Category Archives: Life

Flexible and Affordable Family Vacation Ideas for This Year

Many families are looking for getaway this year. We'll go over flexible, memorable, and affordable family vacation ideas!

Planning a Family Vacation in 2021

How do you plan for a year where you don't know exactly what to expect? 

I think that's been the unofficial theme this season.

We've been talking about how to create a budget that's flexible enough? How do you figure out your schedule? 

Now I'm hoping maybe a little cautiously optimistic, how do we plan some family fun, maybe some trips if possible?

Summer is coming up, people are getting vaccinated and while we’re not out of the woods just yet, I’m looking to travel more. 

I’m looking forward to going to the beach, whitewater raft, and maybe going for a longer trip. At the same time, I want to keep some flexibility in case things change. 

Which is why I’m so happy Karen Cordaway is here. She’s the author of the Everyday Bucket List. 

In this episode we’re going to look at:

  • How you can build and cross off your bucket list
  • Creating a flexible plan for travel this year
  • Affordable options vacation idea

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Save on Your Next Family Vacation

If you're looking to start planning and saving for your next family trip, here are a few handy resources to check out!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

Why You Need to Be Flexible with Your Family Vacations This Year

Karen Cordaway: I'm a planner, we've all had to have to learn how to be flexible because there's so much, we don't know. We could spend all this time planning and the whole thing changes.

So I think in a way, if you just kind of have an outline, you start throwing out ideas. Maybe we could do this. Maybe we could do that.

I understand when you're traveling, you really have to nail down dates and coordinate with your spouse or, you know, make sure that you can do what you want to do.

Unfortunately, we know that we're trying to get everybody vaccinated and I'm just reading today that just because someone's vaccinated, it doesn't give you full license to travel.

It actually takes a few weeks to kick in. It doesn't mean you can't pass the virus to someone.

So when we don't even really know enough about this and the experts are still finding these out, it's hard to plan. You just kind of have to go with the flow.

That can be very hard for some people. So if you do want to set something up, if there's any way you could put something in place that it's a place that you know will be available.

It's not this hard placed to arrange right? Because those are the ones, ‘Oh, if I don't get it at this time, Then I'm not going to be able to reserve it'.

We have to kind of loosen up in that way. I mean, I have kids and I didn't really have a lot of babysitters. We always had to be flexible. We always would just do things last minute.

If you can be open to that, if there's places that you can go, on the fly. And there's always last minute deals.

So if you're someone who can function that way and be okay with that, that could work.

Like I said, once we're following the experts, cause I'm never going to tell someone to do something they're not supposed to do. I'm on that side of being super safe.

Finding Great Local Spots for Day Trips

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That's been us. We do love to travel, but last year we just stayed put.

What we ended up doing is if we left the house, we did day trips like hikes to parks. So there's plenty of space for outdoors, really embraced parks last year, and that was helpful.

It is a challenge, especially when we're talking about parents with kids, because not only do you have your work schedule that you have to figure out it's school schedules, which depending on whatever state you're in, it can be completely different each quarter.

One thing that parents should do is have different plans and figuring out, okay, if this is going to work, then maybe we'll do this. But if this doesn't happen, then maybe we need to have this as a backup.

For those that haven't heard the previous episode with Karen, she's the author of the everyday bucket list.

I love your approach with creating a plan and having just fun with experiences. It doesn't have to be these huge dramatic things where you're traveling across the world, though it could include that, but you're making these special moments throughout the year with your family.

I was curious how would you approach travel? Like how are you approaching travel with your own thing?

Karen Cordaway: Right now we're staying very close by and I live in a small state. So you would think, Oh, well, that's easy to see everything, but it's really not. Because right now we're just doing weekends and, you know depending on weather and schedules, it does things don't always happen.

So we're just really trying to explore locally and we've been pleasantly surprised.

I mean, Connecticut has a lot of really cool towns. Westport, Connecticut. We went to this place called Terrain, which is a garden center, a very upscale, fancy garden center. They have a beautiful store.

They sell stationary and all these different things for people who like to entertain, but they also have this place where you can have brunch. It's just so beautiful.

See, I'm someone who appreciates the experience of a restaurant or just being in a store or whatever, that kind of experience to try something new.

My husband and I, even though it was an impromptu thing, and we didn't know, we were supposed to make reservations because you have to for this place. Yeah. So we didn't know, but I just always try to keep a positive attitude.

I'm like, Oh, we drove all this way, but you could get takeout so it worked out fine because we went all around the store.

We looked at all these fancy pumpkin's if this was in the fall.

Elle Martinez: Yeah.

Karen Cordaway: It's funny because I used to joke that when I would see Martha Stewart's magazine back when she was like the only DIY kind of person, we'd have all these fancy squash and pumpkins, and I'm like, where do you get these kinds of pumpkins? Yeah. And this is where you get them!

What's funny is she like lives around there. I'm like, this is from Martha Stewart gets this stuff.

So there are a lot of interesting things if you really take time to dig a little you know, there are interesting towns or there's something special about your area that there's history worth exploring too.

You can do it locally. Those are just a few things, but because it's winter and I'm not a winter person-

Elle Martinez: [But you're in] Connecticut, what? That's like a winter.

Karen Cordaway: Nope. Well, you know, it's funny. A lot of people are snowbirds. You see a lot of Florida license plates, you know, a lot of people split time and I always thought about doing that.

You know, I'm secretly looking for my new place to live when I go travel.

Staycation and Indoor Activities for Your Family

Karen Cordaway: That's what I'm looking for outside of having fun, but if you're okay with it, indoors for now.

We're about to do Masterclass. And originally I thought, ‘Oh, $180, right?', but it's for a year.

And when you see all of the people on there, it's amazing. Like for standup stand-up comedy, they have Steve Martin. There's Steph Curry for basketball.

Santana for the guitar. They have all these lessons and I believe Issa Rae. I think that –

Elle Martinez: -was a new one. I have a membership too. I love it.

They had like Malcolm Gladwell for writing and there's a gardener there, Finley I think it was his last name. Really helpful stuff. Love it.

Karen Cordaway: Yeah. So it's like, you're either drawn in by the celeb, their topic, like Robin Roberts. She teaches about communication.

That's like the most important thing. When you think about it.

So you can like set up like a class, like little kids to me, we are easy to talk into things. They get excited about anything.

Create a Family Camp

After you learn the lesson, maybe you go outside and you shoot hoops and try to do, implement whatever it is that you're taught.

Karen Cordaway: So if you want to ramp it up a little, like maybe everybody wears their favorite basketball. T-shirt, you know, you try to make it like camp and yeah.

Think of it, like summer camp, you have a day of sports. You have a day of crafts, you have a day of this. Like if you kind of pump it up for kids and they get excited, it kind of makes everybody excited.

That's just how I feel. Yeah. Even, even to like, Whenever we would go on vacation and you see people that are wearing matching t-shirts, whether it's just for identification purposes, like we're all wearing red.

You know, my kid is wearing red today. It's like, something is more exciting when you buy t-shirts for it.

I know that sounds so goofy, but because we have to be creative, if this is your little staycation or your weekend, you know, put a little more effort into it, you know?

Little kids love that kind of stuff. Like when you take it to another level or if you're really dramatic, you could get them excited about almost anything.

Summer Vacation Idea: RVing as a Family

Karen Cordaway: I was reading, okay, this is AARP cause people who are retired because they're the ones who are having to come up with a lot of ideas too. They're in that age group where they have to be even more careful.

A lot of people are looking into RVs. They even have all these different types of lingo for docking.

They'll say like mooch docking, that's where you go in your friend's driveway and you use their electricity, or you could do it's called I think it's called crack docking and I'm like, wait a minute, What is this about?

And Cracker barrel will allow you to park there. There's Walmart, and it's like, yeah, you just have to be comfortable with that.

If you're open-minded or if you're used to that lifestyle, that could be a good money-saving tip

Elle Martinez: Yeah, it definitely also forces you to bond.

I was talking to what was it? Toni Husbands from Debt Free Divas. And she went RVing last year. That's what they did.

I forgot the campgrounds. She's in Chicago, but it was an experience, you know, you have the kids and you're all in this space. A great way to bond and still, keep socially distant.

Karen Cordaway: Right. So you just have to look into, I don't want to be cleaning out a bathroom. I can't say that part would be fun for me.

It's all about your comfort level and, and what is considered safe. Like if you have a relative in another state, you know I feel like if they don't accept money for the electricity or, you know, I'm not a moocher.

Yeah. But you know, buy them a couple of dinners or whatever, whatever it might be because we can be outside. If you're in a state where the weather is decent.

Starting (or Restarting) New Hobbies

Karen Cordaway: Definitely take up those hobbies, like biking and hiking and skateboarding and trying different things because now is the time to do that.

When you're all grown up, you have limited time when you have a job, I mean, you can explore on some level, but not the way you can as a kid, you know?

Have the fun of that through your kids, you have an excuse to try to skateboard.

Elle Martinez: I love these ideas, Karen for families. One thing we have is we're hoping by October to be able to do like maybe what we consider a regular travel, but that might not happen.

Any ideas or, you know, for families to kind of at least get excited, planning and saving?

Our idea is if three months before it doesn't look like it's going to happen, we can always roll it over for 2022, move that money for savings.

I need tips for like a family that's planning on taking a family trip at some point.

Karen Cordaway: Well, like I said, I would look into campgrounds places where you could hike.

Like I said, have a default plan. So when you're planning, you don't want to be so deflated if that trip doesn't work out. Have your plan B in place.

I wrote a post about Boston and yeah, I'm still, I did the freedom trail. I didn't really know that it was like this very informal mapped out thing.

I thought if I was going to sign up on a tour, it was going to be this official thing. It was going to be its own separate section.

You're really just walking through Boston and it's like this line that you're following. So if you read up a little bit about something so there's context and then try to do simple things like that.

I watch a lot of YouTube because even with the rides, when we used to go to Disney, you can preview and see, Oh, well we like this area, this looks like fun because there are things you could do outside.

I mean, there's street art in different places, anything where you can kind of like make your own little DIY tour.

If something doesn't work out, I would definitely just still keep researching and you can always listen to the everyday bucket-list podcast because those are the ideas that I give.

Elle Martinez: I know I was excited about that cause I was looking at Miranda, I've downloaded that. I'm hoping to listen to it. If not this afternoon, then tomorrow Yellowstone and some other awesome places around in her part of the country.

Besides the podcast, which I think is fantastic, you know, with ideas from people all around I'd love your book.

I think it's like one of those, it was good before, but I think even now with times like this, this is something to definitely pick up and for families to kind of go through, which is the everyday bucket list.

Karen Cordaway: Thank you so much. See, I try to encourage people as much as I'm someone who doesn't like to have too many books.

This is a book I believe it's better as a physical book, because then you have the worksheets right in there. You can go back to it.

For myself, I'm very concrete. That's just my little suggestion because. It's a short book too. And I purposely made it short because I just want people to get the, the process down and really learn how to prioritize.

Like in there, I even have an acronym like FILL, you know, you want to fill your bucket list with these ideas.

So much of it is having everything in advance.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. So Karen, I know we just scratched the surface. There's like so many ways we can go down the rabbit hole.

It's travel and planning, but if anyone's listening and they want to reach out to you learn more about the podcast and the book, what's the best way they can do that?

Karen Cordaway: Well, you can type in the everyday bucket-list podcasts. So you will find me, on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever. There are podcasts I'm on in most places.

Making Our Family Vacation and Trip Plans for This Year

I enjoyed speaking with Karen. Just like we talked about since we spoke, things did shift in the last month and half. 

Vaccinations have opened up to pretty much all adults as far as I know. We schedul;e and got both our shots. 

States have been opening up as well. Here in North Carolina, we’ve had some restrictions lifted and more businesses are closer to full capacity. 

That doesn’t mean things are back to normal; based on numbers, things could shift again. 

So here’s how we’re balancing planning and playing by ear. 

First we’ve been continuing to save. Vacations and trips are baked into our budgets. Saving ahead of time has been wonderful for us. I personally prefer knowing that after we’re done with a trip, that’s it. No worrying about paying it off later. 

While we use credit cards for reservations, we pay the balance off. 

Of course that money saved has to come from somewhere. As I’ve been sharing here on the podcast and on the site, we’ve paid off our non-mortgage debt. No credit card, car loan, or student loan payments. 

Instead we use that money we had been paying to hit our goals like paying the house off early, saving for vacations, giving, and investing for retirement. 

Creating our plan and then automating our finances has been a game changer for us. 

I have episodes, posts, and other resources on the exact details on how we did it – it wasn’t overnight. 

Second, we looked for trips where we could still have some space. The great thing about living in North Carolina is that there are plenty of options. 

Even when things were more restricted, we could do day trips and hikes around the parks and greenways. Besides the gas we paid, they were also free. 

For example, the art museum has some pieces you can walk around and explore outside and it connects to the greenway.  

It’s been one way we’ve stayed connected with friends while maintaining social distancing. 

Two trips we’re planning and reserving now are:

  • Beach
  • Mountains

They’re both great options for the summer. With the beach, we’re looking at skipping the usual tourist spots. 

This week I’m hunting for AirBnbs in Asheville and I’m looking at some activities like whitewater rafting and ziplining. 

As the fall and beyond, we’re keeping an eye on things. If things look good, we’ll firm up our plans around July. 

Taking it bit by bit is the way we’re going to tackle things this year! 

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up, there are a few key takeaways I want to share with you as I was preparing this episode.

  • Have a vacation budget. I’m a big fan of including what matters to you into your budget. Trips for us are not just about escaping, but connecting. Having the budget is really handy for a few reasons. One, you can move quickly on any great deals you find. Two, you’re doing this debt free so when the trip is over you’re not worried about paying off the card. Three, if we don’t happen to use that money – like what happened last year, we can roll that into the next year or use it for some other goal. 
  • Think green. Add parks- whether’s national, state, local – to your rotation of destinations this year. These can be memorable and affordable trips for your family while still staying relatively safe. This could be an opportunity for your family to try something new. 
  • Be flexible. Last year really hammered in that there were things outside of our control. I’m cautiously optimistic that things will move forward, but I don’t know. There may be smaller lock downs or increased restrictions on the future in certain areas based on the numbers. To cope with that, we’re taking Karen’s advice and have some backup trips. As I’m making travel plans, I’m also being a bit flexible with dates to get some great deals. And I’m also checking reservations to make sure they have reasonable cancellation policies.  

Maybe because we’ve been staying more local that I’m really excited about this, but I'm so ready to travel more.

If you want to discuss this more – ask questions, swap ideas, and maybe get a debt-free strategy set up – don’t forget to join us in the Thriving Families group on Facebook.

Our goal is to help one another out. Hope to see you there!

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Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Republic Wireless: Incredible Deals for Smartphones and Family Plans

Are you looking to save significant money with your cell phone bill today? I'll share who I use and how we're saving big without sacrificing great service!

Finding an Affordable Smartphone Plan with Great Phones and Service

After the year we had in 2020, I know many families -ourselves included -are reevaluating their finances, which means looking at their budget.

One lesson gleaned from the past year is making sure that our budget is optimized, not just for the essentials, but wherever we're spending that it's something that we truly enjoy.

There's no reason to keep subscriptions that you don't use frequently or pay too much for service that you're not getting.

So making sure that you review your bills once or twice a year can give you some significant savings and make sure that you're getting the best value.

One area where many families are overpaying is their smartphone bill.

Smartphones and family plans can be pricey.

Depending on which provider you go with getting an unlimited family plan for a family of four can set you back $180 to even $200 each month.

How would you like to cut that bill in half? It's completely possible and no, you don't have to settle for low quality cheap phones.

Innovation in the smartphone space has meant that there are some great alternatives and more affordable options where you can get the coverage at the big companies for a fraction of the price.

Today, I'm going to focus on one of my favorites and it's the one I use -Republic wireless.

I've been with them for around nine years and they have consistently given great service.

I've had the pleasure of speaking with Joel Kades to dig into how they're able to offer such a great deal with their plans.

We also get into their newest releases with phones, including the new Moto Gs.

I hope you enjoy!

Saving on Your Family Cell Plans with Republic Wireless

Elle Martinez: I appreciate you taking some time to talk with me about tech and how to get the best value, especially when it comes to smartphones.

Joel Kades: Thank you thank you for being a long-term member.

Republic wireless is in our 10th year. And I think you've been with us for most of those years. So it's great to be here.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. Not the very beginning, but I think shortly after. I've was immediately drawn by saving money. You guys have incredible rates for the plans, but what I especially appreciate and talking with a lot of families is getting the best value.

With tech, it is very easy to get into this cycle of spending a ton of money. Especially when you're talking about families, a big part of their budget can be their smartphone and their smartphone plan.

So originally I was definitely drawn to the price, but I especially appreciate with Republic wireless.

You guys are all about the values. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and keep me updated with what's going on.

Innovating in the Cell Phone Space

Joel Kades: Oh sure. Really the whole origin of Republic was this combination of tech and savings.

It's like you started within a larger company called bandwidth. It's a big company in Raleigh that does it's more enterprise communications as a platform.

The founders said, you know, we make telecom technologies, can we do something to help save ourselves and other people money on their, on their cell phone bills?

So really where Republic started was this creation of what was the first and still the most efficient technology for putting your calls and your texts and of course your data onto wifi. Which was a novel concept at that time.

What that does is it takes it off the cellular network and puts it onto the broadband that you're already paying for. So kind of in a way you're not paying twice for that cell phone service, when you're at home and we pass those savings on to the members and use that technology to do so.

It evolved even further to how do we do the technology between the wifi and the cellular to how do we, how do we make smooth transitions? How do we bond those together to get better coverage for our members? We keep innovating and so that's really been the heart of the company.

It's how do we come up with innovations that help save people money?

I don't know even know if you're aware, Our most recent is old school home phones.

I see you have one in the back there.

Republic Wireless Extend Home

Elle Martinez: I had an interesting conversation with my nine-year-old. She wanted to know what was that what's a home line.

Joel Kades: Some of the origin of that was you know, for the nine year olds, a lot of times families don't want to get kids in that seven new 11 range a smart phone yet, and get them off the screens.

So we came up with this thing called extend home just over a year ago where we actually just with a small adaptor attached to a home phone.

Your unlimited home phone calls are part of your cell phone bill. So most people, most people quite honestly cut the cord, right?

So that's one way people have saved money, right?

So that was home phone bills. Even when they're bundled into your cable bill, they're still in there somewhere, you know, it's about 20 to $30 a month hidden in that bundle.

This allows you at no monthly cost.

It's included with the cell phone calls to actually extend your cell phone number to those other phones, those old school phones that you can pull them out of the closet or out of the drawer and there's little adapter to them.

It's like $49. After that there's no cost it's just included.

A nine year old might be home. You can call your own cell phone number. If you're way it'll ring on the home phone, they can pick that up. So it's really a nice innovation. They can also dial nine one one.

Yeah. If you're not home, which is easier. Other advantages, people just like forgot that they it's nice to have that home phone in different rooms and not be attached to your cell phone all the time.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know technology can be a double-edged sword sometimes. You have your smartphone with you, you can do everything and then you want to do everything anytime.

Slashing Your Family Plan in Half

Elle Martinez: I definitely love, as the years gone by how things have improved the services, but I want to go back to what you were talking about. How you guys are able to offer it so cheap, which is the technology with the using the wifi.

Even back then, I had pretty good service because we don't realize how much we're on wifi. It's all around and why not take advantage of that technology? It's significant savings.

I mentioned like price was a big deal for us. For us, I believe when it was just the two of us, we originally paid about a hundred a month was for two lines and then every year, it kept going up.

And so that was my original draw.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I think the average is around 90 or a hundred per person these days, which is insane. I mean, I've seen different studies that are different surveys that show different things. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It varies, but it's significant because I know everyone has their own cell phone plan, but for me, it was less than $40 for two lines.

You know, just based on usage because I'm using the wifi so much.

I did the one gig, my choice plan and then eventually I think I upgraded for an extra $5, two gigs, but like I'm on wifi so much. That is a considerable drop.

So if you're talking about a family that dropped or even a couple, a hundred dollars, and then you drop down to 40 that's 60 a month, seven 20 a year, You know, that's a big savings.

Joel Kades: And you're into the financial independence and wellness you apply that to the compounding that goes on and you get someplace really big.

We've estimated that we've saved our members throughout our history based on the differences. Compared to an average cell phone bill over a half, a billion dollars at this point and our 10th year.

That's a lot you the plan that you were on, the one gig plan, which comes with unlimited talk and text and all the data and everything over wifi, one gig of cellular wifi that is about more than 60% of our members are on that. Okay. The average of one of our members is $20 a month.

So you were right in that zone.

Almost a quarter of our members use the unlimited talk and text for $15 a month. No cellular data.

They just game the wifi and or they're just working at home or they are just hardcore with the wifi users.

Believe it or not my 17 year old games, the wifi now she came to Republic. She looks at that as a challenge. Whereas most kids are just like one on limited data and they're streaming all the time. She downloads her videos. She downloads her podcasts when she's on the wifi and then, uses it outside the home when she's not on my phone.

So she's really come around and a lot of our members have that kind of attitude.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of like gamifying and having fun with it.

Full Featured Phones That Are Still Affordable

Elle Martinez: I know one concern when I talk with people is, okay, do you get good coverage? I know for me, most of the time I'm here based in Raleigh, but business trips around the country, we have family everywhere.

I haven't had a problem with service, but one thing I liked about this, and maybe you can explain a little bit more . You also for the cell have two networks it's sprint and I forgot the other .

Joel Kades: Mobile. They were both T-Mobile now, but there are still these two networks out there and they had very complimentary no.

You know, different strengths. If you're one of our members and if you ever have issues with coverage where you are most of the time we'll send you that other SIM to try. So you're gonna have coverage when you're not

Elle Martinez: yep. When you're not on the wi-fi, but yeah, like it's I guess it's been eight, nine years since I've been [with] Republic Wireless, really hasn't been an issue. Another concern, but something you've guys have really excelled at is the amount of options for folks.

I know for some people my husband's in this camp, like there are specific phones. He is a pixel guy.

Some people have very strong feelings, , they love Samsung's the galaxies. I, myself am a Motorola girl.

I like those things are so durable, but you guys have just released, some new Motorola's in the series.

Joel Kades: Yes. We support a range of Android phones and that our wifi technology and our special technology that we build works with Android.

We're not apple at this point.

Motorola is by far one of the most popular of the brands in terms of offer and as you said, we just relaunched the whole line of the GS and These are full featured, very high quality smartphones and the range of one 49 to three 49. And

Elle Martinez: those are great prices.

Joel Kades: Yeah. I don't think our member's mindset is, Oh, I need to have a thousand dollar iPhone. I think a lot of people are changing in that regard these days, too. So with these Motorolas, there's different ones have different strengths. One of them has a bigger screen.

The power has longer battery life. There's the motor one 5g Ace 5g capability and a really pristine screen. So there's some something in that line to fit everybody.

We support the Samsung galaxies. Both the, a series and super high-end S series.

We just launched the S 21, which is the new kind of flagship one. So, but that's a different, that's a different group, right?

Elle Martinez: You have that choice, which I think is incredible. I think a lot in our community is about value. It's not a status symbol; at the same time you know, if we're going to buy a phone, I want it to last for years.

I'm testing out the Moto G stylist, the one that came out because I'm working from home. I have a laptop, but then when you have kids, you're doing the remote learning during the day plus you're trying to get your stuff done with work.

That stylist has been incredibly helpful. I've been testing it out and it's a very affordable price. But it doesn't feel like a cheap phone. It is a great value with that.

Joel Kades: Yes. That stylists, you know, some people it's about creativity and capturing ideas and for other people, it's just easier to do that.

Yeah, my daughter loves the stylist phone and she's more in that creative side and just always capturing something. They're wonderfulphones.

Once again, like, even on the Samsung, I mentioned the S 21, but then we also sell the A21, which is the second line galaxy phones are high quality, but only $249 instead of, you know, pushing up towards the $800 phones.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. It's finding that value for you. We have members that are they're diehards galaxies S series but they hold onto it until it breaks.

I'm one of those that I don't mind when it comes out to get to get a new phone, but I'm expecting it to last for years.

So there's a great option for different price points because with technology, you don't want to overpay for things that you don't use.

That's what I love about Republic wireless is that you guys have great plans, different price points for how you use it.

Now you have so many different phones at different price points.

Joel Kades: And you can always bring your own phone if it's an unlocked phone. You know, the unlocked Android.

You can go to our site, there's a bring your own page that has a list of all the compatible phones in the model numbers for those to make sure that it's the right compatible one that works with our service.

With those, all you have to do is go to the settings on your phone, look at about this phone and the model number is going to be there.

You can check it really long list of phones that are going to be compatible with the service.

The other thing that we have, that's a little bit newer and is a huge trend you know, more since COVID, but it really started a few years before and all about savings was kind of following the model of automobiles, which were pre-owned automobiles became a bigger, more high quality thing.

That's come to the cell phone world. We've partnered with a a company called

That's one of the highest rated of these, you get a quality product and if you go to our site under stuff, you'll see a page for SWAPO.

So you can go to swap phones and link from our page and it'll take you to a store within SWAPA. So only the compatible Android phones that work with Republic will be there.

For new members, you also can get a free SIM card with when you buy the phone on swap, I'd get a month free. There's a lot of different ways to save money on smartphones and still get a quality full feature phone. That's going to serve all of your needs.

You know, is it going to be the flashiest showpiece that doesn't tend to be our members. You know, much more independent minded , concerned about their budget and their finances more.

So we try to serve that market and really understand that market.

Elle Martinez: Joel, I really appreciate you sitting down and chatting with me and updating me.

Guys if you're listening and watching this, I'm going to include in the show notes and link below information about Republic wireless, their plans and their phones.

Like I said, I use them and I've been happy with this service, both for my own personal line and also for work.

And if you pay attention on Instagram, all through March, I'm going to be using the motor G stylist so if you're one of those photography nerds and love seeing if that's gonna fit your bill just keep an eye out at simplifying and enjoy.

Joel. Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate it.

Joel Kades: Hey, thank you for having me and thank you for being a long-term member.

Whatever provider you choose. I want you to make sure that you're getting the best value and service.

How to Create a Family Budget You Love (and Actually Works!)

For many families, 2020 threw us for a loop. Today we’ll look at how you can revamp and build your budget so you can hit your financial goals faster!

Pivoting Your Family Budget

I think it’s fair to say that last year did not go as any of us planned. I’m not going to recap the year – we were all there- but honestly, we had a lot curve balls thrown at us. 

Because we had to make so many changes with how we worked, did school, and more, our day to day routines changed and our budgets did as well.

While I’m happy that there are vaccines being produced now, there’s still much ahead of us. It’s going to be a while before things get back to a more normal routine. 

Which means more than ever, we  create a plan for our finances.

One of the best ways you can pivot your finances is by creating a roadmap for your money. For most families, that means creating a better budget.

Some challenges that couples face can include: 

  • sinking up on what goals you want to tackle this year
  • Building a budget that is flexible enough to deal with adjustments
  • Finding ways to both save for your goals and for some fun

So we’re going to dig into this today one by one. 

Rob Bertman is on the podcast.  He’s a certified financial planner and the creator of Family Budget Expert.

He’s worked with families on reconfiguring their budgets so that it reflects them and their specific goals.

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Create a Better Family Budget

Looking to create a budget? Here are some helpful resources: 

If you’d like to chat more about your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal Credit Union!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

We’ve been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Key Takeaways on Creating a Budget That Fits Your Family and Goals

Now that we’re two weeks into our monthly money challenge. Which is simply tracking your money. You’re probably getting a clearer picture of your family’s cash flow.

With those numbers in front of you, the two of you can start building a budget together that makes sense for you and your goals for the year.

Here are a few things to look out for and discuss.

Which areas of your budgets, are you spending more or less than you had anticipated?

Since many families stayed home more in 2020. It’s natural that your budget’s shifted.

In certain areas may have seen an increase while others had a decrease. Now that the new year has started, things may have shifted again. If so, which areas of your budget are staying on target? Which ones are unexpectedly higher or lower?

If you’re going over budget, you immediately need to make changes. However, this may be a case where you need to adjust your budget, to be more realistic for your current and future circumstances.

Perhaps you’ve discovered that yes, you’re spending more with food, but you’re eating at home more eating healthier.

And the quality of the food that you’re picking out is much better. So in that case, you may decide going forward that you want to keep the food expenses in that range and cut somewhere else.

How much did you enjoy with your spending?

I know sometimes in the personal finance space. Spending is seen as a negative, but that’s not necessarily the case. Again, when we’re looking at budget, we’re talking about what we prioritize and what we value.

I know for us, we’ve made some purchases during the pandemic, since we were going to spend more time at home and we do not regret those purchases.

We put some more money into our family garden and got items for the yard, such as a hammock and a telescope and we really enjoyed those purchases.

What about you? What new spending did you have because of the pandemic. Perhaps it was buying games for family game night.

You may be looking at that spending and you’re happy with it. And you might decide that going forward, you want to keep it in your budget. Then make sure that you put it as a new line item in your budget going forward.

Creating a budget. Isn’t all about cutting expenses. It’s really about being more intentional with how you use your money.

Finally looking at your cashflow. What’s a realistic pace for you to hit your goals.

We’re not trying to create the perfect budget. We’re trying to create a budget that actually works for you.

These discussions may seem small, but they can give you a leg up for creating a budget that you can use for the rest of the year!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

How to Have a Safer Summer Family Getaway

For most families, the school year is over and after being home for months, there’s this desire to get out and explore. However, with coronavirus cases growing, many families are wondering, can we have a safe summer getaway? Today we'll see how!

Summer Break (without Travel?)

We’re in a strange season. Usually, summer is when families on vacation, but travel is tricky (to put it mildly).

Different parts of this country are being hit to varying degrees. We have states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and South Carolina where the cases are leaping up and they’re hitting new records. You also have some states where the numbers are fairly steady like Virginia and Connecticut.

We also have different restrictions in place depending on where you are.  Some states are even reversing their openings. 

So the questions become – is there a safe way to have a family trip? Or are we stuck at some for another season? 

We’re going to look at a few ways you can have a family getaway – more local for sure- as well as making a staycation truly fun. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • Return of the  Family Road Trips, Weekend Getaways, and Day Trips
  • Travel tips to minimize your risk while you’re away from home
  • The joys of a staycation Yes, you can stay put and enjoy yourself. (At least that’s what my husband Rob thinks. )

Let’s get started!

Travel Tips for Family Vacations

Want to enjoy a great family getaway this summer? Here are some resources to help!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

They not only have fantastic customer service but they also have competitive rates on their checking and savings accounts!

The Return of Road Trips

Road trips are making a comeback and they've always been a popular frugal option if you're going nearby. But I think this year they are definitely taking off because we are trying to stay more local and regional, which we'll discuss why in a few minutes.

From what I've noticed, there are three main types of trips that families are taking.

Family Visits

The first one, our family visits. Yep. We haven't seen our loved ones in person. So visiting our relatives is high on many people's to do list.

We recently had my mother and brother-in-law over and it was a fantastic trip. They came down, it was a low key stay, but the girls really enjoyed seeing them in person and enjoy one another's company.

Weekend Getaways

Second type of trip are the weekend getaways, but Hey, now that all these days are a blur weekday getaways work as well. And these are short trips, but they're in local areas, usually just a few hours away from where you are.

It could be going to the beach or to the mountains, just kind of having a change of scenery.

Day Trips

And then the last one is day trips. And day trips can be wonderful, precisely because they are short.

You can leave in the morning, enjoy someplace else, and then come back and stay in your own bed.

Where Should We Travel This Summer?

In terms of destinations, I think parks are going to be the top spot to go. There are great places to connect and still maintain social distance.

Going for a beach trip can be a way to unplug and recharge, but you want to be mindful of the locality. Is it a tourist spot? Then you might want to pass.

This also may be a wonderful season to go and visit the mountains. Get a cabin away from it all and relax.

6 Tips for a Safer Family Vacation

Now the two key things to remember wherever you decide to go on your trip.

Be prepared. Restrictions will vary, not just state to state, but by County or the city level at times.

Be flexible. Restrictions have been changing. We have some States opening up some pausing and then some pulling back. So you want to make sure. That you're flexible enough that you can adjust where you're staying at.

You also want to be flexible because there's going to be a little bit more work when it comes to actually taking your trip.

Now, while on the road, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Try to keep your trip semi-local. See if you can choose a spot that you can get to and come back with one tank of gas.
  • Shop and pack your groceries beforehand. Again, we're trying to keep these getaways and trips safe as possible and minimize your family's risk and the impact you have on whatever community you go ahead and visit.
  • Bring masks and some backups, including disposable gloves. Those are going to be important. when you're pumping gas, you want to use those disposable gloves.
  • As always, washing your hands regularly is key. I know bathroom breaks are inevitable. But if you are going to make those rest stops, minimize them for only necessities.

So I hope these tips help you to have a safer family getaway and enjoy your summer.

Staycations: Explore Your Town

Ah, staycations. People have very strong feelings about that. And I think part of it is they feel that first half's the staying means simply staying at home, but that doesn't have to be the case.

In fact, staycations can be great for several reasons.

If you have a family member who has an underlying medical condition, it's understandable that you want to stay put for now.

Also we have little ones. Now they're eight and five, which is an incredibly fun age. However, if they were in their toddler phase, now, I honestly would choose to stay home, to reduce the stress factor.

And let's not forget how budget-friendly a staycation can be, but staying at home doesn't mean being bored.

Now for our anniversaries, we usually go and take a small trip or little getaway together. But a few years ago we did a staycation. I was eight months pregnant at the time. I was not really wanting to go on a trip.

So we did one, but instead of just staying at home, we decided to make it exciting by choosing something that we enjoyed, which was going on lunch dates.

Like many couples. We had a situation where for years we had this list of restaurants we wanted to try out, but the list kept growing.

So during this week, what we did is we picked our favorite spots, the ones we really wanted to try out, and all through the week we went on those dates. And it was so much fun.

So if you're thinking of a staycation, try thinking of that way, what is that lens or that thing that you enjoy about vacations that you want to emphasize while you're here earlier this year as a contributor for the family and finance column over at mince blog.

I wrote about family activities that you can do at home. And some were geared for families looking for outdoor fun while others could be done inside.

You can see all 30 ideas on Mint, but I want to highlight just four, so you can see the different ways that you can play around with this staycation.

  • Depending on the city or town that you live in, you don't have to do a day trip, or we can get away to enjoy the great outdoors while minding social distancing rules. You can enjoy playing outside with the kids, having a picnic or doing an outdoor activity like tennis. And if you're looking for an indoor friendly option for those days where you can't get outside, maybe it's raining. You can go on virtual tours around the world. There are field trips like Yellowstone or San Diego zoo, or the aquariums around the country and world that you can try out and have fun with the kids.
  • Something we've been doing more often is family game nights. Whether you prefer going with card games, board, video games, just choose an evening as your go-to night for family games. If you're looking for a team-based game, Forbidden Island is a lot of fun with the kids. And you can use video options like Jackbox to pull in some other families and have a really great game night. You can host the game and then people can log in and use their own phones or tablets or other devices to play along as well.
  • If you have a good space, maybe in the neighborhood or the yard, a scavenger or treasure hunt can be an absolute blast. You can leave some interesting clues to keep them challenged while they go find the treasure.
  • Finally, if you've been getting a lot of deliveries, chances are you have plenty of boxes around the house. This is a very low-cost idea, but believe it or not building a cardboard, Fort is incredibly fun for the kids. And for you. Not only do you have to put it together, but if you are artistically talented, you have a lot of fun painting it. And if you want to minimize the mess, keep it all outside.

So, those are just a few ideas that you can use for your own staycations, but you can pick each day to have a different theme or activity to keep it fun.

You are still getting a break out of the routine, but still staying safe.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Spotify, or Apple.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

How to Live Well on Less This Summer with Michelle Jackson

For some in the financial independence space, there is almost a badge of honor of living your life as cheaply as possible.

They talk about how they only spend $X a year. While I respect keeping expenses in check, I think it’s not really a healthy way to approach things.

With us still dealing with this pandemic, it's a reminder that money is simply a tool and not the goal.

Instead of trying to live cheaply, let's focus on living well.

Let's try to take a step back and see how we can simplify things including our finances so we can have more time with the people and projects that matter to you.

Michelle Jackson is someone who's already made significant changes to her life and finances and is in a much happier spot.

Michelle is one of my favorite people and I was thrilled we got to sit down and chat about the art of living well.

She's not only an author but runs two podcasts (Square State – which is focused on Colorado and Michelle is Money Hungry – all about lifestyle design for entrepreneurs, specifically women).

She’s here to discuss with me:

  • her journey from being in debt and overwhelmed to finding fulfillment while paying down her debt
  • how being a frugal foodie taught her to live well without breaking a budget
  • why self-care matters and how to do it affordably

You can watch our chat right here or go through an edited transcript below!

Meet Michelle Jackson

Michelle Jackson is mission-driven to help her readers and listeners empower themselves financially. Whether it is by improving their personal finances or learning how to sell what they already know, she loves having those conversations.

Michelle runs the website and podcast Michelle is Money Hungry, and is the founder of the Money on the Mountain retreat focused on financially empowering single women one conversation at a time.

When she's not geeking out about personal finance you can find her hiking in the mountains of Colorado.

The Art of Living Well

Elle Martinez: Thank you for joining me, especially during this little lunch chat. I'm glad we can catch up.

Michelle Jackson: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited. And for those of you listening, if you can hear some awesome tunes behind me, that's because I'm a really nice coffee shop and having a golden. Tumeric latte and enjoy my life during the road.

Elle Martinez: Well, I think this is important because that's what we want to talk about is living your best life with the circumstances that we have.

I know right now we're in the middle of the summer in the middle of a pandemic. Coronavirus has not gone away and we are trying to find a way to stay healthy, stay sane during this time.

So I wanted to talk to you because personal finance has some great principles, but I also think there's some misconceptions and certain attitudes that can be harmful to many people, especially as they're trying to tackle their goals. So I kind of want to talk to you about this. How do you live well on that?

Michelle Jackson: So one of the things that I would say. In 2020, we're all familiar with all of these ways to save money.

I think that the marriage of technology and financial goals is so interesting to experience and observe during this time, like, we're really at an advantage because there are so many things out there that are created to help us win with money, especially in those areas that we struggle with as far as just, living our best life and doing it for less.

Defining Who and What Matters to You

Michelle Jackson: One of the things I spent a lot of time thinking about several years ago was how, how do I want to live my life?

I was commuting 30 plus miles a day. They were actually working on the highway at a time. So a 30-mile commute. It should've been like 45 minutes or whatever was typically two hours each way.

And so I was commuting with the same people for years and we would just sleep on the bus because it was really nice plus whatever. And we'd fall asleep and then wake up and be in the town that I worked at. I was just like, what am I want my life to be. But the problem was that I had a lot of debt. I had a lot of things going on.

And then finally, one day I was just like, I need to start trying to figure this out because I don't want to look like this. And so I started, and I should say I had a huge financial mess, so I had thousands. $2 a day. It just had a lot going on.

Elle Martinez: What was the mix of it? If you don't mind me asking, like what kinds of debt?

Michelle Jackson: I had a bazillion credit cards, like lots of little credit cards. Like it wasn't that they had lots of large credit limit, so it was just a lot of them. I had random little amounts of personal loans, money, lots, and lots of little things that built up over time and became a huge financial mess. And for people who have never experienced, like having. Creditors call you or having more than one day.

Horrible. I was getting at the height of it all. I was getting calls, text messages, letters, and emails, typically from the same creditor multiplied by like, So it was a lot of stress that I was dealing with and for things that I could even remember.

yeah. So one of the things I thought of, I thought about was like, how can I just lower my overall overall overhead in general? Like I'm paying all this money. I have to like find some money to pay off the debt. And this is like crazy. See, like I got to figure this out. So I started methodically going through my budget.

So I started going, I had to do a couple of things. One is I had to acknowledge who I was as a person. Like I'm not a fast food person. I'm not going to eat bad food to save money. I'm not going to not look my life. Like there were certain things that I was unwilling to stop doing. I believe. With food in particular, that food is medicine and that it would make no sense for me to eat orally and then get sick.

When I was already stressed out, like it was already physically unwell. So to exacerbate, that made no sense. I knew that I wanted or getting groceries. I knew that I wanted to take trips within reason. So there were just certain things that I was like, okay, this is what I value. This whole conversation of look at your budget, know what you value.

And then I was like, how can I do this for less? So for example, with groceries, I started shopping multiple times during the week, which I just had a habit of shopping multiple times, starting the week just went shopping once a week. It was a small thing. It saved me a lot of time. Cause clearly I didn't have a lot of time with the four hours a day.

So I just literally was like, this is what I need to pick up once a week. And that was it. And maybe I would go also to the farmer's market if it was during the summer season. So maybe it would be two times, but like very quick, easy. And my, my grocery bill dropped significantly actually just by doing that one thing,

Elle Martinez: I think that's fascinating there and I don't want to.

Like interrupt you. But I thought that was great that you pointed that out because a lot of times in personal finance, there's a lot of advice thrown out. And one that, you know, is like almost a badge of honor, we spend so cheaply, you know, whether it's food or whatever. and that's how we save and pay down the debt.

But what you're saying is you pause to define your priorities and then honed in on that and then try to, , still what you valued was your health with finding cheaper ways. That's, that's fascinating. Cause I think we have a desire, not to just spend money to spend money, but we're in such a rush to get that quick fix of dropping the spending that we don't look at. Well, what are you working towards?

It's not just saving money, you know? Trying to align yourself and your spending to what matters to you. So I thought that was fascinating.

Staying Fit (without the Expensive Gym Membership)

Michelle Jackson: I like, I like the whole align yourself. So I was already out of alignment with all the debt. So where I aligned with my values. Yeah.

Another thing that I valued was fitness. And so I was like, okay. maybe right now I can't really do a lot of classes or maybe I want to take classes. How can I do that? So the city has free classes that they teach, like provided by the city of Denver, like hip hop like that.

I'm curious, literally I knew about it because I know my town, but a lot of times you'll find it online.

Like on Facebook events, actually, it's a really good place to start Instagram right now. It's a little tricky because we're still. Finding are studying during COVID, but even now, recently I found a yoga studio here in Denver, black woman, and they have made it a priority part of the mission to, to offer free yoga.

So now I'm going to be adding that into my fitness regimen. I also. Trade hours for [classes] how's that work even now. So this was weird, literally like two weeks before the shutdown orders happened, I had signed on to do like a work exchange and literally like, all I was supposed to do is like really easy occasionally.

And then like flame clean the studio every once in a while, like every other. Super easy then coronavirus, the scope of work changed. And so I ended up crafting newsletters, so I didn't have to write them. I just had to like do the final, super easy.

Elle Martinez: That's important because also fitness can be expensive.

A lot of, you know, categories that people spend can be pricey, especially fitness. Sometimes we go overboard and get all this equipment, but you found ways to kind of hack it so that you sell are getting the fitness, you know, and health benefits, but you're not spending a ton of money

Michelle Jackson: And also I wanted to have the actual experience that I wanted. So I didn't want to, like, I can do YouTube videos, but I don't enjoy them.

I value in-person classes. Those are a lot more interesting for me. So that's the other piece too? It's like, yes, I could have just totally forgone classes altogether and just done YouTube videos, but for me, that wasn't a good fit.

The other thing that I did was I signed up for meetups. and this is very specific to where you live, but we have a lot of fitness folks in Colorado. So we're recording this the day after we record this, I'm going on. It.

I'm going to get nature. And so I did a lot of that too, and those were free. And so I would, I would carpool with someone thought it was just incredible. If you're a person of color, you're like, I'm nervous about outdoors. There are shirts for that. There are literally meet up groups or people of color allies to go.

Yeah. I belonged to all kinds of groups. Cause I love going outdoors, but I just looked for a lot of ways to do the same thing for less. And then the other pieces, if you're like, well, what about the equipment? I had friends who they gave me their snowboard. So I got to be so worried. and so I got a lot of free equipment, but you can also go to Goodwill and get very inexpensive equipment or companies that all they do is so outdoors equipment.

The other thing I looked at was transportation, because I'm not really a car person. I actually learned to drive as an adult. And it wasn't, it was, it was learning your job as an adult. I will forever be grateful to my Russian friend media and my Colorado friend who got in the car with me and taught me how to drive my Colorado and got safety, a lot of money because if I paid for lessons, it would have been very, very expensive.

But what I did was I actually bought a used car. $1,500. Yeah. I had to learn to drive because I owned a car. Like it was, it was, I had to learn. And so my friends would get in the car that I owned. And I would learn to drive in my car and they would just meet me at my house. We'd just pop into the car. And that's how I learned now.

I actually don't have that car. I use a car share, so I've found that as a single woman, without babies, I don't need to have a car.

I'll buy the light rail and I bike. So for me, I was like, maybe I don't need to own a car cause I'm not a car person clearly. And so I now harsher I'm obsessed with it. Last week I went on a road trip.

I actually kind of made a mistake because right now they're running a. Five day special for $245. And then the first a hundred miles are free or some, something like that. So I made a mistake and I rented it for two or three days and paid $160. So I will only do the week long rental moving forward because that was, I clearly overpaid or the 20, 20 so far.

I think that I pay. $450 for transportation. Great. Not even, not even. And that's including a trip that I'm taking a couple of weeks from now. So if you have two cars and you live in a city that has a car share, I would strongly recommend you don't have small. I would say really using a card, share a second.

Look, I paid $12 a month. To be a member. I upgraded my person membership for the highest level of insurance. I have a million dollar policy that I paid. so if something happens and I'm in the car, I'm covered like, like the significant amount of coverage. And I think that that's great. So this year, January through April, I think I spent 50 bucks on transportation and it's so cool because the program that I use is actually a nonprofit here in Colorado.

So it's not a for profit and they have hybrid cars that they specifically focus on. I care about earth. So it's really in alignment with how I like to live my life. So I, I really care about my footprint. And so I'm really happy with the program. I am so obsessed with the Rav four that I drove last week.

That's my favorite car in the fleet, but it's not close to my house. So normally I have to, I have to go downtown to get the rabbits. So I went on my road trip. I got the Rav four with, and that was a lot of fun. And it's cool because you get to test out these cars before my, so yeah, this, this for the rest of the summer, I'm going to spend about $245 for the next time that I drive a couple of weeks from now.

And then in August, I'll take another road trip. It'll be another 20, $45. And then for the rest of the year, it's probably going to be like 30 bucks a month. That's significantly.

Elle Martinez: the average car payment right now for a new car is like 500 and change. I want to say five 30 and I believe for used car, it's like 385 a month and that's not counting car insurance on top of that and, you know, fuel and all that maintenance. So that's a really clever hack.

I do want to kind of switch gears.

Michelle Jackson: Literally, that was fun.

Elle Martinez: Okay. My husband would be proud of that, but I do want to talk about you since I've known you, you have like built different income streams as, as a successful business woman. You're an author, you know, you speak, you are running this course to help other people pursue their dream of writing.

you have two podcasts square state. About all about Colorado and Michelle is money hungry. So you are managing a lot. I want to talk to you one, how do you step back and kind of recharge yourself? So you're not burning out and then like, how do you view self care? Because that's kind of like thrown around and I hate now that I see it more in advertisements than actual conversations.

Michelle Jackson: So for me, I think with entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs will try a lot of things. And it's a really exhausting part of the journey I find because you're trying to figure out what's the right fit for you. Especially as a digital entrepreneur. Where, it's very intangible, right? Like there's a lot of what you do is very intangible.

Like you're waiting for feedback. You're looking at HB news, things like that. So maybe he could get a hundred thousand page, but then no one emails you. Right. So what I found with online entrepreneurship was that. It just was so confusing, like what was the right fit? And it just took a while for me to figure out what works well for me, energetically, and it wasn't really tiring because it was a lot of like throwing spaghetti at the wall, to be honest.

This year, I am really in refinement mode. So, you know, when people are like, Oh, that person's the overnight success. And they're like, dude, I've been at this for like seven years. That's kind of the experience that I've had where I've been at this for three years now. And so I'm at that point where I'm really finding, this is what I know.

Right. So I'm at the point where. I've just had enough lessons that I know what doesn't work for me. So example, what doesn't work is I don't do coffee. I don't do like pick your brain. I don't, I don't do that. That's that's time I could be making money. I don't, so that's a boundary that I said. Because I already create free content and podcasts and websites.

And you know, I do stuff on rice instead of Brown and all that. So I don't need to do these one on ones. So I started meeting people and saying, Hey, when, when it came up, if you want to meet with me, you can just pay me what your mind. And then that's actually proven to be a little bit. So I got a payment this week that I spoke to nothing crazy, but I could've made them.

Yeah, it's great other money because I value my time. So I'm just being really clear about the boundaries you set as an entrepreneur is so key. One of the easiest things I did that the biggest impact once changing my email responder, I cannot explain. What a big difference it made, because what I did was I was like, look, I'm available Monday through Thursday, like 10 to four.

And then on Friday, I'm available to half the day and then I'm out. And, what happened was. It was very clear to people what to expect from me. So it wasn't just that I was like, I'm not available. I'm not available now. This is what I'm doing. Usually in the mountains, when I get back, this is where the next 24 to 48 hours.

That one change has saved me so much.

Elle Martinez: I love that.

Michelle Jackson: And so that was an unexpected bonus for self care. Like let's just. Fabulous. I think the other thing is just, and being very, like, don't explain your note. Like a lot of people are like, well, no, and this is why no one shares why they just say no and move on.

so I don't explain my nose. I just say no. And that's it. So that's it. The other thing was soft care is. I, because I work online, I can choose where I work. And so I will make a point of going into the mountains and staying for shootings and not just decompressing. I did that last week, I went to a town called Salita really, really beautiful town in Colorado, which has the oldest, historic district in the state.

Or the large largest historic district in the state. and I just like chilled out and it was so great. I got work done there. Actually. It was funny. I was referred to the night before, like they were like, Hey, can you down? I was like, yeah, cause I got paid 300 bucks to write about. And I felt like, and it was great.

Actually, I was kind of shocked.

So I was like, we're an hour and a half I've hustled. I got it done in the car. I thought about it as I drove down for a couple of hours I did out and then I still enjoyed my time. So I think you need making sure to get away and recharge energize yourself is so important. People just keep going and going and going and it doesn't serve them or their business, to be honest.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That's that's key. I know as parents. For us, we have to have like our alone time and my husband and I are complete opposite. So I'm the morning person, you know, like straight up the morning routine that you read about like five

o'clock in the morning. But for me, that is when I can have that quietness.

That I need to think whether it's for work for relaxing, like for me to be my best self that's my time. And my husband's more than night owl and that's his time. So, I mean, finding the, even if you can't physically get away, you got a regularly scheduled some kind of time.

To recharge, have that solitude, it can also be outdoors.

I've been doing a lot more walking in the neighborhoods, still, of course, social distancing, but you know, self care, doesn't always have to be like buying this product, you know, taking this expensive, you know, retreat, it's finding pockets of time. You can use, however you see fit.

Michelle Jackson: I should also mention about the retreats because this, this is actually an important thing.

When I go to the mountains for my retreat, I stayed at a hostel and it is like my favorite hostel ever. And I'm obsessed with it. You've seen so many pictures, so I paid $35 a night, including breakfast. They have a hot tub. It's awesome. They're actually opening another property and Telluride, Colorado.

That'd be enough. I cannot wait. And so I will be reserving my space because of a virus. I don't feel comfortable really in the same room with people before I would be fine limit. Now, now I'm going to pay a little more to reserve my own space, which is fine. So instead of paying $35, it's a hundred dollars.

So it's significantly more. But the value to me and my wellbeing is so key that I'm okay with it. It's not like I'm always like, I'm not always doing that. And then after the front switched back to what I was doing anyway, but right now I have to. Yeah,

Elle Martinez: I think that actually kind of circles back and a good place to wrap up because we see money, you know, as we've been writing about personal finance as a tool.

Right. But I think a lot of times when you're starting it, some people see it as the goal. Right. You're, you're paying down a certain amount of debt.

Or if you're in the, you know, FIS space, you know, you're talking about how much you're saving, but at the end of the day, that's not really what you should be using.

For me, I think you should look at time, you know, how am I able to spend my time?

Am I spending the time with the people in the projects that matter most to me, even if you're not, you know, at your retirement a number.

Can you little by little, make decisions with your money. You bring you one step closer, either, you know, more flexibility or more options when it comes to, things that you need for self care and taking care of others.

And then like finally, even if you decide to give more like a lot of people I've seen once they reached a certain amount of, financial freedom. Oh, that's natural out courses. How can I help others? And it can take manifest in so many different ways.

So I love how you've done such an incredible job of not just saving money, which is great, but making sure that your money is moving in the direction that matters to you.

Michelle Jackson: And I want to say two things. One is I have no savings number, so I want to be very candid about that. I accidentally so fired five years ago. And so, I want people to design your life. that you're working towards. So how do you live your life now? Especially if you're in the fires space, right? Like people are so focused on the numbers, but I'm like being focused on the light.

So in March when everything got shut down and I was like, I am so thankful that I so fired and I'm living my life and I've learned how to make money outside of nine to five. Like I was really. Because there are moments when I doubt I have like, maybe this was the dumbest thing. Yeah. Actually the spring has confirmed that I did the right thing.

I am so happy that I took a stand for my life and decided to do what was best. I don't know that I would have been happy.

Elle Martinez: I, Oh, I hear you on that.

Michelle Jackson: You know what I mean? So like, I can go see my mom when I feel like it. I can, if I needed to go to the doctor, I could go whenever. If I want to go to a road trip, I can do that last week. Want to go? You know what? I finished my work today. Now it wasn't easy, especially because I work on myself.

It was very hard and I had debt, which made it hard, but I was not, I don't regret it at all. Hmm. I'm, I'm so thankful that I made those hard choices because I've had five years of living a really wonderful, challenging life, but life is challenging, right? So I just picked my challenge. And now ironically things are because I've put in all these years, things are so much easier for him now.

Right. So making money online, helping other people. You hear that? Yeah. There's that? Well,

Elle Martinez: that's awesome. So Michelle mentioned you have a lot of projects going on and I know people listening want to like. Connect more with you. So do you mind mentioning just a few ways that they can reach out and connect and join your community?

Michelle Jackson: I run a website shows. I love to talk about all things, lifestyle, design, entrepreneurship, and personal finance. I'm really interested in. the conversation about earning more versus trying to out verbal they're like, I want you to earn more wisely. So an example of that is I just got contracted to do a fun, freelance, I now freelance again, I'd stopped doing it for nine months.

I only work with clients. I like, I literally am just testing out. So I'm going to test out Fanny packs. When I hike. Normally I'm just going to use that as the piece of equipment that I use during my height. And then I will go on several Heights that I normally do because I hike every weekend. And then I'm going to get paid to share my experience with this product.

And that's an ongoing, actually an ongoing project. So I'll test out other outdoors. Sometimes I can keep the equipment. Sometimes I give it away, whatever, maybe a couple hundred bucks do that. No problem. So I love that kind of thing. I want people to really maximize and their earnings.

you can follow me on Twitter at Mitch Mitch loves money more on Instagram at Michelle's money. And I also run a course eight money with eBooks, but right now it is being worked on. So that's on hiatus and I launched an Academy. Called make money with eBooks Academy or wa as I liked it, you know, like that's what, that's what I call it now, because I think it's hilarious where we need support would be first time nonfiction fiction authors, get their books out in the world.

So definitely check that Awesome.

Elle Martinez: Well, thank you, Michelle. I've always enjoyed chatting with you.

How to Financially Prepare Your Family for Tough Times

With the coronavirus and fallout from it, many families are understandably stressed out. Today we're sharing how you can financially prepare your family for tough times to survive and thrive!

While things are really fluid right now and some big decisions are still up in the air, it's important to review and if necessary reprioritize things with your finances. 

Earlier this week, I sent out an email about your biggest concerns right now when it comes to money. I appreciate hearing from you.

As a personal policy, I write back as soon as I can to everyone. However, I noticed that they were certain questions and scenarios that were stressing some in the community.

Why We’re Doing This Q&A Session

I thought it would be good to create a session focused on helping families craft a financial plan for these tough times.

Andy Hill from Marriage, Kids, and Money and co-founder of Thriving Families was kind enough to join me in this chat.

You can watch it as uploaded to YouTube or catch the notes below!

Adjusting to the New Normal as a Family

Elle Martinez: I think this is our first thriving family special Q&A chat because I think you and I have been talking about doing this for two years probably.

[It makes] a lot of sense to do it right now. And with the circumstances, it's like even more of a challenge. I don't know about you, but my kids are upstairs.

Andy Hill: Absolutely. Well, I enjoyed my lunch break right outside the door here.

So if you hear a little bit of action, that's that is. That's our family tried to figure out this whole school thing. Yes.

Elle Martinez: Yes. And seeing a little technical difficulty there. But that is kind of what we're all doing right now is figuring out what the circumstances that changed so quickly.

How do we not only survive but thrive as families, which is our group name, but importantly is how do we financially prepare?

I'm not an expert in terms of how this [pandemic] is going to go, but you've probably seen they've kind of indicated that this could be a few months at the very least.

Remote Learning with Your Kids

Andy Hill: So, I mean, for us, our school system, originally it was, you know, hey, we're gonna be off for three weeks and then we got spring break coming up.

I don't know all of the news we've been hearing, whether it's our friends in California or some other folks locally here, that's at least three months, if not more. So were trying to figure out how the new normal will come.

Elle Martinez: Yes. Yes. And the important thing is like, how do you prepare? And at the same time, how do you make sure that you don't give in to a kind of fear? Because there's a lot of questions going on.

Tthere's a great opportunity for people to be extremely fearful. It makes sense. You know, this is unprecedented.

People don't know what's going on. But I think if we can stick to our values and priorities; things that we know are important to do right now.

Prioritizing Your Bills 

Elle Martinez: The goal of this [chat] is to make sure how do we reprioritize, how do we reorganize it, and shift things just like we're doing right now with our home routines and our schedules.

How do we shift things with our finances to kind of ride out these tough times? So I had just recently asked within the community for Couple Money. What are your concerns?

I got one particular e-mail that I think really summed up a lot of concerns families are having, which is like how do we prioritize what bills to pay, what goals to pursue when so many things are up in the air?

So I'll just read that and maybe we can talk it out and go through the process.

This one is from Kelly:

Should I still pay my credit cards?

I work for the schools and might not have a job to return to and everything is in my name.

I live paycheck to paycheck so my buffer or savings is very small.”

This is a situation many families are dealing with where depending on the industry you're in. You don't know if your hours are going to be cut or if there's going to be enough runway to take care the essentials.

Credit Card Relief

Andy Hill: You know, let's. Let's start out the credit card side of things.

We can talk about, you know, budgeting and savings and things like that. So for the credit cards, I know you posted this in our community, I think was just yesterday about the credit card companies realizing what's coming or what's happening right now.

Yes. And getting ahead of it. So maybe you want to talk a little bit about what that is.

Elle Martinez: So I don't want to call it good news, but something as a relief. Yes, news. Something as a relief.

It seems like this time around with the crisis, people are realizing that this is going to be a long term thing. So companies, including credit card companies, are offering different kinds of hardship relief programs.

I noticed in particular, Apple Pay and Barclays, for example, are telling their customers they're being proactive in an e-mail. So check your emails that you can skip your March payment and not have any penalties for that.

That can be a solution, especially if you don't have a financial cushion.

So any kind of relief that you can get now? We'll probably talk about this a little bit more, but emphasize take advantage of it now. Use it to your family's benefit. And this is absolutely critical.

So I am happy that credit cards are stepping up. I've heard also that a lot of them are waiving fees, late fees, if you have to kind of extend payments because paycheck as you switch over.

Unfortunately, some families in our group work in the service industry and so they're going to be relying on unemployment temporarily, at least hopefully temporarily.

So until that it makes that transition take advantage of the program. Be active. Call your credit card companies and also call your financial institutions, because many of them also are offering breaks an addition to it.

Negotiate to Lower Your Interest Rate

Andy Hill: Let's say, you know, maybe they're not waiving fees or even if they are trying to figure out a way you can do this, too, is to call them.

Tell me about your situation and then talk about reducing your interest rate to begin with. You know, that could really help you, too, if you're at a higher interest rate. And this is a really hard time for you and your family.

Maybe this is an opportunity for you to decrease how much you're actually paying towards those credit card companies. To your point on other financial institutions doing this, too, I got an email from Ally today.

I'm a customer of theirs and I don't have a mortgage with them and I don't have, you know, some of their other products. But it sounds as if they're waiving some fees as well, specifically to, you know, late payments, you know, overdraft fees, things like that.

A lot of them are getting proactive. Contact your financial institutions, your credit card companies, find out what they are doing to help you during this situation so that you can still be a customer of theirs and everybody can still survive and thrive.

Relief Programs Being Offered

Check with your credit card company to see if they are offering any hardship arrangement.  

Some lenders and creditors are offering to:

  • Delay or skip payments on your car, personal loan, and credit card without a fee and not reported late on your credit report.
  • Lower credit card APRs to reduce the minimum monthly payment.
  • Modify mortgages and other loans with a temporary lower payment for a time period.
  • Waive fees such as late fees or over-limit fees on credit cards and early withdrawal penalties.
  • Access to emergency loans with no payments for 1-3 months

These programs are starting up now, so check in every week to see if yours has one set up.

Stash Whatever Savings You Can

 Elle Martinez: Take those ‘savings’ and stash it away into that emergency fund. 

So, yeah, absolutely important in terms of housing. Great point with the mortgage lenders. There is talk. I haven't seen anything official. If I see anything, I will post it in the Facebook group. But some of them are talking about maybe giving a delay, making payments for up to 90 days.

We'll see if that happens. I will definitely notify you. But I just saw that HUD, Department of Housing, if you are renting, they are not going to do any evictions. And some of them are talking about extending payments for rent and working out some kind of arrangement.

Anything you can get right now for relief, stay on top of the news and we'll do our best to, you know, keep updating on what we know. But again, it's all coming so fast that these are opportunities. But they're also a great way for you guys to find some relief right now.

Which Bills Should You Prioritize?

Yes. And Ken, let's talk about prioritizing. I know credit cards are a stress one because of the interest rate, but too, they have a tendency in the industry to kind of hound you if you're not making payments. But for families, I think going again back to this fundamentals, the first thing you have to make sure that you have the money for are the essentials, your housing, your utilities, your food and some form of transportation. Hopefully things will subside or something will happen that if you need to go to the grocery store, if you need to go to work, you have transportation. So make sure you have that. If you cannot afford that, credit cards are the least of your concerns in that scenario. You got it.

Absolutely. But we do want to tell you to never pay your credit cards again, but we ought to make sure you have some money in the bank right now. This is an emergency. This is the emergency brake for the emergency fund.

So while it's great to pay off debt and reduce your balances and things like that, take advantage of those opportunities with credit card companies to raise those fees for the time being and then focus on just shoring up some money for you and your family, because we don't know how long it's going to last and nobody can predict what's going on right now.

Yeah, and you bring up a good point. Guys, if you've listened to Andy your eye on a podcast like we are usually the ones that say pay down, that is the debt. Andy is completely debt free and we are working on paying our mortgage. That's our last debt. So when we're telling you, you know, let's put a pause on that, if you can, of course, make the minimums and take care of the essentials. Great. But your goal right now, if you don't have it already, should be focusing on that financial cushion, right?

Yeah. And now what? I mean, normally, I don't know what you say with couple money and everything like that. But the you know, I always felt really good with three months of expenses with this situation. I don't know if people want to keep beefing that up to six or nine months. I don't know what the right number is right now. It's something that people like, I guess have to ask themselves internally. But if you're in a situation where, like as Kelly saying, she feels like her job is, you know, in a tough spot. Think about how long you might be out of work before you can actually earn an income.

I don't know. That's tough to predict right now. What you want to feel more comfortable than less comfortable right now.

So, I mean, yeah, this is one of those spots where you pause on the aggressive debt payments and any of the any of the folks that are paying off their mortgage right now are working very, very low on the priority scale.

If you don't have a good emergency fund or I guess generally and other debt payments to you want to make sure that you're feeling really good with some cash right now.

Yes, definitely. And I know between my husband and I, he's the more conservative one. So in this case, I will defer to him.

Yeah, but yeah, Nicole said to me this morning, just to be clear, I don't want you to touch the emergency fund. Like, okay, I got it. I got it. Cause I'm all like stock market guy. I'm like, hey, well, this is a good time to get some, you know.

Oh, yes. Stocks right now and everything like that. And then she's like, let's just. Claire, I want to feel very comfortable with what we have in our savings account right now. Like I got.

Yeah. And that's something that as couples I mean, we both. We talk about this is having those conversations with your spouse because we tend to marry not exactly our financial opposites, but definitely we have different strengths and also different worries. So for my husband, he's kind of the same way because I'm I don't want to say like, well, maybe we should just move on. I'd like, you know. Exactly. But, yeah, I'm I'm kind of in the same boat with you. But having these conversations about that, but then also prioritizing some concerns people have is should I take money out of the stock market and maybe put that money in the savings or they're worried about that. I saw some advice from Paula Pant. It cracked me up and it was true. It was saying we are far 1 k. Treat it like the advice they're giving you about your your face. Don't touch it. Get my hands off of that right now.

Don't touch your forehead. Don't touch your face right now. Yes. Yeah.

I mean, it's one of those things where, you know, there's if you touch it, there's lots of penalties as well as this is the this is potentially the low point. Right. I mean, so if we weren't touching it in January when I was at the high point, then you kn

I completely agree. And do do what's best for your family right now. Stay safe. Sounds like the advice that we're getting is to stay home and, you know, try to figure out a way to make a new normal for your family and take advantage of it, too. This could be a good opportunity to make some bonding moments that you wouldn't normally have.

Yes, I know we are getting a little creative with finding projects to do with the kids we use, doing some gardening. Some cooking. Learning some things. But guys, if you can set aside even half an hour, you know, every day, make the phone calls, check to see what kind of benefits or or kind of hardship release you can get with your lenders. Also, talk with your state. You might have some benefits through your state that are unique, whether it's unemployment benefits or even talk to your employer. I know that's probably going to be a busy line, but leave a message that they can get back to you and take advantage of any problem, Gram, that you qualify for and use that. Absolutely. And then finally, I know this sounds crazy because we live in the age of up to date information, but don't panic. And if you feel like you're stressing out, take a step back from the screen.

Yeah, that's a good point. And also do your best to find credible sources for your information, too. There's you know, during times like this, there's a great opportunity for both people to spread misinformation and maybe make the panic a little worse.

So go with those trusted news sources and and people that you've always trusted and make sure that that, you know, you're sticking with that, because sometimes other things can come through and make you more nervous than you need to be.

Exactly. So, guys, this is just a quick chat. Thank you again, Kelly, for sending in my question. I think. So many people are in the same boat and asking, but stick with your plan, focus on the fundamentals. And if you ever have any questions, please, that the community, thriving families were there to support one another with money plus more. Leave a question in the comments!

Resources to Help Your Family  

We want to share some resources available now (and will update later) that may be able to get your family some financial relief. 

Bill Relief

Various utility companies are announcing relief and breaks for their customers. 

  • Comcast/AT&T: Free access to their hot spots for everyone, including non-subscribers. unlimited data to its customers for no extra charge, for the 60 days. 60 days of free basic internet service to new customers
  • Duke Energy / Pacific Gas & Electric/consolidated Edison/Southern California Edison: Offering flexible payment plans. Halted disconnections.
  • T-Mobile/: Unlimited data for customers
  • Verizon: 

Student Loans

The federal government has offered a student loan interest waiver for federal student loans.


You’re still required to file them by April 15th, but you can delay payment for up to 90 days. 

Beware of Scams

Unfortunately there are those looking to take advantage of these stressed times. Please be vigilant and be extra cautious with your personal and financial data. 

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels