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Posts Tagged ‘Finances’

Being self employed, I’m feeling the “economic crisis” a little bit more than I would if I was still working….never the less, I know God is in control and that He will take care of our needs.  Using the concepts I talked about in the previous post “God helps those who help themselves” I’d like to talk about some ways to beat or “outsmart” the economic crisis.

First of all, as Christians, our first resort should be prayer.  This doesn’t always come automatically to us, but once we learn this lesson, things go a lot smoother.  So first, I’m in prayer about our finances and God providing Piano Students and people to buy things on ebay (my other money making hobby!)

Second of all, I’m excited that gas prices have gone down almost $1.50 PER GALLON since this summer!  I continue to use mid-grade (it lasts longer), purchase gas where I can use a discount card, fill up when the needle hits 3/4 tank, turn my car off when I’m in the drive up at the bank and stay home more often. (the more I can save on gas, the less I will feel this economic crisis affecting me)

Third of all, I’ve been doing the MAJORITY of my shopping on ebay.com.  I just bought black and white ink for an HP printer and paid $15.90 which INCLUDES the shipping.  The black ink alone at a store like Wal-mart runs 19.99, if you buy black and white there, it’s almost $50!  What a savings.  I also buy DVD’s on ebay……..you can even get new movies on there, people buy them, watch them once and resell them on ebay for a lot less than they are in the store.  Another thing I purchase on ebay is my Mary Kay products.  There are 4 products that I use on a daily basis that are Mary Kay.  I can usually get what I need for $30.00, including shipping (which lasts me about 2 months). One of the products I use costs $30 alone from Mary Kay….another great savings!  Last of all, I purchase my Bath & Body works air freshener refills on ebay.  We don’t have a BBW in our area, so not only does it save me lots of money on gas, but I just purchased 4 sets of refills for 34.00 in the store, they would have been $50.00 plus tax, and my gas to drive to the nearest BBW, which is almost 2 hours away.

I resell Grace’s toys and clothes on ebay and usually, I get almost as much for them as I paid for them (sometimes, I get more for them than I paid for them)

I also shop clearance and thrift stores (you have to take your time to dig through things, but I find her a lot of new things from Gymboree, Gap and the Children’s place at thrift stores) and stock up on things for the next season.  Last year, I bought her several cute winter outfits at the Macy’s 1-day sale, they were $4.99 each (one of the dresses was a $69.00 dress!)

Also, when I was working, I ate out for lunch EVERY day, at the hospital I worked at, I could get lunch for $5.00, which isn’t bad, for a full meal, but that’s $100 a month just for lunch.  Now that I’m home, we only eat out once a week and it saves LOTS of money.

I hope these give you some good ideas.  If you have additional ideas, please share!

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Summer is well underway, and I thought I’d share with you all a few of the inexpensive things that Grace and I do together to have fun.

  • McDonald’s Playland-(Air Conditioned fun!)
  • Playing in the Pool (in our back yard)
  • Playing at the Park
  • Taking walks, looking for birds, dogs, airplanes, etc.
  • Having a picnic in the backyard
  • Playing “hide & seek”
  • Chasing each other around the yard
  • Playdough!
  • Baking together
  • Decorating cookies
  • Bubbles!
  • Playing with balloons
  • Having a “Camp out” before bed
  • Singing fun songs together
  • Watching Parades
  • Fireworks
  • Storytime (at the library or at home)

These are just  a few of the things we have done this summer to have fun together…..having fun doesn’t have to cost very much money, the most important thing is spending time together.  I love spending time with Grace.  Many times she says to me before bed “Mom, you are my BEST friend”  We have so much fun together, whether it’s piggy back rides or sharing a bowl of Ice Cream, it’s good just to spend time together, and that’s the important thing…..she is growing up so quickly, that I feel it’s important for us to make good memories and spend time together now, otherwise I’ll turn around and she’ll be off to college.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas for having fun together without spending a fortune.

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Here are a few of the things I do to save money on everyday items.

  • I grocery shop at Wal-Mart-I’ve heard people say that they don’t shop at Wal-mart because they don’t sell real brands……not only does Wal-Mart sell “real brands” but they are sometime over $2.00 less than other stores PER ITEM……I’ve never had an issue finding the brand I want at Wal-Mart.  (Also, it’s great if you can grocery shop at Wal-Mart AND use coupons……BIG savings.)
  • Walgreens is another source for great savings…..if you can coordinate your coupons with their sales, you can get some really good deals.  Once I got a can of coffee there for .75c!
  • I buy Target Brand diapers…..The first year, I always bought boxes of Huggies at Wal-Mart WITH a coupon, and it was still $20.00 a box……Target brand diapers are $11.79 A BOX……you can get 2 boxes for a little more than the price of 1 box of Huggies WITH a coupon, and I haven’t found any difference in them.
  • Clearance shop at Target.  (My cousin taught me this one)  Make a route and go around to all of the back aisles where clearance is and then shop the clearance racks in the midde departments…..it’s AMAZING what you can leave there with and only spend $20.00!  Certain times of the year, they have gift bags, tissue and wrapping paper on sale for .28c each!  Other times, I’ve found M&M’s for $1.00 a bag, or deoderant for .79c.  Once I found Crest toothpaste for .18c a tube, plus I buy my batteries at the Target Dollar Spot.  They usually sell all sizes, so I stock up because batteries can be EXPENSIVE.
  •  At McDonalds, I buy my combo meal and either a cheeseburger or a 4 piece chicken nuggets for Grace and we share my fries and drink since she only takes a few sips of the drink and I only eat a few of the fries……it works great for us and saves several dollars each time we go to MC D’s (plus this way, we don’t have tons of little happy meal toys all over the house and car 🙂 )
  • Shop for brand name items on eBay.  I like Mary Kay products, but I really can’t afford to use them all the time on my budget (or should we say I have better things to spend my money on nowdays)  I am usually able to get all of the MK products I use during the month for under $30.00 (including shipping)  That’s all of my MK products for the price of 1 MK item.  Once I got my face powder for .99c with 1.99 shipping!  YEA!!!!!!
  • Clearance shop at the end of the season to buy ahead for the next year.  I’ve been doing this for Grace and it has allowed me to buy her VERY nice things very inexpensively.   I think about the size she’s wearing now, the size I think she will be wearing the next season and then I go a size bigger for the next season (For example, she wears 2T now, in the fall she will be wearing 3T and some 4T’s, so for NEXT summer, I’ll pre buy her 4T and 5T’s)  This system has been working good for me so far.  At MACY’s 1-day sale in the early spring, I bought the majority of her fall and winter wardrobe for $4.99 for each piece!  I bought her an OSHKOSH winter coat for next year on clearance for $19.99!  I recently bought all of her clothes for next summer at GYMBOREE for under $100.00.  All of them were on clearance for $3.99-8.99!  I have a rubbermaid bin that I store everything for the next season in.  When the season changes, I pull the bin out and bring all of her new wardrobe in the house, then you only need to buy a few things like socks or a pair of dress shoes and you’ve got everything ready for the season.  Another added bonus is that I clean out the items from the previous season and things that are too small and sell them on eBay.  Lots of times I get MORE for them on eBay than what I paid, AND we got a season of wear out of them!

I hope some of these ideas work for you!  Please share your money saving tips with all of us.  I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

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I learned something awhile back that I wish I knew when I was 19……I read an article in a women’s magazine about finances.  It stated some things that have stuck with me and have helped me out tremendously.  We all know that the majority of single moms don’t have lots of extra money (or even extra money) and we all like to save where we can…..hopefully some of these thoughts and concepts will help you in the way that you look at your finances.

#1 It stated that on average, Americans spend $1.22 for every dollar that they earn. (This is possible through loans and credit cards.) This article was written a few years back, so that figure may have gone up since then.  When I read this statement, I was thinking….WOW, and I started analyzing my spending.  I thought that I was pretty thrifty, but as I analyzed my bank and credit card statements, I saw that while I didn’t spend $1.22 for every dollar I earned, my money was flying out the door pretty fast.

#2 it stated that the income from your job should cover your bills/expenses, savings, and that you should find another source of income for spending money, entertainment, etc…..So basically, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, and don’t depend on your paycheck for all of your income.

                                             

These 2 statements have really stuck with me, so I constantly analyze spending to make sure that I’m saving more money and not waisting money.  It’s not like we never have fun, but I do try to make sure that I’m making more than I’m spending.  The second statement, has made a bigger income on me.  In the past, I got paid well, but it always seemed like money was tight.  Now that I’ve decided not to make my job the only source of my income, It’s amazing how different my finanaces are.  You don’t have to go out and get another job necessarily, (especially if you are a single mom, you don’t have the time to work 2 jobs.) but what are some things you can do to earn money?  Here are my ideas:

  • Ebay
  • Teach lessons (Piano, tutoring, cooking, sewing, etc)
  • Avon
  • Craft shows
  • House sit
  • Pet sit
  • Babysit
  • and I’m SURE there are many more ideas on this topic……

Another finance tip I’ve heard is opening a second savings account, then when you get your paycheck, (Let’s say your check is $782.95)  You put the number before the decimal and the change into your second bank account (from this example, that would be $2.95)  You’ll never miss the $2.95, or what ever the little bit on the end of your check is, but by the end of the year, you’ll have a nice savings to use on Christmas, Birthdays, paying a bill, etc.

One thing that I do is analyze all of my spending and see where I can cut back on it……for example, can I switch to a less expensive minute plan for my cell phone? (even if it’s only saving $10.00 a month  on my plan, $10.00 plus taxes adds up to over $150.00 a year savings in this spending area alone.)  Can I find a car insurance policy that is less expensive?  (I called Geico and saved almost HALF on the EXACT same coverage that I had through my other insurance company.)  Do I NEED cable or satillite? Do I need BOTH a cell phone and a home phone?  Is there a less expensive internet provider?  Could I pay less for rent or for my mortgage?  Can I get a lower interest rate on my credit card?  Can I shop at a less expensive grocery store? Do I have a coupon for it? Can I buy it at the dollar store?  Can I pay my bills on-line or over the phone to save on postage?  Even if you only save a little bit in each spending category, when you add them all together, the savings can be BIG.  The year I started analyzing my spending and trying to save money on all of my bills, I saved myself almost $1,500.00 that year alone……this was all money I was spending that I didn’t need to be spending…….I got the same services or BETTER services in some cases and saved almost $1,500.00 that year.  That right there makes things a little less tight.  I’ll be posting more financial tips and ideas as I think of them…..I hope some of them are a help to you!

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I am a VERY thrifty person.  I don’t like to waste any money and I’m always looking for ways to save money.  We all know that most single moms don’t have very much money, and even the ones who do have much better things to spend it on than putting gas in their cars.  Back in the day (five years ago when I bought my car….) I could fill it up for $23.50, and it lasted for 2 weeks.  (Gas was $1.29 a gallon then…..those were the days…..)  If I let my car go to empty and fill it up now, it costs me almost $60.00.  WOW.  That’s a lot of money.  It still lasts for two weeks, but that’s $120.00 a month in gas compared to the $47.00 that it used to be.  (I know that some of you who drive trucks, SUV’s and Vans pay WAY more than this, but I choose to drive a small car and I’d like it if I could spend less money in this area.) So I keep thinking “HOW can I save money on gas?” 

If you read my post  “Things I Can and Can’t Control”  you know that the price of gas is in the circle of influence.  It is something that influences our daily life, but we have NO control over it, so we have to accept it and try to change what we can control, right?

For weeks, I’ve been pondering this topic.  Can I cut back on my driving? No, I’ve cut back everywhere I can and I am very organized about running my errands so that I’m not waisting gas.  I turn my car off when I go to the drive up window at the bank and I try to park and go into fast food places instead of waisting my gas sitting in line.  I only run my A/C when necessary, and even then I keep the fan on 1 or 2 once the car is cooled down….I buy on-line whenever possible….all of these actions combined are not helping very much……so I’m back to square one.  How can I save money on gas?

Then I remembered something that my Uncle told me several years ago…..never let your tank go under 1/2.  Your fuel burns more efficiently when your tank is fuller than when it’s going empty……(my Uncle actually fills up every time the needle moves a little under full…..but that’s a little too OCD for me.)  Hmmm….he told me this tip back when gas was $1.29 a gallon and I didn’t CARE how efficiently my gas was burning…….now the price of gas here is $4.35 a gallon and I’m CARING how efficiently my fuel is being used. 

Another tip that my mechanic told me was to buy the mid-grade gas.  He said that he did a little study on it and it’s anywhere from .10-.15 cents more per gallon than regular, BUT it gives you several more miles to the gallon than regular gas does, so in the long run, you are SAVING yourself several gallons of gas a month by buying the mid-grade.

OK, so I tried it for myself.  I’ve been doing this for the last 6 weeks….Here’s what I do:  I buy the mid-grade AND I fill up when my tank is right at 3/4, which for me is usually once a week.  Now when I fill up, it’s $25.85 a week, which comes out to 103.44 a month……I just saved myself $16.56 a month on gas!!!!!  It may not sound like very much, but that’s a couple of trips to McDonalds for Grace and I, and it equals a savings of $198.72 a year.  WOW!  That’s money that I can put in the bank, put on a bill, or use for having fun.  I’d much rather give that $198.72 a year to McDonalds than to Exxon……I’m already giving them enough.

You may have already heard these tips, so this may be old news to you, but it’s a new revelation for me, so I’m very excited about it.

So, what ways have you found to save money on fuel?  I’d love to hear them!

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