The Budget: Why It Is Your Most Important Financial Tool

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Ah, the dreaded budget. The list of rules that dictates your life and your wallet. Most people hate the idea of a budget, many say that they do not need it, they are doing fine without it, it’s just not a necessity. They are wrong.

If there is anything, anything at all you take from this blog in regards to financial advice, I hope it is the importance of a budget. Not because I want to you to live a life restricted by the numbers on a list, but because I want to experience the freedom that a budget can give you.

Freedom, from a budget? You heard me, the budget is your number one tool to gaining financial freedom, and here is why.

It shows you where your money is going.

We made our first budget by analyzing our last three months of expenses and averaging out what we spent in different areas each month. Things like rent, internet, and our utilities were not a surprise. They rarely changed each month anyway. The fact that we spent almost 200.00 eating out in one month, yea that we didn’t expect. By seeing where exactly our money had gone in the past we were able to see what changes we could make to achieve bigger goals in the future.

You are in charge of your budget, not the other way around.

You tell your money where to go, you set the rules. Your budget isn’t this big bully trying to confine you into a rigid set of rules. You can choose how much money you want to spend each month eating out, or going on dates, or on that awesome new toy you’ve been eyeing for the kids.. All that matters is that it fits into your budget, that it equals zero when your done. Seriously, that’s the only rule, the rest is up to you.

Your budget is fluid.

Our needs change monthly. Sometimes unexpected events come up, last minute plans are made, or spontaneous opportunities arise. These things do not have to be budget killers, only budget changers. Did you just get invited to see Hanson on tour? I can only dream. Well, you don’t have to say no, you just have to adjust the budget to make it fit. Spend a little less eating out, save up your blow money, don’t buy that new mascara you’ve been dreaming of. It’s all about the give and take. It’s up to you.

Your budget is an asset, not a jail sentence. Simply take charge, be vigilant, and chances are you will discover your money can go a lot farther than you thought.

Want a copy of my free budget planning printable? Simply sign up for my email list to gain access to the free resources page!

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Are you still confused about your financial situation, or are completely overwhelmed by the idea of a budget and just don’t know where to start? Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner, has set up a program designed to help. Adam will walk you through the steps of why you need a budget, how to implement it, as well as how to go beyond it to the path of financial freedom. And the best part? Whether you go with his payment plan option or pay upfront the whole 97.00  fee for the class, Adam’s Budgeting for Budget Haters Class will help you control your finances without emptying your wallet in the process.

5 Ways You Can Go Green While Saving Green Today

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I love to talk about going green in real life, especially coming from a small town where it wasn’t really the ‘cool thing’ to do. My cloth diapers, reusable grocery bags, and glass water bottle were always great conversation starters to let me share my views in comfortable and easy going way. But while people were intrigued by my crunchy ways, my conversations always seemed to end with the same results. People were interested in going green, but were worried that the transition would cost them too much money.

At first this really caught me off guard, I admit, because a lot of my green ways came about because I come from very very frugal roots. As in my dad literally never had paper towels in our house, not because he was trying to save the planet, but because he was too cheap to waste money on something so disposable.

But nonetheless I do know that even though things like cloth diapers and reusable water bottles will save you a ton of money in the long run (more on that in later posts), I want to let you know that you do not actually have to shell out any money at all in order to start making green changes in your life. That’s right, you can totally go green without spending any green at all. In fact, many of these ways will help you save green as well!

So here are my top five tried and true ways to go green, and save green, without spending any green. How about you try to say that five times fast!

Brick in the toilet

Okay it doesn’t have to be a brick, really anything that takes up a large amount of volume and is heavy enough to sink in the toilet tank can be used in this little hack, like an old coke bottle filled with pebbles or something similar. The purpose is to take up volume in the tank, so that the tank holds less water. Less water used in every flush means less water being used by your household every day. This will add up to not only a savings in your water bill, but also helps to save your community on energy needed to treat water and pump water to your home as well as helping to protect the wildlife that rely on the rivers and lakes in which our water comes from.

 

Turn off appliances you’re not using

Okay, turning off lights when you leave a room is kind of a no brainer, but do you know that many appliances continue to use energy even when they are turned off? That’s right, your microwave, lamps, coffee maker, and radios are all adding to your energy bill, even when you aren’t using them. The Energy Star website actually says that US pays 11 billion dollars on average annually in stand by energy costs. That’s roughly 87 dollars a year per household.

Line dry your clothes, and wash them in cold water

This is one of my favorite money saving hacks, because I personally love the smell of line dried clothes, especially in the summer. But if the fresh air scent isn’t your thing, maybe the fact that a small load of laundry costs you on average .36 to dry will make you change your mind (that’s about 131 dollars in savings a year if you do a small load of laundry each day). For my family those savings double because we also do a load of cloth diapers a day too.

As for washing in cold water, the savings are even more substantial. A hot wash/warm rinse will cost you an average .68 a load, whereas a cold wash/cold rinse will cost a mere .04 a load. Using the same standards as above of a small load each day, the average american family would then save a total of 233.60 a year just by washing in cold water.

And if the money savings aren’t enough, know that switching to cold water washing eliminates about 1600 pounds of carbon dioxide commissions every year per household. It also helps your clothes to last longer, saving you even more money in the long run.

I line dry clothes even in the winter, using foldable laundry racks such as this. Although it is a little bit of an investment, it does pay off in the long run.

Make your own cleaning solutions

One of the biggest ah-ha moments in going green to me was that I didn’t have to go out and spend a ton of money buying cleaning products for everything from glass to the toilet. It is so easy to make effective cleaning products from items you usually have in your home. Baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, and lemon juice can all be used to make great cleaners for almost every surface of your home. Sign up for my email list (located on the left hand sidebar) and gain access to my free printables page to get a list of some of my favorite cleaning recipes.

Choose to Reuse

Let’s face it, we live in a disposable society. Whereas our ancestors used to reuse items until they couldn’t anymore (and then they often went in the compost) we throw away everything from paper towels to shampoo bottles to endless amounts of food packaging. Do you know American’s use 500 million drinking straws every single day? That is insane! And while I do advocate buying your own reusable items such as water bottle and straws, you can reuse the items you already have in your home just as easily. For example old rags and towels can be repurposed for cleaning, so can old t shirts. Cotton fabric scraps can be composted, so can newspaper and a lot of junk mail. I even use my old prefold diapers as swiffer mop heads. You can fix items such as mixers and blenders instead of disposing of them and buying new ones, and even if your not ready to give up your plastic ziploc bags you can still rinse them, dry them, and use them again. I mean, they’re going to be around forever anyway, why not use them as much as you can?

See, going green and saving green really is easy. Do you have any free tips on going green? Share them in the comments below!

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Choosing Seizures

Last fall Austen went 48 days without a seizure, but as January turned to February she was having seizures every four days on average. On March 13th we decided to try another non-traditional approach and admitted Austen into the hospital with the hopes of transitioning her onto the ketogenic diet. The diet is hard, with everything that goes in her mouth being carefully weighed an measured, but we had high hopes that this would help our girl.

That was not the case.

Within 12 hours her potassium levels skyrocketed and she developed a cardiac arrhythmia. We stopped the diet immediately and were told it was simply not going to be an option for her at this time. I was devastated. We had made the difficult decision to put her on this diet with the hopes that it would help her, instead it very likely could have killed her.

I want to pause here to say the her reaction to the diet is super, super rare. Her dietician had never seen it, and the epileptologist had only seen it once in his career.

Ever since the fall when Austen’s 48 day seizure free streak ended people have been asking the same few questions on repeat. These questions picked up momentum in January when the seizure frequency picked up, and again a few weeks ago when the diet failed.

“Do you think it’s time to add another med?” “Do you think it’s maybe time to stop this whole cannabis thing?” “Have you thought about that new med trial?” and my personal favorite,  “Maybe it’s time to consider Onfi?”

My answer to all of these is NO.  If it comes to choosing between another drug and all of it’s side effects, and choosing seizures, I will choose seizures every single time at this point in our journey.

Why? To me it’s simple:

With Austen’s Cannabis nasal spray her seizures last less than 2 minutes on average, with only Diazepam and Clonazepam her average was about 11. That is a huge difference. In addition to that new meds are highly addictive and come with new side effects including, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, slurred speech, aggression, and hallucinations.* Shorter seizures with fewer side effects gives us the opportunity to give Austen a life worth living. Before cannabis a seizure would incapacitate her for an entire day, now she is up and going within an hour like nothing ever happened. Losing days of your life at a time is no way to live, and neither is living the days you are awake dealing with all those horrible side effects.

The fact of the matter is Austen will probably never be 100% seizure free. Her epilepsy is caused by a gene mutation, and unless the CRISPR gene editing reaches human trials during her lifetime there is really no chance of her getting a shiny new SCN1A gene. It sucks, but facts are facts.

So no, our goal is not seizure freedom, instead our goal is as few seizures as possible, as short of seizures as possible, with as little day to day side effects as possible. Even though she is still having some seizures, Austen’s disease is progressing slower than doctors thought it would based on her history. We attribute that in large part to cannabis.

So yes, we are choosing seizures, even though conventional meds might give us more seizure free days. The seizure free days are never guaranteed, and the side effects are not worth it to us. To us choosing seizures means choosing life, choosing to really live. And as long as that is the case we will continue to do so.

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*All side effects are listed as possibilities for the drug Onfi. We are not against Onfi indefinitely but it is a very highly addictive drug with very serious side effects, we moved here in large part to hold off on adding Onfi and would like to hold off on adding it as long as possible.

 

Free Printables!

I’m so excited to officially announce the addition of free printables on my blog! Included are budget worksheets, meal planning printables, cleaning recipes, and more!

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