Backyard party on a budget

So you are planning a party on a budget, eh?

Yay!! Parties! Who doesn’t love to party?

Until… you become the host. Or hostess. And you realize that your dream backyard party is gonna cost a pretty penny.

Well, NOT TODAY!

Backyard party for adults

Adults like to have fun. I mean, all ages love to have fun, but, ahem.. adults are a different level fun altogther. Two fun events are summer parties and barbeque perties.

Barbeque on a budget

Use fajitas

Fajitas. The ones used in tacos. The skirt meat of beef is extremely chewy with lots of tough muscles, and that’s why many people don’t buy it.

barbeque on a budget - fajitas

But here comes the catch : skirt meat is extremely flavorful. What would you want your guests to complain about – taste or painful jaws? If its worth the taste, trust me, they won’t mind the jaws.

Use aluminum foil as trays

What other uses of aluminum do you know (other than that it is used to make planes)? You can use them as trays! Just fold ’em corners like you are molding a tray with your bare hands.

Backyard party on a budget 1

Besides, you can later o ball it up and use it to scrub the grill grates after the guests leave. Genius much?

Use personalized wine labels

Personalized wine (or any drink) labels add extra fun and memories. Like, if I had to host a summer party and my friends come around and I know some embarrassing moments about the last time they got drunk, I would write that.

Backyard party on a budget 2

Use frozen cocktail treats

Mix hot n spicy with cold and relaxing in your barbeque party.

Backyard party on a budget 3

Besides, you get bonus points if you use mason jars as glasses and serve the frozen cocktails in those mason jars. Be sure to give spoons and straws for scooping every last bit.

Summer party on a budget

Summer parties are my favorite. They are an amazing away to catch up with your friends and know what’s up with there life and where they are and all. Let me show you how to make it cheaper .

Have a picnic

What’s the second thing that pops in your head after "summer parties"? PICNICS OF COURSE! So do your BBQ the picnic style. That saves the headache of scooping extra chairs from your neighbors or asking your guests to bring some.

summer party on a budget- picnic bbq

As shown in the picture, you but need some bed sheets and pillows or cushions as chairs. If you don’t have a low table, just pick some crates from your garden (or the neighbors’) and color it up! More on that below!

Use fresh farm produce

Using fresh farm produce just adds into the whole BBQ feels of making meat and food like an early man. It makes me feel like Bear Grills (pun totally intended).

Backyard party on a budget 4

Besides having fresh farm produce will save you lots of money. You’d be surprised at the amount of money you save, especially now that you’ll be buying in large quantities. It’s also recommended for  having paleo + vegan diet on a budget.

Entertaining outdoors on a budget

Nobody wants to call guests and run out of talking topics. Or worse, having no reason to stay as long as possible. And perhaps being the talk of the class…in a bad way…

Use string lights for trees

String lights are a must for any kind of party. Not only does it ensure that the guests (or even kids) can enjoy the evenings, but it will also keep they entertained.

entertaining outdoors on a budget - string lights

Especially the kids. They will find anything pretty and will make up pretend-games where they might do something like…. starry nights, anyone?

Birthday party on a budget

Planning for a birthday party on a budget is really nice because not only do you save money , but you also get gifts and presents from your guests. That’s double the fun!

Use gift wrapper as table cloth

Start it all with setting the jolly, colorful atmosphere with color gift wrap papers as table "cloth"! Pick designs and patterns according to the theme.

birthday party on a budget - gift wraps

Besides, if its kids, they’ll be occupied. And if either way, any food or drinks (adults) spilled shouldn’t make you feel like "Darn sloppy guests".

Use washi tape for straws

It looks colorful, festive and also, great conversion starters! My sister for example, loves crafts. I temporarily stole her washi tape collection to make straws look so cute and all.

birthday party on a budget - washi tape straws

Once, one kid was just blowing air in her juice. Then everyone started doing it, and as a good hostess, I had to join in too. But it was fun!!

Budget DIY party decoration

The best and the most tried-and-tested fail-proof method is making your own decorations for your part. Here are some of my favorite budget DIY party decoration:

Use brown craft paper as table cloth

Using brown kraft paper as table "cloth" makes the whole environment feel more rustic and gives a homely coy feeling. To make it look even more original (or crafty), you can paint the dishes and cutlery on it. You know, as places where and why to be kept and all.

budget DIY party decoration - brown kraft table runner

Use bandanas as napkins

Bandanas are so colorful, and so stylish without much effort that  it seems pointless if you do not use it as cloth napkins. For more bandana uses, keep reading!

Backyard party on a budget 5

Use bandanas as above-the-table decor

Fold them into half diagonally and knot the individual ends together. Or any other pattern or fashion you fancy. Nice above-the-table decor.

budget DIY party decoration -bandana decor

Use crayons as utensil holders

As you can tell by now, I love colors! And crayons are the building blocks of colors! If it’s a kiddie party, kids will go CRAZY for it!!

budget diy party decorations - crayons!!

Once I hosted a get together party for all the college friends, and the the theme was "be a kid". And I used this crayon utensil holder. Everyone loved it. So much that when things got tipsy, some crayons were missing…

Conclusion

All in all, these are the ways you can plan any party on a budget – be it birthday parties, summer parties or any backyard parties.

My favorite budget DIY party decoration is – you guessed it- CRAYONS!! What about you? Do let me know in the comments below.

Cheap and Easy Paleo+Vegan meals for the foody nerd

What is Pegan Diet?

The word "pegan" is a combination of two words "paleo" and "vegan". Paleo is the diet which our ancestors in the paleolithic era consumed.

At that time, plant based foods and meat from animals were the predominant source of nutrition and food. And the food was wild and free range sources, NOT refined in any manner.

The logic behind following our early humans’ diet is that if they could survive and propagate around the world, they must be clearly very nutritious. And researches have also proved that. The rich diversity of fruits and vegetables cover up pretty much all the nutrients you would otherwise get if you weren’t pegan.

Cheap Pegan diet plan

People hear some difficult or totally new word and they instantly thin its costly. Pegan diet has a bad repo for, apparently, being "expensive" or "costly".

That’s not true. 

You just need to know what food to pick at what time and where the best deals available. Eggs, for example, are super cheap. Buying meat closer to the expiry date (like one or two days before) is very cheap, compared to the fresh meat rates. You just have to cook it that day itself, nonetheless.

1. Veggie Packed Breakfast Frittata

Let’ start the day with a wholesome diet packed with greens! You just have to por some olive oil, put in tomatoes, onions and baby spinaches as well, and keep stirring occasionally. 

pegan diet - breakfast veggie frittata

You can continue doing other work such as packing kids lunch boxes or preparing for the interview in front of the mirror. I did that.

2. Paleo Granola

Pegan diet recommends you to avoid sugars aas much as possible. But Granolas don’t really have much sugar. INSTEAD, it has all the good fats for ya.

cheap pegan diet - paleo granola

Besides, the best part about  havings a paleo granola is replacing all the grains (a big no in pegan diet) with nuts, seeds and cacao nibs. Take whatever nuts you have in your cupboard (I keep walnuts and hazelnuts). And coconut oil.

That’s it.

3. Bone Broth

The ingredients of this bone broth conatin turmeric, garlic, shittake mushroom and chicken boens. Yes, too many ingredients, but guess what, it’s worth it. 

This bone broth boosts your immunity substancially and is a perfect (if not perfecter) way to battle any flu, illness etc. 

cheap pegan meal - bone broth

You need 2-3 lbs chicken or chicken bones, onions, chopped onions, garlic, carrots and some baby spinaches, if you want. And the shiitake mushrooms, of course.

4. Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with raisins and pine nuts

You just need cauliflower heads copped in the vertical way, an oven, extra virgin olive oil. Oh and the nuts mmmm…

paleo on a budget - cauliflower steak

Paleo on a budget

Like I said, being pegan or just the paleo parts of a pegan can be expensive.  Well, only if you let it. And if you don’t know the inexpensive paleo ingredients you can add instead and having the same nutritious and delicious goal.

5. Mushroom Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is probably the second most versatile veggie (after potato, of course) in my opinion. 

And my sister is a sucker for mushroom, so I decided to add mushrooms too. All the more delicious and nutritious, eh?

paleo on a budget - mushrrom cauliflower rice

Just put down your cauliflower down a food processor until it looks like "rice". Then pour it over your seasoned onions, celery and garlic. Add the mushrooms and stir fry it to the way you like it. Done.

6. Chocolate Chip Banana Pancake

You need a little mashed banana, two nice big eggs, apple sauce and flour made from almonds, coconuts and arrowroot. And the choco chips, of course.

paleo + vegan diet - chocochip banana pancake

The end result is a protein rich, tasty, delicious creamy nutty pancake. You may add almond butter or berries OR maple syrup on top to get more taste. I prefer maple syrup.

7. Cauliflower Fried Rice

Remember how we made Mushroom Cauliflower rice? Yeah, same as that, but you just have to add some broccoli florets, shelled pumpkin seeds and fresh cilantro leaves.

meatless paleo diet

8. Fried Honey Bananas

This is such an incredibly easy, tasty and cheap recipe that requires just three tings: honey, slightly unripe bananas and coconut oil.

cheap and easy paleo + vegan - fried honey banana

That’s it. You know what to do with ’em ingredients, don’t you?

Cheap Meatless Paleo diet

Pegan necessarily means plant based and meat based. But many people are just "vegan" in the whole "pegan" thing. So here’s some cheap meatless paleo diets for you foodies.

9. Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Okay, this takes an hour and half long to prepare and finish, but its cheap and meatless paleo diet.

meatless paleo diet on a budget - shepard's pie

Basically, you just replace the meat with dry brown lentils, green peas, grounded thyme and oregano.

 

10. Vegan Coconut Curry with Sweet Potato noodles

You’ll be needing lots of ingredients such as carrots, coconut oil, red bell pepper, sweet potatoes, onions, coconut milk and more. The recipe is here.

paleo + vegan diet - coconut curry and sweet potato noodles

Budget friendly pegan diet recipes

11. Tomato Mussles

Mussels build muscles. Did you know that? Also, mussels are incredibly cheap.

budget friendly pegan diet receipes - tomato mussels

Just dice the tomato, basil and garlic. Add the tomato in a pot containing butter, and saute. After a couple of minutes, pour the rest of the ingredients inside the pot and cover the lid. Keep it covered until the mussels open.

12. Taco Soup

You would want to have home stocked chicken for this one.  Have grounded meet and chopped onions, jalapenos, zucchinis and tomatoes in hand. And then cook the way you would to tacos.

budget friendly pegan diet receipes - taco soup

Conclusion

So that’s all for today! I am pretty sure my sister is gonna go gaga over this whole pegan diet thing because she loves cooking and she is very very diet and body conscious.

So let me know in the comments below about how you liked these paleo + vegan recipes!!

9 ways to travel the world cheap

Sometimes I want to be like Carmen Sandiego and travel the world, maybe not stealing precious items because that seems like a lot of work. However, unlike this sticky fingered flincher, I might not have the means or connections to successfully go to the pyramids of Giza and the leaning tower of Pisa.

If you share the same desire, you’re probably looking for cheap or even free ways to travel around the world and come back with your wallet intact. Here are 10 ways you may travel the world without breaking the bank.

1. Get paid to travel

If you are a fan of titanic, but can’t afford a voyage to some fabulous destination, working while you travel could be a cheaper way to enjoy a decent trip at the sea.

get paid to travel - crew member

With a short term contract as a crew member on say cruise ship, you could work as an entertainer as you enjoy your time off on someone else’s dime. While it isn’t the most glamorous job, you get to cruise the great open water and who knows, maybe you might see

2. Hitchhiking

If you’re wondering how to travel across the country for free, it’s as simple as back packing there. Carpooling is a good option but that requires planning and organizing which means EXPENSES. Sure it’s a bit risky to trust a stranger or a series of them to get you to where you need to go, but you could meet some pretty awesome g, not to mention the zero bucks spent on fuel.

travel cheap - hitchhiking

3. Rent or Swap your home

Renting out your home or swapping it with someone across the country opens the door for not only making some extra coins but to go to travel to another place. If you choose to swap homes, you will have to thoroughly vet your candidates because you want a home to come back to.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about boarding when you travel to your temporary location.

4. Wanna travel for free?

Competitions are the most convenient way of travelling the world cheaply. Travel contents don’t take much to apply and you stand the chance of winning the actual trip of even cash prizes. It may sound like a long shot, but hey, it could be your lucky day. You might not have a say on exactly where you’re headed, but who cares, it’s a free vacation.

travel for free- contest

5. Cheap travel? Group tours.

Travelling in groups is both fun and convenient. Apart from being able to share costs, you might be lucky enough to get a travel or stay discount. The best budget travels are executed it groups.

cheap travel means group travel

With the right planning and the right people, this could be one of the most enjoyable yet affordable ways to travel the globe. You must have excellent organizational skills for a good group trip otherwise it all falls apart.

6. Go in the off season

The best places to travel while on a budget are those that are not in season all year round. There are specific times in the year when such destinations are not on extremely high demand, making touring them cheaper. They are still as beautiful,

budget travel - off season

7. Another trick to travel the world free...

Charity works knows no bounds. If you’re up for the task, you may apply to work for charity organizations that work all over the globe. Depending on what volunteering work you want to do, you could travel to almost anywhere in the world.

travel the world free - volunteer abroad

8. Budget Travel = Smart Travel

Before you take a plane or train anywhere, do your research. There are usually budget options that offer budget travel for anyone travelling around the world.

budget travel - smart traveller

Flying smart across your destinations is dependent on how well you collect information on domestic fares and the likes. Don’t let ignorance cost you more on travels or cost you a discount on your flight.

9. Travel Green!

If you love to farm, World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an international network of farmers gives once in a while opportunities to join farmers on another country where they .

travel green - farm work

 You need only pay a small membership fee and viola! You stand a chance to visit one of their affiliate 65 countries. In exchange for labor on the farm, you get free room and board provided.

20 Cheap decorating ideas under $399

A well decorated home is an expression of who you are and what you like. Decorating your home doesn’t have to be a bank breaking affair. You could do it for under $399 and still end up with a pretty satisfactory result. Here are our top 20 decorating ideas that will dazzle the eye without straining the wallet.

1. Home decor on a budget: Pop colors!

These are not only great for comfort but add much needed color pop around your home. If the pillows at your furniture shop are too expensive, you could buy plain white cheaper options and upholster them in your favorite fabric.

room decor ideas - colorful cushions

You only need sewing skills and 20$ for a nice colored fabric for a set of lovely cushions or pillows.

2. Some wall art

The best home decorating ideas on a budget are based on building up on what you already have. You can combine scattered art pieces in your home on one wall for a beautiful wall of art maybe over the fire place of to cover a blank wall. You could buy some art pieces at the flea market to hang up on your wall of art.

home decorating ideas on a budegt - wall art

3. Lamps

When you’re looking for cheap decorating ideas, lamps are a good beginning point. They are both functional and add some personality to the space. Plus, they are easy on the wallet.

cheap decorating ideas - lamps

4. Layer

When layering, the key is to create contrast and create a balance. You could incorporate layers of fabric with different textures over your couch maybe pieces of coral on the table for added texture.

decorating ideas - layering

You could buy reasonably priced items like miniature Zen gardens or smooth marble rocks to add an organic element to your décor.

5.Decorating on a budget? Mobiles

These aren’t only meant for babies cribs. Artistic mobiles may range in price put they are a beautiful way to add transitioning art to your space.

inexpensive decorating ideas - mobiles

6. Cheap home decor ideas: Mirrors

Mirrors bring in more light and make the room spacey-er. Investing in a mirror for you your décor will go a long way in improving your entire interior decoration scheme.

low budget decorating ideas - mirrors

7. Hang oversized texts

Oversized texts displayed on a wall are a simple way to draw attention to the wall or wherever the texts are placed. They are conveniently priced for under 25 bucks and come with various messages depending on what you like or want.

DIY home decor ideas - oversized texts

8.Simple decoration ideas: Odd but trendy

You can create a collection with several mismatched items from garage sales, flea markets or even antique stores. With a few of these odd items you could develop a theme in any one of your rooms for a few bucks.

how to decorate on a budget - oddballs

9. Change the walls

When you cannot afford to replace your furniture or upholster the entire set, why not buy some popping paint and cover your space. If your lease prevents you from painting over the walls, an appropriate wallpaper covering should do just fine.

home decor ideas for kids bedroom

10. Succulents and other plants

Plants are a great way to incorporate color and liveliness into your décor, literally. If you don’t trust yourself to care for a plat properly, get low maintenance succulents should survive a pretty long time while still adding a decorative element to your space.

cheap home decor ideas - succelents

11. Polka dots

You can never go wrong with polka dots especially when you’re decorating your home on a budget. Whether you’re using paint or paper, or art, polka dots are a good yet affordable way to decorate your home.

decorating home on a budget - polka dots

12. Drift wood or dream catchers

Hanging drift wood or dream catchers over several places in your home is a cheap way to incorporate nature like elements into your home.

artistic home decor ideas - driftwood

13. Decorate room with simple things: Books

When you’re a reading fanatic, or just like the smell of hardcopy books, they are bound to fill your space. Instead of forming clutter, you can use them as part of your decoration. This décor can be a buildup of all your favorite paper back or hardcover novels, biographies or even schoolbooks.

cheap decorating ideas - books

14. Cheap DIY home decor ideas :Shapes on the walls

Geometric shapes add a depth to any space. You may additionally use them as shelves for your books and stuff.

inexpensive home decor ideas - shapes

15. Weaved mats

Mats are not only comfy to step on but can tie together an entire room’s look. With the right type of mat, I prefer weaved ones, you could elevate the room’s décor in an instant.

DIY home docor ideas crafts - weaved mats

16. Stripes

With the right type of colored tape, you could decorate a plain colored wall into a stripe-y heaven. Tape over the wall is an inexpensive decorating idea for every home owner.

room decor ideas - stripes

17. Decorate with wicker

While many people think wicker is an outdoor piece of furniture, indoor wicker is a fantastic way to incorporate style and comfort into your space. You do not need an entire set. One reclining wicker chair with a bunch of pillows is more than enough.

DIY home decor ideas crafts - wicker

18. Maps

Framed maps of remote places, states or the world are a good way to add dimension to your space. They are overlooked room décor idea that is a good conversation starter.

inexpensive decorating ideas - maps

19. Hang up your art

Whether you fancy yourself a creative or not, you could come up with abstract pieces that you can hang over the bed in your bedroom or an obscure place in your home. All you need is some paint, brushes and canvas.

cheap decorating ideas - DIY art

20. Creative decor: window treatments

With the right window treatments, you could boost your décor from basic to fabulous. Sheer blinders are great for adding movement in the room especially when the fabric encounters wind.

low budget interior design ideas - sheer curtains

Final word

With all these ideas in mind, decorating under $399 doesn’t seem as farfetched anymore does it?

16 quick, healthy and cheap meals for all

Most people cannot afford to eat out at expensive restaurants everyday. In fact most of us usually opt for cheaper fast food outlets to avoid overspending on meals. This is quite unhealthy and could potentially cost you in future. Here is an easy prep combination of cheap meal options for every family or individual.

1. Grilled cheese and tomato soup

When you need an easy to prepare meal or a cheap yet delicious option, why not some grilled cheese with creamy tomato soup. This meal is not just comforting on a cold rainy day; you may adjust the ingredients to suit your dietary choices. How about different bread options paired with say goat cheese r whatever cheese you love on your grilled bread.

cheap delicious meals for individuals - grilled cheese and tomato soup

2. Oat meal and a banana

This is one of my favorite cheap meal ideas that is both filling and healthy. You can have oatmeal with a banana or more fruit regardless of what time it is. If you like, try a tablespoon of raw honey to sweeten your oats.

best cheap meal ideas - oats and banana

3. Roast with veggies

Pot roasts are great especially for family dinners on a budget. They are not only easy to make, but are a delicious combination of veggies and protein. It may take some time to make but it is worth every bite.

family dinners on a budget - roast with veggies

4. Fried rice

Rice is one of the most diverse starches that pairs with almost anything. Chicken over rice, rice and beans and the iconic stir fry rice. Stir fry is one of those cheap and easy meals that suits both families and individuals. Combined with all those lovely vegetables and spices, it is a delicious meal to have when you can’t spend too much on costly ingredients.

dinner on a budget - fried rice

5. Stir fry sausage?

If you’ve never had stir fried sausage then you might want to give it a try. It is a combination of Italian sausage, white onion and different colored peppers. It is a good replacement for meat when isn’t  an option. Stir fry sausage can go over pasta which it complements it perfectly.

healthy quick meals for families on a budget

6. Soups

Many people underestimate how reliable soups are. They are not only easy to make, but offer a variety of option for cheap means for families. Different types of soups and soup pairings make them an adaptable meal you can have on several occasions without getting bores. Some hearty soups have potatoes and all sorts of goodness that make them a top contender for top cheap meal ideas.

cheap meal ideas - soup

7. Stuffed potatoes

Need I say more? Stuffed potatoes can be supplemented with all sorts of complimentary add ons that not only make them delicious but also a  complete meal.

cheap healthy meals for kids- stuffed potatoes

8. Chicken

Chicken is the poster child for all cheap meal ideas. When you dint know what to have that is still within your budget, how about some chicken. This protein pairs well with several starches to make delicious and healthy combinations. While some combos take some time to prepare, they are worth the nutritional and monetary value.

cheap quick meals - chicken

9. Stuffed peppers

I love peppers stuffed with mushrooms and cheese. It is a budget friendly option that is also healthy, not to mention delicious.

budget friendly meals - stuffed peppers

10. Steak and potatoes

This combination is a staple on the cheap meals for families list. If you want to add some pizzazz to your steak and potatoes, try adding French beans on the side for that fresh crunch.

cheap meals for families - steak and potatoes

11. Eggs in purgatory

When meat is not an option, eggs can come in handy to provide a cheap and reliable protein option. Eggs in purgatory are basically eggs baked inside tomato sauce. This is a hearty dinner on a budget that feeds an entire family. The recipe is quite straightforward and doesn’t need a lot to prepare.

dinner on a budget - eggs in purgatory

12. Black bean burritos

Black beans are a good protein source and can be used instead of meats to create black bean burritos. These are cost effective options that you can get almost anywhere. These are a good option when you need a cheap and easy meal on the go.

cheap easy meal 2- black n=bean burrito

13. One pot pasta

Pasta is one of the easiest meals to prepare. One pot pastas are an easy way out if you’re trying to avoid the extra effort. When combine properly, one pot pastas are the best options for cheap quick meals. My favorite happens to be garlic tomato spaghetti, made in one pot.

cheap easy meals - pot pasta

14. Spinach and sausage calzones

Calzones are a good way to break the monotony of regular meals. You may choose healthier stuffing options that carry each food group including veggies and protein. Spinach and sausage calzones are both delicious and filling options for anyone who loves stuffed foods.

16 quick, healthy and cheap meals for all 6

15. Beef stew

Famously known as poor man’s stew, beef stew is an essential for cheap meal ideas. It is an easy step by stem cheap meal to make ideal for families.

16 quick, healthy and cheap meals for all 7

16. Chili

Chili is one of those hearty dishes you should consider every once in a while. You can play around with the recipes and make them your own while still sticking to your budget.

16 quick, healthy and cheap meals for all 8

Final word

Sure fast food is easily accessible and cost effective, but it is not a healthy option. These 16 options are better replacements which are both cheap, easy make and healthy options.

Freelancers: How to budget on a variable income

How spectacular does it feel to NOT have anyone bossing over you? Or to charge your employer exactly what you are worth every single time?

self employed

Welcome to the freelancers’ world!

….Which also means you’ll be under fluctuating paycheck, variable income, irregular money flow yada yada yada.

You get the gist. Welcome to the life of a self-employed, again!

freelancer variable income woes

So. How do you save money as a freelancer? How can you budget when there can be any emergency at any moment?

Here’s how:

How to make a budget (before)

This is what you need to do before-hand:

  • Go through all your expenses from the past 6 months (minimum) and 12 months (maximum)

Go through your bank statements and while that can be heart-breaking at times, it can really open your eyes on where your money is actually going.

needs and wants
  • Now see all the necessary expenses - food, clothing and shelter

Include your monthly installments (if any), (’cause the bank people wont let you live your life if you don’t, so its necessary).

You probably don’t need to include transportation costs, ’cause you work at home, but if you do, add ’em too.

Now find the monthly average of your necessary expenses.

This is known as your bare-bones budget.

how to make a budget

This means if you are in the worst of the holes, you absolutely cannot afford to spend a single penny more than your bare-bones budget.

Now, of course, you cannot stop living life as if you are gonna get pneumonia tomorrow, so make sure to give yourself some slack. You know, for yourself! Got a knack for wine? Soak ’em up!

Now, you need to go through the following steps very carefully:

1. Create a zero based budget

No. Zero based budget (or zero sum budget as others call it) DOES NOT mean your bank balance comes back to zero every single month.

zero sum budget

All that it means is that after the month ends, you end up spending all that you were supposed to spend.

Please regard the word "supposed" carefully.

If your budget had room for eating out thrice a month, and you dined out for a couple of times more, (and consequently have to cut on other categories), that means you were NOT SUPPOSED to overspend.

how to save money

Yeah, I think we are clear on what the word "supposed" actually means.

Let me give you an example. I earn CAD 3000 as an average per month. As per my "supposed to spend" budget, I can safely spend CAD 1800. This means after paying for the necessities, installments and me-time, I have zero dollars to spend anymore.

"But what about the remaining CAD 1200?"

I save it. Period.

Save like you've never saved before

I am a freelancer. My income is unpredictable. Therefore, I must save every time I have surplus amount left with me.

variable income woes

Part of it goes towards my emergency fund. Another part of it goes my retirement savings. And if I have any, then I push that towards my student loans.

This is what zero-sum budget means.

Have multiple savings accounts

As a freelancer, it is anyways recommended that you have a separate bank for your personal finances, and one for your freelancing business. This also comes in handy when you are saving money using the zero based budget method.

multiple savings bank accounts

It is however, not recommended to automate the monthly deductions every month cycle. You are a freelancer, and you never know when your client pays you late and other bad things happen. It’s stupid to have overdraft fees in that case.

This is what you do :

  • You manually withdraw and deposit cash from your branch.

But where to? To another savings bank account which acts as your emergency fund. Or to your monthly installments, peeps.

  • You, also, withdraw your "supposed to spend" budget and KEEP IT WITH YOU IN CASH.
zero based budget planning

Very important thing to note. Spending cash not only lets you to be you be mindful of how much you spend, but it also stops you from piling on (additional) credit card debt.

Advantages of zero based budgets

  • Zero sum budgets are very effecient because it allows you to account for every single cent.
  • If you are paying off your loans or mortgages, a zero sum budget is the best way to pay it quick.
  • You learn to be very disciplined, something which everyone should be, but freelancers, even more.
  • You learn to find frugal ways to enjoy life wihout breaking your bank.

Beware, though...

You will not be able to stick very closely to your budget, at first try, mind you. I could, and I know how hard it is.

Building up extreme discipline takes practice and patience to an extreme level. Trust me, there were times I really felt like ordering expensive (but delicious) Indian cuisine just because I missed my boyfriend (he cooks it sooooo goood).

zero based bugdeting 2

But then, you see, I have a budget.

Oopsie doopsie.

So I tweaked this method

Whenever I need to buy something, I check my "safe to spend" budget and see if I can really afford that.

And then, of course, there are useless, harmful expenses, like cigarettes. I am on the road to quitting this addiction, so you see, cigarettes are a big no no.

So this is what I do:

I always keep my Apple Pay wallet balance at zero.

And if I have to buy essential items ike milk and groceries, I first add the exact amount into the digital wallet, and then proceed to pay the shopkeeper.

save money

Why I do this:

I noticed quiet recently that the mere presence of some money in my digital wallet made me feel like I can afford something either within, or without that amount.

So if I am tempted to buy something useless (cue: the cigarettes), I literally check my purse (which I know has just coins and my id) and even though I am aware of the contents of my purse, now that I’ve seen it, it just sorta cements my broke-ness.

Same thing with my mobile wallet.

It takes a minute or two longer than the rest to pay at the groceries, but it deters me from going overboard.

And trust me when I say this: I have over boarding-impulsive issues.

It worked!

Yup. It worked. I was being very hard on my self, yes, and there were times I reeaaaallly to just spend, but you know what?

This is my third attempt to getting this variable income budgeting right, and I’m pretty stoked up to tell you guys that I just spent CAD 10 more than my prescribed bare bones budget.

Tell me how did you save money with a variable income in the comments below!

No spend challenge: Rules, Tips and what I learned.

You prolly seen such no spend challenges being taken-up in Instagram. Some people decide to go total bonkers and Instagram being the perfect place to show off those shoes, showing off the amount can even motivate you (and others!) to save more.

show off spending freeze challenge

C’mon, showing off isn’t necessarily a bad thing… if you show off how much money you saved and how you’re going through your #debtfreegoals and #financialfreedom , you find more people like you! That just encourages you more!

How this concept came into being

The best concept of a no spend month can be seen during the World Wars. In America, as able-bodies men and animals were being supplied to the wars, agriculture slowed down. 

New manpower was required to sew uniforms and build ammunition – and basically, that’s how women started working, and that’s how the skirt came into being.

use it up wear it out make it do or do without

With all the machinations, poor industry standards and minimum wages, people had to start being creative. They had to make the best out of waste. They had to learn how to become frugal and save as much money as possible. The government encouraged these behaviours, and they started "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays" campaigns.

Examples during Depression

To cut out consumption of goods and supply as much help as they could to the army, the Government put up posters and educated people on how they could help America and maintain that unity and pride about them. The first step was to bring awareness about unity in tough times.

origin of pantry challenge

There are so many other great examples, small or big, that the US government brought the whole nation together. Now, this post is not about how great they were, but it just pays to tell you  that all the bits (citizens) and pennies (small repetitive expenses) count up.

No spend usually means

Now, contrary to popular belief, a "no-spend challenge" does NOT mean literally not spending a single penny. I’d like to think of a spending freeze challenge as "purge challenge". Or pantry challenge.

Remember: bills such as rent, electricity, loan payments DO NOT COUNT under the no spend challenge.

Now, I wouldn’t say I have been disciplined enough to go through the whole month and spending as less as possible, but I do something quite similar.

spend less money

Let me explain. 

The 10th of every month is payday (yay), so, in the beginning of each month, I use only the things which I have in my home. It usually means purging or consuming all the eatables first, because they are perishable items. So these 10 days, I avoid buying milk (it’s essential, but I want to finish all the things) as much as I can and make food at home only. 

What challenges come in way

The worst barrier on your way to a zero spend month is money itself. 

No spend month challenge 1

Money is such a taboo in the society that you feel so ashamed to talk it out loud. Your friend’s birthday is around the corner, and you forgot about it UNTIL last night, so you gotta buy a gift for her….

OR you had a really really bad day at work and just want a drink and doze off…

And the lack of motivation itself is a major mood-killer. If you think you would fail anyways, then you’ll never be able to get ahead.

How to fix them

If you want to fix problems, you need to cut those problem-causing elements right at the source.

And as you go through a no spend challenge, you will see that the best way is to communicate openly. Talk to your family members or your close ones about this challenge, and how they can help you complete it,.

No spend challenge rules

  • Have a support system open. Tell your partner or best friend about this challenge and ask them for emotional and psychological help as you walk down this road. 
no spend month rules

It  is extremely necessary to be shamelessly upfront about why you started this in the first place. Whenever you feel like giving up, or whenever you see a great sale coming up, ask yourself these questions: 

  1. How do you feel right now? Do you feel like that sale is never gonna come again? Well, so is your money!
  2. Why did you start this in the first place? To save money? To make up for all the foolish stuff you bought? Or to fill up your emergency funds etc?
  3. After the spend-freeze challenge is over, what will you do with all the saved money? To plan that trip around the world? Or something else?
  4. What do you think will be stopping you from completing this challenge? What scares you the most?
  5. What excites you about this no-pantry challenge? Do you want to see how much of perishable food you already have that could last you for days? 

Personal experiences

Let me tell you about my personal experiences with living with all I have. 

I won purge challenge

So I asked myself the above 5 questions, and my answers were as follows:

  1. I feel motivated and want to see how far can I stretch myself. 
  2. I started this zero spend challenge because I realised I overspent in makeup items in the past 10 months. I decided to sell some of my stuff and make up for the lost money.
  3. After the zero spend challenge is over, I will invest in a good induction and stove top compatible pressure cooker, so that whenever I shift cities, I’ll be able to save more money by preparing my meals from home.
  4. I am scared that I will not be able to stop myself from having drinks during the weekend. I am scared my friends would mark me as a social outcast.
  5. I am excited and curious to know how much can I live up to the "use it, wear it, make it do or do without" motto can I live up to.

Day one. I realised I have run out of milk, and that I will be needing it for my breakfast the next day. I am a sucker for milk. So I go through my kitchen and see what all can I "use up first". 

Turns out I had fruits and nuts to last me four breakfasts. 

I had enough supplies for meals, so I proceeded to "use them" with care.

It went fine for 3 days.

But then, a sale came.

zero spend month difficulties

So I called my support system (AKA bestie) and told him about the hard times I was going through.

He hemmed-hawed for a few minutes and finally retorted back,"I bet you’ll give in to those brown lipsticks."

No spend challenge: Rules, Tips and what I learned. 9

I stubbornly barked,"No."

"I bet two dark chocolates."

"Let’s see."

You know the thing with best friends. They know you so well that they can tell each atom apart in me. 

Turns out I am a sucker for dark chocolates as well. And stubborn too. So I forgot about the sale and stayed strong.

pantry challenge rule

I think you can guess how the next 7 days were spent, hmm?  

Conclusion

So,  it basically was a good time. 

I have no spend days every 30 days, where I can purge all the edible, perishable, food items and plan how much I will be needing for the next coming month. I like to plan my food expenses for the whole month before hand. 

spending freeze successful

It’s true, some months I overspend my food budget. Or entertainment budget. Those no spend days are relentless and merciless. I literally make sure that the age-old frugal adage "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without" is implemented point to point. My motive is to make up for all the lost money.

And when I grow week? (Pardon the pun). I use my support system. 

no spend challenge tips

Trust me, that’s how I get free dark chocolates and butterscotch ice-creams and beer. I literally feel like Pavlov’s dog. A stubborn one, though. My bestie is a great budget-man. Sticks to his budget just like gum sticks to your hair.

SO! How did your no spend challenge go? Did you successfully survive it? Do let me know in the comments below!!

Worst financial decisions Canadians make

In this post, you will see all the worst financial decisions you can avoid, could have avoided and will avoid in the future. There are different categories of spending mistakes mentioned, and all of them can be relevant to you life at some stage or the other. So let’s start this list with the worst financial mistakes you can avoid in your 20’s.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 10

Worst financial decisions 20 year olds make

1. Spending too much on a car

Who else is excited to buy their first car with tier own money? Have you been saving for the big day? Or have you decided to "afford" monthly installments for the new toy?

Either way, you are forgetting that cars, are a liability the moment you sign the dotted line. Cars depreciate in value quickeer than you can say "Lord love a duck".

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 11

After 2 years, 50% of its value is lost. 

Whats much better is to get a second-hand car, preferably just 2 years old and pay half the amount. The bottom line is to purchase a car with less miles at as less amount possible. 20,00 miles is a good number to hunt for.

Because if you think about it, the basic necessity of a car is transportation. Some car which takes you from point A to point B without fuss. Getting a car loan to buy a car loan with retractable premium leather seats and high quality stereo system is called "spending too much on a car".

2. Trying to maintain the status quo

This financial mistake does not only pertain to young people.

Trying to keep up with the Kardashians’ glamour and lifestyle is not something most people can "afford". And in the process of "affording" monthly installments using credit card is a doubly foolish financial mistake to make.

I can recommend you one excellent song by Red Chilli Peppers which shows the ugly truth behind all the fake glamour surrounding anyone who tries to maintain the status quo.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 12

3. Spending too much on a wedding

I hear bells ringing! Congratulations, you’re getting hitched to the love of your life! Sorry to slightly dampen your spirits now, but have you saved money for this big day? Kudos if you have been!

One of the biggest mistakes any couple can make is to not talk about how they are going to celebrate this big day. Everything counts, like the amount to be spent and the guests to be invited. There are plenty of ways which can cut down the costs of a wedding (its known as frugal weddings, NOT cheap weddings). Some ways are renting tuxedos and not mentioning the "W-word" while hiring a band or outdoors photographer (not at first, at least).

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 13

If you ask for help instead of gifts for your wedding, I pretty much guarantee you that the intense involvement and satisfaction you experience while having simple human interaction will outdo any fancy gifts which probably fade in a couple of months.

Worst financial mistakes house buyers make

Ah, buying a house and living in it… everyone has that milestone in their lives. I have too. Personally, my dream home shall have a nice garden with a swing and my room should have a lovely huge bookshelf which looks very premium and royal.

But sometimes, when you really really want a house, or your that dream home is being little over the budget, what do you do? What mistake do you want to avoid while getting a mortgage?

4. Failing to get pre-approved

So you’re gonna buy that dream home now. That’s great!

I’ll assume that you’ve thought about the credit score, and let’s say you have a somewhat average credit core. Its okay.

But have you considered getting the loan pre-approved by the banks?

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 14

Well, judging by the numbers provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, almost 50% of mortgage borrowers don’t even compare rates in the mortgage market. 

 Which, if you think about it, is pretty ironic. Given that when it comes to buying all other materialistic and useless things, shoppers scourge the best deals of the town. Its the opposite here.

When you get pre-approved by banks for house loans of a particular amount, it helps you get a better rates’ pitches from the lenders. The logic follows that if the banking institutions trust you for a loan, your credit history must be quiet dependable. And every lender loves trustworthy, dependable borrowers.

5. Saving too little for down payment

With the growing advent of people not being able to pay off the loans completely, lenders want some kind of payment to be down at the spot as an assurance that you will pay it back.

That’s whats know as "down payment"

So far so good.

But if the down payment is less than 20% of the total loan amount, you need to take a mortgage loan and pay the down first. That’s a double whammy. Saving too little for down payment is undoubtedly one of the mortgage mistakes most people make while buying a house.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 15

Spending mistakes foolish people make

Some foolish people make all sorts of incomplete assumptions and commit spending mistakes. Some of the spending mistakes foolish people make are:

6. Being super-optimistic about the future

When was the last time you see posts on Instagram saying," Think about the bright side" or "always hope for the best and in general, just stay optimistic"  Yeah, nothing wrong with that, but just don’t be way too optimistic about the future, especially in finance, please.

If you are being super-optimistic about the good times, it only makes sense that you ALSO PLAN about the super-worst that can happen.  Spending mistake the foolish make is to think that they can drag along the bad times, often committing the fact that it kinda takes money to drag along the bad times. You know, just saying.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 16

Money mistakes Canadians make

Taking about biggest financial mistakes people ever make, the list would be incomplete if some of the bad money mistakes Canadians make wasn’t included as well.

7. Spending more than you make

The debt-income ration for Canadians is at a very bad state – 1.63. It means that with every dollar earned, Canadians owe $1.63 in return. Which means huge consumer debts and in general, miserable financial planning skills.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 17

Every time you get your paycheck, you are so tempted to buy this and that, that you often forget that today is not the last day of your life. You need to know the basic difference between a "need" and a "want", ad, and between what you can really afford and what you wish to afford in future.

8. Buying too much house

When you buy too much house, it means that you put in too much money for maintenance, insurance, mortgage, furniture and other utilities.

If you plan on renting your house as an additional source of income, that is possible, but remember : you do want to live in your own home when you retire, don’t you? Will all your retirement funds be able to cope up with the extra house you buy or like?

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 18

Get a modest little house and make sure you can live happily in it without all the headache of space getting wasted.

9. Counting on inheritance

When Canadians were asked about the source of financial help in retirement, 45% of them responded "inheritance". That means 45% of the respondents counted on an inheritance to save their asses in the retirement stage.

This is a big mistake. For starters,  what assurance can your parents give, or anybody for that matter, that the money won’t get exhausted before they even pass it on to you? Canadians have their life expectancy rate to be till 82 years, which means that it is a possibility that the health care itself could eat up all the inheritance assets.

Worst financial decisions Canadians make 19

I’m not trying to be a bad guy wishing all your inheritance money is eaten up before you even be in your 30’s or 40’s. All I am saying is that it could be a possibility and you shouldn’t be totally dependent on your inherited money as a retirement fund.

Conclusion

All in all, these are the 9 major reasons many people cannot attain financial freedom yet. Even if you are guilty of making one of these financial mistakes,  its never too late to accept and retrospect your poor choice. Start saving from now at least, and you can have a better peace of mind in your old age.

Are you guilty of any of these financial mistakes? What did you do to remove that debt, or, how do you plan on doing so? Do let me know in the comments below, and I’ll share my stories too!

8 stepping stones: Personal finance tips of all time

Hey, do you know where all your money went? No?

Then you might want to learn how to do personal finance right and probably not regret this decision when you retire. Or any major life change.

personal financial planning is worth millions
Personal financial planning is worth millions

Budgeting is something which should be taught by parents at the early stages of childhood. In this post, I will also show you examples of how people have failed to take care of their budget, and how you can NOT be like them.

What is personal finance?

Put it real short and simple, personal finance is the most important skill to learn for your survival.

Another way to put it is: If you want to stay free of all tension from monetary problems (like no retirement funds, no savings, and $$$$ loans), then the only way is mange your budget. Learn how to make and stick to a budget.

Budgeting is the only way forward.
Budgeting is the only way forward.

No other way.

Why is financial planning important?

It is important because you need to know where your money goes. It is necessary to not make mindless purchases (like Fyre Festival tickets using your emergency fund) and have a clear path to whatever you want… like a car. Or a house. Maybe that professional makeup kit you have been dying to have. 

To understand, let me give you an example of personal finance management gone WRONG.

Just under a million dollar debt

Bella is 29 years old. Just got married in like 3 months ago. Their household income is $250,000 annually. 

$335,000 is her insurance loans.

$300,000 is her credit card  and personal loans. 

BAD EXAMPLE of personal finance.
BAD EXAMPLE of personal finance.

Let’s pretend to be Bella for a moment now. She just got married, works in the government policy making section and cannot afford to pay her bills on time.

She and her husband earn a handsome annual income, and they cannot afford to pay the bills.

She has student loans, insurance loans and credit card debt piled high up, and growing higher every time they miss a payment. 

Do you wanna be like Bella? I bet you don’t.

Yeah, so to cut all the BS, this is why you need to learn personal finance management. 

Financial stability tips.

The following tips can apply to anyone – married couples, families, and even bachelors. It’s usually the extension and disciplined implementation of these budgeting tips that make or break the paycheck.

1. Needs vs Wants

Every time you see a beautiful gown or new branded multi-featured smartwatch, open the dictionary app and see the definition and examples of “need” and “want”. Seriously. Read it aloud. Soak ‘em.

Financial secret of the rich
You don't NEED a smartwatch. You have a smartphone, that's enough.

It’s all a matter of strict definitions of "need" and "want". If we take Bella’s example, she has $300,000 as credit debt and personal loans alone, because she purchase things which FELT good ONLY FOR THE MOMENT. 

Marketers are smart. They use the emotional component of all products to appeal to the show-off-to-peers generation and make you pay for it, literally all your life.

2. AUTO-DEDUCT from your checking account

This I can vouch from my personal experience – the more you see the handsome balance in your account, you’ll be tempted to gratify yourself quickly… like I did. Now with this month’s payroll, I am gonna make up for all that lost savings (I got a huge-ass tattoo, he he).

financial planning for beginners
This is step 1 to financial freedom.

Actually, I was just experimenting to find out how long can I really stop the temptation to empty my bank account.

Evidently, it didn’t work. Learn from my mistake, peeps.

This is how you save money without being broke, or feeling like it.

3.Have an emergency fund

Yes, emergency funds are an extremely important aspect of anyone earning. Anyone. You could be an 18-yr old and working in Mcdonald’s part-time, but you still have to save some amount. Save like 10-20% of whatever you got out.

emergency funds are the new sexy
emergency funds are the new sexy

And the most often asked question is "Is $1000 emergency fund enough for me?".

Well, the answer  is "it depends".

Are you living in a city with high living expenses? Do you get a salary which allows you to survive in the said city?

Then a meagre amount of thousand bucks does no good. The best answer to the above question is "save upto 6 months (atleast) of living expenses stocked aside as an emergency fund.

4.Start your RRSP early

Now, you may be thinking, “Man, I gotta put aside for my emergency fund savings fund AND retirement plans?? What am I gonna use for myself?”.

RRSP

Well, Honey, perhaps you didn’t have to experience the recession (or worse, the depression) first hand, and after a bit of history digging, you’ll soon find out how nerve-wracking it was for broke AF people. 

Canada lost more than 968,000 jobs in the span of just 8 months. All these people…if they didnt keep an emergency fund, they would have perhaps lived these 8 months a bit more peacefully.

Not having an emergency fund is just one of the worst financial decisions anybody can make, let alone Canadians. Want to make sure you don’t make them too? See what you are missing!

5.Have a money buddy

And no, this does not mean any person with whom you can go shopping. What I meant by a money buddy is someone who constantly reminds you about your financial status (like debts, earnings and savings). 

chango-logo

Thankfully, Chango can be your money buddy. Our AI technology can learn your spending habits and notify you whenever you are tempted to splurge… you know, just like a mom. Sign up for early access!

6.Spend less than you earn

Yes, that includes your credit cards. Don’t be like Bella.

There is a huge difference in what you can AFFORD and what you can BUY. You can BUY all the things your paycheck does, until it finishes, but you cannot really AFFORD it. By saving, you can spend it later on, but the one month paycheck? Yeah, that for savings + necessities + some fun.

Most overlooked budgeting tip!
Most overlooked budgeting tip!

If only Bella knew about Chango… 

Chango has an accounting and Safe To Spend section. Here, you can clearly see how much you can spend, per day, per category.

The best part is that there is a Financial Literacy section being developed. It means you just have to take two minutes, a few swipes, and you know financial terms without any sleep-inducing-jargon! We are still building that section…. HOWEVER, if you wanna be the FIRST one to know when Chango launches live, sign up for early access!!

7.Invest

If you haven’t got an emergency fund yet, build one. If your emergency fund has 6 months of worth living expenses stocked aside, start investing it now. 

And one often overlooked is investing in higher studies. 

Invest in yourself
Invest in part-time diplomas. It's never too late to learn a new skill.

And by higher studies, I don’t necessarily mean PhD and serious high focus ones. Take a diploma course. There’s bound to be one diploma or vocational course in whatever industry you are in Or learn a new skill. Maybe you could take a part-time course about digital marketing or data science. It’ll pay you eventually, like a higher raise or it’ll come in handy during an unexpected laid off.

8.Share the rent

Your first job is critical. Especially if you got it from the college placements. Yes, you may have a great post in a great well-known company, but living in a shared rented apartment cuts cost tremendously. Yes, roommate disagreements happen, but learning how to solve them is a part of life, isn’t it?

Sharing improves financial condition!
Trust me, this is the most common scenario when you share....everything.

I live in a rented 4 BHK apartment with 7 more girls, and while it’s a lot more drama, it’s also a lot more money being saved.

If you are a married couple or living in your own house with your kids, you must still share the living expenses. We 8 girls do it, and we’re cool.

Tell us your thoughts!

That’s all for today, peeps! We hope you will implement these money saving tips and start budgeting with Chango soon! 

Have you implemented any of the above tips? Do you have more to share? Please, I would LOVE to know what your struggles with personal finance were!

Hit the comments below!!