I stayed home with my young children, putting my career on the back burner, for five years. Financially speaking, it was a bad move. Economists say that the stay-at-home parent who gives up a career may lose about $1 million over the years. While I didn’t lose $1 million, I have lost 5 years of wages, 401(k) contributions (and growth), and that many years of employer contributed social security benefits.

Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved being there for my kids when they were little, devoting myself 100% to them, and forgetting about everything else. But I was lucky: my five-year stint as a stay at home mom took place while the economy was strong; my husband was employed and earning well throughout those five years; he didn’t leave me for another woman (happens more often than you’d like to think); and I am now back to working almost full time, from home, this time for my own growing business.
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My daughter’s birthday is in two weeks. Although I think that all-out birthday parties are a little excessive for kids, I do think it’s fun to celebrate these special days. The only problem is that even the simplest parties can add up in costs.

Do you have a party coming up? Here are a few tips for saving money on the birthday parties without sacrificing a fun experience.

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Every day, you’re presented with an abundance of choices. From the moment you wake up to the moment you prepare for bed, you make choice after choice after choice. These decisions not only affect today but also your future as well.

To reach your financial goals, you need to make appropriate daily choices. Life is all about trade-offs. Achieving your financial goals come from hard work and sacrifices. For long term success, there really are no shortcuts.

So what should you do? Here are a few key actions that will help you reach your financial goals:

Make Sacrifices

I have a few big financial goals of my own. The one I’m working on right now is to put ten thousand dollars in my emergency fund. To reach this goal by the deadline I’ve set, I decided to make a few short term sacrifices. For instance, I’ve vowed not to eat out until I reach this goal. I’ve been actively looking for cheap or free entertainment for my daughters and me, and I work on bringing in extra income.

Sacrifices come in many forms. To reach your financial goals, you may have to sacrifice your time, scale down your living arrangements, or give up something you enjoy such as cable TV or a fancy phone contract. Once you cut out the fat, you may find that you don’t even feel like it’s a sacrifice anymore because your life with a smaller budget is remarkably similar.

When it comes to sacrifice, what you have to remember is this. You should do what makes sense for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all because everyone’s preferences are different. What can you do today?
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You’re strolling down the street, hand in hand with your spouse on a warm summer evening, listening to the crickets sing and the wind whisper through the trees. Bobby’s set up shop on the corner, like always, this time selling candy to the neighborhood kids.

“He’s always selling something,” you whisper to your partner.

“Yeah, he never plays like the other kids. I wonder why?”

Simple: Bobby ISN’T like other kids.

Bobby is a Born Entrepreneur.
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I discuss personal finances with many people. And the more people I talk to, the deeper we dive into their personal situation, the more I dig through the reasons why they aren’t saving more, the more I’m convinced that many people’s problem of not getting ahead is not that they are dissatisfied with how fast they are gaining financial ground. It’s the opposite, and I have this exact problem too.

We’re too satisfied.

We’re satisfied that we’re already contributing to our 401k. We’re satisfied we earned more than we did. We’re satisfied when we look at our investment portfolio as long as our investments don’t show a loss. We’re satisfied our net worth is growing as long as we look back a few years. We’re satisfied when we occasionally save a few bucks because we read a tip to use a cashback site before our online purchase. We’re satisfied to be consumers of financial tips instead of committed participants of those practices. We’re satisfied with our progress in our financial journey. We’re satisfied.

It wasn’t too long ago when I worked at a job that required 12 hour days, 7 days a week of commitment. There wasn’t much free time, but I wasn’t satisfied with just the day job. I chose to start a website on personal finance instead of taking a break. When the website took off and I was making more money than ever before, I looked for all sorts of ways to save money. When I was making money I was only dreaming of making when I was younger, I wasn’t thinking of buying a huge mansion or some supercar. I decided to cut out my cable bill to save $50 a month. I was happy to do it too. I wanted this. I wanted to get ahead because I wasn’t satisfied.
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I have a confession to make. The day before I wrote my post titled, 5 Undeniable Benefits to Living in a Small Home, my husband and I were talking about buying a larger home and a larger car.

We flirted with the notion of how nice it would be to have some extra rooms in our home, a bigger yard, and a car with third-row seating (such are the romantic conversations you have once you have kids, right?).

The truth is that those things would stress our budget. And if I’m really being honest, we don’t even need those things. We’re simply suffering from not being content with what we have, and falling into the trap of consumerism.
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