There is Always so Much More to Discover.

I’ve always wanted to travel and experience new places. My dreams were not so far fetched, or so I thought. I considered that since my dreams were within my own country they would be more realistic. That I could just get a map, close my eyes, point and then go, but alas, it’s not simply that easy. At least not for me.

I’ve lived in the same area for 20 years now and I’ve done some visiting of other states, I even lived at a beach in Florida briefly, yet where I am has always been “home” to me.

I’m not saying I want to go run off and live somewhere else, but I know there’s a possibility to just fall in love with somewhere else. I know I don’t know everything or every place out there, I’m sure no one really does. There could be a perfect town or city just waiting for you, but you’d never know because you’ve never been. Some people don’t ever get to leave where they are and I don’t want that to be me.

I’m a mom, my husband and I have a large family. We do a lot of “adulting” so to speak, and sometimes feels like we have so much responsibility to where we are that we don’t make traveling a priority.  I would love to be able to go further than just 5 hours away and actually see different things, not the same old things all the time.

I want to see monuments, I want to see natural sights, I want to visit all the “largests and smallests” along the way, I want to know what all the fuss is about for different areas that are the “must sees”, I want to try as many little diner/dives that I can find. There is so much out there to see and I only have one time around to see it.

We bought an RV because I thought it’d be perfect for our large family and that we’d be able to travel with it, yet for nearly a year it’s sat parked with only taking it once to visit a lake 2 hours away. There are moments when I’m like this was such a waste, but then I get sad thinking of getting rid of it. It feels like LIFE just gets in the way sometimes; work, school, pets, money, scheduling. Not to mention how difficult it is to go anywhere without excessive planning, especially with a family our size. It will happen though, eventually. We will travel more!

I was on Facebook this morning and came across this site MapLoco that allows you to create a map of the states you’ve been. That’s when I knew for sure, we will go to each one even if it takes years to do it.

Here’s my map of states I’ve visited:

AR-DC-FL-GA-MD-NC-NY-OK-PA-SC-TN-VA-WV

You can create your own map here: http://m.maploco.com/visited-states/

I collect magnets and pennies everywhere I go. Not just the states, but places within the states. Regrettably, I didn’t always have the opportunity to get a magnet or penny from some places I went. One day though, I would love to have a huge collection of these. I love to create the memories.

18157229_1869662549970343_3093083935513445025_n18194970_1869662529970345_8838886926795519076_n

 

There is Always so Much More to Discover.

Understanding Income & Budgeting

“Man I would love to be able have money saved away, but we just can’t seem to do it.”
Surprisingly I hear that a lot and what people don’t want to hear in response is, “You should manage your money better.” Even though they think they already do, then there should be no reason not to have a savings, right?

Saving money takes dedication and discipline. From October 2013- April 2014 my husband and my 5 kids used to go out to eat frequently, sometimes spending up to $200 a week just in food. Do you realize that’s $800 a month??!! We stopped that once we looked back on all of our receipts. I couldn’t believe how much money we were wasting! Our living arrangement at the time allowed us to have less overhead, but at the same time we were trying to save for our future, so we had to put our foot down and hard. We started planning for our 1-year goal of saving for a down payment on a house. Finally with our savings, an insurance claim and the rest from our tax return we reached our goal to have savings by March 2015.

So my husband and I put that savings towards the down payment on a $69,000 home last year (April 2015) with a 12 year mortgage. While our income was at $1,400 a month. However, because of my money management skills, we’ll have it paid off in 5 more years (June 2021). Our income has doubled that since then, which allows us the ability to save even more towards our financial goals.

A lot of people are smokers or have other habits. That will also be a decision you have to make if you’re really looking to save. October 2015 we decided to quit cold turkey from smoking cigarettes. That’s saved us an additional $108 a month.

Since purchasing our home, his employment upgrade, our budgeting skills and our lifestyle we’ve been able to accumulate a savings that cushions us in such a way that we are not struggling and going “paycheck to paycheck” as most put it. I would love to be able to help others reach some sort of financial freedom as well but my advice is only going to go so far if you aren’t motivated.

—————————————————————–

Firstly, you have to come to the realization that there is NO such thing as “extra money”.
A lot of problems I see is this:

Jill’s monthly income is $860.00 and her expenses are $684.00 which leaves her $176.00 after paying bills.

Jill decides she’s going to go get lunch then to a nail appointment, she spends $35.00. She runs to a few stores and sees a nice pair of shoes and a shirt, she spends $50.00. Then she takes her boyfriend to dinner and spends $45.00. That leaves her $46.00.

You can see now that Jill could have made better financial choices. Yes, her bills were all paid. But now she has $46.00 cash to last her until she gets paid again, when she could have have saved a larger portion of it.

Here’s an example of why a savings plan is a good idea:

Jill puts $125.00 in a savings account and has $51.00 cash to spend as she wants. She will be more frugal with the $51 than she was with the $176.

Jill could continue to save this way for a year. Making her savings account $1,500.00 before any interest. Considering the lifestyle Jill was living before she started saving. She would continue to be living paycheck to paycheck and blowing away all the “extra”.

———————————————————————-

I’m not here to tell you all how to spend your money, I’m here to help you understand how to manage it better in your best interest. I know it took my husband some getting used to the idea that money he’s “worked long and hard for” can’t be spent on things he wanted. When he finally realized, he has everything he needs and he wants stability more than he wants material items. Boy, was a happy to hear him finally come to terms with saving and not spending. (I didn’t blame him though, he was accustomed to a job with $6,400+ monthly income before we even met but with nothing to show for it) He’s always joking telling me he wished he had known me back when he was at that job because we’d have things to show for it. I agree sometimes, it would have been nice, but I appreciate the struggle we had starting out and the memories we’ve created since because starting from the ground has allowed us to grow as a couple and to build towards our future.

But… enough about us. Let’s get you started on figuring out what exactly your budgeting looks like. Bare necessities. Get ready to do some math. Get a pen and paper. Write these columns.

  • Housing (rent/mortgage & insurance if any)
  • Utilities & Phone (this is all utilities and all phones)
  • Necessity (Groceries/Food)
  • Misc (toilet paper, soap, shamp/cond diapers, wipes, anything you purchase monthly)
  • Transportation (Car Insurance/Car Payment/ Gas)
  • Entertainment (Cable/Internet)
  • Savings

Now you might not know exactly what your extra expenses look like. Well if you handle a lot in cash and you don’t keep receipts I can see how that can run away from you. I guess a few  tips would be: KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS, USE A DEBIT CARD AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE (to be able to review transactions online) or WRITE DOWN IN A NOTEPAD EVERY TIME YOU SPEND MONEY CASH. Now if you do have an idea, take your total expense for each category and divide it by your monthly income and you come up with your percentage. If your housing is $500 and your monthly income is $1,500, then your housing percent is 33%. Then you continue. Then you add up the percent, whatever the difference is, is the amount leftover for savings. On your paper you should be able to see the exact dollar amount to what you have leftover.

If there is nothing leftover… then you may want to re-evaluate where your money is going and how you can possibly cut back on some expenses. You should not be living above your means, if you are serious about starting a savings plan, you will need to make sacrifices and in the long run it will pay off. Believe me.

I’ve provided an example of my current income budgeting chart. Once you’ve got your numbers, you can create your own over at meta-chart.com

incomebudgeting

 

I hope you found this post helpful and maybe inspiring. I wish you all the best. If you have any questions feel free to email me at Meredith.Stone724@gmail.com

Understanding Income & Budgeting

Following Our Dreams

The realization that my goals are being met after creating them is a good feeling, having a strategy on how to get to them realistically, the execution of said goals and the success I feel when they are met is great.

In January 2014 we were car shopping and I knew I wanted a Honda van and he wanted an Audi, within 2 weeks of deciding a budget, we found the Audi and bought it and the next day the van and bought it, spending exactly how much we wanted to spend.

That same year we started saving for our own place. We did some house hunting within that year but found nothing until one day in March 2015 I saw a house online and I wrote a proposal for it because I knew I wanted it and I could feel that energy bubbling over. When we pulled up to it I said to him “look at our new house”. I walked in the front door and within seconds I told him, this is it. I had my paperwork in the car and we made him an offer right on the spot. He even made the other family looking at the house leave while we talked it over. Later that evening I got the call that he accepted our offer and he even gave it to us for less than we offered and said he was impressed with my proposal and the numbers I had come up with. We put a down payment on our first home together the very next day. We knew it was the best investment for us versus renting because we were spending more up front but the monthly payment was the same and a month later we closed on it. So while he was making $8.00 an hour and I was babysitting we purchased our first home.

Another goal, divorces, we already had our wedding date planned, I was kind of worried that things would interfere, but the lawyers got that done in 4 months last year. Then we patiently awaited the date to arrive, the date I always wanted as my marriage anniversary July 24.

In our entire time together, we’ve never made a late payment on anything. I’ve always had our bills paid on time. It still amazes me how we’ve done it considering things were not always so easy for us, but we made it through. We’ve made sacrifices so that we could have everything we needed and not live beyond our means. We did what we had to do to get by and still be able to save money for the goals mentioned before.

Thinking about when we first got together, he told me together we can do anything, and now I really do believe him. We’ve had more successes in the 2 short years we’ve been together versus the 9 years combined that I was with my ex husbands. I think that finally finding that happiness and that alignment in our lives has allowed us to be more of a positive vibrational match to what we want out of our lives. Its incredible. I know we can make all of our goals a reality and I’m ready to work towards them all.

You can reach your goals too! You just have to create them, include a strategy on how to reach them, follow that plan and then reap the benefits of your success no matter what they are!

 

12439543_1655867974683136_8312283165063587734_n12524047_1655870678016199_263295827722989374_n

 

Following Our Dreams