I'm on Etsy!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Super Secret "Get Out Of Debt" Trick That Doctors Don't Want You To Know About

I'm just kidding. There's no trick.

There's only two ways to get out of debt:
1. Make more money.
2. Spend less money.

If you are going to get out of debt, you are either going to sacrifice by working more, or sacrifice by cutting things out of your budget that you didn't think you could live without.

If you do not make sacrifices, you are going to continue plodding along, dragging your debt behind you, paying interest, and never getting ahead.

Here are some things that you CAN live without:

1. If you are renting, you can move. You can find a cheaper place, or you can get a roommate. 
2. You do not have to have cable. You can get Netflix for $9/month, or free TV for $0/month, or you can be really productive and stop watching TV altogether. I'm not about to stop watching TV, but if you do, I will admire the stuffing out of you. 
3. You can spend less on haircuts by having your wife/friend cut your hair, or if you are a woman, such as I happen to be, you can grow your hair longer, and you will hardly ever need to get it cut.
4. If you are willing to limit your cell phone use, you can read about a great plan through Ting Mobile here. You can cut your bill by about 80%, but you have to be willing to cut back on your usage.
5. You can sell your car and get a real clunker so you don't have car payments anymore. You are way too worried that an old car won't be reliable. It will be. And it's temporary. Is biking an option for you? (You would be sooo healthy!) Is sharing a car with your spouse or public transit an option for you?
6. You probably have enough clothes to last you for a while. Only buy something that you absolutely need while you are getting out of debt.
7. Remember 1995? Maybe you don't. Was that really 19 years ago? We were fine without the internet. (Mom, what was it like to be born before the internet?) We all know we would get more done without it. I'm not giving it up, because my house is my only debt, (and also because I'm weak), but I would be super proud of you if you did! The library has free internet for when you really need it. Also, free books! My favorite! Rabbit trail: One time my brother came to visit and saw a library book in our house and asked if I stole it from the library. "Actually, they are giving them away for free!" is what I had to say about that.
8. You don't need to eat in restaurants. At least, not as often as you are.

If you are thinking of all the reasons why you can not sacrifice those things (and other things), then you are always going to be in debt. You are never going to win. And I cannot help you.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Have A Problem With Exercise

There's something that bothers me about exercise. I mean besides the fact that it is "hard" and makes me "feel horrible". The reason that we need exercise is that we have all of these machines that make our lives easier and we no longer get exercise because of the work we have to do. We used to have to walk wherever we went, grow/hunt/gather our own food, cut firewood, etc.  It bothers me that when we exercise, we are not accomplishing anything, other than making ourselves healthier. (And when I say "we", I am talking about those of you who actually do exercise, as this does not generally include me).

I like the sort of exercise that accomplishes physical work like shoveling snow, working in the garden, painting walls, and fixing things. I like feeling like I've accomplished something. If I ride a bike, I prefer to have arrived at a destination, and not just having ridden my bike in order to be healthy. Or if you are going to ride a stationary bike, wouldn't it be great if it at least generated electricity? What if our computers ran on bike power, and if we stopped, our computers would turn off? I would be so healthy.

I guess I'm saying that I need more motivation, more rewards than just health itself. 

My dream is to buy a distressed house at auction and spend my time fixing it up, in order to either rent it out or sell it at a profit. I'm not sure if it'll work out, but I figure that will be great exercise, and create an income at the same time. Right now, I need to save up some money and I'm waiting for my youngest to be in school. I don't really want to get a regular job. I want to be home when my kids get home from school, and I want to be able to stay home with them if they're sick, or have a snow day, and I want to be able to chaperone their field trips and help in their class rooms. A regular old part time job that would allow me to be home with the kids after school wouldn't pay very much, and certainly wouldn't be as flexible as I want it to be.

Maybe there should be a gym alternative where instead of paying a monthly fee, you could volunteer and accomplish things such as ... I'm not sure what. Do you have any ideas?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Money Question Monday: How Do You Budget for Surprises?

Hi, Charlotte!

I have a question regarding budgeting for gifts, particularly between spouses.

I'm thinking we need to decide how much we can afford to spend on gifts in general and include our birthdays, anniversary, and Christmas gifts to each other in that category. Then, any little "just because" gifts throughout the year would come out of our personal money we each have monthly. Do you take a similar approach, or do you do something completely different?

Thanks! I still really enjoy reading your blog!

Thanks for the question! There are several ways that you can budget for gifts, but the main thing is that you both agree. It sounds like you already have a pretty good idea about what you want to do. That sounds like a great way to do things. 

We have a gift category in our cash envelopes that we put $40 a month into.  That way we are prepared to buy small presents, mostly for people outside of our immediate family. (And I will admit that we often don't have to buy any presents and we plunder this envelope for something like eating out. And I am okay with that). If a present giving occasion is coming up that will cost more than $40, we decide how much we want to spend and budget for that.

So you could decide to go ahead and budget for surprise gifts, if that is your love language and you do a lot of that. Or just use personal money. Either way is great.

When we started using cash envelopes, I felt that there wasn't room in the budget for being generous. We remedied that by adding generosity into the budget.

The benefit of using cash when you share a checking account, is that your spouse will not see what store you bought his/her present from, and won't be able to guess what they are getting.

To answer a question that you did not ask: it's a great time to start saving for Christmas. You can set up a separate savings account and start putting a set amount in there each month. Decide what you want to spend at Christmas and divide by 11, since it is already February.

Thanks for asking the question!

If you have a question about money or budgeting, email me at charlottewoodwind at gmail dot com.