Archive for Finance


Being Frugal

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We all want to spend less than we take in. To be fiscally responsible. Part of the way to do this is by being frugal. Here are a few ideas:

  • Notice how much food you have wasted during the week. Buy less the next week until you know how much fresh food you actually use. Eating out of the freezer or pantry helps out at the end of the week. Freeze food that you can if you can’t use it before it goes to waste.
  • Set an actual limit for grocery shopping. Carry cash and add it up as you go. This way you won’t automatically add indulgence items to your cart. You know you can only spend so much.
  • Turn saving into a game. Week 1 save $1, Week 2 $2 until you are at $52 for week 52. Of course you can use whatever savings goal you would like.
  • Notice if you have too much house for your budget. It may be time to downsize. (Or at least think about it until the housing market goes back up.)
  • Don’t pay with credit unless you can afford to pay it off each month. Most people are well beyond that now – so you might need to go cold turkey on credit cards until you get them back down to 0.
  • Do a spending diary for a month so you know where you can cut back.
  • Foaming soap refillable dispensers save money as you buy less liquid soap.
  • Double recipes and freeze leftovers.
  • Drink more water and less of expensive beverages. It is an even bigger saver when you go out to eat. You can also bring your own beverages to work.
  • Buy in season fruit and vegetables. Frozen for the out of season.
  • Use internet videos to fix things yourself.
  • Active entertainment like family hikes, snowshoeing, playing at the park are better for your body and your wallet then passive entertainment like movies and video games. When you do go to the movies only go to matinees and after you have eaten lunch so you don’t need expensive goodies.
  • Eat at least one more meal at home each week.
  • Get wrapping papers and bags for gifts at the dollar store or make your own.
  • Stop getting a magazine subscription and read it at the library instead. I read magazines at the library once a month while my daughter has her writer’s meeting.
  • Ask yourself, "Where am I going to put this?," before buying anything.
  • Create instead of consume.
  • Make your own cards.

What are your best frugal tips?


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Check our financial wellness

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The beginning of the year is a great time to check in with your finances.

  1. Do you have any late bills?
  2. How much savings do you have?
  3. Do you have automatic saving set up with your bank?
  4. Are you on track with your retirement?
  5. How much debt do you have?
  6. What are your monthly bills?
  7. What 2-3 areas of your spending can you curtail?
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May is the time of year I look to take a close look at my spending. We usually want to take a summer trip, go camping at least once, see plays at Hope Summer Rep Theater, and there are always weddings, graduations, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. This year I also plan on going on a writer’s retreat.

All these need to be saved for. The easiest way for me to save quickly is by going a month by only spending on necessities like food (not Ghirardelli brownies), toilet paper and gasoline. So no clothes, cute things for the house, shoes, or books. No movies or dinners out.

You can read more about past Spending Fasts here:

To help you, read my 20 Tips to Keep from Spending Money.

We talked about intentionality yesterday. Money is a place where most people are not spending or saving intentionally. They spend on whim, putting out fires, and live in denial about their spending.

One reason is people don’t have systems set up for their money. Their filing systems are a mess, they don’t have any specific times to pay the bills, they don’t know their net worth or have an actual plan to spend their money.

Or their systems are overcomplicated. Zillions of money accounts. File folders for every utility. Envelopes for every type of tax receipt. And people can’t keep up with these complicated systems.

It’s time to set up simple systems so we can be intentional with our money. Check out my upcoming class below if you want help setting up simplified systems.


Get into financial integrity

Financial Systems

Starts May 13

This class will help you:

  • get your finances in order
  • start saving
  • create a plan to get out of debt
  • consolidate, automate and simplify your system
  • create a simple spending plan

Each class will bring you closer to financial integrity. And you’ll find you are not alone.

Let me help you simplify your money systems.

Simplify Your Money Systems





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Spending Fast ~ Recap

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30 Day Spending Fast

Stamps and gasoline are the only things I bought the past three days.

As I look back, on the 30 Day Spending fast to only buy necessities, I know I saved quite a bit of money. I bought many less books than I might have. I bought one shirt instead of a few when I took my daughter clothes shopping. I stayed away from browsing and garage saling (Except for that one day).

Was it perfect? No way.

Was it a success? Yes – I saved extra money for vacation. And didn’t buy clutter.

How did the spending fast go for you?

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Ingenuity or Image?

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I’ve been reading Joanne Harris’ "Blackberry Wine" and was struck by the ingenuity of the character Joe. Old pieces of carpet kept out the weeds in the vegetable garden. Empty paint tins were made into plant pots. Plastic bags kept the birds off the fruit trees.

He would use coal dumped from coal trains for fuel. And created a greenhouse out of an old signal box.

I think we have gone too far into the "everything has to look perfect" phase and let go of some of our ingenuity.

We don’t want to make things out of milk jugs or tin cans because they might not look as good as store bought items. Shoe boxes for storage may not look as perfect as the boxes from Target.

It might be fun, if next time you think you needed to buy something to solve a problem to look around at what you have. What can you scrap together with your creativity?

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Spending Fast ~ Memorial Day Weekend

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30 Day Spending Fast

Friday I bought a shower gift for my cousin. And I filled up on gas for our trip to Indiana, Monday.

Saturday Brea had friends over and I ordered out instead of cooking for everyone. It was 90 degrees. I was hot, headachy and cooking wasn’t going to happen.

Monday we stopped for something to drink on the road and that was it.  I was going to fill up some tumblers with water before we left and I totally forgot about it until my voice got parched from singing Adele with my daughter.

We enjoyed seeing my family and my new cousin-to-be. Congratulations Sarah and Carl!

How was your weekend?


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Spending Fast ~ Fail

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30 Day Spending Fast

It’s no fun having to be vulnerable and admit you screwed up. But, I want to model self-compassion in the midst of messing up.

Wednesday was not good. We took my daughter out for soup to celebrate her last day of school and that was planned. Then later she had a writer’s meet. Right near the strip mall. I didn’t want to drive all the way home so I thought I’d just browse. Something I suggest NOT doing if you want to stay fiscally sane.

So there I am in Barnes and Noble looking around. Oh, the latest Janet Evanovich is in paper back. And look that lovely Emily Dickenson book is on clearance. And Brea loves Emily Dickenson. The tummy rumbles. I spy a gorgeous raspberry lemon bar. I sit and read.

Still have time to waste. I go over to T.J. Maxx. No petite clothes, thank goodness. I browse housewares instead. Great, an over the door hanger for the kitchen door and it’s only 6.99. And a new plastic makeup organizer since mine doesn’t fit what I need it to. I quickly leave before I spend any more.

Not time yet, so I go into Bed, Bath and Beyond. I know I won’t spend anything here. Until I see the stainless steel utensil holder. My crock is annoying because it doesn’t hold everything well. This one would. By this time, my head and shoulders were starting to ache. Probably from guilt. But, look a lovely chamomile scented neck warmer thing.

I ended up picking her up 10 minutes early because I didn’t want to go into anymore stores.

And I’m not planning on returning any of it. The books I know we will read soon. I already set up the organizers and they are helpful. And I loved my neck thing.  So at least I didn’t buy clutter.  I put the old cosmetic organizer and crock into the goodwill box.

Here comes the learning and self-compassion. So what would I ask my clients?

Why did you break your fast?

I was tired, achy, and feeling like I deserved something.

What can you do next time?

Read in the back yard which really would have been more satisfying. And stay away from browsing.

Finally, I would say not to let this fail be all or nothing. Start anew in the morning. Which I did. I bought allergy medicine from Walgreens Thursday. And nothing today.

Do you need to start over with self-compassion?


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Spending Fast for vacation

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30 Day Spending Fast

Monday I was doing some vacation planning. I bought as many tickets online as I could, so I don’t have to stand in line. Most things are free there, but some you can still get online for a $1.50 processing fee. And my daughter and I were browsing restaurants we wanted to go to. Our little town is not very diverse food wise.

I bought a little food for dinners staying on my shopping list, Monday. And Tuesday we got some travel supplies and toiletries from Walgreens. I have to admit. I also got a lip gloss.

How are you doing? Do you see any shifts in how you think about spending?

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Spending Fast ~ Another Weekend

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30 Day Spending Fast

It was time to remember why we are doing a spending fast. And we did some more vacation planning.  Do you remember why you wanted to do this? Is your motivation still up there?

We didn’t spend anything on Friday. Saturday my daughter and I went to the farmer’s market which just opened this week for produce. Yea!

Today we did a long motorcycle ride with friends. The gas for the motorcycle wasn’t much at all since it gets over 50 miles per gallon. We did stop for breakfast on the way up and a late lunch on the way down. I wasn’t very hungry so just had a hash brown for breakfast (We actually ate breakfast a couple hours earlier) and my husband and I split an appetizer for lunch.

How did your weekend go?

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Spending Fast ~ Wed and Thursday

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30 Day Spending Fast

I bought a few things for dinner.

And Jeff and I went on a date. We went fishing – well he fished while I enjoyed nature, then got frozen custard and took a nature walk.

What are your favorite frugal dates?

Here are some options for cheap dates:

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