Is a Debt Free Life Possible?

Is a Debt Free Life Possible?

Is a Debt Free Life Possible? - PreparaMom

One of the biggest dreams for a lot of us out there is the idea of becoming 100% debt free in life. Imagine that: no credit card bills or car payment, no worrying if you are going to make it to the next paycheck. Is such a dream even possible?

 

I am 100% proof that it is!

 

But before you start thinking that I’m going to sell you on some “get-rich-quick” scheme that is going to take care of all your money woes, let me set your mind at ease. The real question for you should be “How committed are you to getting out of debt and (most importantly) STAYING out of debt?”

 

In our case, it took us about 3 years to get rid of our debt. That was three very long, very tiring, and very painful years that saw stress on top of stress piling up.

 

Every week, it seemed like we just wanted to throw up our hands and call it quits on the plan because it was so hard to say no to things like social gatherings, vacations, eating out, and shopping sprees. But in the end, we managed to stay the course and rid ourselves of $120,000 of consumer debt.

 

How did we pull off this miracle paying off debt? Here’s what we did that you can do too:

 

1. Get clear on every cent that comes in and goes out.

 

That means create a detailed budget so that you know exactly how much you are spending. Don’t just check your checking account. The real culprits are how much you are racking up on credit cards for nonessential items each month.

 

2. Once you know just how much is coming in, you need to axe every single expenditure that is not essential.

 

So, what qualifies as non-essential? Cable TV, subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and yes, even, those regular lattes at Starbucks.

 

3. Work extra.

 

This may sound painful, but you can’t just cut money going out. You are going to have to add money coming in. If you are working hourly, pick up as many extra hours as you can. If not, look for a second job or some other way to bring in secondary income. This doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment; just until you get a handle on your finances and get yourself out of debt.

 

4. The two biggest areas you can cut out, for most people, is eating out and going on vacations.

 

Instead, eat for much less by cooking at home and then save your money with a nice staycation.

 

5. Essentially, every single penny that comes in goes to pay off the essential bills.

 

After you cover your essentials, any money that is left over goes towards paying off the debt.

There should be no exceptions to this.

 

The bottom line is that you have to learn to live below your means and resist the temptations that crop up all the time to buy things that you don’t absolutely need.

 

We did this, day-in-and-day-out, for three years. It sucked (big time)! But it has been so worth it because now we get to enjoy our hard-earned money instead of saying goodbye to it every payday and handing it over to the creditors before anything else. This is also a HUGE lesson that we are trying to impart to our children so that they can start off on the right foot with money management.

 

Be Prepared with Exactly What You Need!

 

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Don’t find yourself needing first aid supplies only to stop at the closest store and pay more than you need. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

3 Fun Ways to Start Talking to Your Kids About Money

3 Fun Ways to Start Talking to Your Kids About Money

3 Fun Ways to Start Talking to Your Kids About Money - PreparaMom

If you think back to your childhood and imagine the one thing you wish you had been taught as a kid, I’m going to bet that money management is going to come up near the top of the list.

 

After the “birds and the bees” talk, this can be one of the toughest things to explain to your kids. The hardest part about teaching money skills to kids, I think, is taking the extra time and effort out of our already busy schedule to talk to them and show them things about it while also being consistent with it. (Consistency is one of those things that we all have to work on, but when it comes to money that’s especially true.)

 

If money management skills are something you haven’t already started, it can be done with three really super simple things.

 

1. Play Money

 

One of the very first things we did when the kids were around four and six was we started playing the Monopoly board game with them.  There are lots of variations on Monopoly right now, including some specifically made for little kids, but the core concept is always the same.

It introduces the concept of collecting money and buying “houses” as well as having to pay rent. This makes learning about money fun and competitive. Nowadays, there are plenty of board games that make learning about money fun and easy, including one called Act Your Wage from money guru Dave Ramsey.

 

2. Piggy Banks

3 Fun Ways to Start Talking to Your Kids About Money - PreparaMom

Another thing we did early on was to buy the kids their own set of piggy banks. Like with any new “toys,” they loved them and couldn’t wait to start putting money into them.

We had “Spend, Save, and Give” banks and explained to them what each was for. The spend and save banks are pretty obvious. It’s important for your kids to decide how much of their money they want to spend and how much they want to save and to see that their decisions with money have consequences.

But the “Give” bank is also important because it encourages your child to set aside money to share with charity groups. There are a lot of different piggy banks you can buy out there, or you can make this a little more personalized by having them create their own.

 

3. Chore Chart

 

Finally, we started a chore chart where our kids are able to earn $0.25 for each chore they complete. Now, we aren’t talking about paying them that much for cutting the grass or weed-eating the flower-beds. These are simple things that I knew they were capable of doing like picking up their toys and putting away clutter.

At the end of the day, it was very exciting for them to receive the quarters and then put them into their piggy banks. This teaches them that money isn’t something you are given, but rather something you have to earn.

3 Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Money - PreparaMom

Getting the Process Started Is Important

The most important thing, though, is to just start. The younger you begin, the better, so they get used to it and understand that “parents aren’t made out of money” and “money really does not grow on trees.”

 

More Tools and Tips for Teaching Money

We have a few links that may help you to get started teaching money principles to your children:

https://www.mint.com/ultimate-resources-for-teaching-kids-about-money

https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-teach-kids-about-money

https://www.ignitespot.com/financial-literacy-guide-for-kids

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/saving/T065-C032-S014-my-10-best-financial-literacy-apps-for-kids.html

 

Be Prepared for the Unexpected!

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Tips to Keep Christmas Simple

Tips to Keep Christmas Simple

Being a mom at Christmas can be a totally draining experience. Let’s face it: everyone else talks about how magical the holiday is and you have the radio crooning about how it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.”

But those joyful Christmas experiences of your childhood have gone the way of the dodo and been replaced by stress and anxiety.

So this year, let’s make a resolution—one that’s only good for the month of December.

Let’s resolve to do everything we can to keep Christmas simple this year!

1. Let the kids handle the “heavy lifting”

 We all know that the holidays are really about the kids and letting them make memories that will last for years to come. So, have them do as much as possible and take some of the stress off of you.

This year, set up the tree for them and then just sit back and watch while they decorate it. (Obviously, if you’ve got older kids and teenagers, they may even be able to do the tree set-up as well.) But just sit back on the couch and supervise while they hang their favorite ornaments and the stockings up

2. Go digital

Every year, I spend hours trying to sign and address individual Christmas cards to my friends and family. Not this year.

Join me in simplifying the holiday and go digital with your Christmas card. You can still take an updated family picture and use that for your card. But just send out an email/digital card and save yourself time, aggravation, and postage money. (And keep in mind: your friends will probably appreciate it just as much since they won’t have to worry about discarding the card. Hey, it’s even more environmentally friendly!)

3. Let someone else do the cooking

If you remember a childhood of wonderful homemade Christmas meals, please don’t feel like you have to live up to those. On the big day, there is no reason why you should be stuck in the kitchen trying to prepare a turkey or ham while everyone else is sitting in the family room playing with presents and watching TV

Instead, consider buying your holiday meal pre-made from a local restaurant or catering service. Then, all you have to do is warm it up and no one has to know the difference.

There is nothing wrong with gift cards

I’m really tired of people getting judgmental about gift cards. Usually, the complaints center around the belief that the card is impersonal. But really, they aren’t!

If you buy someone a gift that doesn’t fit, that they already have, or they just don’t like, then you have given them an extra job—having to trudge back to the mall and exchange it. But with gift cards, your gift recipient can buy whatever they want and will really appreciate the opportunity to pick up the perfect gift.

And that’s a level of stress that you just don’t need. I’ve spent many a day at the mall freaking out about whether a gift was “just right.” This year, I’m cutting out that stress and letting them find the gift that is best for them.

You don’t have to spend your holidays totally stressed out so that you live in dread of next Christmas. Instead, do your best to make the holiday as simple as possible so you can enjoy the time with the rest of your family.
5 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Shopping in Check

5 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Shopping in Check

What is a budget’s worst enemy?

The Holiday Season!

Hopefully you are prepared with extra funds set aside for this time of year because from now on until the end of the year, everywhere you look, there will be some kind of a sale.

Some kind of advertisement that lures you in to thinking that you absolutely must have it.

Marketing experts are sneaky sneaky.  They know how to push through to your weakness.  

But whatever you do, don’t give in to it!

If you know you tend to overspend AND you know that you can’t afford to, this information is…

 

FOR YOU!

I get it.  I love sales.  I love getting a bargain.  I love deals! And with online shopping so readily available, it makes it impossible to not be tempted to buy something all in the convenience of your own home.

And if you don’t stay disciplined, you will find yourself putting a way bigger dent on your bank account than you can really afford to.

Let me help you with some ways to do that.

Follow these tips to make sure you stay on track and prevent yourself from going on a shopping frenzy only to wake up one morning after the holidays are over and see how much money you overspent.

  1.  Make a list.  Write down all the people you would like to purchase gifts for and as you come across             sales, buy with them in mind only.  I know how tempting it is to want to purchase things for yourself       but YOU MUST RESIST the urge to do this.
  2. Be realistic.  You know exactly how much money you are capable of spending.  Take that amount and      drill it into your head and don’t spend more than that.  If it helps, keep a note on your phone with              that amount and deduct from it any amount you buy in gifts.  That way, you have a real time running      total.
  3. Find an accountability partner.  Once you determine this amount, tell someone who you can trust to        keep you accountable to stick to your number.  Someone you can call to talk you out of it when you            are tempted to purchase something you shouldn’t.
  4. Be clear.  It’s super easy to get distracted from our shopping list when we come across something             that we would like for ourselves.  But let’s be clear and honest with yourself and before you decide to       buy something, ask yourself the question, “Is this a need or a want?”  “Am I going to die if I don’t             purchase this thing right now?” If the answer is “no”, then you don’t need it. You have to remember       that you have a whole list of people to buy for so if it’s a want, it can wait until after the holidays               when you have accumulated some extra funds to spend
  5. Stick to the plan.  Resist temptation.  Fight the urge. Quickly buy the presents as soon as you can and      stay away from the stores or online shopping.  There will always be sales on stuff. And hey, if you end      up with extra money after buying everyone their gifts, then treat yourself to something with the                remaining amount.

If you know you always spend too much money during this season and end up resenting yourself for it later, then do yourself a favor and be in control of it this year.

It’s awesome to be the person that has tons of gifts to share. But guess what, it’s not so awesome when you’re the person that had to rack up a huge bill because of it.

It just is not worth it.

So remember, know your limits and stick to it!

You will thank me for it after the holidays are over and you still have money in the bank to pay the bills.

How Being In Debt Made Me a Better Mom

How Being In Debt Made Me a Better Mom

Who in the world would be crazy enough to charge their wedding expenses on credit cards?

Us!

Who in the world thought they could afford anything and everything just because we could still afford to make the monthly payments?

Us!

And who got themselves in $120K in debt AND got themselves out of it?

We did!

This is a personal story I have decided to share because I know there are many families who are currently in debt like we were and if sharing this means it inspires just one family to start taking action, it is well worth it.

I won’t go into all the details on how we accumulated so much debt but I will say that it was pretty much anything and everything we could charge on a credit card.

In our minds, since we made enough to be able to cover the minimal monthly payments, that meant we could afford those things.

Before you know it, we were maxing out credit card after credit card and what was our solution to now having multiple monthly minimum payments?

We applied for new cards and played the whole “transfer all our balances” to this new card game so that we would have less number of payments to deal with.

On top of all that, we purchased a house on an interest only loan that now I keep thinking to myself, “What in the world were we thinking?

We started finding ourselves living paycheck to paycheck.

Barely making the payments.

Barely any money left over to do anything.

Still continuing to charge for basic necessities because the money we got paid that week was already spoken for with last months credit card charges!

The interest we were paying alone was eating up a big chunk of our income.

It was a never ending cycle.

On the outside, you wouldn’t have been able to tell we were struggling. But boy were we struggling.

I was not happy.  Always stressed about not having enough money to pay the bills. Daily arguments with my husband.

It was a mess!

The final straw was when I logged into our bank account and saw that we barely had $10 in it.

That was it! I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck.

We went through a short sale of our home and moved in with family to start getting our life back together.

I’m not going to say it was an easy thing to do. It was the opposite. It was one of the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do.

Maybe even harder than childbirth!

Preston, my second child was about 1 month old when we moved in with my older brother.

It was the longest 3 years ever.

Three years of working extra shifts, my husband getting a second job, not eating out as much, barely going out, saying no to family/friend’s invitations, saying no to temptations of buying new “toys” and tracking our spending like a hawk.

It took lots of hard work, discipline, many frustrating moments, and nights of despair where I wanted to just give up because it felt like we weren’t making a dent in our debt at all.

But we stayed focused.

My husband and I supported and encouraged each other and stayed the course.

If there was any one thing that I can attribute to our success, it was that we were on the same page with our goals and vision for the life we wanted to build with our kids.

This is SO IMPORTANT.

And that vision did not include a life living in debt.  We made plenty of bad financial decisions and we wanted to make darn sure that our kids do not follow in our footsteps.

I’m here to say that it can be done.

It starts with a decision to change your family’s lifestyle.

Make a plan to help you take massive action.

Stay focused.

Be disciplined.  Practice saying “No”.

Get creative with increasing income.  Have a garage sale.

Track your spending.

And throw every single penny towards your debt.

Yes, it’s definitely easier said than done.  But complaining about how much debt you are in is not going to take you any closer into living a financially stress free life,

Trust me, the hard work and effort to get there is going to be so worth it.

The life I can now provide for my kids is priceless.  The life and financial lessons I can impart to them will be invaluable.

If being in debt has taught me anything, it is that with hard work, determination, discipline and some perseverance,  you can make anything happen.

If you’ve read this far, that means you know what you need to do.

There’s so much more life to enjoy than to constantly worry about whether or not next month’s bills will be paid.

It’s time.  Get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Let’s do this!

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more on the actual step by step actions we took for those 3 years to get out of debt, comment below and I’ll add a Part 2 to the story.