When You Are Tired of Being Frugal

We live a frugal lifestyle. For the most part we are okay with it, and even thrive with this lifestyle, but sometimes it can be exhausting. Sometimes we get tired of making meals from scratch, cutting coupons, price matching, and doing whatever we need to do just to save some money. Sometimes we just want to throw caution to the wind and buy some brand new furniture for our house, or put a vacation on a credit card, or eat out as a family at some local restaurants. In those moments it can be easy to throw our hands up in the air and say “I don’t care” and make careless decisions. But in the end we would regret those decisions. So what should you do in those situations?

Creative ideas for what to do when you are tired of being frugal.

1. Treat yourself to something SMALL and AFFORDABLE.

The other day we went out for “Loonie Shakes.” Under 5 dollars for milkshakes for our family, yet it still felt like a splurge for our family.

2. Remind yourself of your goals.

On the inside of my wallet is a piece of paper I taped to it that says “Do you want more stuff, or do you want to travel?” so that every time I open up my wallet to buy something on impulse, I am reminded of my goals.

3. Take a social media break.

Sites like Facebook can heighten our desire to spend our money on things we can’t afford when it may feel like everyone else around us are able to make those purchases at the drop of a dime. But the truth is, you don’t know the back story of the pictures you see on Facebook. You don’t know if they’ve been saving for months or years to make that purchase, or if they are up late at night stressed at how they are going to make payments on their purchases they bought on credit. So give your heart a break and turn off the social media.

4. Do something fun that is free.

Invite some friends over for coffee and board games, go for a nature walk trail, go star gazing, or go for a bike ride. Finding some free fun will remind yourself that life can still be fun on a budget.

Related: 36 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money

5. Browse the internet for inspiration.

Read frugal living blogs. One search on Pinterest will reveal tons of articles written by people who have successfully conquered their financial dreams by living a frugal life. When you are starting to feel like you can’t live frugally anymore you will be able to draw strength, motivation, and inspiration from these articles.

Remember that “this too shall pass.” These feelings of fatigue will end, and if you stick with your budget and your saving goals, you WILL reap the benefits.

How To Make A Budget That Works For You

Most people have difficulty creating a budget and actually sticking to it. That’s because it can get pretty restrictive and time consuming. The good news is, you don’t have to make it hard. You can find ways of making a budget that works for you. 

Instead of focusing on your expenses, try instead to concentrate on your savings. This process of reverse budgeting lets you figure out how much you need to save every month. Once you are able to figure this out, you can then set it up so that you have that amount going into your savings account automatically. That way it’s sort of like “out of sight out of mind” and you don’t really miss it or end up using it.

Here are some tips on how you can create a budget that works for you:

How to make a budget

Goals

Before coming up with a budget, it’s important that you write down your short term goals. Doing this will increase your chances of success. This is because when you write down your short term goals, you’ll be able to fully understand the big picture. You get to see what it is you are saving up for and how you can accomplish that goal in the future. 

Start by writing your goals out. You can do this for the next 3 or 6 months, 1 year, or even 5 years or more, it’s up to you what fits your needs. Remember to include the date you want to complete them along with the expected cost. After you have written down your goals, that’s when you can determine how much money you need to set aside on a monthly basis. Here’s an example:

By simply dividing the cost of the goal with the months you have available to complete the goal.

Cost of goal: $2000
Months to complete goal: 12
$2000 divided by 12 = $166.66
So you need to save $166.66 each month for 12 months to reach that $2000 goal.

The next task is to number the goals by assessing their priority. 

You can also do the same for your intermediate term goals and long term goals. Remember that if you are unable to meet the monthly savings needed to complete your short term goals after figuring out your expenses, you may need to reevaluate the things that are important to you and make necessary adjustments. What you don’t want to do is quit. You want to adjust. You can do this, but be realistic when setting your goals.

Most people have difficulty creating a budget and actually sticking to it. The good news is, you can find ways of making a budget that works for you with these helpful tips!

Automatic Savings

It is a wise idea to set up an automatic withdrawal from your main account or paycheck that goes directly into your savings account. This way, you won’t have to withdraw the money from your bank which can make it tempting to spend on unnecessary items. 

When you’re opening a new bank account to do this, make sure that you choose an account that will earn you a higher interest rate. This is because you won’t be touching the money for a long period of time. If you let the interest accrue, it means that your funds will grow as long as you leave them in the bank. 

As soon as the account has been opened, and you have your expenses figured out, set up an automatic monthly withdrawal with the amount that meets your goals. Then forget about it.  Use your regular method of paying bills and ignore this new account so that it can grow and not be used as a backup and you’ll be on your way to meeting your savings goals in no time flat.

Trying to make another person’s budget and lifestyle work for you is probably setting yourself up for failure. You have to find something that works for you. Be kind and understanding to yourself. If you fall, get back up and keep going! Just. Don’t. Quit.

6 Ways Being Organized Helps to Save Money

The more I think about it, I really think that being organized is the key to saving money.  Not only does my sanity thrive when things are organized in my home, I find our bank account is happier too. 🙂

Here are 6 ways being organized helps to save me money:

The more I think about it, I really think that being organized is the key to saving money.  Not only does my sanity thrive when things are organized, I find our bank account is happier too. Here are 6 ways being organized helps to save money.

Know what I already own

Having a spot for everything will help ensure that you know what you have on hand at all times. No need to buy the beans that are on sale because you know that you already have plenty in the pantry! Being organized (or more organized because we can’t be perfect!) stops you from spending money to replace items you can’t find.

I’ll avoid late fees

When you have an organized system in place for paying bills and returning borrowed items on time, you’ll certainly avoid the ugly late fees. Avoid paying late fees by implementing a system that will work for you. I have to tell you a story about the one time I had a late fee on the Visa bill. My bill paying “system” is not how my husband would do it and he suggested I try it his way.  His way was to pay off an amount as soon as there was a balance. My way is to pay it once a month on the due date, the balance of the statement in full. As soon as I receive the statement in the mail, I log into our online banking and schedule the payment to be made on the due date. Sure, it may be a larger amount doing it my way, but I’m never late in paying it! My husband has learned to just let me do my thing in that regard. 😉

Have time to plan a menu

When you’re organized, you’ll have time to set aside to plan the menu for the week. I’m a firm believer that having a menu plan in place will save you unnecessary trips to the grocery store and your sanity.  In our case, it saves us a ton because we’re avoiding the drive thru and actually eating what we buy from the grocery store.

Have time to cut and use coupons

If you’re a coupon user, being organized means you most likely have some time set aside for printing and organizing your coupons. Which also means you are probably organized to use the coupons at the store to pay rock bottom prices!

Know what projects you have on the go

Let’s pretend that I don’t know all about incomplete projects. (you know, those unfinished sewing and knitting projects that I found…) Every once in a while I get an urge to do something creative. But when I take the opportunity to have an organizing session, I usually discover a few unfinished projects.

Most recently, as I was going through my fabric stash, I found two unfinished projects.  A purse, which only needs to have the handles sewn on, and material for a sweatshirt I’ve cut out for my husband.   I now have two projects to finish to satisfy my creative urge without spending any more money!

Buy gifts well in advance

When you’re on the ball with upcoming special occasions, you can buy ahead when you find a great deal online or in the store. Helping you to avoid paying full price for something near your deadline.

How does being organized save you money? In what ways would you like to be more organized so you can save more?

I’m Wondering: What Are Some Items You Don’t Mind Paying More For?

I recently got to thinking about some of the items I don’t mind paying more for if it means better quality.  Outerwear and most footwear would be on my list.  I would consider those investments that I can make use of for several seasons.  But, even then, I try to get a deal! So….

I’m Wondering:  What are some items you don’t mind paying more for?  Would you ever pay full price?

How to Sell Your Clutter for Cash

Something I like to do on a semi regular basis, is to purge some of the stuff in our home that is not needed anymore.  Although there always seems to be some sort of mess around these parts, extra clutter drives me crazy.  But before I haul everything off to the thrift store, I set aside anything I think I could sell online; it’s always nice to earn bit of extra spending money!

How to Sell your Clutter for Cash

How to sell stuff online. Before you donate your unwanted stuff, turn your clutter into cash by learning how to sell it online!

While I’m a fan of the traditional garage sale, selling some of our old things online is really gaining popularity in my books.  I’ve found it to be less work and I tend to make more money than if I were to sell the items in a garage sale.

I’ve been dabbling a fair bit with some local Facebook Buy & Sell sites, so that’s where I have most of my experience. But Craigslist and Kijiji are also great free options for selling your stuff online.  Although, I’ve found that small items typically don’t sell well with Craigslist and Kijiji so that’s why I’ve been sticking with these Buy & Sell Facebook groups. Ebay is also a great option is you have brand name items and collector items to sell.

Here are some tips to help you sell stuff online through Craigslist/Kijiji, Facebook and eBay:

Research

Spend some time taking a look at items similar to what you want to sell to get an idea of what you should price your item at.  It might also be a good idea to research some of the details you think buyers might want to know. (ie: dimensions, special features…etc.)

Price Your Item Well

If you simply want to get rid of stuff quickly, price your stuff quite low.  If earning a bit of money is your goal, price your items by what you see similar items selling for.  Quite often I’ll price something a bit higher then what I’m willing to take because it’ll be a bonus if someone does purchase it at my asking price. But I know people like to barter to get a lower price.  They’ll feel like they’re getting a deal and I’m happy I was able to earn some decent spending money!

Take Good Photos

Having good, clear photos with your item is fairly crucial if you want to sell it quickly.  Here are some basic tips for taking a good picture:

  • Find good lighting. Try to take your pictures in natural light. In a dark room, the photo won’t show clearly, and artificial light can change the color of the item.
  • Clean the item. Make sure you give the item a good wipe down or wash to show off the condition.
  • Create a clear background. Place the item in an area of your home or yard that is free of  clutter.  You want to make it clear what you’re selling so don’t let any other distracting items show up in the photo.
  • Take several shots. Take at least one shot from every angle.

Choose the Right Category for your Item

To make your item easy to find, you’ll want to make sure you choose the right category to list your item under. After all, no one is going to look for a car in the Housing category!

Write a Clear Headline

In the headline, I like to include what it is and the price.  For example:  Fisher Price Jumparoo, $40.  Having a good headline is important because it’s the first thing people see about your ad and it’s how buyers search for items they want.

Write a Good Description

In your description, you’ll want to include:

  1. What you’re selling. Start the ad by explaining what your item is.
  2. Item’s condition. Briefly explain the condition of the item. Make a note of any damages.
  3. Technical details. Include as many technical details as you can about the item.
  4. Price. Don’t forget to state the price again. Be sure to include whether you’re firm in your price or willing to take a best offer.
  5. Your contact information. At the bottom of your ad, note your preferred method of contact.

Be Safe

Once you have your ad up and running, and you have your buyer, you’ll want to meet in a safe place.  If I’m home alone, I like to arrange a public place for item pick-up.  I try to plan it with an errand I’m already running to save running around all over town. (This one doesn’t really apply to items you sell though eBay since you’re shipping the items to the mailing address your buyer provided.)

The Best time to use:

Craigslist/Kijiji

Craigslist and Kijiji are great options for selling furniture, toys, vehicles and household items.  My husband has had great success selling a couple of vehicles. I have had success with selling some furniture we no longer need.  It’s free to list your items, so there really isn’t any reason not to try a handful of items!

eBay

eBay is the best option for selling popular brand name items such as Coach, Kate Spade and the like that are in excellent condition. High value collector items or hard to find items are also a great match for eBay.  It’s free to list items on eBay but you are required to pay a commission if your item sells.

Facebook Buy & Sell Groups

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Facebook buy & sell groups.  After all, these Facebook groups are easy to use and are free to join and list. I’ve had great success selling baby items, household stuff, outerwear and books. Search for a local buy & sell group, then ask to join. I’m fairly certain that these groups are in almost every city these days. You’ll want to be sure to read the rules of each group so you don’t end up with your listings being deleted by the administrators. (They set rules to cut down on some of the clutter that posting many items by so many people can cause.)

I’ve created, what I hope will be useful, a Stuff For Sale printable that you can use to keep track of your items as you sell them.  Because I use Facebook groups mostly, that’s how I structured this printable:
Stuff to Sell Printable{Get your Stuff for Sale Printable here}

Have you ever sold anything online?  Will you be giving it a try?  What are your tips for selling, or even buying online?

How to take money from your RRSP without paying tax

This post is a sponsored post written by Sun Life Financial. See my disclosure policy here.

Sometimes, you CAN take money out of your RRSP without penalty. But you have to pay your RRSP back – or pay the tax.

Sometimes, you CAN take money out of your RRSP without penalty. But you have to pay your RRSP back – or pay the tax.

Are you looking at a major expense you didn’t see coming? Short of available cash? Perhaps you’re thinking about tapping your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). It’s your money, after all, so why not?

Here are three good reasons why not.

1. You’ll owe tax

The first is the tax bill. Since you used pre-tax income when you put money in your RRSP, you’ll have to pay tax when you take it out. And while there’s no tax on investment growth inside your RRSP, you’re taxed when it comes out. RRSPs make sense because you’ll typically cash them in after you retire. That’s when your income and your tax bracket will likely be lower. You’ll still pay tax, but you’ll pay less. If you take the money now, while you’re working, you’ll face more in taxes.

2. You’ll miss out on investment growth

The second reason is lost investment growth. Every dollar you take from your RRSP is a dollar less to build up through compounding. So that little nibble from your plan today could mean a big bite missing from your savings come retirement.

3. You’ll use up contribution room

And the third reason: When you take money from your RRSP, putting it back generally uses up your contribution room. What’s contribution room?  Each year you can put as much as 18% of your earned income from the previous year into your RRSP, up to an annual maximum. The difference between your limit and what you actually put in your RRSP is the unused contribution room. You can carry that forward to use another year. Unused contribution room plus your annual maximum becomes your total contribution room. But whatever you put in your RRSP – replacing a temporary withdrawal or making a brand-new contribution – can use up contribution room. Let’s say you take $5,000 out of your RRSP this year and plan to pay your RRSP back next year. That repayment will reduce your contribution room by $5,000.

There are two ways to avoid paying tax on RRSP withdrawals, without using up contribution room:

  1. Use your RRSP to help buy your first home, or
  2. Use it to go back to school.

What’s the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP)?

Are you a first-time homebuyer living in Canada? If so, you can borrow up to $35,000 from your RRSP to put towards a down payment. If you and your spouse are buying together, that’s $70,000 you could use for your home.

The HBP lets you take out the money tax-free. But there’s a catch: You have to pay it back in equal installments over 15 years. Any year you don’t pay the full installment, you have to pay income tax on the outstanding balance. You’ll also lose the chance for that money to grow within your RRSP.

Thinking of using the HBP? When you’re crunching the numbers, be sure to include the RRSP repayments along with your mortgage payments.

What’s the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)?

This is another way to take tax-free money from your RRSP:

  • Take out up to $10,000 a year, for a total of $20,000.
  • You can spread those withdrawals over a maximum of four years.
  • Use that money for full-time education or training for yourself, your spouse or partner. 
  • As with the HBP, you need to repay your RRSP or pay income tax on your withdrawal.
  • With the LLP, you have 10 years to repay your RRSP in equal installments.

What about the tax-free savings account (TFSA)?

You might need money for anything at all – not only buying a home or going to school. An option is your TFSA. You don’t pay tax on TFSA withdrawals for any purpose. You’ll still lose potential investment growth while your money is out of the account. But your contribution limit will grow back. Whatever you take out gets added to what you can put in the following year. You can pay your TFSA back according to your own schedule.