By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Being in the honeymoon stage after getting married is an exciting time! You’ve just committed to your partner and are starting your lives together. This new life together might mean moving in together, figuring out how to pay for your wedding debt, taking on new joint expenses, or preparing for some big expenses in the near future (buying a house, having a baby, etc.). This may lead to some stress around money. I enjoy working with lots of couples, so I thought I would share these 5 things you must do after getting married to help ease the stress of mixing marriage with money:
1) Combine to Save. Marriage has several financial advantages, especially when combining certain expenses. One big one that I have seen with clients (and in my own life!) is health insurance. If the person you are marrying works for a company with a great health insurance plan, then you could save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year. After you get married, make sure your spouse adds you to their health insurance plan so you can reap those benefits. Often, there is a short window (30 days) to do this, so make it a priority after getting back from your honeymoon. Another area where you can save is auto and home/renter’s insurance. There is often significant monthly savings when you are both on the same auto insurance policy. And while you are at it, you can bundle your auto and home/renter’s insurance policy to save even more! Talk to your insurance professional after you get married (or even before if you live together before marriage) to determine if you can save some money on your insurance. There are many other areas where you could combine to save, for example, combining your cell phone plans, Netflix accounts, Costco memberships, or Amazon Prime memberships, so take a look at your particular situation to eliminate any overlap you have in your expenses.
2) Plan to Pay Off Debt. A survey of 1,010 randomly sampled newlywed couples found that entering marriage with consumer debt has a negative impact on newlywed levels of marital quality. The study also found that the large majority (70%) of newlyweds in this study brought debt into their marriage relationship. So, does this mean you should wait until you have no consumer debt to get married? Of course not! But you should come up with a plan to pay off that debt together as soon as you get married. And once you have that plan, stick to it! I have seen the huge impact that debt has on couples and their relationship, and I’ll tell you this: the couples who pay off their consumer debt seem happier. So, come up with a debt repayment plan together after you get married, and then say goodbye to consumer debt for good!
3) Merge Your Finances. There is no right or wrong answer on whether to merge your finances after marriage or not – every couple is different (for more on this topic, read Merging Your Finances After Marriage). The key is to have an open and honest conversation about money and your financial goals so that you can then work together to achieve those goals. When it comes to merging finances, I usually suggest using a joint account as the central account for a couple, which means all the income flows into that account and then common expenses are paid out of that account (mortgage/rent, utilities, auto expenses, groceries, insurance, etc.). But also…
4) Separate Your Finances. So, once you have a joint account as the central account for income and expenses, then I like to create separate accounts for each person which gets funded every week, two weeks, month (whatever works best for the couple) with their allocated “allowance” that they can spend on whatever they want. This allows each person to have some “fun” money without having to consult with the other person. In my marriage, we do this, and it is nice to be able to buy a gift for my wife from my personal account… it feels more like a gift from me when I’m using my “own money” for that. Here, again, you should have open and honest communication about what is a fair amount for each person to receive as their “allowance.” In my household, my wife gets more every week than I do, but we both agreed on that amount. Side note: if you own a business, be sure to keep a separate “business” account for all your business income and expenses, and then transfer your “salary” to your joint account (more on that here: 4 Money Tips for Small Business Owners).
5) Start a Joint FUNd. Once you have done the first four things you must do after getting married, hopefully, you have some money left over for fun! I like the idea of a FUN Fund (or FUNd for short) as a short-term savings account for joint experiences. Research has found that people who spent money on experiences rather than material items were happier and felt the money was better spent. Use this account to save for joint experiences, special occasions, stay-cations, travel, etc. When you spend this money on yourselves, you can spend it “guilt-free” because you know this money is for FUN!
Getting married is such a joyful occasion, and hopefully following the 5 things you must do after getting married in this post will help continue that happiness deep into your marriage. If you know a couple who is about to get married or just got married and wants a personalized plan on how to do any of this, please have them contact us to schedule a consultation. These are my five financial tips for newlyweds. Do you have some other ones? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Published in Love and Marriage
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Life is short. Recently, I have been in a reflective mood because that has become very apparent to me. I started thinking about my life and whether I was living it the way I truly intended. The Dr. Budgets tagline is Spend Wisely. Live Wealthy.™, so I started thinking about it in terms of spending my time wisely to live wealthy because time is finite, and you can run out of it at any moment. Dr. Budgets takes a lot of my time, and I asked myself “Is it time well spent? Why am I doing this?” After much reflection, it turns out that I have a true passion for what I do, so I dug a little deeper to figure out why. Why am I so passionate about what we do at Dr. Budgets? I could help people in a variety of ways, so why money coaching?
The story of why I am so passionate about what I do for others through Dr. Budgets starts with why I do it for myself. My parents were divorced when I was very young, so I never knew anything different than having divorced parents. From the time I started school, I would be with one parent during the week and the other during the weekends, and every so often it would switch, which meant I would then switch schools (1st grade with my dad, 2nd-4th grade with my mom, etc.). When I was 12 and heading into 7th grade, my dad ran into hard financial times… his business failed, so money became very tight. My mom wasn’t making very much either, but she made it work while she was attending school at UCSD. To make ends meet, my dad decided to move to Rosarito, Mexico, which meant that for 7th grade I was going to switch schools again, but now to a different country. We also moved to a very poor part of town, so the house we lived in had no hot water (bathing in the winter was torture), broken windows, and was bug infested. Luckily, we always had food, but sometimes it was rice, beans, and tortillas several days in a row. This transition was very hard for me as a 12-year-old boy, and I would look forward to going to my mom’s house on the weekends… a house with first world amenities, like hot showers! After I finished 7th grade, my dad moved to Tijuana, Mexico where I attended 8th and 9th grades. The place in Tijuana was in an even poorer neighborhood (we now lived in an RV on somebody else’s property and used an outhouse). Those were the hardest three years of my life, and I believe those years shaped the view I have of money and the world to this day.
I realized that the reason I choose to spend my money wisely is so that I never end up in the same financial predicament as my dad. Being free of debt and having money in the bank gives me comfort and the freedom to live how I choose to live, and it means that I (or my kids) never have to live the way I did for those three years. I carry that same passion for finances to my clients because I want them to have the freedom to choose how they want to live, and to never have to face the type of decision my dad had to make. I see so many people who are slaves to their jobs because they are living paycheck-to-paycheck. I want to change this so that they feel like they have a choice to be whom they want to be and do what they want to do.
Life is too short to live otherwise, so that is why I started Dr. Budgets.
That is why every person who transforms their habits because of the money coaching they receive equals a better life for them, and maybe also for their children. Which means their children will never go through what I went through.
So that is why I do what I do. Why do you do what you do? I would love to hear your story. Please share it with me in the comments section below! If you know someone who is ready to improve their spending habits, please have them contact us today. Thanks for reading!
- Published in Health and Wealth
By Daniel Rodriguez (Dr. Budgets) & Scott Elliott (Kool Body Personal Training)
This month we are doing a joint blog post with Scott Elliott with Kool Body Personal Training. We are each sharing our perspective on 5 Ways Healthy Habits Save You Money from a health and wealth standpoint. Here are the five habits:
Eat Your Breakfast
Scott: Most of us are in such a rush to get out the door and to the office, that we often neglect breakfast. Instead of eating breakfast, we opt for coffee and perhaps add a carb to that. Eating breakfast will bring you a sustained boost of mental and physical energy. Skipping breakfast leads to adrenal crash; which we then artificially support with caffeine. The saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has a lot of truth to it. As you sleep, the cortisol hormone increases, which put us into REM (deep) sleep. When we wake up, the cortisol levels continue to rise and will eventually begin to put stress onto our adrenals. The only way to level out this increase in cortisol levels is to eat a balanced breakfast. This simple act will increase our mental and physical energy throughout the morning, with no mental crash.
Daniel: Breakfast in the morning can be something as simple and inexpensive as eggs and whole grain toast, yogurt with granola, or a smoothie (my wife makes amazing smoothies in the morning!). This daily “breakfast ritual” can save you thousands of dollars over time compared to stopping at Starbucks for “coffee and a carb.” If you still need the caffeine fix, you could brew your own coffee at home (which is often better than Starbucks anyway) and enjoy it on your way to work.
Schedule Your Workouts
Scott: Studies show that regular exercise will help reduce the number of sick days you take by stimulating and strengthening your immune system. Regular exercise also reduces the risk of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. The quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail” by Alan Lakein, highlights the importance of scheduling your workouts. Once scheduled, make sure they are a priority, like meetings for work. Make your workout time a non-negotiable appointment on your calendar.
Daniel: Consistent exercise will actually make you money because of the fewer sick days you will need to take. Depending on where you work, you could then use those unused sick days for something fun like a vacation or cash them out at some point. If you are self-employed, then that means less time away from your business, which means more money. Looking at it from a long-term perspective, if regular exercise prevents diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease for you, then that will save you thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars in medical bills. Additionally, a monthly gym membership is only a waste of money if you don’t use it! If you schedule your workouts, whether at the gym or with a personal trainer, you’re making the most of the money you’re spending for those services.
Scott: Daily meditation will calm our brain, bring inner peace, and therefore, more focus and productivity to your job. Due dates, unexpected problems, or even mental fog all strip away the clarity and focus that we need to succeed in our daily tasks. Set aside 5 minutes each day to sit upright, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Each time your thoughts drift, bring yourself back to your breath, training your mind in the art of self-control, focus, and peace.
Daniel: Consistent meditation can lead to reduced stress, which can save you money in countless ways. If stress leads you to overeat, then meditation can save you money on food expenses. If stress leads you to shop to make yourself feel better, then meditation can save you money by preventing you from buying unnecessary things. If stress causes you to drive fast which leads to a speeding ticket… you get the point 🙂
Scott: According to a 2014 Stanford Study, you can boost your creativity up to 60% by adding short bursts of activity throughout the day. Step away from the computer for a minimum of 3 minutes at a time and walk up a flight of stairs or take a walk outside. In addition, you will curb your levels of anxiety and depression allowing you to handle stress much better; stimulating your mood so you can get along with your co-workers and boss much easier.
Daniel: An increase in creativity can definitely make you money in the long-run. If you work for somebody, that could mean a faster promotion or a pay raise sooner. If you work for yourself, then an increase in creativity can lead to increased income ever more rapidly if you apply it in a way that makes you better or more efficient at what you do.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Motivated Fitness People
Scott: Working out with someone (or a group of people) will not only increase your level of accountability, but there is also a strong possibility of making new business connections, as you sweat it out with like-minded fitness people. You are all there putting in a strong effort to stay healthy, which will lead to a mutual level of respect for one another. Those are definitely people worth getting to know.
Daniel: Anytime you connect with like-minded people there is a good chance you will each benefit from that relationship. If you own a business, maybe one of those people becomes a client, which would lead to more revenue for your business. If you are an employee, maybe one of those people connects you to a job opportunity when you need it. Connecting with people who share similar goals and interests with you can lead to many rewards beyond money as well.
We hope you enjoyed our post on 5 Ways Healthy Habits Save You Money! If you want to learn more about Kool Body Personal Training, you can contact Scott at email@example.com. If you want to learn more about Dr. Budgets, visit our home page or contact us.
- Published in Health and Wealth
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
When it comes to budgeting, I don’t do budgets in the traditional sense. What I mean by that is that I don’t do budgets that feel like “I’m on a budget.” Budgets seem to have a bad reputation, and the way many people budget, rightfully so. January is the wonderful time of New Year’s Resolutions, and many people resolve to finally get their finances in order. They set out to pay off their debt, save some money, and put themselves in a position where money isn’t a source of stress and anxiety for them anymore. To do so they put themselves on a budget (what I like to call a “crash budget”), which ends up feeling very restrictive because they decide to not spend money in the areas that are important to them. They literally take the “fun” out of their budget. This is a recipe for failure, which is why I don’t do budgets.
The alternative to this is to create a healthy spending plan, which is different because you start with your goals and then set realistic parameters about where to spend your money. This allows you to balance out progress toward achieving your financial goals and spending money on what you enjoy. Instead of “being on a budget,” you use a spending plan that guides you and motivates you to gradually modify your behavior to the point where you are spending less than your income. That sounds simple, right? It is definitely simple, but not easy to implement, which is how I have been able to build a business around this concept. The amazing thing is, though, once you consistently spend less than you earn, magical things happen… debt starts to disappear, checking and savings account balances begin to increase, and the stress and anxiety you feel about money start to melt away!
The way most people budget usually doesn’t work for a sustainable period of time. A healthy spending plan when constructed properly and applied consistently over the years can create lasting healthy spending habits, which then naturally leads to the achievement of your financial goals.
John Maxwell said it best: “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” When you create a healthy spending plan (the budget I believe John Maxwell is referring to in his quote), then you are in control of your financial destiny. You consciously decide where your money will be spent rather than wondering what happened to all the money you earned over the years.
So that is why I don’t do budgets. Instead, I create healthy spending plans. This, in turn, allows me to transform my clients’ lives. If you know anybody who has a financial New Year’s Resolution, please have them contact us so they can finally achieve their goals this year. Happy New Year!
- Published in Spending Plan
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
It can be easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday season… going into credit card debt of course! Kidding aside, it is very easy to overspend during the holidays because we are in a generous mood, and it seems like every company in the world is trying to get us to spend our hard earned money. This is probably why 37% of people said that going into debt is one of the top 5 causes of holiday stress. It doesn’t have to be a stressful time if you put some thought into it ahead of time and set some parameters for yourself. Below are four things you can do to give wisely this holiday season.
Make a List. It’s amazing how powerful it is to make a list before you go gift shopping for the holidays. I recommend you make a list that includes everyone you are buying a gift for and the amount you plan to spend per person, then add it up. If the total amount is too much, then make some adjustments before you start buying presents.
Don’t Use Your Credit Card. If you only use cash or your debit card this holiday season, then it will be very difficult for you to get into credit card debt. Think about it… do you really need to go into debt to buy things for the loved ones in your life? Is there a way for you to be more thoughtful about your giving and at the same time spend less? The people who truly love you probably don’t want you to be stressed out about your credit card debt.
Give What They Want. Give to the loved ones in your life how they want to be given to. You have to know your audience when you are giving. For example, my wife and I took the Love Languages test and ranked “Receiving Gifts” very low, so showering each other with gifts isn’t the best way to express our love for each other. Instead, we are able to show each other we care in more meaningful and affordable ways. Be very mindful of how to express your love and appreciation to the people in your life… sometimes you don’t need to spend a lot of money for them to know you care.
Charitable Giving. If you are giving money to charity, ensure that most of the money you are donating actually goes toward the cause they are supporting (this article can help you). Also, if you can donate and receive a tax deduction as well, even better! My wife and I give the things we don’t need to Goodwill, which gives us a nice little tax deduction every year. Lastly, check to see if you can get your monetary donation matched to double your contribution (sometimes companies have programs where they do this).
These are just a few tips on how to give wisely this holiday season. If you have some other tips, please share them with us in the comments section below. If you know somebody who went into credit card debt because of their holiday spending, and now needs some direction on how to pay it off, put them in touch with us. Happy holidays!
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Jennifer Rosson for Dr. Budgets
This month we are excited to have Jennifer Rosson as a guest blogger for Dr. Budgets sharing her tips on shopping smart! She is a true expert on shopping. To learn more about Jennifer, check her out at styleyourlifeblog.com. Here are her five ways to save money on your wardrobe…
1) Take a good look at your closet before you shop!
Most people tend to purchase the same type of items again and again… I call this your “uniform”. Because of this, your wardrobe isn’t as adaptable as it should be. What items could you add to grow your wardrobe and make it more versatile? Make a list of these items and look for them when shopping.
2) Think about your Cost Per Wear.
Keep this very simple formula in mind when shopping!
You take the cost of the item and divide it by the number of times it is worn, adding in any maintenance cost (dry cleaning, laundering tailoring).
- Dress on clearance $19.99
- Wore it once (1)
- Dry-cleaned ($5)
- $19.99/1+$5= $24.99
Cost per wear = $24.99
- Designer Jeans $189
- Wear it once a week for 12 months, 52 wears
- washed every other wear $1.00
- $189/52 +$.50 = $4.13
Cost per wear = $4.13
So sometimes those “deals” aren’t really deals at all. Think about this next time you are shopping 🙂
3) Consider shopping consignment.
I love consignment shopping. Find a credible consignment store that carries higher end items. This is a great way to pay up to 70% less on designer and contemporary brands. Closely check for any flaws, fading, etc. because these stores often have a final sale policy.
Two I recommend: The Real Real (online) and My Sisters Closet (San Diego)
4) Shop sale sections.
Okay before you say yes, of course, that’s obvious….
Let me clarify. Shop sale sections at high-end stores and shop with your list (from #1). Many people shop sale sections; the difference is shopping them with direction.
Shop sale sections in stores a level above where you’d typically shop. Why? Because you can get higher quality pieces for the same price you typically pay. Let’s say you typically shop at Banana Republic and you are willing to pay $150 for a dress. Well then head on over to Bloomingdale’s sale section and I assure you will find a higher quality dress for around the same price.
The second thing to keep in mind when shopping sale….
USE YOUR LIST!!! It is not a bargain if you don’t need it!!
Remember cost per wear?
5) Don’t shop out of desperation.
We’ve all been there, you have an interview or event and you have nothing to wear. You rush out the day before and purchase something to get you by. You settle because you couldn’t find something you loved. The result: you don’t feel fabulous at your event because you don’t love your outfit and you will probably never wear it again.
How to you avoid this happening to you? You know your lifestyle, you know what types of events, presentations, and interviews you have in a typical year. When you see a piece of clothing you love and you know you’ll have an occasion to wear it, buy it then! Don’t wait till you have the specific event. The event will come believe me and you’ll already have the perfect piece hanging in your closet!
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Many people probably find it overwhelming to bring some structure and planning to their personal spending. This is probably why only one in three Americans prepare a detailed household budget. This, in turn, is one of the reasons why people are still in debt. If you are a business owner, then this adds another layer of complexity, which is probably why so many small business owners are flying off the seat of their pants when it comes to their finances. When I work with small business owners at Dr. Budgets, there are four things I recommend they do when it comes to organizing their personal and business finances…
1) Separate Personal & Business. Keeping your personal and business finances separate is a critical first step. This starts with simply having a separate checking account for your business, and then using it exclusively for business. If you use a credit card for the business, then having a credit card dedicated exclusively for business expenses is a must (whether it is a business card or a personal card you only use for business). Also, even if you have a very simple business, you want to have both a personal AND business budget.
2) Track Your Spending. You want to track your business expenses using some sort of software. If you have a simple business without much activity, then you can probably get away with using a spreadsheet. As your business grows, consider using bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks. This is so important that clients of Dr. Budgets who are small business owners receive bookkeeping in QuickBooks as part of their coaching package. Also, track your personal expenses. If you have a record of those expenses available, your tax accountant may find that some of those expenses on the personal side can be written off on the business side.
3) Pay Yourself a Salary. Many people who own a small business don’t have a plan on how to pay themselves. As money comes into the business, that money usually is spent on both business and personal expenses. It is important to create some stability in your personal spending by paying yourself a consistent salary (as if you were working a job). Set a reasonable salary that will balance your personal budget, while ensuring that you don’t take too much money from the business. A fine balance has to be stuck here because if you pay yourself too much, your business runs out of money, but if you don’t pay yourself enough then you run out of money on the personal side. I spend a lot of time with my small business owner clients to come up with a salary figure that strikes that balance.
4) Save for Taxes. Many small business owners (especially new business owners) tend to forget to save for taxes. When you are an employee, it’s easy because taxes are taken out of your paycheck before you can spend the money. As a small business owner, you have to put some money away to prepare for the inevitable tax bill. If this habit is built at the very beginning, then it just becomes another “bill” that the business needs to pay every month (by transferring money to your business savings). Unfortunately, many small business owners don’t do this, and then when the inevitable tax bill arrives, they are shocked. Not saving enough money to pay your taxes is an easy way to get into debt as a small business owner, so you must plan for this by setting aside some of your business income every month.
Being a small business owner is a challenge even without factoring in the financial side of things. Doing the four items above can help mitigate some of the stress associated with running a small business. If you know a small business owner who prefers to have an expert look at their spending on the personal and business side, please have them contact us to schedule a consultation. These are only four tips for business owners. Do you have some other ones? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.
- Published in Organization Tips
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
In many ways, No-Spendtember goes against what I teach my clients. In general, Dr. Budgets is not about cutting out the things you love and drastically cutting your spending. However, what I like about No-Spendtember is that it is like a spending “cleanse,” and by participating in “No Spendtember,” you see how freely you spend your money on things that aren’t that important to you. The side benefit is that you can jump-start your debt repayment or savings goals by participating in a one-month spending cleanse. No-Spendtember really challenges you to plan ahead and to get creative… two habits that can save you lots of money with a little effort. Here’s how:
Plan Ahead. How many times do you know you are going to attend a birthday party, but you put off buying a gift until you are on your way? Then, you pick up the gift (say, $35) but you also need a card ($5), a gift bag ($3), and tissue paper ($2). You know the gift could have been purchased online for $25 if you had ordered it ahead of time, and then you could have used a reused gift bag and tissue paper you had from the last time you purchased a gift last minute. And the best greeting cards are either handmade or purchased from Trader Joe’s (99 cents!) or Home Goods (their fancy cards are HALF the cost of a regular card at Target). All of which would have saved you $15-$20! Do that once or twice a month over the year and it starts to add up! Another scenario where planning ahead saves you money: packing snacks and water for a day at the zoo, park, ballgame, airport, etc. can easily save you $40 for a small family. Planning ahead definitely saves you money!
Get Creative. Often, spending money is an easy solution to lots of life’s situations. I have found, if you take a little time to get creative, you can solve a problem or improve your life without spending money (or without spending a lot of money). For example, say you want to buy a new kitchen appliance (let’s say a juicer). You could jump on Amazon or head to the mall to pay full price, and then likely be upsold or give into an impulse buy and spend even more money! Then, you may not even use it as often as you thought you would and regret the purchase entirely. An alternative might be to borrow the appliance from a friend or family member to try it out for a week. If you love it and still want to buy one of your own, maybe you can find a discounted one on Craigslist or eBay (and save some money purchasing it from people who didn’t end up using it as often as they thought they would!). Another scenario where getting creative saves money is getting friends together for a potluck at your house instead of going out to dinner at a restaurant. You can easily save $50-$100 by doing that, and you’re able to let the wine flow freely!
The challenge to not spend money for a month during No-Spendtember simply encourages you to plan ahead and get creative, which in turn builds good habits that you can use all year. What are some ways you’ve planned ahead or gotten creative to save money?
- Published in Spend Wisely
By Jeannie & Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
This month we wanted to write something from our perspective as brand new parents. Our daughter just turned three months old, and we couldn’t be happier (tired, but happy :-)). Since this is a money-focused blog, we want to share with you our 5 initial thoughts on having our first child as it pertains to money…
Plan Ahead. Before the pregnancy, we started to think about how to structure our health insurance and how much to put into our Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Timing obviously helps with this…we found out we were pregnant in September, and open enrollment was in November. We switched over to a lower deductible and lower out-of-pocket maximum health insurance plan and maxed out our FSA to take full advantage of what was offered through work.
Disability & Paid Family Leave. We live in California, which is very generous when it comes to maternity leave. Figuring out how to get disability and paid family leave benefits can be confusing though! There are no clear step-by-step instructions on how to obtain leave and it can be frustrating. For those who are eligible, you can receive up to four weeks paid short-term disability (State Disability Insurance or “SDI”) before the baby comes, and six weeks after (eight weeks if you had a cesarean section). The four weeks of pre-delivery leave can only be used before the baby arrives, so plan accordingly. Then, at the completion of SDI, you’re eligible for Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with your child. You can get six weeks PFL – and if your significant other pays into SDI with his/her job, then they’re eligible for six weeks paid bonding time too! Also, you don’t have to use the six weeks consecutively… you can use chunks of time up to a year after the baby’s birth day.
Something neat that we learned was that you can transfer your benefit amount from the Visa prepaid card to your bank account automatically! Since things tend to change often, your best bet is to Google instructions on how to do this. For us, receiving this money allowed us to spend just over three months with our newborn daughter, and that time with her and each other was priceless.
Discount on Hospital Bill. It takes a while for the hospital and insurance company to work out the bills on their end before you get a bill for what you owe. And, with everything going on with having a newborn at home, the bills might keep getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list (below “keep baby alive” and “brush teeth”). If you don’t pay your bills right away, don’t be surprised if you get a call from the hospital billing department about payment. If you do hear from them, be honest about your situation. They might be in a position to offer 20% off your bill (which they did with us!) and/or set up a payment plan.
Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime was convenient before having a baby. If you are unexpectedly at the hospital three weeks before your baby is due, then Amazon Prime becomes a savior! If you are an Amazon Prime member and create a registry on Amazon, you get 15% off eligible items remaining on your registry. As labor began, we used the one-time 15% off discount to order the things we needed for the baby from the hospital room. When we arrived back home a few days later, we had a mountain of boxes waiting for us on our front porch! Also, with Amazon Prime you get free two-day shipping (and, sometimes, free ONE-day shipping), so we didn’t go crazy buying things we weren’t sure we would need before the baby came – we knew that if we needed an item, it was only a few clicks away. This saved us money by limiting what we bought before the baby arrived.
Cloth Diapers. We love cloth diapers! They are cute, cost effective, and eliminate a ton of diapers from ending up in a landfill. Yes, it is a little more work having to wash and dry them, but well worth it for us. We estimate the cost savings here to be minimal the first year (we had to purchase the diapers after all), but upwards of $400 for the second year, and potentially thousands for the future child(ren) we wish to have.
Those are our 5 initial thoughts on having our first child. If you know someone who is pregnant or just had a baby and wants some coaching on how to adjust their budget after this big life change, have them contact us or schedule a complimentary consultation. Happy parenting!
- Published in Family
By Daniel Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets
Do you feel you have so much debt that you will never pay it off? Do you want to travel more without feeling guilty about going deeper into debt to do it? Teresa* had been in debt most of her life and decided she no longer wanted to live with it. Here is the story of her journey…
I am a single woman and I have a son in college who I support. I have a good job and income, but I couldn’t figure out how to stay out of debt. There were times when I would pay it off, but I would quickly get myself back into debt. About 10 years ago I heard about Dave Ramsey, and I thought “this is what I have to do to pay off debt.” So I created my budget and tried to save the $1,000 for my starter emergency fund, but something always came up financially and I could never do it.
When I was deployed, I managed to pay off all my debt and then I bought a house. That’s when my debt snowballed! Closing costs were more than expected, and then everything after that just seemed like a drop in the bucket. My thinking was “what’s another $5,000?”, so I just kept spending.
Between school loans, two car loans, credit cards and a loan against my 401k, I owed over $40,000.
One day, I decided to seek out a financial advisor to help me. He told me he couldn’t help me until I had some money saved. Since I always owed money, I couldn’t work with a financial advisor to invest money and get ahead. I told him I needed somebody to hold me accountable for my spending, so he referred me to Dr. Budgets.
Deciding to Work with Dr. Budgets
When I retired from the military, it was scary not knowing what my next job would be. On top of that, I owed money which was really scary! I wanted to get out of debt for the security. Also, I learned from Dave Ramsey that I was paying interest on the debt that I would rather have in my savings, where it could earn me money.
I contacted Daniel and he described his services – it sounded exactly like what I needed. It was nice to have been referred to Dr. Budgets.
Working with Dr. Budgets
The first meeting was great. I couldn’t wait to get started! After that meeting, he reviewed my spending and came up with my budget, and then we met to discuss the spending plan. I had my little spreadsheet budget that I had created and I thought I’d get something similar from him, but his was so much better!
When I created my own budget, I had just guessed how much I was spending in each category… “this much on groceries” and “that much on my home,” but it wasn’t based on anything. When he actually looked at my spending, he said I needed to increase my grocery budget – I had no idea! He also added categories so it was a more accurate reflection of what I was spending. I loved that the budget was on track and I wasn’t having to readjust it every month because the numbers were now reflecting reality – Daniel was tracking it and reporting back. When I had created a budget before, I set an amount I thought was correct for each category and then I’d adjust it as I overspent. I learned from Dr. Budgets that is not how budgets work!
My favorite thing was the Goal Tracker! Although, at first it was depressing because the first month the debt number just goes down a little. But as I was putting more toward my debt, it started getting exciting and I looked forward to seeing it; I’d print it out every month and put it up at work where only I could see it.
The two biggest things I got from working with Dr. Budgets were the accountability and the advice. It was a tremendous comfort having somebody review and discuss my spending with me. I was able to use him as a “scapegoat” a few times because I like to consult him before any major purchase. This ended up saving me big when a roofing salesman came to my door once and told me I needed a new roof. He was very high-pressure, but I told him that I had to talk to my budget guy. I had to say it over and over! When I talked to Daniel about it, he encouraged me to look into the firm and it turned out they were not very reputable. They were so high pressure, if I didn’t have Dr. Budgets as an excuse, I might have signed up and that would have probably been a big mistake!
It was hard sometimes to stick with my budget. My friends would tell me I deserved to buy nice things, but I told myself I deserved to be debt free.
I was able to pay off the $40,000 in less than two years! I also took a trip to Japan and it was my first “debt free” trip. In the past, I would charge the airfare and the hotel on my credit card, but this time, it was all paid for.
I recently got into a car accident and realized that before Dr. Budgets something like that would have been a crisis for me. This time, I had money to pay the deductible, so it wasn’t a big deal. Also, I believe a new car payment would have triggered a spending spree for me because my attitude before was always “what’s a few more thousand dollars?” – I know I would have bought new furniture.
And I succeeded in another way: I’m thinking about money totally differently now. As we worked together, something would come up and I would approach Daniel with the solution. Coming up with a solution to a money problem on my own was something I would have never done before – I would just spend, spend, spend. Working with Daniel has inspired me to make my own big financial decisions in a way that doesn’t put me in debt again.
What would you tell someone in a similar situation to yours about Dr. Budgets?
I would tell them that working with a money coach is probably nothing like they imagine it would be. Daniel was so helpful and he worked with me. Some people say they don’t want to be restricted by having a money coach, but I want to say “you’re already restricted!” I don’t feel deprived because I know the money will be there to buy the things I want soon.
I know people who would benefit from working with a money coach, but they say they don’t want to spend the money to get out of debt because they’d rather spend the money on buying something – I want to tell them that’s backward!
Lastly, I’d tell people that my dogs never suffered 🙂 That’s to say, Daniel didn’t come in and say I had to stop doggy day care or spoiling my dogs. He made it work by helping me identify my priorities, which simply meant I spent a little less in other categories. I paid off my debt and built up my savings – and my dogs got to keep up their lifestyle!
Watching someone pay off over $40,000 in debt in less than two years is inspirational to me, and I hope it is to you too…especially if you are in debt and feel you will never get out of it. Thank you for sharing your success story with our readers, Teresa! If Teresa has inspired you to get out of debt and you need some guidance, please contact us or schedule your complimentary consultation.
*For client confidentiality, we changed the name of the person to “Teresa.” Everything else is factual.
- Published in Success Stories