12 Months To An Exceptionally Brighter Financial Future

StumbleUponFacebookShare

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

You are staring at a pile of bills. You want to get out from under them, but you don’t know how. You know you need to track spending, make a budget, get out of debt, get an emergency fund and on and on and on. It seems like improving your finances is just as overwhelming as living with a mound of bills.

It isn’t! At least not when you break down each step that you need to take to a brighter financial future into a small goal, taking time to make that one goal a habit before moving on to the next one.

Make this year the year you create a budget that works, pay off debt and start living with a brighter financial future.

12 Months To An Exceptionally Brighter Financial Future

Some of you might be able to complete a number of these tasks and make them a habit in less than a month. However, others might need more than a month to master one of these skills. Because of that, the 12 months is a general guideline; speed things up or slow things down as you need–BUT don’t get stalled! Be diligent to stay consistently progressing through all 12 steps.

Each step builds on the other. You don’t stop doing one step at the end of the assigned month, instead you add the next month’s goal on top of the habit you just finished mastering.

Month 1: Track Spending

It is hard to write up a budget if you don’t know exactly where your money is going in the first place. Take the first month of this challenge to track each and every penny you spend.

You can do that with a pen and a notebook or use a simple expense app on your smartphone. Either will work.

Month 2: Track All Sources Of Income

This month keep tracking your expenses, but track your income too–all of it. A lot of people track just their main paychecks, but I think it is important to track the little things too. The cash back check you got from the hardware store. The money you received for reselling those clothes you no longer needed. Add every penny that comes into your home.

Month 3: Write A Budget

Now that you know how much you earn and where you spend your earnings it is time to write a budget. Your budget will change almost every month as expenses and income change so don’t spend hours creating a pretty masterpiece. A simple typed out budget will do or even a handwritten one.

The important thing is that you have assigned every dollar of your money earned. Now some of you may discover that your expenses are larger than your earnings. If that is you, don’t panic–by the end of these steps you will have that corrected and be doing something to get rid of the debt you created while you were spending more than you earned.

If you have no clue how to even create a budget the book Debt-Proof Living: How to Get Out of Debt & Stay That Way by Mary Hunt can help. You can also download these free printable budget forms over at Queen of Free.

Make this year the year you create a budget that works, pay off debt and start living with a brighter financial future. 17 Ways Thrifty Bookworms Save Money On Books

Month 4: Start Studying

This month you are going to learn how to make that budget balance by learning from thrifty masters how to stretch your hard earned dollars.

My top 3 books for those beginning their journey into the thrifty life are:

Month 5: Reduce One Budget Line

Starting with this month I want you to pick one line of your budget you think you can reduce, set a goal for the reduction and stick to that goal.

You can visit my save money on groceries page for tips on how to save money on your food budget, my saving money on clothing page for tips to keep your clothing budget down and my money saving tips page to figure out how to save money in pretty much any area of your budget.

When the month is over pick another area of your budget to lower. Repeat this step over and over each month, even if you just lower the chosen category by $5–it all adds up.

Month 6: Start An Emergency Fund

Now that you have a written budget and you are working on creating wiggle room in your budget it is time to create a vital piece in the puzzle that is your financial success: an emergency fund.

An emergency fund will stop you from digging out your credit cards to pay for car repairs, a broken water heater, emergency medical bills and so on.

Most financial experts suggest having at least a $1,000 set aside while you are paying off debt and after the debts are paid you should grow this to 3 to 6 months worth of income.

A great way to kickstart your emergency fund is to set aside some time this month to go through your home from top to bottom gathering things you no longer use to resell.

My reselling tips page if full of how-to suggestions for all sorts of different places to resell your stuff.

Make this year the year you create a budget that works, pay off debt and start living with a brighter financial future. How Our Family Pays Just $45 A Month For Service To 3 Smartphones

Month 7: Make Your Smartphone Pay

With a written budget and a $1,000 emergency fund it is time to generate some small streams of income that can help put a bit of fun in your budget.

Of course, you could use these tiny streams of income to pay for food,or clothing if you want, but I prefer using them to add a few treats to a otherwise treat-less budget.

I suggest starting with cash back style smartphone apps. These apps earn you points for purchases and other actions that you can then trade in for gift cards or PayPal deposits.

5 apps for Earning Gift Cards With Your Smartphone

Ibotta

The Ibotta app gives you rebates when you complete various tasks for a product in the app and then take a picture of the receipt for the product you chose in the app and upload it. Here is my step by step guide on how to use Ibotta.

Use my referral code QtTQg at sign-up (sometimes they offer a special when you do this–sometimes not).

Sign up for Ibotta here

MobiSave

MobiSave offers cash backs with no thresholds. What this means is if you pick 3 rebate offers all valued at say $0.10, then go shopping and upload your receipt, in 24 hours you will receive your $0.30 in rebates in the form of a PayPal deposit.

Here is my tutorial for how to use MobiSave: Earn Cash Back On Your Groceries with MobiSave

Sign up for MobiSave here (use my referral code OGHUVPZ)

Receipt Hog

Simply upload a receipt by taking a picture of it with your smartphone or tablet and watch your points and spins add up. There are lots of stores that qualify including Aldi. Read my full tutorial on Receipt Hog here.

Earn a free spin when you use my referral code YECT1667 when signing up

Sign up for Receipt Hog here (YECT1667)

BerryCart

If you shop for organic, gluten-free or NON GMO foods then you are going to want sign up for BerryCart. It works like a rebate program giving you money back for certain natural food purchases when you upload your receipt.

Here is my tutorial for the BerryCart App: Step By Step Guide To BerryCart App

Sign up for BerryCart here

 Shopkick

Shopkick is the app that pays you to browse. You don’t have to purchase anything to earn gift cards through the Shopkick app. You simply sign in when you enter select stores and earn kicks just for entering in the store and/or by scanning select products while you shop.

See my tutorial (a Step by Step Guide To Shopkick) for more details.

Sign up for Shopkick here

Month 8: Make Your Time Online Pay

Swagbucks is a point program that allows you to download a toolbar. When you download this toolbar and enter your web searches through it you earn points called SB at random. These SB points can then be cashed in for gift cards for dozens of different stores and restaurants including Starbucks, Amazon and even PayPal.

Swagbucks also gives points when you shop at various online stores or daily deal sites. If you are searching the web or shopping online you might as well be earning gift cards for your time.

Sign up for Swagbucks here

Month 9: Start Attacking Debt

Finally you and your family are gaining financial headway, now it is time to kick it up a notch and get rid of those monthly payments.

Pick your smallest debt and each month send in more than the minimum payment–as much as you possibly can. If you did not resell everything you could to create your $1,000 emergency fund now is the time to resell it and put the proceeds right on your debt.

When the smallest debt is gone roll that payment into the next smallest debt and start getting rid of it faster. Repeat over and over until you are left with just your mortgage. Depending on your level of debt this step could take years, but it will be worth it.

The Ibotta app gives you rebates when you complete various tasks for a product in the app and then take a picture of the receipt for the product you chose at the store you chose and upload it to the app.6 Ways To Turn Your Laptop Into A Money Making Machine

Month 10: Start Researching Alternative Streams Of Income

If you want the debt to be gone faster and if you want to have more financial freedom once the debt is gone, unless you already earn a very generous income chances are you are going to need to create an alternative source of flexible income.

For our family our flexible income streams include rental properties, my blog and my husband’s on call work. For your family chances are it will look much different–we all have unique talents and opportunities.

My Earning and Selling Tips Pinterest board is full of ideas for creating flexible side jobs.

Take a month to research what side jobs might work for you. Figure out whether there is a market for your idea, what the costs involved are for starting it and if you really have the passion for it.

Month 11: Stop Researching And Start That Side Job

At the end of one month stop researching ideas for side jobs, pick one and start doing all you can to get it off the ground.

Too many of us get stuck in research mode never to take the leap into action mode. You won’t earn a single penny researching–you need to take action.

Month 12: Start Dreaming BIG

You have now laid the foundation for a strong financial future. You have earned the right to stop wallowing in an overwhelmed state and start dreaming about the future.

When you and your family are out of debt what do you want to do? Take a vacation? A cross country RV trip? Move to a bigger home? Create and fund your own charity? Dream big and start striving towards that goal. When you do, watch BIG things happen.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

StumbleUponFacebookShare

6 Ways To Earn Money For Christmas All Year Long

StumbleUponFacebookShare

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

This is the final post in the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget series and it is perhaps the most important because this post will set you up to enjoy a Christmas To Remember without the super tight budget for years to come.

If you follow the steps in this post you should create a nice steady stream of income that–added up over the course of the year–will give you enough to fund Christmas for your family.

6 Ways to Earn Money for Christmas all Year Long

Honestly a lot of these streams below are very small, more like a drop here and there, but even little drops can add up. Think of the power of a rain storm. It is made up of tiny rain drops, but together they create something that soaks the land.

6 Ways To Earn Money For Christmas All Year Long

If you have been following the series you will recognize many of these streams of income as I mentioned them in the Where To Earn Gifts Cards Fast For Christmas Cash post, the Where to Resell Your Items Online For Quick Christmas Cash, and the How To Use Your Talents & Passions To Generate Christmas cash.

This time I want you to take that information and turn it into sources of income that can produce money all year long instead of just at Christmas time.

How our Family pays Just $45 a Month for Service to 3 SmartphonesHow to avoid high smartphone bills

1. Make Money When You Shop

If you have a smartphone you can use the following apps to earn cash back and more on your purchases, and not just at the grocery store. These apps work at restaurants, gas stations, pet stores, craft stores and more. If you make a habit of using these apps every time you shop you should have a nice sum to cash in for Paypal cash or gift certificates for your Christmas shopping.

Ibotta

The Ibotta app gives you rebates when you complete various tasks for a product in the app and then take a picture of the receipt for the product you chose at the store you chose and upload it to the app. Here is my step by step guide on how to use Ibotta.

Use my referral code QtTQg at sign-up (sometimes they offer a special when you do this–sometimes not).

Sign up for Ibotta here

MobiSave

MobiSave offers cash backs with no thresholds. What this means is if you pick 3 rebate offers all valued at say $0.10 , then go shopping and upload your receipt, in 24 hours you will receive your $0.30 in rebates in the form of a PayPal deposit.

Here is my tutorial for how to use MobiSave: Earn Cash Back On Your Groceries with MobiSave

Sign up for MobiSave here (use my referral code OGHUVPZ)

Receipt Hog

Simply upload a receipt by taking a picture of it with your smartphone or tablet and watch your points and spins add up. There are lots of stores that qualify including Aldi. Read my full tutorial on Receipt Hog here.

Earn a free spins when you use my referral code YECT1667 when signing up

Sign up for Receipt Hog here (YECT1667)

BerryCart

If you shop for Organic, gluten-free or NON GMO foods then you are going to want sign up for BerryCart. It works like a rebate program giving you money back for certain natural food purchases when you upload your receipt.

Here is my tutorial for the BerryCart App: Step By Step Guide To BerryCart App

Sign up for BerryCart here

 Shopkick

Shopkick is the app that pays you to browse. You don’t have to purchase anything to earn gift cards through the Shopkick app. You simply sign in when you enter select stores and earn kicks just for entering in the store and/or by scanning select products while you shop.

See my tutorial (a Step by Step Guide To Shopkick) for more details.

Sign up for Shopkick here

 

3 Survey Companies That Really PayI have personally tried out each of the survey companies on this list

2. Answer Surveys

PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel offers 9 ways to earn points, but it is primarily a survey company. With cash outs beginning at just 300 points for a $3 Amazon gift card code it doesn’t take long to earn enough to cash out. There is also a Paypal option starting at $5. Here is my guide for using PrizeRebel.

Sign up for PrizeRebel here.

 Paid Viewpoint

With Paid Viewpoint you never get screened out of a survey and always get paid a little something for your time. Those are my two favorite things about it. Here is my guide for using Paid Viewpoint

Sign up for Paid Viewpoint here.

 MintVine

In MintVine’s survey area you will find a box beside each survey that tells you how long each survey should take. I have tested this feature out and found it to be accurate. You are also often given a few points for filling out the qualifying questions for a survey you didn’t get into. Here is my guide for using MintVine.

Sign up for MintVine here.

 

4 of the Best Websites for Earning Cash in Your Spare TimeThese websites offer low cash outs and numerous ways to earn

3. Watch Videos

InstaGC

What I love about InstaGC is the instant gift card cash outs starting at just $1 for a Amazon gift card code. They have a large selection of videos you can watch for points. Here is my guide for using InstaGC

Sign Up For InstGC here.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks has several apps in which you can watch videos and earn SB points for doing so. You can then cash in those SB points for gift cards including ones for PayPal. There are 20+ other ways to earn points through Swagbucks making it a great company to generate a small stream of Christmas cash from. Here is one of my many guides on how to use Swagbucks.

Sign Up For Swagbucks here.

 

How to Make Money from What you Already OwnMy reselling tips page can help you resell your items for top dollar

4. Resell Your Stuff

Perhaps this is the year where you want to declutter your home from top to bottom–if so creating a stream of income for Christmas cash is pretty simple. Find a reselling platform you like and start selling items.

If you prefer, you can host a huge yard sale. If you chose the yard sale option, here is a free downloadable sheet that will help you gather as many items as possible for the sale and here is a post I wrote that will help you host your most successful yard sale to date.

 6 Ways to Earn Money for Christmas all Year Long

5. Sell A Craft Or Product

Are you talented at writing? Create an eBook and sell it on Kindle. Are you talented at knitting, create a product and sell it on Etsy.

Do your research, but don’t stay caught in research mode forever. Get out there! Create and sell your work.

 

6 Ways to Earn Christmas Cash all Year Long

6. Offer Your Services

Mow lawns, babysit children, clean homes, walk dogs–these are all example of services you could offer. Stick to what you are talented at and have a passion for. You don’t want to offer to walk dogs if you fear them and really don’t like long walks outdoors.

Also study up on the laws in your area. Selling your services often requires a permit and requiring one means following a set of guidelines.

Pursuing one or several of these streams of income should create a small steady stream of income month after month that can fund your Christmas account year after year. Who knows, these streams of income might even add up to something much greater than that–generating greater financial security for your family.

How to Plan a Christmas to Remember on a Super Tight BudggetThis post is part of the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget Series.

Subscribe and get a free copy of my Christmas on a Zero Budget: Printable PlanGrab your free copy here

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

StumbleUponFacebookShare

How To Give Acts Of Service Gifts People Will Really Use: No More Coupon Books

StumbleUponFacebookShare

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

Have you ever gotten a printable coupon for a free night of babysitting from your neighbors, but you can see that they live really busy lives so surely you shouldn’t bother them by asking to cash it in next week. Or perhaps your spouse gave you a pack of coupons for back rubs, but the mood never seems right to cash it in–I mean seriously, if my husband  is not in the mood to give a back rub I don’t want him anywhere near my back.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the whole idea of printable act of service coupons, so much so that I even have a Pinterest board devoted to them. However, when it comes to actually giving or receiving them it seems either like I am too thrifty if I am the giver or that I am being demanding if I am cashing them in.

Luckily there is a much better way to give the gift of service as a Christmas gift.

This Christmas, give an act of service people will actually use-no more coupon books collecting dust in junk drawers.

How To Give Acts Of Service Gifts People Will Really Use

Make it a surprise

Instead of giving coupons people need to cash in, which can be awkward, surprise them with the gift.

Sometimes this might require getting a few people in on the gift idea. Perhaps you want to give your brother and his wife a night off from the kids. Make it a surprise gift for his wife, but get your brother to help you plan it. Twist his arm to make it a gift from the both of you, you do the babysitting and he plans and pays for the date.

Make sure it is a service the recipient wants done

I would love it if someone would come over an scrub my bathrooms and floors as a Christmas gift, but do my Christmas baking for me and I just might cry. I look forward to baking gingerbread men and sugar cookies.

You have to think like the person receiving the gift and not yourself. What chores do they complain about doing? What do they seem to not be able to do well that you can?

Do the job well

This should go without saying, but make sure that you put your all into the act of service. Don’t decide to do something you’re not naturally gifted at, otherwise there is a chance that the gift won’t be as great as you would like it to be.

If you must give a coupon, have all the details already taken care of

If you really do want to put a coupon under the Christmas tree then make sure that you already have all the details taken care of. If the coupon is a free meal each month, have a tentative date set, say the third Thursday of every month, the choices of meals written on the card, and the time you will drop it off. Sure the details can change, but at least the gift coupon seems like it is already in motion and therefore doesn’t really have to be “cashed in” by the recipient.

This Christmas, give an act of service people will actually use-no more coupon books collecting dust in junk drawers.

My Favorite Act Of Service Christmas Gift Story

In case you are thinking that an act of service gift doesn’t mean as much as a physical one, I thought I would share one that I received that touched me in so many ways.

December 1st is always a hard day for me. You see, December 1st many years ago I came home from Christmas shopping with a friend to a freshly cleaned, child-free home and a husband who was obviously struggling with his emotions.

I asked him what was wrong and all he could choke out was “call your mother” and so I did.

That December 1st those many years ago my mother told me her cancer was back for a third time. This time it was in her liver and the doctors were not recommending further treatment. She had been given 6 months at best (which God took and stretched into several years).

The news took the holiday joy right out of me. I had yet to decorate my home and my neighbor noticed this. Several days after I received the news she came over and asked me where my decorations were. She then proceeded to spend the entire afternoon making my home look festive.

When she was done I kept looking around in awe. Surely these were not the same decorations I put out every year. My neighbor at the time was an amazingly talented decorator.

Emotionally it was a hard Christmas for me, but whenever I got down I looked around my home at the beautiful decorations and remembered that Jesus came to earth as a baby in a manger to offer an amazing gift to us all- and because my mom and I had accepted His gift all was not lost. Yes, I would say goodbye to my mom here on earth and my heart would ache for her, but one day I would see her again in Heaven.

That gift of being surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations all season long is the only one I remember from that Christmas and yet it was the only one that didn’t cost a dime.

Acts of service gifts can be treasured, but they must be done right. Take time to plan yours out and you can give the gift of a Christmas to remember to the ones you love despite not having a much money to spend on their gifts.

How to Plan a Christmas to Remember on a Super Tight Budget.This post is part of the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget Series.

Subscribe to receive the Christmas on a Zero Budget Printable Plan for free!Grab your free copy of the Christmas On A Zero Budget mini eBook

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

StumbleUponFacebookShare