So something you may not know about us is that we live in a 1330 sq. ft. house. What this means is that I have to keep us downsized every summer. It’s really not a big deal, but as soon as school lets out I start cleaning, selling, and throwing away.
This year, I decided to put the boys together in one bedroom and make the other bedroom more of a game/educational room. Since I am a third grade teacher in our area, it’s funny how their bedroom started looking like my classroom. This was starting to become really fun!
If you are looking to redo a room in your house, here are some money saving tips that I would suggest.
So, this is what I had to start with. A messy room. Toys were everywhere and everything was sitting on the floor. Anytime I would ask my son to pick up his room, he would throw everything in one bucket. This included guns, legos, underwear, clean clothes, etc. I don’t think he knew where to put anything so he just threw it all in one place. Here’s how I got started…
The first place I started was in their closets. I like to do this every year and clean out old clothes and sell them. You can click here to find out how I make money selling clothes on Facebook. I wanted things off the floor, so I made room at the top of the closets for blankets. This will make it easy when we have company to find bedding easily.
I took this old table and tore off the blue cover on top. Underneath was a beautiful piece of wood. I then painted that wood white and then dry brushed it blue. I then hot glued a few clothespins on it and want to use this for hanging up wet artwork or schoolwork that the kids are proud of.
The next thing I needed to do was organize their 10 million Lego pieces. They love playing with Legos but half the time they’re frustrated because they can’t find the piece they’re looking for. I thought I would turn their bookshelf on its side and use it that way but it never did look right to me. So, here’s how I organized all those little pieces…
I bought that Lego head from a friend selling it on Facebook for $5. The kids have been wanting one for a long time, but I didn’t want to fork over the $20 that it normally cost. The red and blue bins were from Dollar Tree and the small organizers on the bottom are little lunch containers from Dollar Tree. This makes it easy to organize people, sort animals, and keep up with tiny pieces. I also left room on the shelf for them to show off their creations. They have been playing Legos so much lately because they can finally find their pieces.
The last thing I really needed was a bookshelf. I am a Reading teacher and LOVE books. Throwing away books is not really an option for me. We have taken some to Half-Priced Books before and sold a few there, but I can’t let them go. I can always remember where we bought the book, who gave it to us, or how old the kids were when it was their favorite. Too many memories are wrapped up in books. So I needed something big to help me keep the books organized. I found an AMAZING deal that afternoon while taking a break on the couch. I logged onto Facebook and found this 9-hole cubby organizer for $10. Yes, $10. I couldn’t believe it.
Lastly, I hung a few posters around the room that were sort of all over the place. One thing that you’ll notice is that there are blank spaces on the walls. This is something I got from Capturing Kids Hearts (my favorite program for improving behavior). It talks about leaving wall space and bulletin boards blank so that the kids can take ownership and help you decide what should go up there. The boys and I are still working through this part.
That black chair I got for free from a friend getting rid of it. This small bookshelf in the center picture I was able to get for $5 at Walgreens for an after Christmas sale. The beanbag and other accessories came from Facebook. The large bookshelf was given to us for free from friends cleaning out their son’s room. When redoing a room, just keep your items opened because there are always great deals to be found.
I hope to label their stations. So far we have a Creation Station, Art Station, Reading Station, and Play Station. The boys really seem to like the organization and I wish I had done this years ago.
And by the way…can’t get the boys to keep the room clean? Start a marble jar. It works every time in my household!Read More
People often come to Greg and I to ask if they should consolidate their credit cards. So, I thought that I would share our experience with debt consolidation and then let you come to your own conclusion. Keep reading because what I have to say might just change your mind before you decide to consolidate.
means that you are taking out one loan to pay off all the others that you have accumulated. Usually people decide to consolidate their debt to achieve a lower interest rate, secure a fixed rate, or be able to service only one loan.
Our story is like many others. At the time I didn’t realize that. I thought that Greg and I were the only people on the planet struggling to pay our credit cards.
I was still in college and working part-time at a local library. Greg had a full-time job but was unemployed when we were first married. So, we were just barely getting on our feet.
We have never missed a credit card payment, but that’s mostly because we chose not to eat. When you’re paying $450+/month for credit cards on a full-time/part-time income then it’s hard to keep your head afloat.
Back in the day when we were newly married we were just trying to survive. So, we opted for debt consolidation to help us at least feel like we were accomplishing something in our financial life.
I can’t tell you what made us decide to consolidate our debt other than pure desperation, and the fact that we were tired of asking our parents for money. It makes you feel horrible to borrow money from people that you know don’t have a lot of extra to spare.
So, when we received a phone call where they were telling us they could help get us out of debt in 5 years that sounded really good, at the time. It also sounded nice to hear that we would only receive one bill and not have to pay 2 separate credit card bills.
This is why debt consolidation looked so good. Let me show you how much we paid for us to combine those balances and have a “lower interest rate”.
CREDIT CARD #1 = $16, 242.64 (amount owed)
CREDIT CARD #2 = $9, 629.09 (amount owed)
SUBTOTAL = $25,871.73
DEBT CONSOLIDATION PROGRAM = $38 service charge per month
MULTIPLY $38 by 63 months = $2, 394.00
(we were on a 5-year-plan, but it took us 3 extra months to pay it off)
GRAND TOTAL = $28, 265.73
WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
I would not have thrown our hard-earned money down the drain. See, this only sounds like a better deal. What they failed to tell us is that the lower interest rate comes from extending the loan to X amount of years.
Also, consolidating our debts did not help us change our habits in any way. We still accrued a lot more debt ($53,000 to be exact) over the next couple of years. This amount did include the credit cards but since we didn’t learn how to actually manage our money, the debt amount kept going up.
I just wish that we would have done more research. We thought this 5-year-plan sounded amazing. My husband had those credit cards since college, but we wound up paying on them until 2007.
I wish that I could have met someone to give us a swift kick in the behind and motivate us to get out of that debt before buying a house and having children. Fortunately, God did put a man in our life that told us exactly what we were doing wrong.
He told us that if we were going to focus on debt then we needed to find some extra money. Our family told us this also but the difference with this friend was that he gave us a plan to follow.
He suggested that we stop paying retirement which opened up an extra $65 a month. Once we started managing our money and budgeting, that $65 turned into an extra $1,000 a month. How? We paid down debt and used the money we were spending on minimum payments to pay on the next debt.
It took us 3 years to pay down the remainder of the debt.
The cool part of this story is that this man is still in our lives. He is a financial advisor. He isn’t telling us how to pay down debt anymore, but he is telling us how to plan for our future. It’s funny how your life seems to make a full circle sometimes.
Have you entered into a debt consolidation program? If so, please feel free to share your story.Read More
Greg and I learned really quickly that we needed to change our poor money habits. We were tired of being so panicked about money (or the lack thereof) and causing overdraft fees that we knew something needed to change.
I always hated those moments when I would overspend by $3 and have to pay a $32 overdraft fee. That was completely my fault for overspending but it would still stink; especially when you weren’t planning on that to happen. The worst was when we had 3 or 4 overcharge fees hit all at the same time.
So, I made a video telling you what we did to change these poor spending habits. Feel free to leave a comment letting us know what works for your family.
Love is in the air! Can’t you just feel it? Doesn’t this time of year just make you all oozy inside?
Well, just because you’re spending all of your time with the one you love doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of your hard-earned cash.
Here are some simple ways to say “I Love You” without breaking the pocketbook.
- Instead of spending money on a gift, get on Pinterest and create your own.
- Write love notes to your sweetie all week instead of buying a card. You could even mail it or hide several cards somewhere in the house. As we all know, cards can be very expensive this time of year!
- If you have some kind of musical talent, then create a love song to be sung to your sweetheart.
- One year, I went and had some photographs done at a studio where I was able to wear nice outfits and gave those to my sweetie. But…you could do this for free if you have a digital camera and a good friend to take the photos for you.
- I am thinking of making chocolate covered strawberries this year for Greg and taking them to his work. The way to a man’s heart (they say) is through his stomach:)
- Shop at Dollar Tree. Need I say more?
- One year for Valentine’s Greg left me this little surprise. It was sweet. And I love that I still have this pic of my 1st car.
- Also, watch store prices closely. Most stores in our area are already marking down merchandise by 20% or more and we still have a week to go. As we get closer to the actual day, Valentine’s goodies may be marked down by 50%. I have even been known to shop after Valentine’s sales and give my sweetheart something the day after just to save some money. Can we say cheapskate?
- Don’t order flowers. Go to a garage sale, find a vase, buy some flowers, and create your own beautiful bouquet.
- Do something spectacular with chocolate. ANYTHING!
- Take a walk in the park at night.
- Instead of going out to eat, since the restaurants will be CRAZY, make a romantic candlelight dinner at home.
- You could check out a Redbox movie and make sure to look for coupon codes to score one for FREE.
- So, I sang at our wedding in 2001. Greg found a copy of the song that I sung and he shot this photograph of the pages with rose petals falling on the grand piano. It did take him a while to get the perfect shot, but I love this picture. Don’t you? Find something you’re good at doing, and make the most out of it!
I’m sure I’ve left something off the list. What did I leave off?
I have often been asked how to find extra cash during either a hard financial time, when a mom chooses to stay home, or just to pay down debt quickly.
Here are some things that I have tried and would recommend to others. Feel free to add to my list!
I once had a part-time job that I loved and was allowed to bring my child with me which saved on babysitting. It never hurts to ask if you could do the same! I even have a realtor friend who was able to take her infant to work until she was able to start daycare.
I have also subbed and tutored in schools to make money. This worked well for me because I hold a teaching certificate but the pay may not be worth it in your area.
Another thing that I have done and enjoyed is using my talent of playing the piano to make money. Although, I don’t believe in getting paid to play for other churches I have played for weddings and funerals when asked and made good money. What talent do you have that would help you make a little extra cash?
In order to pay down some medical bills, my husband worked part-time at Pizza Hut. I don’t recommend this unless you have a very strong family unit and you consider it to be a temporary job. Working two jobs is really hard on a family.
My sister-in-law has introduced me to taking surveys. I am currently working with I-Say and LOVE IT! I thought I would also scan my purchases by using National Consumer Panel and didn’t realize how much time it takes. I wound up sending all of the equipment back. I am always getting request for Valued Opinions and Survey Scout but wasn’t very impressed. I wasn’t able to build up my points as quickly as with I-Say.
Something else I have done in the past is sell items on E-Bay. Unfortunately, I was never very good at figuring up the shipping and usually just broke even. My mom, on the other hand, is great at finding items to put on E-Bay. She always knew what was really hot. Once she paid $5 for a Chatty Cathy doll at a garage sale and was able to make $325 on E-Bay. Not bad:)
One thing that I tell everyone, is that I don’t believe in paying for work. If a company is asking you to put money up front, you really need to do your research to make sure that it is worth the investment. It doesn’t matter if it’s $100 or $1,000 – money is money. When I quit working full-time to stay home, I thought I would invest in a multi-level marketing program and I regretted every minute of it. I actually MADE more money spending my time using coupons and saving money at the store than I did with this program. Be smart – it’s your money!
What other things have you done to make money on the side? Please share…
One thing that I’m learning as a financial coach is that most people don’t just have financial problems. Usually there are so many other things that are tied into poor finances.
Besides having poor finances, I am also finding out that time management is also a huge problem.
It takes time to want to get out of debt. This is not just something that you can do overnight. I have a client that I will be working with for 2 years, but at that point I hope that she is completely debt-free with the exception of her mortgage. The money is definitely there and so is the motivation and the want to get out from underneath all that debt.
So, what about you? Do you have the desire to get out of debt but just don’t feel like you have the time?
I would love to meet with you for just 2 hours of your time and get you on the right plan. During this 2 hour period, I can tell you my story and show you that I was in the same boat that you are in right now – and it’s probably sinking at this point.
I can also show you where you are and tell you where I think you should be within in a certain time frame. The great thing about talking to a financial coach is that we don’t want you to be in debt any longer than you have to be. We want you out of debt as quickly as possible so that you can start living your life the way it’s meant to be lived!
I am also great about coming up with ideas. If the money is just not there, then I can help you follow your dreams to help you find more money. I recently sat down with a client who needed a little extra cash so we discussed what she enjoyed doing. She loved to paint. We brainstormed the idea and she decided to place a few of her paintings on Etsy. She sold 3-4 paintings in the span of 2 weeks. That was fun to watch!
Another great part about sitting down with me is that I’m the third party. I don’t take sides. The only side that I take is my own. I can also see things from the outside in that maybe you are not able to see for yourself. This works really well for couples. I don’t allow money fights but I do like for everything to be laid out on the table. No secrets. I want the three of us to all be on the same team. The winning team!
So, maybe you think you are in a good financial standing but just have a few questions or need a little push in the right direction. Or maybe you would like to get the ball rolling in the right direction financially but are finding that you just need motivation. I would love to hear from you. Please get on the right track financially before 2013 hits. Make this the year of change!