Saving Money – Debt free continued


On Apirl 23, 2015 I wrote a post Debt Free – Plan; Part 2, talking about your food consumption and how you could save money on this. Getting in debt is so easy, I’m sure almost everyone in the world has been in debt once in their lifetime. The struggle is to get out of debt.

If you follow the links that I add to my most current post it will take you back to the begining of my “informational” post that explains what my husband and I did to get out of debt. This by no means guarantees that it will work for EVERYONE, but I’m sure everyone can take a few things that can help them either get out of debt or prevent themselves to get into debt.

Saying this I will now talk to you about some of utility bills can cost lower or not have at all.
1. Electricity – This is a major component in everyone’s life that we all have to pay unless you rent and it is already included in your monthly rent. This is not the norm anymore so what can we do to make the usage lower.

     a. Solar Power- This is of course for the homes that you own and if you have the funds for this. It is an expensive cost to set up and to add this to your electicity grid but the pay off is HUGE. There are different type of programs so it depends where you live as to which programs fit your household. Sometimes the electic company will end up paying YOU a monthly check because of your independence of not having to use their grid.

     b. Appliances – We all have diffeent types of styles that we would like to have. Some peole want a huge tv, refrigerator, washers and dryers etc.. Thankfully a lot of brand name companies are coming out with appliances that are energy efficient. This of course helps a lot. Having lamps, microwaves are other appliances that you need to look into… Do you really need them? If you don’t then why have them? Blenders, mixers, radios etc… These are items you do not use often or all day, these are appliance that could be plugged off when not in use; even your microwave. If you have an eletic stove and your water runs with electricity also make sure you cook as much as you can in a block of time instead of using your stove through out the day… Yes that means you might be cooking your full day or week meals in 2 or three hours will save your at least $100 if not more a month!

     c. Light fixtures – These can cause a problem espcieally fi you are use to having the lights one ALL THE TIME. I understand if you have kids they forget and if you didn’t have parents like mine you were not taught this simple trait. Shut off lights in the rooms that ARE NOT IN CURRENT USE. Opt for small night lights (there are energy efficient ones out there), your light fixtures regarless if they are lamps or fixed to your home structure there are lights that are energy efficient. The most complex your light fixture is the more expensive the light bulbs could be. Again you can save more money in the long run by just shutting off the lights you do not need at that moment. Love the sun!! Open up your windows and doors. There are a lont of blinds or curtains that are dark enough so noone can see into your home but shear enough that it lets light into your home. 

2. Water If your water runs by the electric grid and not gas then try your best to not use it as much. If your dishwasher has a heat energy saver use it if not then try your best to alternate washing dishes by hand or not. If you don’t mind washing dishes then wash your pots and pans by hand which will help you have more room in your dishwasher for dishes. I personally wash my dishes in the dishwasher once a week, of course we are only two people so we don’t use up that many dishes anyways. My pots and pans are cast iron so those I have to wash by hand. If you don’t have a filter system in your refrigerater or sink then most likely you are buying a service or bottled water. We had Sparkletts and it was only 40 dollars a month, it worked for two months but then we bought our own water dispenser and a filter system that attaches to it. We spent about $240 on the dispenser and filter system but we don’t have to pay $40 a month on a service now. We use the water in our apartment to poor into the system. We have water steel bottles to help us save on individual water bottles. So now the $40 dollars that we are saving goes into other debt we have or into our savings. The dispenser is also energy efficient so it does not suck up a lot of electricity. The actual filter we replace every 6 months and cost around $40 for one filter.

   Example:

     Water Service: (6) 5gallon bottles, one hot/cold water dispenser, delivered every 4 weeks

                                 $40.00 a month X 12 months = $480.00

   No Water Service: 1 hot/cold energy dispenser, 1 water filter needs to be replaced every 6 months

                                  $200.00 water dispenser + $40.00 water filter system = $240.00 one tyme expense

                                  $ 40.00 water filter X every 6 months (twice a year) = $80.00 a year


This year expense for no water service delivery $320.00

After this year expense for no water service delivery $ 80.00

With water service delivery $480.00 

Savings; water service delivery $480.00 – no water service delivery $80.00 = $400.00


YOUR SAVING $400.00 DOLLARS A YEAR!!

 3. Working Out  – Now a lot of people live in apartment complexes or homes that have some gym equipment or work out in their environment or free community groups. Thats awesome because if you can work out for free then this does not aply to you at all. Now if you do have a gym membership you want to make sure that you review all the companies. Some have personal trainers iincluded, others it is an extra cost. You might want to look at local small groups that charge an average of $ 10-40 dollars per session. If you are a person that cannot keep a schdule going to the gym then this is probably your best bet. Plus you can mix the groups meaning, some are yoga, cardio, toning etc… Look at what works for you and do the math. I know we have a gym membership but our gym is open 24 hours, so even if we don’t go through out the day we have the option to do it at night. We would have to pay extra for a personal trainer but we both right now cannot do that, we do know which workout helps us and that is what we work on now.

4. Insurance – All I can say here is that you need to shop around. This unfortunately I still have not found a for sure saving. You just need to look around at the best deals out there. Some inusrance give you incentives for being good drivers, not having any tickets, multiple cars etc.. Some even include home renters insurance so please shop around I’m sure there is one that will give you the best deal.

5. Telephone  – Now days most not all people have cell phones. Do you really need a land line? This of course depends on your needs. If you don’t really need that “smart phone” why get it? Remember, a smart phone depending on which brand you get you will have to pay for data charges, text and other apps that are not free. A regular flip phone you have basic talk and texting that you need to worry about. If your lifestyle needs a smart phone then get it. Just remember that those type of phones  cost more then a regular flip phone. Also look for a company that gives you rollover minutes or unlimited texting or data. Not many are out there with great coverage but that is something you need to look into.
6. Cable & Internet  – This is hard for many because many use this for “destressing” after work or after the children go to bed. This is something you need to think about and be hard on yourslef and family. This will not alienate you from the world I promise.  I have already posted an example about this in a similiar post so I will not waste time on this section.   If you want to see it follow this link on Debt free plan the begining and you can see how much you can save.

Of course there are plenty of more utilities that are not on here. If you want to know about them please comment below and I will do my research if I don’t have it myself. 

Again this is just my own opinion and examples of how you can resolve your situation. Plese let me know if you want more post about saving or bringing your debt down. If you would like me to see your personal debt please contact me and I will look over the information you give mer (no account numbers, logins please). I will suggest a plan but not a guaranttee and in the end you and your family chose if it will work for you. Again this will be free of cost unless you chose to donate anything to me.
Until Next Time,

LK

Debit Free Plan – Part 2


So a couple of weeks ago I posted on becoming financially free.

1 – Financial freedom our path and how we achieved it

2 – Debt free plan the begining

The second one was a bit more detail. Giving you a few steps on how to start a strategical plan to get debt free. Of course is this 100% accurate, no. Why? Because nothing in this life is perfect nor can it be guarantee. 
This post will be suggestions on what you can do to save on utility bills or shopping but saving more money. Of course depending on your family and yourself you need to consider these really hard.

Food:

I know everyong has a diet, either they are trying to lose weight, medical issues, organic fast food etc… Its hard to see how you can save money when you already have a pattern of eating. Its is easy to say “I’ll stop buying from here or I can change our eating habits”, truthfully it is much harder then that.

Pacakaged Food:

1. Look at all your food list, and list from the most common and frequestly foods bought being on the top and work yourself down.

2. Notice how if you have any foods that are pacakaged it could be a bit easier. Go to their website and see if there are any available coupons you could print out or email to your self.  If you don’t  see any coupons then sometimes sending the company an email letting them know that your family loves their brand they sometimes send you a blooklet of coupons you can use.

   2a. Go to coupons.com; redplum.com or any websites that you can sign up for free. They will send you coupons and you can print them out. Most of the time famous brands are listed. Their are websites that you can also “buy” coupons for specific brands but that means your spending more money (don’t do this).

Fresh Foods

If you like fresh produce it is not common to find coupons for these. They are out there but you have to look a bit harder. With fresh produce you want to bargain alot. If you like organic, go to the fresh market or have a grocery store, that is where the real challenge lies.

1. If you don’t mind wwhere your veggies and fruits come from… Look for grocery stores that have weekly specials and majority of them will have store points and/or additional coupons. Sometimes you have to travel a bit further from your local area to find a deal. As long as you aren’t using half the gas tank it can be worth it.

Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs and major grocery stores give discounts but your still paying to much.

2. Look for mom & pop that are NOT speciality stores tend to have lower prices then major stores. Here we have a grocery store that is called El Super. It is in an Hispanic neighborhood about 6 miles away from our home. It has great specials one time during the week and it beats out all my loca grocery stores to include mom & pop stores.

Of course going to the “cheaper” stores means you probably won’t find organic produced. You will have to search for the good fruits and veggies because there will be some not so fresh produced there too. The stores most likely will be packed and you will be standing in line for more then 30 minutes.

Example: We used to go to Vons. Our WEEKLY bill of PRODUCED ONLY we would spend around $100 – 130. That is not including meats or junk food. Going to El Super our WEEKLY bill became to $50 – 60. I get to buy MORE fruits ad veggies so now I buy produce BI-WEEKLY. On top of that I get to buy more of our “wants” and get to entertain more.

 Oganic / Fresh Market
This is a very few people that like to buy in these type of stores. Hubby and I do too! They are more expensive and you really don’t find hardly any coupons or store points that help you out. . If you don’t mind I suggest you switch and not buy your bulk produce here, you just buy some speciality or a few produce here.

Stores:

Here you have Costco, Sams Clubs and other I’m sure stores that you can buy in bulk. This is a bit tricky, because you not only have a yearly membership cost but at the same time you seem to be getting food at a “bargain”. Most of these branches do not accept ANY coupons. 

My suggestion for here is look at the points the store gives you. Example: Costco Amex, IF you are credit card debt free or you put the monthly “budget” into the card for the food cost this is possible. Amex gives you a percentage of the type of purchases you get. At the end of the year they send you a check (EXTRA MONEY!!),

Some foods are worth puchasing at these stores. Of course you should always I mean ALWAYS do the math, if the math tells you that you will save money then use these stores. If not then don’t.

EXAMPLE:

Membership fee: $110 a year                El Super: $1,200 yearly cost ($100 x 12mnths)

monthly fee: $9.70 

Monthly groceries: $200

Total cost: $2,510

***Remember that these are just estimates not actual numbers I am calculating here. These are as real numbers as what my own household is but not exactly.


If this seems that your household is saving then these bulk membership stores are a given for you and your family. IF not then it will be best to cancel the membership and use other stores that you can save more money.

Imagaine that now the $1,310 you are SAVING you can turn around and put it into a loan, credit card or other type of debit you might have. If not this will be extra cash that you have for a vacation, splurging on anything you and your family may want.

I know that I said I will put on how to save on Utilies but for today I will stop at groceries. I think this is enough information that can give everyone some food for thought. I have not added the meat portion because I only buy Halal meats. If you wish for me to add about meats then please let me know.

Please let me know if these post help you in any way. If you would like for me to continue or have any questions please email me or comment below. This is not a guarantee but I can promis it will help you and your family. The sooner you get out of debit the faster you can buy those organic foods again or go to that vacation you have always wanted..

Until Next Time,

LK

Debt Free Plan – The Begining


**DISCLAIMER** I am in no way an accountant, financial adivsor nor do I have any certifications, linceses by state or local laws. I have no credited educational background in finances. I am not guaranteeing that the following advise will be 100% successful! I am not promoting ANY business nor am charging ANYTHING to ANYONE. Any thing that you the READER take and do in your own finances CANNOT hold me legally accountable of any losses or gains.

My finanical Background:

 I worked in the military for 10 years and a Federal Civilian employee for 2 years. I started in managing my units funds and from there I progress to forecasting 5 year budget plans, contracting, merging accounts, purchasing and analysis with other budget requirements that help saved the military funds and implement muti-million dollar contracts. My experience varies from handling, transferring and making payments to and from Navy fund (Blue Dollars), Marine Corps Funds (Green Dollars), Donations, Open Contract ( military system), Credit Card purchasing and the usual ordering software system that the military uses.  

This experience with the help of a friend helped me to accomplish managing my personal funds once my husband and I decided that I would be handling them primarily. It was a long process but with our mutal agreement and my experience and guidance we managed to clear 98% of our debt in 3 years. I say 3 because before then my husband and I both handled the finances and even though we were lowering our debt it wasn’t making the impact we both wanted.
So a few weeks ago I posted a link about Financial Freedom and How we achieved it, I gave a general overview as to what my husband and I used (mentally and emotionally) to get out of debt. Grant it I also said that not all plans are guaranteed, lets face it Life isn’t guaranteed so you need to make sure you remind yourself that any plan you give yourselfl; it has the possiblity of changing. Below are just simple rules or guidelines we set oursleves to help start the process:

1. Chose only ONE spouse to manage ALL financial transaction. This includes but not limited too:

      credit cards, student loans, car loans, insurance, medical, food, vacations, clothes, gas, etc.

2. You and your spouse need to realize is that your financies are a BUSINESS! YES! You are investing in yourselves and your children’s future so why not treat it as you would any business transaction or your place of work.  Before planning  both of you make your own list PRIORITZING the needs of the FAMILY. If you have children and they are old enough to understand what you are trying to do include them too (this could also be a great way of teaching them how to handle money BEFORE they go to the “real world”). 

Take emotion out of your income and what bills you have and I swear to you it will be easier to make financial decisions in the future.
3. Once you have decided who is managing the finances and condense your list Its time to make a simple ledger or excel spreedsheet ( any type of paper or software that allows you to make changes as you go) of the Monthly Expenses of the home. Include ALL EXPENSES NO MATER HOW SMALL YOU THINK IT IS! Yes hygiene supplies, school supplies, clothes, fast food splurges or moring starbucks coffee! EVERY CENT COUNTS!! 

You want to first STOP PAYING THROUGH AUTOPAY!! Some companies if you don’t pay attention might give you fees that can make your bill higher or they change the date on when they take out the money out of your account (thats why between pay checks you might see the “budget” lower then the usual). A couple of dollars or cents goes a long way when trying to get rid of debt.

3(a) Once you have that list with the monthly expenses make a list of the income coming in a month. DO NOT COMBINE THESE AMOUNTS IF YOU HAVE MORE THEN ONE INCOME! Salary based (much easier) add the net income if you are in a single income home. If you are a two income home make two seperate income list. If you get paid hourly you might have to look at past paychecks usually about 4 – 6 to get an average of what you make a month. If you want to use only one income (in a two income household) to pay ALL expense to include RENT OR MORGATE then only use this income for the rest of the steps. If not then combine income now to know your total income you will be using for expenses.

3(b) Subtract your total income to your total expenses (YES THAT SIMPLE!) That amount left IS the amount that should be going towards your savings or investments. 

Most of the time we see that eating out, vacations, clothes, BASICALLY anything that you might splrug in is the cause of overspending and you can’t save the money you want to save. This is where you THE FINANCIAL MANAGER needs to decide what gets cut and what stays. Make sure that you dont cut something without considering your family members needs and wants. YOU WILL BE THE BAD GUY! So get used to it! If you can’t stand up to your family to keep them on the plan THEN YOUR NOT READY FOR MANAGING YOUR MONEY AND NEITHER IS YOUR HOUSEHOLD!

4. If you are in debt meaning you have credit cards that needs to be paid off or loans with high interest rate, PAY THOSE OFF FIRST! DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT GO TO ANOTHER “LOWER INTEREST” CARD TO PAY OFF YOUR ORIGINAL CARD!! THIS WILL ONLY help you SHORT TERM not long term. Plus your CREDIT SCORE will get MORE DAMAGED then before!  Look at which credit card is your highest interest rate, the money from the lets call it “Profit” after the income and expenses and rent are done, use that amount to give more then just the minimum amount on your credit card. 

EXAMPLE: Your credit card balance is $4,000.00 Try to save money for rainy days…

With only giving minimum payments. This isn’t including the finance charge

4000.00 current balanace

59.00 min. payment

14%       Interest rate

560       charge for interest

4560.00 New OUTSTANDING BALANCE

77 payments to get a ZERO BALANCE

That means this will take you about 6 1/2 years to pay off!!

OUR PLAN:

4560.00 outstanding balance

100   THATS 41 OVER THE MINIMUM DUE

45      payments you will do 

YOU WILL PAY THIS OFF IN 4 1/2 YEARS!!


This is just an EXAMPLE with giving 41 dollars more then the minimum  payment! Imagine if you are able to give MORE from those “Profit” numbers we were discussing before. Remeber that when you pay off your credit cards or loans your credit scores will get better as you go!

If you your “profits” are slim CONSIDER ( DO IT!  ) getting rid of expenses that are not needed: 

    manicure, pedicure, cable, morning coffee, eating out, using the a/c or heater when not needed (open your sindows and a nice fan cools you off!!). Also if you go out try to go to places where you can make food at home and take with you! Enjoy your self at the beach, park, free admission meseum or check your local city for free festivals or events THEY HAVE THEM!!

Look at how often you truly watch cable? Most shows you can watch on the internet, Netflix, amazon prime, hulu and others subscriptions are WAY lower then regular cable. You say the kids…. Sorry but there are kids programs on the internet as well. Now instead of paying the $100+ BASIC cable a month, you will be paying $203 per YEAR which means  you are paying ONLY 16.91 A MONTH and you are still are watching your shows. 

Yes some shows you still have to purchase thru Amazon prime or other internet software devices, it still beats the $1200 per YEAR that you are paying for cable!

4. Once you have the budget and those list (thats your plan!) then it is time to set a schdule to sit down with your spouse or family (recommended to start off every 2 weeks) to review, discuss, and decide on the budget created. This is the time you both need to be hard on yourself and your spouse, remember always think of your goals and dreams first before your wants of now. Remember what I said above, you are the financial manager YOU ARE THE BAD GUY!

There were a lot of times when my husband wanted to buy something and I told him no. At first it was hard for him and for me but I kept reminding ourselves that we wanted to get out of debt and that these sacrifices were worth it.
If you have any questions of ANY KIND please let me know. There are more financial recommedations I can put on here to save money, how to search for bargains. Making your electriicity bill cost be less then $100!!


If you would like more of these post please comment below and I will do my best to put them on here.

Godd luck to everyone if you chose to use any or all of this!
Until Next Time,

LK