Have you ever made a really dumb money decision? I mean, like….so stupid that you are kicking yourself later. I did that a few times, even though I’m an accountant. But there are some tricks that can help you get back on track after making a terrible financial mistake.
One of my worst money decision ever was to buy a super cheap minivan to haul our family across the country when we moved to North Carolina from Seattle. It was a hunk of junk and didn’t have many features, but we had already sold our other cars and wanted something cheap.
It cost $6,000 and we paid cash. Right when we drove it off the lot, it started making some odd noises. So we put it in the shop and paid about $750 to get some repairs done.
Then we started our journey across the United States. Somehow, it didn’t break down on the way to North Carolina. But a week after we arrived, I was driving down the road with the kids when smoke started filling the cabin. The engine was on fire! That was a bad day.
We spent another $1,000 to repair the issue, but in the end, we decided it was better to get a more expensive car with fewer problems. So we traded it in on a new purchase. The dealership only gave us a $1,200 credit for the car.
So we spent a total of $7,750 on a hunk of junk and got back only $1,200. We basically threw away $6,550 in cash. Now, imagine me kicking myself and saying, “Do you know what I could have done with $6,550 if I hadn’t thrown it away?” We would have been better off just buying the more reliable car to start with.
How Do You Recover Financially?
I was kicking myself for a while on that one, but the fact is: once you make a bad money decision, there is no going back. You can only go forward from there.
We all make money mistakes from time to time, like buying things we later regret, signing up for a bad loan with huge payments, or putting things on credit instead of waiting. But what really matters is what you do next.
Overcoming your financial mistakes is essential to getting on the road to financial freedom.
Bread baking is one of the tastiest ways to save money on groceries. Especially when you have a 4-step bread recipe like mine. There is nothing better than a warm slice of mom’s buttered bread. Plus, it is a lot easier to make than most people think.
Making your own bread can save you up to $1,190 per year or more, depending on how much your family normally eats. Keep reading to get a great bread recipe, awesome freezer jam recipe, and useful bread making tips.
How Much Does It Cost to Make Your Own Bread?
Let’s do a price comparison. A regular loaf of bread usually costs between $2 to $4. Organic bread usually runs higher, around $3 to $5. And if you need gluten-free options, you are looking at more like $4 to $7.
Now, let’s do a calculation to see how much homemade bread costs. You can make 2 loaves of bread with one recipe.
Do you find it hard to shop for gifts for certain people? You know the ones… the guy who has everything or the girl who is picky. A gift card works great for people like that. But, wouldn’t it be great if you could get a gift card for way less than face value? You can! There are many websites that sell discounted gift cards.
They get these cards from people who would rather have cash than a gift card. They sell them to the site for less than they are worth, then the site sells them to the public. You can really save some BIG BUCKS by buying them to make your everyday purchases like groceries, clothes, and more.
Printing your own cards can save a sweet bundle of cash. So, in the spirit of keeping costs down, I have created several cute Father’s Day cards just for you. There are lots of great options. The fronts have phrases and images, but the insides are blank for you to write whatever message you want. The images below are after I printed them and folded them in half.
101 FREE (or Cheap) Things to Do with the Kids this Summer!
Summer is the best! It’s beautiful. The pools are open. And I don’t have to get the kids up early for school anymore. (That’s my favorite part.) But eventually, the kids get a little restless and want to do something fun. This can be tricky if you are on a budget so here is an epic list of 101 free or cheap activities you can do with your kids this summer.
This number might surprise you, but it shouldn’t. With the flashy ads everywhere, bright displays, and colorful, must-have products, how can a person resist? The problem is, many people end up living paycheck to paycheck or going into debt because of impulse shopping. But you can stop this from happening to you.
Companies spend millions of dollars figuring out ways to trick your brain into being impulsive enough to buy their product on the spot. They employ specialists in marketing and psychology to understand how consumers think and act. Then they use that info against you to get you to purchase things.
Here are a few marketing schemes you might have noticed.
Stop Overspending Right Now with The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting!
Do you need a budget? Find out by taking the following quiz:
Are you living paycheck to paycheck?
Are you drowning in debt?
Are you making bad purchasing decisions?
Are you behind in your bills or do you get late fees on your bills?
Do you wish you could save for the future, but you can’t?
Are you afraid of the next big financial emergency because you don’t have any savings?
Do you need help organizing your finances?
Do you want to budget, but you don’t know where to start?
Do you wish you could stick to a budget you have made?
Do you feel like your finances are out of control?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you need a budget! Budgeting doesn’t have to be a pain. It can be easy and you don’t need a degree in finance to figure it out. Anyone can do it! Find out how…
First, download the free eBook: The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting. It’s epic because it shows you just how easy budgeting can be. Sign up below to get the free download. Then follow the 5 simple steps below.
Easy Budgeting Takes Just 5 Simple Steps
Step 1. Find Out How Much You Spent Last Month
For this step, you can use the worksheet from your download called, “How Much Did I Spend Last Month?” All you need is your bank statements and credit card statements from last month. Then use the info on the statements to fill out the worksheet. If you have quarterly or monthly expenses that didn’t show up, divide them into monthly amounts and add them to the worksheet. Now you can see exactly what you spend. It can be eye-opening to see the actual totals for each category. So easy!
Step 2. Evaluate Your Current Situation
Using the same worksheet, list the monthly total of all your regular and irregular income at the top. (Use Appendix A in the packet if you need help calculating your monthly income. Or click on this post.) Now minus your total expenses from your total income. If your total is negative, you spent more than you earned and that means you either used up savings or added to your debt. If your total was zero or positive, but you have no money to put into savings, you still have a problem. You can fix these problems with the remaining 3 steps.
Step 3. Set a goal
Setting a goal is the most important step when making changes in your life. Under ideal circumstances, a person should be able to live on 80% of their income and use the other 20% to build an emergency account, give to charity, save for the future, or pay off debt. If you are not able to live on 80% of your income because your expenses are too high, then you need to cut back. If you can’t live on 100% of your income, then you definitely need to cut back your expenses!
You’re in luck! I have created a huge list of ideas on how to reduce expenses. You can find it in your download on the page called, “87 Ideas to Reduce Expenses.” Select a few ideas from the list to try this month. Then, set a spending goal for the month. List your goal at the top of your “Monthly Budget” worksheet.
Your goal doesn’t have to be a drastic change from last month’s spending, just a little change (unless you are completely committed to a total financial overhaul). The reason for this is if you make the goal too difficult to reach then you might lose interest in budgeting and go back to old habits. If you make small improvements each month then you will gradually get things back on track.
Step 4. Make a plan
The plan that will help you reach your goal is your budget. It’s basically a roadmap for your monthly spending. You already put your spending goal at the top. List your income at the top also. Now it is time to set up the plan to achieve your goal.
Divide your spending goal into categories on the “Monthly Budget” worksheet. See if you can get yourself to spend a little less in certain categories than you did the prior month. Once you have the budget filled out, put it on the fridge so you can see it regularly. At the end of the month, you will fill out the actual amounts to see how you did. That was easy right? Now you’re almost done.
Step 5. Pick a strategy that will help you stick to your budget.
Use the envelope system with cash only purchases. Then when you go to the store, you can only spend what is in the envelope. This prevents you from overspending. See Appendix B for a cash envelope template.
Or try having an accountability partner. This is where a friend or relative agrees to do the process with you and you check in with each other to make sure that you are sticking to the plan.
Or sign the personal contract in Appendix C of your booklet to promise yourself you will stick to the budget.
Whatever strategy you choose, make a commitment to improving.
(The packet also includes several bonus printables to help you manage your finances.)
At the end of the month, see how you did. Did you reach your goal? If so, congrats! Continue using this budget process each month and get yourself on the road to financial freedom.
If you didn’t reach your goal, try again. Don’t give up just because it was hard to adjust your spending. The only permanent failure is giving up. As long as you keep trying, you didn’t fail. Financial freedom is within your reach if you keep working toward it. You can do it!
Signup below to get your FREE copy of The Modern Mom’s Epic Guide to Easy Budgeting!
The Modern Mom’s EPIC Guide to Easy Budgeting:28 Page Workbook with 87 ideas to reduce expenses, 14 beautiful worksheets, 7 bonus lessons, and full, easy-to-follow instructions.
Have you ever considered donating an item to charity so you could get a tax deduction? Maybe clothes, toys, or even a car? One of our readers asked about it and now I’m going to share the detailed answer with everyone.
Question From Linda in Washington: I have 3 ‘junk’ cars I want to donate for the $500 tax deduction. Would I be able to do all 3 in the same year, or should I space them out?
Yes, you can donate them all in one year. But first, you need to make sure that the donation is going to a real charity. They should be able to provide you with a receipt and proof that they are a legitimate charity.
Second, you need to check your prior tax return to see if you itemized deductions or took the standard deduction. If you don’t itemize, you can’t deduct the car donation. Wait until you can itemize before you donate.
Next, before you decide when to make the donation, you might want to estimate your tax refund for the year based on what you already know. The best site for doing that is e-file.com. It’s completely free to use their tax refund estimator.
My philosophy is that you only want to donate this year if it will help you get a bigger refund or reduce what you owe. Otherwise, save it for the next tax year. This will maximize your financial gain.
If you need more deductions to increase your expected refund or to reduce your tax liability then you definitely want to donate the cars this tax year (or clothes, toys, household items, etc.). If you don’t need more deductions, then save it until you do. As long as you donate the car by the last calendar day of the year, you can still count it on your tax return. The IRS has a special publication just for car donations if you want to read up on it.
But hold on…you don’t get $500 more in a refund just because you value the car donation at $500! The amount of additional refund you get is LESS than the donation value. Why? It’s because you are deducting the $500 from your income and your income is being taxed at a certain percentage.
For example, if you are in the 15% tax bracket and you deduct the $500 donation, this will represent an additional tax refund of 15%* $500 = $75 more refund. That’s pretty insignificant, right? Maybe you would be better off selling the cars for what you could get for parts. Can you get more than $75 by selling the parts of the car on Craigslist? Can you sell the car as is to someone who can fix it up? This is my recommendation. Sell the car for more than what you can get back on your tax return.
Do You Have a Tax or Budgeting Question?
I worked as an accountant for years. Feel free to ask any question you like. Just reply to this email with your question and I will answer it in an email like this one. Plus, this coming tax season, I am planning to give tips to help you save a bundle of money by preparing your own tax return.
Click below to get your FREE copy of The Modern Mom’s Epic Guide to Easy Budgeting!28 Page Workbook with 87 ideas to reduce expenses, 14 beautiful worksheets, 7 bonus lessons, and full, easy-to-follow instructions.