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Being Cheap vs. Being Frugal

Being Cheap vs. Being Frugal

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There is a huge difference between being cheap, and being frugal. These two words get used interchangeably, when they really are completely different. Yes, there are some things that will cross lines, but for the most part they are very different.

Being Cheap

Cheap means that you never spend any money and watch your money very closely. When you are cheap you spend the least amount of money.

When shopping, you simply are looking for the cheapest cost. When in reality there are many other pieces in play when determining “cost.”

Being cheap is usually driven from a place of scarcity or necessity. You don’t feel in control of your money, so you feel you must hold onto it.

Being Frugal

Being frugal comes from a place of abundance. You have power over your money and know exactly where it is going.

Instead of thinking solely about price, you take into consideration multiple value points. You think about cost, you think about how it helps others, you think about how long it will last.

These are just a few points, but you get the idea. Being frugal is being wise with your money and consciously choosing to be frugal with it.

Being Frugal vs. Being Cheap

An example of the difference between being cheap vs. being frugal that I experienced was bringing water to work. I would buy the cheapest water bottles I could find to refill when I was on the go in graduate school.

I was busy. I worked 8-3 and then had class from 4-7 every single day. I was working full time and attending school full time and making a measly $1,000/month on average.

What I found was that I was needing to buy new ones regularly because they were constantly breaking. I was living in a scarcity mindset because I didn’t have any extra cash each month.

Once I graduated, got my teaching job, and got my finances in order, I was able to move towards an abundance mindset. I no longer needed to live in this scarcity area.

I was able to see the other value points once I moved to an abundance mindset. My low cost water bottles I realized didn’t have much value because they were constantly breaking.

I took this into consideration, along with that they were always made from plastic, and researched higher value water bottles. Now, I’ve had mine for 3 years and it has dents and scratches, but it still serves the purpose of holding water.

This is just one example, but it serves as a reminder that there is a difference between being cheap and being frugal. It is all about the mindset you are currently living from. What are your thoughts about being cheap vs. being frugal?

 

Debt

Mini Series Part 1: How to Tackle Your Student Loans

In this four part mini series you will find all the tips to tackle your student loans regardless of where you are in the process. Student loans affect almost everyone now, which is a very sad reality. From the time a person graduates high school, it’s usually an issue in their life. So, I’m starting this mini series with tips for before you go to college and ending it with tips for after you graduate and have entered repayment.

Mini Series Part 2: While You’re in School

Mini Series Part 3: Before You Graduate

Mini Series Part 4: After You Graduate

Mini Series Part 1_ How to Tackle Your Student Loans
Before I went to college, I had no idea I would end up having roughly $200k in student loans 5 years and 2 degrees later. My parents always told me that I would need to take out some loans, but they were going to able to help me with school. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help me with school as much as I thought. I’m not saying I expected my degrees to be paid for by my parents, I never once expected them to give me a dime, until they told me they would. Here are a few things I wish I had known and done before I began my higher education and student loan journey.

1. Know your financial situation completely

This is the biggest one for me. I did not fully know my parents financial situation and didn’t ask for details about what it meant for them to help with school. Unfortunately, I did not get much financial aid because the FAFSA is filed based on your parents income and finances, not mine. This is why it is so important to understand how your education will be paid for. Don’t do what I did and not ask questions. Be specific with your parents about how this is getting paid for. This is a HUGE financial decision and since it’s all based on your parents finances (usually), it’s important to understand how it will be paid for.

2. Seek out advice on filling out the FAFSA

Usually your high school has someone to talk to about filling out the form, but it is best to talk to an expert on how to fill the form out. It’s a pretty straight forward form, but there’s some things they don’t need to know and other things they absolutely need to know. My best advice is to seek out an expert on what the form absolutely needs to have on it because it determines how much financial aid you are going to get. Unfortunately, my mom took responsibility for all of this for me, which at the time was wonderful for me, I didn’t need to deal with it. But once my sister and I received practically no financial aid, we talked to an expert. He quickly told us we provided a lot of unnecessary information, which made our financial situation look very different from what it actually was.

3. Choose your university wisely

If I could go back to when I was applying to colleges, and knew what I know now, I might not have picked the university I went to. It’s very hard to say that after the amazing program I went through. However, it was incredibly expensive and far from home. I could have gone to a closer university and commuted, saving me a lot of money. Of course, I went to a university that has the #1 program for teaching, so would I have landed a teaching job so quickly after graduation had I not done the program, that’s the tricky part. You will never know what will happen in the future, but my advice to you is to avoid having to go into a ton of debt, like I’m currently in.

4. Apply to every scholarship you can find

I made the mistake of not applying to a lot of scholarships because I thought I had no chance of getting it. What I have learned since then is that some scholarships aren’t given out because no one applied to them. That could have been money for my college education. I learned in grad school that you NEED to tell people your situation in order to get the help you need. In our society people don’t talk about their debt or financial situation, but that’s exactly what you need to do. Once I confided in the grad recruiter that I was drowning in debt, she called the right people and within a week I had an email saying I earned a scholarship. Of course, I had done a lot of work for my school in undergrad and my grad studies at that point, which definitely paid off.

5. Take out the maximum amount of federal loans you can before private

Federal and private loans are very different. Federal loans have some loan forgiveness programs, usually lower interest rates and offer a bunch of options for repayment. Private loans have no forgiveness options usually, limited or no payment options, and usually very high interest rates. Stick with federal loans if you can, you’ll be happy you did when repayment time comes along!

The next part of this mini series will explain some tips for when you’re in school. What are some tips you have for tackling student loans before you start school?

Saving Money

Frugal Date Ideas

Frugal Date Ideas

As a twenty something it can be a bit challenging to be on a debt free journey because most twenty somethings aren’t doing anything like this. Most are out exploring new cities, traveling the world, and trying out the newest restaurants. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things because I have totally done this by putting it into the budget or cash flowing a frugal vacation. A really tough area in the budget is finding date ideas that aren’t going to break the budget. I know I struggle with this a lot and I feel like I finally have a handle on ways to enjoy date night without completely blowing the budget.

Frugal Date Idea #1 Go For a Hike

I love being outside and I love being active. One of my favorite date ideas is going hiking because it’s free other than gas and it’s great exercise. I always pack a backpack before heading out with snacks and drinks so we aren’t tempted to buy anything.

Frugal Date Idea #2 Movie Night

It’s so much fun to go to the movies, but sooo expensive. I can’t believe how much they charge at the movies now, it’s absolutely mind blowing. But, it is fun watching the new movies. Of course, you won’t get to see movies as soon as they come out, but having a movie night at home can be super enjoyable. Make lots of popcorn, get drinks ready, and enjoy a great movie together. Even better, you can wear pajamas! 🙂

Frugal Date Idea #3 Cook Dinner Together

Of course it’s always enjoyable to go out to eat, but it can very quickly become expensive for just one meal. It’s so much cheaper to cook a meal at home and enjoy it together. This way you can control the cost based on your budget and control the ingredients. This makes it better for your budget and your health.

Frugal Date Idea #4 Go to the Beach

This can get expensive if you don’t prepare properly. But, pack a cooler full of food, snacks, and drinks and that should make it much more affordable. Also, parking can be very expensive, but if you park a little further, it’s usually cheaper and if you invite another couple to come with then you can split parking.

Frugal Date Idea #5 Work Out Together

Yes, this isn’t the most romantic date, but it is so much fun working out together. Whether it’s a run outside or lifting at the gym, it just feels good to be doing something healthy together.

Frugal Date Idea #6 Free Concerts

My town offers free concerts in the park, check out to see if yours does the same. It’s a great way to get out of the house and enjoy some music.

Frugal Date Idea #7 Go For a Picnic

Pack a picnic and head to a park you’ve both never been to. Then you can explore the area afterwards.

Frugal Date Idea #8 Play Board Games

Get a bottle of wine and your favorite board games from your childhood to play together.

It can be fun just thinking of frugal date ideas or ways to have fun without spending a ton. Surprisingly, most activities can be done for a lot less money if you just get creative with how you’re thinking about it. What are some frugal date ideas you have?

Saving Money

5 Tips to Save Money on Gas

5 Tips to Save Money on Gas

This post may contain affiliate links. Check out my Disclosure Policy for more information.

The summer months usually mean more driving because of the beautiful weather and usually some time off. Unfortunately, gas companies know this and hike their prices up so kindly. Currently, gas prices continue to climb and I’ve been finding myself going over budget basically every month because it keeps increasing. Because of this, I have been focusing more on ways to save money on gas.

1. Don’t Buy Cheap to Save Money on Gas.

I know. This sounds counter productive. But, I learned the hard way the importance of good gas. I’m all about convenience when it comes to gas. So, I always bought gas from the same two gas stations that I passed on my way to work. It was also nice that the price was low. To me, gas is gas and I had no idea that there actually is a difference in quality. My car was running terribly for the last 4 years and the dealership couldn’t figure it out, they just kept replacing the muffler, 3 times, with the issues still happening. Finally, they realized it was due to bad gas and I needed new fuel injectors. Thankfully, they replaced these for free because they had failed to diagnosis the problem for so many years. Now that I am paying more for quality gas, I am noticing that I am getting better gas mileage and I know my car will run better in general.

2. Slow Down to Save Money on Gas.

This has made my gas go so much further for me. I try to keep my speed under 70 MPH on the highway now (I do live in NJ, so this makes me a snail on the highway lol!). It has allowed me to go from averaging 22 MPG to 28 MPG, obviously this in combined with all my tips, but slowing down on the highway has helped the most!

3. Slowly Accelerate to Save Money on Gas.

Along with tip #2, this has also helped me a lot making my gas go further. Whenever I need to accelerate I always do it slowly to burn less gas. Obviously, when you are accelerating it’s going to burn more gas, but by going slowly it helps in lower the amount.

4. Monitor Your MPG to Save Money on Gas.

My car has this wonderful little feature the tells me my MPG and it helps me so much. Whenever I see the number go down I know I am using more gas and maybe I need to adjust how I am driving. I’m a totally visual person, so having this constant reminder is super helpful. If your car doesn’t have this, you can calculate your own MPG when you have the chance.

5. Use a Rewards Card to Save Money on Gas.

One of the best ways I make gas more affordable is by using a rewards credit card (Find out why I use credit cards throughout my debt free journey here). Of course, the only way that this is beneficial and actually saves you money is if you pay your balance in full each month. If you have had credit card debt in the past, I definitely don’t recommend you opening an account just for rewards. It just isn’t worth it. I personally use the Chase Freedom card, which has rotating categories each quarter. The summer is 5% cash back on gas stations, which means I earn money back with each transaction.

These are the tips I have found to save me the most money on gas. I hope these tips can help you to save money on gas. What are some things you have done to save money on gas?

Saving Money

Tips to Make Your Fourth of July Cost Less

Tips to Make Your Fourth of July Cost Less

Holidays usually mean spending money, especially a summer holiday like the Fourth of July. Some people take advantage of the time off from work and head out on vacation. Some people have BBQs to celebrate the occasion. Even though money usually gets spent on holidays, it doesn’t mean a lot has to be. I’m definitely not saying staying home and binge Netflix to save money. Come on, I’m a twenty something, I definitely think you should be enjoying the fun holiday, especially since it’s the Fourth of July! Here are some tips I have for you to spend less this Fourth of July while still having fun!

1. Attend or have a BBQ.

BBQs are the best for the budget. The food you have at a BBQ is generally speaking cheap when you buy it in bulk. If you’re having the BBQ have everyone bring something potluck style, and if you’re attending, then you bring something to share. Potlucks of any kind are my fave during this journey because you get to eat lots of yummy food and socialize, but you don’t have the high cost of going out.

2. BYOB.

The fourth tends to be a holiday that include drinking, which obviously can get expensive. When I go to a BBQ I usually bring myself a couple of drinks and that’s it. Yes, I’m the girl bringing loose cans to a party, but I don’t care! I can’t drink much and this way I can stretch that 6 or 12 pack over multiple occasions.

3. Free fireworks.

With a quick google search you can find local, free fireworks in your area. Yes, setting off your own and having sparklers is a lot of fun, but it does cost money. The free fireworks are usually pretty great and much bigger than you can buy.

What are some tips you have to save money on the Fourth of July?

Making Money

How to Make More Money in Side Hustles

How to Make More Money in Side Hustles

I started researching about paying off debt when I was in grad school in 2015. When I graduated, I got serious about paying off my debt. I had my budget under control for the most part, but knew I needed to make more money than my teaching salary to really make some movement in my debt free journey. That was November of 2015 and I started to brainstorm how I could make more money and now, almost 3 years later, I’m averaging between $1,200 and $1,500 extra every month just from my side hustles. Now I can live off of my side hustle money with some left over, making my paycheck from my teaching job completely go to debt. Follow my steps to increase your side hustle income.

1. Be realistic with your schedule.

When I decided I wanted to make more money, I sat down and figured out when I could realistically be available for side hustles. It’s important to know your schedule and what you can realistically do because that will help you figure out what side hustles you can do. It’s also important to not stretch yourself too thin, make sure you provide yourself with enough time to take care of yourself. Increasing income is important, but your health is so much more important.

2. List out all of your passions.

This is one of the most important parts of truly making side hustles work. I work a lot of extra hours and if I didn’t love my side hustles, I’d never want to be doing it. Sure, you can find jobs to just make money, that’s definitely going to work, but when you start adding a lot of extra hours, you’re going to burn out if you hate it. I tutor in many different ways, babysit, and blog. I love all of them, so when I work an extra 20 hours a week in my side hustles, I don’t mind as much. Once you have your list, figure out if there are any ways to turn your passions into side hustles.

3. Find multiple side hustles.

The biggest change I made to increase my income was diversifying my side hustle income streams. Sure, I was making some money from tutoring privately, but once I added other streams, my income tripled from my side hustles. I found more ways to tutor that allowed me to make more money, but not add a ton of extra work on my part outside the actual tutoring time.

4. Get creative with your time.

Once I started looking at my time differently, I was able to find more time in my day to double dip on my side hustles. For example, my school was in need of after school reading tutors and 30 minutes of the program were during my required contract time anyway. So, I got paid extra when I already needed to be there. Another way is when I’m babysitting and the kids have gone to bed, I work on my blog.

These are some of the ways that I have found to make more money in side hustles. I love having multiple side hustles jobs and it truly has changed my debt free journey complete. Without side hustles, I would still be looking at a debt free date of my 31st birthday when now I’m pushing to be debt free by my 29th, maybe even get it before then. What are your best side hustle tips?

Saving Money

Buying in Bulk (Even Though I’m Single)

Buying in Bulk

Throughout this process I have found many ways to cut my spending, which is one of the ways to increase your wealth (or in my case, pay off my student loans). In order to make more money, you need to cut spending, increase your income, or do a combination of the two, which is what I have been doing. I’ve added many different streams of income that have allowed me to now live on my side hustle income and then put some towards my debt on top of my salary. But one of the best ways I have saved money is by buying in bulk, even though it’s just me, myself and I.

Now, this might sound crazy, but it really does save me a decent amount each month by buying the family size or bulk size. The reason this works is because the prices are almost always lower on the bulk and family size of products. To save even more money, you can buy the generic version of the bulk products. So, if you’re only buying for one, you really get a great deal from it, as long as you are smart about the items you buy in bulk.

Obviously there are certain things you just aren’t going to buy in bulk because you just can’t use them fast enough. For me, I never buy my greens in bulk, like spinach. This is because I can never use it before it goes bad. There is nothing worse than throwing out food. I feel like I’m just tossing my money in the garbage every time I have to.

There is a way to get around this and this one thing will be your best friend when buying in bulk, your freezer. I put everything in the freezer, it’s such an incredible way to stretch your grocery budget when buying in bulk. I always bulk buy things that can be put in the freezer and easily thawed. Another thing I like to do is freeze any fruits and veggies before they go bad. I find it so easy to throw some smoothie bags together of foods that are about to go bad. This way the food is saved and I can quickly make a smoothie just by dumping the bag into the blender.

Buying in bulk has allowed me to add extra savings to my grocery budget every single month. The less I spend, the more money I can put to my student loans. Every little bit counts. Do you buy in bulk? How has it helped your grocery budget?