Cash Only Challenge

There is nothing worse than checking your bank balance, and realizing you spent way more than you intended to. A lot of that issue comes from solely using your debit or credit card. I personally struggle with this issue, because using my card is so convenient. A swipe here, a swipe there and POOF there goes your paycheck.

Since I personally struggle with this, I have decided to challenge myself to use cash only for the next month. By using cash only, I will be able to better track exactly what I am spending my money on, and where I am spending it. This will also help me recalculate my budget. I will be able to evaluate how much money should go in each category.

I have decided to publicize this Cash Only challenge,to show that it is possible to use only cash in this plastic dominated world. Follow along on my journey to use nothing but cash for the next four weeks. Feel free to participate yourself!


Let’s get started!

Cash Only Challenge

I am going to skip the budget step completely, as I already have an budget in place. If you don’t have a budget, or know what a budget it click here to learn how to set up your own.

Step 1:

Once you have your budget in place, you will know exactly how much money you will need. It’s time to hit the bank! You can either go inside, or use the drive up ATM. I typically use the ATM as I withdrawal an exact, even dollar amount. If you need an amount that the ATM cannot give you, head inside and fill out a deposit slip.

Step 2:

Once you have cash in hand, go ahead and start spending! I am actually creating a small note card to keep track of how much I have allotted for each category. This will help make sure you aren’t taking money from one category, to make up for another. If this sounds complicated, please see my cash envelope system post here. This post will make it simpler, and a bit easier to understand.

Step 3:

I plan to actually write down the amounts I spent, down to the change, to help me keep track of exactly how much I’m spending. At the end of the week, I will deduct each amount from the total I set aside for each category. This way, I will be able to see which categories can be decreased, and which will need increased.


Each week, I will post the good, the bad, and the ugly of this month long Cash Only challenge. I will also post challenges I faced while participating in this challenge. If you are participating, feel free to chime in with the positives and negatives you have experienced in this challenge. I am beginning this challenge on Monday, as I have already been using my card this week. I want to start out with a fresh, clean slate. Updates will come every Friday so stay tuned!

Happy Cash Spending!

Treat Yourself on a Budget

Nothing is better after a long, stressful day than treating yourself. Do you find yourself buying those new shoes you’ve had your eye on? Maybe you stop by your local pub and enjoy some drinks after work. Regardless, those costs add up week after week. I decided to try out some ways to treat yourself on a budget.

Myself personally, have an issue with spending my hard-earned, well deserved money. I think long and hard before I make purchases, and even then, I can have some buyers regret. When I finally decide to treat myself, I usually go big. I have actually treated my boyfriend and I to a weekend getaway due to stress at home. That was a pretty hefty expense, but it was well deserved.

Did you know that treating yourself doesn’t necessarily mean spending money? *gasp* I know! I would have never guessed that myself either, before I really started thinking into it. I have decided to compile a list of things you can do to treat yourself, without spending much, if any money at all!

Take a Hot Bath

I put taking a hot bath as number one, because this is my absolute favorite thing to do after a long, hard day at work. It is so relaxing to just lay in the steamy, hot water and let your worries wash away. Depending what you have available to you, you could include some bath bombs or soaking salts into this routine. Enjoy some relaxing me time!

DIY Manicure

Do you enjoy getting your nails done, but don’t love the cost? This could be the perfect way to treat yourself with minimal cost! Every woman has nail polish lying around the bathroom. You might as well take advantage of it! You could go with a basic polish or go crazy with designs. There are plenty of videos on YouTube for tutorials on designs!

Read

One of my favorite hobbies is reading. Take a visit to your local library and pick out a book that peaks your interest! I have gotten lost for hours in a book. I have even read an entire series in a weekend. I felt great afterwards too.

Yoga

A few years back I took a course (elective) on yoga. It was amazing how great it felt after an hour of practicing yoga. The best part about yoga is that you don’t have to go to classes, or even leave your home. You can practice yoga anywhere, and you really feel great afterward.

Shave Your Legs

One of the best feelings in the world is climbing into bed with a fresh pair of shaved legs. I have found that hair conditioner is a great (and cheap) alternative to shaving cream. It also keeps your skin more hydrated, leaving them silky smooth.

Tune Out, Tune In

One of the proven ways to melt away stress from a long work week is to turn on some music. Turn on the radio, Pandora, or iHeart Radio and enjoy some of your favorite music. There are even sites that you can build your own custom playlists according to your mood, and how you want to feel.

Watch Your Favorite Show or Movie

Sometimes, a little TV is all you need to ease some stress in your life. Treat yourself to watching some of your favorite TV series, or your favorite movie. You’ll be surprised how relaxed you feel. Even if it means binge watching an entire season on Netflix. Guilty as charged of this one myself.

Go for a Drive

One of my all time favorites to clear my mind, is to jump in my car and drive. I don’t necessarily always have a route or a destination in mind. There is something cleansing about driving and having nowhere to go.


This is just a list of things that I do to treat myself after a long, stressful work week.

Now that you have ideas to treat yourself while not breaking the bank, how do you plan to treat yourself frugally?

 

How To Start a Blog

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a commission from your purchase, at no cost to you. If you have questions, view my disclosure page on my menu*

Have you been thinking of starting your own blog? Are you lost when it comes to where to start? Don’t worry, I was too. Because of this, I have decided to create a guide to show people how to start a blog.

Step 1

First things first, you need to decide why you want to start your blog. Is this going to be a hobby? Are you planning to use your blog as a side hustle to your full time job? Or maybe you plan to blog full time. Yes, the last one is completely possible and feasible.

Step 2

Secondly, you will want to consider what your blog will be about. This is called your blog’s niche. I suggest grabbing a piece of paper and a pen and begin jotting down ideas.

To help you come up with ideas, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What am I good at?

2. What type of problems do my friends come to me with?

3. What am I passionate about?

Write down as many ideas as you can think of. You can narrow them down as you go.

An example of blogging niches are beauty, mommy/parenting, lifestyle, gardening, healthy living, frugality, and my list could go on and on. You can blog about literally anything your heart desires.

Step 3

Once you have established what your niche will be, you will need to begin thinking of ideas of what your blog’s name will be. I have found that many people simply use their names. Others use something related to their niche.

Step 4

Once you have decided on your blog’s name, you can now begin looking into Web hosting. Many people who are just beginning to blog opt to choose a free web host, such as Blogger or Weebly. These sites are great for people who want to blog as a hobby. For those of you that plan or hope to make money from your blog, you will want to choose a self hosted blog.

With a self hosted blog, you will purchase a hosting plan (your websites space on the world wide web) as well as a domain name. I purchased my hosting plan through Bluehost. For only $3.95 per month, you will receive web hosting and free domain registration (usually $15 alone). You will also receieve $150 in offers that will make your site stand out to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! as well as provide necessary protection for your website.

The best part is that Bluehost offers a 30 day money back guarantee. If you decide you no longer wish to have your website, you will receieve a full refund!

This is a great deal! If you are interested in getting this deal for yourself, click here .

Step 5

Upon purchasing your Web hosting plan, you will be asked to register your domain name. This is your websites address. There are some things to remember when registering your domain name:

1. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. No one likes to type in a lengthy address into the search bar.

2. Make it memorable. Make sure your domain name is easy to remember.

3. Try not to complicate things. Do not add numbers and letters together, as well as try not to use duplicates of numbers or letters

Before you click submit, you should do some searching online to be sure there isn’t a be site out there with the domain name you have selected.

Step 6

It may take a short period for your payment to be processed. While this is happening, you can download the WordPress.org app. WordPress is how you will access your blog.

Once your blog has been set up through WordPress, you are now able to select a theme. This is the appearance of your blog. You are able to select one of the free themes, or you can purchase a theme through Wordpres. There are also a few websites that offer free WordPress themes.

Step 7

Once you have selected your theme, you are now able to access your blog! You can add pages, create blog posts, add images, anything you can think of!

If you have any questions regarding this process, feel free to contact me via my Contact Us page.

Happy Blogging!

Planners: Organize and Prioritize Like a Boss

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission from your purchase at no cost to you.*

In my Importance of Organization post, which can be seen here, I mentioned my use of a planner. I hated being forced to use a planner in my school days, but now, I honestly couldn’t live without one!

In recent days, it seems that everyone is going to virtual scheduling. Not me. I still enjoy the “old school” route of paper and a pen. Actually having something to physically hold on to and see is something I prefer.

I love the satisfaction of filling my planner and being able to cross things off as I accomplish the them. Typically I list all the things I need to accomplish in a day.

I actually have two different planners. One that I use for my personal life for things like bill due dates, appointments, and to do lists. I have a second planner for my editorial calendar for my blog. In my editorial calendar, I schedule each part of my blog posts including outlining, drafting, editing, publication, and promoting.

My favorite planner right now is the See It Bigger Planner. This planner features monthly calendars, as well as a weekly planning section. The biggest factor I love about this planner is the amount of space for each day of the week.

These planners range in size, so they are perfect for everyone. I have one that I keep in my purse for personal use and the other is kept with all of my blogging materials. The two I chose have crazy cute designs. For those of you that prefer a more professional appearance, the planners also come in a variety of plain, tasteful colors.

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Interested in purchasing a planner? Click here to see all available planners.

Plan Like a Boss

For those of you that are currently using a planner, what is your favorite planner? What type of things do you list in your planner?

To those of you that are currently not utilizing a planner, what do you plan to use your planner for?

 

Things to Do Before Buying a Home

As a 90’s baby, I was never taught anything regarding credit. All I knew was that you had to have a good score to buy a car, a house, etc. Today, I learned a very important credit lesson in regards to purchasing a home. I learned that there are a lot of things to do before buying a home.

My boyfriend and I have been looking into getting a place of our own. I wanted to explore the option of actually buying and completely avoid renting. I had been building my credit score steadily through my visa credit card. I thought that I would be able to get a loan, no problem.

Boy was I wrong.

My boyfriend, mother and I went to look at a mobile home for sale this morning. It was “reasonably” priced, and we just wanted to take a look at this option. At the end of the showing, the realtors asked if I would like to speak to a credit advisor. I agreed. I wanted to know where I stood and what probability of my getting a loan.

Only fifteen minutes after leaving the showing, the advisor called me. I gave her my information (full legal name, address, and social security number) and she ran my credit report. She also asked for my work history (at least a full year)?

She was very kind and explained everything for me. She explained that while I have a terrific credit score, I only have one streamline of credit. That means I only have one thing contributing to my credit score rating (my Visa card). Loan investors typically require two different streams of credit, so that meant I was out.

Another issue was my work history. I have had four jobs over the course of two years and never more than eight months at a time at any of the jobs. This was the BIGGEST issue. She told me that investors won’t even give the application a second look if you don’t have solid work history.

My heart was crushed.

I had always thought as long as you had a good credit score, you would be approved for a loan. There is so much more to applying for and receiving a loan than I had thought. So I thought that I would provide you with a list of things to do before you try to apply for a loan.

Step 1. Building Your Credit

You can’t get a loan without credit. Plain and simple. The quickest way to build your credit is through credit cards. Apply for a credit card through your bank, this is the easiest way to get a credit card. After you get your card in the mail, make purchases. Start small, think gas or something you buy consistently. Pay those charges off immediately. If you can’t pay them off right after purchase, be sure to pay the statement balance ON TIME every month. Using this card every month will slowly but surely help build your credit score.

Step 2. Have Multiple Streams of Credit

As I stated above, many loan investors will overlook your application if you don’t have more than one streamline of credit. This means that you either have multiple credit cards, or have bills in your name along with a credit card.

Step 3: Contact a Loan Advisor

This step is vital. The advisor will let you know your credit score, and if you are able to get a loan. If you are unable to get a loan, the advisor will give you the appropriate steps you can take to get a loan.

Let this be a lesson to you! Follow these steps to ensure you are able to get a loan no problem!

Credit Building 101

Building or repairing credit can seem like a daunting task in the beginning. Luckily for you, I too was in your shoes a mere year ago. I had a credit score of zero. Yes, that’s right; zilch, zero, nada. I had no concept of credit, but thankfully with a little research I found ways to increase my credit score drastically.

In this post, I will outline the basics of building your credit score. I will also tell my personal story of how I grew my credit score from 0 to in the lower 700’s. Follow these steps to watch your credit score grow considerably!

One of the easiest ways to grow your credit score is to have bills put in your name. Always be sure to pay these bills on time and never make a late payment, as this can actually hurt your credit score. This is not the route I took, due to still living at home. All the bills were in my mother’s name, so this was not a doable option for me.

Option number two, which is also the “scarier” step for most people, is to get a credit card. This is the way I chose to build my credit, as I was unable to put bills in my name.

Choosing a credit card can be an overwhelming process. APR, interest, rewards; all of this was like a foreign language to me. You may as well have been speaking gibberish. As always, I decided to do a bit of research to find out what the best option was for me. In the end of my research, I ended up finding that my “home bank” actually offered a credit card! I signed up for this card, without much expectation. I wrote  $500 in the limit spot and was highly surprised to find that I was granted a limit of $1,000.

In other words, check with your local bank to see if they offer a credit card as this is the easiest option instead of going with a big company card.

Once I received my card in the mail, I wrote down a plan that I would follow when using the card. I would ONLY use the card for gas. I never came CLOSE to maxing out the card every month. I spent a maximum of $80 a month, and made sure I paid the bill on time, if not early. It was a diligent process, but over time, I knew the work would pay off.

I logged in to credit karma after seeing the commercials on TV as I was curious to see what my credit score was. I was shocked to see that my credit score was in the 700’s! Before I had received my credit card, Credit Karma was unable to even bring any data up for me.

Here’s an outline of some tips to use once you receive your credit card to promote a healthy credit score, as well as safety measures so you don’t go into debt with your new credit card.

Credit Building 101:

– Write out a plan of what you plan to use the card for, and stick to it. Whether that may be gas, groceries, etc.

– Make consistent purchases. You can’t grow your score if you aren’t using the card. Those purchases could be for example once a month, or once a week.

– Carefully mind your spending. Do not go over your spending limit! Actually I suggest not to come ANYWHERE close to it. I set a limit within my limit of only $200. I usually do not even come close to that number either.

–  Always make your payments on time and in full. Most cards actually charge a fee for late payments. Paying your payments in full will help you not get behind and go into debt.

If you follow this strategy religiously, I can guarantee you will drastically change your credit score.

What are YOU doing to increase your credit score?

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck!

Ending the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck sounds like a dream come true, right? Having enough money to pay ALL of your bills on time, and even having some left over seems unattainable, am I right? Well, actually, I couldn’t be more wrong.

No matter what your job is, or how much you make, there are ways to end living paycheck to paycheck. I will illustrate these solutions in easy to follow steps that anyone can implement into their daily lives to better get their money in check, and stop this vicious cycle.

The first thing you need to do, is to get a handle on your current money situation. The best way is to write out all of your expenses, with a total amount, so you can actually see where the money is going. You can’t begin to save money until you see how much you are bringing in as well as what you are spending.

Once you have a number for total expenses, you can then move to the next step, which is cutting back your spending. I know, I know, this is easier said than done at first. You will need to start by setting obtainable goals in each expense category where you think you will be able to save money. For instance, keep your thermostat at a lower temperature and wearing warmer clothes can cut back on your gas bill. You could also pack your lunch or cut back on going out to eat to only on special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries.

In addition to your current salary, look for other ways to add extra cash to your income. The options for this step are virtually unlimited! You could look into getting a part time job, or apply for raises and bonuses in your current job. Also, although furthering your education and be looked at as an expense, this could be beneficial long term investment.

The final and most vital step to this process is to visualize a bright future for yourself. Living paycheck to paycheck is usually a temporary situation. Whether you are a student furthering your education or that a raise is on the horizon for you, keep reminding yourself this is temporary. It does get better, and won’t last forever.

What are you willing to do to end the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck?

Kick Your Cable!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click the link and make a purchase, I will make a small commission from your purchase.*

Due to my mother recently having issues with her cable, I gathered inspiration for this blog post through her misfortune. Since moving into our new house in April of 2015, we have had nothing but problems with Dish TV. *please note, this is NOT a bad review for the company!*

My mother has talked about leaving Dish completely, and possibly transferring service to Direct TV. I am researching some options to cut cable completely to save money.

After only a few moments of research, I found one of the best options is to purchase an Amazon Firestick. This gives you access to Netflix, HBO Go, CBS, Hulu, ESPN, and Showtime. These are the basic applications available. This will turn any TV with a USB port, into a smart TV.

Please note, the Firestick does require an Internet connection.

Now I will get into the nitty-gritty details of the Amazon Firestick. There is an option to “jailbreak” or unlock a Firestick. This will give you the option to view any tv show or movie, new or old one hour after they air on live TV. This is done by downloading an application called Kodi to your Firestick. This does not take a super tech savvy person to do. I actually found a great tutorial to do this here. There are multiple tutorials available on this site, so choose the best option for you.

There are also people who sell Firesticks that are actually pre-jailbroken. These generally cost more, due to the labor put in to unlock the device. I would prefer to do it myself, honestly as it is the cheaper option.

I plan to purchase my Firestick through Amazon, and conduct the download of the necessary applications myself. I love saving money, so I plan to any way I can.

If you or someone you know would like to cut their cable bill out completely from your monthly budget, my best suggestion is to purchase an Amazon Firestick, and download Kodi.

If you are interested in purchasing a Firestick from Amazon (which is a great deal!), feel free to use my link below.

Purchase your Firestick Here!

2017 Goals

With the new year coming in less than twenty-four hours I have really been thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2017. Most of my focus will be put into my blog; I want to gain more traffic, followers on likes on ALL of my social media accounts, as well as my blog itself. I have already been doing research to accomplish this task.

Also, I want to expand my business from JUST blogging, to offering my services as a virtual assistant. I have an Associates Degree in Applied Business Technology which applies to overall administrative duties and office management. I am still doing tons of research on how to begin building my dream while using my degree.

I have other goals for 2017, such as wanting to make a full-time income through my blog and offering my services. I hope to be able to quit my full-time job to pursue my passion.

If you would like, follow along in my journey from broke to making money online doing what I love.

Also! Feel free to share your goals for 2017!

Why I Gave Up on Resolutions

Christmas is finally over, which means talk of New Years Resolutions are abundant. Everyone will be talking of hitting the gym, eating healthier, or trying to save money.

This year, I have decided to forego resolutions and I’m going to tell you why.

Far too many times I have seen people hitting the gym, eating healthy, or similar resolutions for only a few weeks and giving up because they aren’t seeing results.

I remember making resolutions, only lasting a month into the New Year. I grew tired of being *that* person. Instead, I have decided to make goals for myself. Smaller, attainable goals.

For example, I have set the goals of within a year, I want to make a full-time income through my services as a virtual assistant and my blog. That is my long term goal. Small time goals include within six months, I hope to find a new job, also that I want to perfect my skills as a VA (virtual assistant). In the next three months, I want to find my first client as a VA.

In the next few weeks, I plan to create a goal board. I will write a blog post along with the creation of the goal board.

Stay tuned!