I am so excited about this blog post. You can’t even imagine how weird this is to write for me, because we spent so much time struggling financially – writing about saving for huge financial goals seems surreal. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I get a lot of emails asking about how our income has changed since I wrote the blog post, How to Create a Substantial Income on Pinterest, which is a great blog post if you haven’t read it and you want to know how I got started with making money on Pinterest outside of my blog. I wanted to give you an update with a look into our finances and how we’re doing income-wise, and just our general financial wellbeing.

An overview of our budget

Currently, we’re splitting my business income into 50/50. Half goes into our personal budget, and half goes into business expenses. My Pinterest affiliate marketing business is something I keep totally separate from my blog income, so I can always give you all an accurate look at how well your business could be doing… I feel like it’s dishonest to combine them. My average income from Shopstyle Collective is around $2,000, give or take a few hundred dollars. My other affiliate programs are usually in the $3,000 range. I don’t break those down because that’s tedious and boring. 😉

So, like I said we split the income in half, that works well for us. Once we bring the money home, this is what our personal household budget looks like:

  • Rent: $650
  • Groceries: $1,000
  • Restaurants: $800
  • Utilities: $300
  • Gas: $150
  • Insurance: $300
  • Household Items: $200 (basically, this is my Amazon money ;))
  • Mortgage-free house fund 🏡: $2200-$3000
  • Second vehicle fund 🚘: $450+
  • Emergency Savings 💰: $1,000

The mortgage-free house fund is a range because that is the entire amount of Ian’s paychecks right now, which we’re having deposited into a separate account so we can buy a house without a mortgage. Ian’s job will move us within the next 5-6 years, so our tentative plan is to rent until we leave here and we can then take the money we’ve accumulated and just buy our next home in cash. The goal is to never have a mortgage, because the less money we owe to people, the faster we can invest so we don’t have to work at anything we don’t want to do.

We also have $450+ for the new vehicle fund, because that’s the base amount we save, then we increase it as my income goes above our basic estimated amount. Because my income can have pretty big spikes, we try to give ourselves solid guidelines when we can, then just have basic must-do amounts for slow months.

Our financial wellness

Over the last two years we’ve paid off $25,000 in debt which has been a huge relief for us. I’m a bit of a Dave Ramsey junkie and we decided to follow his plan for winning with money. I know a lot of people don’t believe in his plan, but a lot of those people are also broke or bad with money. Just for the sake of 100% full disclosure, Ian hated Dave Ramsey at first, until he realized the plan worked.

Right now we’re saving to have 6 months of expenses in the bank, as well as to buy my a new-to-us vehicle that can handle the snow and winter weather in the mountains.

Things we did to help us succeed with money

Auto repair fund

One of the biggest things we did to help solve our money problems was to have our $1,000 emergency fund while we were getting out of debt, but we also decided to take it a step further and to have an extra car repair fund. Over time we added to it, but it started of super-small ($20 a paycheck) and then we eventually got up to keeping $1,000 in it. That way if we needed maintenance or emergency repairs done, it didn’t need to be a financial emergency.

It kept us on track for paying off debt so many times because we could just make any repairs out of the car repair fund instead of dipping into the emergency fund, I can’t tell you how much that helped keep us on track paying off debt! When we had our car engine needing replacing the same week we were moving into our new rental house, that $1,000 emergency fund combined with the car repair fund saved our butts big time! When we had family members pressuring us to take out a car loan, we could ignore that bad advice because we were financially prepared for even really big car repairs.

Our secret to the food budget

Until very recently, our food budget for the month was $250. That was super-hard and took a lot of time and energy to maintain, but ultimately we made it work. That helped us keep the budget tight while we paid off debt. Once we had almost all of our debt paid off, and we moved out of our super-expensive apartment that cost us $1220 a month, we moved that amount up significantly.

These days, our grocery budget includes a lot more meat and we’re also stocking up because we live in a fairly rural area where getting into town in the winter can be a challenge – having extras on hand is a necessity so we’ve made it a part of our regular budget to keep building our stockpile.

The other thing we did is we kept a small eating out budget, even when we were super tight. Sometimes that meant Ian and I would wait till the kids went to bed and we ordered pizza while we had a Netflix date. These days we budget for a very generous eating out budget, because when we eat out and feel like we got great service, we like to go to nicer places than a cheap pizza delivery place and leave outrageous tips. The look on the face of a 5-months along pregnant waitress when you leave her a 50% tip is priceless, and we like to do what we can to help people in tight situations.

Getting ahead with expenses

One of the things I learned during this process is that I have to work hard to keep money in savings. I love having money in savings, but one of the biggest self-sabotages I have is the feeling of “Oh! There’s money there! Let’s spend it!” It’s something I really struggle with. Like, a lot. So I had to learn that sometimes if I “needed” to spend money, that I should spend it on practical things. I would pay extra on our auto and renters insurance, one month I went and bought a $100 Netflix gift card.

I did a lot of little things like that, so we ended up getting really far ahead on a lot of bills. Even if I already “paid” the Netflix bill or insurance, I would either still keep paying it, or setting it aside when so when the bill came due it was all in the bank. I never would have imagined that I would need

Once we had all of those things in place, we were great! I was making great money and we knocked out our debt, we were good to go!

The biggest business habit that helped us succeed

One of the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur, it’s also one of the best things, is that there is no one telling you what you need to do next. Or sometimes it may feel like that at least. But one of the things I’ve learned is that I have some of the best students who are always asking questions, and I’ve learned that those questions are usually the next step I need to take in my business.

As such, I would love to share with you the new process I’m taking with making money on Pinterest. When I first launched this business, it was a big deal for me to make $500 a month. Now, just through Pinterest affiliate marketing alone I’m closer to $5k-6k a month. A lot of that is because of the snowball effect- I’ve got a lot of affiliate Pins floating around now, but that’s also because I’m a lot more efficient at “playing the game” these days.

So, if you want, put your email in below and you’ll be able to access the video. You should be able to see it on this page, but because I know tech issues happen you’ll also get a link in your email, so you don’t miss it! It’s really good stuff!