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There is a reason why we are hustling towards the horizon of a future of financial freedom and independence. We (my wife and I) weren’t always the most stable or sane with how we spent our money.
Personal finance wasn’t much interest to me before I realized it is the key to getting my time back and my future in order.
Before 2 years ago we had nothing in our savings account. I still had my entirety of student loan debt. And there were times were we would be so low in our bank accounts that we had to take clothes to thrift stores and Plato’s Closet (a clothing resale shop) just to get food and gas money until our next payday.
You see, if we were always so responsible with our money, we wouldn’t be hustling like crazy, saving and investing so much now. Well maybe we would, but we would be less stressed about it (lol).
I am almost 30!
If I would have gotten my head out of the sand at an earlier age, who knows, I could maybe be retired by now. That is what I think when I see all these young millionaires, already reaching early retirement.
The point of this is not to focus on our past mistakes. But instead to show you some of those past mistakes and hinder you from making the same dumb decisions.
Or maybe you might see some of these mistakes and be like “woah, I am being a little extra”. And maybe inspire you to start thinking more about your financial goals and track your spending a little more closely.
I hope you already know that we aren’t financial gurus. This site was not created because we already reached financial freedom, have all the advice in the world and can do no wrong. This site was created out of our past financial mistakes and our journey from that to financial freedom (with all the grit in between).
Now let’s get to it, shall we?
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Clothes and Specifically Victoria’s Secret PINK
We weren’t shopaholics but we did have a random stint there of buying way too many clothes. We easily spent over $500 in just a couple of months buying clothes we didn’t need.
We are obsessed with hoodies and leggings. If you have ever been to Victoria’s Secret PINK, then you know their hoodies and leggings are super cute and comfortable.
And not cheap.
That is where we spent the majority of that money during that time. But I did later end up selling some of those items on Poshmark, getting at least half of our money back.
So it wasn’t all a loss but still 100% unnecessary. We could have put that $500+ into investments instead and that would have grown to be a gain in money rather than a complete loss.
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Food, Food and More Food
Food is one of the sneakiest money wasters. If you aren’t paying close attention, you can easily waste a lot of money on food. We either buy too much and let it go to waste or can’t stop ourselves from going out too much.
Well ours was the latter. We went out to eat entirely too much and spent probably $200 a week on food, but that was for dinners only. I couldn’t tell you the entire amount we spent on food for the entire week, from each meal.
Yep, your’e right. We were lazy. Talk about 5 times a week lazy. And before I met my wife, I would order take out or delivery almost every night because I hated cooking.
Now we spend a little under $80 week on groceries, try to cook at home as much as possible (thanks to this slow cooker that makes my life a million times easier) and only go out to eat once to twice a week, if that (mostly weekends or if out with family).
Grocery hack: If you hate planning your meals and grocery shopping, use a service like $5 Meal Plans ($5 a month) or Eat at Home Meal Plans ($7 a month). Then get your groceries delivered instead. Instacart is this amazing grocery delivery service I have utilized one or twice when I don’t have time to go to the grocery store myself. Choose from stores like Aldi, Target, Costco and more. The best thing about them is you can try them today for FREE!
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Plan your meals for the week. Save time, money AND your sanity!
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More Laziness and Red Box Movies
Ok, this one might sound stupid to you. But when it comes to laziness, everything is possible (and not in a good way).
We use to go to the Red Box booths at our local Walgreens and grocery stores every weekend and get 2 or 3 movies to watch. But we rarely brought them back.
Do you know what happens when you don’t return them? You have to pay for the entire cost of the movie. Which usually came out to be $20 – $29.99 for each one we didn’t return.
This was before Netflix had the variety it does now and before we had Amazon Prime. Now we only buy a movie if the rental cost on Amazon is under $5 and we can’t find anything in the Prime options and on Netflix.
We also watch WAY less TV now (it is a ridiculous thing to spend so much money on).
Late Fees from Bills
When we first moved in together, our bills were all over the place. I mostly blame that on myself. I was young and extremely unorganized.
When I would miss a bill I would think “oh well, I will eventually pay it.” I didn’t think of the late fees and the fact that missing bills can destroy your credit.
Auto pay is a great thing and if you can, use it!
Or write all your bills dates down in a planner or on your phone calendar to remind yourself.
Also, never put your student loans in forbearance. The student loan servicer may even recommend this to you if you can’t make your payments due to loss of employment. That is why I put mine in forbearance for a short amount of time during the beginning of my career.
During forbearance, your interest will continue to accrue while the loan payments are postponed. And they can accrue quickly. If you can find a way to make money after suddenly losing your job and your income is insufficient to make payments, look into an income driven repayment plan first.
We definitely save more money on a bills now with the help of the following:
- Everything is on auto pay with paperless billing.
- We don’t have cable or satellite and even cancelled extra streaming services that we didn’t need.
- I’ve lowered the interest rates on my student loans by consolidating them and now pay more and pay extra on those payments every month.
- We switched auto insurance providers and saved $150 a month.
- We also use a bill lowering service called Trim.
Trim works by taking your account information from your last cell phone, wifi, or cable bill and negotiating lower rates for you with those service providers. The best part is you never have to speak to anyone yourself. Trim saved us more than $200 on our AT&T bill last year!
We no longer have AT&T but when we did, Trim was super helpful in getting our monthly bill down.
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We both use to be smokers. Don’t ask me why.
Smoking is literally burning money. When you smoke a pack a day you are spending a minimum of $5 a day on cigarettes. And that price depends on what state you are purchasing in the U.S. (or even more overseas).
That is $5 a day wasted. That equates to $1,825 a year, per person.
We were torching money.
Don’t worry, we quit. We have never felt better and clearer since quitting. It took us a couple of times but we have 100% kicked the monkey off our back.
If you are trying to quit, I suggest patches, chewing gum every time you want a smoke, or quitting “cold turkey” and try to keep yourself busy and distracted. You can do this.
Saying Yes to Everything
I use to say yes to everything. When anyone asked us to do anything I didn’t want to risk hurting their feelings by saying no. I would even juggle pre-engagements with new plans because I couldn’t say no.
Making everyone else happy but myself was a problem I still sort of struggle with today.
I finally say no and respect my life more now to take time for the things that matter in it. If I say no to your bridal shower, second bridal shower and your wedding, it isn’t personal. It is because I can’t go.
And if I don’t want to go, so what? A wedding invite does not mean you have me chained to that date. I owe you nothing.
Respect yourself and your time. Don’t give it away if you can’t handle it or want it. Think of money in the same way: Don’t spend it on things you don’t enjoy.
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The Worst Gym Membership Contract That I Ever Signed
I once was conned into a 19 month long gym membership. I thought I was going in and signing up for a free week of workouts. I am a runner so the outside is my gym but it was getting cold so I wanted to try out a gym for awhile.
Then I found out that free week only applied if you sign up for a membership.
I was in a hurry, wanted to get my workout over with and get on with my life. I thought it was a monthly membership and I would cancel after the first month. No problem, I quickly signed and was off to try out the gym.
I realized I hated the gym setting, it was too small and the people were too close for comfort. So I met with the gym owner the next week to cancel my membership.
She finally dished all the deets: I signed a contract for the next 19 months and I either had to pay the entire cost of the membership right then to cancel or pay $40 a month for the next 19 months.
Oh and it didn’t end there.
After the 19 months are up, I was told I must physically hand them a written notice like it was the year 1925, claiming I want to terminate my membership. And that written notice is only considered a 30 days notice. After 30 days from that written notice is when my membership was finally up.
Always read everything before signing up. This was a rookie mistake on my part.
Let’s just say I will NEVER sign up for a gym membership again.
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Getting Back On The Right Track
We want to live a more meaningful life.
We don’t want to work forever chasing money.
So we decided we needed to make some changes in order to get back some of that time and money that we once wasted away.
We created a budget, track our spending, cook more and do more things for ourselves. We also started investing and started putting more in retirement (always contribute at least the amount your employer matches – it’s free money).
My recommended apps for beginner investors:
- Acorns invests your spare change for you, making your beginner investments almost effortless. Use “Roundups” and “Found Money’ along with many more features on the app for maximum investing power. Register for Acorns with this link and get a $5 bonus to start investing with!
- Stash consists of ETF’s for a minimum investment of $5. You automate your daily, weekly or monthly investment, track your retirement and tons more. Get $5 of Stash today with my link.
- I have recently started using M1 Finance and am really starting to love it. M1 Finance is 100% free with automatic rebalancing of your portfolio and tax minimization strategies. But my favorite feature on this app has to be their research section.
Of course side hustling is HUGE help along with travel hacking for free travel (using travel credit cards points to redeem for free travel). We try to find any way we can save more while we try to earn more.
Automating some of your savings is proven to be very helpful as well. Digit is great for this. Digit automatically saves money and spare change for us based on our spending habits and scheduled bills. We saved over $2,000 with Digit alone. This unsettles some people that an app has access to their money like that but it uses 256-bit encryption so I know my data is secure.
Then I move over those savings into our high yield savings account which also has an automated savings feature built in.
I want to say something really quick before you start automating: Always check in and log into your accounts to make sure there are no mistakes. You want to do this at least weekly. Staying up to date on everything, even if it is automated, is essential. Mistakes happen. I have caught them before so, just letting you know.
If you feel like you’re drowning in debt or your general financial situation right now, there’s still hope. You have to just work your way out of it.
A great way to start tracking your progress is by using the free tools over at Personal Capital to help you manage your money.
The key take away here though is try to be mindful with your money. Take it each day at a time. Improve little things every day and watch how the change accumulates over time. Financial freedom and independence doesn’t come overnight.
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