Day 3455 – How We Continue To Stay Out Of Debt, How We Have Money Saved, And How We Had Extra For Taxes – repost

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have a three month emergency fund, that I would be debt free for almost five years, that I wouldn’t get anxious when paying bills, and that I would get excited about taxes, I probably would have called you crazy.

I came into our marriage with about $30,000 of debt. This was from reckless spending, big purchases, starting a business on credit cards, and having to pay for necessities on my credit card while using all my cash paying for things for my DUI. Ha, if you also told me 10 years ago I’d be 100% ok talking about getting arrested and talking about my drinking problem, I would have called you crazy….and been super embarrassed that you knew I was arrested.

Through Bret working like six jobs, me working two jobs, extra money coming in because of the GI Bill, and very strict budgeting, we were able to pay everything off less than four years into our marriage. Since then we’ve stayed out of debt and have been able to save. Our savings accounts have fluctuated over the past few years. At one point we did have six months saved, but gave a bit away and went on a few adventures.

So what have we been doing since then that I was actually excited and not stressed at all about our taxes?

Here are a few things:

Since well before I was married to Bret, I kept a detailed spreadsheet that showed my income and expenses for 1-2 years into the future. I can see what times of the year will be harder than others (right now that’s the summer since Bret is paid on a 10 month schedule at his day job), I can see when we would have to dip into savings unless we made an adjustment, and I can quickly see how a change in expenses will change things for the rest of the year (and into the next). But this approach has some disadvantages and doesn’t show the full picture.

To get a very detailed picture of how we spend our money, we got an account on mint.com. It’s a free service that connects to all of your accounts. You can set up budgets for all areas of your life and get notifications when you’re getting close to a budget. When we first signed up, I was shocked to see how much we spent on gas. It was much more than I thought we spent. What I love about mint is that is shows a very real picture of how things are….not how you want them to be. It has limitations too, for sure. Just yesterday, I was told I was over budget for home insurance because I paid the balance in February instead of April. I know I have the money there, but mint wants to show me a big red in that budget. This is why it’s been helpful to use several methods to track our money and budgets. One thing I didn’t know I could do until recently was actually split receipts. So if I go to Walmart and buy groceries for us but also some notebooks for my business, and supplies for our business, I can split it in mint.

Before we got our first check for the real estate investing business, we decided how to divvy out the income. 30% goes right back into the business, whether this is a larger budget for the next few months, or to help us get through summer months. 32.5% goes into our savings account. 32.5% is saved for taxes. 5% is for celebrating/travel/etc. Because of this method, we were able to have money set aside for taxes. So there was no anxiousness for when the bill came to both pay our accountants (who we LOVE by the way), or even if we had to pay the government. Because the money was there, for that purpose. It was a totally trippy feeling, but very very cool.

The next thing we want to work on is having a good idea of if we’ll owe or get money back. We don’t want to go into our tax season wondering what’s going to happen. I mean, we had this money just sitting in an account waiting. If we had known what our taxes would have looked like a few months ago, we could have invested that money back into the business sooner.

And I’ve heard some businesses use things like boats to save on taxes, so….life goal? 😀

originally posted 3/5/18

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget.
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
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Day 3159 – How We Continue To Stay Out Of Debt, How We Have Money Saved, And How We Had Extra For Taxes

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have a three month emergency fund, that I would be debt free for almost five years, that I wouldn’t get anxious when paying bills, and that I would get excited about taxes, I probably would have called you crazy.

I came into our marriage with about $30,000 of debt. This was from reckless spending, big purchases, starting a business on credit cards, and having to pay for necessities on my credit card while using all my cash paying for things for my DUI. Ha, if you also told me 10 years ago I’d be 100% ok talking about getting arrested and talking about my drinking problem, I would have called you crazy….and been super embarrassed that you knew I was arrested.

Through Bret working like six jobs, me working two jobs, extra money coming in because of the GI Bill, and very strict budgeting, we were able to pay everything off less than four years into our marriage. Since then we’ve stayed out of debt and have been able to save. Our savings accounts have fluctuated over the past few years. At one point we did have six months saved, but gave a bit away and went on a few adventures.

So what have we been doing since then that I was actually excited and not stressed at all about our taxes?

Here are a few things:

Since well before I was married to Bret, I kept a detailed spreadsheet that showed my income and expenses for 1-2 years into the future. I can see what times of the year will be harder than others (right now that’s the summer since Bret is paid on a 10 month schedule at his day job), I can see when we would have to dip into savings unless we made an adjustment, and I can quickly see how a change in expenses will change things for the rest of the year (and into the next). But this approach has some disadvantages and doesn’t show the full picture.

To get a very detailed picture of how we spend our money, we got an account on mint.com. It’s a free service that connects to all of your accounts. You can set up budgets for all areas of your life and get notifications when you’re getting close to a budget. When we first signed up, I was shocked to see how much we spent on gas. It was much more than I thought we spent. What I love about mint is that is shows a very real picture of how things are….not how you want them to be. It has limitations too, for sure. Just yesterday, I was told I was over budget for home insurance because I paid the balance in February instead of April. I know I have the money there, but mint wants to show me a big red in that budget. This is why it’s been helpful to use several methods to track our money and budgets. One thing I didn’t know I could do until recently was actually split receipts. So if I go to Walmart and buy groceries for us but also some notebooks for my business, and supplies for our business, I can split it in mint.

Before we got our first check for the real estate investing business, we decided how to divvy out the income. 30% goes right back into the business, whether this is a larger budget for the next few months, or to help us get through summer months. 32.5% goes into our savings account. 32.5% is saved for taxes. 5% is for celebrating/travel/etc. Because of this method, we were able to have money set aside for taxes. So there was no anxiousness for when the bill came to both pay our accountants (who we LOVE by the way), or even if we had to pay the government. Because the money was there, for that purpose. It was a totally trippy feeling, but very very cool.

The next thing we want to work on is having a good idea of if we’ll owe or get money back. We don’t want to go into our tax season wondering what’s going to happen. I mean, we had this money just sitting in an account waiting. If we had known what our taxes would have looked like a few months ago, we could have invested that money back into the business sooner.

And I’ve heard some businesses use things like boats to save on taxes, so….life goal? 😀

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget.
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Day 1971 – Tips For Saving Money And Paying Off Your Debt

I got a request for some tips, so here you go! Some are easy, some are really hard. But if you’re serious about paying off your debt, the temporary difficulty will be worth it in the end. One of our favorites sayings is roughly, live now like people couldn’t believe so in the future you can live a life people couldn’t dream of.

Mint.com I’m sure there are a ton of apps like this, but this is the one we use. It syncs up with all of your bank accounts and credit cards. It can take a little work to get things set up, but once it is, it’s fantastic. My advice with this is to set it up RIGHT NOW. It starts tracking from the day you sign up (when last I checked). Then in a month or two, take a peek at what your habits are. I would be willing to bet you spend more on things than you thought. When I looked at our spending on gas, I was absolutely shocked! It was at least $100+ I thought we spent. You can set up budgets and notifications for when you go over or are getting close to exceeding that budget.

Create a budget One thing that helped us was creating a budget for the current year and the next. I have an extensive spreadsheet that includes all incomes and bills. I can quickly see our current standing. Over those three and a half years, I think we lived at the “going in the hole” 3 months out about 90% of the time. Bonus tip – you get 26 pays (if you have a typical bi-weekly pay) a year, so that’s two pays you probably aren’t thinking about in your budgeting.

Coupons There are a TON of ways you can save with coupons! I’m not a HUGE couponer, but I picked up a few things. First, Target (and other businesses, I’m sure) take coupons from their website AND manufacturer coupons. If you can wait for a sale, some of the prices are crazy good. They have deals where if you buy X of a product, you get a gift card…even better. In this same vein, I just signed up for an app to earn credits towards rebates, it’s called Ibotta. I haven’t used it yet, but from what I saw, it would be a great thing to add.

Change your diet One of the things we had to sacrifice for a little while was cutting out organic foods. I will say, this was the first thing to change when we had more breathing room. You can add new recipes into the mix…there are tons of random combinations that are super cheap. (Start with a Hamburger helper meal, add canned chicken and a few bags of frozen veggies. I made one recently and I think it worked out to be about $1 per serving…)

Stop going out to eat There are no excuses on this one. Just don’t do it. If this is something that’s important to you, add it into your budget…but only do this AFTER you’re paying down your bills. Take the food you made from a random combination above to work. Hungry on the drive home? Be hungry until you get home….or pack snacks for the car so you’re not tempted.

Compare the purchase to how long you’d have to work for it Gotta have that new gaming system? New shoes? If you think about it in terms of your hourly wage, this becomes a much easier battle. If you’re making $10 an hour, you’d have to work over 40 hours for a PS4.

Stop giving gifts…or seriously cut back This is where it gets hard. I know Christmas is coming up and you want to give those you love gifts…but this can be a serious drain on your cash flow. Honestly, one of the best gifts you can give most people these days is your time. As “cliche” as it sounds, give coupons for your time. “Movie night at my place,” “Making you dinner at your place,” etc. We stayed home a LOT during that time and we had people over.

Use the library You can get most books and movies from the library. Make use of the request feature. I’ve seen a lot of recent DVD releases through the library. I’ve probably saved about $30 over the last 6 months alone not renting from RedBox anymore. Sure, it’s only a buck and change….but that adds up. If there’s something you really want to see, put in your request as soon as you can. I currently have a calendar reminder to check on a few titles when they’re released.

Combine driving trips as much as possible Don’t get the groceries when you feel like it. Don’t return the movie now. Think through your to-do list of drives….what can you do all together? What can wait? Drive with your spouse/etc whenever possible. This can be hard if you have to wait, but again, be looking at the long term. If you have to sit and wait for something (maybe you and your spouse are taking the car into the shop while running errands), take one of those books from the library! 🙂 We love shopping at Aldi’s and Big Lots for the great prices…but up until February, we didn’t have one close by, so we would wait until Sundays after church since it was on the way home.

Pay as much as you can on the bills With the money you’re saving, attack your smallest bills and/or the highest interest rate cards first. Bonus tip – pay once a week on credits cards to keep the interest down.

Do reward yourself, from time to time This is really hard stuff. I know. But you do want to reward yourself as you go. Add rewards into your budget too. We did go out to eat a few times over the years, and each time it was such a blessing and so much fun. Make sure you shut off the “we don’t have the money for this” side of your brain! If you’ve saved for it, enjoy it!

Hopefully, this will help you pay off your debt so you can jump for joy like this!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Join our Facebook group, Planning an Epic Road Trip on Any Budget
Join the Journey With The G’s email list (bonus – you get my Epic Road Trip Budget spreadsheet)
Buy my book, Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget.
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
Shop on Amazon (no additional cost to you, this gives us a percentage of what you order).
Check out our resources page.
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel