Monday, February 29, 2016

8 Ways to Live Like a Rich Person TODAY

Have you ever wished that for even a day, for 24 hours, you could live like a rich person?

I know I'm not the only one!

Well just in case, you'd like to try to live one day in the shoes of the rich, here are 8 ways to live like a rich person TODAY.

1.  Declare today a "worry-free" day when it comes to your money.  Many of us have days when we look at the bills and don't know how they are going to get paid.  We certainly don't have any wiggle-room in our budgets.  But rich people don't worry about where the money will come from to cover their bills.  Since we are living like rich people, I hereby declare that just for today, we have a free pass to not worry about money.  Tomorrow if we need it, we can brainstorm as many ways as possible to creatively earn and save money.  But for today, there are no worries!  We have more than enough.  One of the questions I ask myself when I'm having a "worry" day is, "Will I go bankrupt today or tomorrow?"  If the answer is "no", as it always is for me, I count my blessings and stop worrying about money.  It's just not worth it!

2.  Go on a mini-vacation, right in your own town.  So what if you don't have the funds to go on some exotic vacation to the Caribbean.  Start appreciating the beauty your own town or city has to offer.  On a sheet of paper, write down all the places in your town you'd love to visit.  They can be places you've been to before or places you've yet to see.  Put together your perfect day of visiting all of these places or as many of them as you can.  Be sure to include some freebies like the park, the lake or beach.  I know you've got loads of ideas going through your head right now.  Get them out of your head and onto the paper.  Now, commence your staycation!  You're about to find out just how much fun staying around town can be!  If you need some ideas to jumpstart your staycation, just visit sites like Groupon or LivingSocial and plug in your town/ area.

3.  Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses; you are the Joneses!  We've all heard it again and again that we must avoid the comparison trap.  There is always someone who will be better off than you.  But it's just as true that there will always be someone who is worse off than you too.  In order to get your mind off the comparison trap, here's a little challenge for you:  find someone who is struggling financially and bless them in some small way.  It could be as simple as getting them a $10 gift card to a restaurant or grocery store or as easy as cooking up two suppers and delivering one to their family in addition to having one for yours.  Why do I recommend this?  It's a proven fact that rich people are generous in their giving to others.  Also, once you do this, I guarantee, you are going to feel like a million bucks!  What can you do to make a small difference today?  Because it's not going to be small in the eyes of the person who receives it!

4.  Don't spend any more than you make that day!  Rich people got this way by living on less than they earn.  I know it sounds too simple, almost too good to be true.  But think about it:  what if every month you had a little money left over and this went on for years.  Maybe you invest some of it and it starts making money.  Pretty soon, that little leftover money turns into a big fortune.  So, the challenge with this tip is to practice what it feels like to live on less than you earn.  Whatever you earn on this day (you might have to do some estimates, averages) is what you can spend on this day.  Bonus points if you can spend less than you bring home on this day.

5.  Drive your paid-off car (even if it's a clunker) with pride.  One of the most consistent findings of rich people is that many of them drive average, pre-owned vehicles and live in middle-class neighborhoods.  Now that may not be true for all of them, but for many millionaires, this is their reality.  And it's not because they couldn't have more if they wanted to.  They choose to live this way. If you have a car sitting in your driveway or garage that is paid for, count your blessings!  No matter what it looks like or how old it is, if it gets you here and there, it is a good car.  So what if people make fun of you.  More than likely "those people" are the same ones who go home and write a giant check for their car loan every month.  It's ok to not have a car payment because you made a different choice.  Go ahead, flaunt that clunker!

6.  Appreciate the true "riches" in your life.  You know where I'm going with this one, don't you?  Hopefully you've learned by now that the best riches in life aren't things.  Think of it this way...what if you had all the things (gadgets, cars, electronics, etc.) you desired in the world, but you were the only person in the world?  People make life rich.  Yeah, even those crazy people in your life that you call family.  And the scary part is, none of us know when we will live our last day.  So, if you have anyone meaningful in your life, and I'm willing to bet you do, spend time today appreciating them and all they do to make your life truly rich.

7.  Make your dream home.  This one pairs nicely with number 2, going on a mini vacation in your town.  After you have a wonderful day vacationing around town, come home and have a decadent dinner of your dreams.  Maybe that's steak and potatoes, along with a salad and some bread.  Or maybe it's pizza.  If you're anything like me, dinner includes a chocolate dessert!  Whatever floats your boat will be a whole lot more affordable and probably delicious if you make it at home.  Spend time in your kitchen with your true riches that we talked about in number 6 and you're sure to have a satisfying finish to your rich-living day.

8.  Get what you want and want what you get.  To say that you are truly rich, regardless of your bank account is to be content with your life.  That doesn't mean you're going to settle and always be at this current level for the rest of your days, but it does mean that you accept your life as it is right now and you find ways to see the beauty in it every day.

Lao Tzu said, "Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you."

After reading this post and hopefully spending a day living like a rich person, I have one question to ask.  Are you rich?

You decide.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tools to Help You Save

What if saving money could be infinitely easier with the use of a few tools?  I believe it can be, and there are certainly tools out there that won't cost you an arm and a leg, but will actually help you save in the long run!

Today I'm going to talk about two of my favorites.  The first one is something my son and I recently discovered while shopping at one of my favorite discount stores.

He and I were shopping on Monday, and of course, we had to visit the toy section.  My son is very patient while I look at housewares and shoes, but only if I allow him to browse and choose one small item from the toy section.  On this day, he had chosen his item and we were getting ready to leave the toy section when I stumbled upon this cool bank:

What I was instantly attracted to was the visual aspect of seeing how much we've deposited into the bank.  I have always been a visually motivated gal, so this bank is too cool!  It has a sensor that recognizes what type of coin is being dropped through the slot and adds it to the balance every time I use it.  The winning factor for me is that I got to take it home for $5.99.  As you can see, I already have more deposited into the bank than I paid for it!

Of course, I'll still have to wrap the coins when it's time to turn them into bills, but I think the motivation of seeing this number go up on the bank will help me use it often!

The second tool I love to use, pretty much on a daily basis, is my envelope system from Dave Ramsey.  I'm quite fond of my teal wallet-like envelope holder which came with the Financial Peace University Home Study Kit.  If you've never been to Dave Ramsey's site, I encourage you to check it out immediately (  His site will blow you away with the sheer volume of money resources available to you.  His online store has FPU and other books for purchase. You don't have to purchase the entire study kit.  You can actually purchase an envelope holder by itself.  There's an entire section in his store dedicated to the envelope system!

My husband and I each get a set amount of "mad money" each week.  Basically this is our money to blow on whatever we'd like.  I think Jamie usually spends his on work lunches with his buddies and I usually spend mine on coffee.  However, what I love about my mad money is that if I have any leftover from the previous week, I just add it to my new amount and it grows really fast that way.  I keep my mad money in my envelope holder.  And every time I pull it out to pay, people always ask me what it is or comment on how cool it is.  It's a great tool to get people thinking about using cold, hard cash again.

These are two tools that are consistently helping me save more money.  Now it's your turn.  In the comments below or on my Facebook post, tell me about your favorite tools that help you save money.  Happy Saving, Friend!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Savings Challenge (And a Call to Action)

2016 is in full swing already!  I don't know about you, but I feel like January just flew by, and before we know it, February will be half over as well.

Now that life has settled from the holidays, I find comfort in the daily grind.  I have a pretty well-worn routine Monday through Friday, but I try to relax a little more on the weekends.  Life is sweet.

And yet, something is really bothering me and I need to get it off my chest.  Here goes...

I just read an article titled, "The U. S. May Be Even More Broke than You Think" written by Chris Matthews and it made my stomach turn.  Matthews states, "Critics of government spending often say that U.S. Government owes more than the total value of the gross domestic product, nearly 103%..."  Basically, our country is in debt, past our head, if you didn't notice.  It appears we are drowning in it.

For someone like me, in my 30's, that means I have to take matters into my own hands to ensure that my financial future is secure.  In 30 years, I will be surprised, shocked even, if Social Security even exists anymore (financial guru Dave Ramsey calls it "Social Insecurity", a name that seems quite fitting to me).  So that is not something I can count on to help me out in my future.

Not only that, but I don't want to place a heavy burden on my son (and any other future children) to have to take care to me and provide money for my monthly bills when I am no longer bringing in an income.

So, it seems my only option is to do things a little differently than our American government.  In fact, I need to do things a lot differently!  Pretty much the complete opposite.

1. My family and I need to live beneath our means.

2. Even though we are currently out of debt besides our home, we need to take measures to stay that way.

3. We need to continue saving for the future.

Which brings me to the real message of this post.  The beginning of 2016 seems like the perfect time to introduce the Savings Challenge.  I'm taking it this year and I hope you will too.  It's very simple, but it will help me and my family to meet our financial goals described above.  It will help you to save for whatever dreams you have for your own family or allow you to pay off debt faster.

Here is the 2016 Savings Challenge: Decide on and commit to trying out three different ways to save money this year.  Notice I didn't say new ways, because you might have a current way of saving money that really works for you.  That's great!  Keep up the good work!  I'm just asking you to add two more ways of saving money to your arsenal of personal finance knowledge.

Here are the 3 ways I've committed to saving this year:

1. I'm doing the 52 week money saving challenge.  Each week, I put the dollar amount away that matches the week of the year.  By the end of this year, I'll have saved $1378 just by doing this.  To see the break down of how this challenge works, click this link which will take you to another blog.

2.  I'm going to continue the piggy bank plan.  I have already been doing this with my son because it's a wonderful way to teach him to save money, even at the young age of 2.  I have an entire chapter dedicated to this method of saving in my book 8 (Really Creative) Ways to Save.  You can purchase it here.

3. I'm going to try out the percentage savings plan.  On this plan, I start by taking out 1% of my income and have it auto-deposited into my savings account.  After about 6 months, I'll change that percentage to 2% and keep going until I reach 10%.  This is another method that I detail in my book 8 (Really Creative) Ways to Save.

None of these are very complex, but they do require a commitment to start.  What are some ways that might work for you to begin to save?  Or perhaps you save money already, but you want to challenge yourself to have the best year of saving yet.  If you're short on ideas, I would love for you to check out my book 8 (Really Creative) Ways to Save.  Writing this book truly changed my life because I practiced each of the tips to help get our family out of debt.  The book is chock-full of savings tips that will actually get you excited to save.  I hope you'll check it out!

If you're up to join me for the Savings Challenge, please leave a comment below or comment on my Facebook post.

I believe together we can make this the best year of saving money yet, no government assistance required!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Magic of Homemade Gifts

This is part 3 of 3 of my series called Serious Holiday Savings.

Ok, yeah, I realize it's January, but I couldn't exactly write this post before Christmas because it details some of the items I actually gave out to friends and family.  And the beauty of it is, someone close to you is bound to have a birthday before December of this year.  Why not consider gifting them with something homemade or hand-crafted?

Why am I calling homemade gifts magic?  Simply because I believe homemade gifts convey deep meaning that the person who made it cares an awful lot.  They took the time and effort to create something just for you.  I also think crafting gifts is a lost art.  It's so much more convenient to run to Target, pick up a gift and throw it in a bag with some tissue paper.  Making a gift requires planning ahead of time.

Here are three of the handmade gifts that my family gave out this past Christmas:

1. Handprint ornaments:  I saw this idea on Pinterest, one of my favorite websites for inspiration, and decided to try it with Landon, my 2-year old son.  I made sure to choose a day that was nice enough where we could work outside (we can do that in Florida in December, do be jealous!) so I didn't have to worry about getting glitter everywhere.  And of course, it still got everywhere outside, but I wasn't freaking out about having to clean up minuscule glitter particles.  My husband applied glue to Landon's hand and I pressed it to an ornament, then followed it up with a sprinkling of glitter.

They didn't turn out as neat-looking as the (perfect) Pinterest picture, but I didn't care.  It was a fun family activity that my son sure enjoyed, and you would have thought we gave his grandparents the world when we presented them with two personalized ornaments.  I also included Landon's name, his age, and the year on the back of the ornament.

Here's the best thing: I found the glass ball ornaments at Goodwill for less than a buck.  There were six of them and I bought them before I knew what I was going to do with them.  They turned into some great handmade gifts and fun memories.

2. Homemade granite cleaner:  I discovered the value of creating homemade cleaners a couple of years ago when I downloaded a eBook about making them.  I've made several of the recipes (The book is called Homemade Green Cleaners by Claire Bowman, link here), but hands down, my favorite has been the granite cleaner.  It makes my counters so very shiny, only has 4 ingredients, and it smells yummy but never overpowering.  My mom-in-law and sister-in-law both have stone countertops so I decided to whip up two sprays for them.  Up until that point, I had been using lavender essential oil in my spray because it's my favorite scent, but since it was the holiday season, I decided to change things up a bit and swap out lavender for peppermint.  In about 5 minutes, I created 3 batches of peppermint granite cleaner (one for myself) and put them in spray bottles I got from the dollar store.  Then I printed colorful tags for the ones I was gifting and had two great gifts that are useful to boot.

3. Santa ornament: I bought a little ornament kit from Michael's when they were running a half off sale, making this ornament under a buck.  I showed Landon how and where to put the sticks and let him place them and then glued them myself.  Instead of attaching the string to make an ornament, I taped the foundation stick to a gift card and gave it to my husband as a gift from my son.

I plan on making and gifting many more handmade gifts this year, and not just for Christmas.  Do you like to make gifts?  Can you think of anyone who would love to receive one from you?  I hope this post inspires you to get busy making magic with homemade gifts!