5 Changes to Make to Your Personal Finances

5 Changes To Make To Your Personal Finances - Chic and Domestic
5 Changes To Make To Your Personal Finances – Chic and Domestic

Not everyone has a positive relationship with money. In fact, if we can be honest, I believe that most of us don’t have the best relationship with our money. Are we making enough? Are we spending too much? Are we investing enough? Are we saving for the right things?

I would be lying if I said that I’ve always been great with my money because I haven’t. Sometimes I overspend on things, there have been times when my budget is nonexistent, and I have spent a great amount of time living life without an emergency fund! … YEAH.

It takes a lot to really be serious and committed to your finances in the beginning, but the more positive changes that you make, the stronger your money relationship gets. Every positive step you take in the right direction puts your finances in a better position to really build the foundation for the dream life that you imagine.

1. Save money
If you currently aren’t saving, you my friend are doing something wrong. When it comes to savings, every little bit counts. It doesn’t matter if you can afford a more aggressive savings goal, or if you’re seriously saving just a few dollars a week. When it’s time for you to break the glass for an emergency, you’ll be glad that you’re even a few dollars, or even a couple hundred dollars closer to paying for that emergency. If you can start and commit to building a savings, then you’re already strengthening the self control it takes to tackle your personal finances.

Check out my post “5 Money Challenges To Try In 2019” here!

2. Get out of debt
Plenty of people in the world live successfully with debt over their heads. The United States does it with ease and not a care in the world. That’s not the point! The point is, you don’t want to be one of those people, and you don’t want to be thousands of dollars in debt. Regain control! I absolutely understand that not everyone will be buying a house in cash, or avoiding car payments and credit cards, but it’s important to prioritize and recognize that too many unnecessary debts all at once is a downward spiral. Start by paying off or paying down your store cards, paying off a small medical bill, pay those parking and toll fines! Stop letting other people hold that IOU over your head, and get them out of your life FOR GOOD.

3. Cut your expenses
It’s really the little things that start to add up. Reevaluating your budget is something that you should do every so often, but especially when you’re wanting to make some positive changes to your finances. Get rid of that extra subscription, maybe an unused gym membership, or even finding ways to cut down a few of the expenses that you plan to keep. Nine times out of ten, for the average person, you’re probably overspending somewhere. Again, every little bit counts. Every penny that you save by cutting your expenses can then be used to tackle your debts, or pad that much needed savings account.

4. Invest
If you’ve read my post “My Personal Finance Goals For the New Year” then you’ll know that one of my larger goals for the new year is invest. Investing can mean whatever you want it to mean for you personally. Invest in stock, invest in your financial knowledge, invest in your financial future. Like your personal finances, how we manage money is always evolving, so it’s always good to keep up with all of your options out there to put you in a better place financially.

5. Change your mindset
So much of making a lifestyle change is mental. Tell yourself that YOU WILL, and stop making excuses as to why you can’t. You will save, you will pay off that debt, you will reach all of your financial goals, you will build the life that you want for yourself.

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest! Pinning budget greatness, All Day, Every day.

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52 Week Money Challenge Hacks

52 Week Money Challenge Hacks - Chic and Domestic
52 Week Money Challenge Hacks – Chic and Domestic

With the 52 week money challenge being one of the more popular challenges for New Year’s savings, who would I be to not address all of the many many ways to hack the challenge to make it work for you!

Let’s be honest, all of our personal finances are not created equal. Our budgets vary slightly, drastically, and everything in between. Some of us are paid monthly, weekly, biweekly, often, and hardly ever. Yes, even inconsistent paychecks don’t disqualify you from a savings challenge.

Before we get to how to hack the 52 week challenge, let’s first discuss how the original 52 week challenge even works. It’s an incremental savings challenge so your weekly savings will vary. You’ll start week one by saving $1, continue on to week 2 by saving $2, week 3 you will save another $3, all the way through week 52 when you’ll be saving $52 and finishing out with a grand total of $1378 in savings. It’s just that easy.

If you happened to read How To Save a $1000 Emergency Fund, then you’ll know that I love the Qapital app for easy, pain free saving. They even offer the option to set a 52 week challenge rule that will easily transfer your funds for you. I swear by the app, especially if you’re serious about your savings goals. If you try it out today with my referral code you’ll be able to receive $5 FREE towards your first savings goal. Check it out here.

Be sure to check out my post “5 Money Challenges to Try in 2019” for more savings ideas!

Modified 52 week challenges
1. Reverse 52 Week Challenge
Maybe around the new year is when you have a little bit more cash to put aside for savings. The Reverse 52 Week Challenge would probably be right for you. You can still tuck away your weekly commitment, only you will start off by saving your $52 payment first, and end the challenge with your last payment of $1 towards your savings.

2. Modified 52 Week Challenge
The easiest way to modify the challenge to make it work for you is by saving your weekly payments the way you want to! Every week you will make a payment of $1, $10, $42, or $52, whichever one of your 52 payments you can afford that week. Maybe this week you have some extra money so you decide to save $52, but maybe next week you only have $10 to put aside.The easiest way to get this done is by keeping a detailed record and crossing off which one of your payments you’ve already made.

3. 52 Week Biweekly Money Challenge
For the people who get paid biweekly, maybe it will just be easier for you to make one large payment when you get paid rather than making an extra payment between paydays. You can essentially turn the 52 week challenge into a 26 payment, biweekly challenge by making 2 weeks worth of payments at one time. Week one you would be saving $3, and then $7, and then move on to $11, all the way up until week 26 when you put $103 into savings.

4. 52 Week Mini Money Challenge
Maybe you have a tighter budget but you’re still looking to get in on this 52 weeks of savings. No problem at all, you can easily modify the challenge to fit your financial situation. With the 52 Week Mini Money Challenge you can easily save smaller increments of money, and still be working towards a savings goal. You would start week one by saving 50 cents, and gradually increasing that amount by 50 cents every week. Your final 52 week payment should be $26, and you will still end up with $689 in savings by the end of the year.

5. 52 Week Double Money Challenge
Say your financial situation is great right now and you can afford to put a little bit more into savings every week. You can easily double your weekly savings by starting week 1 off at $2, week 2 would be $4, week 3 would be $6, and at week 52 you would be putting aside $104, and ending up with a grand total of $2756 at the end of the year. Look at those savingsss!

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Cloth How? Cloth Where? Cloth Why?

Cloth How? Cloth Where? Cloth Why? - Chic and Domestic

How To

If you’ve been a part of the gang for a while now, you already know that I am a cloth diaper mom. Now, I’m no expert, but I’ve definitely gone through my share of trial and error. Here are your answers to some frequently asked cloth questions. HOW do you cloth diaper? You would think it wouldn’t be as simple as the process of picking out disposables in a store, but in every way, it is. Imagine, it’s time for your first baby to be on its way. You don’t know anything about diapering a baby, because you’ve never had to know anything about diapering a baby. So, you would start from scratch, with collecting some quick research. You could check out online reviews, get opinions from other people on what brands and types to use, opinions on the average amount of diapers a child goes through in a day, or many other things.

So, starting from the top, choosing a cloth diaper that works best for you will always be trial and error based on your household needs, and also the needs of your baby. You could choose your perfect diaper system from the get go, and have a smooth sailing experience from then on out, which would ideally be great, because there’s no need to fix what isn’t broke, right?

Or, you could make a left turn down the cloth diapering yellow brick road, only thinking that you’ve found your perfect diaper. It’s affordable, from your reviews you hear that it’s easy use, only to find out that the system doesn’t agree with your baby’s needs, and then you end up dealing with leaks, mess, and diaper rash. The most basic types of diapering systems include:

• Flats and Prefolds
• Pockets
• All In Ones (AI1)
• Hybrid (AI2)

Flats and prefolds are probably the cheapest way to start a cloth diaper journey. The prefold is (You guessed it!) folded and securely placed around your baby, sometimes with a snappy if you’d prefer. Prefolds however, aren’t waterproof, and if used by itself, will for sure give you a mess that you don’t want to clean up. This is where your flat comes in. This diaper comes with no inner lining, it’s simply just a waterproof outer shell, or cover to lock in any “moisture” from your baby’s daily bathroom breaks. The flat and prefold option is also one of the sleekest methods for traveling during outings, and the fastest drying diaper system. So now you’re probably either thinking, “Wow, that’s great, and simple enough. I’ll take a dozen of those.” Or “No no no, that looks way too complicated. I need more options.”

So, moving on. I personally prefer the pocket diapering system for my littles. This has been my favorite diapering system thus far. We’ve found it to be easiest for us, no leaks, no poopslosions, pretty easy cleanup, and a simple wash routine. Badda boom, badda bang. Pocket diapers come with an inner lining built to basically wisk away a lot of the moisture from your baby, and it all gets absorbed by the inserts, or even prefolds, that are stuffed into (You guessed it!) the pocket.

An all in one diaper system, or AI1 is known to closely resemble disposable diapers. The system pretty much like the title describes, provides all of the necessary diaper elements all in one place. They have built in inserts for absorbency, and an extra stay dry liner stitched in. They do however take a bit longer to dry after washing because of the thickness of the fabric.

A hybrid or AI2 is a two part diaper system that pretty much provides a little bit of everything. They normally come with detachable inserts, with the option to snap in place, (much like a flat and prefold system), and a sewn in pocket to provide the option of tucking or stuffing your inserts or prefolds. (much like a pocket system)

Where To

Now, for WHERE you can purchase your cloth diapers, the average costs for individual diapers, and diaper start up. Let me just start by saying there are so many options for brands in the cloth diaper world. You can really always find affordable options in your price range, no matter what that price range may be. As you know, I’m a mom who likes to save her coins, so I try to look for good quality, affordably priced diapers. I also take into consideration whether I’m looking to purchase a few single diapers, or placing a larger order.

My very first cloth diaper purchase was from a woman in a local Yardsale group on Facebook. She had a brand new set of 6, Baby Goal diapers. The set came with 6 individual microfiber inserts, and a wet bag, all for $20. This was my start up into the cloth diaper world. I took them home, washed them, and tried to really get a feel for whether or not cloth was for me. (And it waaas!) DO NOT sleep on checking online sites like Facebook, and Craigslist for both new and gently used cloth diapering resells. Especially, when on a tight budget. It could possibly end up saving you a good chunk of change.

Many of my first buys after that were from Amazon, many of them just one or two diaper orders. They have free shipping with a prime membership, so that worked to my advantage. I ordered a few Alva baby cloth diapers, roughly between $7 and $10 per diaper, which arrived in 2 business days. (Highly recommend them if looking for a cheaper diaper) Alva baby also has their own direct website that you can also order from. The diapers on their direct site are usually slightly cheaper, (they range from $5 to about $8) than the listed amazon prices, but shipping usually takes longer, and the shipping cost does vary.

Another great site for shopping is Cotton Babies, or Bumgenius. They’re a huge brand in the cloth world. The individual diapers are priced a bit on the higher side, at $18.99 per diaper, but they do offer free shipping with all orders, and the option to receive a free “Flip” cover with a $100 purchase. They also offer a ton of information on cloth diapering for beginners, and info on maintaining your diapers in the future. If you’re buying brand new, with larger orders, sometimes it’s better to buy from sites like this, because they do offer customer perks like a free diaper cover, or cloth diaper accessories with large purchases. You can even sign up to be a part of mailing lists to receive first looks at sales, and access to special coupon codes.

Two other sites that actually offer various brands, and various prices, all in one place, would be The Fluffy Penguin Company (free shipping over $75), and Diaper Junction. As time goes on, you’ll begin to develop an idea of which diaper brands work for your baby, and what you feel is really worth spending your money on.

Why To

Cloth WHY though? There are so many reasons why you should cloth diaper, but to narrow it down to the 4 most important to me, it would have to be:

• More natural on your baby’s skin
• Money SAVERRRR
• Eco-friendly
• CUTE PRINTS! (Obviously)

Who really knows exactly what’s in a disposable diaper? I don’t. Obviously some synthetic stuff, most likely manmade, even more than likely full of chemicals, because let’s face it, most things these days are. Cloth diapers give the benefit of at least knowing what you’re putting directly onto your baby’s skin, whether that be cotton, hemp, bamboo, or microfiber. There’s many options of each, to fit whatever diapering system you’re using.

Now, I wasn’t always a cloth diaper mom. I did diaper my first child for well over a year using only disposable diapers. Oops! A little bit late on the cloth train, but I can say it’s reassuring to know exactly what materials are being used. I can also for sure tell you that I’ve saved a good amount of money in my time cloth diapering. I’ve seen some people say that parents who choose cloth diapering don’t really see the saved money until at least a year of diapering, or until you’re reusing them on a second baby, but I don’t personally believe that to be true.

Yes, it is easy for the start up to get pricey, but only if you get wrapped up in all of the cute prints, (Which I’m now very guilty of) or if you’re only opting for buying the more expensive brands of diapers. However, I’ve already explained that the beauty of it is, there are cloth diapering options for every single budget, and not every $30 diaper will be your perfect fit just because it’s $30, and not every $5 diaper will do you wrong, and be poor quality. After you find your happy medium, and accumulate a stash, your diapers can be refused from newborn, up to potty training, and from baby 1 to baby 2, and you can feel the financial benefits right in your wallet.

What you guys really care about are the numbers though, right? I would estimate that I was spending about $65 to $80 on disposable diapers for my 3 kids in a month. That was using Luvs, and Pampers when I caught the Target baby sale. My estimated cloth diaper start up costs, were about $120 to $140, over the span of 2 months. (Roughly 2 months worth of diapering with disposables) Now, if you’re a super couponer, and you can manage to build your disposable diaper stash with a little bit less than nothing, then financially maybe that’s still a better route for you for obvious reasons, but not everyone is that coupon saavy.

Another financial perk for using cloth diapers is that after you’ve gotten your use out of your cloth diapers, they still hold a decent resell value if maintained properly, and there is always someone out there looking for a decent cloth diaper stash to get their hands on. Whereas, disposables are a one time use, into the trash, and into the landfill they go.

Also, speaking of landfills, do you know just how long it takes a disposable diaper to decompose? Uh, FOREVER. Well no, not really, but basically. It’s estimated to be between 250 and 500 years (So long that no one really knows) before a disposable diaper decomposes. I had never really stopped to think where my children’s dirty diapers were going once they were gone. All I cared about was the fact that they were just that, gone! Only to find out that they never really were. In a years worth of time, after having my twins I was sending about 8,760 diapers to sit and rot for another 500 years. I was creating that much waste in diapers alone. It was astronomical to even think about. That was along with the 2,920 the next mom used for her baby, and the next mom, and the next. Really crunching those numbers was enough to make me think, “Hmm, I should at least give this a try to see if it’s for us.” Full time, or part time cloth diapering can slowly change the planet, so I’ve been satisfied with my decision ever since.

Lastly, my absolute favorite reason to cloth diaper, they are so freaking ADORABLE! When I initially started, I was just slowly accumulating diapers to get a stash big enough to get me through at least a full day of diapering my littles, so that I wasn’t constantly doing diaper laundry. The cute prints were just a bonus. After reaching that comfortable number for me, I wanted diapers with little frogs, diapers with dream catchers, diapers with elephants, and Hamsas, and mermaid scales. I was throwing so much on my wishlist, and into my shopping cart during virtual window shopping trips, but I didn’t want to be right back at spending $65 to $80 a month on diapers. Especially when it realistically just wasn’t necessary. I do continue to buy new prints, but only in moderation. I believe it’s feasible to have more than the “required” amount of diapers to increase the longevity of your entire stash, but definitely not feasible to just go crazy on payday.

I do hope I’ve successfully answered a few of your cloth question with enough detail. Hopefully you stuck around from start to finish, hopefully you aren’t sleeping. WAKE UP! Just checking.

 

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