Category Archives: Money

5 Ways to Save on Your Nursery

 

I’ve officially finished Baby Girls’ nursery and I am in love! After two nurseries, both on a serious budget I thought I’d share some money saving tips.

Buy second hand: Both of my kids have used furniture. With Emerson, I bought from a friend of the family and I ended up with a crib, mattress, dresser, changing pad and changing station all for around $250. For Baby Girl I found a barely used Pottery Barn crib, mattress and toddler conversion kit all for $200. I also purchased her dresser, changing pad, and diaper genie all second hand. If I had to estimate I would say I’ve saved well over $500. I cleaned everything really well and with Emerson’s crib I added handmade crib bumpers to cover some teeth marks.

There are a few questions I like to ask before I purchase something used. How old is it? How long was it used? Smoking home? How many children used it?

Skip Nonessentials: There are some things that aren’t really necessary. When Emerson was born we bought a wipe warmer, I soon discovered that by the time you take the wipe from the warmer to the babies butt it was already cold! Talk to your spouse and put things in categories, I always separate needs and wants. Once all your needs have been filled then you can go ahead and start purchasing your wants.

Double Duty: Try to find things that can do double duty. For Baby Girl we don’t have an official change station we just placed a changing pad on top of her dresser. I like it way more anyways because it gives me room to set diapers, wipes, and hand sanitizer. Pack-n-plays are great as well. The Pack-n-Play was Emerson’s bassinet the first few months; we also use it if he has a sleepover at grandmas. It was a little more expensive for the bassinet accessory, but it saved us money overall since we didn’t have to buy it separately. Other little items can serve two purposes as well my favorite swaddles are pretty expensive, but I use them as swaddles/ blankets/ nursing covers and car seat covers.

Return Shower Gifts: If you end up with multiples of certain items return them and buy what you need. I found myself returning things such as toys, towels, blankets and outfits. I used the money to purchase a car seat. A necessity and something I won’t buy secondhand. Friends and family love to buy cute outfits, but a baby doesn’t need a huge closet especially if they don’t have diapers.

Take Advantage of Registry Perks: I used Amazon and Target baby registries and I really enjoyed both. First off registries are important because they let people see what you need. Check to see if the store you’re registering at has any welcome packets. Target and Amazon both have welcome gifts with samples and coupons. Ask or research if the store your registering at has a registry completion coupon. Amazon and Target both have one for 15%. Basically after your shower if there are things on your registry you didn’t get you can purchase them for yourself with a discount code. We used this code to get our carseat at a huge discount.

What are your tips for saving money when decorating? Comment and let me know!

How To Plan Your Monthly Budget

How To Plan Your Monthly BudgetEarlier this year Nick and I were able to pay off your students loans, you can read all about that here! We did it mostly by planning out a monthly budget and then sticking to it. I thought I’s share a little more in depth about how we plan out each month’s budget.

The website we use is called everydollar.com, it’s free to use and I can’t recommend it enough. You have to set it up on a computer, but once your account is set up you can download the app and use it on your phone. Nick and I always sit down the last week of the month to set up our budget for the following month.
Step One: Calculate what your income for the month will be. Nick’s is basically always the same; however, mine in changing based on how many classes I’m teach or if I’ve picked up any odd jobs.
Step Two: Figure out all your bills and add those into your budget. We always put in Rent, Tithe, Electricity, Cell Phone, Car Payment, Internet, Groceries, Gas, Baby Needs and Savings.
Step Three: What ever is left you can put in your fun categories. We have restaurants, entertainment, and miscellaneous categories.

The goal is to have zero dollars left over after you’ve made your budget. This way you’re telling each and every dollar where to go. Then through the month as you make purchased you can update them in the app to make sure you’re staying on track.
I try to challenge myself each month and any leftover money that doesn’t get spend in a certain category just put into savings. For example we typically budget $100 for eating out, but if we can keep it to only $70 an extra $30 goes into savings.

There are some things to keep in mind with your budget, sometimes you need to add categories like taxes, vacation, car repairs, or doctor bills. I truly believe that getting your family on a budget is the fastest way to start paying down your debt and increase your savings.

 

Paying Off Student Loan Debt

slTHE BACKSTORY:
According to the always-correct Internet about 40 million Americans are carrying some sort of student loan debt. About 6 months ago, Nick and I were part of those 40 million. Between Nick’s few years at ASU and my attempt at full-time school and work we had accumulated a little over $20,000 in debt.
This type of debt is so common and typically has such a low interest rate it is easy to put it on the back burner and just pay the minimum hoping that it will be gone in 20 years. Nick and I started out just like that, happy to pay the minimum each month, until I got pregnant. Finding out you are expecting a baby changes more than just the number of people living in your house.
I realized that we needed to make some changes, starting with our debt.

THE BEGINNING:
I always feel like the hardest part of anything is just starting, but with debt you just have to start. What helped us the most was creating a budget. We used a website and app called Everydollar, it’s free and I highly recommend it. At the beginning of the month you put in your projected income and assign every dollar you are going to make to a certain category. When you do this you are telling your money what to do. As you make purchases throughout the month you update that app to make sure you don’t go over your budgeted amount. Since we had a baby coming we kept paying the minimum on our debts, but we piled money in our savings account. Every month it felt like we were making more money, enough though our salaries hadn’t changed. For once we knew where our money was going.

THE RESULT:
Just by budgeting and telling our money where to go, between the months of May and December we had saved around $10,000. Combine that amount with our tax return and we were able to completely clear all the student loans. It feels great to have that paid off and because we don’t have that extra monthly payment I am able to stay at home with Emerson instead of working.

Comment below if you have any tips about paying off debt or if you would like to see more tips for budgeting.