How I Took Charge Of My Money And Began To Feel Rich, Part 1

At the end of 2014 I owed about $8000 on a car loan and was struggling to pay all my bills monthly.  Today, with no huge change in income, I have paid off the car, paid almost $5000 extra principal on my mortgage, and never struggle with money.  As a matter of fact, I often tell my husband “we are standing under a money waterfall”.  What changed?

I heard somewhere about YNAB, which stands for “you need a budget”.  Let me guess, your first thought is “that sounds boring,” right?  Well, standing under the money waterfall isn’t boring at all!

YNAB is a simple to use tool that makes budgeting and tracking your spending a breeze.  It lets you import transactions from all your bank accounts, and tells you know exactly where your money is going.  If I can do it, anyone can – believe me.  I am quite math challenged, but I found it easy to understand and use.  I spend about 15 minutes twice a week catching up, and now I find I have plenty of money.

Money bag

They say anything you track will improve.  For example, if you record everything you eat, you’ll often find you eat much less than usual.  I found this to be absolutely true with money.  I began paying attention on Jan. 1, 2014, and it was easy to make good choices, curb impulse spending, stop eating out so much.

Where did I find the biggest savings?  I tried to focus on one thing at a time, and picked the low hanging fruit first.  Restaurants were the first thing to go.  I began cooking at home almost daily, and simplified meals considerably.  This saved money, time and work!  Yay!

Utility costs were next.  I installed LED bulbs to replace incandescent and halogen lights everywhere.  My electric and water are billed together.  We went from monthly budget payments of $139 to $79.  That is a 43% decrease, I was amazed!

I began reading blogs about frugality and early retirement.  My favorite is Mr. Money Mustache.  His blog is stuffed with information about how to live frugally and be happier than ever.  I can honestly say I’m happier now than I was before I started reading his blog.   His tagline is “Early Retirement Through Badassity”.  Don’t read this blog if swearing bothers you, but I find the judicious and creative use of swearing enhances my reading.  I recommend you read all his posts from the beginning of time.  It will take you a while, but you will be transformed by his writing.  You don’t have a deadline so go slowly and savor it.  Take what works for you and leave the rest, don’t get hung up on stuff that you can’t see working in your own life.  Just take the juicy bits that apply to you.  Read the comments.  You’ll get so many ideas and information on how to make your money work to make you rich(er).

Next, I bought a Nest thermostat.  I turned my thermostat down at night, now I wear adequate clothes in the house instead of turning up the heat automatically.  I monitor each day’s energy use, it takes less than a minute.  My gas company tells me I’m among the most efficient customers.

This all led to a cascade of changes – I’ll write more about those in a future blog post.

I estimate that I’ve saved literally 100 times the $60 cost of the software since I bought it.  This is in mortgage and car payment interest, money spent on stupid impulse buys and restaurants, and other little leaks that all add up.  I will pay my house off about 4 years early (10 year mortgage).  I have no trouble paying big expenses, like semi-annual property taxes.  I save for nice vacations.  We may buy some rental properties once the mortgage is paid off.

YNAB has great customer support and training, not just on using the software, but on the way you think about money and use it.  It will absolutely change the way your financial affairs play out.  You’ll be able to plan for big expenses, and never scramble to pay for emergencies like unforeseen car repairs again.  Because car repairs aren’t really a surprise, are they?  We all know a car will eventually need some kind of work – YNAB helps you prepare for such “emergencies”, which aren’t really emergencies at all.  And if you do have a true emergency, wouldn’t it be nice if your financial affairs were not in a big snarl?  Who needs that on top of everything else?

Would you like to try YNAB for yourself?  Here’s a code for $6 off your purchase.  Disclosure: This is a referral link, if you purchase YNAB through this link you’ll save $6 (10%) on the purchase and I will make $6.  It’s a win-win.

I hope you’ll try YNAB if you are struggling to manage your money.  I’d love to hear from any current or new users in the comments.

 

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Friday Finds Nov. 6, 2015

This week we begin with a poem.

Love This Tatoo From How To Be A Bitch 101

“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” ― Mary Oliver, Dream Work –

 

Mr. Money Mustache solves the world’s problems here.  Ok, maybe not every problem, but he has some great ideas about things we all see around us.  I love that he recommends a book on personal happiness by the Dalai Lama in this post.

 

Wicked Witch From Snow White
Wicked Witch From Snow White

Here’s a post about from NPR that discusses why old women are often the face of evil in fairy tales and folklore.  I found this fascinating!

And for the fiber lovers, here is something for you.  What would you create with these glorious colors?  You can see more pictures of these wool rolags in my Etsy shop.

Juicy New Rolags
Juicy New Rolags

Until next week, stay curious!

 

 

 

My Five Favorite Blogs and Why I Read Them

We all have our favorite sources of inspiration and learning. Right now I’m intensely interested in personal development, marketing and fiber arts.

Five of my favorite blogs (today and in no particulary order) are:
Marketing Creativity by Lisa Jacobs. Lisa is a marketing genius. She says so many things that resonate so deeply with me. I learn so much from every post she shares! For example, this post is a direct result of her post titled “27 Blog Topics You Can’t Wait To Write About“.

27-Blog-Topics-Marketing-Creativity

Mr. Money Mustache writes about living the good life frugally. I took real control of our finances last year after paying little attention for 25+ years (hanging my head in shame), and MMM, as his readers fondly call him, was instrumental in me getting my act together. I have saved a lot of money and paid thousands of extra dollars toward my mortgage principal this year and will finish my mortgage years early, all thanks to this blog. His slogan is Early Retirement Through Badassity. All the swearing is an extra plus!

Technically this isn’t a blog but a website, but I love it anyway. A Prairie Home Companion is my favorite thing on the radio. I usually can’t listen to it live, but can catch up here. I always laugh out loud at some point during this show. Garrison Keillor is a god. Smart men are so sexy!

GarrisonKeillorHoldingGlasses250_0

Handmadeology features many articles about Etsy and other training for small business, like this one on why Etsy sellers should explore selling on Tophatter. Tophatter is a live auction site that is billed the world’s most entertaining market place. I’m thinking about giving it a whirl.

Declare Dominion is a blog for women who want to be Epic Fucking Badasses. Anna’s motto is If You Want To Have A Beautiful Life You Have To Be Fierce About It.

Fierce is a badly overused word right now. If I hear Tyra Banks say “fierce” one more time, I might have to leave the room when the kids watch America’s Next Top Model.  Anna uses “fierce” properly. The dictionary says “fierce” means showing a heartfelt and powerful intensity. And that is the way she writes her beautiful stuff.

MEANT-TO-BE(pp_w450_h450)

Her post on “Make Your Own Meant To Be” is a good example of her writing and outlook. She encourages women to create the life they want. Another blog with plenty of swearing which I consider a plus.

There are lots of great blogs out there, and if you ask me next week, I can guarantee that my top five will be somewhat different. I’d love to hear from my readers about other great blogs that you consider to be required reading.