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Disclaimer: I am not a professional. I am the average consumer who has gone through the process of becoming debt free. This was our method, and I hope it is useful to anyone looking for “real-life” budgeting advice.
A couple steps ago in this series we found all of our bills and statements for the month of March and wrote down where every penny went. I haven’t forgotten that there are eleven other months to the year, so let’s take a moment to look at the calendar and plan now for expenses that we know we’ll end up facing later.
Step 6 – Planning Ahead
Car insurance is a great example of this. It’s typically paid every six months and can be a hefty bill. However, if we can break it down into six pieces and include one piece each month in our budget, then writing that check when the insurance bill arrives really won’t be that big of a deal.
Speaking of car insurance, have you called around to different companies and compare prices? Did you see if adding or combining insurance policies would save you money?
Yes, I’m checking to see if you did your homework. 😉
Mr. Crumbs and I were able to save $10 on our car insurance premiums by adding renter’s insurance to our policy. Yes, you read correctly – we added to our policy and our bill was less!
Homeowners insurance, property taxes, federal/state tax returns, annual family vacations, spending Memorial Day at the lake, renting a park for a birthday party, Christmas, birthdays gifts (including your friends and your kid’s friends), anniversaries… those are just some ideas to get your juices flowing. Every family will have a different situation, so be sure to look at your calendar so you don’t miss anything.
Since we’re focusing on creating a budget to pay off debt, I want to offer some advice in the gift-giving arena. First, considering not giving any gifts – to anyone – for one full year. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day… I know we celebrate these with good intentions, but flowers, Hallmark cards and candy can really add-up, and most of the time cards get tossed and the flowers die. Be creative and think of free and more rewarding gifts:
- Weeds to most, but Moms welcome flowers picked from the playground and homemade cards with scribbled letters spelled backwards and upside down.
- Dads may appreciate the gift of a clean car (inside and out, that you did yourself) or allowing an all-day-sportsathon with a prime spot on the recliner. Offering intermittent snack and beverage service would be icing on the cake!
- Treat your spouse to a special walk and a candlelight “picnic” in the living room for Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.
- Breakfast in bed or a week off of chores would be a wonderful birthday gift at any age!
Whatever you do, remember to celebrate the true meaning of holidays – they’re about people, not stuff.
And if you really want to give someone a gift, consider setting a limit of $5 and buying a gift card to a coffee shop or sandwich shop. I know I’d LOVE to have a $5 gift card to Starbucks in my wallet, just waiting for a no-good-reason-special-day to treat myself. Having the option of a Subway sandwich instead of a packed sandwich could be the cure to a crummy day at the office.
Whatever you do, plan for them now and include even small expenses in your monthly budget.
What do you do for gifts while maintaining a budget?
Disclaimer, Part 2: I know that there are families who have made poor financial decisions, or have found themselves in a difficult financial situation – many times through no fault of their own. My posts are never intended to hurt anyone, nor will they apply to everyone. I sincerely hope that sharing my experiences will help someone. Please only take what you find helpful (if any) to aid your particular situation.
All Posts in This Series:
Step 1 – Commit to the IdeaStep 2 – Determine What’s Coming In
Step 3 – Determine What’s Going Out
Step 4 – Determine Needs vs. Wants
Step 5 – Reducing the Needs
Step 6 – Planning Ahead
Step 7 – The Unexpected
Step 8 – Doing the Bills
If I were to write a book on debt, no joke, From Debtor to Better would be it. It’s like reading my own thoughts, but with even more detail (which is kinda scary!). It covers everything debt related: discipline, budgeting, cars, mortgages, insurance just to name a few, and it is SO funny! You will literally be laughing out loud as you read the inside secrets as to how Barry Myers paid off $20,000 worth of debt in less than one year. A must read for anyone trying to get their finances under control.
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