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Thursday, July 24

The $1000 Challenge

This series will follow one woman as she attempts to cut $1000 off of her monthly budget to put towards getting out of debt. Can she do it? #budgeting #savemoney

Ladies, I have a very special series that I am introducing today. A few months ago I asked my dear readers if they would like to hear more about budgeting, something I had never really written about before but thought was important to discuss because as a housewife we are often the main spenders in our household. The vote for a budget series was an overwhelming yes, but the problem I ran into was my household finances are vastly different than the average person reading this blog. I thought it would be better to hear from someone who struggles with both debt and tighter funds than I do because the lessons learned can be applied to a wider variety of readers.

 So I asked Raki Wright at Outside The Box Mom to come join my Team Glamorous Housewife as the Budgeting Expert. Raki’s blog has a lot of great advice on saving money and I thought she would be the perfect person to discuss all things related to debt and household expenses. I thought it would be fun if she read the book “The $1,000 Challenge” and tried to follow the author’s advice on squeezing out a grand from her monthly expenses. Being a woman who loves a challenge, Raki accepted. So please, will you all welcome Raki to The Glamorous Housewife and both learn from and enjoy her experience as she tries to get out of debt and live free.

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 budget 2

Are you willing to put your family’s spending to the test? Do you think it’s possible to cut your monthly living expenses by $1,000 without sacrificing anything truly important? In Brian J. O’Connor’s book “The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese,” the author did just that by trimming $100 from each of his family’s top 10 spending categories.

Brian challenged readers to look at all of their monthly costs using bank statements and recurring monthly bills. His suggestion was to trim regular expenditures, instead of ones you were emotionally tied to. If you cut your monthly expenses, you will experience that savings month after month. The author wanted to give his family some luxuries regardless of whether he had received a raise. He completed this experiment over the course of 10 weeks.

Brian’s word of caution – “Your goal probably won’t — and shouldn’t — be $1,000. I chose that number because it made a good headline. But whether your goal is $500 a month, $200 a month or $50, the idea is the same: Cut your current spending as deep as you want or need to go. Focus on your biggest recurring monthly expenses. Finally, redirect that cash at your financial goals.”

After reading the book, I feel optimistic that I could find significant savings on many of my family’s monthly expenses with research and an intentional plan.

I have a large debt I’m trying to pay off, so this savings will immediately be put to use. By nature, I am very thrifty. However, with a busy family and even busier work schedule, I can easily get sucked into spending too much on conveniences and allow expenses to increase each month without much thought.

drowning from debt

My relationship with debt began in 1996, my freshman year of college, with a free t-shirt from American Express and a $500 credit limit. Almost 20 years later, I still have hefty student loans, payments on financed purchases, and lingering debt from things long-gone. I guess I never really got the concept of paying cash or using credit responsibly. The good news is that I don’t have any credit cards or auto loans.

Being in debt feels overwhelming, suffocating, discouraging, and sometimes hopeless. I compare it to nearly drowning in the ocean. Imagine that you are swimming, but have become overwhelmed by the waves, the water suffocates the oxygen out of your body, the tide gets stronger, and there is no help in sight. That’s how being in debt feels. As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:7,  “the borrower is slave to the lender.”

Is my long-term goal to live debt free? I’m not certain. I think I’m okay with having a mortgage, but beyond that I plan to limit my use of credit, in the future.

I’m bold – my goal is to save $1,000 each month by the end of the experiment.

That is the exact amount I wanted to pay toward this debt before the opportunity to write this series presented itself to me - which I believe is further evidence that this experiment will work. I am working today to pay for something I used yesterday, instead of saving for what I would like to do tomorrow.

lifesaver

I call the large debt I need to pay off the “Lifeboat Fund.” My goal is to use any savings I am able to create during this experiment to pay down that debt – hopefully by the end of next year. I have a few smaller debts that I am paying off this year. I will use that extra cash to pay on the Lifeboat Fund. Dave Ramsey calls this a “debt snowball,” as you pay off the smallest debt first and apply that debt’s normal payment to the next debt, to create the greatest momentum.

Over the next 10 months, our series will cover:

  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Kid Costs
  • Work Expenses
  • Personal Spending
  • Entertainment
  • Life Insurance
  • Groceries
  • Housing
  • Miscellaneous

The first category of expenses I reviewed were my transportation costs – car payments, insurance, taxes, maintenance, repairs, licensing, gas, etc. Part 2 will be in a few weeks and we will see if I was able to trim $100 from my monthly transportation expenses.

Have you ever made significant cuts to your transportation expenses? Share your savings strategies, questions and tips in the comments.

 

Thursday, July 24

Inspired Summer #34: Write down all of your anxieties and then destroy it

anxiety

Worry. It is something we all have to deal with. I am a woman’s woman and have a lot of women friends. Always have. And one of the things that I see in women that I find most detrimental, especially when we have kids, is our ability to take the smallest concern and dwell on it. For hours. I have written about worry before because I think it is really important to take that quality in ourselves and curtail it. But how? Well here is my technique on getting rid of my worries. It works for me and maybe it will work for you as well.

First of all, I schedule time to worry. I know that sounds crazy, but I swear it works. Usually that time is right after I turn out the lights to go to bed. I always have a million things running through my head, and they all seem to be partying right when I am trying to fall asleep. So what I do is let myself worry about every single thing for about ten minutes. I dwell, I concern, I anguish, I mull and I go through every computation on every scenario I can’t get out of my head. For ten minutes. Then in my imagination, I take all of those thoughts and I put them into a balloon. I imagine myself letting go of that balloon and floating gently into the sky. And then I take out my imaginary shotgun and I blast that balloon to smithereens! I know it sounds funny, but it just feels so good to destroy it! I can see all the bits and pieces of balloon and worries fall down like rain, and then I imagine myself turning my back on them and walking away.

If that sounds a bit crazy, trust me, I swear it works. But for those of you who prefer a less weird thing to do, I suggest taking a period of time, like the aforementioned ten minutes, and write down everything that is worrying you. Just put it all down on paper. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just emote onto the paper. Then, when you are finished, take that paper and destroy it. Maybe you can carefully burn it in the fireplace. Or rip that paper to shreds. Or better yet, if you have a paper shredder, enjoy it as you watch your worries getting eaten by the blades. By taking the worries and moving them from your imagination to paper, you are essentially clearing your mind’s clutter. And then destroying your worries gives you the power over them, not the other way around. It might take a few days, or a few weeks, but eventually you will see your perception clearing and your worries will eventually get smaller and smaller.

If you have a technique on dealing with worry, let me know in the comments. I would love to see how others deal with this issue.

Wednesday, July 23

Inspired Summer #33: Give someone a gift, just because

Woman holding wrapped gift in studio, (B&W), portrait

Have you ever been in a store and thought, “oh so and so would love that!”? But then instead of buying it you just move on with your day? Well this time I think you should go ahead and purchase it, wrap it up, and then give it to them ‘just because‘! Who doesn’t love getting random gifts? I mean I get excited when the UPS guy shows up on my door and that is for something I bought for myself! It is even better when I get a present from someone totally unexpectedly! Now I will admit, I happen to be a horrible gift giver. I have a bad habit of really believing someone will love whatever it is I bought, and then when they unwrap it,  I can see it in their eyes they don’t love it. I don’t exactly know why that is, but it is something I have worked on through the years. One of my writers did a great post a while back on how to select the perfect gift, and I have taken her advice to heart. So the next time you see something a friend would love, just buy it and give it to her. Because by brightening up her day, you will also brighten up your own.

Tuesday, July 22

6 Unusual Uses For The Closet

closet

There is an old Jewish tale about a husband and wife who lived in a very small home. They went to their Rabbi and asked him what they should do to make the house bigger. The Rabbi replied they should move their chicken into the house. The couple found this to be strange, but the Rabbi was famous for his wisdom so they did as they were told. But the house still felt so tiny! So they went back to the Rabbi with the same complaint. This time he said to bring in the cow. Again they complied and again the house felt even smaller! This went on until the house was filled with all of the animals from the couple’s barn! Finally the couple had had enough. They pleaded with the Rabbi to help them with their small home. This time the Rabbi told them to move all of their animals back into the barn. Once the beasts were out and the house was cleaned up, the husband and wife looked at each other and smiled. The house felt HUGE without the crowd. The Rabbi had solved their dilemma.

Of course this story is an old funny tale, but I like the sentiment behind it which is to look at your tiny home with new eyes and see how large it actually is. The good news is there are plenty of creative ways to make your home feel bigger, and none of them involve farm animals! They actually all use the closet in an unusual way. Typically the closet is where you  store your things. But what if you need to add an office to your home and there is no place to put it? Why not in the closet? Or what about a new baby? Do they really need an entire room to themselves? No way! The closet is the perfect place to add a crib. Here are six unusual uses for the closet to inspire to you be more creative when looking at how to organize your home.

*Click photo to be taken to the original source.

closet office 2

As someone who has her office in the old smelly basement, this closet desk is like a dream come true! I just adore how beautiful and glamorous the small space is through use of the turquoise wallpaper and white furniture and accessories.

closet craft room

Have you been dying for your own sewing or craft area but don’t have a room to dedicate to your hobby? Why not a closet? I love how this person really used every square inch of space for organizing her supplies.

closet wrapping station

Did you know Tori Spelling’s mother had an entire room dedicated to wrapping gifts? Frankly that seems a bit excessive to me. Instead of a whole room, why not use a closet? You already have to store your wrapping paper and bows somewhere, and this way you can use the top of the dresser for papering your gorgeous gifts.

closet laundry

This picture of a laundry room/closet is totally inspiring what I want to put into my new home. I love how compact it all is! Though in reality I would probably put in closed cabinets because my current laundry room is never that neat and I highly doubt that will change anytime soon.

closet nursery1

Don’t you just adore this little nursery nook? What baby wouldn’t love to sleep in this enchanting closet?

closet fort

If a baby can sleep in the closet, why not older kids? Here the closet has been turned into a bunk bed and fort. This leaves the rest of the room for playtime!

If you have a closet in your home that isn’t getting much use, or is full of stuff you know perfectly well is just garbage you haven’t wanted to deal with throwing out, why not try to use the space in a new and unusual way?

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Tuesday, July 22

Inspired Summer #32: Take your husband out to lunch

S031056

Have you ever surprised your husband at work and taken him out to lunch? If not, then today is the day! I swear it is so much fun! There is something so delightful about showing up unexpectedly to your husband’s office, all dolled up and looking fine, and then essentially going on mid-day date. If you are like me and have been married for a while, I bet you have fallen into an enjoyable, but predictable routine. This will shakes things up a bit! Of course if you husband is a busy man, you should make sure he has an open schedule. Maybe work it out with his assistant to make sure he doesn’t already have something to do. Or if you are trying to save money, instead of going to a restaurant, you could bring in a picnic lunch. The point isn’t the food, it is showing your husband that you miss him and love him and want to make his life more enjoyable. And who wouldn’t want that?

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