The end of 2017 I decided to give Instacart a try to help give myself the boost I needed to get unstuck. It required no financial investment on my part to get started so it was perfect. All I needed was a car, valid license, insurance on my car of course and to pass the background check. It is for sure not something that I will do long term, but it is fast cash in my pocket to help me meet some of my financial goals. Oh and it helped me with having a cash only Christmas!!!!
So what is Instacart anyway. Well it is a service to have your groceries delivered to you. Sometimes I do the shopping and delivery or just the delivery. You can actually work for Instacart full time as well, but this is just a side hustle for me. I can pick my own schedule and work as many or as few hours as I want. Let me take that back because you do have to work at least 2 hours in your shift.
It is super easy because everything is done via the app. They send you an order and you go shop for the customer. You don’t have to pay for the groceries because they send you an Instacart credit card. It is to be used solely for that purpose so don’t try to use it for anything else or you will get yourself into trouble.
I am an independent contractor so I keep track of my mileage to write off on my taxes and I have to pay my own wage taxes since they do not deduct them from my check 😫. This requires me to make sure I stay organized, but it really isn’t that bad. Here is some of what I have made over the past few weeks to give you an idea.
For anyone that has questions just ask me and if you are ready to give it a try, just click on my link and get yourself started. Don’t sleep on the side hustle.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is the holiday season and if you are anything like me, you prefer to do your shopping online. Amazon became my best friend about four years ago because I didn’t feel like taking a baby out and dealing with the crowds. Now my online shopping experience is even better with Ebates. With Ebates, I can do my normal shopping, save money and earn cash back. Who doesn’t want that? And guess what…Ebates is absolutely free to sign up for. All you have to do is visit your normal sites via Ebates.com to start earning cash back.
Here are some of the stores with double cash back rewards for the holiday shopping season; don’t let these deals slip by you. Earn while you are already shopping for things you were already going to buy online.
And of course Ebates has the refer a friend cash bonus to put more money in your pocket.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Separate all of your expenses into two categories:
Fixed-anything that is the same amount every month that you know you will be paying. (Rent, mortgage, daycare, cable, medication, etc.)
Variable- anything that fluctuates in cost. (Gas, groceries, entertainment, grooming, wardrobe, etc.)
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
It is tax season and if you haven’t already done so you will be soon enough. Hopefully you don’t owe any money and you will be getting a nice chunk of cash back. So what do you plan on doing with this money once it is deposited into your account? If you’re not sure here are 4 financially fit ways to use your tax return, instead of buying that new purse that you have been eyeing.
1) Pay off an outstanding debt- If you are hiding from debt collectors they know this is the time most people have extra money so just take the call and see what they are offering. Debt collectors want to close the deal just as much as you want to get rid of the debt. Don’t let them talk you into committing to something you cannot afford. If you can settle straight out than tell them what you have and stick to it. If they say no to what you are offering; trust me they will eventually call back with a better offer, but be realistic because they also need to make money.
2) Save it-This can be broken down into so many different categories so here are a few suggestions:
Start that college fund for your child
Put it in you emergency fund or start building one
How about putting it towards a down payment on a car or house
3) Invest- You can use tour tax return as seed money to start that business or have you been thinking about stocks or mutual funds lately.
4) Have Fun!!!- Life is more about experiences rather than material positions so take that family trip that I’m sure you are in desperate need off.
No matter what you decide to do with you tax return, just make sure you are responsible with your money. Don’t go blowing it. My tax return will be going towards my financial goals of 2014.
I have been seeing the 52 Week Money Challenge all over Facebook since the beginning of 2013. I am not sure where it originated from, but I do challenge my readers to try it out except try it in reverse. The objective of this money challenge is to start off small and increase the amount each week. By the end of the 52 week challenge you should have $1,378.00 saved if not more. The reason I challenge you guys to do it in reverse is because the end of the year is when money starts to become really tight. We tend to spend more and save less during the gift giving season. So here is your chart to get started:
Your 52 Week Money Challenge
Don’t wait get started and if you can’t start this challenge in reverse start at the beginning with the smaller amounts. If you read my goals for 2014, you will know my saving goal for the year exceeds this amount so I will not be doing this particular challenge. If you stick to this challenge you will have enough saved to take a little family vacation, more than enough for Christmas gifts if you don’t buy anything crazy expensive, or enough to start investing.
Please don’t forget to stop back by to let me know how you are doing. Remember it doesn’t matter what time of the year you start this; you just have to do it for 52 weeks straight.
With 2014 just around the corner I have already started preparing to make sure I have a prosperous year. 2013 had a lot of eye opening experiences for me financially. With that being said, I have decided to take one step back so I can take multiple steps forward. My lease will be up on my apartment at the end of February 2014 and I will not be renewing. Knowing all of your money is being pulled into a rental sucks; I have made the decision to move back in with my parents so I can save money faster. This is only a temporary solution for me to accomplish a few financial goals for 2014 so here is the list of things I will be accomplishing.
Build my emergency fund back up to $3,000. Going into 2014 it currently has a little over $700. This emergency fund is in addition to my 401k and Roth IRA. My Roth IRA is not being funded they way I want it to be, but that is a goal for another time.
Buy a car in straight cash without taking out a loan. I am talking about a used car of course. This has been a goal of mine for a long time and I have not put the amount of focus on it that I should have been. I’m shooting for around $6,000-$7,000.
Start teaching the little one the value of money. I already have a savings account for him, but I will be taking him with me to the bank so he can take part in opening up HIS own savings account. When he was born he received one of those baby bottle banks and it is now full of change. I periodically allow him to put the change that I have accumulated in the bottom of my purse in his bank. Now it is time to start the process over. This money will eventually be invested once it reaches a certain amount so his money can grow.
Last but not least, my big financial goal for 2014 is to save for a down payment on a home. There are many programs out there for first time home buyers so I plan on taking advantage of it. The monetary goal is $10,000.
Looking at the finally tally of how much I want to save this coming year is scary, but I am going to work hard on achieving it. “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Of course I am not going into this blind, I do have a plan and I am currently working on an idea to help bring in positive cash flow in addition to my salary. I will reveal it to you guys in time and keep you up to date on my progress in hitting these goals, so stay tuned.
I would love to know what your financial goals for 2014 are so please share.
Why is it every time I mention to someone that I do not have credit cards I get looked at like I have three heads or something. Is it really that uncommon for someone to live life without credit cards? I learned my lesson the hard way and vowed to never have another credit card again. My freshman year of college I signed up for my very first credit card just so I could get a free university blanket at a football game. My new American Express card quickly arrived in the mail with a $500 limit. I used the card a few times on small purchases, but always paid the balance off. By the time I reached my senior year of college they had raised my credit limit to $10,000. In addition to this card I obtained a Visa my junior year to accompany me on my study abroad trip to Italy for five weeks. They don’t take American Express everywhere so I needed a backup. To make a long story short I maxed out my Visa in Italy having fun and racked up my American Express by living off of it during my extra semester in college.
After the experience of trying to pay off the balances with my low paying job outside of college, I figured the best way to not allow this to happen again is to just live life without credit cards. It is so easy to live beyond your means when you have access to credit. You just figure you will pay for it later and end up paying more in the long run because of interest. I will admit my Visa ended up in collections and I paid my American Express off over time by being on a payment plan. In 2011 I settled my Visa and in 2012 I completely paid off my American Express. It was a great feeling to have no more credit card debt. Although I just recently paid off my credit card debt, I have been living without using a credit card since 2008, so again why do people find that so hard to believe.
Recently I had to go into my bank because I left my debit card at home; I needed to buy lunch that day in addition to depositing a check. The gentleman in the front was very nice and asked me a bunch of questions to verify I was who I said I was. Of course he has to do his job and up sale products so he started asking me about credit cards. I quickly explained to him I don’t use credit cards, which opened up a window for more questions. The main question he asked, “How do you pay for big purchases?” Duh…I save up for them and don’t try to live beyond my means. I didn’t say it like that, but that is how it sounded it my head. Next he asked me about what if I have an emergency and I told him I have an emergency fund for that with my credit union.
Living without a credit card is not as hard as you may think; it’s just hard getting started. The first thing you need to do is establish an emergency fund. I know it is hard if you do not have a lot of extra income so start small and just start building. Please do not confuse an emergency fund with your savings; they must remain separate. You will be better off this way. If you must choose which one to start funding first, it’s your emergency fund. Try to build at least one month’s worth of expenses in your emergency fund and keep building from there. I have depleted my emergency fund twice and now I am in the process of starting over. This account is in addition to my 401K and my son’s savings account.
The easiest way to get started is by creating a budget if you don’t already have one. Most people get into the habit of saving what they have leftover at the end of the month and this should not be the case. Treat your emergency fund as if it is another bill and pay yourself first, essentially that is what the money is for, unexpected bills. Trust me I know this is hard, but you have to make it a habit. Another option if your job has direct deposit and the capabilities to split your paycheck, set a certain percentage of your check to go into a separate account (your emergency fund) so you don’t even see it. Out of sight, out of mind right? I noticed when I did this little trick I was able to save faster.
Remember you have to begin somewhere so devise a plan and get started now.
“Saving comes too late when you get to the bottom.” Seneca