{52 Week Money Challenge} The Easiest Way to Save $1,000+

Click here for update and a “remix” to this MONEY CHALLENGE!  Can we say…so much easier to save, than the original!!

SMC- 52 Week Money Challenge

Today I was introduced to the 52 Week Money Challenge by a fellow blogger, DLWinfrey from Pretty Girls Rock Dresses (PGRDresses). The challenge is to make a weekly deposit that reflects the number of weeks of the year. For example on week one you deposit $1.00 and on week 27 you deposit $27.00 and so on. It sort of reminds me of when I was little and my big brother would give me money that corresponded with my age ($5.00 for my fifth birthday and $10 for my tenth birthday). This is week one of 2013, so if you are interested, you better put your dollar to the side. I plan on using the money saved throughout the year for holiday purchases and paying down credit card debt. Just think, by this time next year, I could have saved $1,378 just by participating in this challenge. While I don’t know who came up with this challenge, I do thank them. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it won’t break the bank.  Plus the remix of this money challenge makes it so even easier.

52 Week Money Challenge

What Will You Do With Your Savings?

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{Happiness} SMC hits 1,000,000 views!

 

 Time to dance on the table and drink champagne….oh wait, it’s not even the weekend yet.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. For those of you who frequent SMC, you may have heard me mention my latest goal is to set realistic goals. In doing so, I set a goal to hit the one million mark by March 1, 2013 (the 2 year Anniversary for SMC). Needless to say, I was beyond overjoyed when I checked my stats this past Saturday and realized, not only did I hit the million mark, but I surpassed it.  It has been amazingly cathartic to create SMC.  Over the course of this experience…and it has been an experience, I have posted 355 posts about finances, fashion, and all things fabulous and you’ve been there along the way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for joining me as I balance finances fabulously.  YOU ROCK!

xoxo,

Danielle B.

The Envelope System Saves $$$

Someone pinned this picture on Pinterest of them dividing their money into different envelops as suggested by financial expert, Dave Ramsey. His explanation of the envelope system was simple and made cents/sense, so I thought I’d share it. My thoughts are in PINK, of course. I hope you enjoy!

~Danielle

Get on a Simple System

The key component to Dave Ramsey’s, “Total Money Makeover” is the envelope system. What is the envelope system, you ask? Well, according to Ramsey, its “way to handle money still works. People used to always use cash envelopes to control their monthly spending, but very few do in today’s card swiping culture”. I will say that it works and the comments to post prove it. Check out Ramsey’s simple basics for starting a cash envelope system.

  1. Budget each paycheck. Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you’re going to successfully implement the envelope system. While I know plenty of people who budget a certain percentage of each check, I budget specific figures.
  2. Divide and conquer. Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing, and entertainment. I usually work off three main categories: groceries, restaurants/entertainment, personal maintenance (hair, nails, or anything that will help me feel “pretty”). I chose these categories for myself because these are the areas I could be tempted to overspend. I pay my bills off the top and then I budget each paycheck into these categories, which were listed in order of importance.
  3. Fill ‘er Up. After you’ve categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.

From Ramsey

When it’s gone, it’s gone. Once you’ve spent all the money in a given envelope, you’re done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can’t spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!

Don’t be tempted. While debit cards can’t get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.

Give it time. It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don’t give up after a month or two if it’s not clicking. You’ll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace! See … simple! Truth… I sort of fell of the wagon for a while. I actually, couldn’t remember what purse I put the envelopes in until today, when I found them, and I had $20 in my restaurant fund. I started back on the system TODAY!!! It takes work but most great things do….

photo credit: Tales From the Coop Keeper | content: David Ramsey

What are your categories for your envelopes?

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Changes in Our “New” Economy

This morning I replied to the question,What lifestyle changes have you made in our “new” economy?   Here is my reply:

Creating the blog She Makes Cents, has been one way were I am held accountable for my financial decision…since I’m blogging about it. In our “new” economy and for research for my site, I now do the following:

  • I make spending and saving goals for the month. Then I tell the people around me my goals. That way, when I start to slip or go regress to old habits, I have a support system to help keep me on track.
  • I am notorious for going to restaurants multiple times a week. I now make sure I eat before leaving the house and I pack fruit and random snacks in my bag. That way, when I start to get “snacky” I don’t have to make a trip to the vending machine, closet Chick-fil-A, or restaurant.
  • I track my spending. EVERYTHING! I tried it because of a suggestion from this financial writer. It really adds some perspective to your spending habits and it made/makes me think hard about my purchases and the motivation/emotion behind them. (You can download the original template I used from author Catey Hill, here).
  • I opened an alternate email account and I send email coupons and store sign ups here.
  • Before I go out, I check out Groupon Now, HalfOffDepot.com, & Living Social. Why pay full price when you can get a better deal on the same product and service?

    I have more tips; check out SMC Money Journal & Fix Your Finances!

This question got me thinking about you SMC readers.

What changes have you made, if any, in our “new” economy?

Have you benefitted from any advice you read on here?

I’d love to hear from YOU!

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Email SMC: shemakescents@gmail.com

How to Get the Most Out of Coupons

Today, I will be providing information to answer an email question that was submitted to She Makes Cents via my About.Me page, which by the way you should totally check out!

I’m trying the coupon bit, can you please show me how to use them, I guess coupon 101, and how to get the most out of my coupons, I often see where folks buy $600.00- 1100.00 in value , but pay $50.00 or less, can you teach me how to do that?

First off, congratulations on making the decision to start reevaluating ways to make your money work for you and not the other way around. To be honest, I do not coupon to this degree where I buy “$600.00-$1100.00 in value, but pay [around] $50.00 or less”, but I have seen it done. If this is the level of couponing that you aspire to, then there are a few things that you must consider:

  • Keep an ongoing grocery list. This helpful because it I find it easier to jot down an item I’m running low on or completely out of when I’m thinking about it. That way, it ensures that it makes it on my list. If I start a grocery list right before I go to the store, I risk forgetting something I actually need or spending money on products that I didn’t know I already had.
  • You must be extremely organized. Keeping up with coupons to multiple stores can easily become overwhelming if you do not have a system in place. Reuse a folder or an old note book where you store your coupons. Find a way of filing that works for you. For example, you can store coupons by type of product (groceries, health and beauty, fashion, restaurants, etc) or by store.
  • Don’t get tricked into buying things you don’t need. Stick to your list. Review your ongoing list before you actually go shopping. Then compare the list of items (including specific brands) on your list to your library of coupons you have compiled and filed away oh so neatly in your folder or notebook. Just because the coupons mentions that you have to buy three of the same products to get .75 off, doesn’t mean it is a good deal. Who really needs three containers of mayonnaise any ways? 
  • Know the stores’ policy about couponing. Some stores allow manufactures coupons and some don’t. In addition, some stores allow the practice of double couponing and some don’t.
  • Read the small print. So this one is self explanatory, yet few people actually take the time to read the tiny print. Think about it for a second, they make it small for a reason. It’s better to know the limitations of the deal before your get to the cash register.

 HOW TO SPEND $16 FOR $75 WORTH OF STUFF AT TARGET

 

CHECK OUT WHAT $20 AND COUPONS WILL GET YOU…YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE IT

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Budgeting 102- Spending Diet

I saw the movie Eat Pray Love not too long ago. In it, is a reference to an old Catholic joke that I have become very fond of. In a voice-over, Liz, played by Julia Roberts, recalls the following:

I remember an Old Catholic joke about a man who spent his whole life going to a church every day and prayed to the statue of a great saint begging, “please, please, please, let me win the lottery.” Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says “my son, please, please, please, buy a ticket”.

Sometimes I find myself in situations where I am the one begging and sometimes I am the statue. Today, I come to you as the statue. I once heard it said that we buy what we want and beg for what we need. Is this you? Have you put you financial security at risk with things you wanted and now you are begging for a financial miracle? Be a part of your own miracle…buy a ticket. I am taking the points mentioned in Budgeting 101 step by step. Like dieting and working out, budgeting takes time, restraint, and accountability. I invite you to join me on my Spending Diet.

Write Down Everything You Spend Your Money On. Since April 1, 2011, I have been writing down EVERYTHING I have spent money on. I included this advice in Budgeting 101 with the suggestion to do this for two weeks. I would now like to retract that advice and tell you to extend it for an entire month. Every financial and money management writer will tell you to do this. Honestly, it wasn’t until the beginning of April that I actually did this myself. I thought between my memory and online banking statements, that I had an accurate grasp on how, when, where, and with whom I spent my money. SMC readers, I couldn’t have been more wrong. My spending chart has revealed that I am an emotional spender who blows a great deal of my food budget on eating out with my sister because I believe we don’t see, talk, or interact as frequently as we once did. My spending chart personified aspects by my sometimes-narcissistic personality. I made a donation to my alma mater that I really couldn’t afford, because I didn’t want to be the 5,999 person who comes shy of the 6,000 donor goal for the Founder’s Day scholarship fundraiser. I also learned that while there are aspects of my personality where I am admittedly spoiled, I also spend and give the a great deal of my money to others to make them happy. Hi, my name is Danielle and I am an emotional spender. Buy the ticket. I am putting myself in financial rehab to get back on track like my Rah Tiffany did years ago. I have locked my credit card away and most importantly, I am learning to say no to others. Catey Hill, the author of Shoo Jimmy Choo created a Day to Day Spending Chart that I particularly like. I used Hill’s chart as an example and made one that fits my own financial goals and spending style. Buy what you need and you will not have anything left to beg for. Buy a ticket and let’s start our financial journey together.

If you are interested in my own Spending Chart, please email me at shemakescent@gmail.com
subject: Spending Chart 
 

 

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Budgeting 101- How to Make a Budget

Today I will be visiting my alma mater, Spelman College, to sit in on a class taught by the smartest woman I have ever met, Dr. Michelle S. Hite (seriously, she is probably one of the top ten people who have significantly impacted my life). Just thinking about Spelman puts me back in an academic frame of mind, so for today class, I will be teaching Budgeting 101. In my opinion, budgeting is like using common sense, everyone should do it but not everyone does. The importance of making and sticking to a budget is the freedom of knowing exactly how you spend, what money can be spent elsewhere, and where you overspend. So grab a pen and paper and let’s get started:

  • LIST YOUR SOURCES OF INCOME
  • CREATE A LIST OF YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES
  1. Fixed (Mortgage/Rent, Car Payments, Insurance, Emergency Fund)
  2. Variable (Utilities, Groceries, Gas, Food, Entertainment)
  • REARRANGE YOUR LIST IN ORDER OF PRIORITIES

    This is the time for you to really think about what’s important. Shelter, Food, Utilities, and Gas are at the top of my list. Although I hate to do it, I can live without costly entertainment.

  • ASSIGN A BUDGET TO EACH EXPENSE
  • WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY ON (for 2 weeks)

    Do not leave anything out in this step. If you spend $1.00 at the vending machine, $3.00 for Girl Scout cookies, and $7.00 for parking downtown when meeting friends for drinks, you already splurged $11.00 on random spending that you probably don’t even consider when mentally reviewing your spending for the day. Writing EVERYTHING out will help you see exactly what, where, and how you spend your dineros.

  • CUT OUT IMPULSE SPENDING

    My friend and Rah Tiffany (hey girl) put herself in a mental shopping rehab back when we were in college. At first, my friends and I thought she was crazy, but in fact she was making the best financial decision as a then single black female addicted to retail (thanks Kanye). She went almost 40 days without random impulse shopping. Following suit, I did the same. I reviewed my spending habits from the previous step that revealed my mindless exhaustion of funds at the mall. I would get up, go to the mall, see something I thought I couldn’t live without, buy it, then after working so hard at shopping I would go for lunch, go back to shopping and finally come home. Now looking back, I have to ask myself, did I really need those shoes, that purse, that book, that phone case, or that expensive lunch….NOPE, I did not. Then I thought to myself, wow, I could have taken that money and put it in my bucket list fund. Trust…skydiving will be more memorable than that cute shirt I purchased sometime last season.

  • PAY FOR EVERYTHING IN CASH

    This tip makes its way into almost every post I write. This is a must for financial empowerment!!!

  • REVIEW YOUR BUDGET MONTHLY

    Things change. Financial situations change. Keeping your list up to date is the only way to ensure that your budget is working for you.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR BUDGET WORKSHEET

 

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