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.

BRRRR it’s getting cold in here 🥶

I know I know..I’m sure everyone is thinking there must be some Toros in the atmosphere comes next?! Or maybe I’m the only old ass nerd still out here quoting Bring It On, which by the way, happens to be a classic cheerleading movie. 📣 🎥

Ok focus..it IS super cold and snowing hard here in Kansas City today, so it’s perfectly timed to talk about BRRRR, which is why we are all here (not from the cheerleaders movie or cold weather, but the real estate investing version). The strategy has been around for a minute, but the guys from BiggerPockets hold the clever naming rights I believe.

I am SO SO SO PUMPED UP to be getting after our very first house using the BRRRR method. So I wanted to explain this strategy very high level, and how it can be a great way for investors to grow a portfolio of buy and hold properties quickly, and with little of their own money tied up in the deal long term. Clearly I’m a newbie and can only speak to what I’ve researched/read/listened to, and what real life has brought my way so far, but thought I could at least introduce the concept to other newbies.

The premise is a way to use little of your own money while growing a buy and hold portfolio. In its simplest form, it stands for buy, rehab, rent, refinance, then repeat. We are still in the “buy” phase of ours, set to close this week, and excited to move into the rehab piece and plan to share the full details once we wrap up this project. We are going to just use some rough numbers here as an example.

Let’s say you find a distressed house or a homeowner who needs to get out fast of their current home. There’s lots of ways to find these deals, which I’m not going to cover in this post, but will save for another day. The distressed home or owner is an opportunity for you to help solve their problem and to buy their house from them. You would aim to acquire low, due to current condition of the home, taking into consideration all of the repair costs, and your ability to close fast. You would also need to make sure all of the numbers truly work for a BRRRR. But let’s say you can get this house for $30k and it needs an additional $30k in renovations. You use your own money, private money or hard money for the initial purchase and rehab (also lots of funding options I will also save for another post).

You know from looking at comps in the area (not houses for sale, but comparable houses that have already sold recently) that the ARV, or “after repair value” is around $100k. You have also checked average rents in the area, and know it will rent for $1,000 a month. So, after you rehab it and rent it out, then you go to a traditional bank for a cash out refinance on the property at $75k, and you pay yourself or your private money lender back and you now have none of your own money tied up in the deal and have acquired an asset with 25% instant equity. You have a tenant placed and are now cashflowing a few hundred bucks a month after your mortgage/expenses. You also walk away with a $7,500-10,000 profit (after closing/holding costs).

You keep repeating this process until you get to your buy and hold end game number, whatever that is for you. Work until the cashflow covers your monthly expenses to live, then you can sit back and enjoy your time freedom from your rental portfolio, or you never quit…completely up to you. 🤷‍♀️

I know I’ve simplified the process, but that was my intent. There are a TON of resources out there, including lots of investors using this strategy and sharing their successes/learnings, lots of podcasts, and even some books, so go do your research and dive deeper to fully understand. I would also love to hear input from others out there who are ice cold BRRRR experts. I just love this strategy and I hope sharing from my real estate investing toolkit will help you either get interested in getting into real estate, or help you to strengthen your current investing game.

Rental House #2 Details

Our newest tenant moved in on October 1st, so I figured it would be a good time to stop slacking and post the details. This one has a funny story with it. House #1 we bought on location location location, and house #2 is no different, being an adorable 2/1 that’s walking distance to a cute downtown with shops and lots of activities like a farmers market on the weekend. Turns out I totally have a type. 😂

First off..let’s talk money, because I know y’all are nosey like me..lol. Since we are paying the mortgage on house #1 out of our own money. (we no longer have daycare, so replaced that payment with the mortgage payment) This allowed us to use the rent funds from house #1 to fund the down payment of house #2. Our tenant for house #1 had paid the whole year up front, which was around $10,000, so talk about creative ways to leverage other people’s money. I decided to put that money to work, instead of letting it just sit in our account being lazy. 🤷‍♀️

We found house #2 and put an offer back in June that was like $12k under asking, but a fair offer based on comps in the area. They didn’t accept it, and they ended up having someone else back out due to finances falling through. I found out because I was creeping online looking for the next deal and saw it pop back up on MLS. Funny part, they ended up dropping the price to the same amount we originally offered. So we decreased our offer by a few grand, and the seller accepted it. Should have just accepted our first one. 💁‍♀️

So total purchase price was $86k and we put 15% down, so around $13k to closing and our monthly mortgage payment is $595. We are renting it out for $875, so around $225 cash flow after mortgage and property management. For the property manager, we will pay around $50 a month, and one month rent for the initial showings and tenant screening. We didn’t have much of anything to do or money to spend to get rent ready, besides a whole lot of magic erasering and replacing the nasty toilet. 🤢

The tenant did ask if she could install a garage door opener (with her own money) and we told her no that we would not only cover it, but we would send our guy to do the install. She works crazy shifts and said she would feel safer being able to pull right in late at night. I honestly didn’t even notice it didn’t already have an opener and felt bad. Before she moved in, I did get a bid for converting the one car garage to a bedroom and think I will save up the cash flow to pay for that renovation after this tenant. We may even get crazy and attempt this project on our own. 😉

A few things I learned through this one.

1. Life was really busy when we got this one, so I enjoyed not having a lot of random little details like trim painting or landscaping or really anything to do, but I also feel like I’m ready to roll up the sleeves on the next one. 💪🏼

2. I am excited about the potential to increase the value and rent through adding a bedroom. It would only take about 2 1/2 years to recoup the project expense through increased rent, and that doesn’t even cover the added value that we could then use to BRRRR, just with a few of the r’s switched around in there. 😜

3. I’m so glad to have started the tenant move in baskets. It went over well and sets a good first impression for under $20.

4. I am feeling a little uncertain about the property management portion, and think we have learned a lot since we first started. I know we can handle on our own and my husband thinks opposite. So I’m working on my persuasive speech for self management on the next one (I can’t wait to report back on who wins this one).

5. I am ready for the next deal..since you know my type..who’s got it??

No Spend Year Update

Brief recap of the one decision that I made back in January that has literally changed my life. It has created a snowball effect and has really helped me reset, basically like a “financial cleanse”. I made the decision to not buy certain things for the entire year of 2019, including clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup and also gave up hair dye, products and haircuts.

I was doing REALLY REALLY good with it and staying strong and not missing anything and in fact finding myself in the process. (mainly by avoiding stores and unsubscribing to all the emails) Lately though, I have definitely been struggling to stay motivated and the consumeritis can sometimes feel contagious. 😷

I know I justified and bought sunglasses a few months back when mine broke, and if we’re being real honest, I could have worn one of the random cheapo pairs lying about my house, like the ones I got at a conference with built in bottle openers on the sides..lol. I also caught myself borderline begging my husband to tell me it’s ok to buy some used earbuds from a neighbors garage sale. 😂 Then there was this past weekend at Target where I was getting a few toiletries and a new nail polish jumped into my cart. 💅🏻

See below..they are both cute and will last me for years to come. 🤷‍♀️

It’s not about the $14 collective dollars that I’ve spent this year that if you want to get all technical..are totally on my banned items list. It’s more about me losing my way and my why in the process.

Life has been throwing a bit of a difficult season my way, and it’s easy to fall back into old ways and “things” to make me feel better. But I still ultimately know it’s only a temporary feeling and it’s a VERY slippery slope. The long term mindset shift is more important to me than the temporary gratification followed quickly by buyers remorse. So I’m committed to getting back on track, especially knowing that we are entering into the biggest spending season. Since it’s my first one on my new path, wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get through it without buying all the things. 🤔

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

8 ways to eat out for less

Chipotle is my weakness and I love everything about it..except that it would cost my family around $750 a month if we ate it for dinner every night. 🤑

So we try to limit it to be a once a month treat, and try to find ways to make it even more affordable than it already is. Today, we got 6 servings of food for $16.72!! I also got enough napkins for both of our car glove boxes for the next few months..lol.

But while I was ordering today, I thought about some different ways that you can save money while eating out, no matter what you’re craving.

1. Don’t eat out at all..and if you’re like me and know that not eating out at all is a recipe for disaster, then limit it to once or twice a month and budget for it. (if I don’t eat out at all, then I will fall HARD off the wagon and go on a wildly expensive and unhealthy eating out binge)

2. Eat before hand. Yes you read that right..grab a snack first so you aren’t ordering more than you need or super sizing because you’re starving. Or if you’re eating out for dinner, make sure you had a good lunch that day.

3. Does everyone really need a meal or at minimum..their OWN meal? Likely not, so do like we do and make quesadillas at home for the kids and let them eat a little guacamole and chips as a side or you can share an order of food also.

4. Much like the previous tip, the portion sizes are ridiculous these days and WAY more than one person needs in one sitting. I ask for extra rice because it’s free, and I can make 3 meals out of one bowl.

5. Find some add ins or sides from home. We usually do chips from home and add some carrots and grapes for sides. Or if you’re ordering a pizza, skip the breadsticks and make a salad at home with it instead.

6. Look for promotions! Chipotle was doing BOGO for wearing a youth soccer jersey this weekend, so I dressed my soccer star in his and got a free bowl for it. I know Chick-Fil-A does similar dress like a cow promotions. This makes it fun also, because you can dress ridiculous and get some crazy second looks from people.

7. Join the rewards program. Don’t get me wrong..don’t use the rewards program as an excuse to eat out all the time, but if you can earn a free entree down the road for when you do plan to order, then take full advantage of that. If you’re like me and get excited and forget, Chipotle has a way to upload receipts afterwards. (as long as you do it within 30 days of ordering)

8. Do carry out. If you dine in, you are more likely to get pressured into adding on drinks, appetizers, and desserts that you don’t need. Also, you will need to add a minimum of a 20% tip, and tipping is also something you have to do for delivery. So avoid it and go grab your food and take it to the park or take it home to eat. Save the fancy sit down meals for extra special occasions, like an anniversary or birthday.

Those are some of my secrets to saving money while still getting your favorite fast food fix. What are some ways you save when eating out?!

Haircuts At Home

Well..against several people’s wishes 🤣 I went for it and cut a little over an inch off using the Unicorn method. 💇🏼 🦄

BEFORE:

My thoughts 💭 ummm..I wish I would have tried this sooner!! I haven’t looked at the back, but my husband said it was straight, and he has to be seen with me, so pretty sure I can trust him. I feel very accomplished trying something that terrified myself and many others for me to try. It was actually so super easy, only took about 5 minutes, and was absolutely FREE. (my husband had scissors so I didn’t have to buy anything) ✂️

AFTER:

Just kidding 🤣..

THE REAL AFTER:

My family may be a little scared of me venturing out to their heads next, but going to try and earn their trust through “gentle” persuasion and possibly bribery . 💁‍♀️

With a family of four averaging $25 per cut, that adds up to around $900 a year and $15k over an 18 year period. This doesn’t include color, which I already stopped all together 9 months ago, or eyebrow maintenance, which I’m still trying to navigate on my own, literally one tweeze at a time (had a bad home wax incident of 2013 I’m still recovering from). 😬

The verdict: Go get you some nice shears, watch a few YouTube tutorials, put on a brave face, and go for it! If it goes well, send me a shout out. If it doesn’t go well, take comfort in knowing it will grow back soon. 🤷‍♀️

What can you do with that $15k I just saved your family? Feel free to Venmo it to me. 🤑

What else do you do at home or what should I try next on my new DIY kick?!

(Disclaimer: I am not a cosmetologist and your results may vary, so you have been warned that it’s all on you whatever actions you decide to take after reading this)