Financial Literacy Month 2016: Budgeting Beyond Diapers & Day-Care

I was surprised when I heard a financial expert on a podcast say that she thought her costs would go down once her child was in school. Kids do not get cheaper as they age. The costs just become less fixed.I admit, I felt the same sense of relief when I stopped paying for daycare, but reality set in fairly soon ....more

Financial Literacy Month 2016: Balancing a Realistic Budget

Sure, there are plenty of blog posts, articles and books out there that may convince you that you don't need a budget, or that budgets are constricting, or maybe you've tried "anti-budgeting." I can only say that my financial life has improved drastically once I started working with a realistic budget.So we have to talk about how and when a budget isn't realistic, and therefore, doesn't work.An unrealistic budget believes that the numbers are set in stone, and if you overspend, you fail.A realistic budget allows you to change the numbers.An unrealistic budget assumes that the same amount of money will come in and go out every month.A realistic budget knows that there's no such thing as a normal month.An unrealistic budget believes that you can eat Ramen every day, and if you really scrimp and save, life will be wonderful.A realistic budget has room for fun money most of the time, but if something goes wrong, the sacrifice to that fun money is temporary.Even before YNAB, I changed my budgeting ways using the method I learned in The Debt-Free Spending Plan. Both are based on the zero-based budgeting concept and both (finally!) gave me a realistic budget.Sylvia felt the effects the other day when I was getting the car serviced, and the total came close to $400 (we split the costs). Or rather, she felt no effect, because she knew she had double her share in her Auto Maintenance category ....more

Financial Literacy Month 2016: Why I Rent

The delightful Paula Pant wrote the end-all, be-all post on why renting may be financially prudent, which I can't recommend highly enough, but the overall message bears repeating as often as possible.Of course, I can only speak about why renting is best for me, but those reasons may resonate.About a year and a half ago, I got the dreaded notice from our landlord that my rent was increasing by $100 a month. Granted, my rent had not increased at all for years, but $100 is substantial so I started weighing my options.First, I considered buying. It didn't take too long to discover that there was nothing in my price range in good ol' Los Angeles ....more

1st Financial Update of 2016

You Need a Budget (YNAB) came out with a new program that is web-based, which I started using Dec. 30. Personally, I like the technical changes.I decided to start fresh, update my categories, and this new perspective showed me that, hey, I actually have spending $$ available! ...more

eBook now available in Paperback!

It's a little more expensive this way, but I decided to make the book available in paperback form. You can buy it on Amazon or CreateSpace. And, it should also be available in public libraries soon so feel free to ask your local librarian, too!Also, MyGreenFills is sponsoring a contest for a free washer and dryer! ...more

Admiring my Daughter's Independence

Riley really wanted to see this recently-released movie. So she did. By herself.I don't think I realized that it can be great doing things by myself until my thirties ....more

The Real Benefit of Savings

I seriously loved this article. It reminded me of how I ended up marrying X in the first place. And staying with him for as long as I did ....more

eBook on sale!

First, an apology. Wanted to get this done for New Year's, but couldn't get my act together in time. Then again, if you're like me in that sense, this will be perfect timing! ...more

Balancing the Middle Class

CNN has this nifty calculator where you can find out if you are in the middle class where you live. While the value of this information is limited, I do think it helps to understand where you stand in your community, particularly living somewhere like L.A., where living costs are high, but incomes vary. I'm practically as middle class as one can get, which surprised me a little because I don't feel middle class ....more

Changing my Mindset

My First Mindset Change. It wasn't a New Year's resolution, but in early 2013, I vowed to not incur any new credit card debt. It took a few months, but by the summer, I knew I could keep it up and didn't look back.My Second Mindset Change ....more