Top 5 Ways Budgeting Rocks

In many households the word budget stings like a four letter word.  But it’s not, it has six and has gotten an undeserved bad rap.  If you are looking to start budgeting or for some inspiration to continue budgeting then read below.  If you aren’t quite there yet, feel free to read on or maybe head on over to our splurge section.

So as an attorney and former financial advisor, I am going to make the case for budgeting.  Hopefully a convincing one that you will decide should win over your splurge instinct most of the time.

Budgeting requires at a minimum tracking your income and expenses so that you can get an idea of where you are financially.  The idea is what is coming in and what is going out.  If there is more going out than coming in then you are going into debt.  See other posts about debt to understand in detail why this is not a long-term viable solution.  For more info on budgeting basics see those posts.

The idea behind budgeting is not to prevent you from spending $6 at Starbucks everyday or buying the new Coach bag that just came out.  The idea is to be in control of your money.  If I ask someone, “Do you want control of your money?” they generally answer, “YES!”  If I ask, “Do you want to be on a budget?”, rarely am I met with such enthusiasm.  So follow the steps below to gain control of your money.

One-Control Your Money

Changes your outlook!  Yes those little voices in your head.  Change them to say I am not on a budget.  I am in control of my money.  Guess what, being in control of your money rocks!

Two-Eliminate Debt

When you are in control of your money you don’t go into unnecessary debt.  We all know probably too well that unnecessary debt sucks!  Even necessary debt sucks but unnecessary debt sucks more.  Those must have shoes you spent $200 for that are last year’s trend and have been pushed to the back of your closet.  But the $200 is still on your credit card collecting interest and now you’ve paid $300 for them and climbing.  Now that sucks!  Not going into debt especially unnecessary debt rocks!

Three-Harmony in Relationships

Budgeting helps create harmony in your relationships. Really? Yes!  You know how your husband and you argue after you splurge on items like the $200 shoes mentioned above?  Well that is a thing of the past.  You know how you are irritated that he eats lunch out everyday while you are home with the kids eating peanut butter and jelly.  Argument vanquished.  Why?  Because you’ve already agreed where your money will go and you’ve got money set aside that each of you can spend where you please.  (See post on the importance of individual money in a marriage).  Arguments and unspoken resentment solved.  You know budgeting rocks for relationships!

Four-Find Your Splurge Money

Budgeting is where you find your splurge money.  You know the Michael Kors bag you’ve been eyeing or the new iPhone you really want well guess what through a budget they can be yours.  A budget helps you find ways to redirect your money to things you really want.  It may take some creativity and saving for a while but through budgeting the splurges you really desire can become a reality.

Five-Ready for Retirement

Budgeting Rocks if you want to actually stop working one day.  To have money set aside for retirement through a budget gives you peace of mind and that is a priceless way that budgeting rocks!

 

 

 

Walmart Grocery PickUp: I Rejoice

Walmart Grocery Delivery: I Rejoice

I am not usually an early adopter.  I usually let others try things out first and then get on board once all the bugs are worked out.  But with this idea I was on the bandwagon from the first glimpse of the sign reading Groceries Delivered to Your Car.  What?  No more crazy trips through Super Walmart with my kids?  No more bumping into random customers because I can’t see over the baby seat in the front of the cart or trying to navigate the huge cart that is meant for kids and is like driving a tractor trailer?  Or opening the items I am buying so my kids can have a snack on the way to the check out?

How It Works

walmart grocery order online

I was sure there had to be a catch but the idea was so enticing I decided to give it a try anyway.  I went online and ordered just about the $35 minimum to try it out.  I scheduled my pickup window for later that day.  I drove to the Walmart with my 9 month old and 5 year old in the car.  I followed the signs for Walmart grocery pick up and parked in the loading space. I called the number on the sign  and let them know my name and parking space letter.  A Walmart worker promptly came out with my order in tow.  I popped the trunk, he loaded the groceries, smiled, had me sign for them and I was on my way!  Oh the best part, they do not accept tips!!! What?  Even my ice cream scooper wants a tip these days.  No tip for such extraordinary service! I was wowed.  Rarely am I wowed.

guy loading groceries-Walmart grocery

10 minutes later I was back home putting my groceries away.  I felt so renewed I chopped all my veggies into single servings and put them in the refrigerator for snacks.  I hadn’t realized how draining grocery shopping with kids is until I didn’t have to do it.

When you place your order you can choose whether you want to include substitutions or not.  Once on my order they substituted two smaller jellos for one larger jello or one flavor of yogurt for another.  The great thing here is you can decide if you want to allow substitutions on each item.

The VIP service continued as they gave me sample kits, a back to school gift, samples in the mail with thank you notes.  I have never enjoyed shopping at Walmart.  I usually shopped there because I thought they generally had the lowest prices and I didn’t want to clip coupons or shop the ads.  The service completely changed my mind.  It didn’t feel like Walmart at all!  It felt like the best service I have received anywhere in a long time.  And the employees working in this program seem much happier.  So friendly and top notch.

Downside

Only downside here is that it is only available in select markets.  A few months after discovering this amazing service where we lived in Gilbert Arizona, we moved to the Portland area and they don’t have it here yet.

I miss this service as much as the 75 degree winters.  It is really that awesome!  Total save and splurge!  Save on your groceries by shopping at Walmart but feel like you are getting VIP splurge service with their grocery pick up.  Check out their website here and enter your zip code to see if it is available in your area.  If not, you can be on the wait list to be notified when it is available.    http://grocery.walmart.com

For another way to save use the Walmart Savings Catcher App.  Download it in the App store and just scan your receipt after shopping at Walmart.  They search the local ads for you and if there is a lower price on something you bought they refund the difference to you in a store credit.

walmart savings catcher app

Conclusion:

Don’t overpay for groceries, Save by shopping at Walmart and using Walmart’s Savings Catcher App.  Then use the Grocery Pick up Service which feels like a Splurge but is another Save in time and sanity especially if you have kids.

Amazon Now: Save or Splurge?

primenow-Amazon

Is Amazon Now a Save or a Splurge?

Yesterday I tried Amazon Now for the first time.  I have been an Amazon Prime member for years and for me it is a definite save.  For $99 a year just the free 2 day shipping on the things we order online would save us money but we also stream the videos.  Especially the shows not available on Netflix like Downton Abbey for me and Diego for my boys.  And I’ve just started using the Amazon Music service that is included with Prime.  It’s not as robust as Apple Music but for me it works for the times I’m looking for music to listen to while cooking dinner.

So when I heard about Amazon Now where I could order items and get them within 2 hours I was pretty excited.  But I wondered is it worth or it or where’s the catch?  After getting a marketing email with a code for $20 off a $50 order I figured why not try it out.

I placed my very random order through the Amazon Now app of a Melissa and Doug fishing puzzle, Dreyer’s Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (partly because it tastes awesome and partly to test if they could keep it frozen until delivery), Dove deodorant, construction paper, caffeine free Diet Coke, and Coconut flavor Syrup (see my next Save post about why the coconut syrup).

How do the prices compare?  

Melissa and Doug fishing puzzle-Amazon Now-$8.95-same as Amazon.com and Walmart price

500 Ct Lightweight Construction Paper-$10.54-same price as Sam’s club, cheaper than the office supply stores and Wayfair.

Dreyer’s Grand Cookies and Cream Ice Cream-$5.49-Walmart-$4.74

Dove Cool Essentials Deodorant-$4.19-Walmart-$3.88

Caffeine Free Diet Coke-$4.19-Walmart-$4.48

Torani Syrup (25.4 ounce)-Coconut-pack of 4 bottles-$24.62 ($6.16/bottle)-Walmart-$7.43/bottle but only sold in cases of 12 bottles

The prices I compared on Amazon Now were exactly the same as Amazon.com.  Most were the same or cheaper than what I found on Walmart.com.  Based on the above prices I saved $4.31  even without my introductory $20 off coupon.

There’s no charge for delivery but they do add a tip for the delivery driver that you can adjust.  They calculated a $6 tip for my order.  So I guess it’s a better deal than pizza delivery where they charge you a delivery fee and you tip the driver!  So when you consider the tip you have to decide if it is more or less than the gas/wear and tear on your car to go to the store or if you have little kids the stress of going to the store.

How’s the Selection

The selection is more limited than Amazon.com but they do offer items being sold by Amazon Now and/or a local grocer in the Portland area called Seasons.  So with Seasons you get full grocery option but their prices are more expensive than the grocery stores I usually shop at.  So I would consider them a Splurge.  Probably an I just don’t have time to make it to the grocery store/baby is sleeping type of splurge.

How’s the Service

The app was super easy to use to place the order.  Very similar to ordering from Amazon.com.  I immediately received a confirmation email with my order and the time window for delivery I’d chosen.  I placed my order around 8:30 am and chose a 10-12 delivery window.  At 10:21 I got a text saying my order would be delivered soon.  The delivery guy had a problem finding the address so he called and was at the condo within 5 minutes of his call.  He was very polite and gave me my order in a few paper bags.  I received a text saying my order had been delivered immediately after as well as an email saying my order was delivered at 10:41.

You can choose to have the order left if you won’t be home.  Since I had ice cream in my order and knew I would be there I didn’t choose that option.

Overall I thought it was very fast, my ice cream was kept frozen but not too hard.  It was perfect when delivered and everything else was just as described/expected.

For me I would’ve spent $1.69 more than a trip to Walmart grocery after the tip.  But I have a bad habit of buying things not on my list when I go into the grocery store or giving in when the kids ask for a toy or treat.  For me unless I am shopping sale items or an ad from the grocery store, which I never do, Amazon Now is a Save and feels like a Splurge.  I love those!!!

 

 

How to Start a Budget in 4 Simple Steps

money image-budgeting basics

 

How to Start a Budget in 4 Simple Steps

Step 1

Write down everything you spend money on.  Keep all of your receipts and bill payments for an accurate log.  When I say everything I mean EVERYTHING.  The $1 Diet Coke from McDonalds-WRITE IT DOWN, the treat for the kids in the grocery store check out line-WRITE IT DOWN, the pedicure splurge that you only get occasionally-WRITE IT DOWN.  This will give you a guideline as you make your budget.

Step 2

Write down all sources of income.  Look at your net income or the amount you are actually taking home after taxes and insurance or other deductions from your paycheck.  Unless you want to include taxes and the deductions as expenses in your budget, you need to know the amount you have to start with.  So look at your bank statement/online banking check deposit or the pay stub from your employer.  Look for the amount you actually put into your bank account when your check is deposited.

Step 3

Set a REALISTIC budget.  Look for places where you can cut or where you are spending more than you thought from your log in step one but don’t cut everything.  If you can’t live without your Diet Coke make sure it is in the budget.  If a monthly pedicure is a must make sure you include that.  The key to your budget is that it has to work for you.  Almost always you’ll find places you know you could spend less so use those areas to reallocate money to places you really don’t want to cut.  Make sure you include savings into your budget.  Generally you want to have at least three areas of savings.  Retirement and other long term goals.  This includes 401k, kid’s college savings, etc.  The second area is a 6 month emergency fund.  Try to put a little aside every month until you have a reserve that would cover all of your bills for six months.  The last is an immediate savings.  This is the fund you tap into if the refrigerator or washing machine goes out, the AC needs to be repaired, or your car needs repair.  Believe me, life is much less stressful when you have this type of savings and aren’t looking to credit cards to bail you out of an unexpected jam.  The fourth type of savings isn’t a necessity but sure it nice to have and that is your splurge fund.  This is where I like to keep Birthday or Christmas money I receive or the little extra I can squeeze into savings.  Even if your savings amounts seem really small still do it.  You will be surprised how it adds up over time and the habit will make it easier to save as your income increases.

Step 4

Try it out for a month.  Again WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!  See how you stack up to what you planned.  If you take a look at where you’re at compared to your budget at least once a week you’ll be more likely to stay on track.  If you have areas that you aren’t near your budget then reallocate to make it work better for you the next month.  The key to continue on a budget is to make it work for you.

Budgets can seem restrictive but after having a budget you’ll find it actually gives you control over your money and lets you decide purposefully where you want to spend it.

 

Why Save and Splurge?

This blog was born out of the love of a good deal.  I am the girl who after getting a compliment on just about anything will tell you how much I paid for it.  I am so proud of scoring a good deal and helping others find one too.  I can’t help it.  I was raised by a penny pinching mother who could tell you exactly how much she paid for each grocery item in the kitchen.  I don’t go that far.  If you’re looking for an extreme money saving space this probably isn’t it.  I am looking to help you provide balance between saving and spending.

That is the idea for this blog.  A virtual get together where we share our great finds and also our wise splurges.  There are items I will splurge on but I always follow 3 rules before splurging.  This way I never have buyer’s remorse.

Here you’ll find saving advice ranging from budgeting to cutting costs.  Main rule for a splurge is you have to save the money first so read these tips to try to find yourself some splurge money.

I realize a splurge to some isn’t a splurge to another.  So I will set the expectation now that my splurges generally are in the $100-$500 range not the $1,000-$5,000 range.  I will not ever buy a pair of jeans that costs more than $150 even as a splurge.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what you’ll find hanging out with me here and you’ll let me get to know you too by leaving comments or questions.

So looking forward to our journey together as we save and splurge on some great finds!