7 Simple Home Improvements to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter can be a tough time of year for many of us, especially after all the holiday excitement dwindles down. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s gloomy. And this is when many of us start to feel the winter blues settling in. 

But there is good news. By planning out a few simple home improvements you can easily transform your space into a happier and cozier place to be, while also enjoying time spent inside. Sprucing up your home can feel good during any season, but certain projects are perfect for giving you a much-needed mood boost during this time of year. 

So, if winter is getting you down, consider these home improvement projects to help you beat those winter blues, no matter how short the days are or how low the temperatures drop.

painted living room

1. Repaint living spaces

Feeling like your home is in need of a dramatic change? A new coat of paint can be a cheap and effective way to switch things up in no time. During this time when many of us need a mood booster, take a page out of the psychology book, and surround yourself with colors that help you relax and increase happiness. In general, cool colors have a calming effect, while warm colors add comfort and can be invigorating. White can help brighten rooms by reflecting light. It makes a small space feel larger and more open, which can help you feel more energized.

Painting can require some patience, especially if you are considering a brand new color, but it’s easy enough for even a DIY beginner to accomplish. And, with the right attitude and a few friends or even some favorite music, you can make repainting your walls fun, too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your painting project, consider hiring a local painting company to tackle it for you.

kitchen lighting

2. Update your home’s lighting 

What better way to brighten and warm your spirits this winter than with the perfect lighting. Not to mention it’s an easy and affordable way to make your home a more comfortable place to spend time.

Instead of sticking with whatever fixtures came in your home when you bought it, you can use the doldrums of winter as an excuse to try this simple home improvement. Light fixtures are affordable and can often be installed without an expert. Whether you repurpose your holiday string lights or invest in a daylight lamp, the options are endless. You can also completely change the ambiance in your home simply by replacing any harsh white bulbs with calming yellow ones.

skylights in living room

3. Maximize natural light with windows or skylights

With the shorter days and gloomy weather, one of the main factors leading to winter blues this time of year is the lack of natural light. The best solution for this is to increase the amount of sunlight in your home. If your current windows aren’t letting in enough light or air, it may be time to upgrade. 

Skylights can also be an excellent way to improve natural light. This is true even if you live somewhere like Miami, where the sunlight is abundant. Skylights can be installed in many areas of your home, with kitchens and baths being among the most popular choices. Adding more light and sun can go a long way in making the winter darkness a little easier to manage.

simple home improvements bright entryway

4. Install a sound system

There’s nothing like a great song for instantly lifting the spirits. Playing some of your favorite tunes at home is the perfect remedy to help fight your winter blues. It’s a bit less impactful, though, when you’re listening to music through tiny laptop speakers. If you want to really immerse yourself in the sound of your favorite songs, invest in a home sound system.

Setting up a surround sound system or a sound system that plays across multiple rooms is quite simple. Modern technology allows for easy connectivity with Bluetooth, ensuring your home is ready for fun without a costly or complicated setup process.

simple home improvements bathroom

5. Improve organization

After spending months inside due to the pandemic, followed by the holidays, your home may be overrun by clutter. Think about how good you’ll feel when you’ve cleaned your house, and everything has been put back in its rightful place

Improving the organization of a space can occur in a number of ways, from purchasing storage boxes and bins to custom pieces for the closet. A few simple home improvements can go a long way. Whether that’s just going through old mail, sorting clothing to donate, or filing papers, organizing can help create a nicer living space. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the process, bring in a professional organizer or declutter to help.

6. Add greenery to beat winter blues

Plants are amazing gifts of nature. In both work and home environments, live plants can boost your mood, productivity, concentration, and creativity. Plants come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny succulents to large potted plants, making greenery a functional and flexible option for everyone. You can choose from flowers, greek plants like ferns, or even herbs to add color and life to any room.

If you have a large living area, potted trees can also be an excellent addition and one of the simplest home improvements you can do. Available from local nurseries and mail order services nationwide, plants make it easy to add a dynamic living focal piece to any room.

bedroom sanctuary simple home improvement

7. Create a bedroom sanctuary

There’s nothing quite like having a cozy place to escape to on a cold winter day. From fluffy blankets and bedding to essential oils and warm, ambient lighting, your bedroom can be a place of peace from the moment you walk in. Flannel sheets can keep you nice and warm while a plush rug to sink your toes into will add comfort. 

Making it through yet another winter may seem tough, but a few simple home improvements can be just what you need to turn a cold-weather frown upside down. From a little repainting to installing skylights, there’s plenty you can do to increase your happiness and take your home from bland to beautiful this season.

The post 7 Simple Home Improvements to Beat the Winter Blues appeared first on Redfin | Real Estate Tips for Home Buying, Selling & More.

Source: redfin.com

Business Owner or JOB Owner?

 

Hey everybody, excited to have Steve Richards on the show today! Today, we are going to talk about something that we are both very passionate about and that is how to run and own a business, not a JOB. Some of the real estate investors end up in that J-O-B and they get stuck there and it’s not a good place to be.

Resources and Links from this show:

  • Investor Fuel Real Estate Mastermind
  • FlipNerd Professional Real Estate Investor Network: Join for Free!
  • The CEO Nation
  • Steve Richards on Facebook
  • Investor Machine Real Estate Lead Generation

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

[00:00:00] Mike: [00:00:00] Professional real estate investors are different.

We’re not afraid to go all in and take educated risks to build stronger businesses and help our families live better lives. This is the FlipNerd professional real estate investor show. And I’m your host Mike Hambright each week. I host a new episode live and bring you America’s top real estate investors as guests.

Let’s start today’s show. Everybody excited to be here with you today. Uh, today I am talking to Steve Richards and we’re talking about something that we’re both very passionate about, which is how to run and own a business, not a job. So many real estate investors end up in that job and they get stuck there.

And it’s not a good place to be. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Steve, welcome to

Steve: [00:00:43] the show. Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Happy to see it. It’s

Mike: [00:00:47] funny. We were talking a head of time here. In fact, we, we can talk about like a half hour, so that’s honestly, I do all these podcasts. We’ve done over 1500 podcasts over this last, like almost seven years coming up on seven years.

For me, it’s just, it’s the ability to [00:01:00] just kind of hang out with you and network. And, you

Steve: [00:01:02] know, we usually talk for a

Mike: [00:01:03] half hour ahead of time. We’re talking afterwards and all this stuff. So it’s, it’s always fun, but you said some things and I even told you. What you just said could have just as easily come out of my mouth.

Right. Which is we, you know, we, we, we think the same in regards to actually running a business. And it took a long time for me to get there because I was just in the weeds so far and making more money than ever. So it was kind of like, well, I’m working harder than I want to, but I’m making a lot of money.

And then at some point you’re just like,

Steve: [00:01:29] ah, I just

Mike: [00:01:30] like, I don’t want to make less money, but I’m okay. I gotta get out of my own way. So I know you’ve felt the same way, right?

Steve: [00:01:36] Yeah, absolutely. It’s a trap. It’s like the curse of successful businesses. Now you’re now you find out that it actually does suck.

Mike: [00:01:46] Yeah. And the truth is isn’t, it, it hasn’t happened to me. I’m a knock on some wood here, but it happens to a lot of people when something bad happens. Right. They get sick. Family member gets sick, something happens

Steve: [00:01:58] where their

Mike: [00:01:59] time [00:02:00] has to go somewhere else. It has to is not an option. And then the business suffers and then they’re like, This, isn’t a business.

This is a job right now. So, uh, so I think what we want to talk about today is to tell folks

Steve: [00:02:12] that

Mike: [00:02:13] let’s be proactive about it. Let’s let’s get to that point. So before it becomes an issue for you and we all, nobody got in this business of real estate investing, you work 80 hours a week

Steve: [00:02:26] and be

Mike: [00:02:26] trapped where they are.

Right. So, uh, they did it to own a job to not to own a job, to own a business, but. That’s not how it usually works out. So, Hey, before we kinda jump into this, tell us your background. You’ve got a, a lot of great success, a lot of war wounds. I can see some scars on your knuckles there and stuff. So tell us a little bit about that.

Steve: [00:02:47] Yeah. So yeah, so much of the stuff, it’s funny, how it all it, to your point, a lot of the experience and you just learn and will tell people if you guys are watching this today and you’re newer to the business or [00:03:00] newer to business in general. A bunch of you guys are gonna be like, yeah, you’re, you’re probably 25 and making more money twice, as much as your parents ever made or three times as much together.

And it doesn’t really matter that you’re working all the time kind of, and you’re probably not going to listen to some of this. And then when your old guys like us, like I can, now you’re going to be like, Oh man, those guys were right. But, um, you know, I I’ve got, I know my kids are older, mine are teenagers now.

So I just have this different perspective on things, but, um, No. My quick story is I came out of business school in mid nineties, and then I

Mike: [00:03:36] started consulting

Steve: [00:03:37] in the tech world. And so my first clients were.com clients. And I was like, Oh, I just thought you had to like sneak it. So to a napkin with a business plan, and someone gives you five bucks.

I have to make a product to make a prototype, to go to a dog and pony to try to raise a hundred million dollars. And then everybody lies and just says how it’s going to be a a hundred million dollar company. And. In five years or whatever. And

Mike: [00:03:59] so

[00:04:00] Steve: [00:03:59] it was just really, it was an interesting time to come out.

There was also a lot of, uh, I worked for a big company called EDS. It was actually Ross Burroughs and being in Texas, you know,

Mike: [00:04:07] not, not too far from, uh, where I live actually. Yeah, five miles. I lived

Steve: [00:04:12] in Plano for three months when I started there, the pod, the, uh, Plano headquarters, you know, getting out was interesting during that time, because we had, we had clients that were crazy.com clients.

And then we had the defense department was one of our clients. Like literally, you know, the $10 million toilet seats that are probably paying for in other countries and stuff, there was all this like super, extra secret comply, uh, secret, uh, like trying to get compliance and everything to be in the building.

It was, it was kinda interesting, but, um, it was a cool time because I learned so much, but I had this business degree that I didn’t pay a lot of attention. You know, I was more into my fraternity and intermural sports and things like that. But. I had this business law classes, accounting and strategy classes, and I didn’t really pay a lot attention.

And that’s now all I really care about. Um, [00:05:00] and I had the foundation of business and then I went out and I was consulting for companies who really didn’t care. Like the government didn’t listen to anything. We said like, literally as a consultant for them, they just, it was so bureaucratic. It was crazy.

And then the startups would listen to everything we said, no matter how stupid it was, there was no oversight. It was like two totally weird. And I’m 25 and no, no one should have been listening to me anyway. But, um, but that was my entree into the business world. So it was interesting. And I had a front row seat in 98, 99, 2000 for the.com bust.

And, um, you know, everybody found out you can’t make money on the internet. At least that’s what they thought until you know, now Zuckerberg and everybody’s come around Amazon, you know, Bezos. Luckily they figured the internet out, but. Yeah, that was crazy. And then on the back end of that, there was a lot of Y2K projects in that tech business where they thought all the computers were going to shut down when it turned, you know, 2000 and January 1st, whatever.

And, um, you know, I, I went through all that. I didn’t even [00:06:00] realize it was a recession. Then I had no idea. And I just was getting kind of promoted up through the ranks and growing and doing different things. Um, you know, nine 11 kind of extended that recession a little longer. But when he came out of the back end of that, I continued to grow in my.

In the business world, but I had gotten bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, like pretty early. Um, and so I would say by 2003, two or three, I was getting out a startup that I got involved with and I really wanted to do something. Um, so for about a year, I was just kinda like try thinking of all these different ideas.

So I started reading a lot of different things that led me into stuff like. Think and grow rich and rich dad, poor dad. And I don’t have this story where rich dad, poor dad turned me on to real estate or whatever. Actually, I was just a guy that I played pickup basketball with at the gym was like my dad.

And I just got done. You might know some of these guys, Chris Kershner if you remember that guy. I know that name. Yeah. He was a sell houses on lightening. He was all subject to and, um, Ron Legrand and [00:07:00] then. We actually the first, anyway I met, so I met this guy and he’s telling me, I’m like, Hey man, I’ve got to start a business.

I’m sick of being in the corporate world. He’s like, well, my dad and I just dropped 30 grand going to all his real estate courses and we’re dropping mail, but now my dad was going to retire and do this and he’s not doing it. So now I’ve got 30 grand invested in bootcamps. We have three ring binders with CDs, by the way, back at that time.

And, um, he

Mike: [00:07:26] didn’t say eight tracks.

Steve: [00:07:28] No. I know. I’m sure that, you know, that was pretty bad.

Mike: [00:07:30] I definitely remember in my family, we had, uh, the, uh, cause it was like cassette tapes and it opened up this big, like plastic binder and I like six or eight cassette tapes.

Steve: [00:07:40] I had some of those too back in the day, but, um,

Mike: [00:07:43] Carlton sheets.

Steve: [00:07:44] Yup, absolutely. So anyway, kind of condensed that down, you know, he was sending out postcards then you know what to do. And I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, I. Worst cases, we’ll buy some rentals. He’s like we can get really good deals. I’m like, all right, I didn’t even want to flip a house. I was like, I’ll own some rentals.

That’s cool, but I’m going to start a [00:08:00] business. So my head was all around

Mike: [00:08:02] a business

Steve: [00:08:03] and what’s funny is I shifted. And then I saw real estate. I’m like, Oh, well, at the time, this was 2004. When I got in, um, when I started and within that first year, I quit my corporate gig, which was pretty good. And I went full time in it because you could just fog a mirror.

Like I didn’t made 15 grand every time I bought a house. Yeah, it would appraise for a hundred. I’d buy it for 80, you know, get a 90% loan on it. And I take, put 10 grand my pocket and it’d be on a three, one arm with Washington mutual. And my pain, you know, my payment would be like all in, it was like 400 bucks a month or something crazy stupid, but it was on an adjustable rate mortgage, but, and I was like, man, we could just, if I just to buy one house a month, I can make six figures and then I’ll flip a little on the side.

And so I kinda got into this and it just. Literally to what we were talking about a minute ago to kind of preface that as all I want to do is start their business. And I ended up like literally jumping into a hustle. And then when I got in, I literally committed to the hustle because I’m like, Oh, I can just hustle around and like [00:09:00] trade my time for, you know, dollars.

And I’ll just flip it up and chase money. And anyway, so, you know, I D I, we ramped up to doing up to five rehabs a month that after that first year, when I was full time and. Owning several rentals. Within a couple of years, we had 35 40 rentals. And, um, that was about the time when we saw things slow down with the market.

And so. I shifted to do rent to owns instead of flipping to from bank owns to selling to homeowners that were going to live in the property, a traditional flip, you shifted to doing rent to owns. And then within a year that subprime blew up and then it was rent rent. There was no, it wasn’t part of the deal anymore.

And so we had to too high basis and all these houses compared to the reds, you know, we had nice houses with fake 30 grand equity that we were going to get as a 30 grand pop on the back on all of them. But when we shifted her into, um, Oh, and we didn’t really care about cashflow. We just cared about the equity and I learned that rentals are a little different.

So, [00:10:00] um, during that time we started focusing differently. And once I learned that I started doing bus tours with some out-of-state RIAs and they started bringing people in and they’re like, well, find deals for me. Like you find them. And so we got into, I guess, kind of wholesale, but now I didn’t know what wholesaling was.

Mike: [00:10:16] Um,

Steve: [00:10:16] but I was just finding deals for them and they would buy them off me. And deals. I didn’t, I kinda would rather make quick money on. And then they’re like, well, if it was rehab, it’d be a lot nicer, you know, if I didn’t have to rehab it and when you’re already managing your rentals, can you manage mine?

And so like many turnkey operators, probably some people that are watching

Mike: [00:10:33] this,

Steve: [00:10:34] somehow it turned into, Oh, I can make money on the rehab. I can make money on a

Mike: [00:10:38] sale. I’ll

Steve: [00:10:39] make 10% arrests. It seems like all these revenue streams is what people talk themselves into, but it’s such a slippery slope. And I literally have watched over the last, you know, 16 years I’ve watched so many good people get destroyed on once, either as a client or the actual person in the turnkey business.

I’m sure you have too. Yeah, it is a tough, [00:11:00] tough business. Yeah. And, um, I got heavy into that. I did three, four, 500 of those, like. We do about 500 deals in a three or four year timeframe. Not all of them are turnkey, um, but they were all part of that. Um, but we really cut our teeth and we got a couple of clients out of it.

And then somehow I came up for air in 2013 and I’m like, man, we’re managing 350 houses. We’re doing 20 rehabs at a time. We’re not really wholesaling as much as we used to. Um, one reclaim, we made 600 offers for it. In that year and we got 110 houses, maybe on all those that all I’m a less offers. We had a whole team of agents.

Oh, wow. I mean, we had an office full of people, like 30 subs that worked for me in the construction. I had two different project managers that made like 50 grand a year salaries on top of like, it, it was the most silly thing. And Mike, I’m a super deep visionary. If anybody watching this as a, you know, us kind of person, I’m not an integrator.

[00:12:00] And now I can pretend to be one in spurts because I understand what it means to my bottom line and my sanity. But

Mike: [00:12:06] you have to have that. Yeah.

Steve: [00:12:07] Yeah. I just, um, it’s crazy. I looked up one day, we had a construction company, a brokerage property management company and the investment company. I was running a Rhea.

You know, it was the first year we did seven figures of business. It was literally like the most miserable year of my life. And. EOS traction. I got introduced to that actually at, um, I was at an Infusionsoft, um, conference in 2013 and some girl there who was her and her mom owned a bunch of, um, Keller Williams franchises.

And she turned me onto the book and I started reading it and I couldn’t get back to the core values. I read the book like three times, and then I made every one of my management team read it. And then we kept sitting down and trying to do the first chapter of core values. And every time they’re like, no, we don’t like what you came up with.

Here’s what we think our clients would like. And I’m like, I hate all that stuff. And then one day at lunch, I was like, the only way I can see [00:13:00] this is going to work is if we quit doing construction, quit managing houses. It’s like the core tenant of what we did. And I set it out of frustration and they all looked at me like, Oh yeah, right.

And then I’m like, wait a minute. It’s like, like the light bulb went off, you know? And I’m like, maybe we need to quit doing all that. And. I had gone from being a strategic visionary guy that everybody wanted to come get information from. And they want to know about my strategy and what I think about the market and who I like and network with me and get to know me and all this stuff.

And it turned into the only time I talked to clients anymore was, Hey, why are the reports late this month? Or my maintenance I’m getting screwed on maintenance or this tenant left too early, or your leasing is taking too long. It’s like, Oh, this horrible toilets, tenants, contractor.

Mike: [00:13:44] Yup.

Steve: [00:13:44] It was junk and, um, it was really hard.

And so I hit a reset button in 2014 and that started, um, at the end of 2014, I started a whole like 2015 was a big transition. Your form is really hard. Um, in fact, in 20, the second half [00:14:00] of 2015 to the middle of 2016, during that year, I am positive. I spent more money than most people make on therapists, coaches, counseling, uh, psychological tests.

Like I had a trainer at the gym. I had a, uh, um, a nurse practitioner. I was taking guitar lessons with my kids golf lessons. I was like, I’m going to go do all this stuff. And I’m going to like re-engage. And I, it was just interesting. Um, and I really kind of just reinvented. I didn’t even reinvent. I finally came back out of who I thought I wanted to be, and I really got to really know myself.

And, um, you’re coming out of that. We got heavy into wholesaling. And we kind of screwed around with it. Um, this will resonate with some of you guys that are watching probably, but we paid Joe McCall and one of his buddies, Peter,

Mike: [00:14:50] um,

Steve: [00:14:51] it was some stupid, like 15 grand to just set up our Podio. I mean, it was literally remember my, my, the guy that I met that that’s now my [00:15:00] business partner, Brian who’s literally like my sole business mate integrator.

I remember trying to convince him why we were going to wire them 15 grand. He’s like for what? He’s like Podio it’s free. And I’m like, Yeah, but they said they set up your carrot website and he’s like, but that’s 99 bucks a month. Like why? It was just funny, but you know, that commitment we made to spending money with somebody like that much, like why we use you as a disclaimer, I’m a client of Mike’s everybody with investor machine is

Mike: [00:15:30] literally

Steve: [00:15:31] in spite of our own issues.

We paid Joe’s office a thousand bucks a month, uh, to, to just throw mail out for us. Plus plus the spend or whatever it was. And I think it was only like 750 postcards every, every two weeks. So it’s 1500 postcards a month that was always sent. And so literally after 10 months of that, we would forget we weren’t using Colorado back then.

We used a number of years. We used number. Remember I

[00:16:00] Mike: [00:15:59] haven’t used it, but I’m familiar with it. Yeah. Like

Steve: [00:16:01] every couple of weeks we’d be like, Hey, we better go look at that and we’d go look into leads and we’d be just like, no, no, hang up, hang up. Oh, here’s a voicemail. And that really motivated, hang up, hang up voicemail, not very motivated.

We get like 20 calls in and be like, Oh, here’s one where they said they got sell tomorrow. Let’s call him back.

Mike: [00:16:17] And so some of you

Steve: [00:16:18] guys are probably laughing watching this, but like, I know you do that in your business. And if you don’t, your lead manager does and your acquisition guy does, but you’re just totally seeing we were sandbagging.

But in, in that, in that year, um, actually it was 2016 was when we did this. We spent 10 grand on marketing that, that year basically, and we did 229,000 revenue, like screwing around, like I was selling off houses still. And then my business partner was flipping some houses and we were just kind of like loosely partnering on this wholesale thing.

And we were like, gosh, I mean, what if we did that full time? You know? And of course we thought that it would all just magnificently, like. Quadruple and all that kind of stuff. But, [00:17:00] um, that was the beginning of it, man, at that point. But I was bound to build things differently and also know who I am and then have the right people around me.

But, you know, we went on from there to, um, build a team, the neck. So we went into build it. Right. But then the next big learning lesson for me was that we built a team really, really poorly that next year. And we had to dismantle all that at the end of 2017. And. Um, well, middle of 2017, it start to rebuild using cognitive testing and personality testing.

And you know, we’ve talked about this. One of the businesses I own is it helps people do that kind of stuff, but, but, but literally hiring the right people makes all the difference in the world. No. We started using vendors in 2016. I got my head straight about what I really wanted in life, which is probably the number one thing.

Most people have wrong. We started using vendors to do the things we needed to support our business. Then we started hiring the right internal people and then like in 2017, it kind of, it’s not all been roses, but it started to click. And [00:18:00] so, um, we’ve been able to run this business now and we have, we flips and wholesales and Indianapolis market.

I spent a couple hours a week in it. Probably sometimes not even that much. I mean, one of the, our dispositions guy is the direct report of mine. And we do a weekly call at noon on Wednesdays. And like, sometimes that’s the only time it’s like an open live coaching call for people. Sometimes that’s the only time he gets to talk to me.

So he’ll be asking me, Hey, can you, uh, look at your email or something on that call in front of everybody else? Cause he, like, he just can’t even, I don’t even put time into it. So. Um, anyway, I got super long winded there, but I, but I wanted to take that chance, Mike, to start to talk about some of the pivot points too.

So it’s been a weird road for the last 20 years for me, but, um, but there’s some component I started just gonna say, there’s some components we’ve learned that aren’t even about real estate. It’s literally about business. And so my current heart is, is just helping people understand how to run a business instead of on a job, which is what you started out by saying.

Mike: [00:18:57] Yeah. Yeah. Let’s talk about that for a moment. [00:19:00] So now, like, you know, it’s, it’s easy. To look back over 10 years, 15 years, a long time and say, well,

Steve: [00:19:08] now with what I know, I could have

Mike: [00:19:10] figured that out in like six months. Right. But that’s hindsight. Right? So, but the key is, is what I hope people, some people that are listening probably have gone through this as

Steve: [00:19:19] well.

You get to a point where you,

Mike: [00:19:21] you either, you know,

Steve: [00:19:23] di like proverbially, like from,

Mike: [00:19:25] well, hopefully not literally, but

Steve: [00:19:27] proverbially from like.

Mike: [00:19:28] I, this isn’t for me, I just need to go get a job or work for somebody else or whatever, if your goal is to be an entrepreneur and, um, and have your own business, like, hopefully

Steve: [00:19:37] you get to a point where you learn

Mike: [00:19:38] how to do it better, just like you did.

I’ve I have a lot of experiences like that too. But for those that are

Steve: [00:19:46] earlier in their career, not kind of where you want to be at, and you feel like

Mike: [00:19:49] you’re at a job, like maybe it will take a couple minutes to talk about like how to jump that learning curve because. You can do that by surrounding yourself with people that have been through that before.

And basically [00:20:00] just it’s a quantum leap forward, right? It’s like, I don’t have to go through all those things. I don’t have to touch the hot stove to learn. I shouldn’t touch a hot stove. It’s like, no, let me just tell you don’t touch a hot stove. Right. And so, uh, But some people, some people are, and they just have to learn.

Like, my son is 13 and my wife talks about it all the time. He’s, you know, he like stuck his finger awhile back in, uh, you know, it was just it’s, they’re not like cigarette lighters in your car anymore. It was just like a power Jack, but apparently you can still get burned from sticking your finger in there.

Cause that’s when I saw it, it’s just like that he has to learn. He has to smell his own burning flesh before he. I told him not to do it and he did it anyway. And it’s like, that’s just how he is. He just has to experience it, to learn what not to be wished. Some people are like that. I’m probably like that in summer yards, but you know, if you surround yourself with the right people, if you listen to people that have been through this before, um, you can jump in.

Let’s talk about that a bit. How can folks, what are some of the kind of key lessons that you’ve learned about treating, do like a business, um, and not getting stuck in a [00:21:00] job cause so many, most. Get stuck in a job at best might be if they do well, maybe they’re a high paid, they have a high paid job, but it’s still a job, right?

Steve: [00:21:09] Yeah, for sure. Um, so I could talk on this for years, so I’ll try to keep it concise, but I do have to start with something funny that I have twin boys and they’re a 14, so about the same age as your son, but, um, I remember. Getting kind of annoyed at my wife being so diligent about one, all those plug covers in the plate.

You know what I mean? When a child proof things. Yeah. I remember telling her one time, like those are so stupid once the kids get a little older, but like when they’re toddlers and run around, I’m like, you ha you would have to have some small little metal object that could shove inside of it. At least like half an inch to actually get shocked.

I’m like, it’s so dumb. And then one day, somehow one of my boys found some metal thing and had to shut up, short it out. Uh, I mean, that’s incredible. I was like, it will never happen. But anyway, you have teenage boys, like when they’re young, anything will happen

Mike: [00:21:58] by the way.

Steve: [00:21:59] You know, [00:22:00] I think Mike, to answer your question.

Um, so yeah, there’s four, there’s four pieces. And so one of the businesses you are talking about, you know, one of the places where I spend. Um, the business I spend the most time in, which is maybe five to 10 hours a week is the CEO nation. And then we have a, this four pillar model in there. And so I’ll kind of answer it that way to keep myself on track or else I’ll talk for an hour again.

But, um, I’m going to go in reverse order because we teach them in a certain order because I think they’re easier to implement, but you’re going to go in order of importance, starting with the most important. Is the alignment in the business is personal alignment. Like having the business set up to give you what you want.

And here’s the problem. I don’t think setting the business up to give you what you want is the hard part. I think most people fail at it. Um, but it’s actually pretty easy. It’s not so it’s, I’m sorry. It’s pretty simple, but it’s not very easy, but actually the hard part of that is the other side of the equation of setting the business up to know what you want to give [00:23:00] you what you want.

It’s actually knowing what you want. I w if we do this thing, um, if you’re keeping score at home, you guys can do this exercise. We won’t have time to do it on here, but in our, when we do mastermind events or different live events, there’s a couple of things we do that are really cool. So one of them is the four questions and it’s more powerful if I took time, but I’ll just run through it.

So it’s, what do you want, what are you doing to get it? How’s that working for you and what are you going to do next? And when you ask them slowly and meticulously and be like, pick one area of your life, what do you want? Most people have don’t even know what they want. A lot of what they want is. And I’ll just share this with you guys, especially, um, if, if you’re young, it’s hard to have a lot of perspective.

I’m not slamming anybody. Who’s not married with kids yet, but you get a lot of world’s perspective. Once you have kids and you get married and then other people’s lives, like I’ve got two dogs, a cat, three teenage kids, and a wife. And literally they will all die. If I don’t do my part to take care of them, I guess I could probably [00:24:00] die.

They wouldn’t die, but you know what I mean?

Mike: [00:24:02] They might thrive, you know, somebody

Steve: [00:24:05] like to

Mike: [00:24:05] believe that they would, uh,

Steve: [00:24:07] they might be like, pretty sure couldn’t get out, but, uh, but when they’re babies, right? Like you gotta take care of it. It’s so funny. You just get this different perspective. But my point is you get a lot, you get a lot of what, what.

You when you’re forced with these decisions about marriage and kids and life and owning the business for years and taxes and all, all of a sudden you start to really hear differently about life. And you’re like, Oh, I have an opinion on things I didn’t think I used to care about. So it’s hard when you’re young.

It’s also hard when you get stuck in a rut, which a lot of us have, which is like, go to school, get a job, put, pay your dues work, you know, Work hard, get promoted, you know, whatever, um, jumped jobs, but only do it every year and a half. Cause it doesn’t look as bad or whatever it is, but you get stuck in this rut and then it’s like, this is the best way I can explain it.

When you go to a [00:25:00] superhero movie, you don’t sit there the whole time and get pissed because well Superman’s flying and people can’t fly. So I don’t want to watch this movie cause that’s not real. Like you suspend reality when you’re watching a movie, but. We don’t do that when we dream anymore. When we get old, especially when you have kids and a family and a corporate job, you start thinking about what moves you could like.

Well mean, I make 150 grand a year salary plus benefits. So you start thinking how much I got to hit that exact number, right? Like if you just, or my wife, because of this, or my husband, like, I need to be here for this, or I couldn’t work weekends or whatever it is, but you, you get caught in like the expectations of the people around you.

Right. And what you think you’re good at what you don’t think you’re good at. And so you don’t dream openly anymore with being detached from reality. So

Mike: [00:25:51] one,

Steve: [00:25:52] one big segment of people in business that are younger, don’t have a lot of life perspective to really know what matters to them yet, because they just don’t know.

I mean, and it’s fine. [00:26:00] I don’t know what’s possible. Yeah. And they don’t know what they care about or they haven’t got to know themselves. Um, And another set of people that get older that find entrepreneurship later in life are kind of already stuck in it. Right. And so they, they start formulating they’re there, they have blinds, massive blind spots like, or got our blinders on.

Right. And, um, those two things suck for helping you dream to create a business that will give you what you want. And what it really sucks for is deciding what you want. And so that was the biggest epiphany for me and the other ones all fall into place. After that, I mean, Once you really know what you want.

When you’re honest with yourself about what you want, then you just have to know how much money and time do I need you do that stuff. And it’s not like I want to make a million bucks. If I want to make a million bucks, I’m going to use it for where my kids are going to go to school. Where do I vacation?

How many homes do I? What kind of car do I drive? How much do I give to my church? How much time do I work out? What do I eat? Like getting really clear about what you want out of [00:27:00] life is the number one thing. And then after that you said some key lessons and they fall into place where it’s like, okay, well, what business model can give me that?

And then after that there’s businesses business, like, like you said, I just pay cash. I mean, I don’t have to figure anything out anymore. I can pay somebody. I can pay a coach or I can hire an operator or I can pay for a training. Whatever, like the tech part of it is what so many people I’m sure in coaching, because you’re so much, you’ve done so much more coaching than me.

I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been asked all these technical questions. Like people think that they need to learn how to wrap a subject to deal and do a double closing and they want to know all that stuff and that’s not really their problem. Right. And so I just think that’s the big setup is knowing what you want.

And then after that, going out and finding a business model that can give that to you. I mean, those are the two big pieces. Then everybody misses. Cause they get inserted right in behind the business model and they just start doing deals. Right. [00:28:00] You really pick the model, you know, and they didn’t pick the model cause they knew what they wanted.

They just got inserted and they started making money, like you said, and they’re just like throwing money off and now they’re like stuck in the middle of something. Yeah.

Mike: [00:28:10] There’s a couple of things. I think people, especially if you left corporate America,

Steve: [00:28:14] you’re,

Mike: [00:28:14] you’re used to being this employee mindset.

Like I, I

Steve: [00:28:18] work right. And

Mike: [00:28:19] I don’t, so I don’t know how to not work. Cause I just that’s that’s I like to work. I’m a hard worker, you know, work ethic from my family that, um, has carried me a long way, but it’s hard for me to do nothing, but which I don’t ever do. Cause I can’t do it. Can’t do it. Um, but uh, I think when you have that employee mindset, like sometimes people are like, well, I can hire somebody to do my first off.

We either think, well, nobody else could do my job, which is. Not true for anybody, like literally not

Steve: [00:28:50] in real estate. Um,

Mike: [00:28:52] cause you’re not as good as you think you are. Uh, and by the way, you don’t want, you don’t want that to be the case. Like you want to be able [00:29:00] to hire somebody to replace you and take you out.

Right. And so, or people say, well, when I, when I’m, when my business starts to do better, I can afford it. Right. And it’s like, well, what if you can’t afford not to do it? Right. So one of the things that’s interesting about, um, Ben David Richter is in our investor people group and been spending some time with him talking about the profit first model.

Cause he’s, he’s actually kind of licensed profit first

Steve: [00:29:23] for,

Mike: [00:29:26] and you know, it’s just this idea of, well, how much are you worth? Like what should you pay yourself? And start to think about what that seed is worth, not you, what is the seat worth? What’s the role worth? Because once you develop that role, it’s like, okay, well that’s that job pays 60,000 a year or whatever.

It’s like, okay, But then you’re going to find out that you’re sitting in a seat half the time. That’s like a $10 an hour job. It’s like, okay, I need to replace myself there because I’m worth more than that. And even the $60,000 job or 80 that whatever, whatever it is, like find a way to do enough business to offset that because that’s, that’s what you do as a business owner.

You’re [00:30:00] not, that’s how you get out of the employee kind of rut, right. Start to think of. I kind of advise people there. Here start to think about every job in your company, every seat, whether it’s an admin or acquisitions manager, disposition manager, lead generator, whatever it is, lead manager, like what, what does that job pay and what job, what seats are you sitting in and how do you get yourself out of those seats?

Cause you know, you should believe in your mind that you’re way too expensive for any of those seats. No,

Steve: [00:30:27] absolutely. Yeah. Working on your business versus ENA is no joke. I mean, there’s a reason to work in it. Hustling grind is not a business model or a strategy, but if it’s done correctly, it’s, it’s part of mastering your business and innovating and creating best practices.

And then you do that to study it and master it and be able to hand it off and know how long it takes and knowing what to do. The leading activity metrics are. And you understand as you, but you don’t do it just to get done and make money, but you do it so that you’re making money while you’re learning as they can train somebody.

Right. There’s a means [00:31:00] to an end there. Yeah. Right?

Mike: [00:31:01] Yup. Well, let’s talk real fast about, um, you know, sometimes we build a team to do stuff. Sometimes we

Steve: [00:31:06] bring

Mike: [00:31:07] in vendors or we outsource stuff to somebody that’s virtual assistants on it’s call centers, lead generation stuff. There’s a number of ways that you can.

You know, if it’s, this is how I kind of, how I think about it. If it’s not a full time job for somebody in your business, or even if it is like, I know for a lot of people that I hire, I’m

Steve: [00:31:24] like, we could figure

Mike: [00:31:25] that out, but we’re going to be playing catch up with somebody that does that professionally forever.

Like if that’s all they do, we’re never going to be as good as them. So why not just hire them? And so, but just talk about, you know, how you think about what parts to outsource versus what parts to kind of build internally.

Steve: [00:31:40] Yeah, absolutely. Um, I put some notes here too. I want to. I’ll answer your question, but I want to start, cause I know we don’t have a ton of time.

I want to circle back to something on, on employees I think will tie in really well. Um, but here’s the key like, think of it this way. I like to think of an analogy is I think this will help people. So when we w w well, this, this is what [00:32:00] predicates it. So when we did the turnkey business, all the time, guys would be like, well, I just want to buy the house off you, and then I’m going to manage it.

And I’d be like, okay, why do you want to manage it? I already know it’s cause they think they’re going to save 10%. Right? Think they’re going to say money. And they were like, Oh, it’s cause I want to learn. I want to kind of get my feet well that I want to understand. And I’m like, all right, if that’s really your philosophy, like literally the only reason you would ever do that because you want to become a property management company.

Like that’s literally like going to back to school for five years to get an accounting degree and then sitting for the CPA exam and passing it. Just so that you know, what the account is going to do when he did it as your taxes like that is no. Nobody could do that. Your point. I mean, one of the reasons we hire several vendors in, I mean, just like for instance, you guys were the investor machine.

I, I can buy list source stuff, dirt cheap. I can skip trace probably in a very similar way, dirt cheap. We have spent years accumulating all this access to do things, and it is a fricking nightmare to deal with it. And then one of the things I said about John [00:33:00] McCall, when they were doing our mail and what, what, what did I love about you guys now?

All these years later, we look at it as a, um, we plugged you guys into a need. When I did it with Joe, all those years later, I didn’t know what I was doing. But like, we would get busy with our lives and no matter what, all of a sudden we’d be like thinking team, Oh, nail hit. Because like all of a sudden we’re getting all these notifications.

So in spite of our busy schedule, it was like, we still had leads. And that’s a big key you guys with, with these vendor relationships and things, whether it’s like building a website or, or like with investor machine with you guys, that’s the way we use you guys for that. Or. Um, just, we do several things with title and there’s other pieces of components where just to do all that, just like that property management example, people think I’m saving 10%, but there’s two real costs.

One of them is a physical cost of spending your time doing stuff.

Mike: [00:33:56] Yeah. And secondly,

Steve: [00:33:58] there’s a huge opportunity cost, [00:34:00] not only of spending your time, not doing something else, but there’s an opportunity cost of sucking management. That’s right here to property manager and your vacancies are twice as long.

And your maintenance projects go out of hand and you don’t know how to proactively look around the corners cause you haven’t done it. Right. And you don’t get economies of scale. Like with printing with PR with, with mailers or whether it’s your property manager, that’s doing mow and yards. Cause there they’re more than 400 of them.

It’s, you know, it’s just crazy that people are constantly tripping over dollars to pick up pennies in the business. And we’re kind of wired that way as real estate investors. We think we’re getting a deal, but just because something the cheapest or we’re in control of it, it absolutely doesn’t. It’s not part of owning a business.

If you’re a street hustler and you want to get the best deal. Cool. But my dad used to like drive halfway across the city to fill his gas tank up because it was like 3 cents cheaper. And I’m like, right. Yeah. I’m like quite positive. That’s not worth your spot. [00:35:00] Yeah. But

Mike: [00:35:00] you know, what’s funny is, uh, and I’m still, you know, when you’re a real estate, you’re always kind of frugal, right.

I I’ve always been a cheap ass, so, but, uh, I’m getting better. What I’ll say now is I appreciate like services and stuff. That’s like gonna save my time. I used to, like for many, many years, I w if I was going to buy something online, I always like sort, and. Usually it’s sorted by like price lowest to highest or whatever.

And so now there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I, the first thing I do is filter. What’s the highest price thing. It’s weird, but it’s like, I’m trying to buy my time back. Like I

Steve: [00:35:31] don’t, if it’s time-related or I don’t,

Mike: [00:35:34] I don’t really buy a lot of like junk. I mean, I buy some junk. My wife says every day is Christmas for me.

Cause I get an Amazon package when it’s usually like mosquito spray. I’m just like buying stuff on it. It’s not like I’m like. Buying myself gifts every day. I’m buying stuff that we think we need and I saved my time going to the store, but I often look at like, what’s the highest price thing. It’s not that I always buy that, but I’m

Steve: [00:35:54] like,

Mike: [00:35:54] I want, what’s the best.

I don’t want it to break. If it’s a service, like tell me what the best is [00:36:00] because I’m trying to buy my time back,

Steve: [00:36:01] you know?

Mike: [00:36:01] So not everybody’s in that position and I’m not saying that to brag because I’m not talking about, you know, I’m not looking at like the most expensive cars, like necessarily, right.

But.

Steve: [00:36:12] I just value

Mike: [00:36:13] quality, like the product and time, uh, over anything else right now,

Steve: [00:36:19] you know, young that way too. I mean, I just, I overlap the user ratings or consumer ratings out high price. So I do the highest price funds and the consumer ratings. I look for the highest rated. Highest price one. I like the balances there, you know, but it’s funny.

I don’t, I don’t have fences. She watches like now I’m sure I have a more, I don’t want to watch him

Mike: [00:36:44] 15 years. I mean, I don’t, I don’t it’s it’s right here on my phone. Like, why do I

Steve: [00:36:48] need that? Exactly. But I’m the same way as you, like, if I go anywhere VIP or upgrade or like, I mean, when I go the airport, I just, I always valet park [00:37:00] because.

It’s an extra hundred bucks. If I’m gone for three or four days to like literally have my car dropped off at the door that I walk in and it’s running for me, either warm or cool, what I need to do it. But like, you know, that’s convenience is a big deal and that’s, but, but, but getting back to something that we were talking about to drive this point home, I think is that when you really understand what you want and you and I have decided that.

Having crap that breaks that’s cheap. Like I’m going to exactly the same way you are. Like, I get pissed when my wife will buy stuff and it’s always like, she’s like I was trying to save money and I’m like, but now we don’t have whatever it is. Cause it broke or it wore out or I would’ve much rather got something that was nicer.

But, um, Hey, I want to say, I know I’m probably breaking a flow a little bit. We’re probably short on time, but I think this would be super helpful for your people. If I can, can I throw three things in really quick?

Mike: [00:37:46] Let’s

Steve: [00:37:46] do it. Okay. So we recovered something that I wrote notes down. Like while you were talking, I was like feverishly.

Cause you really reminded me of something important when people are hiring somebody, there should be a return on investment that’s with a [00:38:00] vendor or a person. And so when you’re bringing a vendor on, you would look at, don’t look at it as an expense. This is, I wrote it down when we were talking. I appreciate it too.

Right. But I want you guys to think about this. Um, Because it goes for vendors or employees. And I think this is there’s three reasons that what we found with the CEO nation, you know, the research and stuff we’ve done is what people get limited, why they don’t outsource stuff and why they don’t hire people.

Um, number one is they don’t, they think it’s an expense, but it’s really an investment. And the typically you’re going to get a three to five X return on a good employee or a good vendor. Hmm. I don’t have time to break that down to. I know we’re trying to stay on time. Just realize. The money you put in should have a three to five X bottom line effect into your business over the coming months, or it could take a year.

Sometimes it just depends on what it is. Um, but, but even if you hire a $30,000 a year admin, I mean, That person should be freeing up. Somebody who frees up somebody who frees up your sales guy [00:39:00] that goes out and does a hundred grand more business. You know, it should, that three X is legit and we’ve seen it time and end time out is what you should be looking for.

Um, another thing is just think about it this way. If you don’t think someone’s as good as you, like, you can, you can do your magic. They’ll do better than anyone in the world or whatever. You have a screws, first of all, but, um, or you can do acquisitions better than anybody. So even if you’re 120% good, like you’re a hundred percent is great.

You’re 120% of that activity, but you’re doing five things at any given time, right?

Mike: [00:39:30] Let’s call it six things

Steve: [00:39:31] for easy math. You’re 120% good, but you only do it 20% of your time. That’s effectively. If I make up my Steve math, that’s 24% effectiveness cause I did. It’s 20% of time, 120%. Good. But if I found someone who an employer and a vendor is even only 80% good, but they do it a hundred percent of their time.

I mean, I’ve literally got like a triple that’s that three times X, like literally they’re 80% effective. Cause their 80% is good, but they’re 100% of their time. Right. And so [00:40:00] that’s how that comes into play. So they don’t have to be as good as you. Right. And the second and the third thing, um, people don’t think they can afford somebody else.

But if you bring someone on, especially like an employee, like hiring a 2000 or $36,000 a year, employee, girl, or gal to work in your office is three grand a month. It’s not $36,000 check. Right. And just like, when you hire a vendor, if you’re going to pay five, 10 grand, or 20 grand a month for a vendor, some of our marketing vendors are expensive.

Um, our VA’s are people. We look at like that, right. But they have an immediate return on the bottom line. And so all we have to do is affordable. We call it runway. So like when you hire someone, you just have to know when the break, even point of that person, that circus usually going to take about a month to find out about a month, you get them in trained in about a month or ramp up.

So about nine 90 days, they should be paying for themselves by effect on your bottom line. Same with the vendor. It’s not overnight. So you can’t bring someone on for a month and quit or hire someone to fire them two months later. But I know I want to, I [00:41:00] know we’re running on time and I wanted to, I say those Mike, because I just think if, if we wanted to leave people with really important stuff on how to own a business, instead of a job.

I think thinking that things are expenses thinking nobody’s as good as me and thinking I can’t afford things are literally three of the worst, like cancerous thoughts that you can have in your head. And it’s, they’re so normal for people to have, especially when you’re entrepreneurial and you’re smart.

Yeah, I know. And nobody works as hard as me and they’re just all lies that we tell themselves and not even lies. It’s just, we don’t have the right perspective. So anyway, go box.

Mike: [00:41:34] No, you’re good. You’re good. Hey buddy. Yeah, I know. You’re, you’ve got to run here shortly and we’ve been going at this for a while, so we could probably talk all day about this stuff, but I’m real fast that folks wanted to connect with you.

You’ve got a number of things going on. You’ve got your own podcast now, where do they go to kind of connect? I want to be able to share some links. Yeah,

Steve: [00:41:49] appreciate that. Um, so just. Steve Richards on Facebook. That’s a great way to go.  DMA if you want to chat, but I’m the CEO nation. So our podcast is iTunes or [00:42:00] Stitcher.

Wherever you listen. The CEO nation, we have a Facebook group, thus CDO nation. And I’m the CEO nation.com. It’s okay. Anywhere around there is where I’m my heart. Is there the team architect? Yeah, we have that helps people, teams kind of filter through their real estate business. We do some coaching. We do all kinds of different things, but everything.

For me filters through trying to create impact for entrepreneurs. And it all starts with the CEO nation. So you have me on it’s been

Mike: [00:42:27] cool. Absolutely. And I was on your show here for the reason. I think he just publish that one. So, uh, um,

Steve: [00:42:33] you and your twin. Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:36] Does it Dave?

Steve: [00:42:37] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:42] yeah.

Steve: [00:42:43] Yeah. So I’ve

Mike: [00:42:44] been called, I always say I’ve been called worse.

Steve: [00:42:47] Yeah.

Mike: [00:42:48] Cool, man. Well, Hey, appreciate you spending some time with us. We’ll have links for a bunch of these things down below in the show notes here. For those of you, uh, by the way, were,

Steve: [00:42:55] I could say we were

Mike: [00:42:56] recording the show live. Of course we record every show live.

We’re actually broadcasting [00:43:00] live when we recorded this and, uh, our Facebook group, which is called the professional real estate investor network long name. But if you go to flipnerd.com/professional, we’ll redirect you there. So we’re shooting about one show a week, the professional real estate investor show on average about one show a week, live in the group.

And if you joined the group, we’ll notify you when the shows are coming up and. You can join live. We can do a little Q and a when we have time. So go to flipper.com/professional to join our group and, uh, and learn more. And it’s, it’s, it’s not a huge group. It’s whenever going to be a group of tens of thousands of people, because, uh, again, professional as the name sounds is not a new beast.

We love newbies. If you’re new, that’s great. We were all new ones too, but there’s a lot of other groups that service you guys, and not a lot that really focus on professional folks that are doing a lot of volume and have a lot of questions. So, um, Steve, thanks again for joining us today. Great to see you, my friend.

Steve: [00:43:49] Yeah, I just want to enclose it and say it, the reason why I’m here for any show you do or asked you to be on my podcast or connect with, you know, this Facebook group, I’m excited for it to grow [00:44:00] because everything you do is top notch, brother. I appreciate everything you do. And anyone

Mike: [00:44:03] less than 10

Steve: [00:44:04] words should be check out anything Mike’s dealing because, um, I think very highly of you and what you’ve done.

So I appreciate it. I appreciate that, man. I appreciate

Mike: [00:44:11] that. It means a lot. Sometimes you wonder, what were you doing? Podcasts? I’d be like, is anybody listening? Right. Well, that’s a,

Steve: [00:44:17] anyway, I appreciate those kinds of words. And everybody

Mike: [00:44:19] we’ve been at this for a long time. This jazzes me up just to get, to spend time with friends and bring you folks that can share some, some great insights and knowledge and wisdom.

And some it says for sure. So you can check out all of our podcasts on flipnerd.com and again, go to  dot com slash professional to join our professional real estate investor group. So everybody have a great day. We’ll see you on the next show. Thanks for joining me on today’s episode, there are three ways I help successful real estate investors take their businesses and their lives to the next level.

First, if you’re in search of a community of successful real estate investors that help one another, take their businesses to the next level and a life changing [00:45:00] community of lifelong friends. Please learn more about my investor fuel real estate mastermind. By visiting investor fuel.

Steve: [00:45:11] If

Mike: [00:45:12] you’d like a cutting edge solution for the very best done for youth lead generation on the planet

Steve: [00:45:18] where we’re handling the lead generation

Mike: [00:45:20] for many of America’s top real estate investors, please learn more@theinvestormachine.com.

And lastly, if you’re interested in them, Free online community of professional real estate investors that isn’t full of spam solicitations and newbie questions. Please

Steve: [00:45:39] join my free

Mike: [00:45:41] professional real estate investor Facebook group by visiting flipnerd.com/professional. [00:46:00]

 

 

Source: flipnerd.com

Recover From a Holiday Binge With a Spending Freeze

Recover From a Holiday Binge With a Spending Fast

The holiday parties may be over but the financial hangover is just setting in. Holiday sales for 2016 were estimated to top $655 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. If you blew your holiday budget, don’t panic. A January spending freeze may be just what you need to get back on track. If you’ve never done a spending freeze before, here’s what to expect.

See the average budget for someone in your neighborhood.

How Does a Spending Freeze Work?

During a spending freeze, you avoid making nonessential purchases. For example, if you buy fast food two to three times per week or movie tickets once a month, you’d cut those expenses out temporarily. A spending freeze gives you the chance to rein in your spending and evaluate your budget. The money you would’ve spent on fun and entertainment can then go toward paying off the debt you racked up during the holidays.

Getting Started

Recover From a Holiday Binge With a Spending Fast

Before starting your spending freeze, you may need to mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come. Getting rid of bad spending habits can be tricky. But with the right mindset, you may be able to cut costs and achieve some of your financial goals.

The key to making your spending freeze work is being able to separate your needs from your wants. You’ll need to be able to pay for essential costs like rent, mortgage payments and debt payments. But you’ll need to recognize that other expenses – like the cost of a daily latte or a pair of new shoes – can be removed from your budget if necessary.

If you’re having trouble curbing your spending, agreeing to splurge on just one item during the month of January may make sticking with your freeze a bit easier.

Related Article: How to Recover From a Holiday Shopping Spree

Put the Money You’re Saving to Work

Once you begin your spending freeze, you’ll need to figure out what to do with the extra money in your bank account. Paying off your credit card bills should be a top priority since credit card debt tends to have a bigger impact on your credit score than installment debt. Specifically, you may want to focus on paying off your store credit cards since they often carry high interest rates.

Which credit card should you pay off first? You may want to begin by paying off the card with the highest APR since that’ll reduce what you’re paying in interest. Or you could pay off the card with the lowest balance. That may give you the momentum you need to knock out the rest of your credit card debt.

Related Article: How to Stop Spending Money Carelessly

Get a Partner Onboard

Recover From a Holiday Binge With a Spending Fast

Implementing a spending freeze can be difficult if you’ve never done one before. Having someone else along for the ride may help you fight your urge to splurge.

If you’re married, for example, you could ask your spouse to jump on the spending freeze bandwagon with you. Singles can find a friend or family member who’s willing to join in. Just remember that when you’re choosing a partner, it’s best to pick someone who’s going to encourage you to stick with your freeze and make good financial decisions.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Pogonici, ©iStock.com/killerb10, ©iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

The post Recover From a Holiday Binge With a Spending Freeze appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Don’t Let Debt Ruin the Holidays: Proactive Steps

A smiling woman wearing a denim dress and a red headband looks down at her shopping bags

According to numbers for the 2018 holiday shopping season, American shoppers incurred an average debt of just over $1,000. And not everyone could pay that debt off quickly, leading to expensive, long-term credit card debt for some.

But holiday shopping debt isn’t the only financial burden people face. Many enter the season with other debt. If that’s you, don’t let debt ruin the holidays. Instead, consider some of these tips to manage debt before the holidays so you can enjoy the festivities with reduced stress.

1. Find Out Exactly Where You Stand Financially

Before you create a plan to tackle your debt, ensure you’re accounting for all of it. According to a 2019 study, around one in five adult Americans weren’t sure if they had credit card debt when asked.

Even if you think you have a handle on your debt, it’s a good idea to give your reports a once-over. This lets you ensure you didn’t miss something important and that no one has used your identity to run up debt in your name. That could come as a nasty surprise if you try to use or obtain credit for holiday shopping.

You can get a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Normally, you can get one per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. But because of assistance measures put in place for COVID-19, you can get a free copy from each bureau every week through April 2021. You can also get a free Credit Report Card from Credit.com, which includes your Experian VantageScore 3.0 and regular updates on what is affecting your scores.

2. Create a Monthly Budget

Once you know everything you owe, sit down and take a look at your monthly budget. List all of your regular expenses and decide where you can cut to help put more money toward your debt.

Use tools such as credit card debt calculators to determine how much you should pay every month on debt to reduce it in a certain amount of time. This helps you understand how much money you should be putting toward debt to pay it off before the holidays arrive.

3. Choose a Method for Paying Down Debt

Every situation is different, so the way you pay down debt depends on what might work best for your situation. Here are a few tips to consider.

Go with a Basic Snowball Method

The Snowball Method means you line up all your debts by total balance. You make a minimum payment on each while throwing anything extra at the debt with the smallest balance. You do so because you’ll be able to pay off that one the fastest.

Once you pay off the first debt, you take everything you were putting on it each month and add it to what you’re paying on the next-smallest balance. As you pay off each debt, you have more money to put toward the next one. By the time you reach the biggest debt, you can pay it off fairly quickly.

Make Use of Balance Transfer Cards

If it’s not realistic to pay down all of your debt before the holidays, you might want to concentrate on getting your finances in order and ensuring your debt costs as little as possible. One way to do that is to make use of a balance transfer card.

These cards let you transfer existing high-interest credit card debt to a card that has 0% APR for a period of time. If you can pay the debt off within that time—which can range from a year to two years on average—you can save a lot in interest.

Consider Taking Out a Personal Loan to Consolidate Debt

If you’re dealing with high-interest debt or payments that simply add up to more than you can handle every month, you might consider a personal loan to consolidate debt. A debt consolidation loan doesn’t get rid of your debt, but it might make it more manageable. You might end up with a single monthly payment that reduces how much you must worry about during the holidays.

4. Set a Holiday Budget and Stick to It

Once you have a plan for dealing with your existing debt, ensure you don’t re-create it with your holiday spending this year. Spend smart during the holidays. Make a list of what you want to do, the meals and treats you want to make, and the gifts you want to buy.

Assign everything on your list a dollar amount, and then take another look. Can you realistically afford all of this? You might need to make some priority decisions and reduce your list to fit a holiday budget you can afford without racking up too much debt this season.

5. Use Credit to Your Advantage

If you don’t let debt ruin the holidays, you might be able to use credit as a financial tool to your advantage as you shop or participate in festivities. The right rewards credit cards help you earn points or miles as you spend—and you can earn even more points for spending in certain categories.

For example, you might have a cash-back credit card that gives you more cash back in the final quarter of the year on travel or grocery shopping. You could use that card to fund expenses as you go visit relatives or prepare a feast when they come to your home.

If you spend on your card only what you were going to spend with cash anyway, you can pay your balances off immediately. That means you get those rewards without any interest cost for doing so. If you don’t have a rewards credit card, you can find options to consider in the Credit.com credit card marketplace. Here are a couple to start with.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% for 12 months on purchases


Ongoing Apr:
13.99%-23.99% Variable


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$95


Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good

Rates and Fees

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Card Details +

This card gives you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases. You can also get 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit, making it a potentially good card to use when you’re traveling. The Blue Cash Preferred® card allows you to earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.

Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard

Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card

Apply Now

on Amalgamated Bank of Chicago’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
0% on Purchases for 12 months


Ongoing Apr:
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on purchases


Balance Transfer:
12.90% – 22.90% Variable APR on balance transfers


Annual Fee:
$0


Credit Needed:
Excellent

Rates and Fees

Snapshot of Card Features
  • 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months; after that the variable APR will be 12.90% – 22.90% (V), based on your creditworthiness
  • Earn $150 Statement Credit after you spend $1,200 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening
  • Earn 5x rewards on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories such as dining, groceries, travel, and automotive
  • No upper limit on the points you can accumulate, and since points never expire, you can save up for a big award!
  • Earn Points on Every Purchase! It’s simple: $1 = 1 Point
  • No Annual Fee or Foreign Transaction Fee
  • Select Your Rewards Your Way
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

Card Details +

The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago Platinum Rewards Mastercard® allows you to earn 5X rewards up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in popular categories. Categories include dining, groceries, fuel, travel, and other popular spending areas. If you’ll be spending in a certain category during the holidays, you could earn extra rewards points to redeem on travel or other purchases.

Reward Yourself

It’s never too early or too late to start planning financially for big seasons such as the holidays. If you’re ready to take a step toward that plan today, consider signing up for ExtraCredit. Reward It from ExtraCredit connects you with personalized offers and offers cashback rewards when you sign up and are approved for them.

Reward Yourself This Holiday Season

The post Don’t Let Debt Ruin the Holidays: Proactive Steps appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

15 Of The Best Money Books For Young Adults – Learn How To Live The Life You Want

Are you looking for the best money books for young adults?

best money books for young adults

Today, I want to talk about the best money and life books for new high school graduates, college graduates, and other young adults. These would be great for graduation gifts, or just for yourself!

I wasn’t always good with money when I was younger. I bought more clothes than I needed, financed a new car, spent a lot going out to eat, and spent a lot of money on things I didn’t need. It took me several years to realize how my spending habits were affecting the rest of my life.

I think this is fairly common when you’re younger, and there are lots of great financial books for young adults that can help you understand how money works and how to prepare for the future. 

The best money books for young adults explain personal finance topics like saving, investing, making more money, and more. And, reading them when you’re young can help you get on the right track with your money from a young age. 

Rather than spending years playing catch up with your money, you can get started on a great path now. 

I often get questions from young readers who are looking for help with their money, and I also get questions about how to help a young person with their money. These books are a great gift for yourself or someone you know.

For me, I love to give books as gifts, especially personal finance books for high school and college graduation gifts. And the best money books for young adults on this list make for great gifts – I’ve even given some of these books as gifts.

If you want to change your life, then I recommend that you start reading personal finance books. Yes, money is not everything, but improving your financial situation can help you gain control of your life.

Related: 6 Simple Steps That Will Teach You How To Write A Check

There are many different books listed below, so you will be sure to find at least one or two that meet your needs.

The best personal finance books may help you learn how to:

  • Understand basic financial concepts in an easier way
  • Reach financial independence or retire early
  • Take on your own yearlong shopping ban
  • Deal with and pay off debt
  • Better manage the 168 hours a week you have
  • Become more confident
  • Invest for your future
  • Choose your own dreams and adventures
  • Find the best path to pay off your student loans

And more!

Here are 15 of the best money books for young adults.

 

1. Broke Millennial

Broke Millennial was written by Erin Lowry, and is a must-read for young adults. She makes the topic of money entertaining, fun, and relatable for young adults. You won’t be bored with this money book!

Erin gives readers a step-by-step plan to stop being broke, and she discusses many topics, from tricky ones like how to manage student loans, how to discuss money with your partner, and more.

Please click here to check out Broke Millennial.

Another one of the best money books for young adults is Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. Erin recently published this one and it’s a great read, as it covers the topic of investing without making you feel dumb.

 

2. Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way

Work Optional is another one of my top picks for best money books for young adults, as it was written by one of my favorite writers, Tanja Hester. This personal finance book will show you how to reach financial independence so that you can live the life you want. 

I know retirement feels very far away when you’re younger, but this book explains how early retirement is a possibility if you start saving money now. Yes, retiring before the traditional age of 65 can happen, and it starts with the kind of guidance you’ll get in this book.

Please click here to check out Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way.

 

3. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

If you’re looking for one of the best financial books for graduation gifts, check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders. In this book, Cait writes about her yearlong shopping ban which will inspire you to simplify your own life and address your relationship with material possessions.

Cait talks about how for a full year, she only bought groceries, toiletries, and gas, and how it impacted her life. This is a great read for young adults as it is so easy to get into a spending cycle when you get your first real job and start earning larger paychecks.

Please click here to check out The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.

 

4. Dear Debt

Dear Debt was written by Melanie Lockert and focuses on people’s relationships with debt in a funny and endearing way.

Dear Debt is a must read for anyone who has debt or is taking on debt. Melanie shares her personal experience paying off $80,000 of student loan debt, how it affected her mindset, and more. This is one of the best money books for young adults because it’s a personal story about overcoming debt. There’s also tons of great money advice that will help others overcome the debt that may be holding them back.

Please click here to check out Dear Debt.

 

5. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Do you ever wish that you had more time in your week?

This book, written by Laura Vanderkam, focuses on helping people manage their time better so they can focus on what really matters.

Laura writes about tips and tricks to live a more efficient life. She teaches you how to prioritize things in your life, from how to get enough sleep every night to finding time for hobbies you’ve been wanting to try. You will learn how to use your 168 hours a week to make your life better, as you’ll learn many great life-changing strategies.

Please click here to check out 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

 

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People was written by Dale Carnegie in 1936 and has sold over 15,000,000 copies worldwide. This is one of the most best-selling books ever, and for good reason!

This book will show you how to approach situations differently, become more confident, and get people to like you. This is one of the best money books for young adults that people of all ages will benefit from, because this book is all about living a happier and more successful life at any age.

Please click here to check out How to Win Friends and Influence People.

 

7. Quit Like A Millionaire

Quit Like A Millionaire was written by Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung, who are well-known people in the FIRE community. And, if you’re not familiar with FIRE, it stands for Financial Independence Retire Early. Everyone approaches FIRE differently, but the point is to stop letting money hold you back from living the life you want.

Kristy retired early at the age of 31 with a million dollars, and has a very inspirational story. In this book, she explains how that was possible and how it can be a reality for you too. This is a great guide on how to save more money, retire early, and live the life that you want.

In this book, you’ll learn a step-by-step guide on how to reach success, whatever that may mean for you. This is a fun and inspirational book that will open you up to new possibilities and opportunities.

Please click here to check out Quit Like A Millionaire.

 

8. Get Money

Get Money is a book by Kristin Wong, and it’s an engaging read that will teach you how to manage your money.

Kristin gives you a step-by-step personal finance guide that will show you what you need to do in order to stop letting money control your life. You will learn how to create a budget, pay off your debt, build a better credit score, negotiate, and how to start investing.

Please click here to check out Get Money.

 

9. Financial Freedom: A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need

Financial Freedom was written by Grant Sabatier, who decided that he needed to change his life by learning how to make more money.

Here’s a bio I found about Grant to show you how awesome he is!

“In 2010, 24-year old Grant Sabatier woke up to find he had $2.26 in his bank account. Five years later, he had a net worth of over $1.25 million, and CNBC began calling him ‘The Millennial Millionaire.’ By age 30, he had reached financial independence. Along the way he uncovered that most of the accepted wisdom about money, work, and retirement is either incorrect, incomplete, or so old-school it’s obsolete.”

In his book, Grant writes about how to reach financial freedom through steps such as building side hustles, traveling the world for less, building an investment portfolio, and more. 

Please click here to check out Financial Freedom.

 

10. The Simple Path To Wealth

The Simple Path To Wealth was written by JL Collins, and it’s one of the most popular and best money books for young adults that’s available.

Collins writes about many important financial topics in his book, such as how to avoid debt, how to build wealth, what the 4% rule is and how to use it to your advantage, and more.

This is an easy book to read, and it makes complicated personal finance topics much easier to understand. Many people have said that JL Collins is the reason why they were able to retire early, thanks a lot to his website and book.

Please click here to check out The Simple Path To Wealth.

 

11. Student Loan Solution

Student Loan Solution was written by David Carlson, and it’s a great book for anyone who has student loan debt.

Student loans can be extremely difficult to understand, as there is so much different terminology as well as different ways to pay them back (such as loan forgiveness, consolidation, and so on). This book explains a 5-step process that will help you to better understand your student loans, the best ways to pay them off, and more.

Please click here to check out Student Loan Solution.

 

12. The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door is another classic personal finance book, and it was written by Thomas J. Stanley.

In his book, he writes about the common traits of those who are wealthy, and how the wealthy can be even someone such as your neighbor, even though you might not realize it. This book shows readers that anyone can retire with wealth, not just your traditional multi-millionaires living in huge mansions with airplanes.

This is one of the best finance books for graduation gifts because it will make you rethink what it means to be rich, which is important to understand from a young age.

Please click here to check out The Millionaire Next Door.

 

13. The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know

The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance, written by Michele Cagan, is one that I learned about from my readers. What’s great about this book is that it gives you a visual guide to important personal finance topics, and many people learn better from visuals.

This book is different in that it is full of infographics, which make it fun and easy to read. You will learn how to find a bank, build an emergency fund, how to pick health and property insurance, and more.

Please click here to check out The Infographic Guide to Personal Finance.

 

14. Choose FI

Choose FI was written by Chris Mamula, Brad Barrett, and Jonathan Mendonsa. These guys are behind one of my favorite Facebook communities, Choose FI, and they explain how to reach financial independence and retire early. 

While retiring early may seem out of reach if you’ve just graduated, this book teaches you how to “choose your own adventure” and improve your financial situation.

Please click here to check out Choose FI.

 

15. I Will Teach You To Be Rich

I Will Teach You To Be Rich was written by Ramit Sethi and is a excellent book for beginners. It would make a great gift for a recent high school or college graduate.

Ramit’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich is packed full of great lessons, and it is written in a fun way. He covers the basics of personal finance such as budgeting, saving money, investing, and more.

Please click here to check out I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

What do you think are the best money books for young adults?

The post 15 Of The Best Money Books For Young Adults – Learn How To Live The Life You Want appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

I taught English in China to pay off my student loans

Hello! Here’s a guest post from a reader, Nick. Nick was feeling stuck a few years ago and wasn’t making progress on his student loans. He ended up researching a lot about salaries and the cost of living for English teachers in China and realized that he would be able to save far more money in China than back home. Even without teaching experience, and still living very comfortably, including taking vacations, it has been easy for him to save $20,000 in a year. For him, it had a huge impact on his life and financial freedom. Enjoy his story on how to teach English in China below!

I taught English in China to pay off my student loans #teachenglish #movetochina #makeextramoneyIt must have been about 4.5 years ago. I remember walking out of an interview in Chicago feeling completely dejected.

The interviewer mentioned the salary, and along with it, how most new hires take on a second job during the weekend. 

I wasn’t expecting to find an amazing job, but this was just too much. None of my past decisions looked particularly good on a resume. I had just returned from a 3.5-year stint traveling around Latin America while earning a very modest living playing online poker.

But, I was burnt out, making no progress on my student loans, and realizing it was time to get a normal job. I was actually really excited to do so but job hunting was incredibly frustrating and when I realized how little money I’d be earning, I began looking for alternative options. 

Somewhere along the way, I had heard about teachers in Asia making good money and motivated by the frustration of the job search, I began looking into it more seriously.

After spending countless hours reading online, I ended up settling on China as that seemed to be where it’d be easiest to save the most money. 

I’ve since been in China for four years, paid off my student loans, and finally feel comfortable with my finances. 

Without a doubt, moving to China isn’t for everyone or even most people. However, for those that are a little bit adventurous, not opposed to working as a teacher, and want to save money fast, it’s an option worth considering. 

It’s not at all difficult to save $20,000 per year, without needing to be particularly frugal, and still have plenty of vacation time. 

Related articles on how to make extra money:

  • 12 Work From Home Jobs That Can Earn You $1,000+ Each Month
  • 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month
  • The Best Online Tutoring Jobs

How to start teaching English in China.

 

The demand for teachers in China

Chinese parents spend an average of $17,400 per year on extracurricular tutoring for their children. 

More than 60% of students receive tutoring outside of school at an average of six hours per week and English is among the most popular subjects for after school tutoring. 

While these numbers look insanely high from my Midwestern American point of view, it barely scratches the surface for the demand for English tutoring in China. 

In fact, English is a required subject in Chinese schools. Private schools often take this a step further, with many classes and programs taught exclusively in English. Meanwhile, the online tutoring industry has created lots of opportunities to teach English online

Chinese parents are obviously willing to pay for English education. This demand for English teachers becomes even more apparent when you consider just how huge of a country it is. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, there are 32 cities with more people than Chicago

 

The requirements to be an English teacher

It’s not difficult to become an English teacher in China. The huge demand has made for relatively lax requirements. These are…

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Two years of work experience
  • 120 hour TEFL certificate
  • Clear criminal background check
  • Pass a health check
  • Native English speaker

The bachelor’s degree doesn’t need to be in any specific subject, nor do the two years of work experience. The 120-hour TEFL is easy and pretty cheap to do online. 

Of course, having these doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to get a great job right off the bat. Some of the best schools will have a very rigorous hiring process. However, even a standard first job in China can allow you to save a lot of money. 

 

The types of English teaching jobs in China

Most foreign teachers in China come to teach English. However, there are other opportunities as well, such as with teaching sports, a specific subject, or as a homeroom teacher who teaches a variety of subjects. 

There’s a wide range of salaries and teaching environments, with the main positions being in kindergartens, public schools, international schools, training centers, and universities. Salaries, working hours, and work environment can vary quite a bit depending on the type of school.

Additionally, the chosen city will have a large impact on your life with bigger cities paying more but also having a higher cost of living. ESL Authority has a good breakdown of the different salary ranges for different school types and locations. 

My teaching experience in China has exclusively been in Beijing at two public schools and one international school. I’ll share a bit about my experiences and salary at these schools. 

 

Teaching at a public school in China

Public school teaching jobs typically focus on oral English, meaning you’ll help students with their speaking and listening comprehension. The class sizes tend to be quite large. I often had 30-40 students in a class and would see each class only a couple of times per week, while often teaching multiple classes and different grade levels. In a given week I’d see 200-300 students. 

At the public schools I taught, I earned around $1,600 per month, which included a round-trip plane ticket to America, and housing. A typical schedule for public schools would be Monday-Friday, from 8 am – 4 pm, with 16-20 classes per week, with each one lasting around 45 minutes. There would be a lot of down-time during the day which I used to study Chinese

Many public schools, but not all, will let foreign teachers leave if they don’t have classes. Both public schools I taught at while in Beijing allowed me to leave when my classes were finished, which meant I’d often be done for the day around 2 pm. 

Vacation time is very generous, exceeding 3 months for summer and winter vacation, plus all of the national holidays during the year. Both public schools I’ve taught at allowed foreigners to finish the semester earlier and start later than their Chinese counterparts which makes sense as foreign teachers aren’t usually responsible for grading homework or preparing exams. 

The salary at public schools is more than enough to live comfortably and save quite a bit of money. Still, many teachers use their substantial free time to teach extra on the side with private students or at training centers. Doing so can be quite lucrative with an average rate of around $30 per hour. 

Having said that, it’s not exactly legal to teach with a different school than the one that sponsored your visa. If you got caught, it could get you in trouble and you could have your visa canceled and your time in China cut short. But, it’s one of those things that nearly everyone does and almost nobody gets in trouble for. So, if you choose to teach on the side, you should be aware of the risks. 

It isn’t difficult to teach an extra six hours per week during the ~8 months of the school year. This would earn an extra $5,760. Teaching 20 hours per week during 2 months of the summer/winter vacation would earn an extra $4,800. Combining these with the public school salary would make your yearly after-tax income $29,760 – with housing already paid for.

Plus, you’d still have close to two months’ vacation throughout the year. 

While I didn’t keep good track of my earnings and expenses while teaching at the public schools, these numbers are very close to my own experience. 

 

My experience teaching at an international school in China

If you’re more interested in teaching a subject like history or math, as opposed to English, an international school would be your best bet. 

These are the schools where wealthy Chinese and expats typically send their children to study. Teaching positions at some of the better schools can be very competitive, often requiring a teaching license, graduate degree, and a number of years of experience. Of course, those who qualify for these positions will earn higher salaries. 

However, a large number of international schools don’t have any additional requirements for teachers above the bare minimum required to teach in China. 

The work at these schools can be very demanding, much like teaching in America would be, requiring things like communicating with parents, creating exams, giving and grading homework, and plenty of meetings. Vacation periods are typically shorter than those for public school teachers. Likewise, working hours may be from 8 am – 5 pm, but most international school teachers will find themselves with very little downtime throughout the day. 

On the plus side, class sizes are generally much smaller and salaries higher. While teaching at an international school, I earned around $2,800 per month or $33,600 per year after taxes, with housing and a round-trip plane ticket included. 

However, due to the shorter vacations and more tiring day-to-day work, I didn’t have any interest in tutoring on the side. 

 

What does a typical budget look like for an English teacher?

This can be hard to say as everyone has a different lifestyle and things they’re willing or not willing to spend money on. I’ll share my budget below. 

Housing and Healthcare – $0/mo – In China, especially in the bigger cities, rent would make up the largest portion of a budget. Fortunately for foreign teachers, most schools include housing or a housing allowance. Housing would typically be a one-bedroom apartment, which may be on or off-campus, depending on the school. Some teachers may choose to add some of their own money to the housing allowance so that they can stay in a nicer place. But, I’ve been happy with the provided accommodation and didn’t pay any extra.  Health insurance is also provided and many schools have gyms on campus that you can use for free. 

Food – $350/mo – You can spend a lot of money on food or not much at all, depending on your preferences. Cheaper meals can be had for under $3 but you could easily spend $30 on a meal if you choose to go to fancier places. It also depends on how much you cook vs eat out and whether you like buying imported groceries. Most schools will offer free lunch to their teachers. Even so, I tend to spend quite a bit on food but am cheaper in other areas, so my food budget would be something like:

Groceries: $150

Restaurants: $200

Entertainment – $100/mo – Being the old man I am, I rarely go out for drinks at bars and my preferred entertainment is also the cheaper kind – hanging out, eating, and playing games with friends. Still, my wife and I will go to the occasional show. 

Transportation – $60/mo – Public transportation in China is fantastic and a single trip on the subway or in a bus can cost less than 50 cents. Shared bikes are everywhere and extremely cheap. Even using Didi, the Chinese version of Uber, is very affordable.  This is another area where I spend more than necessary, often taking a Didi out of laziness when there are cheaper options. 

Utilities – $15/mo – I think most schools typically pay for household utilities, like electricity and water. At least, the schools I worked at did. So, the only expense here is my phone which is on a pay as you go plan.

Travel – $250/mo – Living in China and working as a teacher opens up lots of travel opportunities, both within China and around Asia. Unfortunately, although plentiful, teacher’s vacation time is usually during national holidays when the cost of tickets is a bit higher.  Still, I tend to go on at least one international trip a year and also like to travel within China. Plus, almost every school also provides a round-trip ticket to your home country. If I were to guess, I probably spend around $3,000 per year on travel. I know people who spend much more and others who spend much less, so this cost will depend a lot on each individual’s preferences. 

Miscellaneous – $50/mo – These are other expenses such as buying household appliances, clothes, and other random things. I’m not a big shopper, but random things do come up. 

Total Expenses – $825/mo or $9,900/year

Although I’m conscious of my spending, I wouldn’t say that I’m especially frugal while in China. Far much less than I’d be if I were still living in Michigan. 

Some people might consider my spending extravagant while others might think I’m cheap. For me, it’s a good balance of comfort and enjoying my lifestyle with saving for the future. 

 

How much money can you save teaching English in China?

In my experience, I earned between $29,760 and $33,600 per year with expenses around $9,900 per year. This led to savings between $19,860 and $23,700 per year. Unfortunately, I didn’t track my exact earnings and spending each year, but these ballpark numbers are pretty accurate. 

It’s not particularly difficult to save $20,000 in a year of teaching in China while still living comfortably, traveling, and leaving yourself with enough free time to pursue other interests.

Plenty of people save more than this each year. There are also opportunities to increase your earnings as you gain more experience. 

However, like most places, life can be as expensive as you make it. If you’re bad with money back home, it’s unlikely you’ll suddenly become good with money by moving abroad. In fact, the money may disappear even faster than it would back home as there are lots of exciting ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities. 

But, if you’re somewhat frugal and work fairly hard, you’ll have no problem saving a lot of money. 

 

How to find a job teaching English in China

There are tons of websites with job listings for English teachers in China. I can’t comment on most sites as all the jobs I found started with a search on the eChinacities job board

The start of your job search can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re still not sure where you’d like to live in China. This isn’t helped by the fact that a lot of recruiters will earn more money if they can get a teacher to accept a lower salary. 

I’ve known teachers that came to China and received terrible salary packages, earning less than half of what a typical salary would be and with an apartment far from the school. These people tended to not do enough research beforehand and accepted the first offer they received.

I would strongly recommend talking with lots of recruiters before accepting any position. Be sure to ask tons of questions, and be willing to say no to a jobs that don’t fit your criteria. There is no shortage of opportunities, so be patient when looking for your ideal position. 

Before accepting any position, be sure to do your due diligence on the school.

Most schools are fine and professional, but there are some sketchy ones. You won’t always find much information online about the school, but if they’ve done shady things in the past, you’ll probably see people talking about it.

Asking to speak with any current or former teachers can give you a bit more insight into the school as well.

 

Final thoughts on teaching English in China

Not everyone will be excited to live in China and I can understand that. It’s far from home, the language is difficult, and many people have a negative perception of the country. 

However, I’ve really enjoyed my life here and the experience has been exceptionally positive. Sure, there are small annoyances, but these will happen anywhere. Plenty of people worry about air quality, and while still not great, it has been improving every year

Beijing is extremely modern with no shortage of interesting and unique things to do. Moving here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. 

I came here with only a few thousand dollars in the bank and what felt like an endless pit of student loan debt. In only a few years, I’ve been able to completely turn around my finances, pay off my loans, and save up a nice nest egg. 

I know that it’s not for everyone, but if you’re open to new experiences, can see yourself enjoying teaching, and want to save a lot of money, moving to China to teach English is an option worth considering. 

Nick Dahlhoff is an English teacher living in Beijing. Since moving there in 2016, he’s paid off his student loans, studied Chinese, gotten married and started a blog. At All Language Resources, he tests out lots of language learning resources to help language learners figure out which resources are worth using and which ones are better off avoiding. 

Would you take a job in another country to pay off your debt? Would you start teaching English in China?

The post I taught English in China to pay off my student loans appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

You CAN Reach Retirement! Avoid These Top 5 Retirement Mistakes

retirement mistakes

Wondering what retirement mistakes will ruin your retirement? Here are the biggest retirement mistakes we all make.

Have you ever checked in to see if you are on track for retirement? I know this can feel like a daunting task, but preparing yourself for retirement can help you save more and avoid common retirement mistakes.

For some, retirement means quitting their job after 40+ years, but it can also mean working towards early retirement, in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and so on.

I know that’s not for the “average” American, but by avoiding some of the retirement mistakes I will talk about today, you can start preparing for retirement at any age.

Related: How To Save For Retirement

The thing about retirement is that sadly many out there are not saving enough money. In fact, according to Zacks Investment Research, 72% do not save enough for retirement each month.

Also, according to surveys done by Bankrate, 20% of people aren’t saving any money, and 61% of Americans have no idea what they will need to save for retirement.

These numbers are very alarming.

Saving money in general is an important thing to do, but if you don’t want to work for the rest of your life, saving for retirement should be something that you are thinking about. And, I believe that saving for retirement is possible if you start working towards it and avoid retirement mistakes when it comes to planning and saving.

While many believe the economy ruins their chances for retirement, in reality most retirement mistakes come from specific beliefs people have about retirement. Some of these beliefs come from expectations of what their budget will be during retirement, that they can rely on their pension or social security, and more.

There are many reasons for why a person might not be saving for retirement, and by looking at the various retirement mistakes you might be making, I feel that more people can be aware of and overcome their retirement preparation problems.

Here are five retirement mistakes and how they might be hurting your chances for retirement:

 

1. You ignore saving for retirement altogether.

Many people skip out on saving for retirement for several reasons, including:

  • Believing you don’t have enough money to save for retirement.
  • Thinking that you’re too young to care about retirement or that it’s too late to start.
  • Relying too much on pensions and social security.

No matter how young or how old you are, you should be saving and preparing for retirement. You never know when you will need it, and I am all for a person being in charge of their own retirement plan instead of relying too much on other sources of retirement (such as relying on social security 100%).

Millennials are especially at risk and according to an article by Business Insider, a shocking 40% of millennials have nothing saved for retirement. This is a scary number because these people will all have to retire one day and I’m not sure what they will do when the time comes.

But, it isn’t just young people who aren’t saving for retirement. Bankrate found that only 60% of people aged 45-54 have some type of retirement savings. You can read more crazy retirement statistics here.

It is important to realize that part of the reason for these low savings rates is that many are currently living paycheck to paycheck, which makes it hard to even approach saving for retirement. Fortunately, you can start investing with very little money, and you can learn how to start investing for beginners if you are wanting to start planning for retirement.

There is never a bad time to start saving for retirement, and you can correct this retirement mistake by starting today.

Side note: I highly recommend that you check out Personal Capital if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your financial situation. You can connect your mortgage, bank accounts, credit card accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and more. And, it’s FREE!

 

2. You take on debt for others and don’t think about your future.

I talked about this topic in the post Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College? This is a hard thing for a lot of parents especially as student loans are out of control, and I am hearing from parents nearly every week saying that they cannot afford to retire because they are paying for their child to go to college.

If this is your situation, I want you to STOP making this one of your retirement mistakes. Unless you are on track for retirement, I honestly think you need to seriously start prioritizing your future. Your child will be fine without your monetary support.

There are lots of ways to support your child through school that don’t involve leveraging your future for their education. You can help them find a job, find scholarships, be an emotional support, and more.

You can take out loans for college, but you cannot take out loans for retirement.

 

3. You think you’ll never have to retire.

Recently, I read an article about someone who made hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, had a monthly budget of around $30,000 (yes, MONTHLY!), and yet hardly saved anything. This person said they didn’t really feel the need to save for retirement because they enjoyed their job so much. That’s just crazy!

See, even wealthy people make retirement mistakes.

Assuming you will love your job forever can be a huge mistake. While it’s great that you love your job now, it’s hard to judge what you will love decades down the line.

Also, you never know if something will come up in the future that will completely prevent you from working, such as a medical issue or some sort of major life change. Beyond realizing that you will need to prepare for retirement, an emergency fund should be something you already have or are working on – emergency funds are there to protect you from the what-ifs.

Related articles:

  • Everything You Need To Know About Emergency Funds
  • Is A Credit Card Emergency Fund A Smart Idea?

 

4. You miscalculate how much money you’ll spend in retirement.

For some reason, many people just assume they will spend less money in retirement, but that is not always the case.

While you might find some ways to save money on things like commuting expenses, work clothes, lunch if you weren’t bringing it, you will probably experience a very similar budget to the one you had while working.

You are still going to spend money on housing (even if you pay off your home completely, you will still need to pay property taxes, utility bills, etc.), food, clothing, entertainment, and so on.

Many retirees also take up new hobbies or activities. And, some retirees just have more time to pursue things they’ve already been doing, which can add up to a lot of extra expenses.

Plus, medical expenses may come up, you might decide to travel more, and like I said, the truth is that retirement spending is not usually much different than what you are currently spending.

Some make plans to become super frugal after they enter retirement, but life doesn’t always work out so perfectly. To make sure this isn’t one of the retirement mistakes you are making, I recommend starting to cut down your budget now.

By living frugally before you retire, you will be able to save more, will have less expenses going into retirement (the less money you spend, the less you need in the future), and you might even reach retirement sooner. Really, if you cut your spending now and become more frugal, you will be used to living with less. I’ve been living a more frugal and minimalist lifestyle since we moved onto our boat, and it can be a life changing thing.

 

5. You use your retirement funds for expenses other than retirement.

This is one of the worst money mistakes out there, and unfortunately many young people are making it. I’ve actually heard far too many stories about people taking money out of their retirement funds in order to pay for a vacation, a timeshare, pay off low interest debt, and more.

When preparing for retirement, this is a HUGE mistake.

While I don’t know everything about taking money out of retirement funds, I do know that this can usually hurt you more in the long run. Taking funds out of a retirement account can lead to large penalties and paying extra towards taxes.

The other thing about saving for retirement is that the longer you have funds invested, the more you will have for retirement. Compound interest is a powerful thing, and if you are taking money out of your retirement account it means that you don’t get the full benefit of it.

You should always just use your retirement funds purely for retirement. If you are struggling with debt or need help differentiating between wants and needs, it’s time to make a change. Don’t wreck your future by making this huge retirement mistake.

What retirement mistakes have you seen? Do you think you will have enough money to retire and how are you preparing for retirement? What age do you expect to retire?

The post You CAN Reach Retirement! Avoid These Top 5 Retirement Mistakes appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

The Frugal Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning on a Budget

Meal Planning Can Help Save You $1,600 a Year on Your Grocery Budget!

Hmmm… donuts, pizza & mojitos OH MY! Isn’t it amazing how one stray sentence can totally take over your mind! Food is tasty, a treat, and can be downright mesmerizing! It can also be one of our biggest budget busters! We want what we want and when we want it (sometimes we hate wanting it (I’m talking to you brownies!) This gets us into trouble with our waistline as well as our wallet!

I have my fingers crossed that one day there will be a resurgence in renaissance body love, all curvy & pale 🙂 Yet, I know that eating healthy needs to be a top priority. I know this because I tell myself this almost daily. You too? We want to do what’s best for our bodies and our wallet, yet sometimes those two things don’t always align. I mean, 1 lb organic strawberries in February can be $8.99! (don’t choke!)

So how do we align saving money on food while eating healthy? The answer is simple, yet kind of intimidating at first glance. It’s meal planning on a budget! DON’T WORRY and don’t get overwhelmed; it can be a lot easier than you imagine. I’m going to walk you through the main points to nail this piece of the grocery budget puzzle. So you never have to worry about hearing, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” ever again!

frugal mom guide to meal planning

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info

Feeding our body healthy foods has been a long time passion of mine. Previous to Money for the Mamas, I taught kids how food grows at combo learning farm & CSA. For 90 minutes, we talked about soil, farm animals, water quality, and most importantly, how our food grows and why fruits & vegetables are so important. I also did a stint with the State of Oregon and the national level, Farm to School movement, which helps schools create programing around healthy foods. Fantastic work, which is both heartbreaking and hugely rewarding!

With that experience, I know that meal planning can be a great solution, as moms, I know how we want to do our best to provide healthy foods for our family. Yet, rising food costs do not make this easy for us.  

The Street reports that in 2018, the average American household spends $7,729 per year on food, which is about 12.8% of our after-tax income. Yet, with our current situation (August 2020), costs are rising. “April of this year food prices had the largest monthly increase in 46 years!” says ABC News.

There are many different ways that you can save money on groceries, but today we’re just going to talk about one specific element, meal planning on a budget! Which can still be healthy family meals, you just need to plan things out (and plan for the days when you “just can’t even” think of cooking)!

Now, I’m not going to say that an occasional frozen pizza doesn’t sneak into my freezer (and my belly), but I try really hard to balance those not so healthy items with better for you options.  

Meal planning to save money on groceries

Let’s get down to specifics on exactly how meal planning can save you money in your grocery budget.

Saving money by not buying foods that you won’t eat

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve bought veggies with the best intentions of eating them! And then that sad and guilt-ridden sound of the “thunk” as the jicama falls into the trash. Arg!

When you meal plan, you decide what you are cooking and eating and when, there is a “plan”, not some vague intention. When you know that on Tuesday it’s spaghetti squash & meatball night, you can be dang sure that the veggies are getting eaten and will not go to waste!

Speaking of food waste, you all know the squishy, greeny brown scenario at the bottom of the produce drawer. But what does this look like to our wallet? According to Marketwatch, “As much as 40% of food goes uneaten in the U.S! Americans throw away $165 billion in wasted food every year.” According to Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, some 160 billion pounds of discarded food also clogs up landfills.

What that means is roughly, “219 lbs of food per person is wasted a year” quotes RTS (waste experts), and that’s $1,600 a year for a typical sized family!

Think of taking your grocery budget, pulling out 40% of the money, and just throwing it in the trash! Oh. Hell. No.

That’s crazy! Yet, we don’t intend to do; it just happens. And meal planning is one of the best ways to combat this by buying only what you know you will use for that week (or however often you go to the store).

meal planning is so you never hear "Mom what's for dinner?" again!

Know your food costs  

You can still buy most of the same foods but know which of your local stores have the best prices. For example, there are two stores of the same chain, maybe 4 miles apart, and one of them has consistently lower prices than the other. So I always go to the cheaper one.

Also, when you sit down to do your weekly menu, you can look at store flyers to see who might have chicken breasts on sale, or who has digital coupons for your favorite brand of cheese.

You may go to a Kroger store for chicken and then go to Target for sale on frozen burritos (a favorite late-night snack of my husband). Yet, for this to be a genuine savings, you need to consider the cost of your time & gas driving to multiple stores. If you’re spending 45 minutes driving to a store to save $.40 per pound on beef, that’s not saving! Your time is valuable, so absolutely count that into the equation.

Many times stores will have loss leaders (items they sell at a loss just to get people into their store”. Did I mention that I worked in a grocery store for six years? No? Well, I did. It is a fantastic, socially conscious store (B-Corp certified) that helped bring healthy and local food to the communities they serve.  

Yet, they weren’t cheap. Even with a staff member discount, I was paying a lot for my groceries. Yet I knew that certain times of the year, they would offer boneless skinless chicken breasts at $2 off the regular price (that was basically at cost for the store), $4.99 vs. $6.99. I bought enough chicken to last a long time. We’re talking like 20 breasts. Then I would take them home, portion two breasts into a freezer bag and boom, chicken for months!

I knew about these times, so I planned it into my budget. Other times of year stores have a sale is their anniversary day (or founder days), or holidays. Each chain is a little bit different, so don’t be shy. Ask them when their big sales are!

Go the extra mile and ask them which days they mark their items down. For example, canned goods may go on Tuesday, boxed goods on Wednesday. Or they may go by the department, dry grocery on Monday, and perishable grocery (dairy and such) on Friday. Ask them what time of day they start and when they finish. Then see if you can go in near to the time that they are wrapping up.

Meal planning saves you time

As a super duper busy mom (aren’t we all?), one of the things I hate most is standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to fix. When this happens, my mind immediately goes blank; nothing in the refrigerator looks good to eat. In the past, I would waste maybe 10-30 minutes a day just trying to decide what to make. What a waste!

By meal planning, you always know because you posted the weekly menu on the fridge! And what’s better is that your family never needs to ask you, “what’s for dinner?”

free saving money printables

Resources to meal planning on a budget

Luckily, many women have masted the art of meal planning (hey, no reason that we need to reinvent the wheel!). So let’s dive in to see how others have meal planned on a budget.

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle

If you’re a one-stop-shop kind of mom (me!), then you’re going to love this fantastic resource! It’s a bundle of 58 products all around meal planning, tied up in one neat package! You just buy it once (for a crazy low price), and you have access to all 58 items!  You need to act fast, as it’s only on sale for the week of August 17th – 21st!

There are 11 Cookbooks, 15 Meal Plans, 11 eBooks, 9 eCourses, 10 Printables, 1 Membership, and a Summit. (Plus some great free bonuses and an early bird buyer special thank you gift!)

health meal planning bundle

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle is a great option because it’s all around this very specific topic of healthy meal planning (not all are low cost specific). Still, the bundle as a whole is very cost-effective, so you can meal plan on a budget (and there are a few resources around being budget-conscious).

Here are the main categories that the bundle covers…

  • Budgeting
  • How to get started meal planning
  • Kid-friendly
  • Meal organization
  • Quick & easy
  • Real food & nutrition
  • Specialty diets
  • Weight loss

Now, you may be wondering why you would ever need 58 items all around the same topic? Totally fair question by the way. Let’s just say it like it is; we won’t vibe with everyone we meet or learn effectively from one particular teaching style. So in the bundle, some information may overlap, but that’s a good thing!  

So many times, I read about a topic that I already know a lot about. Yet, one person says something in a specific way, or in a particular tone where it just “clicks” for me! The lightbulb goes off, and I suddenly “get it”! I am thrilled when this happens as it could have something that I didn’t quite understand, or never really knew why it was a big deal.

The great thing about this bundle is that they are giving everyone a free jumpstart by hosting a free Meal Planning Bootcamp starting August 11th. Yes, that’s coming up soon! Here, you can get a taste of some of the information, and get geared up to start your own meal planning journey.  

The best part is that it’s a challenge, so you are participating right alongside other women just like you! Going through things together, so you can bounce ideas off of each other, learn from those who tried XYZ, and help others with your own experiences. Don’t forget that it’s free! Yup, zero cost to join in and participate!

Now don’t worry, if you’re reading this after August 11th. The bundle still exists, but it’s only available for a limited time. However, they bring it back annually, and sometimes they even do a flash sale after a few months (no guarantees though). So still sign up with your name and email, and then you will be on the list to get notified once it becomes available again!

Ultimate Bundles also offers a phenomenal resource on learning about all things personal finance! Check out their Master Your Money Super Bundle right here!

Struggle Meals

If you haven’t watched Frankie work his magic in the kitchen, then you are missing out! He doesn’t do meal prep, per se, but his expertise is in cooking cheaply, using leftovers, AND he’s damn entertaining too! Check out one of my favorite video’s down below (hint – save this video for after Thanksgiving!)

Grab some meal planning printables to help meal plan on a budget

Oh, organizing… did you ever know that you’re my hero? Everything that I would like to be? For you are the wind beneath my wings.  Or something like that. Yup, organizing makes my heart happy!

That’s why I am such a huge fan of my Organized Home printables, and I created one specifically for meal planning! This packet has…

  • weekly menu planner 
  • food inventory tracker (so you never lose steaks under the frozen spinach again!)
  • family favorite meals list (that are easy go to’s when short on time & energy)
  • grocery shopping list, broken up by department (no circling back to aisle 7 five different times!)
meal planning printables
Let me at ’em!

This meal planner & grocery list is an instant download so you can print it in just 2 minutes from now! (save it to your hard drive so you can print as many copies as you want!)

Freezer meals are essential to meal planning on a budget

One of the very best things that you can do is plan on failing! 

What?

Yup, I freely admit that somedays I am a Hot Mess Mom! I am frazzled, I am running 54 errands, going to the eye doctor and end up getting my eyes dilated for what seems like forever, and on and on the tragedy of life turns into a comedy! And I am DONE!

That means I need to plan on things not going great, so on those days, I need something up my sleeve because I know that going to the drive-thru isn’t all that cheap, nor is it healthy!  

There are two options for us Hot Mess Moms…

One – Frozen Meals – pizza, burritos, corndogs & tater tots (yum), etc. Now, these aren’t the healthiest, but they are cheap. Besides, who doesn’t like tater tots! So I am fine with doing this a few nights here and there.  

Two – Freezer Meals! These are my secret weapon for when times are tough. For example, before I gave birth, I did a whole day of nothing but freezer meal prep, as I knew once the baby came, I would need all the help I could get!  

A great resource that I have found is My Freeze Easy! It’s a freezer meal planning & prep plan, where you get access to new monthly freezer recipes! There are some great customizations too; gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, instant pot, etc.!

My Freeze Easy

Now not only are these designed to save time, but they stem from the $5 Meal Plan program, so all the recipes are budget-friendly!  

If you’re not quite sure about diving into freezer meals, Erin (the founder) has a great free workshop to introduce you to freezer cooking, so you can feel it out and see if it’s something you might like. Again don’t worry, it’s not a 90-minute life or death training. She’s a mom; she knows you’re busy! It’s three videos for a total of approx 20 minutes. easy peasy, right! (Pssst… you get three free recipes & shopping list, nice!)

Some of you may be a bit wary of freezing meals, especially produce. I mean, does freezing take away all the good vitamins & nutrients? Answer: Not at all! According to Healthline, “Frozen fruit and vegetables are generally picked at peak ripeness (while fresh is picked before it’s ripe). They are often washed, blanched, frozen, and packaged within a few hours of being harvested. Frozen produce is nutritionally, similar to fresh produce. When nutrient decreases are reported in frozen produce, they’re generally small.”  

They mentioned that most of the nutrient loss happens with extended periods of storage in the freezer, like two years or more. So generally speaking, frozen fruits & vegetables are a great way to get your vitamins!

The Healthy Meal Planning Bundle does have a freezer meal cookbook, but it’s not as customizable as My Freeze Easy plan! BUT, I know that the thought of buying 58 items, like the bundle, can cause your brain to shut down from overwhelm. So here’s one great resource. Easy Peasy!

Look to Pinterest for inspiration

So this is a love/hate relationship. Everything looks great, yet it can be overwhelming. Simply put in the search bar “Meal planning on a budget”, or “easy dinners”, “crockpot dinners,” or “frugal foods”. So many options will come up.  

I have a secret board just for “dinners to try”, and then maybe once a month I’ll go in and pick a few to try during the next month, and I work those into my meal plan. I may find a new favorite, or it may be a dud.

Oh, and don’t forget while you’re on Pinterest checking out meals, head on over here, and follow me for lots of budget-friendly inspiration!

Know your grocery budget (and stick to it)

If you want to do meal planning to save money, you need to know your grocery budget! Better yet, if you’re stocking up on things at a low price, then you need to know how much of your grocery budget is for regular food, and how much is for stocking up. You can’t blow everything on your stockpile, and you can’t spend every last dime on your weekly veg.

A good place to start is 75/25 split. So 75% of your grocery budget is for everyday shopping, while 25% of your grocery budget is for stocking up. Initially, you may find you’re spending a bit more on your stockpile, but it will taper down as you go on and build up your pantry.

Some things that I stockpile when the prices are good…

  • Cereal (I only buy if it’s $1 a box)
  • Granola bars
  • Frozen foods
  • Meat (buy in bulk and divide into 1 lb portions then freeze)
  • Canned goods
  • Paper goods (paper towels, TP)
  • Health & beauty – soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc

In talking about budgeting did your stomach do a little flip? I know you’ve been meaning to get back to budgeting, so here’s a great resource! It’s my Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series, and it goes through everything you ever wanted to know about it!

Tip for Meal Planning on a Budget – Leftovers are your friend!

Don’t forget to plan on having a leftover day for dinners! Make it one day at the end of the week to clean out your fridge before the next week’s shopping trip.  

Make it easy!

Have Leftover Day be as easy as possible for your family by getting some great clear glass meal storage containers! That way, you can easily see what’s in there to eat, and by buying glass containers, you can reheat these directly in the microwave without worry. It’s known that microwaving food in plastic containers isn’t the best choice.  

Harvard Health states that “When food is wrapped in plastic or placed in a plastic container and microwaved, BPA and phthalates may leak into the food. BPA and phthalates are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” These are substances that mimic human hormones, and not for the good.”

Now, I’m not a scientist, nor am I a fearmonger. But if I don’t need to take a risk, and can easily avoid it, I will. So I bought glass containers for my family. 

I love these Pyrex containers. They are a perfect size (3 cup) and stack great in the fridge! So after dinner is over, if there are leftovers, I immediately portion the items out into meals in the containers. So all my husband has to do is grab one, take off the lid and heat it up and BAM, full dinner/lunch!

Pyrex 3-Cup Rectangle Food Storage

  • pack of 4 or 6
  • Glass is pre-heated oven, microwave, fridge and freezer safe, & dishwasher safe
  • Non-porous glass won’t absorb stains or odors

Make leftovers new & different!  

If your family doesn’t love the idea of leftovers, then you can easily shake things up! All you need to do is change how it’s served. For example, get some tortillas to make items into a wrap, or add on soup & salad to make small amounts of leftovers stretch into a full meal.

Here are some other ideas to give your leftovers a makeover with a different presentation

  • make it a wrap
  • turn it into soup
  • add a grain and have a buddha bowl
  • make a frittata or an omelet
  • use leftovers as fillings for a quesadilla
  • or as a topping on pizza

Just Google “what to do with leftover ________”, and you should get some fun ideas! Or just go to Big Oven’s Use Up Leftovers feature! You add in your three main ingredients, and it gives you a bunch of tasty options!

At the end of the day

Our Mom List never seems to get shorter, does it? You cross four things off, and then two hours later, you add seven more things! ARG! Yet, there are some things (like meal planning) that can reduce your mental and physical load over time. Meal planning may take a few rounds for you to work out the kinks, but overall you will save so much time and money!

Imagine what you would do with 40% more of that grocery budget? (as you won’t be throwing away rotted out lettuce, or wait, was the broccoli? Yesh, it’s hard to tell now that it’s a squishy stinky blob.  

Meal planning on a budget can give you that 40% back! Remember, RTS estimated that it was $1,600 on average, a year per family! What would you do with an extra $1,600 a year? Use it to fund a family vacation? Revamp your back patio living space? Use it to help offset the cost of braces for your youngest? There are so many things!

  • How to Motivated While Saving Money
  • Your Ultimate Guide on How to Budget Series
saving money free templates

Tell me in the comments, If you started meal planning on a budget, what would you do with the $1,600 that’s back in your pocket?

The post The Frugal Mom’s Guide to Meal Planning on a Budget appeared first on Money for the Mamas.

Source: moneyforthemamas.com