Weekly Challenge: Apply To Online Jobs  3

Last week, I challenged myself to use what I had in my fridge. I’m happy to report that I did it! We made a few batches of lasagna which doubled as a dinner with friends, and a few leftover meals.

This week, I challenge myself to apply to 3 online jobs. With the busy schedule I held for the last semester my from-home job search took a back burner. I’m excited to look into jobs and hopefully begin working from home! Are you going to join me?

Cash Only: Making Do With $100 A Week  4

N and I have revamped our budget a number of times to eliminate unnecessary spending, but nothing has seemed to stick for an extended period of time. While we do not rack up credit card debt, we also have not been saving money to put toward my student loans. To combat this, we decided to try a cash-only system.

Since I am a waitress, getting cash is easy. I work my regular weekend hours, and on Sunday night I distribute $100 in cash to each of us.

At first you may be thinking that $100 sounds like a lot of money to be spending. Here’s the catch: we each put $50 in our gas tanks every week, and are budgeting $50 — $25 each — for groceries. That leaves us with only $25 in frivolous spending money. Whatever we don’t spend during the week is put aside for use later. This can be emergencies, last minute plans with friends, or to buy gifts.

At the moment we are still allowing credit card use for items such as medical care and prescriptions. This allows us to keep track of our spending in this area, which can be unpredictable (how many times have you been shocked and appalled at the price of prescription medicine and copays?).

We are finishing up week 2 of this new spending method, and so far it has been a success. I ended last week with $23 remaining, and the $2 I did spend was to mail an employment application!

Do you use cash or credit? How do you keep your spending in check?

Next week I will share my tips on grocery shopping on $50 a week.

Use What You Have!  0

It’s goal-setting time!

My goal for this week is to use what I have in the fridge! One of my worst habits in 2013 was not using produce or leftovers. I can’t tell you how much produce was wasted simply because I didn’t eat it all.

I have some limp carrots in the fridge, and some potatoes in the pantry from a few weeks ago that need to be used up stat. For this week, I intend to use my leftover veggies to make a vegetable stock to freeze in cubes and use whenever I need it. This will save me money, as I won’t have to run out for cans of stock. It will also be healthier for my family, since I will be adding my own seasoning.

What do you have left in your fridge or pantry that needs to be used up? Can you re-purpose it? Join me on my challenge this week!

2014 Posting Schedule  0

As I mentioned on the 1st, I am looking to bring Real Simple Finances back to its original purpose: to help motivate me to hustle for side money, get rid of my debt, and bring simplicity back into my life. To start, I’m going to be making an easy-to-follow posting schedule which will help you, my readers, know what to expect.

Every Tuesday I will be posting a challenge to myself for the week — something that will either help me make more money, declutter the house, or simplify an aspect of my life. These will be micro challenges that can be completed within a week and that you can join in on, if you’d like. I will then provide an update the following Tuesday, along with the next week’s challenge.

Every Thursday I will make a finance-related post. This can be a how-to article, an interview of a financially-savvy friend, a review of a new product or service I’ve found, or an update on my own journey through debt. I intend to keep the latter to a minimum, and only post debt updates once a month, or at large milestones.

Finally, I intend to bring back my Closing Report Sundays to reflect on the past week, including links to my favorite posts around the web for the week and my own guest posts or contributor articles.

That being said, I am absolutely looking forward to bringing in guest posts, so please let me know if you are interested! I can be reached at Alexandra(at)realsimplefinances(dot)com.

If there is something you’d like to see more of, please let me know.

Welcome, 2014  0

Hello everyone!

It’s no secret that I have been MIA for the last few months. Graduate school and side-hustles have been kicking my butt! With that came an unfortunate break from writing — just when I felt like I was getting into the swing of everything.

Since this is a new year, I decided to approach this blog a little differently than last year. Originally, I started Real Simple Finances as a way for me to share my journey out of debt with the world, hoping to exchange personal finance tips with the wonderful community I’ve seen online. Instead, I started writing a few too many how-to posts for my liking, and it made it hard for me to think of ideas. Because I have no shortage of things to say about myself (aren’t we all like this?), I want to start 2014 by bringing RSF back to being a personal blog, with just a hint of how-to posts when my life gets boring.

I’m going to be coming out with a new posting schedule on Friday*, along with some of my financial resolutions and goals for 2014. I look forward to getting back in touch with the PF community!

Happy New Year, everyone.

*Update: The new posting schedule is live!

My Black Friday Finds  1

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! I sincerely hope it was a wonderful day filled with loved ones, a warm place to be, and enough food. N and I spent this year at my family’s house. It was a lot of fun, and very relaxing.

One thing that we did not do this year was jump up after dinner and run to the stores. For someone who has never actually gone Black Friday shopping, I guess I shouldn’t speak out against it. However, I just don’t like the thought of all the pushing, rushing, fighting, and standing in line — never mind the earlier opening times that are now taking shoppers and store workers away from their families on Thanksgiving. I also don’t believe that all the “sales” advertised are actually sales. Yes, there are some very good deals out there around this time of year; I just believe that “Black Friday deal” advertisements make people want to buy things they wouldn’t ordinarily buy, at a price that isn’t so far off what it normally costs!

My biases aside, I do look online every year for sales so that I don’t need to defend myself from aggressive sales hunters (and so I can stay in my PJs in bed in my post green bean casserole coma). I’m very excited with one deal that I found this year: a new desk for $99.88 at Walmart. (No, this is not an affiliate link).

The desk I have right now is barely big enough to fit my laptop. With all the books I have been using for my thesis, a new desk is long overdue. I’m also very happy to see the storage on the side of the desk — while I have a bookshelf separate from my desk, it’s great to have a spot to keep my research books, notebooks and files (besides on the floor next to my desk!).

I also found a fantastic deal on a wireless printer! (Again, not an affiliate link.) It included a $10 coupon that I can use on another purchase, which was an excellent incentive.

My husband was also on the prowl for good deals, and he was able to snag a great one on a new oven (much needed!). Did you shop this year? What are your great finds?

Financially Savvy Saturday; November 16  3

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog hop created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written about anything from the most cost-effective holiday gifts to your favorite stocks, you’re invited to link up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

As this week’s co-host, I have picked the Feature of the Week. My favorite contribution from the Eleventh edition was Five Dolla’ Make You Holla’ Holiday Series: Husband from BrokeGirlRich. Click on the image to read her great post!

five dolla

If you submit a link this week, your post could be highlighted in next week’s party!


We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days and not be a giveaway or otherwise sponsored.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow Femme Frugality on Twitter OR by subscribing to her RSS feed via email. Also follow Alexandra from Real Simple Finances on Twitter, OR follow her RSS feed.

4. Comment on at least two other posts that have joined the party.



Real Simple Finances

OR grab the text link here!

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-dK">Femme Frugality</a> and <a href="http://www.realsimplefinances.com/2013/11/14/fssnov16/">Real Simple Finances</a>*</em>


The Unseen Enemy; The Saga Begins  2

Well, something unfortunate happened. We have been taken over by bloodsucking creatures that feed off my dogs, hide in my carpets, and jump onto me every now and then when I’m trying to write my thesis.

That’s right — fleas. *blood curdling scream*

I remember my parents’ dogs having fleas when I was a child, though only slightly. My most vivid memory from that time was being on the phone with my dad, who was at work, and crying, all the while sitting on my mom’s dresser and refusing to get down because I was afraid of fleas. Read more

Holiday Giving (Back)  6

If you’re visiting from Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance, welcome!

‘Tis the season for a lot of things; shopping, eating, family, parties… but one thing particularly stands out this time of year. ‘Tis the season to give back.

We’re all in this together!

Is it just me, or does this time of year bring out generosity in people? Everywhere you look donations are being collected, people are feeding the needy, and generous fundraisers are being conducted. While this could be a post about the need to be generous and thoughtful all year, it won’t be. Instead, I want to know how you give back at this time of year!

I know that my readers are finance-conscious people, who also have very big hearts. So how do we balance frugality with generosity?

  • Connect with an organization.
    I collected food for the needy year-round at my church for years. Everyone brought a non-perishable item to church one Sunday each month. The result was a large monthly donation to a local food bank. By getting a large community together, one doesn’t have to spend a lot of money to make a big difference.

  • Donate your time.
    Sometimes, time is the best gift. Whether you’re reading a Christmas story to a preschool class, teaching someone to knit his/her own Christmas presents, or visiting a nursing home, keeping someone company during the holidays can mean a lot to someone who’s lonely.

  • Expand your holiday table.
    Speaking of helping lonely people, what’s one more to dinner? Instead of hosting a party with all the trimmings yourself, ask others to bring a dish to share, and really make Thanksgiving a party! (Or Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.) The most interesting and touching Thanksgiving I ever had was when a church member (who had no family to spend Thanksgiving with) helped my family put together a dinner for a group of college students who couldn’t go home to celebrate with their family. It was certainly a different way to spend the day, and I loved every minute of it.

What are you doing to make someone’s holiday season better?

Roadblocks to Saving: Not Treating Yourself (Sometimes)  3

It may seem counterproductive, but treating yourself when you reach financial goals can actually help you save money. Today, I’m over at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance to let you know how to reward yourself, the smart way.

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