December 20, 2014

My first travel post

So excited to announce this as this is my first major adventure in regards to travel. I'm currently on a bus to Oakland, California from eastern Oregon. 24 hour trip and totally worth it.

I'm not an experienced traveler. This first experience is good for those of you getting ready for your first trip - an experiment in adventure. You can learn from me what I learned the hard way.

So here's my list of prep tips. You'll see more on the actual trip later.

1. Make a list of everything you need to bring. Right before you leave, check it. We forgot our water bottle.
2. If it freezes where you live and you're leaving for more than a day, shut your water off at the source and drain your pipes.
3. Make a budget. Save ahead of time. Spare change is a miracle. We saved our spare change in a piggy bank for six months. It can out to over $94. On minimum wage, folks.
4. Research costs, places to visit. Food in Cali is 3 times the cost where I live. Disney world is even worse.
5. Pack light. I'll write more about this later, but in short it will save you time, baggage fees and stress.
6. Buses are wonderful places to meet people. So are airports. I'm not a social person but travel is a rare opportunity to expand your horizons. Consider this part of the experience, its certainly memorable.
7. Take pictures of what you eat. And everything else. Phones are great, I didn't bring my nice camera because I didn't need it.
8. Keep a light journal with some highlights you can look back on.
9. Keep receipts, ticket stubs, etc. Screw souvenirs.
10. Leave your house clean. Coming home to a spotless house makes recovery from travel immensely easier.
11. Bring a water bottle with a built in filter. Not only will this save you money, its cleaner than bottled water and a lot of places won't let you bring outside drinks but they will allow reusable bottles.

I hope some of this helps. What did you learn this first time you traveled?

November 13, 2014

The Cause of Financial Emergencies

Its exhausting living paycheck to paycheck, constantly terrified of what could happen when the funds run out. You try to budget, spend wisely, work hard. But there's never enough. Something always comes up. Pregnancy, eviction, family emergency, job opportunity, snowstorm, food runs out, hospital bill, check returned, dogs hit by a car, etc.

Frequent financial emergencies that drain your savings account are a direct result of too many financial responsibilities. Do you have more pets than you can take care of? Have you been taking care of someone or lending out money? Do you have kids to take care of? A car? A rental or owned home? Debt? A job that requires a payment from you, such as a personal business or trucking?

It sounds awful, but if your budget is balanced, you can't find a way to bring in more income, and you find yourself facing emergency financial moments this is what you have to do: cut your responsibilities or find help with them.

I'm not saying don't feed your kids. But maybe sell that 2014 truck and get yourself a sturdy Chevy that costs you 1/10th the price and is cheaper to fix. And cheaper to insure.

The second step of budgeting is emergency and longterm planning. Your dog needs vaccines? You should have prepared for this.

Now your whole stability is threatened by a preventable event.

But say you're in my situation - where its vaccines or the gas bill? It means you have too many responsibilities. Learn to say no.

I want kids really badly. I'm saying no, not until my husband can work. My car needs repairs. I'm going to make sure the house I'm renting is insulated for the winter first.

You have to prioritize. Because especially when money is tight, it is a finite resource that won't magically multiply. Make sure you have a real emergency cushion - because things can always get worse. Plan ahead for what you can afford. Say no or ask for help for the things you can't.