Frugal Beautiful

Archive for the ‘Financial Freedom’ Category

The famous line “People first, then money, then things,” comes from financial guru Suze Orman.  I adore Suze- I am watching her show right now on Itunes.  Fabulous stuff!  While her other advice is great- “people first,” is really something I’ve been focusing on.  I’m currently on the 30-Day-No-Shopping Challenge and I realized that time not spent shopping needs to be filled with something else in order to succeed.

Filling your life with people, not things is a way to free up your money for greater opportunity: retirement, starting a business, going on vacation, cutting your work hours and living comfortably…or how about this:  not bursting into tears when the credit bill comes each month?  That sounds pretty darn good.

 

Shopping keeps us busy.  It also gives us a sense that we’re building something- a more beautiful home, a more savvy wardrobe to spur more confidence,  a repertoire of things to make life better, faster, more efficient.  But what it all boils down to is people.  We want a nicer home to invite friends over and gadgets to entertain them with, a wardrobe that inspires awe and praise from people at work,  a birthday gift that shows our appreciation.  While things can be useful- it’s a distraction from the sometimes intimidating work of making personal connections with people and building community based on our own personalities and effort.

I recently had some friends over for drinks after hitting up a discount pizza place for their Monday night specials.  Honestly, I was embarrassed to have them over- my new apartment was sparsely furnished- we didn’t even have enough chairs for everyone.  I found myself fretting over the appearance of my apartment, but of course- as you can imagine, nobody cared.  Everyone was just happy I opened my home and we had cheap beer and wine and sat around and talked.  They were happy to get together, and in the end, I was happy to have done it.  Relying on personal connections and not things can be scary-  but often the experience is more genuine.

To ensure the success of my No-Shopping Challenge, I’m filling my life with EVENTS and not stuff.  I’m going to knitting meetups and attending health workshops.  I walk my dog each day and finally tackle projects that have been nagging at me.

 

Shopping has been a distraction for far too long.  It makes you feel accomplished, productive and successful when you can buy something new- especially when you’ve hunted down a good deal, but the activity of shopping usually distracts from other activity.

What are you using shopping to hide from? How are “things” holding you back from genuine experiences and connections with people?  Does debt keep you in a constant state of stress or does shopping hide the fact that you haven’t explored what really makes you happy?  Do you feel you don’t have the right “things” to start your goals?  (Trust me, having a cute pair of Nikes will not really encourage you to go to the gym).

People first– the money will sort itself out and the the things will matter less and less.  You will have exactly what you need.

 

 

Suze Orman is known for her financial advice- especially her emphasis on living within your means and saving for the future.

I chose her commencement address at University of Illinois because she speaks about her life journey.  The fact that she had no idea what she wanted to do, and ended up dropping out of U of I resonates with a lot of us who are trying to figure out our life’s path.  She was a major in Social Work and ended up being one of our generation’s major financial gurus, and it happened through her mistakes, miscalculations and of course- tenacity.

“Your degree does not make you- you make your life.” Her story will leave us with plenty of useful lessons learned.

“You are to go for anything and everything you want.  You are to give 100% to everything you do…the hardest thing in life is to jump a chasm…it doesn’t matter what you jump into.  All I ask of you is to jump into it with 100%, with every single thing you have.”

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009While I am not in consumer debt- I seem to have a penchant for spending as much as I make- if not sometimes more (which is easy to do when you work part time and go to school).

I find that my spending habits are irregular- sometimes I’m very aware of my income level for the month and spend accordingly- other times I feel as if I make all of my purchases at once leaving for one month of an unusually high credit bill.

I just recently took in a foster pug named Ralph, and while some expenses are reimbursed, much is not- such as kibble, treats, grooming and a bed -$80.  I also a month ago signed up for a student gym which was -$96 ( if I go to yoga at least once a week it’s the cheapest rate around, even better when I go twice weekly!) +$6 for yoga gloves to help my grip on the mat.  I got a great rate to fly back to the west coast for a 5 year reunion with my friends from the non-profit, which was a round-trip ticket for -$305 with taxes.  I also purchased two books from Amazon for -$20.  Needless  to say, it’s gonna be a wee-bit tight for the next two months since I make a meager income and I’m going to challenge myself to BUY NOTHING for 30 days.

I tried to challenge myself and not shop for 30 days at the beginning of this year and failed around day 20.  I had to chip in conjunction with a gift card to buy a pair of boots I needed for winter so that was $25, and a few days later I gave in at Target and got a pillar candle and a picture frame.  Seriously, THAT is what mucked me up- $33 in 2 days.  I have to try again- both because I’m broke and because I’m prideful.

The Challenge Parameters:

-No purchases except food, medical care and necessities for the dog (if the dog needs a crate I will get him 0ne).

-Gift cards may be used, but not if the purchase exceeds the card amount.

-My grocery bill must be under $200 for the entire month.

-Purchases for the reunion dinner are applicable since I am in charge of the food/prep/setup.

What else am I forgetting?  Oh, ya, probably how challenging it’s going to be. Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.

 

I want to set up a reward for myself at the end of the 30 days, but what can I do as a treat for myself that wouldn’t defeat the purpose of saving money? Suggestions are appreciated.

See you on March 1st, 2011 for a challenging challenge!

cowgirl pinup

 

Hope y’all had a great week!

Here are some of my favorite postings from the blogosphere-

Read some, learn some, and have a great kick-a$$ week!

 

Money Links:

Financial Myths College Grads Should Stop Believing @TheFinancial Blogger

Kickoff to 2011:  Mind-Maps, Passion and Pancakes @LifeAfter College

How To File Your First Tax Return @WiseBread

I Don’t Have Time to Be Frugal! @TheSimpleDollar

It’s Harder to Get Started Today @TheSimpleDollar

Life/Happiness Related Links:

Get More Bang For Your Buck:  Revel In Anticipation @Happiness Project

How to Make Life Work in Your Favor @PickTheBrain

Love Yourself First @Already Pretty

Skipping The Latte:  Why Cutting Back Could Cost You More @Pick The Brain

Frugal Fashion & Beauty Links:

How to Make Headbands- 21 Free Patterns @

10 Places to Find Inexpensive Accessories @WiseBread

Combat Dry Skin @FrugalVillage

How to Make Simple Outfits Sparkle @Already Pretty

If you were to look in my Itunes account, this is exactly what you’d see:

The Suze Orman Show Podcast

I LOVE Suze Orman!  I adore the “Can I Afford It?” segment!  The stuff people buy is hilarious!  But beyond that- even if some of the financial talk is over your head, she speaks on some core heart issues- like helping out loved ones in need, long term planning and the correlation between our self image and our spending.  Brilliant!

 

BlogcastFM

This is a podcast about blogging- but often the interviews and personal stories of bloggers is what makes this podcast so great.  Truly blogging is a very unique industry, and the bloggers themselves are even more so!   This podcast offers some much needed guidance to make happy blogs and even happier bloggers.

 

 

 

In the Den with Dr. Jenn - Season 3In The Den With Dr. Jenn

This video podcast has been a favorite of mine for years!  Not only has Dr. Jenn taught at my Alma Mater, but she knows how to throw one heck of a party even in podcast form!  She tackles a variety of topics pertaining to women’s health in an unpredictable and entertaining way.  Totally recommended!

 

Morning Coach

This podcast is excellent to be paired with a cup of coffee in the morning!  Sometimes a little dose of “audio caffeine”  is exactly what you need to kick start your day!

 

 

 

The Daily Boost

If Morning Coach is caffeine, this is like a Monster energy drink in terms if measure solely on pep.  He’s got a radio talk-show host voice and plenty of spunk, especially good for those of us who have a “case of the Mondays” pretty much every day of the week.

 

 

 

The Smart Passive Income Podcast: Online Business | Blogging | Passive Income | Lifestyle

 

The Smart Passive Income Podcast w/ Pat Flynn

If you’re like me, a person who has been using the interwebs for ages but has *no* clue how it really “works,” and how people can monetize their time on it- well, this is the podcast is for you.

 

 

 

Anderson Cooper 360° Podcast

I love this podcast because it’s about all the news I can take in a day.  Small doses of decent coverage with a little bit of humor tacked on at the end.  Plus, Anderson is such a good lookin’ guy even the Egyptians want to hit that…literally…in the face.

Here are some of my favorite blog posts from this week!  Have a great weekend and a fabulous Valentine’s Day!

 

5 Awesome Alternatives to Groupon @Wisebread

Nine Lessons In Wealth @GetRichSlowly

Top 10 Dumbest and Smartest Things You Can Do With Your Tax Refund @Enemy of Debt

Make it Personal: The Best Kind Of Valentine @PickTheBrain

How To Get Your Confidence Back @PickTheBrain

Pleasing Someone Else or Pleasing Yourself @TheSimpleDollar

How To Sell Your Crap @WiseBread

Useful Tips on Writing For Pay @Feministing

My Mac picks up chicks all the time

Money is tight.  I loathe credit card debt.  I work a part-time job and am a full-time student with plenty of expenses.  How could I possibly get a second job on top of this?  If you need more income, it’s easier than you think.

Simple Ideas to Increase Your Cash Flow:

-Sign up with a temp agency or simply find a niche you’d excel at and promote yourself. Babysitting, dog walking, dog washing, house cleaning, etc. has low/no startup costs.   You can post flyers around town or post online through blogging, craigslist, etc. Simple.  To actually start a business will require more effort (and legal know-how) but offering your services to friends could be a way to make a few quick bucks.

-Sell your cr*p. Gazelle, Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist. Sell, Sell, Sell.  If not for the money, the simple act of purging what you don’t need will bring better things into your life.

-If you’re not earning, you should be learning. Find holes in your resume and fill it.  Learn new computer skills (this is key) that can make you competitive, or get some volunteer/internship experience so you can have a competitive edge.  Check out Ehow.com, Lynda.com and check out Google Blog Search for resources on what you need to know.

-Start networking. This is the scary part- talking to people about your goals and dreams.  If someone is doing what you want to do, or simply would be a good contact to develop a relationship with, take the time and money to offer them a lunch or cup of coffee to build that relationship and pick their brain.  If you want to take the less-scary route, simply start facebooking or blogging about your talents or your aspirations- just get it out there!

-See if you can earn income at home, or produce a product for sale. For some people with computer know-how,  data entry and website maintenance can be done at home.  Others go the direct sales route to work flexible hours to sell products for a well established company (more about this later).  I have done both.

Oh-so-frugal-beautiful!
Part of being in control of your financial life is being aware of what really matters to you.

Many frugal-gurus advise you to cut down on your “latte factor”…small purchases that may only cost a few dollars but add up over time.

My advice stems from this-prioritize your spending based on what you can’t live without, or simply what brings you the most joy- even if it’s small purchases.

I used to love having my nails done. I would get a pedicure once a month and I had gorgeous acrylic nails. They were great for back scratching, looked great, and I totally loved them. They cost me $25 every three weeks, and $23 for a pedicure. For a flat fee of $25, I could buy my own supplies to do at-home mani/pedis. I calculated that I could roughly save $438 a year if I simply did my spa treatments at home. I can’t do my own acrylics, but I can choose from some gorgeous nail colors, and the security of knowing I’m able to pay my bills each month is totally freeing.  Now I love to do my nails, and have freed my money up for something that brings me greater fulfillment.

When I moved to Chicago, I had to rethink my priorities- number one being the security of having my bills paid in full without additional stress. I then had to categorize my spending based on what would make me the happiest. What did I decide? I decided for me, I didn’t need to get my nails done, pay for cable, purchase books and use the library instead, and I’d brew my own coffee and cook more at home. I also decided to sell any books, shoes or video games I didn’t need to earn some extra coin to pay for things I really wanted. I chose to get a cheaper apartment that with utilities, was under $400 a month (And note to my friends that tease me for being frugal in my living space? Well “friends,” my stuff is PAID FOR, now come over for some boxed wine!).

What did I decide to spend money on? Getting stylish clothing appropriate for midwest weather and to look hot in the cold Chicago winters, getting a dog (that will probably cost me $450), signing up for yoga, and starting this blog. I also decided that I was willing to spend more on purchases to support small businesses for groceries, clothes and yarn- that makes me happy. I was willing to cut back on my shopping in other arenas and look for savings to make this happen.

Plus, you can still have everything you want/need by looking for cheaper alternatives, searching for coupons/discounts, swapping with friends or negotiating cheaper rates on your monthly bills.  Everything is attainable!

Am I happier despite the sacrifices? You better believe it. Being financially efficient is different for everyone- cutting back on your lattes might be cost effective and motivating for one and yet depressing for someone else.  You know what is worth spending money on in terms of your own joy and security- if you can afford convenience in one area, but can D.I.Y. in another- you have the power to make that judgement call!

Take a few minutes to evaluate what matters to you, and allocate your money accordingly to maximize the happiness from each dollar.

Valentine Piggy  {09.365}

You need to be doing one of two things:  Either paying off your debt or saving for your future. RIGHT NOW.

If you have income, you need to either get out of debt or put a little money away for saving (or spending!)

I can not entice you with promises of how great it will be when your wrinkly-ass wants to be at the vacation home for your retirement years in Florida with the grandkids- but I hope I can help you realize that in 6 months, that microwave/wedding/vacation/new Coach Purse isn’t going to pay for itself and it sure as hell is not going on a high-interest credit card!

You will hear over and over again that you need to save for the “unforeseen problems” that are bound to happen as you age.  Well, screw that.  I’m here to tell you that you need to be saving for the problems you TOTALLY SEE coming in the next 6-12 months and will save you from the agony of paying 12-18% (plus late fees) on it.

In my previous finance article, I asked you to be aware of your present spending habits.  Now I’m asking to couple this awareness with thought about the not-so-far-off future, with purchases that are tangible.  Sure, you could get more excited about a new pair of Jimmy Choos, but I think you’ll get just as excited about replacing a crappy coffee maker if you know it’s paid for in cash and you don’t have to go on living without it.

You know you have purchases coming up, or perhaps you’re already sweating about what you already bought.  Stop fretting (or avoiding) retirement planning, and get your youth out of the sinkhole!

Resources on the Interwebs:

Mint.com–  Set goals and set budgets in a simple fashion that you can follow online or on your phone.

SuzeOrman.com– Her website is great, but check out the free podcast of her show or her fabulous gender and genre specific finance books.

Up next? This may sound counterintuitive, but I will soon be posting my FAVORITE links to finding designer duds for stupid-cheap.

I’m going to be posting several small articles that will help you tackle your finances and be your most powerful self in quick, do-able steps. Today’s step?

Take 5 minutes to look through your wallet, bank statement and credit card bills.  Taking stock of what’s going on with your spending habits will give you powerful insight to take control of your life!

It is time to get real with your finances, because you know you aren’t doing what you should!  Take a good hard look at what’s going on in your wallet (or how many swipes away you are from wearing a hole in your credit card) and evaluate what’s happening in your life.

Your finance habits correlate with your thinking and living habits.  I can tell you when I relocated to Chicago, my spending was out of control!  While I bought a lot of things I needed for the new place and new weather conditions, I was so desperate to get “settled,” that I didn’t think my purchases through.  Needless to say, I ended up with two pairs of boots purchased online I don’t use, and three very high credit bills.  I was so stressed about feeling secure in my personal life, I was doing the opposite in my financial life!  Take stock (and a good hard look at  where your money is going) and spend just 5 minutes quickly spotting any red flags or things to simply be aware of.

It’s that simple.


Check out some of my favorite sites that will make this goal a breeze and give you ideas!

www. Mint.com – (MY FAVORITE TOOL)- online or on my phone!   In 10 minutes you can see every penny you have saved or spent in savings, CD, investments and credit cards.  PLUS they generate great tips and leads for better ways to save money on purchases and gain more for your savings!

http://www.dailyworth.com/ -their daily emails are fabulous!

http://lifehacker.com/

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/ -they so totally are!

http://www.Wisebread.com

http://www.frugalvillage.com/ -I love the forums, any question you want answered from a variety of perspectives!

Up next? Two simple things you need to be doing to live a healthy financial lifestyle- and it doesn’t have to be painful!


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