5 Tips on Creating the Perfect Budget

5 Tips on Creating the Perfect Budget

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Creating the perfect budget doesn’t have to be intimidating or overwhelming. But first, what is a budget?

A budget is just creating a plan for your money. Kind of like how you create a plan to write a paper or create a plan for a day of fun. A budget is similar.

Now, if you don’t know how to budget or the thought of a budget causes you to stress, I am here to tell you to not worry! Budgeting can actually help you relieve stress!

It’s all about taking it step by step. Just like when you plan your day, you start with a section of the day like the morning and then move on to the afternoon and evening. Budgeting is the same concept and it must be broken down into sections and taken one step at a time.

There are many different apps to help you, or if you enjoy writing things down, check out these budget planners.


Step 1: Look at your Monthly Income

Take a look at your paychecks and see how much you bring in every month. If you get paid Bi-weekly, then add 2 paychecks together. If you get paid every week, then usually that is 4 paychecks that need to be added together. By knowing what you make on average every month will help you become aware of what you can afford.

However, if you wait tables, bartend, or live on commissions, look at your deposits on your bank statements and average a least three months.

Step 2: Subtract your monthly expenses

Monthly expenses are usually the following:

  • Mortgage
  • Car/Gas
  • Insurance
  • Utilities (electric, water, gas)
  • Food
  • Credit Cards and/or Loan payments
  • Phone/Internet/Cable/Netflix or other programs
  • Memberships
  • Savings (Pay yourself)
  • Miscellaneous

Look at your bank statements from the past couple of months. Take all your expenses and add up your purchases by category. Categories can include bills, food, extracurricular activities, etc.

Once you’ve categorized all your expenses and added them all together, next subtract the total from your monthly income.

Is the number negative or positive? If it’s negative, it’s time to prioritize and cut back. If it’s positive, you did well last month, but you should still create a budget because you might be able to put more money towards savings or debt.

Step 3: Check your calendar and due dates

Now that you know how much your average income is every month, and how much your bills and expenses are, now it is time to check those due dates. It is important to know when your bills are due every month, this will help you make sure you have the money in your account, so you never miss a payment.

For example; if your rent is due on the first and your car is due on the 20th, write it on your calendar and budget spreadsheet. Then, you will want to make sure that the paycheck you receive before those due dates will cover those bills.

Tip: Always try and make your due dates for bills are spread out through the month instead of all being due on the first or all on the 15th.

Example:

Type of Bill DueDue Date Every Month Amount
Mortgage1st$$$$
Car Payment10th$$$
Insurance (Car, House, etc.)15th$$$
Phone/Internet20th$$
Groceries5th & 20th (2x a month)$$$
And so on…..………………

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Step 4: Break it down and Create a plan

Okay, so now that you know your monthly income, you know the amount you spend on your bills, and you know when all your bills are due. Now is the time to break it down and create a plan. You can create that plan by working paycheck to paycheck or you could work it monthly. Whatever works best for you.

For Me, I know how much I make every month and I get paid bi-weekly. Therefore, I work by paycheck every two weeks, and the total amount I make covers all the bills for a month.

So first, I take what I currently have in my account, then I mark down my next payday. Once I know what and when I will get paid next, I then take all the bills that are due after that payday and before the next payday and subtract what is due.

For Example:

Take your current amount in account left over from the previous month: $100

Next paydays in January:

4th: $1000
18th: $1000

Bills/Expenses due between the paydays of the 4th and the 18th:

Bill/ExpenseDue Date Amount Due
Groceries5th$200
Cell Phone10th$300
Insurance11th$190
Credit Card12th$100
Loan (Student/Personal)15th$110
Savings15th$50
Total Due 4th – 17th$950

 (Total paid on the 4th) $1000 + (previous month remaining) $100 = $1,100

Total amount due in bills after the 4th but before the 18th = $950

$1,100 available – $950 bills = $150 remaining

Move on to next payday-> Payday January 18th: $1000 

Remaining after previous payday and bill paid = $150

Calculate what is due from Jan. 18th payday to Feb 1st payday.

Bill/ExpenseDue Date Amount Due
Groceries18th$200
Car Payment20th$200
Cable/Internet25th$150
Utilities25th$100
Total Due 18th – 31st  $650

       (Total paid on the 18th) $1000 + (remaining from last month) $150 = Total available $1,150

Total due from the 18th until next payday on Feb. 1st is: $650

$1,150 available$650 bills = $500 Remaining

And so on…. Work paycheck by paycheck. If you find yourself with not enough money to pay your bills in between paydays, that is ok! Just cut back on some expenses. Work out paying just the necessities only.

If you still don’t have enough, take from your savings to cover it until you can get to a point by working this method where your amount from the previous paycheck can overlap to cover the expenses. Also, once you get to the point where you always have the money available to pay and have extra, pay yourself back

5. Work your plan and revisit it every paycheck or more.

After every paycheck is deposited in my account I check my budget. After every bill is paid, I check my budget and mark it off. I re-budget, and if I have extra money or need more money towards something that has come up, I move money around and cut back on non-necessity purchases. This has helped me never go NSF in my account.

This is the exact method of budgeting I use and have used for over two years now. I have completely paid off two loans, one was over $6000 in 5 months and the other I had over $2000 left to pay and paid it sooner than expected.

By working paycheck to paycheck and being conscious of where my money was being spent every week, I have been able to have more money left over after bills to pay off debt faster. I cut out the expenses of eating out and instead started to meal plan before grocery shopping to prevent overspending on food. I have canceled memberships such as gym and massage envy to save money.

If I can do it, you can too! You can pay off the debt, save more, and live without stressing about money again. Budgeting does help relieve the stress because knowing what you spend money helps prevent you from overspending. If you spend $200 eating out every month and it has caused you to go NSF (non-sufficient funds) in your account, you can now say no or at least budget a certain amount for eating out monthly without going over.

Don’t be afraid to budget for those fun things like going out or purchasing a new outfit. But, make sure the necessary bills are always paid first.

I hope this helps to see another way to create a budget. It’s truly helped me overcome a lot of financial bumps and as I said helped pay and continuing to help me pay off the debt.

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How to take control of your finances while living in an RV

How to take control of your finances while living in an RV

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Oh… Finances! We all have them. Money is universal and some are completely unaware on how to truly manage it. According to an article written by CNBC, 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, 56% are in way over their heads with debt, and 56% save $100 or less a month.

Those numbers are surprisingly high, but with everything becoming more expensive it is understandable. Our incomes are having a difficult time keeping up with rising prices and many people often live above their means to keep up with social society.

Matthew and I weren’t living above our means, but we also weren’t living below either. So, we began our journey of getting out of debt, learning to live below our means, and started to take control of our finances. We saw that a couple of years of making sacrifices by not going out as much and living in an RV with a small loan payment was going to help us get out of debt.

Our goal is to one day pay for everything with cash, and never have another loan or credit card to pay back. We want to take amazing vacations without going into debt, save for retirement, give to others freely and live financially free.

So, we have done an extreme amount of research and are really digging deep to understand finances, how to best pay off debt, and make our financial dreams a reality. These are the 6 tips that have been helping us take control!

Step 1: Create a budget!

When you create a budget this forces you to look at your monthly income, your monthly bills, and where you spend your money. It also allows you to consciously “trim the fat” meaning stop spending money on all the miscellaneous things that you don’t really need or can substitute for cheaper alternatives. I wrote a blog called “Why it is important to create a budget”, you should read it if you’re still questioning why a budget is a necessity.

Step 2: Stop spending money!

Seriously, cut the “fat” as they say. When you start budgeting, you begin to see all the unnecessary purchases as I said before. Purchases may include eating out, coffee runs, or unused memberships. The extra money you save by cutting out the extra expenses will allow you more money to pay off the debt and save. Which brings me to step three.

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Step 3: Save an emergency fund!

Having an emergency fund is so important. Try saving at least $1000 to have just in case you need to go to the doctor, or you need maintenance on your car or RV. This prevents you from placing those expenses on your credit card. Once you have that emergency fund saved, now is time to focus on step 4.

Step 4: Pay off the debt!

Once you can create a budget and see where your monthly income is being spent, then trimming the unnecessary spending habits, this will give you some room to put more money towards debt payments. So, check your balances for all the credit cards, loans both personal and student, cars, and mortgages as well as the interest rates! Pay off the smallest loan first while making the minimum on the rest. Then take the amount of money you used to pay off one loan to pay off the next smallest one and keep going until it’s all paid. This is also called the “Snowball effect”.

Depending on the amount of debt and income you bring in, it could take years, but it is so worth it! Getting rid of that debt is going to bring freedom for you and your finances. If you dream of taking those bucket list travel trips, having no debt will allow you to save more for those once in a lifetime experience.

Step 5: Stop using credit!

Instead really try to develop that habit of paying cash only. If you can’t pay for it outright, then choose to save for the purchase until you can pay cash. When you use credit you not only increase your debt, but you will also end up paying interest on that purchase.

Step 6: Stick to the plan!

This is extremely important! You can do the budget, check your loan and interest amounts, and create a pay off plan but unless you stick to it, it won’t become a reality. Again, getting out of debt can take years. That means for some that can be years of living with a budget and living below your means. Don’t forget to continuously check the budget, adjust as needed, and focus on paying off the loans.

There you have it! 6 steps and tips on how to get control of your finances. This is a personal decision that is going to take strategy and implementation. You can do it! You don’t have to live every month paycheck to paycheck and you can pay for a house or car with cash instead of credit. It is completely doable with patience and persistence.

If you have a spouse, run through these steps together and work together on your finances. It’s important for couples to be on the same page.

We are excited for the day when Matthew and I are completely debt free and saving for our retirement and vacations. It is a dream that I know will become a reality! Stay tuned to our monthly blogs in the sections “goal setting”. Every month we talk about our monthly goals and our journey to a debt free life. You can sign up below for our monthly newsletter to stay updated!

Stay Motivated! You can take control of your finances!


References: Dickler, J. (2017, August 30). Most Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/most-americans-live-paycheck-to-paycheck.html

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16 Best Frugal Living Ideas You Can Start Today!

16 Best Frugal Living Ideas You Can Start Today!

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So, what does it mean to live frugally? We see people talk about this subject a lot! All it really is about is money management and never living above your means.

Living frugally is the ability to stretch the dollars you spend by making sure you spend wisely, as well as, the conscious ability to substitute items that are less expensive and never wasting what you have purchased.

Frugal living can help you free up your income to give more, to save more, and in some way makes you more grateful for what you have, rather than always focusing on what you don’t. It’s not always easy to live frugally, but it is worth it.

So, I have put together a list of frugal living ideas anyone can master and implement into their lives. 

1. Don’t waste a drop!

Toothpaste, Lotions, hair products, makeup, sauces, and the list can go on. Don’t waste a drop of anything.

2. Buy products that are multipurpose

Don’t buy shaving cream. Instead, use a little bit of your hair conditioner for shaving cream. Works wonders. Also, Dawn dish soap can be used in more places than just the dishes; such as cleaning counters, toilets, sinks, and even bathing the dog.

3. Meal plan and prep!

This is the best and easiest way to not waste any food or money. You only purchase what you need to make the meals and then cook in bulk. This is why we love the $5 meal planning service. This allows us to have our meals planned ahead of time and they even provide a grocery list with everything you will need.

Tip: always check your pantry and fridge before you go to the store and take note of what you already have. 

4. Use a Cash Back Service

Download an app that gives you cash back on your groceries and other purchases. Here are three services I have used to get cash back on groceries items after purchase and cash back on other items at the time of purchase.  

1. IBOTTA – Get cash back on groceries, extra coupons and more!
2. Ebates – Get cash back at the hottest store you already shop at plus on Travel and Hotels too! Earn $10 Walmart Cash Or $10 Ebates Free Cash for Signing up! 
3. Swagbucks – Earn Cash Back on purchases plus Daily Trivia Games, Searches, and Surveys.

5. Read More and Watch Less.

Reading is always better than watching T.V. If you have your favorite shows though, there are great services like Hulu and Netflix to name a few that are way cheaper than cable. You can also purchase an antenna to get local channels. 

6. Purchase things of Value.

Buy quality clothes that you can wear over and over again knowing that they will last. It’s ok to be caught in the same t-shirt and jeans more than once. I have clothes that I have had for over 10 years. I have my favorite pieces and I’m not afraid to wear them again and again. 

7. 48 Hour Rule

Wait 48 hours before making a purchase that is more than $48. I like to call this the “48 Hour Rule”. After 48 hours, if you still want it and can afford it, go get it. 

8. Buy a water filter and Drink more water.

This will not only save money but help the environment too. Skip the sugary soda, juices, and teas. Water is cheaper and also better for you, especially if you have a water filter. 

9. Cancel Unnecessary Memberships.

We live in the days where it feels like everything is a membership and on a monthly retainer fee. You have Music like Apple and Pandora, Gym Memberships, Makeup Memberships, Shoe Memberships, and the list can go on and on. If you don’t use the items or go to the gym or massage parlor then evaluate the importance of the membership.

10. Be Patient

Never purchase anything full price. This includes clothes, new toys, new gadgets like phones and game consoles. Always buy items on sale, clearance, or have a coupon! Thrift Shops are great! Plato’s closet is the place to go if you looking for a new outfit for a date night or pictures. Remember, just because you purchase at a thrift store doesn’t mean you can’t find good quality designer items. 

11. Always Pay Cash

Try and prevent any spending on the credit card, especially if you can’t afford to pay off the credit card on the next due date. 

12. Always try to do things yourself

If something breaks, try to figure out a way to fix it yourself before paying someone else to come out. Now, there are things that do need a professional for so know when to call and when you can fix it yourself is important.

13. Skip the Hair Salon

For Women, hold back on dyeing your hair. I know for some this can be difficult with roots, but you can always work your way back to your natural color and spend less time and money at the salon.

14. “X” out the Extensions

Don’t buy extensions, whether it is Hair extensions or eyelash extensions. Extensions are expensive and you’re beautiful just the way you are! 

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15. A little goes a long way

Minimize the amount of makeup you wear. I personally work from home so the only time I actually put any makeup on is if I’m going an event of some sort or meeting with friends. Makeup is expensive, so the less I wear it, the further my money stretches.

If you do have to wear makeup on a daily, then I suggest using it sparingly. When I was working in an office, I had my mineral foundation, blush, concealer, chapstick, and mascara. Those were my only go to makeup products that I used every day. Very minimal and I didn’t over purchase products that I knew I wouldn’t use. 

16. Don’t compare your life to others.

You don’t have to have the latest and greatest gadgets that the “Joneses” purchased. This goes with being grateful for what you have and what you can afford.

There you have it! 16 of our favorite frugal living tips that we implement and use daily. Remember no one is perfect, I love my coffee so we don’t only drink water but it is cheaper than all the sugary drinks out there. Also, living frugally is just being mindful of your money, the items you purchase and using every bit and drop of everything. 

I enjoy living frugally because it makes me grateful for what I do have. It also allows me to save more money and give more back to the community.


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12+ Must Have RV Essentials For New RV Owners

12+ Must Have RV Essentials For New RV Owners

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Owning an RV is such an amazing adventure to embark on. According to the RV Industry Association, it is estimated that approximately 10 million Americans own RVs. That is an impressive number and it is continuously growing. So, you are not alone in your RVing journey!

If you are looking to purchase or already own one there are definitely items that are needed that do not come with your RV purchase. Items like leveler blocks and sewer hoses that you just cannot camp or live without as an RV owner.

Now, when we first purchased our RV we had a lot to figure out. However, after the first couple of weeks living full-time in our RV, we quickly realized that we were missing some much-needed items. Items that have now made our living and traveling so much easier, safer, and cleaner!

Therefore, with our knowledge, trials, and expertise as full-timers, we put together a list of accessories we have purchased. We also added explanations on why they are necessary for the RV journey!

So, whether you made your purchase for weekend camping or you are going to be living full-time like us, this list is everything you will need to get started!

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Leveler blocks

These are a must! We figured this out the hard way. Our first month of living full-time, the RV was un-level.  It was frustrating, to say the least. We purchased these leveler blocks and made sure on our next site we leveled the tires first. You can also use the blocks under the stabilizers to keep from over extension as well as the front jack. 

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Wheel Chocks

These are a safety must to prevent any accidental movements. Many places actually require that wheel chocks are used when you set up any RV or Trailer. 

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Power extension cord

The 50amp power extension cord was the first item we purchased after buying our RV.  Where we were parked we needed about 70ft of extension and the 35ft cord that came with just wasn’t enough. Plus, it is always nice to have extra in case one surges out. 

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Amp Converter

Every RV Park is going to have different amp plug in options. Many times it is either 30 amps or 50amps. Having a converter is going to save you a trip to the store and allow you to stay at more parks. Our RV takes 50 amps, so we have the 50amp Female/30amp Male.

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Drinking Water Hose

This type of hose is a must to have because the material in a regular garden hose can contain unsafe materials/minerals to drink. The Drinking Water Hose is BPA and Lead Free for safer water consumption.


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Water Pressure Regulator

Water regulators help control the city water pressure and protects your RV’s Pipes from busting. They regulate the pressure to being a safe 50 to 55 psi.

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Water Purifier

We love this because you never know what the water will be like going to camp to camp. Therefore, a purifier to hook up to your hose before the water comes in to your tanks or lines is a nice safety measure for your tanks as well as drinking.

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Mattress topper or new mattress that fits in a RV

Let’s be honest, the mattresses that are provided with the RV (unless you custom order) is extremely hard and uncomfortable. Whether you live full-time or camping on the weekends, no one wants to sleep on a rock hard mattress. Therefore, purchasing an RV Mattress topper was a must have for use!

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Dehumidifier

I can’t tell you how many stories I have read about mold in an RV due to humidity! Many times the mold forms near windows and beds especially when it’s cold outside and warm inside. A Dehumidifier can help prevent the build up of moisture and further prevent mold growth.

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Sewer Hose

Honestly, no one with an RV should be camping without one. A sewer hose is a must have for safety and sanitary reasons! A sewer hose is designed to hook up to the black and grey tanks output pipes, and then hook to the other end to a dump. It prevents disgusting mishaps and allows one to properly release the tanks waste.

Tank Treatments

Honestly, we have no idea we needed this until the horenduous smells after taking a shower or dumping fumigated our RV. We tried many methods to help with the smell including the GEO method of Dawn and Fabric softener. This does help, but I also highly recommend Happy Camper. It helps break down the waste as well as combat the smells.


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Decomposing Toilet Paper

You can buy special RV toilet paper or another kind like SCOTT but whatever you decide you want to use decomposing because is prevents build up and blockage. I have read horror stories of RV toilets and black tanks clogging up due to toilet paper blockage. Therefore, the soft fluffy toilet paper like Charmen is not the best to use in an RV.

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Air Compressor

When traveling, this is a must! Before leaving a camp checking the air in the tires should be a priority and having a portable air compressor available is extremely convenient. 

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Power Surge Protector

Surge protector can help prevent your RV’s electrical system and appliances from frying from either bad wired power supply at a campsite or Lightning.

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Tire Covers

Tire Covers prevent the tire’s rubber from sun exposure that causes them lose the moisture in the tire’s rubber, also known as Dry Rot! Having Dry Rot in your tires can be a disaster on the road. Great preventative measure to have tire covers, especially if you are going to be camped without moving for awhile.

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No Sway/Weight Distribution Bars

These are a MUST if you have a Travel Trailer/Bumper pull. Our RV is a 34 ft bumper pull, and having these No Sway Bars was a non-negotiable for us. The guys at Route66 in Oklahoma set them up for us because having them properly installed is extremely important for them to work correctly.

This was the best and most important purchase to make when towing a Travel Trailer. The No Sway Bars prevent the trailer from swaying by gusts of wind while driving, which further prevents overturning your entire trailer and truck.

There you have it! We really hope this list provides some great insight on items that are very useful when owning an RV, whether you are full-time or a seasonal/weekend traveler. All of these items are must for us because they have made our lives of living in an RV easier, safer, and cleaner.  

If you have any suggestions on great items you’ve found or are must haves living the RV lifestyle, please comment below! We would love to here from you!

 

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January 2019 Goals: Our Journey to a Debt Free Life & more!

January 2019 Goals: Our Journey to a Debt Free Life & more!

RV Travel Lifestyle Blog 1 - January 2019 Goals: Our Journey to a Debt Free Life & more!

It’s a new year and everyone is posting about their new year goals and resolutions. Setting goals and writing them down is an amazing stepping stone to accomplishing them.

I have always been a goal getter, so resolutions are a year-round thing for me! Transitioning our life into an RV, becoming debt free, and starting this blog has been a whirlwind of goals!

Interested in why we chose to live in an RV, check it out here (after you read this, of course)!

So, each month, starting January 2019, I thought I would share what my monthly goals are. I also wanted to share, with raw honesty, what it is really like living in an RV while working on this blog and striving toward our debt free goal. I’m talking about all of the ups and downs! Plus, I feel like posting my goals holds me even more accountable. Right?

Let’s begin by breaking down my goals for January 2019! 

Goal 1: Post a new blog twice a week!

That is about 8 blog posts a month. Honestly with a full-time job that is a lot for me, but I’m up for the challenge! I am also still finding my writing style while working on the grammar side of things. I have always been the type that just writes what I think in a casual conversation style. Not necessarily with proper sentence structure or punctuation, but I am learning to slow down and not rush my thoughts!

My sister in Law whose favorite subject was English has been my editor on almost everything I’ve written. She jokes with me about how I can actually write down what I am thinking, something she sometimes struggles doing, and that she just makes it proper. Thank goodness for family! 😉

Goal 2: Workout 3x a week!

Okay, so I have always been the athletic type. I played softball and volleyball in school, along with gym time, and Beachbody workouts. However, since attending college, and working a full-time job, getting to the gym or even doing a home workout has been challenging. I don’t have a gym membership, so my workouts will either be outside or something I can watch from YouTube, Amazon or our insanity/ P90x DVD’s sets.

Goal 3: Finish painting the Bedroom and Bathroom in the RV.

We have painted the living area and hallway as well as replaced the curtains and tiled the kitchen. We absolutely love our progress so far, but the renovations are not complete. I am ready to get it done! Want to see our renovations so far? Follow us on Instagram!

Goal 4: Pay off debt!

Total we are about $100,000 in debt with credit cards, student loans, personal loans and of course our RV and Truck. Our goal is to tackle the smallest ones first and knock out the 2 credit cards we have.

For now, there is one personal loan that I have budgeted to pay off this month. I owe about $950 on a personal loan that I took out about 8 years ago. It’s been a long time and I’m ready to get rid of it! January is that month! If it wasn’t for my budgeting, I would not be able to tackle this goal. That is why I wrote a post on why creating a budget is so important! It has helped me stay on top of our finances!

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That’s it! I know it may seem like 4 goals isn’t much…. but I feel like they are big goals. One thing I don’t want to do is overwhelm myself.

I learned that lesson the hard way. When I was in college, taking a full schedule, I also worked a full-time job, AND a part-time job. Looking back, what was I thinking?! I was getting 4 hours of sleep at night and those three months of busyness taught me my limits. I recognized how important it is to take care of myself and not become overwhelmed. 

So here we are 8 days into January 2019, and this is my 2nd post this month. 2 down, 6 more to go to hit my goal! If you missed my first one this year it was all about our downsizing journey! You can read it here!

With all the goals I just shared and posted for the world to see, you might be wondering how I plan on accomplishing all these goals, how do I stay on track?

I have learned that I work well with a planner! I have a monthly planner that I write everything in! It helps me keep things organized and on track. I also have an excel spreadsheet that I use specifically for my budget and blog posts. Each month I schedule everything out! Maybe I will eventually share my planner, but that’s for another time!

Thank you for reading and following me on this journey! If I can accomplish these goals, then I have no doubt that you can set and accomplish whatever you want too! Here is one of my favorite quotes for motivation;

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill

If you have set some goals for this year I would love to read them! Please comment below or send me a link to your post!


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