6 Strategies I’m Using to Save Money and Pay Off Debt in 2018

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Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I have big goals for 2018, so I need a solid plan to tackle them. I’ve been racking my brain for weeks now in order to come up with ideas to help me reach my goals. Strategies that help me save money and still bring myself closer to my goal of financial freedom.

In 2018 my strategies for saving money and paying off debt are going to center around the following:

Buying my kids clothing off season

I love buying used clothing for my kids, but sometimes good quality clothes that are in fashion are hard to find in my kids sizes. Maybe it’s because they are at an age where jeans can only last 3-4 months before holes are appearing in the knee, but whatever it is my last three trips to my favorite used clothing store have been a bust. I have had more luck on apps such as Poshmark (sign up with code OHANA1 to get 5.00 off your first purchase), but not enough to make a huge dent in my kids closets.

So this year I have devised a new plan, or really it’s an old plan that I am reimplementing, to buy my kids clothing a year beforehand. For example, an adorable sweater for my daughter over half off at Target in next years size.

This strategy requires patience, such as waiting until stores are offering additional discounts off of clearance wracks, but it can be very rewarding.

Meal Planning and Couponing

In 2018 I plan to get hardcore into meal planning again, as well as couponing in my own way. I plan to do a whole post and follow up YouTube video on my grocery shopping and couponing strategies in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

Balancing My Bank Account Every Week

It’s hard to save money if you are not keeping track of exactly how much money you have. In 2018 I plan to write down every transaction I make as I make it, as well as balancing the checkbook once a week to keep our household on track. To balance my checkbook I use a really easy system. Just a notebook where I can draw the lines myself and keep an entire years worth of transactions in one place.

Practicing The Art of Saying No

Aw, this is a hard one for me. I have a tendency to be a yes person, I really care about what others think. So if someone invites me to their new MLM business party, I feel obligated to go. Like being a good friend is tied into saying yes and giving them my money. Thankfully I chose strategically when I picked the first book from my 2018 Reading List. The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*CK has helped me learn that saying no doesn’t mean I’m a jerk, and that I can do so in a way that doesn’t hurt others feelings.

So this year I am practicing saying no more often, and saving my f*cks (and money) for things I really and truly care about.

Budget, Budget, Budget

I feel like this one is a given, but still needs to be said. A budget is the key to keeping your finances on track. If you don’t tell your money where to go it gets reckless. This year I am committed to budgeting every single penny. That way I don’t get off track like I did last year (and the year before).

Rewarding Myself

Finally, I will reward myself. Which may seem counterproductive to my end goal but I feel that it is important. Blow money every month will help control my impulse shopping, and setting rewards for goals will hopefully help me stay motivated. I just have to make sure my rewards are frugal but still fun. Like a new bottle of nail polish, or a coffee at my favorite local cafe.

My 2018 Reading List

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Before I became a mom I loved to read. Well, I still love to read, but motherhood has kind of made me put it on the backburner. I used to stay up all night devouring books, and now I barely get five minutes here and there to open them up. But I want to get back to it, I want to go back to that place where I can zone out in my own little world. A place where I can run off to at night once the kids are in bed. It has to be better than the world of Facebook.

Because of that I have decided not to do any crazy resolutions in 2018. Nothing full of massive pressure like lose weight, or stop cussing (let’s get real, I’ll probably never stop cussing) and instead resolve to do something that brings me happiness.

My goal is to read two books a month, each month in 2018. And because I am neurotic I have already compiled my list of books I will read. Some are new releases that I can’t wait to get my hands on, and some are a few years old that I am ashamed to admit I haven’t gotten my hands on yet. Check out my list below and let me know what you think.

My 2018 Reading List:

  1. Parenting With Love And Logic
  2. The Fault In Our Stars
  3. Eleanor & Park
  4. Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children
  5. The Casual Vacancy
  6. Get Your Shit Together
  7. White Houses
  8. I Thought It Was Just Me ( But It Isn’t)
  9. I am Malala
  10. Gone Girl
  11. Water for Elephants
  12. This Heart of Mine
  13. Go Set A Watchman
  14. The Nest
  15. The Cursed Child
  16. Love Your Life Not Theirs
  17. Start
  18. The Spring Girls
  19. The English Wife
  20. The Handmaids Tale
  21. The Millionaire Next Door
  22. The Lost Girls
  23. The Red Clocks
  24. The Go Getter 

    Do you have a book you think I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments below!

My Favorite Detox Bath

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Being sick sucks.

Being sick as a mom sucks even worse.

I just can’t afford to be sick, literally. Because who else will make the food, clean the house, and get the kids to all of their activities?

Yea, being sick is not an option.

But sometimes everything I do to boost my immunity just isn’t enough, the tingle begins in the back of my throat and my head starts to ache right above the bridge of my nose and I know it is coming.

It’s at the point that I bust out my super secret method. I detox bath that is absolutely miserable while it’s going on, but that I swear by. Is it all in my head? Maybe. But I’ve been doing it for over seven years now and it has never not worked. I’ll take that, in my head or not.

Detox Bath

Draw a bath with as hot of water as you can stand. Today is not the day to worry about water rationing, fill that thing as high as you can.

Add in the above ingredients.

Now get into the bath and soak up to your shoulders. Sit in the bath as long as you can stand it, but at least 20 minutes, sipping your ice water throughout to prevent dehydration.

When you are done in your bath rinse off with cool water. Do not eat for awhile after, it might make you nauseous, instead I sip on water throughout the evening to keep me hydrated.

You might sweat throughout the evening and night, that’s normal, but I swear in the morning I wake up feeling 100% better than I did the night before.

 

Minimal Waste Consumerism Tips That Won’t Bust Your Budget

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Less waste and being less consumeristic often go hand in hand. But unless you live on your own acreage, off the grid homestead, it’s often impossible to never buy anything every again. So what do you do when it’s time to buy, and how do you do so while keeping to your minimal waste ideologies?

I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy, but I’ve compiled a few tips that I have learned that do make it possible. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative, patient, and be willing to do a little bit of research.

Buy Used:

When you buy something used you are not only saving a garment from the landfill but you are also saving energy. The more you buy second hand makes the energy used to make your clothing go farther. Buying used is also good for your budget, because second hand clothing often comes with a big discount. I try to find second hand items from good quality brands that will last me for years to come.

Buy Once:

There are some items like bras and panties that I just don’t want to buy used, period. With items like these I choose the buy once mentality. I am willing to pay more money once for an item that will last me years. Sure those 14.99 bras from Target and Wal-Mart are tempting, but when they fall apart in six months it makes them not very practical for my budget or the planet. I have yet to find a bra that is both long lasting and eco friendly, so long lasting wins on this one. I’m still on the hunt, but for now Victoria’s Secret has me in their pocket. I had one bra last through six years and two pregnancies so I’d say they are definitely worth their money although they do have some questionable ethics issues.

Buy With Green in Mind:

Whether I am buying used or new I first try to buy with green in mind. As often as I can I try to buy pieces that are made with 100% biodegradable materials such as cotton, silk, linen, or bamboo. So when I am done with these items years down the road (after I’m done wearing them, and if they are not in a condition where I can donate them, I turn them into rags) I can throw them directly into the compost.  Buy buying with green in mind I am able to send a lot less items to the landfill from my closet.

Be Picky:

At 28 years old I think I am just now starting to figure out this style thing. I’ve stopped looking at what is in right now, and I’m focused more on me. What I like, what looks good on me, what feels comfortable and still looks halfway decent while I’m chasing around three kids each day.  I’ve also found certain brands and styles that both fit my ethics and the way I want to dress. While I’m open to trying out other brands, I won’t settle for less than what my favorites give me. Like my J.crew tee’s that are made with 100% linen or cotton (so I can compost them when I am done) and provide me with a great fit. But at 39.50 brand new they don’t really fit well into my budget.

Which brings me to my last tip…

Patience Is a Virtue:

Ah patience, definitely not a virtue that I was born with. That being said, there’s definitely something to say about it though. Now don’t get me wrong, I will always feel the urge to buy that cute cardigan at Target, but I’ve learned to be patient and wait. If after a few days I still really want the sweater I’ll search thrift stores for a similar item, and then Poshmark and eBay if I can’t it locally. It doesn’t always happen instantly, but if I check weekly I can usually find the items I am wanting fairly soon. Nine times out of ten I can find a similar item of great quality (sometimes even better) gently used for at least half off.

Both my budget, and the planet thank me for it.

DIY Cloth Wipe Solution

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We’ve talked before about my love for lazy and easy recipes. Because, well quite frankly I do not have time for anything more. But I also can’t bring myself to spend unnecessary money, and baby wipes are one of the things that I put in that category. Not only are baby wipes really, really bad for the environment but with a kid using roughly 12,000 wipes in the first two years of life and those wipes costing on average 5.4 cents each…well, it adds up.

Since I have already taken the leap in cloth diapering for my youngest two children, cloth wipes seemed like a logical next step. In fact it’s kind of easier for me than disposable wipes because now the diaper and the wipe can go into the pail together.

At first I just wet each wipe with water, which worked just fine honestly, but something about it didn’t feel right. I guess I just felt like my kids butt needed to be cleaner than water alone could get it, and so to Pinterest I went. Y’all, there are tons of wipe solution recipes out there, but I dabbled with a few and eventually tweaked several together into one that worked best for my babies bottoms.

2 C Distilled Water

2 Tbsp Castile Soap

1 Tbsp Witch Hazel

2 Tbsp Fractionated Coconut Oil

3 Drops Lavender Essential Oil

Mix items together and pour over wipes in container.

 

Side Hustles For The Stay At Home Mom

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Whether your working to get out of debt or not, its always nice to have a little extra money in the bank. But when your a SAHM it can be hard to find the time to go out and get a part time job, and work at home jobs are hard to manage when toddlers are roaming underfoot. So what can you do? Side hustles are the answer. Side hustles, part time income, things to do during nap times and your morning coffee. They can you as little or as much as you want, it just depends on how hard you work it.

Swagbacks

Okay, I’ve never met anyone who got rich on Swagbucks, but it is a fairly easy way to earn pocket change. I tend to try to get a couple surveys under my belt during nap time, and keep the Swagbucks watch app on the background to earn points throughout the day. Again

Ebay

What do you do when shopping is a hobby and you’re on a tight budget? Become best friends with garage and estate sales. Seriously, even just browsing gives me a tingly feeling in my soul. If you keep your eyes open it’s easy to find hidden treasures that you can then flip on eBay and Etsy (depending on how old the item is, vintage is hot!). It’s not instant cash, but patience definitely pays off in this line of work.

Home Childcare Provider

Whether it’s bringing in kids for full time care, the occasional weekend sitter job, or even hosting parents nights out complete with crafts, movies, and snacks (seriously, I’ve seen it done and it was awesome) providing childcare for other families is a way to both bring in a few extra bucks, or even provide you with a full time income.

Just make sure to check with your city and states licensing regulations, the last thing you want is to have a state worker show up at your door and shut you down. If you go the full time provider route, make sure you’re legit. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Etsy

I mentioned Etsy above, but this site is so much more than flipping your garage sale finds. Do you love to knit, sew, or have a knack for designing websites or clipart? Etsy is the place online where creators go to sell their goods, no matter what that might be. Seriously I’ve seen everything from lingerie, to felt toys, to furniture, and cloth pads. They really have everything. Setting up an Etsy store is easy and affordable, just make sure to mind your p’s and q’s. Be realistic with shipping time frames, and don’t underprice your hard work.

Teach English Online

This is the most ‘job like’ side hustle I am posting, because it really is a job. But I have heard such good things about it that I had to add it to my list. Where you a teacher in your life before SAHM’ing? If so, VIPKID is a place for you. What it is is an online platform to teach English online to kids in China. The hours are usually early mornings and late at night in US time zones, so you will be working when your children are asleep. And with pay between 7.00-9.00 per 30 minute class (or between 14.00-18.00 per hour) it’s a side hustle that can really help you see financial results.

Start A Blog

Do you love to write, have a subject you are passionate about, and know even a teeny-tiny bit about computers? Then blogging could be a great side income for you, heck with a little work and dedication it can even turn into a full time income or more! Blogs can be started for free through blogspot and wordpress, but I chose to go the not-free but still affordable route of purchasing a domain name and having and going through a webhost (I use GreenGeeks because they both affordable and are 300% powered by renewable energy and they have plans starting at only 2.95 a month currently). I purchase a premade blog template from Etsy for 13.00, and I splurged on a course from Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing for 197.00 because I knew absolutely nothing on the subject. But really what business can you start for as low as 250.00, be able to set your own hours, and have no limit on the amount of income you can make? For me it was worth every penny.

Side hustles are not limited to stay at home moms. Moms who work part time or even full time can do these things to earn a little money on the side. It just takes a lot of creativity, and a little bit of time.

Do you have another side hustle idea? What do you do to bring in income while staying at home with your kids, or even work

Minimal Waste School Supplies Must Haves

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With fall just around the corner and school years getting under way it is easy to get into a frenzy of school supplies shopping and allow thoughts of minimal waste to be put on the back burner. But going minimal waste while back to school is a lot easier than you think! Here are a few items I found that will both help our planet, and help your little scholar fill their brain.

Pencils do not have to be made with metal ends and eraser tips. These Sprout pencils, for example, can be completely zero waste and actually turn into plants when you are done using them. Of course you will still need an eraser, no one is perfect. Go for a latex free eraser to help minimize it’s impact on your planet while also keeping your pages clean.

 

Highlighters are important for taking notes, but they don’t have to be incased in plastic. Pencil highlighters are an actual thing, and won’t bleed through your paper.

Art supplies are always tricky. You can buy colored pencils made out of reforested wood, and I am dying to try out these earth paints with the littles this fall. But for crayons I will almost always go with Crayola (come on, you know they are the best and they are at least non-toxic, we cut down on waste by melting them down to reuse) and I have not yet found a plastic free marker set, but crayola has an awesome program where you can recycle markers made by them and others. Maybe you could get your child’s teacher involved to collect all the used up markers throughout the year to send to be recycled!

For older kids I am in love with these Decomposition Books, made from 100% recycled paper and chlorine free. To keep it all together I don’t think anything would last longer than an aluminum binder, but you could also choose a ReBinder made from recycled chip board. The rings even easily unscrew for easy recycling.

To carry lunch for your hungry scholars the PlanetBox is a popular option, but honestly it’s not in my budget. I am eyeing this stainless steel LunchBots box for Addi’s lunch on co-op days this year. It’s three compartments keep food separate, and it’s small enough to fit in her lunch bag easily. I’m also planning to grab a few reusable sandwich bags to hold treats and snacks for recess time.

And last, but certainly not least, no school supplies list is complete without something to carry it all in. While I have yet to find a 100% waste free backpack, I feel like JanSport is a good second option. They’re lifetime warranty on packs, bags, and luggage make them a safer bet for the environment and your budget.

Back to school can be stressful, especially as a parent. But it does not have to pack a huge punch to the planet. With a little planning and extra thought, you can easily have an earth friendly school year this year.

Oh and speaking of planning, don’t forget to check out this list to see if your state participates in tax free weekend or even a tax free week for additional school supplies savings this school year, because keeping our budget in mind is important too!