Monday, March 25, 2013

Budgeting 101

Hello, Beautiful Birdies! Although I inspired Spring in my heart on Friday, the snow still came on Sunday {sigh} and apparently more is to come today and tomorrow. What the what?? It is March, right?  Almost April? Well I am going to put my big girl pants on today and get over it! Time to move on the next adventure....SPRING CLEANING!

Since the weather isn't exactly moving me to break out the duster and to open all the windows, I thought I would share with you a different way to spring "clean."  Most people tend to think of this time of year as a great time to freshen up the house and, although I agree, don't forget to spruce up your spending habits. The great thing about this "clean up" is that it has long lasting effects!  With some simple addition and subtraction + this budget form you can completely transform your money! Wanna see? Check-check-check it out!



BREAKDOWN:
1. Total up your monthly income. In this example, I put in $5,000.
2. Next, add up all your bills (i.e. water bill, cable, etc.)
3. Subtract your total monthly expenses from your monthly income. The remaining amount will be divided a few ways.
4. Total up your regular monthly expenses outside of your actual bills, like groceries and entertainment.
5. Subtract those expenses from the "remaining amount" listed above. EXAMPLE: $3,115 - $1,060 (EXPENSES) = $2,055.
6. Take that final amount ($2,055) and split it up into categories for savings. For fun, figure out the percentage. This gives you an even clearer idea of exactly where your money is going. To take it all a step further, multiply these amounts by 12 (as in 12 months or 1 year). I guarantee you will get pumped once you see how much money you can have by the end of the year. EXAMPLE: $1,745 x 12 = $20,940.

I made this budget form for my own personal usage but also to share with all of you. You can download it by clicking HERE. Don't worry, it's free. ;-) Creating a budget really helps put things into focus and makes saving money even easier than before because now you have set limits and goals.

A budget isn't something to hold you back but rather something to launch you forward into a brighter future. With this budget form, I tried to give you some ideas of how to fill it out but keep in mind, this is your money we are talking about. Add to it as you need. For example, if you have a credit card bill you want to get rid of, add it to your list of monthly payments and chip away it. Before you know it, that debt will be gone!

You may have noticed the middle section is about dividing up your money for cash envelopes. Yep, rockin' it old school! Next week, I am going to give you a break down of using cash envelopes for your monthly expenses (outside of actual bills). The benefits are many and using that system is the perfect compliment to a budget so be sure to stop by next Monday to learn more about cash envelopes!

Do you use a budget now? What about cash envelopes? Have you recently reached a financial goal??  Keep up the good work! :-)

Thank you for reading and be sure to come back for more! HAVE A GREAT DAY! :-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

Hey, hey Birdies! Brrrrrwinkles, it is cold out there! Well at least it is in my neck of the woods and let me tell you.....I AM READY FOR SPRING! Last year around this time it was in the 80's and today the high will be  barely 40. True, better than the 32 it was yesterday, but there is still snow in our forecast. SNOW! Ya' know, the white flurries that fall from the sky when it is freezing outside. Oy! I could let cabin fever do it's dirty work and make me a crazy lady but I am going to fight it by blasting happy, Springy thoughts all over the blog today. Join me, won't you?

First order of business is MUSIC. I am thinking my Jack Johnson station on Pandora will be the soundtrack for my day. Light and easy going, Jackie Boy brings just the right amount of Hawaiian warmth to my otherwise chilly surroundings.

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What next, what next? Ah, I think my bubbly toes need a pick-me-up! Loreal Colour Riche Tangerine Crush to the rescue!!! Just the perfect blend of coral, orange, and pink. Super sweet, feminine, and cheery....just what this  girl with the winter blues needs! It looks darker in this photo than what it actually is but take my word for it! It is springtime perfection!

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So I've got my music and my nails covered....next I think I need to smell fresh and spring like. I have just the thing! Ok, so maybe this body spray is a little more summery but I am going with it. When I spritz this on, I feel instantly happy.....except when I see that my bottle is almost empty!!! Ack! Oh thank goodness for Amazon! To get this scent, click HERE.

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My face needs a little love too (no comment from the peanut gallery) so I am breaking out my Hot Mama eye shadow and blush combo! I got this little gem from Birchbox a few months ago and have used it a few times. Seeing it in the palette you may think it is very strong in color yet, although heavy in pigment, it has a wonderfully velvety texture and so it just glides on with minimal effort meaning you don't need to use a lot to get a great effect! Once again, the pic doesn't do it justice. It is a fantastic blend of peaches and oranges with a slight shimmer....super fun! If I want to get into a toasty temps frame of mind, this product will definitely need to make an appearance on my lids today. Find a shade that instantly perks you up and see if it does the trick!

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And because I am unconsciously covering the senses in this post why not add some flavor to the mix? Sounds good to me....um.....er....I mean tastes good to me?!? I have some kiwi in my fridge that has my name on it. Mmmmm!

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Ah, I feel much better already! I think these little additions will hold me over till the actual warm front hits. You can do this too! Just envision warmer temps, wearing fun clothing, and doing your favorite things you love to do when mid-70's are the norm and not 40. C'MON SPRING! I'M READY FOR YOU!!

Are you a lucky duck that already has warmer temps or are you stuck in a gray, bland world of freezing degrees like me?? What do you do when you need a pick me up?? Try a few of these tricks on for size and see if they lift your spirits. I have been loving the comments lately, keep it up! :-) 

Thanks for stopping and be sure to follow the blog by clicking the follow panel to the right! And don't forget about good ol' Facebook, I'm there too! :-) Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Even More FREE Apps to Save You BIG

Hey, hey Birdies! Happy Monday!

So far, my 12 FREE Apps, Big Savings post has been my most popular so in the spirit of savings, I thought I would share with all of you lovely readers another set of apps that may save you money and time!

GeoQpons
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This app is pretty great because it shares with you deals according to Brands (like: Aeropastle or The Container Store) or according to your location. Like the Gas Buddy app, GeoQpons uses your phones GPS technology to locate where you are and then finds business's around you. I selected "Local" and found that a realtor was giving a $250 at closing and a cleaning service was offering $30 off. Quite a variety which always makes saving a few bucks even more fun!

Grocery Pal


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This really can be a shopper's pal....dare I say, even a shopper's bff?? Break out the friendship bracelets! What this little nifty app does is allow you to make a shopping list in several different ways. You can manually type in your list of things to purchase or you can select from a list of stores and the deals they are offering. Example: I clicked on "Specials", chose Aldi as my store, found that they had a deal on a pecan pie then selected "add to list" then guess what happened? It added to my list. Amazingly simple, I know. The reason I like the idea of this is because some days you aren't running to just one store. You may be running to several so to have access to some of the top deals you are looking for is a total lifesaver when you are in the thick of things. Also, you can select the option of  "Coupons", choose if you are looking for "printable brand coupons" or "loyalty card coupons" then     pick the category like "apparel." It will then populate a list for stores in your area that may be offering store coupons for their apparel items. Example: I clicked on apparel and it showed me that Rack Room Shoes had a $10 off coupon. Once again, I simply chose "add to list" then tadah! It was on my list. So on a day I am running to multiple places but don't want to carry multiple lists then this app becomes my hero and makes my life a little easier.

Mint.com
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Mint.com is a great site that also happens to have a great app as well! This website is really cool because it keeps track of all your money, helps you create a budget, and shows you ways to save even more! Mint.com pulls all of your accounts into one place as well so no more clicking all over the web to get the info you need.  Oh and in case you live in fear of forgetting to pay your bills, the app notifies you of upcoming payments. Fear banishes and you see your savings increase...not too shabby.


Out Of Milk


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Out of Milk is a pretty popular app and for good reason! It operates quickly and is extremely user friendly. You also make a list for this app and can add store deals to it but you can also use a built in scanner. If I am running low of yogurt and want to add that to my list, I take my last container, scan it, and the item is immediately added to my list. From there I can effortlessly swipe from store to store to see what deals they may be offering on the yogurt I scanned. FABULOUS!

Retail Me Not


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This is a website with an app. I tend to like that combo because when a website company makes an app they tend to make it more content and feature rich for the user. Case in point, the Retail Me Not app. After I had downloaded it, I pulled it up and it instantly populated some savings and showed me if those savings were available in store or online only. With online shopping being more popular than ever, that feature is spot on! Retail Me Not provides various categories to choose from so while playing with it I chose the gifts category and it gave me options for companies like 1800Flowers, Build a Bear, and Quebec Chocolates. Perfect if you almost forgot someone's birthday and need to send them something STAT.

Shop Kick


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Holy smokes this app is fun! You start out by choosing what gift card you are shooting for (i.e. hope to get). I chose a Target gift card, of course. But they have a load of options like Old Navy, Starbucks, and even Tiffany's....."I want to go to there." 30 Rock, Anyone? Ahem, sorry. Liz moment. Moving on, from there you can choose stores to go to then Shop Kick gives you items to scan. You don't have to buy anything but by being at the store and scanning the item, you get points a.k.a "kicks". The more points you earn the closer you are to that {Fill In The Blank} gift card. How easy, right? I mean, we are already out shopping. Might as well get rewarded while you do it!

Slice

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Slice is like an online purchase concierge. It keeps track of all of your online purchases so you can save time and money! I can see this app being super helpful during the holidays when online shopping becomes more and more of a go-to. Instead of going from site to site to track all of your purchases, it groups them all together on the app. Plus, by keeping track of that, it shows you how much you spend in a year with buying things online. If you've ever wondered how much you actually spend with Amazon, Slice will take the guess work out of it for you! The less I have to think, the better. ;-)

In this world of technology we live in, saving your hard earned mula has never been easier or more fun! Crack open your app store and explore the possibilities!

Have you tried any of the apps I mentioned in my original post? Do you use any of these apps now? Let the rest of us know what apps you are digging right now! :-) 

Thank you for reading, be sure to comment and follow! Have a great night! See you Wednesday! :-)

Note: This was not an endorsed post. These are services I have on my phone and have had success using. It is your responsibility to download and to enter the information the apps/sites require. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coup-On Keepin' On: Show and Tell

Hello, hello Birdies! As promised from last week's post, today I am doing a little show and tell with my coupon binder. I'm really hoping you join in on the fun! Saving the green is not only easy but it is something to be enjoyed. Let's take a gander, shall we?

Highlighter, pencil, calculator, store specific envelopes + a coupon envelope for the coupons I will use in a shopping trip. 


After my supplies, I have plenty of copies of my shopping list available. Once I have filled out my list, I put my coupons in order (according to the list) in my "coupons to use" envelope. Not too complicated.  Simplicity is my secret ingredient! This keeps the transition to run seamlessly. You can download that list for FREE by clicking here.
Check out the sample to see how easy it is to see the savings add up. 

Remember my tip from this post? Instead of using labeled page dividers, I buy packs of page protectors from Dollar General and use Post It Tabs as my labels. A lot more bang for my buck! 

And because I'm apparently not OCD enough, I have even more labels. After time I have found that there are subcategories within each section. I highlighted my labels so they would *POP*. Why two labels at two different angles? So anyway I have my binder thrown in the cart, I can easily find the coupons I need.

Nothing fancy here and that's kind of the point. Anyone can (and should) use coupons! These are all things I have discussed with you already but sometimes it's nice to see it all come together, right? Speaking of which, how are your binders looking??

Involvement is something I really desire for this blog. I am learning growing with the rest of you. You may pick up ideas from me and I from you so with that spirit in mind, send me some pics of your binders. I would love to see what you all have put together and what you find to work. Tips are always welcomed. Have fun! You can send the pics to thechirptree@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing the gems you've made!

Thanks for reading and don't forget to tell your friends! Have a great night! :-)

Monday, March 4, 2013

COUP-ON KEEPIN' ON: How to Find the Deals

Hey, Hey Birdies! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! Mine zoomed by and I am totally ready for more but instead of longing for days gone by, I am going to catapult myself into this week searching for great deals and maybe crafting? After finishing my ombre mirror, I've got a fevah and the only prescription is more craftin'! Reeeeeally hoping you read that in Christopher Walken's voice. Before I break out the glue gun, though, I am going to continue my Coup-On Keepin' Series by sharing how you find the deals!The process is really very simple but I always find that visuals help me so I figured it might be helpful to you too. :-)

First, I visit my local grocery store's website then pull up their weekly ad online. I find this to be the most user friendly method because I can easily switch from screen to screen in this process but sometimes I do use the paper ad. This week, there were a lot of 10 for $10 deals happening which is phenomenal. Now let me clarify this deal for you: 10 for $10 does not mean you have to buy 10 of the items to get the sale price. It simply means that any of the items included in this promo are marked down to $1 so if you buy 1 or 10, each item will be only $1. I know! Hard to believe, right? If you are still in doubt then feel free to call your grocery store and they can clarify that for you. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Moving on, this can be pretty nice for one that uses coupons because, with some items, you can get a really great price. Below, I pointed one of the many 10 for $10 deals that was available at my store. They marked down Glade  air freshener's to one buckaroo.....

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After pulling up my grocery store ad online, I open another tab and pull up various couponing sites. For this example I used coupons.com. As I perused my ad I simultaneously checked out my coupon site, page by page. As noted above, my store was offering Glade air fresheners for one dollar. Coupons.com listed a coupon for $1.50 off two items. Click and print!


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 I could then take the coupon to the store, buy 2 air fresheners for $1/each and get $1.50 off  making the final price of each freshener only 25 cents!



Now, if I were really ambitious and had more than one computer connected to my printer, I could print out several coupons to really stock up. Remember, do not copy coupons. That is bad, bad, bad. Most sites have a print limit of 2 coupons per computer but if you have multiple computers, print two from each and watch the savings really pile up! And don't forget to find coupons in your local paper.

Once I have gone through all of my ads and coupon sites, I print, clip, and sort. I also use my Ultimate Shopping List and fill it in with the deals and coupons I am planning on using. You can print that form for FREE right here. Then, with organized binder in hand, I am ready to save our household hundreds each month. See! Super easy, right? It takes some time but so do most worth while things and believe me! This is worth it.

QUICK RECAP:

1. Pull Up Your Local Ads.
2. Check Out Your Coupon Sites along with Newspaper Coupons.
3. Do the Math! Hold on to the coupons if a price doesn't seem good enough. Within a few weeks, you may see a price drop.

I hope you found this quick tutorial helpful. Stay tuned because next week I am having a show and tell of coupon binders! I'll show you mine if you show me yours and I will give you a complete break down of what is inside!

Did anyone find a great deal this weekend? Have you ever taken advantage of a 10 for $10 deal??

See you soon for a fun St. Patty's Day craft! Thanks for reading and have a great night! :-)