9 Ways to Save Money During Thanksgiving

A pumpkin shaped candle holder with a lit candle

The holiday season has begun! Financially speaking, this is a critical time NOT to accumulate DEBT. This includes Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They can take an unnecessary financial toll if you do not prepare.

For Halloween costumes, decorations, candy, etc. be sure to set a budget.  When invited to Halloween events, don’t be afraid to say NO! This is saying YES to your finances and goals.  Your children, friends and family maybe mad but they will get over it. It is NOT about them because you are responsible for your money.

Thanksgiving is a family oriented event which can mean feeding a large number of people. These are a few Thanksgiving Dinner Tips.
#1 – Be sure to do your BUDGETS for November.
#2 – To cut costs of Thanksgiving dinner go to your auntie’s house LOL Well go to the one who can COOK for Thanksgiving dinner.
#3 – Have dinner wherein people bring their 1 or 2 best dishes. And Uncle Earl comes with all the liquor. Aunt Betty gets all the paper products.
#4 – Use COUPONS, discount cards, sale ads, etc. to save on groceries.
#5 – Change your nationality to avoid celebrating the holiday. (Only HARDCORE people do this.) Seriously volunteer to feed the homeless. You will see your abundance when you give to others.
#6 – Start stockpiling for the extra meals your kids will eat because they are out of school (Please don’t cry about it.)
#7 – Look for tips to cut your electricity and gas bills for winter heating.

#8 – Eat your leftovers for the next few weeks and from Thanksgiving. Take the time now to find recipes for leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, etc.

#9 – You couldn’t avoid attending the big family Thanksgiving dinner, so be sure to carpool to save on gas.

What other suggestions do you have to SAVE money for the Thanksgiving holiday? Do these suggestions seem reasonable and achievable?

Fear of Failure Began with Learning to Ride a Bicycle

Our biking life cycle goes like this usually: Tricycle à Big WheelàTraining wheelsàParent running next to youà then finally, you’re riding bike unassisted.  But to get there do you recall your anxiety, someone screaming at you saying: you’re wobbling; don’t hit that car/tree/sibling. In other words what was being said was “DON’T FAIL!” Instead we should have been told “this won’t be easy so I’m going to show you how to land softly when you fall down. In the process, you will know how to fall better and how to pedal while steering.”

Little girl riding a bike
Little girl riding a bike

The “safety nets” of learning this worldwide pastime and for many a great form of transportation, planted a seed of FAILURE is not an option. Instead, the seed of FAILURE is an opportunity to learn and get BETTER on the next attempt. Do you remember feeling stressed from the screaming “No no don’t go that way!” “Watch out for the bushes!” “Don’t hit your sister/brother!” Learning to ride a bicycle seemed to be more stressful than learning to drive.

While parents were trying to prepare and protect us from injury, it was a disservice to us as we grew up. We took fewer risks because we didn’t want to fail. If something was difficult the first time we quit because we didn’t have instant success.

We should encourage putting forth a true effort at something new, different and challenging. We should encourage learning from a mistake and not punishing when a mistake is made. We should provide positive feedback and encouragement at any level of incremental success and failure.  We should learn to embrace a failed attempt because it leads to an achievement.

When looking to do something one has never done before or is unfamiliar with do the following:

  1. Know you will make mistakes.
  2. Determine a recovery plan from your mistakes i.e. who to contact for corrective actions – 911, your boss, your mentor, your BFF or God
  3. Note what went wrong and what went CORRECTLY.
  4. Pause and praise yourself for taking on this new challenge.
  5. Do it again with your lessons learned.
  6. Turn the fear into POWER – Push On Without Endless Regret

Financial Fast Day 21 of 21: 10 Things I Learned During My Financial Fast

The most important items I learned during the Financial Fast are listed below. Whenever you endeavor to make changes you will uncover many ways to improve and grow. I felt a bit defeated at times and a warrior at other times. I never completely gave up but I was frustrated when I couldn’t buy what I wanted to buy. Then I realized, I was really using my money for…to fill a void.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Change is difficult.
  2. Don’t give up or give in.
  3. If you see yourself failing, you will FAIL.
  4. Believe in yourself because you are stronger than you realize.
  5. You can CONTROL your money.
  6. Yes emotional spending is real.
  7. I am overspending even within a budget.
  8. Don’t give up on following a budget.
  9. Making SMART Financial Goals
  10. Having an emergency fund is critical

“Nothing changes until something changes.” Drive the change you want to see in your finances. Be open to learn, listen and act upon the information you receive. Also be willing to ask questions and for help. This empowers you to make better decisions. – Michele Heyward

I have truly grown throughout this financial fast and will definitely continue to do it 3-4 times a year. If you would like to join me be sure to leave a comment.

Your Clarity leads to Cashflow
Your Clarity leads to Cashflow

Financial Fast Day 20 of 21: Bank Account on Fleek

Emergency fund or savings is essential for your finances. There are at least two types of emergency funds you need to have. One is an emergency fund, which can be $1000, in a separate account from your account for your living expenses. Once you have paid off your debt aim for 6-12 months of living expenses (not income) as the amount to have in your emergency fund.

Why $1000 emergency fund? Most times an emergency doesn’t exceed $1000. So keeping this amount of money covers most but not all emergency repairs or expenditures. Yes there will be times an emergency will require more than $1000 but more than likely you don’t have anything for emergencies so $1000 is better than what you have now ($0.00)!

After you are debt free, you should a 6-12 months emergency. The range really depends on your preference. During the great recession, many people were unemployed or underemployed for more than 12 months. When you calculate the dollar amount to save, only include the cost for:

  1. rent/mortgage,
  2. utilities,
  3. food
  4. vehicle expenditures (insurance, inspections, fuel, basic repairs, etc.).

So how do you save for your emergency fund?

  • Reduce your expenses
    • Cut off cable
    • Take public transportation
    • No clothing shopping unless necessary
    • Do a No-Spend Month
    • Do a Financial Fast
    • Use coupons/ coupon apps
  • Make more money
    • Request a raise
    • Work a part-time job
    • A garage sale/ flea market booth
    • Donate plasma
    • Create a job – example: snow removal, lawn maintenance, childcare provider, elderly caregiver, janitorial services, photographer, web designer, copywriter
    • Online surveys
    • Mystery shopping

Remember you don’t have to make these cuts and/or work these jobs for a long period of time. They are a short term method to achieve the goal of funding your emergency fund.  You got this! Go start saving money for your emergencies.

Person typing on laptop

Financial Fast Day 19 of 21: 5 Steps to Revive A Failed Budget

Pen and Notepad
A blank notebook and pen to begin budgeting.

Budgeting can seem very difficult when first starting. Like anything worth doing, it takes time and effort to create a budget you can live with. Many times people quit using the budget they created because it was too restrictive. Uhm…well you created it so you can CHANGE it. Follow these tips to triumph at creating a budget you can live by:

  1. Reassess what you didn’t like about the budget. What was too restrictive i.e. not dining out, no ESPN, no cable, no manicures, no boys/girls night out, etc.?
  2. Now replace the constrictive or disliked portions from your budget and replace them with more realistic amounts or goals. Example is instead of no dining out, go to dining out 4-5 times a week with a $75 per week allowance. This is a not to exceed amount of course.
  3. Try out the revised budget for 7 days. Holidays can be more difficult to navigate so cutback in places like fuel by carpool, making gifts and bringing a bottle of wine already in your home.
  4. Evaluate whether the new budget is working or not. If the new budget is NOT working, go back to step 1. If it is working, go to step 5.
  5. In 90 days reevaluate your budget to determine if you are getting the results you wanted i.e. reducing debt, saving money, etc. If not, go back to step 1. If it is successful, then keep going forward.

Budgets will never be exactly the same each month. You will need to tweak it from month to month for holidays, special events, emergencies, vacations, education expenditures, homeowner expenditures, etc. Therefore it is important to organize your mail each week to update your budget accordingly. Happy budgeting!

Financial Fast Day 18 of 21: 6 Steps to A Debt Free Plan

Using SMART Method to Financial FreedomWhen you develop goals, they are easier to achieve if they are written down and SMART.  Follow these easy steps to achieve your financial plan to become debt free.

  1. Schedule time today or the upcoming weekend either update your goals or write your goals as they relate to your finances.
  2. Write goals that are SMART. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound.
  3. Create a budget with all of your expenses and debts.
  4. Check your budget to make sure you can achieve the SMART goals you have set. If your budget doesn’t all for you to achieve your SMART goals, you need to redo your goals or find other methods to achieve them. Ex. Getting a part-time job to increase income which goes to paying off debt.
  5. Develop an action plan to achieve your goals. This action plan should have daily activities which result in achieve the SMART goal.
  6. Find at least (2) accountability partners to help you remain on track with your goals. One accountability partner can be your spouse or significant other. The other accountability partner should be someone who can support but also push you to achieve your goals.

You can tailor these steps a bit to fit your life. No one plan fits everyone. Good luck!

Financial Fast Day 17 of 21: Saying “HELL NO” to Your Money

Woman sitting on stool with legs crossed
Say “NO” to Improve Your Finances

During the financial fast you have said “No” to your desires to shop, dine out, use debit/credit cards, entertainment, etc. Don’t be afraid of the word but know that using it gives you POWER! Here are some popular scenarios:

  1. “Mom can we have Chick-fil-a for dinner tonight?” Now you know there is a plethora of food at home, so just say “No!” Besides if your kids are still alive your cooking isn’t that bad.
  2. “Do you want to put in $25 for the NFL pool this season?” Think of all the other things you could do with $25 like invest in your business you dreamed of starting. Or you will need it for fuel next week to get to and from work. Say it with me “NO! I’m good. Thanks for asking.”
  3. “There is this new (iPhone, nightclub, golf course, yoga studio, etc.). You have to buy/try it.” You know you have debt and the costs for each of these will end up in costly. I will help you say it “NO!”
  4. So if it is really difficult for you to say “No” verbally, you can say “No” by
    1. crossing your arms,
    2. placing your hands in your pockets
    3. if you are sitting down you can cross your ankles or legs
    4. raise one eyebrow
    5. screw your lips

It is very important for you to learn to say “No.” The word “No” is not a bad word. You must learn to pause and reflect before you take action. Saying “No” simply gives you the POWER to make better decisions especially with your finances. Say it with me “Hell NO!”

Financial Fast Day 16 of 21: A One Night Stand with Your Money

Someone sitting in bed with iPad w/ headphones
One Night Stand with Your Money

Every gone to work the Monday after pay day wonder where all your money went? I know debt, budget, income, bills, savings, retirement and oh yeah FUN! Where does your money really go? What relationship do you have with your money? Are y’all in it for the long haul, just met and learning about each other or is it a one night stand?

I remember getting my first engineering job out of college. I was making $50,000 salary plus sales incentives. Yet it seemed money and I easily parted. It was a one night stand. I would have a great time with my money on pay day Friday and wake up Saturday or Sunday morning alone…feeling used and confused as to where did “he” go.

We do better when we know better. At was at this time I started to get slight serious about my finances. I had to make changes to get a better grip on my finances. So I did the following:

  1. Read financial and debt elimination books
  2. Cancelled my cable and internet service
  3. Reduced dining out
  4. Put my student loans in Forbearance
  5. Took breakfast and lunch to work
  6. Dropped gym membership
  7. Carpooled for any social outings
  8. Started discount shopping
  9. Planned and attended social events for free at coworkers/friends’ homes
  10. Created a budget.

And still 10 years later, I was finally debt free. Success is NEVER a straight line. It is a learning process wherein you find your best practices. There will be peaks and valleys. You can never give up and give in. Be prepared to push when you need to and pull when you have to in order to reach your financial freedom. Then you will have a long lasting faithful and loving relationship with your money.

Financial Fast Day 15 of 21: 10 Tips to FIND Money through Decluttering

With only one week remaining, take the time to DECLUTTER. Why declutter? I’ll tell you. I finally sold my house that I hadn’t lived in for almost 5 years. I had so much stuff even after I gave away things including furniture, I had to DECLUTTER.

Look at how much stuff you have. How many duplicate items you have i.e. black boots, winter coats, pairs of jeans, etc. Remove some items that don’t fit, aren’t used but still usable. Determine which items you can sell and those you should give away.

A room in disarray/clutter

  1. Schedule a decluttering weekend. Some weekends are busier than others, the weather is bad or you have a long weekend. This is a perfect time to declutter.
  2. Create (3) containers for the items you donate: “trash”, “donate” and “maybe”. Your “maybe” container should NOT be larger than the “donate” container if you have not decluttered since NEVER. If the last time you declutter was when your kids were under 5 years old and they are teenagers, it’s to declutter. Let’s be real.
  3. Select one closet in your house to declutter each month. Yes a month! A lot of stuff can be hidden in a single closet.
  4. Take inventories of items in each closet. Grab a pen and pad or use Evernote to record how many old toothbrushes you have or hair combs. Keep a tally of each item.
  5. If it is not something you will be using in the next 6 months, has been used for its purpose or it has expired, simply throw it out or recycle it. Example: Go through your bedroom closet and then count the number of black slacks you have.
  6. Try each pair of shoes and slacks and try on your shoes. If they don’t fit, place them into the donation or to sell pile.
  7. In your kitchen, start in your refrigerator throwing out expired open food and spoiled fruits, veggies and leftover.
  8. When cleaning out your kitchen cabinet, any food items that is open and has an expired date is thrown away. Then organize food items by categories i.e. all cans of black beans, tuna, etc. are placed together. Now inventory all of these items.
  9. Put a load in your car for charity. If you’ve decluttered a bunch of stuff, you might have a “to donate” pile that’s just taking up space in a corner of your room. Take a few minutes to box it up and put it in your trunk. Then tomorrow, drop it off.
  10. You now know what items NOT to purchase because you have a plethora of them in your home.

Financial Fast Day 14 of 21: 5 SMART Steps to Financial Freedom

Using SMART Method to Financial Freedom

I struggled for years wondering why I couldn’t get out of debt. Or I would get close to it and it would escape me again. I had read Suze Orman and David Bach’s books. I had watched numerous television shows on debt management, using credit wisely, and good credit versus bad credit. Yet I was still $50,000 in debt. Then I found Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). From this program I became DEBT FREE. But I won’t focus on the program but on what I discovered about using the program.

I had to develop a 5 step action plan to reach financial freedom. I had goal the overall goal to become debt free but I didn’t have a SMART plan. I needed an action plan that was Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. I used FPU baby steps to develop my SMART plan.

I applied the SMART action plan for every single debt I had by doing this:

  • I first listed each debt by name, current outstanding balance and minimum payment.
  • Then I organized debts from smallest to largest debt amounts outstanding.
  • Finally I wrote specific statements for each debt that included monthly payments, when I would complete paying off the date with a reasonable or realistic timeframe.

This is an example: I will pay off my Visa card with the balance of $1287 by December 27, 2015 with 4 monthly payments of $321.82.

  • S = Specific – Pay off Visa Card
  • M = Measurable – Outstanding Credit Card Balance $1287, so you measure the change in this amount.
  • A = Achievable – $321.82 – Select a payment amount that makes sense. You can turn off cable but keep basic internet. You need to make necessary budget cuts to come up with as much cash to pay off debts.
  • R = Realistic – Pay off only ONE debt at a time. This way I could focus on it and just make minimum payments on other debts.
  • T = Time Bound – The deadline of December 27, 2015 with a 4-month time period

As a goal oriented person, this method really worked for me. As I achieved one goal, I would take it off my list and then “snowballed” that payment onto the next debt. This method kept me focused on accomplishing each goal. It also kept me from feeling overwhelmed and focused. This is a very doable method that you should try.