A Random Wednesday Morning

It’s a random Wednesday morning. I am sitting in the concierge lounge of a Marriott Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. On this morning I had a random thought … spend less.

To be honest it’s not so random. Before I left Atlanta, my garage looked like a warehouse (from all the shipments I have received this week). So much so that hubby had to “organize” all the boxes. Additionally, I analyzed my last Amex statement by category (by hand) last night to see where my money went and how many times I made purchases in each category. As an example, I have two (2) charges for gas, totaling $76.93 (not so bad). By stark contrast, I had thirty one (yes, 31) charges at Target totaling $1,771.37 with $428.11 in returns, bringing the total to $1,343,26. Yes, I know that when you order stuff online they sometimes will charge you multiple times for a single order (depending on where your items are shipping from). Also, most of those expenses are Christmas Decorating (mostly one-time in a new house); but, in my humble opinion that’s still WAAAYYY too much! 🤦🏽‍♀️

Side note: Not to go off of a tangent; but, I do use my American Express card for everything. I also pay it off every month so interest is not a concern.

So my general goal is to spend less. PeriodT! It’s way too easy for me to click a button and order something from Amazon and Target. That will stop. If I can just get a couple of categories under control my monthly financial analysis (that I often do not do) would look so much different! I have three (3) goals:

  1. Limit Target/Amazon purchases to one time a week (maximum). Ideally I should be able to get by with one or two times a month; but, baby steps… Fridays are the only day I will shop in Target. I am ditching Amazon for a while. I also deleted both apps from my phone.
  2. Spend $0 on paper and planning supplies. I have enough paper. I don’t need anymore.
  3. Actually pay attention to what I am being charged at the checkout counter (in any store) and review my bill! I cannot tell you how many times I walk out of a store with a basket full of goodies and have no idea what I paid. #smh

We Don’t Buy Things with Money, We Buy Them with Hours from our Life. read this

So that’s it for me! When is the last time you analyzed your spending? For me, it’s super easy because I put all my charges on one card. As we go into the holiday/shopping season (when I tend to view so many buying guides online), I highly encourage you to do a similar exercise on your most used account (if you have more than one). When you do so, set realistic goals for yourself. Your eyes will truly be opened for the better and your wallet/bank account will thank you!

Financial Peer Pressure

Before you read, L-I-S-T-E-N to this!!!!

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Over the years, I’ve noticed that moment when each of my children started caring about what other people think of them. One by one, I’ve watched as the opinions of others become a big deal in their own decision-making.  As smart, mature adults, we have a term for that: peer pressure.

game-of-lifeThis can cause all sorts of trouble in our financial lives. Instead of making financial decisions based on what will be best for us, we start doing things based on what others will think. We end up trying to live other people’s financial lives. Very few people actually pay attention to how and why they use money. When pushed, they have a hard time separating their “why” from someone else’s “why.” Not everybody you try to “model” your life after has the same financial makeup as you (income, expenses, assets, liabilities), so trying to “match” what you see in fact may work for someone else but may not work for you!

The goal is to separate what we want from what everyone else wants. Only then can we start to ignore the peer pressure we all told ourselves we left behind in high school. Personal finance is exactly that: personal. There are some basic pillars of personal finance, sure. Beyond that, all you can do is soak in the advice, learn the basics, and make decisions that benefit you the most.

The content of this post originally appeared in The New York Times and Lifehacker.

Amazon Subscribe & Save

I’m all for life hacks – those are the things people invent, make up or just do, to get rid of mundane tasks in their lives. One extreme example, wearing the same outfit everyday, was made famous by the late Apple CEO & billionaire Steve Jobs, adopted by Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and was recently reported on as a trend by The New York Times (for men and women). I also heard a scaled back version of this very same concept from one of the CIO’s at my company: He went out and purchased 10 sets of the exact same (color) socks and wears the same one everyday. He also took brown completely out of his wardrobe and wears only black & gray as his base colors (reduces the need to own and maintain different color shoes, belts, etc). His morning complexity is now greatly reduced!

Amazon-SS

I’ve told you before that one life hack I implemented in my own life is to not pay any bills (my bills do get paid … it’s all just automated). Well, I have another tip for you today! Amazon’s Subscribe & Save is just what is says: you pick an item that you use A LOT, like one you use everyday and can’t live without – and tell Amazon to automatically send it to you at the interval you specify (i.e. 4 weeks, 5 weeks, whatever works for you!). You will get discounts up to 15% off each order! As an added bonus, they have even have coupons specifically for products that offer the subscribe & save feature. (some product’s aren’t setup for Subscribe & Save)

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 7.04.53 AMCan you think of any products that may fit this category? How about toilet tissue?? Soap? Deodorant? Toothpaste? Lotion? Why even spend time thinking about these things? Automate this part of your life!!! … Set It and Forget It! In fact, an article from one of the blogs I read daily inspired this post and listed the following 10 things to order automatically: pet food, dishwasher tablets, diapers/wipes, coffee pods, toilet paper, cooking oils, vitamins, furnace filters (serves as a great reminder), shampoo/conditioner and cat litter. The hardest part is figuring out what frequency to pick for each item. Amazon shows you the most common frequency selected by customers (i.e. every 3 weeks) but keep in mind, this will vary by household. I would air on the side of caution with this selection and pick the next highest one (4 weeks in this case). And always remember, you can change the frequency at any time. If you’re nervous about this, start small and then ramp up as you get more comfortable with the program. You may, for example, decide to start out with one extremely basic item, like toilet paper and see how that goes.

So of course, there may be times that local stores like Sams, Costco, Wal-Mart, Target may have these items cheaper, and/or on special as reported here; BUT; ask yourself these questions: How long do you spend looking for and identifying these deals? When you do find a deal/sale, how much are you actually saving? How much gas do you need to use traveling to/from these places? Is this worth your time? Or would you rather spend your valuable time thinking about or doing something more productive???

Happy Subscribing & Saving! ~Bri

Shop here.

What’s in your Pocket?

pocketappI usually never really care about how much data I use on my phone, mostly because I’m always in a Wi-Fi zone; but, when I travel oversees matters because International Data is expensive! Since I usually spend ~40 minutes each day in a cab each traveling to/from work, finding a data-friendly option that helps me maximize my time is important. The app I faithfully use is called Pocket. Pocket lets you save articles you may run across throughout the course of the day for reading later (no internet connection required). You could save an article your friend to you, links from your Twitter feed or a fashion article you run across on the web (translation: no need to email yourself the link and clog your inbox). Once you sign up for an account (free) and download the app (also free), all you need to do is right-click on any link you want to “save for offline reading” and select Save to Pocket. It’s that simple! Before you leave your friendly Wi-Fi zone, just be sure to open the app and sync it. Because Pocket is a Cloud service, no matter what platform you use to log into/modify your account (Web browser, iPad, iPhone), it will always stay in sync! #HappyReading