The Pros & Cons of DIY

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, then you will notice that we have made the choice to do a lot of stuff on our own recently. I have been reflecting on this and thought it was worth a post of the good and the bad that we’ve experienced. Hopefully this will help you if you are taking on a new project at home or with an investment property and are trying to decide if you want to hire it out or do it on your own. Let’s start with the pros..

The biggest plus to me is that DIY is a whole mindset. There are so many descriptive words that I feel when planning or doing a new project, like empowered, inspired, creative, confident, etc. that carry over into the rest of my life. It’s hard to explain in words..it’s more of a feeling it creates and a perception of what you are capable of, which is so much more than we all think! So it’s not about the project as much as it is about the growth you experience going through a project of any size.

Another big plus for us working as a couple has been the bonding (in between the yelling and crying of course) and any good project has a little bit of both. 😜 My favorite was the teenager mixing paint at Home Depot who didn’t realize her question about what paint type we wanted would be a trigger. Or the time I got overwhelmed in the electrical aisle but had to shout out “Aisle 20 bay 9” through tears because we had a short amount of time to get supplies, so I persevered through that middle of the aisle breakdown and got the job done. But once you get past those heated moments, it gives us something that is ours and will always be and it has made us stronger as a couple and as parents. We are building a life together for now and the future to enjoy. How freakin awesome is that?!

One more huge benefit is quality control…or just control in general. This can be a double edged sword though, as sometimes you have to allow control over to others or delegate items out that are above your expertise or you don’t have time for. But nobody is going to love your project like you do, so that will shine through in your work. You also get control over the details, timeline, etc.

Of course money is the last major pro that is the most obvious. BUT..please keep in mind that much like quality control, this is another area that it might be worth the money you spend vs your time being spent. Also, sometimes you may not have as much background in something, and because of that, you may end up spending more time/money doing it DIY than it would have been subbing it out.

So now let’s switch to cons. I already covered the control piece and how that can be a con. It can quickly become overwhelming, especially if you are new, to run an entire rehab project and manage any subcontractors and supplies along with all the other things that go with a property. Another con is the amount of time. Sometimes, especially if you have other stuff on your plate, you may think you’re saving money by DIY’ing, but maybe your project ends up taking 4 months instead of 4 weeks. That time is costing you money. Another con is that you can get hurt..literally. Some projects carry risks and it’s not uncommon to get that “blood, sweat, and tears” all in a days work. One of the biggest cons is just the amount of time it took away from our weekends and a few evenings. It’s something that is ok for a short span, but not sustainable to repeat with our other priorities like kids and their weekend sports, running the household and preparing for the next week of work and school.

Overall..I don’t think there’s a right or wrong on whether you DIY or hire out, but I would say to start small and start with what you know. For example, if you’re on your very first project, maybe not do a full gut rehab and just stick to a project that needs paint and upgrading the backsplash in kitchen and changing out the mirror, light and vanity in the bathroom. Then you can decide from there if you want or are ready to take on a bigger project. Also, you may start doing one way, pivot to another, or do a combo of both on each project. I find us usually doing a few things that we can and subbing out the rest, but the next few I may stay more hands off.

Do you prefer to DIY or to hire out?

No Spend Year Update

Because..well..yoga pants. I am now only about 100 days shy of completing my second full No Spend Year in a row and I have felt really good about what it has done for me as a person and to detach from what society a lot of times tells us as women we should do or be like. It has helped with a financial cleanse and to get out of the vicious consuming cycle of buying and having more than I need. It has also made me grow in my journey towards practicing minimalism in all areas of my life. I missed out on a lot of years of acknowledging and appreciating my natural beauty. I’m now more confident in my own skin than ever before and have learned to embrace my grey and wavy hair and eye crinkles instead of cover it all up.

My list of banned items includes clothes, accessories, shoes, purses, makeup, professional haircut/dye. So when I did my No Spend Year in 2019, the only fails I had were buying a new pair of sunglasses and a thing of nail polish. Honestly, since I stayed under $10 for the year, I still view it as success. Like I mentioned above, the success came in so many more ways than monetary.

Now, here we are in 2020, and I find that my situation has changed a little with the “new normal”. Since I am no longer going places, mainly going into the office, my style and comfort level needs have changed quite a bit. Since I’m not wearing dresses and professional clothes, I NEED more yoga pants..lol. I am really excited to have enough yoga pants in the rotation to support me during the day and when I exercise and when I sleep. Give me all the yoga pants!! No regrets!!

Have you done a No Spend Challenge before and were you able to stick with it?

House #4 Purchase Details

Have you ever bought a house in a pandemic? This was actually our 3rd closing since Corona hit, so we know the drill pretty well. My favorite was the refi on our personal house that we did in our driveway, wearing masks and gloves on a garage sale table…because..who’s going to let a little pandemic stop them from reaching their financial goals?! Not the Templeton’s!! Shoot..I even put on my fancy muscle tank and best jean shorts to mark the occasion.

But..I am here to tell you all the numbers, since that is one of my favorite parts of these house posts. (Mainly because I’m super nosey and want to know all the details of other people’s purchases, so happy to share when I buy one)

Here they are:

We bought The Toto House off a wholesaler who was asking $50k and had another offer for $40k. I told him I was all in at $38k and could close within a few days. He accepted our offer, even though it was lower, because the other guy was flaky and he liked that I would close fast. We paid $40,141 total and had the shortest and least amount of paperwork in the history of time. So short that I almost forgot I was buying a house and my husband had to remind me we needed to ask for the keys. 😅 This experience of negotiating with all cash and an easy fast close makes me want to do all cash from this moment on!!

Our goal was to use our HELOC on our personal home, but our bank is not into fast and easy closings..lol. It’s a month in and we still don’t know when or how much we are approved for, so this was bought with our savings and part from a private loan.

We are estimating about $10,000 in rehab costs, another $2,500 in closing costs for the refi, and low comps in the area are right around $75,000. If we appraise at the lowest expected amount of $75,000, then 75% LTV would be $56,250. When we stay on budget, we will be all in at $52,641. So we should be able to pull all of our money out and also make about $3,500. If we underbid the rehab, then that $3,500 also gives us some flexibility within our budget or on the appraisal, both learnings from my last project. (We did also already account for 10% contingency)

Excited to get started on this as our first DIY renovation. (will sub out floors but plan to do a lot of the rest on our own) Of course this is just the B in BRRRR and I will share any and all details along the way. Let me know what questions you have!!

My Debt Free Year In Review

Let me start by saying that losing $165,000 in debt FEELS REAL GOOD..like REALLY REALLY GOOD. This may be one of the top reasons that I keep shouting about the debt free community and trying to recruit all of you to join me. Believe me when I say that a debt free head just hits the pillow different at night.

So I’ve now had a whole year to reflect on my decision to get out of debt and wanted to share three things from my reflection with you. So keep reading to learn why I got out of debt, how I got out of debt and how I have and will continue to keep the debt off.

THE WHY-YOLO..so that was my mentality back in my late teens and twenties, but I interpreted it wrong. I thought it meant that I should party it up, buy what I wanted when I wanted it, and just be making minimum payments for a lifetime..the American Dream. Pay for everything on credit and work until my mid sixties and make jokes with everyone else along the way about how “I will never pay these student loans off” or “At this rate I will be working until I die”. Looking back, YOLO now means to me that you in fact only live once. So live the life you want and not the life society tells you to. Figure out your own path and your own way to to make a living.

THE HOW-I contribute 3 things to my how. One being a mindset shift. If you don’t first believe that you can be debt free and that you also deserve the freedom of a debt free life, then no budget or even a large sum of money will be able to help you. The second was zero budgeting during the payoff. This just means that I literally took every additional penny that I had and put it to work for me paying off the debt. I turned down a lot of stuff during this time, including eating out or going on a bunch of trips. I got dramatic with my expenses and cut them down to the bare minimum. (or so I thought) Then I woke up one day and realized that I was making excuses for some expenses that weren’t necessary, such as two newer cars that we didn’t need, and an SUV that sucked down the gas. I was also still budgeting for clothes, hair and makeup. When I cut down to the ACTUAL needs..I found out that none of that stuff was included. Actual needs are just that..basic food, shelter and transportation are it…period. So once I got rid of all the excess through a No Spend Year and getting rid of the cars, things really started to accelerate. The 3rd item that helped was the debt snowball method. Every single extra penny went towards the smallest debt, paid that off, then rolled that into the next smallest, and just kept going. When I got towards the end, I also dabbled with the debt avalanche for a student loan that had a high interest rate.

KEEP IT OFF-I have come across a lot of temptations now being debt free, including getting an itch for a new car occasionally or to upgrade in other ways. I think it’s human nature and it’s hard to deprogram from a lifetime of consumerism and instant gratification. It would be very easy to get led right back down that dirt road to debt. But I’m proud to say we haven’t. I ultimately switched from zero budgeting to value based budgeting. So now, if it’s something I value, such as my family, health, or education, then I will spend the money on it. When you know your values and align your spending with them, then you will notice that most of the items that require consumer debt don’t fit anywhere in the budget. The occasional big items, like upkeep for our family home, just require me to save up until we can pay cash for them, and we keep that emergency fund for the unexpected. The rest, like family and education usually are worth the most yet cost the least to add value in my life.

So as you can see..no get out of debt quick scheme or magical inheritance or lottery winner over here. Just some boring stuff that paid off in our current lives and will continue to do so over the long term as we head down a trail we are blazing on our own that builds wealth.

Review Of Our First BRRRR

We are now onto the Final R in the Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, so I wanted to share the final numbers and the many of newbie mistakes that were made on our first BRRRR. Let’s start with the final numbers.

Purchase Price: $37,500

Repairs/Holding/Closing Costs: $55,400

Total of our money left in the deal: $12,000

Appraisal: $100,000 (We are still in shock that it came in this low, as we were expecting more in the $110-$125k range)

Ideally, the whole point of the BRRRR method is to end up with instant equity and be able to pull out all or a portion of your money so you can use it for the next deal. Well, we are leaving ALL of our money in the deal and we ended up doing 85% LTV instead of 75%. Ouch..that really BRRRNs. (see what I did there) Am I saltier than the sea about how it turned out and the appraisal coming in super low? I sure am. BUT we also learned SO MUCH that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go through this process. So, I wanted to share it all with you to ensure you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that we did on your first BRRRR.

1. We went through a wholesaler. Which means we paid for their services of finding and negotiating this off-market deal. We could have easily saved around $10,000 if we would have gone direct to the seller and took out the middle man during the acquisition process.

2. We subbed out all of the work. This means that we did not put in any sweat equity, except that one time I stood in the pedestal sink and painted the bathroom just out of stubbornness and not liking the color. Sweat equity is one of the ways we could have saved big on costs, but we would have had to spend our time, so there is always a trade-off either way. After reviewing all of the work that was done, we could have easily saved another $5,000-$10,000.

3. We used a hard money loan, and in exchange we paid a lot in holding costs. Next time we will explore other ways to fund the deal that don’t come with such high costs, such as a HELOC or private money. Holding costs were even moreout of control with COVID related delays, but we could have saved another $2,500 at minimum if we didn’t have such high holding costs.

4. I am just going to be honest here..we dropped the ball big time on the market analysis. I am not an expert, nor did I consult one and just went with what I was seeing online and didn’t research the appraisal process. If I had my real estate license and could have pulled comps, then I could have been more familiar with the area ahead of time. I would have been more conservative on the appraised value we expected to get back and that would have had an impact on all of the other numbers we ran. I also feel like there were a few things that we could have tweaked during the renovation to get a better appraised value. Overall, there was probably another $10,000 in equity we may have missed out on here.

What Went Right

Now that we have discussed the doom and gloom and all that money we left on the table, lets switch gears to what went right.

1. WE LEARNED. You can read all of the books, listen to all of the podcasts, and follow all of the most amazing Instagram accounts out there, but there is no substitute for hands on experience. We now know the entire process and have broken every aspect of it, so we now know how to fix it for next time.

2. WE EXPECTED TO LEARN. Since we knew it was our first BRRRR and major renovation, we were hoping for the best but also planned for the worst. We are OK leaving our money in the deal.

3. WE GREW OUR NETWORK. We had to find all of the necessary resources for each step of the BRRRR process. For this one deal, we worked with a wholesaler, hard money lender, general contractor, a few subcontractors, real estate attorney, loan officer, and property manager.

4. WE HAVE ANOTHER CASHFLOWING ASSET. After it’s all said and done, our monthly mortgage will be around $690. We are getting $1100 in rent each month. Since we replaced all cap ex items during the renovation, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything major needing replaced right away. After all expenses, we are bringing in $250 a month in cashflow on this one. I will take it!

Am I ready for our next BRRRR? I’m honestly not sure if we will continue with this strategy or switch it up, but I am ready for our next house. We have some ground to make up for since 2020 has been a shit show of a year so far on many levels. But for our real estate business, we still have a goal to double our doors from 3 to 6 this year, so we will definitely have to get creative to accomplish this. Let me know if you have any ideas to share with me to help us double our doors!

A REAL Behind The Scenes on Real Estate Investing

As a new real estate investor, I am always seeking out information and I do a lot of reading of posts on social media and blogs. I like to see the real life posts that cover the good, the bad, the mistakes, and the realities of the work put in by more seasoned investors. Much like all aspects of social media sharing, I find myself constantly seeing fantastic results and amazing deals and cashflow number. Someone that just bought a 3/2 duplex that cost them $70k and only needs $5k of work and will rent for $1500. Like “too good to be true, one lucky deal of a lifetime” kind of numbers and that’s about it. (Keep in mind that just because someone says they are an investor, doesn’t mean they are a good investor or giving good advice, so make sure to do your due diligence, even as you read through my posts)

There are a few accounts out there that cover it, but I rarely see mistakes or major setbacks being posted. So where’s the real life? The mistakes you made in estimating expenses? Those houses you have sitting vacant and can’t find a tenant, or the ones that still have a tenant in that’s not paying rent? The missed day of playing outside with your kids because you’re putting in work again?

Welp, don’t worry..I got you. The past few weeks have been filled with a hell of a lot of reality over here. To start, we have dealt with our first money pit. It just keeps having one thing after another pop up, including electrical issues, plumbing issues, and a flooded basement after we received 9 inches of rain. They have all been little things but they are starting to add up and wear us down, along with the tenant. We have also dealt with our first three day notice for eviction due to a lack of cooperation and nonpayment. We have since received partial payment and are working on the remainder of May rent, BUT tomorrow is a new month, and let’s be real, not expecting things to be any different for this tenant who is currently laid off due to COVID-19 and says they are waiting on checks. We had to enlist legal help with all the COVID-19 to make sure we could even explore eviction right now. We have also dealt with finding a potential flip with our first partner, then we put an offer in on it, only to realize there’s a bunch of folks out there ready to overpay and it received multiple offers over asking. Lastly, I got to spend a gorgeous day stuck on my laptop spending hours gathering documents for the lender on our cash out refi.

This time for us in our investing business has been scary, exhausting, hard, and educational to say the least. This post is also not meant to discourage you by any means. I still believe in the power of real estate and just want to help you be prepared for the “when it rains it pours” that you will inevitably go through in your investing journey. So, how are we surviving it?

The 3 M’s-Mindset, Money, and Management

Mindset-I will keep it short and sweet. I will take a rainy day in the real estate game any day over sitting on the sidelines. I still feel GRATEFUL even on the worst days to be where we are today with our rentals.

Money-Reserves. This is why they tell you to PLAN AHEAD and have your money right, so it becomes annoying not devastating to your business. Luckily, we were ready for everything that has hit us financially, and are ready for whatever other rain or flooding (literally) that comes our way next.

Management-Also keeping this short and sweet..our property manager has helped us tremendously with all the issues above, and while we could have done everything on our own, I wouldn’t have wanted to. Having a great team is WORTH EVERY PENNY.

So there you go..reality and my reaction, and keeping it real that it’s not all cashflow and smiles every day. I hope this helps others understand a real behind the scenes of real estate investing!

Five reasons why you should be meal planning and prepping right now

If you are like me, maybe you have ran out of that giant box of Cheez-it’s and that Easter candy you were eating for breakfast, and now your stomach has voiced their concerns about your recent choices. If you’re getting lectured by your stomach, you are likely also getting some sideways glares from your budget.

I have a ton of other posts about meal prep for your reading pleasure, but I’ve also shared my top reasons below for why I want you all to join me right now and plan your food for the week ahead.

  1. Much like a budget tells your money where to go, meal planning and prepping does the same for your food, so it helps reduce waste and food boredom. It’s one thing to buy groceries and it’s a whole other thing to prepare and eat the groceries you buy. (Yes I’m talking about that old bag of greens that are going bad in your crisper drawer right now as you read this or that chicken that’s been thawing with no current plans to actually make it to the dinner table)
  2. It reduces the stress of “what are we eating and how will we eat it” and makes it one less thing to worry about. Don’t we all need that right now?
  3. I already mentioned the mental wellness above, but let’s not forget about financial wellness and physical wellness that comes with a healthy balanced diet that you just can’t find at the bottom of that Cheez-it’s box. (trust me on this..I looked)
  4. It reduces the amount of meals you have to think about. If you make a batch of food, just double or even triple the amount, and voila..now you have turned one meal into three. Do that a few times and your whole week of food has been figured out and all you have to do is warm it up and eat it.
  5. It’s grill season. Grill season is the BEST time to start or renew your love for food and prepping. We have so many different dietary restrictions in our house from two carnivores, a pescatarian and a vegetarian, but the grill is where we can all go and get fed from one meal without issue. It’s so easy to toss some cut up veggies in olive oil and seasoning and make a veggie foil pouch right next to some steak, chicken, fish, tofu or whatever you want to grill. I don’t know if it’s me, but food also just tastes better from the grill. Bonus..you can either enjoy family time outdoors while grilling or use the grill and prep as an escape from the family for a bit..depending on how your family is acting that day.

A few of my favorites right now include honey garlic salmon with a mixture of mushrooms/onions/cauliflower cooked in a foil pack and cauliflower in any seasoning with a salad. I’m also going to try a brussel sprouts/sweet potato/pepper combo next with lemon garlic tilapia and chicken for the boys.

What are some of your meal prep tips and favorite grill meals or make in bulk meals?

No Spend Year Update

So as you may remember, I successfully completed a No Spend Year for 2019 with only purchasing sunglasses and nail polish off my banned items list. It was so effective in resetting my financial values, that I decided a second year would be an amazing idea.

So here we are, just about five months in, and I am wanted to give an update. Almost 18 months without buying any clothes, shoes, accessories, makeup or haircuts/dye has been life changing for me and really helped me better understand what I truly value. I’ve noticed something else lately though. Things are different today compared to my decision in January to sign up for another year of this. To be honest, I think this is one of the best things I’m seeing come out of this whole pandemic stuck in your house for the rest of time thing. It seems people I never would have imagined have stopped buying stuff and things. I’m seeing people not wearing makeup and also am starting to see the home haircuts and dye job pics showing up in my social media feeds. While I’ve been doing all of that for a while now, I get that my No Spend Challenge was a choice and others have had the choice made for them. With stores and hair salons being shut and stay at home orders put in place it’s forced people to not buy these items or services, but I’m thinking and hoping there may be some changed people after all of this is over.

So I think now would be a great time to declare a No Spend Challenge in your own life through the rest of 2020. Especially since there’s still so many uncertainties with how long all of this will last, may as well set a goal to see how long you can not spend money on certain items and what you can do with that money instead. You may also find that cutting your own hair isn’t so bad, maybe even rewarding, and I bet nobody has left your house and never returned over seeing you without makeup. Also, the clothes you have are getting a break right now, so they will be like brand new clothes once you get out of those pajamas when this is all over. Who all has changed their spending habits during the past month already?! Who’s ready to commit to doing it for the rest of the year?!

Three Thrifty Travel Tips

Nobody likes listening to Linda talk about her travels to literally wherever she wants whenever she wants when all you can afford is to travel your ass to the couch in your living room. So let’s stick it to Linda and become world travelers if for nothing else but to have stories for Linda at the water cooler on Monday. Here are the 3 things that matter the most when considering your travel strategy.

1. Where you go matters. It also matters what time you plan to go. For example, some of my favorite trips have been to the mountains in the off season, like early Fall for hiking. Everything is reduced usually, including cheaper flights, AirBNB rates, and even those trusty Colorado souvenirs you want to pick up. So a good key is, if everyone else is going to this same place at the same time, don’t be like everyone else. Also, just because Linda is spending three weeks hiking in Rome, it doesn’t mean that your trip is less travely if you pack up the car and take a quick long weekend road trip to the next state over. Travel is travel is travel and it’s about experiencing something new, not about a competition of who can get the farthest from the zip code they reside in.

2. What you pack matters. I once made it to Jamaica for a six day trip with only a carry on. Being intentional with what you pack will help with expenses and time. (no extra bags or overweight charge, or maybe a smaller car is ok to rent without oodles of luggage) Don’t be afraid to pack one pair of jeans to wear multiple times or leave those super uncomfortable six extra pairs of shoes at home and pack that one pair you know will get you through site seeing blister free. Now that you know what to leave behind, let’s pack the essentials. A reusable water bottle is a necessity, and just make sure you empty it out before security. Now, if you are traveling, you can save a TON by packing some snacks and quick meals. If we are road tripping, we bring things we usually don’t eat, like chips and a loaf of bread and peanut butter for easy sandwiches. Grab some travel ready fruit like apples and oranges and some baby carrots and you have several meals and snacks. Yes I know Linda is posting all her gourmet meals on Insta, but remember, you can go out to one or two quality meals to experience the local cuisine and totally get the same foodporn ammo to post..just cheaper and likely a bit healthier also. (Linda leaves out the part about that 5 extra pounds she brought home as a souvenir)

3. Where you stay matters. Find a place that jives with your agenda nicely. If you are just looking for some time to chill and enjoy a nice hot tub or swim and don’t have a rental car, then maybe a hotel makes sense. If you will be out soaking up all the free local attractions, then AirBNB on the outskirts of the city will probably be a great fit. You can pick a place based on amenities and the proximity to what you want to do. Closer isn’t always better, especially on the budget. But if they have free breakfast, dinner, coffee, and tea, well then, it may in fact be a great choice. Or if you are bringing stuff like we do, then make sure you have a kitchen area to prepare those on the go meals. I know Linda only stays in 5 star all inclusive resorts, but let’s remember kids, you are paying a premium for all that inclusion, even the stuff you won’t be using. So give a no inclusion, off the beaten path, quirky little cottage a try and you may discover that it’s even more enjoyable.

What is it that you are looking to get out of your next trip? For me, traveling is always a time to unplug, explore, try new things, and spend quality carefree time with my family. So regardless of where you go, how you get there, or what you bring, don’t be like Linda. Be unique, and don’t lose site of your why. Safe Travels!

6 quick tips on budgeting

Man..it’s crazy to me that it’s 2020 and there are still folks running around rogue with their finances, thinking it’s not going to catch up with them. Several recent studies show that only about 40% of people are living that budget life. 😱

I have personally been living with a budget for over a decade, and I can promise you that this is one of, if not the biggest contributing factor to my current debt free and wealth building chapter of my life. I would definitely still be living beyond my means without a budget.

There is no better time then right now to put the money you make to work..and that money isn’t going to get to work without your help. So do me a favor, and if you are in the 60% of people who don’t currently budget, then make a pinky swear to yourself to start ASAP…after reading my quick tips of course. 😉

Tip 1-Live off of a zero budget. That’s a fancy way of saying that every single penny you have incoming should have a home for where it needs to go. The key to this is to assign your money jobs BEFORE you’re eyeballing that delivery menu on an empty stomach or you’re clicking on that BOGO sales ad that just landed in your inbox. So a few days before the month starts, you can sit down and map out your incoming vs outgoing. Mind that gap with some investing and savings. Which brings me to my next point.

Tip 2-Have a goal you are working towards. Whether it’s building your savings up, paying off debt, or investing in index funds to work towards financial freedom..you will be more successful minding the gap if you have short term and long term financial goals in place. Don’t let lack of planning cause you to live with a YOLO mentality..it’s true..you only live once..so get your shit together already. Nobody wants to keep hearing your “I’m broke and just barely getting by because they don’t pay me enough” talk, yet you’re driving a new car, eating out, constantly getting new clothes/AmazonPrime packages and texting your money problems on the latest IPhone. (sorry for being a little harsh..but seriously..someone had to say it)

Tip 3-Speaking of planning..plan for the unexpected. I’m talking about having enough in your savings to cover a bigger item, like a new transmission, your HVAC suddenly breaking down, your car insurance deductible from an accident, or taking your dog to the vet after they ate something crazy again. I don’t have time to get into details here on what’s considered unexpected, but if you have to ask if it’s an emergency..it’s not. Also, stuff that is recurring, like personal property taxes or Christmas gifts are NOT unexpected. You knew all damn year they were coming up..you should have separate money you’re putting back to plan for these annual recurring expenses.

Tip 4-Check for trends and opportunities. For example, if you are noticing a large chunk of your money is going towards gas, then it might be time to explore a more fuel efficient ride. If you are spending over $100 each time you hit up Target, then it might be time to keep your ass out the store. Luckily, there are other ways to shop now, including carryout or delivery, so that could possibly help keep you to the items you need vs want. Also, if you find yourself doing a great job, like going two weeks without eating out..then celebrate. Rewarding yourself (within reason) for good behavior is a great way to train yourself on new spending habits.

Tip 5-Give yourself a cash allowance. Let’s be honest..little things come up and having some cash on hand is a great way to take care of these little things. For example, if you slept like crap and really NEED a Starbucks latte..go get yourself one. Or the neighbor kid hits you up for buying some Girl Scout cookies, and nobody can say no to those Caramel Delights, nor should they say no. Much like crash diets, budgets don’t work if they are so strict that you feel deprived, week after week, month after month. This will make you more likely to fall off the budgeting bandwagon, so plan to allow a little flexibility sometimes.

Tip 6-Make it easy. Budgeting is a long term wealth building strategy..not a get rich quick scheme..remember that as you set things up. Keep it simple and keep evolving as you and your needs change. Setting up autopay on everything is about as easy as it gets for your fixed expenses. Also, for tracking, I used a paper check register up until last year..lol. BUT it was easy and worked for me. Now I have a word doc that lists out all my recurring expenses, along with an app called Spending that tracks all incoming/outgoing expenses. Don’t get so caught up in trying to figure out the details to a point where you don’t ever start. Any way you track is better than not tracking at all..so get to it already.

You know I am happy to share my tracker if interested and answer questions, so ask away.