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How to Stop Letting Your Money Control You

How to Stop Letting Your Money Control You

    Money is a mystery to many people and when I got out of college I was no exception. I knew I made a decent wage and I could afford to live but I never seemed to have any extra at the end of the month. When a large, unexpected expense would arise, I was sent running to my parents…or to my credit card. I had no control of my money; it was controlling me.

    To control your money, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Where is my money going? Once you begin to understand where the money goes, it’s easy to track and manage it.

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    Where is my money going?

    The first step is to figure out where your money is going. All of your money goes to one of two places: fixed expenses or variable expenses. Your fixed expenses are going to be things like rent, utilities, student loans, insurance and car payments. These expenses are the same amount every month and ongoing.

    Variable expenses are everything else like groceries, restaurants, clothing and entertainment. All of these things can be planned and controlled.

    One of the best things you can do to control your money is to create a Bills Calendar. Since I use Google Calendar, I made a new calendar called “Bills” and added all of the fixed expenses for the month. (Don’t forget any yearly expenses like Amazon Prime or XBOX Live, for example.)

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    How do I control my money?

    Now that you know where your money is going, you can control your money with a budget. Yes — budget is a scary word. It was for me too.

    Start with looking over your bank statement and listing all of your expenses for a month. Similarly, if you use Mint, this becomes even easier. Make a note of the categories you’re spending money and how much you’re spending each month. It’s good to look back at least 3 months, but the longer you look back the better idea you’ll have of what you’re really spending each month.

    Next, find one of the many budget templates available online and fill it out. You won’t use every category, so just you what applies to you.

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    The biggest misconception I had about budgeting was that once I set it up, I had to live by it to the cent. A budget is a living document. It is meant to be updated and corrected until it is a true representation of what you’re spending. I review my budget every other month and make corrections as needed.

    Automate your money

    When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the idea of Billpay is scary because you never know if you’ll have the money for the payment when it’s due. Now that you control your money, Billpay can save you money and stress.

    Many bill payees (such as auto insurance and student loans) will give a small discount if you sign up for their auto payment system. In addition, if you know your fixed expenses are taken care of, you will never pay another late fee again.

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    Now that your bills are under control it’s time to pay yourself. When you’re 21, the idea of retirement is a lifetime away. You don’t see a need for savings or a 401k or anything your parents worry about. But it’s never too early to start saving.

    Pay yourself

    I look at my savings account as paying myself. Sure, I get a paycheck from my job, and I “give” a lot of it away. But I need to keep some of that money for my “future self”. I need to have money for car repairs, medical bills, or even a new computer or vacation.

    I cannot emphasize how much less stressed you’ll feel when you start paying yourself and helping out your “future self”. Take a percentage of your paycheck and put it into savings automatically. You can set up a recurring transfer with your bank to move money into savings every paycheck, or you can set it up through direct deposit with your employer if you use a different bank with a higher-interest savings account.

    (Photo credit: A Calculator and Statistics via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    Want to Get Free Product Samples Like Bloggers and Beauty Gurus Do? Read This.

    Want to Get Free Product Samples Like Bloggers and Beauty Gurus Do? Read This.

    Imagine receiving a regular supply of free samples through your letterbox?

    These free samples by mail could include things such as cleaning products, cosmetics and packaged food.

    Free samples are a great way to try out some of the latest products. One week you may have a new toothpaste to try – the next week you may be snacking on a delicious chocolate cookie sample.

    As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. And by requesting free samples by mail (I’ll show you how shortly), you’ll have not just variety – but fun too!

    Tell Me More About Getting Free Samples Sent to My Door!

    So, it looks like I’ve caught your interest. That’s great news!

    Just before I introduce you to 10 places where you can get free samples by mail, let me clarify a couple of things.

    Firstly, all the places I’ll talk about are currently active in sending out free samples to consumers. (In other words, no links to out-of-date or dead pages!)

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    Secondly, location is key. If you live in North America, then you’ll have a wide selection of places to sign up to. In other locations (for example, Africa, Asia and Europe), you’ll have fewer choices – but free samples by mail are still a possibility.

    Lastly, to whet your appetite for the freebies, here’s a short list of product examples:

    • Pet food.
    • Beauty products.
    • T-shirts.
    • Greeting cards.
    • Wallets.
    • Snack bars.
    • Vitamins.

    Free Samples by Mail… Tell Me Where to Get Them!

    It’s now time to share my recommendations for the best sites to claim free samples from.

    Let’s start with…

    #1 SampleSource

      This company sends out boxes of 6-12 free samples about four times a year. Products include baby wipes, cereals and tissues. Register with SampleSource to be notified of the availability of their free samples. (Canada and U.S. only.)

      #2 Influenster

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        As their name suggests, Influenster wants to send free samples to you in exchange for you sharing about the products on your social media accounts. Once you’ve become a member (join for free!), they’ll send you a box of free goodies every few months. The more you share pictures and reviews of the products – the more free samples they’ll send you! (All major territories.)

        #3 PINCHme

          This organization will send you free samples in the hope that you’ll then go out and buy the equivalent full-size products. To receive regular boxes of free food, drink and cosmetic samples (and sometimes coupons), then sign up and create your profile. (U.S. only.)

          #4 House Party

            Thinking of throwing a house party? If yes, then be sure to sign up with this company. They’ll send you a box of ‘themed’ products and services that you can hand out at your party. Register with House Party. Wait for the fun freebies to be mailed to you. And then start sending out your party invites! (Worldwide.)

            #5 YoFreeSamples

              This site is a great resource for a whole host of free samples that can be mailed directly to your door (with no survey requirements!). You’ll find anything from books to perfume, with new offers listed daily. Head over to their site to see what’s currently available. (Mostly U.S., with occasional offers for other countries.)

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              #6 Magic Freebies

                The U.K.’s most popular freebie site. Register for their email newsletter, and they’ll send you a daily email with eight free sample offers. These include products such as disposable razors, dog bowls, and even fake tan! So, what are you waiting for? (U.K. only.)

                #7 SweetFreeStuff

                  Since 2002, this simple site has been linking to the best free sample offers currently available. To get started, sign up to their daily email newsletter, which contains links to the latest offers. As well as free samples, SweetFreeStuff also gives information on coupons and deals. (Worldwide.)

                  #8 Sample A Day

                    Would you like to receive a notification of a new free sample every day? Well, that’s the promise from this site. They claim to thoroughly research all offers, ensuring there are no catches or hidden surveys! From baby products to socks, this site is sure to have something for you. Registration is super-easy. Simply enter your email address. (Australia, Canada, U.K. and U.S. only.)

                    #9 Pretty Thrifty

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                      This site specializes in free beauty products, but also lets you claim free samples such as energy drinks, snack bars, and even magazine subscriptions. Pretty Thrifty has more than 85,000 followers on social media, so clearly knows how to attract free sample hunters. One thing that makes Pretty Thrifty stand out from most of their competitors, is that their email newsletter is available in daily, weekly and monthly formats. (Mostly U.S., with occasional offers for other countries.)

                      #10 CrazyFree

                        My final tip for getting the best free samples by mail, is Australian company CrazyFree. Their funky website offers big brand free sample offers, which currently include items such as Dolce & Gabbana perfume, Coke Zero, and Happy Dog pet food. To claim the offers, select the free samples you would like, and then complete their registration form. (Australia, U.K. and U.S. only.)

                        Receiving regular free samples by mail is a fabulous way of testing out the latest products on the market (and some that aren’t even on the market yet!)

                        You’ll impress your friends and family with all the free stuff you’ll be receiving. And take it from me… it’s a fun, free and rewarding hobby.

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