Meeting Your Financial Goals

Time For May 5th Penniless Week Challenge Plus Tips and Free Tools

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

join-us-for-penniless-week-challenge

It’s HERE! Are you ready?

Penniless week has arrived and thousands of you are joining us for “do not spend a penny on anything” week. We hope your first day is going well and that you are figuring out ways to use foods in your house to eat and make meals (as the grocery budget savings is the biggest savings of all). We also want to remind you what the “exceptions” and the “rules” are. The only exceptions are:

  • Emergencies – thankfully we haven’t had one in the weeks we have done this as emergencies are generally a rare thing, but it is an exception.
  • Gasoline to get to work – This hasn’t been a problem yet either as we also try to gas up before the week starts or Alex takes public transportation with his prepaid card. It is important to minimize your driving as much as possible to save as much gas money as possible.  You do need to get to work though, and that is the one exception.  If you have alternative ways to get to work, we encourage you to choose these instead.
  • Still pay your regular bills - what we are talking about here is the living expenses that you spend after you pay bills, you know…. the things you write checks for or slide your debit or credit card for.  You are still obligated to pay your debts, heating, insurance, electricity, mortgage, etc.  This is different!
  • Any absolutely necessary expenses – We have to be very careful with this one; absolutely necessary means just that – not because its a “want”; We really try to cut out the reasons we would “need” to spend.

And here is a reminder for the RULES for the week:

  • Before the week starts, buy just the fresh foods (produce, milk) that you may need for the week, but don’t make up for penniless week by double spending the week before in preparation! Your produce purchases need to be bare minimum. We also don’t buy milk ourselves for this week, but we know that this is a necessity, especially for family’s with babies/toddlers.   We use the milk we’ve on hand from the previous week and then use our powdered milk in the pantry if we run out. The goal is to make a bit of a sacrifice, eat the foods in the house and be creative with those foods.
  • Gas up your vehicles for the purposes of getting to work and try not to drive them to the point that you need to refill that week!
  • Literally eat what’s in your house (penniless week is also a great way to eat foods you’ve been needing to eat before they expire!). Sometimes your meals are a hodgepodge and sometimes they may not technically be a meal.  But you are getting food, so everyone is sacrificing and happy with the end result!
  • Find free ways to entertain yourselves and to have fun. Date night in is GREAT (we do this almost every week anyway) an make something to eat at home, watch a movie you already have, or play board games, etc.
  • When the next week starts, don’t overspend to make-up for not spending the week before.  Just do your normal grocery shopping and your activities like normally planned/budgeted.

In the end, you could potentially end up with $100 or more saved for the week. Just think about what your savings could be if you set aside the week’s grocery money (or if you shop monthly/bi-weekly, cutting your shopping trip down to save a week’s equivalent of money), your gas money that week, your “fun” money that week, etc.; the savings add up! The other point is to realize and stop frivolous spending.  Often, we do not realize how much we are spending when we only see a little bit here, $1 there, .50 over there, etc.  This frivolous spending could possibly even equal your money needing to be saved as part of our 52-week savings challenge! Other things that you may learn:

  • It is character building for everyone to learn to temporarily sacrifice and to learn to “live without” to reach a goal.
  • It is a test run to see if you really can live without and help identify perhaps problems your family has or addictions that are developing, like coffee out, unnecessary snacks, movie theater addiction, etc. We learned something similar when we have done no electronic entertainment weeks! It is quite eye-opening!
  • The value of your hard work and sacrifice.  Each time we do this, we seem to come out of the week being even wiser with our allotted budget for the rest of the month. It also helps us to value each penny and consider how much meaningless spending actually ends up costing you ($1 here, .50 there, etc.)
  • A good chunk of “seed” money to help you reach your financial goals and dreams!

Now… on with a very personal story and us being real…..

We’ve had many of you that have stated…..”I already live this way every week,” and it seems that the point of this challenge is being missed by many due to this statement. We get this….we understand this…. in fact, we too at one time lived with this thought…… 

So let us relate our situation to you and how that story is different today: There was a time in our lives that we were in such financial crisis that we couldn’t go even ONE day without a paycheck, let alone a week. We had no savings, not a penny to our name = we were penniless. We were in over $100K of consumer debt and could not longer pay our obligations monthly. BUT….we got to work when we realized our crisis (and just in time as we were literally days from bankruptcy) and that hard work changed our financial situation. It wasn’t an easy road and it wasn’t quick.

Today, after years of hard work, we are free from our $100K debts (debt-free day was four years ago! YAY!) and in the process, we learned to live a very frugal, happy, full life. As a family of 7, we live on MUCH less than we ever did as the 2 of us. The point of this challenge is to not “live” frugal everyday, but to encourage everyone to do better from where they were at today. WE HAD NOTHING, but we figured out how to do better. 

Today, we do have a weekly budget and it is a tight budget because we choose to live as frugally as possible now.  We save our excess for future goals and paying for things with cash.  Our weekly budget accounts for groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment, clothing, etc. We spend within our allotted budget and try very hard to not spend more. After our experience, we started our site to encourage and share with you what we have learned and how we try to live a little better every day!  So, no matter your financial situation, this challenge could help propel you into a better financial future.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – try to understand what we are attempting to accomplish and join us for some penniless (not just frugal) fun this week! 

We already have thousands of you joining us and seem to understand what we are trying to accomplish. We hope this has clarified for the rest of you why we are presenting the challenge. You’re welcome to join us!

Now for some tools to help! One of the BIGGEST tools to help us this week is the No Food Waste Menu Planner.  If you haven’t already downloaded this menu planner, we highly recommend it for this week especially. no-waste-food-menu-planning-download It is a cool little planner that my awesome husband Alex made for me when I was trying to find an easy way to use all of our foods each week in my recipes and cooking.  Along with that, you will want to utilize the google recipe search to help you create recipes with foods you have at home now! See all of the details on this HERE.

home-binder-cover-updated

In addition, it might be a good week to put together a home binder and get on track to a more organized life, which leads to an easier frugal life in future weeks. Find out the details of  the Home Binder HERE along with the downloads to go inside!

Next steps: (leave comments below so we can all have fun and learn!)  

  • Live Penniless and leave comments below telling us about your progress.
  • Tell all of us the funny meals you eat!
  • What did you do for fun and entertainment this week?
  • We would also LOVE to know how much you think you saved over previous weeks?

{ 6 comments }

Alex & Cassie
 

Penniless Week Challenge Starting May 5th, Jumpstart Financial Goals and Reach Goals Faster

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

join-us-for-penniless-week-challenge

It has been a few months since we have done a Penniless Week and we are planning to do one this upcoming week and we know that many of you have loved joining us in the past!

The last time we did this, our readers ended up saving thousands in total to apply to financial goals, the next big purchase, vacations and even bills! It was so amazing to hear the stories of how this challenge provided financial relief to many of you.

What is it?

Well, at various times we have shared something we do in our home called “penniless” week.  It’s a challenge that we place on ourselves that means we don’t spend a penny on anything that week – acting as if we are penniless.

This is a fantastic way to jumpstart financial goals or to even push the budget stretching even further.

When we did this, even at times that we were “penniless” in our past, it was a way that we actually found a little extra and when we thought we “couldn’t squeeze just one more penny out of our budget” to apply to our debt-payoff goals, we would do this and could find extra to get to our goals quicker!

The only exceptions are:

  • Emergencies – thankfully we haven’t had one in the weeks we have done this
  • Gasoline to get to work – This hasn’t been a problem yet either as we also try to gas up before the week starts or Alex takes public transportation with his prepaid card
  • Still pay your regular bills - what we are talking about here is the living expenses that you spend after you pay bills, you know…. the things you write checks for or slide your debit or credit card for.  You are still obligated to pay your debts, heating, insurance, electricity, mortgage, etc.  This is different!
  • Any absolutely necessary expenses – We have to be very careful with this one; absolutely necessary means just that – not because its a “want”; We really try to cut out the reasons we would “need” to spend.

We may not “love” penniless weeks, but we LOVE the end result!

For example, if you don’t grocery shop, eat out, causal shop, avoid activities that cost money, skip date out and do date in, make your beverages at home (like coffee!) and any other expenses that you have sometimes during the week; you could actually end up with a few hundred dollars extra in your pocket or bank account!

It is not always easy, but in the end, the rewards are awesome!

What could you do with a few hundred extra dollars?  Perhaps seed your vacation or other dreams fund, catch up on or get ahead on the 52-week money saving challenge, pay off debts faster, save for a need quicker?  What?

We try to have a penniless week about every 2 months or so.  We have done it more often or less often depending on the season.

But this time, we want to do this with you!! Will you join us for a penniless week?

Rules:

  • Before the week starts, buy just the fresh foods (produce, milk) that you may need for the week, but don’t make up for penniless week by double spending the week before in preparation!  We’ve also just used the milk we’ve had on hand and then used our powdered milk in the pantry if we ran out! The goal is to make a bit of a sacrifice!
  • Gas up your vehicles for the purposes of getting to work and try not to drive them to the point that you need to refill that week!
  • Literally eat what’s in your house (penniless week is also a great way to eat foods you’ve been needing to eat before they expire!). Sometimes your meals are a hodgepodge and sometimes they may not technically be a meal.  But you are getting food, so everyone is sacrificing and happy with the end result!
  • Find free ways to entertain yourselves and to have fun.
  • When the next week starts, don’t overspend to make-up for not spending the week before.  Just do your normal grocery shopping and your activities like normally planned/budgeted.

What you may learn:

  • It is character building for everyone to learn to temporarily sacrifice and to learn to “live without” to reach a goal.
  • It is a test run to see if you really can live without and help identify perhaps problems your family has or addictions that are developing, like coffee out, unnecessary snacks, movie theater addiction, etc. We learned something similar when we have done no electronic entertainment weeks! It is quite eye-opening!
  • The value of your hard work and sacrifice.  Each time we do this, we seem to come out of the week being even wiser with our allotted budget for the rest of the month. It also helps us to value each penny and consider how much meaningless spending actually ends up costing you ($1 here, .50 there, etc.)
  • A good chunk of “seed” money to help you reach your financial goals and dreams!

Alright…… who is ready to join us?? 

We will be starting on Monday, May 5th and the last day is Sunday, May 11, 2014!

We would love to hear from you and hear your results and tips you have too! 

{ 8 comments }

Alex & Cassie
 

Be Intentional Baby Step 15 – Write Down Extra Income Goals Based on 2 Percent Rule (Free Download Too)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Alex

create-your-extra-income-ideas-using-2-percent-rule

As a reminder, the 30 Be Intentional challenges this month are designed to get you on the right foot, the right track and give you energy, efficiency and organization which will propel you into a life that is able to develop an overall financially smart, happy and frugal home.  We are going to have different themes each month this year (and we have very exciting stuff planned) and this month is your foundation!We encourage couples and families to do these challenges together so the whole house can function well!

As the 30 steps go along, we will be focusing on 5 areas for the Be Intentional Month:

  1. Self
  2. Home
  3. Budget
  4. Schedule
  5. Frugality

Baby Steps for Self

Baby Steps for Home

Baby Steps for Budget

We have 2 more baby steps under the budget category of our Be Intentional Baby Steps to help you get those 5 areas on track!

Now that we have talked about debt and also reducing our spending to reach financial goals, the second part is increasing income a little bit each month too!

Baby Step #15 

Write Down Your Extra Income Monthly Goals (Using 2% Rule)

First, EVERYONE has the chance the ability to make extra income if you really want to.  Whether you spend 1-hour per month or many hours, don’t think that your situation prevents you or someone in your family to earn extra income.

Again, what are we talking about with this 2%?  Well, we have mentioned the 2% cut a few times in various blog posts here, but for the most clear perspective, we suggest you read about our 2×2 plan HERE which is what we used to pay off our over $100,000 consumer debt and what we use today to help us continue to reach our goals.

So we want to help propel you into reaching your financial goals.  But we want to do this incrementally so that you don’t overwhelm yourself and so that it becomes a lifestyle.

After your are finished reading those posts (no need to restate them here) come on back here and print off this form (there are 3 months on each form, so print off 4 to plan for the year).

First, how do you figure out what the 2% income increase is?  Well, we all have different types of jobs, schedules and budgets and so we recommend choosing one of these ways to calculate what your extra 2% income would be:

1. If the main income in the household is salary based, you can also calculate your increase on your take-home pay, which is hopefully higher than your expenses :) Let’s say you bring home $3,500 per month, then your 2% increase would be $70 ($3,500 x .02 = $70).

2. If you have varied/commission based income then you can calculate your 2% on your actual bills and living expenses to set your goal.  If you spent $2,800 in January between bills/living expenses (debt payments not included) then set a goal to increase your income by $56 this month, etc.

3. If you have varied/commission based income then you can calculate your 2% by looking at what you made this month last year.  Let’s say last February, you made $4,000, set a goal to make an extra $80 each month this year.

4. Finally, no matter how you earn your income, one last way to choose how to set your 2% extra income goal, take your take home pay from last year (whether salary or varied income) and divide it by 12. Then calculate 2% of that.  For example, let’s say that last year, you made a total of $50,000, your 2% goal increase each month this year is $83 more per month.  ($50,000/12 x.02 = $83.33 and round to nearest dollar).

Choose whichever method makes the most sense for your family!

This is also a fantastic learning, growth and responsibility task for children and teens!

Now what we are saying is to add that each month.  So the first month is $60, second month is $120, etc. these are goals that you are setting and some months you will far exceed the 2% and other months you will come short.  But the goal is to do something and you will see lots of amazing progress towards your financial goals!

The next baby step coming next week is to brain-storm ideas on making extra income.  We have lot of sources on our site for this too.  But for now, just fill these downloads out so that you can catch a vision for what the goals are!

It shouldn’t take you long to set your money making goals – have fun!!

<== Download your printable Extra Income Monthly Goals Plan HERE

One final thing….. we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!

{ 0 comments }

Alex & Cassie
 

Our Penniless Week Update: How Is Your Week Going?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

our-penniless-week-update

Penniless week check-in! It’s Wednesday and we’re almost half way through penniless week.  How is it going not spending a penny this week?

See the original post HERE to find out what we are talking about! 

Our week so far:

  • We didn’t fill-up the minivan with gas, so we only have 1/3 of a tank, which saved us a good chunk of change- but also means we can’t go many places, and yesterday was probably the one place we will go somewhere (which leads to #2).
  • The kids and I had a free day at the museum (taking our own snacks) yesterday. We had a blast! But that is probably the only time we are going some where!
  • We cancelled our milk delivery for the week and did not buy more milk before the week starts. It’s one of the bigger grocery expenses for the week, so a nice savings. If we run out (we haven’t yet as I am being stingy with it :)) then we will use powdered milk the rest of the week.
  • We did not do any grocery shopping before, just eating the foods in our house.  And we have already used up 3 dressings that each had a little in the bottle and a now a little more room in the fridge. Plus a handful of other foods.  I am planning to “wash out” the fridge this weekend before we do our normal shopping next week since it is getting nice and cleaned out!
  • The only produce we got for the week was from our Bountiful Baskets Co-Op order and we did the $15 basket to save another $10 from the normal organic basket.
  • Alex was asked to go out to lunch with co-workers and he suggested next week.
  • We are staying out of stores to not tempt ourselves.
  • We are being careful about our online browsing too and realizing that any “rock bottom deal” is not the only time we can get a rock bottom deal.
  • Entertainment isn’t a problem as we are home for movies we have or that are free pretty much every week anyway.
  • Our older two girls have been a HUGE encouragement to keep everybody on track, they made dinner last night and they remind the littles about our Penniless week! It’s awesome that they are at this point in their maturity!

So how is your week going so far?

We are all almost half way through the week, so keep it going and keep it up!

If you don’t quite know what we are talking about or why we are not spending a single penny anywhere this week…. then check out our previous post HERE on Penniless week – the rules, tips, and tools to make it happen to save serious money this week! 

{ 1 comment }

Alex & Cassie
 

It’s Penniless Week: Tips, Details, Free Tools and Fun Saving Goals

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy here.

by Cassie

join-us-for-penniless-week-challenge It’s HERE! Penniless week has arrived and thousands of you are joining us for “do not spend a penny on anything” week. We hope your first day is going well and that you are figuring out ways to use foods in your house to eat and make meals (as the grocery budget savings is the biggest savings of all). We also want to remind you want the “exceptions” and the “rules” are. The only exceptions are:

  • Emergencies – thankfully we haven’t had one in the weeks we have done this as emergencies are generally a rare thing, but it is an exception.
  • Gasoline to get to work – This hasn’t been a problem yet either as we also try to gas up before the week starts or Alex takes public transportation with his prepaid card. It is important to minimize your driving as much as possible to save as much gas money as possible.  You do need to get to work though, and that is the one exception.  If you have alternative ways to get to work, we encourage you to choose these instead.
  • Still pay your regular bills - what we are talking about here is the living expenses that you spend after you pay bills, you know…. the things you write checks for or slide your debit or credit card for.  You are still obligated to pay your debts, heating, insurance, electricity, mortgage, etc.  This is different!
  • Any absolutely necessary expenses – We have to be very careful with this one; absolutely necessary means just that – not because its a “want”; We really try to cut out the reasons we would “need” to spend.

And here is a reminder for the RULES for the week:

  • Before the week starts, buy just the fresh foods (produce, milk) that you may need for the week, but don’t make up for penniless week by double spending the week before in preparation! Your produce purchases need to be bare minimum. We also don’t buy milk ourselves for this week, but we know that this is a necessity, especially for family’s with babies/toddlers.   We use the milk we’ve on hand from the previous week and then use our powdered milk in the pantry if we run out. The goal is to make a bit of a sacrifice, eat the foods in the house and be creative with those foods.
  • Gas up your vehicles for the purposes of getting to work and try not to drive them to the point that you need to refill that week!
  • Literally eat what’s in your house (penniless week is also a great way to eat foods you’ve been needing to eat before they expire!). Sometimes your meals are a hodgepodge and sometimes they may not technically be a meal.  But you are getting food, so everyone is sacrificing and happy with the end result!
  • Find free ways to entertain yourselves and to have fun. Date night in is GREAT (we do this almost every week anyway) an make something to eat at home, watch a movie you already have, or play board games, etc.
  • When the next week starts, don’t overspend to make-up for not spending the week before.  Just do your normal grocery shopping and your activities like normally planned/budgeted.

In the end, you could potentially end up with $100 or more saved for the week. Just think about what your savings could be if you set aside the week’s grocery money (or if you shop monthly/bi-weekly, cutting your shopping trip down to save a week’s equivalent of money), your gas money that week, your “fun” money that week, etc.; the savings add up! The other point is to realize and stop frivolous spending.  Often, we do not realize how much we are spending when we only see a little bit here, $1 there, .50 over there, etc.  This frivolous spending could possibly even equal your money needing to be saved as part of our 52-week savings challenge! Other things that you may learn:

  • It is character building for everyone to learn to temporarily sacrifice and to learn to “live without” to reach a goal.
  • It is a test run to see if you really can live without and help identify perhaps problems your family has or addictions that are developing, like coffee out, unnecessary snacks, movie theater addiction, etc. We learned something similar when we have done no electronic entertainment weeks! It is quite eye-opening!
  • The value of your hard work and sacrifice.  Each time we do this, we seem to come out of the week being even wiser with our allotted budget for the rest of the month. It also helps us to value each penny and consider how much meaningless spending actually ends up costing you ($1 here, .50 there, etc.)
  • A good chunk of “seed” money to help you reach your financial goals and dreams!

Now… on with a very personal story and us being real….. We’ve had many of you that have stated…..”I already live this way every week,” and it seems that the point of this challenge is being missed by many due to this statement. We get this….we understand this…. in fact, we too at one time lived with this thought……  So let us relate our situation to you and how that story is different today: There was a time in our lives that we were in such financial crisis that we couldn’t go even ONE day without a paycheck, let alone a week. We had no savings, not a penny to our name = we were penniless. We were in over $100K of consumer debt and could not longer pay our obligations monthly. BUT….we got to work when we realized our crisis (and just in time as we were literally days from bankruptcy) and that hard work changed our financial situation. It wasn’t an easy road and it wasn’t quick.

Today, after years of hard work, we are free from our $100K debts (debt-free day was four years ago! YAY!) and in the process, we learned to live a very frugal, happy, full life. As a family of 7, we live on MUCH less than we ever did as the 2 of us. The point of this challenge is to not “live” frugal everyday, but to encourage everyone to do better from where they were at today. WE HAD NOTHING, but we figured out how to do better. 

Today, we do have a weekly budget (and one that we shared last year and will share what we budget for 2014 in a couple of weeks) and it is a tight budget because we choose to live as frugally as possible now.  We save our excess for future goals and paying for things with cash.  Our weekly budget accounts for groceries, gas, eating out, entertainment, clothing, etc. We spend within our allotted budget and try very hard to not spend more. After our experience, we started our site to encourage and share with you what we have learned and how we try to live a little better every day!  So, no matter your financial situation, this challenge could help propel you into a better financial future.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – try to understand what we are attempting to accomplish and join us for some penniless (not just frugal) fun this week!  We already have thousands of you joining us and seem to understand what we are trying to accomplish. We hope this has clarified for the rest of you why we are presenting the challenge. You’re welcome to join us! Now for some tools to help! One of the BIGGEST tools to help us this week is the No Food Waste Menu Planner.  If you haven’t already downloaded this menu planner, we highly recommend it for this week especially. no-waste-food-menu-planning-download It is a cool little planner that my awesome husband Alex made for me when I was trying to find an easy way to use all of our foods each week in my recipes and cooking.  Along with that, you will want to utilize the google to help you create recipes with foods you have at home now! See all of the details on this HERE.

Next steps: (leave comments below so we can all have fun and learn!)  

  • Live Penniless and leave comments below telling us about your progress
  • Tell all of us the funny meals you eat
  • What did you do for fun and entertainment this week
  • We would also LOVE to know how much you think you saved over previous weeks!
  • Finally, if you have a blog, you are welcome to blog about how you are joining us and link up your blog post in the linky below!



{ 5 comments }

Alex & Cassie