About Kay Lynn

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Getting out of debt can be tough on a marriage, especially if you have a massive amount.

Learn 3 crucial keys to stay motivated until you knock it out!

Paying off a large amount of debt can take one or more years for some of us.

It’s easy to be gung-ho and make large sacrifices for a short period of time. But how does one stay motivated as those months turn into years?

Staying Motivated While Paying Off Debt

Getting out of debt can be tough on a marriage, especially if you have a massive amount. Learn 3 crucial keys to stay motivated until you knock it out!

When I realized it would take over two years to pay off of our non-mortgage debt, it became imperative to keep on track. I came up with a plan of three steps.

Set Mini-Goals

I set a deadline for paying off each individual debt. Each time one was met early or on time, that success kept me ready to keep moving forward to the next goal.

If you have only one debt, then divide it into measurable, smaller chunks so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

Track Progress of Your Debt Reduction Plan

For me, the student loan is the big debt but breaking it into $5,000 segments has helped attack it.

I keep track of the monthly balances of each debt. Being able to visualize each one’s road to a zero balance as well as overall progress is motivating.

There are debt snowball forms and even a smartphone app to help.

Some people document the progress more tangibly with charts or even paper chains where each loop represents X number of dollars.

Many personal finance blogs are started by the owner as a way to keep focused on becoming debt free.

Limit Deprivation

Our budget has been trimmed to make more money available for debt repayment.

This doesn’t mean we don’t spend money on vacations, entertainment or even regular lattes.

The difference is that no additional debt is incurred on vacations and they are less lavish.

Entertainment dollars are stretched by half-price tickets and free events. Instead of a daily latte on the way to the office, it’s weekly using a membership reward card.

Because these expenditures are only reduced, not eliminated, the tighter budget is something we can live with long term.

Getting out of debt can be tough on a marriage, especially if you have a massive amount. Learn three crucial keys that can help you two stay motivated while you knock yours out! #debtfree #money #personalfinance

Thoughts on Paying Off Debts Together

If you’re one of those people that can set a goal and find it easy to sacrifice until it’s met, you probably don’t need these steps.

For the rest of us, they’ll keep us determined until the debt-free day arrives.

Either way, I’d love to get your take on things – how have you two motivated each other with your debt-free plans?

Trying to pay your debts off faster? Here are 10 potentional budget busters you need to review ASAP!

Once you got your budgeting process down pat there’s not much to it, right?

Don’t rest yet, there’s more work to be done. You need to review those regular expenses.

Bills tend to creep up over time and you don’t realize how much it all adds up to until suddenly your budget is blown!

Here are ten services you should take a critical look at least once a year. You might just want to make a change.

10 Potential Budget Busters


1. Television Service. It seems like this bill goes up continually. We changed TV service providers just a year ago and are ready to make a change again because the monthly bill has crept up $20 with no change in our subscriptions.

2. Phone. Evaluate your smart phone plan to ensure it meets today’s needs and that the provider is the best fit. [Elle: Options like Republic Wireless, StraightTalk, and FreedomPop can give the service you need at about half the cost of the big companies. I pay ~$45/month for two lines with Republic!]

3. Internet. This is often part of a bundle package from the television service provider. Is it really a better deal with the bundle? Also research other providers because there might be new options in your area.

4. Hair Stylist. Are you happy with the results of your barber or hair stylist? If not, then it’s time to think about finding a new hair artist. If you can’t do it in person (like me), then just cancel and don’t reschedule.

5. Landscaping or Lawn Care. Our homeowner’s association pays a pretty penny for the green areas to be well-kept. It’s important to rebid those services each budget year to make sure we’re getting competitive pricing as well as good results.

Trying to pay your debts off faster? Here are 10 potential budget busters you need to review ASAP! #family #marriage #money #saving

6. Manicurist. I want my bi-monthly pedicure to be a relaxing experience. I have tried shops closer to my house or with coupons, but keep returning to the same shop because I like the atmosphere, service and prices.

7. Automobile Maintenance. If you cringe every time you leave your car for maintenance, maybe it isn’t the right repair shop for you. Once in a while you may get news of unexpected repair needs, but if it’s every time and at high cost a second opinion is needed.

8. Dentist/Physician. You need to feel comfortable with the medical personnel responsible for your health. If your doctor is a cold fish or your dentist isn’t good at injections than it’s time to select another provider. Yes, I did switch for thost exact reasons!

9. Tax Preparer. Do you pay for your tax returns to be prepared each year? We did until one year, I decided to do it myself using tax return software. It was easy and saved us about $200. That’s not the right decision for everyone, but make a conscious decision versus a habitual one.

10. Insurance Provider. Insurance companies routinely evaluate market areas and adjust rates. Sometimes it means a decrease in premiums and at other times the increase is a whopper. We changed the provider for our auto and home insurance after a several hundred dollar hike earlier this year. It is easy to shop around using insurance comparison websites.

Thoughts on Reviewing Your Expenses

Tap into your friends and family for recommendations for all of these service providers. I found my dentist over a decade ago by asking co-workers.

It’s a better bet than picking someone out of the yellow pages. What other services should you evaluate periodically?

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale

This article was originally published in December 2010. It has been updated January 2019.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.

Last month I traveled alone with a toddler for the first time in decades.

It was a trip with my grandson Alex to visit his great-grandma and other relatives in the Midwest.

The experience left me empathetic to fellow passengers in the same situation and renewed my appreciation of what parents do on a daily basis.

Making Travel Fun for Your Kids (and Easier on You)

Going on a trip soon? Learn how you can make traveling with kids easier on you and fun for them! #family #travel

I also learned what to do to make the travel experience better for both of us next time.

  1. Check baby equipment. Most (if not all) airlines will check baby seats at no cost. You can use the stroller to travel through the airport and then check it at the gate on the way onto the plane.
  2. Pack light. My daughter-in-law has a case for the car seat which has plenty of room to pack enough clothes for a short trip for both the child and caregiver. I decided not to do this but only because it was too heavy for me to carry with all that weight.
  3. Limit Carry-ons. I made the mistake on the outbound flight of having one too many carry-on bags. That made it hard to carry my grandson (when he refused to walk), his diaper bag and mine. I’m sure everyone I passed on the narrow airplane aisle was getting smacked despite my best efforts to keep everything contained. I consolidated for the trip home.
  4. Take Advantage of Early Boarding. My experience was that the airlines don’t announce boarding for those traveling with young children anymore but have a designated time for this group. We traveled two different airlines and both had open boarding for anyone traveling with children under four or five between the high level frequent fliers and the next boarding group. This allowed us to get settled and put away all the stuff carried on without feeling pressured by a long line.
  5. Pack Snacks. The snacks for sale on the first airline were not items I would feed my grandson so he was able to eat the healthier items packed from home. You can’t even count on the airline having snacks for free or sale so plan ahead.
  6. Plan Entertainment. I packed a travel-sized truck, a book and smart phone apps for Alex’s entertainment. I strongly recommend toys without noise which can bother other passengers.
  7. Travel during Nap-time. Assuming the toddler/baby can sleep anywhere, it helps the trip go faster if they’re able to sleep during a large portion of the flight.

Thoughts on Traveling with Kids

Advance planning can make the travel portion an incidental part of the trip so you can enjoy the destination to the fullest.

What is your tip for traveling with young children?

Want to protect your accounts and finances online? Here are the key password practices to keep your accounts secure and minimize your chances of being hacked! 

Want to protect your accounts and finances online? Here are the key password practices to keep your accounts secure and minimize your chances of being hacked! #family #money

Having my email account hacked recently brought to light a bigger problem. 

My password practices were not up to snuff despite using a password manager.  I’ve been cleaning up that situation ever since.

Password Problems

There are a lot of reasons why people violate security recommendations when it comes to personal passwords. 

It’s difficult to remember so many passwords – let alone keep them straight as to which one goes to which program or website.

That’s why I was using the same few passwords over and over.  They weren’t very complex either.  I used dictionary words with a couple of numbers.

I’ve used a spreadsheet, but it was stored at home and I couldn’t get my passwords when traveling.  Plus it took time to stop and find the spreadsheet (which I did password-protect) and get the right password.

All of these habits were putting my accounts, and the information stored in them, at risk.

Want to protect your accounts and finances online? Here are the key password practices to keep your accounts secure and minimize your chances of being hacked! #family #money #passwords

Best Password Practices

People should lways create a strong password which means it is difficult to figure out by people and programs. 

Passwords should not include dictionary words.  That definitely rules out the names of your kids or pets.

Additionally, mix in both upper and lower case characters along with at least one number and one special character. 

A special character is a punctuation or symbol.  A minimum of eight characters in length is recommended .

I used to see passwords taped to the side of monitors not so long ago.  Never keep your passwords in view. 

Instead protect your passwords by keeping them in a secure location whether that is a file or a password manager.

Password Security Options

A few months ago I started using a password manager, Lastpass, to help me access various online resources no matter where I was geographically or what computer I was using.

It is installed as a browser add-on which automatically detects login fields at sites I visit. 

Instead of using one of my old standby passwords, I now let the manager generate a strong password and store it.

Now every site has a unique password and I don’t have to worry about trying to remember it.   I can access the password vault from any computer using by logging in at the website with my master password.  Best of all, it is free.

There are lots of password managers out there.  Two other free programs that seem to have similar features are Passpack and Needmypassword.

Storing passwords securely is one step in online security but it shouldn’t be overlooked.  What’s your system for dealing with passwords?

This post was originally published in April 2011. It’s been updated November 2018. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more info.

Want to makeover your bathroom, but you’re on a ight budget? Get a great new look for under $1,000 with these tips!

Our three bathrooms still have the original finishing and are starting to look dated. Although bathroom remodeling costs have a high rate of return at resell time, it would be a pretty penny to tackle three of them!

Makeover Your Bathroom on the Cheap

This is where my hours of watching HGTV are finally paying off. Here are five ideas for making over the bathrooms with a low price tag.

Replace Light Fixtures

Swapping out out of style light fixtures with a current style can quickly refresh the look of any room.

Be sure to pick a style that will integrate with the overall design and look of the room.

The price range for a new light fixture can range from $20 to over $500, but you can find a very nice light in the $50-$100 range.

Frame Your Mirror

I’ve noticed the trend in bathroom mirrors is to have them framed. Ours are the traditional style of mirror which is affixed directly to the wall.

One of my friends told me about kits to frame the mirror without having to remove it from the wall.

Since our mirrors have started to lose some of the silvering around the edges, this solution has the extra benefit of masking that problem.

The kits are available in a wide variety of finishes and materials with a price range of $150 – $250.

Change the Color

Yes, painting the room a more contemporary color is a fast and easy way to refresh the look of a room. But did you know that you can repaint that pink or blue bathtub?

It is a lot of work due to the requirement of sanding down the entire fixture before applying the porcelain paint. However, it can save a lot of money especially if your bathtub is tiled in.

Since toilets and sinks are relatively cheap, I would replace them versus repainting.

Reface Cabinets

It can be costly to replace bathroom cabinets, especially when they’re attached to or built into the walls.

A trick you may know from kitchen remodeling is to replace only the doors. New doors can move the look from the 1960’s to contemporary.

We need to strip the white paint off our cabinets and refinish along with attaching new doors.

Replace Hardware

The hardware I’m speaking of includes the faucets, toilet paper holder, towel racks and cabinet handles or pulls.

Make sure the style for all of these are complementary and the same color. These are easy to overlook because you see them every day but can add up to making the room look old.

Just because you don’t have $10-30 thousand dollars doesn’t mean you can’t remodel your bathroom.

What changes do you want to make at your home?

Shopping at garage sales is one way to stretch your budget. What your neighbor no longer needs, may be the perfect item for you.

After coming back empty-handed from too many garage sales, I learned how to make the most from these outings.

garage sale tips couple money

Create a Shopping List

Going to sales without any idea of what you’re looking for is a way to end up stocking your next garage sale.  Instead, take the time to figure out what items you need or want and that you don’t mind buying used.

For my family, books and toys are always on the list.  Others move on and off based on need.  I recommend not buying used baby car seats or cribs due to safety concerns.

Plan Route

I research the ads and based on what is listed pick the must-hit sales.  Then the route is planned to be most effective in time and gas.  I try to limit backtracking although sometimes it’s not possible due to the varied start times.

If there’s something you really want than just start at that sale.  You don’t want to miss out because of inflexibility.

Go Early or Late

For best selection, I try to hit each address as soon after the posted start time as possible.  Some early birds show up before opening time, but that just irritates the seller.  I don’t want to start off on a bad foot.

If you don’t mind risking not getting an item, you might want to show up at the end of the sale.  The sellers won’t want to drag unsold items back into their home.  For example, you could get whole bags of clothes for one price versus individual pieces.

Negotiate

Some people will always dicker over price while others never do.  I’m in the middle.  If I think the price is very low already, I don’t try to get a better deal.

But I do offer alternate prices when I think they’re too high or based on volume.  For example, if used books are $1 each, I might offer $5 for seven books.

It doesn’t hurt to ask as long as it’s said nicely.

Garage Sales ToolsLooking to get the best deals at garage sales? These 5 tips will help you become a bargain hunter!

Make sure you have the tools to make garage sale shopping successful.  Use a GPS device or app to find the garage sales.

There are many streets in my neighborhood I never knew about until navigating to a sale.

Take small bills to give you more flexibility in negotiation.  It’s easier to say yes to a lower price if the seller visually sees those bills.  Plus, some sellers just aren’t that organized and won’t have change until after they’ve made some sales.

Have transportation for your purchases.   It’s not uncommon to see sold signs taped onto big items at garage sales.  T

hose buyers arranged to pick it up later (usually the same day) with a vehicle to carry the item(s).

Following these tips will help making garage sale shopping fun as well as financially rewarding.  What’s your garage sale tip?

It’s important to keep the romance in a relationship and making time for dates is one way to do so. Sometimes people focus on extravagant dates that can be expensive.

Date nights don’t have to be expensive. We regularly make time for each other without breaking the budget.

Date Idea #1: Dinner In

You might think eating at home isn’t too special because you have dinner together every night, but the menu and ambiance make all the difference.

Eat at the table by candlelight or light a roaring fire in the winter. Have mood music playing in the background.

Prepare a menu with items you don’t normally eat but are favorites. Turn off all electronics and focus on each other.

7 ROMANTIC FRUGAL DATE IDEAS

Date Idea #2: Dine Al Fresco

There’s something unique about eating outside that appeals to people.

Pack up a nice picnic and head out to a park or beach for an outdoor meal. Take care in planning a menu by selecting easily portable foods and don’t forget the beverages!

Date Idea #3: See a Movie

Going to the movies doesn’t have to stop just because you’re on a tight budget. Instead, find less expensive ways to see movies of interest.

My husband and I have gone to matinee showings for years because of the savings. One local chain offers matinee prices all day on Tuesdays so be sure to check for specials in your area.

Other ways to save include buying discount tickets through your employer, an entertainment book or daily deal sites. To save even more rent movies from Redbox or catch up on Netflix.

Date Idea #4: Take a Hike

Hiking or walking together is one way to get away from distractions and focus on each other and the surrounding scenery.

Living in a large metropolitan area, it’s amazing how easy it is to be the only ones in sight on a trail.

If you don’t know any trails where you live, check with your local Sierra Club or google the term “hiking in cityname”.

Date Idea #5: Bath time

Fill up the tub with water, bubbles or a bath bomb and enjoy some bonding. Be sure to set the stage with candles, music and your favorite beverage.

Need I say more?

Date Idea #6: Listen to the Music

You don’t have to buy expensive concert tickets to enjoy live music.

Many cities offer free outdoor concerts in the summer. You can combine your picnic with attending a performance or just bring a blanket.

Another option is to find bars that offer live music and no cover charge. Even with the cost of a drink, it’s an inexpensive outing.

Date Idea #7: Enjoy Mother Nature

Take time to enjoy the local scenery. Take chairs outside and watch the sunset.

Living near the beach, I see a lot of people drive there just to watch (and listen to) the waves. You don’t have to live by a beach to enjoy mother nature.

There’s beauty in mountains, cornfields, rivers and more. Enjoying it together and sharing feelings about it is very romantic.

Thoughts on Romantic Frugal Dates

With these frugal ways to have an romantic evening, expense is not an excuse for not making date plans.

What other ideas do you have for inexpensive date nights?

With summer vacation coming up, it’s good to prepare yourself for possible emergencies. Learn what you need to do if you lose your credit card on your trip.

Lost Credit Card

On a recent trip I was picking up the restaurant tab and realized there was an empty spot in my wallet where my preferred credit card is stored.

Thinking it was in my purse somewhere I wasn’t too concerned.  Twenty minutes later I was starting to panic.

Without my credit card, I didn’t have the number to report it lost.  Being out of town meant I didn’t have previous billing statements either.

Here’s what I learned about dealing with a lost credit card.

With summer vacation coming up, it's good to prepare yourself for possible emergencies. Learn what you need to do if you lose your credit card on your trip.

Recall Last Use

I retraced my steps that weekend to remember when I had used the card.  The last time I used it was to pay the checked luggage fee at the airport.

This enabled me to check the purse and carry-on I had in my hands at the the time.  Unfortunately, the card wasn’t there.

Call Business Where You Last Used Card

I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get through to the airline counter at the airport and didn’t even try.

However, we have had success with this step in the past when my husband left his credit card at a restaurant.

Report Lost CardWith summer vacation coming up, it's good to prepare yourself for possible emergencies. Learn what you need to do if you lose your credit card on your trip.

Contact the credit card issuer as soon as possible.  I ended up using the bank’s website to locate the 24 hour customer service phone number.

Another option if you don’t have internet access is to call information.

Even better would have been to have a list of contact numbers for every credit card normally carried.

Ironically, the bank was taking advantage of the holiday weekend to upgrade their computer systems and asked me to call back at noon.

Travel with a Spare Credit Card

If that had been my only credit card, it would have been an embarrassing moment at the restaurant.  Instead I used my secondary credit card and avoided asking someone else to pay.

This story has a happy ending as I found the credit card in the pocket of my jacket later that morning.

Thoughts on Losing Credit Cards

This experience taught me a couple of lessons. The first? I had to learn what to do if I had lost my card.

I also learned to take the time to protect myself and put the card in the right place.

Have you ever  had a credit card lost or stolen and did you learn any other tips?