Budgeting, YouTube

YouTube made me buy it.

May I just blame my recent (and not so recent) spending on YouTube? LOL.  But really.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the past several months, years, I’ve been enjoying watching videos on YouTube.  I’ve even made a few friends.  BUT.  It comes with a price.  A HUGE price, in my case.

What am I talking about?  Some Most YouTubers share purchases.  Some are really, really convincing, and because I like them, I trust their opinions and I end up ‘thinking’ I need the item as well.  I didn’t wake up in the morning needing that particular item that they are sharing, but by the end of the video (sometimes during), I go the website and click, click that item is on it’s way to me.  Some of the items I’ve purchased have helped my life tremendously.  Revlon One Step Dryer and Volumizer comes to mind. (I’m not sharing the link…I don’t want to add to the problem!) But others?  Not so much.

The phrase “YouTube made me buy it” is not my own.  Other people are feeling the spending urge from these influencers.

But I’m better than that.  I know I am.  I’ll just need to put some distance from the triggers.  I’ve decided to give up watching YouTube videos for the next three months to see if my spending changes.  There will be some exceptions, i.e. Daily Mass, but other than music, spiritual guidance, I won’t be watching.  Podcasts will be my new go-to.  Blogs and reading.  I’m sure I’ll find other things to do to fill up the time as well.

Sorry YouTube friends.  I’m unplugging.  I may or may not be back.  We shall see.

Are you influenced by what others share purchases online?  Let’s have a conversation in the comments.

 

 

Budgeting, Goal Setting

No Spend Year: Cancelled

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Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

As a reader so aptly pointed out, trying to have a No Spend Year when I’m clearly not ready to stop spending money is setting myself up for failure.  On the surface, she was right.   Setting unrealistic goals is never a good thing.  It leads to guilt, self deprecation and the all around feeling of failure.   And, if you take the words ‘no spend’ literally, you don’t buy anything.  However, my “No Spend Year” wasn’t literal.  It was supposed to be a  “….no spend on mindless stuff that doesn’t matter and doesn’t help me meet my goal year“.   But if this reader thought this, there may be others who feel the same way.  I don’t want to come off as inauthentic, so I decided to clear this up for everyone.

My original post about a No Spend Year included this paragraph:

To be clear, this challenge isn’t about deprivation. It’s not about sucking the joy out of every day. It’s the opposite. It’s about spending money on what matters most – my health and wellbeing, my husband, my family, my friends. In fact you may be surprised as to what I actually am able to spend money on with this challenge, which makes it very different from what a typical ‘no spend’ has been.

As long as I continue to be mindful of my purchases (and not have to declutter them in six months), I will be keeping my goals intact.  Simply put, I will not feel guilty for buying a purse or anything else that makes me happy and doesn’t take away from goals that I have set.   As long as it meets my criteria of an intentional purchase, I can pay for it, and not have to borrow money, it will be acceptable.  The purse was somewhat of an impulse purchase, I’ll admit, but I never said this year was going to be perfect.  Baby steps.   It did stay in my cart on the Fossil Website for a week.  I still wanted it, so I purchased it.  Next time I’ll wait 30 days. 😉

Going forward, I’ve decided it’s best not to use the term ‘No Spend’.  I agree that it’s too confusing, and doesn’t convey what I intend.  So it’s out.  (In fact, I went ahead and corrected all of my other posts).

I hope this helps.

Happy March everyone!

 

 

 

Budgeting

February’s Huge Mess.

white and black desk calculator on white graphing paper
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yeah well.  The best laid plans.

It was a rough month.  Lots of money was spent.  (Thankfully we had stashed cash in our savings for just such expenses.  No debt was incurred.)

Here goes:

(Not included: regular, every month expenses including food/eating out and gas)

Home Maintenance ($11,604.00)

  • Unexpected new attic insulation (because of pest infiltration): $4,700.00
  • Tree(s) removal: $1,500.00
  • Outside Wood Replacement/Paint/Powerwash: $3,300.00
  • New cooktop/installation:  $2,000.00
  • Kitchen paint: $104.00

Home Furnishings ($596.89)

Household ($79.94)

  • Paper towels, laundry detergent, bath salts, strainers

Gifts ($418.39)

  • Birthday gifts
  • Valentines Day (I splurged on sending Edible Arrangements to our parents..worth every penny!)

Personal Expenses ($130.00)

  • Fossil Purse
  • Flowers
  • Stickers

Clothes ($167.00)

  • StitchFix Subscription
  • Macy’s
  • Mix/Match Subscription Clothes Service

Misc. Expenses ($1,675.78)

  • Ben’s emergency vet visit (he’s fine. 🙂 )
  • Away Luggage
  • Federal Taxes (although we owed money this year, we still saved $3000 from the previous year)
  • Cleaning Service
  • Car Maintenance

Out of Pocket Health Expenses ($851.72)

Thoughts on February’s expenses:

It’s been a month.

Home Maintenance:  Our pest control company came out and did a yearly inspection.  We’ve been having problem with mice, but we had no idea how bad a problem.  Our attic has been their home for a while.  In order to fix the problem, we needed to remove all of the attic insulation and install new insulation as well as seal all entry points.  $4700 was the “discounted” price.  The positive side is that our new insulation is supposed to be of higher quality, and will significantly reduce heating and air conditioning bills. We shall see.  Tree removal and outdoor maintenance has been ignored for a couple of years, but it could wait no longer.  And, of course, our cooktop. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I can’t wait to be able to turn on the burners without pulling out a lighter.  We spent more than we had anticipated, but fell in love with the 20,000 BTU burner.  Boiling water will be so.much.nicer. 🙂

Home Furnishings:  Because of the bad air flow in my daughter’s bedroom, we purchased a heater (in the shape of a fireplace 😉 ).  Money well spent, as her room has been toasty warm.  We are also getting new furniture for our living room, and decided to use the furniture store’s designer.  All designer fees will be taken off once we purchase the furniture.  Money was spent intentionally, which is always a good thing.

All other expenses are self-explanatory.  The cleaning service is a necessity at this point.  I’m having an issue with a pinched nerve, leg and back pain so it makes it difficult to properly clean the house.  I’ve found a woman who can help me out, so again, money well spent.  Clothes subscription services were a splurge, I know.  But it’s just so nice to try on clothes at home, clothes that have been ‘picked especially for me’.  We shall see how long this lasts….

I’m still having issues with buying purses and wallets.  Fossil was having an amazing sale I ‘couldn’t’ pass up.  Not mindful at all, so I’ll call that a fail.  However, the AWAY luggage purchased this month completes our set, so I’m happy with that, especially since I was able to sell other luggage we didn’t use.

In conclusion….

I’m not gonna lie.  This month was way more expensive than I would have liked.  I know I could have done better.  Hopefully all of the major expenses are behind us, and March will be a catch up month.

How was your February?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budgeting, Cruising

How much does a Caribbean Cruise really cost?

Over the past two and a half years, my husband and I have taken six cruises.  Yep, you might say we had caught the cruising ‘bug’ and went a bit crazy.  Our first cruise was in November, 2016 to the Western Caribbean and our most recent cruise was this past November to the Southern Caribbean.  We’ve cruised the Eastern Caribbean twice, and took a cruise from NYC to Canada. (It’s amazing how much money gets freed up when you are done paying for college! 🙂 )IMG_2627

My husband and I had a blast on these trips.  They were amazing.  But they weren’t cheap.

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We’ve discovered that there are many ‘hidden’ costs to cruising — everything from insurance, gratuities, and drinks to hotel stays, excursions and airline tickets.   In fact, my mind was blown when I realized I could have hired a cleaning lady every week for a year for the price we paid for one week in the Caribbean on a cruise.  Ouch. 

Below is a typical budget for an 8 day, 7 night Caribbean cruise on a mid priced cruise line for a balcony cabin for two.  I’ve included air fare and a one night hotel stay, because it’s always recommended to go a day early just in case something happens with your flight.  (The ship won’t wait for you.)  If you can drive to the port, lucky you! 🙂

 

A Sample Caribbean Cruise Budget

8 days, 7 nights – Balcony Cabin MidShip on Royal Caribbean’s  Harmony of the Seas in April.

  • Cruise for two/taxes:  $2,800.00
  • Gratuities ($14.50x2x7): $203.00
  • Insurance for two: $400.00
  • Roundtrip airfare for two (Coach): $1,100.00 (from DCA-MIA)
  • Hotel in Fl.: $150 – 250 (mid range)
  • Uber/Taxi/Tips: $50.00
  • Meals in Fl.: $50 – $100
  • Specialty Restaurants: $100 (You will want to try one of them, trust me)
  • Excursions: $100-$300 (This is on the low side if there are more than 2 ports)
  • Drinks on ship: $200 (This is what we’ve spent for sodas, water, mixed drinks)
  • Misc. tips: $50-$100
  • Spending money: $250-$500 (depending on how much you like to shop and/or gamble 😉 ).

                           TOTAL:  $6,103.00

(I haven’t included all the clothes, accessories, luggage, etc. you purchase before you go on the cruise, so figure another $250).

Are you shocked?  We were.  We usually pay for everything separately which gave us the illusion that the trip cost less than it actually did.

Of course you can cruise less expensively.  You can choose to cruise off-season.  You can cruise with another less expensive cruise line (i.e. Carnival).  You can drive to the port, get an inside cabin, never take an excursion, never eat in a specialty dining room or never purchase a souvenir. You can skip the insurance and stiff the help by not tipping.  Or something in between.  Your trip will still most likely cost $2,000.00 – $4,000.00.

So, is it worth the price? Only you can decide.

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For us, it was.  The time spent together and the memories that we made will be cherished forever.

The only difference is that now (since we know the true cost of cruising) we are being much more selective with our future cruising plans.

If you have cruised, please share! Did any expenses or the final cost surprise you?

 

Budgeting

January’s Purchases.

money pink coins pig
Photo by Skitterphoto

These posts are a means for me to stay accountable, even if I spent money on items I’ve hoped I wouldn’t.  Also, this month’s purchases do not include food, eating out or regular bills.

This month’s purchases:

(The red highlighted purchases are ones that I wish I didn’t make.  I hope to have fewer red purchases next month.)

Household:

  • Vacuum bags ($24.90)
  • Batteries ($12.99)
  • Power Strip ($9.99)
  • Scale ($18.10) {Replacement}

Total:  $65.98

Personal Spending:

  • Budget stickers.  ($75.00) This one hurts a little.  What was I thinking?????? Of course, when you buy on Etsy, it’s $5 here, $10 there.  It really adds up.  All I can say is that they better bring me joy each time I use them. 🙂
  • Northern Exposure Season 1 DVD ($11.68)  I thought this series was on Netflix.  Bummer it wasn’t, but I really wanted to watch it, so I purchased it with some gifted money from my parents.
  • Excel Templates.  ($10.00) (Worth every penny.)
  • Spending Journal ($6.49) (bought on Amazon, but honestly didn’t need it. 😦  Already wrote in it so couldn’t return)

Total:  $103.17

Personal Care:

  • Hair Color ($13.62) Took advantage of coupon sales and purchased 3 months worth.
  • Sensodyne toothpaste ($10.00) (2 tubes) Having sensitivity issues with my teeth.  This was the suggested toothpaste from dentist, but didn’t have coupons. 😦
  • In Shower Lotion: ($7.00)  {Replacement}
  • Make-up (Ulta): $6.38 {Replacement}
  • Diet Bet ($20.00) I had high hopes of not only winning my own personal bet, but adding a bit more to it.  However, as the bet went, I needed to lose 7 lbs in 4 weeks.  I should have known better. 😦

Total:  $57.00

Clothes:

  • Gloves ($19.99) I needed a warm pair of gloves.  Unfortunately, these failed miserably, but I couldn’t return them as I had already worn them.
  • Tank Top ($2.98) Super deal at Target.  Couldn’t resist — but I didn’t need it. 😦
  • PJs ($11.98) {Replacement}

Total:  $34.95

Total Amount of Purchases I made for January:  $261.10  Total Amount of Purchases I wish I didn’t make: $136.14  Goal for February:  Lower the number in red.

Final Thoughts on January’s spending.

  1.  Research items before purchasing (i.e. gloves that keep your hands warm.)
  2. Take off all payment methods online.  I really should have waited on several items I purchased.  Had I waited at least 72 hours, I wouldn’t have purchased them. (i.e. budgeting stickers, DVD, spending journal). Taking off the credit card from Amazon and PayPal should slow down my trigger finger a bit.
  3. Even though I give myself $100 for personal spending, I should be more mindful of how I really want to spend it.  Seeing everything in black and white is very eye opening.
  4. All in all, $261 is not bad in spending.  Half of the stuff was replacement or consumable products that we purchase on an ongoing basis.  As long as I am  mindful and intentional with my future purchases, I should be well on my way to controlling my spending.

Your turn.  Did you buy anything in January that you regret?

 

Budgeting, saving money

Budgeting: How I keep track of all those numbers.

I talk a lot about budgets on this blog, so I thought it only fitting to show you how I actually budget and the tools I use to stay on track.  Hopefully they will be helpful for you too.

I utilize three ways to budget:  A Budgeting App, Excel Spreadsheets and, my personal favorite, paper & pen (and a few markers).

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Photo by Pixabay

MY FAVORITE BUDGETING APP: YNAB

Yep, I’m a YNABer.  It stands for You Need A Budget, and it’s the best tracking budget software I’ve ever used.  Its basic concept, budgeting just the money you have right now and getting one month ahead is game changing.  I’ve been able to save so much money just by using this program.

If you want to see YNAB in action,  Connie Porter, a YouTuber and friend, has great videos on how she tracks her own budget using this software. Free video training can be found here as well.

If you want to see if it can work for your budget, you can try it out for 34 days free here.

{Full disclosure:  if you click on the links here, and sign up, I will earn a free month.}

SPREADSHEET/ZERO BASED BUDGETING

Yearly planning has become very important to me as well.  I absolutely love having my year all mapped out and focusing on my yearly goals.  It’s very motivating to see how much I can save, but also eye opening seeing the absorbent amount I spend on my mortgage. 😦  Planning out a whole year can be a daunting task, but Kelly from Freedom in a Budget, has taken most of the work out of it and created a yearly budget template  It is $5 (less than a Starbucks coffee) and it has saved me hours of figuring out formulas and set up.

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If you are a spreadsheet nerd, you might also like her monthly zero based budget.  You can download her monthly budget template ($5) as well.  This is a great way to track your income/spending for the month.  And, once you download her templates, you can copy it over and over, year after year.

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{Full Disclosure: non sponsored or affiliated.  Just a cool product to share…}

Paper & Pen (and markers and planners, oh my!)

Yep, I’m a planner girl, and I also have a specific planner for my budget.  I love taking time to plan out a month of expenses and tracking my individual spending with colorful stickers and markers.  What can I say?  I’ve made budgeting a creative outlet for me. 🙂

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Erin Condren Monthly Planner
I find my inspiration here.  I like tracking my spending and certain categories each month that I tend to overspend in (i.e. personal spending, groceries, misc. spending).  This is just a creative way for me to track and make it fun, if budgets can be fun. 🙂

So there you have it.  My three ways of tracking my numbers and budget.  If you don’t have a budget, what are you waiting for?  If you do, please share how you track your numbers! 🙂