Category: MONEY

Debt Snowball Progress – December 2017

We did it!

No we’re not debt-free yet. Don’t worry that I’ll be shouting from the rooftops.

Another month closes on our debt snowball journey, and we are

getting closer to our dream of debt-free.

debt snowball progress

We may not be a lot closer, but if we don’t celebrate the small victories, we might lose sight of the prize.

Thanks to our Christmas budget, our December budget was not impacted whatsoever by the holidays.

Now is the perfect time to establish a Christmas budget for this coming year. It will take you about 30 minutes of work and will save you hours of a headache and worry next year.

We had a delightful holiday with family and friends, and we didn’t break the bank. There is no fear of opening our credit card statements this month because we have money from our budget to cover all expenses.

In fact, rather than worrying about our bills we get to enjoy a little extra money when we receive our Ebates cash back check, cash in our Ibotta money and cash in our credit card cash back. In total we will be getting about $200 back through these three avenues of shopping/spending for the last month.

I’m looking forward to sitting down with our budgets from the last year and recapping how 2017 was for us and setting new financial goals for 2018. Yes, I know this makes me a giant nerd, but I’m okay with that.

Besides if you don’t set goals and set them high then what are we working toward?

What would stop us from frivolous spending?

We were able to make a sizable extra payment on our student loans this month, and we are optimistic this momentum will keep up. After nearly ten years of no raise- thank you State of Illinois, I received a 3% raise that will start showing up in my paychecks this month. It’s not much, but after so many years without one, it seems monumental.

Unfortunately, even though Brian works for the same institution, his unit is not yet receiving the raise. Their union is currently in negotiations that have been ongoing for over 18 months. We are hopeful they will settle their contract soon, and if it includes back pay that will help us tremendously. I’m trying not to count my chickens before my eggs hatch, BUT it’s hard not to imagine how much that could move the needle our debt snowball.

Be sure to check out 2018 financial goals later this month, which will include a recap of our 2017 financial goals and whether we met them or not.

So here’s the update for December

Income report from December

Money from Varage Sale      $   22

Mileage check for work     $ 272

 

Total extra income                               $ 294

 

Extra from paychecks     $406

 

Amount extra put towards student loan      $700

 

  

 

Current outstanding student loan debt    $29,020

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way!

Don’t be Scrooge: How to Set Up a Christmas Budget That Works

‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la, la la la.”  It is, right? If you don’t have money set aside for Christmas spending, the holidays are NOT quite as jolly.

A LOT of money is spent this time of year.

set up a Christmas budget title

Gifts for everyone on your list.

Buying Christmas cards.

Stamps to mail Christmas cards. Does anyone remember when a stamp was $0.25?

Ingredients for all the baking you want to do.

Food for dishes to pass for every party or family gathering you are attending.

Donations – it seems everyone wants a little bit of your money this time of year. The guilt I have every time I walk by a Salvation Army bell ringer (I promise I give, but not every time I walk by) or say no to rounding up on my bill at a store.

Eating out more because you have less time at home to cook. You’re spending more time tracking down gifts for everyone on your list.

Is there any limit to the spending we do in November and December?

There can be, and the answer is simple . . . A Christmas budget.

Oh boy, there’s that Big Bad B word again that I love to use so much.

Honestly, though instead of being restrictive, a Christmas budget can be freeing. It allows you to spend money and enjoy doing so.

credit cary paying for Christmas expenses

Follow my simple “steps” for how to set up a Christmas budget, and you’ll be singing Christmas carols right along with me all season next year.

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Deals After Christmas

Remember those great deals after Halloween. Well, they are back and even better. Now it is time for the deals after Christmas.

Halloween tends to be the preview of what is to come, but there are usually a lot more deals after Christmas.

If you have leftover money from your current year Christmas budget, you can use that to stock up on holiday products for next year. Maybe you have already set up your Christmas budget for the coming year. If you make purchases now for next year, you can easily deduct them from that budget and document what you bought. I guarantee in 11 months you’ll have forgotten what you bought.  We did this last year with LED lights for outside and containers for cookie gift giving. What a great surprise when I discovered the new items we had and that was already paid for and part of the budget!

The best deals after Christmas

So let’s talk deals and what you should be on the lookout for.

The discounts will start right away on December 26. Some stores will be busy with lots of people out seeking these discounts, but they will be more crowded at customer service with returns. (side note: if you have a return try to do it when the store is least busy and definitely not on December 26. Nothing says your return must be done the day after you receive it)

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Debt Snowball Progress- November 2017

Wow, another month has passed, and we are quickly closing in on the end of 2017.

I can’t believe it.

Call me a nerd, but the end of the year means I soon get to do our end of the year financial recap. Yes, I like calculating numbers, creating debt payoff projections and setting financial goals.

debt snowball motivation

I have felt defeated a lot recently in regards to our debt payoff. It feels like that stupid student loan is going to be around forever. I probably spend more time feeling defeated than empowered in our ability to get rid of this debt.

I was lamenting its existence, yet again, and the staggering amount we still have left. When I shared this with Brian, he was quick to remind me that we have come a long way. We are now under $30,000. That amount is still scary, but given where we started it is quite amazing.

Sometimes when the road gets long, we forget how far we’ve come and how many obstacles we have overcome to get where we are.

To fully comprehend how far we’ve come, I took some time to sit down and think about where we started.

Since June 2013 we have paid approximately $64,000 towards student loan debt, and we cash flowed $33,000 for the following: roof and siding on our garage, a complete kitchen remodel, refinancing our home and two vacations to Disney World.

That means in 4 ½ years we have paid off $97,000 that equals about $1800/month.

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What to Buy on Black Friday

Everyone knows Black Friday is a big day for holiday shopping, but I bet you didn’t realize the variety of things you can get deals on.

This doesn’t mean I think you should spend all your money or go into debt because something is a deal. However, if you were in the market for any of these items, now is the time to buy.

what to buy on Black Friday

7 Things to buy on Black Friday

  • Vacations—Yes, there are some great deals on vacations on Black Friday. All you have to do is book the vacation on that day. If I had the disposable income right now, I’d be booking a nice beach vacation for the dead of winter for Brian and I. Maybe next year when we’re, fingers crossed, debt-free.

beach vacation

  • Pictures, Holiday Cards, Calendars – Typically, Snapfish and Shutterfly offer great deals on Black Friday. Bonus both are on Ebates. In years past, Snapfish has been as much as 20% cash back on Black Friday. Be sure to plan and have your Christmas cards ready, your calendars made and your pictures uploaded. Then all you need to do is order them on Black Friday. This is also a great time to order any holiday picture gifts such as ornaments, photo albums, calendars, etc. A family favorite picture gift that we gave one year was a puzzle that had the image of my parents and all of the grandkids. Everyone had a great time putting that together.

picture puzzle from snapfish

  • Toiletries and Medicine – Seriously, check the CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid ads. You can get free or deeply discounted items such as toothpaste, razors and over the counter medicines. If there is a rebate, don’t forget to submit them before the deadline. Check your coupons because you may even be able to make money on some of those things.
  • Household Items – You may not be thinking about items for your house, but Black Friday is a great time to replace old Tupperware, towels, dishes. If you like Zak kitchen items like I do, they are offering my readers a great Black Friday discount. Be sure to check it out. Several years in a row we got the huge Tupperware set at Wal-Mart. The price was amazing (less than $10), and we love it. It stores nicely in my drawer, and it’s easy to find a lid. At the great price, I don’t even mind replacing it every couple of years if need be.                                      rubbermaid tupperware
  • Wrapping Paper – The best deal I have found on wrapping paper is Black Friday at Walgreens. If I know I will need more wrapping paper for the holiday, I stop by there and pick it up. The price is always the cheapest. I also look over the paper designs. Some are generic enough to use for other holidays or birthdays. I have found generic roles most years.
    wrapping paper
    This was “holiday” wrapping paper that can be used any time of year.

    Appliances –Not many people think about buying appliances on Black Friday, but they are usually on sale. If you are remodeling, buying a new house, or just need a new appliance, this is a great time to consider making that purchase. This is both small kitchen appliances (mixers, blenders, crockpots, etc.) and big household appliances (washer, dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, etc.). In fact, if an appliance is on its last leg and you can swing waiting until Black Friday, it’s not a bad idea.

  • Electronics – They are usually discounted very well on Black Friday. The products on the front page of the ads, the door buster sales, are not always the best purchase. They look the same as something that is good quality but they are low-quality. They are made cheaply so they can be sold cheaply to lure shoppers in on Black Friday. The better deal is the rest of the electronics that are on sale. One year we got a great deal on an iPads from Target online.

I hope this list has helped you to consider some new things you may want to buy on Black Friday. Buying now could save you a lot of money later. December is also a great time to save money all year on gift cards and certificates.

*Planning to shop on Black Friday, be sure to check out “7 Tips to Make the Most of Black Friday Shopping.

*Remember if you plan to shop online you MUST sign up for Ebates.  If you don’t, you are throwing money away.

What other things should bargain hunters buy on Black Friday?

For special discounts just for my readers check out my Black Friday and Cyber Monday page.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means at no additional cost to you; I will earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way!

 

 

7 Tips for Black Friday Shopping

Black and Friday

Two simple words that when put together cause much debate.

Whether you like Black Friday or not, you have to admit there are some good deals to be found.

I’m not saying that you “need” these deals, but they do exist.

The key to successful Black Friday shopping is to know what you want and not get sucked into spending on things you don’t need or want.

tips for Black Friday

Worse yet is buying something that isn’t in fact on sale, but retailers lead you to believe is a great sale.  To better help you prepare for Black Friday, I have six tips to make the most of your Black Friday shopping.

You could just go and shop, but following these tips could save you money, headaches and time.

Trust me Black Friday can even be fun, especially when you get free money afterward just for shopping on Black Friday (Ebates, Kohl’s cash, gift cards).

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What To Buy in December To Save Money All Year

Did you know there is one thing you need to buy for yourself in November and December that can save you money all year long?

I bet you didn’t because even the best of bargain shoppers overlook it.

Are you ready for it?

What to buy in December . . .

Gift Cards.

Yes, if you buy gift cards around the holidays you will likely receive free “money.”

Say what?!

Free money that can’t be right Megan.

How does that work?

Well, it’s easy and just requires a little extra cash. If you don’t have it now, plan for next year. You can save up just like you do for your regular Christmas savings.

Start to pay attention to the places you usually go to (i.e. restaurants, spas, car wash, stores).

This is how it usually works:

Chili’s offers you a free $5 gift card if you purchase $25 in gift cards.

Culvers offers you a free value basket if you purchase $25 in gift cards.

Maggiano’s offers you a $20 gift card if you purchase $100 in gift cards.

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Debt Snowball Progress – October 2017

debt snowball progress-interestDo you know how I got my husband on board to pay off our debt faster?

One word.

INTEREST

I sat down and showed him how much of our monthly payment was going towards interest every month and how much was going to principal. I also calculated how much interest we were paying every year. It was a crazy amount of money to pay for the convenience of lower payments.

At the point that I got him on board, we were paying $4,000 a year in interest. Two thirds of our payment was going towards interest.

YIKES

We have been working our debt snowball for so long that I have completely forgotten how comfortable we were just paying the minimum for years upon years.

I was reminded of this, this past week when I talked with a recent college graduate that I been her advisor. She asked a question about if her loans would still kick in (she was in the glorious 6-month window of not having to pay yet) if she took classes for her Master’s Degree.

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Halloween Deals

Did you know there are great deals to be had the day after a holiday?

Yes, the stores immediately mark down items for quick sale. The markdowns typically start 50% and may get as high as 75% or 90% if you are willing to wait.

Everything that is related to that holiday goes on sale.

Halloween deals

As we gear up for several holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s), there will be several opportunities for stocking up on items at discounted prices.

Here is your guide for what you can be stocking up on after Halloween.

Costumes:

If you have children or grandchildren or are a teacher with a dress-up area, you will want to check out the discounted costumes. Target has some great quality costumes that we have bought over the years.  They are great for playing dress up all year long. If you plan to go to Disney World within the next year, it is the perfect time to get character costumes for your children. Last year we bought an Elsa and Belle dress for our daughters. We put them away and surprised the girls before we left. I guarantee we spent far less money buying them after Halloween on discount than if we had bought them in June before our trip.

Halloween deal on costumes
The girls in their dresses at Disney World. Both bought 9 months before our trip for less than $30.

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Debt Snowball Progress – September 2017

 It’s eight days until payday, and your checking account is running on fumes.

Is there enough money in the checking account to cover any automatic withdrawals?

Who wrote check #1031 and how much is it for?

How much cash do we have around the house that we can deposit into our checking account right now?

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

debt snowball september 2017

These are actual statements that were said in our house last month, and it was a bit scary. I thought the days of sweating a zero balance in our checkbook were behind us, but I was wrong.

I was completely shocked when I sat down to look at our accounts and balance our checkbook. Our balance was $110.84.

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