The amount of resources through out the world wide web, especially in reference to deals, saving money and personal finance is extensive. Here in my little corner of the blog world, I am one blip in the world of frugal living and yet, I hope, I offer a different twist than most.
I thoroughly appreciative all the “How To” finance type blogs and the good deal blogs, since I throw in my share of that advise as well, but more importantly, I hope that you get a glimpse of my life…a woman trying to balance it all – both the beauty and the bedlam. Aren’t most of us attempting that balancing act on a daily basis?
When people ask what my blog is about, I pause, and generally refer to it as a “Frugal Lifestyle/ Frugal Homemaking” blog. I am giving you a glimpse at our life style. A life lead with intentionality to truly appreciate the simple things, but also a family living below our means so that we can live life to its fullest…debt free.
Many of you know that we just survived a year of unemployment. I already knew a lot about personal finance and debt free living before that, but it refined the core of why we live the way we do. I learned so much through that time. I already knew something about “Needs vs. Wants, and setting financial goals only to have them dashed, but you know something, we didn’t survive that year of unemployment by having it come as a surprise. We’ve been preparing for it for years, even though we didn’t know it.
I’m going to start a new series on Family Finances. I need to come up with a cute title for it, and an even cuter button (although I love the picture of my daughter’s hands holding out the money in my header at the top. Maybe that should be the button.)
Now I want your input as I outline this series.
Encouraging people on their journey of balancing ones personal finances is something I love. I come from a family of Certified Financial Planners, with my husband also being a finance guy, so pinching pennies (with the end result of having more to give) is in my blood. But more importantly, I’ve been where nearly all of you have been. I have walked your road. Whether it’s a great income job, and figuring out investments, or barely living above the poverty level, I understand. To many “experts” give the advise, but haven’t really lived it, and I want us to journey together, and learn from each other.
Can you dialogue a bit in the comments and share what some areas are that you’d like me to touch on specially as it relates to personal finance?
As much as I hate to start with Budgets and understanding our “Needs vs our Wants,” I probably need to touch on that, and I’ll be creating some printable sheets at which we can look. It will allows us to examine where we are at in the process, and set a solid foundation from which to work.
But what else would you like covered?
A few of my thoughts are teaching children about money, establishing an emergency fund, credit card use vs. debit cards or should it be the “cash only” system, establishing a monthly budget, planning ahead for college (when we’ve eaten through that fund during unemployment), developing the spirit of entrepreneurship in your children, becoming a work at home mom….
I can’t wait to hear your ideas.
Really… I love stories. Stories of where people have been. Of where people are. Right choices and wrong choices.
I learn a lot more from personal examples than I think any other way – and who doesn’t love a good story?! 🙂
Jenn, I think you have a good list going there. I will be thankful for any help, encouragement you can provide. Thanks, Linda
Your blog really does stand apart from other “frugal” blogs I frequent. I love how down to earth everything you write is. It’s easy for me to relate to. Another suggestion for a financial topic might be how to plan for the unexpected financially (and maybe even the expected.) Thanks for all you do. It really makes a difference to me!
With the holidays on the horizon I would love something about how to do a frugal Christmas (without feeling guilty about not doing enough for my kids, family and friends).
I would like to read about how people stick to their budget. I can make a budget with the best of them but when it comes to finding ways to stick to it I’m not so great.
I would love to ready more about how working at home moms. Like you were, we are in our own God watch. My husband recently walked away from a 100K job. His business had just been acquired by another business and the new job culture expected his devotion 24/7. It became a conflict with the way we live our lives. He is now pursuing his God given talent in photography. It is not yet self supporting so I would love to hear your ideas about moms making extra income.
I would like to see how to pay off debt but still living life. You just can’t sit around your house and do nothing. It has to be ok to go out to eat every 6 months or if you need buy fertilizer for the yard its ok, it seems to me if people know you are paying debt off that they think you can’t do anything until the debt it paid off. In some cases that may be many years for people. People need to live to some extent if not I think most would be very depressed very fast.
I also would like to see how to do a frugal Christmas.
I have to say, I just love your blog…. ALL of it…. much of the things your write about are a ‘yup, been there, done that.’…. but I am always able to glean good things (for example… I didn’t know that many households would have just 3 days of food – what’s up with that?!)… Lived at that poverty level after my then-husband left me & 2 young children, I was a stay at home mom- had a lady from Cooperative Extension who had come to help me budget tell me she couldn’t help me… I was already doing better than she could… lol I know those wonderful blessings that God passes out to us… that even now, just thinking about them fills my heart with warmth & knowledge that I am loved beyond measure…. You DO balance Beauty & Bedlam with such grace…. thank you for all you do…
I enjoy all the tips, vlogs, and ideas. I, like your family, have lived over 1 1/2 of unemployment (both my husband & I). We’ve survived, because, I love the way you phrase it, we were planning for it for many years, but didn’t know it.
I’ve growth deeply in my faith during this time & as a result I want nothing more than to do something career-wise that will also be Christian centered. So, I put my financial planning backgroung to work with Catholic Financial Life. Maybe you can do a piece on how we help the world while helping people save & protect their assets.
That is, categories of money that YOU DON’T SPEND now because there’s a future expense. For example, we pay car insurance twice a year. So, every month, I fence off $x for car insurance. When the bill comes due, the money is there.
I’d also like some words on when it’s logical to break into your fenced-off money.
For example, we were in the middle of a renovation. Maybe it was because of the economy, but the cabinets arrived almost a month early. And the small business that sold us the cabinets needed their payment within 10 days. Also, because the cabinets had arrived, we were able to advance the overall renovation schedule.
I broke into a number of my fenced-off areas in order to pull all that together.
I’d be interested in the kids and money topic! We’ve just started giving our kids allowances, but I don’t know if we’re doing it right.
@The Working Home Keeper,
Our kids are teens. About a year ago, the subject of allowances came up. My husband said, “Giving the kids an allowance was THE BEST DECISION WE EVER MADE.”
Think about it: we don’t have whining; we don’t have begging; the kids learn budgeting; the kids make low-risk money mistakes.
I recently read, “If you don’t give your kids an allowance, all you’re teaching them is how to get good at asking for money.”
@Jora, I definitely will address this, but it’s a highly debated topic. 🙂 Who would think that, but it is from personal experience in addressing this. I don’t think there is a right or wrong one, but great ways to approach it from either side. (Both have pros/cons). Some might say that giving an allowance models that kids will only do chores for money. We have done both…we want to install the fact that there are many things that are done just because we are part of a family. I don’t get paid for doing the dishes or making the food for the kids, so why should they, BUT…I also see the benefit in giving allowance and allowing them to learn from their mistakes. Learning through budgeting mistakes while they’re young is SO beneficial, and giving allowances allows for that. This topic will probably be a few posts since there are Pros/cons on both sides, and many will have to agree to disagree..lol. 🙂
@The Working Home Keeper, I gave a long reply to this, but I don’t think it went to you. 🙂
Sorry Jen, it didn’t come through.
Our kids are 7yo, 5yo and 3yo. Maybe I’m worrying for nothing and over thinking things, but what bothers me about our current system is that as soon as the kids get their allowances, they want to spend it. I realize they are still very young and delayed gratification is not really on their radar! But I want to make sure we are teaching them about saving and giving too.
The whole allowance/chores thing is kind of foreign to me. Growing up, my only responsibilities were keeping my room clean and doing well in school. My Mom took care of all the household chores. She preferred it that way! And as the baby of the family, I was just given money by older siblings, not really tied to doing things around the house.
Looking forward to future discussions of the topic!
@The Working Home Keeper, When our boys were young, we put three babyfood jars on their dressers. One was the “Jesus” jar, one was for savings, and one for spending. We couldn’t afford to give them very much money, but it instilled very early that the money didn’t “belong” to us, but we had responsibilities to use it correctly to honor God. Some of it must have sunk in. our sons are 32 and 34. Except for home morgages, they live debt free and are very generous with their incomes. We made plenty of mistakes, I’m sure, but I’m so grateful that this area turned out well.
Struggling with one low income salary and the needs of the immediate future, college, wedding, etc. My husband is self employed, in online school to finish his undergrad degree. I pinch pennies ’til they scream but there aren’t realistically much more to ways to cut expenses. We don’t have a budget because my husband just won’t do that. He does all our finances and I submit in that area but I also want to be debt free. Addressing the struggles between husband and wife of differing goals, or even when the spouse won’t set any goals, just living one day at a time. How’s that for a few topics?
Perfect timing for my family! I could write you a novel on all the things we are struggling with as far as finances go! Budget is the hardest for us. I make one every month, and can’t seem to figure out how to make it really work! We’ve also been trying to figure out how to approach money with our girls. They are 3 and almost 7. Do we give them an allowance? If so, how do they earn it? I want them to be helpful around the house without expecting something in return…
We are also planning a move from NY to FL, and going down to one income. I have been trying in vain to shop frugally, unfortunately, here we have icky thrift stores and very scattered yard sales. I drool over the photos of your thrift stores!!!
Can’t wait to see this series!
I’ll look forward to this series! How about including something on allowances? Are they payment for chores or just a share in being in the family? How much for each age? Any rules about what must be done with part of it (some to savings, church, etc.) Any guidelines/rules about how kids can spend “their” $$$, etc.
I would love know learn how to set a budget, stick to a budget and where to start debt repayment.
I also learn from what others have gone through I love to read the stories.
Great list of topics! One that comes to mind is how to encourage others gracefully. I find that so many people think couponing is so much work… well, I feel like I AM working when I shop for my family, and getting “paid” $90 for my time (my HT total on $90 was $1.90 the other day!!!), is totally worth it.
I also like the issue of giving, and giving more. You touched on this one with your discussion of braces… pinching pennies in some areas, but not scrimping in others. Whatever you do, it will be great, and helpful!!! Blessings!
I struggle with being frugal. I am able to deny myself things for the future, but I find that my husband and I differ on our ideas of wants and needs. How can I tighten our belts, when he doesn’t want to?
Oh how I desperately need this! I have been searching for budgeting software to use that is easy and not drudgery for those of us who HATE dealing with finances! I would love some recommendations!
I would love to hear about everything related to children and money – Teaching them, allowance vs. commission or something in between, saving for college, etc.
Also frugal Christmas and birthdays, investing, work at home mom ideas, dealing with family owned real estate (esp. those inherited by multiple family members), giving, and financial communication in marriage.
We also just came out of one year of unemployment with baby #3 born right in the middle of it. Amazing how God took care of our needs. In the end it felt like the loaves and fishes!
One other thing that I’d like to hear about — my kids sometimes read your blog, and — is mistakes that people wish they hadn’t made money-wise.
For example, my parents weren’t able to pay for a prestigious college. And, being a snobby 18-year-old, I thought the affordable community college would be inferior for a person of my talents! I was blind to the benefits of a 2-year degree.
I’m not sure how many senior citizen readers you have but I am one. You will all be here someday. How about some advice for seniors, especially those whose health prevents them from working anymore. Thanks
@Sue, Sue, great idea. I may approach my parents on addressing this. They would be able to deal with this head on.
A few things come to mind –
** What to do with your time if it doesn’t cost money. I’m home for the first time this summer with my girls and feel nickled & dimed away with kid activities plus we spend too much time running “errands” at Target.
** Defining needs versus wants in connection with the first of the the three Green R’s – – Reduce. I feel compelled to shop a lot more to get all the “bargains” I’m reading about (even when we don’t really need it right now.)
** Communicating with your spouse about finances in a positive way when you have different goals.
** Communicating/teacher our children about finances and needs versus wants. Our daughter goes to school in an affluent community (which we don’t live in!) and keeping up will get challenging I fear.
Love this idea and cannot wait to see what you come up with!!
I second the holidays topic. Not only Christmas, but birthdays, weddings, baby showers, etc. We want to be generous, but we also want to be responsible.
It would really be great to see an article about contentment. It’s a real money-saver! 🙂
Also, my 11 year old would really like to earn $, but we just get by financially and have no means with which to pay our kids for extra work. Are their any ways for kids 10-15 to earn money besides mowing lawns?
Another topic — how to handle a situation like this:
The scout troop plans a trip to the circus. It’s only 2 miles from home, so you plan to have dinner at home afterward.
You buy your kids tickets, but the other kids’ parents’ are buying tickets + souvenirs + snacks + programs + …..
And next week, you’ll have the same situation cause the troop is going to the zoo.
@Jora, and I have that situation all the time. Lots of discussion and practical money saving talks on that one. How them how much that extra $15 on snacks, souvenir can buy at the store. Give them visuals, talk about how “We’re not like every other family, and just the fact that we got to go to the circus is such an amazing treat.” lol Can you tell I’ve said that a few times? I start days before the event letting them know what is going to happen. Yep, that’s a hard one, but it will teach the kids a lot, even if they don’t think it’s “fair.”
Looking forward to this series! We are definitely struggling in this economy and I can use all the help I can get.
I’d like to see someone address what to do when you can’t pay for your needs. We are in the worst of situations – we do not qualify for any assistance programs because I make too much, yet my income barely covers the cost of the mortgage and care for my children while my husband is in school. It’s been 2 1/2 years now, and I’m tired of this lesson in trust. I am desperate for solutions other than living on the credit card, which I am sure is soon to come to an end.
The holiday thing is nice to explore. A nice resource is a book called “Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For A More Joyful Christmas” by Bill McKibben. I think this book discuses a meaningful goal, but I think some people would have family members who wouldn’t understand or be offended…. how to deal with that??
Also, it would be nice to explore the tension between saving for retirement and saving for college. You can’t get scholarships for retirement, after all, and one of the greatest comforts you can give your children is not having to worry about their parents’ material wants in retirement & old age. Still, it would be nice to shepherd our children through higher ed, and into meaningful and remunerative employment. How to do it all? Or not?
I would love to see a post about working at home. I think that was a great idea! I don’t have any kids, but I will be unemployed soon. I’m already thinking of ways to make money while I’m out of a job!
I also love your blog but have never commented! 🙂 I think this idea is just great! I am always needing ideas for being more frugal. One thing I would love to see addressed is a frugal grocery budget buying organic and grass fed meat. We eat mainly vegetarian, but that alone can get expensive. I would love to buy more from local farmers markets but even that can be a lot more pricey that Wal Marts produce section 🙂 Also, my husband is self employed and I work full time also, but I do not make enough to support us. Some months he makes great money and some months nothing. It is hard to budget and put back for taxes, etc. when we have no idea what he will be bringing in!!!
I’m all about “balance”!!!!
One thing our family is considering – is purchasing a cow (or portion of a cow). However, it is very expensive and we don’t eat a lot of red meat. I’m sure we would eat more. Some of the “arguments” for a cow purchase would be buying local, buying organic and pre-packaged servings. I guess my question deals with spending the “extra” for local and possibly healthier foods. Just wondering about your thoughts on this topic.
Although it doesn’t sound like you will have much “been there” advice for my need — Getting the other spouse on board is what I need help with! Long story short- we were estranged for 5 years, recently got back together. During our estrangement (just as it happens stereotypically) mine and the kids standard of living PLUMMETED… I became very good at living off very little; and have worked very hard to pay down the debt from our “before marriage” while still ‘having a life’… My DH stayed with the bad habits from before – lived paycheck to paycheck; doesn’t budget; doesn’t save; buys whatever he wants, etc… Trying to respect him as the head of the house; yet keeping my frugality and every month finding out about ANOTHER debt he has – I am struggling big time. We both currently work out of the house, so that helps. But how to lovingly help him “see the financial light” is wearing me down and I am under stress…
Whew- that was longer than I meant it to be- I am hoping SOMEONE can help! Thank you!!
You are right, this is one area that I haven’t been before, but I will consult some that have and try to write a post that will help. You are not the only person to write this…it seems to be a huge area of concern for many, and considering that 50% of divorces occur due to financial issues, it’s a reality. I commend you for trying to work through this and love in spite of the circumstances.
I’d love to hear more about finding money to save in the daily bill-paying cycle. We have enough to pay the bills, no debt; but we never save. I get $100 or so in the savings “box” and then we “need” it for some purpose. How do I keep from doing that?!? That’s my biggest downfall. I’m trying to cut the grocery spending, but the non-essentials to be able to save; but I keep going and pinching that money until it’s gone. 🙁 If you can address that, it would help me!!!
Personally, I need help teaching my college-age kids the value of a dollar. We’ve just opened our caboose’s checking account, with a debit card, so she can more easily access her money while away at college. Well, she’s been accessing with the freedom of a Rockefeller! Any suggestions? I have talked to her, she’s very smart, but she’s in the very bad habit of nickel & diming me to death.
Also, I would love some help with holiday gift buying. My kids love getting presents, and I have a Christmas Club acct. to cover Christmas, but it is killing me how much money we spend on one day.
This personal finance stuff is near and dear to my heart! Both my husband and I are CPA’s, and we both have Masters degrees, but we don’t see eye to eye on our finances! I would like to see some discussion on how to handle home finances when spouses look at things differently! I also have 5 children and have been a stay at home mom for the last 1o 1/2 years. I now do math tutoring from home to make extra money. My husband has been unemployed twice in the last 10 years and we have run into some financial hardships. We still struggle to make ends meet (we live in a very high cost of living area), and it is very frustrating (especially given our backgrounds!) when we can’t agree on how to handle our finances. I have been praying very hard about this situation and am hoping to get some answers from above!!!! I am interested to see how others have handled this!
I am also excited about this series. My husband is in medical school. I stay at home with my two boys. We try to live frugally, but we are living off loans. It would cost more than I could make to put the kids in day care. I am interested in advice you have for those who are trying to get to the work force and also work from home ideas. Thanks!
I would love to see you address the need to tweak a budget each month for the first six months at least. Too many people, and I used to also, make a budget and give up the first time something pops up that they forgot to put on the paper. It will take many months of fixing/tweaking to make a budget work for you and to figure out how much you need for gas money normally and if you have trips coming up. I would also like to see you address the once or twice a year expenses along with Christmas and birthdays. Too many budgets dont address this need and it blows the budget for months or goes on credit cards. The need for an emergency fund should be the first priority after making a budget, before paying off debt. That was a lesson that my husband and I learned that lead to a few steps forward for us, finally. We still have not gotten the debt paid off, but we are able to handle the expenses that pop up and would have gone on a credit card or wrecked the budget for months. Things like needing new tires, or other things. Thank you for doing this series. I look forward to learning many new things.
Jen, One of the reasons I fell in love with your blog is that I am able to truly relate to everything you write. Everything feels very down-to-earth. There are a couple of things I’d love to learn. First, how to give things in our home a new life… how to resurface and paint furniture or anything related to this type of topic. We are homeowners on a budget with a house that is old… What do we do to update it when money is tight and buying new is no longer an option? One of my favorite posts was when you shared how you spray painted your knobs… I followed suit and ours are beautiful! Secondly, I know how to make NOTHING from scratch… Not biscuits, dumplings, bread… nothing. I would love to learn how to make foods from scratch so that I can feed our family more healthful foods that are budget-friendly. I was raised by a working mother who never cooked from scratch. 🙂 I, too love your stories and enjoy your personal spin on things… Oh and pictures! LOOOVE the pictures! 😀
@Kassandra Wood, I happened to read your comment, my friends and I have a recipe swap blog if you want to check it out. They are really yummy recipes. We just started but I just posted two pdf files of recipes I had – one about 30+ family favorites and the other are knock-off recipes for Applebees and name brand candy bars, etc. Hope that can help. In the one pdf there is a recipe for my mom’s home-made rolls – very easy and they are a hit! Hope that helps a little, http://mindeesrecipeswap.blogspot.com/
@Jen B., Oops! I don’t know why it posted nothing. Ha Ha Thank you so much! I just love your blog and I will be trying many of those recipes! What I think I love the most is that many of them are simple and utilize only a few things, many of which I have on hand! Thank you!
As a recent retiree, I am looking forward to your good ideas on personal finance. I already read your blog and feel that I’m rather frugal. One of my personal dangers is out of town trips with hotel expenses that involve other family members who think we have more money than we do. Therefore, they don’t understand why we don’t want to stay in a certain place. Also wedding/shower gifts that are on the register, but we can’t afford them. Is it all right to buy something else? I heard once that your gift should equal the cost of the wedding reception dinner. Sometimes that’s a huge burden.
Not sure I’m adding to this or not, but I’ll give it a go.
1) Balancing Spenders & Savers (ie. I’m a saver, He’s a spender – I’ve been accused of threatening his manhood bc I question his spending – eeeekkk!!!)
2) Money Lessons for Kids (it’s all age dependent, but a huge opportunity. Our pastor shared on Sunday what they teach their girls (6yrs & under) – Give them an allowance in change, teach them the value of coins & what to do with it – 10% to God, 10% save, 80% to live.)
On a side note, we’re starting Financial Peace Univ with a study group at church. I’m sure I’ll have some more ideas as we go through it, but I think #1 is at least a month’s worth of posts. 🙂
I would love to hear more about resources available for big-spending periods of the year, like back-to-school, Christmas, home improvement, etc. I have been a fan of programs like Sears’ layaway as a financial tool that allows me to purchase big-ticket and important items items (like backpacks and calculators, as well as a new TV and washing machine) at a rate that I can afford and without paying interest. Schools are strapped more than ever, so I’ve noticed that back-to-school shopping lists are getting longer, and I have been trying to take advantage of all planning tools available to be to adjust to this economy! Do you have any thoughts on budgeting and planning tools like layaway?
On behalf of Sears & Kmart
This is what I need. I have attempted a budget so many times but I the minute I forget and throw away one receipt it goes down the tube. I know there are great programs out there, some free. Also, you mentioned work-at-home moms. I am one myself – although it in itself is a full-time job! HA! My mom was a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom and that’s where I learned it’s importance. I don’t want to advertise here on “comments” but I think a fun idea would be to do a little story on work-at-home moms. You would pick a mom once a month or something and tell what they do, hopefully that “something” could be something that other moms looking could also do. My mom started her own business and found it to be so great she let others know and now she has helped almost 90 people across the country and Canada do what she does. If you are interested, Jennifer, you could email me at email@example.com. Thanks for all the great info you post by the way.