I didn’t spend any money on Black Friday!

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I didn’t spend any money on Black Friday!

 

Blasphemy!

She’s lying!

How did she do that?

 

These are all possible responses from you my devoted newsletter subscribers.  Yep I did it.  But honestly not entirely by choice.  Let me tell you why and how it happened.

A year ago, my husband and I discussed creating a slush fund for Black Friday all by itself.  We came to this line of thinking for many reasons.  First of all, there are so many deals and we wanted to take advantage of them without putting a burden on our budget in 1 month on 1 day. We could get all of our Christmas shopping done in 1 weekend. We might actually have gifts under the tree before Dec. 23rd. The list of pros goes on and on.  Not to mention the idea that both he and I could find deals for ourselves.  It’s possible we’d save money, but it is also entirely possible that we’d spend more than necessary.

How many of you can relate to going Black Friday shopping and buying 1 Christmas gift for a loved one and 2 sweaters for yourself?  It happens to all of us!  During this season we simply buy more than is truly necessary just because the price is right.  And what does that do to all of the other areas of our finances?  It could wreak havoc especially without a plan!

Here’s the real reason I didn’t participate in the shopping madness… I simply cannot control myself!  😊 There I said it!  If I walk into a store with a good deal, I will want to buy something.  This year we had many unexpected and costly home improvements and repairs to make both to our personal residence and our rental home.  These events drained our savings and our sanity.  But we set a goal to replenish our savings to a respectable level and I didn’t want to jeopardize our efforts with overspending.  Simple as that!  I literally had to stay out of the stores and off the websites to control myself.

But what does it really take to be successful sticking to your financial goals?  Here are the necessary ingredients for financial success…

FOCUS + DETERMINATION + BUDGET = FINANCIAL SUCCESS

If you don’t have a goal or a reason to say no to temptation you will give in.  The goal or focus on a specific greater desire is the most important ingredient to financial success.  But without determination you may not stick to this goal.  It takes stamina or staying power to say no when you see others are indulging.  And finally, a budget will show you where your priorities lie.  Keeping your goal in the budget and sticking with the plan you have set is what gets you to the finish line of financial success however you define it. 

I won’t say it was easy to keep my debit card in my pocket this past weekend but it sure was worth it.  My savings account is still full and I’m proud of myself for exercising self-restraint.

Let’s be clear, we will be buying gifts this year, but it will be done with a detailed list of who we are buying for and how much we are spending without all of the pressure and temptation of buying extra things for myself... 😊

This is my 1st step in avoiding a holiday hangover this Christmas season.  If you’d like to learn more about how to walk into 2019 confident, prepared, and still have money in the bank then I’d like you to join me for a Facebook LIVE on Wed. Dec. 5th at 8pm EST. You will learn all of the tips and tricks to have an enjoyable holiday season without the guilt and worry over your money in the New Year.  Just head over to my business page HERE and tune in Wed. 12/5 at 8pm EST.  See you then!

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Well they are coming even if you aren’t ready! Now is the time to prepare for the next few weeks. The nature of shopping is changing. You must know how to navigate so you get the best deal and keep more money in your pocket. Here are some tips that will help get you through this holiday season with no regrets and happy gift recipients.

  1. Check online 1st. www.blackfriday2011.com already has the latest ads that have been leaked so do your shopping now before you leave your house on Friday. Also, check out www.cybermonday2011.com.
  2. Buy online and get the same deals you would in store.  Many times you don't have to fight the crowds because the stores have the same sale prices online.
  3. Search your favorite stores for coupons again before you leave your house. Signing up for email lists usually ensures you will get the latest information quickly.
  4. Be a fan! Like your favorite stores on facebook and check their updates regularly. Typically, companies run specials, coupons, and giveaways for fans only.
  5. Follow them! Twitter can be a great way to ask specific questions about hours, specials, and upcoming events. If your stores have a twitter page be sure to follow them.
  6. Subscribe to the many deal sites like www.groupon.com, www.livingsocial.com, or www.dealchicken.com. Be careful that you only buy what you will use though.
  7. Make a list! Too many people leave their shopping to guesswork. Lack of planning leads to overspending. This list needs to include all the people you’d like to buy for and how much you intend to spend on them. You may also want to include gift ideas. Then, make sure you total it up and take it shopping with you.
  8. Shop with cash. There is nothing worse than a holiday hangover on credit. Who wants Christmas shopping to follow them forever?
  9. Don’t forget the small stuff! Make sure you decide on Christmas cards and postage, family photos, meal planning, teacher gifts, decorations, party attendance, etc. Nowadays, very little is free but planning can keep your personal costs to a minimum.

Don’t allow the holidays to wipe you out. You can and should be prepared for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. I hope these tips help you to enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and a financially prosperous New Year!

How much should you spend on groceries?

The size of your family and your household income are big influences on your grocery spending. Some experts believe that $200/adult and $150/child for the month is reasonable. Personally I believe that is a lot of money especially given that the U.S. average household income is $50,000. I like to give guidelines to people based on percentages of income. For instance, all food for the home including groceries, dining out, school lunches, etc should be between 5-15% of your take home pay. Higher income households will be able to have steak more often if there are also fewer mouths to feed. Lower income households may spend closer to the 15% of their income on food simply because the income is not as high. If you use this rule of thumb and your percentage is higher than 15% you have reason to be concerned because the food category is cutting into other living expenses. But of course you need to eat and you or your children shouldn't feel deprived when doing so. If you are spending 20% of what you bring home on food each month that is an indication that more income is needed to take care of your size family or you need to do some serious couponing and reduce dining out. If that is the case, you will also feel the squeeze in your budget in other areas like mortgage/rent, transportation, etc. You can also try several of the following things to reduce the food budget: 1. Shop wholesale markets (Costco and Sam's) religiously for items you use a lot. 2. www.thegrocerygame.com, www.couponsense.com, www.couponmom.com all match the store's sale items to the weekly newspaper coupons. If you clip coupons try these sites once and see big savings. 3. Always have a running list of items you need in the home so you don’t go shopping blind and overspend. 4. Plan your meals and write the items you need on your running grocery list. This way you will only buy what is necessary. 5. Reduce dining out or use www.restaurant.com for deals.

Food is necessity but it doesn't have to cramp your style and take all your discretionary money for the month. With a plan and a purpose you can feed your family on a reasonable amount.

What is procrastination costing YOU?

Procrastination is an evil that can cost you dearly. Sometimes we don’t realize the power it has over our lives until we literally add it up.

  • Have you ever checked out a book at the library and forgot to get it back on time having fees assessed daily?
  • Have you rented a DVD and ended up paying double for a lousy movie because you missed the 9pm deadline?
  • Have you walked in a store the day after a sale ended?
  • Have you failed to call a potential client when you said you would and lost business because of it?
  • I really hate is missing out on financial opportunities that truly could have been mine. I love a good deal, saving money, and getting the most for the least amount of money. I detest it when I could have saved money or ended up paying too much for something.

    Just last month I missed a sale at Dillard’s by one day and for the 2 dresses I bought could have saved an additional $47!! I forgot to go to the library and pick up a book that was on hold so a fine of $1 was assessed. I also paid an extra $50 for plane tickets just because I didn’t purchase them when they were on sale! All of this happened because I wasn’t paying attention to the details and taking action when I knew that I could. This may not sound like a lot of money today but if I continued to do this in various areas of my life for a year I might have squandered over $2000! Ridiculous!

    Maybe you procrastinate in other ways. We also procrastinate when we think we have more time. Here’s the definition:

    the act or habit of putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

    Do you put off or delay financial matters that require immediate attention? Are you constantly backtracking because you failed to do something in a reasonable time period? Have you waited to start a budget or debt reduction plan? Now is the time to regroup. Think about the financial priorities you have in life. Think about what it would feel like to accomplish them. Then take action to make sure that no time is wasted.

    I purpose to slow down, do my research, and pay attention. We can get so busy that we miss out on financial opportunities and goals. I am not missing out on anything that saves me money from now on. I won’t wait to do something I can do right now. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t wait to start a budget or understand your debt position. If you have more time you can accomplish your goals sooner. Don’t allow procrastination to rob you of saving money or getting truly free.

    Do Something Different!

    Have you looked in the room of your children or someone else’s child lately?  Toys are probably everywhere!  Are you tired of trying to figure out what toys they already have?  With Easter just wrapping up and the many Easter baskets given, filled with candy and toys, I'm reminded of a much more valuable gift to give to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews; even if it's small amounts appropriate for holidays like Easter.  Maybe it is time to give a gift of future to the children we love and care about. 

    How about gifting some funds toward college education for the children in your life?  $20 or $30 may not sound like a lot of money to give towards higher education, but if several family members do it the savings can really add up.  College savings accounts regularly send coupons for giving to the manager of the account for just this purpose.  Send your family members a letter stating the importance of a change this year with the coupon inserted. 

    If the child is old enough to count money and understand the value of education then this could really be a teachable moment for him or her.  What an amazing gift to give a young person!  The parents will also appreciate this investment in their future too!

    I'm doing it this year.  Won't you join me?

    We have saved $321 using coupons!

    In 2 months, my family and I have managed to save $321 in coupons!  This is not just at the grocery store or for items we will never use.  We shop at the normal places: Fry’s and Safeway, Costco (of course), Macy’s, Justice, Ulta, Lowes, etc.  But the difference is that I almost never walk into these places without a coupon.  So I decided to add up the savings!  So far I am on a roll to save at least $2000 in 2011 on coupons!  My husband is also on board now!  He called me to say that he looked online for a Lowe’s coupon, printed it, and the cashier took it even though it was expired!  He is getting just as excited as I am!  That $10 we saved at Lowe’s can now either be used for something else or saved!  I want you to join me!  Watch my video and get excited with me.  Post comments, questions, and your experiences on my facebook fan page and my blog.  Let’s all join in the savings!  Let’s see how much we can all save by simply looking for coupons before we spend our hard-earned money.   This could help you with your savings goal, a vacation you want to take, or get out of debt!

    In April, August, and December there will be a drawing for anyone who has participated in this challenge.  You could win free groceries at your favorite grocery store!  I look forward to chatting with you on my fan page or blog!

    I couldn’t believe it! Coupons savings truly add up!

    As a family we saved $168 in January 2011 on coupons!  In one year that adds up to $2016!  If you want to have a starter emergency fund there it is!  That was amazing to me.  Yes I have clipped coupons for years.  Yes, I go on websites and find coupons if I know I am going to a particular store.  Yes, we get the weekly newspaper, I clip the coupons and we do read the paper.  This has been a part of my life for a while now, but I never knew how much it made a difference until now. The last week of December I decided to add up all of the savings I capitalize on throughout the year 2011.  I wanted to see what it could really amount to.  And so far I am stunned!  Sometimes we believe that the little bit of money saved with coupons doesn’t make a difference.  But it does add up!  Last week I saved 62% at the grocery store!  The original bill was $55 and I paid only $21!

    My friends make fun of me because I always have a coupon, discount, or certificate.  But this helped me get out of $100,000 in debt and is keeping me from going back.  Paying attention to these small details is one approach to managing your money well.

    Here are some of the things I’ve learned in the last few weeks:

    • You are crazy if you don’t sign up for the club card deals at your local grocery store or pharmacy.  I am not including the club card savings in my coupon total but it always adds up to more savings at the checkout.  You can also load coupons on your store card online so you don’t need to cut them out!
    • Have deals sent to you via www.groupon.com (nationwide), www.livingsocial.com or www.enamor.com (PHX residents), etc.  These sites feature a deal of the day.  I recently purchased a $20 amazon certificate for $10!  I didn’t need to look for it because the message came right to my email inbox.
    • Some stores take competitor coupons like Fry’s.  Right now I can take in my Fresh and Easy coupons along with my normal ones and save big!

    Get involved!

    If you are looking for ways to increase your income or decrease your outgo think about coupons.  I just want you to do something different.  Try it on for a month.  Add up your savings for 30 days and then determine if it is worth it.  If you choose to accept this challenge, go to my facebook fan page and become a fan.  Each quarter I will randomly choose one of my fans who is sharing coupon ideas, asking questions, or simply commenting on the site.  They will receive a gift card for their favorite grocery store.  Start saving now!

    Coupon savings are amazing!

    When you add it up it really makes a difference!  I have been a coupon clipper for years.  I have signed up for those coupon clubs, email specials, and Sunday paper to find the deals.  What I have never done however is totaled up how much all this work is actually worth.  Since I decided to total my coupon savings for 2011 I have already learned a few things...

    1. You can use expired coupons at the grocery store.
    2. Your favorite stores may have coupons online if you don't get the newspaper.
    3. You can get a rain check on items you'd like to use a coupon on and come back to use it when the item is there.
    4. Some stores take competitor coupons.

    Taking this challenge is a learning process for myself as well.  To date, I have saved $79.75 on things I would have already purchased!  This time I just paid attention to the money I kept in my pocket!  I have shopped at places like www.justiceclothingforkids.com, www.frysfood.com, www.safeway.com, www.groupon.com, www.michaels.com, etc.  If you just look the savings are there.

    Now I really wonder how much money I will save for the entire year.  Should I have a goal in mind?  Right now it looks like I could blow the top off $1,000 in coupon savings.  What do you think?  How much will you save?

    I saved $18.50 this week without even trying!

    Sometimes I surprise even myself!  During the holiday season while many people were out spending loads of money, I was amazed at how much money I could actually SAVE!  Yes SAVE!  I said it!  It is possible to save money during the holidays.  Truth be told this savings is all in how much I didn't spend.  But it all adds up right?  I mean, what if I didn't spend $1000 in 2011 just because I clipped coupons, searched on my blackberry, or looked on company websites?  What if I decided to simply add up all my savings and allowed you to see the power in paying more attention to your expenses?  What if you joined me in this effort and also decided not to spend money without at least trying to find a coupon you could use?

    This is my mission for 2011.  I will track all of my coupon savings and take you, my blog readers along for the ride.  I will tell you where, how, and when I saved.  It would be wonderful if you shared your stories with me too.

    On Sunday my family and I went to the mall.  Because I already knew I needed more Bath and Body Works lotion, I went to see what was on sale.  I found that the WHOLE STORE was on sale!  I quickly searched for "bath and body works coupons" on google and found a $10 off $30 purchase.  I bought 10 bottes of lotion for $ 3 a piece (70% off!) and used my coupon by just showing my blackberry to the cashier!  I won't need to buy lotion for me and my girls for a year!  That is savings!  I also used $5 in coupons at the grocery store and another $3.50 coupon at Subway.

    I can't wait to hear your stories, see where you shop, and learn how much you save!  Will you join me?