This article first appeared over at Clark Howard.com.
Remember the days before internet? You know, when your main resource to research how to do anything was at best your grandparents’ dusty set of encyclopedias?

Thankfully those days are behind us, and the world is now at our fingertips. Google answers all of our ridiculous questions and YouTube teaches us how to do everything from haircuts to oil changes, home improvement projects to learning an instrument. It seems the possibilities are endless!

Don’t believe me? Check out all of these amazing videos!

  1. Car repairs and maintenance. Everything from complicated repairs to minor tasks like installing new windshield wipers or replacing the cabin air filter.
  2. Bicycle repair. Searching that term alone garnered 275,000 results, so whether you want to replace your chain or attempt an entire tune up, you can find the information you need on YouTube.
  3. Learn a musical instruments, any instrument, at any level. Piano, banjo, clarinet or even the lowly kazoo.
  4. Appliance repair. From your new fangled Keurig to your stove or washing machine.
  5. Cooking. Don’t know how to scramble an egg? Want to make a chocolate soufflé to impress your guests or carve the turkey like a boss on Thanksgiving? It’s all there.
  6. Cake decorating. You can try your hand at fondant or create a gender reveal cake for the mom to be.
  7. Canning and preserving. Pickles, jam, sauerkraut and even pickled pigs’ feet!
  8. Learn some new dance moves. Your groove might be belly dancing, hip hop, clog dancing or even classical ballet.
  9. Yoga. Downward dog? It’s in there. Ska Pada Bhujapidasana? It’s in there too!
  10. Troubleshooting computer problems, from your software and your hardware.
  11. Vacuum cleaner repair and maintenance. Replace the belt on your pricey Dyson or figure out why the the suction, well . . . sucks.
  12. Origami. From the classic crane to ornate dollar folding.
  13. Assembling confusing Ikea furniture. Yeah, admit it, you need the help.
  14. Plumbing. Your toilet, your faucet, your hose bib.
  15. Phone repairs and battery replacement. Stop replacing and start repairing your iPhone screen, and even replace the battery.
  16. How to properly fold a fitted sheet. Apparently it’s actually possible.
  17. Photography. Whether you use your cell phone or a classic 35 mm camera.
  18. Hair styling and makeup. You’re in luck if you’re looking to learn ornate Daenarys Targarean braids or perhaps something more traditional. And makeup tutorials? There are more than 46 million to choose from!
  19. Dog grooming. Poodle cut? You betcha! Labrador retriever? You’re covered as well. Heck, with over 100,000 grooming videos, you’re good to go.
  20. Fix broken toys. If it’s broken, there’s likely a tutorial how to fix it. Beyblade, a remote control car or simply bring Barbie’s hair back to its new-in-box lustre.
  21. Gardening. Learn to plant asparagus, reseed the lawn, prune your trees or start from seed.
  22. Rewire a lamp. It’s super easy.
  23. Tile work. Create your own backsplash, tile the bathroom floor or even create a fancy mosaic.
  24. Make your own mouse traps. Disgustingly, there are videos for this as well.
  25. Create crafts for resale. Maybe you want to know how to make ribbon barrettes, your own soap or even duct tape wallets.
  26. Sewing. Whether you’re a beginner or wanting to brush up your advanced skills, there’s something for everyone.
  27. Knitting and Crocheting. Watching a video is infinitely easier than reading a diagram.
  28. Artistic techniques. Learn to draw, paint or even figure out Photoshop.
  29. Home haircuts. There are almost four million YouTube videos on this subject, which should put home hair cuts within the reach of even the least skilled. However, not every YouTube inspired cut is a success, as this blog post can attest to. So attempt this one at your own risk.

Conclusion

With 782.4 bajillion how-to videos available on YouTube, there’s almost nothing you can’t at least attempt to DIY. I guess grandma’s Encyclopedia Brittanica set is doomed to gather dust one more day.

{ 21 comments }

The following post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com

You might think of your dishwasher as a device for washing, well . . . dishes, but your dishwasher is actually a magical clean-just-about-everything, even-stuff-others-would-consider-disgusting machine.

Need an example?

I used to put my son’s potty seat through the dishwasher. Yes, his potty seat. In my defense I was working full time night shifts as a labor and delivery nurse and had two boys under the age of three. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement. This particular potty seat came apart into separate components with frustrating nooks and crannies, and it needed to be cleaned on a regular basis. So yeah . . . I would chuck it into the dishwasher, which horrified my well rested husband. And you know what? Nobody got sick from the practice and I can’t recall that anyone died. (I never washed it with dishes, and I always ran it empty afterwards.)

With two sons off to college, my days of potty seats are thankfully in the past, but that doesn’t mean that my dishwasher is only for dishes and silverware. Dishwashers are amazing tools, able to clean more than you ever thought. Here, let me take you on a room by room tour of what you can clean in your dishwasher.

Kitchen

Stove hood filter. It’s clogged with trapped grease, so pop it into the dishwasher.

Stove knobs, as well as the grates and drip pans.

Garbage can. You’ll likely need to remove the top rack, but unless you have a huge bin, it’ll likely fit in the dishwasher. (Plastic or metal? Yes! Wooden bin? No!) Can’t get the whole can into the dishwasher? Then just wash the lid.

Dish drain. This will likely fit over the top rack and you’ll be amazed how much better it’ll look.

Glass light fixture shades. These get dusty, greasy and buggy, so unless your fixture is a priceless antique or features hand painted details, put it in the dishwasher.

Broom and dustpan. No, you’re not going to fit an entire broom into the dishwasher, but the handle can usually be unscrewed. Just make sure to place it upside down to not splay the bristles. (This tip is for plastic fiber brooms, not natural fiber!) While you’re at it, put the mop through as well.

Play room

Plastic toys are perfect candidates for the dishwasher, although you may need to toss them in a mesh laundry bag to keep from scattering. If toys are hollow, it’s better to not put them through the wash, as trapped water can be impossible to remove. You don’t want mold growth!

Bathroom

The wastebasket. Again, only if it’s plastic or metal.

Cosmetics brushes. Just pop them in the silverware basket.

The shower caddy. It’s likely crusted with old soap and shampoo, so put it through the dishwasher.

Hairbrushes and combs. But make sure to first remove your old hair.

Bedroom

Heat register covers get both dusty and grimy. A quick run through the dishwasher can freshen them up. (Do not put them through the wash if they’re brass plated.)

Flip flops and Crocs can also get a new life from a run through the wash.

Backyard

Gardening tools can benefit from a trip through the dishwasher. Just be sure to thoroughly dry afterwards to avoid rust. Again, no wood handled tools!

Laundry/Utility room

Dryer lint trap. A clogged lint trap is a fire risk, so run it through the dishwasher when you notice the mesh to be clogged.

I know it’s not officially recommended, but I’ve put my vacuum cleaner filter through the dishwasher a few times. Just be sure to first brush off any extra debris from the filter. Let dry in the sun before using it again.

Vacuum cleaner components. The hand held brush, even the roller itself can benefit from a cleaning.

Sports gear

If you’ve got sports gear, you do the world a favor by keeping it clean. Everything from baseball caps, to shin guards to helmets can go through the dishwasher. While you’re at it, go ahead and throw those old sneakers in as well.

Do NOT put in the dishwasher

Anything wood. Extended exposure to water removes protective finishes and can split the wood. Examples would include knives, wooden utensils and any tool with a wooden handle.

Cast iron. Your cast iron pans thrive on multiple thin layers of oil to keep them seasoned and non-stick. Instead give them a quick scrub under running water and then heat until the water evaporates.

Anything with electronic components. You might think this one is an obvious tip, but it still needs to be said.

Gold trim dishes. Great aunt Ethel’s fancy plates will lose their ornate gold accents if run through the dishwasher. Instead, wash these dishes by hand.

Bonus tip

You can remove the top rack of your dishwasher by taking out the clips that hold it in place. Just pinch and pull up, which allows the top rack to roll right out. This allows for tall items to go through the wash, perfect for buckets and wastebaskets! Maybe even a diaper pail.
Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 12.33.40 PM

dishwasher clip

Conclusion

You may choose to keep your child’s potty seat as far away from your dishes as possible, (and frankly I wouldn’t blame you if you did) but you’ll do yourself a favor if you start eyeing your dishwasher as the magical cleaning device that it is!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 27 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 25, 2016 · 74 comments

Lexie House

  1. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages. She’s put it up for sale and today is the first day she’s allowing realtors and their clients to tour it. (She didn’t want to disturb her tenants.) We gave it a very thorough cleaning to show off the natural adorableness of the house. (I even dusted the iron gate and cleaned the cobwebs from the porch ceiling!) I brought home a single craft beer and a head of lettuce.
  2. I returned a bag of disgusting black bean snacks to Trader Joe’s, as they have a money back guarantee. Seriously, so foul! I only bought the items on my list, (chips, cereal and toilet paper) which I think deserves a medal. I swear that entire store is designed to fill your cart with nothing but impulse purchases! Brie! Crunchy snacks! Wine! Cookies! Cookies! Cookies!
  3. I made a large batch of pico de gallo salsa using the leftover onions and tomatoes that my husband brought home from work. I already had jalapeños in the freezer, so no money left my wallet. Well . . . except for the chips that suddenly became a need!
  4. I finished reading a library book, I listed an unused welcome mat on my Buy Nothing Group, I hung laundry to dry on an indoor rack, I updated my budget and I deposited $6.65 in leftover nickels from an arcade trip into our savings account.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 74 comments }

The following blog post first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

My sister is an illustrator and collects vintage graphics, irregardless of the subject matter, so when I spied her 1964 U.S. Department of Agriculture pamphlet titled “A Guide to Budgeting for the Young Couple” I stole it in the name of personal finance writers throughout the land. I immediately dove in, thinking I could glean some entertainingly outdated information. Instead, I was struck by how the 52-year-old information was as relevant today as ever. Yes, the language and a couple of tips felt out of place, but a quick edit and new graphics would make this 52-year-old pamphlet relevant for today’s budget challenged consumer.

The nine page booklet starts out with an explanation of what a budget is, and why “young married couples” needs one.

“If you are a young married couple who want to make a good start in managing your finances, this publication can be of help to you. Here you’ll find the basic steps setting up and using a simple workable budget-one evolved from your own experience, tailored to your income and situation, and geared to your individual goals. Budgeting doesn’t mean that you will be pinching pennies and neatly recording how you spent every one, but it does mean that you will.”

  • Make money management joint venture from the start.
  • Face money matters frankly and get problems down on paper.
  • Consider each other’s wishes.
  • Agree on a realistic spending plan.
  • Stick to budgeting until your plan works.
  • Adjust the plan as your circumstances change.

Money management as a deliberate and shared goal? Nothing outdated about that!

I’m the first to admit that the pamphlet takes a paternalistic tone, and you can almost imagine a Mad Men era (pipe optional) father sitting the impressionable young couple down for a financial lesson:

“If you look about you, You’ll notice some young couples seem to have the knack of making ends meet, while others, in the same circumstances, are already carrying heavy debt loads and are often pinched for money. The difference is that some couples are better managers of their resources -they have learned the value of planning. There’s no doubt about it making and carrying out a spending plan does help. To make a plan, you have to sit down together to talk realistically about money, face facts, and work out any differences you may have about how your income is to be used.”

Essentially, live within your means, communicate and then plan out how to spend based on your actual income. Good advice, dad.

Of course, there are laughable bits, such as “Figures show how couples at two income levels (one under, the other over, $5,000) divided their income.” Umm . . . there ain’t no 2016 budget that’s going to help adult couples earning less than $5000 per year. That 1964 math simply doesn’t translate to 2016. Not even slightly!

Setting both short and long term goals is almost identical to current day advice:

“The more specific you are about your immediate and long-time goals, the better. One goal for the first year or any year is, of course, to live comfortably. Other first-year goals  might be: Meet the costs for a final year in college … start saving for a better car … buy a chest of drawers. A 5-year goal might be to accumulate a down payment on a house of your own or to begin a family.”

This is very similar to a ClarkHoward.com piece from contributor Jacob Wade:

“Pick 3 dreams of yours and write them down. Those dreams usually will need funding, so now just work backwards and see what financial milestones you need to hit in order to realize those dreams. Have a sunny beach in mind? Set up a vacation savings fund. $200 a month, and BOOM!, in 6 months you’ll have over $1,000 put away for a nice fall getaway!”

Looking for specific ways to decrease your expenses? 1964 has got you covered!

“To reduce flexible expenses you might”

  • Eliminate some items altogether, for the time being at least.
  • Spend less for certain items (cut down on cigarettes or pay less for a spring coat).
  • Make use of your own skills instead of paying for services (make the cafe curtains you want instead of buying them, wash your car, etc.).
  • Take your lunch from home instead of buying it.
  • Take advantage of free community services for education and recreation (concerts, parks, libraries, lectures, recreational centers, art exhibits).

With the exception of “cut down on cigarettes” this advice is as timely as ever.

Think that an emergency fund is a new concept? Wrong!

“If you possibly can do so start to build up an emergency fund. There are bound to be extras that come up at the most unexpected times-like the car battery that has to be replaced the last day of the month, or the unannounced guests who arrive when the grocery budget is at low ebb.”

The most obvious difference between 1964 and 2016 budgeting is the advent of internet based programs. It’s no longer necessary to “carry a little pocket notebook in which each of you jot down expenditures” when Every Dollar, You Need a Budget, and Mint make budgeting simple and easy. Whether you budget on your phone or laptop, 2016 wins this round.

The “Guide to Budgeting for The Young Couple” is an amazing resource, despite some outdated language and assumptions. (Yup, that “young couple” is husband and wife, and absolutely not cohabitating without a marriage license!)

It turns out that budgeting is pretty timeless. Spend less than you earn, plan your expenditures and enjoy the process.

“You would like to get into the habit of saving as soon as possible. Saving together can be almost as much fun as spending together, once you accept the idea that saving money is not punishment, but a systematic, planned way of reaching goals and ambitions. You do without little things now in anticipation of buying what will give you greater satisfaction later.”

Yes, fun. “Saving together can be almost as much fun as spending together.” Something we need bit more of in 2016. Those 1964 couples sure knew how to party budget!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 6 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 23, 2016 · 85 comments

Broken reading glasses

  1. Last week was EMS Week, (emergency medical services) so my husband’s employer provided a number of treats including meals. My husband is a supervisor, so he spent all day Friday serving up an on-site barbecue for his employees. This included burgers, sausages, sides and freshly made Thai noodles. (The other supervisor’s wife is from Thailand.) My son and I drove over that evening for a delicious free meal, which was such a gift. My husband cleaned up at the end of the day and brought home an enormous amount of leftovers, which included fruit, vegetables, sheets of rice noodles and pre-chopped garlic. But the best part is that my husband was taught how to make the Thai noodle dish, which will increase the meals that he makes from two to three!
  2. I worked at the hospital on Saturday and brought leftover Chinese food from my son’s birthday,  (courtesy of my mother and step father.) I came home that evening to leftover Thai noodles and a perfectly crunchy apple. Of course I drank the free crappy coffee while at work. This may seem like a dull repeat, but almost all of my co-workers purchase daily coffees from the on site café. Yo, people. Free coffee!
  3. I found a pair of reading glasses at my mother’s house that were missing the right arm. The prescription is perfect for me, so my mom told me to take them. I love to read in bed and already have a pair of glasses missing the left arm, so I now have a complete set. This may sound unbelievably goofy, but a missing arm is perfect for when I want to turn to the side without the glasses digging into the side of my head. Why yes, I am a cheap date!
  4. I went nowhere yesterday, which is pretty much the most frugal activity on earth.
  5. I made sure that my older son signed the paperwork for next year’s college housing. He’ll be in the dorms again, and they had incentives for students who sign up early. He now avoids a 5% increase in his meal plan, plus will receive $200 in credit to spend on campus.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 85 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 20, 2016 · 96 comments

Discover card

  1. I did not take out $36,000 in “parent plus” student loans, as was suggested by my two sons’ financial aid packages.
  2. I did not forward my son the credit card offer that came in the mail for him. You know . . . “For COLLEGE. For LIFE.” Yeah . . . a debt ridden life.
  3. I wrote two Clark Howard pieces, which have been submitted and invoiced. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages and I work a twelve-hour shift tomorrow. #income #collegefund
  4. My next door neighbor had extra organic tomato starts and gave one to me.
  5. I filled out a home energy review through the Energy Trust of Oregon and was mailed 12 free LED lightbulbs!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 96 comments }

My Non-Consumer Speech

by Katy on May 18, 2016 · 38 comments

I gave my talk yesterday about the buy-nothing-new Compact and non-consumerism at large. I took notes on what I wanted to talk about, which I then organized into a speech. I was pretty nervous, as the minimalism group had scheduled an hour and a half for me to speak. An hour and a half is a long time to blather on speak, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to run out of subject matter.

I feel that it’s always a good thing to stretch oneself, even if it’s nerve-wracking. I advise my sons to “hold themselves to a higher standard,” and I try to apply this advice to myself. It’s character building, even if it makes certain 48-year-old women feel a wee bit barfy.

I feel that the talk was quite successful, but since it was an unpaid gig, the group was going to get their money’s worth whatever the result.

Of course, The Non-Consumer Advocate blog has an international readership, so the opportunity to come see me live in person was limited to local Portlanders. I thought it would be fun for you to get a sneak peek at my notes. So please enjoy a few visuals from my speech!

I planned to stretch out the talk by getting some discussion going. Here were some “talking points.”

speech notes

I feel that the minimalism and zero waste movement often wants to distance itself from frugality, as it’s considered a lesser goal. I think it’s important for all these groups to overlap.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.34.46 AM

The “Goodwill mug at SOU” example was from this comment from someone whose Instagram handle was “ZeroWasteGuy.” That’s some grade-A zero waste mansplaining, people.

Zero Waste Guy comment

I don’t write enough about the “pause point” that’s automatically inserted when choosing to only buy used. You can’t be impulsive with purchases, so it sets you free from mindless shopping.

Pause point

I like this handy little guide to what defines non-consumerism. It’s in no particular order and I probably left something out, but I especially enjoy that it’s bookmarked by wealth building and generosity. Wonderful tandem goals.

What is non-consumerism?

Of course I got off on a tangent or two, and I’m far from a polished Ted Talk, but I think it went well. And maybe next time I give a speech I’ll be a little less nauseous and a little more confident.

Holding myself to a higher standard and not letting nerves get in the way of life’s decisions.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 38 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 17, 2016 · 55 comments

Goslings

  1. Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so we spent the day celebrating his 51st year of life. I took him to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, and used a frequent buyer’s card that I always keep in my wallet. I didn’t get a discount, but I filled up enough punches that my next meal will be free. (This is one of my father’s favorite places, so he takes me here a couple times per month.) We then walked down to Starbucks for his free birthday drink, and had them split the venti size into two smaller cups for a frugal treat. Afterwards we drove over to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden for a stroll. It’s free on Mondays and we enjoyed watching all the baby ducklings and goslings. (So cute!) Lastly, we had my mother and step father over for dinner, and I served Costco steaks along with asparagus and roasted potatoes. Not cheap, but exponentially less than any restaurant would have been for the five of us. Dessert was a homebaked blueberry pie, which I made using Grocery Outlet frozen blueberries. A lovely day, a frugal day. A birthday.
  2. Tonight I’m speaking at the Belmont branch library about the buy-nothing-new Compact. The location is close to the house, so I’ll walk. (6 P.M. for any locals who’d like to attend.)
  3. I stopped at the swanky N.W. Portland Goodwill after dropping my son off at Sunday’s Portland Timbers soccer game. I’m low on clothes at the moment and have budgeted $20 for the month. I found an adorable skirt, which was half-off at $3.50. My husband and son have their sports, I have mine.
  4. My local recycling depot has stopped accepting styrofoam, although there was a sign saying that their Tualitin location accepts it. This would be a huge schlep from the house, so I was pretty bummed. (I have two paper bags filled with styrofoam meat trays.) My area is about to have their annual neighborhood clean up day, where people can drop off hard to get rid of items. Sadly I have to work this Saturday, so I posted on my street’s Facebook group asking if someone could bring my styrofoam. A neighbor offered to help which is a huge relief, as these trays have been accumulating for over a year.
  5. I didn’t buy a physical gift for my husband, and I certainly didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 55 comments }

Budgeting 101

by Katy on May 16, 2016 · 17 comments

The following article first appeared over at ClarkHoward.com.

To most people, the word “budget” is a negative word. A barrier against the enjoyable things in life. Ask a person to use it in a sentence and it’s likely to sound something like this:

“Sorry I can’t go see the latest movie with you, it’s not in the budget.”

Cue tragically sad violin music.

To me, the word is positive. Why? Because a written and detailed budget allows for a personal finance plan that allows for both bills and entertainment. Let’s try “budget” in a sentence again.

“I’d love to go see that movie with you. I’ve budgeted $100 for entertainment this month. Please let it be my treat!”

Better, yes?

Unfortunately, many of us freeze at the thought of putting together an actual budget. How much are my actual bills? What about irregular income? What if I learn something bad about my finances through budgeting? Take a deep breath, people. With the advent of online programs, budgeting has never been easier. No longer is it necessary to fill pages with chicken scratch or have an accounting degree to put together a working and functional budget.

With this step-by-step budgeting guide, you’ll be on top of your finances in no time at all!

Step one

Ask yourself why? Unless you have a concrete reason why you’re putting together a budget, you’re doomed to fail. Are you working towards paying off your student loans, saving towards a house or knocking out your credit cards? Knowing the why will make the how exponentially easier. Figuring out your big picture goals will put any sacrifice into perspective.

Step two

Collaborate with your spouse if you’re married. No budget has a chance of success if all family members aren’t on board. Discuss what’s important to each of you and really listen to one another’s perspective. A functional budget incorporates each person’s priorities. Again, talk about your big picture goals.

Step three

Choose a budgeting system. No need to invent the wheel here, as user friendly budgeting programs abound. Whether you choose Every Dollar, You Need a Budget (YNAB), Mint, an Excel spreadsheet or even a simple pad of paper, pick one method and then stick to it. One chosen system will work 100% better than choosing nothing at all.

Step four

Gather up your bills, income source records and miscellaneous expenses. This might seem like a pain in the tuchus, but you only have to do this the first month. It’s important to include every single expense and expenditure. This might seem finicky, but it’s the key to a successful budget. Unsure where to start? Look through your credit card bills, bank account statements and that teetering stack of bills in your dining room. The first month’s budget is likely to be less than perfect, but that’s okay as it’s inevitable that you’ll forget certain expenses. Add forgotten categories to the budget as the month goes on to complete a realistic financial picture.

This step might be on the uncomfortable side of horrifying, but that’s okay. You can’t get past the boogie man until you face your fears. Knowing how much you earn, spend and owe is the point of a budget and a necessary step. Knowledge is key.

Step five

Be honest with yourself. You might be tempted to only put $300 into your food budget to balance the budget, but unless you have a time machine back to 1955, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

Step six

Be willing to sacrifice. In order to move ahead with those big picture goals, you’ll probably need to make a few sacrifices. Cable-TV, frequent restaurant meals and extravagant gift giving may need to take a back seat to important goals such as debt reduction and retirement planning.

Step seven

Make a distinct budget for each month. Yes, your rent or mortgage should be the same each month, but there will be differing expenses and income that need to be accounted for. For example, heat and air conditioning, birthdays, garage sale income, school expenses, overtime, vacations and work bonuses. Most of this can be anticipated.

Step eight

Keep at it. Keeping a budget is a life long habit that needs to continue throughout your adulthood. Budgeting isn’t just for people in dire financial straits, and is an important tool for anyone looking to achieve financial success. Be deliberate with your money. Be smart with your finances. Stay smart.

Conclusion

I’m a personal finance writer, but embarrassingly didn’t started budgeting until last year. Why? I thought my husband and I had no problem with impulsive spending, so I figured it was a lot of work for minimal gain. Boy, was I was wrong! What my husband and I have gained from the experience has been incredibly valuable. No longer are we anxiously wondering which bills have been paid and which haven’t. We now know at a glance exactly what we need to pay each month and what’s already been paid. So easy. As a result, We’re now able to sock away thousands of dollars each month for our sons’ college expenses with minimal sacrifice.

Where was our money going before we started budgeting?!

I’m not entirely sure, but what I can be sure of is that tracking and planning our money has freed up our finances and given us tremendous peace of mind. Budgeting took away the financial worry that impelled me to check our credit union balance multiple times per day.

Budgeting gave us financial freedom. And in my book, that’s a positive thing.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on May 14, 2016 · 65 comments

Buy nothing group request

  1. I used my local Buy Nothing Group to request a new cushion for one of my outdoor chairs. (Thrifted of course!) It took a day, but someone finally offered up one that looks like it should work perfectly. I’m having a graduation party for my younger son next month, and I’m using the date as a deadline to slick up the house and backyard a bit. Of course, my goal is to spend no money on the improvements.
  2. I listed a thrift store painting through Craigslist that’s been gathering dust in the house. I’d originally bought it for my older son to use in a project, but he was completely disinterested, so out it goes!
  3. I proposed two new Clark Howard articles, which were both approved. My plan is to write up one tonight and the other one tomorrow.
  4. I cleaned one of my mother’s guest cottages and brought home a half a bottle of nice red wine. I’ll use it to create a yummy red wine reduction for steak. My husband’s birthday is Monday, so I’ll prepare a nice meal at home for him.
  5. I walked to the library to pick up holds, I gathered e-mails at my son’s soccer game so I can send out free eVite invitations for his party, I heated leftover rice instead of cooking fresh, I put a number of unnecessary stuff at the corner for rehoming, I listed three different things in the Buy Nothing Group, I returned the lice comb I borrowed during December’s lousy crisis, I cooked up a batch of Chicken Adobo using deeply discounted organic Grocery Outlet drumsticks, I confirmed that I’d done everything necessary for my sons’ FAFSA forms and I didn’t buy a Lear Jet.

Update: I picked up the free outdoor cushion and am very happy with the transaction. On an entirely different note, I saw a bumper sticker today that read “Consume less, share more.” 

Outdoor cushion

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 65 comments }