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No spend challenge--how long can I last?

April 6th, 2016 at 07:28 pm

I had a bunch of bills come in earlier this month. Nothing new, but it depleted my funds quickly and now they are quite low. So I've decided to set a no spend challenge for myself and build my cash cushion back up. I haven't set a time limit for myself, as I want to go as long as I possibly can without spending any unnecessary money. Has anyone done this before? How long did you last?

I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to help me out in this challenge. One of them is I have quite a large grocery stockpile in my pantry and my freezer, and it needs to be used up. Another thing that will help is I've done something similar in the past, not spending for a single pay period. (That wouldn't work this time as I get paid weekly. When I did it before I was working somewhere else and got paid every two weeks, so I really had to stretch my dollars until they screamed for mercy. LOL)

Could have, should have, would have, didn't

March 12th, 2016 at 07:20 am

I admit it--I play the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes every day. I am well aware that I have a better chance of being struck twice by lightning than winning any jackpot prize. However, recently I've been thinking about how my life could have been very different (financially speaking), as there was a time when I was so close to winning but I didn't know it. Let me explain....

From May to August of 2009 I was in Alaska. My sister, who is in the Air Force, was getting ready to deploy to Iraq, and she needed someone to help my brother in law with their 3 kids. One day I was playing around on my sister's laptop, and just for fun I went to the Publisher's Clearing House website (www.pch.com). There was a game on there where you had to click on some cards to turn them over, and if a card had a prize you would win that prize. The big prize for this particular game was $1000 per week for life. I had x amount of chances to try for a prize. For some odd reason my eyes were drawn to this one particular card, but I kept ignoring it. It turned out that all the cards I had clicked were duds, no prize. I had used up all of my chances to win a prize, so I clicked on the card I had ignored, and there it was--$1000 per week for life.

Ah, regrets, don't you just love them? If I had followed my gut instinct I would have won that big prize. I wouldn't have lost everything and been "couch homeless" from 2008-2013. I could have kept my condo, my car, literally everything, and been able to stay in Colorado.

I still play the sweepstakes, mainly just for fun, but also to see what would happen if I did enter every day. If I win, that would be nice, but (more likely) if I don't, well then that's nothing to worry about.

I just found out something interesting

January 7th, 2016 at 08:06 pm

It's tax season in the US, and I just learned something very interesting. Just for giggles I printed out my last pay stub of 2015 and looked up my 2014 W-2 form so I could get an estimate of any possible tax refund. Using that information I went to Turbo Tax's website and entered it all in. Well, guess what? Turbo Tax allowed me to file my taxes early, so they are already done for this year! One less thing on my to do list. The IRS will begin processing returns on January 18th.

I've found a new job

January 6th, 2016 at 06:58 pm

I put in my two weeks notice at my job this morning. I've accepted a job at the Dollar General right next to my apartment. It's part time, 15 hours a week. My mom suggested that I try to work both jobs, but because I'm on disability I'm not sure if I can do that without going over my work or income limit.

One of the nice things about working at Dollar General is they have a retirement plan that even part time employees can take advantage of. Dollar General will even match the first 5%. Who would turn down free money like that? :-) I haven't had any type of retirement savings since I left the Air Force Academy, so it will be nice to put some money aside for that. I already consider myself to be "semi retired" due to my disability income. It's not that I need the income; I can pay my bills just fine with my disability. I work as a way to keep myself busy and the paycheck is just a nice bonus.

For such a time as this....

January 4th, 2016 at 06:48 pm

My hours at work got cut back this past summer. However, I wasn't in a panic or worried at all. Because I had been putting money into my savings account every payday, I had that money to get me through for a little while, and that gave me a ton of peace of mind.

One of my favorite books says "Who knows if you were put here for such a time as this?" (I'm referring to the book of Esther in the Bible.) I've adapted this quote to say that my savings are set aside for such a time as this. Now that my hours are slowly picking back up I am rebuilding my emergency fund.

So for those of you who are frustrated that your money is just sitting there "doing nothing", there's no need to be that way. In fact you'll be grateful that you have that money sitting there when hard times come up. I know I am.

Tiny house = living mortgage free

January 3rd, 2016 at 05:36 pm

I love watching YouTube videos of people who live in tiny houses. The thing that inspires me the most about it is that the majority of these people live mortgage free. Who wouldn't love that? Living in your own home that has been completely paid for. I love it! Being foreclosed on in 2009 scared the living daylights out of me, so if I can avoid having a mortgage I will.

Being a military kid I moved around a lot, so just the idea of settling down and putting down roots somewhere really appeals to me. I don't want to spend the rest of my life paying rent to someone. Owning my own home outright is my dream, and I think a tiny house may be just the way to do that. I love the idea of downsizing and living minimalist, only having things that I need and nothing more.

My favorite financial coach

January 2nd, 2016 at 10:13 pm

I admit it, I'm a Dave Ramsey fan. I listen to his radio show whenever I get a chance (thank you iHeartRadio) and love his common sense advice, especially the 7 Baby Steps. For those of you who are not familiar with the Baby Steps, here they are.

Step 1: Save $1000 in a starter emergency fund. (I'd personally go with one month's income.)

Step 2: Pay off all your debts except the house from smallest balance to largest.

Step 3: Finish your emergency fund to at least 3 to 6 months of expenses. (I'd personally go with one year's income.)

Step 4: Put 15% of your pretax income into retirement.

Step 5: Start saving for your kids' college (or yours if you plan on going back to school).

Step 6: Pay off the mortgage as quick as you can.

Step 7: Build wealth and give to charity.

I am happy to say I am currently on Step 4. The interesting thing about this is once I finish step 4 I will automatically go to Step 7. Why? For one I have no kids nor a desire to go back to school. Second, I currently am renting where I live and hope to save up enough money to buy a place with cash. (Going through that foreclosure scared the living daylights out of me so if I can avoid a mortgage I will.) And no, I don't have a large income, in fact I would definitely be considered low income. The key for me is that I do the best that I can to live on less than I make (being without an income for 5 years also scared the living daylights out of me and finally knocked some financial sense into my head). Having money in the bank gives me so much peace of mind that words can't describe it.

I read a comment on another blog that I have a feeling will stick with me: "Don't spend all your money in one go, but save some for another time." It's so simple yet it's so obvious and that's why I love it.

My journey so far...

January 2nd, 2016 at 09:49 pm

I had a wonderful life up until 2008. I had a full time government job, a condo that I was paying down as fast as I could, and a paid for car. All of that went belly up in September when I lost my job and the economic meltdown happened. Soon afterwards my husband and I separated, leaving me with no income at all. I had no emergency fund so I had no way to pay my bills. I couldn't find any regular work either, which was extremely frustrating to say the least. Over the course of the next year I wound up literally losing everything. I lost my condo to foreclosure as well as my car (no income meant I couldn't change the oil, so the engine locked up). Long story short I wound up being "couch homeless" and living with friends and family for the next 5 years. I was finally able to get back on my feet when I won my Social Security disability case in 2013. I was also able to find a part time job working at a local restaurant, and I've been there for almost 2 years now.

A line in one of my favorite songs pretty much sums up my life--"When you hit rock bottom you've got two ways to go, straight up or sideways." I've hit rock bottom and have slowly climbed my way out. It can happen to you as well. Don't give up!

Hello!

January 2nd, 2016 at 09:34 pm

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Jessica and I've started this blog as a place to put my thoughts on finances and managing my money. I love learning new tips and tricks on how to stretch a dollar until it screams for mercy, so I've come here looking for people who share the same interest. Feel free to leave a comment if you like what you are reading.