Grocery Shopping On a Budget – 2 Week Aldi and Walmart Haul

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It’s here my best tips for grocery shopping on a budget!  

I don’t know about you, but groceries are always the hardest to stay on track with.  It just seems items not on the shopping list mysteriously end up in the basket.  It’s so weird!  But for the past few months we have been focused.  We have been working hard at sticking to and coming under our grocery budget each month.  It hasn’t been easy, but we have been rocking it!  So it’s time I share with you my secrets to staying in and under budget. 

Before we start, I want to let you know we do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi.  Ever since Walmart did away with their price matching we have found ourselves shopping more and more at Aldi.  I have to admit – I like it!  I probably should have made the switch a long, long time ago.  Now if you don’t have an Aldi or prefer another store, that’s fine!  You can make this work just about any grocery store, I promise.  If Aldi doesn’t carry something we need then we will run to Walmart.

I have already shared with you a quick Aldi shopping haul from after our vacation.  It was a little shorter than usual and we didn’t do our typical two week meal planning.  So this time around I wanted to give you the full effect of how we meal plan, make our grocery list and then stick with our budget.  

The first thing we do is we create our meal plan for the next two weeks (you can even use my easy template, too).  I have found we spend less money by shopping every two weeks instead of weekly.  Now if we run out or need a few produce items then we may make a run after the first week, but that’s pretty rare.  I have discovered we go through a gallon of milk in about a week at our house. J and I hardly drink it (I have a real aversion to cereal and it’s super hard to for me since our son loves it!) and we just don’t go through that fast.  I can buy 2 gallons of milk at a time, but I have to watch the dates. If they expire before our two weeks are up then I have to only buy one and go back the next week.

When we’re creating our meal plan we always start with what we have on hand in our freezer, fridge and pantry.  That way we can save money by using up what we have.  Now I like to keep some ground beef and chicken in the freezer for any time we have company over or need to tighten our budget.  So I do this by keeping an eye on the sale prices.  If there is a good deal that week on meat then I may stock up a little more than what’s needed, but only if I have room in my budget after getting everything else we need.  So I typically go to the meat section of the store at the very end. 

After our meal plan is set, I take a look at what else we need around the house.  I made a quick video about what all I include in our grocery budget.  Basically anything that is consumed or used in our home is on the budget.  So I do a run-through to make sure we don’t need shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels or cleaning products.  

*I order wipes from Amazon and have them set to a monthly subscription.  I automatically deduct that amount from my grocery budget each month.

Next we look at our budget.  This way we know exactly how much we have to spend before ever leaving the house.  I also track our spending using envelopes, which means I can take a quick glance to see just how much we can spend.  It makes it fresh on our minds how much we have to spend.  I also keep my phone’s calculator open so I can subtract the items I put in the cart to make sure I am not going over.  This helps so much!  Just make sure you leave a few dollars at the end to cover your tax!

Here is how we did this week.  You can watch the video online or down below:

If you find your grocery budget a little too tight then plan on doing No Eating Out Challenge to save a little money.  They work really great to make you cook at home and use up all those leftovers that usually go to waste!

Need More Help?

If you’re looking for a great tool to help keep your family on budget, then check out out my budget spreadsheet.  Each month is laid out right in front of you where you can keep track of what you budget and what you actually spend. Now you’ll know in real time how you’re doing each month.

Tips For Packing For Your Next Work Trip

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What happens when you have to go out of town for work? Well if you’re like me, you probably put off packing until the last minute. You try to stuff everything into a small back just to arrive at your conference with wrinkled clothes. Well … that was the old me.

The new me is all about being prepared, looking my best and only bringing what I need.  And the best part?

I still pack last minute.

Yep, I sure do.  Want in on my secret?

It’s all about what to pack, how to stay organized and how not forget anything! You can create an easy packing system to help you manage just what you need to bring with you – no matter how long your conference is going to be, this one tip can help with a 2 day trip to a 2 week trip.

You can watch the video online or down below:

I love sharing new tips and tricks as I figure them out. This one is no different. I travel a lot for work, so I like to stay organized. I found that it helps by creating a list before I start packing. This list serves as a reminder of everything I need to bring and then when I get there, it’s a guide to remember what day I planned to wear what. It really saves time while I’m on the road and away from home.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to sleep so good when I’m in a hotel. I don’t know if it’s because it’s nice and dark, the temperature is (usually) easy to control and for work trips I typically have the place all to myself. I find myself sleeping in until the last possible second before jumping out of bed already running behind. By bringing a list of what outfit to wear, it really helps me to not feel rushed in the mornings.

You should try it!

Check out these other helpful posts:

How To Do It All As A Mom

What To Pack For Your Toddler On Your Next Trip

Tips For Traveling With A Toddler

What To Bring On A Road Trip With Your Baby

Our November Budget Recap

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On the blog, we’re going to start something new. Each month, I’m going to record a quick video sharing with you a budget recap.

I think it’s important to be real and show you that some months are better than others.  It’s okay no to be perfect all the time, but what we have found what is most important is just making progress towards our goals.

I use this very simple budgeting template to help us keep up with how we’re doing, which is great. I highly recommend to anyone trying to get their budget in check to make sure you actually know two things: how much you want to spend and how much you actually spend.  By creating a starting point with your money then you’ll be able to gauge how you’re doing and what areas you are succeeding in. For instance if you budget $100 in eating out for the month and then you only spent $75 that’s a big win!  On the other hand, if you budget $100 and spent $125 then you know that you need to either work on lower what you spend or up your budget.  

After I create my starting budget at the beginning of each month, I then track my spending using envelopes to help me stay on track.  This technique allows me to only spend a few minutes each week updating our budget template, because I go off our envelopes.  

So I’m going to show you my envelopes for last month and our completed budget spreadsheet, so you can see just how good (or bad) we did. I won’t be afraid to hide our mistakes or mishaps from you. Budgeting isn’t about being perfect, it’s about making progress and working towards your goals.

You can watch November’s budget recap online or below:

How did you do for November? It never hurts to review your budget or your envelopes to make sure you’re on track. We started our budget with knowing what our big financial goals were – paying off student loans, saving up to buy some land and putting more back towards our retirement. By being on the same page when we created our budget, we understand the pressures we put on ourselves to watch our spending.

The 12 Days of Christmas Cleaning Schedule

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It’s Christmas time! Which means you are probably going to be super, super busy for the next few weeks. J and I switch our holidays between our families.  One year we’re with my family for Thanksgiving and then the next year we’re with them for Christmas.  And J’s family is on the opposite schedule.  That way we aren’t having to drive back and forth for each holiday.  This year we’re with J’s family for Christmas.  So we’ll be headed out of town to celebrate with them for the long Christmas weekend.

There are lots to do between now and Christmas, like buying gifts, wrapping them, visiting with family as they come into town, friends coming over, and so on.  So your household is going to be buzzing.  You might think it’s going to be hard to keep on top of everything, but with a little planning you can make it happen.  

One of the things that always seems to fall to the side during those busy weeks is cleaning. It’s just so easy to put off sweeping and dusting when you have more pressing things to get done.  But who doesn’t want a cleaner house during the holidays? 

It’s hard having dogs, a baby and a busy schedule to keep the house under control. You try to break it up so you do a little each night, but when you don’t get home until late after a long day the last thing you want to do is scrub the toilets (am I right?). So then you’re left with cleaning the whole house, catching up on laundry and running errands during the weekend.

This year, it’s going to be different.  Let’s vow to take the stress off our weekends.  ‘Let’s spend 15 minutes or less night for the next 12 nights to have your house and your Christmas gifts ready for the big day.

Are you ready for the plan? Start the 12 Days of Christmas Cleaning tonight and then each weeknight work on the assigned tasks.  This schedule should have you finished with everything on Friday, December 22nd. Perfect.

12 days of Christmas cleaning schedule

You’ll notice each day focuses on one room in your house.  So you don’t have to feel scattered going from room-to-room.  Just stick to your assigned room, get everything done on your list and then relax the rest of the night. You’ll notice the closer you get to Christmas is when you’re start working on the rooms where guests will be in.  For us, we want to make sure we clean our kitchen and family room last since that’s where people tend to congregate while there over. You can download your 12 Days of Christmas Schedule or click the image above.

Bonus Tip: Make a reminder in your calendar so you don’t forget after the little one goes to bed.

Upgrading To A Big Boy Room | Starlight Baby Giveaway

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At what age do you change the theme of your baby’s nursery? When we first decorated Dent’s room, we made a very big effort to make sure we didn’t have to completely re-do every choice as he grew.  We made a few changes here and there to make the room easier to use and better for playtime. For instance, the perfect area rug was not quite perfect. No matter what anti-slider mats, stickers, glue, whatever we bought the darn thing slid everywhere.  It was such a hassle and a trip hazard on those late night feedings. 

We quickly took out the rug and never replaced it.  We also added room darkening curtains for those mid-day naps. A while back I created some wall art for his room. Do you know what’s great about making my own pieces?  When it’s time to change them out then it’s really simple.

Recently I’ve been thinking we need to upgrade a few pieces to make it more of a big boy room and instead of a baby room.  Now don’t get me wrong I am no where near ready to switch out for a toddler bed… and neither is Dent.  But I think we could do a few things to the walls to help the room grow with our boy.  I found these whimsical dinosaur vinyl wall decals from Starlight Baby and just fell in love.  They are absolutely perfect for our son’s room.

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You can watch the video of my first thoughts on the vinyl wall decals and what his new big boy looks like below or online:

James from Starlight Baby reached out to me and offered one of my readers a chance for a $60 store credit.  I couldn’t believe it. I love the idea of bringing such a great giveaway to you just in time for Christmas.  They have so many great decals, clothes, and more for your little one.  Starlight Baby offers something rare on their wall decals – they will customize the color for you.  If you have a color code from a paint color, wall art or any item then they can custom print your decals to match.  You just send the color code or color idea to them and they will work with you to make it happen.  How cool?! I love their customer service!

Enter the giveaway below. If you want to go ahead and check out Starlight Baby’s store, head on over.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I did receive the wall decals for free in exchange for my review.  However, the opinions are 100% my own.

My Thoughts on ShadowSense and MakeSense | Are They Worth the Price?

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Now don’t get too excited – it’s not everyday you get two posts from me in such a short time period. I was just too eager to share my latest reviews with you and didn’t want to wait until after the weekend.  Earlier today, I shared my review of LipSense that my friend Heather let me try out.

Well, the good news is she also let me try ShadowSense and MakeSense foundation, too.  Yep! I got to try it all.  In all transparency, I did receive a tester of each product to try; however, I gave the testers back to Heather since she uses those in demos and at parties.  I did not receive compensation for this review or even free product.  I was simply asked to try it, which is what I have done.

Let’s start off with ShadowSense.

It’s a liquid cream to powder eyeshadow from SeneGence (the makers of LipSense).  It claims to be long lasting and their site talks about how you can blend with other colors before it sets.  I was given the Pink Opal Shimmer to try out.  

You can watch my application and review online or down below:

Have you tried ShadowSense?  What did you think?  I really liked it.  I typically use drugstore and Morphe products, which I love.  The last time I used a cream shadow, it dried and started to look flaky.  ShadowSense wasn’t like that at all.  Once it was dried, it felt nice and my eyelids didn’t feel tight – if that makes sense.  The cost is $22.00 for one tube and I could see a tube lasting quite awhile.  I barely applied any and my lids were covered. 

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Do I think it’s worth the investment? 

This is a tough one.  Back in the day before kids, before marriage and before budgeting I would have easily spent the money.  I would have totally thought it was worth it too.  Nowadays when bills are more expensive and money is more tight it would be hard to justify the cost.  However, if I could catch a good sale from Heather then I may jump at the chance to buy one.  

Next, let’s talk about MakeSense their foundation.

Again, I was given a tester to try (not even a full-sized bottle) and give my thoughts on it.  Since it was a tester, I was a little lighter on my application.  Basically I had a bare spot on my side and chin to try it on.  My chin and nose always seems to be a little more red tinted than the rest of my face so I thought it would be a good place to try.  I was given the tester in Fawn, which ended up being perfect for me.  

I was a little nervous since it looked darker in the tube and I am so, so pale, but it worked out great.  I will say that $50.00 for one foundation is a little steep for me.  Again, back in the day I wouldn’t have blinked an eye at the cost, but these days I have to be more careful.  I liked the coverage and to me it was more of a medium-coverage than full.  I prefer full coverage like my Covergirl and Maybelline are; however, this one went on so much smoother than my everyday foundation.  

You can watch my review of MakeSense online or down below:

What foundation do you use? Would you be willing to try MakeSense?

 

My First Attempt At LipSense and My Honest Review

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Lipstick hasn’t always been a huge part of my everyday makeup routine until recently. I found some great nude colors that I have fallen in love with. The only problem is how it just doesn’t last very long. I put it on at 7 in the morning and by my first appointment at 9 I’m already having to reapply. It’s kind of a hassle.

I even tried a few extra steps to help make it last longer, but to no avail. You know the extra steps – liner, concealer around the lips, powder over the lips, and gloss. It just didn’t help. It just added more time to my morning, time that I didn’t really need to be spending in the bathroom.  But I love the look of lipstick.  

Have you tried LipSense before? It’s a two-step long lasting lip color. It’s supposedly waterproof, kiss-proof and smudge proof.

I have wanted to try it SOOOOO bad! My friend Heather of Mermaid Kisses is an avid fan of LipSense and asked if I would be willing to give it a try. Of course I said yes. I have been eyeing this supposedly smudge-proof, long lasting lipstick for awhile. I’m going to be honest though the price tag kind of threw me off a bit. But I kept thinking about it, wondering how well it worked and if it was actually worth the price.  

So when Heather asked me if I would be willing to give it a try – I jumped!  You can watch the video of my first attempt at LipSense and my review of what I think of it.  

Watch online or down below:

If you would like to give LipSense a try – feel free to check out Heather’s Facebook page.  She runs some great deals.

What is LipSense?

It’s a liquid lipstick from SeneGence, which is a multi-level marketing company.  It boasts long wear capability – 18 hours through drinking, eating, kissing, etc.

The cost is $25 for color, $20 for a gloss (which you need to make it long lasting), and $10 remover.  Most of the consultants run specials and deals on a regular basis, so you can probably shop around for a pretty good price.

The company also sells a line of other makeup products – like eyeshadows, blushes and more.  They also have skincare items, too.

Does it last all day?

Not really.  It did last close to 10 hours with eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, kissing our little boy (a lot), talking to clients, and running errands. I wasn’t even disappointed that it didn’t last 18 hours like they said it would.  If I think about my average day, I don’t need my makeup to last 18 hours. My typical day is about 10 hours from the time I’m out the door until I get back home, so by the end of the day my lips have lost some of the color. If I would have religiously applied the gloss then I might have gotten longer wear out of it, but after dinner out I was ready to go home and put on sweats.

How did it make my lips feel?

It actually made my lips feel amazing. This time of year is the worst for dry, cracked lips that seem to last until Spring. After wearing LipSense, my lips started feeling smoother. 

Is LipSense worth the price tag?

… This one I’m torn on. I am someone who doesn’t shy away from makeup and love a simple routine that lasts all day. I would love to have maybe 2 or 3 more colors for those long days of meetings and needing to look more put together. Since they seem to last for quite awhile, I don’t think I would need more than that to switch up my look from day-to-day.  I’m pretty sure one of these tubes will last me a long time. 

Sure there are other long lasting lipsticks out there and I’ve tried a lot of them. Some are great and some … not so much. Maybe I’ll work on a post reviewing my favorite ones and the ones that didn’t make the cut.  So if the price tag scares you, wait around for some good deals from a local distributor like Heather.

I took pictures from the day to show you how it lasted:

7am – put it on about 30 minutes earlier.

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9am – getting ready to go into my first meeting and I have not re-applied the gloss.

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11am – Finishing up some reports and I re-applied the gloss about 30 minutes earlier.

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1pm – Just finished lunch and re-applied after eating.  The color is still staying strong!

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5pm – Re-applied the gloss again before meeting people for dinner.  After dinner I headed home so I no longer cared what it looked like.

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I was also able to try out their ShadowSense and MakeSense foundation, too.  Read my review on those two products to see if I think they are worth the investment.

I received a LipSense color and gloss free to try, but did not keep the testers. This post is 100% my own opinion.

What To Pack Your Toddler For Your Next Trip | Tips To Staying Organized

It’s no secret I love to-do lists and planners. I pretty much have my whole life over on Google between using the calendar to keep our lives organized and with having our expense tracking on Google Sheets. I love having my life organized and detailed out.

There should be no surprise then that I have a go-to list for when we travel with our young son. We travel quite a bit, between visiting J’s family, to seeing friends and just getting away for awhile. We love going on adventures.

I realized early on that in order to not forget anything, I would need a list. With working full time, running a house, being the best mom I know how and a wife – I needed help.

I put together a list over on Google (duh!) and every time we go on a trip, I pull it out and print it off. In this list is a detail of everything we need to bring for no matter how long we’re going to be gone or no matter which part of the country we’re going to be going to.

You can watch this video online or down below to see exactly what I like to bring along on any trips for our son.

For more information you can check out these posts:

Tips For Road Trips With A Toddler

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Traveling With A Baby

easy road trips with baby, road trips with a baby, what to bring on a road trip with a toddler

How I Get It All Done

how to do it all as a mom

How We Stay Motivated, Chores For Our Toddler, and Budgeting for Christmas | November Budget Q&A

How We Stay Motivated, Chores For Our Toddler, and Budgeting for Christmas, meredith rines, merelynne, budgeting for christmas

Can you believe how close we are to Christmas? I have to admit I was feeling pretty proud of myself on Black Friday because of two things: One – I stayed home all day and didn’t step foot into one store.  And two – I finished 98% of my Christmas shopping while sitting on my couch.  

The best part of my Christmas shopping is I am way under on our budget for gifts, which is awesome! That means the money we saved on gifts can be put towards debt or savings or anything else we want/need.  It’s a good feeling to have a plan and stick to it.  Now I just have to sit back and wait for the gifts to start arriving.  

Once the gifts arrive I have a few craft projects in mind to make them even more personal, which is the whole goal of Christmas (in my opinion).  Don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts, but I love the idea of giving something one-of-a-kind that actually means something to the recipient.

In this month’s Q&A video I’m going in depth on how we stay motivated with our budget – what our number one tip is for other couples. 

I’m also talking about chores for our little guy. At 19 months there are a few things we let him help us with around the house. It takes a lot of patience, which I talk about in the video below.  

Finally, I‘m talking even more about how we are budgeting for Christmas and just how I make it all possible.  You can watch the video online or down below:

Check out September’s Budget Q&A and October’s Q&A.

For more help with your budget check out these posts:

How To Create Your Budget

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What We Use Our Credit Card Rewards On

how to use credit card reward points, Credit Card Reward Points, using credit card cash back, budgeting for credit cards, how to use a credit card

How Much We Spend On Gifts

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Don’t Shop Black Friday

Friends! I am going to save you so much time and hassle this shopping season.  Make sure to watch today’s video before it’s too late.  I’m sharing all the reasons I HATE shopping on Black Friday and what I do to make sure I get the same great deals without the stress.

You can watch the video online or down below:

Let’s face it the stress and competition of going to the store on Black Friday is enough to send me running in the opposite direction.  Now by utilizing our Christmas Budget I can have a plan in place that helps me stay focused and I can do everything from home.

Before you do any shopping, make sure to create your plan.  You need to know who you are buying for, what you want to get them (even it’s just an idea of what you want), and a budget on how much you want to spend.  From there then you can look over your favorite online stores to come up with a plan on what you need to buy.

I gave up in-store Black Friday shopping years ago and I’ve never looked back.  Honestly, it was the best decision I made to keep my stress levels down during this time of year. To help with how overwhelming online shopping can be, we tend to only pick 2-3 stores to shop from for everyone.  Now we’re not always perfect sticking to only two to three stores, but it makes things a lot easier to narrow your list down.  Watch the video to see which stores I prefer to do all of my Christmas shopping at.

For more helpful tips check out these posts:

Why I Love Ebates

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Holiday Budgeting Help

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How Much We Spend on Gifts

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What We Use Our Credit Card Rewards On

how to use credit card reward points, Credit Card Reward Points, using credit card cash back, budgeting for credit cards, how to use a credit card