Staying Home is Expensive

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Before I became a mom, I never dreamed of wanting to stay at home. It just wasn’t me. I’m a worker – a provider. I wouldn’t be able to stay at home and “do nothing.” Hahaha. I had it so wrong as to what a SAHM actually does.

When I had my daughter 6 1/2 years ago, I couldn’t dream of going back to work. However, being a single mom, there aren’t many other options. I had it worked out where I would bartend here and there at little mom and pop places throughout the year, but my main income came from heading back to NJ for the summer and bartending at summer bars. I would work as much as I could for those 3 months, then live frugally for the rest of the year. It would last me until just about tax season, then I’d live off of my refund until summer came again. Sure, my credit went to sh*t, but I was there for every one of my daughter’s firsts. That was more important to me.

When I got pregnant with Little E, I knew that I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible. I picked up extra shifts while pregnant and saved everything that I could, ensuring that I could take off the full 90 days of leave that I was allotted. That’s what I’ve been living off since I had him almost 2 months ago. And I’ve been focusing on how to generate an income from home so that I can continue staying home with him.

The problem is, once you get on your routine with your newborn, you’re able to keep the house clean again and you get pretty bored pretty quickly. At least I have. He sleeps most of the day. So, once my sleep leveled off and I became used to his routine, I started deep cleaning the house. When I finished cleaning, I started redecorating. I’ve redone all the pictures in the living room. Twice. Yesterday, we got a new rug and finally took down the green vertical blinds from T’s bachelor days and put up curtains. I feel like we have a grown up living room now (minus all the kid paraphernalia).

I’ve already purchased shelves and brackets so that I can reorganize Peanut’s room and the playroom downstairs. I just need to get out the handy dandy stud finder and level and actually start that project. Plus, I need to wade through the sea of toys in the playroom in order to organize it. Guess who’s been dreading that project… This girl!

Since I don’t see a lot of my friends from work on a daily or weekly basis anymore, we started meeting for lunch occasionally. Oh, and the Kmart by me is closing, so I’ve been stocking up on Christmas gifts and birthday presents. This also adds up.

The point is, I need a job just to fund my SAHM lifestyle. Or I need to change what my SAHM lifestyle is. You’d think that once I get these rooms done I’ll be done spending money. I would also hope that’s true. Except we’ve already outgrown this home with the arrival of Little E. New home means new decorations. Or more decorations, or different decorations. I’m not sure because we haven’t found the new home yet so I don’t know what I’m going to be decorating.

I now understand why so many women blog about finances. If you’re not 100% on top of what you can spend, it’s really easy to go shopping out of boredom. It’s easy to browse a store’s online catalog while you’re feeding the baby or waiting for him to wake up. It’s easy to go walking through the mall while he naps in his stroller and stop in whatever stores you feel like.

This is all new and weird to me and I don’t like it. I’ve been pretty good about finances up until this point. Since I started working at my current job I’ve had a definite budget, I’ve known what I needed to make each week, and I’ve set savings and debt payoff goals. I brought my credit score up almost 200 points in the past year and a half and saved enough to pay for our wedding with cash. I’ve given myself a set amount that I was able to spend each week, and the rest has been accounted for – either to bills or to savings.

I don’t like SAHM me. She’s reckless and bored. It’s a frightening combination. One that I’d like to destroy as soon as possible. So, I’m going back to my budget. I’m going back to living frugally and simply. I’m happier there. My wallet is happier there. And if I’m ever going to make this SAHM gig a permanent one, I need to get back there.

I’m going to start with making lists again and only buying what I came to the store for. I’m going to start making freezer meals again based upon what meat is on sale that week. And I’m going to stop any and all online shopping for the rest of the summer. That may not seem like much, but it’s a start.

And we’ve all gotta start somewhere.

Gardening 101

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When we first discussed moving in with T almost 2 years ago, one of my major stipulations was that I wanted a garden. I had never had a garden before and I couldn’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life, but this was something that I HAD to have in order to be happy. In spite of all the other work that we needed to do in order to make the house ready for us, I kept insisting. At one point it became almost an argument. I was stressing because if the garden wasn’t planted in time we would not get anything that summer. T fired back with, “With everything that we have to do to get the inside ready for you to move in, what’s so important about this garden?” I answered as honestly as I could. He had his garage to disappear to when he needed to be alone. Peanut had her own room and a playroom of her very own downstairs… a getaway on both levels of our house. Once we moved in, I had nothing that was solely mine. No little nook or cranny that could be my escape. I wanted the garden for that purpose. Once he understood why I needed that space, he let the topic go. The next day, he had built a raised garden bed behind our home. I quickly filled it with a combination of peat moss, manure, and soil and couldn’t wait to plant my vegetables.

The first year I went overboard. Overboard is actually an understatement. In my little 5’x10′ garden bed, I planted over 20 different kinds of plants. I had an app on my phone to help me remember what was planted where, I had researched what plants should be positioned next to each other to ensure the best results. I had even made sure that the ratio of manure to garden soil was correct. In other words, I had done my homework and I was ready to go. Except I was unprepared for the results.

The pumpkins, zucchini, spearmint, and cucumber vines took over like crazy. They killed off some of the plants next to them. At the very least, those plants didn’t thrive as well because of them. However, we got a really good turnout considering I was brand new at this. We had more zucchini than I knew what to do with, we had fresh strawberries, green beans growing up sunflower stalks, herbs, and more. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to do it again. Last year, however, I scaled back considerably. The pictures above show last year’s crop around mid-July.

This time, I planted the herbs in separate containers with the intention of bringing them into the garage after the season was over and continuing to grow them. That didn’t happen, but the herbs thrived on their own and didn’t take over the entire garden bed. I planted 2 kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, string beans, snow peas, and the strawberries had returned from the previous year. I had so many cucumbers I learned to make pickles. It was amazing.

This year, I’m really looking forward to gardening again. I’m also going to try my hand at growing potatoes out of a garbage can and growing my own garlic. We’ll see how that goes. Now that the playroom downstairs is a comfortable temperature and I’ve cleaned my cluttered desk off, I plan to try one of those little pre-garden pods and start the seeds inside instead of directly planting them in the ground. I ordered organic seeds off a reasonably priced website last fall so that I would be ready to go when the time came, and I picked up the pods and some extra seeds on my shopping trip today. I’m also going to add Epsom salt to the soil this year. I’ve heard great things about its benefits for the plants and soil. Hey, it beats Miracle Gro.

One of the greatest things that I get out of gardening, besides the money we save on produce in the summer, is that I know exactly where my family’s food came from. I know there were no chemicals used in the soil, I know exactly when it was planted and when it was picked. Last summer there was a huge salmonella outbreak linked with cucumbers. I didn’t have to worry because I hadn’t purchased a single cucumber the entire summer. It’s great to bring Peanut back there and watch the progress, to have her help me pick the veggies, and then to make a salad based solely off of the vegetables we grew ourselves. It sounds so basic, and it is. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need to go back to the basics, both to save a little money and to remember where you came from and what you’re here for. If nothing else, it’s my own little safe haven.

Budget Update: How to Get to Your Goal Little by Little

At the beginning of the year, I went over my strategy to get to my savings goals by May. With March right around the corner, I thought I’d give you an update on where I’m at so far. While I haven’t hit my goals yet, they are still not unattainable by May and I’m not giving up hope.

My bills are roughly $1500 per month. Originally I had set a goal of saving $4500 for maternity leave so that I could take the full 90 days for FMLA. Then I remembered that being a month ahead means that May is already covered by whatever I make in April. That brings the goal down to $3000. Score!! Also, $600 of that 1500 goes into the joint account for the house utilities and food shopping. While I’d still like to keep that 600 in my goals, it’s not the end of the world if T helps out with that portion or we take it from the money saved in the joint account. Worse things have happened. That’s kind of what an emergency account is for.

So, roughly two months later, where am I at? Well, let me first say that I am the kind of person that needs to split up her money and give each little savings goal a purpose. If I just set a goal of saving $5000, per say, once I get to that goal I feel I owe myself something. Then, each time I go shopping I think, no big deal, I’ve got $5k in the bank. No big thing, I can buy this. Before I know it, my $5000 has diminished substantially. It’s depressing, really. You’d think I’d have better self control at 34 years old. What I’ve learned is that if I divide it up and give it a purpose I am less likely to spend it. Hence the “Additional Savings” category in the image below. (Yes, I understand that I am neurotic for keeping track of my income on an Excel spreadsheet. I’m not judging you… Don’t judge me. LOL)


By giving each savings envelope a purpose, in my mind that money is already accounted for somewhere. The $500 for the car- that’s for any repairs and maintenance I may need on the vehicle. I take from that envelope and pay it back as I go. Soph-vaca? Oh, my 6-year old gets to go to Hawaii in June with my mom and step-dad. She picked the winning ticket at my step-dad’s club and they won the 1st prize trip to Hawaii, so they’re taking her as a reward. By saving $25 per week, she’ll have $400 of spending money by the time she goes. Yes, that’s kind of a lot for a 6-year old to have, but I’m trying to account for food and activities as well as a few souvenirs.

In addition, I break down each bill by week and that’s the amount of money that I put in that envelope each week. When I make extra, the bills are accounted for first, then Soph’s vacation $$, followed by the 52-week challenge, and finally, any extra left over is put into the maternity fund. I also automatically transfer 10% of my paycheck every two weeks into my regular savings account, $10 per week into our joint savings account, and $10 per paycheck into my Capital One account (which is really just a backup account). It’s not much, but it adds up, and I try not to touch any of the savings accounts if at all possible.

So, if I work until May 1st, which is my plan, that means I have approximately 2 months left to save. Am I halfway there? Not quite. Going into the last weekend of February, I have $1209 saved for the maternity fund. ( I forgot to add it to my Excel sheet, but I won $400 on a scratch off the first weekend in Feb and paid back 100 into the Car envelope and the other 300 into the maternity fund.) Not exactly where I wanted to be, but I’m just under halfway there with another weekend to go. There was also the weekend of snow in January where I physically could not make it to work. That took away any potential income there. Also, I’m trying to keep up with the 52-week challenge and Peanut’s vacation money so that I’m not 12 weeks behind when I start making money again or she’s not broke while on vacation. That takes a little away from the maternity fund each week as well.

As I said in one of my previous blogs, I had the opportunity to have a web meeting with Rosemarie of The Busy Budgeter a couple weeks ago and I’ve been trying to follow her steps, as well as the advice of Ruth Soukup from Living Well Spending Less in order to make my blog more focused and to generate more traffic. If I can start earning a modest income off of this blog I will be one step closer to my goal of being a stay-at-home mom with a full-time income by the end of the year. I’m getting there, slowly but surely. And I’m just stubborn enough to succeed.

Have a great night. We’ll chat again soon.



How to Just Get Through It


The past couple of weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. From the loss of a loved one, to the exciting potential of a future career, to the usual arguments with my 6-year old, and back up to looking at our dream home, all while being 6 months pregnant… emotional is the simplest word I can use.

A week and a half ago, my grandfather passed away. While everyone in the family knew it was coming and many of us took the opportunity to travel to see him in his final days and say our goodbyes, it didn’t make the loss sting any less. There is a hole in our family that will never be replaced. The thought of never hearing his laugh again breaks my heart. He had a great laugh. I’m just lucky that baby #2 gets to have such an amazing guardian angel looking out for him/her.

Then there were the repetitious arguments with my 6-year old about brushing her teeth correctly, finishing her homework, finishing her dinner, etc. That cycle never ends. I feel like it’s preparing us for the teenage years when we fight over much bigger issues. She’s going to be my rebel child. I just know it. Hopefully the new addition is calmer like my husband and me.

On the plus side, I had a very informative meeting with a professional blogger late last week and she gave me a step by step guide to promoting my blog and getting on the right track to start making an income from it. While my goal is to hit my current income or higher by the end of the year, maternity leave is coming up fast and any income there will be helpful. I’ve also decided to revamp the website and keep track of the process that I go through in order to get to that goal. If I can stay at home with my kids while still earning a decent living doing something I love I have to try it. I’d be crazy not to.

Finally, today we went looking at a house. Not just a house. THE house. It met both of our requirements for what our dream home should have: 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a separate family room that can be turned into a playroom, on an acre of land surrounded by farm land, with a pool and a gazebo in the backyard. It even had a tree on the edge of the property that would be perfect to build a tree house in. T, who is the least impulsive person I know, was the first to suggest we put in an offer as soon as we heard there were 2 other offers being submitted on it today. Then we crunched the numbers and it wasn’t in the cards for us. While we could make it work, there are just too many variables and too many other things we need to get done before we’ll be able to buy it. If it’s already off the market by then, it wasn’t meant to be. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Now, for the million dollar question and it’s very simple solution…

When life keeps throwing you curveballs, how do you take it in stride instead of getting overwhelmed? Well, I’m not exactly an expert, and I’ve been known to get overwhelmed quite a few times, but I’m also pretty logical when it comes to these things. In my family, we always look for the funny side of a situation. That’s just how we deal.

As far as my grandfather goes, it’s cliche to say that he’s in a better place now, but he is. His quality of life had dwindled down to nothing. By default, so had my grandmother’s. She spent every day taking care of him and going above and beyond to make sure he was comfortable. She’s incredible. Now she doesn’t have to automatically decline an invitation to go out to dinner with friends, come out to western PA for a baby shower, or even miss church because she’s unsure whether Poppop will be having a good day or not. It’s the first time in 54 years that her life doesn’t revolve around him. As a newlywed, that feels earth shattering to me. But, at the same time, it has to be a little bit liberating for her. They always loved to travel and she hasn’t been able to for the past few years because of Poppop’s health. Now she can go anywhere her heart takes her. Please don’t think I’m being callous by saying this. My grandparents equally mean the world to me. I’m blessed to have had them both for as long as I have. But if I’m going to look for a silver lining in this dark cloud, it’s going to be her and the opportunities that now stand before her. I hope she’s brave enough to take them.

As for my daughter, I’m going to remind myself that I wouldn’t have the life I have if not for her. If she had not come into my life, I never would have left New Jersey, I never would have decided that I had to set a better example for her and start dating men who were worth my time instead of just taking up my time, I never would have met my husband, and I never would have appreciated him the way I do. So, let her have her phase. We’ll get through it. Hopefully unscathed and stronger for it. I’m going to take a deep breath and remember that this is the life I always dreamed of, even if it didn’t happen exactly how I planned it to.

As far as our dream home goes, I’m gonna chalk that one up to a learning experience. We now know exactly what we have to do in order to be ready to list our current home and we have a plan in place to get it done. We also have a plan to pay down some of our debt, which, in turn, would free up some of our monthly income and allow us to afford a bigger mortgage without becoming house poor. I’d much rather wait and do things the right way than rush into buying this home only to have it all flip upside down on us at the worst possible moment. What’s the point of buying your dream home if you’re not ready and you lose it to foreclosure? Or you ruin your marriage in the process fighting over money all the time? No thanks. I’ll hold off on that one.

Basically, I’m telling you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The situation you’re in right now might not be ideal, but it may be leading you towards a better scenario. Seven years ago, when I was pregnant and alone, do you think I thought it was the best place for me to be? No. But it led me to here. And I’ve never been happier, closer to my family, or had such an amazing group of friends as I do right now in my life. And I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

How To Get Ahead

So, I’ve talked a lot about how I do my monthly budget and what I do to make sure Christmas doesn’t make me go broke. This post is going to be about getting ahead of the game and I’m going to give as many specific examples as I can. With the arrival of baby #2 quickly approaching, I’m in panic mode to get as much income as I can set aside so that my finances and the credit that I’ve been working so hard to get back don’t plummet. The goal is to save $4500 over the next 4 months. These are my strategies:

First off, where whatever extra I had at the end of each month used to be fun money, that money is now being set aside in a separate envelope entitled “Extra” (very original, I know). This month, I had a phenomenal weekend over New Years’ Eve weekend. That now puts me in a position where almost everything I made this past weekend, and everything I make over the next 2 weekends (Yay for 5 weekend months!!!) is considered bonus and will be set aside in that envelope. I’m hoping it ends up totaling somewhere in the vicinity of $1500, but I will be happy with whatever I can save. This will go for the next few months until I go out on leave also.

As you know, I’ve also taken on a second job. While it only pays $8.15/hour and the maximum I’ll be able to work there will be 24 hours per week, this still should net me approximately $313 per paycheck, at two paychecks per month, equals approximately $626 per month that can go straight into my savings. January is a busy month with doctor’s appointments and days off of school, so I’m only going to count that rate for February through the end of April. This should generate about $2000 by the time I go on leave.

I am going to take one paycheck per month and start transferring that into my Capital One checking account so that it’s out of mind and I scale back on my debit spending also. That spending isn’t really out of hand because I don’t usually leave a lot of extra in that account to have access to it, but an extra $100 per month couldn’t hurt.

I also have hopes of one day earning a paycheck from writing this blog. It’s going to take some time and a whole lot of effort, but I’d really like for it to be a success. I don’t expect to be one of those “6-figure bloggers,” although I wouldn’t say no, but if I could start off by earning $500 per month I would be extremely grateful. If that could happen by say, March, that would give me the extra $1000 I need to hit my target goal for my maternity leave. It would also give me an opportunity to work from home and still generate some income while on leave. Hey, a girl can dream.

All in all, it won’t be an easy goal to hit, but it’s not unattainable either. By setting small, realistic goals in each area of income I think I will be able to achieve my goal by the time I have the baby. The goal is to hit this milestone without having to tap into our savings or force T into working a ton of overtime and missing out on valuable family time. That alone makes it worth trudging through the next few months. I’d rather have him home with me and there for as many firsts as possible than emailing him at work to let him know what he missed.

Do you have a goal in mind for the year? What is it and how do you plan on saving for it?

Can’t wait to hear from you!


The New Job

Sorry for my brief hiatus. It’s been a long weekend of work, plus the cough that has remained after being sick around Christmas has been keeping me up at night. I’ve been too tired to do much of anything. Also, I officially started my second job last week.

So far, it’s not a bad place. The work isn’t very physically or mentally demanding. The people are very nice and seem to enjoy their jobs well enough. They’ve been training me in all the different areas so that I’m prepared for the manager training program after I return from maternity leave. It’s all working out pretty well…

Except for the pay. It’s probably decent for a college kid, which comprises most of the staff. And it’s not terrible as my second income that I’m putting away for maternity leave. I’m sure the manager pay is better, but I know for a fact that the shift supervisor pay, which is where I would move to next, is not much more than I’m making now. And what I’m making now is the equivalent of working my 8 hour shift at my other job and leaving with $24. I’m pretty sure waitressing has ruined me for other jobs.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m torn between the paycheck and the title. There’s a supervisor position open at my current job, which I’m qualified for, however, it would be a pay cut. Do I really want to take on more responsibility and more hours (all with another kiddo at home) for less money? Not really. Is the manager pay at the cafe going to be any better? Probably not. But it’s also hard being in your mid 30s and saying your just a waitress or just a bartender. People look at you like, Why haven’t you moved up yet? Well, probably because moving up means losing tips and if you’re good at your job, you make A LOT of tips. I’ve tried looking for jobs in phlebotomy (which I’m certified in) and I have my real estate license, but those jobs haven’t seemed to pan out either.

The downsides of staying a waitress include a lack of consistency, vacation pay, and unemployment. My income fluctuates from week to week but I usually have a bare minimum that I don’t go under. At the very least I have an average of what I make. I base my monthly envelopes off of that average and I think I’ve only ever had one month where I was slightly under my goal for the month. It’s not a guaranteed paycheck, but after 2 1/2 years, I think I can guess what I’m going to make most nights. When I go on vacation, however, my pay only reflects my hourly rate, not my tip average. This means my meager paychecks remain the same, but I have no tips to account for while I was gone. Same happens when I call out sick – I can use Personal Time Off (PTO), but I still make nothing that night as far as tips go. This will be my downfall if I can apply for unemployment during my maternity leave, also. It will probably be based off of my $5+ per hour, not what I actually make. Hence the second job that’s the reason for this post. It all comes full circle!!!!

Right now, I’m able to make what I need to each week at my original job and usually a little bit extra. And I do that working three nights per week. I’m home with my daughter to get her on and off the bus, help with homework, and put her to bed every school night but one (my husband helps out on Thursdays so I can work). The hours are perfect for our life right at this very moment. But things are going to change dramatically in less than four months. There are a million variables with a new baby. What if this baby isn’t sleeping through the night right away? What if it has colic? What if I want to be a stay at home mom? What if I decide I want to write full time and don’t want to go back to work at all? What if? What if? What if???? Too many variables… My mind is going to explode.

I guess we’re just going to have to play it all by ear. The new job isn’t horrible, even if it isn’t the best solution. It’s guaranteed income for when I go on leave. It’s not difficult to do. And my manager now just came back from maternity leave so she understands what I’m going through and tries to keep my position as low stress as possible. We’ll see where it goes from there, I guess.

Until next time, have a great day!


30 Day No Spend Challenge

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Hello, all! I’m sorry about yesterday. It was one of those lazy days where absolutely nothing gets done and you don’t even feel bad about it. Today, however, is not one of those days, so there will be two posts to make up for yesterday.

Twice so far I’ve mentioned the 30 Day No Spend Challenge. I first found it on the Living Well Spending Less website, so that’s the link I’ve included. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and no, you don’t get to skip your bills for that month. I wish. Pretty sure if that were the case I’d be doing the 365 day no spend challenge. The point of this challenge is to go through the items in your pantry and freezer in order to rotate the stock you have there while also cutting down your random spending for the month.

Just like everything else I’ve talked about regarding budgets and saving, you need to adapt this to your individual needs. Each person gets to make their own exceptions. Non perishables like milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, bread… Things you can’t really stock up on ahead of time… These can be exceptions. Do you know that you have a birthday party or a wedding coming up that month? Maybe there’s another extra expense that you can’t cut out. These are all your individual exceptions. That sweater that’s on sale at the mall? Not an exception.

You can also do this challenge at any time, when you’re prepared for it. I’m gearing up and stocking up now so that I can do this challenge one of the months that I’m on maternity leave. Not only do I not want to do any shopping then, my income will be minimal, so this makes sense for our house.

I’m also a little bit of a psycho when it comes to stocking (thanks, Mom!) so we have our regular pantry and then backup items on a shelving unit downstairs. The goal is to have enough so that if anything happened with either of our jobs we would still be okay on non perishables for approximately 3-6 months. I focus on one area per month and that’s what I stock up on. It also depends upon what’s on sale. One month will be toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, etc). The next will be laundry items, canned goods, boxed goods. You get the idea. This challenge ensures that we go through those items at times when we are doing well and can replenish them so that nothing expires in the meantime. I try to do it at least once or twice a year.

The last time I did the challenge I was able to save over $500 in a month. Your savings will depend on your usual spending habits and how committed you are to the challenge. Either way, it’s a good way to rotate the stock you have on hand and clean out your cabinets. It also forces you to get creative with dinner somewhere near the end of the month.

Definitely click the link if you are interested in doing this challenge. She gives tips on dinner ideas, meal swaps, etc. She also takes you through a day to day checklist of what to do.

As always, let me know if you try this out and how it worked for you. Also, I’d love to hear what you would do differently for your household.

Have a great day and I will post again later!

52 Week Money Challenge

Hello again! In yesterday’s post, Envelope Budgeting, I talked about my budgeting strategy and how it’s worked for me over the past few years. In it I mentioned the 52 week challenge envelope. This envelope has been my Christmas money fund for the past 3 years because it’s money you hardly notice is missing but it ends up being a substantial amount in the end. The concept behind it is simple and the timing is perfect with the new year starting tomorrow.

Get another envelope for this money, deposit it into an account you don’t really use, put it in your safe, whatever you prefer. The first week of the year, you’re going to set aside $1. The next week, deposit $2, then $3, and so on. Every week you’ll add an extra dollar to what you’re setting aside, but the most you ever take from your income/budget is $52 in one week. (Don’t worry, there’s a visual at the end of this post.) This adds up to almost $1400 in savings!!!!

Now, I waitress so my income fluctuates. The system that has worked best for me has been to get my envelope and write out the numbers 1-52 on the outside. If I have a really good week at work, I put one of the higher amounts into my envelope and check the amount off as I go. For weeks that don’t turn out as well, that’s what I save the lower amounts are for. I also start my envelope the week after Black Friday so that it’s complete by the following Black Friday and I’m ready to start my Christmas shopping. You can tweak the system in whatever way benefits you.

You can also use this system for anything. Planning a vacation and don’t want to max out the credit card with your spending money? 52 week challenge. Planning a renovation? 52 week challenge. Just want to save $1378 without thinking about it? 52 week challenge. This envelope can be used towards whatever you personally need to save for. It’s just a simple, great way for you to consistently add money to savings with an end date of when you can use it. That way you’re not borrowing from it throughout the year.

Especially since I dropped down to part time, this money saving technique has been a lifesaver for me around Christmas time. I refuse to max out the credit cards to keep up with the latest and greatest toy craze of the year. The one thing I have to work on is making my Christmas list for everyone and budgeting how much I spend on each person. That has been my weakness up until now.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed this post and this system works for you. Feel free to comment and let me know what strategy you’re using. I love learning new money saving techniques.



Envelope Budgeting

money heart

I have waitressed and bartended for almost 13 years now. As food industry workers, most of us share a common dilemma. We make a decent living, but we have no idea how to budget it. The end result is having poor credit and nothing saved. It’s a shame.

A few years ago, I started a new job. For the first month we were training, therefore, I had to rely solely on my checking account to get me through. Luckily I had just received my income tax return and had that to live off of. I took the initiative and paid the following month’s bills ahead of time since I had no idea what our income would be once the place opened. This is one of the best financial decisions I’ve ever made.

I found an article on Pinterest about the envelope budgeting system. I went to the bank, asked for a few envelopes, and went home to fill them out. Each bill got its own envelope. At the top, I wrote how much that bill was per month, then divide by 4 and wrote how much I needed to put in there each week. By adding up the weekly totals on each envelope I now knew exactly how much I needed to make each week to get by. And exactly how much of what I made was extra and could be put towards either savings or frivolous purchases. NOW… I am always a month ahead of where I need to be. Everything I make this month is going towards January’s bills, so I never have an excuse to be late for a payment again.

I have tweaked this system to my own needs over the past couple years, and you can easily do the same. Not everyone has the same bills or gets paid the way I do. I include gas money, miscellaneous expenses, tolls, grocery shopping money, etc in addition to my normal bills. I have extra envelopes that I have to fill before I allow myself to make a frivolous purchase. These include a 52 week challenge envelope (more on that in the next post), a car expenses envelope, and a vacation week envelope. For me, the vacation week replaces what my tip income would have been had I been at work that week.  For you, it may just be vacation spending that doesn’t draw from your already budgeted money.

The January before my daughter started kindergarten, I decided that I wanted to be the mom that got her on and off the bus every day and could help with homework and cook dinner every night. This meant dropping down to part time at my job. I made an envelope for savings and budgeted that into my income from January to August. Every week, I needed to put money into that envelope just like it was a bill. In addition, that year I put my income tax return to good use and paid off my car a year early. That was one less bill that I had to account for.

By August, when my peanut started school, I had dropped down to part time, dropped my monthly bills almost in half, and had approximately $8,000 saved just in case my 3 days a week didn’t cut it. That money sat there for about a year without me needing to touch it. Then I chose to use part to take a phlebotomy certification course and the rest I used to pay for our wedding. The envelope system has worked so well for me that I didn’t even end up needing that back up for my bills.

Now, I’m going to be out of work when baby #2 arrives. There is a new envelope for savings so that the money I’m not making for those weeks is already accounted for before I take my leave of absence. This way, I’m still prepared and my bills are still paid so I can focus on my family when I need to.

Please understand, I have no financial background whatsoever. This is just the first system that ever worked for me and finally made me feel like a real adult. If it works for you, yay!!!!! If it doesn’t, I encourage you to try something else that fits your lifestyle or speak to someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

Good luck! And please let me know what system has worked for you and your family.