Category Archives: Budget

Spending Freeze Recap

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The week long spending freeze is over! Woot! Woot!  Did we survive? 

I’m not going to lie, it was tough.  Just knowing I had restricted my spending made me want everything. All I wanted was Chinese food from this little local place not too far from my house.  It took a lot out of me cooking those healthy dinners instead of binging on beef and broccoli.

I will say I totally lucked out because J had some reward points built at our local gas station and scored me a free fountain diet mountain dew.  That’s love!

Let’s get back to what are next steps are after the spending freeze ends. 

Go back to spending as usual. 

No heading to the grocery store to buy twice as many groceries as you normally would. The whole point of a spending freeze is to save money, so the last thing you should be doing is spending twice as much now that it’s over.  It kind of defeats the purpose. Take a minute before walk into the store and review your list. Say a mental pep talk to keep you motivated buy only what’s on your list.

“I can do this!  I only need what’s on this piece of paper.  Nothing more! Think of my budget!”

Start thinking about your spending. 

Now that you’ve gone a week without swiping your debt card you realize just how mindlessly it was happening.  So take a second before you start back to your old habits of fast food dinners and trips to the nail salon.  Remember you don’t have to have those things and it’s better to see your debt balance go down then go up.

I want to know how you did during your recent spending freeze, leave me a comment letting me know what the hardest thing to give up?

 

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.

 

Quick Tips for A Successful Money Date With Your Spouse

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What the heck is a money date?

A money date is where you set aside time to spend with your spouse to go over your weekly budget.  You also go over any bills and create a plan for spending money in the upcoming days.  A lot of spouses don’t get too excited about money dates, because it usually is a source of tension.  But it DOES NOT HAVE TO BE.  

A money date is awesome!  It gives you a chance to connect with your spouse and to spend time planning out goals.  I don’t know about you, but after a money date I always feel like J and I are on the same page.  We finally are in alignment about our checking account balance, what any debt balances are and where are money is going.  Agreeing on where you will be spending money can give you peace of mind while trying to get out of debt.  Because nothing is worse than getting to the end of the month and realizing just how much you spent eating out, running to the grocery store for those oops-forgot items or for those unplanned expenses.  That’s where the disagreements arise because your month didn’t go like one of you think it will.  

When we were first engaged I added up every time we ran through a drive-thru on our lunch breaks or the gas station for a fountain soda.  I didn’t add in the times we were together, just the times we ate separately.  It was a huge eye opener to how much money we were wasting with poor planning.  I didn’t know how much he was spending and he didn’t know my totals either.  Our lack of communication was leading us down a bad path.

But by having money dates each week or every other week, we’re finally on the same page with who is spending what and why.  

I typically recommend to others to have your money date when you’re planning out your meals for the week.  You’re already looking at your calendar to see what nights you are going to be late or which nights you want to eat out, so you might as well talk money too.

If this is your first time for a money date, then start tonight.  Don’t put it off!  There really is no need to put off doing a money date with your spouse and right now during our spending freeze, now it’s a great time to get started.  Once you’ve had your first money date then you can start having them on the nights your meal planning.  We meal plan for two weeks at a time, so we get together every other Sunday to plan out our next two weeks.  We talk money and make sure we know what each other has going on.  

Now if we are traveling or have an unexpected expense pop up then we’ll talk finances in the middle of the week.  It doesn’t have to be that big of a deal to sit down, look at your calendar, look at your budget and plan out your spending.  

Check out the quick video on my best tips for a successful money date with your spouse:

Know Next Week’s Schedule

Use your money dates as a time to plan out the next week.  By knowing what your family has going on during the next week will help you be prepared for any expenses.  For instance, summer school for your little one starts on Monday, which means the final amount for the class will probably be due.  By taking a look ahead then you won’t be caught off guard or forget when a bill is due.  

Bonus Tip: Add a reminder in your calendar for any bills that are due.  Now you won’t forget about them and can plan accordingly.  

Don’t Wait Until You’re Too Tired

One of the biggest reasons couples fight during money conversations is because they do it when they’re exhausted.  After chasing kids all day, tackling laundry and finally getting the house cleaned you’re wiped.  That’s not the best time to sit down and talk money.  You should do it earlier in the day or before the day gets too chaotic.  If life happens, which it does and the day has slipped away from you then just wait until the next day.  It’s better to wait than it is to start a fight over something small that wouldn’t even matter with a clear head.

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Plan Your Week and Meal Plan At the Same Time 

As I mentioned above, you should be able to have your money date while you are planning meals and your week.  It’s so easy to multi-task because by looking at your week you’ll know what you have going on each evening.  This will help you plan out your dinners, which nights you’re eating at home or when you have an event to attend.

Listen With An Open Mind

Make sure you never accuse or blame your spouse for something.  That’s how fights get out of hand.  Make sure you try to place yourself in their shoes.  Listen as they explain their reasoning or desire for something specific.  If it’s something that is important to one of you then by working together you will be able to plan to reach your goals.

Being open minded also means compromising for the sanity of your marriage.  This is why we finally separated out our miscellaneous funds.  J can do whatever he wants with his funds and I can do whatever I want with mine.  No questions are asked and no one is made to feel bad for their choices.  Now, we don’t do this with the big chunk of our checking account, but it’s possible with smaller amounts. 

Look Ahead To Birthdays, Anniversaries and Other Gift Giving Events

There is nothing worse than realizing your forgot about a birthday party and have to run out to buy a gift last minute.  You always end up spending way more than you wanted to.  To prevent this, look at the month ahead to make sure you know of any parties, birthdays or events you’ll need a gift for.  Give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead, shop sales and get a good deal.  Buying a gift last minute usually means you’ll spend more money than you wanted or get a gift you aren’t proud of.  So take a look at the next month or two to plan out gift ideas and time frames to buy them.

There you have it.  The best tips for having a successful money date with your spouse.  Before long you will be having productive talks with your spouse and be on the same page with where your money is going.  

What are some of your favorite money date tips?  Leave a comment letting me know!

 

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.

Join the Spending Freeze Party

how to do a spending freeze

Today is the day, friends!  It’s time to get this spending freeze started!  On Friday I shared how to do a spending freeze and why in the world I’m willing to commit to not spend any money for the next 7 days.  

This past weekend J and I sat down and did a little meal planning to make sure the dinners we were going to have this week used what we already had on hand.  I tend to check our pantry, fridge and freezer while meal planning, but this week I checked it before I started making our plan.  This way I knew what meats I had on hand, what side dishes were going to be easily made and ingredients I already had.  I didn’t want to plan for a dinner then realize I was missing an ingredient or two. 

Afterwards we filled our cars with gas and paid any bills that were going to be due this week.  I said in my first post last week that any bill or emergency is find to spend money on, but I am trying to plan ahead.  For instance our daycare.  I work full time and our little guy has to be in daycare.  So I went ahead and paid that in advance so I don’t have to worry about it.  But I wont’ be doing is hiring any outside babysitter to watch our little man during the evenings.  I typically don’t do that anyway, but I just wanted to clarify. 

Remember the whole point of a spending freeze is to not spend any money for the next week. 

Being prepared is the best step in getting ready for your first spending freeze.  Honestly it doesn’t take a lot of prep work, but it’s nice to know you’re ready.

Alright, friends so for the next seven days (that’s a full week!) we will not be spending any money.  We won’t be putting gas in our cars (unless it’s an emergency, but we all filled our tanks this weekend), we won’t be going out to eat or spending money on any non-emergencies or non-utilities.  Let’s get started!

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.

How To Do A Spending Freeze

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Alright y’all, I’m finally breaking down and committing to a spending freeze.  I realized a quick little no spend week would be just what the budget doctor ordered.  I wanted to go over exactly how to do a spending freeze, what a spending freeze is and what I’m hoping to accomplish.

Check out the quick video below for more details and tips on doing your first spending freeze.

What is a spending freeze?

It’s exactly as it sounds.  For the a specific period of time you do not spend any money.  None.  Absolutely no money, unless there is an emergency.  What that means is you have to get creative and use what you have on hand for the next week to feed your family and entertain them.  

Why do a spending freeze?

Committing to not spending any money will help reset your thought process.  You will be forced to tell yourself no on those impulse purchases and those easy-to-fall-into dinners where you grab fast food or take out on the way home.  Think about the amount of money you and your family spend each week between lunches out, dinners, movie rentals, the gas station sodas, and so on.  For our family  three that could be upwards f $100 a week.  ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS A WEEK!  Crazy!  

A spending freeze is a great way to zero back in on your budget.  Get your spending in check.

If you add up how much money you can save by doing a spending freeze then think about what you could do with that money.  For us it would be paying a little extra towards a debt, putting the money aside for a future trip or just having a great time the next weekend we want to have some fun.  You can do whatever you want with the savings!  Sky is the limit!

Just think if you commit to do a spending freeze every other month and save about $100 that would be $600 for the year.  You could use that money on a nice little family getaway or even on Christmas for the family.  If you have a larger family or really like takeout you could be saving close to $300 or more by committing to a spending freeze for just 7 days.

What are the rules to a spending freeze?

Simple.  Do not spend money during the spending freeze.  

  1. Check your pantry and fridge now to make sure you have the essentials before we start on Monday.  
  2. Fill the car up with gas to make it through.
  3. Can you use gift cards that you have?  Yes, of course.  If you have a gift card to a restaurant then go ahead and use it.  But make sure yo realize a spending freeze includes tip and tax.  So if you have to dig in your pocket for a tip then save it for later.
  4. Go back to spending normally the week after the freeze.  Don’t think you have to go out the week after it ends and buy twice as many groceries.  The point is to use what you have on hand and then continue as business as usual.  
  5. Utilities and emergencies don’t count.  I do not suggest to you or to anyone not to pay your bills during this week.  If you typically pay your utility bill or cell phone bill this next week then please go ahead and take care of those.  Make sure you’re not skipping any bill payments, debts or loans amounts during this next week.  The same is true for any emergencies you may come across.  If your little one gets sick and you need to take them to the doctor knowing there will be a $20 copay then please pay the copay.  

What doesn’t constitute an emergency?

Going out to eat because you’re too tired to cook.
Buying that new shirt because it’s on sale.
Digging for change to get your gas station fountain diet mountain dew fix.
Treating the office to donuts on Friday morning because you’ve had a hard week.
Getting a sitter so you and the hubs can enjoy a night out using gift cards. (Now if you can swap those services with a friend where she watches your little one and next week you watch hers then go for it!)

How long does a spending freeze last?

It can last as long as you want.  I recommend a week.  It’s simple and quick.  You can do just about anything that lasts a week, right?  The longer you make it then the more likely it is you will not be successful.  I’m wanting to start your family and my family off on the best foot possible.  So just keep it short and sweet. If you want to do 5 days then do 5 days.  It’s up to you.

When does the spending freeze start?

We’re starting on Monday and going for 7 full days.  Take the weekend to do some meal planning by checking what you already have on hand, look at your milk and bread and fill your car up with gas.  I like to pack J’s lunches and I usually eat the night before’s leftovers.  So I am going to make sure we have enough lunch meat to get us through and then will just to make sure to cook a little extra at night for my lunch.  I’m not going to go out and buy more lunch meat if I don’t have enough, but I will get creative – tuna, canned chicken, chicken wraps, etc.  Whatever I can do to stretch what we already have.

Alright, let’s do this!  Happy spending freeze friends!  Check in over Instagram this week for more ideas and tips during our spending freeze.

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.

The Easiest To Use Budget Template … EVER

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Are you tired of struggling with your budget?  Having no clue where to start, what categories to use or how much you should be spending?  Well I was!  It was a monthly struggle creating a budget that would actually work for our family.  One that told me if I was overspending or (even better) letting me know if I had extra money left over.  

After years of tweaking and perfecting the budget template our family uses, I have it ready for you.  This is going to be the easiest budget template you’ve ever seen.  Once you know what a budget is and why you need one then it’s time to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to create one that will work for your family.

You can now start paying down debt, saving your money and building the foundation for the life you want.  Each month when the money would run out, you probably felt like you messed up big (maybe even failed), but you didn’t!  

You did not fail!

You just need a system that will actually work for you, not against you.  The budget spreadsheet is the easiest tool you will ever use.  You simply enter in the amount you WANT TO SPEND and then the AMOUNT YOU ACTUALLY SPEND.  The biggest piece of this budget is you can update it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  The more you update your budget then the more you will be able to have control over your spending.

You will be able to see right away if you’re getting close to the amount you wanted to spend for the month and if so, you can quickly adjust.  

One of the biggest questions I see is from people not knowing how to setup their budget.  Honestly it can be overwhelming to get it started, that’s why I’m taking the guess work out for you.  

This simple budget template is setup for a year and it has the categories already entered.  The expense categories are listed are home, transportation, daily living, health, personal, entertainment, dues/subscriptions, financial/retirement, and miscellaneous. It’s perfect for you to know where each expense goes and it makes it easier for you to accurately track your spending.

I created a quick video to show you just how this budget spreadsheet works, what you can expect from it and what the goal of budgeting is.  

What if I don’t use that category?

You can simply skip over it or change the wording to fit you better.  This budget template is totally flexible!  This is a template, so you can customize the categories and the amounts to what fits your family.  

How much should I be spending each month?

Well each family is different.  Your family’s needs are going to be different than another’s.  So while I can’t tell you specific numbers, you should be able to come in close by looking over your monthly bills.  Of course you could probably switch internet providers or cable providers for a lower rate, but you may not want to.  I recommend entering in your anticipated income first then your fixed monthly expenses.  Fixed expenses are the one that don’t change from month-to-month.  Such as phone, internet, cable, mortgage, car insurance, etc.

The first thing you should do after paying your fixed expenses is put money into your emergency fund and retirement accounts.  Go ahead and enter that in next.  After you’ve entered your fixed expenses, start looking at how much money you have left.  That is your flexible spending.  A rule of thumb on your grocery budget is to spend $100 per person in your family.  So if you have you, your spouse and two children then you would budget $400 a month.  This goes for no matter the age of your children – newborn on up.  This amount includes paper products for your family, too.

You should then look at your bank statements to get an idea of how much your spending on gas each month.  More than likely this won’t change, unless you took an out of town trip that isn’t the norm.  You may have to look at a few months to get an average.

Afterwards any money left over needs to be spent on paying down debt.  Eating out is a luxury, in my opinion.  It doesn’t mean my family doesn’t eat out, but it should be the last category you budget for.  Because if you don’t have any money left then you need to know before swinging through the fast food drive-thru on your way home.  

What’s great about this budget template is the columns will automatically add for you.  So you don’t have to guess on how you’re doing.  You will see right there on the computer screen.

 

This budget template will only cost you $9 and you will instantly receive an Excel document.  Once you have the Excel file opened you can start entering in your budgeted spending amounts and tracking your actual spending.  No more guessing whether or not you will have enough money at the end of the week.  

You’ll finally be able to start paying down debt, save for anything you want, and build the life you want.

 

How to Afford Paying Off Credit Card Debt

How to Afford Paying Off Credit Card Debt

One of the biggest questions I get when it comes to budgeting and getting out of debt is

How do I pay off my credit card when I’m living paycheck-to-paycheck?

Well I’m here to tell you it’s possible.  You can do it.  You can pay off your credit card even though you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.  It’s going to be hard and you probably won’t like me very much, but the truth hurts sometimes.  

You should know that this is what my family has done.  J and I have paid off over $10,000 in credit card debt by following these tips.  We did it when we first moved when money was tight and we were just getting our feet planted.  So I know if my family can do it then your family can do it too.  You will just need to be the cheerleader and motivator when things get tought.  

Here’s what you can do to get out of credit card debt when money is tight:

Cut back on spending 

I know it’s easier said then done, but I’m sure you can find a few areas each week to save some money.  Try a spending freeze for a week and you’ll be surprised at the amount of money you can save.  You are going to have to get creative to stop spending money.  Make sure you’re meal planning with what you already have on hand, stop impulse shopping – yes a fountain diet mountain dew counts as an impulse by even if using change from your car’s floorboard!  

Stop using your Credit Card

This one might be a bit hard for you to swallow.  But to pay down debt you have to stop incurring debt.  You’re probably thinking how you only put gas and groceries on your card each month – just the necessities and you do it to earn points.  That’s great!  I love points.  I let mine accumulate until Christmas and use it on presents – it’s like free money!  Here’s the problem with that mentaility – it’s too easy to swipe your card!  It’s too easy to assume you have the money to pay for all of those groceries.  So stop using it.  At least for the next 4-6 weeks because you need to break the mentality and start telling yourself no.  Go back to using cash only or use the flexible debit card budgeting trick that my family uses.  

Even J and I have to stop using our credit card every few months because the norm becomes just to swipe.  It’s too easy to use our credit card instead of looking at our check register and keeping track of our spending.  

How to Afford Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Update your budget

I am a huge fan of quick and easy budgets.  There is no need to make something too complicated for you and your family.  All you need is a simple income less expenses type budget.  That way you know how much your spending and how much you should be spending on every day items – groceries, gas for your cars, eating out, etc.  By spending just a few minutes each day updating your budget you will know how your doing on a day-to-day basis instead of playing a guessing game.  You need to be looking at your money on a regular basis, please.  One of the easiest ways to not overspend is by having money dates and check-ins.  If you realize how close you are to your grocery budget in the middle of the month then you can spend the next few weeks using what you have on hand, making due and getting creative.

Stop eating out

This one may seem like a no brainer to you, but it needs to be said.  If you’re struggling to get out of debt then you need to stop eating out so much.  Now eating out is easy.  It’s quick.  And my favorite – no dishes to clean afterwards!  However, even running through a fast food place can add up night after night.  You need to treat eating out as a date night or special occasion.  Save some money and go once every two weeks or once a month.   This includes eating out for lunch, too.  Don’t try to convince yourself that lunch is cheaper then dinner or how you forgot your lunch and have to eat.  Make sure you’re planning ahead for breakfasts, lunches and dinners so you can save yourself the money.  Just think if you and your spouse go out to eat twice a week with one child you can easily spend $30-45 after tip.  That includes your meal, your spouse’s, a child’s meal and drinks.  Now if instead you go out to eat once a month you are saving anywhere from $210-$315 a month!  A month!?!  That’s crazy!  Just think about the dent you could put into your credit card balance by sending an extra $315 a month.

Increase the amount your sending each month

Once you start saving more money by checking your budget, not eating out as much and staying on track with your impulse shopping then you need to start putting that money towards your credit card balance.  By sending in more then the minimum payment each month you can seriously cut down the amount of time it will take to pay off your balance.  Just think if you could save about $100 a month from doing a week long spending freeze plus $315 from not eating out as much, and by not overspending on groceries anymore you could be putting an additional $500 towards your credit card debt.

So you see it is possible to get out of credit card debt while living paycheck-to-paycheck.  It may not always be fun or pretty, but you can do it.  You just need to be a little creative with your meal planning, shopping and cautious of where your money is going.  I have faith you can do it!

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.

How I Feed My Family For One Week – Aldi Shopping Haul – Coming Home From Vacation

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You asked for it – how do I feed my family on a tight budget with meal planning for one week?

Well I thought today is the day to show you. We just got home this past weekend from our week long vacation and it was time to restock the pantry and freezer.

Now that Walmart has done away with price matching, I thought it was time to show off my new grocery shopping skills. I’ve switched to shopping mainly at Aldi so that I can stay on budget and still get quality produce and other food items. Now I don’t expect Aldi to always have what we need, but I have found that it does a pretty good job. For the items it doesn’t carry I plan on getting from Amazon, because Amazon is Mom’s best friend and from the local Neighborhood Market Walmart.

I also am pretty savvy when it comes to online shopping.  I love certain programs that help me make money just shopping normally.  Ebates is a great resource and I highly recommend it.  You can sign up here (using my referral link).  There are other ways to save money with in-store shopping are using apps.  These are great and I recommend them to everyone.  Even if you only get a few dollars back each trip (or less) the savings can really add up.  

Typically I meal plan for about 2 weeks at a time.  That way I can buy meat in bulk and other foods in larger quantities.  It also helps on the prep time because you can just brown a big pan of ground beef, split it and then use it for two separate nights.  However, we stayed the weekend with J’s family after we got back to Missouri then when we finally got home we had a long lunch with my parents.  So by the time it came to meal plan and grocery shop we were all exhausted.  Our little guy wasn’t going to make it to his bed time so we decided to just use what we had in our freezer and pantry to get us started.  

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We ended up meal planning for only one week this time around and then when we go next weekend I will start back on my 2 week plans.  J and I also decided to clean up our eating a little after our vacation.  It was time to get back to eating healthier and eating at home a lot more.  So we planned to have breakfast, lunch and dinner at home for this whole next week. 

Check out the quick video sharing my best grocery shopping tips for a tight budget, how we meal plan and what all I bought from Aldi.  

Here’s the first step in meal planning:

Go through your pantry and freezer.  Make a list of which meats and other items you already had on hand.  Then from there plan your meals.  

We lucked out by having enough meat for the entire week (lunch included!) so that meant this shopping trip was going to be easy and we were going to be able to stay in our grocery budget.  

The second step in meal planning:

Plan around what you already have.  You may love knowing you have a small stockpile on hand, but you should be rotating through your freezer items and what you have in your cabinets.  So go ahead and create your meal plan based off what you have.  Now if you have the wiggle room in your budget or there is a great sale going on then you can buy new meat to replace your inventory. Make sense?  You don’t want to keep a pound of hamburger meat in the freezer for years when you go through a pound each week.  Make sure you’re rotating your stock.

We looked at what we had on hand then planned our breakfast, lunches and dinners around it.  We knew we would have to buy a few items to go with the meals, but the bulk of each recipe was already bought months ago.

We ended up spending just under $59 for the whole week and honestly some of these items were just restocking our pantry so they will last longer than a week.  We’re going to have tasty meals that are a bit healthier this week, too.

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Here’s what we’re planning for the next week:

Breakfast each day will be eggs, sausage and cheese scrambles.

Monday Lunch: Grilled Chicken Salad with Avocado
Monday Dinner: Grilled Pork Steak (for J) and Grilled Pork Chop (for me) with Parmesan peas

Tuesday Lunch: Shrimp Salad with Avocado
Tuesday Dinner: Hamburgers

Wednesday Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday Dinner: leftovers

Thursday Lunch: Chicken Salad
Thursday Dinner: Fajita Chicken Bake

Friday Lunch: leftover Fajita Chicken Bake
Friday Dinner: Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

Saturday Lunch: left over Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake
Saturday Dinner: out with my family for my Mom’s birthday

Sunday Lunch: Chicken Salad Sandwiches

We’ll go shopping again for our next two weeks on Sunday afternoon so I only planned through lunch.

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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.

How To Save Without Walmart Price Matching

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Hi friends!  It’s been circulating online for about 6 months now how Walmart was going to start phasing out their price matching policy.  Well the time has come and Walmart has stopped price matching.  Gasp!  I know, I know.  Honestly, not all stores have stopped (yet); however, Walmart is being tight lip on which stores still allow price matching.  Price matching is how I saved the bulk of my money on groceries.  I don’t coupon.  Not because I can’t, but because I always felt it was a waste of time for my little family of three.  I am still adamant about not coupon clipping or printing off coupons online (unless it’s too good to pass up).  

What is price matching?

In case you aren’t familiar with what price matching is – it’s the best way to save money on groceries.  Your Walmart would typically match their competitor’s price on name brand items and even store brand to store brand items.  

When I heard how Walmart was going to be doing away with price matching I started developing a new strategy to help you save money on groceries.  

Price matching was always a double edge sword.  You saved money, but you had to deal with the mess that is Walmart, grumpy cashiers and impatient customers.  Part of me is relieved it’s over, but another part is a little sad because I liked the challenge and loved saving money.  

To combat the new policy backlash Walmart is supposed to be lowering their already low prices to help. I guess we’ll see how that turns out and if it’s really a savings, but until then I have a new plan to save money since Walmart stopped their price matching.

Here’s how to save without Walmart price matching:

Switch Stores

You can switch which grocery store you shop at.  Find a new one that can help save money without the hassle of price matching.  Simple – I plan on switching stores for most of my day-to-day grocery items.  I  started shopping at Aldi lately and I’ve noticed a huge savings on most of the essential items that my family needs.  My local Aldi doesn’t carry everything we need so I know there will be trips to Walmart or Walgreens in my future, but for the bulk of my items I plan at shopping at Aldi. 

Shop Online

The other option is start buying items online. I’ve started adding is ordering more from Amazon. Shopping on Amazon is by far the easiest and most convenient for our family. I use the Subscribe and Save for our dog food, diapers, toilet paper and wipes.  As I’ve learned when we need to replace items, I’ve added them to our Subscribe and Save too.

Money Saving Apps

You can utilize money saving apps to rack up extra money for fun trips, purchases, and anything else you want.  I use my money saving apps like the Walmart Savings Catcher And Ibotta. The savings catcher app doesn’t quite price match what I consider good deals. You have to shop name brand and it has to be on sale at a store within the vicinity of the Walmart you shop at. But honestly I feel that it only compares my shopping to stores like Walgreens and CVS in my hometown.  I don’t think it compares to the actual grocery stores nearby. 

Since I plan on stopping most of my Walmart shopping I won’t be using this app nearly as much. I use the Walmart Savings Catcher app when I shop at Walmart because it’s convenient.  I already have the Walmart receipt and it only takes 5 seconds to upload it, so why not? I don’t get a ton of money from the app and I usually try to save as much as possible to use for Christmas; however, it’s not typically enough to pay for my entire Christmas budget. That’s when I use Ibotta to help pick up the slack.

I do plan on using Ibotta with my Aldi shopping, but I’ve noticed a serious lack of rebates available from them.  It’s a little disappointing, but I can’t complain too much since I’m getting such a good deal in-store.  I also know I won’t be able to do all of my shopping at Aldi so it’s nice to know I’m still going to be getting some savings from the other local grocery stores.

Check Sales and Meal Plan

The third option I’m going to be doing is checking the sales ads. I do meal planning for two weeks to help us save money, so by having a plan with a grocery list of what I need then I’ll be able to see which stores have specific items on sale. I won’t mind going into multiple stores since I’ll have a plan for my grocery list and know which stores to buy which items then I can save time and money. Because let’s be honest price matching at Walmart though it was nice and saved money it could be time-consuming if you had a lot of items with a lot of price matches and you had a grumpy cashier.

What are you doing without Walmart’s price matching?  Leave a comment and let me know, I always want to learn new ways to save money.

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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.

DIY Mother’s Day Gift or Birthday Gift

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DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I wanted to treat my Mom to something special for her birthday and Mother’s Day last year.  I know, I know I can’t believe I am just now getting around to sharing what I did last year! #momissues

Our little guy was right around a month old, I was still struggling with the recovery from my c-section, I was tired and learning to adapt to this whole motherhood thing.  My Mom was great (a little overwhelming at times, but what new Grandma isn’t), she had really helped with the Baby and there were a lot of days she would just bring me lunch and sit with me for an hour.   When it came time to start thinking of Mother’s Day and her birthday, which is just a few days later, I knew I wanted to do something special for her.  Our son is my parents’ first grandchild and they were over the moon with excitement for him, so I knew he had to be a big part of her gift.  That’s why I wanted to create a DIY birthday gift for her.  

Honestly this gift can be created for a birthday, Mother’s Day or even Father’s Day gift.  Heck, it would even work for Grandparents’ Day.

J and I were trying to mind our budget, like always.  And with medical bills and some home projects our money was pretty tight.  I had to put on my thinking cap and come up with something creative that wouldn’t break the bank.

DIY birthday gift

I headed to Hobby Lobby and came across this pretty picture frame that holds three 5×7 images.  Luckily it was on sale and was 50% off.  After taxes I paid a little over $13.00 for it.  You can find the exact same frame on Amazon for less than $16.00 if it’s just easier to order one.  I typically buy everything on Amazon, but for those last minute items I tend to go shopping in-person.  

Once I saw the frame, I decided I would do something similar to my DIY Father’s Day gift I created for J.  I created a simple image using canva.com.  They had the heart image under the elements heading and under the shapes tab.  I then added his name, the month and year to remember when it was done.  

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift idea

I came home and used the same ink pad that I used in J’s gift that was leftover from our wedding thumbprint tree guestbook.  I simply pressed his feet into the heart by overlapping his heel prints.  I let it dry then placed it into the center frame.  I used plain printing paper so there wouldn’t be a problem with the thickness when I tried to close up the back. 

I then headed onto walgreens.com to upload a few pictures.  I of course googled a coupon code and found one for 40% off.  I ended up paying less than $3 for the images.  I placed them in the remaining slots and that was it.

DIY mother's day gift, DIY birthday gift for mom, DIY photo gift

I updated the image so feel free to download the DIY Mother’s Day PDF or click the image above to print. 

So for right around $17.00 I created a really sweet and memorable Mother’s Day gift.  My Mom loved it and she still has it proudly showcased in her home.  I have plans to do personalized gifts for both grandparents every year – that way they can get gifts that show off how their grandson is growing and I know they’ll be gifts they want to have around.  

How to Create A Simple Budget

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Did you know everyone has a budget? Yes, everyone.

Even you have a budget. Even the anti-budgeter next door has one.

What you spend is your budget. Whether or not your write it down and keep track of it.

Your income less your expenses each month is your budget. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.  I’m sharing my tip on how to create a simple budget.

The people that are turned off by budgeting are the ones that tend to overcomplicate things. I’m sharing my one tip that can help turn you into the pro-budgeter you’ve dreamed of.

You can watch the video or keep reading.

The easiest tip for sticking to and creating a simple budget is by tracking your money. Not as you spend it, but before you spend it. Before you write your rent check, swipe your debit card or ACH your car payment. You need to track your money on paper (or spreadsheet) first.

We use Google Sheets as our check register, but I take it one step further by pre-tracking our monthly expenses. I know about what day each bill will hit, when our paydays will be and when I need to go grocery shopping.

I’m going to assume you probably know all of those things too. You run your house pretty smoothly and you know when the baby will need more milk and diapers, and when you will need more toilet paper.  It’s a mom thing for sure.  J has no idea when we’re about to run out of food and when the baby is going to need more wipes.  But I do.  Just like you do.

Most of us moms and wives are pretty up on logistics when it comes to our household. So I take the knowledge I have about grocery shopping, loan payments, rent, and daycare costs then write it down on my check register.

I start with the first of each month then I write down the date of each bill, payment or expense. I add in any income and the day they will be deposited into my account (I love direct deposit and don’t have to think too much about it). I subtract any expenses from income to keep a running total. Now I know on the 20th of each month how much I’m going to have after all the bills have cleared and before I get paid on the 30th.

For instance, if you look at your check register on the 20th and see you have two more bills that come out around the 23rd then you will know on the 20th how much money you can spend until you get paid again.

Does this make sense?

No more guessing. No more cutting it too close.

You know on the 20th if you need to be eating at home the next 10 days so you have enough money to put gas in your car.

This one tip on how to create a simple budget – pretracking your expenses – has saved my family over and over again.  

There are no more surprises when it comes to our bills.  Nothing gets overlooked and you won’t have to write a hot check hoping it doesn’t get cashed before payday.  

If you want to download the budget template my family uses, check it out. It has helped so much on keeping us on track and allowing us the ability to see where our money is going. No more guessing or not knowing.

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.