20 Great Inexpensive Date Night Ideas

When the budget gets tight, one of the first things to go is “date nights”. The cost of going out to a restaurant, seeing a movie, and paying a babysitter can add up!

We’re here to tell you that date nights shouldn’t be sacrificed. With these creative ideas, you might even be able to stay home and have a fun night together after your kids are in bed.

Dating your spouse is an important part of your relationship, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that simply because you are on a budget.

Take a look at our roundup of 20 great ideas for date night:

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What are your favorite things to do for date night?

For even more date night ideas visit our Pinterest board Make Your Own Date Night

Overcoming Money Mistakes

When I write all of these posts, I can’t help but sit back and think at times, “I can’t even follow some of these things myself”! Today I just wanted to give you some encouragement if you feel like you keep “falling off the wagon” … or spending without planning on it.

I realize the principles of budgeting and saving can be very hard to follow at first … and in time … they do actually get easier. But the fact of the matter is, it’s never that easy to say “no” to yourself when you really want something.

You see that adorable pair of shoes in the store (that are even on sale!) and all you want to do is bring them home with you! Or you are walking through the grocery store, really craving your favorite snack, and you can’t help but sneak it in your cart.

Trust me, I know the feeling. And before you know it, you are just drowning in shame with the fact that you just couldn’t hold yourself back.

I would say most people regret purchases very often. They may not say it out loud, but when you are staring at that new vase you got a few years ago that is accumulating dust and doesn’t match anything in your house, the guilt can start to set in.

So I guess the question is…how do you get back on the wagon?

How do you get back on track, when everything inside you is screaming “You’re a failure! You can’t save money!” Well, there are a few things you must keep in mind through the process of saving and budgeting…

# 1 It’s Never Too Late to Start Reaching for Your Goals

So what if you messed up for a few days now, or years! It’s not the end of the world, and even though you may be facing some serious debt, only good can come out of this from here. Keep your eyes focused on the future goal, and know that there is never a financial situation too hopeless. You can always start today on saving for your future.

#2 If You Truly Regret It, Return It

The other day I went shopping and was determined to find a striped pull-over hoodie (I know, don’t ask why!)…and the only one I could find was in the men’s section! So of course, as stubborn as I am, I bought it! Only to come home and totally regret my purchase. The most simple solution here is to return it. I know it can be a little embarrassing, out of the way, and just plain annoying, but I think in those kind of situations, you will feel a lot better if you do return it! So do it! You will find that even “large” purchases have a return window. Ever heard of buyer’s remorse? It’s a very real thing!

#3 See the Good in Yourself

There will always be categories in our budget that we struggle with. For me, it’s always the food and grocery section of the budget. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I always seem to fail in this way. Either I go WAY over what I wanted to spend, or just a little bit over every week. But every time I look at our budget, I feel dejected and sad. What I suggest to other women out there who are feeling these same feelings is that you just need to see the good in yourself and not focus on the bad. Sure, I struggle with the grocery side of things, but when it comes to miscellaneous spending like a t-shirt I saw at my favorite store, I can usually hold back. Look at your budget on a holistic level, and make the most of every opportunity to learn what you need to work on, and what you already excel in!

Got any stories on how you’ve fallen off the wagon? I’m sure we can all relate! Leave us a comment below, we would love to help you get through your specific struggle. We can all improve in different ways, and I think that is the beauty of God’s work in us, we are constantly growing!

By: Erika from Faithful with Finances

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Meet the founders of Faithful with Finances:
Tony Amaradio and his wife Carin. 

Your Goal for 2015 : Savor Life

 

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Your new resolution to keep for 2015:

“In 2015, I resolve to buy less, waste less, want less, and live more. I will love more, laugh more, give more, ask more, share more. In 2015, I will savor life.”

We think this is a pretty good resolution! What about you?

– Faithful with Finances

Meet the founders of Faithful with Finances : Tony Amaradio and his wife Carin Amaradio. 

There’s An App For That!

Need help sticking to your resolutions? Look no further! The Huffman Post lays out some great apps that will keep you on track – not only financially, but even with healthy eating! Before you know it, you will be on your way to implementing real and lasting changes that will help you every single day this year.

The Huffman Post

Alright people, now that the hub-bub of the holidays are over (and it’s a Monday, and we all know diets can’t start on any other day of the week) we can officially start working on our New Year’s Resolutions!

It seems like the toughest part of keeping a resolution past February is lack of accountability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (or said):  “Well, I would go to the gym/save money/eat healthier, but I don’t have anyone to go with me/know where to start/have motivation.”

Thankfully, there’s an app for that! And by “that” I mean all of your excuses-ha!

Sparkpeople

Used For: Weight Loss, Healthy Living

Price in App Store: Free

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This is one of my FAVORITE apps! I’ve been using this site for over 5 years now. It’s similar to MyFitnessPal (which I’ve also used) but SO much more user-friendly. You can track your calories…

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The Simplified Budget

Sometimes all you need to get started is a simple push in the right direction … which is why we’ve created a free resource called “The Simplified Budget”.

This worksheet will give you pre-set categories to help you easily fill in the blanks with your own personal budget.

If you need to add or change any category – feel free to do so! The first step towards creating a better budget is simply knowing  the facts – what is coming in, and what is going out … and this worksheet will help you do that!

If you have any questions or need help with the download, please feel free to email us at info@faithfulwithfinances.org.

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Get Your Free Download Here

– Faithful with Finances

Black Friday Dos And Don’ts

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With Black Friday right around the corner, it’s great to equip yourself with some good tips and tricks! Here are some awesome ways to save …

The Debt Blog

With Black friday nine nights away, customers are critically evaluating budgets and their holiday shopping lists while perusing programs and the advertisements because of their favorite shops.

1. Cash doesn’t Equal Love. In case you are striving to decrease expenses, or can not locate the loss leader, the finest presents are seldom the ones you purchase at the shopping center, but presents of love, expertise, ability and time. This might incorporate a playlist or a special scrap-book, or a thing you prepare paint or craft. Presents of love plus time that are significant and private will be far more memorable, thus do not shun guarantee coupons for a home cooked meal nights baby sitting oil-change,, garage-cleanup, or doing taxes.

2. Buddy Your chosen Retailers. Many retailers are providing special deals on FB and Twitter. It is advisable to incorporate your preferred shops for your friend listing (at least for for…

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Kick Your Bad Habits and Make New Ones

Kick Your Bad Habits

What makes a bad habit?

Something you’ve been doing for years that only makes your situation worse.

A good habit may be hard to develop at first, but changing what you already do now will make life much easier in the long run. Consider what you might be doing right now that causes hardships on you financially. Are you a spender? Are you late on payments? Do you keep your documents organized? There are so many little things we can do to get ourselves on a better path financially, so let’s take a look at some ideas on how to fix our bad habits.

Here are some examples of things you might need to work through:

  1. Putting expenses on your credit card and not paying them off at the end of the month
  2. Assuming you’re too young or too old to start investing for the future
  3. Having debt left to pay off, other than student loans or mortgage
  4. Keeping all of your money in a checking account
  5. Impulse shopping- failing to learn to buy what you actually need
  6. Waiting to start your financial planning until after you’re married
  7. Only focusing on yourself without doing any charitable giving
  8. Not having a firm grasp on your budget, knowing when to save
  9. Not saving a set amount automatically out of every paycheck
  10. Ignoring coupons
  11. Living beyond your means

Many people go through the fear of facing their habits and not knowing whether they can change. The good news is, we have the victory in Christ to change, and God is doing a new work in us! Romans 12:2 states this clearly, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

He does not want us to spend time in our old habits, because this distracts us from truly working hard to become stewards of His resources.

So what do we do now? How do we change our habits that we’ve developed for years? The first tip is to pick just one. Don’t tackle on all of them just yet, but instead, pick one habit that really hinders your stewardship, and work on it for 30 days. Set your mind to it, and after 30 days, you will see the fruit of your labor. Whether it be at a certain time of day, or as a trigger from something else, purpose in your heart to lean on the Lord and not your own way of doing things.

Here are some good habits to look towards and to replace your bad habits:

  1. De-cluttering  & Organizing your financial papers
  2. Saving up for a purchase (avoiding credit)
  3. Using a 30-day list for all non-essential purchases-(When you desire something, don’t purchase it immediately, put it on a list and look at it 30 days later to see if you really need it.)
  4. Pay your bills right when you get them
  5. Take 20 minutes a week to update your budget
  6. Search through the 2,000 verses that speak on money/possessions
  7. Use an envelope system (only cash)
  8. Find accountability in a friend

Remember, practice makes perfect, and the Lord loves to see His children honoring Him in their everyday lives.  Think about what you might need to change, consider that the Lord needs to be your rock and security, not your finances.

Do you have a bad habit you want to kick? Share it below!

By: Erika from Faithful with Financesget-attachment.aspx-9

How to Not Blow Your Budget This Weekend

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When the weekend comes, many of us find ourselves in a spending frenzy…

We have dinner with friends, we have friends over for dinner, we see family, we drive to see a new place, we go on a date night, we have football parties …

Let’s face it, if there was ever a time to “blow the budget” it would be the weekend!

In a normal workweek, it can be easy to simply pack your lunch, come home & make dinner, and there’s really little time left in the day to do too much damage.

But when you have an ENTIRE day off … that’s when the spending begins!

Here are 5 sure ways to NOT blow your budget this weekend:

1. Remind Yourself of Your Categories

You once set up a budget … a long time ago … at the beginning of this month. Revisit the categories you might be spending in, and make sure to check yourself and see if you can even spend this weekend. Do you have money left in your “eating out” category? Can you afford to go shopping – even for something small? If not, find other fun things to do. Have a picnic, or play a new sport. Need inspiration? Visit our post on the 10 free things you can do today.

2. Look for Sales Ahead of Time

Planning a football party? They are pretty popular this time of the year! Plan your menu around the sales. If pork is 50% off in your weekly flyer – make pork carnitas, or something “partyish” that involves the item that is on sale. You will save MAJOR bucks doing this instead of creating a fancy menu with 1,000 ingredients.

3. Don’t Impulse Buy

Have you been wanting to go check out a new car this weekend? Take the time to make your purchase – DON’T feel pressured by the salespeople, DON’T make a decision right on the spot, and DON’T follow your impulses when you see something shiny and new. Go home, think about it, analyze it with your spouse or someone you can be accountable to, and then make your decision. It’s also a great idea to do the “30 day” rule where you wait 30 days to make a big purchase. Your mind can easily change in that time period.

4. Plan for the Week Ahead

Use the time you have at home this weekend to do some planning. Plan out your meals, your budget, and look over your expenses. Reminding yourself of the spending you will do in the coming week will be the ultimate “reality check” to help you stop spending this weekend.

5. Visit Somewhere Close

Depending on where you live, there are so many fun things to do in your area. With gas prices so high, it can be tough to take long trips over the weekend, only to come back Sunday night and fill up your tank again. Play “tourist” in your area and do some of the things that you normally wouldn’t do. Want to earn bonus points in the frugal category? Bike to your destination! You and your family will have lots of fun, and you will save money by not burning through gas.

Ultimately, we hope you enjoy your weekend and have lots of fun. We are here simply to give you great ideas to still have an amazing time without breaking the bank!

Have an idea to share? We love to hear from you, leave a comment below!

Erika from Faithful with Finances

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Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

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The average American household spends an insane amount of their paycheck on groceries. How can this be? Among the many problems that contribute to this, here are a few:

1. Prices are on the rise –

We are all well-aware of the constant inflation rate, and our groceries are no exception. Prices continue to rise, and families are caught trying to cook meals at home while overspending in their grocery budgets every month.

2. “Healthy” is expensive –

Gone are the days where living on the land was the most affordable thing to do. We now find ourselves walking into health food stores shocked by the prices we see on a simple box of oatmeal.

3. Time is of the essence –

In many households, both parents carry their own jobs. This leaves less and less time for couponing, saving, and taking the time to plan out the trip to the grocery store.

In order to truly “cut your grocery bill in half” you will need to take a few important steps. Don’t worry … they are easy! Before you know it, you will see the savings start to grow.

If you can begin to change this one area of your spending, you will see major improvements in your overall budget.

Given that this is one of the biggest spending categories in American budgets, it’s important that we take control of this area.

Here Are 5 Things to Do Today to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half: 

1. Pick One Day of the Week to Plan

On that day, you will only need to carve out an hour or less. Make sure you stick to that day every week, or else you will run out of time and start buying meals on a whim – which means more spending.

On this day, you will need 2 things – 1.) The sale flyer for the store you shop at and … 2.) Your grocery store’s mobile app with downloadable coupons

From here, write down a list of every day’s meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you want to start slow, simply write down dinners for the week.

Look at what’s on sale, compare it to coupons in your app (if there’s a sale AND a coupon you’ve hit the jackpot!) and plan your meals around those sales.

I typically plan Mon-Thurs meals because I know we will be with family or friends on Friday night. Do what works with your schedule.

Store your “list” in your phone along with your downloaded coupons and you can do this shopping trip whenever your schedule allows.

2. Shop 1 Day of the Week

Get all of your shopping done on that one day, according to your list. This should be very easy for you to do and should take less than an hour, but make sure you carve out the time for it. Think of the time you will save avoiding the store 3-4 times a week like most families! (especially during the after-work rush hour!)

The only time I deviate from the list is if I can find the store brand product that beats the price of my sale ad & coupon price. This happens on occasion, so I will just go with the store brand. That will save you BIG in the long run.

3. Pay Cash

Maybe you haven’t jumped on the “envelope system” bandwagon, but you CAN make a big difference in your budget by simply paying cash for groceries.

There’s is something innately frugal about paying cash: you know exactly what you have, you can’t spend any more than that, and you are sure you will stay within your budget.

The magic starts to happen when you realize that with this fixed amount, you can get creative in many different ways. Eventually you will see yourself buying A LOT for a little.

4. Plan for Days You Don’t Want to Cook

Throughout the week, unexpected things will happen. You will find yourself getting lazy, and that favorite chinese takeout restaurant sounds AMAZING.

So how do you combat this? Simply plan for those days.

Whether this means store-bought pizza (less expensive than takeout pizza), or freezer-friendly microwave meals that take seconds to prepare … plan for those days.

Here’s a simple comparison:

Cost of chinese takeout for 2 ppl = $20 – $25

Cost of “Pf Changs” refrigerated takeout meal for two at the grocery store = $5

**thats 4x-5x the savings!**

Thursday happens to be “that day” for me. I never want to cook on Thursdays! Maybe it’s because Friday is so close, or maybe it’s just because I can’t handle the monotony of cooking one more night, but Thursday is definitely my week spot. Because of this, I have built into the list either a pre-made meal, refrigerated pizza dough, or something very convenient to make like quesadillas.

5. Make Your Grocery Budget Reasonable

One of the biggest mistakes budgeters make is creating a spending category that is too strict. This can make you feel like a failure, as you will often miss the mark.

Decide on a reasonable amount to spend that you won’t feel “deprived” by at the end of the week. If you feel too deprived, you will end up “binge spending” at the end of the week – similar to what happens to people on a diet. They are deprived from their favorite foods only to binge on pizza Friday night!

Make sure this doesn’t happen to you, and create a solid spending category that you can consistently meet each week.

Put these 5 tips into practice today and you will see MAJOR improvements in that grocery bill!

– Faithful with Finances

What it Takes to Live Below Your Means

loose changeYou want the hard truth? The absolute hard truth?

Living below your means is NOT easy.

You will have to make sacrifices … on many occasions.

You will feel like giving up.

You will take each purchase seriously … even when it’s your favorite Starbucks drink.

You will want to complain.

You will feel deprived at times.

But in the end … you will GROW to love this lifestyle.

You will see your bank account slowly grow.

You will feel a huge relief from stress.

Your heart and mind will begin to seek God.

You will let go of the material, and look towards the immaterial.

You will appreciate the little things.

You will care more about the people around you … not the things around you.

You will meet your goals.

You will banish debt.

You will release contentment.

It can happen to you … yes you!

The only way to start is to start today.

Think about the sacrifices you will have to make, but more importantly, think about the rewards.

– Faithful with Finances 

Conquer Emotional Shopping!

I happen to have a little problem, and I’m sure many of you might share this with me…but from time to time…I give into emotional shopping!

It doesn’t matter what happened to me that day, or what is going on around me, but if I simply go inside my favorite store (cough cough Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx) I become a very happy girl.

Now I’ve heard of many women out there who don’t enjoy shopping all that much, but basically, that concept is very foreign to me! I LOVE to shop, and it makes me forget about everything else and just enjoy the beauty and fun I see all around me.

The question is, am I doing the right thing here by giving in to my desires? Probably not. Are there other ways to feel better in the world? Probably yes.

So in case any of you out there suffer from this same syndrome of emotional shopping, I thought I would help you by giving a few hints at what you can do to conquer it, and how you can stop finding emotional release in something, shall I say, hollow?

Here are 5 ways I conquer emotional shopping, I hope they will help you too!

  1. Re-Do Your Own Closet (de-clutter, organize, and display)
  2. Take up a productive and fun hobby
  3. Look through a style/fashion magazine
  4. Spend time with a girlfriend (be happy, don’t vent on her!)
  5. If you must, window shop (aka DON’T buy anything!)

There are days when you will just want to fix yourself, feel better, and move on with your life, but shopping is not always the best answer for this. Beyond working through the problems of the day, just smile and have fun with those around you. Joy and blessings can be found in every day if you just look for them!

By: Erika Pizzo

 

Are You Pretending?

Make no mistake about it: we live in an EXTREMELY materialistic world. We are surrounded by nice cars, big expensive houses, beautiful clothing, flat-screen HD tv’s, tempting advertisements, and pressure to become “filthy rich”. Most Christians would rather not talk about this, they like to put this fact to the side, and simply blend into their surroundings without getting too caught up in the madness.

But let’s talk about this, and not discard what might be an important thing to consider for you and your family.

I titled this post “are you pretending” because I came across a verse this morning that kind of struck me with an uneasy feeling. Maybe it will strike you too…

Proverbs 13:7

There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

In case you haven’t noticed, many people pretend. You see your neighbor driving a brand new BMW, move into a bigger house, or even tote a new Louis Vuitton bag. Chances are, this is an object bought for status, for a remote inner pride, and for a partial hope of acceptance.

Of course, there are people who can afford material things like this, but for the most part, many people cannot.

Just because these facts might be true, doesn’t mean we should give into judging. By no means should we catch ourselves in that web, and cast a judgmental eye on our neighbor.

I am telling you all of this because I want you to be careful. Careful of what might tempt you, careful of ways in which you might be “pretending”. Personally, I struggle with this A LOT. I think my life would be “perfect” if I had a certain amount in the bank. I would feel secure, better protected, and free to live my life the way I wanted to. It has been a long, slow process for the Lord to grow me in this area. Daily He reminds me that we were put on this earth for something MUCH greater than acquiring wealth, His plans are beyond what we might think is “perfect” for ourselves.

Look more closely at this verse. The second part describes the complete opposite. A wealthy man pretending to be poor…But why?

This man has the wealth to buy the bigger house, the fast car, the nice clothing. Why would he settle for less?

This is where the meat of the situation comes in…humility.

What if you had $1,000,000 handed to you today? What would you do with it? Would you go out right away and start spending?

Would it be crazy to say that most people shouldn’t have that amount handed to them? I know that wouldn’t be good for me! The Lord has caused me to grow so much closer to Him the moment He took away financial security. Why would you want to miss out on that growth?

I am reminded time and time again by God’s word that His provision and His guidance are much different from society’s status quo. It is His voice we need to listen to, yet we often listen to the woes and pressures of the world.

Today I want you to think about this verse. Which way are you leaning? Are you practicing true humility? Think about what that would look like in your life right now. Maybe you would live drastically different…

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Talking About Money with Your Spouse

It can be such an uncomfortable topic can’t it? You want to work more at paying off your debt, buy something big, or simply stop spending so much. These things can be hard to talk to your spouse about, and what usually happens is silence, or arguments, or unwanted, hurtful words are exchanged.

So what is the right way to talk to your husband about what’s on your mind? How do you approach him without going down the road of bitterness and strife?

Understandably, the Bible calls us to be “peacemakers”, not centers of conflict, not instigators, and not “the devil’s advocate”. I describe this as understandably, because if you really think about it, this calling makes a lot of sense.

Romans 12:18

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Sure, it is our first instinct to be the instigator, to go against what he says, and to challenge what he might think is right. But instead of spending our time pushing back, maybe it’s time we try to see the other side.

How exactly do we approach this topic in a loving way? Especially when all you expect to hear is a “no” or “not right now”. Well, hopefully the answers I give you today will help you see the other side, help you appreciate what your husband says, and help you encourage him in the right direction.

To say the least, I have no grounds to give marital advice. I am just coming to you as a woman humbled by God’s ability to turn situations around for His glory when I meant it for my own gain. I also love to learn from His Word, and I know you do too. So let’s try together to make a difference in the way we treat our husbands, and the way we approach this very dainty and hard to discuss topic!

  1. Pray Before Speaking – We all do it, don’t we? We talk about something with our spouse we haven’t even thought through in our own hearts. Remember something, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hashing out important issues with your spouse, but it will be infinitely better if you approach it from a fear of the Lord. Pray about what’s on your heart, ask the Lord to reveal your sin that might be hindering your decision. Chances are, just praying about it will humble you to see things you haven’t seen before.
  2. Don’t Assume You Know How They Feel – Anyone that’s ever been married can probably relate to this one. Spouses often spend a good chunk of their time assuming. They assume their partner will be mad, irritated, happy, overjoyed, or withdrawn about a particular thing when they haven’t taken the time to listen or even approach. Throw your assumptions out the window, come into the conversation with an open heart to hear their questions, concerns, hopes, and fears.
  3. Always be Joyful– Let’s face it, you might be praying, hoping, wishing, and wanting to have something so badly…but he says NO. You have to be able to deal with that. God never gives us an excuse to not be joyful, and no matter how defeated you might feel, it takes joy to move on to the next day and to still love your spouse with reckless abandonment. So approach each situation with this in mind, “no matter what he says, I will still be joyful and love him regardless.”

Of course, these kinds of things apply to so many areas, not just with the topic of money. In the end, it is all about creating a loving and genuine atmosphere that allows for mistakes, tough conversations, and heartfelt responses. Don’t give up on talking about money because it’s too hard. I was reminded of how difficult this life can be this morning when I read Matthew 7:13-15 which tells us, “13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Let’s choose the narrow gate, it always leads to a more meaningful life…

 

More Verses to Consider:

Proverbs 19:11

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”

James 4:1

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

 

Consignment Sale – Great Finds!

The other day, one of my friends was telling me about a consignment sale she went to, finding all kinds of clothes she loved for a fraction of the price. Although I had been to a couple consignment sales, this one sounded very promising, and I couldn’t wait to take a look for myself!

I wanted to share this with all of you because this is a great way to shop for high end items without paying the full price.

There were tons of designer brands there, and what I always keep my eye out for are items that look brand new. It isn’t hard to find these kind of things at consignment sales, because many of the things they carry are brand new (because of partnerships).

Check out the pictures below to see what I found…

Adorable Heart Necklace!
Only $3.00!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Beige Work Skirt…
$5.00! (from the Limited)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfy Grey Hoodie..
$15.00 (BRAND NEW)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sparkly Bracelet…
$2.00!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The website for this company “Dress on a Dime” is http://www.dressonadime.net/

It’s also fun to entertain the idea of becoming a seller yourself, if you have some clothes that are gently used and you know women would love. I haven’t looked into this yet, but I will and hopefully post about it later on!

We would love to hear if you have found any local consignment sales. Leave a comment for those that might be in your area.

I wish I knew about this years ago, I would go every single time they were here!

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Overcoming Money Mistakes

When I write all of these posts, I can’t help but sit back and think at times, “I can’t even follow some of these things myself”! Today I just wanted to give you some encouragement if you feel like you keep “falling off the wagon”, or spending without planning on it.

I realize the principles of budgeting and saving can be very hard to follow, and in time, you will see them become a lot easier. But the fact of the matter is, it’s never that easy to say “No” to yourself when you really want something.

You see that adorable pair of shoes in the store (that are even on sale!) and all you want to do is bring them home with you! Or you are walking through the grocery store, really craving your favorite snack, and you can’t help but sneak it in your cart.

Trust me, I know the feeling. And before you know it, you are just drowning in shame with the fact that you just couldn’t hold yourself back.

I would say most people regret purchases very often. They may not say it out loud, but when you are staring at that new vase you got a few years ago that is accumulating dust and doesn’t match anything in your house, the guilt can start to set in.

So I guess the question is…how do you get back on the wagon?

How do you get back on track, when everything inside you is screaming “You’re a failure! You can’t save money!” Well, there are a few things you must keep in mind through the process of saving and budgeting…

# 1 It’s Never Too Late to Start Reaching for Your Goals

So what if you messed up for a few days now, or years! It’s not the end of the world, and even though you may be facing some serious debt, only good can come out of this from here. Keep your eyes focused on the future goal, and know that there is never a financial situation too hopeless. You can always start today on saving for your future.

#2 If You Truly Regret It, Return It

The other day I went shopping and was determined to find a stripped pull-over hoodie (I know, don’t ask why!)…and the only one I could find was in the men’s section! So of course, as stubborn as I am, I bought it! Only to come home and totally regret my purchase. The most simple solution here is to return it. I know it can be a little embarrassing, out of the way, and just plain annoying, but I think in those kind of situations, you will feel a lot better if you do return it! So do it!

#3 See the Good in Yourself

There will always be categories in our budget that we struggle with. For me, it’s always the food and grocery section of the budget. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, I always seem to fail in this way. Either I go WAY over what I wanted to spend, or just a little bit over every week. But every time I look at our budget, I feel dejected and sad. What I suggest to other women out there who are feeling these same feelings is that you just need to see the good in yourself and not focus on the bad. Sure, I struggle with the grocery side of things, but when it comes to miscellaneous spending like a t-shirt I saw at my favorite store, I can usually hold back. Look at your budget on a holistic level, and make the most of every opportunity to learn what you need to work on, and what you already excel in!

 

Got any stories on how you’ve fallen off the wagon? I’m sure we can all relate! Leave us a comment below, we would love to help you get through your specific struggle. We can all improve in different ways, and I think that is the beauty of God’s work in us, we are constantly growing!

 

By: Erika Pizzo

 

Make It At Home, Save Thousands Per Year

This morning I came across a very interesting article that talked about “Ten Things Americans Waste the Most Money On”, and let me tell you, the amount spent on various products and services is astounding. What surprised me the most, is that among low income households, one of the biggest areas of “wasting money” is eating out at restaurants and fast food places.

Maybe this doesn’t surprise you, but the article reported that the average American family spends around $2,619 per year! What was even more interesting, was that households who make less than $5,000 per year (generally college students), spend a larger percentage of their income in this category, forking over about 6.2% of their total budget!

Reading these numbers really caused me to think, there must be a large disconnect with what people know about their spending habits. Many Americans are suffering from debt, financial hardships, and unbelievably tough circumstances, yet this is where a good chunk of their money goes every year?

Let me tell you, I am the last person to point the finger in this area, because I am pretty guilty of eating out myself. But…I still think it is important to talk about this and to not just give up on our bad habits. The sooner someone sees where they need to change, the sooner they can correct it, and move forward to a better financial future.

Now that we know about the big elephant in the room, let’s get down to some helpful ways in which we can combat this bad habit. Below, I have given you 5 Things You Can Make at Home that will get you closer and closer to saving that $2,000 per year, rather than spending it.

1.       Your Daily Cup of Coffee

In future posts, I will definitely expand on this one, because I know that Americans are very guilty of the daily Starbucks or Pete’s run. I wish I could say I am immune to this, but sadly, I give in to the Starbucks run at least once a week. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good cup of coffee with a few friends, but when you are simply on your way to work in the morning and you feel the need to have that cup in hand to be productive throughout your day, there might be a slight problem there. This is something you can easily make at home, and I am a big believer in investing in a good espresso or latte machine. Trust me, it will pay for itself within a couple months!

2.       A Romantic Date Night Meal

Ok let’s face it, instead of being creative and romantic on our own, many of us would rather just shuttle off to a restaurant that has nice ambiance and does all the work for us! This is no way to save money, and we need to start thinking outside of the box in order to create those special moments at home. If you want a great date night together, make something unique and special that you know your partner loves. Enjoy that meal together, either at home, or take it out for a picnic. Something truly special about date nights is that it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you are enjoying each other’s company, and you don’t need an expensive restaurant to do that!

3.       Breakfast, Lunch, or Snacks on the Go

One of my biggest struggles in life is not just the temptation of going out to dinner, but rather, the temptation of giving in to my hunger when I am on the go. You know the feeling don’t you? You’ve been working hard all day…and at around 2 PM…that stomach starts to growl. In the back of your mind your thinking, It wouldn’t hurt to just pick up a little something. And before you know it, the day is over, and you are 10 times more starving then you were in the first place. One tip that is so simple but has really saved us in the long run is just bringing snacks and lunches with you. Carve out an extra 10 minutes every morning to really pack yourself a good lunch, and you will be happy you did it in the end. Don’t just include carb-loaded snacks in their either, work towards giving yourself lean proteins, because that will greatly help with the hunger later on in the day!

4.       Your Favorite Fast Food Item

I think where a lot of Americans get into trouble is when they start to really crave something. They know the smell of their favorite place, their favorite thing, and they can picture it over and over again in their mind…you’re picturing your favorite thing now aren’t you? Whether it be french fries, hamburgers, doughnuts, chicken strips, bbq sandwhiches, or really anything…it is always better to make it at home. This may take a few tries to find the right recipe, and of course, don’t make it every night! But the point is, if you give yourself that little treat once in awhile at home, you won’t crave it as much when you are out and about.

5.       Dessert

Dessert is not the best for you, I know that, but it is impossible for most people to go through their lives without enjoying it every once in awhile. It is amazing to see how many people love going out to get frozen yogurt, or go to little dessert and coffee shops. This is something you can easily make at home, and the best part about having these things at home, is that you can really control your portions. Make dessert for the whole family, and only give yourself a small piece. You can still have that same taste, but with much less calories in the end.

Today, I mainly talked about conquering the bad habit of eating out, but there are also many things we can make at home outside of food, like crafts, home décor, entertainment, and really all kinds of things. If you have an idea of something you make at home that saves you big in your budget every week, leave a comment and share it with our subscribers! There is always something new to learn about saving and spending wisely, and we love to hear your ideas and tips!

 

 

By: Erika Pizzo

 

Budgeting Basics 101 – Part 2

By now, you’ve taken the steps to secure a budget sheet that is personalized to your needs, and really, you’ve completed the most important step of all so far.

You now have a clear picture of where your money is going, and this will help you with all of the other steps in this process. Use this sheet as a reference guide going forward, and be mindful whenever you make a purchase that you are just continuing to grow the numbers on that sheet.

In this next step, you will need to prioritize your needs, and look for areas where you may need to cut back. The goal in this is not to scrutinize your spending so severely that you cannot enjoy anything anymore…but instead, look for small ways in which you can change to make a big difference in the long run.

For example, if I consistently spend close to $100 on clothing every month, all I need to do at first is aim to spend closer to $50. This may seem like a small and insignificant change, but over the course of a year, I am saving $600. I bet you could use that extra cash for something right? (Hopefully savings…)

Just to give a small tip here…sometimes it can be difficult for people to cut back on multiple categories, so they start with just one or two.

This can be very effective, and don’t stress that you are not cutting back in all ways you possibly can. Usually there will be one category that stands out above the rest.

In my case, it’s always the grocery budget. During the weekend, or even if we are having company over during the week, I am always tempted to make these nice, extravagant, and expensive meals. I know that there are plenty of ways to make meals that are still beautiful and taste great, but don’t cost a fortune….yet…I don’t take the time to look for them!

It is amazing to see the difference in our monthly budget if I am simply just aware of what I can and cannot spend. On average, I would say that I spend at least $100 less every month on groceries if I am making a conscious effort to cut back.

The ball is now in your court. Go back to that spread sheet, look through each of the categories, and find avenues where you can start to shrink your spending.

Write your new and improved budget numbers near or below the totals of your old numbers.

For my clothing example:

Clothing

$22

$27

$53

Total = $102.00

New Goal = $50.00

In the next step, we will go through ways in which you can specifically implement this new spending plan.

But for now, keep the new and improved number in the back of your mind at all times, and whenever you make a purchase, remember the end goal, not the temporary satisfaction.

Make sure to write your new goals down, because later on in this process, you will want to write down what you actually spent and compare it to those standards.

Want more tips on how to stick to your budget? Watch out for the next Budgeting Basics 101 post!