Everyone knows that you need to have a savings account, but does everyone know that they need to have sinking funds? 💰 Nope. Everyone has unexpected expenses, maybe the dog got sick and needed to go to the vet, maybe the hot water heater died, maybe your kid asked to join soccer and you obliged, not realizing there’s a lot of start-up money for supplies and fees, these examples are where sinking funds can help you.
In this post, we will discuss sinking funds, why you need them, how to track them, and I’ll even give you a free tracking printable at the end! Let’s dive in!
WHAT: Sinking funds are an amount of money that you put aside for expected, but not regular bills. It is also not your main savings account. Tapping into your savings account is for emergencies, of which your water bill is not one. This is why sinking funds are perfect. The idea of having sinking funds is to help you avoid dipping into savings or going into debt to pay off irregular or future expenses.
WHY: Everyone has unexpected expenses. In the coming weeks I am sure that you will have an expense that comes up that isn’t part of your typical budget. Your kid wants to join art club and there’s a $50 fee, your sister announces she’s having a baby and you want to plan the baby shower, etc… When people don’t have these sinking funds accounts for the unexpected, they are more tempted to reach for the credit card, savings account or blow through their normal budget. By having sinking funds, you’ve already planned for these expenses and can pay for them without the anxiety that can come with being unprepared.
An example of a sinking funds account is for car repairs- you know you’re going to have them, but don’t know how much or when you will need it. This is where sinking funds come in handy, for example, I have a $1,000 sinking fund account for my vehicle. I drive a Ford Expedition EL (picture a Chevy Suburban, almost the same), repairs are not cheap on these big vehicles. Up until recently I only had $500 on my sinking funds, but recently I hit the 125,000 mile marker and my manufacturers warranty expired. That got me thinking, how much do I need now? Tires alone on my SVU are $800 or so after mounting, so having $1,000 in my car sinking funds just makes sense. It doesn’t necessarily make sense for everyone, especially those with smaller vehicles or those vehicles that are still under warranty.
Examples of common sinking funds categories:
There is no hard and fast rule for what sinking funds you have to have. You do you boo, whatever you need to do to feel comfortable and confident in your sinking funds is what you do!
Now that you know what sinking funds accounts you need to create, you’re probably wondering how do you keep track of them? I got you!
Tracking Sinking Funds- there are many different ways to track your sinking funds. What I personally do is :
Keep a spreadsheet
Keep separate bank accounts
My favorite resources from other bloggers and different resources are listed below!
FREE Sinking Fund Charts - Sunshineandrainydays.com
Capital One 360 Accounts- https://www.capitalone.com/bank/www.capitalone.com/bank/
Forbes- 6 Reasons to start Now- https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimwang/2020/01/24/6-reasons-to-start-a-sinking-fund-now/
TL;DR Every financially stable person needs to have a sinking funds plan that they follow and keep track of to help them stay out of debt and plan for the future.
Thank you for checking out my blog! If you liked this post, please make sure to share it via social media (buttons on the left). Every single share helps me support my kids and paying off our debts!
You also have the option of making a direct donation through my PayPal account this helps more than you will ever know.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list (look on the right) so that you never miss a post. Thank you so much for your support and for stopping by! ~Caitlyn
I created this adorable freebie for you to use to track your debt payoff! I'm a visual person who likes to see the progress to give me a sense of achievement and motivation to keep moving forward! Enjoy!
Want an easy way to see your debt and payoff dates at the quickest glance? A way to play around with the best payoff methods? USE UNDEBT.IT!
Okay so I absolutely love this FREE website! You enter your debts, the interest rates, and minimum payments. Then it calculates the most efficient ways to pay off those debts! I love clicking through the debt snowball, avalanche, and hybrid methods (there are more as well) to figure out the best way to pay off my debts! For me, it makes the most sense for me to use the Debt Avalanche to pay it all off!
For me there isn't a huge difference between the snowball and the avalanche methods as it only makes one month difference, however if I use the snowball I pay $23,283 in interest and pay off in September and the debt avalanche I pay $19, 310 and pay of in August. That's a $3,973 difference!!!
So I started this Budgeting journey in November and thought I had the budget all figured out.... WRONG. My car insurance renewed for the year and went UP $200!!! WTF. I have had no claims, accidents, etc... I called my insurance company to figure it out and they're going to get back to me, however in the meantime she did let me know that there's a course I can take for $24.99 to lower my rate by 10% for 3 years!!
I signed up, took the course and have let them know! As soon as the certificate comes in the mail, I will get 10% off of the premium for the next 3 years!
Based off of my "fancy" math, I will save a total of $150 this year alone!
To help pay off my debt, I sell items in my Etsy shop! Everything that I sell on here goes directly towards paying off debt! Check out my newest listings!
Let's be real, we have all attempted to use coupons while grocery shopping, left the store, and then when we got to the car and pulled out the keys, found the coupons and then sighed. Am I right?
💲THERE ARE APPS THAT HELP YOU AVOID THIS💲
I am a big fan of a few apps- Ibotta (discussed in an earlier post), Fetch, Swagbucks! Lets chat about how you can be using these apps to save money too! BEST PART-> THEY CAN BE STACKED! You can use all of these apps each time you shop!
Get a FREE $10 from Ibotta when you use my link below to sign up!
SWant to help me pay off my debt even sooner? Use my link below to join swagbucks! We both will get 300 points!
You, the reader, may not care about this, but I feel the need to brag! It is December 18th and I've already paid $2,192 towards my debt! Slow, but steady progress to hopefully get this all paid off sooner than later!
Heating our houses is expensive. I hate waste. Put those two together and we're looking for alternatives! I'm here to explain just how easy it is! Dryer heating vent filters are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. ideas! I'm paying to heat the clothes, why not reuse that heat in the house? 💥
So here I am, three years ago, sitting in my 1950's house that I have since renovated except the windows. They're old single pane with storm windows, so they're not awful, but not great. I had tried that plastic that you put over the windows in a house I rented years back and absolutely hated the "cheap" look of it, so that was out the window. Then I got to talking with my dad about ways to heat better when he mentioned that since I have an electric dryer, there's no reason why I can't vent it indoors to supplement the heat!
✨LIFE. CHANGING.✨ Why is this not more commonly known? Why, why why!!!!!!
I began the hours of research as to which vent would be the best and how exactly to do it! Amazon has tons of different options and each had their positives and negatives. I went with the one that is in the middle in the below photo. I chose this one because when its summer, I can take the hose out of the top and attach it to the vent outside. During winter, I stuff a towel in the outdoor vent and reattach the hose to the indoor vent!
ONLY VENT INDOORS IF YOU HAVE AN ELECTRIC DRYER. DRYERS USING OTHER SOURCES SUCH AS NATURAL GAS WILL LEAD TO CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
Okay so we have now had this in our house for the past 4 years. On average, each load of laundry will raise the temperature on my main level by 2°F and the lower level by 5°F! Crazy right!
Let's get some perspective. I have a Tri-level house (similar to the photo below) that is built into a small hill. The lower level is home to my garage, master bedroom, playroom, 1/2 bath, and laundry area. This level is built into the hill so 1/2 of this level is half underground and the other 1/2 of this level is at/above ground level, so it stays COLD year round! Which is great in the summer, however in the winter its very hard to heat. Having the dryer raise the temperature by 5°F is amazing.
TIP: IF you get the dryer vent that I recommend, add a nylon stocking over the holes! It will prevent any larger particles of lint from escaping!
TL;DR: If you have an electric dryer, do it. I recommend the vent that I got as well since its one of the few that doesn't require filter replacements as well! Let me know in the comments if you have an indoor dryer vent and your thoughts on it!
🎀Thank you for checking out my blog! If you liked this post, please make sure to share it via social media (buttons on the left). Every single share helps me support my kids and paying off our debts!
You also have the option of making a direct donation through my PayPal or Venmo accounts this helps more than you will ever know.
Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list (look on the right) so that you never miss a post. Thank you so much for your support and for stopping by! ~Caitlyn
The only way to get out of debt is to pay money towards debt... if your income isn't allowing you to put enough towards debt, the two options are to make more or spend less. Here's a quick way to make more!
Lots of us, especially parents, are sitting on gold mines in our houses! Toys the kids don't play with anymore, clothes that don't fit them anymore, anything and everything! There is a simple solution! LIST. THEM. ON. THE. FREE. FACEBOOK. MARKETPLACE. You can opt to post the listing in a group, offer shipping or local pick-up, and the best part is that there's no fees for doing so!
I have recently sold over $300 in the past month through Facebook Marketplace! North Face infant gloves, a bike, a dresser, kids toys, and kitchen items! All items we either never used or grew out of! A few key points to selling items are below!
Saturday we needed to go to Tops (local grocery store) I usually go to Wegmans because its nicer, neater, and easier to get everything in one place, but on my debt free journey, I'm willing to spend a little more time to "shop around" to save some dough! Tops was having some good sales that were ending Saturday so I ran to Tops to grab those and stack them with Ibotta deals!!
What is Ibotta you ask? Its this magical app where you add deals to your cart and when you buy those items, you get $$ back! You can get gift cards, cash to paypal, etc!!
Here's an example of what I did!
Step 1: Create shopping list
Step 2: Log on to Ibotta app
Step 3: Check out what sales they have and add the sale items you want to your shopping list
Step 4: Add the Ibotta items you plan to buy to your Ibotta list
Step 5: Go Shopping!
Step 6: IF Ibotta is connected to your store card, do nothing, bask in the money when it arrives, IF Ibotta is not connected to a store card, scan receipt!
It really is that simple! The key is going to be ONLY get items that you actually NEED and will USE. Otherwise this app will end up costing you money and going to waste!
TIP #1: Combine Ibotta savings with store sales, receipt uploading apps (more on those later) AND coupons!
TIP #2: Don't forget to connect your store cards! If you happen to forget to scan a receipt, this will save you!
TIP #3: While I don't use it for this method (I use Rakuten, post on that later as well), you can make mobile purchases through Ibotta and get more money back!
TIP #4: Check to see if Ibotta has membership discounts to Sam's Club and BJ's! They offer these occasionally!
TIP #5: Ibotta offers different bonuses. I don't go out of my way to use these, but if the items that I will need in the future will help me hit the bonus to get the extra $$ I will use them! For example, Spend $10 on Kraft products in the month of December, earn $5.
TIP #6: Join my team! If we as a team save a certain amount, we all get more money!! ITS FREE -> Link here!!
Winter is here... a month later than usual, but it has arrived (Finger Lakes NY). An inch or two of snow and cold temps and my house is colder than I like. I got to thinking that it would make sense for me to "winterize" the house a little in the sense that there are some things I can do to save on oil heating costs (yes, my house is heated by oil which is in a tank in my basement, yuck).
I put the plastic covers up on some of my windows! I absolutely hate this look, but decided that are some windows I won' t mind the look in since they aren't on the main level. I have put them on my master bedroom, kids playroom, laundry room , and kids bedroom windows! I can already feel that the house is less drafty! Our windows are from 1954 and yes, they could use replacing, functionally, they are fine and have storms, but aesthetically, they're super ugly and slightly drafty. According to the EPA, this can cut our utility bills up to 20%! Lets see how that pans out! Total Cost for this was $3!
I put foam in all of our outlets! Okay before you think this is odd, turns out its a common cause for drafts! I can already tell the difference when holding my hand over the outlets! I learned this trick at a landlord convention that was put on by our local Section 8 (public housing authority) for ways that we can help to keep our tenants heating bills down!
Lower Heat in House. Before this year I would keep my house set to 68°F, but this winter we are trying to keep most of my house set to 65°F in the winter with the exception of my master bedroom. I work from home, and my hands will turn blue if I try to work in 65°F and I will be too hot at bedtime in 65°F, so I have a Dyson hot/cool heater fan thing that I will use to raise the temperature to 70°F in there on the days I work and turn it off when I'm done working, then I run the fan at bedtime.
Let the dryer do the work! **THIS IS ONLY SAFE IF YOU HAVE AN ELECTRIC DRYER. IF YOU TRY THIS WITH A GAS DRYER YOU WILL POISON YOUR HOUSEHOLD** We have an electric dryer. Last year I was looking at all that hot air that was blowing outside and wanted to know if there was a way to utilize that, so I set out on a google search. Sure enough, they make dryer filters that you can put on your dryer so it can vent indoors!! I bought one and love it! It will raise my house by 2°F after just one load!
Smart House! Other things that help to keep our bills lower, that we already have are smart outlets, switches, and lights! I have them all set to automatically turn every light in the house off when my phone leaves the house, and turn on some when my phone arrives home! I also have them automatically turn off every 2 hours, which some of my family hates, but its effective because if a kid leaves a light on (gasp) it won't be on all day, just a few hours before it turns itself off! We also have a ton of other smart routines that turn our appliances, lights, and outlets on and off to be more efficient!
PART 1: Budgeting
Okay, there is some good news and some not-so-good news....
GOOD NEWS: Of the 22 budgets I created, only 2 are over!
BAD NEWS: 2 budgets are over and more will be over tomorrow waaaaaaaaaaa :(.
TLDR: My kid needs glasses. Glasses are expensive. Bifocals are even more expensive.
So my darling 9 year old needs some glasses. She not only needs glasses, she needs bifocals. Guess what that means, My $300 doctor budget will be blown by the 9th of the month by $321 for glasses. Use your insurance you say? Oh yes, we will and they do cover one pair, but my darling child is so forgetful that she needs a pair to keep at school for when she inevitably leaves a pair at home. Blah.
TLDR: My sons service dog broke its leg a few months ago, had surgery, was better, started limping, needed some pins removed.
My darling 7 year old son has a pug that is his service pup. She broke her leg in September and needed to get pins and a screw put in. She did her 6 weeks of being crated and came out like a champ. A few weeks ago she started limping and we called the surgeon back. They wanted to take out the pins that are in there and just leave the screw. To the tune of $510. So my current $50/month budget for the service dog will be over by $500. BLAHHHH
So long story short, I am doing well in budgeting for everything except medical crap! So cheers!
Okay, lets be honest, 2020 has been the year of the subscription box for just about everyone- can't leave the house, so have goodies sent to you! We have had quite a few subscription boxes since before 2020, but also added a few. Here's our list
So after reviewing our subscriptions, I decided to keep the Kiwi Crates, the kids love them, I love them and quite frankly, we've cut a lot of our out of the home expenses simply because of Covid, so this is a good trade-off.
Then I looked at the Annie's crates, they offer cheaper stuff so we cut that subscription because the Kiwi crates take more time for the money (and are more educational).
Then I created a shopping list at Wegmans with the items I usually get in the Off the Muck and Misfits boxes. I wanted to see if I was saving any money at all. Turns out they're both about the same as what I would spend at Wegmans! So I decided that since I got each box twice a month, I'd cancel one and get one once a week. I chose Off the Muck because its local :).
All in all I only really canceled two boxes since I upped the Off the Muck, but that's $40/month savings!
I did not look forward to this one, but the Frugal Foot Doc inspired me to at least give it a shot. I feel like this is where we struggle because needing to make three separate dinners each night is hard and planning for that is more of a chore! We have to make a regular dinner for me, gluten, dairy, rice, soy free for my oldest and middle, and then dairy free for my youngest and hers sometimes has to be modified even further due to her oral aversion issues. So here we are, meal planning.
FIRST: I printed out a calendar for my planning.
NEXT: I went on Pinterest and scoured all the things I've pinned for recipes that looked like I already had the ingredients!
FINALLY: I started the dreaded chore. Deciding based on our schedule what will work best. I decided that Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are good "cooking" days where Tuesday and Thursday are good "leftovers" days since we aren't really home those days.
First week looks like this!: Monday- Baked Ziti, Tuesday-Leftovers, Wednesday- Tacos, Thursday- Leftovers, Friday- Pizza (this is a tradition and my parents pay!!), Saturday- Chili, Sunday- Leftovers! Now I know this doesn't sound super healthy, however with each meal we always offer at least one fruit, one veggie, and typically salad too!
I purchased beef last week when I was shopping and this menu will use up that beef! I have everything else on hand and will prevent the mozzarella I already have in the fridge from going bad!
I also had some apples that we have had in the fridge since we went apple picking in early September and wanted to finally use them up before they go bad, so I used some crescent rolls and made an apple pie bite as well as used a gluten free breakfast cake mix I already had and added apples to that for the kids!
FULL STOP: Since writing this, I have realized that while a paper calendar is nice to have to post on the fridge, I am too busy and needed to put it into my Google Calendar so that when I am out and about I can still know the plan!
I have no freaking clue if frugality is a word, but if it isn't it should be. Here's where my journey to frugality is going to start. I would freaking love to cut down on our expenses while simultaneously making more money to kill this debt off faster.
The Catch- I have three kids, I am a single mom, We're in the middle of a pandemic, I live in a blue state.
Let me elaborate.
1- I have three kids- Kids are freaking expensive, and it seems mine are more so than others lol. My oldest can't eat dairy, gluten, soy, or rice, my middle can't eat dairy or gluten, and my youngest can't have dairy. This makes my grocery bill astronomical. To put it into perspective, when my ONE child had to go dairy/gluten free (FPIES Allergies for those inquiring) my grocery bill instantly doubled. Now I have three kids who have to be. I have gotten pretty good at cooking and avoiding gluten without having to buy specialty foods, however some things are just unavoidable.
2- I am a single mom. By default we have one income and me getting a second job outside the home isn't possible. By the time I did that I'd have no time with my kids and not to mention it wouldn't pay what I 'd need for a sitter.
3- COVID- 19- Enough Said.
4- Blue State- I live in NY. Governor Cuomo has chosen to continue to extend eviction moratoriums, do you know how I make money? When tenants pay rent. Guess what they don't do when they don't run the risk of being evicted? Pay Rent (even when they have the money).
Aside from all of these issues, I am working on finding more ways to save money! I have been scouring Pinterest, TikTok, etc... to find creative ways to save money! Here's a few I am going to try in the coming days:
Stay tuned to see how all of this goes!
UP NEXT: Meal Planning
LEAST. FAVORITE. PART. This was by far the hardest and my least favorite part. Luckily I used an app called Mint to help me out. I imported all my accounts and expenses, categorized everything and used Mint to track my budget. I am only two months into using Mint the way that I should be, so my budget is ever-evolving, but its going!
NOVEMBER 2020- This budget was a crapshoot. I looked at what I spent in October, when we went on a vacation, so I had unique expenses that I typically wouldn't have had. So November was more about spending less on unnecessary items so I could get a more accurate picture of what I really spend.
DECEMBER 2020- Now that its December, I have a more accurate idea of one months budget. I went in and edited a bunch of categories to be more realistic. So far (six days in) I am on track!
THE HARD PART- So the tricky part now is that because I am self employed, my income can fluctuate greatly, in the month of October I made double what I made in November, and while I have a relative minimum for December, I have no real clue what I will actually make. This makes it hard!
What I have decided to do in this situation is calculate the minimum I need to make to cover my expenses, add $300 (to put towards debt) and strive to make that each month. Then anything I make above and beyond that goes towards debt as well.
UP NEXT: Cutting Costs
STEP 1: BUDGETING
PART 2: INCOME
Without the income part, calculating the debt is pretty much worthless, right? So here we go. Mine is a little more complicated since I am self employed. There are definitely perks to being self employed, but the downside is that I don't get a consistent paycheck which makes budgeting difficult. I thankfully use an app called Mint (more on that later) to help me see where I stand in terms of income.
I am a Licensed Real Estate Agent, but handle mostly property and association management. I manage the office as a whole and then the management side, while others handle the real estate. It really is a fantastic job, you are able to make how much you want, when you want, and when you don't want to work, you don't have to!
In addition, I also have a few small side-hustles, I sell SVG's that I make on photoshop to buyers on Etsy, and I also have the shop on my blog here! This doesn't add up to a ton of extra cash, but every cent helps!
So now that I have calculated my estimated income, it's time to budget!
UP NEXT: BUDGET
STEP 1: BUDGETING
PART 1: Calculate Debt
Okay, I am doing a slightly modified version of the Money Honey method. Some steps I already have, some steps I need to do. So here we go!
FIRST: Figure out how much flipping debt I have in the first place. ANSWER: $206,093 total.
Well Shit. That's a lot. BUTTTT The Frugal Foot Doc, whos TikTok channel has inspired me to make these changes (finally) has more, so I have that going for me, lol.
NEXT: I am a techie and visual person simultaneously. So I decided to make debt thermometers, put all my data into undebt.it, and create a spreadsheet.
This is great and all but how do I go about understanding how and what to pay off first? Keep reading!
Okay so this is a really cool (AND FREE) website that will track all your debt and give you options for pay-off! When I got all of my debt into it, it told me that I can have all of my debt paid off in August of 2026 using the debt avalanche method. Should I chose the debt snowball, I can pay it all of in September of 2026. This is a really cool site to just mess around with your debt and to help visualize what interest you're paying monthly to help put it all into perspective. (Not my photo for privacy reasons)
While I love Undebt.it for helping me see payoffs, etc.. I needed something I had full control over to track payments and due dates.
So as you can see, this took a while, BUT IT WAS SO SO SO WORTH IT! I now have an idea of what I owe and how long it is going to take me to pay it all off if I continue to have only the disposable income I currently have.
UP NEXT: INCOME
A week or so ago I realized that I have so much unnecessary debt. I was mindlessly scrolling on TikTok (I mean working) when I came across The Frugal Foot Doc's TikTok on my For You page. Now don't get me wrong, I've read the book Money Honey (see below), written by a friend, I've also done the research and read other books, but for some reason it didn't really click at the time. There's something about seeing a TikTok about a doctor who had over $600K in debt and is living more frugally than I am to kill that debt. That kicked my ass into gear! There is no reason for me to live with all this debt, so I decided to do something about it.
Single Mom to 3 💁🏼♀️
DEBT PAYOFF CHART
I have paid off $5,983.49 since November 2020!
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