Monday, June 22, 2020

The 4 Budget Categories You are Forgetting!

Ahhh, the b-word.  No, not that one.  Budgeting. It can sometimes feel tedious to budget for every dollar but really, no matter your income level or financial status, you need a budget!  Having a budget makes every dollar work harder for you.  

Obviously everyone knows that you have to list out your bills when you make a budget: rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, cell phone.

But there are 4 budget categories that you might be forgetting! Over the years, as my husband and I have written numerous budgets, some of these we forgot about too!  No fear, just be sure to add in these categories when planning your monthly finances.
4 budget categories you're forgetting

1. Holidays

As Dave Ramsey says, Christmas is on December 25th every year.  It can't sneak up on you--we know it's coming! :) Likewise, my kids' birthdays, and our anniversary all fall on the same day every year.  Sure Easter and Thanksgiving kind of rotate around but... close enough.  

Make a list of who you buy for and about how much you want to spend. Add it all up, divide by 12 and then save that much every single month so that when the birthdays and holidays roll around, you aren't feeling pressured to go into debt.  

You can put the money in a cash envelope and keep it at home, make a separate sub account for it with your bank, or open an entirely different holiday savings account (many banks and credit unions offer accounts specifically for holiday savings!)  
I don't know how much is left in my bank account and at this point I'm afraid to ask.
Don't let this happen to you!

2. Car Maintenance

I saved up money from my teaching job and bought myself a gently used vehicle and was able to pay cash.  We don't have a car loan but we do have money taken out of every check and put in savings for our next vehicle.  However, cars need their oil changes, tires rotated, sometimes things break or need repaired.  
If your car needs a $200 repair to be functional, do you know how you'll pay for it?  Try to keep a bit of money set aside so you don't have to go into debt at the auto shop!

3. Unexpected Gifts

Yes, we plan for Christmas and birthdays (see #1 above).  But you know what happens sometimes?  You have the perfect amount budgeted for the holidays you will celebrate that year and then BAM 3 coworkers are pregnant and you need 3 baby shower gifts. A cousin gets married and you need a wedding gift.  Uncle Sal passes away and you need to send flowers. 

Be sure to have a bit of money stashed away for those unexpected gift needs that arise during the year.
Budgeting? Don't forget these 4 categories

4. Giving

Sadly, when you search "Budgets" on Pinterest or "budget categories", many of them have no line item for giving. Yet there is such a great need in our world. 

25% of children in OUR country, the United States, are food insecure.  As I write this we have a 14% unemployment rate.  The Covid19 pandemic has made people sick, forced businesses to change how they operate, and cost many people their lives or their jobs.  

The amount you choose to give regularly is up to you.  For our family, we follow the tithing guideline of a 10% minimum.  

You can give to your local church and/or many places that could benefit from your monthly donation. Here are just a few: 

There you have the 4 budget categories you may have forgotten: holidays, car maintenance, unexpected gifts, and giving. Can you think of any others that often escape our minds when writing that first budget?  If so, leave a comment to let me know!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Friday Funnies

Welcome back to Friday Funnies!  I have to say, that last one is my favorite ever and is something my dad (or my husband) would definitely do if given the chance!

but where is the file?

Why aren't there door handles? Let me tell you about 2020.

My dad never asks for his picture to be taken. Until today.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Friday Funnies

Here we go!  This week's Friday Funnies.  
#2--I've never really wanted to visit space but if 2020 keeps up with this nonsense, I may be willing ot give it a try!
when you leave your dog at grandma's house

Congrats to the astronauts who just left earth. Good choice.

Row row row your goat.

Monday, June 8, 2020

3 Ways YOU Can Make Money Online This Week

Looking to make some money online?  Most of us could find a way to use some extra cash, myself included!  While I do have a full-time job, there are also a few websites I use to make extra money online.  Lately I've been using them to save up for some Christmas gifts for friends and family.  Today I'll share with you my 3 favorite ways to make money on the web.
3 ways you can earn money online this week

1. Ebates / Rakuten

  • Cost to join: Free
  • How much can you earn: % of your online shopping, no extra fees
  • How often can you cash out: Quarterly via check or PayPal
  • What stores qualify: Too many to list!  Kohl's, Sephora, Torrid, Macy's, and hundreds more

Rakuten, formerly called ebates, lets you earn cash back for your online shopping. It's a very simply way to make some money online! For example, I recently ordered more dog food from and earned a little cash back.

Will you earn enough to pay your rent each month? LOL.  No. Of course not, but if you think about all of your online shopping, you might as well get some of those dollars back! 

This is my referral link to Rakuten and if you use it, you get a $10 bonus once you spend $25 and I'll get a $25 bonus.  Then you'll have your own referral link to give out and get bonus cash for yourself!

2. Swagbucks

  • Cost to join: Free
  • How much can you earn: Varies. I earn around $300 a year.
  • How often can you cash out: As soon as you have enough points for the giftcard or PayPal amount that you want!
  • What stores can you get gift cards to: Too many to list!  Paypal, Best Buy, Kohl's, Sephora, Macy's, and hundreds more
You've heard me talk about Swagbucks repeatedly, so why haven't you joined yet?  I have $75 in Target gift cards that I earned through Swagbucks so far this year.  That's a nice chunk of change to put towards some Christmas gifts!  

You can also choose gift cards to Walmart, itunes, Ulta, Sephora, and like a million other stores.  
If you would rather have straight up cash, you can redeem Swagbucks for PayPal cash!  I've done that before too and it works perfectly.

If you'd like to join Swagbucks, please consider using my referral link.  You still get all the perks of Swagbucks and I get a few extra points towards my next gift card!
3 legit sites to earn money online

3. Microsoft Rewards

  • Cost to join: Free
  • How much can you earn: roughly $5-10 a month
  • How often can you cash out: Any time you have enough points!
  • What stores can I get a gift card to: Target, Sephora, Dunkin, Taco Bell, AMC Movies, and more
This site is less well-known that Rakuten and Swagbucks but the Microsoft Rewards program is a pretty solid way to earn some money online.  They don't have a Paypal option but you can cash out for gift cards such as Hulu, Target, Dunkin, Starbucks, Xbox, etc.  A great way to earn some ways to treat yourself or some gift cards to give away at the holiday season!  If you want to join Microsoft Rewards you can start earning points right away.

Do you have other ways you earn money online?  I do also use the ibotta app but without doing much in-store shopping my usage of it is way down.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday Funnies

Welcome to another round of Friday Funnies! 

When he asks your best qualities plump and unfiltered

I'll be famous one day but for now I'm stuck in 2nd grade with these morons

can't cannot essay henceforth I am unable to can

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

7 things we don't mind spending money on

When it comes to money, my husband and I are not big spenders.  When we first got married we were extremely frugal. Now that we are both working we still are pretty frugal compared to some of the rest of our generation.

But. We loosen the purse straps and spend some money on several things.  If we experience job loss, of course these will be the first things that get cut from the budget.  However, while we are able to, these are things that we don't mind spending money on!

[8 years ago I did a post on this topic. It's fun to look back at what has changed and what hasn't!]

1. Streaming Services.  

We used to pay for satellite dish but found that we could save a little money by cutting that out and going to Netflix and Hulu.  For awhile I was able to leverage Microsoft Rewards and get Hulu for free but the system changed. I still use Microsoft Rewards but now save up for gift cards to use for Christmas and we just pay Hulu out of pocket.

2. Books.

Yep, 8 years later and this is still on the list! The Coronavirus (Covid-19) quarantine had us staying home more than ever and with time on our hands to get in some good reading time.  With the social distancing directives we have stopped a lot of other spending (I miss going to movies!) so we use that to justify ordering books with wild abandon.  

Related: Quaran-Reading: 6 Books to Read While Quarantined

3. Cherry Coke

I swear if you show this post to my doctor, I will track you down and glare at you.  Soda is definitely not doctor-approved.  We're all allowed one vice to spend money on though, right?  I don't drink or smoke so I don't feel bad buying some cans of Cherry Coke each week.  Cherry Pepsi is not the same. Don't @ me.
7 things we don't mind spending money on

4. Heating & Cooling Our Home

In the last year we had extra insulation sprayed into the attic and bought a new heating/cooling system for the house.  We saved up the money until we were able to pay in full and that way we were able to upgrade without feeling bad for spending money.  Our old unit was too small and old to keep up with the temperatures outside. 

Here in the midwest we can see summers with a heat index over 100 and winters with wind chills -30.  We were constantly freezing or sweating in our home.  With the new insulation and heat/cool unit we are so much more comfortable AND energy efficient. Our monthly bills have gone DOWN.

5. Teacher Stuff

You may have heard that teachers spend a lot of their own money on their classrooms. You have heard correctly.  I try to focus on things that will benefit my students versus things that are just "cute."  For example, I give every student a brand new book of their own to keep at  Winter Break and at the end of the school year.  Since we are both working we can afford to do so and it's an expense that is worth it!

6. Graduate School

I am paying my way through a Master's degree program right now.  We pay each semester in full (no student loans!) and feel incredibly lucky to be able to do so.  It is indeed a chunk of money to spend but it is an investment in the future and in my earning potential so again, it's an expense that we feel is worth it. 

Pro-tip: Run the money through your 529 account. Adults can use those too!  It gives us a nice tax break at the end of the year on the money we were going to spend on my graduate program anyway!

7. Extra Life Insurance

Yeah, this is not nearly as exciting as Netflix, soda, and books. Still, extra life insurance (term life insurance) is worth the added cost.The goal is that if something were to happen to either of us, the remaining spouse would have enough money to provide for themselves and the children without added stress.  If, God forbid, we both die, we have a will and have left directives.  Again, the expense of an attorney and the expense of extra life insurance is well worth knowing that everything is taken care of for our children should something awful happen.
7 things we don't feel bad about buying