Category

Finance

Baby Family Finance Parenting

SAVING FOR BABY AXEL’S FUTURE

February 18, 2018

I love the topic of finances. In college, I read Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness and it changed my perspective on everything when it comes to money. My biggest takeaway from this book were that the money I earn is a gift from God. It’s really His money and I am the manager of it. He gave me the necessary skills and tools to earn the money. The phrase that was repeated over and over in the book was, “live like no one else so that you can live like no one else.” You might be scratching your head if you’ve never read the book. Basically, it means that it work your butt of now and put in the extra work then you can have financial freedom and be debt-free with no worries. I loved reading all of the real life stories of couples who were in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and how they implemented Ramsey’s strategies and became debt free. You just have to be willing to work hard and think outside the box.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I thought a lot about how I would save for his future. My husband and I had plenty of conversations of what we would give him and what we would make him work for. My husband and I have always been hard workers and we want our son to also work hard and not become entitled or spoiled. We decided to start with setting up a savings account that earned interest. I set up an automated transfer to it each week and I don’t plan on touching it until he is 18. Although my husband and I have separate finances, we both have emergency funds if needed. That way we don’t need to dip in to Axel’s savings.

Rewind back to before I had Axel. Andrew and I were slightly freaking out when we started looking at the cost of daycare and all the other costs that come with having a baby. We both have good jobs in IT but we were both feeling like we would have nothing left over to save! That’s when I started looking into starting a blog. I didn’t understand how blogs made money but I wanted to know more because it sounded like a good side income. I thought that maybe if I could earn even a little on the side I could start a savings fund for baby Axel. To my surprise (and I am honestly still shocked) I earned over $1000 within just a few months of entering the blogging world. Check out my recent post where I explain my blogging income sources.

Some bloggers post detailed monthly income reports. I think that’s great because I have enjoyed reading a lot of those myself. I was on the fence to whether or not I would share all of my details. I decided I would share every now and then when I felt it would be helpful to others. It seems a bit out of the norm for me to be so public with my finances but this feels a little different since I blog to share about my lifestyle and how to help others. December 2017, January 2018 and February 2018 were great earning months for my blog work. I have been able to start the savings plan for Axel and use the remaining earnings to start paying off debt – snowball style! The Snowball debt method is a strategy where you pay off your debts starting with the smallest balance you have. You do this because once you pay off one small debt it helps build momentum and encourage you to continue knocking out debt. I have a small loan remaining from grad school and my mortgage. Some people don’t consider their mortgage as part of their total debt but it is included for me.

Below is a screenshot of a savings scenario with final balance I got from an online savings calculator. If I continue to transfer over a portion of my side hustle income (from blogging and our Etsy shop) then by the time baby Axel graduates, I could have over $98k set aside for him and maybe his future younger sibling. We are still deciding if we want to have another child. We are in the dazed, tired phase of being new parents still! 🙂 This example just goes to show the importance of savings!

Now, when I shared this with my husband he was a little concerned about what an 18 year old would do with that kind of money. He said that if he would have received something like that when he was 18, he probably would have bought some cars. I don’t intend to just hand over a big chunk of cash to my boy. This gift will come with some guidelines. I want him to use it for college tuition, his wedding or maybe a first time home purchase so Mama might have to hold on to some of it for a little longer than 18 years. And who knows, maybe he will have a little brother or sister he has to share it with! 🙂

One thing I will totally own is that I have been told by my financial adviser and close friends that I “save to aggressively”.  Ha! I didn’t know that was a thing but it is. I do strongly feel that it is important to save and be prepared but I also want to find a good balance and make sure I am enjoying life too. I want to be sure I plan family vacations and fun activities in my budget and not obsess over saving every penny. It’s all about balance!

What are your savings plans for your little ones? Do you have a savings account, stocks or other investments intended for them? Maybe you want your kids to work and earn/save their own money. What are your thoughts? If you have kids and don’t have a savings plan setup yet – don’t worry. It isn’t a mandatory thing and if you’re thinking it’s something you may be interested in then just remember, it’s never to late to start!

Blogging Career Finance

HOW I EARNED OVER $1000 WITHIN 3 MONTHS OF BLOGGING

December 22, 2017

It’s funny to think that just a few months ago I was reading up on blogging and how people monetize their blog. At the time, I was a huge skeptic. It sounded way too good to be true but I was still slightly intrigued. After a significant amount of research, I decided the potential reward was worth the risk and it was a small enough investment that I didn’t need to worry if it was a big hoax.

I read many posts from big time bloggers who said to be prepared to wait a while until you make any money and don’t give up. It could happen in one month or it could take a year. One thing to keep in mind is that when you treat your blog like a business rather than a hobby you tend to get more out of it. What you put into it is what you will get out of it. I was a bit nervous about this because I work full time in IT and I’m a new mom so when am I going to find the time?

The reason I got into blogging was to try and make extra money to set aside for my son, Axel. Daycare and other expenses have been overwhelming and there isn’t much leftover to save. I want to be able to give him a good future and help him with college tuition. I told my husband, Andrew, about my intent and ideas to make sure he was on board. He thought it was a great idea but warned that I have very little free time now and I have to remember to balance everything.

I launched my blog on October 1st, 2017. It was difficult to not desire to spend most of my free time working on it because it was building momentum quickly and I was very passionate about my topics. Another pattern I found in reading other big bloggers was to focus on your niche and be authentic, so that’s what I did. Naturally, my niche became motherhood and all its rewards and struggles. I tried my best to be real and document everything that I thought would be helpful for a new mom. I started to gain a decent following and received lots of great feedback.

I don’t intend on consistently posting income reports. A lot of full time bloggers do but this is just my side hustle and I wanted to share the exciting news of the great earning potential. If you are looking for a different kind of side hustle you could also consider starting an Etsy shop. Check out our page about how we started our Etsy shop where we sell vintage and handmade items within the U.S.

I still remember exactly how I felt in the moment of receiving the first deposit of money IN MY BANK ACCOUNT. The earning potential is real! It wasn’t a hoax! One thing people don’t realize about blogging is that it’s a ton of work. It’s fun and exciting work but it is a lot of work. I spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas, creating an outline, writing the post, capturing great pictures that will help tell my story, promoting my work on social media and networking to get my name out there. When I saw the first deposit in my account, I thought about all the long hours I spent researching and trying to get myself noticed and it finally worked. Such a great feeling!

A common question I get is – How do you make money blogging? I wondered this at first too and I probably read dozens of other posts that answered this question. Every blogger’s strategy is a little different but here is my breakdown and exactly what has worked for me:

My Sources of Income:

  1. Social Media Marketing Consulting
  2. Guest Posts (writing articles for other companies)
  3. Web Design Consulting
  4. Product Reviews
  5. Ad Revenue (Google Adsense)
  6. Affiliate Marketing (promoting products or services and customers buy through my links)

I do have a Business Management & Marketing Bachelors degree and a Masters in Business Administration which helps my skill set but I really don’t think you need a bunch of “fancy” degrees in order to be of value and make money. So, if you are reading this and worried that you don’t have enough college background – don’t worry. You can learn SO MANY THINGS on the internet nowadays. If you want to learn some marketing techniques then get on your computer and start researching. Follow me on Pinterest where I have tons of amazing boards and resources from my website and other big bloggers that I follow.

Some of these opportunities came from me reaching out to people via social media and directing them to my Contact Me/Hire Me page so they could see if my skills aligned with what they needed. Other opportunities came from people reaching out to me through my social media or website. My biggest money making opportunities originated from Instagram. Check out my Instagram account to see the strategies I use. I usually start by checking out a company’s Instagram account and getting to know some things through that. Then I direct message them with a quick introduction of myself and what I have to offer. You can also check out some of my guest post articles by visiting Wawita Baby Product’s blog.

Along with the money I have earned, I have also received over $100 retail value worth of free products! Companies will send me products they are launching so that I can review them and create a blog post to talk about my experience using it. I have received a baby scale, pacifiers, teethers, bottles and a breastpump. Check out my recent posts where I reviewed a baby scale and a baby bottle.

Three months into blogging and I earned over $1000. If you would have asked me about my earning potential a few months ago, I would have guessed maybe $50? I really had no idea until I put myself out there and tried different strategies. It has been so much fun to earn money doing things I love! If I can earn this doing it on the side with a full time job, imagine what you could do if you did this full time. I really enjoy my career in IT and I’m working hard to achieve my career goals. I also like the security of a consistent paycheck and good health benefits which is why I don’t intend to transition to blogging full time. A lot of people do, and they love it! I am now on month five on my blogging and have earned over $2100! Like – actual money IN MY BANK.

If you are reading this post and feeling skeptical yet intrigued like I once was, please feel free to reach out to through my contact form or any of my social medias if you have more specific questions. I have helped four people start the process or launch their own website and it feels good to make believers out of people. You can make money if you put in the effort and it’s a ton of fun.

I have an entire page dedicated to How to Start a Blog so be sure to check it out. I use Bluehost for my hosting service which has worked well for me and many of the big bloggers I follow use this too. Use my link to get a special, discounted offer on hosting services. If you are about to take that next step of starting a blog then good luck to you! Put in the effort and be authentic and you will do great.

BEST OF LUCK!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Finance

WHY I WAITED TO GET A CREDIT CARD UNTIL MY MID 20s

October 13, 2017

My husband and I met when I was 23 and he was shocked to find out I did not have a credit card. He asked me the reasoning behind it and I said, “my dad told me to avoid them!”

Now, I think my dad told me to stay away from credit cards back when I was around 17. He probably knew that it was easy to quickly rack up debt, especially when you’re a working teenager with no bills! At that time, I wasn’t fully mature in the area of finance. I started working when I was 14 and most of my paychecks were spent at the mall. Fortunately, my dad emphasized the importance of saving and investing and I agreed to let him help me invest 10% into low-risk stocks. I wasn’t much of a saver in my teenage years because I didn’t see the need at the time.

So, after my husband explained to me the reasons why I should have at least one credit card (no more than two),  of course I needed to ask my hero (daddy). I called him up at age 23 and asked if I should still be avoiding credit cards. He told me I was probably ready and mature enough for one. At that time, I was living on my own and paying all my own bills. He warned me to be careful and be sure to pay it off each month as the interest rates can be outrageous.

My husband’s main reason for getting at least one credit card is to build up my credit so that it was easier for us to get approved for our first home purchase.

The first card I tried to sign up for was a Target red card – DENIED! What!? Me?! But, I’m so responsible and grown up! Well, turns out I had very little credit history so they wouldn’t give me a card. I was shocked. Next, I tried for a basic Capital One card and got approved!

I started using it only on gas and groceries and would pay it off the minute the bill was posted! I was very careful. So after about a year of using the card regularly and building my credit, I was able to apply for a Discover card with lots of rewards! Yay!

Four years later, I am still using my Discover. And I also finally got my Target red card once my credit was established 😊

Be careful not to sign up for too many credit cards because that can actually hurt your credit score! How? When your credit report is run, they will look at your potential for debt. If you have 7 credit cards that, in total, could potentially get you into $100,000 in debt, they look at that as a factor. This is why it is also important to turn off the automated credit increases. If you start out with a credit card that maxes out at $5000 and they send you an email – Congratulations, we have increased your amount to $7,500! – you should probably request for the amount you actually need and turn the increases off as this increases your potential for debt.

Below is a screenshot of some of my recent cash back rewards from Discover! They also do 5% cashback on categories like gas, groceries, movies, restaurants, etc. My husband and I each have a Discover card and we sometimes like to have a competition of who can earn the most cash back! Discover customer service is great and you get to talk to a real human who will help you! They also send email notifications to remind you of upcoming rewards! I highly recommend them. My husband and I have never had any issues or complaints.

If this all sounds great to you, sign up here and get started today! Let me know if you have any questions.

 

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Finance Marriage

WHY MY SPOUSE AND I HAVE SEPARATE CHECKING ACCOUNTS AND IT WORKS!

October 1, 2017

My husband and I have been married for about three years now. Before we met we both had lived independently for years. I was 24 and he was 31 at the time. We were used to living on our own and paying our own bills. We were both very independent people and proud of it. When we got married we just never took the next step to join our accounts. We had many discussions about finances prior to getting married. We shared our debts, spending and saving habits, and annual salary with each other. There were no secrets.

Shortly after we were married, we had a brief conversation about joining our accounts. We didn’t really see the point of it because we both liked what we had and we divided up the bills pretty evenly. We have always made almost the same amount of money so dividing bills up down the middle is basically what we did.

Funny side story: ONE DAY after we were married, Andrew told me he had bought another car. I laughed because I thought he was joking. It was not a joke. We got married a few hours away in our hometown so I drove back to our new home by myself! How could I be mad at him the day after we got married haha – it was just too soon. I couldn’t be too upset because he bought it from his dad for just a few hundred bucks because he wanted a commuter car that could handle some wear and tear. This did stir up a conversation about how even though we have “separate money” it is important now that we share these types of purchases with each other – especially a car!

We created a couple of guidelines after that conversation:

  1. If it was more than $400, let’s discuss
  2. If it is something that will require insurance or some monthly/ongoing payment, let’s discuss

For the three years we have been married we have had separate bills, separate checking and savings, and separate credit cards. There are still no secrets and it still works for us. We both know each other’s passwords to our bank accounts (not that I have ever gone in to check on his). It is nice to feel that he trusts me enough with his passwords and vice versa.

Some people think we are crazy. Some people think it is even border line “unhealthy” for the relationship. It just works for us and I am not telling any couple to switch to this. I’m definitely not trying to convince you this is the best way. It’s just something non-traditional that we do and I thought I would share why.

Below is how we divide up the bills. If there is a bill on both of our lists it’s because we share it. We have our checking accounts through the same bank so we can easily transfer money over to each other which is convenient.

One of the top reasons why married couples argue is finances. I don’t think the magic trick is whether or not you have your finances combined or not. I think it is a matter of excellent communication and expectations set up front. If you have lots of debt, you need to share that with your partner. If you have a shopping or gambling habit that has got you in trouble in the past, share that with them so they can help hold you accountable.

We recently had our first child which can definitely shake up a marriage (check out this post on how kids impact marriage). Things that were one working great for us have had to be adjusted. So far so good. We have had lots of great communication which helps a lot. We used to have very stereotypical gender roles on our home and it was smooth sailing. Now, with the demands of a baby, that sometimes changes.

Here are a few common questions we get when people find out we have separate money:

  • What do you do with your tax return?
    • We split it down the middle! We don’t look at our individual income for the year or who got more tax breaks (school, etc). We simply split it down the middle and we usually both save our half. Boring I know.
  • Who pays when you go out to dinner?
    • We mix it up and don’t keep tabs. We don’t go out to eat too often but we do try to take turns.
  • What happens when an unexpected bill arises?
    • We usually split that in half as well. We did just have to get a new washer and dryer since our old set broke down. Andrew bought the new set since I was a little tight on money from being on maternity leave for 12 weeks. When the next big surprise bill comes, I’ll take it.

Now, I will leave you with my favorite benefits of having separate accounts from my husband:

  1. Giving gifts is so much fun! There is an element of surprise since it is so much extra work to go into his bank statements and try to see what he bought me for my birthday or Christmas.
  2. I still have a sense of independence which makes me feel confident. I don’t ever plan on getting divorced (who does) and I pray that never happens but if anything ever happened to my husband then at least I know I could support my family and have a good grasp on finances in general.
  3. COMPETITION! It’s a fun game to see who can save the most money in a year or who earned the most cash back bonus. It’s a silly thing we do but it’s fun!

One of my favorite financial Gurus is Dave Ramsey. His book, Total Money Makeover, helped me to be a better saver, a smarter spender and played a part in helping me graduate debt-free! I told Andrew all about this financial mindset while we were dating and he was all for it. The only tip we don’t follow is using cash envelopes to help with our budget. My favorite part of the book is the stories from families who were thousands of dollars in debt and they became debt free (including mortgage)!

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

Etsy Finance Hobbies Marriage

HOW OUR ETSY SHOP FUNDS OUR HOBBIES

September 30, 2017

This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I have personally used myself or believe in. Please see my Policies tab for more details.

When I opened my Etsy shop in 2015, I didn’t expect to become rich or have hundreds of sales a month. I was actually in my second year of grad school, working full time and a newlywed so I didn’t have too much extra time to invest in my business. I decided that as long as my Etsy stuff didn’t take too much time away from my husband, I would allow it to be part of my life. The great thing about an Etsy shop is that there is not a big initial start-up cost at all depending on what you’re selling so you can invest as much or as little time as you want. I decided to incorporate our shared hobbies into earning money on Etsy.

My husband and I love to go to flea markets, antique shops and yard sales and find one of a kind items. We loved it so much that we bought too many items and our house quickly became cluttered! We started posting these items on Etsy and some of them sold quickly. Sometimes it was even sad to see a cool piece go! But it was a good feeling to know that it was going to bring joy to someone else. I love when people message me with a note or picture on Etsy about how much they love their new item. At one point, we had a listing for a vintage medical bag and a couple out East bought it for their son who was graduating from med school – so cool! We made a rule that we would only buy items that we loved and we wanted to display in our house. That way, if it didn’t sell, we weren’t stuck with some item that we didn’t really want. We also agreed that we wouldn’t buy too many of one specific item. We got really excited about buying vintage cigar boxes and license plates but we got to a point where we had too many so we stopped.

The coolest thing about shopping for these items was that sometimes we were lucky enough to hear the stories of where the items had been or what they meant to someone. One older couple gave us an antique at no cost because they loved the appreciation we had for the history behind it. We probably talked with them for over an hour about their collection.

We also listed several handmade items. At one point my husband was getting several custom orders at once which was exciting. I would work with the client to get the dimensions and design figured out and talk price. My husband would do all the handy work of sometimes designing from scratch and building beautiful custom pieces. Some of his best work included a storage bench, dining tables, and a wine cabinet. Unfortunately, we had to start turning away business because we do have full time jobs in IT. People told us we should do Etsy full time but Andrew and I agreed that it’s better to keep it as a hobby.

So, we didn’t make millions or anything from our Etsy shop but we were able to buy some nice woodworking equipment for my husband and some awesome craft supplies for me! Of course, we also use some of the money to go out hunting for antiques! We usually make about 5-10 sales a month which is a great pace for us.

Start your own Etsy shop, and let me know if you have any questions. You can easily make it your full-time gig if you want to. I know hundreds of people have so you can too!