Guest Post: Making it Work for a Single Income Family of 3

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Hello readers! I’m Kim and I blog over at HappyPrettyBlog! I am a wife and mom to 1 funny little boy with a new baby on the way in February. Things are about to get a little more hectic around here! I’m normally more of a lifestyle blogger, but when the cute girl who writes this blog asked me to write a guest post for her, how could I resist? I know her and can confirm that her face is, indeed, very cute!

People often comment on how lucky I am to be able to stay home with my son instead of returning to work after my maternity leave was over but luck has very little to do with it. We worked hard, and continue to do so, to make sure that we are able to afford this for our family. I’m channeling my inner Duggar here when I say “It isn’t always easy, but somehow we make it all work!” My husband has a good government job, but is still in the early stages of his career so it’s not like he’s raking in the big money just yet. He has no debt, whereas I have a student line of credit that I’m still paying for. I’m hoping to knock that sucker out within a few years and as I was reading a few of the blogs of regular commenters here, I know that I can learn a few things from all of you!

Here are just a few simple things that we do that help allow me to be a stay at home mom for our family:

  • We do not live above our means. Sure, it would be really nice to have all of life’s little (and big!) extras but it’s not necessary, or smart, for us to do right now. Our priority is for me to be at home so that is what we work to achieve. We could each drive new cars if we wanted to. Instead, we have 1 car (a trusty 2008 Ford Focus) that is completely paid for so we don’t have a car payment to worry about. Why add another payment to the mix when we already have a perfectly good and reliable vehicle?
  • We meal plan as much as we can. Every week when the flyers come out, I take a look and make a list of all the things that are on sale for a really good price. After a few weeks of doing this, you’ll learn what is a good price and what isn’t. It helps to keep track of the things you normally buy and make note of the lowest price you’ve seen it for. If it’s been at that price once, it’ll go down again! So wait for it and stock up when it does! We do this a lot for ground beef. When you’ve got your list of awesome deals, take a look in your fridge, freezer and cupboards and see what you have. Then plan your week of meals according to those things! If you know what you’re going to be eating, you’ll be less likely to splurge on those impulse buys at the grocery store. Something else I like to do is double up when I’m making something that will freeze well, like lasagna. It’s no more work for you to make 2 and then you’ve got 1 to put in the freezer for a day you don’t feel like cooking or for when finances get a little tight.
  • When you need something, check the Dollar Store! You can get some good shit there! Things like ziplock bags, stationary, kitchen accessories, etc are great to get there and much cheaper than at the grocery or department store! And I’ll let you in on a little secret from my days working for a transportation company. When products are packed into a transport truck for delivery, they are packed on pallets and stacked. Sometimes things can get bumpy and maybe a stack of pallets falls over. If there’s one box on the whole stack that gets scratch, often times the whole shipment can’t be sold to the original retailer as “damaged goods” so it is sold to somewhere like the Dollar Store for a discounted price. That’s why you’ll sometimes see brand name items there for really cheap!
  • Make a few extra dollars on things you’re already doing anyway. You may have heard of the app Checkout51 or SnapSaves. There are a list of “offers” each week, and if you buy any of them you just upload a picture of your receipt and your account will be credited. For example, this week on Checkout51, I can get 50 cents back if I buy yogurt which I was already going to buy anyway so why not get some money back? Also on my list, fresh corn for $1 back. That’s actually really good because corn is cheap right now! I also make money from sponsored posts and ads on my blog and I have partnered with Shaklee by sharing non-toxic, concentrated cleaning supplies and healthy nutritional products to make some extra money as well. I don’t include these in our overall income to budget because it’s not the same amount of money every month and we like to use anything that I make for fun extras for our family!

These are just a few tips that help us along the way. I’ve really enjoying trying to gather my thoughts on budgeting and finances and I’m feeling rather inspired to get into more detail about how we deal with money on my blog. It’s been seen as a sort of taboo subject to talk about but I think that maybe part of the problem with young people ending up in so much debt and being financially illiterate these days could be in part due to the fact that we just don’t talk about it enough. Being open about money and being financially in the know could just help future generations plan their own finances more effectively!

Thanks so much for having me today! I’d love it if you’d all pay me a visit over at HappyPrettyBlog so we can get to know each other better!

Keeping Up With The Joneses

I think every personal finance blogger that I follow has written a post about keeping up with the Joneses at one point or another. I had one of those moments at work yesterday….

One of my best friends is in the midst of wrapping up his engineering degree. He’s on the 6+ year plan since he went away for university and goofed off for a few years like many of us do. He has about 4X the student loan debt that I had when I first graduated. Yesterday I was sitting at work typey-typing away and a bill of sale came across my desk….he is buying a brand new 2014 GMC Sierra…. Now you tell me how that works?? How can you owe a ton of money on student loans and think its a great idea to buy a brand new truck for $50,000? I’m driving Jerry until he falls apart! (Jerry is my 2008 Jeep Patriot- whom I bought used). The only reason there is a 2014 GMC sitting in my driveway is because BF’s company pays for it! I admit I got a little jealous when BF got his new truck as well but at least I get to use it haha.

I also see friends going away on tropical vacations down south right after university. Friends of mine (the same friend plus more) just came back from spending 3 weeks traveling around Europe. I didn’t go because I just didn’t have the money. It makes me frustrated to see people who owe more than me getting into more debt. Oh well! I have made a decision to become debt free and I’m sticking to it! I can go to Europe when I can afford it :).

 

 

 

Vacation #2

Hi all! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in a week! Honestly I don’t have any news to report though, everything is on track budget wise and the cottage for this weekend in paid for. We’re headed over to PEI with two other couples for a great long weekend 🙂 (pictures to follow).  I hope to have a guest blogger here on Friday but we’ll see what I can do!

One thing that has been on my mind is opening an account with Tangerine. I have heard nothing but good things about them so far (and honestly the free money is attractive to me!) however I don’t know if I really want to bank with 3 different banks at this point in my debt repayment journey. Do any of you bank with Tangerine? Let me know what you think 🙂

Millenial Cheque Usage

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As some of you may know its hockey registration time for me again this year! I was so excited this year to find out that my league has introduced online registration for players “how convenient!” I thought, “I’ll register with my Visa and then transfer the money over!” I thought. WRONG! I learned that the online registration feature would not be applicable for senior players (ladies 18+). Immediately I thought “oh well, I’ll just send them an email money transfer for my deposit”. WRONG! A lovely little note on the league Facebook page informed me that they would not be allowing email money transfers this year and that deposits should be made by cheque or money order.*HULK SMASH!* 
 I’m 24 years old…I have never had or used cheques other than when I would transfer my parents money and they would write one for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have written many a cheque when I used to work various jobs for my employers, but never personal cheques. I do not want to pay to order cheques and I do not want to pay for a money order! (Maybe Spunky could help me out here with my options). They also had noted they would not be accepting cash until I made a lovely comment about generation y’ers who don’t have or use cheques and they decided they would accept cash at registration nights only but not for the remaining balance. Umm hellooo… my cash will not bounce…my cash is legit, I did not fabricate it in my basement…if you want my money you should take my cash or take my electronic money! With the growing popularity of online and mobile banking, I feel this is how the majority of generation Y does their banking. I was relieved to see feedback from other players who had planned on paying cash or money transfer.

*End Rant*

Over the years I noticed my parents used cheques all the time for registrations, donations, etc…

Do you use cheques? If you do, what do you use them for? ENLIGHTEN ME!

Current Debt as of Aug18/14

It’s that time of the month again (ewww guyssss…not THAT time…). Debt update day!!

Debt as of August 18, 2014

Student Loan- $0

Visa- $4,262.03

Student Line of Credit- $9,196.40

TOTAL: 13,458.43

That means I have $521.59 to go to meet my goal of $4000 paid by next debt check in! I’m hopeful that I can make it happen with 3 pays happening between now and then (one of them being on Sept 18th). Can’t wait for that check in day!

I had a wonderful time relaxing on vacation. I tried keeping up on blog stuff and emails as much as possible but my poor laptop has seen better days. I hope to have a guest blogger soon who will be posting on the Labour Day weekend while I’m away with BF on PEI.

Change of Pace

Hey everyone!  I thought I’d mix it up a little bit this week since I’m on vacation.  I’ve been having a great time with friends and family. I’m sorry if this post is a little unorganized as I’m on my phone.
Friday night BF and I went to sleep early after both of us had crazy days at work.
On Saturday I went into town and took advantage of a promotion for a $39 hour long massage,  normally $79 so it looks like I can cross that one off of my want list! Saturday night we headed to the casino with a friend of BFs and his girlfriend. 

Sunday we were a hurtin’ unit but still drug ourselves of bed for a hike with friends. We went to a cabin up in the woods where a lady served us homemade soup, sandwiches,  and yummy desserts.  Here are a few pictures from the hike, the terrain was a bit rough in places so luckily people had made railings/ropes there over the years!

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Funny story, two nature-loving girls taking their couch-loving boyfriends on a surprise 2.5 hour nature hike. Good thing we’re cute!

*Not Pictured* saw a snake and lived to tell the tale! I only had a small anxiety attack and ran like an idiot.

This evening we went to BF’s parents for steak, lobster, and wine.  BF has a second cousin over from Italy so tomorrow is a big italian supper at his grandmother’s house! However I came home to find out my mom’s PayPal account had been hacked and $1600 charged to her visa in 8 transactions over an hour.  Luckily both PayPal and visa are being very helpful and she will get her money back.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and stress-free week!

Budget Check In

I’m surprised at how well the credit card method worked for me this pay. I’m going to follow the same method of applying my budgeted funds for gas and groceries directly onto my Visa and using it to pay only for those things. I still had that “guilty feeling” when pulling it out so I was successful in not using it for other purchases.

Here is how I did with my first budget for this bi-weekly period:

Budgeted … Actual

Income- $847.62 … $945.15
Insurance- $120 … $117.43
Parking- $78 … $78
Car Payment- $145 … $144.11
Saving- $61 … $61
Gas- $100 … $36.86
Groceries- $150 … $165.94
Other- $43 … $60.31
Total- $697 … $755.65

Not included was the $92 I paid to Momsy for my CAA renewal…but luckily I got $97 in GST that I wasn’t really expecting so the money was there! Overall not bad! I had already paid $150 toward visa so I managed to apply an extra $47.20 by using my card for gas and groceries. Woohoo!

I’m not looking forward to hockey registration coming up next pay for $200. I’ve already sold one item online and made $20 and plan to sell a few more next week when I’m on ~*VaCaTiOn*~!! I can’t wait! BF is off as well and we don’t have much planned except painting one of the spare bedrooms! Also coming out of next pay will be $150 for the cottage rental over the long weekend and I’m a little torn between paying that and not making a visa payment or taking the money out of my cushy 52 Weeks of Savings account (sitting at $861.50 currently).

I’ve managed to cross off two books from my book challenge list this week but I wasn’t able to maintain my 2-3 workouts…so I think you can guess what I was doing in my spare time.

How did you guys make out this week?