Tag: budget

52 Week Money Saving Challenge

Are you familiar with the 52 Week Money Saving Challenge? I like the idea of a savings challenge, but I am not 100% on board with how it is set up. The typical plan challenges you to save $1 the first week, $2 the second week…until you save $52 the last week of the year. It’s a simple way to save an additional $1,378 in 52 weeks, but I do see how this can be a struggle when December rolls around.

52 Week Money Saving Challenge Printables

Compare what you are saving the first 4 weeks of the year to the last 4 weeks of the year.

  • During the first 4 weeks, you save a total of $10. Average: $2.50 per week.
  • During the last 4 weeks, you save a total of $202. Average: $50.50 per week. 

Saving $2.50 per week is probably not a huge struggle. $50.50 per week may be harder to accomplish, especially considering that this takes place in December.

I created a 52-Week Money Saving Challenge Printable back in 2014. The original printable was for the year 2015, but now I have an undated version for you to use any year. You can start this challenge at any point throughout the year.

The original 52-Week Money Saving Challenge ($1 per week, $2 per week, etc.) results in a savings of $1,378 in a year. You will still end up saving $1,378 with this updated challenge, but it will be easier to save when you spread it out. 

If you do decide to start this challenge in January, this schedule will be much easier as you will be set up to save the least amount in December. You will save $110 during each 4-week cycle, with an exception of the last 4 weeks of the year. If money is tight in December, you will feel relief! This schedule asks you to save only $58 during the last 4 weeks. You will only have to set aside $8 in your budget to save the last week of the year. $8 is much easier than $52!52 Week Money Saving Challenge Printables FREE Printable52 Week Money Saving Challenge

I am also including the reverse version of the original challenge. Save $52 the first week, $51 the second week…until you save $1 the last week. Pick the schedule that works best for you.

52 Week Money Saving Challenge Reverse Printable

FREE Printable: 52 Week Money Saving Challenge_Reverse

It can be easier to make saving a priority when you know what your goals are. Writing down your goals can make you feel more accountable. At the bottom of the printable, there is a place to write down your savings goal.

Write down what you are saving for: Mortgage? Vacation? Home updates? College fund? Credit card debt? Feel free to share in the comments:

Why are you saving? What is your goal?

Do you need to establish financial goals, develop a budget and stick to it, kill off debt, and get clear on what your financial picture looks like? Check out the Real Life Money Plan eCourse by Jessi at jessifearon.com.

Here is more info on the course:

  • The course includes 13 video lessons.
  • This is a self-paced online course, which means that you can take this course at your leisure. There is no time restriction on when you can start.
  • There is a 25 page pdf workbook to accompany the course that acts as practical application for the lessons you will learn in the course. 
  • There are bonus trainings that will walk you through setting up a zero-balanced budget and reconciling your bank statements. 
  • There is a 30-day money back guarantee. If you are unhappy for whatever reason, you get a refund. 

She is gifted at encouragement and is an enthusiastic teacher. If you have ANY desire to design a money plan that fits your life, I suggest you check out her eCourse.

I had the opportunity to view Jessi’s course and her passion for helping you is so evident. She asks you to commit and not just go through the motions as she wants you to succeed! She wants you to focus on progress, not past failures. She will motivate you to move forward with the best decisions for YOU.

Jessi’s work has been featured on Buzzfeed, Rockstar Finance, TIME/Motto Magazine, Money Saving Mom, and The Penny Hoarder. 

Don’t forget to PIN this post for later!

52 Week Savings Challenge Printable. Save money every week and track your progress on the printable

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

Automate Your Savings Plan

Why You Should Automate Your Savings Plan. Resource Page including free Automatic Savings Printable Worksheet.

I am excited to be a contributor in The Budget Mama’s 21 Days to a Better Budget series.

Yesterday I shared Why You Should Automate Your Savings Plan

Why You Should Automate Your Savings Plan

It seems bold to say that making savings automatic can save you thousands of dollars, but it most definitely can. Here is my experience from two loans we paid off.

We had a student loan with a monthly payment of approximately $85. This was withdrawn automatically from our checking account every month. We decided to pay off the student loan with a portion of our savings and had every intention to put the monthly $85 into a savings account for our daughters’ schooling. We paid off the loan…and did nothing else.

That was 3 years ago. Because we didn’t immediately set up an account for saving the $85 we ended up spending the money each month. We missed out on over $3,000 in our daughters’ education savings accounts! By skipping the simple step of making it automatic, we ended up spending the $85 each month instead of saving it.

A year ago, we paid off a second student loan. We didn’t make the same mistake again. We paid off the loan and immediately set up a monthly recurring transfer to the Education Savings account we set up. Within a year, we now have an additional $1,380 in the account because we set up the automatic payment.

The Capital One 360 account currently offers a $25 Bonus on new accounts.

Make the decision to save, but then go the next step and make it automatic. If the payment is not automatic, it’s much easier to think: This month is tight, I will save next month.

Read the rest of the post here

Check out the Automatic Savings Resource Page for a free Automatic Savings Worksheet.

Automatic Savings Worksheet


Automate Your Savings Plan with Free Printable Worksheet

This post contains referral links. 

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

How to Organize Your Bills

Standard Disclosure: In order to support my blogging activities and provide free content on this blog, I may receive a commission if you purchase from the links in this post.

Near the top of my list of things that I will never pay for is late fees. OK…I am not including library late fees in this category. I will pay the occasional quarter so I can finish a book.

It does not make sense to me to have to pay additional money because I forgot or because I was disorganized.

With the amount of mail and e-mail we all have coming our way, it could be easy to misplace a bill. With a packed calendar, it could be easy to have bill paying be pushed to the side. Setting up a bill paying system that works for you can eliminate forgotten bills and late payments.

One single system will not work for everyone. I will share my quick and simple system and then give you a few suggestions in figuring out the flow that works for you. There will even be a few printables to help you organize your bill paying life!

How to Organize Your Bills. Bill Organization Printables.

When a bill enters our home, I immediately do one of two things with it.

  • I open the bill, go online to pay it, and then file the bill. If it is an automatic payment, I just record and file. It just takes a few minutes and it’s done. Touching the bill once is quick and efficient. There is no chance of missing the payment if I paid the bill the minute I received it! If you have a paperless home, you would have to add scanning the bill in as your last step. 
  • If I decide not to pay the bill right then and there, I do not just throw the bill in a pile on the kitchen table. I fear that I would miss the due date or lose the bill if I did not have a specific place for all bills. I simply check the due date on the bill, write a note on my calendar (I use the Tools4Wisdom Planner) a few days before the due date and then place on my desk in the “To Pay” file. As the due date approaches, I see on my calendar that I have a bill due and pay it when I have the time.

Here are a few tips to remember when making sure you pay your bills on time.

  • Have one designated area for all the “To Pay” bills – an accordion file, folder, 3-ring binder.
  • Don’t be afraid to play around with your payment dates. We had our mortgage and our credit card payment due around the same day each month. I called to have our credit card payment date switched so we now have our two largest payments evenly spread throughout the month. Or maybe you prefer to have your bills all due around the same time of the month for ease. Note that you will not be able to do this for all your bills, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  • If you have multiple credit card payments to keep track of, consider simplifying and cut back on the number of credit cards you use. If you have different credit cards due to the various reward programs, but have trouble keeping track of paying your bills on time, then you need to rethink the number of credit cards you have. A late fee could quickly wipe out any rewards earned.
  • Communicate! If bill paying is not a shared responsibility, keep the non-bill paying member in the loop. While I am responsible for paying the bills in our home (because I enjoy it!), my husband and I sit down and I go through our finances regularly so he knows what is going on and he could take over the bill paying if necessary.
  • Have a system to keep track of automatic payments. (Printables below!) Do you live by a home organization binder and want to pull bill paying into your organizational system? I have created a few free printables for you to use.

Bill Payment Checklist How to Organize Your Bills

Pre-Authorized Payment Record How to Organize Your Bills 
Username & Password List How to Organize Your Bills. Username and Password List.

My system is quick and simple. It works for me. How do you keep your bills organized and paid on time?

Do you need to establish financial goals, develop a budget and stick to it, kill off debt, and get clear on what your financial picture looks like? Check out the Real Life Money Plan eCourse by Jessi at jessifearon.com.

How to Organize Your Bills. Bill Organization Printables.

How to Use Target Cartwheel

How to use Target Cartwheel app. I have saved over $700 with this savings app.

Do you want to know a quick & simple way to save at Target? No paper coupon-clipping necessary? Try Target Cartwheel. I have now saved $275.99 in 15 months. This is approximately $220 per year. Not bad!

Update: As of May 2017, I have saved over $700 with Target Cartwheel!

Target Cartwheel is one of my top 3 favorite apps for saving and making money. It is basically a pick-your-own-coupon app. You select the offers that you want and you get a discount. The list of discounts you can receive is extensive. Most deals range from 5% – 50% off.

If you do not have a smartphone, don’t stop reading! The major perk of Cartwheel: you do not have to use a smartphone. You can select the offers from your computer at home and then print the barcode to bring with you to Target.

How to use Target Cartwheel app. I have saved over $700 with this savings app.

I will give you a quick summary of how Target Cartwheel works and then give you my tips for how best to use the app.

  1. Browse for deals
  2. Select deals you wish to use
  3. Scan barcode at checkout

Pretty easy. Here are my tips…

Do a quick scan of the app before you head out to Target. Feel free to skip this step if you shop alone. I typically have two little girls with me and so I cannot stare at my phone the entire time I’m shopping. I will select a few deals from home and it helps my shopping trip go smoothly.

how to use target cartwheel
Target Cartwheel App Menu


Browse the collections. There are multiple collections to choose from and you will soon figure out which ones are most useful to you. The two that I always scan: Weekly Ad and Hot Deals.

  • The Weekly Ad collection includes (not shockingly…) items from the weekly ad. It’s an easy way to save. If toilet paper is on sale in the ad, find it in the Weekly Ad Collection and you save twice!
  • Hot Deals typically includes deals ranging from 25% – 50% off. I quickly scan this section, as I have found a few great items for 50% off. (If I add that to coupons I have or other savings apps I use, this is where I can save big. Think free or almost free.)

Search for items by using search bar. I use the search bar to add products from my shopping list. There are currently 657 items available to select in my cartwheel app, so it’s quicker for me to just use the search bar instead of browsing so many items.

Browse by category (under All Offers). While I do prefer to use the search bar, I do use this on occasion. I often browse the Baby category.  

how to save with Target Cartwheel
Partial Category List within the App

Search for items by scanning barcodes in store. I often scan items as I put them in my cart to see if there are any offers available. If there are no offers matching the barcode, it will sometimes show you similar offers.

Depending on how my two little shoppers have done, I often will be scanning barcodes right before checkout to see if I missed any deals.

Once you have selected your deals, the cashier will simply scan your barcode. They can scan the barcode within your app or from your computer print-out.

There are no coupons to clip and worry about. Cartwheel is an easy way to save on items that you would already be purchasing. I would recommend using it all by itself if you have no desire to clip coupons.

How to Save Even More…

But…if you are willing to clip coupons, you will save even more! You can use Cartwheel on top of manufacturer’s coupons, Target coupons, and other savings apps. And don’t forget the 5% from the Target REDcard.

I often use Cartwheel along with the following savings apps:

If you are willing to spend a little extra time to look through multiple apps, you may be able to get products for free or almost free!

Not willing {or just don’t care enough} to spend the extra time?? You will still save quite a bit just using Cartwheel.

*Please note a few links above are referral links. I receive a small referral bonus if you sign up and redeem an offer. The link to Target Cartwheel is NOT a referral link.

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

How to Save Money with Ibotta

How to Save Money With Ibotta. A step-by-step guide.

Last week I shared my three favorite apps for saving and making money. I saved $298.00 in less than 16 months with Ibotta * (including $71 in August alone!) and thought it deserved its own post. I will show you how to save money with Ibotta in this step-by-step guide. I will share my best tips!

Update May 2017: I have now received $632.05 cash back from Ibotta!

How to Save Money With Ibotta. A step-by-step guide.

The app gives cash back (rebates) at multiple stores. As of today, I see over 160 retailers, including some online stores. See partial list at bottom of post.

The quick steps:

  • Browse the app and find the rebates you want.
  • Complete the quick task. Example: Take a Poll or Learn a Fact.
  • Purchase the product.
  • Verify purchases and submit receipt by taking a picture.
  • Cash back is added to your account! Cash out when your balance reaches the $10 minimum.

Sign up for Ibotta and receive $10 when you redeem your first rebate! (as of 2/8/16)

How to save with Ibotta guide