Are Tablets Worth It?

Are tablets worth it?I’ve wanted a tablet since the first one was presented to the world. The sleekness, the small size, the operating system!

I collectively gasped right along with the rest of North America. Ever the frugal girl, it would be years before I got to hold my very own in my hands, as a Christmas gift from my Dad.

I was in love, I got a Nexus 7, and I didn’t put it down for three straight days. It didn’t do anything my cell phone couldn’t do, but the seven inch screen was so much easier to navigate.

It wasn’t until I was sitting on my couch a few days later that the bubble burst. I had my lap top on my lap, my cell phone in one hand, and my tablet in another. My inner minimalist cringed. That’s just too much technology. I shrugged it off, I had a new tablet! Who cares if it didn’t actually add much functionality to my life, it was so pretty.

Then, on the way into bed, I picked up my phone and my tablet, and carried them over to my night stand. That cringe again. Two pieces of technology instead of the traditional one? Weird.

So, are tablets worth it?

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Staying Motivated After You Get Out of Debt

debtToday I have a post from a fellow blog friend Ben. He is full of financial information. When I asked for guest posters last month, he gladly jumped to the occasion to help me out. Thanks again!

I started last year with over $3,000 in credit card debt. Depending on your own experience with credit cards, that may sound like a lot or a little to you.

Either way, you can probably understand why one of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to become debt free in 2012. It really is no fun having debt, and I would actually even go out on a limb and say credit card debt is the least fun kind of debt to have.

So… how’d I do? Pretty well! I was able to pay off my entire credit card balance and reached my goal in July of last year.

But as soon as I had paid off my debt, I ran into a new problem. It was hard to maintain the good financial habits I had developed once I knew that my debt was gone! These habits included:

  • keeping track of my monthly expenses in a budget spreadsheet
  • having a frugal mindset and avoiding retail stores
  • saying no to activities or events that cost a lot of money
  • bringing lunch to work instead of grabbing food at a nearby cafe or restaurant
  • trying to earn a little money on the side by selling things on eBay and renting out my car through a local car-sharing company

 

These were the habits that helped me pay off my credit card debt quickly – even faster than I expected – and it felt good to know that my behavior changes had helped me reach my goal. Which is why I found it troubling that these habits started fade away once I became debt free.

Why It’s Hard to Stay Motivated After You Get Out of Debt

The truth is, getting rid of debt is an extremely urgent goal. It’s also very hard to ignore. Those two things made it easy for me to stay focused and commit to the habits listed above. Once I was out of debt, the urgency and the focus were not there anymore. I started to feel more positive about my finances (which is good) but that positive feeling lulled me into ‘easing up’.

I stopped using my budget spreadsheet for awhile. I went back to buying lunch out of the office everyday. And I no longer looked for ways to make extra money.

Tips for Staying Motivated After Getting Out of Debt

After reviewing my progress (or lack thereof) for the last few months as part of my preparations for the New Year, I identified several practices that will help me get those good habits back. Hopefully these can help you as well, no matter what your goal is:

1. Create a goal: There really is nothing like a goal for providing motivation. In fact, I think there is something about our human psychology that requires this type of focus on a single objective to create any lasting behavior change. So… what’s my goal? I’ve decided that I want to save at least 20% of my take home pay this year.

2. Envision your future: Your goal will be more powerful if it is associated with a vision of where you want to go. For me, the long-term vision that motivates me is having financial security, which means an emergency fund of at least $12,000-$15,000 and to eventually have some measure of financial independence, which means enough money saved up to retire early (I know that’s a reaaaally long term goal).

3. Have monthly targets: In addition to your main ‘big picture’ goal, you need monthly targets. These will show you whether you’re on the right track and they help you maintain that sense of urgency every month. In my case, the monthly targets are to save 20% of my take-home income each month and to know exactly how much I spent each month.

4. Allow yourself small rewards: One of the things that tripped me up after getting out of debt was that I really wanted to reward myself for accomplishing that major goal, and that resulted in some additional spending. The problem wasn’t that I spent a little extra for one month, it was that I continued to spend a little extra. That’s why you do need to give yourself rewards (i.e. one dinner out or one trip to the movies – whatever makes you happy). The trick is to enjoy those nice things and to look at them as special treats rather than things you can do all the time.

5. Spend time with like-minded people: It may sound strange, but you are who your friends are. Research has shown over and over that we tend to act in ways similar to those around us. If you’re spending time with people who don’t have financial goals and/or who like to spend well above their means, you’re going to have a difficult time sticking with your plans because you’ll be trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. On the other hand, if you spend more time with people who share your financial goals, it will be easier to stay on track.

For anyone who is still working on paying off their own debt, please check out our Credit Card Debt resource center, our Student Loan Debt resource center, and our Debt Consolidation resource center. And anyone can get some great tips from our Budgeting Tips resource center. If you’re looking for a community of like-minded people as you pay off debt in 2013, don’t forget to check out the Debt Movement where we’re trying to pay off $10 million in 90 days together!

Benjamin Feldman is a personal finance writer for ReadyForZero, a startup company that is helping people pay off debt with their free online tools. You can follow him on Twitter @BWFeldman and at the ReadyForZero blog.

$5,114 in Extra Income in November and My Goals

Hey everyone! Yes, you read that correctly, I beat my goal that I made in October, and I made $5,114 in extra income in the month of November! I thought the goal that I set was pretty high since I made $3,700 in October, but I did again. Check out my Extra Income page that I have for my blog.

This is proof on my online income since some of you have asked. This is for the month of November and before fees and expenses (expenses were around $475, and my actual pre-tax income is reflected in the title of this blog post) being taken out. The other income categories that are listed below were mainly just cash I received from my sister for rent. $5,264 plus $325 in rent minus $475 equals $5,114.

November was yet again another good month. W and I have both increased our incomes by a substantial amount. For me it was because of my online side jobs that I have (my income from my actual job is salary and does not fluctuate), and for him it was because of his job that he was hired for back in September.

November was also good because of Thanksgiving! And I’m looking forward to December because of Christmas and New Years of course. And our vacation too.

You can find my 2012 yearly goals update here.

November Goals Update

  1. Keep our food budget down to $500. PASS. We did good with our food spending and while I did not keep exact track, I’m sure that we were right around $500.
  2. Workout at least 3 times a week and lose 3 pounds. PASS. Lost 3 pounds!
  3. Make an extra $2,000 this month. PASS. Definitely passed this with a little over $5,000!
  4. Start decorating the dining room. FAIL.  Haha how about we don’t talk about this…
  5. Finally GET CARPET MICHELLE. FAIL. Lets not talk about this either….
  6. Spend no more than $50 on clothes. FAIL. I bought a couple of things, but I don’t believe I spent over $100.

December Goals

  1. Keep our food budget down to $400. Since we are going on a short vacation this month, I lowered our food budget by a little bit since we will not be home (our food while we are traveling comes out of our travel budget).
  2. Workout at least 4 times a week and lose 3 pounds. I increased this by a little bit. Mainly because the weather is actually nice and I want to force myself to run outside before it starts to snow.
  3. Make an extra $2,500 this month. I increased this by a little bit, but not too much. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself. I also know that December is usually a little slow for extra income because of all the holidays.
  4. Start decorating the dining room and GET CARPET MICHELLE. This is a repeat from the last couple of months. I know, I am sad. I need to finish this!
  5. Have fun on vacation and spend no more than $1,500. We are going to St. Thomas for 4 days. I know it’s not long, but that’s all that I could get off work for. We have a lot planned and are still debating on whether or not we should get all inclusive while we are there. What do you think? The price for all inclusive is $140 more per night for the both of us (altogether with fees and taxes) than what just a basic room at the same hotel would be.
  6. Read 2 books. Since we are going on vacation, it’ll make this very easy. I finally recharged my Kindle and will have it with me everywhere :)

Blog Goals

  • Twitter Followers: Goal was for 1,600 and I’m currently at 1,750. I’m hoping to get 1,850.
  • Alexa rank: Goal was to be under 90,000. And I’m finally dropping. I’m currently at 66,000. My goal for December is to be at 60,000.
  • Guest post at least 2 times this month. I’ve been pretty horrible with this but this is something that I need to work on!


Extra Monthly Income in November

  • Online Income (this includes staff writing, blog, virtual assistant and is after all fees) – $4,489
  • Selling Clothes – $0
  • Miscellaneous – $200
  • Mystery Shopping – $100
  • Rent – $325

So I made $5,114 extra last month!

How did you do in November? Any extra income?

$1,175 in Extra Income, Life, Food Weekly Update

Happy Monday everyone! Above are some pictures from my weekend. I’m really loving having an iPhone 5 because it makes everything much easier. Expect more pictures from me! Also, if you scroll through my Twitter, you will be able to find my Instagram (I posted it multiple times), so follow me! Yes, I will make it difficult and not post it directly on my blog. :)

Thanksgiving was really great for us! I love going to the Boy’s Grandma’s. So many family members go (well over 100 I’m guessing) and it’s a lot of fun. Just check out the dessert table that I posted on Saturday, so many awesome desserts! And I also got my ears pierced on Friday. Yes, I know, truly sad.

I also updated my blog a little bit, I think it looks better, what do you all think? I also added an Extra Income tab above so that I can keep everyone updated and my readers can quickly click on each update without searching too too hard.

I also wanted to thank everyone for your support for my aggressive $38,000 student loan payoff plan. I am excited to finally start putting more effort in this, and I can’t wait for it to be done.

My updates:

Spending:

We are still doing good with our spending. We have bought some Christmas presents for each other (the Boy is completely done), but I still need to tell him what I want! And then we still need to get presents for my sister and the Boy’s family. Still not sure what to get everyone.

I did go shopping over the weekend. Bought a dress, a shirt and a cardigan. Yes, I probably didn’t need these items, but I know that I’ll enjoy them! Did you do any Black Friday shopping? I wasn’t and never will be brave enough to shop with the crazy crowds.

Extra Income (this is on top of my salary from my job):

Yet another great week. I made around $1,175 from online income (staff writing, website, etc.) last week. This is before fees and everything else though. I am still in the middle of drafting my extra income explanation post, but if you have any questions, remember to ask.

Also, don’t forget about my iPad Mini and Cash giveaway, there are only a couple of days left!

Food: 

We’ve been doing well with our food spending. We ate out a couple of times last week but it was all cheap food. This is something that we are of course still working on and we will be working on it forever most likely.

I’ve been thinking about this, do any of you do batch cooking? I tried it once and it didn’t go great for me, mainly because I have no patience to cook all day?

I forgot yet again to do a meal plan yesterday, so here it is below:

Monday -Philly Cheesesteas, Tuesday – Out to eat, Wednesday - Jalapeno Pepper Chicken, Thursday – Parmesan Baked Rotini, Friday – Beef Carnitas, Saturday – Out to eat, Sunday – Pizza

Being healthy:

I’ve been doing MUCH better with this, but mainly only with me eating better. I ran with my dog a couple of times, but it was so cold last week that each run was not for a very long time.

I did lose 3 pounds last week. I am very surprised how just eating better helped me lose so much weight. Here it goes to future weeks/months/years/decades of better eating!

How’s your spending, working out and extra income going?

Spending, Life, Extra Income, Food Updates…

Happy Monday everyone! I’m loving that it’s a 3 day work week for me (as I’m sure it is for most of the rest of you in the US).

Not too expensive of a weekend for us. The boy’s little brother and sister spent the night with us and we hung out with them (they are in elementary and middle school). And on Sunday we saw Lincoln. It was good, anyone else see it? Or I’m guessing everyone saw Twilight? :)

I didn’t complete anything that I was supposed to do this weekend, so I plan on dedicating next weekend to that. Ugh procrastination is really getting to me.

My updates:

Spending:

We did good with our spending this past week. We have really begun watching all unnecessary extra spending so that we can pay off my student loans quicker.

We’re really targeting April of 2013 as when we want my student loans completely gone, but would of course want them gone the month earlier if we can really stick to it. Some of you have asked why we chose this date. There really is no reason, we just wanted to choose something that was realistic and close. I will be making a post on this soon.

When do you plan on having your student loans gone? Or how long did it take you? If you have any tips, please share them below and I’ll try to include you in my post about my student loans.

Extra Income (this is on top of my salary from my job):

Another good week here for us. I made $1,210 from extra income last week. I will be making a post on this soon, so you all can be happy now :)

Don’t forget about my giveaway, maybe you can make some extra monthly income as well!

Food: 

We did good with our food spending also. I spent around $50 at the grocery store for last week’s food. We would’ve spent more but I still have a ton of meat in the freezer to use.

We ate out a couple more times, but that was only because we had the boy’s little brother and sister with us and we took them out for dinner and breakfast over the weekend. How much did you spend on food last week? I always love hearing about everyone’s food updates!

I forgot to do a meal plan yesterday, so here it is below:

Monday – Chicken Teriyaki, Tuesday – Out to eat, Wednesday – Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito, Thursday – Thanksgiving of course!, Friday – Steak, Saturday – Out to eat, Sunday - Italian Sausage Soup

Being healthy:

I did horrible with being more healthy this past week. I went out to run a couple of times, but they weren’t very long. I’m blaming it on the cold weather. I have been eating better though. No more buying unhealthy snacks that I just munch on for no reason all day long.

How’s your spending, working out and extra income going?