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? 😀

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Day 3138 – How We Have A Minimalist Valentine’s Day

I’ve said that I don’t think there’s a bad definition for minimalism. Minimalism looks different in each person’s life. What’s minimal to me might be extravagant to you, and vice versa. Bret and I have never really celebrated Valentine’s Day for one main reason – we met 2 days after Valentine’s Day, and in my mind, that’s a MUCH bigger deal. It has led to saving money. The biggest way we save money is that we can wait until the day after Valentine’s Day to get candy because it’s all on sale. We get lovey dovey candy for our more important day AND it’s cheaper. It means we don’t have to wait for a table on a very busy night.

And all in all, it’s a reminder that days are just days, holidays are still a Wednesday night.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

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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 2838 – Why We Moved

We moved for a few reasons. To save money, to give me more access to the car, but especially because of the close proximity to Bret’s job. For fun, we set a timer to see how long the drive actually was when I dropped Bret off this morning.

Because of how we parked, we had to take a longer way. There were a number of buses, but thankfully we missed the school bus pickup in the neighborhood. I could have gotten back sooner if I didn’t catch the light at the school. Silly me, thinking I could. It’s a no turn on red light, so I had to sit through a whole rotation.

Total drive – door to door to door – 11:44
Total drive there – 7:33
Total drive home – 4:10

It could have taken only 3 minutes to drive home! Ah! Never fear readers, we will work on shaving this time down!

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Did you like what you read? Here’s some ways you can support us and this blog!
Buy my book, Trusting God With 2 Cents: 22 Days To Becoming A Successful Christian Business Owner.
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Day 2672 – Why Aren’t You Shopping At Aldi??

I came across this article about visiting Aldi for the first time and thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about them!

Bret and I are BIG fans of Aldi. I find it interesting that it still has a stigma when I tell people we shop there. I wanted to share a few reasons why we think this amazing place! We average about $50-80 a week for both of us to eat. And we eat pretty healthy – quinoa, veggie, salmon mix for most meals, veggies and hummus, cereal, boiled eggs, sandwiches, nuts, etc. Their food is made pretty cleanly too. I love picking up an item and seeing like 2 ingredients.

One thing you sometimes need to keep an eye on is the produce. The only problem is it goes bad faster than other stores. I have found their organic produce has always been spot on. AND they have a double guarantee, so if you need to return something you get a refund AND a replacement.

Another benefit is not having to clip coupons.

In my mind, I’m a master couponer, finding amazing deals and saving us thousands of dollars a year. In reality, I’ll clip about 10 coupons every few months and maybe use one of them. I will look for deals and coupons when I need something, but in practice, I really suck at couponing. Here’s where Aldi saves the day, every time. I don’t need to look for coupons, the prices are consistently SO low.

The main downside is I can’t get everything I need there. So I either go without or go somewhere else. Thankfully, we have a lot of great grocery stores nearby to fill the gaps.

So give Aldi a chance friend!

Have you shopped at Aldi? Did you love it or hate it?

Fun fact, these are from Aldi!

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