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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My favorite way to save: The bread outlet!

Eric and I  have decided to try and meal plan for a month and only go to the grocery store once in that entire month, I'll blog more on that later. However, since we ran out of bread today we went to pick up 6 weeks' worth of bread. Which brought us to my favorite place in Des Moines....

The bread outlet! This place is FANTASTIC. We got 7 loaves of bread, 2 packages of hamburger buns and a 32 oz. jar of jelly for $9.50!! For the frugal shopper, this is what dreams are made of. Even if one's not in your neighborhood (sorry, Ames readers) if you're able to freeze the bread and make it last one or two months it's still worth the trek. Since Eric and I make sandwiches for most of our lunches we love the bread outlet.

Monday, January 6, 2014

4 Ways to Make Your Financial Dreams a Reality.

    Whenever I post a Facebook status about paying off a credit card or loan, people tend to comment or message me something along the lines of "Show me your ways!" or "How do you do it?" So I've compiled some tips and tricks that I use to achieve my financial goals.

4 Ways to Make Your Financial Dreams a Reality.

Live Under Your Wage

This one is easy for me, because I just left college. However, when you get the fancy big kid job, it's easy to go out and get a fancy new car,  buy fancy expensive food, or whatever it is that is your vice. However, if you have student loans to pay off, want to buy a new house, or meet some other financial goal, you have to have leftover money to do this. Don't get me wrong, Eric and I combined make about twice the national average income, and that certainly helps us achieve our financial goals consistently, however, we don't buy brand name foods, we don't shop at expensive clothing stores and we don't go out every single weekend. So cut where you can cut, so that you can save for whatever goal you want to achieve. 

Make Some Things Yourself

Now this tip can be different for different people. I know some frugalista bloggers out there make all of their food themselves, but buy a lot of household products, and I know some bloggers that do the opposite. The only blanket recommendation is to make your own laundry soap, since it takes about an hour's worth of time and then you have cheap laundry soap that last you at least six months. For other things, think about things that you use a lot but that you don't go through that quickly. I say this, because you want to make this easy on yourself. Eric and I always balance how much we're saving with how difficult it is to make it. Right now we make our own Laundry Soap, Shampoo, Face Scrub, Lip Scrub, and Fabric Softener, because those things are the least cumbersome for us to refill. We also eat in most nights and rarely have frozen or prepped meals. 

Go In With A Plan

Budget every month. Otherwise, you will wonder where your money has gone. Anytime you make a plan you prevent yourself from overindulging and from depriving yourself too much. A budget lets you spend that much in each category so you don't over save and sets a limit so you don't overspend. Plan as much as you need for the month, including, but not limited to making a budget, a meal plan, and a schedule for other things like cleaning and date nights, etc. Going in with a plan helps make your financial goals more attainable.

Allow Some Room For Error

In your budget allow some "blow" money. Just to spend on whatever. There will be something that you want that you didn't budget for, so add a smidge of wiggle room. If you meal plan, plan some nights you will go out or use leftovers. 

Go Gradually

Don't compare your beginning to someone else's end. Start with a budget each month, and then start making some of your own things, etc. Trying to do everything at once will make feel like it's all too much. You may not buy groceries for a month in one go and pay off your student loans tomorrow but you'll get there. One step at a time. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Oh, Hey, 2014

   Welcome to the new year. Some of you may have stayed up to watch the ball drop, some of you may have been like me and fell asleep at about 9 o'clock. Either way most of you are making New Year's resolutions. However, as is the cliché a lot of people will not keep their resolutions much past MLK day. Why is that? Well, resolutions are often vague or unattainable. Some people make "New Year's Goals" but if they're vague or unattainable you're in the same situation with a different name.
    What is helpful is if your New Year's goals/resolutions are SMART goals.
     Your goals need to be specific. Instead of saying "I will lose weight" or "I will exercise more" make the goal "I will go to the gym 2-3 times a week for a half hour." However you can be too specific. For some saying "I will do twenty jumping jacks, 3 miles of running, and 20 pushups when I go to the gym 2-3 times a week" is just too detailed. Do the amount of detail that is necessary for yourself. Outline exactly what you're doing but don't limit yourself to something that you'll get bored with since these goals are for a year.
     Make a goal that you can tell whether or not you succeeded. Following the "Exercise more" example, it isn't measurable. If you go one time is that more? 20 times? If you don't set a certain amount you will automatically think you passed if you're lazy or optimistic and automatically think you failed if you're pessimistic. Having a benchmark to check off is important so that you keep with your goals and actually achieve your goals. When you hit a benchmark do something to treat yoself.

Manicures on Manicures on manicures
    Pick a goal that is important to you and fits within your lifestyle. If being fit is not important to you, you probably won't stick to an exercising goal. If writing isn't a lifelong dream of yours then there's little reward in writing a blog or working on a novel. Just because everyone else is making a certain New Year's goal doesn't mean that you have to have that goal as well. Maybe your goal is to have a weekly goal. Whatever floats your boat.
    Make your goals reasonable. If you've never hit the pavement, running a marathon by March is probably not going to happen. If you are working full time and a student you might not finish your novel this year, or maybe any time you're in school. Think about what you love, how much time you have to dedicate to the goal, and how you're likely to progress. Also, remember things like physics, biology, and other things in the universe that you cannot change. For example, no matter how hard I work towards the goal of "fly by flapping my wings" it's not going to happen.
     Obviously your "New year's goals" are likely to be a year long goal, but you should either break it into monthly or weekly parts or have something that repeats weekly or monthly. While "read 12 fiction books a year" is pretty attainable, it probably means that I would try and read 12 books the week after Christmas. Goal achieved, but I didn't actually develop as a person, which is kind of the point.

So what are my New year's goals?
1. Blog twice a week
2. Pitch a Cracked article once a month
3. Read a Young Adult Fiction novel once a month (which I'll obviously blog a review of)
4. Read a nonfiction novel once a month (again reviews will be posted here)
5. Write 300 words a day working towards a short story or novel.
6. Turn in all my assignments on time for classwork (for some reason this is very difficult for me and will only apply August-December, but eh, it can be a year long goal)

Share your goals in the comments below!

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