We are so thrilled to be welcoming another fabulous guest writer, Selena, who is sharing 6 tips to help us dream BIG on a budget. Love that! Take it away, Selena!
Creative financing…sounds fun, right? Maybe even glamorous. I can tell you it is far from glamorous! However, when applied consistently and with goals and dreams in mind, it is incredibly rewarding.
I think it’s important to discuss what exactly creative financing means. I don’t know if Webster would agree, but here’s what it means to me and my family….
Creative financing – An ability to live within one’s means in order to live up to financial responsibilities while creating memories and achieving dreams. Albeit altered dreams perhaps, as your financial situation changes – but dreams nevertheless.
I didn’t even begin to write this article until “B” Day. Nope. Not a birthday…Bill Day. This way everything that is poured into the creative portion of our financial situation is fresh in my head and I can share it with all of you. Why me? What kind of training do I have in creative financing? Well, I have an MBA from an esteemed business school…which in no way could have prepared me for the amount of creativity necessary to achieve my dreams. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to change your thought process when it comes to your finances.
At this point, you may be thinking..”Wow…what lofty dreams did you have that require this much financial creativity?” Lofty? Nope. Dream of a lifetime? Yep! My dream was to quit my job in banking and stay home with my four precious, amazing babies. But, I also realize that everyone’s dreams are different. Maybe it’s to travel, buy a bigger home, a new car, adopt a child, etc….whatever your dream is you can get to it and even blow past it to the next dream…with a little creativity.
When I was pregnant with our 4th baby, we decided I would not be returning to work from maternity leave. We knew then that we needed to cut some of our monthly expenses to make that happen. The very first thing we did was to review our spreadsheet of our bills in order to see where we could make some cuts. (If you don’t have a bill spreadsheet, I highly recommend you create one. There is nothing like seeing your money flowing in and out of your account in black and white to put things in perspective for you.) The following is a list of 6 areas in our home (and I’m sure yours as well) where I believe it’s fairly simple to take a large amount of money back for you and your family…and ultimately, your dreams!
Rates are incredibly low right now! You may be able to not only lower your interest rate, but also the term of your loan, thereby paying your mortgage off sooner! Who wouldn’t love that???
I would love to sell one of ours and get by with one…but my dear hubby commutes to Chicago…I will sacrifice an extra car payment in order to be able to run to Target & Starbucks occasionally (something I clearly need a self-help program for). But, you may be able to! Review your situation..if you can do it, go for it!
3. Car Insurance
How excited was I when I ditched our standard local insurance agent and went with an online agent? We went from a monthly bill of $153/mo to $67/mo!!!!! It was so simple…had our new policies within 10 minutes!
4. Home Owner’s Policy
If you are a home owner, head to an agent who can locate policies for you – they have a vested interest in shopping for your lowest rate…there will be a fee for their services built into your payments, but that is usually nominal compared to the savings! However, if your auto insurance offers homeowner’s policies, check that out as well…you may be eligible for a multi-line discount!
This one has to be my favorite! Wondering which service to go with? My answer? NONE OF THEM! 🙂 We were paying $102/mo for our cable services. An antenna for your roof costs approx. $85 (one time), thereby providing you local channels for…..FREE!!! For movies we use Netflix which is only $7.99/mo. You would be amazed at how much more quality time you will have with your family when one major electronic distraction is not as enticing! I would never go back to cable (and yes, even my hubby agrees!)
6. Cell Phone
Oh, our beloved cell phones. Remember the days when people had to leave a message on your answering machine and you would call back later? Remember when we thought cell phones that had cameras were “fancy”? So simple. I had a smart phone temporarily. I lost it, never to be found. I could not be more grateful. I, of course, was not going to buy another smart phone because of the expense. Thankfully I was out of contract and promptly transferred my current number to a carrier that offers both pay as you go and unlimited plans for $50/mo. I chose the $50/mo unlimited everything and bought a …wait for it….flip phone for $9.99. Sure, 1995 has called a few times and wants their phone back, but I am keepin’ it! It cut my bill from $102/mo to $50…yes please!! My hubby is lucky enough to have a company-provided work cell phone. So, we canceled his personal phone all together, which cut another $50 from our cell phone budget. All of our cell phone changes put another $102 back in our check book.
As you can see, these are just 6 of the many, many changes you can make! For us, this money goes towards trips to the beach, family camping trips, museum memberships and more (like my Starbucks treats)!
How do you get started? Figure out your dream and what you need to achieve it. Then, get that spreadsheet out and start building your budget! Even just taking a few of these ideas and making them reality can put a few hundred dollars back into your “Dream Budget” each month….dream big!!!!
Thanks, Selena! Those are fantastic, practical tips that any of us can put into practice TODAY to start saving REAL money. We all need that.