Category Archives: Life

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 out.com/academy. 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.

Taxes

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

How to Vacation with Kids For Free: Travel Hacking 101

Want to get out and travel more with the kids this year without breaking your budget? Learn how you can use travel hacking to snag fantastic deals for your family trips!

Travel Hacking 101 for Families

This week we’re going to have to make a decision – the beach or mountains?

Spring is coming which means we have a big break coming up and we’d like to take a mini-getaway as a family. 

As we’ve paid off the non-mortgage debts, we’ve tried to weave in breaks and trips as a way to recharge, reset, and honestly relax.

While we make travel is a part of our budget that doesn’t mean we don’t like to find ways to save.

After all, when you’re a family with kids in tow, expenses can add up quickly. 

One popular way I’ve noticed more and more families taking with their trips – especially with long or out of country trips is with travel hacking.

We’ll get into how exactly it works a bit more, but basically you’re using rewards from credit cards to knock down your trip so that it’s cheap or free.   

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Actually, you can make it work. But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

This is why I’m happy Doreen Brown Vice President of Cards at Coastal is here today on the show. She’ll share her take on getting the most from credit cards for your trip. 

I’m also sharing tips from travel hackers so you can get some ideas of how you can make it work for your family.

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • How travel hacking works 
  • Choosing the right card to maximize your rewards
  • Setting up a system to get great deals on hotels, transportation, and more

Whether you travel hack or not, we’re going to find ways you can save big on your next family vacation!

Resources for Affordable Family Vacations

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic 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!

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 review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • 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

Like the music in this episode? Music is by Lee Rosevere and Music for Makers.

How to Plan and Budget for Your Home Renovation Project

One of the big projects (and expenses) families can tackle is a home renovation project.

We see Fixer Upper, Rehab Addict, Good Bones, and other shows on HGTV and everything looks incredible after the work is done, but those prices sometimes…

So we're stuck trying to figure out, how do we update our homes without getting stuck with this huge debt over our heads?

That's why I'm glad that Barret Teague, Consumer Lending Analytics Manager at Coastal Credit Union, is walking us through the process.

You can watch the video here or go through the notes below!

Creating a Budget for Your Home Renovation Projects

Elle Martinez: It all begins, first of all, with the budget. So whether you're saving up for a small project and you want to pay in for you- maybe looking for something bigger and need some help with financing, you got to have a realistic budget.

How do you do that when maybe this is your first project, for example?

You know, not everybody is going to renovate the kitchen every year. So when they renovate, it could be their first time. How do you get a ballpark figure of how much to expect for renovation or project?

Barret Teague: You know, the the total cost of the project. They're either going to pay cash or they're going to look to finance it in some way and it's really kind of hard to back into. Well, this is how much I can afford for a payment and then try to extrapolate that out to a loan amount and then get in touch with somebody that can do something that fits in your budget.

You know, really the best thing to do is to just go big and kind of map out what you want and get in touch. Reach out to some contractors. I prefer personal referral myself.

You reach out to them on your maybe your neighborhood Facebook page and see if there's someone else in the neighborhood who can testify that so-and-so does great work.

Invite them out, talk to them about what you want to do and just start getting some cost estimates, you know, and those cost estimates, you're either going to feel really good about the information that you get or you're going to realize that maybe you need to dial things back a little bit.

Yeah, but it really just starts with getting some numbers from some real people that are gonna do the work.

Getting Estimates for Your Home Renovation

Elle Martinez: I did notice like a couple of years ago we renovated our basement. It was a cylinder block and wanted to finish it up a little bit more so we can use it as a workspace. And we brought contractors in. And originally what we said is we're still in the planning phase, but can you give us an idea? You know, that way they knew they didn't have does squeeze us in as quickly as possible. It's like whenever they had some downtime to get an idea of how much it would cost.

And people may be surprised. It could be dramatically different between contracts that you talk to for a project. But it's it's definitely a good eye opener. I think.

We might feel like going for the cheapest is the best, but I had some really good conversations with contractors and I felt more comfortable with a slightly higher number because I felt like when they talked it over with us, they considered more than what could go wrong. But have you considered this is a possible cost here or possible expense here?

So great advice on, you know, checking out contractors. They don't mind giving, you know, estimates to hopefully develop that relationship.

Just let them know. You know, this is that the timeframe right now or this is the stage we're in

Getting ROI on Your Home Renovation

Elle Martinez: I do know we see these kitchens and I've read in a couple of places like, for example, they can be pretty expensive or go for the bathrooms. Maybe tens of thousands of dollars. But I also know that it's not necessarily going to give you the most bang for your buck come when it's time to sell the house.

So are there certain renovations or projects that tend to give a good return that you've noticed or there's any of them where they look nice, but you're not going to get all of that money back that you put in?

Barret Teague: I'm not an expert in that, but I have spoken recently with a good friend who is he's the owner of a company called Property Specific Realty, and that's really that's exactly what they do.

Kitchen is number one. But the thing that surprised me about the kitchen is the best investment that you could make is. Changing how the kitchen fits with the rest of the house, right? Yeah. Creating an opening, creating, creating an open gathering space rather than necessarily changing the footprint of, you know, let's take this little section here and flip it around and make it an island. The best investment you can make is to open it up.

Not everybody loves that. But then you have to consider your motivation for why you want to refinance, why you want to renovate?

are you making an investment to get the best return down the road? Or are you personalizing it?

Those two things don't always work together. You know, you could you could love. You could have an heirloom piano that you love to have in the kitchen and redesign your kitchen around this piano. Nobody else is gonna like that.

Most people like that openness, you know, from one room to the next. And if you can do that, that's really going to get you your best return.

The next thing on the list was adding square footage where it makes sense, you know, like you did in your previous home or the previous project. You know, you finished square footage in the basement. Yeah. But if you have a walkout attic on the second floor per square foot, you're gonna be able to get a better return on that one than the basement, because just it's just how appraisers look at. Master bathrooms are a big one.

When you're looking at a guest bathroom that you're really just kind of checking a box, do you have it or not?

So I wouldn't put a lot of money into that. But your master bathroom for sure. And if you're able to create a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, that's another big one.

So maybe you have a closet and it's a small closet and you can change the layout so that you can so that it's a walk-in and make it a little bigger than you're gonna get a pretty good return on that too.

Ready to Tackle Your Home Renovation Project?

If you're getting ready for a home renovation project and you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina, please check out Coastal Credit Union.

Besides having competitive rates with savings, they also have loan options for home improvements, including a home equity line of credit (HELOC)!