budgeting

I would not say I am an expert at budgeting or finances, but I do work hard to keep our finances in order and to pay off our debt.  Although it may sound strange, I enjoy budgeting and financial planning.  I think this is mostly because I like a good spreadsheet (HAHA!) and I have a personality where I enjoy organization, which works well with budgeting and financial planning.  Also, I am not really a big spender, so I don’t see budgeting as something restricting.  I more see it as something that helps my family to be able to do the things that we enjoy. Continue reading “budgeting”

planner review

I LOVE PLANNERS!  I have loved them since I was in middle school.  They were much more simple back then.  Now, there are so many options.  I have tried a few and decided to do a review of three of the last planners I have used.  I think each of these planners are great for certain features they offer, but they are all a little different.

First up is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.  I used this planner for several years.  I think the best way to define the LifePlanner is fun.  It is very customizable, which is not offered by most planners.  You can choose a custom cover for your planner or one of the pre-designed covers.  You can also customize the inside of your planner as well.  There are so many options!  This planner also includes stickers to use in your planner for events throughout the year.  I felt this planner was a little more casual than others which was the reason I wanted to try other planners.  I loved all the features of the Erin Condren, but as I got older and was taking my planner to meetings at work, I felt I needed something a little more formal.  

So here is a breakdown –

Pros:

  • Very customizable
  • Free stickers
  • Fun & colorful
  • Pockets & zipper pouch to hold extra items
  • Lots of extra blank pages

Cons:

  • Casual look (not as professional)
  • Large size (depends on your preference)
  • Price (but along the lines of other planners on the market)

Next, is the Passion Planner.  The Passion Planner is a newer planner with an awesome purpose.  First, they are a get one, give one company.  Similar to TOMS, when you buy a planner they give one away.  The Passion Planner is the ultimate goal setting planner.  This planner includes monthly reflections which include pages to look back over the previous month to see if you have reached your goals for the previous month.  It also helps you to focus at the beginning of each month on what you need to do to move towards your goals.  This planner is not very customizable, but does offer different color covers.  It is very simple (black and white) on the inside.  They also offer the option to download a planner on their site for FREE, so you can test it out. This planner comes in two sizes.  I LOVED the goal setting included in this planner, but I did not like the weekly format (I prefer a daily format).  

Pros:

  • GOAL SETTING
  • Price tag! (This is one of the cheapest planners I have purchased)
  • Smaller size (great to fit in my purse – not too bulky)
  • Small pocket in the back
  • Lots of blank pages in the back for planning
  • Professional look

Cons:

  • No customization
  • Plain covers (mostly)

Finally, my current planner is the Day Designer.  This planner has a very simple design to it.  The pages are black and white, but it offers a daily format, which I love.  Each day includes a small space for notes and daily gratitude.  It also includes space for a daily to-do list which is one of the reasons I love daily planners.  I usually have a lot to do in one day and the daily format allows me to fit everything and plan what I will do each day.  This planner does not include as much extra space for note taking, which I miss from my other planners.  They offer a few different covers, which allows you to customize your planner to some extent. This planner comes in two sizes (I have the smaller size).  It also has a small pocket in the front.

Pros:

  • Some goal setting at the beginning
  • Daily option
  • Simple inside
  • Professional look
  • Cover choices

Cons:

  • Price (but similar to other planners on the market)
  • Few blank pages for notes

 

Some planners I would like to try are the Emily Ley Simplified Planner and Agendio Planner.

What is your favorite planner?  

❤ K

purchase a car with confidence

My husband and I had to purchase new cars about a year and a half ago.  My car, at the time, was pretty old and started to need more for upkeep than we thought the car was worth.  My husband was in a car accident shortly after that and sadly his car was totaled, but at least he did not have any major injuries.  This made us pros at car shopping in a very short period of time.  Here are a few tips that we learned along the way.

  1. Decide exactly what you want in a car.  Similar to when you are buying a house, determine what is on your must have list.  Do you have to have a back up camera or bluetooth hookup?  Do you have a long commute and need a certain MPG for your car?  Are there certain models you will not consider?
  2. Technically number 1 & 2 are interchangeable or could be happening at the same time.  Go to your bank and see if you can get pre-approved for a loan (if you don’t have the cash to cover your car).  Determine what your payment will be based on the loan and what fits your budget.  If you know you can only afford a certain amount, tell your bank that amount and they can tell you a loan amount based on this number.  They can also tell you different amounts based  on the length of your loan and the interest rate. It is good to get pre-approved by your bank so you have a start off point for a price for your car and so you don’t have to haggle with the dealership about your payment.  If they have a better offer than your bank, you can always consider their financing, but this gives you a start and a leg up during negotiations.  Also, check online for car loan interest rates and make sure your bank has a good rate.  We went with our credit union because it had the best rates at the time.
  3. Begin checking prices for the cars you might be interested in purchasing.  This is pretty easy to do nowadays since so much information is available online.  My bank recommended checking out the Carvana (www.carvana.com) site.  You can buy a car through this site, but I used it to compare prices too.  You can put your criteria for a car in this site to get an idea of the type of car that is in your price range.  If you have a certain car in mind, then you can look up that make and model to get an idea what it is selling for online.  I also check Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com).  This site gives you an estimate of what specific cars are selling for based on the make and model.  I usually start with a site like Carvana first when I don’t know what make and model I am looking for, just to get an idea of what might be in my price range.  Then I move to Kelley Blue Book to get the accurate price.   screenshot_2017-01-21-11-59-32
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  4. You also might consider contacting your insurance as well.  They can give you an estimate of what your insurance might be based on the year, make, and model of different cars on your list.  This can help you when planning your budget with your new car payment.
  5. Now, you can begin looking online or visiting dealerships.  You can check online at places like CarMaxx or you can also consider Carvana.  I looked at both locations for prices and then went to the dealership.  I wanted to see the cars before I made my purchase and there were several dealerships close to my home, so it made it pretty easy.  When you visit the dealership keep you list of must haves in mind.  For example, when I went to purchase my car I saw a car on the lot that was the same year, make and model as a car I saw on Carvana.  The car was much less (by a few thousand) than the car on the Carvana site.  The dealership really wanted to sell me the car, but it was more because it had extra features.  The dealership tried to explain that it was more because of these features, but these were features that were not on my must have list.  I explained this to them as well.  I told them I would happily buy the cheaper car on Carvana and since this was the only year, make, and model of the car that they had on the lot, I was prepared to leave if the price would not come down (ALWAYS BE READY TO LEAVE).  They came down on the price because they saw that I was not invested in getting the car.  I ended up purchasing the car for almost the same price I saw online. 🙂
  6. The dealership will also try to convince you to use their financing and sometimes they will say the price includes their financing or something along these lines.  Check their interest rates and the terms of the loan.  Most times your bank will offer a better deal.  

These are a few of the tips I have learned.  The most important thing is to do your research before you make a purchase.  Go into to the dealership will all the information and be prepared to haggle and walk away if they are not willing to meet the price you know the car is worth.

Good luck and happy shopping!

❤ K

financial planning giveaway!

Based on our top viewed posts and conversations we have had with friends, we both realize many people need help with their financial planning.  Neither of us are experts, but we are both pretty good at saving money, making budgets, and financial planning.

So we want to help others!  The first three people to comment on this blog post or the post on social media will receive a free budget and financial debt payoff plan from us. Continue reading “financial planning giveaway!”