If you are like half of the world. You just emptied our your wallet to buy Christmas gifts for your family and friends! It is maddening how much money is spent over the holiday season. Maybe you were lucky and had a savings built up for the gifts. And hopefully you didn’t go into debt to pay for your Christmas gifts. No matter what happened over this past holiday, it is time to prepare for the upcoming Christmas!
I know! You think I am insane right now! There are literally over 350 days until Christmas and here I am talking about preparing for the holiday! But I am not crazy! I am smart because now is the time to think about what you want your expenditures to look like next Christmas! It seems early but now is the time to
There are a few routes you may take for your Christmas gift giving for next year. Each of them can help you navigate the expenses of Christmas gift giving that seems to hit insuring the holiday season. Some of these ideas may even save you a bundle of money! There are three main concepts and they are: shop early, make handcrafted gifts, set aside money in a Christmas find right now!
Now is the time to start shopping for Christmas for next year! In fact, we should have been out shopping the day after the holiday. There is no such thing as being too early. If you know your lights need to be replaced on the Christmas tree, don’t wait until next November to replace them. Head to the stores right now and buy them when they are 75% off (or dare we dream 90%). Now is the time to buy your Christmas items for next year. They are deeply discounted! And it’s not just decorations you should be looking for. Look for gifts!
One year I went shopping the day after Christmas. I bought new Christmas lights and ornaments. But I also purchased a huge box of items. I bought crystal Christmas platters for 25 cents. I bought Christmas tea towels, I bought all sorts of items. I didn’t have a need for them at that moment, but I put them in a big box in my spare room closet. Every time that year when I saw an incredible sale, I purchased the item and dropped it into that box! When Christmas time came around I opened that box and I had amazing gifts! I made cookies and used those 25 cent platters for my coworkers. I made gift baskets with items. Sure, I had to buy some small things, but the bulk of Christmas was purchased well in advance and at deep discounts!
The other benefit of the Christmas gift box of sale items? I had a friend that moved into a new house! I ran to the box and I pulled put items to put together a house warming gift! Yes, that box came in handy year round! The trick of the gift box? But when you see something on sale and out it aside! Sure you may not use it for a year or two, but you will be glad you have it when you need it!
But shopping early isn’t the only thing we should be doing early!
Plan a Handcrafted Christmas
Do you have an incredible skill? Do you enjoy quilting? Woodworking? Baking? Crochet? What is your skill, your hobby? Turn that hobby into a gift! If you make hand crafted items plan ahead and make Christmas gifts! I have given quilts, rugs, cookies, pictures and photography items. I have used my hobbies and skills to generate hand crafted items.
Your friends and family will love the thought and appreciate the time you spend to create these one of a kind items! It speaks volumes of your attention! I once worked on a large team of people and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy each person a gift but I wanted to show my appreciation at Christmas. I made 45 sock snowmen, one for each person! It took time and planning...but it cost me pennies to make and the appreciation from my coworkers was astronomical! It just took time and planning!
So your not crafty you say? You can make a coupon book and offer your services. Friends that have a young child...offer baby sitting services so that they can have a date night. Offer to work on their landscaping, clean their house, take a home cooked meal! in our busy world, those are the gifts that are appreciated...and cost little but your time!
Ok, so you don’t want to make hand crafted gifts. And you don’t have room for a Christmas box to stock up on random items. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about Christmas now. Plan how much you want to spend on Christmas for next year. Use this year as your example budget. And then figure out how much you can put aside (or need to put aside) into savings each week. Don’t tough that savings account until it’s time to shop for Christmas! That money is sacred!!!! Start saving now so that come December you won’t be struggling to find money to give gifts...or worse yet going into debt!
Christmas seems far away, but it is time to plan. It is time to come up with a game plan and think about what route you want to follow when it comes to Christmas gifts for next year. If you want to avoid the crazy drain on your wallet and the inevitable debt, plan now!!!
We all have dreams. Your dreams might be living an existence of financial independence, to own your own home, buy a new car or RV, live more frugally or maybe you just want to get out of debt. It doesn't matter what your financial dreams and goals are but it is important to sit down and create a budget!
Why should you create a budget
There are quite a few benefits that can be gained from creating a budget. And all of them can help you on your road to financial freedom.
1. A budget will give you a clear picture of what you are spending each week and month. When you create a budget, you will be able to quickly see where your money is going. Are you spending most of your spare money at a convenience store buying lottery tickets hoping to win the lottery? Is your paycheck primarily going to buy new clothes, go to the movies, or for eating out? A budget will allow you to see any potential issues with your spending. For example, are you buying a cart full of groceries each week but then eating at restaurants for every meal? That could be a problem with your financial expenses. A budget will allow you to look at your expenses and see any trouble spots; like that overpayment of groceries that ends up sitting unused and eventually thrown away because you opt to eat out each day. A good budget will help you find items that may be wasteful or unnecessary.
2. A budget will allow you to stay focused on the end goal. For the person that is desperately wanting to buy a new house and is saving for the down payment , a budget will keep them on track. If your end goal is financial independence, a budget will allow you to continually fine tune your expenses so that you know exactly how much you have to be earning from all channels of income before you can leave you 9-5 job. A budget will keep you on track and focused on your eventual success.
3. Having a budget is a perfect way to make sure that you do not overspend your income. This is for me the most important reason that I have a budget. Sure, I want to reach my financial goals to buy a house, live financially free and be my own boss. But a budget for me is a way to ensure that what I am spending each week does not exceed my income. I am trying to save money and to live fiscally responsible. A budget allows me to know exactly what I have to spend each week. I know how much I have to spend toward groceries, toward eating out and toward fun and entertainment. Knowing how much I have available for those things in my life gives me the knowledge and power to control my spending. It keeps me from going into debt or dipping into my savings, two things that I want to avoid if at all possible, because neither one of those brings me closer to my end goals.
4. A budget will help you plan for emergencies. Life is going to happen. You are going to have that day when your car breaks down or you need to spend money on some large purchase. For me just the other week it was my laptop. It decided to give out on me. I certainly didn't want to spend the money on a new laptop, but I had no choice. Luckily for me, my budget allows for emergencies. I have put money aside for such occasions. Admittedly, I wasn't happy to pull that money out of my savings account but I had it there for when I needed it! No-one can predict when such an emergency will occur. But we can control the outcome by having an emergency fund built into your budget.
How do you create a Budget
research-your-financial-freedom.htmlFor me the first step to creating a budget was with the process of diligently tracking my expenses for a few weeks. Before I could create a budget that would work for my lifestyle and within the constraints of my income I had to find out where I was spending my money. I did this the good old fashioned way. I wrote down every expense on a piece of paper.
Find your set monthly expenses when creating a budget
After you have a good month or two of your expenses you can start to really dive into the expenses and categorize them. The first thing you want to extract from the list is the monthly expenses that stay the same (or very close to the same) each month. This will typically be your rent/mortgage, phone bill, internet, cable tv, electric, water, garbage. List them out and add them up. These are your non-negotiable items.
The total dollar amount of these items needs to be deducted from your monthly income before any other items can be deducted.
After you have your monthly bills deducted from your income, you will see how much money you have or incidental expenses. Incidental expenses are things like groceries, eating out, entertainment, clothes, etc. This is where budgeting money gets fun!
Decide what is important to you when creating a budget
Once you have deducted all of your monthly expenses, you should have a dollar amount of what is left for these incidental expenses. This dollar amount is what is left over after all of your bills and basic necessities have been paid. This is where you get to decide what is important to you. I call this the additional or extra budget. This is more negotiable and subject to change as my lifestyle adjusts and adapts to what is happening in the world and in my life. This is when you will decide what you are going to spend your extra money on. Will you spend $500 on eating eat each month or will you spend $200 on groceries and eat at home instead.
Start with the most important 'extra' item on the list. For us, that is groceries, but for you it may be something else. Refer back to your list of expenses that you started at the beginning of this month. You can easily calculate how much you spend on that item. List that item on your budget with the total dollar amount that you spend/plan to spend each month. Deduct that amount from the dollar amount that is left from your income.
If you still have money left from your income after you deduct that last planned budget item then you can refer back to your expenses list and find the next most important thing and calculate how much you spend/want to spend each month. Add that item to your budget list and deduct that from your income. Continue doing this until you have everything you find important listed and accounted for or until you have no more income left. Make sure that if building a savings account is important to you that you include savings as one of your line items. I would highly recommend a savings and an emergency fund, because life does happen and it's not always how we plan.
I have created a sample budget to show how a budget can work. I built my budget based on a $3000.00 monthly income. These figures are fictional, but can show exactly how a budget works.
In this sample budget I have listed $1700.00 in monthly bills. I will deduct that from my $3000 monthly income. That will leave me with $1300.00 for my incidental/extra expenses. So lets see a sample budget for these additional expenses
As you can see, I have included a basic savings account that I personally use for those big items such as a down payment on a car or a house. And as that amount grows larger, it becomes savings for my future and retirement. As I spoke about earlier, I added an emergency fund and a vacation fund. I personally like to keep these funds separate. A vacation isn't an emergency and I don't want to wipe out my complete savings to go on vacation. An emergency could happen to you the day after you get home or three weeks later as was the case for me one year. You see, we went on vacation and three weeks later my car died with no notice and totally unplanned. I had to buy a new car. Most recently, we went away for a long weekend and the day I got back my laptop died necessitating the purchase of a new laptop. Thank heavens for an emergency fund! You will see other line items that are self explanatory. But maybe you don't know what I mean when I say incidental fund. I like to include an incidental fund. There will be the day that you forget your lunch and have to pick up a lunch at a restaurant or any number of unexpected expenses. A budget needs to have the freedom to live a little. However, for me that incidental fund becomes a challenge to see how much I can save from my incidental funds. If I want a big item that isn't included in my budget, I try to save every penny from my incidental fund until I have enough to purchase that wanted item.
Creating a budget doesn't mean never buying new clothes or going out to eat. It doesn't mean denying yourself the luxuries of life that you really enjoy. Creating a budget is a way to make sure that you have the money for what truly is important to you. It gives you the roadmap to financial freedom.
Financial freedom is well within your ability. Your dreams of traveling full time, quitting your job and being your own boss is sitting right in front of you. Now is the time to get your finances in order and make the changes that are necessary to this life of living free. Most people start looking at a financially independent life and jump right to ideas to earn money that are away from a typical nine to five job as the first step. This is a great start because it is important to set these ideas into place so that you can begin to build your stream of income. However, one of the very first things that a person needs to do is to sit down and take a deep look at their expenditures. They need to look at their budget, or create a budget if one is not in place. Taking a deep look at your true cost of living is so very important. Research your expenditures. It will give you a roadmap to successful financial freedom.
Review your Spending
Each week, I sit down with an old fashioned accounting book and my receipts. I write down the date of a purchase, the store and the amount that I spent. Everything goes into this book. A two dollar purchase at a convenience store for a drink? It’s in there right beside the larger purchase for a computer or a down payment for a vacation. No expense is inconsequential. Why do I do this? It seems like a lot of work to a most people. However, this simple act of notating my expenses is important for a few reasons. The first and most important reason is that it keeps me in check and I can know that I am not overspending my income. Secondly it gives me a very clear picture of where I am spending my money. Am I dropping hundreds of dollars a month on random useless purchase? Last but not least, It helps me keep my budget up to date and relevant to my current life status.
Track your Expenses
Why is it important to know where I am spending? As you move to financial freedom there is going to be a moment that you are going to be taking that leap of faith to quit your job and allow your side hustle become your main source of income. There is going to be that time when it’s time to step into the RV and drive away for a life of full time travel. Or maybe that magical moment will be when you quit your job and can work from home for yourself doing what makes you happy. Whatever your dream, there will be a wondrous moment when you decide that it is time to fly with that dream. You need to know exactly what you are spending each week. You need to know what your basic financial needs truly are. Do you need $1000 to live or will you require $3000 a month? You need to know what your goal is and tracking your expenses is instrumental to creating that goal.
Cut your Expenses
Furthermore, if you want to reach that ultimate goal a bit more quickly, you can pare back your spending so that you can reach your goals faster. What are you spending your money on? Are you picking up a lackluster breakfast every morning at a fast food restaurant. Something you don’t really like, but it’s just convenient? In that case, when you see the $25 a week/$100 a month that you are spending, you may just decide that the convenience is not worth the money you are spending. That may be worth the convenience to you, but maybe that weekly and daily purchase may be holding you back.
Spend time looking at your expenditures each time you review your logs. Look for weeks where you found better bargains for the same service or product. Review your information to determine what differences occur between weeks. Think about what is important to you. Is it really important to have that $5 cup of coffee or will a to go cup from home work just as well? Be willing to compromise. A $5 cup of coffee may not be worth it, but a $1 cup of coffee at the gas station may be the perfect solution. Find what works for you in the most financially sound way. Look at your expenses! Decide what is important and start spending your income on things that are worthwhile to you. Only you can decide what is important for your life and what you can easily cut or at least scale back. Cutting back my expenditures in my case is super important for a few reasons. The first an main reason is that I want to save as much money as I possibly can. Many of my goals and dreams require some large expenses right up front. There are expenses like the purchase of an RV and/or the purchase of a home. But even beyond building my savings account, cutting my expenses and therefore my monthly budget will allow me to reach my goal to be financially independent at a lower budgeted amount! That sounds like a really good reason to cut expenses to me! There is no one size fits all solution to looking at expenses. What is important to one person is not important to the next person. However, you should be willing to look at where your money is being used with an open mind. Research the way that you spend money and the trends that you have with your income. At the very least, you need to know exactly what your expenses are so that you can decide how to work that into your future financial plans. At the best you will find ways that you can cut your expenses in order to reach your financial freedom more quickly!
Maybe you want to travel full time and need a source of income? Are you looking for a side hustle to help pay for your new car, RV or motorcycle? Maybe you are wanting to work from home and move toward being your own boss. Whatever your reasons, there are ample opportunities online to become financially free and independent for someone that is willing to invest a bit of time and energy. It is more than possible to quit your day job and live off of the income you can generate on your own. It will most likely not be easy. It will most likely take some time and work. It could very well lead to one of the most rewarding times in your life. How would you like to be earning enough income to support your dreams and ambitions? I am here to tell you that it can be done! People are doing it, each and everyday. There are people travelling the world in vans and RV's, living off of their online income. There are people that have purchased their dream house, quit their job and followed every imaginable dream. And you can do it too. There is no deep secret. The ideas and means are found right at your fingertips, and I will be providing a list to get you started.
This list is by no means the only way that a person can make money online. Nor is this list intended to be the holy grail of everything one must do in order to achieve a state of financial freedom. This list is designed to not only give someone ideas as they make their own plans, but it is also designed to help spark the creativity within our minds. Try as many of these ideas as you possibly can. But at the same time, let your mind go free and think of ways that you can take these ideas and expand to make them bigger, better and uniquely yours!
Start a blog to earn money
Are you a subject matter expert at something? Do you enjoy writing? Creating a blog and a website is actually quite easy. There are a wide variety of companies that will host and manage the website for you. Furthermore, there is still money to be made in blogs. It may take a bit more work than it did just a few years back, but it is very much still a way to earn money on the internet. Starting a blog doesn't have to be a costly proposition. You can start a simple blog for free at blogger or Wordpress. From there you can add on to get your own domain name, upgrade your service levels at Wordpress or chose a different website/blog hosting site.
Start a YouTube channel
YouTube has exploded with videos created by people just like you and me. Some of these creators have managed to make a VERY decent income off of their videos! In 2019 the top earner made $26 million! That is at the top end, but I also know a 19 year old that lives locally and he is making $100,000 a year off of his YouTube channel. There is money to be made on YouTube! And it's easy to begin. Setting up a YouTube channel is free, just visit the website and start filming. Of course, to start your own channel you will need some sort of camera to film your footage and don't forget your imagination! Some people film with their phones, but I invested and bought a GoPro Hero 7 (affiliate link) due to the fact that I sometimes film hikes and mountain bike rides and needed something that was hearty and was capable of filming action scenes well. I have not regretted that decision even once! It has been so awesome for creating videos that I may soon upgrade to the GoPro Hero 8! (affiliate link)
Capitalize on your photography skills
Sell your photography through websites that specialize in selling stock photography. There are a variety of websites that you can join that will manage your photographs. The royalties vary from site to site and you can still retain the rights to your photography through many of these sites. If you love photography and have multiple hard drives filled with high quality pictures, this is a great option to make some money. There are a few different sites out there. Adobe Stock and Shutterstock are just two of them, there are plenty more options out there. Pick the site that best meets your desires based on the terms and conditions.
Write an ebook
If you have always wanted to write a book or have already done so, consider self publishing. The market is wide open for self publishing and one of the easiest places to do so is through Amazon. Amazon has made the process quick and painless. I have self published a few items, most recently a memoir about online dating. The sky is the limit. Write whatever genre interests you most: How to, fiction, non fiction whatever you want! Find your niche and self publish!
Help companies out with their need for well written documents and earn a bit of money at the same time. Sites like Writer Access and iwriter are great sites that open up the doors to start building a reputation and portfolio. These sites may pay a bit less than some of the larger freelance websites, but these sites are perfect for beginners because it is easier to snag a job. Write when you want and where you want by accepting the jobs and deadlines that work with your desired schedule
Create a Product to Sell
Do you have a great idea for a craft item that everyone would love? Something that is unique? Well made? Fun? Start creating and start selling your items on the internet. You can definitely sell your products on your own website that you build and maintain. However, if you want to make it a bit easier on yourself, set up a store on Etsy.
Visit a freelance marketplace and pick up random gigs. You can go on and advertise your services at a place like Fivver and earn money for your services. This is a lower paying site offering low budget services, but it is another great place to work on building your portfolio and actually obtaining jobs.
People are listening to podcasts, a lot. As of April 2020 it was estimated that 25% of the population listened to podcasts weekly. But who is creating those podcasts? People like you and me. Everyday people that have something to say. Find a niche and start talking! You can start your own podcast at websites like Spreaker.
Build your internet presence and capitalize on that presence. Utilize some of the various Affiliate Marketing programs. Recommend products and include a link. Anyone that clicks that link and purchases will earn you a small commission. Amazon is one of the most common affiliate marketing programs, but you can find a multitude of them if you look.
Another way that you can capitalize on the internet presence that you build is through advertisements. With a relatively low amount of work, you can allow advertisements to be placed on your website, before and during your youtube videos and in other prominent places online. You will receive a small fee for every time someone clicks on the ad. AdSense is one of the main advertisement websites that is used, but there are plenty of other ones out there, including but not limited to Adthrive and smarty ads.
Quit your Job
Financial Freedom is at your fingertips. There is no reason why you too can't utilize these 10 methods for making money online and realize your every dream. The dream to live independently from a typical job and to have enough money to live a full and vibrant life is yours.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.