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Reader Profile Friday: Thriftability

The following is a new profile for the BFS Reader Profile series. Today we are getting to know Lisa from Thriftability. Thanks for participating!

Personal Background

Hello – I’m Lisa Weber, full time blogger at Thriftability.  I am also the Chief Creative Exec and Owner of BuzzWord Media, where I handle web design and social media tasks, plus blog writing duties for small business owners and other bloggers.

I have been a reader of Budgeting in the Fun Stuff for about a year and a half now, and have been able to take the advice Crystal offers on this site, as well as in her eBook: How I Make Money Blogging, to continue to improve the reach of Thriftability.com.  (Crystal:  Nice mention Lisa, lol!)

Personal Finance Issues in My Life

- Our household budget revolves around two working adults with net incomes projected to be just over the $100k mark by the end of the year. I made less this year than the year previous, and I am trying to turn that around by picking up more work. (Explanation follows.)

- We currently do not use any credit cards, operating on a cash-only basis. The only credit debts we are paying off are a mortgage/2nd mortgage, and a payment for the 2005 Dodge truck we bought when our old Jeep Wrangler died. At about the same time, our Jeep Grand Cherokee became a problem with too many repairs needed. We bought a 2003 Jeep Wrangler and paid cash.

- I am a former firefighter from the Colorado mountains, who resigned in August 2012 due to a neck injury that happened during a routine training exercise. While I have overcome the injury, being unable to work for nearly 7 months took a definite toll on our finances. Not only was I unable to work at that time, but I was also forced to find legal representation to fight my Worker’s Comp claim, which had been denied by the insurance company. Luckily, this case was eventually settled… but put me in a tight financial position and behind on bills like day to day expenses.

- My fiancee and I recently got married!  However, my husband, James, and I set out wedding & honeymoon budget at $5k, and had to work hard to stay within those limits. But we did so – resulting in our elopement to Jamaica where we had our ceremony and honeymoon. We did not use credit to pay for our wedding or honeymoon.

- Nearly as soon as we returned from our wedding in Jamaica, my husband was offered a job in another state. While the job offered a significant pay raise and relocation package, juggling the details and finances of the move have been tremendous! Those details are:

  • Preparing and selling our house in the Colorado mountains and finding the need to rent another house until our other one is sold
  • Entering a rental market in Wyoming where rent is more than where we moved from
  • Carrying the original mortgage payment + paying $1300 in rent each month
  • The addition of child support payments for my husband – our move affected his 50/50 parenting time – as well as roughly $500 monthly in gas to drive to pick up my step-son.

- We had moving expenses. While we were fortunate to receive a relocation package, our move ended up being strung out over a two month period. This was due to the fact that we are still maintaining two households, and had kids in school to juggle. Aside from that, as with nearly any move, there are utility deposits and services to set up – as well as the high cost of fuel and eating out when commuting between houses.

- We had extra expenses to accommodate our pets! While we were in Jamaica for our 9 day wedding/honeymoon trip, we boarded our dog, Maggie (having her spayed at the same time), and cat, Wilson. When we found the need to rent a home here in Wyoming, we had to put an additional $500 deposit in order to bring our pets to our new home.

- Moving my business from Colorado to Wyoming. While I work from a home office to produce Thriftability.com and a handful of other other blogs I own – or ones I edit as an independent contractor – the basis of my marketing business has been through providing social media workshops locally, for small business owners. I have had to invest money into updating and printing business literature, advertising costs, finding new venues to hold these seminars, and a huge time investment in updating my business website, BuzzWordb2b.com to accommodate a different demographic and attract them to my social media workshops. Aside from that, there are costs to join the local Chamber of Commerce and other networking groups that help me build my business.

- Reduced income. Through the time that I was out of work for the neck injury, I was forced to step away from some good- paying projects as a web editor, as well as a staff writer for three other blogs. I am just now getting back in the swing of things, finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel following an extended absence from the Jamaica trip and relocating.

- Sticking to a budget. With my husband’s pay increase and my loss of pay for the past few months, we feel like we are walking the line when it comes to sticking to a budget. Until I am able to secure more work things will be tighter than I would like.

About Our Budget

Our Net income is roughly $5,800. Our living expenses total $4,640 monthly. This figure incorporates all utilities, rent, mortgage and 2nd mortgage on the house we are trying to sell, truck payment, child support payment, cable TV, cell phones, high-speed internet, entertainment, clothing, fuel and food.

I am in the process of picking up more work, which will help a lot with finances and rebuilding our emergency fund. To free up more money, we need to sell the vacant house in Colorado – but homes there are not moving, and have depreciated in value throughout this secluded community. It would be great to rent this house out, but again – it is literally on a mountain top, and not everyone is cut out for that way  of life.

Here’s what we are doing to keep costs down:

  • We are reducing fuel costs by arranging our errands into one trip, and got our house prepped to be listed for sale sooner, rather than later, (which would have involved extra trips out of state.)
  • Saving money… by not shopping. The small Wyoming town we now reside in doesn’t have a Walmart or Target. We have become accustomed to making a list of items we need – and waiting a week or two until the time that we find the need to commute to our vacant house in Colorado. This has actually been helpful in that we have virtually eliminated impulse buying!
  • Saving money on utilities.  When we moved, we went from electric baseboard heat (very expensive in this part of the U.S.) to natural gas heat. This has saved an estimated $220 monthly. In addition, we close the vents to the unused parts of the older home we are currently renting… and set the thermometer to 64 degrees at our empty house in Colorado.
  • The job change has allowed my husband to save nearly $500 monthly in fuel costs. He went from a 1 1/2 hour commute each way, to an easy 10 minute drive to his new job. Living in town rather than in the mountains has proved to be a great way to free up money (and time) spent on gas.
  • Eating less. Yes: this is a money saving tactic! ;) During the time I was injured, I was unable to do anything physical. My husband and I each gained a few pounds, and we’re making a conscious effort to cut back. We’ve made a pledge to follow the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge, and I am detailing our experiences with this on Thriftability.com.
  • Staying motivated. I am extremely motivated to earn more money as we come into 2013. Not only do I see a great opportunity locally to expand my marketing business, but I have a few blogs that are doing better financially each month. I also see a great opportunity to travel, as my husband (a Fire Chief) works 4 days each week, and accrues more vacation days than he did at his previous job.

I blog about saving money and sticking to a budget, because I have been through the financial ringer over the past 10 years, and I like to provide information to help others overcome debt. I enjoy reading Budgeting in the Fun Stuff because it is interesting (and motivating) to see Crystal’s successes – as well as to read the comments people leave on the posts. I have discovered many new blogs to follow in this way.

My question for readers: Have you ever been through a life-changing injury or event that made you re-assess your current career choice – and possibly make changes? I would love to hear about it – leave your comments below!

I welcome any personal questions or replies to this post, and like to connect with others via social networking. 

Lisa  Thriftability on Facebook  | TwitterPinterest | LinkedIn

Crystal’s Comments:  Congrats on getting married!!!  And yay on your neck getting better!  And holy hell about the move and all of the things that came along with it!!!  I wondered where you disappeared to, and now I know.  Wow.  I wish you the absolute best of luck here on out!

If you would like to participate in this series, please follow the guidelines found at BFS Reader Profile and submit your own story.  Everyone is more than welcome and you can stay anonymous if you’d prefer. Thanks!

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