Category Archives: Budget

Christmas shopping tips

We might still be approximately three months away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts! My husband and I actually started this conversation this past weekend as we try to get on top of things before the mad rush from black Friday onwards. Here are some things that you can do to save time and money this holiday period:

(1) Set a budget – Many people suggest spending 1.5% of your gross annual income on dollar-660223_960_720.pngChristmas gifts, travel, and food. In 2014, the average gross family income was $65,751 according to Motley Fool, 1.5% of which is $986.27.  This seems like a lot of money to spend on the holiday, but when you think about the costs outside of gifts, such as food, entertainment, and travel, it makes sense.

https://www.today.com/parents/yes-we-spoil-our-kids-6-000-moms-come-clean-t75131

https://www.stewardship.com/articles/how-much-money-should-you-spend-on-your-kids-this-christmas

(2) Start early enough so that you have a list of gifts for each person. You might be able to track prices on apps like Cartwheel so that you can purchase these items when they are at their lowest price, or at the very least do your research before Black Friday so you can check for big sales on the items you are looking for.

(3) Remember that it’s the thought that counts. Some of the best gifts that I have ever received have been those that were homemade or were tied to an experience that I shared with my loved ones.

(4) Enjoy your time with your family!  Don’t spend so much time focused on gifts and shopping that you lose sight of what is really important, which is time with those whom you love.  christmas-family-time

(5) Are there things that you could make for your family that would save you money and would also mean more to them? Last year I made a range of cosmetic products for my family including an aftershave balm, foot cream, moisturizing cream, and lip balm made from natural ingredients and essential oils.  These were a big hit, and fun to make as well!

(7) Take advantage of layaway so that you pay ahead of time, rather than opening up crippling lines of credit that will continue to grow with interest charges.

(8) Make intelligent decisions about using Christmas bonuses. Don’t plan on spending a huge Christmas bonus which fails to materialize.

(9) Don’t buy gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.  This tends to happen when you wait until the last minute and are walking aimlessly around the store looking for something, anything that you could get for the last person on your list.  You end up buying them something that they don’t want or need, and holds no meaning.  This is disappointing for both of you!

(10) Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones – it might seem like you can handle the 2fb766eb1dc54a762648ee369217e318--fathers-day-ideas-fathers-day-craftshigh spending habits of your friends, but no one gets an award for spending the most money during the holiday season. Is it really worth it to blow through your budget only to spend the next several months trying to get your head above water and out of debt?  Remember what the holiday is truly about, and don’t get carried away by the hype.

Hopefully these tips are helpful, and as I stated above, it’s never too early to get started!  The sooner you are finished with your shopping, the sooner you get to spend quality time with family during the holiday season.

 

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The high cost of spending less

Most people have experienced that literal fork in the road, where one direction will take you to a decent, reputable hotel chain for $100/night, and the other will take you to a $59/night alternative, that is not as decent, nor as reputable.  But it will do, right?  Yeah, let me know how that works out for you!  As someone who has indeed experienced this situation, let me give you some pointers: 1.  Don’t plan to shower.  Just accept the fact now that you will not want to get in there, and pack your dry shampoo.  2. A hoodie makes a perfect pillowcase.  You will inevitably find something icky on the one provided, and as we don’t typically pack bedding sets in with our clothes and toiletries, you will need to use what you have on hand.  3. EARPLUGS.  That’s all.

An old abandoned North American motel.

The last time I stayed at a motel with DEPLORABLE conditions, I did complain.  Because, while we aren’t breaking the bank to stay there, we should at least be able to count on our water being clear, right?  After I explained to the lady all of the terrible things we experienced in our room, she very generously gave me a gift certificate for a free night.  Umm….. ?  So I guess the last piece of advice is, don’t bother complaining.

When you are on a road trip, and it’s late and you just want to sleep and get on the road again, it’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t need anything nice – just a bed and a shower.  But as I stated above, you really can’t always count on those things in the lower end chains, so maybe if you are having an inner discussion about whether to spend the extra $40, ask yourself how much you would pay for a GOOD shower (that actually makes you feel clean) and a GOOD night’s sleep, where you don’t lie awake most of the night imagining bugs crawling on you.

The same can be said for a number of different things.  Recently, I found a toy that I thought my son would love.  It was a Melissa and Doug cleaning set, with a little mop, cleaningbroom, and dustpan.  I saw it at a garage sale, but it was gone before I could get my hands on it.  When I got home, I looked it up online and saw that the price was far too high, especially considering how much it was being sold for at the garage sale!  I just couldn’t do it.  So my husband went to Walmart and got a less expensive set, but it will have the same effect, right?  Wrong.  Upon playing with it once, all of the pieces fell apart, so now instead of a super cool mop to use while “helping” mommy clean, my kids have a less cool baton to hit each other with.  Now that our second child is into cleaning, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a nice, sturdy play set for him?  In my opinion, it would have been worth it.

When you are looking for a service provider, the same reasoning and logic can be applied. If you need to take your car in for service, would you rather pay $150 now and have a guarantee that the problem will be fixed or would you prefer to pay $75, and risk needing more repairs, requiring you to take more time off work and eventually paying far more than $150?  The answer is obvious to me. And this is why people generally try to go to a car service provider that they trust, one that they can build a relationship with, and one that they know will take care of them.

So if you are in search of a Facility Maintenance company, don’t be scared away by a higher upfront cost.  Remember what you are getting with that higher cost – better quality and more peace of mind that the job will be done, and it will be done well.  With Royal Services, you get all of that and more, including a partnership in which you can place your trust and confidence.   And remember, the price tag that you initially see does not always reflect what your total cost will be.

Get started on your financial goals

As the new year approaches, it is easy to say to ourselves, “Next year is going to be different.  I’m going to be thin, rich, and much, much happier.”  Inevitably, next year will be quite similar to this year unless you put your mind to making a big change.   But what if you committed yourself to a small change?  Something that is easy to attain?  What if you made a small change in your finances that would help you reap big rewards down the road?

In this segment, I have compiled a list of finance-related tips for 2017 from a number of websites (all of which are linked).  There are so many tips out there, so I have found the ones that I feel are doable and will actually make a difference for a wide range of people.  I hope this helps get you on track for your financial goals in the coming year!

  1. Make saving automatic – it’s easy to say that you will put aside a portion of each paycheck, but when the time comes around, there are bills to pay and things you want that always seem much more important than saving for later.  But many banks offer an automatic deposit into your savings account.  Speak with a banker to find out what options are available to you, and figure out how much you can actually afford to save.  At the end of the year, you may be surprised at how much you’ve accumulated!
  2. Track your spending – an effective dieting strategy is writing down every bite of food you put into your mouth, and assessing where you are going wrong at the end of the day.  This is the same idea – write down every single penny you spend, then take a look to see where you could save.  You may even opt out of purchasing something unnecessary because you don’t want to put it on paper!  This diary will come in very handy when you are setting your new and improved monthly budget.

    Expenses Costs Track Spending Sticky Notes 3d Illustration

  3. Focus on your debt – no matter which financial strategy you follow, you won’t find one that tells you to get into more debt (unless your financial planner also works for your credit card company).  Debt is bad . And it creates more debt.  And while you may see getting out of it as impossible, take whatever steps necessary to accomplish that goal.  As your debts lessen, so do your monthly expenses.  Which leaves you more money to pay your debts.  Seems simple enough, right?  It isn’t.  But it can be done, so set your mind to it and make a change this year!
  4. Review your insurance coverage –  when you set up your health insurance, you might have been in family planning mode.  Now that you’re out of that phase, you might not need as much coverage.  Check it out and see if you could be saving money each month.
  5. Shop around for deals and discounts – it is certainly easier to buy everything at one place, but if you do your homework you might be able to save quite a bit of money by shopping at multiple locations.  Take advantage of sites like Ebates that offer cash back on purchases, but don’t get married to those sites.  Do the math and figure out which deal is actually best, when you take into consideration shipping, tax and rebates.
  6. Grocery shop online when possible – everyone has the best of intentions when they make a list to take to the store.  If we’re really intent on sticking to it, we make sure to eat first and set a shopping time limit.  But unless you are the most disciplined person in the world, chances are you will run across something you just have to have, or you “forgot” to add to your list.  When you shop online, you can type the items you need into the search bar, find the best deal and add to your cart.  There is little chance of purchasing items you don’t need, as you won’t be passing them at every turn.  Many places offer this now, and will even deliver for free if you spend a certain amount.
  7. Reflect on 2016 – how did things go this year?  Were you able to save money, pay off debts, or overcome obstacles?  Did you spend too much, not save enough or make major financial mistakes?  Looking at what went on last year can help you to make improvements for the year to come.  Correct any mistakes you made, and look to improve upon your successes.

I hope these tips will help you to leap into 2017 on the right foot, confident in yourself and your ability to make changes where needed!  Even a small step in the right direction is an improvement, so don’t be disheartened if you aren’t a millionaire by 2018.  As long as you are doing your best, you’re doing something right!

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