52 Weeks Savings Plan: Give this a try and have an extra $1378 by the end of the year!

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Best Of the survival mom

If I’m going to post the best and most popular blog articles, I have to include this one. It launched a very popular Facebook group page and an entire month-by-month series of money saving articles. National Preparedness Month may not seem like a natural fit for a money-saving article, but with no money at all, it’s hard to get fully prepared.

Jar full of money on white background

I spotted this ingenious and simple savings plan* on Facebook, posted it on my wall, and it went viral with 3,074 likes and 4,230 shares within a couple of days. I’ve never seen anything like it. Obviously, this plan hit a nerve with a large number of people who know they need to save, want to save, but are dealing with the reality of tight budgets.

On many calendars, each week is numbered, beginning with Week #1: January 1-7.  On this 52 weeks savings plan, you save the amount of dollars that corresponds to that week’s number. If one week you find yourself with extra cash, add it to the pot. You’ll end up with more than the $1378 total by the end of December or you’ll have created a bit of a padding for weeks that don’t have any extra cash left over. The 52 Weeks Savings Plan is highly versatile. You can begin with Week 52 in January, or start on whichever week is easiest for you.

Print out this chart or make your own and check off each week as you save. If there are other members in the family with an income, encourage them to do the same. A family with 2 breadwinners could end up with a grand total of $2756, and that’s no small-potatoes! *I have no idea who originally created this chart, but I thank them!52 week savings plan

UPDATE: Since this was posted, readers have made some really great suggestions

1. Get the whole family involved. Discuss how you’ll spend the savings, give some to charity, etc. and then post a progress chart. Kids who earn money for odd jobs, babysitting, and the like can contribute, so everyone learns how to save and then gets to share in the rewards!

2. The last half of the savings plan can be pretty pricey per week. If that’s too much for you right now, go through weeks 1-26 twice. You’ll still end up with a nice balance at the end.

3. Others have suggested starting with Week 52 at the beginning of the year so the larger savings can be set aside at a time of year when holiday expenses aren’t an issue.

For more help following the 52 Weeks Savings Plan…

Follow along with a special series of monthly sales, tailored specifically to the needs and interests of Survival Moms and their families. Check out these examples:

April discounts

May bargains

June discounts and sales

Retailers typically offer the same types of sales each month, year after year, so these articles continue to have value and important info for bargain hunters!

Join other Survival Moms in our very active 52 Week Savings Club on Facebook! 1625 members and growing!

Read, “10 Ways to Make the 52 Weeks Savings Plan Work For You” — even more creative ideas!

The Importance of Paying Off Debt and Building An Emergency Fund

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Every ounce of critical financial planning can go to waste if you don’t have an emergency fund to back it up, which can really be a lifesaver when unforeseen expenses crop up. There are emergencies that need immediate attention, such as a daily-use home appliance breaking down or car repairs demanding early intervention. Since these

Emergency Fund: Your Strongest Financial Asset

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Every ounce of critical financial planning can go to waste if you don’t have an emergency fund to back it up.  Emergency funds are a lifesaver when unforeseen expenses crop up. There are emergencies that need immediate attention such as a daily-use home appliance breaking down or car repairs demanding early intervention. Because these emergencies

Survival Thriftiness Part 2 Episode 108

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Survival Thriftiness

Survival Thriftiness

 

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Survival Thriftiness

 

This week we have part 2 of our Survival Thriftiness series. We start out this week with a few ways to save money while traveling.

Mike talks about folding bikes to get around. They pack up small and can get you around town. To save money on hotels I mention couch surfing. Many people are willing to let you crash on their couch.  To me the least important part of traveling is where I sleep.  To this I also will find rest stops near my destination and just sleep in my car.

Mike begins the discussion on paper over plastic. Why you can save tons of money by using cash over a debit or credit card. You can see the money going away and will hesitate spending it more than with cards.

To add to using cash I mention the envelope system. It is a way to save money while ensuring bills are paid. I heard about it from some tiny housers. I used it to help save for my tiny house and to pay off my debt. I found a link to explain it much better. I will be implementing it soon and will follow up.

Have some money saving tips? Share them in the comments below. Let us know how you are saving cash and getting deals.

Want to hear yourself on the podcast? Call in with your questions at (615) 657-9104 and leave us a voice mail.

 

Links

 

Folding Bikes

Couch Surfing

Rest Areas Map

Envelope System

Coupon Mom

Topics

  • Travel
  • Paper vs plastic
  • Reuse
  • Buying used

 

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Seven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Began Prepping

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smart preppingHave you gotten bit by the prepper bug? Millions all over the world now consider themselves to be preppers.

I bet you’ve spent hours on the internet searching for the ultimate solar radio, the most comprehensive food storage inventory list or maybe which water filtration system to use. We have all been there, usually late at night by the warm glow of the computer screen.  I get it. I was and still am the same way. As with all new endeavors, we learn as we go and gain knowledge from our experience. There were some things I do wish I had known when I started.

  1. Rotation, rotation, rotation

I do not want to think about all of the food I have thrown away. Is life really that busy that I forget to rotate? I do not remember even buying minestrone soup 6 years ago! Rotating food is one thing I really struggled with. After time I have found what works for our home.

  • Store 3 months of food that you normally eat in easily accessible places. Kitchen cupboards, the pantry and extra shelves if you have the space for them. This way, you don’t forget what you have, as in “out of sight, out of mind.”
  • Move large items (crockpots, holiday kitchen items, etc.) to a different part of the house to make more room for food in your kitchen. If you see it, you will cook with it.
  • Plan meals from what you have in your cupboard. It will remind you of what you have and need to use.
  • If you have an additional freezer, organize it by food type. Chicken on one shelf, pork on another, fruits and vegetables in the bins. This method will let you know what you eat more of and allows you to adjust your shopping and menus accordingly, and yes, I do keep some ‘food storage’ food in my freezer.
  • Rotate the items in your car kits, bug out bags and work bag. Extreme hot and cold can make some items go bad, taste odd or expire earlier than thought.
  1. Smart prepping is trying it out first

Speaking from experience I can tell you that putting a new camp stove together in the dark with hungry kids around is not fun. How hard could it be to put a new stove together, right? After a few frustrating experiences with new things, I have learned to try things our first. Some things we have learned to try out:

  • Food that looked good on the label were not always as tasty. Certain brands we no longer buy. Store what you like to eat, but be sure to try it out first.
  • Try new foods out at home, not over the camp fire or in an emergency. If it works, you know right then and there! If it does not, you can prepare something else for dinner or enjoy take out.
  • Directions on the box are not always as clear when assembling anything the first time. We have made purchases where there were no directions included or they were in a language none of us spoke. That is when the internet came in handy. You can download and print out instruction manuals but this would be difficult, if not impossible, under duress, such as a power outage.
  • Sometimes parts are missing. It is better to take something back to the store sooner than later.
  • The first few times you practice an evacuation drill, it will be a disorderly mess. It is during those drills that you learn what you are forgetting and gives you the chance to practice. This drill is what now reminds us to store our computer files and pictures on an external hard drive.
  • Eat a meal or two from your bug out bag. It can be life changing. Eat a meal or two without your kitchen appliances. Use your grill, solar oven, etc.…
  • Wash your clothes by hand. Learn how to dry and hang clothes on a clothes line properly. Here are tips for taking care of laundry during a power outage.
  • Camping/survival gear should be used first in a non-emergency situation. The four room tent that we purchased was easier to set up in the back yard in the middle of the day than it would have been if we were in a stressful situation. I keep at least one tent on hand for possible using indoors during a winter power outage. Here’s more info about that.
  1. Store more water than you think

Water has been stored in every room in my home. Under sinks and in closets are the usual hiding places, but I’ve been pretty creative in finding other spaces. What is surprising is how often they have been used.

Water to our house has been turned off for repairs, more times than I want to remember. During these time we have always been shocked at the amount of water we used. Thankfully it was not in a time of emergency. Nevertheless, we opened more bottles than we thought we would. It was a real eye-opener at the amount of water needed to support a household. Even if there is an emergency and you conserve the amount of water used, you will need more than you realize. We found that during our non-emergency times, water was used for:

  • Washing hands after bathroom use
  • Flushing toilet (only #2)
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Wiping down counters, stove, table, sink
  • Washing hands during meal prep, especially after touching meat
  • Drinking, making drinks
  • Water needed for making food and rehydrating freeze-dried and dehydrated food
  • Washing hands that just got dirty

Lesson learned. You use more water for more things than you probably realize.

  1. Remembering to pack and update bug out bags

I remember being so excited to have our bug out bags organized, labeled and perfectly packed. I was beaming with pride as I put them in the closet. And that is where they stayed for a very long time. Cleaning them out years later was a bit discouraging. So we came up with a plan!

The first weekend of April and October we update our bags. In April, we replace anything that is close to its expiration date. This is usually food and medical items. In April the warmer winter clothes are replaced with summer clothes. In October we go through again and put back our winter wear. During this time we go through the home and check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and stock up on batteries for our radios and flashlights.

Print out this list of things to consider packing in your bags/kits.

  1. Set money aside each month

It is easy to let your enthusiasm for prepping take over your bank account. Looking back, I would have set a specific amount of money aside each month. It gives you the opportunity to save for larger items if needed. Having money for this purpose allows you to take advantage of clearance items or great sales you may run across. Once we practiced this in our home, my husband and I felt we were more in sync with each other on preparing our family.

Buying that four room tent, on clearance, was much more thrilling because we knew the money was already there for the purchase. It does not matter how much you can afford to save. Every bit counts and it adds up. Find time to go over your budget and decide how much of your funds you can put in an envelope towards your prepping.

  1. Store books

I have realized that the more I learn, the more I forget. The internet is so dependable when I need answers, so why try to remember everything? But what happens when there is not electricity or access to the internet?

Over the last 15 years I have been collecting books that I can lean on when an emergency happens. The books vary in topic, preserving food, medical manuals, old cookbooks, knot tying, animal trapping, psychological health and physical fitness, and making shelters. Included are books that can help me mentally and emotionally get through difficult times. Some of these are self-help and motivational books, a journal, a Bible and other religions materials. Many of these books are inexpensive and can be found at thrift stores and online. The Red Cross has a lot of their manuals on their web site that you can download and print out. Some cities also offer free materials to the community.

Dr. Joe Alton’s book, The Survival Medicine Handbook is a must-have, as is this complete family survival guide.

  1. Teach/train family

Having five kids, it did not take long to figure out that I can do things faster without help. Not only faster, but the right way with less mess. Much of the preparedness took place after they were in bed and I could get something done, uninterrupted. Looking back I wish I would have involved my children even more in preparing. Around the age of 8, they were helping with bug out bags and little ones were helping in the garden. But I did not include them in other areas of preparedness. If I could go back I would include them more in:

The kids have turned out fine, considering their lack of involvement in the beginning. Though difficult and time consuming, it is better to include them in as much of the preparation as possible. Habits are created and lessons are learned during those moments that cannot be re-created at other times.

Check out this list of 32 practical skills for kids and urban survival skills.

As the children became teens, they lost the child-like enthusiasm to help. Not surprising. Involving the family in outside activities that teach your kids preparedness skills can help to. Thankfully, the Scouting program was there for my sons to reinforce the “Be Prepared” things we were doing at home. Classes and service projects in your community can provide an occasion to learn new skills and put into practice the ones you have. Remember to include your children when doing:

  • Home repairs
  • Car maintenance and repairs
  • Gardening/food preservation
  • Laundry and sewing
  • Menu planning and shopping
  • Budgeting and some financial matters

smart prepping

 

 

Survival Thriftiness Part 1 Episode 107

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Survival Thriftiness

Survival Thriftiness

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Survival Thriftiness

This week Mike and I discuss Survival Thriftiness. This is the first part in a two part series. In today’s podcast we talk about how to save money in the following categories. Reducing Bills, Food and Household goods.  As usual we got long winded and ran long.

A good method that we both have used is to call a service provider and haggle with them to lower your bill. If they can’t lower it you can often get incentives to stay. If they still can’t do anything for you many of their competitors will offer you a lower bill to switch. Loyalty is only good in friends and family.

We talk about buying food only when it is marked down. Making often expensive meats very affordable. I have found that local stores tend to have the best mark downs. The large box stores have pitiful price reductions. The same goes for produce. One local store often has expensive salad mixes marked down below a dollar.

When it comes to household cleaners making your own can save you a ton.

We talk about all that and much more.

 

Links

Making your own Laundry Detergent

Coupon Mom

Topics

  • Reducing Bills
  • Food
  • House

 

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Life Happens: How to Prep Again When You’ve Lost Everything

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When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.

I remember the night so clearly. It was the end of an emotionally exhausting day. My husband and I were lying in bed, holding hands, feeling like it was the only thing we had to hold on to. He sighed and said, “The life that I am living doesn’t seem like mine. Everything we are going through seems like something that happens to someone else, not us.” I could not argue with him, he was right. We were watching much of our life around us crumble and there was not much we could do to prevent it. We had to wait until the crumbling stopped and we could re-build.

Our family was experiencing hardships of almost every kind. We had to move from our home, close a business, and we had nowhere to live. The foster child we were in the process of adopting mentally went off the deep end. For the physical safety of our family, we immediately moved him out, and this caused more legal and emotional trauma than we could have imagined.

One of our cars died; it was not worth fixing. A friend loaned us an extra vehicle he had. We stayed at my sister’s home until we could find a place to rent. Moving to a new area where we didn’t know anyone was just another stress. Our other car was beginning to have problems. Our savings were low. We were living paycheck to paycheck and our food storage was almost depleted.

Some of the chaos was our fault. We did not prepare as much as we thought we had or think some decisions through completely. The other chaos was called life. We had no control over the economy, other people and their actions, nature, or health issues. Even thinking about that time brings back some of the overwhelming feelings we had. Our family was working on getting our footing first, then rebuilding our emergency supplies. We learned many difficult and painful lessons along the way, and we came out of it much smarter and stronger than we could have imagined. Life will always throw us curve balls, but we are more prepared to handle them now. As a family we have become the “better prepper”.

How to start prepping from scratch

1) You can never have too much money saved.

There will always be something unexpected come up, and it will come up at the worst time, always. We kept a mason jar around for loose change. I remember using it to buy $85 of groceries. As things got better, we worked our way up to a dollar jar. We were surprised to see how fast the jars filled up. Those jars were what helped us build up our emergency money. They are still in use and are a reminder to keep change and cash on hand. Not only in our home, but also in our bug out bags and cars.

To raise additional funds, we sold items we did not need. We started cleaning out what we had and decided what we could live without. At the time, it was difficult to see some things go. Knowing that we were doing everything we could eased some of the pain. It was a few years later that I heard Dave Ramsey on the radio. Being prepared means having a healthy savings account and we decided to try his baby steps plan. That was the beginning of the way we now handle our finances. Go over your finances and make certain you have enough to get you through an emergency.

Here are a few Survival Mom resources for you:

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Print out my collection of tracking charts at this link.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 3600 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

2) Have 3 months of food stored.

Money was tight and we ate our food storage. Our meals were inexpensive and home-cooked. Everything was used, nothing was thrown out. Soups were made with left over vegetables, meat was stretched by putting it in casseroles and salads. Knowing how to prepare nutritious meals from scratch was a skill I possessed, but had taken for granted.

To supplement our food storage, I took advantage of additional opportunities. Many communities have some type of food co-op program where food is exchanged for volunteering hours or food is deeply discounted. The local university offered in-season produce grown by the students at $90 a year. My husband put in a small garden of tomatoes, lettuce, squash and bell peppers. Our neighbor was more than happy to give us oranges and lemons from her trees. Lemons were prepped and kept in the freezer for future meals.

DON’T MISS THIS: Survival Mom’s guide, “Simple Food Storage Meals“.

As things improved and finances allowed, we purchased meat and canned goods that were on sale. Our 3 month food supply of food, water, and everyday living supplies was built up a few items at a time. Nothing causes you to evaluate your food storage than having to use it. Store food you are going to eat and enjoy. This includes cake mix!

3) Education: I attended the local adult education school.

After only a few months I was employed as a certified nursing assistant. A few months later I was a certified EKG technician. This experience slowly morphed into a small business. Being self-employed allowed me to make good money and go back to school for my BA. I knew I did not want to do this type of work as a career, but I do not regret the certifications.

Being a prepper, I understood that it was an education that could someday benefit my family and others. Always look for ways to increase your education and preparation. It could be an Amateur Radio license class, CERT classes, and local adult education or community classes. Adding other streams of income is the key.

4) If full time employment is not possible, look for a short term solution.

Something as simple as a dog-walking, house-sitting, substitute teaching, or other temporary jobs can get you through a rough patch. If you already have a full time job, look for other part time income streams. Is there a skill or hobby that you teach to others? What knowledge or experiences do you possess that can be turned into a small business?

5) Physical and Mental Health

Even though we did not go through a natural disaster or suffer extreme trauma, we still experienced a large amount of stress. Stress takes a great toll on your body. Glucose levels and blood pressure can increase. Our immune systems can take a hit, making you at risk for auto-immune and cardiac disorders. To off-set the negative impact of the stress, our family focused on cutting out processed foods and switched to a whole food diet. We spent time walking, swimming and hiking outdoors.

Mental health is sometimes overlooked in the prepper world. The pressure of trying to put life back together can be overwhelming. The effort used to get through or get by can push aside feelings of anxiety or depression. Sundays have always been used as a day to decompress for our family. When there were times of difficulty, we focused even more on keeping Sunday low-key. We attended church and did not obligate ourselves to anything else. We read books, watched uplifting movies, played games together and rested. This down time allowed us to face the next week with a renewed attitude.

Along with family time, my husband and I continued to have our weekly date night. Since there was not much money, we could often be found having a picnic at a park or attending free activities in town. Maintaining strong and healthy relationships is part of being prepared. Two people, or a family of more, can work together and get through trying times if their family has trust and communication between each other.

6) Faith

We are a religious family, it is part of who we are and it is our family culture’s main ingredient. During the good and bad times, we pray. This simple act has sustained us, and has given us the strength to get through difficult times. It has also given us hope that things will get better and that we are not alone in this journey. Prayer holds us accountable. When I pray for guidance, I am reminded that I need to be doing my part. Am I a wise steward with my money, time and resources? Prayer helps put things in their proper prospective and reminds us of the blessings we have been given.

For those who are not religious, it is important to take time meditate or connect with one’s self. There is much to be thankful for, even in trying times. Center yourself and be open to opportunities and possibilities. Great ideas and solutions can come when the world is quiet and we are alone. Write down any ideas, even if they sound a bit crazy. They can transform into brilliant ideas.

Life Always Happens

Through all of this, we were able rebuild our food storage, savings and emergency supplies. Our financial situation was good, and education and jobs were going well. Life was to be going great! And then another curve ball was thrown. My husband’s employer was replacing all management employees. We had a little bit of notice, but not as much as one would hope. After a brief moment of panic, we realized that we were going to be okay. Together we had been through such challenging times, this did not seem as difficult. Because of the experiences we had many years earlier, we were better prepared. During those four months of unemployment, we adopted a daughter, celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, witnessed our son’s wedding, had a beautiful reception on a shoestring budget, and prepped two kids leaving for college. We were able to enjoy all of the happy family events because we were prepared.

When you've lost it all, here's how to begin prepping from scratch.

 

Preparing for Economic Collapse

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downturnPeople prepare for many reasons, be it a zombie apocalypse, EMP, nuclear war just to name a few. Personally I think the most common forms are disaster are weather related, such as floods, hurricanes and such and financially related, such as a full blown economic collapse to a personal financial crisis. This is why I […]

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Position Yourself for Financial SHTF – Practical Steps for Paying Down Debt and Saving Money!

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Money1

We’ve all been expecting it!  In fact, some of us are baffled that it hasn’t happened already. Many who are paying attention to the global economy expect a time when this country and possibly the rest of the world experience economic SHTF.  One thing though, no one exactly knows what it will look like when the proverbial economic balloon goes up!

As a result of not knowing, we could stress and worry.  Some of us prep food, water and supplies.  But besides prepping the basics, one of the things we should do is position ourselves to be in the best spot possible for a financial SHTF scenario.

To be clear here, a financial SHTF scenario doesn’t have to be the meltdown of the global economy.  When that happens, everyone will be in the same boat and those who have made an effort to position themselves will fare better.  However, people find themselves in financial SHTF scenarios everyday when they lose their jobs, have a medical emergency and have no insurance, lose a loved one who is an income earner, etc…  Hopefully, the information in this piece will provide relevant information to help anyone prepare for a future financial SHTF scenario.

Two Economic SHTF Scenarios – Two Extremes

When preppers think about SHTF, we tend to think about the kind of world you read about in dystopian novels.  JWR’s Patriot’s is a book that many preppers are familiar with.  In the book, an economic crash sends the USA into the world of The Walking Dead.  Bank holidays, credit card and ETB freezes, Marshall law, Biker Mice from Mars, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, dogs and cats living together…This is an extreme view. Could an economic crash bring the collapse of the USA?  I don’t know.  I think TPTB already have a plan in place if they see the balloon going up.

The other side of this extreme view is something I first heard Jack Spirko talking about back in the day, a slow economic spiral downwards.  In this scenario, things start to cost more and your earnings don’t go up.  Your money doesn’t buy you as much as it used to.  You stop going out to eat or to the movies as often because it’s so expensive.  You hold off on making big purchases.  You don’t have discretionary income like you used to have.  You start watching your finances closely because any hiccup can cause pain.  Your quality of life spirals down.  You stress.  Your spouse stresses.  Your kids feel the stress.  You look back and long for the “good ol’ days.”

These are two extremes, of financial SHTF.  We’ll probably wind up somewhere in between.

Where Do We Start?

In a recent poll on Prepper Website, I asked, “If you had an extra $500 right now, what would you do with it?” 28% of those who responded (132/478) said they would pay down debt!  (“More food storage” came in a close second, but that is another post.)

I would say that these respondents have the right idea.

Think about it.  If the economic balloon goes up, money (paper money will be used for a while, even in a JWR Patriot’s type crash), will buy less and less.  The more money you have freed up to make purchases, the better your overall position will be.  The biggest step in positioning yourself for financial SHTF is to get out of debt!

Getting Out of Debt Is Too Hard!

Yes, if getting out of debt was easy, everyone would be debt free.  It takes determination, discipline, going without sometimes and creativity.  But when you get debt free, it is the best place to be!

Years ago, I taught the Dave Ramsey course, Financial Peace University at my church.  My wife and I had already started getting out of debt, but FPU helped a lot.  I don’t agree with Dave Ramsey on everything.  In fact, I’m a little disappointed that he’s not warning people of what could possibly become of our economy.  He is still pushing 401K’s and mutual funds.  But, his advice and system for getting out of debt is very helpful to anyone wanting to get out of debt.

I’ll post a video of his 7 Baby Steps plan at the end of this article, but Dave tells you exactly how to do the debt snowball in the video below.  Notice the discipline and determination part!

 

Ways to Cutback and Find Money for Your Debt Snowball

One of the things that easily sidelines people when they try to get out of debt is finding money to add to their debt snowball.  If you just use what comes in, your current income, it might take longer than you like and you can wind up getting discouraged.  The trick here is to live way below your means.  And when I say below…I mean below.  The way to do this is to make a budget.  Just like you have a bugout plan or food storage plan, you need a budget plan to help you stay on track and manage every dollar that you bring in.

Back in the day, I created an Excel spreadsheet that would make changes automatically so I could see exactly what was coming in and going out.  I’ve attached a version here, using Google Sheets.  I would download this copy and open it using Excel. Or you could do it old school if you like.  Remember, you don’t want to have any money left over at the end of the month.  You want all your money accounted for and “working” for you.

Other Practical Ways to Cut Costs and Save

After you make you budget, you need to find other ways to bring in money.  Many people start having garage sales, work a part-time job, and find ways to save.

In my years aggregating articles for Prepper Website, I have linked to some great articles with great info. on being frugal and saving money.  I want to share some of those great ideas here.

On the Bacon and Eggs website, you can find an article that shares 114 Frugal Money Saving Ideas and Tips.  Here are a few of my favorite ideas…

8. Use cold water in your washing machine.  It’s the action in the washer that cleans the clothes

 

9. Unplug anything that is sucking “ghost power”  We’ve got a power strip that we can flip on and off when we need to.

 

20.Craigslist, Freecycle, Penny Papers, Thrift Stores and yard sales all can provide most things you are looking for.  Why buy new when gently used is so much less expensive?

 

26. Keep your freezer full. If you have to, put milk jugs or 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer.  It’s less expensive to run a full freezer than an empty one.

 

35. Open the curtains/drapes on the sunny side of the house during the daytime and close them on the shaded side(in the summer I reverse that). This works very well on sunny, non-windy days. This allows me to use natural light as well.

 

38. If you are considering making a big purchase why not try waiting 30 days and then see if you still feel the need for the item.  I find myself sometimes not needing something nearly as much as I thought I would three or four weeks later.

 

46. When running errands, try running them at “off peak times”.  You’ll be able to save time and gas by not having to wait in 5’o’clock traffic.  You’ll spend less time looking for a parking spot too!

 

61.  Check out the weekly ads in your area BEFORE you go shopping and use it to help with making your list.  Once you get your pantry stocked up you can use this “tip” to help you prep and save money while you are doing it.  The idea is to try and NEVER buy anything that isn’t on sale or doesn’t have the best bang for the buck so to speak.

 

68.  Compare unit prices.  I have found this to be really really helpful.  Most all stores show the price per ounce. Lot’s of times what you “thought” was a good deal really isn’t at all. Compare the per ounce costs of each item.  You would be surprised at how many times “bigger is not always better”.

 

73.  When you find something that you use regularly on sale – Stock up and buy as much as you can afford to. You know you will be using it later on and prices are rising fast these days.  Store what you eat and eat what you store.

 

77.  Stay away from convenience foods.  You can make most of the same things at home for half the price.

 

87.  Go “meatless”  one day a week.  We love meat. But face it, it’s expensive.  We like beans around here so I’ll cook up a pot with some rice and cornbread for dinner sometimes.  Makes great leftovers as well.   Use the leftovers as a side dish during the week.  Another thought is to have “breakfast for dinner”.  Pancakes and eggs for dinner…. oh my!

 

89.  If you don’t know how to cook it’s time you learned.  Cooking from scratch saves tons of money and it’s just plain better for you.

 

111. Invest in a thermos and take your coffee to work with you.  With the money you save by not buying $5.oo coffee’s every day you could easily afford a nice home brewed coffee every day!

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Over at Modern Survival Online, a guest poster Gilfner, shares “Ways We Are Creating Money in our Budget for Prepping” Here a few good ones…

TV – We only pay for streaming Netflix, $7.99/mo.  If you are serious about prepping, you don’t want to be stuck on the couch.  No need for cable/satellite or the $40 plus per month bill.  Spend the extra time getting stuff done and the extra money getting stuff to do it with.  The deals for bundling services aren’t that good.

 

Our cars are all paid for.  As much as I lust after the new cars, I am doing just fine with the ones I have.  But it’s tough to find the balance between good running cars that don’t cost a ton & thrashed cars that might as well have a monthly payment to keep them on the road.

 

Paying attention to sales.  Not everything is a good deal.  Not everything at Costco is a good deal.  Last month we found that the source we had for the pre-packaged Augason Farms hard red wheat went up in price dramatically.  We realized that with some work, we could get 25lbs bags from the LDS Cannery and bucket it ourselves for much less.

 

For construction projects around our place, we find that checking the cull bin at the Home Depot or Lowe’s nets us a lot of wood for less.

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Survival at Home shares “45 Ways to Save Money on Your Monthly Bills” Don’t miss these…

4- Eliminate drafts by using inexpensive expanding foam or caulk to fill cracks and small holes around windows, door frames and exterior walls where cold or warm air typically escapes. Look carefully around where pipes and wires enter and exit your home.

 

23- When it comes to credit cards, the easiest thing to do is just stop using them. If you can’t afford to pay cash for what you need, you probably don’t need it. Of course there are emergency situations, but those are likely to be few and far between. Don’t use your cards for anything you can eat or wear, and avoid using credit cards to buy “wants” such as a new stereo or TV. Wait until you have the money to buy it.

 

36- Do some price comparisons on your auto insurance. Consider changing your insurance policy to one with a higher deductible. If you have an older vehicle you might even consider switching to a lesser coverage. Decide if the monthly payment for collision insurance is worth paying for on your older vehicle.

 

45- Negotiate all of your bills. Call each company at off- peak times (such as early morning) to discuss lowering your rates. Companies are less busy and more likely to spend time negotiating with you. It absolutely never hurts to ask.

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Daisy Luther, at the Organic Prepper always has good advice on cutting costs and living below your means.  She shared in her post, The Austerity Diaries, some of the changes she and her family made to get through some hard times.  The article is from Jan. 2014, and Daisy is still alive and kicking.  So, you know it worked for her and her kids.  Check out her article, The Austerity Diaries and also the link at the top of her site dedicated to being frugal.

I also found some great advice in an article on Survival Blog called, Seventy-Five Ways to Save Money for Prepping.  Here are a few…

Don’t let a screaming child (or teenager) rule your finances. Learn to say “no” and mean it! The same goes for teenagers begging you for the latest and greatest “I Whatever”. The proper mantra should be “get a job and pay for it yourself”. You’ll thank me later. This has been a public service announcement.

 

Log all expenses, and keep a continual tracking system in place. Know where the money goes. (FYI: You don’t have to use credit cards like the author suggests. Saving receipts and plugging in the figures later works just as well for the OPSEC minded.)

 

“The Return of the Clothesline” is now playing at a theater near you. Start using a clothesline or drying rack and you’ll save energy, prolong the life of your clothes, and your house will be quieter and cooler. Oscar Awards all around!

 

Sewing will be a great skill to know and barter with post-SHTF. Many times articles of clothing will go unworn when buttons come off or a seam comes loose. It is a shame to let nice pieces of clothing go to waste or kids outgrow them without getting as much use from them as you can. It also comes in handy to have a sewing machine so you can take clothes in and let them out without always having to buy new ones.

 

Check Craigslist for free plants; you’ll almost always find them!

 

Shopping online? Never leave the coupon code box blank again! Google the name of the store and add the words “promo code” to the search bar. Sites like RetailMeNot.com offer free coupon codes for just about any product you’re shopping for.

 

Learn how to do basic home repairs and maintenance. Home Depot offers free classes from the Home Improver Club. You will learn important skills and save money at the same time. That is, of course, unless it’s a major project. You really don’t want to make any mistakes that only a professional can repair (and will charge you accordingly).

 

Stocking up when the price is low is the key to saving. Having a price book will really benefit you in the long run. Find what works for you– coupons, shopping at several stores, or shopping online. A combination of all three is my technique of choice!

To read the rest of the article – click here.

Brown Thumb Momma has a short article with some good advice and links.  “In 20 Things I do to Save Money,” she shares…

I make my own cleaning supplies instead of buying them. As an added bonus, this means the kids can help clean and I don’t worry about them being exposed to weird chemicals.

 

We make breakfasts ahead of time so nobody has to stop for fast food on the way to work/school.

Check out the other 18 tips! – Click here.

Remember, doing a lot of just a little bit, will save a ton and make a difference.

What About Precious Metals?

There are many out there in the alternative media space that believe when/if the economy crashes, they will become the next millionaire on the block because they have invested in precious metals.

I’m not a financial or precious metals expert.  But what I’ve gathered from trying to take in all the information out there, is that precious metals are a hedge against inflation. Could there be a time when the Biker Mice from Mars invade and our paper money is worthless and all that anyone will exchange or do business in is precious metals?  Could be.  Should you own some precious metals?  Yes, probably.

Although gold would be smaller and easier to physically move, silver might be your best deal right now.   Silver is very undervalued compared to what it costs to come out of the ground. I’m not going to go into a lot of specifics here.  I think that Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse Blog did a good job of explaining all of this in a recent article, Why Investing In Silver Is Vastly Superior To Investing In Gold Right Now.

Conclusion – Time is Ticking

I like my life.  I’m comfortable.  I don’t like thinking that there is a future out there where I won’t be able to afford some of the things that I enjoy, much less, not be able to afford some of the things that are necessary, like medicine and medical procedures because they are too expensive.  I don’t like what this all implies for my kids!  But, that is why we prep!  That is why we sacrifice a little now because we see what could possibly be in the future.  Dave Ramsey has a saying that goes, “Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else.”  Time is ticking, get your finances in order!

For more ways to save money, check out the Frugal Living and DIY pages on Prepper Website!

You can also check out the TAG Cloud for saving, savings and frugal.

Peace,
Todd

Peace,

Todd

43 Super-Frugal Tips for Cutting Down on Household Expenses

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cutting down household expensesHome is where the heart is, but for too many of us, it’s also where the debt is and where paychecks go to die. It’s also one area in which small savings steps can really add up and where everyday spending decisions can make a big difference. Here are a few tips that have helped my family get out of debt and stay out for the past 8 years. You can save money on household expenses starting today.

  1. Buy used furniture, but make sure it’s great quality. You’ll have a much better chance of finding high quality furniture at resale and consignment stores. Once you get used to older, well-made furniture, you’ll be shocked by the low quality stuff found at new furniture stores, and the prices will leave you gasping for breath!
  2. Find out when the best discount days are at Goodwill and thrift stores and shop on those days. Ask about discounts for veterans and senior citizens, too. You’ll soon find your own set of favorite thrift stores — those with good prices and excellent quality, gently used clothing and other goods. I also recommend seeking out specialty thrift stores. When you’re in need of baby furniture and kids clothes, a kids-only resale shop will make your shopping easier since you won’t be wading through every other type of merchandise out there.
  3. Before calling a repairman to fix an appliance or a car, look for YouTube videos and do it yourself. Repairclinic.com is a site that sells thousands of parts for such things as lawn mowers, power tools, appliances, and much more. Between the easy ability to get the necessary parts and training videos online, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in repair bills every year.
  4. Your insurance agent won’t thank me for this, but each year, try to get better prices on all your insurance policies. In fact, mark “Insurance Review” on your calendar. Review coverage, deductibles, and ask about discounts you might qualify for. Compare companies, and don’t limit your shopping around to only the Big Names in the insurance business, such as State Farm and Allstate.
  5. Do the same thing with all your other bills: internet/phone packages, cell phone packages, electricity, etc. Be sure to compare not only prices, but features and benefits.
  6. Kids grow quickly, so organize a toy and kid clothing swaps with other moms. This is a true win-win scenario: moms get to socialize, kids get new stuff, and everyone is saving money!
  7. Depending on where you live, this might be tough, but if you can postpone using the air conditioning or heater for as long as possible, you could save a good amount of money in a very short time. Growing up in Phoenix, I know a few tricks about staying cool in hot weather (read my tips here) and staying warm on a cold day requires layers of warm clothing and, perhaps, shutting off rooms that aren’t being used.
  8. Use a space heater and keep the central heat turned down to utilize heat in a way that continues to save money. There’s no need to warm up an entire house when you typically spend most of your daylight hours in just 2 or 3 rooms. Those are the rooms to keep warm.
  9. Consider extreme changes to your lifestyle, such as moving to a much cheaper neighborhood, city, or state. Other extreme steps: selling an expensive house and renting for a while, living with relatives for a while, or in an apartment with utilities included in the rent. Very often, these moves help a family rebound financially, save money, and prepare for moving on with their lives.
  10. Use a magicJack in place of a landline phone and continue to use your landline phone number. You’ll need to buy the magicJack device itself and pay a year’s service fee. Combined, this is under $60, and you can do away with any other landline phone service. Before jumping into the no-landline trend, though, you should know that a power outage will disable all types of plug-in phones, including cordless.
  11. Use plastic grocery bags as liners for small size trash cans. These bags can also be placed over ripening fruit and vegetables to keep the birds away, used as a type of “glove” for picking up dog poop, or as packing material. They’re also handy as a daily compost collector. Just remember to empty the contents each day in your outdoor compost pile!
  12. Stay home more. Every time you go out there are temptations to spend money, but this doesn’t have to mean life becomes unbearably boring. Here’s a list of more than 100 things to do that are free and fun.
  13. Be a one-car family. It will take some getting used to and juggling of schedules sometimes but the savings in insurance, vehicle wear and tear, gas, repairs, etc. will add up. However, before you sell that extra vehicle, park it for a week or two to get an idea of what life will be like once it’s gone forever. How will its loss impact doctor and dentist appointments, school and sports activities, etc.? It’s better to find out now, while you still have that second car!
  14. Begin using cloth diapers, if you have a baby in the family. New styles are easy to use and most moms who make the switch from disposables say they’ll never go back. If you have an adult family member who may need incontinence pads, use baby diapers for their super-absorbency.
  15. Become familiar with what your dollar stores usually stock and when you need those items, go there rather than other retail stores where you’ll pay full price.
  16. Start drying your clothes on a clothesline and wash them cold water.
  17. Unplug electric items when not in use. One homeowner told me that he saved a few hundred dollars per year doing this.
  18. Weatherstrip doors and windows. For just the low cost of some new weatherstripping, you can keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If you’re not sure if a particular window or exterior door needs new weatherstripping, hold a lit candle near its edges. If you see the flame flicker, air is coming through the cracks around the door or window.
  19. Buy next year’s clothing at end of the year clearance sales. This is particularly helpful with higher priced items like winter coats and cold-weather boots.
  20. Gradually replace lightbulbs with LEDs. My electrician husband swears by LED bulbs.
  21. Run the dishwasher right after dinner and set a timer for when the washing cycle has ended and the drying begins. When the timer goes off, open the dishwasher door and let the dishes dry overnight.
  22. Go for long hairstyles and get a trim twice a year. Some stylists claim that a long hairstyle is more youthful!
  23. While your kids are young, learn how to cut their hair. If you mess up a bit, hey, they won’t even notice, and by the time they’re old enough to care, your skills will be advanced!
  24. Cut back or eliminate expensive activities for kids. Find cheaper or free alternatives – classes at Home Depot, REI, Cabela’s, Minecraft classes online, the library, and so much more. Remember what your own childhood was like, with far fewer extracurricular activities, lessons, and busy schedules? There’s a good chance that your imagination thrived and you turned out okay. So will your kids.
  25. Gas prices go up and down, but try to get in the habit of walking or riding a bike on nearby errands. Carpool when you can. Not only will this save on gas but also on the wear and tear of your vehicle. Add the health benefits of walking or bicycling, and it’s a winning combination.
  26. Stay away from stores that tempt you most. They have such an enormous variety of products that you’re bound to find something you absolutely need — or do you??
  27. If you need money in a hurry, go through one or two rooms of your house, garage, and/or attic, and look for items you no longer need, want, can’t wear, etc and sell them on a local Facebook page, Craigslist, etc. This is quicker than a garage sale, with no need to set up or price items.
  28. Grow a garden. Even an herb garden is a huge, frugal help if you regularly buy fresh herbs for recipes. Watch your expenses, though, because store-bought mulch, fertilizer, seeds, supplies to build boxes, etc. add up quickly.
  29. Begin your own compost pile out in the backyard. It’s a great way to enrich your soil, with no expense at all.
  30. Knit dish cloths from inexpensive cotton yarn. You can make several from just one large ball of yarn. These make great gifts as well, and it’s a great way for kids to learn this useful skill.
  31. Don’t know how to knit? Learn this skill and hundreds of others on YouTube! Free training and, in many cases, even the supplies are extremely cheap.
  32. Ditch napkins and paper towels Use small washcloths for napkins instead. You’ll be using these for years, versus continually buying the paper products.
  33. Make inexpensive homemade cleaning solutions from vinegar, baking soda, small amounts of liquid soap, and so on. For years, I used just vinegar and water to clean my stained concrete floors. You can’t beat that for being frugal!
  34. Cut up old t-shirts for cleaning cloths and save old, worn-out towels for really messy jobs, such as cleaning up after pet accidents or wiping up anything that might stain one of your nicer towels. I keep a large stack of these towels in a cabinet in my laundry room, handy for all the uh-ohs that occur on a regular basis.
  35. During cold weather, wear layers around the house, socks, and turn the heat down.
  36. Collect blankets and use them to cover windows, doorways, and add triple and quadruple layers of warmth to beds! I always keep blankets handy in our living and family rooms.
  37. Never buy new vehicles. Ever. Let someone else drive that brand new car or truck out of the dealer’s showroom and enjoy the quick depreciation in value! You can lurk in the background, waiting for them to grow tired of their shiny new toy, either sell it or trade it in, and then you can leap into action, grabbing that vehicle at a huge discount.
  38. Maintain your vehicles with regular oil changes, keep the tires inflated, and take care of minor issues before they become budget-destroying expenses. This becomes especially important when you want to sell your used vehicle.
  39. Don’t postpone visits to the dentist and taking care of small cavities. Dental problems can become very expensive if ignored.
  40. Do your workouts at home, not a gym. Sooner or later, you’ll grow tired of the trips to the gym but will probably forget to cancel your membership. This will result in paying for something you aren’t using.
  41. If you have pets, find the best priced pet insurance. It may make the difference between saying goodbye too soon to a beloved pet and being able to afford expensive medical treatment.
  42. Ask doctors for samples of pharmaceutical medicines. Many are willing to do this — no problem at all. Not only will it help you to know if you’ll have any negative reactions to the medication before buying it, you’ll also save money. Years ago when we didn’t have health insurance, my husband’s doctor gave him a supply of one prescription for over a year.
  43. Do your own yard work and housecleaning, or pay the kids to do it. Be sure to thoroughly teach them how you want the job to be done. This is vital to developing their work ethic, attention to detail, and ability to follow directions. If you don’t believe in paying kids to do household chores (above and beyond their typical duties), then don’t!

Here are even more resources to help you save money!

cutting down household expenses

Don’t Make These 4 Financial Mistakes!

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common financial mistakesThere are a few issues rarely mentioned on popular survival blogs and forums, and one of them is finances. A discussion of everyday carry, best household defense weapon, or bug out locations will have thousands of responses, but finances? Yeah, silence.

The health of any household rests on financial stability and it makes sense that a serious prepper would take financial survival just as seriously as any other survival component. That’s smart prepping and smart living, regardless of future events.

In my current work on a financial survival book, working title: The Frugal Family’s Almanac, I realized just how frugal I am, with my main splurges being restaurant meals when I’m too busy to shop for groceries! However, as a small business owner, I’ve made plenty of financial blunders over the years and have had to learn some difficult lessons the hard way on our journey toward financial survival. From my own experiences, here are 5 that have had the most impact on me and my family.

1. Not tracking expenses for tax purposes

I’ve written about the importance of staying on top of taxes, but over the years, I have a less than stellar record in this particular area. When you have a young family, homeschool, and run a business, inevitably something important falls through the cracks and a few times, it was the records I kept for my quarterly and annual tax reports.

Panic-stricken, I would shuffle through manila envelopes filled with miscellaneous receipts, track down check book registers, and comb through 12 months of bank statements and scattered mileage records. Those harried scenes could have been avoided if I had used a system for organizing receipts and jotting down mileage and expenses, I could have sailed through each and every tax season with ease.

Fortunately, my tax professional, Suzanne, was not only highly competent but ever so patient with me and my last-minute drop-offs at her front door.

2. Not staying in touch with Suzanne throughout the year

If you have an accountant or have used a tax service, such as BlockAdvisors, you are probably in touch with them only once or twice a year. That was my relationship with Suzanne, until I wised up.

One year she phoned us, late on April 13, and asked us questions about home improvements we had made the prior year. She explained that we hadn’t reported anything to her in that category but high-ticket improvements to our home were tax deductible. My husband and I quickly scrambled to find documents for the updated lighting and new flooring we had installed ourselves, we saved a bit on taxes, and learned that contact with Suzanne was something we needed to do throughout the year, not just the first week of each April.

When our move to Texas was a sure thing, I got in touch with her regarding any tax issues I might need to deal with in Arizona. She advised me on the need to, ahem!, keep records of our move since many of them would become tax deductions.

If you have a tax professional and they have proved themselves to be smart, reliable, and up to date with everything tax related, I encourage you to stay in touch with them, especially if you anticipate any of these events in the coming year:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a child or adopting one
  • Start a business
  • Change jobs
  • Searching for a job
  • Retiring
  • Moving
  • Inheriting money or property
  • A tax audit
  • Bankruptcy
  • Home foreclosure or short sale

3. Underestimating our taxes owed

If you are an employee of a company and only file a W-9 form with the IRS, you will never know the joy that comes with figuring your own taxes and paying them directly to the federal government. Since my husband and I have both owned businesses over the past 20 years, we get to experience this multiple times each year.

Some years I underestimated my earnings and taxes owed. Trust me, you never want to be surprised with a huge tax payment, even if you have a healthy amount of savings set aside. Before we connected with our own tax professional who could give us reliable tax advice, we were just winging it, and two years in a row, I cried when faced with several thousands of dollars owed. My bad.

And, it’s not just underestimating taxes that causes problems. Underestimating the cost of health insurance, the financial impact of insurance deductibles, miscellaneous expenses related to our kids sports and school activities, and the list goes on.

Now, I keep track of earnings, estimated taxes, and over-estimate how much money we’ll need, and that’s where a focused savings plan comes into play.

4. Not establishing saving money as a top priority sooner

When we became serious about preparing for an uncertain future, it was obvious that financial stability was going to be a part of those preps. At that time, we got serious about cutting down on expenses, finding ways to earn more money, and then saving as a priority. It made sense to me that another significant downturn in the economy, from “minor” to a complete collapse, required us to have no outstanding debt, money in the bank, and multiple sources of income.

Now, as soon as any money hits our bank account, I transfer as much as I can into savings. Now, that isn’t a way to get rich, since savings accounts pay virtually no interest, but it’s important to have enough liquid cash on hand for emergencies and that “6 month living expenses” financial advisers recommend.

I just wish we had started all this a few years sooner.

What did I do right?

I’ve made plenty of mistakes with managing finances, but I always had one Ace in the hole. I’ve always, always had a side gig. When I was a trainer for a large school district, I started a direct sales business. That business became so successful that I was able to quit my school job. As time passed, I started The Survival Mom blog and that income allowed me to leave direct sales. Now that I have a successful internet-based business, my next side gig is going to be teaching others how to blog for profit.

READ MORE: “3 Strategies to Making More Money from Your Side Gig

Improving your own financial survival will always be about saving a little more, spending a little less, and earning a little, or a lot, more. There are no shortcuts. Professionals can come alongside you, such as those at BlockAdvisors, with information and assistance throughout the year.

Disclosure: BlockAdvisors compensated me for my research and writing this article. 

common financial mistakes

18 Tips for Enjoying a Frugal Lifestyle

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frugal lifestyle tips

Frugality.

Penny-pinching.

Thriftiness.

Frugal lifestyle tips.

Do any of these words bring to mind a lifestyle full of joy and freedom? Oddly, they don’t. Instead, they bring to mind images of Scrooge and dreary, turn-of-the-century London slums. (Not sure why that last image comes to mind, but it does. Possibly from reading Oliver Twist!)

For those of us who do live lives of frugality, penny-pinching, and, yes, thriftiness, the reality is quite different. My family has been debt free for many years, with only a house payment and utilities as our expenses. While we aren’t exactly rolling in dough, neither are we over-burdened with stuff and all the responsibilities that come from owning too much stuff.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years and a handful on my own To Do list:

  1. Give yourself a cash allowance every week or month and when the money is gone, it’s gone. Even having $10-20 and knowing you can spend it on ANYTHING YOU LIKE, adds some fun to the month. This will help you avoid those moments of self-pity when it feels like you never get to treat yourself to something special, and then, when you do spend, you know the money is there and there’s no stress about whether or not you can afford it.
  2. Check your banking account online often. Look for unauthorized expenses and those little expenses that can add up quickly. It helps you feel like you’re in control when you know exactly how much money is in your account and where it’s going and if there are any fraudulent charges, you can contact the bank immediately.
  3. Find friends who also want to live a frugal lifestyle, rather than with people who have expensive tastes. If you hang out with people who absolutely must have the latest technical gadget the day it comes out and they spend money like it’s water, pretty soon you’ll begin to do the same, or you’ll end up feeling depressed when you don’t spend. Who needs that additional stress?
  4. Have no spend days. Once you are able to go 1, 2, 3, and 4 days without spending a dime, then challenge yourself and your family to a full week of no spending.
  5. If one member of the family is more frugal, more of a saver, send THEM to the store with a list. They’ll be more likely to stick to the list and avoid impulse buys. If I run to the store to buy 4 things, you’d better believe I come home with 30 or 40. My penny-pinching daughter?  She’ll stick to that list like white on rice!
  6. Make saving money a game. What are the very cheapest meals you can make? If you spent $500 on groceries this month, can you spend $475 next month and $450 the next?
  7. On Sundays, sit down with your family and plan your spending for the week. Know what you will need to buy and this helps avoid buying things you don’t need. This will also help surprise expenses that the kids might spring on you at the last moment, such as fees for school activities.
  8. If possible, have a set amount of money automatically deposited from your paycheck into your savings account. There’s a very good chance you’ll never miss it. If you don’t make a point of saving money on purpose, it will never happen. Use this 52 Weeks Savings Plan, too.
  9. Carry cash for your spending money. It’s harder to spend it than it is to swipe a card. Those plastic debit and credit card remove you from the actual transition of cash. After all, it’s just a swipe, right?
  10. Take advantage of pre-tax Health Savings Accounts and employer contributions to a 401K, if those are offered by your job. Every benefit offered by your company, even if it’s just a bag of coffee beans per month as offered by Starbucks to their employees, is there for the taking. (By the way, Starbucks is an excellent employer. Review their benefits here.)
  11. Keep track of your financial progress: savings, debt repayment, mortgage/car pay offs, etc. This is so motivating — and get the family involved. Right now, my own family is saving up for an extensive vacation, and we have savings goals for each month. Not surprisingly, both kids are eager to get summer jobs, so they can add to the kitty!
  12. Use tax returns strategically: pay off debt, use it as your emergency fund, divide it by 12 and use it toward a monthly expense, etc. If you normally get this little “windfall” from the IRS, give yourself at least 3-4 weeks before spending it, a “cooling off period,” if you will. That will give you time to prioritize expenses and decide how much you want to set aside in savings.
  13. Watch your attitude and be grateful for what you have. It’s easy to become discouraged and even depressed when money is tight, but our grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through the Great Depression not only survived but many of them have said those were the best days of their lives. Why? Certainly not because they had every creature comfort and a huge bank balance, but because it was a time of families and communities pulling together, encouraging one another, and finding creative ways to make the most of what they had. If they could do it, you can, too!
  14. Stay away from malls and stores! You can’t pray, “Lead me not into temptation”, and expect to not be lured by tantalizing merchandise in stores and your favorite mall!
  15. Do the same for your kids. They are immersed in messages that tell them they must own certain items, dress a certain way, emulate one celebrity or another and spending time at malls and stores will only further drive home the message that happiness and acceptance by others can only come by spending money. Not a good foundation for their adult years.
  16. Spoil your kids with things that don’t cost much, if any, money – story time with mom, a trip to the dog park, story time at the library, “Hot Chocolate Night”, etc. This is when it really pays to keep track of restaurants and fast food joints that have “kids eat free” days. Combine that with a special night out for just you and one of the kids, and that’s a really inexpensive way to make your kid feel like a million bucks. In our house, we call this, “Girls Night Out” and “Guys Night Out.”
  17. Know the difference between needs and wants and make sure everyone in the family understands this, adults included! When my son has a long list of things he absolutely must have, I have him list each of them on a separate PostIt note and put them on the fridge. A few days later, I ask, “Is there anything on that list you don’t really want or need, after all?” One by one, the PostIts come off the fridge as he realizes he was just acting on impulse. If there’s something left after 3 or 4 weeks, he then begins saving money to buy it.
  18. Sign up to become a mystery shopper. This is a tricky way to get a nice meal out and be reimbursed. I’ve done mystery shopping for several companies over the years. It’s not the easy, get-rich-quick job that some claim, but once you get in with a few companies, you can pick and choose which jobs to take. Now, I only, and very occasionally, shop my absolute favorite high-end restaurant. For a $45 gift card to that same restaurant, it’s not a bad investment of my time!

frugal lifestyle tips

Self-Sufficiency Techniques That Keep You Protected and Ready for Anything

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Making it on one’s own is becoming more difficult as each day passes. However, millions of people are still able to pull it off. The key to successful self-sufficiency is to have several things set in motion to avoid an unexpected crash. The following are four tips that can help the self-sufficient person to stay afloat:

Work More Than One Job

Versatility is one of the most crucial attributes that a self-sufficient person can have. It is never good to have all of one’s eggs in one basket because unexpected events may occur. For example, a temporary “gold mine” of a job or craft may crumble without warning. The person can then fall into a financial pit of despair if he or she does not have a backup source of income. The self-sufficient person should always have a secondary craft to jump into if things don’t go will in the other one.

Pad the Savings Account

The next most valuable tip for a self-sufficient person is to pad the savings account at all times. The weekly or biweekly donation does not have to be large, as it will continue to grow regardless. After a few months, the person will have accumulated enough to make a difference if something comes up in the last minute. Padding the savings account gives the person a sense of security in difficult times. The individual knows that he or she can go directly to the savings account if an emergency of some kind occurs.

Indumil-Cordova.jpg
By Indumil – Industria Millitar Colombiana -INDUMIL, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44283211

Purchase a Handgun

A gun is a good object to have in the home if the person is living alone. A gun can help defend the home or the office against burglaries and intrusions. The person can purchase a gun safe to keep the gun from being mishandled by visitors, children or invaders. Professionals, like those at Southern California Security Centers, know that having a safe to keep your gun in has many advantages. Gun safes come in all shapes, sizes and configurations.

Purchase Disability Insurance

The last tip for maintaining security in self-sufficiency is insurance. Disability insurance is one of the most important policies that a person can buy. Disability insurance is something that can help an individual in a case of an unforeseen illness or injury that lasts more than a few weeks. Disability insurance can help the person to maintain the bills while he or she is recovering from the condition. The insurance does not cost much, and it is well worth the expense for the solo person who is just getting by in this life.

The previously mentioned tips are key tips that can assist the self-sufficient person in reaching a maximum state of security and comfort. The person can develop additional tips from these tips.

Written by Rachelle Wilber

Four Family Related Disasters Your Should Prepare For

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firedpreparing for the things that are more likely to happen to you such as a job loss, a long illness or broken bone. Other things to prepare for is a divorce, death of a loved one including a pet. It is the day-to-day things that we need to prepare for first before preparing for the large events such as a EMP, global economic collapse or some other national or global event.

The post Four Family Related Disasters Your Should Prepare For appeared first on Vigil Prudence.

December deals bring the year to a close

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52 weeks savings plan December

This is the final month of the 52 Weeks Savings Plan!

The year ends with a month full of celebrations and deals. Remnants of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday may be found at the beginning of the month, which then moves to Hanukkah starting on Dec. 6, Winter Solstice on the 22nd, Christmas (25), Kwanzaa (26) and New Year’s Eve (31). Not to mention holiday festivities, get-togethers and winter weather all month long. Here are some of the things you could find deals on this month:

Grocery deals

There will be deals on feast items for post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas and post-Christmas. Discounts will vary, but you’ll find them both before and after each holiday. You will find the following on sale: Ham, turkey, butter, spices, dried fruit, baking supplies like flour, sugar and yeast, cheese, pie crusts and dough, pies and filling, nuts, cake mixes and frosting, oatmeal and soda. Holiday specialty items like eggnog, cider, gravy, stuffing and boxed potatoes will also be on sale. If you do a lot of baking year-round, stock up on those ingredients, both from scratch ingredients and mixes.

TIP: You’ll almost certainly end up with leftover ham and/or turkey. Read my tips for putting those leftovers to work in creative and delicious ways.

Another food item on sale in December is canned goods, which can help stock up a personal food pantry or the local food pantry to help those in need. You will see sales on soup, canned meat, vegetables and sauces. These are all worth buying for stocking-up purposes as canned foods, when kept in a cool location, have a very long shelf life.

Produce in season for the winter can vary by location. However, citrus fruits, winter squash, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and turnips are in season. Putting nuts and citrus fruit together in a basket can make a great gift.

You will also see deals on champagne as it gets close to the end of the month for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Since champagne has a shelf life of at least 5 years, stock up and cheers!

Household deals

There may still be some Thanksgiving and fall decorations, crafts and table setting items on sale that can be used for other occasions during the year or for next year. There should be deals on disposable baking pans and plastic wrap so you can stock up on that for the kitchen. Foil is a great thing to have on hand for outside cooking. There will also be some deals on cookware and kitchen appliances. Stores know people will be doing a lot of cooking and will try to lure them into the store with those deals.

For electronics, December is a great time to find deals on TVs, computers, cellphones, camcorders, GPS units, and many electronics in general. Anything with a camera or video camera can be very useful when you need to document household inventory for insurance or if there is any damage to your home or property. Computers and tablets are great places to stock up on reference books and PDFs. December is also a great time to stock up on batteries for electronics (put some in the bug out bags, too).

TIP: Stores often try to get rid of showroom models at the end of the year to make room for new inventory. Ask if there are any showroom models available for purchase.

For gifts, a lot of jewelry is on sale in December. You can also find toys, gift sets and board games. Restaurants that have gift cards offer some great deals, too, such as buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 one free. You may also find some deals by visiting local craft fairs. Sometimes, they may offer you items that aren’t necessarily cheaper than a store, but could save you shipping and it supports people in your local economy.

Winter clothes and coats start going on sale in December in a lot of places because people already have their coats set for the season. Consider buying the next size up if you have children or get some extras to stash in vehicles or bug out containers.

If you are considering fixing up your house, this is the month to buy carpeting, flooring and tools. Some tools, such as hammers and shovels, are great to keep in a vehicle for the winter season. Can you really ever have enough tools, and they make great gifts.

Thrift stores often have discounted items over the holidays as they see more things coming into their stores. Many people would rather donate items than sell them during the holidays due to weather and lack of time, and some people are selling off unwanted items via Craigslist or consignment stores in order to raise a little extra cash for their own holiday spending.

Outside the home

Outdoor sports equipment is on sale during winter since it’s out of season. Think your children might join soccer in the summer? Buy the gear now. Pools, pool gear and golf equipment should all have some good discounts. Outdoor patio equipment, including gas grills, are in the same boat. Cooking with a gas grill can be a great backup cooking method for when you face a possible power outage.

Cars, motorcycles and bicycles are also on sale in December. Check out the deals at a local dealership this month if you think you need a new or replacement car. Make sure it can fit everything your family needs in case you ever need to evacuate. Bicycles are another alternative if you had to leave your home and the roads or damaged.

TIP: You may not be thinking “emergency evacuations” right now, but winter is a common time for power outages and devastating storms. Check out my newest book, all about this topic!

If you are in the market for a house, the winter months can create motivated sellers. There is sometimes a drop in people looking for homes during the winter because it’s cold and they would rather not move during the school year. Take advantage and see if you can find someone who has been trying to sell since the summer. Families with children are in a hurry to move and get their kids settled into a new school, so if you are pre-qualified and can move quickly, you may end up in the house of your dreams!

Travel

You can find travel deals in December by thinking of where most people want to go in the summer. Look at beach locations for a great deal. Weddings get cheaper in the fall and winter as most people try to have spring and summer weddings. We personally got a great deal for our honeymoon with a stay at a 5-star resort because it was a few days before Christmas and it was their slow season.

You can sometimes find good airfare prices for travel between Thanksgiving and Dec. 20 because most people stay home between the holidays.

December events

Did you know there are occasional “Leap Seconds” added to the official year? On December 31, 2015, the folks who maintain the official time for the planet will add an extra second to the day.

Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:

1 – Eat a red apple day

7 – Cotton candy day

8 – Brownie day

9 – Pastry day

13 – Ice cream day

16 – Chocolate-covered anything day

17 – Maple Syrup day

18 – Bake cookies day

19 – Oatmeal muffin day

24 – Chocolate day

25 – Pumpkin pie day

27 – Fruitcake day

Winter tips to help your 52 Weeks Savings Plan

This is also the time of year when food and toy drives kick off. There are many people in need around us. If you find a good deal, it can be a good idea to pass it along to someone who needs it more.

Some family winter activities that don’t cost a lot of money are going to see Christmas lights in different neighborhoods, go on a walk while drinking hot chocolate, have snowman building contest and see what local festivals and tree lighting events are in your area. One year we printed out certificates labeled, “Best Christmas Lights”, “Most Creative Christmas Lights” and “Best Religious Display”, rode our bikes through our neighborhood one night, and awarded those certificates to unsuspecting neighbors!

There is one month left to make deposits in retirement accounts, decide how to spend health savings account money and make donations for a tax write-off.

If you followed the 52 Weeks Savings Plan, you will have $1,378 by the end of the month – congratulations! If you haven’t been able to put that amount away, be proud of what you did save this year and start planning for next year. Saving money can take some planning and determination, but it can be done!

TIP: Make a list of all the presents you plan to give in the next year and keep an eye our all year for possible gifts when there are deals rather than buying something at full price at the last minute. Think of holidays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, teacher thank yous and hostess gifts, along with birthdays and Christmas.

Learn more…

  • Check out my monthly series of past articles, “52 Weeks Savings”, with discounts, bargains, and deals for each month of the year. Here’s a sample month for June’s best bargains.
  • Learn more about the 52 Weeks Savings Challenge here and customize it to your own income and circumstances with these tips.
  • Join Survival Mom’s 52 Weeks Savings Club on Facebook. We’re over 2500 members and going strong!
  • Dave Ramsey has solid advice for taking control of your finances. I recommend his basic book, The Total Money Makeover for an easy-to-follow plan and a quick, motivational read.

Sewing to Save While Times Are Tough

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No matter which country, state, or city you live in, many may be experiencing hard economic times. Experts report that things are expected to get worse before they get better. With many struggling to put food on the family tables or clothes on their backs, they are putting more thought into how they can still enjoy their hobbies without spending their life savings. If sewing or crafting is your hobby and you find that fabric and notions are quite expensive, here are a few tips and pointers that will ease the burden on the pocketbook.

1. Recycle. Before throwing out clothes that are too small, showing signs of wear, or aren’t the latest style, think about how you can repurpose the item. Zippers, buttons, and elastic can all be used again and may be just the perfect match for future endeavors.

2. Use up what you have. Most people who sew have accumulated fabrics over time through bargains, coupons, or the fabric that you just couldn’t live without. Dig through your stash and revive those fabrics, patterns, and pattern books that have been accumulating dust and use this opportunity to be creative.

3. Take advantage of bargains and coupons from sewing centers and websites to purchase patterns and designs that you have been eyeing for months. Check the clearance corners for phenomenal deals on fabrics and other items. Thrift stores, garage sales and exchanging with friends can turn up fabulous sewing finds. However, thread is something that you will want to pass on at garage sales or thrift stores, as thread weakens over time and will not produce quality stitches.

4. Freebies. Free items are always the best! The internet is a treasure trove of free patterns and tutorials. You just need to be willing to hunt and search for them. Pinterest is the latest and greatest site to find ideas, patterns, tutorials and numerous other visions.

5. Used sewing machines are a great way to get started. You don’t need a machine that costs more than your car until you see if you enjoy the hobby and are creative and capable to follow-through and finish projects. You may lose interest which also means your investment is lost. The more simple the machine, the less to break or go wrong. And simple machines can last for many years.

6. Do your own alterations. Simple alterations can make ready-to-wear clothing fit much better by adding simple darts and seams to blouses, dresses, and pants. Hemming pants or making simple dresses can be very beneficial to a budget. Introducing the craft of sewing at a young age can also be advantageous because there is less intimidation of a sewing machine and a sense of accomplishment when your project is complete boosts self-esteem.

7. Be resourceful. Thrift stores are phenomenal sources for fabric. For instance, menswear has become a huge trend in home décor items. Items such as a plain or pinstripe men’s shirts can be made into a cute throw pillow or a white canvas crafted into a couch slipcover. Buttons and zippers can be removed from old clothing to save on the cost of sewing notions. Bed sheets can be used for pattern making, and oftentimes garage sales have bags of fabric and other items for a few dollars.

8. Enroll in sewing classes, tutorials, or teach yourself. Many sewing centers offer classes for all levels and often give discounted rates with the purchase of a sewing machine. It is important, however, to remember that there are many free online sewing tutorials to view. Once you learn the basics, you may be able to teach yourself.

9. Buy basic and embellish. Buy a simple shirt at your discount store and embellish to fit with the times. Beads, buttons, and ribbons can do wonders in making something look flashy, classy and up-to-date.

10. Sew your basic needs. We all need a few basic accessories such as scarves, hats, towels, blankets, and mittens. If you find discounted fabric, you can make a blanket in 15 minutes or less and, if the fabric is durable and of good quality, it will last for many years. Make up some items to give as gifts or re-engineer some older stained shirts or jeans into a t-shirt or blue jean quilt and gift it as something they will treasure and use for many years to come.

So, instead of always stepping out for retail therapy, try a creative, crafty therapy instead. Create your own clothes or household items. Buy from thrift stores and make an old drab shirt come to life again, or snip and stitch for an afternoon and make up some Christmas gifts for your sister-in-law, mother, husband, or kids.
It’s a tough world out there and a penny saved is a penny earned. As an alternative to spending your afternoon shopping at the Gap for the perfect color of a t-shirt, reclaim your fabrics, fashion-forward and embellish your garments for the latest retro fit and design. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll save money while you energize yourself with some creative juices. Who can argue with that?

FabricFast.com is an online fabric store featuring collections of quilting fabric, flannel fabric, specialty fabric, notions and batting.

Episode 76 Debt Is Slavery

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Debt is Slavery

Debt is Slavery

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Debt is Slavery

This week we tackle the issue of Debt. How debt enslaves you. How freeing it can be to escape from under debt. Mike and I both have become debt free at fairly young ages.

We share some tips on how to get free. How to stay free from debt. Also we talk about some frugal tips.

 

 

Links

Deadly DIY Guns Hit Sydney Streets

Bills To Legalize Weed

Slavery Of Debt

 

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