Frozen 2: My Bank Account

What would you do if you couldn’t spend any money? On just about anything? What if it was no lattes, no nights out with friends, no new gadgets or clothes or magazines? How would you feel?

“No” became my word of the month in June, because I went on a month long spending freeze.

Now, before you panic, know that there were guidelines to this freeze. I didn’t starve myself, or refuse to pay my insurance bill. Originally, I got the idea from Living Well, Spending Less, who developed a nifty little rules sheet. On mine, I promised not to buy fast food, but also promised that I could make a couple exceptions to spend a little cash.

I documented my thoughts for the first couple of weeks, when the freeze was the hardest:

WEEK ONE
– Friends have been told. They think it’s a noble venture, but WILL NOT stop asking when we could go see a movie or go shopping
– I’m starting to go crazy. I’ve made a list of all the things I would buy if my assets weren’t frozen.
– Thank my lucky stars that I’.m well stocked with food & beauty products…I should be okay, right?
– My weekend was spent focusing more on goal setting and being production rather than spent on shopping.
– In lieu of a spa trip, I’m trying a little DIY TLC.

image

Ahh – a {free} day spent at the beach with a {free} library book was just what I needed!

WEEK TWO
– Friends are persistently trying to buy me things, so that I can partake in whatever they want to do.
– It has gotten easier not to go out and spend money!
– Has made me realize how much I drop on little things – Starbucks here, piece of clothing there.
– Made a Goodwill drop of clothes that haven’t fit me for a while.
– Still difficult to go out to stores, but the words “spending freeze” make me feel better – means there is no leeway when it comes to spending.
– Instead, I make “wish lists” of things I think I’d like to buy at a later date. Most of the things I don’t even remember afterwards. Thus, not necessary.
– I’m thinking up fun free things to do – went hiking with a group, went to the beach.
– Used up my one exception for mani pedis, had a great time catching up with friends!

As the month went on, it got way easier to not want to spend money. My friends were persistent until the end, though – I think my lack of spending was a) boring to them, since we couldn’t go out and do things that required $$, and b) scary in some ways because some of them make weekly Target trips as a rule.

I estimate that the freeze saved me around $100, if not more, and I look forward to incorporating it as a yearly tradition. Why torture myself like this? Because I never realized how the little things I was purchasing were adding up, causing me to go over budget every month. When the very idea of spending some moolah was taken completely away, I was forced to rethink my leisure time and horde of material possessions (you’re welcome, Goodwill!).

Now, when I shop, I’m extra careful to prioritize my purchases and plan them out ahead of time. I use coupons whenever I can, and keep an eye on my budget like a hawk. I want to be out enjoying life, not worrying about my spending habits 😉

Signature

Be local

Untitled

Weekends are all about unwinding and catching up with life that seems to be lost during the work week. Without fail, I find myself paying bills, organizing my snail mail and emails, and sleeping excessively on Saturdays and Sundays.

This weekend,  I was tasked with sifting through emails that did not successful catch my attention the day they were sent. I was instantly distracted  by watching promotional videos that were found in the body of some of the emails. One thing led to another and instantly I found myself watching all of the “recommended videos”-classic. Then, I stumbled upon the video below:

Something about this video reignited a flame inside of me.

re:loom employs and empowers homeless and low-income individuals through weaving beautifully-designed products out of upcycled materials. All profits benefit Atlanta’s Initiative for Affordable Housing to reduce homelessness. (Re:Loom Facebook)

How cute is this!

           How cute is this!

What I loved most about this organization is it’s ability to create a solution for an environmental, social, and economic need while providing meaningful products. I am a large supporter of the “buy local” movement, but this takes it one step further. Despite the higher price tag, these products are the fun and eclectic. From handbags to area rugs, this site is adorned with artisan goods that can fit any style or budget.

Not only has my desire to be a strong contributing member of this society increased, but I want to do it in a way that helps the most people possible. There is a lot of room for more industry like re:loom. Organizations that promote people supporting others through validating their strengths and utilizing the open market place seems to be a win, win all around.

My small goal: I want to focus on making every decision a meaningful one. Whether it be splurging on that clutch knowing my addition funds are supporting someone one or giving that extra hour of service, I have more power than I know to make a difference.

How have you helped someone today?Jess (2)

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Savings!

OctMono

It seems appropriate that on the day I start to plan out my Christmas shopping budget, I’m unintentionally dressed in a cute red and white holiday-tastic sweater. Not that I’m feeling all too festive at the moment – and you wouldn’t be either, if you saw the list of loved ones I just generated. I already knew that Christmas this year was going to be a lean one, with a lot of DIY thrown into the mix, but I guess I was still shocked seeing what my final plan was going to be.

I’m no stranger to budgets. At any given time, I have an Excel spreadsheet somewhere that’s calculating my income, bills, savings, planned expenses, and the not-so-planned ones. I’ve got the app Money by Jumsoft on my phone; it works like a register in the back of a checkbook in that you record all of your expenses there. Unlike a regular pen and paper register, though, it can also help you keep track of your budgets and generate monthly spending reports. Nifty, huh?

But I’m dying to know how else I can save oodles of money this year. Like any good Millennial, I turned to the Internet for help. How could I stretch my budget the furthest without compromising a well-thought gift?1324394672747_2096179

I should put a disclaimer here: let it be known that I love all things holiday related and I know gifts aren’t the end-all-be-all, joy comes from family blah blah blah. But nothing is more fun than seeing the joy on someone’s face when you got them the perfect gift.

Here’s what I found:

Apps (All for iPhones, sorry Android friends)

  • Favado – App that helps save you money at local grocery and drug stores by discovering sale and coupon combos.
  • Checkout 51 – Earn cash back at any store by purchasing Checkout 51 sponsored items.
  • ShopSavvy – Scan the barcode in the store, and the app will tell you if you can buy it cheaper somewhere else.

Websites

  • Thekrazycouponlady.com
    • Notes: I signed up, and had a hard time searching for items. Nothing I searched for was showing up. You can, however, browse by store for weekly coupon deals.
  • Coupons.com
    • Notes: This website was better for brand name items, doesn’t matter which store they’re at.
  • Hotcouponworld.com
    • Notes: Was able to find the grocery store I shop at (Ralph’s) and was able to peruse deals by category (home goods, produce, deli, etc).
  • Retailmenot.com
    • Notes: Has a lot of great coupons/sales from hundreds of different stores and sites. 
  • Bfads.net
    • Notes: Shows you leaked ads for Black Friday 2014.

Misc

And lastly, some Christmas shopping rules:

  1. Make a budget and stick to it!
  2. Consider doing “family gifts” (as in, you team up with family members to buy other family members gifts)
  3. Do a gift exchange
  4. Buy gifts in bulk
  5. Make some of your gifts
  6. Don’t worry about being “too cheap”
  7. Coupon for gifts & know your sales

Happy shopping, and be safe out there on Black Friday!

Signature