Archive for the ‘Saving’ Category

Reducing Expenses: Put the ‘Personal’ In Your Finances

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

How to Reduce Your Expenses

Personal finance is called ‘personal’ for a reason. No matter what advice or best practices exist, money—how we earn, spend, and save it—is intertwined with our values, beliefs, and experience.  By exploring not only the practical side but also the personal side, you will find that you not only can ‘find’ more money, but you’ll be happier because you’ve given your personal finances careful thought.

Knowing your goals and setting up a budget that works are the first steps in putting the personal in your finances. Once you know where your money is going and how much you’re spending you can challenge yourself and your family to reduce or eliminate unnecessary spending by examining what you’re spending through the filter of your goals.

Each expense should be evaluated and considered. Is it essential? Could it be reduced? Should we be ‘investing’ more in this area?

Let’s examine a few common areas where you may be able to find savings that can really add up:

 

Trivial Spending

Buying a cup of $3 coffee at work or spending $10 on lunch out with co-workers every week may not seem like a big deal, but it can add up…and fast! Spending $30/week on those little things can add up to over $1,500/year!

Tips to Manage Trivial Spending:
Choose intentional spending instead. If you know you are going to spend money on little thing it’s best to set a budget of yourself-or an allowance. Once you’ve spent your ‘allowance’ you will have to skip the little expenses for the rest of the month. This will allow you some freedom while staying within your budget.

Stop, Think, Spend Strategy

This simple strategy will keep you from overspending. Stop before you go to the checkout counter. Think about what you’re buying. Go over a few questions in your head to get yourself to be in the moment. No justifying the clearance cost or the unnecessary stuff.

Tips for using Spending Strategy: 
Some sample questions you can either keep in mind or have a list in your wallet (ideally in front of your credit or debit card)

  • Is it a need or want?
  • Can you use something else in place of the item you’re going to purchase?
  • Can you find a better price elsewhere?

Only after you’ve given it the stop and think then and only then is it time to spend.

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

One of the best strategies I have is to always shop with a list. I keep running lists on my phone and in a notebook I carry. This includes everything we need and things I’m looking out for-like a new pair of curtains and the budget I have for those items. If it’s not on the list we don’t purchase it. This keeps me from impulse purchases (my weakness!) and allows me to keep track of things we need that may not be at the forefront of my mind.

Tips for using Lists: 
Use your phone or a dedicated notebook to keep track of your lists. There are plenty of apps that work great for this including Notes (on iPhone), Moleskine’s app, and Taasky.

Unwanted Expenses

We all have things in our budget we’d rather not spend money on-not the things we have to (like home repairs), but expenses that come from a lack of time management or organization. Some examples include; late fees, parking tickets, monthly contracts, or convenience fees. It could be you forgot to return your library books or you needed to pay a bill online that day and had to pay a $3.95/fee. You may have signed up for a ‘free’ trial and forgotten to cancel. While these may seem like small time they can add up if you aren’t careful.

Tips to Avoid Unwanted Expenses:
Avoid unwanted expenses when possible, but also make sure to have some room in your budget (Misc. category) for paying off those unwanted expenses now. To keep from making the same mistake again you can set reminders in your phone or have notes on your planner for due dates and mark down the day you should cancel a ‘free trail’.

Cutting the Cable(s)

One expense most families have is their cable bill. It can add up to more than $150 with internet access, cable channels, premium channels, DVRs, and a home phone. That’s a lot of dough! While internet access may be a requirement at home cutting the cable or dumping the home phone are both ways you can save big bucks.

Tips for Cutting the Cable:
Cutting the cable doesn’t mean never watching TV or movies! You can get a membership to Netflix, use Hulu, HuluPlus subscription, or Amazon’s Prime to stream movies and TV for cheap or free. The best part is you aren’t in a contract so you can cancel or ‘pause’ your membership at any time.

Reducing Interest Payments and Debt

The best way to reduce your expenses is to cut back on interest and debt payments. After all, saving more doesn’t make sense if you’re spending 10% or more on interest payments or more a large percentage of your earnings on debt. Debt isn’t all bad-it may allow you to pursue higher education, purchase your home, or finance a business. Revolving debt, loans, and high interest rates are an expense we should fight to eliminate.

Tips to Reduce Interest: 
While you’re working to pay off debts you can reduce interest rates by:

  • refinance your mortgage-you may be able to refinance for a lower interest rate
  • call your credit card company-call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate
  • switch credit card companies-0% intro rates are a great way to eliminate interest (be mindful of fees for transferring balances)
  • consolidate loans-by consolidating loans into one payment you can often reduce interest rates

What are effective ways you’ve reduced expenses?

 

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How We Successfully Raised $6,000 in Two Weeks for Burkina Faso

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

I could not be prouder of my friends and readers than I am today. Today we were able to give $6,000 in raised funds to our Wells of Hope campaign for Burkina Faso and pitched in another $2,000 raising our total to an incredible $8,000 to build wells. This gift gives up to 4,000 men, women, & children access to clean water.

How did we do it? I am baffled myself! When we initially pitched the idea to the ministry team at our church that we wanted to do this, I had no clue if we would ever be able to pull it off. I am no Momastery, in traffic or in size of influence, but I did believe that my passion for this project could be contagious, if seen in front of the right eyes.

If you are trying to raise funds for a passion project of your own, I want to share with you the strategies I used for this campaign. I believe that there is enough love and money to go around to fund these projects, but it is finding ways to make that voice heard that is essential for funding.

Start With a Clear Plan & Goals

I am a big believer in getting everything on paper and when I came to the team with my big dreams of birthday wishes I didn’t speak vaguely of what I believed I could do. Let me be clear though, saying it out loud is hard. I did not want to let a single person down.  At the same time, knowing that I was trying to commit to a goal, offered motivation for me to really pull through for Burkina Faso. We shared that our family was financially committed to one well and we hoped to raise enough funds for at least two more wells.

I shared every avenue I was willing to tap into, how we could gather our funds, what I would need from the team to get people to connect to our cause, and what would be happening each day in that first week on our site.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Get People Curious About What You Are Doing

I began posting teasers that we were up to something a couple of weeks in advance of launching our project. We wanted to get people excited that something big was going to be happening and that we would be calling on them to be a part of it.  You can do this even if you don’t have a blog or website, but just through your social media channels.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

State Your Needs Clearly So People Know Who They Are Helping

People need to know what they are funding and what organizations they are helping. In a case like ours where there are numerous organizations involved, I tried to clearly state exactly who the partners in this project were, facts about the community & people that would be impacted, and what a donation would mean to this cause.

Saying that we need clean water for people in Africa would not be as impactful as, “One out of three children will probably die before they ever reach the age of ten. The deaths are mostly due to a lack of fresh water. The women of Burkina Faso often walk several miles to a dirty stream or stagnant pool, just to fill a bowl with water.”

Children dying before they are ten?

Women walking for miles to find a water source?

It is awful, but truthful information that calls upon people to help in a very visual way.

 

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Find an Avenue for Easy Collection

I have been a longtime fan of Pure Charity and knew that I wanted to use this site to spread the message of what we needed. I cannot recommend their site enough for what they can bring to your passion projects.

I could go on and on about why I love them so much, but it all boils down to people being able to connect with your cause, see their money grow, and know how many they have impacted. You can take a peek at my campaign to see how this looked.  I can’t tell you how many people went back in and donated a little more after their first donation to the project, just see the money bar go up a little more. After each donation is given, through Pure Charity, the person is told exactly how many lives their donation impacts. Even if you were only about to offer $10, you knew that you had impacted five people that day once your funds were submitted.

This method of collection was easy and you can connect your organization right to the funds.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Donations Are Great- Whether Big or Small

Unless the organization’s collection form states that you need to have a minimum donation, show people small and approachable ways of donating. Anything over $1 was considered a donation on Pure Charity so I tried to think of things that were a little over $1 that people could “give up” to give a child clean water. A Redbox flick, a Starbucks coffee, a ticket to the latest movie, or a quick stop for a burrito is money that could be spent to give clean water to Burkina Faso.

It worked so well that people were donating after they went through the drive-thru or they gave up their weekly latte run or pizza night for my cause.

The point of this was to prove that you don’t have to be a millionaire to give. Every donation was important to me. Every. Dollar.

Connect Your Cause With Your Social Media Channels

If you are active on social media, use it to your advantage and ask your friends to spread the word. My two biggest audiences on social media are Facebook & Instagram.

Here’s a fun fact, I absolutely despise video or hearing myself on video or anything to do with video. That being said, some people like pictures, some people like videos, and some people just like to read a status. I tried to utilize every avenue from the beginning. An intro video connected you to our cause, I did a couple of thank you videos to thank people as we met goals, and we shared lots of pictures. If you want to make quick banners or collages for your cause, PicMonkey is great for your websites and if you are looking to add text to your phone images, I love Rhonna Designs app.

Thank Everyone for Everything Often

Each time we received a donation, I thanked them, whether publicly or privately. I was so grateful to everyone who gave, whether it was a dollar or a hundred dollars. The fact that they connected with my cause and helped meant the world to me.

Anytime I have ever donated to someone and received a thank you, it acted as double validation for what I did. With 121 contributors to our campaign, I tried not to overlook a single person and sent an email or message to them as soon as I could to say thank you.

After all, if we didn’t have these AMAZING friends we could never be sharing our success story with you today. My friends ROCK!

Don’t Stop Once You Reach Your Goal

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.Our goal was to raise enough funds for three wells. In the end, the money kept trickling in and bit by bit we were inching closer to our fourth well. If we would have given up when we reached our goal, we would have never known we could have achieved an additional well.

I’m not done with Burkina Faso though. The water of funds will continue to trickle as I knit my way to another well this year. I am working on my first round of wares for an Etsy shop to give all the profit to Burkina Faso.

If you have a talent for something and a burning desire like this amazing young lady that shared her story with our readers, you can continue raising funds in whatever little ways and pockets of time you have in your day.

How to Successfully Raise Funds for Your Favorite Charities from MomAdvice.com.

Whatever your project, I pray that God blesses you abundantly in it. I also thank each of you for helping us reach and surpass our goal of giving clean water to the people of Burkina Faso. Thanks to your donations, we will have water for up to 4,000 people. What an incredible gift you have given us and these people.

Thank you for celebrating the site’s tenth anniversary with us in such a grand and beautiful way! It solidifies my belief that this is just what God wants me to be doing with my life.

xoxo,

Amy

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Apron Full of Giveaways 12.31.13

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Cranes Retro Apron

Source: Jassy Kitchen,  $29.00

 

Welcome to our last Apron Full of Giveaways of 2013! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 12.24.13

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

striped xmas apron

Source: Lover Dovers,  $28.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20th, 2013

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I am sharing one of my most exciting announcements to date – the start of the Mom Advice Book Club, complete with a giveaway of our first book, The Paris Architect (congrats to our winner, Kathy!). This is something I’ve long dreamed of, so I’m really excited for our official start in January! I’m also sharing an adorable knitted wine bottle hat & scarf topper,  20+ DIY stocking stuffers for all ages, DIY New Year’s Eve ideas, and how we are simplifying our holidays this year. Our weekly notebook has some inspiring holiday-themed DIY food, decorating and craft ideas, and we have lots of contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Oh, and don’t forget about the special Freebie we’re offering:

Receive a FREE 3-Month membership to Scribd (access to over 100,000 ebooks!) with Mom Advice’s exclusive code (expires December 31st!).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Cantu Beauty Coconut Curling Cream Sample

Food & Drink

Real Cup Coffee K-Cups Sample

Chili’s Holideals: Free Appetizer, Dessert, Chips, or Kid’s Meal

Entertainment

The Purpose & Power of Love and Marriage eBook

Digital Issue of From Scratch Homesteading Magazine

Hand-Drawn Printable Gift Tags

Printable Christmas Cards

A Charlie Brown Christmas eBook

Gingerbread Man Packs

Christmas Learning Pack

Merry Christmas Activity Pack

Christmas Carol Copywork Pack

Nativity Printable Pack

Nativity Play Dough Mats

Winter ABC Pack

The Jesus Tree eBook

This Week’s Freebie EventsDecember 21 – 27

21st - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Snowy Bear Puppet, 11 am – 3 pm

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 12.17.13

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

holiday tulle apron

Source: Lady Scarletts,  $16.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday December 13, 2013

Friday, December 13th, 2013

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice I am sharing an easy way to glam up a pair of slippers with interchangeable fabric flowers and fun diy holiday yarn trees to decorate a ledge or table for Christmas. I’ve also got two specials running – a $500 cash giveaway (hurry, it ends today!) and a review and giveaway for my favorite new subscription service, Scribd (so cool, it’s like Netflix for ebooks!). Our weekly notebook is filled with inspiring DIY food, decorating and craft ideas, and we have more than 100 contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways.

Bonus Freebie:

Receive a FREE 3-Month membership to Scribd (access to over 100,000 ebooks!) with Mom Advice’s exclusive code (expires December 31st!).

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Baby Safety Latches Sample Pack

Food & Drink

Bottle of Aquafina FlavorSplash

Pet

Hill’s Pet Nutrition Ideal Balance Dog Treats

Entertainment

Joyce Meyer 2014 Calendar

Family Circle One-Year Magazine Subscription

Keurig K-Cups Winter Coffee Recipes eBook

Christmas Music MP3 Songs

Wrap With Love: Holiday Gift Giving With Less Stress and More Joy eBook

Printable Christmas Planner

A Christmas Carol eBook

Christmas Printable Packs for Kids

12 Days of Christmas Coloring Pages

Christmas Alphabet Printables

Reindeer Educational Pack

Gingerbread ABC Matching Cards

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine Subscription

A Christmas Carol Audiobook

This Week’s Freebie Events: December 14 – 20

14th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Festive Picture Frame Ornament, 11 am – 3 pm

14th - Lowe’s: Build a Train Engine, 10 am

14th - Michael’s: Learn How to Use DecoArt Stencils, 1 – 3 pm

 

Apron Full of Giveaways 12.10.13

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

candy cane apron

Source: Imagine That Custom Design,  $23.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Freebie Friday December 6, 2013

Friday, December 6th, 2013

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies! And be sure to check out their fantastic list of 200+ stocking stuffers all under $5! I love how this great list is arranged by interests, too – so awesome!

This week on MomAdvice I am sharing some fun and easy Christmas ideas! Our Easy Burlap Wreath Tutorial is a no-sew, no-glue, no-cut, but totally cute holiday decoration you can complete in about 30 minutes. Also, I show how we take a few minutes to make Easy Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls with our kids, which has become one of our favorite traditions! And I’ve got not one, but two adorable knitting ideas this week – make unique Yarn Ball Ornaments for the knitters on your list or knit up a Snowflake Scarf from Purl Soho to keep everyone else on your list warm. Our weekly notebook is filled with even more Christmas food, decorating and craft ideas, and we have more than 100 contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty

Essence of Beauty Body Mist at CVS

Food & Drink

Culver’s Mini Mixer Ice Cream With M&M’s

Chili’s Holideals: Free Appetizer, Dessert, Chips, or Kid’s Meal

Entertainment

Christmas Joy Printable Gift Tag

Away In A Manger Printable Gift Wrap

Christmas Printable Pack

25 Days of Christmas Music Downloads

Busy Mom’s Christmas Planner

Nativity Pre-K/K Pack

12 Days of Christmas Printable Pack

Nativity Calendar Cards

Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army Audiobook

The Promise of Christmas is Jesus eBook

Dave Ramsey’s Junior’s Adventures: The Big Birthday Surprise eBook

This Week’s Freebie EventsDecember 6 – 13

6th - Barnes & Noble: Polar Express Storytime, 7 pm 

7th - Home Depot: Build a Tic Tac Toe, 9 am – 12 pm

7th - Lakeshore Learning: Create an Igloo Toss Game, 11 am – 3 pm

7th - Michael’s: Learn How To Make a Gingerbread House, 10 am – 12 pm

 

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Apron Full of Giveaways 12.03.13

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

paris apron

Source: My Empty Nest Designs,  $36.50

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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