Some of you know we had a baby last June. She has blessed our life incredibly.
However, something happened when she was born that had never happened before: credit card debt.
Previously, we had only ever used credit cards for credit-building purposes (and rewards perks) and had paid it off in full every month. When our wonderful baby was born, we didn't know how else to pay for her, and so 3/4 of it ended up on the credit card (good thing she's worth it).
Since then, I have bounced back and forth in my dedication to pay it off. Some months I feel like it will never happen, and then other months I try to stretch our budget so tight that we can't enjoy anything.
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Well, I recently read a book that inspired me. There is a section of the book about getting out of debt, and one of the suggestions was that no matter how quickly you would like to be financially free, you really need to have a “fun fund” so that you don't get burned out. For this particular family it was 10%. I loved this principle and have applied it to our situation. It really makes paying the bills so much easier when you get to save up for something fun at the same time.
So here's a few tips, in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Here's how to make that “fun fund” stretch as far as it can.
How to Enjoy Nights Out With the Family and Stay Within Your Budget
- Rather than pay a babysitter, trade-off babysitting with another couple so that you can save that money for something fun.
- Pay for things with cash and put all the change in a “FUN JAR.”
- Sell some of your stuff online or through the classifieds.
- Get cash back on things you are already purchasing (my favorite is Ebates). I love getting that extra check in the mail!
- Create a fun environment at home. Make cookies, build forts and watch movies.
- And one of the best tips of all: When you DO go out, don't ever pay full price and get things for free when you can. There are so many ways to save on activities that we love, that there is no reason to pay full price. I recently discovered a site called “Your Free Tree” and I imagine they are going to grow big fast. They get companies to offer free gift certificates to customers for free with the idea that doing so will bring back repeat customers.
And it's GENIUS.
When I was dating my husband, he won free meals for a year from a place called “Rubios.” I had never been there before. But after going there multiple times and trying various things off their menu, I am now an addict. I love that place (it worked).
The same thing happened in college. There was an offer for a free Pizza Factory bread stick on my starving student card and I often walked there just to get one (it worked). Which is why I was thrilled to see that Your Free Tree had a Pizza Factory certificate available for a free mini pizza!
I have never taken my kids there because it's a little pricey for the whole family, but the free pizza made it just within our price range to take the kids with us. We went tonight and all had a great time. Thank you Your Free Tree!
Here's a little bit more about how Your Free Tree works:
Yourfreetree.com is a new and exciting way to shop and connect with companies you love and new ones that you might like to try!
Yourfreetree is called yourFREEtree because it literally offers you free money to shop! You can use it to get your carpets cleaned, buy a new bookshelf, have your dog walked, or plan a vacation. It is designed to help you find retailers close to you that want to extend a hand of welcome (in the form of certificates) that you can come and try out their services. Why would they do this? Their hope is that you will have such a wonderful experience that you will come back again.
Creating an account is easy. All you need to provide is your zip code and email address. You will only be notified weekly with top picks of what is new at yourfreetree.com! Come and check out over 150+ merchants offering free gift certificates (online and in store), with more being added every day.
This is free money! Sound too good to be true? It gets better.
For simply signing up and creating a profile on yourfreetree.com you will be entered to win our monthly giveaway. This could be free dinner, merchandise, or a trip to Disneyland. If you set up a full profile that gives you an additional entry every single month. On top of that, for every certificate that you put into your “wallet” and redeem with a vendor you get another entry added into that month's giveaway. Let's say you use one voucher for a free pizza, a massage, a ticket, shopping, and another for a date night; that would give you 5 more entries into our giveaway and a really fantastic month for a lot less than you would regularly have to pay.
It's simple. We provide free gift certificates from merchants who want to meet you and earn your business. Come check us out at https://www.yourfreetree.com/ and like us on Facebook so you won't miss out on any fun giveaways we have coming up!
What's Your Favorite Way to Stretch the Budget?