Category: Our Finances

Do You Need to Use Coupons to Be Frugal?

Clipped Coupons With Scissors 1

Photo via StockMonkeys.

Being frugal isn’t about extreme couponing or getting great sales, in my opinion. The foundation of our being frugal is rooted in living below our means.

Personally, we use coupons on occasion when they coincide with something we were already planning to buy. Each week, when I make our food shopping list, I look through the app Ibotta (use referral code: koexrvp for a free $10 when you sign-up) and find coupons that correspond to what is already on my list.

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How and Why to Cut Your Cable

cut cables

Photo Credit: Jason Eppink

When friends or colleagues find out we got rid of cable over 6 years ago, they are astonished, but are quick to say, “We could never do that.” The further into the conversation we get, they share that they are afraid to get rid of cable, as they think it’s an integral part of their lifestyle.

We found when we ditched our cable package 6 years ago we didn’t miss it much at all. It was an adjustment, but it was far more difficult than it would be today. When we removed our cable package, back in 2010, there was a limit on YouTube videos to 10 minutes and there were no streaming services like Netflix or HBO Go. You still had to rent one disc and mail it back before getting the next one.

I suggest you try it for 30 days or even a week. You can try it out without returning the cable boxes for a few days, and see how much you truly miss it. You can always add it back if you find it’s that integral to your life.

When we ditched cable, we found we had a lot more free time. We spent more time outdoors or working on side projects. I wrote more or read more books. Chris read more blogs and kept up with sports news online or on sports radio.

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Hitting Rock Bottom and Getting Back Up

It was March 2010. We found out in a few months we’d both be unemployed. We sat in the living room in silence watching the sun set behind the trees; wondering how we were going to pay the mortgage in a few months. Maybe even wondering how we were going to eat. What jobs could we even get? Our current careers were being decimated.

This wasn’t our absolute worst bottom yet, but it was what became our first rock bottom and what sparked the first glimmer of our frugal lifestyle.

For years prior, I had been saving my income to pay off my student loans and Chris was paying the minimums on his. We didn’t have a plan, but I wanted to be debt-free, even if it was just debt-freedom personally, but not as a married couple. The reimbursement I’d get in six months would be able to pay the last of my loans off (I was currently taking 3 post-masters courses and luckily the 1 year in my current position allowed me to get reimbursed for about 1/2 of it). Though, without a steady income that reimbursement would be important to just survive.

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3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Your Company’s 401k or 403b

I’ll be honest. I’ve been a little afraid to start this blog and even more afraid to write about real world problems and how we can fix our own little financial worlds in the midst of all this chaos. I’m going to do my best to share my thoughts and let the chips fall where they may.

One topic I’ve researched a lot over the years, watched documentaries on, but personally do not fund are 401k retirement plans. We do have a pension system (while in disarray) that we are paying into and we fund Roth IRAs. We have the option to fund 403b accounts, but at this time we’re investing that money in paying off our mortgage.

If you want a true picture of the 401k (or 403b), read Why Your 401k Is A Scam! by James Altucher. So far, that’s probably the best piece of writing I’ve found that explains it straight forward.

I know not everyone will agree with me, but that’s okay. That’s why personal finance is personal. As long as you’re comfortable with what you’re doing, then don’t listen to anyone else.

One of the biggest things I’ve said to others who talk to me about personal finance is to ask questions. Lots of questions. If someone is coming to meet you in your work lunchroom to manage your retirement, you’re paying them. This isn’t a free meeting. They are getting paid in fees and bonuses for all the money they are bringing into their company. Don’t be fooled. Continue reading…