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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

4 Simple Steps to Rebooting Your Finances



 4 Simple Steps to Rebooting Your Finances on Blissful & Domestic

 That Hubby of mine is at it again. 
Here is a post written by that green eyed man of mine :)


In the course of living our lives, rebooting our finances, happens to be a recurring theme. Often times we think we have set our budget and we have done our part. This type of thinking often leads to our additional phrases of "what happened", "I didn't know we were spending that much", and my absolute favorite "So that's where all the money went". The following four steps will lead you to a better fiscal foundation. The thought,"It will take reward without effort", is a lie. There is no quick fix for the problems we face in life. It takes effort and a change in habits and behaviors. So now we just have to get started, take a deep breath, and count to four. Let's get ready for a new change and a better tomorrow. You can do it!

1) Talk about your finances:

This is where the reality starts to dawn on most of us. We take a hard look at what comes in and how it goes out. Take stock of what income you have. Next, lay out all of your bills you pay each month. Last, get a handle on other expenditures you make. We all must do this. No one is immune.

2) Set a budget

Now that you have an understanding of what comes in during the month, you as an individual, couple, or family need to decide where you draw the line and how deep. This is a personal choice based upon how much debt is owed and the lifestyle you have become accustomed. A lot of people are afraid to make changes for various reasons. I know as people, we can change. The hard part is getting started. Now if you want to have a surplus at the end of the month, pay down your debt and eliminate wants that your situation can stand. This becomes different for all of us; hence, why we talk and then set a budget. Communication is key folks! If you are not communicating, then you're not on the same page. Being on the same page is essential to setting a budget and following it through.

3) Decide what is a need and a want:

So how do we decide a need or a want? I am of the opinion that if it is functional and helps to keep us alive than it is a need. An example of a need is food, water, shelter. My wife feels the same way, but also wants to have a bit of beauty and creativity. The most important thing you can do is listen to each other. I tend to ask a lot of questions about why we need certain things. I love to discuss and debate. The most important thing I have learned is to listen and make mental notes or actual notes to discuss after whoever is talking has finished their side of the conversation. It is amazing how much better life goes when we listen..... really listen to what is being said. As a family, couple, or individual decide what your needs are and how you can meet them.

4) Stay away from debt:

I am a big advocate for staying away from debt like a plague. I know most people feel having debt is a necessary evil in this day and age. I would only agree if it falls into two categories: housing or education. That being said, we usually overpay for both of these. Figure out how much of your money goes to housing each month. I would urge caution here. Do not get more just because you can. Get a home that fits your needs and a few wants. This is critical in making sure your budget does not implode on its self. Debt is an uncaring master and will follow you every place you go. I urge you to lighten that load and be able to invest and save for the future.You don't want to end up having your finances stretched, leaving you a paycheck from disaster.
 
After a while you will find you will have a surplus. Use part of that for an emergency fund for unexpected bills that always happen in life. Objects and people break. This is a common part of life. It helps to gradually build a reserve to use in an emergency, a little here and there will surprise you as it grows over time.

Following these simple steps, will allow your family to live within their means and become a happier, more loving family. In the words of Danielle, "We can all create beautiful on less". The same goes for our finances.

-Jason

Find more posts from Jason HERE
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland


 5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic


This is a Guest Post by Karen


Disneyland is such a magical experience, and was a wonderful part of my childhood. We definitely want our kids to experience it, but not at such a high expense! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve gathered to help make the trip a little more financially manageable. 


 5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic
  1. Save the money outside of your current budget
If you stick to a planned out budget, chances are you have some sort of allowance for entertainment. We decided to save for this trip independently of our entertainment budget. Sell household items, toys, earn some extra cash on the side, and put it towards your Disney fund. Our trip so far has been funded by a combination of selling toys and household items, a monetary gift from a family member, and a small amount of some unexpected money that came in.  This has also been a great way to teach financial principles and numbers to our kids.  Each time they sell a toy, we track the money earned towards our trip on a flip board. Also be sure to add the costs of gas, travel, food, and souvenirs to your budget.
5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic

  1. Go for the cheaper ticket options
Be sure to familiarize yourself with all of Disneyland’s ticket options. The Annual Pass may seem like a better deal, but it comes at a steep price. Do the math. If you are going to visit the park more than 6 or 8 times a year (the amount of visits necessary to just break even with the cost), then it may be worth it. However, you’ve also got to factor in all of the expenses that go along with those trips such as the gas, food etc. That’s where it really starts to add up. The 1-Day (1 park) tickets and the 2-Day (1 park per day) tickets with the AAA discount are great options if you want to spend less. Beware of the Park Hopper upgrade too. Realistically, it is very hard to see and experience a lot of both Disneyland and California Adventure in one day.

5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic

  1. Pack your own food
We like to pack our own lunches and snacks on trips.  I cringe at the theme park food prices - and for junk food!  Yikes!  I allow for some treats and junkier food on trips because, well it's a treat!  So, about a week before the trip I head to the 99 Cent Store first to see if they have some pretzels, granola bars, and other snack items that are junky enough that they are a treat, yet aren't entirely chemical laden. After seeing what I can score there, I also make sure to pack peanut butter, jelly, bread, organic apples, cereal, ziplocks, and a big flat of bottled waters.  We use reusable water bottles during the year, but on trips we opt for these because who wants to do dishes on a trip?!  If I've had time to do some couponing, I may throw some of those food items in our bag too.  Lunch and snacks are therefore covered.  We probably will have 1 or 2 snacks or meals at the park, but at least this limits the amount spent on food. 

  1. Buy souvenirs ahead of time
Gift shops can be money suckers!  I want to buy my kids something to enjoy and remember the trip by, but I do not want to spend a fortune.  So, I like to buy some gifts ahead of time at discounted prices then surprise them with it while we are there.  I usually aim to get something practical like a clothing item as well as something fun. I also like to strategically avoid the gift shops.  Steer clear of them in the park as best you can!  Look at the park map ahead of time to proactively avoid the shops. If you live near a Disney Outlet Store, go there without the kids sometime and get a few things to surprise them with.  Zulily also routinely has Disney branded items at a discount. 
5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic

  1. Buy Disney Gift Cards . . . and a Word About the Disney Credit Card
To save even more, see if Raise.com has some Disney Gift Cards available.  Raise sells gift cards at a discount.  If you have some extra gift cards laying around that you will not be using, sell them on Raise to make some extra cash! Then, use those gift cards at the outlet to purchase your souvenirs, or you can also use them at the park itself.  Be sure to read restrictions carefully!  Also keep your eyes open for Disney Gift Card deals at stores like Target, and grocery stores.  If you have a Target Red Card, you will get 5% back on your purchase. I've also seen some grocery store promotions throughout the year like get $10 in groceries for every $100 in gift cards spent.  Every little bit of savings counts!  You can also use the gift cards as a way to budget out your trip, only allowing yourself a certain amount to be spent in the park.  I will mention that Disney offers a credit card with some interesting perks. Be sure to read the fine print carefully! You get 10% off Disney Store transactions with a minimum $50 purchase. The discount cannot be applied to theme park passes. By opening an account you also get a $50 credit after your first purchase. Other perks include a character meet and greet for card holders (with one complimentary 5x7 photo), select dining discounts, and reward dollars can be earned to redeem towards merchandise, theme park tickets, resort stays and Disney movie tickets. You can find more details about the card Here. Just be sure to weigh out the pros and cons. I generally steer away from opening new credit cards. If you currently have a card with a rewards program, you may find that you will use those rewards more than the Disney rewards after your trip. Also, remember to pay that card with the budgeted cash you saved quickly upon your return!

5 Ways to Save Your Way to Disneyland Blissful & Domestic
  1. Minimize hotel expenses
If you have friends or family within a close driving distance of the park, stay with them. If you live in Southern California, also consider making it a day trip and pack pj’s along for the kids to change into as they snooze away on the way home. If you need to stay in a hotel, you can find many options near the park that are much cheaper than the Disney branded hotels.  Trip Advisor is a wonderful resource for finding such hotels.

-Karen

-----------------------------

Thanks Karen! I love all the amazingly simple tips and tricks you shared! Don't forget to check out Karen on her blog!

XO Danielle
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Decide to Drive Photo Contest

#DECIDETODRIVE

 YOUR PHOTO COULD SAVE THOUSANDS AND YOU COULD 
WIN A $1,000 VISA GIFT CARD

Instagram a photo using this phrase

"Keep Your Eyes on the Road - Everyone Deserves to See Tomorrow"


Tag Your Photo With #DECIDETODRIVE #PHOTOCONTEST

#DECIDETODRIVE

Your photo could save lives and you could win a $1,000 Visa Gift Card! - See more at: http://micro.clevergirlscollective.com/decidetodrive/#sthash.iGvc48eb.dpuf
Your photo could save lives and you could win a $1,000 Visa Gift Card! - See more at: http://micro.clevergirlscollective.com/decidetodrive/#sthash.iGvc48eb.dpuf
Your photo could save lives and you could win a $1,000 Visa Gift Card! - See more at: http://micro.clevergirlscollective.com/decidetodrive/#sthash.iGvc48eb.dpuf
This is such an important message to share. We need to share with everyone that, while driving, we need to put those phones down. Be focused on your driving, not what text you need to respond to or call you need to answer. By being aware of what you are doing and focusing on your driving, you will be able to save a life...possibly your own.

This is a great campaign and one I am so passionate about, so create your own image to share and let's spread the message of Keeping Your Eyes on The Road - Everyone Deserves to See Tomorrow!

Instagram a photo using this phrase: Keep your eyes on the road - everyone deserves to see tomorrow. It's an important message, and the winning catchphrase from the Decide to Drive Catchphrase contest. - See more at: http://micro.clevergirlscollective.com/decidetodrive/#sthash.iGvc48eb.dpuf

To enter the contest and find out about all the guidelines, go here.



XO Danielle
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I Need Your Questions For My Book...

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(I wrote this post last night...late last night)
 
Evening Lovelies! I am sitting here, listening to the rain and working on my book. While doing all of this, I got to thinking about all you lovelies and the support you give me day in and day out. It truly means the world to me and I cannot say it enough. I will never be able to truly express how thankful I am for all of you and your support here on the blog. You make me smile every single day! I really want your presence in this book, since it is all of you who will be reading it and who have inspired me to write it in the first place. So now I need your help. I want to have reader's questions throughout the book, where I will have answers as well. I need to know what frugal questions do you want answered throughout the book. The book will cover topics from grocery shopping, meal planning, freezer cooking, buying second hand, thrift shopping, vacationing on a budget, eating out on a budget, creating a budget, etc. Let me know your questions, so I can include them in the book! Oh and if you have any other random questions for me, silly or not, share away. They may make it to the book as well! Thanks always for your support. You rock!

XO Danielle



 

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