Happy Veterans Day

The FrugalSource would like to take a moment to thank our brave men and women in uniform for all they do for our country.  I, Mrs.FrugalSource spent several years working at VA Hospital and it was the best job I ever had. I was deeply touched by the many sacrifices and stories that I was honored to witness during my time there and it has forever changed the way I view the world and those that work tirelessly to protect our part of it. We are extremely grateful.

Below are a few links to sites listing numerous discounts and freebies that our offered for these brave men and women.  We hope all veterans will take advantage of as many as possible.

Veterans Day Freebies

Veterans Day Discounts

Veterans Day Sales, Deals, and Free Meals.

Celebrating Christmas on a Budget

It’s not about the money we spend…

Budget.  That is not a word that most people like to use when they discuss their holiday plans.  Our society constantly shows us that the holidays are meant for excess in every single way; gifts, meals, celebrations, excursions, decorations, desserts and adult beverages just to name a few.

We have come to a point in our society that we need to step back and take a good look at why we are taking a religious holiday and turning into a circus. The holy days are such a beautiful time in the year and can be enjoyed while creating wonderful memories, even on a budget.

While raising our kids, we have always been on a budget, trying to dig ourselves out of medical debt and now our mortgage. So, over the years, I’ve needed to be creative and come up with ways to enjoy the season without breaking the bank.

I have shared many of the ways that we celebrated the Christmas season with our family in our new book, “Frugal Seeds Christmas Edition: 101 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season on a Budget”.  It is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook and can be read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

Wishing you a happy and budget friendly holiday season.

who doesn’t love a list?

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
– Unknown

There is something about lists that make me intrinsically happy. I actually enjoy writing down what I hope to accomplish over a specific period of time, be it that day or 5 years from now.

These lists allow me to plan and to dump all the thoughts bouncing around in my mind and free up space. But what I enjoy doing even more than writing out a list is crossing things off. Yep, I actually get a small rush of happiness each time I take my pen and make a horizontal line through the achievement written on my index card, which is now my preferred way to write out my lists (using both sides, of course). Sure, I could create a list on my phone but then that would deprive me of drawing a line, and that is more than half the fun of creating a list in the first place.

What does creating list have to do with finances? Quite a lot, actually.  In order to reach our goals, we need to have a plan.  You can try to walk around all day with all of your goals rattling around in your head, or you can write them down.  Just the act of writing down your goals makes them more real.  According to a 2016 study by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, you are 42% more likely to reach your goals and dreams if you write them down on a regular basis.

Should you be a slave to your lists? Absolutely not, but they give us the framework of what we find important, our priorities for the day.  And it is in our daily activities and consistent behaviors they allow us to win with our money.

I have found the following lists helpful while digging out of debt:

  • grocery lists – stay focused in the store so we purchase only what is needed
  • book lists – keeps me focused on what I want and need to read instead of getting off track with something with a catchy title
  • daily lists – what i would like to accomplish that day in order to keep moving toward my goals
  • financial lists – lists of goals for 1, 5 and 10 years; without these goals you have no idea what you are trying to accomplish with your finances
  • personal lists – areas that I would like to enhance in my life, such as learning new skills
  • spiritual goals – it is my firm belief that we are all spiritual beings and our highest calling is to help others in their life’s journey
  • house list – similar to a grocery list, but helps Mr. Frugal Source stay focused when surrounded by all the tools he didn’t know he needed at the local big box store

Lists make the world, at least my small world, a much better place as they free my mind to think about the most important things in life.

As always, we want to hear from you. We’d love it if you’d take a moment to comment about what you do to keep yourself focused and stay on track to your goals.

Home Again, Home Again (and Again, and Again)

Home is where the heart (and most of the expense) is.

Of our many mistakes with money, one that is particularly ironic has to do with housing. The irony is due to the fact that our mortgages have been, by far, our largest debts in our lifetime. Yet, by having had so many of them — each with a break in between — we’ve been temporarily debt free several times.

By the time we had been married for 20 years, we had purchased our fourth house with our fourth 30 year mortgage. It’s not like we’ve ever had to move due to some compelling outside reason like a job transfer or being closer to an ailing loved one. In fact, none of our homes has ever been outside a ten-mile radius from our first. Each time, we had different reasons that prompted us to leave. They were generally the wrong reasons and, being honest with ourselves, they generally shared a common theme.

Continue reading “Home Again, Home Again (and Again, and Again)”

It Never Looks the Same Twice

When you look at an intricate painting, you tend to notice different things, depending upon your present perspective and what element currently holds your focus. I’ve learned that hindsight is very similar; events look very different as the lens through which you view them evolves. When I started sharing my experience leaving a pension behind, I ended with the question “would I do it again?”. In that post, I was focused on the long-term financial impact. I do realize even pensions aren’t guaranteed; in fact, the one I left had already ended as a benefit for new hires, though it is still in force to this day for those who were already covered. This knowledge made gauging the financial impact of leaving pretty straightforward. Even though financial ramifications are certainly of great import and, likely of great interest to those reading this blog, they are just one piece of the puzzle.

Continue reading “It Never Looks the Same Twice”

Unintended Consequences

While cashing in the 401k was probably the most blatantly stupid financial decision, another decision Mr. Frugal Source made for the wrong reasons is in competition for the greatest negative impact on our ability to retire “early”, and possibly eclipses it.

When I was a relative youngster (mid 20s), I found a secure job writing software for a bank. This was the same job I left just before cashing out the 401k. The cash-out notwithstanding, the decision to leave that employer, in it’s own right, hugely impacted our retirement timeline. Why is that? One word. Pension.

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That thing you should never do? Yeah, we did it.

We have made TONS of financial mistakes over the years; so many, in fact, that when we reflect upon our past, it is a miracle that we are free from consumer debt and continue to pay additional principal on our mortgage every month.

Over the next several months we will be sharing our biggest mistakes. We aren’t doing this because we want to beat ourselves up and relive the decisions we wish we could take back, but because we sincerely hope we can help someone else from making the same mistakes.

Neither of us was raised in a family where financial matters were discussed, let alone healthy financial attitudes and strategies encouraged. This is not to lay blame, but to set the stage that we have, for the most part, been figuring this out on our own. In most cases, we failed to seek — and when we did seek, we often did not find — wise counsel. We find ourselves reflecting on our past and say, what if?  It is not helpful, but when we think about retirement, which is creeping up much faster than we would like to admit, it sometimes can’t be avoided.

If you’ve not already “been there and done that” allow us to present our own experiences as cautionary tales.

Continue reading “That thing you should never do? Yeah, we did it.”

Low-cost Fall Activities

Autumn is my favorite time of year, and if you spend any time on social media, it seems many feel the same way. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season are a delight to the senses and the weather is perfection in my book.

This is the time of year when I feel at my best, and I appreciate being able to spend more time outside. I love having the windows open and being able to cook without worrying about running up the electric bill while the AC beats back the heat from the kitchen.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite low cost fall activities:

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Baby Step #7 – Build Wealth and Give

Give freely of your time; it is far more valuable than any amount of money.

We have finally reached the very last baby step. And if you personally have or will soon arrive at this step, congratulations! It takes an incredible amount of work and dedication to get here, and you deserve to sit back and enjoy this part of the ride.

Even if you’ve been investing 15% or more, have set aside enough to help your kids get through college debt free (we think they should pitch in; it’s good to have “skin in the game”), you still may not be in a position to give much more financially than you have been throughout the process, and that’s okay. While we think you should certainly give whatever you can, and hope that your ability to give financially continues to increase over time, there are so many other ways you can give that may have an even bigger impact on the lives of others.

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Baby Step #6 – Pay Off the House Early

In our last post, we discussed baby step #5 and mentioned how steps 4, 5 and 6 are to be worked on simultaneously. And, that it is our humble opinion, steps 4 (investing 15%) and 6 should take precedent over saving for your children’s college (step #5).

Now, on to the debate that every single personal finance blog has touched on at least once; do you pay off your home early or invest more money? Which one will be better, financially speaking, in the long run. There are a ridiculous number of variables to consider: Do you plan on staying in your home long term? What is the interest rate of your mortgage? How much is your home worth? How much principal do you have remaining to pay off? What return do you expect on your investments? How soon do you plan to retire? What do you anticipate the rate of inflation will be? It’s enough to make you dizzy.

Continue reading “Baby Step #6 – Pay Off the House Early”