I will be the first to admit that I am not a mindful spender. I like to attribute part of the problem to the dollar bins at Target. If you can go into target and walk past those dollar bins and not put a single item in your shopping cart, you have more self-control in your pinky finger than I could probably ever possess. GOOD. FOR. YOU.
They say the first step in getting help is admitting the problem right? Well here it goes…I know I have a problem mindlessly spending money. The majority of the time when I am mindlessly spending money I find it is on items I could most likely live without.
Amazon, I am talking to you.
Eating & Shopping. Those are the two activities I catch myself doing mindlessly when I am bored. Can anyone relate?
We are only 18 days into 2019. Of course, everyone has been declaring resolutions right and left, which will most likely be abandoned (if they haven't already) by the end of the month.
I mean let's be real, January is a really a trial month anyways.
I feel like the word "resolution" makes it harder to achieve whatever change or action you have decided to do. It is almost like there is a heavier responsibility and burden that comes with declaring a resolution.
Instead, I have created a goal (pretty much the same thing as a resolution, but in my head it sounds more attainable) for myself to become a more mindful and practical spender, both of my time and money (but mostly money).
After much soul searching and internet browsing I have found some helpful tips. And, believe it or not, a few of these I already do, #winning.
Think Before Spending
A few questions to run through before making that new top, cup of coffee, or random Amazon purchase.
I don’t know about you, but it is much easier for me to swipe my debit card than it is to hand over cash. I will hold on to cash until I absolutely have to spend it. Even more so, I hate breaking large bills. I do not know what it is, but it almost feels as if a piece of my heart breaks when I break large bills. Maybe it is the physical act of having to watch myself hand over the cash that makes it so hard to part with, whereas when I swipe my card I don’t actively see the money go unless I open up my mobile banking app. Not only is it beneficial to have cash handy in case of an emergency and you can’t access an ATM, it has definitely kept me from making some unnecessary purchases.
Have a friend or a family member hold you accountable. Whether it is for your shopping habits, working out, eating better, find an accountability partner. Let’s all be honest here, it is so much easier to point out the faults in others before we point them out in ourselves. Find someone who is able to not only point out your bad habits, but who also identifies and celebrates your successes with you.
Name-brand sometimes isn’t always the best brand. I am a firm believer that there are certain things to splurge on and get the name brand. But, there a lot more items that serve the exact same purpose as the name brand items and are cheaper. Look for sales, coupons, or specials on items. It is perfectly acceptable to be picky and shop around for the best deals. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Check out bargain stores too. Some of those overpriced items tend to make their way to places like Bargain Hunt or Dirt Cheap where you can get them for a hefty discount. Trust me, I just bought two pairs of shoes for $5 each, originally costing $45 each. **cue happy dance
An Attitude of Gratitude
Gratitude goes a long way. The truth of the matter is, this day in age it is so incredibly easy to mindlessly spend our time and money. We have the world at our fingertips, but that is no excuse to not be grateful. I am guilty of filling the void of boredom with random online shopping sprees or getting completely sucked into a Netflix binge. When you catch yourself in the midst of those things, take some time go outside and get some fresh air. Better yet, go for a walk, a run, a hike, a bike ride; anything that gets you up and moving. Or…if you’re going to be on your phone send someone you love a text and let them know why you’re thankful they are in your life. I promise it will make their day and yours a little brighter.
Recently, I have had several opportunities to adopt a puppy. And while I am always eager to play with puppies, watch cute puppy videos and even see pictures of puppies, I was very hesitant when actually having to decide if I wanted to commit to becoming a dog mom.
Whether you are considering adopting a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, or fish, caring for a pet is a life time commitment. While there are many benefits of adding a pet to the family, there are many things to consider when deciding to make the commitment.
Pets can be so exciting and frustrating all at the same time. And while an animal will provide joy and fulfillment, companionship, and even help boost your social life and health, they require a lot of time, and tangible items such as food, shelter, medical care, and other supplies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Americans spend a substantial amount of money on the care and feeding of their animals. In 2015, households spent an average of $528 on pets.” It is only practical to weigh out the monetary costs that accompany pet ownership, before making the leap into becoming a crazy pet parent.
When considering adding a fury, or maybe not so fury, family member, ultimately it is best to see if your budget will allow for you to give the animal the time, love, and home it deserves.
Here are a few things to include when budgeting for your new pet.
There are so many options for pet adoptions. There are shelters and rescues that have different animals available for adoption. Most of these pets are a little older and are up to date on their shots and medical care. Also, because we live in a world that revolves around social media, there are always people looking to find homes for puppies, or even rehome their pets for all types of circumstances. Depending on which situation you go with, in my experience, the adoption costs can vary and it is important to factor it in when budgeting. The benefit is it is a one-time cost, not a monthly expense.
Let’s not be naïve, puppies chew. EVERYTHING. Kittens claw and climb. Hamsters are escape artists and nocturnal. Before bringing your new friend home, you might want to make sure your home has been pet-proofed. Not only does this mean putting up anything you don’t want becoming an impromptu chew toy or scratching post, but also locking away hazardous chemicals that your pets may accidentally ingest. This may mean investing in containers that can be sealed to protect the animals.
Just like humans, our pets need food to be healthy and energetic. Go ahead and add pet food to your grocery shopping list as an added expense. If you have a cat or kitten you will need to budget for kitty litter. Hamsters need proper shavings in their habitats to keep them healthy as well.
Some pets are extremely low maintenance when it comes to supplies, and others are extremely high maintenance. Puppies especially. The early years are probably the hardest when training your new pup where they are allowed and not allowed if they are kept inside. Here are just a few supplies you would need to account for in your budget.
Every pet needs general health care in order to live a long, happy and healthy life style. Yearly vaccinations help with flea and parasite control. Depending on if you will breed your pet, there are also spaying and neutering costs. There are also the unforeseen veterinary emergencies that you will need to be prepared for as well.
Training isn’t essential to every pet but should also be factored in. Especially for dogs, there is obedience, protection, and potty training should you wish to inquire someone else’s help. Training can become pretty expensive depending on the extent of training you are wanting for your pet. There is also a free option of training your pet yourself. There are plenty of tips, tricks, blogs, and video tutorials readily available on the internet!
Owning a pet brings so much joy to a family. It helps foster a sense of responsibility for younger children; it reduces stress, provides companionship, and helps create lasting memories. Being financially responsible enough to budget out all of the costs associated with becoming a pet parent helps determine if you are emotionally ready for all the time animals need to thrive. Budgeting out pet costs help ensure that you are ready to provide a long, happy, healthy life for your new family members.
As for me, I have decided becoming a dog mom is exactly the journey I want to take for 2019!
The free budgeting tool provided by the ēCO Educational Center HERE helped me budget out the costs for whenever I do find the perfect pet for me. You should check it out too!
It was the fall of 2014; I was a sophomore in college at the University of Montevallo. I was a Mass Communication major but my sister had talked me into minoring in Business, because really what could it hurt? If anything, it would force me to take classes that would help me become financially responsible, and if my major failed me there was always the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Okay, really I just took the classes so it would look good to add “Business Minor” on my resume, or well I told myself it would look good on my resume.
After graduating and looking back, I am extremely grateful I ended up in at least one of those classes. Which, I came to find out I really didn’t even need for a business minor, but I took it anyway. General Business with Harry Hamilton. BEST. CLASS. EVER. If you are a current Montevallo student, unfortunately, you can’t take this class. Dr. Hamilton retired in 2017.
Fortunately, I have had access to an amazing education throughout my life. I remember a lot of my teachers and professors, but even more so there are specific lessons that I have carried throughout life.
But, getting back to the point, here I am the first week of classes as a sophomore in college. I am sitting in Dr. Hamilton’s class and he walks in and the first thing he tells us is, “I am going to teach you how to be a millionaire by the end of this semester.” Of course, my ears perk up, because who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?
I will readily admit I paid more attention in that class than any of my other business classes, because of course I wanted to know the secret to being rich.
The last day before the final exam Dr. Hamilton told us the secret, “Marry for money, the love will come”. I remember the class sitting there completely dumbfounded and very unsure if he was being serious or joking.
He was joking. If you know Dr. Hamilton, you have probably heard this advice before, and you know his personality and this shouldn’t shock you. After laughing and carrying on for a little while explaining why this was the best advice we would ever receive he decided to tell us the REAL way to become a millionaire.
Brace yourselves; this may come as a shock. Dr. Hamilton told us the easiest way to become a millionaire was to start a savings account and start saving money immediately.
Again, the class sat there silently, dumbfounded and very unsure if he was still joking with us. He wasn’t. He pulled up websites and charts and explained the concept of compound interest to a room of about twenty-five students, who ranged in age from 19 to 28.
We learned how compound interest, which is interest calculated on the initial principal and also on the accumulated interest of previous periods of a deposit or loan, helps your money grow faster. Meaning, the sooner you start that savings account, the sooner the compound interest kicks in and the faster you become a millionaire.
I like to think about it as a house. Starting a savings account and your contribution, whether it is yearly, monthly, daily, whatever works best for your situation, is the foundation. The compound interest is then like the bricks that build the house. So just as you build a house brick on brick on brick, the interest builds interest on interest on interest.
I remember one of the guys who sat in the back and never spoke, said “It can’t be that easy?” After the class got over the initial shock of hearing this kid speak and Dr. Hamilton jokingly remarking about his ability to speak and participating in the lesson, Dr. Hamilton explained how it is easy, but also difficult.
It really is that easy to become a millionaire, but it requires discipline and patience, and that is the hard part. You see, that compound interest doesn’t accumulate overnight. It takes years. Several years.
It is probably the hardest thing to sit back and watch as others around you purchase new homes, cars, and other fun toys. But, is it really worth it when you are stressed out each month trying to pay for all of those new, fun things while also trying to pay the necessary bills?
Plus, I have found the shine and sparkle tend to wear off pretty quick on those new toys, but the price tag doesn’t. Being disciplined enough to save, when there are endless amounts of temptation around you telling you to spend, is not an easy obstacle to overcome.
According to this study, done by some people that are a lot smarter than I am, it takes about 66 days to form a habit. If you can discipline yourself to save a little every day for 66 days, next thing you know it will be a piece of cake to save a little from every paycheck! Even Aristotle said it, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
If I have heard this once, I have heard it a million times. Patience is a virtue. It is so extremely hard though.
We live in a society where we do not have to be patient. We have the world at our fingertips. We have all of the answers at the click of a button. It is not easy being patient but I have learned valuable lessons in learning patience.
Patience helps foster humility, gratitude and happiness. I have learned so much more and taken more pride in the things I have had to be patient and work hard for, rather than those that came so easily.
Saving is hard. Money management is hard. Being financially responsible is hard. If we’re being honest life is hard.
Going back to those life lessons I learned from teachers and educators, probably one of the most influential lessons I ever learned, besides marrying for money of course, is nothing in life worth having ever came easy.
So, if you have made it this far in this post, you’ve learned a little about my life and I hope you learned a little from Dr. Hamilton. Lucky for you, you didn’t have to pay for the class.
Marry for Money. Just kidding.
Start saving ASAP.
Compound interest is your best friend.
Be disciplined. Be patient.
Life is hard, but it’s worth it.
Have you ever dreamt of being paid for the work that you did months ago, maybe even years ago? Have you ever imagined waking up and going to work not because you have to but because you actually want to? And have you ever thought that instead of floating through life, you could discover what you were put on this Earth to do?
All the answers to these questions come together in two simple, yet very powerful words: financial freedom.
My story is like most; a middle class upbringing, nice things but nothing over the top and weekends at the ballpark. It's not until I got into professional baseball that I discovered how truly important financial education really was.
All my teammates and I constantly got caught up in seeing the huge multi-million dollar contracts. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of athletes eventually earn that huge payday. The rest of us had to figure out how to make things work on a below minimum wage salary during the season.
As I continued to play hard, I also wanted to be realistic. I asked myself, “I believe I will make it, but what if I don’t?”
So I began my research on how to make money. Looking over list after list of books to read, I started to see a pattern of the same few books in every article. I had read a few but finally stumbled onto the book that changed my perspective forever. That book is titled Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
This book completely flipped my view upside down on how I looked at everything involving investing and money. Prior to reading it, I had been consumed with working extremely hard to make money by “trading my time for money.”
In the book, I learned the ways of how affluent people earn their wealth; not by trading their time for money, but rather exchanging their time to acquire assets.
An asset and a liability are the two easiest terms in finance: an asset puts money into your pocket. A liability takes money out of your pocket. It’s that simple.
Once I understood this concept, it became my obsession to acquire assets. But, how could I accumulate something that I didn't even know what it was or looked like? So I kept reading and learning.
I figured out that there are three types of income; active income-which is trading time for money, portfolio income- which is making money when you buy low and sell high and passive income- which pays you without having to be actively involved.
So I said to my mentor, “So you're telling me that there is an investment out there where I don't have to do anything and it still pays me?” He exclaimed, “Yes! And it's called real estate!”
My eyes were wide open and I was giddy to learn. I asked him to explain more to me. “Here is how it works, Nolan. I buy a single family home, I find a tenant to sign a lease, then they are legally obligated to pay me rent each and every month. And once you own enough properties to have your passive rental income exceed your monthly living expenses, you will have achieved financial freedom.”
I was ecstatic. It was like I struck gold. So now my down time began to revolve around buying property to increase my passive income. I became obsessed with surrounding myself with leaders and mentors who were currently doing this. And to my surprise, almost every person I came across was more than willing to lead and teach.
I realized that each leader and mentor was actually excited to teach me about real estate! They were so passionate about teaching others; not to talk about their own success, but because they realized how impactful passive investing was in their lives that they wanted to share what they were doing with others.
Now that I am in similar shoes, I have a very similar approach. I love referring the Rich Dad Poor Dad book not because I want to talk about my successes, but because the book opened my eyes to a whole new world of how to earn money…and I want others to also experience that feeling.
The biggest lesson that I have learned from these successful individuals was how important our time is. Our time on Earth is finite and limited, so how we spend our time is what gives us true meaning and purpose.
So to come full circle, I’ve realized that if I want to pursue my passions and ambitions in life, passive income through real estate investing allows me the freedom to spend my time how I want.
If I want to go to the beach, I can. If I want to spend a week with my parents, I can. If I want to work 14 hour days on my side businesses, I can, because I am not forced to trade my time for money through a 9-5 day job. My passive income pays for my lifestyle.
This is not an ‘everybody look at me’ story. This is something that is incredibly achievable for anyone. With just a little time invested, curiosity and humble approach, your life can change for the better forever. Understanding assets and liabilities and how passive income works is what allows for financial freedom.
When I am a parent, I’ll want to go to the gymnastics meets on the weekends and coach the little league baseball teams; and real estate will allow me the freedom to do that.
And best yet and most important, I’ll be able to teach my kids the value of things in life…not just the price.