick up that penny that is lying on the ground.

Since becoming a homeowner at the end of 2015, there are tons of things I never thought of before so I am constantly adjusting and incurring costs. I was doing pretty well for a while, but the past few months it seems like all of my unplanned bills are hitting all at once. Medical expenses, annual trash bill, I owe money on my taxes, things I need for the house, etc. I am just a middle class citizen trying to get myself to the next tier in the social economical structure. Like I say, money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy choices.

My struggle the past few months was a lesson that I desperately needed so not all is lost. I was trying to figure out ways to force myself to save more and the universe sure did give me the answers. I was reminded that I needed to start spending less money so I can save more money towards my goals. Getting that wakeup call because I was forced to was very eye opening and proved to me that I can indeed spend less money. So when my budget didn’t work out, here are the things I did to get myself out of the hole.

Packed my lunch EVERYDAY!!!

Of course this is a no brainer for many people, but sometimes I would go on spurts of not feeling like packing my lunch. This adds up so fast because I would spend anywhere from $6-$12 on lunch per day. That is $1560-$3120 a year just on lunch. WTH was I thinking?!? I could use that money to buy stocks or something that will help my money grow or go on a nice vacation.

I planned my meals out.

Planning my meals worked because I didn’t just start throwing stuff in my cart when I went grocery shopping. I literally took inventory and only bought what I knew I needed for the next 2 weeks or longer. I normally do one big shop per month and one mini shop to pick up random items I need and anything that is a really good sale. Oh and I prefer to buy fresh fruit and veggies so you can’t buy that in bulk. Of course I stuck to frozen veggies for the most part while pulling myself ahead of my financial struggle. I also picked up things to put in my work freezer for any days I forgot my lunch.

Forced myself to make do!!!

I was determined not to touch my emergency fund on food because I am still trying to build it back up. I was getting very creative with my meals and working with what I had in my kitchen. Allrecipes.com is my favorite meal resource so check it out for yourself. You can plug in your ingredients and it will give you recipe ideas.

Stayed local

I tried to limit my driving and only traveled when I needed to. Ugh gas is so expensive!!!

Took advantage of free fun.

If you live in or near a major city there is always free fun for you to enjoy. Check out your local libraries or community centers and you will be so surprised what you find. I live in the Philadelphia, PA area and I search for free events all the time. I made sure we would eat at home before going out.

So no I am not perfect by any means and sometimes I need a reminder to focus on my big picture goals. I am working on building wealth and creating memories so buying random stuff that I know I do not need doesn’t help me meet those goals. So now back to sticking to my budget and saving for when my budget doesn’t work out. You have to plan for your successes.

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Credit Cards Are Not the Devil

If you recall I wrote a post way back when on how I was able to live life without using credit cards. It was actually pretty simple if I lived within my means and made sure I saved money for emergencies. I had gotten myself in big trouble by not being responsible with my credit card usage and I promised I would never do that again.

For a few years I swore off credit cards completely until I ran into one little problem. I’m lying because it wasn’t a little problem; it was a big problem because I wanted to buy a house.  The problem was I didn’t have any credit. When I stopped using credit cards, I closed the accounts when I paid off the balance so it was hurting my payment history. It was a safety net that I had put in place that hurt me in the long run. I had no car loan and nothing in my name, but my student loans. 15% of your credit score is the length of your credit history and 35% is your payment history. I would have done better by living the accounts open so I had some credit under my belt.

Fast forward I needed a new car and was able to get the loan in my name at a higher interest rate of course and with the on time payments, I was able to boost my credit score a little. Soon I started getting pre-approved offers for credit cards. Yeah how did they get my information anyway to know I might be able to qualify?

My mortgage counselor suggested I open up a credit card to help establish myself more so I did. I first opened up a Firestone card because I needed to have car repairs done and it was like a blessing since I couldn’t cover all the cost at the time, but I quickly paid that off. Trust me my past credit card experience still has my scared to death. I soon followed up with getting an American Express with a $1000 limit to use for gas and a Visa for any random purchases so I could collect reward points. The Visa card came in handy because I put my son’s school tuition on each month and paid the credit card. The cool part is I almost have enough points to get a tablet that I desperately need for my business.

So no credit cards are not the devil….my uncontrollable spending habits were the devil. I am not perfect, but I have learned so much from my mistakes throughout this financial journey of mine and I hope my experiences can help you as well. Although I now have credit cards, the cool part is I don’t actually need them. It is a choice of whether or not I use them. I can still hold true to what I said before and live my life without them if I prefer.

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kids clothes

5 Ways to Save on Children’s Clothes

I only have one child at the moment and buying clothes and shoes for him adds up pretty quickly so I can only imagine what it is like when you have multiple kids.  I have learned that I can dress my little one very nicely and not have to spend thousands of dollars to do it and here are 5 tips that can help you do the same.

  1. Clothing Swap- If you have a group of friends or family with children around the same age do a clothing swap to help with cost. Children can quickly outgrow things and often times wear things once.  I can’t even tell you how many times I found a clothing item that I completely forgot about that he can no longer fit.
  2. Consignment/ Thrift Stores- Thrifting is the latest trend and with consignment shops and events popping up all over the place it makes it so much easier. I have been able to find great deals at these places for the little guy. Sometimes I can find items with the tags still on.
  3. Shopping Out of Season- Why wait till the next season starts to begin shopping for it. Right now it’s spring and retailers still have winter items at discounted prices they want to get rid of.  If your kid doesn’t have a massive growth spurt, it should be easy to estimate his or her size for next year.  I just got him a new winter coat for $5 and sweaters for $3 each at Primark.  Primark is one of my new favorite stores.
  4. Discount Stores- The discount stores that I am referring to are hidden treasures. Normally you find these places because you happen to stumble upon it or word of mouth. These discount stores carry items from last season or they bought a batch that has a slight defect like a messed up stitch or something. Because of this, the items are so cheap. You really have to check these items before buying because you don’t want to buy something with a hole unless you plan on sewing it yourself. One of the hidden treasures I go to is called Rugged Wearhouse. They have a few locations throughout the US with 2 being in Delaware.
  5. Make your own- I do not have the time nor the talent, but if you do more power to you.  I did get crafty and make his birthday shirt with items I found at AC Moore.

Let me know your ways of saving on children’s clothes. If you have any hidden treasure discount stores in your area or know of a great consignment shop please share.

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Two Checking Account System

Keeping your spending money and bill money all in the same account can sometimes be dangerous. Can you count how many times you have over spent and ended up with a negative amount? Overdraft fees are not fun because that is money you could have used for something else. Now you have negative funds for over spending and a negative $30.00 if not more in overdraft charges. Let’s hope you didn’t have multiple transactions that put you in the hole or you will really be in trouble. Remember most banks will charge you an overdraft charge for each transaction processed that accumulates while you are in the negative.

The best thing you can do for yourself to keep your money organized is to have different accounts: 1 for bills and 1 for spending. Any monthly bills you have should be coming out of one account and all of your spending money whether for groceries, entertainment, etc. should be in the account associated with your debit card. Trust me; it will make your life so much better if you separate your money. Utilize the Two Checking Account System in conjunction with your budget and you should reduce the stress of over spending. Keep in mind you can’t spend what you don’t have so you will still have to keep a ledger of any checks you write and not go crazy swiping your debit card buying stuff that you want and don’t really need. Yeah I know that was a long sentence, but you get the point.

Stay organized mommies with your MONEY!!! I am paid twice a month from my 9-5 so I dedicate sitting down twice a month to pay bills and check my funds. I don’t spend unless I have it and I do not rob Peter to pay Paul as they say. It is really not that hard to keep track of your money if you discipline yourself because after a few months of doing this, it will become a habit. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about the Two Checking Account System.

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2016

2016 Goals: Year of Focus

I absolutely love sharing my goals with you guys!!! It is like I have a whole bunch of accountability partners and I don’t want to let you down. So before I get into my 2016 goals lets recap 2015:

  1. Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- Accomplished except it has a nice sized front yard with the back of my house facing a golf course. 3 bedrooms, 1 and ½ bathrooms and a finished basement that will basically be a playroom/office. I think I did a pretty good job how about you?
  2. Pay off one of my student loans- I sure did settle my loan that was in collections for a huge $7,000 lump sum. I almost cried when I saw it leave my account, but it was worth it because my credit score jumped drastically and I was able to get approved for my mortgage.
  3. Go on vacation- I said I wanted to take the little one to Disney/LegoLand, but instead I gave him a cool birthday party at the Philadelphia Zoo and continued saving for our house. This vacation has now been moved to the 2016 goals. Hopefully I will be able to give you that review soon.
  4. Have an awesome 30th birthday- I did say 2015 was the year of me so I treated myself to a trip to Dubai for my 30th birthday. Including spending money, I didn’t even spend $2,000 for the entire trip. You can reach out to me if you want to know how I pulled this off.
  5. Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish- This would have been me clearing up my credit which I did and any other random goals. Check out my Mommy Fix Your Credit post.

So as you can see from my recap, I did a kick ass job. So 2016 is going to be the Year of Focus for me. I have a lot of things I want to accomplish that require me to stay on task. Here are my goals and an extra bonus for you:

  1. Double my income- So throughout 2016 I am going to try out various ways of making extra money and share my experience with you. Hopefully it will give you some options to generate more money also. I am still building on my natural and organic skincare line so check out www.happilynaturallyme.com and I have added being a Total Life Changes Rep to my resume. You can check out www.totallifechanges.com/5819311 if you are looking to lose weight naturally or for wellness products. Lose 5lbs in 5 days with the detox tea.
  2. Divorce Sallie Mae- I will use my extra income to continue my journey in getting rid of that annoying bitch that takes a huge chunk of my money each month. The faster I can pay this off the faster I can purchase my next home and rent out my first home.
  3. LEGOLAND/Disney- This is something I truly want to accomplish for the little one this year. I told him after we bought a house we can go so let the saving and deal searching begin.
  4. Host financial literacy workshops- www.JustHisMommy.com will start to have more of a financial focus. I have not worked out the details yet, but I will be holding financial literacy workshops throughout the Philadelphia area to help educate those that want it. Sometimes you need help figuring out how to make it work financially in your household.

So there you have my focus areas. Help me help you by leaving comments on past and future posts. I want to provide you with the knowledge that you are seeking. Also, you can check me out under the parenting section of www.facephillymag.com.

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minimum wage

Minimum Wage Mommy

STOP!!! WATCH THE VIDEO BEFORE READING!!!!

Recently I came across this video and it was very heart breaking. I do not sympathize because she is making $7.50 an hour working at McDonalds, however, I do sympathize because she hasn’t realized it is up her to make things better. By no means am I writing this to bash this woman. She gave us a brief synopsis of what it is like for her being a single mother making $7.50 an hour. Many of the comments associated with this video were very nasty and just plain disrespectful.

Some people may or may not like what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway. Before I do, let me give you a little run down on what my life was like growing up. I am the product of TEENAGE PARENTS! I am a FATHERLESS CHILD! I spent the early part of my childhood in POVERTY! So with that being said, I have every right to say what I am going to say because I know what it is like to be that child and I am a mother. The bottom line is this, no one owes you anything. You made the choice to work at McDonalds knowing the pay. Yes it is rough, but you have to take action to put yourself ahead. You will continue to have less if you accept less.

I have the best mother in the entire world or at least I would like to think so. She made a lot of sacrifices to make sure my brother and I had a better life than the one she started out with. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish. I did not understand her sacrifices back then, but as an adult with a child of my own, I completely understand them now. By the time my mother graduated high school, she had two children and no intentions to further her education. Luckily she had people in her corner to encourage her to attend college. As a result, my mother went away to college to make a better life for us. We stayed under the care of my great grandmother until she became too sick to care for us, which than my grandmother took over. It really wasn’t that big of a difference location wise because she lived right next door to my great grandmother. It was like we lived in one big house, but living with my grandmother really taught me how to take care of myself LOL.

My mother worked while in college and came home almost every other weekend. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and she would be sleep on the couch. She always made sure we had everything we needed before she would head back to school and I would always cry because I wanted her to stay. This was the spot where all of the cousins came while the parents were off doing whatever it was that they did. Now looking back I realize everyone around me was considered poor or low income, but back then I didn’t really know what poor was because that is how everyone I knew lived. I knew what food stamps were, mostly everyone rode the bus because they didn’t have a car and there were a whole lot of daddies not being around. I barely knew anyone that lived with both parents and my childhood is the main reason why I do not eat microwavable food. Yea my brother and I learned very early how to use the microwave since my grandmother didn’t like to cook. She is also the reason why I don’t really like pizza.

I never experienced anything tragic growing up, but I know what gun shots sound like and how to be observant of my surroundings. I know how to read people and not be so trusting, which is probably what saved me from being kidnapped as I walked home from school by myself that one day. So yes I am so thankful that my mother made the necessary sacrifices while I was young to give me a better chance as I got older. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. Although it took her a little longer to graduate, I can proudly say I was able to watch my mother walk across the stage to get her college degree. It took her 10 years to get us out of the hood, but where there is a will there is a way. She has a great paying job, made sure we had an awesome education, and we had more than enough of what we wanted.

So with that being said, once again I am not here to bash this woman in this CNN Money video. I am here to tell anyone reading this post that your current situation is the result of your past choices. If you don’t like your present circumstances than change it, but only you can do that. At a certain point you have to stop playing the woe is me card and decide to make a change. We live in a dog eat dog world and no one is going to fix your life for you. If you are at rock bottom the only place you can go are left, right, or up. Digging left or right will keep you at the same level so make the choice to rise up.

When I became pregnant with my son, I was in a sales job not really making much money and drowning in student loan debt. My boyfriend and I decided to move back up north with each of us moving with our parents to try and save money. We both had to find jobs and I took a job at a marketing company making $10.00 an hour because I had a mouth I needed to start feeding soon. I quickly picked up a second job and worked until I was forced to go on bed rest. Working 2 jobs allowed me to pay off the majority of my credit card debt, pay off smaller debts that I had and put about $1,000 into my baby fund. Unfortunately, I had to use my baby fund money to pick up the responsibilities of someone else or face something else negative going on my credit. I shall not mention any names. I absolutely hated my $10.00 an hour job, but didn’t want to start looking for something else until I got the whole baby thing under control. It was a very small company and everyone was so miserable. It was either you were young and needed a job or you were older and didn’t think you could go anywhere else. Sometimes I would cry before I went to work and it took me about a year once I started my search to find something.

During this new life change, I found myself covering a lot of the cost of raising my son. I made excuses for the name I shall not mention which again left me crying trying to figure out how to pay for daycare that week because he was being financially irresponsible. I will never go back down that road again of letting someone else’s actions put me in a situation that causes me to struggle. I should have known than, but I was being stupid and trying to make our little family work.

So yes I have been on both sides of the spectrum, a child of a struggling mother and a struggling mother myself. I know the reason for my struggle and I am choosing not to struggle anymore. Right now I am at a peaceful place in my life because of the changes I decided to make. I am constantly doing things in my present to setup my future. There are no excuses!!! The knowledge to better yourself is out there. Where there is a will there is a way, but you have to decide if you have the will to find your way. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your child(ren) to stop making excuses. I encourage anyone reading this post and want some advice to reach out to me for help. I want to inspire as many women as possible to get on the right track financially. Stay tuned as I will be providing more posts on what I have learned throughout my financial journey. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post.

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Update: Financial Goals for 2014

Ok so we are now in month five of 2014 and I think it is only fair that I give you an update to how I’m doing with my financial goals so far this year.  If you read my post Financial Goals for 2014, you already know what my goals are for this year and how I plan to get there; for those of you not aware they are as follows:

  • Get my emergency fund back up to 3,000
  • Buy a car in straight cash
  • Start teaching the little one the value of money
  • Save for a down payment on a house

So how am I doing so far?  To be honest I thought I would be farther along by now, but I had a major hiccup along the way.  Read my article on The Iron Pimp and you will know what I am talking about.  That thing cost me $2122.32 which really set me behind in my goals.  I had to use my returned security deposit plus more to get me out of that situation; the little bit of money I had in my emergency fund to start the year off was depleted once again.  That is like a down payment towards a new car and I’m spending more in gas commuting to work than I had originally calculated.

Although the Iron Pimp gave me a rough start in accomplishing my financial goals for 2014, I am still determined to reach them.  So far I have accomplished my emergency fund goal and started teaching the little one about money.  He had so much fun putting all of his change from his baby bank into one of those coin machines.  We then went to the credit union to open up his first savings account, which they put $5.00 towards.  Again this account is for him to put his own money into, not the money that I am saving for him.  Whenever he goes into the credit union to make a deposit, they will give him a prize out of the treasure box.  Also, they gave him a little piggy bank for opening up his account.

So now the hard part begins!!! Saving for a cash payment on a car and a down payment on a house are going to be tough because they are larger amounts.  I’m still not ready to reveal my big secret to how I’m going to get there so you will just have to stay tuned for the announcement.  I have my eye on the prize and I am determined to accomplish the things that I want even if it takes me into 2015.

So how are you making out so far this year with your goals?

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Creating a budget

Creating a Budget

So you want to create a budget, but just not really sure how to get started.  Here is a step by step guide to help you.

  1.  Know where your money is going!  I suggest for the next 30 days try and only use cash and no credit cards.  Get a small notebook that you can carry around or use your notepad on your smartphone to jot down all of your purchases.  If it’s a dollar for a toll you must still write it down.  For this to truly work try not to wait until the end of the day to write them down because you might forget something.  At the end of your 30 day period you must evaluate your spending habits.  Creating a budget will not work if you do not truly know where your money is going.  Take note on the areas where you can cut back.  You might be surprised how much per month you spend on eating out or how much that cup of Starbucks can add up over time.
  2. Organize all of your bills including anything in collections.  If you are going to create a budget you should be including any bad debt. Be aware of when bills are due.
  3. Separate all of your expenses into two categories:
    1. Fixed-anything that is the same amount every month that you know you will be paying. (Rent, mortgage, daycare, cable, medication, etc.)
    2. Variable- anything that fluctuates in cost. (Gas, groceries, entertainment, grooming, wardrobe, etc.)
  4. Now you can get started. You must base your budget on your monthly take home income. Exclude any bonuses or commissions since they are not always guaranteed and can vary.
  5. I like using Excel to keep track of my budget, but a notebook will work just fine.  Since I am paid twice a month, I have each month split into two.  Your budget should look something like this with fixed cost listed first (This is just an example for you to get an idea so make sure you have all categories listed in your actual budget….entertainment, hair, clothes, car repairs, etc):
    Bills Monthly Cost Jan1 Jan15 Feb1 Feb15        
    Rent 800  800
    Car Payment 100  100
    Student Loan 300  300
    Insurance 75  75
    Daycare 500  250  250
    Savings 100  50  50
    Groceries 90  45  45
    Gas  200  100  100
    Miscellaneous  60  60
  6. Don’t mix up your money.  You can try the two bank account system; one with your bill money and the other with your variable spending like groceries, gas etc.  You don’t want to accidentally spend your bill money.  If you do not have a bank account you can try using the envelope system by separating your money into different envelopes. Or you can use a combination of both.  I have found the two bank account system works best for me since I pay all my bills online each month anyway.  Most banks these days have a bill pay option.
  7. Get into the habit of paying your bills around the same time each month.  For example anything that is due between the 1st-15th of the month is paid on the 1st.  Anything after the 15th is paid on the 15th.  Paying early is much better than paying late.
  8. Stay in control of your money and don’t let your money control you.

So there you have it.  Creating a budget is the easy part; sticking to it is an entire different story.  Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you are failing in the beginning; it takes 21 days of doing something on a consistent bases to make it a habit.  You only fail when you stop trying. The key to success in budgeting is to plan ahead.

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