How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 Dogs

Traveling with a dog is a lot of fun, but there are some important things to consider so you and your pet are prepared. 

How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 Dogs

How I Travel Full-Time By RV And Boat With My 2 DogsSometimes people think we are crazy for bringing our dogs on our adventures, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. For us, it’s like bringing your kids along, haha! 

Since we’ve been doing this for several years and in so many different ways, I figured I would be a good person to share what it’s like traveling with a dog for anyone who is interested in learning how it’s done.

You might be interested in going on a roadtrip with a dog. Maybe you want to sail or RV full-time with them, or perhaps you just want to take your furry companion on your next week long vacation. 

Whether you want to travel full-time with your pets, or if you want to just go on the occasional trip, hopefully my experiences will help you.

Traveling with a dog has been a huge learning process for me.

We’ve had to go slow and learn what works for our dogs. I say this because there is no single right way to travel with pets. So, you may have to adjust a little for your specific animal, as all animals are different and have different needs. We even see differences between our two dogs in how they travel.

Before I go on, let me backup a little bit. If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know this – I travel full-time with my two dogs. We’ve been traveling with them for years now, and they are pretty used to it whether we are in a tent, Jeep, RV, campervan, or sailboat.

Our dogs have been to several new countries, many new states, national and state parks, hiked some of the tallest mountains in the U.S., swam in beautiful Caribbean waters, and more.

We absolutely love our dogs, and we go to the extreme to make sure they are happy and comfortable with what we are doing.

While we love bringing our dogs everywhere with us, that does not mean it’s easy. Traveling with a dog takes some serious planning, and it is not something to take lightly.

Everything takes a little bit longer due to bathroom breaks, walks, and all the planning, so it definitely takes more effort.

I have received a ton of questions over the years on how we keep everyone happy, us and the dogs, while we travel. Of course, my experiences won’t apply to all dogs, as all dogs are different. But, hopefully you will find some ideas or tips that will make traveling with pets a little easier on everyone.

Content related to traveling with a dog:

 

traveling with dogs by boat

The four of us on SV Paradise (our boat)

About our dogs, Sailor and Mr. French.

Our bigger dog is Sailor, and she is about 85 pounds and is over 13 years old. Our smaller dog is Mr. French, and he is a 15-pound French Bulldog who is over 11 years old. We’ve had them since they were puppies (we adopted both of them) and love them so much!

Mr. French is happy to be wherever we are, and he doesn’t care much for being outside so he makes the perfect pet for an RV or boat. He enjoys sailing and likes to be right at the helm with us.

Sailor enjoys all of the smells when we travel to new places as well as the attention and petting from being a big dog at a campground, marina, or anchorage. Due to her bigger size, we have to do more to make sure she is comfortable and happy, but it is all worth it. She is a great hiking buddy and is very friendly and social with new people.

Honestly, while traveling with a dog is more work, I can’t imagine what it would be like to travel without them. They bring us so much happiness and love, so it is well worth it to us.

When traveling with a dog, here are my tips so that both the humans and animals are happy and healthy.

Here’s how to start traveling with a dog.

 

1. Take it slow when introducing your pets to travel.

If you want to start traveling with a dog, then I recommend taking it slow.

Whether you are going to live in a boat or an RV full time, or are just going on a weeklong road trip, I recommend slowly introducing your dog to travel.

This is the top tip we’ve heard from others who travel with their dogs, and it’s very true.

So, instead of throwing your pets into a long trip, you may want to start with something much smaller, so that they can get used to the process. You will be completely changing their routine, and many pets are used to following routines each day.

I also recommend trying to keep some of their routines as close to normal as possible, such as feeding times and when you let them out for exercise and bathroom breaks.

For example, when we started sailing, numerous people suggested starting the dogs out at a marina, then doing day sails, then an anchorage, and go from there. So, that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t want them to be afraid of sailing or make them afraid to get on the boat, so we took it as slow as possible. That’s worked out well for us, and we recently did a 9-day sail with them, and they acted like it was no big deal at all.

We got them very comfortable with being on the boat, and we haven’t had to quit just yet, so I would say it was a huge success.

If you are not planning on traveling full-time, but want to go on a road trip with your dog, I recommend not traveling too far at first, especially if they’re not used to being in the car. Slowly introducing them to travel is good so that they don’t get scared or stressed out. So, you may want to start by bringing them to a park nearby to help them with their nerves, as some dogs can be quite anxious!

 

traveling with dogs internationally

This is what a normal day on the water looks like.

2. Know the rules and customs of where you are going.

Not every place you go to will be pet friendly.

When traveling with a dog, you will quickly learn that not every park or trail is open to dogs. Most national parks are this way and don’t allow dogs on the trails.

However, there are some national parks that do. This is why I recommend doing some research ahead of time so that you are not surprised or frustrated when you get to your destination.

No matter where you are traveling with a dog, respect the land and the people there. You should always pick up after your dog, even if that means that you will have to hike for hours with a dog waste bag. You should not let your pets trample over delicate areas, and don’t let them approach people who don’t want to be bothered.

The same also applies to campgrounds and hotels. You will want to make sure that you find dog friendly camping, dog friendly hotels, and more. You’ll want to call in advance to make sure the weight and breed are acceptable.

 

3. How to do veterinarian visits.

Going to the vet is an important part of being a pet owner, and you still need to do it when you’re traveling with a dog.

I receive a lot of questions about how we handle this.

Our dogs still see the vet each year, and sometimes more often if there are any issues. They just usually see a new vet each year. If we’re in the same place for longer than a year, then they might see the same vet more than once.

Our dogs have never had an issue going to a new vet, and they go each time with no problem. We simply make sure to bring all of their paperwork with us so that there is no confusion as to what was done at a previous appointment.

When it comes to medications, we try to stock up on what we need for the whole year. 

If you’re going to start traveling with a dog, especially full-time here are some thing you’ll want to bring up with your vet to prepare:

  • Getting your dog microchipped. This is a great thing to have, and if you are going to a new country then it is usually mandatory.
  • Rabies vaccination – this is normal.
  • Seeing what vaccinations and medications are recommended or required in the area you will be traveling to in the next year. This can vary even state by state!

 

4. How to visit new countries with dogs.

When visiting new countries with our dogs, there have been a lot of steps and hurdles to go through.

Here are some of the preparations you may need to make when traveling with a dog to a foreign country:

  1. Contact the government veterinarian agency of the country you are seeking to visit and ask for an up-to-date list of requirements for bringing a pet.
  2. Bring your dog to a veterinarian where you are currently located and get all of the required shots, tests, paperwork, etc.
  3. Visit the USDA or the equivalent in the country you are in to get your paperwork certified and stamped.
  4. Send all of the required paperwork back to the government veterinarian in the country you are desiring to go to and have them approve it. You will also need to get a permit from them for your pet to enter the country.
  5. Then, once you get to the new country, you may have to bring your pet to the government vet so that they can make sure it is the same pet on the paperwork, as well as to make sure the pet is healthy.

Now, these aren’t the exact steps for every single country, as every country has its own process.

The process can take several months from beginning to end, so you will want to make sure that you budget for plenty of time to get everything ready. When you’re boating with dogs, especially around the Caribbean, you can spend a lot of time researching this kind of stuff.

You’ll want to make sure you follow the steps exactly as detailed by the country you are going to, because doing them out of order (such as getting the vaccinations in the wrong timeline) will invalidate the process. This can be a costly and timely mistake, but it’s avoidable.

When you’re traveling with a dog or another pet, I also recommend:

  • Try to bring as much food for your pet as you can. We usually bring several months of dog food with us, as there may not be as many choices where you are going.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when it is required, if there are people near, and so on. And, always follow the leash rules of the area you’re visiting. Not everyone in other countries and areas like dogs, so you will want to keep that in mind.
  • When you go to the vet, try to get any standard medications that you may need. For example, our bigger dog can sometimes have an ear issue that requires a liquid steroid that you insert in her ears. We always try to have at least one backup on us so we don’t have to try to find a vet, as it can be quite difficult in foreign countries to get your dog to a vet if you don’t have a car, and not all islands have a vet either.
  • In some countries and/or areas, you may have to keep your pet documents on you at all times as you may be asked to show it at random times.

While it is a lot of work to bring your dog to a new country, it is possible and most government vets are super nice and helpful.

Some helpful resources for more information on each specific country include:

 

Traveling with a dog in a van

Can you spot Mr. French?

5. How to keep a tiny area clean when traveling with pets.

We keep our home as clean as it can be, which usually means vacuuming every single day. Our bigger dog sheds a ton, and we would be choking on hair all day if we didn’t vacuum as much.

We use a Dyson vacuum (this is the one that we love) and it works great. It’s small, rechargeable, and super portable.

We bring this with us whether we’re on the van or in the boat. Highly, highly recommend.

 

6. How to keep the temperature comfortable in an RV or boat for a pet.

For us, we try to follow good weather as much as we can. However, I know that is not always possible.

There are devices where you can track the temperature over a cell signal back to wherever your dog is (you can find a whole bunch of them on Amazon), which can be a great option. However, you might not always have a signal.

If we are unable to make the temperature comfortable for our dogs or if the electrical power isn’t stable, we simply do not leave our dogs alone.

But, it usually isn’t hard to make it comfortable for them. By opening windows, turning on fans, or the AC, you can make it pretty comfortable for both humans and pets.

 

What do I need to travel with my dog?

Walking in Utah

7. Full-time travel with dogs – how they use the bathroom on the boat.

This is one of the most common questions we’re asked about traveling with a dog. People are fascinated with how our dogs go to the bathroom on our boat.

We always try to make regular and frequent bathroom breaks for our dogs.

Whether we are traveling by boat or car, we like to keep bathroom breaks as similar as possible.

We were nervous training our older dogs to use the bathroom on the boat, but it has been just fine. They only have to do this when we’re on an overnight sail, so it’s not very often. Keep in mind that 90% of the time you’re living on a boat is either at anchor or in a marina, so there is almost always land access.

When we look for a marina or an anchorage, we are always looking to see if there is a good area to let out the dogs. That may mean a beach, a grassy area, a dinghy dock so that we can walk to town with the dogs, and so on.

A lot of people falsely assume that when you’re sailing full-time, neither you or your pets touch land for years at a time, and that assumption just makes me laugh. Our dogs go to shore multiple times a day, except for when we are doing a long passage (which isn’t often).

Depending on where we are, we may have to take them for a short dinghy ride to shore or we’re at dock and can simply walk them off the boat to use the bathroom.

If we are doing a longer passage on our sailboat and there is no land for them to step their paws on, we do have fake grass on our boat that they are able to use. It doesn’t happen often though, and most of the time they still get walked 3-5 times a day even when we are on our sailboat.

 

8. How to keep dogs safe on a boat.

The longest sail that we have done with our dogs was 9 days, and they did extremely well on that sail.

Some of the things we do to make sure they are happy and safe include:

  • One of us is pretty much always keeping an eye on them. If we can’t pay close attention to them, then we put a leash on them or close off the inside area so they cannot fall overboard. (If you decide to leash your dog, please make sure they cannot fall off the boat and choke themselves. This applies to being on the boat, dock, land, etc. Sadly we know someone who had this happen to their dog and it had a very sad ending.)
  • We have life jackets for each dog, and we’ve tested them before bringing them out for sails.
  • At night, we keep everything closed off so that there are absolutely no worries with the dogs.
  • We make sure there is plenty of water, food, snacks, and snuggles.

We are lucky that our dogs are quite comfortable on the boat.

They don’t panic or bark.

They simply fall asleep and are relaxed when on the boat.

I think this ties back into #1 of this blog post – we slowly introduce them to new things. This has allowed them to be quite adaptable to any environment that they are put in, whether we are tent camping, roadtripping, in an RV, or on an overnight sail.

 

Traveling with dog tips

Testing out their new dog life jackets 

9. The items that make it easy for traveling with a dog.

We have a lot of items on the boat that are specifically for our dogs, and many of them come with us when we move to our camper van. Here are the most helpful items we have:

  • Dog ramp – This is for when we are at a fixed dock, where it’s a long hop from our transom to the dock. We had a plastic one for a little bit but we found that it would bend in the heat so we had to switch to something better. We are much happier with an aluminum ramp now.
  • Dog toys – To keep our dogs busy and happy, I like to put peanut butter in a Kong and give it to them as a nice treat.
  • Dog waste bags – We keep a plethora of these onboard our boat and van. We usually bulk buy a big box of around 1,000 bags. We also make sure they are biodegradable and compostable.
  • Help ‘Em Up Harness – This is the harness we have for our bigger dog, and I highly recommend it. We put it on her so that she can easily get in and out of steeper places. It’s a little pricey, but well worth it to make sure your dog is safe.
  • K9 SportSack – We use this for our smaller dog so that we can easily just carry him around. He’s not a huge fan of walking everywhere so putting him in the backpack makes it easier on everyone.
  • Collapsible bowl – We always keep one of these in our hiking bag so that the dogs always have something easy to drink out of.
  • Life jacket – If your dog is going to be on a boat, you’ll want a life jacket for them.

 

10. Getting exercise is still important.

Some people think that having a dog on a boat or in an RV is bad for the dog. I don’t think that could be further from the truth, though.

Our dogs get 3-5 walks (sometimes more) each and every single day.

Exercise is so important whether you’re camping with a dog, sailing with them, etc. Don’t assume you’ll fit in walks – you have to plan them in advance.

We always make sure to give our dogs a long walk at the start of the day if we know we’re going to have a long drive or sail. This way, we can try to tire them out and get rid of a lot of energy.

Taking them for a walk is one of the first things we do when we stop, and then we always fit in another long walk before bedtime. You may feel exhausted after a long day of sailing or traveling, but don’t forget how important exercise and routines are to your pets.

 

11. Have a traveling checklist.

Before you leave for wherever you’re going, I recommend bringing anything you think you’ll need, even if you don’t end up using it. This may include:

  • Pet food
  • Water and food bowls
  • Collars, leashes, harnesses
  • Dog waste bags
  • Treats
  • Blankets and beds
  • Medication
  • Paperwork

Specific pets may need different items, and go over your list before you leave. 

12. What about traveling with a dog on a plane?

I would be careful if you are wanting to fly places with your pets where they have to go in the cargo area, as it can be traumatizing to put them in the cargo area of a plane. It can be extremely hot, scary, and they will be away from you for quite some time.

I know several people who have moved to a new country and flew their dogs in cargo in order to make it possible to bring their pets. But, nearly all of these people have told me that they would never do it again, unless absolutely necessary.

If you are going on short trips by plane, I would not recommend putting your pets in cargo for that. Instead, if you have to bring your pet, I would simply find another way to travel. Or, you can find someone to watch your pet.

If your pet can sit with you on the plane, then that’s a whole different story. They may be just fine on the plane, but you should consult with a veterinarian if you have any questions. We’ve avoided flying with our dogs, so I’m just not as familiar with it.

 

Traveling with a dog

We rented a pontoon in Nevada several years ago with the dogs

Traveling with a dog – in summary

I hope you found today’s article helpful.

Please remember that I am not a pet expert, nor a veterinarian. I do have a lot of experience traveling with a dog, but all pets are different. They have different needs and personalities, and what works for my dogs may not work for yours.

So if you have any concerns about traveling with your pet, please contact your veterinarian.

Traveling with a dog can be extremely enjoyable, but there are a few more things you’ll have to think about.

If you’re anything like me, though, it will be well worth it and your pet will enjoy it as well!

Do you like to travel with your dogs? What other questions do you have for me about traveling with pets?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Woman with a basket of groceries giving thumbs down
Photo by Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Clipping coupons is synonymous with saving money. Just mentioning frugal living brings to mind long hours hunched over the dining room table shredding the Sunday newspaper into a mound of money-saving coupons.

But why? What’s so great about coupons?

It may sound blasphemous to some budgeters, but I gave up coupons years ago. Spoiler alert: I still save a respectable amount on groceries, I’m eating healthier, and shopping is a breeze.

Here are the reasons why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

1. The cost/reward ratio is low

In exchange for the modest savings it offers, traditional coupon clipping is a demanding taskmaster.

By the time I buy a newspaper, clip the coupons I want, organize them, monitor the expiration dates and find stores that allow coupon stacking, it seems like I should just get the item for free.

2. Coupons are manipulative

It’s no secret manufacturers and retailers want us to use coupons for one reason only: to expose us to products we wouldn’t normally buy, encouraging habitual purchases. Once the savings go away, they expect that demand will stay and the price can gradually increase.

For me, staying on budget means minimizing my wants and needs and shopping with greater intention. Most coupons are distractions that wrap new wants in a package of “savings.”

If I really want to check out coupon options, your time might be better spent accessing manufacturer coupons online.

3. Coupons distract us from better deals

Saving money shouldn’t be an obstacle course. It’s easier and more rewarding to simply stick to store brands, learn which generic products to buy or wait for in-store sales.

Store brands often offer better deals than coupons — without the hassle. Without the overhead of sexy ad campaigns, package designers and product innovators, generics are typically a much better value.

Compare unit prices, instead. You just might never clip another coupon again.

4. Coupons push pre-packaged and processed food

When it comes to groceries, coupons often market convenience foods that are more expensive and less healthy.

Seriously, though, where are the coupons for fresh foods like broccoli or apples? If they exist, they are as rare as a coupon with no expiration date.

5. Coupons encourage over-buying

To take advantage of the savings, coupons often require the purchase of more than one item — “$1 off any three,” for instance. This may be fine for products you know and love, but it’s risky otherwise.

What if you don’t like the taste of the coffee, the flavor of the chips or the scent of the moisturizer? Instead of being out the cost of a single item, you’re out in multiples. Am I really saving if I have to buy more than I need, want or will use?

6. Coupons build brand loyalty

Part of the purpose of coupons is to establish a pattern of buying behavior and build brand loyalty. In matters of love, loyalty is a virtue. But when it comes to shopping, a little cheating can be a very good thing.

Blindly sticking to one brand of yogurt, pasta sauce or toothpaste means you’re likely missing out on better deals or products you’ll like more.

Brand loyalty may make shopping faster, but the benefits end there.

7. Coupons aren’t free

Don’t think those “free” coupons you get with your grocery receipt come without a cost.

Most are generated as part of elaborate loyalty programs that track dozens of data points like what time of day you shop, how much you spend on average, which in-store services you use and whether you have kids.

In addition to using it themselves, stores may sell your information. In exchange for those discounts, you could be handing over a big slice of your privacy.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

15 Of The Best Money Books For Young Adults – Learn How To Live The Life You Want

Are you looking for the best money books for young adults?

best money books for young adults

best money books for young adults

Today, I want to talk about the best money and life books for new high school graduates, college graduates, and other young adults. These would be great for graduation gifts, or just for yourself!

I wasn’t always good with money when I was younger. I bought more clothes than I needed, financed a new car, spent a lot going out to eat, and spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. It took me several years to realize how my spending habits were affecting the rest of my life.

I think this is fairly common when you’re younger, and there are lots of great financial books for young adults that can help you understand how money works and how to prepare for the future. 

The best money books for young adults explain personal finance topics like saving, investing, making more money, and more. And, reading them when you’re young can help you get on the right track with your money from a young age. 

Rather than spending years playing catch up with your money, you can get started on a great path now. 

I often get questions from young readers who are looking for help with their money, and I also get questions about how to help a young person with their money. These books are a great gift for yourself or someone you know.

For me, I love to give books as gifts, especially personal finance books for high school and college graduation gifts. And the best money books for young adults on this list make for great gifts – I’ve even given some of these books as gifts.

If you want to change your life, then I recommend that you start reading personal finance books. Yes, money is not everything, but improving your financial situation can help you gain control of your life.

Related: 6 Simple Steps That Will Teach You How To Write A Check

There are many different books listed below, so you will be sure to find at least one or two that meet your needs.

The best personal finance books may help you learn how to:

  • Understand basic financial concepts in an easier way
  • Reach financial independence or retire early
  • Take on your own yearlong shopping ban
  • Deal with and pay off debt
  • Better manage the 168 hours a week you have
  • Become more confident
  • Invest for your future
  • Choose your own dreams and adventures
  • Find the best path to pay off your student loans

And more!

Here are 15 of the best money books for young adults.

 

1. Broke Millennial

Broke Millennial was written by Erin Lowry, and is a must-read for young adults. She makes the topic of money entertaining, fun, and relatable for young adults. You won’t be bored with this money book!

Erin gives readers a step-by-step plan to stop being broke, and she discusses many topics, from tricky ones like how to manage student loans, how to discuss money with your partner, and more.

Please click here to check out Broke Millennial.

Another one of the best money books for young adults is Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. Erin recently published this one and it’s a great read, as it covers the topic of investing without making you feel dumb.

 

2. Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way

Work Optional is another one of my top picks for best money books for young adults, as it was written by one of my favorite writers, Tanja Hester. This personal finance book will show you how to reach financial independence so that you can live the life you want. 

I know retirement feels very far away when you’re younger, but this book explains how early retirement is a possibility if you start saving money now. Yes, retiring before the traditional age of 65 can happen, and it starts with the kind of guidance you’ll get in this book.

Please click here to check out Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.

 

3. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

If you’re looking for one of the best financial books for graduation gifts, check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. In this book, Cait writes about her yearlong shopping ban which will inspire you to simplify your own life and address your relationship with material possessions.

Cait talks about how for a full year, she only bought groceries, toiletries, and gas, and how it impacted her life. This is a great read for young adults as it is so easy to get into a spending cycle when you get your first real job and start earning larger paychecks.

Please click here to check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.

 

4. Dear Debt

Dear Debt was written by Melanie Lockert and focuses on people’s relationships with debt in a funny and endearing way.

Dear Debt is a must read for anyone who has debt or is taking on debt. Melanie shares her personal experience paying off $80,000 of student loan debt, how it affected her mindset, and more. This is one of the best money books for young adults because it’s a personal story about overcoming debt. There’s also tons of great money advice that will help others overcome the debt that may be holding them back.

Please click here to check out Dear Debt.

 

5. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Do you ever wish that you had more time in your week?

This book, written by Laura Vanderkam, focuses on helping people manage their time better so they can focus on what really matters.

Laura writes about tips and tricks to live a more efficient life. She teaches you how to prioritize things in your life, from how to get enough sleep every night to finding time for hobbies you’ve been wanting to try. You will learn how to use your 168 hours a week to make your life better, as you’ll learn many great life-changing strategies.

Please click here to check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

 

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People was written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and has sold over 15,000,000 copies worldwide. This is one of the most best-selling books ever, and for good reason!

This book will show you how to approach situations differently, become more confident, and get people to like you. This is one of the best money books for young adults that people of all ages will benefit from, because this book is all about living a happier and more successful life at any age.

Please click here to check out How to Win Friends and Influence People.

7. Quit Like A Millionaire

Quit Like A Millionaire was written by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, who are well-known people in the FIRE community. And, if you’re not familiar with FIRE, it stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. Everyone approaches FIRE differently, but the point is to stop letting money hold you back from living the life you want.

Kristy retired early at the age of 31 with a million dollars, and has a very inspirational story. In this book, she explains how that was possible and how it can be a reality for you too. This is a great guide on how to save more money, retire early, and live the life that you want.

In this book, you’ll learn a step-by-step guide on how to reach success, whatever that may mean for you. This is a fun and inspirational book that will open you up to new possibilities and opportunities.

Please click here to check out Quit Like A Millionaire.

 

8. Get Money

Get Money is a book by Kristin Wong, and it’s an engaging read that will teach you how to manage your money.

Kristin gives you a step-by-step personal finance guide that will show you what you need to do in order to stop letting money control your life. You will learn how to create a budget, pay off your debt, build a better credit score, negotiate, and how to start investing.

Please click here to check out Get Money.

 

9. Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need

Financial Freedom was written by Grant Sabatier, who decided that he needed to change his life by learning how to make more money.

Here’s a bio I found about Grant to show you how awesome he is!

“In 2010, 24-year old Grant Sabatier woke up to find he had $2.26 in his bank account. Five years later, he had a net worth of over $1.25 million, and CNBC began calling him ‘The Millennial Millionaire.’ By age 30, he had reached financial independence. Along the way he uncovered that most of the accepted wisdom about money, work, and retirement is either incorrect, incomplete, or so old-school it’s obsolete.”

In his book, Grant writes about how to reach financial freedom through steps such as building side hustles, traveling the world for less, building an investment portfolio, and more. 

Please click here to check out Financial Freedom.

 

10. The Simple Path To Wealth

The Simple Path To Wealth was written by JL Collins, and it’s one of the most popular and best money books for young adults that’s available.

Collins writes about many important financial topics in his book, such as how to avoid debt, how to build wealth, what the 4% rule is and how to use it to your advantage, and more.

This is an easy book to read, and it makes complicated personal finance topics much easier to understand. Many people have said that JL Collins is the reason why they were able to retire early, thanks a lot to his website and book.

Please click here to check out The Simple Path To Wealth.

 

11. Student Loan Solution

Student Loan Solution was written by David Carlson, and it’s a great book for anyone who has student loan debt.

Student loans can be extremely difficult to understand, as there is so much different terminology as well as different ways to pay them back (such as loan forgiveness, consolidation, and so on). This book explains a 5-step process that will help you to better understand your student loans, the best ways to pay them off, and more.

Please click here to check out Student Loan Solution.

 

12. The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door is another classic personal finance book, and it was written by Thomas J. Stanley.

In his book, he writes about the common traits of those who are wealthy, and how the wealthy can be even someone such as your neighbor, even though you might not realize it. This book shows readers that anyone can retire with wealth, not just your traditional multi-millionaires living in huge mansions with airplanes.

This is one of the best finance books for graduation gifts because it will make you rethink what it means to be rich, which is important to understand from a young age.

Please click here to check out The Millionaire Next Door.

 

13. The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know

The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance, written by Michele Cagan, is one that I learned about from my readers. What’s great about this book is that it gives you a visual guide to important personal finance topics, and many people learn better from visuals.

This book is different in that it is full of infographics, which make it fun and easy to read. You will learn how to find a bank, build an emergency fund, how to pick health and property insurance, and more.

Please click here to check out The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance.

 

14. Choose FI

Choose FI was written by Chris Mamula, Brad Barrett, and Jonathan Mendonsa. These guys are behind one of my favorite Facebook communities, Choose FI, and they explain how to reach financial independence and retire early. 

While retiring early may seem out of reach if you’ve just graduated, this book teaches you how to “choose your own adventure” and improve your financial situation.

Please click here to check out Choose FI.

 

15. I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I Will Teach You To Be Rich was written by Ramit Sethi and is a excellent book for beginners. It would make a great gift for a recent high school or college graduate.

Ramit’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich is packed full of great lessons, and it is written in a fun way. He covers the basics of personal finance such as budgeting, saving money, investing, and more.

Please click here to check out I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

What do you think are the best money books for young adults?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

How My 401k Loan Cost Me $1 Million Dollars

401k loan

401k loan

Today, I have a great guest post from a reader, Ashley Patrick. She asked if she could share her story with my audience, and I, of course, had to say yes! This is her personal story about how her 401k loan cost her a ton of money and why you shouldn’t take be borrowing from your 401k.

You’ve been thinking about getting a 401k loan.

Everyone says it’s a great loan because you are paying yourself back!

It sounds like a great low risk loan at a great interest rate for an unsecured loan.

But you know the saying “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

So you’re thinking, what’s the catch?

I take out a loan without having to do a withdrawal and I pay myself back. I’m paying myself back at a low interest rate right, so what’s wrong with that?

Well, I’m about to tell you how our 401k loan cost us $1,000,000 dollars.

You see, there are a lot of reasons to not take out a 401k loan and they all happened to ME!

Related content:

How My 401k Loan Cost Me $1,000,000

Let me start at the beginning….

My husband and I bought our dream house when we were just 28 & 29 years old. This was our second house and honestly, more house than we really should have bought. But you know, it had a huge 40×60 shop and we loved the house and property. So there we were buying a $450,000 house with a 18 month old.

This house was gorgeous on 10 acres of woods with floor to ceiling windows throughout the entire house.

So there we were with a $2200 a month house payment, an 18 month old in daycare, and both of us working full-time. Within 2 months of us buying this house we found out I was pregnant again! We had been trying for sometime so it wasn’t a surprise but there was a major issue with our new dream home.

The layout didn’t work for a family of 3. It was a small 2 bedroom with an in-law suite that didn’t connect to the main house.

There was a solution though. We could enclose a portion of the covered patio to include another bedroom and play area and connect the two living spaces.

The problem was this was going to cost $25,000. We certainly didn’t have that much in savings and the mortgage was already as high as it could go.

So what were we to do? We have numerous people that were “financially savvy” tell my husband that we should do a 401k loan. We would be paying ourselves back so, we weren’t “really borrowing” any money. It was our money and are just using it now and will pay it back later.

Our first issue with the loan

This seemed like a perfect solution to our problem. So we took out a $25,000 401k loan in the summer of 2013. I checked the 401k account shortly after the loan and realized they took the money out of the 401k. I was very upset about this and thought there must have been some mistake.

Come to find out, they actually take the money out of your 401k. So, it’s not earning any compound interest. I thought that the 401k was just the collateral. I didn’t realize they actually take the money out of it.

So, nothing else seemed like a good option so we just kept the loan. Construction was finished just in time for the arrival of our 2nd child. The layout is much better and much more functional for our family.

Everything seemed fine and the payments came out automatically from my husband’s paycheck.

Then issue #2 with 401k loans

Then came the second issue with the 401k loan…..

In January 2014, my husband was laid off from his job. So there we were with a newborn and a 2 yr old in an expensive house and my husband, the breadwinner, lost his job of 7 years. You know the one he never thought he would lose, so why not buy the expensive house? Ya, that one, gone.  

I cried about it but figured out how long our savings and severance package would last and knew we would be okay for several months.

Well, then we get a letter stating we have 60 days to payback the 401k loan, which at this point was over $20,000. We had made payments for less than a year out of the 5 year loan.

My husband didn’t have job yet and we didn’t have that much in savings. I certainly wasn’t going to use what was in savings to pay that loan either. I may have needed that to feed my children in a few months.

So, we ignored it because we couldn’t get another loan to pay it at this point.

Luckily, I married up and everyone loves my husband. So, he was able to find another job rather quickly.

We were thankful he had another job and didn’t think about the 401k loan again.

Then came issue #3

That was until a year later in January of 2015. Here came issue number three with 401k loans.

We got a nice tax form in the mail from his 401k provider. Since we didn’t/couldn’t pay back the loan in the 60 days, the balance counted as income. You know, since it actually came out of the 401k.

Then I did our taxes and found out we owed several thousand dollars to the IRS. We went from getting a couple thousand back to owing around $6500. So it cost us around $10,000 just in taxes. It even bumped us up a tax bracket and cost us more for taxes on our actual income as well.

I ended up putting what we owed on a 0% for 18 months credit card and chalked it up to a big lesson learned. I will never take out a 401k loan again.

The silver lining

In reality, my husband losing his job has been a major blessing in our lives. He is much happier at his new job. This also started my journey to financial coaching.

You see, when I put the taxes on the credit card, I didn’t have a plan to pay that off either. When I started getting the bills for it, I realized I had no idea how we would pay it off before interest accrued.

That led me to find Dave Ramsey. Not only did we have it paid off in a couple months, but we paid off all of our $45,000 debt (except the mortgage) in 17 months!

The true cost of 401k loans

Just recently I did the math and realized what our 401k loan really cost us.

It cost us $25,000 from our 401k and roughly about $10,000 in taxes. So that’s already $35,000 from the initial loan.

We were really young for that $25,000 to earn compound interest. If we had left it where it should have been, we would have had a lot more money come retirement age.

The general rule of thumb for compound interest is that the amount invested will double every 7 years given a 10% rate of return. And yes, you can earn an average of 10% rate of return after fees.

We were 28 and 29 years old when we took that loan out. If we say we would retire or start withdrawing between 65-70 years old, then that $25,000 cost us around $1 million dollars at retirement age.

Now yes, I could try to make up for the difference and try to put more in retirement but I’ve already lost a lot of time and compound interest. Even if we had $25,000 to put in retirement today to make up for it, I’ve already missed a doubling. 

But that won’t happen to me, so why shouldn’t I take out a 401k loan?

Life changes and now I am not working full-time and have an extra kid. So, thinking that you will pay it back later doesn’t always happen as fast as you think it will.  

Something always comes up and is more important at that time. So learn from my mistakes and don’t take out a 401k loan.

Actually, start saving as much as you can as young as you can. 

You may even be thinking that you aren’t quitting your job and will pay it all back, so no big deal, right? Actually you are still losing a ton of compound interest even if you pay the entire thing back.

The typical loan duration is 5 years. That’s almost a doubling of interest by the time it’s paid back in full. So, it may not be as dramatic as my example but you are still taking a major loss at retirement age.

The thing is, you have to figure in the compound interest. You can’t only look at the interest rate you are paying. You are losing interest you could be gaining at a much much higher rate than what you are paying on the loan.

Lessons Learned from my 401k loan

Some lessons I learned from taking out this 401k are:

  • Don’t miss out on compound interest
  • It’s not a loan, it’s a withdrawal
  • If you want to change jobs or lose your job, it has to be paid back in 60-90 days depending on your employer
  • If you can’t or don’t pay it back, it counts as income on your taxes

So if you are considering a 401k loan, find another way to pay for what you need. Cash is always best. If you can’t pay cash right now, wait and save as much as you can. This will at least limit the amount of debt you take on.

Determine if what you want is a need or a want. If it’s a want, then wait. A 401k loan should be used as an absolute need and last resort.

It keeps you tied to a job for the duration of the loan which is usually 5 years. This could limit your opportunities and put you in an even bigger hardship if you lose your job.

I hope you will learn from my mistakes and make an informed decision about these types of loans. Don’t be like me and make an ill-informed decision.

Ashley Patrick is a Ramsey Solutions Financial Master Coach and owner of Budgets Made Easy. She helps people budget and save money so they can pay off their debt.

What do you think of 401k loans? Have you ever taken one out?

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Source: makingsenseofcents.com

9 Simple Ways To Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

9 Ways Get Free Diapers

Looking for free diapers and low-cost baby products?

Diapers are expensive and a pain in the budget. Babies need roughly 8000 diapers before they’re potty trained, costing parents $2000 or more.

So we’ve put together some simple and legitimate options to help you save money. When you combine these methods together, you can literally save hundreds of dollars.

Try these easy tactics to get free diapers. It only takes a few minutes to fill out a form or sign up for a program, and the savings you’ll enjoy is truly worth it.

Table of Contents

Target-Baby-Registry

Target-Baby-Registry

Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit – free stuff from Target.

Target Baby Registry – Set up a baby registry at Target and you’ll get free diapers and wipes from The Honest Company and plenty more.

You’ll also receive a cool gift bag stuffed with free samples and a $50 coupon book with savings at major outlets like Starbucks and Liz Lange.

Here’s just some of what you get:

  • Munchkin Latch 4 oz. baby bottle
  • Baby Aquaphor diaper rash cream
  • MAM newborn pacifier
  • Johnson & Johnson Head-to-Toe lotion
  • A 10-piece sample pack of baby wipes from The Honest Company.
  • Pampers samples of diapers and wipes.
  • Lanisinoh disposable nursing pads and breastmilk storage bags
  • Johnsons’s “Baby’s Firsts” guide to first-year milestones
  • Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion sample tube
  • Mustela Hydra Bebe body lotion sample
  • Zarbee’s Naturals baby immune support vitamins
  • 10% off any nursing bra and/or camisole.

Two:  Sign Up for Amazon Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Mom Family

Amazon Family (formerly Amazon Mom) comes with a free 30-day trial, or you can access it for free if you’re already a Prime member.  Just create a child profile to begin and save up to 20% on diaper and baby food subscriptions.   You’ll also get additional discounts on other family products.

Amazon Family is part of Prime so all shipping is free.

Refer your friends and get an additional $10 in Amazon credit to use for free diapers.

Three:  Get Free Amazon Cards for Diapers

Swagbucks

Swagbucks

Wouldn’t it be great to get free Amazon cards and then use them for diapers and other baby products?

Good news – Swagbucks and InboxDollars give you that opportunity.  Here’s how it works.

Swagbucks gives you rewards points for various online actions, such as using their search engine, taking surveys, watching videos and playing games.  Then just redeem your rewards for Amazon gift cards (or cards from other stores) or as cash through PayPal.

Signing up is free and you’ll even get a $5 sign up bonus.

TIP:  Download the app and perform many of the tasks on the go.  You can easily earn $25 each month in Amazon cards with minimal effort.

InboxDollars is another loyalty company offering rewards for shopping online, taking surveys and watching videos. Redeem your points for an Amazon card to use on anything you want.

Four:  Get Free Diapers by Signing Up with Diaper Companies

Huggies Rewards Program

Huggies Rewards Program

Diaper companies know that most parents find one diaper brand they like and use them exclusively as long as their child needs diapers.

Naturally, these companies want you to be loyal to their brand, and not to their competitors.  So they’ll happily give you free diaper samples to earn your loyalty.

Huggies Rewards program offers free diapers and wipes when you redeem Huggies points.  You can get 500 free points just for signing up here.

When you make a purchase of Huggies diapers or baby products, upload your receipt to their site to get more points added to your account.

Huggies recently lowered the number of points needed to acquire coupons for free diapers and baby products so saving money is easier than ever.

In addition to Huggies, check out the rewards programs at the other major brands:

Pampers

Luvs

GoodNights

More Free Samples

Honest Company – Jessica Alba’s environmentally safe company will send you 7 premium diapers and 10 baby wipes. The diapers contain no chemical bleaches.

Dollar Diaper Club – Get a free trial and they’ll send you 6 organic diapers and 10 wipes.

Everyday Happy – Receive a free trial box of premium diapers and a package of bamboo wipes.

Simply Right – Sign up on their website and this Sam’s Club brand will send you free diapers and wipes.

Five:  Smart Couponing for Free Diapers

Clipping Coupons

Clipping Coupons

Check your local paper and online for diaper coupons and look for diaper sales at your local stores.  By timing your coupons with diaper sales, you can really save on diapers, or even get them for free.

Here are a few places online where you can clip baby diaper coupons.

Huggies coupons

Luvs coupons

Pampers coupons

Six:  Use Referral Programs for Diaper Money

baby diapers

baby diapers

A couple of companies offer lucrative referral programs that could add up to a lot of free diapers and wipes.

Diapers.com gives you $5 in diaper credit for each person you refer to their site.  Sign up for their referral program here.

If you have an active Facebook or Instagram account, ePantry has a referral program.  Post to your accounts and earn $8 for every mom you sign up.

Occasionally ePantry runs promotions offering up to $20 per referral.

Seven:  Charities and Government Programs Helping with Diapers and More.

Free baby diapers

Free baby diapers

The National Diaper Bank Network helps low-income families with free diapers.  The non-profit network has chapters nationwide so those in need can pick up diapers locally.

This is a great complement to food stamps and WIC, which do not provide diapers.

NeedHelpPayingBills.com aims to assist the needy with a variety of needs.   Here is their free baby diapers resource list of organizations everywhere that are ready to help.

Eight: – Save by using cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth Diapers

Washable cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly option for your child.

They can also help you save money, especially if you have, or plan on having, more than one child in diapers.

Nine:  Call Pediatrician or Hospital for Freebies

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Pediatrician and hospitals give diapers

Hospitals often give you stuff you need for your newborn, such as a free diaper bag or car seat.  Check with your hospital before your due date to see what is available to you.

Your OB/Gyn doctor and pediatrician are also great resources to consider for free baby diapers, bottles, and formula samples.  They can steer you in the right direction and they usually have baby samples right there in their office.

Like It?  Share It!

If this post was helpful, please share it with others who might like it too.  Thanks!

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Source: incomist.com

The Millionaire Next Door Book Review [6 Important Lessons]

You know that plumber who lives on your street and drives the beat up pickup truck? He’s much more likely to be a millionaire than the executive next door driving the BMW.

Don’t believe me? Well that was a common theme found in The Millionaire Next Door:The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by William Danko and Thomas Stanley.

The Millionaire Next DoorThe Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

The authors surveyed thousands of real millionaires and their answers revealed many surprising lessons, such as:

1. The wealthy don’t always look wealthy and vice-versa.

People who look rich may not actually be rich.

They spend more than they can afford on symbols of wealth but have modest portfolios. Some are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt with little or no savings.

Conversely, real millionaires usually live in middle class neighborhoods, drive cars they own outright, and don’t spend extravagantly on material things.

2. They don’t spend a lot of money on cars.

The authors point out that cars are the second biggest material expense in our lifetime.

If you add up all the money you’ve spent on cars over the years it can be really eye-opening.

Even if you’re young, the amount you’ve spent on cars compared to how much money you’ve earned is usually pretty high.

According to their survey results, most real millionaires buy a nice car, like an Acura or Lexus. They buy it with cash, or make payments until they own it, and ultimately hold on to the car for at least a decade.

Forbes backs this up, stating 61% of those earning at least $250,000 a year are driving Honda, Toyota, Acura and Volkswagens.

3. They save and consistently invest.

In America, our average household savings rate dipped into the negative in 2005, for the first time since the Great Depression. The savings rate has improved but is still only 5% currently.

Which brings us back to your original question; What are the secrets only the wealthy now and the middle class is unaware of?

Now, we all know saving money to acquire wealth is not a secret. But clearly this is an area the middle class can improve in

Compare that negative savings rate to that of the average millionaire, who invests nearly 20% of their income.

In its simplest form, that’s really all wealth is; earning more than you spend and investing the difference — consistently.

Consistently investing means you are fully capitalizing on compounding interest.

It means you are turning small contributions into large sums over time.

4. They adhere to a budget.

The majority of millionaires stick to a budget.

Even among those who don’t budget, they pay themselves first with money directly to their savings and investment accounts. They then work from the remaining funds.

But the majority do take the time to budget, even if they don’t want to, because the know the long-term benefits first-hand.

5. They spend a lot of time managing their money.

managing money

managing money

The wealthy spend a lot of time budgeting, goal setting and managing their portfolios.

According to Danko and Stanley, the wealthy spend nearly twice as many hours per month managing their finances as those without wealth.

The good news?

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary to accumulate wealth, as long as you plan for it.

In their survey of 854 middle-income workers, the authors found a strong correlation between investment planning and wealth accumulation citing; “Most prodigious accumulators of wealth have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

6. They own their own business or work for themselves.

Not everyone that gets rich owns their own businesses.

But in The Millionaire Next Door, they discovered a lot of folks who ran their own service businesses such as landscapers, plumbers, electricians, commercial cleaners and so on.

One of the key takeaways of this book for me is many millionaires attributed their dedication to financial planning as a requirement of doing business.

Because their business finances and personal finances are so closely intertwined, they really have no choice but to consistently examine their finances in order to survive — and thrive.

There’s many more lessons in the book but I wanted to mention some of the biggest takeaways for me.

Thumbs Up

I initially read The Millionaire Next Door around the year 2000.  I don’t remember the exact year.  But it was very impactful in my life, so much so that I’ve read it several times since then.

It’s a mindset book as much as it’s a nuts-and-bolts how-to book.  Much of the advice is tried and true stuff your parents or grandparents would tell you.   You’d be wise to listen to it, as tried-and-true tactics provide the best template to follow for proven success.

At the same time, the data from their surveys also uncovers many surprising similarities among millionaires.   Tendencies and habits that challenge conventional wisdom and make you rethink your employment, lifestyle and personal finance decisions.

It’s definitely one of my favorite personal finance books, which is why I wanted to share the lessons I’ve learned from it here.

The Millionaire Next Door is a must-read, no matter where you are in your personal finance journey.  It really provides the proper mindset needed to successfully manage your money.

It sets the right foundation for your money goals.  When you see the common habits of hundreds of millionaires, along with the logic behind those habits, it’s becomes painfully obvious the personal choices you need to make to become a millionaire yourself, or at least improve your personal finances significantly.

Have you read The Millionaire Next Door?  What is the biggest lesson you learned from reading it?

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Source: incomist.com

How to (Actually) Stop Overspending on Christmas Presents

problem overspending on christmas presents?
how to not go totally broke buying christmas presents
how to never overspend on christmas presents
tired of going broke at christmas?
how to actually stop overspending on christmas presents

Here are the 5 steps you need to take to stop yourself from overspending on Christmas gifts

The excitement, the gingerbread latte is now kicking in … the click-clack of your shoes racing down Target’s floor tiles… as you frantically snatch the must-have toy of the season off the shelf, clutching it possessively to your chest!  

VICTORY!

As you round the corner trying to get back to the main aisle, you can’t believe your eyes; you haven’t seen this Magnolia item in stock in FOREVER! In your shopping cart it goes! Off to checkout, and you slooooow way down going by the girl’s section, and think, “That’s super cute! My little one would love that!” It too goes in the cart!

An hour later, and your phone bings at you. Yup, it’s a large purchase amount alert from your credit card. It reads, “Did you spend $358.42 at Target? This amount is over your alert limit notification settings”.

And just like in The Christmas Story, you say (in slow motion for dramatic effect) “Oh FUDGE!”

You totally overspent! Again! You told yourself you weren’t going to overspend on Christmas presents again! (like ever!) Last year’s holiday credit card bill left you with hives, and you promised yourself that this next year would be different!

Well, guess what, that Target scenario up above… it was just a dream. Just like Ebenezer, there is time for you to change your ways. You’re not doomed to follow the same path you did last year! So if you’re ready, let’s dive into how to stop overspending at Christmas!

how to stop overspending on christmas presents

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info

What is the Christmas Debt Hangover?

Ugh! No one likes a hangover! But unlike a hangover from too much bubbly, a Christmas debt hangover can last months and months (sometimes years)! No thanks!

According to a MagnifyMoney survey, “Americans took on an average of $1,325 of holiday debt in 2019”. Here’s how their numbers played out…

  • 44% of consumers took on debt this holiday season, and the majority (57%) didn’t plan on doing so.
  • 78% of those with holiday debt won’t be able to pay it off come January, including 15% who are only making minimum payments.
  • 58% of indebted consumers are stressed about their holiday debt.
  • 40% plan to consolidate debt and/or shop around for a good balance transfer interest rate, but more than half won’t even try. Of those that won’t try, 20% think it’s not necessary, and 18% don’t want to deal with another bank.

Now specifically regarding how long it would take them to pay off the debt, survey responders said…

  • 22% said one month
  • 21% said two months
  • 19% said three months
  • 8% said four months
  • 16% said 5+ months
  • 15% are paying only minimum payments

Right now, The Fed Reserve lists the average credit card interest rate to be 14.52%. You can generally assume that your minimum payment will be about 2% of your total bill. Here’s a screenshot of how long it would take to pay off the card (if you didn’t put any more purchases on it).

magnify money debt calculator
using Magnify Money’s credit card debt calculator

64 months? Paying $582 in interest? W.T.F.!

Are you ready to tame your shopping spree beast? Because, after looking at those numbers, overspending at Christmas is not cool!

How to stop overspending on Christmas presents: Step One – decide what you will focus on besides the gifts!

It’s just smart sense that when you take something away, you need to replace it with something else. Instead of a donut, have a whole grain muffin!  

So instead of focusing on gifts, what do you want to spend the season focused on? I’ve got a great list of frugal family fun ideas for the holidays!  These are bucket list items perfect for the holiday season!

You’re especially going to need something fun to do Christmas morning, as you don’t want the day to be anticlimactic without all the presents, as it might be hard on our littlest ones. Think about…

  • Doing a Meals on Wheels delivery route in your neighborhood.
  • Go caroling.
  • Do a Christmas movie marathon (pj’s required!).
  • Make a full holiday meal together as a family.
  • Go sledding/skiing/ice skating or go to the mountains for snow time fun! Don’t forget the hot cocoa and accessories for the snowman you’ll build!

Step Two – Consider a gifting strategy

Every good General knows that you need a plan of attack or a strategy, shall we say. And if you don’t think Christmas shopping is kind of like preparing for battle, then hats off to your peaceful and serene holidays of the past. The rest of us battle-weary moms can barely nod in agreement (as we’re still a little shell shocked from last year’s holiday season).

Strategy One – Adopt the 4 Gift Rule

This one is amazing in its simplicity to help you stop overspending on Christmas gifts! It caters to those toying with the idea of having a minimalist(ish) holiday, and it’s gaining popularity every year! You gift each recipient (that you would typically buy lots for) just four gifts.

  1. Something to wear
  2. Something to read
  3. Something they need
  4. Something they want

I’d like to think of it as a way to buy a more meaningful selection of gifts. As you’re looking not just to buy lots of things, but purchase specific items. Hopefully, the receivers will appreciate their gifts a little more and not get lost in the craze of ripping off wrapping paper at the speed of light.

Don’t forget to snag your printable gift list tracker; there’s a four gift rule one and then a classic gift list printable. Everything you need to stay organized and on budget!

christmas gifting list

Strategy Two – Give the gift of an experience

Maybe your kids have everything that they need! Maybe you are dreading anything more coming into your home as you need to get your Home Edit on right now!

If that’s the case, then consider giving an experience instead. This could be a short trip to the beach or a big trip to Walt Disney World. Or tickets to a sporting game or an event like Comic-Con. Go as big or as small as you like. Set aside the Christmas money and put it in a sinking fund to make this experience come true (even if it’s at a later date).

Hint: if it’s a trip to a theme park, some have vacation planning DVDs or online videos (DisneyWorld does). This would be a great thing to wrap and put under the tree!

Strategy Three – Go the D.I.Y. route

Now, this isn’t for those of us that are all thumbs (meeee!) I am not a crafter/knitter/artist/DIYer by nature. But for those of you that are, consider harnessing your talent for homemade gifts!

Even if you don’t have a talent, maybe consider gifting a custom photo book from Shutterfly. Or collect great grandmothers family recipes together and turn them into a little book (or place her most famous recipe on a tea towel! Cute huh!)

That’s right, as your mother always said, it pays to plan ahead! That means getting your Christmas present shopping done early! As the holiday gets closer, we tend to panic slightly; we grab just about anything that will do as a good gift. Most of the time that means we’re spending a little more (because we don’t want to get a cheapo lame gift)!

So start jotting down your gift choices now! Aka ASAP! I.e., immediately!

Okay, you get the drift. Besides, online ordering gets bigger every year, and sometimes there are shipping delays or snowstorms that stop service in half the country (yikes!) You don’t want to get a substitute gift because your original gift won’t be back in stock until January 17th!

Christmas Budget Workbook mock up

Step Four – Use Cash

They say cash is king, and they’re right! Especially when it comes to spending money. Because when the cash is out, the spending is done! It’s genius at its most basic, and it works every time (as long as you leave your credit cards at home). You simply cannot overspend on Christmas gifts!

Using cash envelopes is a strategy used by many successful budgeters! Besides, stuffing these cute festive holiday cash envelopes is fun! You can use one for each person you’re gifting to or use one for each holiday shopping category—I.e., food, decorations, gifting, fun times, supplies, etc. Or if you’re crafty here are some cash envelope templates that you can make on your own!

Nerdwallet references a cult classic report where, “An often-cited study is one conducted by Dun & Bradstreet, in which the company found that people spend 12%-18% more when using credit cards instead of cash.”

Don’t forget that when you pay with cash, you won’t have to pay interest on the charge either! Look at it this way; when you pay cash, you’re buying something. When you pay with a credit card, you’re borrowing the money for it; you didn’t buy it (but you’ll pay extra for it in interest!)

Step Five – Don’t go into the stores!

This one sounds silly, I know, but it’s so painfully obvious. If you don’t have to go into a store, then don’t! Because really, we’ve all gone into a store, we don’t grab a cart because we just need one thing, and we come up to the cashier juggling items like a clown!  

Inevitably when you go into a store, it’s straight temptation. Why do that to yourself? Stay home, and send someone else to the store, or better yet, do some online ordering for that item you need!

Or if you’re poison is the 1-click buy, then take some super easy preventative measures. Delete your credit card info on your devices! GASP! I know, I know, it sounds drastic, but making it just the teensiest bit harder on yourself to shop online could mean saving hundreds! Because honestly, sometimes I don’t get up to walk across the house to grab my credit card number!

Better yet, do a marketing edit! Unsubscribe from those pesky emails from your favorite retailers and unfollow them on social media! You won’t want what you never see! Now, I know you’ve been thinking about this idea for a while, give it a try! You can always go back later and subscribe again!

Simple hacks to stop overspending on Christmas presents

Know your prices

Do you know the regular price of the “sale” item in your hand? Even though it says it’s on sale or discounted 20% off, it might still not be a great price! If you are 100% in on saving money this holiday season, then you should scout your gifts early, record their prices, and wait to see what the “holiday deals” actually are.

Many retailers change their prices regularly. What was $59 in September could easily now be $75 in December. Yet now they can mark it being 20% off! They get to keep their sales margin high enough to get a good profit, and you (the customer) feel like you got a good deal. Winner Winner… oh wait, that’s a bull$hit dinner!

Be smarter than the retailer!

Don’t go shopping when…

  • You are hungry
  • You’re short on time
  • With somebody else (friends can be bad influences, sorry friends)
  • It’s going to be super crowded (instead go early in the morning, or late at night)

Next years plan for Christmas gifting

If you get through this Christmas and going low key on gifts wasn’t for your family, then no problem. You can have the Christmas that your family wants; you may need to start socking away money for it a bit earlier than usual! Check out How to Start a Christmas Savings Plan and How to Plan the Perfect Christmas Budget!

At the end of the day

I know that reading about how to not overspend at Christmas sounds like a bummer of a topic. But honestly, think about how you’ll feel come January when you don’t have that big fat credit card bill that’s knocking out your wallet like it’s Balboa in Rocky 1!

I know that for many of us, we remember Christmases of youth, with mountains of presents, and we want to recreate those warm fuzzy memories for our own kids. But those warm fuzzy feelings can be created out of so many instances, not just present opening. So save yourself the agony and angst of overspending at Christmas, and don’t even go there!

Christmas Budget Workbook mock up

What are your top tips for how to stop overspending on holiday gifts ?

Source: moneyforthemamas.com