Turning Down Money!

•August 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Turning down money? Maybe!

*gasp* I know – why would I turn down money.  We all know I could use every extra cent I can get my hands on.

I have been presented with a job/side job opportunity and here are the details:

Pros:
$75/week 
(or $300/month or $3600/year)

My kids can come with me

My “boss” is someone I know

Cons:
11 hour day (so essentially $6.82/hr)

Start time (with kids on tow) is 6:30am 

My “boss” is someone I know

I am very pro about extra income and I am very willing to work for it.  However, as you may have noticed I put a high value on my family and on my friendships.

By dragging my kids out of bed extra early I am sacrificing their rest.  There are few things kids, especially kids as small as mine, need more than rest.

By working for someone I know that is both a friend and a peer I am putting our relationship on the line.  Although I am a hard worker, honest and have no doubt we would have a good employee/employer relationship, I also value the friendship and don’t want to put it at risk.

Lastly, the return for the effort is rather small.  My hourly rate for freelance work is more than the hourly return on this “gig”.  I would rather spend less hours working for equal or greater return.  The upside of this potential job vs. freelance work is stability.  Same day every week, same hours.

So what would you do.  In your journey to financial freedom what are you willing to give/do to be free?

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August: Mid-Month Report & How NOT to make money…(Money Misstep #3)

•August 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

I know, you come back here to peak and see if I’ve made $100,000 yet.  Just so you know, I haven’t!

For a quick mid-month report:

August Income
$250   Part Time Job
$ 20     Husband’s Overtime

Total income for August: $270.  I know, you are overly impressed.  I’m not either.  Keep reading…

So this month I have made another Money Misstep.  So sit down for Money Misstep #3: Volunteering vs. Income

I am very passionate about volunteering.  (Just ask my husband…it does get out of control some times!) I would encourage anyone and everyone, regardless of your financial situation to give of some of your time to volunteer.

Putting other peoples needs before your own helps with many things:

Perspective: You see other people’s situations and realize all that you have.

Insight: By giving you will gain insight into what it really means to live.  In all situations in all times.

Humility: It takes energy to give freely of your time and it keeps you humble.

I could expound on these (trust me, I could go on for days) but these are just a few of the many things that happen when you give of your time and energy to others.

The misstep I made was not making a correct calculation of the time a volunteer opportunity would take.

In order to meet our financial goals some of my time has to be spent working, trimming our budget and seeking income opportunities for our family.  However, since I see volunteering as such a high priority I am willing to give 10-15 hours every week toward it.  Sometimes for my church and sometimes for my community.  If I can use my skills to help someone I will try and make time to do so.

In the month of August I have given over 50 hours to volunteer work.  I do not regret the time I spent serving others but it has had some negative impact on my every day.

If my first commitment is to my faith and my second to my family those things must have equal or greater time and energy put into them as my volunteering.  Both my commitment to my faith/faith community and my family have suffered.

I have not been able to engage in my faith community as much as I normally do.  And my family has suffered because I have not been able to spend quality time with them and I have not been able to spend time managing our family life in order to positively impact our financial goals.

All this got put to the side so I could volunteer on 2 projects.  One for my church and one for my community.  Both good opportunities where I could use my skills but both opportunities that I had forewarning on and could have planned for and thought through a little better in terms of time commitment.

Also, in the midst of volunteering I got sick (am sick).  I had committed so deeply to 2 projects that I had no time in my day to day to rest and heal (which is probably why I am still sick).

How to avoid this misstep: Set boundaries and stick to them!
I am not in a physical, personal or financial place to spend all my hours volunteering.  I would LOVE to, don’t get me wrong! (I remember talking to my mom when I was trying to figure out my college path and through tears saying that I didn’t want a career, I just wanted to spend my whole life volunteering.  She kindly reminded me that although that is a great heart felt thing, it doesn’t put food on the table!)

Since I absolutely have to take my life situation into consideration I need to stick to 10-15 hours of volunteer work.  Even that stretches me and my family but it is important to me that serving others is a priority.

Next time I think about volunteering I will ask more questions about the opportunity and really weigh the time commitment within the boundary I have already set for myself.

Where should you set a boundary today?  What area of your life are you spending too much time/money/effort in that you can not really afford?

July: Month End Report

•August 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I know this is what you all really come back for!  I’m glad.

One of the goals of this blog is to be an ongoing inspiration for those people that have a large amount of debt.  Hopefully this report that I post bi-monthly is encouraging and a testimony to the fact that debt repayment, with some work, can happen.

July Income:
$250    Part Time Job
$180     Freelance
-$102    Car Repair
$250     Part Time Job
$280     Husband’s Overtime

Total Income: $858.00

This is income over and above our normal living expenses in the month of July.  So what is this going to.  $450 paid of an existing loan.  The remaining $408 went into our savings to help round out our emergency fund of $1000.

Some notes:

A paid off loan feels good.  We now have more money per month to put towards the next piece of debt.  This loan would have been paid off by the end of the year but by paying it off in advance we save money in interest and are able to use that toward something else immediately.

A small emergency fund is a must.  We used to have a much larger emergency fund.  Over the course of Winter 2009-2010 we used that emergency fund to live.  My husband’s hours decreased dramatically and we had to use almost all the money we had saved to live off of over a 5 month period.

We will continue to put our budgeted $50 a month into this savings account so it will exceed $1000 but our first goal was $1000.

For those that like numbers: $858.00 in savings for a month is not $1000 a week.  However, it is a good chunk.  We are currently averaging $214.50 a week which is 21% of the way toward our weekly goal.

I have 2 other possible freelance sources of income.  I am considering them based on time input and financial income.  They are both currently below my hourly rate for freelance work.

My current dilemma is to figure out if I just want the income and will take well below market rate or if my time is better spent securing freelance jobs paying the market rate.

What would you do?

The Kindness of Strangers

•July 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

(No, I have not abandoned this blog or this project, I’ve been entertaining family and working, working, working…)

In the last week, thanks to this blog and the support of some friends (who would like to remain nameless) my week has turned a little bit brighter.

I’ve been spending an awful lot of time away from my computer due to my commitments to family who have been visiting and working at side jobs so my family can move forward on this project of paying off debt.

After awhile all the late nights (as I write this at 1am) and long jobs (a 1 hour freelance project that ended up being 4) it can be discouraging.  The thought “Is it all worth it” may just cross your mind in the midst of the battle to fight debt.

Take heart!

This week I have had 2 random acts of kindness passed on to me and it really made my week:

First, I mentioned awhile back that men’s razors were on my Target list.  I received an email from an online stranger a friend who said she had scored some for free and would be happy to send them my way.  I got them in the mail Monday!

Then a friend of a stranger friend who has been reading this blog asked if they could pass on my address.  I said sure. This week I received a card with a picture of a cherry on top and a Target gift card.

Ladies, strangers friends – I needed that this week.  I needed a reminder, a pick me up, a thought that all the work, all the hours and all the effort is not in vain.

Thank you!

I am a big fan of paying it forward.  In the midst of frugality and saving it is hard to think about paying it forward for some people and for others it comes completely naturally.

I know for me I can’t actually give much money but I do have the gift of time.

Tomorrow as an act of paying it forward I will be spending some time supporting our local homeless shelter.

What can you do?  Can you give time/money/resource to someone?  It does not have to be a complete stranger, it can be a friend you know is in need.

Take a moment today and be thankful for what you have and think about the last time a stranger was kind to you.

So long smartphone…

•July 21, 2010 • 2 Comments

*gulp*  I am trying not to shed a tear as I write this but yes, I said goodbye to my smartphone.  And it was not just ANY smartphone.  It was the Apple iPhone. Why, why, why you ask…well…here you go:

Reduction: If we are really serious about this 100/100 thing we have to cut back expenses.  Now, I am not willing to pay to terminate a contract, that defeats the purpose.  But I am willing to reduce what we already have.  The data plan for any smart phone is a pretty heft expense and an iPhone is no exception.  This is one of those things that I can give up now, get back later and not really lose much in the between time.  (Although I know you smartphone addicts are about to tell me differently!)

Reality: As much as I really liked my iPhone it was the ORIGINAL as in VERY FIRST iPhone that was ever on the market.  No 3G, no 3GS and it is only *gasp* 8GB!  In the last couple weeks I have slowly been thinking maybe it was dying.  In the last two weeks I knew it was.  It started losing the ability to keep a charge, even after a full night on the charger.  I lost all ability to use speakerphone and THEN I realized it was because all but one section of my speaker doesn’t work.

Replace see also, Reduction:  I am eligible for an upgrade and would get a significant cost reduction on an upgrade to an iPhone 4 (so fancy!) but if we are again looking to save dollars we could make a significant ($50+) reduction in our monthly phone expense by going with a different phone with no data.

Reuse: I have a practically new LG flip phone.  I purchased it when I had a sales job.  I lost that job and the phone was used for less than 6 months and is in perfect condition.  I wouldn’t even have to buy a phone if I downgraded! My provider still supports the phone and, unlike the iPhone original, it does have 3G, so it is almost like an upgrade!

So I made the switch.  I couldn’t even use my iPhone for talking so really, it wasn’t really serving the purpose of a phone any more.  I took my smartphone and my flip phone and had the contacts transferred, the data package cancelled and the number confirmed on the new phone.  It took less than 15 minutes and didn’t cost me anything.

Now that it has been a whole 3 days (how have I survived this long!) I have found another benefit of not having my smartphone.

Recapture: Without total access to Twitter, Facebook, quick texting, email, etc.  I am recapturing time.  If I need internet enabled information I have to come into my office, sit down and commit to being at the computer.  It is much harder to do than sitting on the couch, nursing a baby and checking Facebook for a few minutes, it is a commitment!

So, could you do it?  Is there something you think you can’t live without but you know, in the back of your head, is not a necessity?  Are you willing to give it up to save a few bucks in the short term?

I did and I’m surviving (if you don’t hear from me in a week though please send a search party!)  You can too!

When our debt is paid off I plan to save up and re-purchase a smartphone.

I enjoy being able to upload instant pictures of my kids to facebook for my family to see.  I will miss having instant GPS and having to pre-plan my trips around the city a little more carefully.  In the short term it is a huge change in how I do the small things but in the long term, it is totally worth it!

Don’t Judge a Person by their Cabinets (or style)

•July 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As you all know I spent some time this month at my sister’s house helping her out with her kids and her new baby. There were 2 adults, 4 eating children and a baby.  That’s a lot of people to feed!

The first two days I was there my sister was in the hospital.  I quickly made myself familiar with her cabinets, fridge and pantry.  Now, my sister is a military wife and grew up in the same home I did.  She may not take frugality to the extreme I do but she does not spend over the top on much of anything.

So, it was to my surprise that most everything she had in her pantry was a “name brand” so to speak.  However, as I started making meals and feeding our large crew I began to see a pattern.  She had multiples of items, items that didn’t go with a ‘regular’ meal she would cook and some singlets of items.

After some snooping around I realized that my sister is a coupon shopper.  She uses both manufacturer and store coupons to buy most everything in her kitchen.  She can fill her pantry with the items she does because she takes the time to search out a deal, stock pile and is willing to buy items her family will eat, even if they seem a little “off” from her usual cooking style.

I confess, I absolutely judged how she was spending her grocery money.  Shame on me!  I definitely don’t want people to judge my family for our frugality, I should practice what I preach!

You would think by this time in our week I would be over my judgmental self but no, I apparently need to be hit over the head with a pan.

My sister has always had a much desired sense of style.  She is very “cute”.  I always figured it was because she spent an outrageous amount of money on clothes.  I have always thought it was crazy that she always has a “new” dress, outfit or bathing suit.  I mean, I would NEVER spend that kind of money on clothes.  (Seriously, can someone get a hold of their pride already!)

However, one of the other things I was doing to help out was laundry.  I saw a lot of both my sister’s clothes and my nieces clothes. I was really surprised to notice that very few of any of the clothes were expensive brands.  They were bought locally, inexpensively and some were even trades or hand me downs from friends.

I applaud that my sister carries on her really fun and relaxed sense of style without breaking the bank.  And as I was thinking about this (and feeling guilty for placing so much judgement) I was thinking about this 100/100 project and you, the readers.

Frugality is not something that can always be seen on the outside. This goes for those that don’t look frugal and those that do.  Unless you really know someone it is nearly impossible to tell from a first glance if someone is or is not a spender or a saver.

In that light, frugality is not something to be judged.  I am one of the biggest offenders of this, and I myself do not want to be judged on how I save or spend my money!  Frugality and spending are both very personal choices.  It is unfair to judge someone based on how frugal or spendy they are.  It really is a matter of the heart and everyone’s thought process is different.

Neither of these things are a license to be irresponsible with money or to ignore financial irresponsibility in yourself or others.

It is a reminder that finances are a personal and relational matter.  How you choose to treat your money is, in the end, your own decision.  If you have close personal friends that you share your financial journey with listen to what they have to say and take it to heart.  They are the people who you have chosen to share with and they may have great insight into what you can do better or differently to achieve your goals.

The same applies to you.  If you have a good relationship with someone who is sharing their financial journey with you be encouraging.  Ask their permission to speak truthfully and only give true answers when asked your opinion and input.

As for me, you can all keep me accountable to not be judgmental of others and their finances.  Those that choose to share their financial journey’s online (like myself) are opening themselves up to both praise and criticism.

People who I see in passing or don’t know closely deserve my unconditional respect!

Do unto others absolutely applies to me!

And Now…Back to our regularly scheduled program: Reporting!

•July 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I know, it is not very professional to say you will post on Monday and then disappear entirely.  But really, look at this face…

Baby Reese

Who can say no to holding, cuddling and protecting that face! I just spent 7 days with my new niece, mostly keeping her two older sisters at a safe distance for her own protection and for her moms sanity.

Now I’m home, have had a good nights sleep and am ready to return to this little adventure of 100/100.

Let’s recap.  We are hoping for $100,000 that will help us pay off our debt and have a small savings so that we can be debt free and live our lives differently than we do now.

We are doing this by living frugally, giving up some creature comforts and taking on any extra income possible.

Today I want to give you a tally of June and Mid-July.  I realized that it is not just enough to save on a bill or have extra money coming in.  It is also imperative that any “extra” money go directly toward something.  If not, we will spend it instead of save it, which is what happened in June.

June Income:
$250    Part Time Job
$40       Freelance
$50       New Grocery Savings
-$50     New Grocery Stockpile
-$200  Travel

Total Income: $90

Comment: LAME!  We had an opportunity to start out on the right foot.  We didn’t.  I was frivolous in our spending. We had been planning a trip for the end of the month for a long time and I did not plan ahead and save some of our weekly spending money to help us out.  The trip didn’t have to cost us that much either but we were in need of some car maintenance (that I had also not saved up for) so we only ended up with $90 that went into savings.

We did figure out a new way to buy groceries.  It will save us $50 a week.  However, we had to start with a stockpile first so in June the amount balanced to $0 savings.  I am already seeing the benefits in July though!

July Income:
$250    Part Time Job
$180     Freelance
-$102    Car Repair

Total Income: $320.00

Comment: WOO HOO!!!!!  Alright, I know that $320 is no where near $1000 a week but it is already 3 1/2 times the amount we were able to save in June!

On our way home for visiting our new niece the air conditioning went out in our car.  Normally I would just let it go and roll down the windows.  However, I have a 3 yr old and 1 yr old and a heat index of 104 degrees to contend with.  I thought it in their best interest to have it fixed.  Thanks to the income we’ve already received this month I was able to have it fixed worry free without dipping into our very weak savings account.

So what am I doing with the $320.  Well, right now, nothing.  It is sitting in a bank account waiting to be used.  We have one loan that has $450 left on it.  If I can make another $130 by the end of the month we will be able to pay it off in full.

Our goal is still to see us earn/save $100,000 over the next 96 months but it starts with baby steps.  July could be a very successful baby step for us!

This Weekend:  As you laze around this weekend and soak up the sun if you are near it here are some blogs to read for fun!

For my Sister and New Mom: Surviving Alone when your spouse is Military

Food for Thought:  Defining Financial Freedom

Moms – Get Motivated:  Ways to find Motivation at Home

See you next week!