Finance

Modern Hen Classic Kitchen Reveal

I love before and afters, don’t you?

It’s so much fun to see what a room looked like once upon a time and then in mere seconds… wallah! The Big Reveal.

Out with the old in with the new.

Just. Like. That.

Speaking of makeovers, I hope you’re in the mood to browse the big changes in our kitchen.   Let’s start with the way things looked before.

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Lara Spencer’s New Book “Flea Market Fabulous” Debuts

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Book Review Update:  This is a gorgeous book with big, bold, colorfully detailed photos on every page. Lara doesn’t disappoint readers with varying tastes either.  Not only does she showcase many design styles in her stunning real-life rooms, but she gives readers plenty of captions, tips, and fixes we can use right now. Throughout the pages she has sprinkled helpful advice from professional designers who weigh-in on how they create beautiful homes, too. Lara also shares her design dilemmas for each project and then walks readers through her process for solving them. And her mood boards are amazing and fun to see! And just like she did in her first book, she tells readers what she paid for her flea-market finds then shows us the reveal on how she used them in each stunning room. Lara has written another fantastic book that readers will refer to again and again! It’s perfect for anyone who loves to decorate, but especially inspiring for those of us who love to  do it on a budget and with our fabulous flea-market finds! Love it! Continue reading

5 Fast Rules For Debt-Free Living

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5 Fast Rules for Debt-Free Living

1. Don’t spend more money than you earn. The key is sticking to it!  Set a budget and don’t veer off. Don’t use credit cards, but instead patiently save and pay cash for extras that you want. Also create a minimum $1,000 emergency fund to avoid the use of credit cards and borrowing money. 

2. Save 10% of your paycheck no matter what. Save at least 10% from every paycheck and put it away. Building your nest egg will free you from borrowing from other people and financial institutions when a crisis occurs — and one will!  Consistently saving your money will allow you to take care of what is necessary when needed, which is a big stress reliever. A strong savings account will allow you choices; like helping others who are in need, taking nice vacations, saving for the future, and enjoying the fruits of your labor in many other enjoyable ways.

3. Never lease or buy a brand new car.  This one rule will save you more money than you can  imagine.  Money you can use to pay other debt with, plan for retirement, or apply to your mortgage, etc. Purchasing a new vehicle, or leasing one, is like throwing cash out the window. And many people pay their car loans off then turn around and buy a new one and start all over again. The initial owner of a brand new car takes the biggest financial loss the moment they drive it off the car lot. You don’t want to be that owner! If you are not careful, consecutive vehicle loans will become a lifelong obligation and hinder your financial freedom.  Consider a nice, used vehicle in good condition, with low miles that you can afford to pay cash for. Then maintain it on schedule and as needed and drive it for as long as possible.  Maintenance and repairs will generally cost less per year than 12-monthly car installment payments do over a five year loan term.

4. Pay cash for your education. Pursuing a college degree often means carrying long-term debt, sometimes for up to 20 years after graduation. Paying for classes as you take them may extend the length of time it takes to get your education, but you will also graduate debt-free and avoid paying a large portion of your new earnings back to the bank. 

5. Pay cash for your home. This may seem impossible, but it can be done. In fact, I know several singles and couples who have lived frugally to save cash and buy their first house. Some lived with their parents and socked money away until they had enough to pay for their first home.  There are many creative ways to earn and save enough money to pay for your first home in full. 

I hope these 5 rules encourage you to begin taking steps toward living your life debt-free. They may seem extreme, and yes they will challenge you, but with patience and willpower they are attainable.

For more great tips on living a financially free life, read “The Total Money Makeover” written by Dave Ramsey. His book will guide you on how to begin paying off bills fast, save like never before, and invest in very simple and smart ways for your future. 

Lisa

 

25 Reasons Your Library Rocks This Summer!

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To our good fortune, most of us have a library not far from home and there are many reasons to take advantage of yours this summer. The public library is easy on the wallet, it opens doors to the whole family’s imagination, and there is plenty to discover for all ages — from toddler to grandparent. Besides complimentary use of almost everything under one roof, most library systems support what’s happening in the community such as area and state-wide tourist attractions, and often partner with local festivals and concerts to bring in a variety of affordable, and oftentimes free, entertainment.

This summer why not plan a field-trip with the kids and head out for an excursion to your local library. If you are staycationing at home this year then check with your librarian for activity booklets, reading club calendar, concert series schedule and other budget-friendly activities for the whole family to enjoy.  Here are 25 other reasons to ROCK your library this summer:

LOTS OF FREE AND LOW-COST STUFF

1. Membership is FREE and it has privileges!  The use of almost everything offered at your library will be free to rent or available at a low-cost.

2. You will find a huge selection of books, magazines and newspapers to sit and read in the library’s lounge or sign them out and take them home to read at your leisure over a few days or weeks.

3. Audiobooks can be borrowed and used to entertain during long car trips.  And they offer those with low-vision or blind another way to connect and learn.

4. DVDs & VHS tapes of family movies, classics, documentaries, and tv shows are available. You can watch programs with the kids that were popular when you were their ages, and oftentimes had great life-lessons in their themes.

5. You can get popular music on CDs and hard-to-find classics on tape cassettes.

6. Internet, computers and technical equipment is usually available free of charge.

7. Working from home this summer? While the kids are discovering their library, you can work away at a table nearby and also have use of the branch’s low-cost copiers and fax machine.

KIDS & FAMILY

8. Libraries foster independence in kids. Finding, checking out, and accepting responsibility for membership are all small steps to independence.

9. Summer camps! Not only is the library a creative distraction from tv and video games, but many offer themed summer camps to keep the kids busy exploring outside and interacting with others. The summer day camp offered at our local library is called “Civil War Experience” — the kids can have fun while learning a bit of history, too!

10. Most have children’s areas with puzzles, toys, games and outdoor parks to keep them engaged and socializing.

INTERESTING CLASSES

11. Check out Moms and Parenting groups to connect with others, swap tips and share advice.

12. Travel clubs can be found at your library. Do you dream about taking the whole family on a trip to Disney but need to do it on a squeaky tight budget?  Ask if there are groups that meet to discuss budget and family travel planning.

13. Most libraries offer computer education games for all ages. Keep the kid’s on their toes over the summer but in a fun way and they won’t even notice they’re building skills.

14. How can the library benefit your family pet?  Your family can learn how to best care for and train your pet through a variety of books and videos for rent.

15. Join a Writer’s and Reader’s club for kids and adults. The club close to my home meets in a park near the river in a beautiful setting throughout the summer months.

16. Learn to quilt, knit, crochet, paint, finger paint, sculpt and draw. Check your library’s catalog and get signed up!

17. Acquire couponing skills to maximize money savings. Ask if your library offers guest-speakers on this topic and others that interest you.

UNIQUE THINGS

18. Restyle your home this summer and borrow art from the library. Many branches offer art for rent or purchase. Ask if they will be hosting an Art in the Park or festival where you can support local artists or even enter your own art.

19. Stroll their indoor/outdoor gardens and arboretums. Attend lawn concerts and pack a brown bag lunch to enjoy eating while listening to live music. Check to see if your library will be hosting a “Green Gym”, or something similar,  to state parks and recreation areas where you can walk, run, bike, and swim for FREE. These passes are popular so be sure to sign-up right away.

20. Visit and support the library’s gift shop, cafe or snack area.

21. Go to “Author” signings . Famous people are often booked to come in and discuss their careers on the big and small-screens, where their lives are today, and recent books they have written. Some are authors of children’s books, too.

22. Take part in book fairs and fundraising raffles. Let the kids do all the choosing, registering and handling of the money for purchases.

23. Do you need a summer meeting spot for your scrapbook or craft group?  See if your library’s activity room (offered to non-profit groups) is available, or meet in their public lounge area, cafe or on the lawn while enjoying refreshments.

24. Ask about tickets to local concerts, entertainment, and to purchase discount parking passes to state-wide cultural events and tourist attractions.  You may be pleasantly surprised by all the connections and savings your library has waiting for you locally and state-wide.

25. And last but not least, your library is the perfect place to spend a hot, muggy summer’s day to get out of the heat. Invite a friend to join you and have a great time at the coolest place in town — your library!

And if that weren’t enough, here are a few more suggestions to consider:  Check your library’s website for special events and browse their online catalog for more information on regularly scheduled programs. Since most library branches are on community bus routes, consider taking the kids there on a field-trip to teach them how to use public transportation. Your library staff will be happy to guide you in getting the most out of your experiences, so be sure to ask questions.

With so many reasons to ROCK your local library this summer,  you may have a hard time deciding where to start. Remember your library any day, but especially this summer when there are so many fun things to do there this time of year.

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20% Discount Off Entire Bill at Olive Garden

Happy Memorial Day a little early! I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. I also wanted to share with you this 20% off discount coupon to Olive Garden Restaurants. You can print direct from your computer or show your wait person the coupon from your phone. Enjoy!

Here’s the link:

http://link.olivegarden.com/YesConnect/HtmlMessagePreview?a=Si8GGesUjZ-HB4IfkcaE5&msgVersion=web

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10 Surefire Ways to Build an Emergency Fund Now!

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Do you have at least $1,000 tucked away for a short-term crisis? Emergencies always happen when we least expect them and can be financially devastating when they do. How we manage our lives and stress, unfortunately have a lot to do with money, or lack thereof. Most financial experts suggest every household should have a minimum of $1,000 in savings to cover unexpected calamity. If you have less than this in savings, or nothing at all, it’s time to focus on changing that.

The following 10 surefire ways worked to build my family’s emergency fund and can make a huge difference in your path to financial freedom, too.

1. Make the decision you MUST, CAN and WILL save for an emergency. To inspire you read, “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. It’s a step-by-step guide based on biblical principles with simple strategies to guide you out of debt for good. No matter your circumstances, it’s never too late to change the direction of your finances and that’s empowering. Read the book as soon as you can.

2. Set up a budget and get your family onboard. Share the plan and your excitement with your family. While reading the book, you will be able to share with them the many success stories included from families just like yours. In the meantime map-out monthly income and expenses, include dates you receive paychecks and dates bills are due. Figure out the monies left after paying bills, and determine the amount of money you will consistently deposit into the emergency fund from every paycheck.

3. Get a second job if necessary. If your family is barely living off of one income and you can manage to work a second job, consider a temporary, part-time job as a solution for earning your emergency fund.  A seasonal or holiday job might fit your needs perfectly without the obligation to long-term employment.

4. Sell what you don’t use and everything else you can. It’s not easy to part with stuff, but if you’re not using it, and you’ve already spent the money anyway, turn it into cash. Scour your home and plan to get rid of extra things. Begin preparing for a garage sale, or listing items on eBay and other online selling sites, or through classified ads (look for newspapers that also provide classifieds on their website). Share what you are selling with your friends on Facebook, and join your community’s yard sale page. Ask friends for referrals to reputable sites they have used to sell stuff. Host your own booth at a local flea-market or tag sale. Enlist the kids! We offered our sons a percentage of what sold at our garage sale to get them excited. Not only were their efforts invaluable to me, they learned basic business skills, and enjoyed the process, which made the whole thing more fun for me, too.

5. Save on groceries. Cut back to mostly needs and forego the extras like snacks and soda. By cutting back on the essentials one week out of the month, you will reap even more savings. Purchase most everything you need on sale. Clip and use coupons. Keep track of everything you put into your grocery cart on your phone’s calculator and stay on budget. Shop the discount dollar store for paper, laundry products, school supplies, canned and boxed foods. Remember this is a short-term change with a means to an end.

6. Stretch your meals. Eat less if you’re healthy enough to do so. Turn leftovers into a different entree the next day. Use them to make a hearty soup with beans and grains, or add vegetables, saute and serve with rice for an altogether different dish. Get creative and have fun coming up with new recipes. It is possible to eat healthy on a budget.

7. Go meatless once or twice a week. Instead of meat, try eating eggs one night a week. Breakfast for supper is a super grocery bill slasher!  There are plenty of filling ways to get protein in your diet through vegetables (like avocados), nuts and grains. This one switcheroo will save you lots of money.

8. Shop your pantry and freezer. Most of us have an overstock of canned, boxed, and frozen items but forget they’re on a back shelf or at the bottom of the freezer. Bring your canned and dry goods out to the countertop where you can see what you have, then plan meals around them. Make a list of frozen items and do the same.

9. Save your coins. Display a pretty jar as a reminder to empty your pockets and purse of all your change each evening. I recently exchanged our randomly collected coins and left the bank with almost $200! Don’t forget to take back soda bottles for your deposit money also.

10. Put a temporary hold on eating out and other extras. You already know the value of this tip, but for reminder’s sake, avoid your favorite coffee shop and fast-food restaurants. In fact, don’t eat out period until you have met your $1,000 goal. Instead, prepare refreshments and food at home and take them with you. Carry an apple or healthy snack in your car or purse to curb moments of drive-thru weaknesses. Think about every scenario where you may be tempted to spend, then plan ahead to avoid them.

One of the greatest joys I have found from learning how to cut debt and save money has been to share with others how they can do it, too! My youngest sister shared “The Total Money Makeover” plan with me first, I then shared it with our other sister, who began the plan right away. We have marveled at how the original biblical concepts on money still remain the best guidance today. You can read more about how they tie in inside Dave Ramsey’s book.

There are many advantages to an emergency fund other than having it available when you need it. A savings will lessen financial burden on your family and give peace of mind; you will begin to see it is possible to live a debt-free, more worry-free life by continuing to practice good saving habits; and teaching your children about money and living by example are priceless blessings with far-reaching benefits.

Here is the link to 5 Fast Rules For Debt-Free Living For Life if you would like to read more on how to break-free from debt. To read future posts on this topic you can follow me on Facebook at Modern Hen Home.

“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

Lisa

 

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