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.

My Personal Homebuying Journey

I am so excited to have recently been featured as a Plum Homeowner..click link below to see my story alongside all the other homeowners featured and a whole bunch of other resources all under one roof..see what I did there 😉

She does such a great job educating women and sharing all the unique homebuying journeys, both the ups and downs. Enjoy!

https://www.livewithplum.com/blog/plumhomeowner-mysemibasiclife

Fighting the urge to splurge in 2020 with another No Spend Year

Because I mean..what’s better than a full damn year of doing a No Spend?! I can’t think of anything except for doing it for a second year in a row!!

Yes you read that right..another No Spend Year for 2020!! If you’ve been busy shopping at the latest BOGO sale or living that AmazonPrime “what’s in this new box” lifestyle, then you may have missed my multiple posts about not buying certain things for all of 2019, along with my updates and all the ups and downs of the journey. I encourage you to look back at my previous No Spend posts to catch up, but I will also summarize here.

I banned buying any of the following items for all of 2019:

Clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup, haircuts/dye/waxing (undergarments and socks can be replaced as needed). I think I added household decor items to my banned list, but I hate throw pillows anyway, so I don’t really need to ban them..lol.

I DID fail and buy a pair of sunglasses, along with a new nail polish, so I wasn’t 100% successful, but I have come a LONG way from who I was before my No Spend Year. I will take the under $15 total for the year versus the $3,000-$4,000 total I was likely spending before per year. It’s also changing my lifetime expenses, which the average woman now spends around half a million dollars in their lifetime on vanity items. 😳 (more to come in a future post on this topic)

I have to say, I was certain I would die when I started this. Well, if you haven’t picked up on it from the fact I’m writing this..I actually did not die. I in fact LIVED..lived like I never have before..completely free of others opinions about my same old clothes, about my hair showing grey or being “slightly” uneven from cutting it myself, or showing my makeup free wrinkly face for a year straight. Damn that shit was freeing and turns out most people didn’t even care or notice the clothes or makeup free face, or at least they didn’t say anything. Now the hair, people had very strong opinions either supporting me and saying they do their own hair also, or telling me to leave it to the professionals. Overall, it wasn’t as drastic of a change for me to ban these items as I anticipated.

I really haven’t lost anything except for the weight of worrying what others might think..and turns out I really don’t give a shit, which honestly surprised me a little (keeping it real..after 35 years of caring to some extent about impressing others, it’s been a big change). What I gained was a LOT..more money in my account, more time since I am no longer shopping or putting makeup on every morning, and a lot of inner reflection on my values and getting comfortable in my own skin. I can truly say that I have never felt prettier or happier with who I am and what I look like, inside and out.

I encourage everyone to try a No Spend, even if it’s for one day or week or even a month. If you can commit for a year, I promise it will change you as a person. One of the joys of a No Spend is that you get to customize it to fit your life and determine your own banned items list. Also, I have a ton of quick tips that helped me and can help you also. First, stay out of the stores all together and keep emails about deals out of your inbox by hitting that unsubscribe button. Clean out your closet to donate unworn items and organize it so you can easily find the items you do love to wear. Take care of your appearance in other ways..drink more water, eat a healthier diet, exercise, and stop damaging your hair with heat and product and let it dry naturally and embrace whatever your natural appearance is. I fought my wavy brown hair for years trying to straighten it, curl it, make it blonder, etc. and turns out my natural hair is pretty awesome once I stopped damaging it. Find friends to swap clothes with for those times you get bored or have an event and nothing to wear. Find a friend or two to join you and help keep you accountable. Learn to fall in love with yourself and embrace your flaws as perfect imperfections rather than trying to cover them up. Finally, make a goal of what you will do with the money you save and put it towards making a big dream a reality and share your progress.

Now I just need to know..who is ready to join me this year?!

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.