Monthly Archives: October 2017

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How To Prepare For A New Month

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It’s that time of the month again – I swear as I get older time just seems to keep going by faster and faster.  I do wish it would slow down so I could enjoy my little boy a bit longer.  Everyday he’s learning something new and becoming so much of a little boy as opposed to a baby.  When we went to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago watching his determination and excitement was just awesome.  He was willing to try just about anything (he didn’t care for the slide in pitch black though) and he absolutely loved the big boy slide.  He just kept wanting to go down it over and over again.  When it was time to leave, a full on meltdown followed.  

Anyways… this post is about how to prepare for a new month, not the challenges I’m having watching my little boy grow up.  

Let’s get back on track.  Focus Meredith, focus.

There are a few things I do at the end of each month to help us kick off the next on a high note.  I highly recommend coming up with a monthly routine for you and your family to follow.  It helps to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

The first thing we do is take a look at our 3-month plan.  Awhile back I talked about how we plan our life 3 months at a time.  This is how we approach just about everything.  We sit down once a quarter to really get a big picture view of what we have going on, what we need to be planning for and budgeting for.  Then we like to break it down by a month-to-month basis. 

After we make sure we’re on track for our big 3 month plan then we go forward with preparing for the new month. 

Here’s what our 3 months looks like:

January, February and March are planned end of December/beginning of January

April, May and June are planned end of March/beginning of April

July, August, and September are planned end of June/beginning of July

October, November, and December are planned end of September/beginning of October

Here we are getting ready for November, so our 3 month plan is already set.  However, if this was the end of the quarter then we would be going through our steps to get ready for the next 3 months.  

Here’s the rest our monthly plan:

Money Date 

You should end each month with a money date.  Now you typically should have a money date at least once a week (or every other week), but make sure to have one at the end of each month.  This helps you know what each person has coming up and what they would like to do for the next month.

Review Your Budget 

Next you need to take a look at your budget.  Make sure you finalize any calculations or figuring to know exactly how you did the month before.  This is the time to review any receipts, bank charges, expense tracking, etc. to make sure everything is accounted for and your numbers are correct.  When you spend a little bit of time each week then this doesn’t become too overwhelming.  

But it’s a good idea to review your budget before the start of a new month so if there were any overspending or surprises then you can be better prepared.

Plan Any Events

You should know a few weeks in advance of any dinners you need to attend or birthday parties.  This is the time to make sure they are in your calendar and you have prepared your budget in case you need to bring a gift or spend money at a restaurant.  Hopefully you’ve had more than a month’s notice, but sometimes that isn’t the case.  Especially when it comes to children’s birthday parties.  

Also, this is the time to make sure you have a date night scheduled at least every other week (or once a week).  You can swap out babysitting with a friend or see if the grandparents wouldn’t mind keeping your little ones for an evening so that you can relax. 

Before having kids I never understood the importance of date night, I mean we had date night but it didn’t feel special.  Now that we have our son, I get it.  Date night is a chance for you to reconnect with your spouse, have adult conversations and just be together.  The other week J and I had a date night at home.  Grandma and Grandpa kept little man and we did nothing.  We sat outside in our backyard, had the fire pit going and enjoyed a glass of wine.  We then came in to heat up some leftovers and were in bed by 8:30.  It was perfect.

Meal Plan

Finally, you should spend some time meal planning.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you can take stock of what you already have on hand so that when it’s time to grocery shop you aren’t buying something you don’t need.  We like to meal plan for two weeks at a time so we aren’t wasting food and can rearrange meals if needed. Typically if we eat leftovers an extra night or go to my parents’ for dinner then I can take a meal and push it back to later in the month.  It makes grocery shopping easier and we aren’t wasting food.

You can find more about meal planning and eating out back in September’s Budget Q&A.  We found that by meal planning for two weeks we can save a lot more money.  

What do you do to help prepare for a new month? Leave a comment letting me know!

DIY NASCAR Costume for a Toddler

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This family loves NASCAR (well actually J loves it and I’ve learned to like it over the past 5 years). When it came time to decide on a Halloween costume for Dent, we agreed on a race car driver outfit.  Of course he had to be our favorite driver, too – Tony Stewart.  

I started searching online and the prices were ridiculous! $30 for a Halloween costume?!?! … No thanks…

The ones at Walmart weren’t NASCAR themed and had way too many fake muscles for my liking. Why do we have to put fake muscles on everything for little boys… what kind of message is that sending?? I don’t know, but I didn’t care for it.

Then I decided to just make a DIY NASCAR costume for our son.

I even gave myself a budget of keeping it under $15.

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I headed to Walmart where I had hopes of finding a solid black sleeper, but wasn’t in luck. Then I found a long sleeve shirt and sweat pants that were under $4.00 each, so I spent less than $8 for the outfit.

Next we headed to Hobby Lobby to try to find some ribbon with a checkered flag. They had one kind and it was $4.00, but with a 40% off coupon it came out to be $2.40 for the spool. Perfect.

I knew I had some fabric glue at home, so I decided to just use it. I washed the clothes once we got home and then got to work. I took the ribbon down the sleeves, sides of the shirt and pants, which didn’t take long at all.  I let it dry overnight just to be sure the glue held.

It needed just a little bit more so I bought some iron-on transfer paper for less than $8.00. I googled Tony Stewart to see what type of sponsors he had on his uniform and went from there.  Once I decided on a few brands, I googled their logo and then uploaded them into canva.  I saved the sheets as a PDF and then printed them on an inkjet printer. 

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I had never used iron-on transfer paper before so I was a little unsure of how good it would turn out, but I followed the directions to make sure I was doing it right. It does say to wash it after 24 hours and turn it inside out, but honestly I didn’t.  I figured since I already washed the clothes when I bought it that it would be fine.  Now after he’s done wearing it then I will wash it, but I don’t want to take the chance of the transfer coming off in the washer.

Overall I spent right at $18.40 for the whole outfit.  I wasn’t under my $15.00 goal, but I only used two of the sheets of transfer paper so now I have it for next year’s costume or some other craft project down the road.  So I still consider it a win!

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We headed to a trunk-or-treat earlier this week and had a blast.  Dent loved getting candy from everyone and showing off his outfit.  We’re planning on walking around the neighborhood on Halloween. I can’t wait!

How To Get Started With Cash Budgeting

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Recently I shared a video about how to get started with cash budgeting and I realized that I never shared it over on the blog. Shame on me! 

Cash budgeting is a great tool to use when you’re learning how to budget your money properly or if you need a little kick in the pants to stop overspending.  J and I go back to cash budgeting time after time because it’s just so easy.

If you hate budgeting and really don’t want to keep up with spreadsheets to track your money then cash budgeting is the way to go.

You can watch the video online or down below.

 

I can’t recommend cash budgeting enough!  It really is the perfect way to budget your money when you hate budgets.  The first step you need before getting started is decide what exactly you can pay cash for and what you can’t.  For instance – mortgage, utilities, credit card payments, loan payments, and so on – it’s probably easier to setup online bill pay or mail a check in each month.  However, I would highly recommend paying cash for groceries, eating out and any other category you find yourself going over each month in.  I’ve been asked before about gas for our cars, do we use cash or card.  Well, w\e tend to use a card for any gas that we need for our cars.  I used to pay cash, but after having a kid I realized it wasn’t really feasible to get an infant (now stubborn toddler_ out of the car seat just to walk inside to hand over cash then try to strap him back in.  So not worth it! But you have to find what works best for you.

For some more tips on how to get started with cash budgeting check out these other posts. 

Creating your budget in under 10 minutes

how to create a budget in 10 minutes

Getting started with cash envelopes

how to use the cash envelope system

What is the debt snowball

tips on doing the debt snowball, how to do the debt snowball

Why we have so many bank accounts

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Why your bills should be on auto pay 

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How Much Do We Meal Plan, Budgeting With Inconsistent Income, Getting Ready for the Holidays | October Budget Q&A

How Much Do We Meal Plan, Budgeting With Inconsistent Income, Getting Ready for the Holidays |

Friends!

It’s time for October’s Budget Q&A!

Last month was my first every Budget Q&A and it was a huge hit!  I answered your questions about how we spend only $100 a person for groceries each month, how much we spend eating out and how we meal plan.  The Budget Q&A was so popular and I received a ton of questions from you.  So I decided to make it a monthly theme. 

Today I’m answering a few of the questions I’ve received lately from you.  With the Holidays coming up, now is the time to get your budget in check.  Budgeting doesn’t have to be perfect every single month, so please do not let the fear of mistakes stop you from creating a budget.  This time of year is absolutely perfect to get to work on a new money plan for your family.  The holidays are always the time of year people tend to overspend, use credit cards too often and not put money back into savings.  So by starting your budget today you can at least have a good starting point before we get into the chaotic Christmas season.  

Watch the video online or down below:

If you’re looking for a specific answer check out the time stamps:

How Much Do We Meal Plan At A Time: 2:10

Budgeting With Inconsistent Income: 5:55

Getting Ready For The Holidays: 8:52

For more help with your budgeting problems and to get your ready for the BEST Christmas ever check out the posts below:

How We Meal Plan to Save Money

how i meal plan, free meal planner template

How to Create a Simple Budget

one tip to create a simple budget, how to create a simple budget, budgeting made easy

How To Do Christmas On A Budget

Christmas on a budget

If you have any questions you would like answered, please send them to me.  You can leave a comment below or email me at meredith@merelynne.com. 

8 Minute Makeup Routine – The Perfect Mom Makeup Look

Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that when you click links and purchase items on this most, in most (not all) cases I will receive a referral commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. Thank you!

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As Moms we have very limited time to get ready in the morning.  Between getting dressed, making breakfast, starting laundry and chasing a toddler it leaves little time to actually look presentable.  

As a working mom I have places to me and need to look decent for client appointments.  I have started mastering my morning routine so that I can not only take care of my family, but also look like a confident professional.  In today’s post I’m showing you how I put together my full face in under 8 minutes.  Of course because I love a good deal, I try to buy affordable makeup products and I love to pass on what I use with you.  I’ve linked the products or a similar one I use down below.

You can watch the video online or down below:

 

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Here’s what I use on a daily basis, some of the links and products may not be available any longer.  But I have put together a similar list for you. 

e.l.f. Poreless Face Primer
Morphe Eyeshadow Palette – 35R
Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
Mac Eyeshadow – The Holiday Palette from a few years ago
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (in 112 and 120)
wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick – When The Nude Strikes
wet n wild MegaGlo Makeup Stick – Call Me Maple
wet n wild Brow Pencil – Brunettes Do It Better
LA Colors Lipgloss
Covergirl LashBlast Volume Mascara

Here are the brushes and tools I use:

Morphe Foundation Brush – M439
Morphe Eyeshadow Brush – M428
Wal-Mart Blush Brush
Wal-Mart Eyeliner Brush
Mac Foundation Brush – 130
Eyelash Curler

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How To Budget For Your Pets

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Not that long ago I shared over on Youtube Live all about budgeting for your pets.  I get asked ALL THE TIME if we include our three dogs in our grocery budget or if they have a budget all their own.  Well… watch the video to find out what we do to cover vet bills, food costs and boarding fees.

You can watch online or down below.

How do you budget for your pets?  Do you keep it separate or lump it all together in your other monthly categories?  You have to find what works best for your family.  We played around with our budgets until we found a system that worked for us.

If you need more help with budgeting, check out the posts below:

How To Create A Budget in Under 10 Minutes

how to create a budget in 10 minutes

How To Create A Sinking Fund

What is a sinking fund

Why Amazon is Mom’s Best Friend

amazon is mom's best friend

How To Save Extra Tomato Sauce

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Friends,

I have a confession to make. I posted this dinner tip to my youtube channel awhile back and I totally forgot to share it on my blog (shame on me!). So I figured today was a good day to do that.

Do you ever create a dinner to look over and discover extra tomato sauce, pasta sauce, tomato paste leftover? Well we do and it happens way too often. I just hate throwing good food away (which is why we have a weekly leftover night). It just bothers me.

I discovered something amazing after doing an experiment one night. You can freeze all that leftover sauce and tomato paste. Yep! It’s amazing.

All you do is distribute the leftovers into an ice cube tray or a muffin tray then place directly in the freezer. By next morning you’ll be able to pop them out of the tray and place in a freezer bag. Just label and you’re good to go.

Perfect.

Now if you really want to help with dinnertime you can even season the sauce before freezing. If you typically use the sauce with the same spices then go for it.

You can watch my quick video online or below:

 

Why You Should Have Your Accounts on Auto Pay

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Today, I’m popping in to share with you a quick video that will transform your budget.  I am all about being efficient and streamline with my life.  I love helping families that want to get out of the scarcity mentality so they can start paying down debt.  The first step I share with clients and anyone willing to listen is why you should setup your bills on auto pay. 

This one feature can help minimize (or completely stop) late payments.  It can also help decrease your monthly cost of paying bills (watch the video to find out how) and so much more.

You can watch the video online or down below.  For more helpful posts, check out below.

How to Streamline Your Life

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How To Afford Paying Off Your Credit Card

How to Afford Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Why We Have So Many Different Bank Accounts

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How To Set The Right Financial Goals

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One of the biggest issues I see with families is not knowing how to set perfect financial goals.  Goals need to be specific and measurable, as well as what is best for your situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having big goals.  My husband and I have some pretty big dreams and goals that we are working towards, but the first step with any goal is breaking it down into smaller ones.

You can watch this video online or below to learn more about creating the right financial goals for your family.

Creating the right financial goals doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming.  You just have to do some research to know how much you can afford each month and how much the final goal is going to cost you.

For instance, if you want to save money for a down payment on your dream home that’s great.  However, it can be overwhelming to say I want to save 20% of a $200,000 home – that’s $40,000 you’re trying to save.  When you look at $40,000 that can feel almost impossible, which is why so many families struggle with the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality.  You see a big number and are immediately discouraged.  You result in giving up before even trying.

Instead what you should be doing is setting your $40,000 goal with a realistic time period.  For example, you want to save 20% for a down payment and you would like to do it in 4 years.  Well now you need to save $10,000 a year or $833 a month.  Once you see the smaller number it becomes much more manageable.

BUT if that smaller, monthly amount is still too high then there are a few options you can pick from.  First – spread out your goal.  Instead of 4 years, try 5 years.  Now you’re talking about only $667 a month to reach your goal.  

Second – re-prioritize your goal.  Do you really want a $200,000 home?  Can you reduce any current expenses so you can put back even more towards your goal?

It’s all about making your goal more manageable and then having an honest conversation with yourself and your spouse.  Maybe you realize there is a better option than a $200,000 home – perhaps you could get $150,000 home that’s a bit more out of town so it’s the same size.  Or maybe you realize you don’t need a new car every 3 years and can work on paying off your car loan so you can have more spending cash each month to put towards your goal.

I’ve been talking a lot about a house, but your goals are anything you want to accomplish.  A vacation, a new car, buying a boat, saving for your children’s college costs, remodeling your home, etc.  

To set the right financial goals you need to make sure you are following this formula:

  1. Decide on the final amount for your goal
  2. Decide on a time frame to reach your goal
  3. Break it down into a monthly (or weekly) payment
  4. Re-prioritize your goal if it’s not feasible to save that amount or reach your goal in that time frame
  5. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate because goals change with time

 

Q&A About Me

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Recently I shared this Budget Q&A video where I talked about how much we spend on groceries each month, do we meal plan for every night and how much we spend on eating out in a month (plus more!).  However, I started thinking that I haven’t really shared a lot about me… who I am, why I love budgeting so much and my passion behind living a debt free life.

Well have no fear! I finally put together a quick Q&A all about me.  I know I’m not much different than you – I’m a mom who would do anything for her son to succeed.  I work hard every single day helping clients with their money goals.  So take a look and find out a little bit more about who I am.