Money Saver

How to create the ideal budget to get out of debt

15 years ago my husband and I were serious budgeters. We still budget today but in a different way. We used to budget so we could even afford basic necessities and now we budget to plan vacations and our son’s College fund. We worked very hard and with some fortunate career moves, tax returns and learning how to move money, we paid off all access debt. We own all of our cars, have over half of our mortgage paid off and are sitting on a lot of equity. We have helped put one son through College with one more on the way to College in a few years so that fund is already growing for him. If you are drowning or feel lost with where to start tackling your debt, I am happy to share how we got started back then.

The most important tip I can offer you is to get committed. You need to understand each debt. You need to learn who you owe to, exactly how much, if there are penalties for paying off early, know your interest rates and if those rates are fixed or can change. If you are in debt, chances are credit companies know this and you have been sent a lot of offers promising you a positive change. Pay attention to some of these. You know the main credit companies so see how each work and whether they could be a fit for you. What does this look like?

You may see an offer that asks you to consolidate all of your debt into one account. This may seem hassle free, but there is a cost. Calculate that cost. Read on how much they charge for balance transfers, how much interest they will charge you, will the companies you owe penalize you to move their loan, etc.. There may be fees, but the lowest fee wins, right? Compare the difference on how much extra consolidating could save you – or cost you. Maybe you just have a few large loans and individually tackling them one at a time is your money-saver. Or maybe you have so many little loans at various rates, consolidating pays you. You need to sit down and lay out all of your options.

Afford a new house
Our new build 2017

We did a little of both. The year we started tackling our debt, we took our tax return and paid off a little student loan I had left. It was over $7,000 at 3.8% interest and I had been paying $150 each month towards it. There was no penalty to pay it off early and because it is a student loan, the interest was fixed and low so it made sense to get rid of this loan ASAP. No fancy trips, no new car with the tax return – we took every penny of that return and paid debt #1 off. It felt so good and now we had an extra $150 a month and it was time to sit down again and re-budget that $150. I told you that you have to stay committed and dive in. You have to go without and travel less and buy less for the reward.

That $7,000 return would have been a fun summer of travels with the boys back then, but we paid a debt instead. It was OK – we have traveled plenty since and we did it without debts so it pays off. One move like not paying off that loan could have sent us in an entirely new direction back then or perhaps we would have not acquired the motivation we did to keep budgeting this way.

Once we paid off that student loan, the offers came in fast and plentiful. One day an envelope came from a local credit company offering us $0 balance transfer fees, a very good interest rate because it came into an economic time we knew rates were falling, the rates were fixed and then a few loans told us they would forgive early pay off fees. This meant, we could move right then to consolidate and we did. All credit cards we had were molded into one payment and now we were saving over $300 a month making one payment instead of several small ones. What did we do with an extra $300 a month? Pay more towards our car loan and start a small savings. We would stash $100 a month away and $200 a month extra on the car. The next tax return, we paid our lowest car loan off. Then we used that monthly payment saved on the other car and began paying that one off while putting even more into savings a month. You can see how in time we came to a place where we were finally debt free. We also committed to buying nothing extra in this time or we would have never made it.

We paid off a loan, getting rid of a monthly payment. But, we took that old monthly payment and rolled it into another debt and put more into savings. With all of the money saved today + we make more in our careers, we have stocks and savings. We travel. We still have no car loans or credit card loans. The cards we do have are travel reward cards we pay off each month, so we do save traveling. It is like a big umbrella that keeps opening more and more until you are finally standing under it protected from any unfortunate money decisions of the past.

Can you imagine the feeling when you stack your funds just right and make that final payment? I have felt that and not too much beats the satisfaction. I have a College degree and have had great promotions at work and none of that compared to being debt free. Every sacrifice was worth it and we don’t miss any of it today. I came across a great Guide to Budgeting that will help you out. Learn more by visiting this guide. Stick with it! You can get out of debt if you get committed and create a plan.

Money Saver

Financial Planning Strategies for Your Retirement

Financial Planning Strategies for Your Retirement
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Even if you love your job or can’t imagine life without a full-time career, the day will likely come when you are ready to retire and enjoy your golden years with fewer responsibilities. How can you be confident that when that day arrives, you will have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of? The best solution is to make sure you are well prepared. 

When it comes to investing for your future, the longer you have to prepare, the better, so start researching, planning, and investing today. To get started, consider these financial planning strategies for attaining financial freedom during your retirement years.

Do Your Homework

Everyone knows that the most essential step in any good plan is thorough research. To make wise decisions when developing a financial plan, you need to educate yourself on available investment options. There are books and online guides to educate you on all facets of retirement planning, as well as tools for determining anticipated expenses and income. If you are still unclear after studying your options, you may want to consider contacting a financial planner for help.

Invest in a Retirement Annuity

If you want a guaranteed revenue stream during your retirement years, consider purchasing an annuity. There are options that allow you to pay with one lump sum of money, as well as options that allow you to make regular payments over a period of time. 

Additionally, different annuities offer different systems of payout. There are variable annuities that base their return rates on the performance of a select portfolio of stocks, but for peace of mind, many investors prefer fixed annuities. Because this type of annuity offers a fixed rate of return for the rest of your life or a preselected number of years, you have guaranteed income you can count on.

Consider a Life Insurance Policy

When it comes to retirement planning, many people overlook the necessity of life insurance. However, everyone knows that life can bring sudden surprises, and it’s best to be prepared.

To ensure your beneficiaries are not left in a financially vulnerable position, consider taking out a life insurance policy. The concept of this type of plan is that you pay the insurance company a regular premium, and when you die, the company provides a predetermined amount of money to your beneficiaries.

In terms of timing, the sooner you acquire life insurance, the lower your premiums are likely to be. However, if you overlooked this investment and are already in your golden years, don’t worry. There are life insurance plans for seniors that can be customized to fit your needs at an affordable price.

Maximize Employer Contributions

If you are planning for your retirement while still working, take advantage of any retirement benefits offered by your employer. It’s very common for companies to offer a 401(k) plan that allows you to invest pre-tax income. The money is taken directly out of your paycheck, and consequently, you are able to easily and painlessly invest.

Some employers also offer matching contribution plans in which they contribute company money towards your 401(k) plan. These companies match up to a designated percentage of your income if you also invest that amount. For example, if the designated matching level is 3%, the firm will contribute 3% if you do. Because this doubles your investment, it’s critical to take advantage of this offer and contribute at least the percentage your company is willing to match.

Investing in your future is vital if you hope to experience the retirement lifestyle you deserve. Thankfully, with thorough research, careful planning, and effective strategies, you can rest easy knowing that you are doing what it takes to prepare for a future filled with new opportunities and exciting possibilities.

Beauty, Money Saver, Mother's Day, Natural Beauty, Natural Products, Reviews

My Little Mascara Club – Review and Unboxing

All of the products at My Little Mascara Club are natural and All of our products are always: vegan, cruelty free, gluten free, paraben free, mineral oil free, beeswax free and paraffin free.

Want to know what you get? Watch my unboxing below:

What can you buy at My Little Mascara Club?

  • Mascara: Length and Definition 0.135 fl oz (without subscription) $15
  • Mascara Volume and Curl 0.135 fl oz (without subscription) $15
  • Fresh: Mascara Remover 3.4 fl oz $12
  • Erase: Mascara Wipes (2 pack) $8
  • Trio: Gift Set (1 Mascara, Mascara Remover, Mascara Wipes) $35
  • Lovely: Gift Set (1 Mascara, Mascara Remover, Mascara Wipes, 1 Case) $42
  • Exquisite: Gift Set (1 Mascara, Mascara Remover, Mascara Wipes, 1 Bag) $49
  • or the Trial Kit (1 Mascara, Mascara Remover Wipes, Surprise Box) Now just $9!

Why would you get a Mascara Subscription?

It’s a little mascara! Little wands make application so much easier. You also get just enough to last until you should really change out your mascara or wand for sanitary reasons. Even the FDA recommends you toss your mascara after 3 months.

With My Little Mascara Club you choose how often you want your mascara delivered from every 6 weeks to every 4 months. On average their little mascara will last you 6 weeks with daily use. Mascara Plan subscribers enjoy discounts of up to 40% off their products and flat $3 (instead of $5) shipping. And you always get free shipping after $50 subtotal!

Start with your $9 trial kit HERE. Make sure to use the code: HAPPYLASHES and you get a “free gift“!

Fashion, Kids, Money Saver, Tips and Tricks

7 Secrets To Finding An Epic Costume at Goodwill Stores

7 Secrets To Finding An Epic Costume at Goodwill Stores

My local Goodwill region (Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region) has 2 gals they call, Costume Experts. Having Whitney and Morena locally means we get great tips, talent displays and DIY ideas. Creating a costume that is unique makes Halloween so fun (or you can be a Baby Shark Mom with like else).

Whitney and Morena have put together some tips to finding a Costume that will stand out and I wanted to share a few of them with you below.

Use Your Smart Phone. Technology today allows us to merge what we scan on our phones to what we see in stores. Searching ideas on your phone and using images to know what items you need makes the outfit complete. Want to be ‘Grandpa”, search some photos and head to the men’s section of Goodwill.

Plan ahead. When you start now you can visit several stores in your area to piece the perfect items together. Having an 80’s family costume this year? You’ll find everything you need if you check all local stores and keep going back because new stuff is on the racks daily.

Have a budget. Most stores offer new and used costumes and costume ideas. If you are looking for a trending, new costume see if Goodwill has it for a lot less than most retailers. Is the budget thin? Shop used costumes and save even more.

Know your Halloween night plans. What will you be doing with your costume? Will you be outside in the cold, trick-or-treating with kids? Will you be at a kids party or adult party? Know your scene and then you can choose a costume with kid-friendly in mind or even weather in mind.

What are you favorite movies, TV shows? How do your favorite actors/actresses or characters dress? My son is a huge Stranger Things fan and he likes Steve’s character so he decided on Scoops Ahoy Steve for Halloween this year. You can find a lot of inspiration within your favorite media.

Leave the Halloween section. If you are visiting Goodwill stores for your costume hunt, leave the Halloween section to find the right pieces for tops, bottoms, hats, socks, etc. elsewhere in the store.

Find a Goodwill helper. Most stores have DIY experts that can help you find costume necessities and even help find a style or idea you’ll love. There are ‘Whitney’s and Morena’s’ at Goodwill stores nationwide so check your stores experts.

Don’t forget to think about year-round needs while there. My son is in the middle of October Awareness week at school. When I was Back to School shopping I kept colors in mind so we are good to go this week for Orange Day for Anti-Bullying and Pink/Black Day for Breast Cancer Awareness. It’s always a good idea to grab those bright color items in your kids sizes for school events when visiting Goodwill stores especially if they are the day’s colored tag sales.

Goodwill thrift store sales fund free education in a variety of career fields such as culinary, barista, construction, advanced manufacturing, warehouse, computers and more. Shop to help your local community and continue the cycle by donating your past Halloween attire along with other household items!