Here are the options
To start, we have been making better food choices over the past few years. As we get older, I want to still be active and healthy. This is a journey with small changes happening. We are striving for 50% of our plate to be vegetables. Our proteins are certified grass fed meats and fish with no antibiotics and non-GMO all while staying within our food budget. We shop what’s on sale and plan our meals to get the most from our dollars.
It’s that time of year to plan our garden and have fresh picked vegetables right in our backyard, at a minimal cost for organic seeds. Love this part of summer!
Here are some of our favorites to get more organic vegetables into our meals:
• Chicken Vegetable Soup making healthy bone broth with assorted vegetables. This is great to have on hand when we are short on time for dinner – just heat and eat.
• Lettuce wraps for lots of foods. Big leaf lettuce replaces the bread, wrap, taco and more. Inside can be anything from tuna to tacos – let your imagination run wild.
• Fries are one of my stress foods. But as I make these changes, there goes the fried foods. Now we bake or grill vegetable fries. Try it – avocado fries are one of favorites, but you can use many other veggies.
We are changing our food for the better. This wasn’t done overnight, just small changes (or baby steps) to gradually improve our choices. Our first step was to eliminate trans fats/partially hydrogenated oils, then came nitrates and then GMO’s. This exercise was eye-opening when I went through our pantry and even more surprising reading labels at the store.
As you can see, we are eating more at home and taking meals/snacks from home. Both are good things for our health and benefit our wallet too. More on the other areas of our lives that we have changed in the next issue.
Don’t be in credit card debt. Make a plan to pay it off.
Finances need a clean up, why not do this now for spring
We’re cleaning out our home too.
The age-old question of payoff debt versus an emergency fund – which is more important?
If you have debt, then you know that the interest you are paying is a drain on your finances. You are correct, that interest is a waste of your hard-earned money. You know that you need an emergency fund and you have been meaning to start one, but you just don’t have the money.
Which should you tackle first? Let’s assume you have $500 in your budget to work with and we will look at a couple of scenarios.
#1 – You have debt totaling $10,000 and you are paying the minimum payment of $250 per month at an interest rate of 20%. It will take you 67 months (5+ years) and you will have paid back $16,750 ($6,750 in interest). That’s assuming you don’t take on more debt.
Then you put the remaining $250 to start your emergency fund.
#2 – You increase your payment on your debt to $500 per month. It will take you 25 months (just over 2 years) and you will have paid back $12,500.
You will not be starting your emergency fund until after the debt is paid. What would you do if an emergency expense happened? How would you pay for it?
As you can see, the answer is somewhere in the middle and you can think outside the box for faster results. You could look into reducing the interest rate on your debt – refinancing, balance transfer for a lower interest rate etc. The quicker you payoff the balance, the less you will pay in interest.
You need an emergency fund to be prepared for whatever happens in life. You will want to start to save something on a regular basis each and every month, even if you have debt.
Friendship and money – these are things we treasure, but sometimes they can be at odds. I can remember when I started my first business and money was tight. I had friends that wanted us to do what we had always done in the past – going to dinner, going to a sporting event / concerts and more – just like old times.
I remember thinking, I can’t afford this right now. Don’t they realize I just started a business and I am not making the money I used to? How could they even ask this of us to do this? All these thoughts went through my head, but I was too embarrassed to say them out loud.
One of the things I look back on and wish that I was able to share my thoughts. But I didn’t share my thoughts. I kept up outside appearances and did whatever with my friends anyway. I didn’t want to disappoint our friends. I didn’t want them to think that we didn’t have the money. In reality, we didn’t have the money then and we were keeping up outside appearances to “keep up with the Jones” instead of being true to ourselves.
This was and is a hard lesson to learn. We all want to have everything and marketing makes us believe we need all of this. Do we? I think this comes with age and wisdom and I wish I had learned this earlier in life, but I know this now. I know that I treasure time with friends and quiet time and not necessary the stuff.
I personally have grown over time from this young woman and now am more able to express my feeling / situation to others. I can turn down invites, that I don’t want to do. I can say, that’s not something I really want to spend money on. I can request separate checks versus splitting the bill 50/50. All of these are choices that you get to make because it’s your money and time.
Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts out loud to your friends. Be gracious in your words no matter which side you are on. Friendship and money are always going to be a part of your life. Be comfortable with your friends and money and be willing to share your feelings with others. Maybe they are feeling the same and can’t express it.
This newsletter, we are going to talk about spending too much! Personally, we upgraded the master bedroom and bath. In addition to the insurance deductible, we added on the additional expense of better bathroom fixtures – granite counter, higher end faucet, natural stone ceramic tile and more. Yes, we did spend more (maybe too much). With a new year beginning, we need to reign in our expenses and rebuild our savings.
If your 2017 goal is to track your expenses and come up with your actual budget, there is an exercise I like my clients to do when they have their budget created. Take out two different color highlighters. Use one color for your fixed expenses (amounts that can’t easily change) and then use the second color for expenses that you can adjust or eliminate. Typically, I see three areas for the adjust or eliminate category:
- Penalty fees (late fees, overdraft, over limit, etc.)
- Do it yourself fees – these are things that you pay others to do that you could do yourself and save money (lawn maintenance, snow removal, housecleaning, coffee, manicure / pedicure, laundry, trash pick-up, etc.)
- Life extras – these are the things that you do that you could reduce or live without (entertainment, movies, concerts, dinning out / take-out food, personal care, etc.)
Now make a list of five ways to reduce or eliminate specific items. For example, I could find a teen to shovel my snow versus paying a snow plowing service.I could download a movie for free (Hoopla) or borrow from the library versus renting and not returning on time and incurring a late fee. I could balance my checkbook regularly to know how much money I have available and not incur an overdraft fee. These are just a couple of ideas. Now make your list and track your savings. How much did you save this month? How much would that be in one year?
Are you getting the hang of it? Are there more ways to reduce or save on your expenses? Share what expenses you have reduced or eliminated by 5pm EST on March 10, 2017 as a comment below and you could win a copy of my new book 111 Ways To Save. Three winners will be selected randomly at the end of March.
In praise of emergency funds! I can’t say enough about having an emergency fund to use in times of an emergency, as well as having the protection of insurance. We had a big life emergency this time, and it could have been much worse.
While Dave and I were out of the house for about an hour and a half, an emergency struck our house. A feeder line for the toilet broke and we came back to a small geyser. Not only was the bathroom flooded, the water flowed into the master bedroom and then down into the basement. Ugh! You can imagine the damage this has caused. But it could have been much worse.
So this is how our afternoon went:
* Shut off the water – we had individual shutoffs installed all over the house
* Next the clean-up began – towels, wet vacuums and more
* Contacted the insurance company to file a claim. This is the first homeowners claim we ever filed.
* Started the removal of the damaged stuff, and this was hard without Dave being able to move things.
* The insurance company sent out Service Master to remediate the damage. They moved the heavy furniture, installed the industrial fans and dehumidifiers to lessen the damage
* Next day we had to replace the modem, as we lost phone and internet service. It’s difficult to make multiple calls with only a cell phone.
* The drying out stage lasted for days. It included the carpets, hardwood floors, ceramic tiles, sheet rock, furniture and that’s only the big stuff!
Now we are at the rebuilding stage, with the contractors giving us estimates for replacing floors, hard wood and tile, sheet rocking the portion of the walls that were cut away with water damage, painting of rooms, replacing furniture and items that were damaged and more.
Living in a disorganized home as two rooms of furniture and personal items had to be moved out of the rooms and the basement, made our home somewhat of an obstacle course for quite a few weeks. Hopefully by the holidays, we can be back to our organized house.