Summer Vacation – To Go or Not to Go

I have a personal confession. I LOVE summer!

In my many, many years since I graduated college I still have this personal urge to spend all day every day June through August at the lake, on the river, at the beach, reading a book, swimming, playing, camping, exploring. 
summer vacation, beach, fun, boys, brothersI don’t believe I ever will outgrow it. And I’m OK with that. 

Unfortunately the mortgage doesn’t stop needing to be paid and these growing kids seem to eat more every day. 

And I found myself catching picture after picture of others summer adventures on social media sites everywhere and suddenly recognized that antsy feeling that I often get that tells me I NEED TO GO SOMEWHERE FUN…….like tomorrow. 

You too? 

Well for us this year there will be no 10 day visit to the beach house this summer…………The one who’s back yard is pictured in the photo above…….. SIGH. 

We just came out of a moment (a year long moment) where we made major progress on one of our largest financial goals. 

And so we decided we are taking a financial rest if you will. That means not dropping $4,000 on a summer vacation this year. And here is the funny thing I realized. 

When I said that to a few friends as school ended I was hit with more than a few, that’s a LOT of money to spend on a vacation. And then it hit me. Most people have zero idea what they actually spend on vacation. One friend actually said out loud she didn’t think they spend that much when they go to Hawaii. I asked her what the four plane tickets alone cost. She responded, “Oh Yeah, I guess you’re right!” 

I have budgeted vacations for years so I’m a bit of an expert and I will 100% commit to the fact that it can be done for MUCH less money. But many people are unrealistic about what they end up spending in the end and never take the time to pre-budget before setting out. 

I used to do it too. Girls cruise to the Bahamas? That sounds great! Next month? OK. Cool. While it took a different meaning when I was buying myself a plane ticket instead of a number of us it was still incredibly unlikely that I didn’t drop a few thousand dollars in a week. 

Hotel or Home Rental – $1,000 – $3,000 a week. 

Breakfast (7) at $35 = $245

Lunch (7) at $40 = $280

Dinner (7) at $65 = $455

That puts you around $3,000 in to house and feed an average family of 4 conservatively at that. 

Then add your transportation cost. 

Cost of any attractions you choose to do. 

Some spending money. 

You are starting to get the picture I’m sure. 

So while it’s been a number of summers since we haven’t done the vacation thing we are going to stay close to home and find other ways to replenish. 

So now I have to ask, what are your plans for this summer? Are you splurging on some summer fun or are you staying close to home?

 

Mindset the Real Purpose of Frugal Living

Frugal Living, Mindset, Food Cost, Food Expense, Food Waste

There’s the battle inside my soul. The battle of the busy. The battle of wishing I could take my kids on a bike ride everyday but can rarely seem to find the time. The battle where what is left at the end of the day doesn’t include the energy to engage fully. I lay to read stories only to fall asleep. I sit to watch a movie to do the same.

I crave time with my precious babies that I created in my womb. I crave memories for them that I had as a child of the simple. The time. The lake. The beach. The campground. The pool. The bike paths. The ski hills. The presence.

When I am naturally homemade I feel connected. Connected to generations past and to generations (who if I do this thing right) will lead our future. It’s not a philosophy; it’s modeling. It’s ingraining in the younger generation that there’s another option to eating vegetables than out of a can. Not so they can judge vegetables that come from a can but so they can have a healthy appreciation for ones that don’t. And a reminder for myself of that fact in the process.

The busyness often blurs the lines of the beauty. I craved the simple. The time we were impervious to the world around us. A time that was naturally homemade.

Your Naturally Homemade Life – Trisha Funk releasing summer of 2015

So many bring up the frugal living that has become part of my business model over the last few years with question marks in their voice. The professional investment advising strong women wants to talk frugal living?

But it’s life that we crave. A life filled.

Filled with more money than we need. Filled with more opportunities than we could wish for. Filled with more time with the people most important to us. More security. More breathing room. 

When we really grasp frugal living into our core we accept that there are things we don’t need to be sold. We are empowered by an ability to be self sufficient. 

So yes. Practicing frugal living keeps money in our bank account that we may otherwise spend. But to me it’s so  much more than that.

It’s the actions ability to influence the mindset. 

A mindset of security. A mindset of calm. Simple. Authentic and Transparent. Natural. 

What mindset does the concept of frugal living evoke for you? Why or why not is it something that is important to you?

Did you love this post? I would be honored if you would share it! 

Want more frugal living? Be sure to get on the list and get 5 free tutorial videos delivered directly to your inbox! 

And if you’re not on the list you won’t be one of the first in the know when “Your Naturally Homemade Life” hits the major retailers and just might have an opportunity to score a review copy before it does! Hint..Hint….. 

Zero Food Waste Challenge – The Final Checkin

I missed last weeks post because I was in morning to night meetings in not so sunny San Diego last weekend. So worth the trip and the new relationships formed. So this post is going to cover the foundation of the last two weeks of the 30 Day Zero Food Waste challenge.

Can you believe we are at the end. It seems like just yesterday that we hooked arms and declared to the world together that we are NOT going to be part of the America that tosses 25% of our food purchases. Well until that first week when I tossed what would be about 25% of my food budget for the week……… But I know you did better because you’re a rock star. 

I felt AMAZING about how these two weeks began because I reinvented dinners into meals for the family to eat while I was gone and used up things that needed to be eaten first rather than running from the “What do you guys want for dinner tonight?” Meal planning method I have fallen into for the last few weeks.

And then this happened………bays lunch

That would be Bay’s lunch……… 3 days after he took it to school. Also apparently three days after he ate exactly one bite of everything in his lunch box. And lastly, three days after I should have found it in his back pack.

Apple. One bite. Check. Turkey Sandwich with Organic Cheese on Organic Bread. One Bite. Check. Unhealthy chocolate dipped granola bar……2 bites. Check Check. AWE Cashews….At least those can be salvaged……Oh wait….Until, when he took his one bite of those and the bag never was re-sealed and now all of the uneaten cashews are sharing space with the 3 day partially rotting cheese and turkey. Hey but don’t you worry….It wasn’t a total loss. His veggie straws are sealed and complete and I washed the outside of the bag with soapy water to get any bad bugs off. Which is exactly when I learned that there was apparently a hole in the bag.

As a public service announcement………. Veggie Straws don’t hold up well to water.

Yep mistakes happen.

But so do wins. Intentional wins. Truth? Wins like these.

 

biscuitsRefrigerated biscuits that were expiring that week were turned into breakfast for dinner when I made biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs. MMM…I love bacon. 

spinach use

Spinach that was close to turning bad was turned into Sausage and Spinach Gnocchi. MMMMMM. I love sausage and spinach gnocchi!!!!

tatert tot cassTwo large hamburger patties that were left over from Avocado Bacon Burgers ( I LOVE avocado bacon burgers…) were turned into Tater Tot Casserole to be thrown in the oven Friday when I was out of town. Truthfully this recipe is about the easiest thing possible and works with all kinds of leftover meat.

I really figured I would have money left in our food budget at the end of the month. And guess what….I didn’t. But I will say that my financial month generally runs NOT on a 1st – the last day of the month (it just is what it is) and so generally I have officially started the next month prior to the 1st. I used my last bit of grocery money days after I started the March budget. We will see if that means I stay under budget for March. Either way I feel better about intentionally not tossing hard earned money down the drain.

So I would love to hear from you?

How did you do this month at intentionally choosing to waste less? Use more?

Any win’s or losses you want to share? We would love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.

Zero Food Waste Challange – Week 3

We’re halfway through! Can you believe it. If you missed post one and two from the Zero Food Waste Challenge you can get all caught up here and here. I am happy to report that I did pretty well last week. I only threw away a few more oranges that were rotting that it just occurred to me as I am typing this I could have juiced them or something I guess before they went bad. Things to keep in mind next time. Then just because now we’re talking about it, here is a post I bookmarked to find later for 24 uses for oranges so you will NEVER waste one again.

I’m totally trying the salt scrub and the cleaner.

The only other thing I tossed last week was my last bit of wine I left on the end table. It was a rare Charles Shaw two-fifty chuck so I don’t have a huge amount of guilt in it and it was only the last few sips. So I tossed about a dollars worth of food. I do know that I have a TON of produce this week that will need to get used up so this is going to be my stretch week to not toss some major money into the compost bucket but I’m up for the challenge. And knowing that I didn’t make a trip to the grocery store this weekend. I grabbed eggs and that was it. It’s going to be a “get creative” week. 

wine, zero food waste challenge

 

There was a fairly large downside this week though. I found myself eating more than I wanted just because I didn’t want to throw the rest away. I ate a piece of pizza that I didn’t even really want because it was the last one left and I didn’t want to end up tossing it. I finished off my son’s pork chop because I didn’t want to throw the last three bites away. I was trying to get my son to eat the hot dog bun that his Costco hot dog came in that he NEVER eats. He’s not much of a bread boy unless it’s toast. I know, I have no idea where he comes from. Then I was getting on myself for not ordering a hot dog without the bun for him. (I don’t know if that is even an option at Costco.)

If you are thinking, “Trish, it’s a $1.50 and I don’t think the majority of that cost comes from the bun.” I know! I thought that too. But it wasn’t about the cost. It was about the food that I knew when he asked for it and I ordered it for him was going to be thrown in the garbage. Honestly, even though I don’t feel the need to be guilt ridden over a bun, it will make me think about it next time. Why wouldn’t I order it without the bun? 

So while my pocket book stayed healthy this week my diet suffered.

So how have you done on the Zero Waste Challenge? Have you had any moments that you noticed something unexpectedly good or bad that has come out of this? We’d love to hear about your insights. Leave them in the comments below. 

Is Food Keeping You Broke? And a 30 day Zero Waste Challenge!

Food Cost, Food Expense, Food Waste

 

According to the USDA my family of four with my two step daughters half the time should spend $1,060 give or take on food on a monthly basis if we followed a frugal meal plan. For many families food ranks in the top three monthly expenses for their household. Ours is #2 trumped only by our mortgage. I really started to internalize this as I was reading an article that the average american household wastes 25% of their food every month. So that made me wonder, as a nation is food one of the things that is keeping us broke? If we were following the USDA guidelines that would be $265 that we essentially flushed down the toilet. OK so some ends up in our compost and saves us a few hundred dollars on new compost every spring but that hardly offsets the cost. $265 dollars that we worked for, earned, spent the time to take to the grocery store, traded for food, most of the time invested time in preparing the food, and then threw it away. Uh huh. 

That’s over $3,000 a year! Are you kidding me?

Invested in a Roth IRA every year that’s over $63,000 in ten years! That’s a luxury car…Or a whole lot of travel in 10 years.

That’s a trip with my husband Every Year!

That’s a reputable used car payment!

That’s some memberships to a country club!

So I have decided something:

30 Days….. Zero Food Waste

Although I think we are probably better than most “average” American’s about wasting food I know we do waste more than I would like to admit.

Let’s just say…… I know I am going to fail at this.

My goal is imperfect progress.

How do I know this? After just making this decision a few days ago I woke up this morning to a perfectly good glass of delicious Edna Valley Cabernet sitting on my night stand where I had poured it. Set it. Crawled in bed to watch a movie. Forgot about it. And subsequently poured it out at 5:30 am.

Since I have already made this declaration it actually crossed my mind….”Should I just put the glass in the refrigerator? Would that work? It was an experience I thought for the sake of the common good I should at least try. But then I didn’t. 

Sidebar…If anyone can vouch for the validity of refridging wine and drinking at a later date (say within a 24 hour period) please leave a comment! Inquiring minds want to know as I have to admit secretly (just between you and I) that I may have done that once or twice before a few days ago too. There’s a few hundred of my $3,000 right there!

Moving along……I want you to join me! You know because misery loves company! And…

Because you could keep more of your money in your pocket!

And more food that you didn’t buy and throw away can no be donated to programs that feed hungry bellies in your area!

And it’s the right thing to do!

We are weeks away from moving into our new dream master suite/office and so every dollar I can save of our food budget in these thirty days is going to go towards that project.

So right now decide what your extra money is going towards! A start of a new car fund? Vacation fund,? Wedding fund? Down payment on home fund? Retirement fund?  Overnight trip fund? or just to pay down credit cards or the mortgage?

Then commit to join me so you don’t miss my weekly celebrations! And by that I mean confessions……of what I wasted and hopefully at least some wins of what I was able to get right and figure a way to use up.

I’m in! 30 Days Zero (or as little as possible) Food Waste

The challenge starts February 1st! But I’m starting now so feel free to join me in being AWARE of what we throw away. Starting Feb. 1 I will be posting weekly so you can be encouraged (because you are doing so much better than me) or encouraged to try to do better in your own walk with #zerowaste of your food expenses.

I’m excited! And scared! And a little ashamed to share my garbage with you. But I’m all in so go ahead and join me in my 30 day zero waste challenge and why not bring a friend along. 

The 52 Week Saving Challenge

It’s been around a while but a New Years celebration is the perfect time to remind us that saving needs to become a habit in our lives if we want to create a better financial situation. It’s hands down one of the MOST important money habits we need to develop. I’m sharing the 52 week saving challenge again this year because it’s such a simple way to start developing the habit of savings in our own lives.

Before I jump right into how it works though let me share with you a free video training I have available for you. If you have decided that you really want to turn over a new financial leaf this new year be sure to grab the free PDF download and watch the training video to make sure you are getting off on the right foot this year.  

The challenge works like this:

You make a weekly savings deposit in the amount of the week of the year you are in and you end the year with over $1300 saved and a natural habit of saving.

Download your printable reminder here: 52 Week Saving Challenge

52 week saving challenge

Happy Saving in this year and beyond!

Curtailing Your Holiday Spending

curtailing your holiday spending, cut back on spending,

Can you feel it? We’re week’s away from Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year. That, “I have to buy some stuff” feeling is creeping in. I LOVE the holiday season. I love everything about it EXCEPT the shop till you drop and buy everyone you know things just for the sake of giving them a gift. Don’t get me wrong, I love gifts. Meaningful ones. And although it’s far from the norm for me, I have ventured out on a Black Friday once or twice. So today in preparation for the upcoming event I want to talk to you about curtailing your holiday spending to a degree that allows you to have fun in the process while maintaining your commitment to all the other important things in your life. With a little pre-planning you can get through the holiday season debt free with your sanity fully intact.  

Step 1: Don’t do the “One gift for you – One gift for me” routine. 

I’m not saying I have or have not ever done this. OK I totally have. But seriously, it’s hard when you see something perfect for someone else that you suddenly realize would transform your own life as you know it to not just pick up two. I mean seriously? That knockoff scented wax warmer thingy that doesn’t even actually melt the wax comes with 4 free wax “flavors” you don’t even like! BUT it’s on SALE! (Confession: I bought it two years ago.  All four of the wax packs are still in my closet because two make me gag a little and the other two are not at all me. The warmer is pretty. I still like the look of it. Unfortunately…..It Doesn’t Work. You know to actually melt any wax and actually release any scent. Actually now that I think about them I don’t still have the wax things in the closet. I put them in the microwave and used them in my homemade fire starters.) 

What to do instead: As you are shopping make a list of things you see that you would love to have yourself and bother to send it to your mother or your grandmother that asks you every single year what you want for Christmas. You know that same question that you automatically reply, “I don’t know.” 

Step 2: Quit guilting yourself into buying for “Everyone”. 

Your friends kids get more than enough already. And they especially don’t want extra from someone who isn’t positive about what they even like or are interested in, just because you felt obligated to buy them a present. And your new friend you just made 4 months ago is going to be irritated that now when their shopping was all done and they really didn’t want to spend any more money this holiday has to race around to try to find you something at the last minute just to reciprocate. 

What to do instead: If you feel the need to bake like your Betty Crocker then do so with the explanation already built in, “I love baking and this time of the year is the only time I get to do it. I’m afraid if I keep it I will eat it all myself. Please take this from me so I can keep baking AND still fit into my pants.” Find something you know is perfect for a good friend or one of your friends kids? Then buy it and give it to them at a different date. Wait until after Christmas and just tell them it made you think of them. With good friends or family when you see something right up one of their kid’s alley; text them and ask them if their done with their holiday shopping? Share with them what you found and ask them if they want you to pick it up for them. I included, love when one thing is scratched off my list. That is more of a gift than you could ever give monetarily. 

Or make a night of giving back. Invite your friends and family over to a decorate Christmas cookies and sponsor a family in the process where your guests come with gifts for a family or child in need

Step 3: Make an actual list.

Yes I know you have a stellar memory and never buy something you then forget in the back of your closet. Again, Not Me. I have this friend……. I bought some pillow things my kids were freaking out about the last vacation we went on, had them wrap them, and put them in the closet. 3 months later when I’m in the busy of the season I remember about as far as what is right in front of me right now. That means chances are I forgot about the bracelet I ordered for our daughter when I had one more 1/2 price coupon 4 months ago. 

What to do instead: Keep an online spreadsheet or doc that you can add to throughout the year.Pick up something and note it in the doc. One year I bought teachers gifts three times because I kept forgetting I had already bought them something. True story. 

Step 4: Create a budget to go with the list:

Decide in advance of your shopping season what you are willing to spend on who. That gives you a benchmark of what you are going to spend overall that you can plan IN ADVANCE for. Most overspending on the holiday shopping comes when we tackle it without a plan. Note: This normally happens the week before Christmas when we realize that we officially have purchased one out of 35 gifts we need to acquire. (I My friend may have spent $400 or more on amazon in 45 minutes this one time. Otherwise known as 9 days before Christmas.) 

What to do instead: Put dollar amounts in your online doc or spreadsheet so you can track what you have spent on who and know when you are officially “done” with them. Here is a good template you can use for Google Docs. 

Step 5: Put the smack down on the, “I wonder if it’s enough” mentality. 

We all have done it. But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Monetary gifts will never equate to emotional value and self worth. Meaning…..You can’t “gift” yourself extra value in peoples eyes and adults and most kids can see right through the expensive gifts that come with emotional baggage. 

What to do instead: Ask yourself as soon as you hear that thought in your mind, “Am I asking because I don’t think they will like the gift or I worry that they will think because of this gift I don’t love them enough?” I’ve had to have this hard conversation with a number of clients. Your emotional response to gift giving has nothing to do with your ability to give love to your friends and family. And no present is going to alter that. 

Put thought into your gifts. Don’t buy things out of obligation. And then quit second guessing yourself at the last minute. I know for me this comes when I finished most of my shopping for everyone else and I have one still to buy for. I start the doubt game with every single purchase I make for the last un-gifted. 

Step 6: Relax and enjoy your family.

My grandmother is getting older. I have, for the last number of years, done her holiday shopping for our kids as well sometimes as a a few other family members. I know this going in. So I shop for her well in advance as well. What that means is that, while we don’t do our marathon shopping event anymore, we still go have an amazing dinner and pick up the last two or three gifts that are needed to finish the job. Quality time together, Check. 

If the holiday experience you want to have is one involving peace and goodwill towards all other men then you need to be intentional in your decisions. Decisions about your finances and your actions. 

Not it’s your turn. What would your step 7 be? Leave yours in the comments. 

photo by:

The 6 Best Things To Save On In October


The 6 Best Things to Save on in October

 

As we get fully settled into the last quarter of the year there are a ton of fun holiday and family opportunities that we would love to spend our hard earned money on. So today I’m going to share a few ways that you save some of that hard earned money in order to free up the extra for fun. Here are the 6 best things to save on in October. 

Jeans

Seriously. I know it seems wrong since where many of you live it’s just starting to be jean weather but it’s true. Back to school hype is over and this month is one of the best months of the years to go through the families closets and replace any jeans that are outgrown or worn out.

Tires

You are heading into winter and there are only 4 things that come into between you and the road. They aren’t something you want to ignore when they really are ready to be replaced. But take heart. October is one of the best times of the year to get a deal on tires. 

Food Sales

October is the month you can save the most on Pork, Pasta, and Seafood. You also see sales on all foods “fall”. Take advantage of these sales and shop or plan your menu accordingly. Stock up on items you use regularly when they are at their rock bottom price and be prepared if you have the extra storage to snag some great deals on an extra holiday meat in the next few months. 

Outdoor Patio Furniture

If you are looking to upgrade your patio now is the time to start watching the sales. You just may find that outdoor set you were drooling over in June at 50% off this month or next. Haven’t quite saved the money to buy that dream set? Start saving now for next fall.

Appliances, Lawnmowers, and Other things new models are released every year. 

The latest and greatest could mean the larger the saving for you. Keep this in mind and plan your replacement of old equipment that has been hobbling along the last few years. 

Winterize Your Home

An hour of weatherization could save you big on your heating and energy bill but also on escaping repairs that may be needed if you fail to do so. It also makes your home a whole lot more comfortable to live in when the temperatures drop. Use this checklist to go through your home. 

Anything else you have on your list this month to purchase? I’d love to hear if you have found a great deal on something not mentioned here. A little prioritizing to save on the required will leave you the extra in the budget to spend on the fun holiday activities. 

The Easiest Way to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

Organically. In about 5 minutes. And then a little while later in about 5 more. Quit buying that stuff in a can. Grow a pumpkin. Cut up a pumpkin. Cook a pumpkin. Smash up the pumpkin. Wallah: The easiest way to make your own pumpkin puree!

Now you want my favorite things to do with pumpkins? Well here’s my top three uses for fresh pumpkin puree. 

Perfect Pumkin Bread

1 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp each allspice, clove and cardamon

2 eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together all dry ingredients

Combine your eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and pour into the dry ingredients.

Stir until fully combined and all lumps are out.

Pour into a loaf bread pan

Cook for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. 

My second favorite pumpkin thing in all the world! My grandmother makes these pumpkin cookies that everyone loves and they couldn’t be any easier! Pumpkin puree and spice cake mix. Oven. Eat. (In that order) 

Easiest Pumpkin Cookies

1 3/4 c pumpkin puree (or a 15 oz can)

1 box spice cake mix

Optional: Chocolate Chips (or nuts)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix up ingredients so there is no dry cake mix

Spray you cookie sheet and use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough

Bake for 20 minutes

Want a full body pumpkin experience? My Favorite Female Derm Specialist Extraordinaire Lindsay Miller (Seriously she should have a cape and not just that white Dr. coat.) shared this little skin tip: 

Pumpkins are rich in alpha-hydroxy acids, excellent exfoliators. They are also loaded beta-carotene, vitamins A and C to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Try this mask at home (you can also substitute the milk for sugar and make a yummy body scrub)

2 tsp organic pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp milk
Directions:
Mix the ingredients into a paste and apply to a freshly cleansed face. Let dry for about 15-20 minutes and rinse off with water.

I have made this skin mask and I love it. It makes more than what just you need alone so grab your friends and have a pumpkin party complete with purifying facials. 

So there’s my top three! Now you have to share the love and leave your three in the comments. I have two more pumpkins just waiting to be picked! And if you want more frugal living diy tutorials jump over to the frugal living page and sign up! 

How to Save More or Payoff More Debt; My completely unscientific tip

Because I’m highly unscientific like that…… But what I am, is an avid competitor…..With myself.

How to Save More, Stretch to the finish line,

I have always been a huge advocate of goals and honestly I don’t remember a time in my life I didn’t actively set them and work towards them.

You can call them lists. What I’m going to do this year. What I am going to get done this week. What I’m going to have done in the next five years. It doesn’t really matter what you call it I work towards things.

While I am naturally determined; when I don’t have a plan to follow I am like my six year old on too little sleep and a bunch of cotton candy.

(And if you don’t have a six year old that doesn’t usually consume sugary deserts the size of his head and have no idea what I am talking about……by that I mean.) He’s all over the place.

The TV goes on and he’s putting on his shoes to go outside. He comes back in to put his swim suit on and finds a bag of Legos that he brings to the dinner table to build. At the table he feels this insane need for some level of protein to try to regulate his sugar induced foggy brain and stomach ache, while reaching for the salami he sees the leftover pizza and wants to play ninja turtles, where he goes to as he leaves the door to the refrigerator wide open…….No? Never seen anything like it?

It’s awesome……And highly annoying…..And exactly like me…….God bless my Husband…….

Now I will say while there may be some element of that sort of behavior in my house on a normal basis I am convinced these boys do not process sugar like normal small people. They have a tendency to be out of their minds when they ingest it. It’s like they can’t think straight.

And then my point in all of that…….That is exactly how my brain functions when I do not have a plan.

I was so excited to take this afternoon out of the office to get some writing done but hadn’t bothered to set aside and prepare what exactly I was going to work on, and so far this afternoon, I have planned a vacation, written a blog post (not this one) checked Facebook 12 times, walked to the mailbox and back, sent about 15 text messages, talked on the phone with 3 people. Scheduled an appointment for my car to get serviced and not even touched about 3/4 ths of what I wanted to do today. Yep just call me the efficiency ninja.

And as much as I hate being off task I feel just as strongly when I feel like my money is off task.

So let me share with you one simple tip that motivates me to save just “one more” in my own life.

Rounding.

Yep. That’s it. Something I have incorporated in my financial plan (simply because of the way my brain works) that has allowed us to pay off thousands of dollars more in debt and save thousands more than we would have.

Here’s my question? How many of you just pay the specified amount on your mortgage or car payment every month? It might even be automatically set up to draft a certain exact amount on a certain date. That’s great for your savings but if you aren’t bothering to give those statements some analysis you are missing out on some powerful opportunities.

Just this last month as I was looking at the mortgage statement I was doing the math on how close we would be to our balance being in the thousands bracket below where it currently sat. This means if my normal payment was $455 (which it’s not) and I normally pay $500 so I can payoff the mortgage sooner I would do the math on what would put me into the next bracket.

That means if my balance is $19,639 then I feel this desire to push to get my balance under $19,000.

(Although admittedly irrational) A $19,639 balance doesn’t feel any closer to freedom than a $19,305. A $18,999 balance does. (Welcome to the psychology of marketing 101!)

A $5,289 balance doesn’t feel a whole lot different than the $5,463 one you had a month ago but a $4,999 does. 

But Trish…..There’s all that technical math stuff involved with calculating interest.

I know that’s intimidating. Here’s how to make it super simple.

Take how much interest you paid last month right from your statement and add to it the amount of principal you would really like to pay off.

If I paid $166 in interest and wanted to get my balance under $5,000 I would just need to add $166+289. A $455 payment this month will put me below the $5,000 mark on my credit card. Now that’s progress.

It’s amazing what I can come up with or do without when I am stretching that extra $75. 

That exact process alone has allowed us to pay off twice as much principal on our mortgage just in the first half of this year as we would have paid with my set automatic payments.

Apply this thinking to your savings and investing in exactly the same way. Get that Emergency Fund over $10,000. Push that IRA over $15,000. Pick a new target every single month you want to hit and you will be amazed how much quicker you get there than if you simply automate it.

So now give me your mind tricks…..We’re all human so we all need something that works for us to motivate us to keep pushing…..What’s your’s? You never know who it may help.

Now if you liked this post be sure to share it with all your friends. They want to be debt free with ample savings too.

And be sure to sign up for the weekly e-mail update so you don’t miss one (unscientific but humanistic) update with information I don’t share anywhere else but there. 

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