"be productive"

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!

Are you ready to be productive this year? Well so am I! 2019 is the year that we will achieve all of our goals and set our future selves up for success.

But let’s be honest. Being productive is hard. There are so many things that I want to do that I have a hard time focusing on just one. I want to do write a travel blog, create art, design t-shirts, cook healthy meals, read all the books – and there just isn’t enough time to do all that while working a forty hour per week job (hence the quest for financial independence!). I get so distracted by new projects that I forget all about the old ones. Does anyone else have this problem?

I’m sure we all do. Whether it’s new projects, social obligations, or even our favorite tv shows, distractions crop up all the time and rob us of our opportunities to be productive. But there’s a solution!

The Solution

The solution is to identify the keys to productivity and implement them in our daily lives. The keys to productivity are pretty easy, but unfortunately implementing them is much harder.  However,  I have an awesome tool that will help you with that part: The Ultimate Productivity Bundle. It’s a giant bundle of all the best productivity products on the web, grouped together for an incredibly low price (Only $37 for the entire bundle!) Let’s take a look at the major keys to productivity and find out what the bundle has that can help you. The time management tools available in the bundle alone are worth almost $133.

Keys to Productivity

The main keys to productivity are:

  • Time Management
  • Goal Setting
  • Planning
  • Self-Care

Time Management

The first thing you need to do in order to be productive is to manage your time properly. We all have 24 hours in a day, we need to learn to use them wisely! The Ultimate Productivity Bundle includes five products that are specifically designed to help you with time management.

Time management Products
  • Time Management: How to Finish Your To Do List Every Day! by Marcia Ramsland ($47.00)
    (Video) This video will show you how to turn the chaos of the day into calm control with smart planning and your TO DO List will get done, your home will be cleaner, your work will get done, and you’ll be happier and relaxed.
  • It’s About Time by Aby Garvey ($49.00)
    (eBook) Create a customized time management system that is in sync with your values and priorities and helps you feel in control with It’s About Time.
  • Organize Your Life with Trello by Cara Harvey & Elisa Giorgio ($47.00)
    (eCourse) A digital course that helps moms who are sick of being overwhelmed and finally want to get control of everything.
  • Personality Based Time Management© by Susie Glennan ($4.99)
    (eBook) Don’t fall for the one size fits all myth! Learn about personality-based time management© from someone who was not born organized and has been there and done that for more than 20 years.
  • Take Back Your Time: How to Become a Motivated Time Saving Mama by Emily Bendler ($4.99)
    (eBook) Emily’s book will help you to efficiently manage your time so you can get things done and make time for the people you love and yourself.

 

"be productive"
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 I love that the bundle offers a mix of books, videos, and courses so it can appeal to people who learn in different ways. My favorite tool for time management that the bundle offers is the personality-based time management ebook. Everyone is different, and it’s nice to see our uniqueness celebrated and catered to.

Goal Setting

Another important aspect of being productive is setting attainable goals. If you don’t have goals, why are you being productive? What are you working towards?

I think we need to expand upon what we mean by goals. Sure, we all know what are big picture goals are: be financially independent, make money blogging, set our kids up for success, etc. But we need to set up smaller, more focused goals that will help us achieve these giant dreams. The Ultimate Productivity Bundle has tons of tools that are specifically designed to help you do just that! It has five products worth a whopping $400 to help you set and achieve your goals:

 

Goal Setting products
  • Brilliant Baby Steps: Make the Most of Your Messy Middle for a Beautiful, Balanced Life by Beth Anne Schwamberger ($47.00)
    (eCourse) Brilliant Baby Steps teaches a simple but effective system for making the most of your day regardless of your stage of life. It will help you get more done with less stress, while still being there for the people you love and activities you enjoy.
  • Driven Women Grace Based Productivity for Christians by Phylicia Masonheimer ($98.00)
    (eCourse) The Driven Women Productivity Course is a grace-based, biblical approach to time management that teaches you how to develop routines and habits that fit YOUR personality and lifestyle.
  • Goal Setting 101: How to Set Goals as an Absolute Beginner by Nadalie Bardo ($49.99)
    (eCourse) Goal Setting 101 is an 8-lesson eCourse that teaches you exactly how to set achievable goals.  
  • Start Finishing Your Projects: Boost Your Productivity, Effectiveness, and Creative Momentum by Learning to Finish the Projects that Matter Most by Charlie Gilkey ($14.99)
    (eCourse) This will help you get your unstarted or unfinished project done, as well as teach you how to set yourself up for success with any other project you kick off after taking the course.
  • The 90-Day Personal Productivity Power Plan by Lise Cartwright ($197.00)
    (eCourse) Lise Cartwright created The 90-Day Personal Productivity Power Plan to share the EXACT principles and strategies she used to master her to-do-list in a matter of months so you can do the same.

I’m so excited that the 90-day Personal Productivity Power Plan by Lise Cartwright is included in this bundle. This course alone has a $200 value, so purchasing it through the bundle is like getting it for an 82% discount! Plus, you get all the other resources, it’s a no-brainer!

 

Planning

There is one major task that you need to master in order to properly implement both time management and goal setting, and that’s planning. The Ultimate Productivity Bundle has you covered there too with 15 products designed to help you plan out everything in your life; from your daily goals to your biggest dreams. There are planners and workbooks that are designed to let you write, manage, and track all of your goals. These tools will help you turn your small daily baby step goals into big picture personal growth and productivity goals.  All of these planners put together have a total value of over $300! Heck, I’ve bought single planners for close to $37, getting 15 for that price is freaking amazing!

 

Life Planning Products
  • Beyond Blessed Life Planner for Christian Women by Ana Willis ($17.00)
    (Planner) The Beyond Blessed Life Planner is the most complete and Christ-centered undated Printable planner to help you take your life from good to beyond blessed now and in the years to come!
  • I Heart Productivity Pack by Laura Smith ($34.00)
    (Planner) This printable productivity pack is designed to walk you through the process of setting goals that really stick and then track your progress.
  • Planner ePlanner: Calendars, Schedules & To Do Lists by ListPlanIt ($10.00)
    (Planner) This ePlanner has what you need to record the To Dos that bring clutter to our minds and our lifestyle. Learn how to record and prioritize your schedules and to dos to make the best use of your time.
  • Simply Scheduled Workbook by Julianna Poplin ($27.00)
    (Planner) A minimally and elegantly designed set of checklists, planners, worksheets, and calendars to help you plan your life efficiently and effectively.
  • The Planner Obsessed™ Planner [The Silver Edition] by Carlie & Hannah Kercheval  ($15.00)
    (Planner) The Planner Obsessed™ Planner will help you get your life organized, all while creating the habits to make your life the best it can be.
  • The S.O.S. Planner by Kayse Pratt ($29.00)
    (Planner) The S.O.S. Planner gives you back your time, schedule, and sanity, by helping you organize every aspect of your life.
  • The Wannabe Bullet Journal: A Loosely-Structured Weekly Planner For Those Who Need Both Freedom & Organization by Ronni Peck ($4.99)
    (Planner) The half-page Bullet Journal Wannabe for those who wish they could could bullet journal but need a little more structure.
  • Thrive with Chronic Illness Planner + Journal by Tanya at Mom’s Small Victories ($17.00)
    (Planner) Designed to help chronic illness patients manage their time and energy, break down their goals, and work to improve their physical and emotional health.
  • Time Management Sheets by Jennifer Roskamp ($18.00)
    (Planner) Get more done in less time. More than just tracking sheets, Time Management Sheets are a system unlike any other where you will use your time the most efficient way possible.

Get your bundle now! 

Goal Planning Products
  • 90-Day Personal Growth Goal and Life Planning System by Cassandra Massey ($37.00)
    (eCourse) Cassie’s 90 day personal growth goal and life planning system is a 280-page printable planning system + 8 video mini-course to guide you step-by-step in creating your goal-achieving plan of action!
  • Goal Setting Life Planner by Sareeta Lopez ($19.00)
    (Planner) More than your everyday planner – it teaches you exactly get you closer to your kick-ass dream life by integrating your goals into your daily life so that you’re always working towards them! It includes a video walk-through of exactly how to use the planner and implement my 3 Month Term goal setting system.
  • Goals and Planning Bundle by Abby Lawson ($12.00)
    (Planner) Designed to help you set actionable goals and be more productive!
  • Quarterly Targets & Goals Tracking by Kimi Kinsey ($7.00)
    (Planner) Set, track, and achieve your goals with this strategy guide and quarterly-based printable. Set comes with pages for 2019, and 2020 – to total 8 pages (1 for every quarter).
  • The 2019 Success Designer Planner by Khaye Mydette Macalinao ($10.00)
    (Planner) 2019 Success Designer Planner is a goals-focused productivity planner designed to help you blissfully manage not just your schedule but your whole life!
  • The Goal-Getter Workbook: The Plan for Busy Women to Go from Dreams to Plans to DONE by Laura S Shaw ($25.00)
    (Workbook) A perfect tool to help you create the goals that get you closer to your dreams.
  • The Ultimate Goal Setting Planner™ [Couples Edition] by Mike & Carlie Kercheval ($15.00)
    (Planner) Mike + Carlie Kercheval  have put together The Ultimate Goal Setting Planner™ [Couples Edition] to help married couples prioritize their marriage and things that matter most.
  • Ultimate Goal Setting Planner 2019 by MaryEllen Bream ($19.00)
    (Planner) The Ultimate Goal setting planner contains everything you need to set goals for the year and break them down into small, doable pieces. Over 150 pages of goal setting worksheets and calendar pages will help you manage your time for maximum productivity.

Self-Care

I know it sounds weird to include self-care products with a productivity bundle, but here me out! There is no way any of us can be productive if we don’t take care of ourselves. How can we plan, set, and achieve goals if we stressed out about other things? Or if we are too tired to put any of our plans into action? Clearly, self-care is a vital step to productivity, one which the geniuses behind Ultimate Bundles clearly recognize. There are five products in the Ultimate Productivity Bundle that focus on self-care, with a total value of almost $100.

 

Self-Care Products
  • 10 Steps to Feel Motivated & Get Stuff Done by Heather LeGuilloux ($9.00)
    (Workbook)
    Heather LeGuilloux wants to help you to be more intentional with your time by sharing a practical system that will help you to stay on track so you can finally bring your passion to life.
  • Ignite Your Life by Jess Stuart ($15.00)
    (eCourse) An online course to help you create the life you dream of living.  Learn to set goals to achieve your dreams. Want to feel more joy in each day and master the art of happiness? This course is for you!
  • Positivity Planner by Chris Mooney ($14.00)
    (Planner) Chris has developed a colorful, accessible “positivity planner,” which can help you get organized as well as inspire and encourage you with space for you to jot what you’re grateful for as well as what’s challenging you today/this week!
  • Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life by Lisa Grace Byrne (9.99)
    (eBook) Replenish uncovers the 7 core essentials of well-being that need to be nurtured in order to live and mother with greater calm, clarity and vitality in the world.
  • The Breaking Barriers Challenge by Lindsay Preston ($47.00)
    (eCourse) The 5-day program that will teach you how to break through the barriers that are stopping you from confidently stepping into your BEST LIFE!

 

But Wait, there’s More!

This Ultimate Productivity Bundle doesn’t stop with the basics. It also includes products to help you be productive in all aspects of your life, with home management courses, family chore planners, organizational tickers, and workbooks designed to help you be productive at work. There is something for everyone in this amazing bundle!

Are you ready to be productive in 2019?

If so, what are you waiting for? Grab this bundle now (it’s only available for 5 days, so don’t wait!) and start managing your time, setting goals, and achieving them!

Buy Now! 

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Surprise! Welcome to a brand new episode of “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”! We’ve been promising to return for a few weeks now, and we never break our promises. We finally got most of our stuff unpacked, and are ready to start recording once again! 

The last time we talked about moving, we were only about a quarter into our big move. And we thought moving sucked back then! After all the fun and excitement of the last few months, I can unequivocally say that moving really does suck. 

Moving Sucks – Part 2

In this episode of “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”, we talk about what we’ve been up to for the past few months. We talk about living in a small rented room, house hunting, and all the fun of living in a fixer upper. All I can say about that is poor Brian. He dealt with the brunt of the house issues while I was at work. There were a lot of issues!

We also have a super special guest this episode. I’m not going to spoil it, but I’ll give a small hint: The reason we moved in the first place, and the reason all these headaches and stress was worthwhile. Give it a listen!

 

Patreaon

If  you are loving “My Boyfriend Sucks with Money”, please check out our Patreon page! Your donations will help is build a better sound studio so that all the podcasts sound super amazing! As always, we appreciate your support!

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"what should grown-ups spend their money on"

 

Children are so insightful! I asked my eight-year-old soon-to-be step-daughter if she had any questions about money, and her very first question was “what should grown-ups spend money on?”. Isn’t that a great question? Tons of adults I know don’t even know what grown-ups should spend money on!

What should grown-ups spend money on vs. what grown-ups do spend money on

To answer the question “what should grown-ups spend money on”, we first must find out what grown-ups actually spend money on. Sometimes we spend money how we are supposed to, but more often than not we don’t. Grown-ups make mistakes just like you! Who would have thought?

What do Grown Ups Spend money on?

There’s a ton of research that shows what the average grown up American spends their money on, and you can read about it here.  But to make it simple, let’s do percentages and put it in a pie chart!

"what grown-ups spend money on"

As you can see, grown-ups spend most of their money on their houses, cars, food, and insurance/healthcare.

What Should Grown-Ups Spend Money on?

Do you think people are spending money how they should be? Or do you think they are spending too much money some things? There’s one majorly important item that I don’t even see in the chart! Can you figure out what it is?

Personal Savings!

Personal savings is the one thing that is very noticeably missing from the chart above, and it’s one of the most important things that grown-ups should be spending money on.

Why are Personal Savings Important?

It’s important for grown-ups to spend money on saving for lots of different reasons! First, emergencies happen. Cars break down, pets get sick, people have to do to the doctor. It’s important to have money saved up in case these things happen, so we can take care of them right away.

Second, most grown-ups don’t want to work forever. It’s important to save money so that we don’t have to. If you start making saving a habit now, you won’t have to work forever! You could get on the early retirement train! I wish I had started when I was a kid, I could be done working by now. But it’s not too late for you – start saving as soon as possible so you don’t have to spend your entire life working.

How can we Fix it?

So how can we fix it so that grown ups spend money on what they should be spending money on? We need to figure out what grown ups are spending too much money on.

What do Grown-Ups Spend too much money on?

Grown ups spend way too much money on cars. Instead of buying a brand-new car every few years, grown-ups should buy used cars and keep them longer. A new car is just a pride thing, most of us don’t really need it. Grown ups shouldn’t spend more than 10% of their income on their cars.

Grown ups also spend too much money on housing. We shouldn’t spend more than 30% of our income there, but we are spending 33%! That’s harder to bring down, but there are options. You could get a roommate, chose a home further away from the city, or chose a smaller home.

I failed at this -I spent ALL my money on a house!

We should all also cut back on entertainment, clothing, and alcohol and cigarettes. If we all cut back just a little bit on these things, we could easily afford to put 15% into savings!

After cutting these costs, the chart should look more like this:

"what should grown ups spend money on"

This final chart shows what grown ups should spend money on. I know it’s not always realistic for every situation, but it’s a great model for what you should strive for!

Good Luck on your quest to spend money correctly!

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"support universal basic income"

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post explaining the basics behind universal basic income. I never said whether I supported the idea or not, but this post answers that! (Hint – check the title!)

I support Universal Basic Income

I know, it’s a crazy idea! How would any government be able to afford to pay all of its citizens a monthly stipend? The logistics of that are insane! I’m not here to talk about how it could be implemented or how we would pay for it. I know that would be a long process with a lot of compromise; and I know I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just going to talk about why I love the idea of Universal Basic Income.

Universal Basic Income and FIRE

It seems weird for a finance blogger to advocate for a program that makes it easier for people to not save money. But hear me out! Universal Basic Income would help tons of people achieve financial independence in the most basic sense.  If people had enough money to pay for their basic needs each month, they wouldn’t be forced to waste their lives working menial jobs that they can’t stand but that also don’t pay enough for them to be able to get ahead. People wouldn’t have to work two minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet.

I know that opponents of this program will use this as an opportunity to say that we would lose tons of workers and society wouldn’t be able to function; but that brings me to the next major reason why I support universal basic income – automation.

Automation is coming

Automation is going to be the number one destroyer of minimum wage jobs in the future. The consulting firm Mckinsey reported last year that almost 30% US workers are at risk of being displaced by automation by 2030. That is a whole lot of people that are going to be out of work – and the majority of them work in the menial low wage jobs that I described above.

Sure, automation will create new jobs just like the industrial revolution did, and just like all major technological advances have in the past. But what people forget is that during the transition, people suffer. Unskilled workers who can’t find jobs in new industries suffer. Families that lose their only sources of income suffer. Yes, society will eventually even itself out and adapt, but we can do better than we did in the past. We can do better to ensure that this transition is smoother and better for the working class than previous shifts have been. I think universal basic income is a great method of easing this transition.

Work is Overrated

I also support universal basic income because I think work is overrated. I get that things need to be done, and we have to pay the bills and all that. However, I think that the American concept of valuing work just for work’s sake is insane. Why should we be forced to spend forty hours per week in an office when we can get all of our work done in 20 hours? Why do we only value each other based on our salaries rather than what we contribute to society?

I think that if we implemented an idea as crazy as universal basic income, people would stop working just for work’s sake. They would start living their lives, and I think a big part of that would be making a positive impact on society. People would take care of their elderly parents rather then sticking them in a home. Families could have more time with their children rather than relying on day care, schools, and television to raise them. People would volunteer with organizations that they believe in, and would have time to pursue their passions, create art, invent things, be innovative. As it stands right now, most people don’t have time to take care of themselves much less volunteer for anything else.

Universal Basic Income and family values

A few months ago, I wrote a post on what I think family values truly are and why we should support them. I support universal basic income because I think it would be a great way to support all of those family values that I wrote about. It would help people afford healthcare, education, and homes. It would also give families more options in deciding how to care for their children.

"I support universal basic income"
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Universal Income and Income Inequality

Yes, I know my liberal is showing. Sorry about that! But we need to admit that income inequality is becoming a huge problem in the United States. The top 1% of households hold more wealth than the entire bottom 90% combined. That’s insane! I’m not advocating that the working class seize the means of production (socialism) but I am in favor of a safety net that ensures every person the ability to meet their basic needs in a civilized society. Wages aren’t exactly cutting it at the moment, and neither is the gig economy. I’m sure there are alternatives to universal basic income that would fix these problems, but this post isn’t about those!

What about they guy who just plays video games in his mom’s basement??

There are plenty of great arguments against universal basic income, but this post isn’t about that (does anyone want to do a guest post of why they are against it though? It would be a great debate topic!). The only argument against it that I’m going to address in this post is the one that makes no sense to me. I hear a lot of people say that they are against universal basic income because they think that Joe Schmoe will sit in his mom’s basement wasting his payment on video games and Cheetos. My answer to this is: So what?

So what if a small percentage of people use this as an excuse to not work? They are still putting their payment back into the economy. They aren’t hurting anyone.  All the Joe Schmoe’s could even band together to rent their own house and play video games together all day! They would be providing someone with rental income and keeping Pepsico stock up – both good things for the overall economy.

Do you Support Universal Basic Income?

So now that I’ve showed my cards and my support for universal basic income, I’d like to know what you think! Do you like the idea or not? Tell me why in the comments!

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"Money saving tips"

Real Money Saving Tips for Real People

I’ve read tons personal finance articles, many of which promise easy tips on how to save money every month. The problem is, most of these so called “tips” aren’t very easy or convenient. For example, one of the most widely touted “money saving tips” is to downgrade your cell phone. Ditch the minutes and the dates plan! Be happy with a bare bones basic phone- It’s so easy!

That’s not very realistic though. Granted, we don’t need to be connected to everything at every time, but it sure is convenient. It’s also way easier to apply for jobs and follow up if you have access to your email on your cell phone.

I also hate the one about driving to 6 different stores to get the best deals on each item. How is that easy? And after you factor in the gas and your wasted time, is it really saving you money?

So instead, here’s a list of money saving tips you can do that are way easier and way more realistic (for the most part). Keep in mind, all of the total monthly savings amounts are based on a single person. Making these changes for multiple people will lead to even greater savings!

Money Saving Tips for the Grocery Store

I know we already covered how to save money at the grocery store, but I can’t leave it off of a post on how to save money! So I’m just going to list my three favorites from that post here, and if you want more tips on how to save on groceries, head over to “10 Great Ways to Save Money on Groceries

 

1Buy Generic

This is my all time favorite money saving tip. People get suckered into buying the name brand way too often. Gotta give those crafty marketers credit, they are good at what they do! But most generic products are exactly the same as their name brand counterparts. I can buy brand name corn flakes for $4, or I can buy the store brand for 99 cents. They taste exactly the same. Other items that are pretty much the same:

milk, bread, eggs, sugar, flour, spices, canned goods, noodles, packaged mixes, frozen vegetables, pre-packaged deli items, peanut butter, crackers, and most cleaning supplies.

I agree that not everything is the same though! I dedicated an entire blog post to things I won’t buy generic, so I understand that not all things are created equally. However, even swapping out just a few items per week can save you money. You can save between 50 cents and $2 per item by switching to generic. If you swap out just 10 items on our weekly shopping list for the generic brand, you can save an average of $10 per week. 

Total monthly savings: $40

 

2. Use the Rewards Card

Most grocery stores offer weekly deals that you can only receive if you are a member of their rewards club. It is free and easy to sign up for, so I never understood why someone would pass this up. I mean, I get that it’s just a marketing ploy to collect your information, but I give that up to Facebook for free, so what do I care if Giant gets it? I can usually save between $5 and $10 per trip just by using this card.

Total monthly savings: $40

 

3. Chop Your Own Fruits & Veggies

Yes, I know its time consuming. Its way easier to buy processed carrot mush (baby carrots) than it is to peel and cut fresh carrots. But a bag of fresh carrots costs only fifty cents, and a bag of processed carrot mush costs over two bucks. I’d much rather go with fresh carrots.

Other pre-cut fruits and veggies aren’t as gross, but you’re still paying for all that processing. Sure it’s convenient, but I’d rather save money and spend twenty minutes cutting my own veggies. If you buy carrots, green peppers, pineapples, and apples every week, you are looking at an extra $5 and $10 per week for pre-cut foods!

Total Monthly Savings: $40

 

money saving tips for work

 

4. Sack Lunch It

Ok, so pretty much every single article about how to save money includes this tip. However, I will break down the cost for you:

Everyday for lunch, I have a sandwich, a little baggie of chips, and maybe a snack cake or cut veggies. The sandwich has bread (99 cents a week for a loaf of wheat bread at Walmart), Meat (pre-packaged turkey for $3), cheese ($3 for 10 slices, which lasts me two weeks; so $1.50 a week) and mayo (the jar is $5, and lasts me a little over a month; so let’s call it $1 per week). The chips cost $4 for a big bag that lasts me the week, and the veggies or snack cakes are usually around $2. The total cost for my lunches for the week: $8.5

Now let us assume that you eat out 5 days a week, at a cost of $10 per day. Weekly cost: $50

Total monthly savings: $166

 

5. Coffee

Yes, this one is in every advice article too. However, I have a better suggestion than either giving up coffee (not likely) or making it at home (too much work too early in the morning). Invest in a keurig. It takes about 10 seconds to make a fresh cup of coffee each morning. The K-Cups are not very expensive; I can get an 80 pack for a little over 40 bucks on Amazon, so it’s about 50 cents per cup. I also buy one bottle of creamer per week for $2, and a bag of sugar every 3-4 weeks for $4, which amounts to about $1 per week.  My total weekly coffee costs are about $5.5. I can spend that much at Starbucks in one day! But assuming you buy a cheaper option at the coffee shop and only spend $3 per day, you are still saving about $10 a week.

Oh, and I know that K-cups are horrible for the environment. That’s why I only buy the compostable kind! And I still save money on my daily coffee!

Total monthly savings: $40

"10 money saving tips"
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money saving tips for home

 

6. Cut out the pop

Yes, it does sound like a sacrifice. Everyone loves pop. Its cold, its tasty, its refreshing, but it really isn’t necessary. It is bad for your teeth, and it packs on the calories. It also stealthily robs your bank account. A 6 pack of name brand pop costs about $3. Most people who drink it tend to drink 2-3 cans per day. This can be up to $9 per week. Water is free, healthier, and honestly it is much more refreshing.

 Total monthly savings: $36

 

7. Stop Smoking

Yet another one that appears on every list. I know this one cannot be considered easy, but I couldn’t pass it up. Everyone knows the long-term health risks associated with smoking, and there have been numerous articles that showcase the cost. But in case you didn’t see those, assuming you smoke a pack a day, cigarettes will cost you $28 per week assuming the average price of $4/pack. 

Total monthly savings: $102

 

8. Cut Cable

I used to love cable. I thought I would never be able to live without it. But guess what? I cut my cable cord almost a year ago, and I haven’t missed it. I was paying an extra $100 per month to watch two freaking shows. How stupid is that? I can wait for the episodes to appear on Netflix for that! You may be able to save more or less, depending on what cable company and plan you are currently on, but it is definitely something that’s worth looking into to!

Total monthly savings: $100

I will also add here to make sure that you fill your dishwasher and washer for every load. I cannot begin to calculate the savings based on water and electricity usage (I like math, but not that much!), but every little bit helps.

 

money saving tips At the Restaurant

 

9. Skip the Appetizers, or Order One as your Meal

Appetizers at most restaurants cost about the same amount as a regular meal. In addition, they have enough calories to actually be a full meal. Ordering both an appetizer and an entree is bad for both your belt line and your pocket book. If you absolutely must have the appetizer, ask for it as your main dish. If you eat out once a week, this could save you $10 per week. 

Total monthly savings: $40

 

10. Drink Water

Alcoholic beverages are the items with the highest mark-up at restaurants. Why do you think waitstaff always asks you if they can get you anything from the bar? They are trained to try to sell alcoholic beverages. If you must have a drink, have a beer at home before going to the restaurant, and stick to water once you are there. In addition, pop and other non-alcoholic drinks are also incredibly marked up. They charge you $2-3 for about 12 ounces. Isn’t a can still about 50 cents in the machine? If you switch from pop to water during your one dinner a week you will save $2 per week (not a lot, but every little bit counts). If you like to drink at a restaurant, but switch to water, you can save about $10 on your weekly bill. 

Total monthly savings: $8-$40 (average of $24)

 

Total Savings

Money Saving Tip Approx. Monthly Savings
Buying Generic 40
Using Rewards Cards 40
Chop your own veggies 40
 

Bringing a Sack Lunch

166
Using a Coffee Maker 40
Giving up Pop 36
Quit Smoking 102
Cut Cable 100
Skipping the Appetizer 40
Drinking Water 24
Total 628

 

$628 a month!!! That is a lot of extra money. Even if you can only follow half of these tips, that is still $300 per month!! And like I said in the beginning, this is for a single person. A family who utilizes these tips can save even more! Some of these may be harder for you than others, but surely each person can make a few tiny sacrifices and follow a few of these. Good Luck!

What are you favorite money saving tips? How much does it save you every month? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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These last few weeks have been incredibly stressful for my partner and I. We’ve relocated to another state, had to rent a room, bought a house, and have been working on fixing up that house. I’ve started a new job and he’s dealing with the stress of a job search. We also had to drive 30 hours in three and a half days to pick up our pets. There’s been so much going on that, honestly, sometimes it’s been hard to cope. So how did we deal with all this stress?

Dealing With Stress

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with stress. My biggest struggle in dealing with stress is trying to avoid stress eating. I’ve done a fairly decent job of it, but man this week was rough! We just got back from our long weekend drive to Georgia (15 hours in the car with 2 cats, 2 dogs, and a small child – good times!) and I had to go straight back to work. I took advantage of the first of my allowed restaurant trips in February (Remember I allowed myself 2 per month in my No Spend Year Challenge!) and went to a Hibachi place for dinner.

And I ate all the food.

Have you ever been to Hibachi? They give you boatloads of food. You usually have enough for dinner and lunch the next day. But oh no, not today! I cleaned my freaking plate. That’s never happened to me before (but it was delicious). However, I know that eating two full meals worth of Hibachi probably isn’t the healthiest way to deal with stress. Time to try something different!

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5 Healthy ways to Deal with Stress

1. Eat Healthy

Instead of binging on Hibachi, try eating fresh fruits and vegetables. After my shameful dinner experience, I went to the store and bought bananas, cucumbers, carrots, and celery. These are going to be my go-to foods the next time I feel like gorging myself.

It won’t be easy, mostly because my knives are still packed away, but I think I can make it work. We are slowly but surely getting the kitchen in a usable condition and unpacking our cutlery, so I won’t have any excuses to not chose the healthy veggies options, which is important.

2. Get Enough Sleep

One of the biggest reasons that our stress refuses to go away is that we can’t get a decent night’s sleep. Our mattresses have been packed up for over a month (we actually just got them back, yay!) so we’ve been bouncing from air mattress to futon back to air mattress. Those are not the answer for a good night’s sleep. Having our good mattresses back for these last two days have really helped us both feel a whole lot better and less stressed out. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do.

3. Support Each Other

It’s wonderful to have a supportive partner that you can lean on when you are feeling overwhelmed. I had a rough few days after getting back from Georgia. I was tired but still had to work and even had to work overtime. There was no time to do any of the house things I wanted to get done, and even less time for self-care. Luckily, I have an awesome partner who picked up the slack and took care of my biggest stressors in regards to the house. He’s also always there to give me a hug or make me laugh when it seems like everything else is falling down around me. Sometimes you just need someone in your corner. We do our best to stay in each other’s corners.

4. Exercise

I know that finding time for a work out is the last thing you want to do when you are feeling stressed out and overwhelmed with life. But it’s amazing how clarifying a quick walk around the block can be! So, if you are dealing with stress, get up and get moving, even if only for a few minutes. It will help ground you and help you focus.

My absolute favorite exercise for stress relief is the punching bag. There’s just something so satisfying about being able to punch something for a few minutes when you are feeling down. It’s a great work out too!

5. Meditate

Yes, everyone always touts the benefits of meditation for a healthy stress-free life. But that’s because it works! Taking just 10-20 minutes to just be one with yourself is one of the healthiest ways to deal with stress. It may seem unreasonable to take that time when there’s so much that needs to be done, but trust me it’s well worth it. I always come out of a mediation feeling re-energized and ready for anything, and I’m sure it will help you too. Come to think of it, I need to start meditating even more!

How do you deal with stress?

What are your favorite ways to deal with stress? Let me know, I need all the help I can get right now!

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Wow, I had no idea that so many people would be interested in the idea of a no spend year! Because the post garnered so much interest (even a Rockstar Finance Feature!), I decided to write monthly updates to let you know how we are doing. Here’s what our no spend January looked like!

No Spend January

I think two words really sum up our experience with a no spend January: Failed It! January was a rough month, and we spent way too much money. I think trying a no spend month in the middle of a huge move and renovation was a little ambitious, but we are going to keep trying for the rest of the year. Here’s how we messed up our no spend January:

Vet Bills

First, we had a medical emergency for our cat that we were not prepared for. There were gobs of blood in her stool. That’s not something that I’m just going to let go, so off to the vet we went! Nearly $800 later, we discovered that there was nothing seriously wrong with her. The vet ran all of the tests, and decided that the blood was caused by either parasites or stress. He sent us off with de-wormer for both her and our other cat, and we haven’t seen any blood since.

Though I wasn’t ready to spend eight hundred dollars at the vet, it’s something I’d do again in a heartbeat. My cats are a part of the family, and I’ll always prioritize their proper care, even if it gets expensive.

Eating Out

Our biggest failure in January was eating out. I know I said that I wanted to limit my eating out to twice a month, but that just wasn’t feasible this month. We moved into the new house, but our kitchen isn’t ready for cooking. We didn’t even have a microwave for the first week! I still need to clean the fridge and a few more of the cabinets before I feel comfortable storing food, and I need to get my pots and pans before I’ll actually be able to cook anything. Those were supposed to come a week ago, but the POD was delayed due to weather. Moving is fun isn’t it?

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Games

We bought our N64 system this January! It was a great way to combat the cold weather.  The BF also got one of the games he’s allowed to get this year (Goldeneye for N64). These aren’t failures because we specifically budgeted for them in our no spend year.

DIY

Our biggest expense in January was our DIY and renovation stuff. We knew we would be spending a lot of money on these projects, especially when we first moved into the house (hence the need for a no spend year!). We spent about three thousand dollars at Lowes during our first weekend, but we got pretty much everything that we will need for the first stages of renovation. 

Our mess up on the renovation side was thinking that we could install the floor ourselves.  As it turns out, we could not (Youtube video coming soon!). We ended up paying a contractor a little over a thousand dollars to complete floor after we failed at it (and it took him over four days! Clearly, we were in over our heads). The materials were budgeted for, but the contractor was not. However, we think it was worthwhile to ensure that the living room floors were done correctly.

No Spend January Summarized

Clearly, we didn’t do as well as we would’ve liked in January, but I do think that the biggest fail here was eating out. My goal next weekend is to get the kitchen in a usable condition so that we won’t have to resort to either eating out or suffering through yet another microwave meal (those are good every now and then, but horrible for every night). Once the kitchen is usable, we will be cooking healthy delicious food on a far more regular basis!

How do you think we fared in our no spend January? We know we sucked, but some positive reinforcement would be nice!

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"Fourteenth month blogging"

Fourteenth Month Update

Welcome to our fourteenth month update! This was a crazy month for us! We moved, rented a room for a while, bought a house, and moved again. So much craziness! With all that going on in our personal lives, let’s see how blog life treated us during our fourteenth month!

Posting

I was so close to sticking to my posting schedule this month – I only missed one day. With everything that’s been going on, I think that’s pretty impressive. The only day I didn’t post was the day that we actually closed on the house. We decided to spend the night in the new house even though we didn’t have any internet or furniture. It was a cozy night of talking to each other – who does that anymore?

We’ve still been failing at recording “my boyfriend sucks with money”.  We haven’t done a thing with that.  But we will be getting our stuff next week, and we will start recording again as soon as we get unpacked!

We are also recording some awesome DIY on Fire videos for you guys, but we haven’t had the chance to edit any of them yet. I think you are going to really enjoy this series!

Readership

Our readership freaking exploded this month! We had over three thousand visitors to Partners in Fire during our fourteenth month! That’s freaking spectacular! This is our best month ever – lets see how we did it.

Fourteenth month blogging stats
stats from our fourteenth month

Traffic Drivers

Social Media

Social Media was the top driver of traffic to Partners in Fire during our fourteenth month blogging. Pinterest was the clear winner, but Twitter and Facebook both brought more traffic this month than last month. In total, we had 2810 visitors from social media this month.

Pinterest

The number one driver for traffic during our fourteenth month blogging was Pinterest. I had a pin that went crazy viral. Apparently, lots of people wanted to know about our No Spend Year – all three of the pins I created for that post got over 100 clicks. One of them got over 1500 clicks though, which is insane! Most of the traffic came from this. Now if only I could recreate that kind of success regularly…I’ll try to figure that puzzle out!

Twitter

I did an awesome job of getting traffic from Twitter this month as well. We had 93 users, which is one of our best months from Twitter yet. Obviously, it’s not as good as the two thousand users we saw from Pinterest, but I’ll take any growth on any platform.

Twitter is the social media account that I’ve been focusing on the most, and it shows. I’ve been trying to share my friend’s posts, engage with others, and help those just starting out get a bit of a boost. I think my efforts on Twitter have been successful, and it shows with my growth in users from the platform. The moral of this story is that if you want Twitter to work for you, be generous on Twitter. Help others and be a good Twitizen. What goes around comes around.

Facebook

I made an effort to post more engaging on content on my Facebook page this month than I have in previous months. I did get two more likes, so maybe that strategy helped a bit. We got 76 users from Facebook this month, an increase of 7 users. It’s not much, but an increase is an increase, right? I’m going to try to continue with that strategy for my 15th month.

I also participated in a lot of Facebook blogger groups during my fourteenth month blogging. These are great ways to get your content shared and in front of a new audience. Unfortunately, this is something I’ve been slacking on. I don’t want to participate in the group posts if I won’t have time to reciprocate engagement or follow the post rules, so I tend to not participate. It’s bad form to just post your content and not share the content of others!

Instagram

I’m still struggling with Instagram. I did a bit better with posting pictures this month, but I still only got five users from the platform. My main goal is to get to 10K followers so that I can add links to my story – but it’s so hard to get followers on Instagram! I’ve been stuck at 1450 for the longest time, and I’ve struggled to see growth. I also don’t post as often as I should and don’t comment much on other people’s content. I might see more growth if I engaged more with others, but struggle with engagement on Instagram. How many times can you comment “beautiful scenery” or “nice shot” on pictures? I feel like there isn’t much to say on the platform. I know it’s weird, but I feel much more comfortable engaging with people on Twitter.

Direct Hits

Direct hits were our second largest source of traffic this month. We had 274 users via direct hits this month. Most of these are coming from our email subscribers who are super awesome and visiting whenever we post. We love you subscribers!! And if you aren’t yet subscribed, just fill in your info to get updates directly to your inbox!

Organic search

Organic search was our third biggest driver of traffic for our fourteenth month. We had 213 users visit our website through organic search, which is only two less than what we had last month. Pretty cool, huh?

 I used the Alexa keyword tool to determine what people are searching for when they come to our website, and it’s definitely the stuff we write about! The number one search term directing people to Partners in Fire is “barista fire” which is pretty cool because I wrote an article focused on just that. People are also heading to our site after searching for “regal assets affiliate” and “coast fire”. I’m glad that people are finding us after searching for related topics. 

I also used the online tool to check my domain authority, and we are up to 25! We were at 20 just a few months ago, so I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve finally been able to improve on that. Perseverance for the win!

Referral Traffic

Our final traffic driver was referral traffic. We only had 33 users referred from other sites this period, but as a bonus some of them were totally legit. We had some traffic from both Camp Fire Finance and Fat Tailed and Happy this month, and I’m incredibly grateful to both of them for including us.

Content

I’m really proud of the content that I put out this month (but I always am, why put out content that you aren’t proud of?). My favorite post was “How I made $16 in one-year blogging”, which I thought was hysterical. It didn’t get as much traction as I had hoped, but I enjoyed writing it. My “No Spend Year” post was a huge hit though, I didn’t realize so many people would be curious about the idea.

Monetization

Monetization still alludes me. I am a part of the Ultimate Bundles affiliate program, but I failed to sell any of the healthy eating bundles (even though they are a great deal!). I think I’ll have more success if I use my bundle throughout the year and can show people the advantages of it. That’s something I will definitely work on this year; probably through my Instagram stories. It will be a great way for me to try to use Instagram as well!

My other affiliate program, Bluehost, hasn’t fared much better. I have gotten clicks, but nothing has translated into sales. I still believe in the program, and I think Bluehost is one of the best hosting platforms for bloggers just starting out, so I will continue to offer links to their services in my blog posts about blogging.

 

My increase in page views this month did not lead to an increase in sales on Amazon. I am getting a few clicks every day, so that’s a step in the right direction, but I need to turn those clicks into sales, and that hasn’t been happening yet.

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve achieved our goal of getting over 1000 users in a month, our focus is going to be to maintain that! We did go viral with that one pin on Pinterest, but after that fizzled out our page views went back down to almost where they were before. If we can get 1000 users for two or three months in a row, we will know that we’ve “arrived” as a blog.

We are going to continue to try to monetize the blog. I’ve been saying this every month since I started, but someday it will work out (and I promise to share what worked with you when it does!). The next bundle that I want to support doesn’t come out for a few months, but in the meantime, I will continue working with Amazon and Bluehost.

What are your thoughts on our fourteenth month blogging? How do you think we did? Give us some ideas for increasing our readership for month fifteen and beyond!

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"spending all your savings on a house"

So I did a thing. I spent all of my savings on a house. I only have about 5k left for emergency situations. I’m a bit stressed out about this, but I think it was the right decision for me. Is spending all your savings on a house the right decision for you?

Spending all the savings on a house

Define Savings

Before everyone flips out on me, we need to define what I mean when I say that I spent all my savings on a house. To be clear, I did NOT wipe out any of my retirements accounts nor did I touch my investment accounts. When I say I spent all my savings on a house, I mean just my savings. That is, I spent pretty much all of my cash reserves.

That doesn’t make it a perfect decision though. I had over a year’s worth of living expenses saved up for an emergency. Now I’m down to a two-month emergency fund, which we can all agree is not enough.

Why was spending all my savings on a house a good idea?

I think that blowing all my cash reserves on a house was a great, albeit stressful idea. That’s because I was able to use the cash to pay for the house straight up – I have no mortgage payment. Huge win!!  I only have to pay $150 in property taxes and $130 in insurance each month to have this house. That’s freaking amazing. With my living expenses being so low, that 5K “emergency fund” can stretch a whole lot further. Also, I’ll be able to rebuild that savings rather quickly with out having a mortgage payment.

Why would it have been a bad idea?

If I wasn’t Mortgage Free

It definitely would have been a bad idea to spend all my savings on a house if I wasn’t going to be mortgage free. Spending all my cash reserves and then having a mortgage payment would stretch me way too thin. If you are in this position, you should wait and build your cash reserves to ensure that you will still have a decent emergency fund after paying for the house. A good way to do this is with separate accounts. Build an emergency fund in one account while building a housing fund in another, and buy the house when both are fully funded.

You could also look into programs that don’t require as much of a down payment. FHA loans only require 2.5%, whereas conventional loans tend to require a 20% down payment. However, if you chose the FHA loan option, you will also have to pay mortgage insurance to your lender, which will increase your monthly payment. Many states offer special programs for first time home buyers as well, so that is something you could look into.

If I had to cash out my investments

It also would have been a bad idea to cash out my investments (especially my retirement accounts!) to buy this house. First, the market it not in a good place right now. I would be selling low, which we all know is a bad idea. Sometimes you can’t help the timing of things, but I’d rather not sell when the market is down.

Second, robbing from future Melanie is never a good idea. My retirement accounts have another thirty years to grow. Why would I want to destroy that potential growth, especially during a time when my dividends are buying even more shares? In general, taking money from your retirement account is a bad idea.

I’m not going to pretend I never did it though. When I bought my first house, I took a 10K loan from my (paltry at that time) retirement account. It took me over five years to pay that money back. However, I do think it was a good decision, as I made over 100K on that house when I sold it (thank god for the California real estate market!).  If you have no other way to come up with a decent down payment and know that the real estate market will rise, it’s not a terrible option.

"Savings on a house"
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Is Spending all of your money on a house a good idea?

What works for me may not work for you. I will tell you that you shouldn’t spend every dime you have on a house, even to be mortgage free. Like I said above, I didn’t touch any of my retirement or investment accounts.

Your risk tolerance is also something that you should take into consideration. I’m not going to lie, it was extremely stressful to give up my giant bag of money, even though I knew it was a good decision. There’s a certain amount of comfort that comes with having a nice hunk of money in the bank.

 But we all know that money in the bank doesn’t really do much besides provide that comfort. The interest rates on savings accounts don’t beat inflation, so having your money sitting in a savings account is only a tad bit better than having it stored under your mattress. I decided to invest all my extra cash in real estate (yes, I’m living in the house right now, but long term we are going to fix it up and either sell for profit or rent it out), but you may be more comfortable investing in equities. The bonus of buying the house is that it gives us a place to live for a while, so I find that to be an extra measure of security (though we will always have to pay taxes…it’s a shame that nothing is ever truly ours).

Do you think we made a good decision?

So here’s the real question…do you think it was a good idea for us to spend all of our cash holdings on a house? Would you do the same? Let me know in the comments!

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"what is universal basic income"

 

Have you heard of Universal Basic Income? It’s a fringe idea that’s been generating a lot of discussion lately. But what does it actually mean? And who supports such a radical idea?

What is Universal Basic Income

The essential concept of Universal Basic Income is pretty simple. The government pays all of its citizens a monthly stipend. This money can be spent on whatever the individual wants with no oversight. Program advocates debate whether minors should receive a stipend. Some argue that parents should receive a smaller amount for each minor child while others argue that minors shouldn’t receive anything. Ultimately this detail would be up to the government implementing the program.

Universal Basic Income and Social Programs

Whether Universal Basic Income would replace or be in addition to the social programs that we already have is another huge topic of debate. Many argue that it should completely replace all of the social welfare programs that thousands of people rely upon. Why would people need food assistance, housing waivers, Medicaid, etc. if they are getting a guaranteed monthly stipend? Others argue that the stipend won’t always be enough to cover these essentials. They argue that we need to maintain some of these programs to ensure that no one is lives in poverty. 

How would we pay for Universal Basic Income?

And here’s where the idea gets incredibly unpopular! The number one source of income for most government’s is taxes, so increased tax revenue is the most popular choice for funding the program. People on the high ends of the income scale would probably pay more than their stipend in taxes to support the program. No one wants to pay more in taxes.

Other ideas for funding the program have been discussed as well. These include raising corporate taxes while closing some of the loopholes in the corporate tax code or raising tariffs. The main arguments against these ideas is that corporations would pass the costs along to the consumer, and higher operating costs would stifle innovation and potentially cost jobs.

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What are the arguments for and against Universal Basic Income?

There are tons of arguments both in favor of and against the program, and there is a lot of nuance in between. Therefore, I’m just going to lay out the basics.

For It

Proponents of Universal Basic Income argue that wages are too low and jobs are too scarce for people to lift themselves out of poverty. The argument is that if people were able to cover their basic needs (food and shelter) they would be more productive and have the time to develop in demand skills. People would also be more innovative and creative if they weren’t trapped in soul-sucking jobs. This would mean that we would have more art and more people pursuing their passions. A final argument in favor of universal basic income is that people would have more power to decline unfair wages and working conditions. This would force businesses to pay fair wages in order to be competitive. 

Against it

Opponents of the program argue that giving people free money will lead to a dependent society where nobody will actually want to work. Another aspect of this is that people would refuse to work menial jobs for minimum wage, so companies wouldn’t be able to find workers and would potentially be forced out of business, leading to less competition. Opponents also argue that it’s unfair for the people who do work to support those that do not. A major argument of this position is that it is way too expensive to pay every citizen something.  Those that work would be taxed an outrageous amount to support everyone else.

Related: What Are Family Values?

Is Universal Basic Income being used anywhere?

Some countries are actually toying with the idea of Universal Basic Income. Finland was the first country to do a trial run on the program. They selected 2000 unemployed Fins who then received a monthly stipend for two years. Although the final results of the study have not been published yet, initial reports from 2018 imply that the program wasn’t ambitious enough to work.

Individual cities and states are also testing out types of Universal Basic Income programs. Alaska gives all of its citizens a yearly payout of its oils and gas revenues. Though this was never actually considered a Universal Basic Income program, it has a lot of similarities.

 Hamilton, Ontario, is testing a program to determine if basic income is more effective at reducing poverty than existing social programs. Barcelona began testing their B-Mincome program in 2017. This program  provides a monthly stipend to residents in the poorest area of the city. Most of these pilots are still in progress, so it’s unclear what the final verdict will be.

Who Supports Universal Basic Income?

There are actually a few big-name proponents of the program. Most notably are billionaire entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Richard Branson. In all fairness, it would be impossible to list all the people who don’t support it, because there are so many. 

What are your thoughts on Universal Basic Income?

I’ve tried my best to not interject my opinion in this post (that’s for a different day!) but I’d love to know what your thoughts on the program are! Are you for or against it? And why?

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