How I Saved $600 Without Even Trying

I am notoriously bad at saving money. Budgeting has always been a struggle for me, mainly because I screwed up my credit pretty bad when I was younger.

I sign up for recurring subscriptions and forget about them until the money is taken out of my bank account.

I’m still struggling with having a proper budget (and believe me, I’ve read about a zillion blog posts and have tried different programs, apps, and templates).

Even when I have a separate savings account, it’s easy for me to just transfer the money to cover bills.

Investing seems too much like a challenge.

So, how do I have over $600 saved right now? [Edit: Since I’ve written this post, my savings are now up to $1000)

Enter Digit

Well, I mentioned the “signing up for things and forgetting about them”. That’s sort of what happened with the savings. A few months ago, in one of those money-saving articles, I read about Digit. Their tagline is “Save money, without thinking about it.”

Appealing, right?

I couldn’t even tell you when I signed up for it, but according to my history, the first withdrawal of $1.74 happened in November. The first few withdrawals were small – less than $5. That’s a direct correlation of what was available in my bank account.

Digit checks your spending habits and moves money from your checking account to your Digit account, if you can afford it.

I know it sounds pretty crazy but I see the transactions with “Hello Digit” on my bank statement and don’t really think about it. Sometimes, it’s as much as a cup of coffee. Other times, it’s what I would spend on a dinner at a restaurant (but didn’t).

I don’t have to think about it – and that’s been the most effective way of saving money right now.

If you’re interested in trying it out, use my referral link.  (I do get $5 if you sign up using my link). You can always pause the withdrawals, and your money is available for withdrawal 24/7/365 (but I personally try to forget about that).

Update: Since I’ve written this post, Digit has announced that they will now be charging a $2.99 monthly fee for their service after the first 100 days. They will also be upping their Savings Bonus from 0.20% to 1%. More details here.

What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to budgeting? How are you overcoming the challenges when it comes to saving money?

 

Free Kindle Books

Hey y’all. Quick post to tell you guys about a site I am currently obsessed with. (For my REAL post from today, click here. I know, I’m blogging again. Crazy.)

Back to the site…

We know I love love LOVE my books and I am opposed to e-readers. Well, I was opposed to buying an E-Reader just for the sake of having one but now that I have my iPad, and there’s a Kindle app…I was still resisting.

Until.

UNTIL this site appeared on my radar.

Pixel of Ink

Pixel of Ink is, from their About page:

Pixel of Ink features daily publishing of Free & Bargain eBooks.

Here’s what you will find for both the Kindle and Nook:

  • Free eBooks – both the Limited Time Offers and often forgotten but Popular Classics
  • Bargain eBooks that are highly rated (4-stars and up) yet a bargain at under $1under $3, or under $5
  • eReader accessories for the Kindle and Nook that are an absolute steal of a deal (i.e. 50% off or more)

Prices & availability are accurate at the time of posting and are subject to change, and may differ from one country to another.

~*~*~

So, basically, free Kindle books.

They also have this page with useful links that have all sorts of deals, not just for books. So, ya know, go ahead and bookmark it.

I am in no way, shape or form affiliated with Pixel of Ink. Just wanted to share an awesome new site.

They’re also on Facebook.

Happy reading!!

Savings, Dealios, Etc etc

Hello my loves,
I LOVE a good sale & I know that you do too!  This post is just to share with you some of the ‘sale’ sites that I have bookmarked, justincase you haven’t already signed up for a FREE account.

You never know when that perfect item that you need for your kitchen/trip/personal style/work wardrobe/date night outfit/whatever your heart desires will be on sale so why don’t you just sign up for these?

I suggest (if you want to keep it separate) creating a GMail account just for sales, surveys, etc that you can then tack on to your main account so it’ll be convenient but not in your face.

Here are a few:

Special for Moms & Mom-t0-Bes:

Totsy – Why you will love Totsy

  • Exclusive sales for kids, moms and families
  • Sales last up to 3 days, plenty of time to shop.
  • Savings of up to 90% off retail.
  • A tree is planted for your first purchase.
  • Membership is free
  • 100% green.

Zulily – Daily deals for moms, babies & kids.

Other goodies

Fab.com – I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this site. All their sales are fantastic and their referral program is kick-ass. There’s something for EVERYONE.

Modnique

Ideeli

Rue La La (You can also get savings from UPromise when you shop from Rue La La)

HauteLook (Savings from UPromise)

RowNine

One Kings Lane (Home decor)

Gilt (Also provides Upromise savings)

Beyond the Rack

Billion Dollar Babes

the Foundary

The Sample Sale

That, my loves, is all that I have for right now. I will also have a blog post on coupon blogs that I love soon!

Much love!

Advertise & Give to a Good Cause = Win-Win

I’m going to start letting you guys advertise on my blog, if you choose.  This is for three reasons:

1)I’m blogging more often so you’d get more exposure.

2) Being a full-time freelancer means a girl’s gotta use all her assets.

3) I want to be able to give to charity, but because of #2, I have to get creative.

I haven’t figured out the pricing 100%…but I do know that 10% of my proceeds every month will go into a charity fund.  Every three months, with your help, we’ll pick a cause to help.

When I was blogging on Myspace [Don’t laugh, I promise I’ll tell you the story behind this], I got the idea to do an online auction. 24 hours. Purely using the blog and items that other bloggers contributed to the auction.  My first one raised about $1000 back in 2006. Three months later, the second one raised over $1500.

All in 24 hours.

Since I can’t do this right now (I am hoping to put this into effect again in the future. Please do not steal my idea because it is my baby and part of a bigger plan), I’m getting creative.

I will have 5 ad spots on my right sidebar which is currently inactive.

You can rent a spot on a monthly or 3-month basis.

You can promote your blog, business or Etsy.

The first ads will go live in April.

If you’re interested, or know someone who would be, please e-mail me: berrakdc@gmail.com.

& Spread the word.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

I’ll take suggestions for the first charity in this blog.

Show Me the Money!

Thank you to TurboTax for sponsoring my writing about household finances.Learn more about how TurboTax can help you find every tax deduction you deserve. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

One of the biggest issues between couples is money. Let’s face it: You’re always going to get stressed out about money.  Maybe one of you is awful at budgeting, or has a credit card addiction (Like Lily in How I Met Your Mother).

In our house, the current issue is that there’s only one steady source of income, and I happen to be awful at scheduling things.  The truth is that I have more debt than the Boy, and I’m working on it but sometimes I just don’t want to DEAL with it. (Which can be super problematic).

I’m also very proud, and have been super independent so being the one who is NOT bringing in the income, and having to discuss my budget with the Boy can be frustrating and downright embarrassing but necessary.

There are a few things we do to make things easier, and get the money management under control:

1) Create a monthly calendar. As much as I love my apps, and technology, sometimes you just need to see things written down. We print out a blank calendar at the beginning of every month and write down the due dates for the bills so we can plan better.

2) Scope out sales. I am a big coupon clipper. I do not have the patience for extreme couponing, but I get things on sale, make the most of my coupons and sign up for sale alerts for everything from groceries to clothes to technology. I’m going to do a more extensive post on this later.

3) Make the most of your dollars.  There are a ton of websites and programs out there that provide rewards for your spending.  The Seattle trip I’m going in two days? My flight was completely free because of rewards I earned simply by using my debit card.  (Again, more on this  later)

4) Don’t be silly. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you have to get it. Figure out what’s a necessity and what you can put off until next month.  Don’t be a hoarder.

5) Allow yourself to indulge. Just because you are tightening the belt doesn’t mean there is no fun allowed. Indulge in something that makes you happy (As simple as a cup of coffee or a Happy Hour) but don’t go overboard. It just adds to the stress later on.

6) COMMUNICATE. This applies more to a couple than an individual but it’s important to communicate with each other regarding household finances no matter how frustrating it may feel.

Do you have any tips for managing your household finances?  What’s your biggest problem when it comes to budgeting?

On your way out, be sure to stop by the DC Princess page on Facebook and hit ‘Like’, will you? Thanks!

[Jobs] The Ritual

It’s a ritual.

First, check e-mail for any replies from the previous inquiries. Check voicemail, just in case your phone is malfunctioning and you actually have 5 instead of 0. Curse yourself for getting your hopes up.  Get back on the computer and click on the first bookmarked site.

Scroll down until you see a link you’ve already clicked on and move forward from there.  Click on every listing. Read through. Twice. Check out the company to get as many details as you can.

Move your mouse over to the document that is always open on your computer to customize it for every listing. Details are important. Re-read the cover letter 3 times before saving it.  Switch over to your browser & click on your e-mail. Do a search in your sent messages to make sure you haven’t applied to this one before. (Sometimes, they re-list).

“Compose message”

Compose, attach, sign, send.

Rinse, lather, repeat 3 times a day.

Then go socialize at a networking event with the hopes of meeting someone who can at least give you a lead, or simply emphatize.

Job hunting is a full-time job. I did it for a full year while I was at a job that I hated.  It’s painfully frustrating, and in this economy, sometimes impossible to cope with on a daily basis when the e-mails you send seem to disappear without reaching the recipient.

A couple of weeks ago, while stressing about money, I thought I would get back to my ritual.  Maybe I was wrong about this whole freelancing/school/interning deal. I wasn’t built for not working full-time. It’s all I know how to do so I went back to my ritual.

There were tons of jobs out there. I clicked on a link for an executive assistant position and went to work on my cover letter. A sinking feeling took over me and I had a small anxiety attack.  The idea of going back to a life where I had a 9-5 that I hated simply because it paid wasn’t something I could accept.

Then I got mad at myself for being selfish. Who was I to scoff at a 9-5 when there are people out there performing the same ritual?

And then I remembered I do have a full-time job: To take the chance I’ve been given and make the most of it.

I started on this path knowing it would be difficult.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to not get out of bed in the morning to go to a job I loathed.

I just have a new ritual.

DC Job Sources:

Craig’s List

Media Bistro

Journalism Jobs

DC Public Affairs & Communications Jobs

Washington Post


Just Keep Walking

One of the reasons I love living in the city is that I can walk everywhere. Of course, it requires that the weather be under 100 degrees but recently, the fall in DC has been my best friend.  Monday morning, I left my house and walked to Chinatown.  It took me about 20 minutes and running errands in the city has never felt like running errands. It gives me a chance to explore the city. Sometimes, when I’m not paying attention, I’ll take a wrong turn and walk an extra 3 blocks before getting to my destination. [Kind of like life.]

The wrong turns lead me to discover new destinations, new stops and snapshots of the city I wouldn’t have known were there if I hadn’t taken that wrong turn. [Go figure]

Every day, I wake up wondering when that feeling of dread is going to hit me.  The unrelenting doubt, the fears – when will they finally catch up with me and come crashing down?

And they never do.

My life has never been as stable and fulfilling as it is today. In this moment.

All because I kept walking.

Sure, there are moments here and there when things are still rough.  There are still issues hanging over my head [debt] and unfinished business before I can move on [school] but those are all things I’m working toward and they are not holding me back.

I was talking to the Boy the other day and as I was trying to make sense of all the good things, I came to one conclusion: Everything is going positively because I took charge by overcoming my insecurities. No matter what goes on around me, and what other people choose to see, all it matters is how I approach my life.

I keep walking and I approach it without regrets.

After all, if I can tell my dad that I’m living with the Boy and live…I can pretty much take on the world.

[Which is what I intend to do]

****

Don’t forget that I have my Etsy shop open. Four prints are up there now but I’m hoping to have more up next week. Help a girl out and grab a great picture for your home, will ya?

Today’s Deals: 4/8/2010

Hey guys, I promised a few people that I would ‘share the wealth’ since I always go for bargains and/or freebies/samples.

Tip of the day: Create an email account to use ONLY for signing up for free samples, etc. That way, your inbox isn’t bombarded with deals and you have a place to go to for all your freebies/offers/deals.

Let me tell you about a few things for today:

Do you love Mac&Cheese? Why not try a free sample of the Mac&Cheese CRACKERS:

I love John Frieda and LOVE it even more when they have promotions for free samples:

Same with Pantene:

Dove is giving away a free sample of Dove Daily Treatment Conditioner.

I love receiving news letters with financial advice since I’m on a super budgeting kick and this one is directed to women:

Let me know what kind of deals you are interested in and I will keep doing this…Probably once a week, unless really good, short-term deals come along.

I will also probably do one blog post a week with a coupon list from various stores/sites.

Give me suggestions on what you would like to see…I like to share the wealth!!