To our new readers: We like to take a weekly trip into the land of others and learn just how they make life happen! Have you ever caught yourself asking ‘How do they do that’? It’s not a matter of comparing ourselves to the Joneses, it’s the willingness to seek knowledge and understanding so, you too, can make the choice whether or not you’re willing to do that. What trade-offs are you willing to make?
Kristina from Cents and Order is joining us today!
How Do They Do That: Cents and Order
1) What about retirement? Are you saving?
Yes-my employer matches 50% up to a max of 3.5%. I am contributing enough to get the full match.
2) How often do you vacation? Where does the money come from?
At least once a year. I love to travel and didn’t get to growing up. We make it a priority so our kids can have experiences we didn’t as kids. We also are only a few hours from the beach so we try to make it there as well during the summer.
We use our tax refund or money we’ve saved up to cover vacation costs. Plus, I’m sort of obsessed with saving money so I plan carefully to get a great deal.
3) Are you planning for college?
Yes and no. The kids all having savings accounts but I don’t expect it to cover their expenses. I will be encouraging hard work to try to get scholarships or to pay their way through school like I did.
4) Do you have a car payment?
Yes, we have two. For a couple of years we had only one, but the car ended up needing a ton of repairs that we couldn’t justify on a car that wasn’t worth that much. I cringed when we took out the second loan, but our payments are still less than I see other people’s payments. Instead of buying new cars, we get cars that are a few years old so we aren’t losing a ton of value in depreciation.
5) Are you house poor? What’s that mortgage/rent like?
Our mortgage by itself isn’t bad, it’s the taxes that are horrible. Our house payment and daycare costs are the two biggest expenses in our budget.
6) How do you fund Christmas?
We keep it cheap. We usually keep it to a max of $100-150 per child. I’ll shop around to get good deals and they get clothes and books in addition to a couple of toys. They get gifts from others too, so I try not to overdo it. My husband and I do not get gifts for each other or from the kids. We also don’t do gifts to extended family.
7) Let’s talk home improvements?
We’ve only lived in our house 2 years, and it’s only 15 years old so we haven’t had to do anything yet. I definitely have some updates like paint and carpet I’d like to do soon but we are working on other financial goals at the moment.
8) Do you save for school clothes?
No-I shop for deals and use coupons whenever possible. We stick to stores like Target, Kohl’s, and the Carter’s outlet for kids clothes. My oldest also get tons of hand-me-downs from the neighbors which helps.
9) Do you deal with college debt?
I paid for college as I went (which is why it took 10 years) except for the last year. Luckily, I don’t have a huge student loan balance, but it’s next on our list to start tackling. Mr. Cents is currently attending college on the G.I. Bill so he doesn’t have any loans.
10) Is your emergency fund where it should be?
We have enough in savings to cover minor emergencies but not 3-6 months of expenses. We do have investments that could be liquidated if we had a bigger emergency.
11) Do you carry credit card debt?
Yes, we have pretty much always had some credit card debt. We just paid off the last of it (to the tune if $16k) and I’m hoping we can keep it that way now.
12) How often do you eat out?
More than I’d like. We probably do a sit-down restaurant as a family every two weeks and some sort of takeout at least once a week. We’ll often grab pretzels or snacks at the mall or while we are running errands.
13) Do you mow your own lawn and clean your own house?
We do all our own yard work and house cleaning. We did pay someone this year to spray the weeds. Best $65 I ever spent-we don’t have the most embarrassing lawn in the neighborhood any more.
14) Name a Frugal Fail?
I’m a sucker for deals on clothes-especially clearance. Plus I hate spending money on clothes. I recently found an awesome pair of jeans on clearance. They fit wonderfully which is always a plus. But, after I had washed them, I discovered they were petite-and I’m not petite. The awesome jeans are now too short 🙁
15) Your Question: Do you get an allowance?
Yes-we each get $100 a month to spend freely. Having an allowance has worked wonders on my marriage :
Thank you Kristina! Kristina is an accountant, military spouse, and mom to three. Check out Cents and Order to learn about personal finance, saving money, organization, and parenting!
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