saving money

Online Banks for Personal Savings. Which one is the best?

white piggy bank on brown wooden surface
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Online banks are a great place for all those looking to park some savings without risk. I’ve been using Ally Bank (not sponsored, or affiliated), and have been very pleased with the consistent increase in paid out interest. It’s a great place to put an emergency account, sinking funds or college savings that you will be needing within a year or two.

Many bloggers/YouTubers suggest Capital One, which is another online bank with the same type of services. There is an opportunity to make money by being an affilliate with Capital One that Ally does not offer, however, that doesn’t help the average person looking for the best rate.  Since both banks offer the same service, it really comes down to rate.  For a quick comparison between the two – Capital One is currently offering 1%, up to $10,000, then 2.0% with a balance of $10,001. Ally is offering 2.20% with a minimum of $1.

There are other online banks that offer even higher rates, such as MemoryBank (2.4%) and MySavingsDirect (2.40%). You can find other banks and rate comparisons here.  Either way, most online banks offer much higher rates than the average brick and mortar bank and would be worth a look.

Happy saving!

 

 

Minimalism; decluttering

Playing the Minimalism Game.

green wooden chair on white surface
Photo by Paula Schmidt on Pexels.com

We live in a 5 bedroom two-story colonial with a finished basement.  It is a home that has served us well over the years, where we happily raised our four children.  As you can imagine, a lot of stuff can fit in a home this size.  And, with our two older daughters married with children, our son about to commission in the Navy and our youngest daughter finishing her Physical Therapy program in another year,  this home will suddenly be too much house for just two.  It is our desire to find a smaller home (preferably one level) to move into before we get too old to want to move.  (We are having this issue with our aging parents, and it’s not fun.)

But how does one downsize and get rid of all the stuff that fits into a larger home? One minimalism game at a time.

Have you ever played the minimalism game?  Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (“The Minimalists”) created this game as a fun way to jumpstart a way to a more minimalistic lifestyle, or at least have less stuff.

To play the game, you simply declutter one item on the 1st of the month, two items on the 2nd of the month, three items on the 3rd of the month…etc. all the way up to the thirty-one items on the 31st.  If you add it all up, 496 items will leave your home in a month’s time.

I’ve played this game twice before, and I easily got rid of 496 items each time.  Not because I’m a hoarder, mind you, but because there really is more stuff hidden in nooks and crannies than you can imagine.

I’m smitten with the whole minimalistic lifestyle, so I’ve decided to play this game a third time (and probably a fourth and fifth time later on in the year).  I’ve already done my clothes, accessories, purses, shoes and my husband did his closet as well.  We have donated over 300 items, so finishing this game in January should be a breeze.

Besides donating items, I’ve also been able to sell a few things on Facebook Marketplace.  Extra cash is always a bonus, right?

Here is the first video I found that inspired me to play this game.  It just may inspire you too!

Have you decluttered your home?  If so, how did you do it?

saving money

10 Reasons People Can’t Save Money

10 reasons not to save money

The recent government shutdown has shed light on the fact that many Americans are bad at saving money.  With little or no emergency savings, this 20+ day shutdown has caused havoc on many hardworking families.  Of course, with the way our government works, and the fact that a shutdown happens every time the toddlers in Congress don’t get their way, I would expect by now government workers should have a special sinking fund called “when congress can’t get their act together”.  Thankfully, government workers will eventually get paid.   Not so for the many people who get laid off from other jobs.  Saving becomes important for everyone.

I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon with some of my favorite YouTubers and share my thoughts on why people may not be able to or won’t save money.

Let me just preface this by saying for many years, we didn’t have a big enough emergency fund to weather a job layoff.  We were not savers.  We flew by the seat of our pants hoping and praying that my husband wouldn’t lose his job.  We had retirement savings, but not liquid savings.  We would have been just as vulnerable for a loss of income.  Thankfully, we are in a different place now, but I do understand why people can’t/won’t save.

Here are my 10 possible reasons you are unable to save money.

  1. You don’t make enough money.  You have settled in on a job or career that pays too little.  This is something you can control.  You may either be feeling stuck in an area that has no jobs, or you are just plain lazy.  I speak from experience with my own family members on the lazy part.
  2. You are a natural spender, not a saver.  You like stuff.  Lots of it.  You spend every last extra dime on the latest designer purse (oh wait, that was me), new technology, or latest fashion.
  3. Your love language is gifts.  You’d give away your house if you could to show someone you love them.   You are quick to pay the restaurant bill for everyone, or buy your kids what they need, in lieu of saving money.  (Guilty as charged. 😦 )
  4. You have too much month left over after you spent all your money.  Usually this means your required bills are more than your take home.  Perhaps you have credit card debt, student loan debt, car loans, home equity…  It doesn’t leave you any money to save.
  5. You have health issues that don’t allow you to work. This one is tricky, as there is not a lot you can do about this.  This makes me think of a story my Mom told me about my grandmother.  Although he received a very small social security check each month, she always had money to give to my mother when she visited.  She rented a tiny apartment in Boston (subsidized) and ate very well (fresh fruits and veggies)  She was able to cover her bills and have a bit left over to save.  She lived to be 96.  I wish she were alive today so I could pick her brain on how she did it, but I can figure it out.  She was disciplined. (See No. 10).
  6. You live in a high cost of living area. Period.
  7. You bought more house than you can afford. This one is so easy to do.  We did this.  Banks wanted to lend us as much money as we wanted.  At the time we purchased our home in 1998, we really couldn’t afford it.  It took nearly 40% of our take home income.  It ended up working out for us, as the value of our home more than doubled and we were able to refinance into a 15 year 2.625% interest rate when rates were at an all time low and my husband was making much more money.  We were lucky.  People who bought in 2006, not so much.
  8. You are a single income household. Whether you are single, a single parent or a stay at home Mom, living with only one income is tough.  (Unless of course it’s a very large single income).  I always worked part time, so there was always a little extra coming in.
  9. You believe money is evil and try to get rid of it as soon as you get it.  There are many people who feel they don’t deserve to have money, or believe that rich people are evil.  This is a tough mindset to change.
  10. You don’t practice self-discipline.  This may be the most important reason of all. Self-Discipline is a learned skill.   When practiced, self-discipline brings stability and structure into a person’s life.   This not only helps in being able to save money, but also maintaining your health and well-being.  I’m sure we can all work on this one.

It’s really important to save money.  By having a rainy day fund somewhere tucked away, you can handle most storms that come your way.

Want more ideas?

Check out some more ideas on why people can’t save money with the following YouTubers.

Kristen Marie: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw1SkD1v14BD50cePTi51Vg/featured

Freedom In A Budget: https://www.youtube.com/freedominabudget

Wendy Valencia: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwEy…

A Joyful Home: https://youtu.be/_AIN-2JMVoE

Connie Porter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA7sG…

Our Life On A Budget: https://youtu.be/65DJhitQ05

Well Behaved Wallet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGKtz…

 

Goal Setting

3 Steps to Achieving Your Goals

double downYearly goals can be overwhelming.  You know it’s all about ‘action’ and following through, but how do you do that?  Here are three simple steps to turn your large goals into bite size ones.

Step 1.  Break it down.

Break down your yearly goals into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily action steps.

To illustrate, I’ll take my personal goal of reading 12 books and show you how I’ve done this.

1. Quarterly – Jan/Feb/Mar – Read 3 books (12 divided by 4)

My 1st quarter picks:

  • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  • Getting Things Done – David Allen
  • The Year of Less – Cait Flanders (a re-read)

I’ve chosen these three books specifically to jump start all of my goals for the year by working on changing bad habits to better ones, actually completing things, and “spending less” inspiration.

2. Monthly:  January – Pick 1 book

I’ll be starting with the book – The Power of Habit.  It is approximately 300 pages.

3. Weekly

There are 4 1/2 weeks in January, so I’d have to read about 66 pages a week.

4. Daily

There are 7 days in a week, so I’d have to complete at least 10 pages a day to stay on track to finish for the month.

10 pages a day not only seems doable, but I’m sure I can surpass this.

Step 2.  Keep track.

Write a ‘to do’ list of each action step that will bring you closer to your goals and keep track of your accomplishments.

I’m a planner girl, so this step is actually fun for me.  I use a planning system with a personal size ring Filofax and a daily habit tracker.  At the end of each day, I review what I’ve accomplished and which areas I’ve been slacking on.

Daily Planning Tracker.png

Step 3.  Do the things. 

This, of course, is the most important step of them all.  You have to actually do the action steps to achieve the goal.

chairbook(1)

Of course, try to make it an enjoyable process.  A cozy chair, throw and a hot cup of my favorite beverage makes reading much more enjoyable. 🙂

By following these simple steps you should be well on your way to achieving all of your goals for 2019.

 

 

 

Goal Setting, No Spend Year, saving money

My No Spend Year Challenge (and what it really means)

You may have noticed that I wrote in one of my goals for 2019 that I was going to challenge myself to have a No Spend Year. What it should have said was:”Have a no spend on mindless stuff that doesn’t matter and doesn’t help me meet my goal year“. But that was too long. So I shortened it.

The Why

After spending the last six months decluttering my home while still spending money on stuff that I will probably declutter in 2019, I decided it was time to stop the madness of all of this spending on stuff that doesn’t matter and redirect the funds to things that do matter. This isn’t just about spending, however. It’s about appreciating the things I already have and being grateful for all that has come into my life already. That’s hard to do when I keep bringing more stuff in.

My inspiration to attempt this challenge came from a book I read last year. Cait Flanders’ book, The Year of Less, changed my way of thinking. It is a book about her year long shopping ban, how she changed her habits and discovered what truly mattered to her. I continue to read her blog as a source of continued inspiration.

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.

The Rules

What I will be spending my money on:

  • Regular bills
  • Necessary replacement clothing only
  • Food and eating out (limited because of my health goals)
  • Vitamins, medicines/medical expenses (of course)
  • Travel/Experiences
  • Gifting (but limited to special occasions)
  • Replacement of consumables – toilet paper, household products, make up (limited)
  • Haircuts/color
  • Home Maintenance
  • Paint and furniture for my new room
  • Charitable contributions*

*I may have missed something from this list, which I will add later.

I anticipate, based on my spending in 2018, that I will be able to save at least 10% more of our income, helping me reach my goal of 40% total savings. It’s amazing how much spending one can do in a year without really thinking about it.

I will do monthly updates to keep myself accountable. I’m hopeful that I can and will change my mindless spending habits, not only for 2019 but in the years to come.

If you would like to participate, or are doing something similar, please share! I would love to hear from you. 🙂

 

 

Goal Setting, Word of the Year

2019 Word of the year: Mindful

Some believe that choosing a specific word for the year takes the place of New Year’s resolutions.   I think you should have both.  I believe that choosing a specific word can act as a gentle reminder or mantra that will enhance the resolve to change and grow and follow through with your resolutions/goals.
 

My word choice for 2018 was based on my assessment of 2018.  All in all 2018 was a good year, but there were some areas that could use improvement.  I asked the following questions which made my word for 2019 easy to see:

 
  1. What challenges/disappointments/shortfallings did I encounter in 2018? After some time spent contemplating 2018, I realized how impulsive, careless and imprudent I was with our money.   Since calculating the amount that came into our lives, and the amount that went out,  I was disappointed that I had squandered a lot of it away on ‘things’.  By the way if you have stock in Amazon, your welcome.  I also was careless with food intake and exercise, which caused health issues.  I was distracted and not ‘present’ in the presence of my my family and friends which made me miss out on some important moments.
  2. How can I move forward to achieving my goals and focus in 2019? By being mindful of the food that I nourish my body with, being intentional with exercise, being present both in body and mind for my husband, family and friends,  I believe I can achieve my goals.
So there you have it.  My word for the year.  I hope to find a way to have this word front and center every day so I can be gently reminded of my new ‘intentional’ living.
 

Do you have a word or words for 2019?  Please share.  I’d love to hear your word.

 
Goal Setting, Minimalism; decluttering, No Spend Year, saving money

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again, when we contemplate how we want the new year to take hold.  It really is all about taking control and setting goals (and, of course, following through).  Here are my goals and focus areas for 2019.

19 Goals for 2019

Health/Fitness

  1. Lose 10 lbs.  To obtain my ‘best’ weight, I should lose 20.  But 10 will be considered a success.  I have a free app called LOSE IT, which will help me keep track, and I’ve joined a Diet Bet game for January.
  2. Train (again) for a 5K and sign up for 2 races.   Last year was the first time I ran a 5K.  I was injured, but I finished.  This year I want to train and run at least two more (hopefully without injury).
  3. Maintain 10,000+ steps a day. I have the Fitbit Versa, which I absolutely LOVE.  It will definitely help me keep this goal in check.
  4. Follow a Low Sugar Diet/No Dairy.  This was the best one I could find.  Honestly, I’m trying to figure out if a certain food group is causing havoc in my body, and I have a feeling it’s the absurd amount of sugar I’m inhaling.  But then again dairy makes me feel bloated as well.  We shall see.
  5. Try Yoga.  I know I need to stretch more, and this has been on my ‘to do’ list for several years.  Time to do something about it.
  6. Annual Drs. Visits. – Striving for well visits onlyFingers crossed. 

Personal/Home

  1. Read 12 books.  One book a month – something that educates and/or nourishes the soul.  Suggestions welcome.
  2. Play the Minimalism Game.  3x.
  3. Create a space just for me. We have an extra bedroom that I want to make into a meditative, contemplative, hideaway just.for.me.  More to come on this one.
  4. Attend one spiritual retreat.  To be determined.  I’m not sure what direction I want to go with this, but I’m really ready to embrace spirituality.
  5. Journal/Gratitude Daily. This is self explanatory, right?
  6. Fix the kitchen appliances.  We have a cooktop that we have to ‘light’, and an oven that doesn’t hold the temperature.  They must be replaced this year.

Work

  1. Start a new blog.  Done! Well, sort of.  There’s a lot of work I still need to do to make this blog what I hope it to be. 
  2. Create money making opportunities online.  I have some ideas on how I’d like to add to the household income.  I already have my eyes set on some affiliate promotions that will go great with my blog message.

Finances

  1. Live on our proposed retirement salary for the entire year. We will have our mortgage paid off by the time we retire, so I’m not including that amount.  I’m using a monthly figure of what I believe will be a realistic withdrawal from our retirement accounts.  The wildcard, of course, is healthcare since we won’t be eligible for Medicare at 62.  I’ll have to try and figure that one out.
  2. Have a NO SPEND year.  Yep.  You read that one right. A whole year. I will be addressing this in another blog post with my preset rules for the No Spend.  It will be very different than what you are usually seeing for a No Spend.  I’m excited.
  3. SAVE 40% of take home pay. With no college tuition payments, and a lower ‘proposed’ salary, this should be a slam dunk.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.
  4. SAVE for a Baltic Sea Cruise. We hope to do this trip for our 25th wedding anniversary in May, 2020.

My 19th goal for 2019 is to reconnect with all my blogging friends whom I have missed so much!  Please leave a comment so I can add you to my blogroll!

Here’s to a prosperous and healthy New Year!