Money Talk >> Easy Savings

A friend of mine is a SAHM. She also has 3 kids and she worries about money.

I don’t think she’s telling me the whole story but I sense that she’s in a deep hole. She just says that her family of 5 lives pay check to pay check. That’s her reason why she can’t save.

That’s what most people think. But I disagree. I believe we all can save something each day.

I gave a tip: Save $1 a day.

Each month you will have $30. One year you will have $360.

It might not seem a lot but it’s a start.

If you are looking to increase your savings, find something to supplement by freelancing your typing skills or sell baked goods around the neighborhood.

In New Orleans, there was a lady who went business to business selling baked goods. She sold cupcakes and bread for $1 each. She did that for her living for over 25 years. Why did she do that? She had a goal: to send her daughter off to college paid in full.

Do you think you can save $1 a day? Whichever day you can save more, go ahead. I think anyone can do it.

Money Talk » Budgeting for a New Lifestyle

savings

While pregnant with my third child, I knew I had to limit my spending and start budgeting our money. It’s been a hard and very stressful road. I got pregnant unexpectedly. Now I was trying to have a third child early 2012, but after six months of trying, I gave up hope. Talking to my doctor, he said that a woman loses 90 percent of her egg count at the age of 30!

I had turned 30 in October 2011 and the fact that I might never have kids again made me a little sad but I thought to myself “I already have two wonderful little girls. If I have another that’s great. If not, I shouldn’t get depressed, but just move on.”

And so I moved on. I booked the family a trip to Disney World for November 2012 using the money I had saved up planning for a pregnancy. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant.

What am I supposed to do? Cancel the trip? Or tighten my budget? I decided to budget because canceling the trip would break my kids’ hearts. And I couldn’t see them that sad.

Currently I have no debt. I have a mortgage on my house and a car note. I know many of you are in worst or even dire circumstances. Hopefully some of these tips will help.

Step 1: Analyze your money.
Where is your money coming from?
Work?
Child support?
Government?

Step 2: Supplement your income.
Is there something else you can do to help your income?
Sell your clothes on Ebay?
Have a skill you can freelance?
Do you think you can handmake something to sell on Etsy?

Step 3: Set a Goal.
What do you want to save up for?
A pregnancy?
Emergency fund?
College fund?
Paying off school loans?

Step 4: Decide how much you want to save.
Most financial analysts recommend saving 10% of your weekly paycheck. For example:
Weekly income: $300
10%= $30 a week
Per month = $30 x 4 = $120
Anually= $120 x 12 = $1440

Is that how much you want to save? Or are you looking to save a lot more?

Step 5: Set up a high yield savings account.
High yield savings account lets you earn interest on top of your balance. Go to bankrate.com to compare which banks has the highest rate for your needs. I have an account with Ing and Discover. I wouldn’t recommend Chase or Bank of America. They tend to have the lowest rates.

Some banks require a minimum starting balance deposit. Try to save the required amount to kick start your savings account.

Step 6: Cut back on your spending.
Do you really need that new watch? Are you a regular at your local nail salon? Eat out every night? You have a tab at your neighborhood bar? Habits cost money. Are you willing to change your lifestyle so you won’t go broke?

The first thing I cut spending on was clothes. As a blogger, I used to buy the latest trends and that made me over spend. I realized I didn’t need that new peplum or that new pair of CLs.

I also refinanced my home and got my mortgaged lowered by half!

I signed up for a free Mint.com account that helped me set my goals and budgets. I could see what I was spending over all my credit cards and what went in and out if bank account.

I now am able to save $400 a month.

$100 for each of my daughters and $100 for emergencies. Anything I sell on ebay goes to my savings and so does my annual tax refunds. Most people can’t wait for their refunds so they can use it but I save mine.

If you personally have some budgeting tips, leave a comment below. 🙂

Guide to Fashion Photography

I am a newbie at photography. I want to chronicle what I have learned in the past few months of researching and using my camera. When I first started blogging, I used a Nikon Coolpix point and shoot. Now I have upgraded to a Nikon D5100 Digital SLR camera.

Blogs and Sites on Photography
1. Please visit kenrockwell.com for camera settings and button by button definition. He’s great and his guides are dead on. He’s in no way affliated with my site. I used his site when I first got my camera and I was thrilled to go page by page and adjusting my camera settings based on his input.

2. Pretty Shiny & Sparkly – Kristina runs PSS and is well known for her Secret to Successful Fashion Blogging. Part 2 of her SSFB is all about photography.

3. thatwifeblog.com– Photographer Jenna Cole takes you step by step on transforming your photos into a work of art. She also provides classes in Chicago, IL.

4. IFB – Independent Fashion Bloggers is a great community with lots of tips and helpful articles.
Some Articles I found helpful:
How To Take Your Own Outfit Photos
How to Take Gorgeous Self Portraits
How To Make Your Images Pop
6 Methods for Perfectly Focused Self Portraits
5 Photo Gadget for Bloggers

5. If you take your own photos, visit this site: How To Pose for Portraits

How to take beautiful blurry background photos
During my research, I wanted simple directions on how to adjust my camera, the lens, and where to stand. Here are my findings:

1. The type of lens makes all the difference.
The kit lens (that came with my camera) is a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. I also splurged and purchased a 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens, because I had read that the further away you are from the subject the more in focus the subject looks when you zoom right in. It is true however not when you take your own pictures and the wireless remote only works up to a 15 feet distance.

After more researching, I found that most bloggers use a 50mm f/1.8 lens. I purchased mine and it made a whole lotta difference. However it is a manual focus, so you have to adjust the focus yourself.

For a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens, go here.
For a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, go here.

2. Aperature Priority/ Manual mode
I have been keeping mine on the A (aperature priority). The pictures are crisper with the dream like backgrounds.

3. The F-stop Number
On my Nikon, there is a dial to the upper right hand side. This dial is used to change the F number. The F-stop number is the depth of field. The higher the F-stop number, the more narrow opening that lets light in. This causes everything including your background to be in focus. So if you don’t want that, and you want the blurry out of focus backgrounds, you need to adjust to a lower F-stop number. I usually adjust mine to 1.8.

Articles:
7 Quick Steps to Bokeh
Aperature and Shutter Science

4. Bokeh – the fuzziness of photos to get that dreamy look.
Adjust your lens to the point where you’re in focus while the background is gradually fuzzy. It will take several (or numerous) adjustments but it will be well worth it.

Directions on getting Bokeh on a Nikon D5100 DSLR:
1. Follow general camera settings on kenrockwell.com for your camera.
2. I set my lens a little to the right of the yellow 20. (picture below)

3. Place Tripod with Camera on top to about waist level. Some bloggers place their tripod as low to the ground, with the camera tilted up. Changing the perspective of your subject adds a charm and vibe to it.
4. I mark my spot to stand. Usually with the lens setting in #2, I would stand about 10 feet away from my tripod.
5. Adjust the tilt of your camera and/or tripod as needed to get a full body shot.

One last website recommendation:
Mom and Camera – Gayle is an amazing mom and photographer. I love her site and was so happy to have found great info and an inspiring blog to follow.

I hope this guide serves all others well. I’m open to any comments and criticisms. I am not an expert at photography, just getting into it so I know I have a lot more to learn.

Review: Discover Card Rewards

There are so many cashback programs out there. I used to be with cashbaq.com until they eventually merged with ebates.com. I do have an ebates.com account and occasionally use it. There is a site http://www.cashbackholic.com/. It is a cashback comparison shopping site. Type in the site you wish to get cashback, see if they have a cashback program, and then choose the site that offers the most cashback.

But lately, I have been just using my Discover credit card. You get 5% cashback (when you go through their shopping partner site). But sometimes you get 10% cashback depending on a promotional period. On top of that, any time I swipe my Discover card at a store, I get 1% cashback on my purchase.

Each shopping quarter, Discover specifies which category gets 5% cashback. For Oct-Dec, any Fashion and Restaurant purchase gets an auto 5% cashback when you swipe your card. This quarter so far, I’ve earned $30 cashback that can go towards my payment or a gift card or redeem it for merchandise.

So try to get a Discover card.

Mint.com – Money Management 24/7

Mint.com Money Management

Swagbucks.com had suggested to me that I sign up for Mint.com. It was free and I will earn 90 swagbucks. I thought cool and I could always delete if I didn’t like it. Turns out it is one heck of a tool. I plugged in all my financial data from home value, cars, checkings, and 401k. I can set my budget on shopping, utilities, and random credit card spending. There is also a way to calculate how much I need to save up for trips, college funds, and retirement. Everything is right on 1 screen. There are no installations.
Set budgets for daily, weekly, monthly spending.

Mint for I phone and Android

I was so impressed with this program, that I downloaded the Free app for my phone. The app keeps informs you of any changes to your accounts and budgets. I would get alerts “You’re $40 over budget.” The only thing that the app does not do is the ability to add accounts and make budget changes. To do so, it is only available through Mint.com’s website.