5 Fast Ways to Save Money in February

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Can you believe that it’s already February? 2019 is well underway, and February is the shortest month of the entire year. So, if you find yourself with a full to-do list, you may find yourself very busy this month, as February has the smallest number of working days.

The good news is that when it comes to money, lots of tiny little steps can add up to a BIG difference. Whether you’re dealing with a job loss, or celebrating a promotion at work, or just holding steady with the same-old-same-old, consider five fast ways to save money this month:

Check Your Payroll Deductions

In this new year, your take-home pay may be different due to personal circumstances. Your tax situation or your relationship status may have changed. Maybe now you’re a parent with a new baby! Maybe you’ve gained income from a side hustle or maybe you’ve lost income from the only job you’ve ever had in your entire life. Regardless of the changes, check all your pay stubs and make sure there are no mistakes. If you’re receiving unemployment income, verify that the amount you’re receiving matches the amount the state has awarded to you. Human error happens, so make sure you’re not losing out on anything!

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Buy Some Candy- After Valentine’s Day

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying wait until February 15th to buy a sweet for your sweetie! What I am saying is that I personally can never have too much chocolate, so I will be watching the stores for the post-Valentine’s Day sales to stock up on extra chocolate. I don’t care what kind of packaging it comes in – chocolate is chocolate to me! If you have a sweet tooth, the day after Valentine’s Day can be a clearance paradise, so you too can stock up (unless your significant other has loaded you down with so much chocolate that you have no room for more).

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Love-Themed, Heart-Themed, I-Love-You, I-Like-You, Anything Sales

Going hand-in-hand with the candy that gets marked down on February 15, you might see other items marked down after Valentine’s Day. Think items like cups, napkins, paper plates, guest towels, hand towels, candles, coffee mugs, pencils, pens, random things like that. Anything seasonal in the Valentine’s Day area will probably be marked down the day after. These types of things could be great to pick up and you could score a great deal on them. If it’s a cute hand towel with a heart on it, you could potentially use it year round in your bathroom (if it’s a good quality and it holds up). If you’re planning a wedding or an anniversary party, you might even get lucky and find supplies you can use (that are cheaper than items marketed as “wedding”).

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Saving Money on Energy Costs

Another area to really think about with savings is your energy bill. If you live in a part of the country that’s impacted by extreme cold this time of year, you know how much of a connection there is between the weather and the energy bill. If you can just do a quick walk-through of your home, you may be able to assess the opportunities to save energy. Are your windows, doors, or other parts of your home allowing cold air to pour in? Are there unfinished rooms of your home that you might be able to insulate? Would a space heater make you more comfortable when it gets really cold? Just thinking about a problem won’t fix it, but it’s a starting step.

Use Your Christmas Gift Cards

Do you still have gift cards left over from Christmas? If so, now is the perfect time to use them. A lot of brick and mortar stores are doing their final markdowns – clearing out the winter stock to make room for spring items – which can give you some nice deals to start with. Combine that with a gift card, and you can get an even better deal. Thinking through a list of items you need or want in advance can help you make the most of it.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Four Marks of Date-Worthy Men (Or Women)

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There’s a new show on Netflix called Back With The Ex that has a unique premise. Four former couples – who dated and separated for various reasons – have a chance to re-unite and decide: Do we want to give this another go? Or should we stay apart, forever? It’s interesting to watch couples go through what is essentially an autopsy of their relationship. As a single woman, I’ve watched this series with a critical eye. For one couple in particular, I can’t help but think that the goal of marriage must be on one of the women’s minds – considering that she clearly wants it and he, well, has not proven himself to be a family man.

For Christian singles, there’s so much being said about dating, courting, and so on. Some of it is good and some of it is lacking. I believe that now more than ever one thing is for certain: if you are a true, deep in your heart Christian, it’s tough to be a “Christian single”. The path can be lonely so please know that if you’re a Christian single who desires to find a teammate that compliments you and your life, I understand where you’re sitting in life, because that’s exactly where I am. No matter where you’re sitting in your life – maybe you’re single again, had a broken engagement, or just getting into the whole dating world, please know that the Father loves you more than anyone in this world can.

I think it can be helpful for Christian singles to think about what their non-negotiables are when looking for someone to potentially share their lives with. Especially Christian women – because it can seem like eligible Christian women outnumber Christian men. If you feel like you’ve been waiting forever, you need to anchor yourself to what your are looking for in a partner. Remember, you are are NOT crazy if you’re asking for these things:

Care and Concern for Others – I’ve done my share of church hopping and I no longer attend a church. But I do remember one congregation that gave people the opportunity to pray out loud during the service (if they wanted to). One man in our group – who society might unfairly expect to be out of touch with things – would pray in great detail for so many people. His prayers included world events because he kept up with things. His compassion was evident. While he depended on others for certain things, he was clearly a man of prayer, compassion, care, and concern for others.

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As we go about our lives, whether it’s sizing up a potential mate or striving for our own character improvement, we can look at the traits of care and concern for others. These can manifest themselves in various forms. If we look at ourselves and see that these qualities are lacking, we can always ask God to give us more empathy (but beware, ask and you shall receive!) And if you’re looking at a relationship,  you can ask the Lord if this area is lacking in the person so much that it is a red flag or if it’s an area where he or she is growing (as we all grow and mature).

While not everyone will have the gift of deep prayer, your love interest could have another gift, like wanting to give to the needy, or being a great listener, or performing acts of service. Maybe she sings in the choir at church, or he does manual work for free or just speaking a kind word to someone without anyone else knowing it can be an expression of a caring heart. Having a caring, concerned heart for those in need is a wonderful trait when you consider the type of person you’ll choose to spend your time with. Having no concern, no empathy, no care is something to certainly think twice about. Proceed with caution (or not at all) if you suspect this to be the case.

Fidelity/Faithfulness/Integrity – Ever seen the show Cheaters? The poor folks who ask the producers of the show to find out if their beloved is cheating on them… such a sad situation. Not having trust in a relationship really leaves nothing left; wouldn’t you be better off alone? It’s critical to know that the person you’ve chosen will be faithful to you. This is not about casting judgement towards other people, but this is about what we, as singles, want for our own lives.

Christian women (and men), if you want a partner who is loyal and faithful to you only, you might feel like you’re waiting forever, but you are not crazy. Want a guy who is dating you but doesn’t get an ego boost from flirting with other women? Yeah, you might feel like that’s a rare catch, too! The saying goes that how you catch them is how you keep them, so while you might feel lonely not trying to catch a man by wearing short skirts and low cut tops, you’re more likely to “catch” a man who is like-minded, morally speaking.

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Solid Work Ethic – Charm, looks, muscles and a good tan – sounds good, doesn’t it girls? But I have to tell you what my mom has always told me (and still feels the need to tell me) – it ain’t all about that. One of my favorite YouTubers says that we all get old and we all get ugly – that’s also another way to put it! The person you’re interested in – do they have a desire to work? (At least while their employer is paying them to?) Does she want to be a Proverbs 31 woman so she can create a warm, loving household or a successful business venture? Got your eyes on that man at the office, girls? Those TPS reports he has to do at work may seem stupid, but does he do his work as unto the Lord? Work comes in various forms, so look at the person you’re interested in and ask yourself (and God) if they have the character trait of a good work ethic. While we all like to rest and have fun (I certainly do), there’s a time for work too. A man (or woman) who abuses their employer’s time will probably find themselves without a job (or at the very least, on thin ice), which can cause a great amount of stress.

Good Steward of Resources – Does he blow all his money gambling? Does he spend more than he earns? Does she have to have the best of everything, getting all tied up in having a high status, top appearance, and making other people think she’s the best? Does he try to save a little bit, even if it means he can’t have the fanciest car? While there are many times in life that we can fall upon bad luck through no fault of our own, you can ask yourself if the person is, in general, a good steward of their resources. Do they think about the future in general terms of what they want? Or are they irresponsible, making huge, messed up choices, that could impact you or your children, in a big way? No one is perfect and we all do things we shouldn’t. No one is in perfect condition – we are all works in progress and will be until the day we die. But if you’re attracted to someone who has a major issue of irresponsible living, it will impact you. Especially when there is no desire to change, it’s probably best to just cut your losses and move on, and consider that you’ve dodged a bullet.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All views are the author’s own and content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

How to Save Money on a Job Search

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When you’re actively searching for a job, you may be anxious to land a new gig, Especially if you’re unemployed, not having a job can create lots of stress – wondering how you’ll pay your rent, house payment, car payment, groceries, or even wondering where you’ll find the money to put gas in the car to get to an interview, or thinking about the cost of new interview clothes.

If you’ve ever been in a long, drawn out job search – one that lasted longer than you anticipated – you may have wondered if you should hire someone to write your resume. These ads for resume writers pop up online and can make you wonder if they’re of any help. Personally, I don’t know anyone (that I’m aware of) who has paid for such a service. However, your circumstances may be different. Maybe you work in a super-competitive industry where it’s common for people to hire someone to write their resumes. Or maybe you’ve been searching for so long that you feel desperate, discouraged, and not sure what to do next. Or, maybe you have a job, and you just want to make sure your resume is up and ready in case you find an opportunity that you might want to take a shot at.

When money is tight, you can save money on a job search. When money is non-existent, saving money is a must. Here are some tried and true techniques you can use, without hiring anyone, to make sure your resume is at its best.

Use Spellcheck

This might seem like a given, but spellcheck is a great help. However, it doesn’t catch everything. It won’t tell you when “theirs” and “there’s” are chosen for the wrong occasions, or when “its” and “it’s” are used in the wrong spots, but there is a lot that spellcheck can catch. Don’t forget to use it.

Pack It With Power

This is probably the most important thing to do when you’re giving your resume a once-over. Ask yourself if your resume has power – the power to show how awesome YOU are. Does it show what sets you apart from other people? Does it show your power in numbers- the number of people you’ve managed, the dollars you’ve saved, or other relevant amounts? Does it show your other achievements – the grants you’ve snagged for the organization, the kudos you’ve received, the recognition you’ve achieved, the people you’ve mentored, the committees you’ve been on? Your resume needs to be packed with power that shows you weren’t just present at each position, but that you were great when you were there.

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Print It Out & Sleep On It

When it comes to resumes, I’m old school – I like to print mine off after I give it a once-over. I guarantee you – no matter how often I spellcheck it, proofread it, look it over, change it, revise it – no matter how many times I do this, chances are, if I print it out and sleep on it, I will find something I can make better. It may be something tiny like a comma in a wrong place, or a bullet point that could get better. Or an accomplishment that could be re-worded. I would almost be willing to bet that the same will be true for you (unless you’ve revised your resume very recently). I believe the reason this technique works so well is because sleep recharges the mind, allows us to focus and solve problems subconsciously in our sleep, and lets us take a break from trying to solve the problem at hand. So, when you print out your resume, sleep on it, then come back to it with a pen in hand ready for editing, you too will probably find something that you can change and make stronger.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

Dressing Modestly on a Budget: Women’s Edition

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Modesty is an interesting topic among Christian women. Depending on who you talk to, you might get a radically different definition of how to dress modestly. Some Christian women define dressing modestly by never wearing pants, or by never wearing skirts that don’t hit knee-length. Others cover their hair completely and wear very baggy clothing. In other circles, modesty is rarely, if ever, discussed. And, when it is discussed, the discussion of modesty is usually geared towards women, although modesty is not just for women – it is something for both sexes to think about.

This post will be geared towards the issues for women in modesty. Regardless of what your definition is for appropriate dress for yourself as a Christian woman, I believe that it does not have to be expensive to dress modestly. No matter where you are on the spectrum of modesty, we can all probably agree that modesty is not just about what you wear on the outside but what the position of your heart is. Modesty is not just about what you wear, but also about how you behave, what your reasons are, and what your intentions are. Choosing modesty helps us as both single and married Christian women guard our God-given beauty (and dressing modestly can help keep the wrong kind of men away who might show interest in us for the wrong reasons).

With that in mind, here are some practical guidelines for starting with a desire to express yourself with a modest wardrobe. If you’re re-evaluating your wardrobe, or if you’re changing your mindset, I hope this is a help to you. As Christian women, we should never judge one another based on appearance – only God knows our hearts and if we are truly trying to please Him or if we are just trying to put on a show to look good in front of others.

Dressing Modestly on a Budget

Outfits that used to be modest on you might not be modest now for various reasons. Maybe you’ve lost weight, gained weight, or maybe a pregnancy has caused a tiny human to take up residence inside you, and you’re going to be eating for two for a while! The mistakes made due to the care that a garment requires – dry cleaning only, perhaps? – can also shrink it up and make it inappropriate. What if what used to be a proper fitting top now shows a plunging pop of cleavage and a skirt that used to be an adequate length now just barely covers your derriere? Here’s a few things you might be able to do to try to adapt your clothes before tossing them out.

How to Change Tops That Show Too Much

For the v-neck tops that show too much of your breasts, try adding an infinity scarf to cover yourself. Especially when fall and winter get too crisp for me to stay warm, I love my infinity scarves. Shirts that might normally cover you just fine can budge throughout your day if you move, so check yourself in the mirror – does this happen to you? If “the girls” are popping out all day, they need to stay put! I love my infinity scarves because I can put one on and it not only keeps me warm, but it adds a pop of color to my outfit, and it keeps my chest covered, no matter how much I move throughout the day.

Another way that our shirts can betray us is with that sliver of skin above your pants (or skirt) line and below the bottom edge of your shirt – if you’re sitting down or standing up, does your skin pop out and show? While you might have washboard abs (good on you!), you can keep it covered by placing a tank top or a camisole under your shirt, and you’ll be good to go. Tank tops or camisoles can be purchased very cheaply, and they can keep you from being exposed.

What to do About Short Skirts

If you have skirts that have become too short, you can try to make a last ditch effort before you give up on them. While leggings are not pants – and this is a misconception among many – pairing a thick pair of leggings could be a way to be able to wear a skirt that otherwise wouldn’t fly on its own. Try this and see if it’s adequate to give you the coverage you need to be adequately clothed. Otherwise, you can give those skirts a fond farewell.

Re-Purposing Un-Modest Clothing

Some clothing will simply be past its prime for you, regardless of how much you try to keep it in your closet. You can give it away to someone else that may enjoy it, but another option is to re-purpose it for your own household, especially if it’s in a condition that is no longer attractive to wear. One of the craft projects on my to-do list is to eventually make a rag rug, and this would be a great project for anyone with lots of clothing that no longer fits their lifestyle or their frame. If you can sew, you can also re-purpose your clothing into dinner napkins, rags, headscarves, or use the fabric remnants for craft projects.

About This Blog: Please feel free to share any information from this site, in part or in full, giving credit to the author and providing a link to this website. Fearless Faith is a blog dedicated to family, faith and frugality. All content is copyright of the author unless otherwise indicated.

 

How to Pay Less for Christmas gifts

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For all the pretty packages under the Christmas tree, there can be quite a price to be paid. When you’re trying to live within your means, Christmas can be a unique challenge. Christmas is lots of fun but from a financial point of view, it can lead to lots of spending because many of us are trying to show our loved ones how much we love them by spending lots of money on them.

So, in order to snag some deals, you have to be intentional. Retailers know that lots of us love this time of year and we’ll throw in extra purchases like socks, hot cocoa, wrapping paper… anything really if it’s got a snowman slapped on it.

You don’t have to get in over your head this Christmas… You can pay less for Christmas gifts this year, enjoy yourself, treat your family to some gifts they will enjoy, all while coming out with your wallet still intact.