save money on groceries

Everyone has to eat right? We all need to make our weekly pilgrimage to the grocery store to buy food. And have you noticed that it’s getting more and more expensive? A few years ago, I could easily get by on sixty bucks a week, which is quite a rarity now a days! Even so, there are plenty of tried and true methods to save money on groceries, which of these do you use?

How to Save Money on Groceries

Compare Price per Unit

Bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes buying in bulk pays! How are we supposed to tell the difference? Well, luckily, most grocery stores actually list the price per unit! Usually listed in ounces, the price per unit will tell you whether the bigger package or the smaller package is actually the better deal.

Buy Generic

I’m sure this has been repeated over and over again, but buying generic brands really is a great way to save money on groceries. Name brand hot dog buns are $2.99, while the generics are 87 cents. That’s two bucks! Name brand corn flakes are almost $3 a box, while the generic is 99 cents. Another two bucks! That adds up fast! Below is a small chart showing the differences in price between the generic version and the name brand version of some common items:

 

Product Generic Price per Ounce Name Brand Price per Ounce
Sugar 2.3 cents 3.6 cents
Bottled Water .5 cents 1.2 cents
Crispy Rice Cereal 7.3 cents 14.3 cents
Pasta 4.5 cents 8.4 cents
Chicken Broth 4.3 cents 8.5 cents
Shredded Cheese 18.5 cents 32 cents
Lunch Meat 20.5 Cents 30.5 cents

As you can see, opting for the generic version can lead to some pretty hefty savings. 

Related: 5 Things I’ll Never Buy Generic!

Skip the Drinks

I know this is unpopular, but do you really need all that pop (soda for my west coast friends!) and juice? Most of it is just sugar anyway, and the cost really adds up. A twelve pack of name brand pop costs three to four dollars, and so does a quart of sugar water! Even buying bottled water at the store adds up. It’s cheaper (and better for the environment, and healthier!) to just drink water at home. I actually cut pop out of my life many years ago, and to be honest, I don’t miss it at all. Every six months or so I’ll get a pop with dinner, and its nothing spectacular.

Cook from scratch

Ok, I know this one is hard. We all work long hours, and the last thing we want to do is come and prepare a meal. That pre-packaged freezer crap is so freaking convenient! But alas, that convenience comes at a price. A pre-packaged freezer lasagna costs about eight dollars, and it barely feeds two people (Family meal, yeah right!). Buying lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, cheese, and veggies is tad bit more, but you can make enough lasagna to feed a family for days!

Chili is another great example. I can spend four dollars on cans of chili to feed a family for a night, or I could seven dollars, make my own crock pot chili, and have food for three days.

Chop Your Own Veggies

Ah, the price of convenience again. Most grocery stores now offer pre-cut fruits and vegetables, which are super easy to use, just open and eat! But they tend to be much more expensive than the non-cut fruit. Just look at carrots for example. A pack of carrots costs less than a dollar. A pack of “ready to eat” baby carrots is three dollars (and they aren’t really baby carrots, they are processed carrot waste. Marketing Genius!). You are spending two extra dollars so that you don’t have to take a minute to peel a carrot. Is that worthwhile? Only you can answer that, but I will say that I’ve started buying the cheaper, unpeeled carrots.

Use A Cash Back App

Save money on groceries/earn cash back on groceries, same thing right? If you aren’t using Ibotta to earn cash back on groceries you need to sign up right now. If you have questions, check out my guide to Ibotta, which in my humble opinion, is the best on the internet! I’ve earned over twenty dollars back in just two weeks of using the app. That will really help my grocery bill go down.

Shop at the Cheap Places

Oh, how I would love to shop at the bougie grocery stores like Publix and Kroger. But why would I do that when I can get the exact same food for lower prices at Walmart? Yes, I know that Walmart gets a lot of hate, and some of it is justified. But that doesn’t change the fact that I spend twenty to thirty dollars more every time I shop at a traditional grocery store over Walmart. The prices are a bit higher on most items, and when you are buying 100 items, that really adds up.

I’d really love to transition to shopping at Aldi or someplace similar (cheap but also not terrible!) but unfortunately there aren’t any Aldis in my area.

Make a List and Stick to it!

You know what really eats up your grocery budget? That pesky impulse buy! Did you really need those crackers, cookies, chips, or ice cream cakes? Probably not (but yes on the chips, if you are anything like me!). And if you did need them, make sure you include them on your list! I budget for my chips every week, and being able to splurge a tiny bit on that has really helped prevent me from buying other stupid impulse crap. Make a list that includes your favorite snacks (because snacks are essential!) and stick to it!

Use the Store’s Loyalty Program

Lots of grocery stores still have that loyalty card thing that gives you better deals than the “normal customers”. Anyone can sign up for these cards and it’s really just a giant marketing scheme to collect your data, but hey, it can really help you save money on groceries.

Walmart doesn’t have a card, but they do have a savings catcher program. All you have to do is scan the QR code at checkout, and Walmart will scan your receipt for “bonus savings”, adding that money back to your account. You can then pay with that money on your next visit.

Buy Less Meat

I know, I know – it’s not a meal if there’s no meat (One of my old Army buddies actually said that to me!). But that’s not entirely true. I can make plenty of delicious meals without using meat, and I’m not even a good cook! The truth is, meat is expensive, and not everything actually needs it. You could easily make vegetarian spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter), chili, stuffed peppers, and more. You can even make tacos with potatoes instead of beef! There are so many options for vegetarian meals, you’d be surprised. And, throwback to the beginning of the post, it’s also healthier and better for the environment!

What are your favorite ways to save money on groceries? Any little tip might help, so tell me about it in the comments! Also, if you loved this post, hit that share button!

 

to save money on groceries
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"the five best things to buy online"

Hey folks! Transparency Disclosure- Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a small commission if you decide to click on it and buy something. Don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Ok guys -confession time! I’m not the biggest fan of online shopping. Blasphemy, right? Do I need to turn in my millennial card? I’m not a fan of shopping in general though, and as a personal finance blogger, I have to say that you shouldn’t buy anything that you don’t need or that doesn’t fit in with your money goals. With all that being said, there are a few things that I do buy online. Even I, the technologically challenged millennial, have accepted that some things are better to buy online. Read on to find out what those things are!

The Best things to Buy Online

Single Use Coffee (K-Cups)

My absolute favorite thing to buy online are single use cups for my morning coffee. I know, I know, those are literally the worst things for the environment. But that’s why I only buy them online! Did you know that you can get compostable single use cups on Amazon?? San Francisco Bay sells a huge variety of flavors, and the cups are compostable! And they are a tiny bit cheaper than the normal cups you get in the store. A win for the environment, a win for my wallet, and super convenient. You can’t beat that. My favorite flavors are espresso and fog chaser, but try the variety pack to find yours! I’ve also tried the Faro brand, which is just as tasty.


Gifts for Kids

My niece and nephew live in Chicago, and I live far far away from there. I still want to send them gifts for their birthdays and Christmas, but I absolutely don’t want to deal with the post office. Being able to buy their gifts online has been a godsend! I just ask my brother what they want, find it online, and have it shipped directly to his house. So easy! I can even get it gift wrapped! Which is really just a fancy box, but hey, I’ll take it.

Books

Books are a great thing to buy online because they tend to ship well and you know exactly what you are getting. Also, there’s no way I could write a post about shopping online without talking about books; the megalith Amazon got started with books! They are obviously a hot online item. That being said, there is something about browsing a bookstore, so I hope you don’t do all of your book shopping online. Buy a few at Barnes & Nobles too so we can keep them in business!

Camisoles

I generally hate buying clothing online. It never fits correctly and then you have to deal with sending it back, which is such a huge hassle. I’ll pass. But there is one clothing item that I love to buy online, and that’s camisoles. I wear them every day, under pretty much everything. So of course, I need to find the best deal. I can usually find them for ten bucks each at target, but the online deals are way better! I can get 4 camis online for only $23, that’s less than 6 bucks a piece, and they come right to my door. The best part is that most camis are sized correctly. A small is a small pretty much everywhere, so I don’t have to worry about returning them because they didn’t fit.


Specialty Items

Do you have a weird hobby that no one else has? Or a hobby that you can’t find supplies for at the normal stores? I do too! I have a microscope and I love making slides of things to look at under it. Unfortunately, most stores don’t carry microscope slides (or dissecting kits, or dyes). I’m so glad I can buy this stuff online. The best thing about online shopping is that you can find pretty much anything! What’s your odd hobby that you can’t find supplies for in the store? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you enjoy shopping online? What is your favorite thing to buy and why?

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"your neighbor is an iceberg"

Hey all! We have a bonus special feature today! Ryan, from over at Arrest your Debt, is a super awesome blogger and one of the most supportive and engaging people I know on Twitter (seriously, check him out on Twitter, you won’t be disappointed!).

Ryan wanted to share a guest post about the illusion of wealth and keeping up with the Joneses for all of our wonderful Partners. And he’s absolutely right, most of our neighbors are icebergs! They look great from the surface, but the part you don’t see is extremely dangerous. Read on to find out exactly how your neighbor is an iceberg!

Your Neighbor is an Iceberg

I saw this image the other day and could not help but think about the facade we put on for others. Earlier in my marriage, my wife and I were starting to take control of our finances and spend intentionally. I was recently promoted but things were tight.

We had a couple of kids and my wife was a stay at home mom. We lived off of my sole income which made things tighter for us than our DINK friends (Double Income, No Kids).  As we socialized with other work friends, it was impossible to ignore the lives they were living.  I knew we shouldn’t judge people, but it’s difficult to avoid comparing ourselves to others.  A close friend of ours was in the same stage of life with similar circumstances.  The husband provided the income and the wife stayed at home to raise the kids. The only difference was he was a level below me and I was making more money than him. However, you would never know that by looking at us. I was, and still am, driving an older vehicle, yet he had a nice new truck and was constantly going on vacation.

What Were We Doing Wrong?

It really hit home when my wife and I would look at our budget each month and constantly ask ourselves what we were doing wrong. We did not have many extras; no cable TV, no car payments, no fancy extras. The only thing we did splurge on was a $150 a month gym membership which was certainly less than our friends truck payment. As we sat there looking at the numbers, there was no way we could afford what they had. “What are we doing wrong” was the resounding theme in our house.

To make things worse, our friends had satellite TV, a new house which was larger than ours, and they were constantly posting on Facebook about Disneyland and their other expensive vacations. Early on, my wife and I began to become somewhat resentful at the fact that we were unable to afford what they had.  We didn’t resent them, we resented our situation and couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong.  Little did we know at the time, we were not wrong – we were more right than we knew.

Related: Partners in Fire gets into massive credit card debt!

Heading For Disaster

As time passed, it was evident that they were not affording their life style. They were an iceberg. On the surface, everything looked great and in order. But under the surface, there was a deep dark side to their finances that was quickly catching up to them – something we couldn’t see from the outside looking in. They were making payments on credit cards and starting to drown. Their mask was quickly being removed which caused them to hit rock bottom with creditors on their heels. They had no savings, no emergency fund, and no retirement savings. After losing much of what they owned, they are now just starting to pick themselves up.

They were living the life that many of my friends subscribed to.  They believe that life is worth living in the moment. Why would they spend their young years saving when they should be enjoying their health and wealth? Unfortunately for my friends, it didn’t work out the way they anticipated.  Life has a way of knocking us down at the most inconvenient times.  As Warren Buffet said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”  Don’t be naked my friends!!!

The Joneses Are An Iceberg

I grew up hearing that you shouldn’t try and keep up with the Joneses. That’s easier said than done, especially when the Joneses are not some figurative person, but your actual close friends. It is difficult to avoid comparing yourself to others when they are living the life you think you want. The truth is, the majority of those lives are in deep financial distress which is hidden beneath the surface.

The other day my wife and I were driving down the road when a younger guy in a sports car sped past us.  My wife looked at me and said, “Awe, he must be broke!”  I don’t think I have ever been more in love with her than at that point!  She gets it – whether that guy was truly broke or not we will never know.  For one, it made us feel better about our 12 year old vehicle we were driving, and second, the odds are he really was broke trying to portray a wealthy image.

If you find yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses, be careful. Remember what happened to the Titanic? If you try and keep up with this image, it will take you out at the knees and sink you. Don’t let the icebergs sink you!

As you continue this financially responsible life style, keep this in mind. When you become disgruntled by comparing yourself to others – realize, they are more than likely an iceberg.

Are you an Iceberg?

If you are an iceberg, I encourage you to check out my other posts, Simple Steps To Start Your Debt Free Life! , Budget Isn’t A Bad Word, and Debt is Financial Slavery!

Do you know any icebergs or are you one? I reassure you, you are not alone! Comment below, I’d love to hear your story about where you have been and where you are going. I would like to give a huge “THANK YOU” to @partnersinfire for allowing me to guest post on her blog.  Stay safe my friends -you work too hard to be this broke!

-Ryan

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"blogger recognition"

Blogger Recognition Award

Wow, I am so humbled to have been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award!  Thank you so much to Jane from ABFAB Travels for the nomination. She’s a newer travel blogger who I first met on Instagram. Jane’s been super supportive and she’s a great blogger to connect with on all of the platforms.

The Award

The Blogger Recognition Award is given by bloggers to recognize others within the blogging community. It’s a great way to recognize each other for the hard work we put in. It’s also a great way to support the bloggers we know and love.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the Blogger who nominated you (me!)
  2. Write a post as to why you started your blog
  3. Include 2 bits of advice you would give to other bloggers
  4. Nominate other bloggers and comment on their response

Why I started Partners in Fire

I started Partners in Fire for two main reasons. First, I really wanted to help people with money. Finances are such an important topic, and it really does encompass every part of people’s lives (hence the lifestyle portion of the blog). I want everyone to be able to get on a path towards financial independence. I want everyone to live the life they want.

My second reason for starting the blog is that I wanted to start a side hustle. I’m not one of those who is going to pretend that I don’t ever want to monetize my blog. I definitely want to monetize, but in a way that’s beneficial to my readers. I never want to be spammy, but I do want to turn Partners in Fire into a legitimate business one day. I’m nothing if not honest, right?

Blogging Advice

The best piece of advice that I can give a new blogger is to stick with it. Blogging takes time!  You may hear stories of bloggers getting thousands of page views in their first month blogging, and although that can happen, it’s the exception, not the rule. It takes most bloggers six months to a year or more to increase their domain authority and start getting organic traffic.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in my 11th month of blogging and just achieved a domain authority of over 20 and I’m just now starting to see organic traffic through google. Stick with it and they will come.

The second piece of advice I can give is to find a niche that you can write about regularly. My first foray into the world of blogging was a travel blog, travels near and far. I love to travel, and I love to write, so I figured it would be a no brainer! I enjoyed writing it, but unfortunately, I just don’t travel enough to sustain a travel blog. However, one of my Fire goals is to travel the world, so I’m keeping the travel blog active and I’ll go back to writing for it when I have more time to travel. In the meantime, I’m loving running Partners in Fire. I have so much information to share on finance and living life, it’s been a year and I’m not out of ideas yet!

My Nominees

Its so hard to pick nominees for the Blogger Recognition Award! I’m going to go with my favorite smaller bloggers to hopefully help some of them increase their domain authorities (some of you may have higher than mine, I don’t know, I’m basing this off of when I met you!) My nominees are:

Debt and Cupcakes

Fiology

Comforting Anxious

The Poor Swiss

Financial Independence Europe

Otterwize

Help Momma Sparkle

Captain DIY

A Dime Saved

Hope you all have fun with it!

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"prepare for a market crash"

Last week, we wrote about the impending stock market crash; so this week we thought it would be a great idea to tell you how to prepare for it! Because like I said, it’s definitely coming. We just don’t know when.

Being prepared for a stock marked crash is definitely not a one size fits all type of thing.  The steps you should take to prepare yourself vary wildly depending on your individual situation. Because of that, we are only going to give general instructions for three basic scenarios. Obviously, everyone’s individual situation is different, so there are people who don’t fit into any of these categories. If that’s you, check out the category that’s the best fit, and drop a comment if you still need some advice. The general categories are:

 

 Lots of time to invest with a secure job

Lots of time to invest with a not-so secure job

 Not so much time to invest/retired

 

How to Prepare for a market Crash

Lots of time to Invest with a secure Job

You are in a great position to handle a market crash. If you know your job is secure even in the harshest of economies, you have a lot less to worry about if the stock market crashes. You also have a lot of time to recoup any investment losses

My best advice for you folks is to ensure that any individual stock holdings you have are solid enough to survive a downturn. If they aren’t, you may want to consider reallocating some into index funds (I recommend investing in index funds over stocks in general though!). You should also be putting some cash reserves aside so that you are ready for the big fire sale on stocks!

To be clear, you still want to make sure that your financial house is in order. You should be establishing an emergency fund and investing in a retirement account. But these are things that you should be doing whether a crash is coming or not.

Related: Realized vs. Unrealized Gains & Losses

Lots of time to invest with a not-so secure job

Unfortunately, a market crash and recession could lead to job losses in a variety of industries. If you work at an industry that is at risk for job losses and lay-offs, you need to be preparing now for a stock market crash.

There are a few things you can start doing to make sure you are ok if your industry suffers in the next recession. First, you can make yourself indispensable at work. Continue increasing your skills so that if downsizing comes, you will be spared. Update your resume to ensure that if you do lose your job,  you will be able to find a new one quickly.

Next, you need to shore up your emergency fund. If you are at high risk for a layoff, you should try to fund your emergency fund with six months of living expenses. Not only will this get your through a job loss, but it will also help keep you afloat if the first job you find pays less (which happens a lot in recessions!).

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Investing 

A third thing you can do is create additional income streams. A side hustle is a great way to turn a hobby into extra income. That extra income will be super handy if you lose your main job. The point is the time to make these preparations is now, before the market crashes and before your job is at risk.

As far as investments go, if you have a lot of time to invest, you shouldn’t worry much about your losses. You should continue contributing to your retirement accounts as you normally would, and only adjust your holdings if you are invested in individual stocks that are at risk during a downturn. If you stay invested, you will most likely recoup any losses.

Not so much time

Your preparations are going to look a lot different if you don’t have a lot of time to recoup any investment losses. If you are at or near retirement, you may want to look at transitioning some riskier holdings like stocks into safer investments, such as bonds. This is especially important for money that you may need in the next five to ten years, because it may take that long for the market to recover from a crash.

The downside to reallocating is that if you do it too soon, you could miss out on some gains. The market is still experiencing record highs, and we don’t know where the peak will be. This isn’t an easy decision.  It’s impossible to time the market, impossible to pull your money into the safety of bonds and CDS right before the market crashes.  If I were just a few years from retirement, I’d definitely start safeguarding about fifty percent of my nest egg against a crash. I’d want to make sure that I had enough safety money to survive until the market recovers. I’d keep the rest invested though (in index funds!), to reap the benefits of the current economy and to reap the benefits of buying on sale during a downturn.

Not One Size Fits All

Obviously, it is impossible to give specific financial advice to everyone in a blog post. That’s not my goal here. My goal is to give you general guidelines so that you can prepare for the pending crash. We don’t know when it’s coming (currently, economists are predicting a recession around 2020) but that doesn’t really matter. We know that it’s out there, waiting, and it’s best to start preparing for it.

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A market crash is definitely coming. It’s lurking in the dark corners of this seemingly robust economy, biding its time before swooping in for the kill. Warren Buffet famously said “be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful” and if others aren’t greedy at the moment I don’t know what greed is. The crash is coming.

the Market Crash of Yore

The market could crash this fall. After all, the most famous stock market crashes in history happened in the fall. Black Thursday, which started the Great Depression, was on October 29. Black Monday, which started the 1987 recession, was on October 19. Lehmen Brothers collapsed on September 15. Apparently, Autumn isn’t the market’s best season.

But it might not crash until Spring. The Dot-Com bubble burst on March 10 and there were “flash crashes” in May of both 1962 and 2010.  There was also a huge three-year panic that started in May of 1901. Maybe spring isn’t so good for the market either.

The market crash may not be about the season though. World events can easily trigger a recession, as they have numerous times in the past. In July of 1990, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait let to nine-month recession. The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center also led to a huge decrease in stock prices. Daily speculation about what the president or fed will do also leads to sell-offs (and sometimes gains!).

Its almost as though a recession can happen at any time during the year, for a variety of reasons.

 

Indicators

Economists generally use indicators to try to predict what the market is going to do, or when the next market crash will be. They use the big three stock indexes (the Dow, the S&P, and the Nasdaq) to predict the health of the market itself, but predicting an economic crash isn’t just about the stock market, it’s about the economy as whole. Some common economic indicators are the employment rate, the inflation rate, and the consumer confidence level. However, there are so many different indicators that at any given point, at least one can point to a looming crash. An economist or a journalist can easily find data to support the theory that a market crash is coming.

I know what you are thinking. Why would a journalist or an economist want to find data to support bad news? Unfortunately, that’s easy: sweet sweet page views. When you see an article with a catchy title warning of a pending crash, you click on it, right? I mean, you clicked on this one, didn’t you?

A market crash would be a horribly disruptive event, and we all want to be prepared for it. We all want to be able to predict it so we can protect our assets. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way.

By now I hope you have realized the point of this post. Is a crash coming? Of course. Nothing goes up forever. Is it coming tomorrow? Probably not. Is it coming this year? Who knows. No one can predict when the next crash is coming. It could be this year or it could also be five years from now.

what should we do?

What should you do to protect yourself from the next big market crash? The answer largely depends on your age and risk tolerance. If you are near retirement, you should be moving some of your assets into low risk funds – bonds, CDs, and maybe even cash. But if you are young the best way to protect yourself is through diversification. You should still be investing, because you don’t want to miss out on any of the gains of these good days. Diversify your investments. Buy index funds instead of individual stocks. The crash will come, but it’s impossible to time. If you stick with your investment strategy, you will be fine.

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I love playing video games. In fact, one of the things I want to do when I achieve financial independence is to become a Twitch affiliate, and make some extra cash streaming my favorite games. That’s the dream for lots of us, isn’t it? I don’t have a lot of free time to work on this side passion right now, but luckily, it’s my boyfriend’s number one side project, so I get to ride his coattails and dabble in it while he takes it seriously!  Yay for having a partner!

What is Twitch?

I know a lot of you are into finance and not so much gaming (Hey, I can have layers, right?) so let me briefly explain Twitch.  Twitch is an online gaming platform that allows you to watch other people play games. It also allows you to stream when you play, so others can watch you. Streaming is all the rage in the gaming world, it’s a great way to connect with people who like similar games.  It’s a lot of fun too!

Lots of gamers also make money on Twitch. There are even a few big shots who stream video games as a full-time job! (living the dream there, right!). The first step to making money on Twitch is becoming a Twitch Affiliate.

What are the Requirements to be a Twitch Affiliate?

Twitch has a few requirements you have to meet before you can become an affiliate.  You have to stream for at least 500 minutes per thirty-day period (that’s a little over 8 hours a month) with at least seven unique broadcast periods. That means you can’t stream once per month for 8 hours and call it a day, you have to stream at least 7 days per month. It’s not just about time though, Twitch needs to make sure people are watching you before they let you become an affiliate. You need to have an average of three or more viewers per thirty-day period and you need to have at least 50 followers on the platform. This all seems incredibly daunting, but it’s totally doable!

 

"twitch requirements"

 

How Do I Become a Twitch Affiliate?

Dedication – Putting in the Hours

The first step to becoming a Twitch affiliate is actually streaming on Twitch. This can take a lot of time and dedication.

Time

The biggest hurdle for me to become a Twitch affiliate is time. I can’t find seven days a month to dedicate a few hours to streaming. But my boyfriend can! Since gaming is his passion, he dedicates the same amount of time to it as I dedicate to blogging. He put in over twenty hours of streaming during his first thirty days on the platform. You need that type of dedication if you want to achieve affiliation.

Putting in a lot of time can also hurt your chances of Twitch affiliation. Streaming for 100 hours with no viewers is going to hurt your average (remember you need 3!). So if you have having an off night with no viewers, it might be better to turn the stream off. 

Timing

The time of day that you stream is very important too.  He works nights, so he could easily stream during the day while I’m at work. But unfortunately, most of the people who would want to watch his streams are at work/school during this time. You have to stream when your audience is free to watch. In order to meet his audience at the right time, he streams at night after I have gone to bed, which is usually around 11 pm our time. The great thing is that we are on the East Coast of the US, so most of the country is still awake.  Once a week, I try to stream with him. When I play with him, we get online a little earlier so that our friends in the UK can stop by and hang out with us. Like I said, it’s important to stream when people are available to watch.

Schedule

Streaming is a lot like blogging in that you need consistency in order to keep your audience. If you stop streaming for three weeks, people are going to stop following you. You need to stream regularly, and unfortunately that makes streaming feel even more like job. Blogging is easier in that regard, because if I don’t feel like writing on Wednesday, I can do it on Thursday and no one will know the difference. It’s a bit more flexible.

If you want to be a Twitch affiliate, you have to stick to a schedule. Obviously, life comes first though. These past few weeks were a bit hard on Brian, because his days off got switched so he had to adjust his streaming schedule. That’s ok!  It’s ok to change things up when life happens, but maintaining a schedule is the best way to keep your regular followers happy.

 

Pro Tip 1: Be Entertaining!! Brian is Hilarious!

Getting People to Come

Ok, so you put in all this time and have a set schedule, now what?  One of the hardest things to do is to get people to stop by your stream. There are so many gamers on Twitch that it is hard to stand out.  You may have the most entertaining stream on the planet, but if people don’t know about it, they aren’t going to watch.

Social Media

The best way to advertise your stream is through social media. We primarily used Twitter, because it’s the easiest platform to connect with like-minded people and create a community. The Twitter gaming community has been fantastic! Both Brian and I have made awesome streamer friends on Twitter, and they are some of the most supportive people I’ve had the pleasure of engaging with. They are highly entertaining too!

If you are trying to become a Twitch Affiliate, you need to be on Twitter. You can share your Twitch link, advertise when you are streaming, and make friends who will want to support you. It’s an all-around win for everyone! There is no way that Brian would have become a Twitch affiliate so quickly without the help of Twitter.  Shameless plug:  If you are on Twitter but struggling with engagement, check out my guide on how to gain 500 Twitter followers in one month, it will show you how to build an engaged Twitter community (also feel free to reach out to me for advice, you can find me here!).

I’m sure you can advertise through the other big social media sites, particularly Facebook and Instagram, but outside of sharing a link to our friends on Facebook, we haven’t really explored those platforms yet. If you have a lot of gamer friends on those, it wouldn’t hurt to share your links whenever you play.

 

Pro Tip 2: Advertise!  People Need To Find Your Stream!

Game Choice

Another great way to get people to check out your stream is by choosing the right games to play. You will want to play something that’s popular, but not so popular that everyone else is streaming it. Right now, everyone is playing and streaming fortnight, so it might be hard to get noticed as a small streamer. There’s too much competition.  

But you also don’t want to play a game that nobody cares about. The one time I tried streaming on own account I played Bubble Bobble, an old school regular Nintendo game that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Nobody is searching for Bubble Bobble, nobody wants to watch someone play a game that they don’t know. I had a big fat zero viewers.

You need to find a balance between these two extremes. Brian played a lot of Dead Cells during his first thirty days. It’s a newer, popular game with a lot of action. But it isn’t so popular that you can’t be found by people who are interested in that game. It worked out, as he managed to average a few viewers per stream.

Keeping your viewers

Alright, so you are streaming a lot and getting people to stop by. Great! Now the last step is keeping them! How do you get people to stay and watch your stream? How do you keep your average viewer count up?

Be Personable

The first step is to be personable. I know it can be super awkward to talk to yourself, but you have to power through. No one is going to stay and watch you quietly play a game. They want to hear your voice! Talk about what you are doing in the game and why, talk about your day, tell jokes, have fun!  That’s why everyone is there. Brian is incredibly high energy so this comes easily to him. He can tell stories and entertain himself all day long, and that tends to keep his viewers entertained. It might take some practice and some stepping out of your comfort zone, but it will be worth it.

Engage with your chat

People really like to be seen and heard. One of the best ways to get someone who is just checking you out to stay is to talk to them. When someone new joins your stream, say “hi” and thank them for joining.  Monitor the chat, ask your viewers questions, have them help you while you are playing the game. Make friends with your viewers and your followers. They are much more likely to stay and to come back if they feel a personal connection with you. And you get to make new friends in the process!  Everyone wins.

Party Games

Another great way to get your viewers involved is to play party games. They can play along with you! We love to play Jackbox, which is an assortment of short party games that anyone can play along with via cell phone. This is a great way to engage with viewers. It gives you something to talk about and keeps them involved at the same time.

Obviously, you don’t want to only play party games. You want to play your favorite games. But having a party game session every now and again is a great way to mix things up and make new friends. We’ve had people come and join us just because we were playing Jackbox who decided to follow and come watch us play different games. They stayed because we followed the other two rules above, we were personable and engaging while playing the other games. We treat everyone who watches like friends who are in the same room with us.

Pro Tip 3: Be Supportive!  People Will Help You if You Help Them!

Be Supportive

Twitch, like blogging, is not just a one man show. It’s a community. One of the best things you can do to gain and keep followers is to support other streamers. Follow other streamers on Twitch, engage with their chats, and retweet their links when they are streaming. Doing these things will not only make you feel good (because it’s always nice to help others) but it will come back to you as well. Support others and they will support you. Make friends with others in the community and they will support you.

I think one of the main reasons that Brian achieved affiliation is quickly is because of how supportive he is. He is constantly on Twitter engaging with his streamer friends, even when he doesn’t have time to stream. He makes sure that he hosts his Twitter friends on his channel when he isn’t playing.  In addition, he follows people and watches their streams.  He’s a great Twitch friend to have, and his quickly growing community proves it.

Give yourself a head start

The last thing you can do to reach affiliate status in thirty days is give yourself a tiny little boost. Brian and I both have twitch accounts, so whenever he was streaming, my tablet was signed into my account and it was watching him as a follower. That counts as one of the three average views you need to reach affiliation.

It also helps in another important way. Humans are naturally drawn to groups. Someone who is just browsing is way more likely to check out a stream that already has viewers than one that has no viewers. It’s just human nature.

You can also ask any gamer friends you have to come hang out with you while you play. Brian’s best friend enjoys playing games as well, and will often come over and hang out while he plays. And you guessed it, his phone is usually on, signed into his Twitch account, and following along. He’s engaging in with the chat while also hanging out with Brian. He’s also providing additional entertainment to the online viewers. Don’t be afraid to invite your real-life friends over for a night of gaming, and have them follow along on your Twitch account. It will definitely boost your viewership and be a more entertaining stream for your viewers.

You Can Do It

Becoming a Twitch affiliate is hard work, but as I said before it is doable. If you follow these guidelines, you will get there in about thirty days. If you need any more advice, feel free to reach out to Brian on Twitter, he’s always willing to help smaller streams gain their affiliations. Let’s Partner together to be Twitch affiliates!

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"kids and fire"

 

When I first started thinking about having kids, there was one thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around. How do kids and fire go together?  I thought about how having kids would affect my own fire goals, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to know how everyone else was planning on achieving financial independence with kids!

Bloggers speak out: Kids and Fire

First, I reached out to the blogging world. I knew my blogging friends would have awesome advice, and they didn’t disappoint!

 

Tread Lightly, Retire Early

For some people, having kids is the catalyst for pursing financial independence.  Tread Lightly, Retire Early discusses how having her first child and trying to “do it all” (as women are told we should) was exhausting, so something had to give. She was able to cut down to part time work and “live like she was financially independent”. Find out how she did it!

 

Retiring To the Road

Katie from Retiring to the Road wrote an amazing guest post about how she is able to reach fire with kids at Millennial Money Man. Her and her husband have “learned to enjoy the simple pleasures, instead of just the material BS that screams at us all day long” which I think is just fantastic. They are also raising their kids to value quality time over material items. I’m loving her plan and her advice. Read the full story here.

 

Median Millionaire

Sam from Median Millionaire also has some wise words when it comes to having children. According to Sam, “Children add to our riches, though it may take us a bit longer to retire”.  He also outlines ways to save money while raising children, which is super helpful for someone wondering how it can be done. Find out his full thoughts on kids and fire here.

 

Financial Samurai

I also found an amazing podcast on the subject. The Fire Drill Podcast interviewed Sam from Financial Samurai about the timing of kids and Fire, and he brought up some very interesting points. He admitted that kids can mess up your financial plans, but he also said that you can always readjust your finances, but you can’t always have kids. That kind of makes me worry that maybe I waited too long to figure out that want kids!  Listen to the full interview here.

 

Kids and Fire: Non-Bloggers

But I wanted to hear from non-bloggers too!  So of course, like any good journalist, I went to Reddit. I went to the FireyFemmes sub-Reddit, which is dedicated to women in pursuit of financial independence. This is the best place to get advice on all topics surrounding financial freedom from real women who are pursuing it. I got some amazing honest responses to my question there (and if anyone from there is reading this, thank you!)

Redditors Speak out

First, pretty much everyone agreed that kids can be expensive (especially childcare!). One Redditor said she was paying nearly three thousand dollars a month in childcare expenses alone!  That can really slow down a FIRE plan. Most parents had already included the cost of children into their plans though, and many chose the stay at home route to reduce costs. It was a relief to see that there were so many different ideas and options available for childcare and to mitigate the other expenses associated with raising children. 

Some parents did admit that I might not be able to achieve some of my other goals if I decide to have kids. Some children just don’t travel well. Redditor ParcelBobo explained that her child screams during car rides, and nothing she does will calm her down. I do have to accept that fact that my children’s personalities will play a role in how my future unfolds, and I’m extremely grateful to ParcelBobo for the honesty.

Many parents timed their early retirements with having kids. A lot of the answers in the thread discussed leaving work or dropping to part time when the kids reached a certain age. This gave parents the opportunity to spend more quality time with their kids. It also meant saving and paying off debt prior to having kids.

My Biggest Inspiration 

The thing that stuck out with me the most was the way most people thought about having kids. Nobody in the thread said they avoided having kids to achieve financial independence. In fact, for most people, the entire reason for pursing financial independence was their children!  But what struck me most of all is the fact that most people’s life plans included children!  I know, this is probably normal for most people, but it was strange to me!

My favorite answer was from Redditor Sugoi2, who said that one of her life goals was to have a kid. The entire point of pursuing financial independence is to live the life you want, and having kids is part of living the life I want. Sugoi2 made it so easy to understand:  I don’t need to see it as a negative, like if I have kids my goals will be pushed back. Having kids is the goal!  Thank you Sugoi2 if you are reading this, your answer was truly an inspiration to me.

Financial Independence and Kids can go together!

As you can see, there are tons of paths to financial independence that include having children. Most of them revolve around having children!  I’m really glad that I asked this question and did this research. Hearing other people’s stories, struggles, and triumphs really re-affirmed my decision to have kids. Knowing that kids and Fire really can co-exist makes it so much easier!!  And if you have a story about how having kids fit into your goals of financial independence, I’d love to read about it in the comments!

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As you know from my post about having adult conversations before moving in together, I’m all about getting difficult conversations out of the way before they are 100% necessary. So of course we would have plenty of conversations before having kids! We already had quite a few talks about what our lives would look like with children and how we would raise them.

Childcare Vs Stay at Home Parent

Given that childcare is one of the biggest contributors to the outrageous cost of having children, our first conversation was about whether one of us should be a stay at home parent.

The first thing to consider is whether it would make financial sense for one of us to stay home. With daycare costs averaging over $900 per month in the United States (and being higher in cities!) one of us could end up working just to pay for the daycare!

But there are more things to consider than just the financial. First, we would have to think about what’s best for the baby. I would assume that a parent would be more attentive to the baby than a day care worker, but maybe we could find a super awesome daycare. And, the child might miss out on some early socialization with children its own age if one of us stays home.

Another consideration is whether whoever stays home with the baby will be fulfilled in doing that. I wouldn’t want either of us to be miserable. I make more money than my boyfriend does and my job provides much better benefits. It would make more financial sense for him to stay home than for me to stay home.

But would he be happy staying home? This is something that we have discussed at length. He does love streaming video games, and being a stay at home dad would give him an opportunity to grow his audience even more. He’s more than willing to give it a try, and we are both understand that it’s something we will have to continuously readdress to make sure we are both happy. If it turns out that he hates it, we can make other arrangements.

Priorities

Many relationships suffer after having kids. There’s suddenly this brand-new person who basically requires all of your time and energy. We understand that the first year will be hard, because obviously the baby won’t be able to take care of itself. But we also understand that we have to prioritize our relationship.

I think a lot of parents get their priorities wrong. A lot of parents prioritize the kid’s needs, kid’s wants, parent’s needs, then parent’s wants. I don’t think it’s intentional.  It’s just as easy to get the child’s needs and wants confused as it is to get our own needs and wants confused.

We are going to make a concentrated effort to adjust our priorities. Our goal is to have our priority order more like this: child’s needs, parent’s needs, parent’s wants, child’s wants. We know it will be difficult, but I think it will ensure that we continue to have a healthy and happy relationship. And I think that is important for the kid’s sense of stability. A child needs to see a healthy relationship between his parents more than he needs to be coddled. At least that’s my opinion, and that is what we are going to strive for.

Discipline and Parenting Styles

It’s important that you and your partner are on the same page in regards to parenting styles. Is one of you going to be a helicopter parent while the other is more hands off? What will the rules be as the children age? How much independence are you comfortable giving them? These are things that should be discussed before having kids.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to have children is because lots of parents treat their kids like best friends, and don’t want to be the bad guy. This is not going to fly with me! I will not raise my kids to be entitled spoiled little brats who think the world revolves around them. I will also not raise my kids to be helpless. You hear horror stories of mothers going to job interviews for their kids, or still doing their laundry when they are in their twenties; and that just isn’t going to happen. I am going to be more of a free-range parent, and teach my kids independence from an early age. Luckily, my boyfriend feels the same way. We know we are going to have to adjust as the kids grow up, but I think having a game plan beforehand will make things go smoother.

Religion, Values, and Morals

I am not a religious person, and neither is my boyfriend. So, we already know that we won’t be raising our children with any religious affiliation. But what if you and your partner come from different religious backgrounds? Will you expose the children to both or will you choose one? This is an important thing to talk about before having kids.

We both want to raise our children to be good, kind people. You don’t need religion for that. We will show them by example that being compassionate and caring is the way to go, even if you don’t get anything in return.

We do differ on our political affiliations, he is a conservative country boy while I’m a liberal city girl (It’s funny to label ourselves that way, but we both lean more towards center). We both want our children to grow up thinking for themselves though. We want to provide them with the relevant information and show them how to look critically at both sides. We don’t want them to be sheep, voting for a party just because we do.

What Else should we discuss before having kids?

Obviously thinking about what we need to talk about before having kids is brand new to me. Outside of these things, I don’t have a clue! Help me out!  What am I missing? Am I way off base? What do we need to talk about before getting pregnant? Are there any disagreements that you and your partner have had that you wish you would have resolved before having kids?  Did anything pop up that you didn’t expect at all? Let me know in the comments, so we can have that adult conversation before trying for a baby!

 

 

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"biological children"

 The thought of not being able to have biological children has been weighing heavily on me since I made the decision that I want to have kids. What if I can’t? What if I waited too long, and now the window is closed? I know I can’t know the answer to that until I try; and I know I’m not ready to try, but I kind of want to try to know if I can. Does that make sense?

Why I may not be able to have biological children

Age

I’m worried that I’m getting too old to have healthy children. This is one of the driving forces for me wanting to start now even though I know we aren’t ready. I’m not getting any younger. At 35 (almost 36) I’m way too close to the age where any pregnancy will be a high-risk pregnancy. I’m also at the tail end of my most fertile years. According to USA today, as women reach age 35 and beyond, it gets harder and harder to conceive. And according to Baby Center, a whopping two thirds of women over forty have fertility issues! 

I know the older I get the harder it will be to conceive. I’m lucky (and thankful) that I changed my mind about it before the window was closed for good.

PCOS

But wait, there’s more!  Age isn’t my only issue. I have also been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects a women’s reproductive system. It affects the ovaries’ ability to produce and release eggs. Most women with PCOS, even young women, have trouble conceiving because our ovaries don’t produce monthly eggs the way that healthy ovaries do. It’s sporadic at best.  And because eggs aren’t being produced, many women can go months without menstruating.

Fortunately for me (I think) I’ve always had fairly regular periods.  The longest I’ve had to wait is about 2 weeks. I’m hoping this means that my ovaries do regularly produce eggs, even though they have the little cysts in them. But it’s also possible that I’m one of the unlucky few who gets periods but no eggs. If I’m not going to get eggs, I’d rather skip the period all together.

 

                                                                                     

Other Options

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for people who struggle with fertility. Fertility treatments and in-vitro fertilization are available to help people have biological children, while adoption and fostering help people who can’t have biological children have families. I’ve given thought to all of these options. 

Fertility Treatments

Fertility treatments are going to be my number one option. My doctor said that the majority of patients with PCOS can get pregnant with basic fertility treatments. I’m hoping that if I can’t get pregnant naturally, I will be able to get pregnant with the help of fertility drugs. I’ll just have to take a pill regularly, and as a bonus my insurance should cover the bulk of the cost. It’s easy and affordable, so hopefully if I have trouble conceiving, it will be fixed with these treatments.

 

                                                                                       

In-Vitro Fertilization

If fertility treatments don’t work, I could also opt for In-Vitro Fertilization. They harvest eggs and sperm, make embryos in a petri dish, and then implant these embryos back into the uterus. The technology behind In-Vitro has really come a long way, and tons of people get positive results.

The big disadvantage to In-Vitro is that it’s still very expensive. One In-Vitro session can cost between 12 and 15 thousand dollars! And unfortunately, most insurance companies don’t cover it. Honestly, I don’t think I would pay that much money for the chance of having a biological baby. If my insurance covered most of the cost, I might give it a try, but it isn’t something that I would pay out of pocket for. Raising kids is crazy expensive as it is, I don’t want to add an extra twelve grand on top of that!

Non Biological Children

Given all of the above, I may not be able to have biological children. But there are still options for being a parent!

Adoption

The first option everyone turns to when they find that they can’t have biological children is adoption. Many want-to-be parents want a baby to take care of, and adoption is the best option for this. Unfortunately, adopting a baby is just as expensive (sometimes even more so!) as In-Vitro, and has a lot more hoops.

 

                                                                                       

 

If I were to chose adoption, I think I’d try to adopt an older child in need of a good home. Adopting an older child out of the foster system is the least expensive option.

 

Fostering

Given that, I think I would chose fostering over adoption if I couldn’t have biological children. Foster children have things rough. Their parents might be in jail, or on drugs, or abusive, or negligent. Their situations are usually very sad. But it’s these kids that need the love of a stable parent the most. These kids need guidance and support to prevent them from going down the same path that their biological parents went down.  I also think I would have the opportunity to help more children if I became a foster parent than if I adopted.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is the more difficult path. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it will be to love and protect a child, and then have to watch them return to their abusers. However, if I can provide just a few months of stability, a few months of love, and a few months of showing a child that the world can be better, it will be worthwhile. And maybe I can end up adopting some children out of the foster system. Hey, I might even foster some kids if I can have biological children.

 

                                                                                    

 

What are your thoughts on being unable to have biological children? If you’ve had experience with this issue, I’d love to hear your story!

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