3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances

3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances - Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances – Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances - Chic and Domestic
3 Keys to Master Your Family Finances – Chic and Domestic

We all want to be able to stay on top of our family finances, correct? There is no better feeling than being ahead of your finances, and successfully placing your money where it needs to go every month. I get a lot of questions about what to do when you need to get control of your finances, or even if you’re starting at the beginning and looking to tackle your family finances head on. First things first, everything will always be trial and error, and everything will always have room for adjustments. Lucky for you, if you start with these 3 keys to success, you’ll always find success!

Prioritize

This will always be the most important step in mastering your personal finances for your personal situation. No person or family will be the same, but a general key to success is to really plan and decide what is most important to you. Some families will have to focus more on sustainability and simply making sure that their financial input is enough to cover their financial output if they’re dealing with a tighter budget, other families will prioritize things like savings for the future, family outings, travel, or a little bit of everything. As long as you can pin point your family priorities this will set you up to make logical decisions about your money.

Save

Saving is a must! There are no if ands or buts about it. If you want to put your family in good financial standing, be sure to always make it a point to pay yourself first. Even with a smaller income, single income, or being a family that lives paycheck to paycheck, there is always room to save something on payday. I had to learn this over time. I had to personally change my mindset when my family budget was tighter. Just because my bills were being paid, didn’t exempt me from being hit with an unexpected emergency, so really having at least some sort of emergency fund or sinking fund was a necessity.

Find out how we saved our $1000 emergency fund here!

Budget

Learn how to BUDGET. Never be afraid to approach and re-approach your budget. If you want to be able to master your finances for your family, my biggest advice would be to always know your numbers. Budgets are something that will always change, but once you learn how to set up a budget once, going back in to make adjustments will come easy. In order to master your money, learn how to create a budget! Know what numbers you’re bringing in every month, know what your various monthly expenses are, and know your priorities.

Learn tips on how to create your own family budget here!

Be sure you’re following me on Pinterest to check out all sort of great pins on Financial Fitness, Frugal Living, and Domestic Life on a budget.

Continue Reading

My Top 5 Ways to Save Money on Christmas Shopping

My Top 5 Ways To Save Money On Christmas Shopping - Chic and Domestic

 

It’s holiday time again! So that means I get to share my top 5 ways to save money on Christmas shopping. Christmas time means days of holiday cheer, Christmas carols, and unfortunately a million and one ways to quickly see your money disappear. You don’t want to be that person, because nobody wants to be that person! You want to be both fabulous, and frugal for the holidays, and hold on to every penny that you can while also enjoying the season of giving.

This week I’ve teamed up with a few other ladies to discuss some Frugal Christmas topics. Karen from My Veteran Woman Life  shared her own Top Holiday Shopping Hacks. Be sure to head over and check them out.

So, here they go, My top 5 ways to save money on your Christmas Shopping.

1. Budgeting and Planning
If you know me, you know that I’m big on budgeting. It’s important to know where all of your money is going by having a plan, and budgeting for what you can afford to spend on certain things. Get an idea together of what it is you want to spend on your holiday shopping BEFORE you start. I go into a full breakdown of budgeting and planning in my previous Christmas post.

2. Limiting your gifts
Something I’ve decided to stick to for our kids is limiting the amount of gifts we buy them. This year, I also plan to implement this rule for gifting to other people. Our kids are still young now, but I also think I plan to keep up with this in the future. It’s so easy to want to buy every toy in the store, but what you end up with after gift opening is an overflowing toy box. I’ve seen a lot of people choose to buy their children 4 special gifts for the categories of something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

3. Make your own gifts and get creative
I love Christmas gifts with sentimental value, and there’s nothing more sentimental than something you handmade yourself. This is also great time to learn a new skill, or really get creative. Pinterest is a great resource for ideas and inspiration. Maybe you can crochet a scarf or blanket, and if crafty and hands on really isn’t your thing, you can never go wrong with a framed photo. Our family members love getting framed Christmas photos of the kids for the holidays. All you need is a good camera (I’ve taken some great photos with my phone), get your photos printed (Drugstores with photo centers, Target, Walmart, and apps like Free Prints), and a fancy frame. Frugal Tip, start your search at the dollar store.

4. Rebates
A real hardcore shopping tip. Expert shoppers, DO NOT pay full price. For anything. My favorite rebate for shopping is definitely Shopkicks. It’s basically free money for shopping and spending money you would already normally spend, and they also give you the opportunity to get points for gift cards by simply walking into the store! If you use my code [MALL659750] you can get a free 250 kicks for using the app within 7 days of joining. Another great rebate tool is Ebates. If you aren’t hip to ebates, its time to get hip. It can save you so much money on your regular shopping needs. They have a ton of stores, and coupon options to not only save your money, but you also get cash back for the money you’ve saved! If that’s not Christmas savings, I don’t know what is.

5. Do your research
Last but certainly not least, the best way to find savings for Christmas is to look for savings. How do you know that it’s not possible to get a better deal without looking for a better deal? I like to check the price tag at several stores before buying gifts. It usually consists of me checking the store that would most likely carry what I’m looking for, checking amazon (I love that prime member 2 day free shipping!) and Walmart or Target. Doing my research for sales also gives me room to find good rebate options to use. For example, if a $50 video game is on my shopping list, I would probably check somewhere like Gamestop first, and then compare prices online. Being the expert shopper that I am, I would take that knowledge and buy from the store that would save or make me the most money.

I know that Christmas shopping can possibly be one big stressful headache, but by utilizing these tips, money and saving will be the least of your worries!

*DISCLAIMER. This post contains affiliate links or special codes.

Continue Reading

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.

 

*DISCLAIMER This post contains affiliate links. If you shop using my link, I may be compensated for clicks or purchases that you make. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Continue Reading