Tag Archives: budget

Simplify Your Life: Step 6 Set Up Routines

**This post may contain affiliate links which help to support our blog and our family.

This post is part of a multi-section post in honor of National Simplify Your Life week which is the first week of August. The original post wasn’t as short and simple as I had wanted it to be so I decided to break it down into a few shorter posts.

6. Set Up Routines

This goes without saying for us here and maybe I should have included it in Step 5 but I  felt it deserved its own post. Simple routines for morning, afternoon, and evenings have been the key to making life so much easier and simpler for us. Everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them and when.

We also have a routine for bill paying, laundry, and our homeschool. The important to remember is that you probably don’t need all of these. Focus on what you need to accomplish and set up a routine. Work on that one routine to simplify it and make it as efficient as possible. This make take a little time but it is so worth it.

Having a hard time getting everyone out the door in the morning? Maybe you should make a routine for the night before. It could include everyone placing their bookbags, briefcases, bags, and things they need at the door or other designated location. Many times our lives are stressful and chaotic because we don’t put a lot of thought into our plans but routines can change that.

Check out Make Over Your Mornings LIVE for some great ideas!

You can read more about all of our routines here. Remember that you need to base your routines around your life and not based on other’s. Routines have been proven to help make people more successful! Check out these books here and here for more ideas!

You can also check out Make Over Your Evenings for more tips on evening routines.

Meal Planning

Part of your routines can include Meal Planning.

This is an absolute necessity in our house. Meal planning is really not as difficult as it may seem and it can be done in so many different ways. There are several posts and article written about meal planning that you can find by searching with Google. There are services and courses you can sign up for too.

You can also check for books on the topic at your local library. A couple of my favorite books are ‘Complete 30 days meal plan: Meal planning ideas including weight loss resources and weight loss recipes‘ and ‘Meal Planning on a Budget: Save Money on Groceries, Master Meal Prep, & Reduce Food Waste to Reach Financial Freedom’I also like this little meal planning pad I found on Amazon, it looks so simple!

Are you tired of spending too much on groceries? Check out Grocery University to learn everything you need to know about making the best of your grocery budget.

Not only can meal planning make your life simpler it can also save you money! You can read more about how we meal plan here and check out some of our previous meal plans here.

Click here to continue to Step 7.

Start your  FREE account with the  Wealthy Affiliate program.

Becoming Debt Free One Bill At A Time

As I’ve mentioned before I am working on paying off some of my hospital bills from February. I had been so sick with a kidney infection and had to go to the hospital a couple of times. Needless to say that without insurance these trips got very expensive.

However I am please to report that this week I have finally paid off the final bill that I’ve received. Yay! What a relief!I have also been looking at Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps and plan to start working on Step #1 which is to save $1,000 for an emergency fund. I did have this saved earlier this year but due to hospital bills and other unforeseen circumstances this has since been depleted.

There are so many different ways to save even when on a budget and if you check out my Pinterest Board Momma: Be Debt Free  you can check out some different ideas there. I haven’t made a set plan yet but I’ve put $25.00 back in the pot as start towards that $1,000. I’m hoping to reach this goal by the end of the year.

I’ll be posting a new post about the second step soon!This post does contain affiliate links which help to support our blog.

5 Resolutions – Using the Instant Pot to Achieve Them

5 Resolutions – Using the Instant Pot to Achieve Them:
Trying to eat better this year? How about budget better? This is a great list of 5 New Year’s resolutions and how the Instant Pot can help with them ALL: 5 Resolutions – Using the Instant Pot to Achieve Them
**This post contains an affiliate link.

Markdown Meals: Chicken Salad on Croissants

I have been doing a lot of grocery shopping at Walmart just because it is so close to me. Normally I really dislike Walmart and if there was another grocery store closer to me then I’d probably go there but right now Walmart it is.

I happened to pass by the deli section and found these rotisserie chickens marked down to $2.01! I’m not sure what they normally sell for but I grabbed two of them. One Traditional and one Lemon Pepper. I had also snagged a package of mini croissants on the mark down cart for less than $3.00.

Today I used the traditional chicken to make Super Easy Chicken Salad croissants. I served these with some cherry tomatoes on the side for a quick lunch.

Here is the recipe:

Super Easy Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken (or use 2-3 cooked chicken breasts), shredded
  • 1/3 c. mayo
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 stalks celery (optional)
  • 1 boiled egg, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 T. Pickle relish (optional)
  • onion, chopped (optional)
  • raisins, chopped apples, chopped nuts or whatever other add-ins you might like (optional)

Directions:

Mix everything together in a bowl. Season to taste. Enjoy on a bed of lettuce, in a croissant, or on toast.

It was so simple and so good! You could use whatever seasoned chicken you prefer.

This is just one example of a quick, easy, and delicious meal that you can make on a budget. I spent less that $8.00 for the meal and it fed myself and 6 kids.

VXD168-evergreenAssociateAds-benefit-assoc-300x250

Have you tried Amazon Prime? If not, click here for a free 30 day trial!

Prime_Gifting_300x250_updated._V324946771_

Or you can give Amazon Prime as gift by clicking here.

March Monthly Grocery Trip

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Things have been so crazy busy here but life is good. Actually life is GREAT! Things have been going really well for us lately and this Momma is finally starting to get back on track to my ‘pre-divorce’ organization and I’m loving it. It is exhausting though and it has taken me almost a week to get this post written.

I post our weekly menu plans and for the past several months or so that was a far as my menu planning went. I do have it planned out on a repeating schedule on our calendar but I would have to adjust it on a weekly basis. Fortunately this month I was able to make a change and try to get back into the habit of a monthly grocery shop. In order to do a monthly grocery shop I need to plan out a whole month’s meals at a time, a week at a time. This is really not that hard once you have done a few weeks, and hopefully saved your notes, as you can just rotate the weekly plans to make up a new monthly plan.

The other thing that I haven’t been doing was making my monthly trip to Sam’s club. This was just something that I had stopped doing at some point last year. Then the store moved and I just really didn’t have the time or energy to devote to looking up the new location and making the list for the monthly trip. Needless to say we have seen the consequences of my lack of motivation in that area.

The first step was to sit down and figure out the menu plan. I looked over the recurring meal plans and decided which ones that we don’t really like that much anymore. I either changed them to recur less frequently or deleted them all together. Then I needed to make my grocery list, which was just like I normally do, only multiplied by four.

I wrote down what I needed for the first week and then just added a tally mark beside the items that I needed multiple times for the remaining weeks. Once the list was in hand I check online on Sam’s Club and added the items that I needed to my cart. I did check prices and did not include everything on my Sam’s list. I also checked the special promotions they had and grabbed a few of those items as well.

The greatest thing I like about Sam’s club is that you can do the ‘Click and Pull’ orders. I really don’t like shopping. Anything that makes that task a little easier is a winner with me. Once that was completed I check the Aldi sales and made a list for there as well.

On Saturday I made my way down to the new store location. On the way I noticed that Aldi was directly across the road from Sam’s which made me quite a happy camper.  My order wasn’t quite ready as it was a pretty large order. I walked through the store and browsed. I didn’t take a buggy with me as that may have tempted me to fill the buggy up. My self control seems to hide when I go into Sam’s club. I did rather well though and only grabbed two items that we did need before I got the text saying my order was ready.

I checked out and they have it set up to pull up for pickup. (They actually have a touchscreen outside too that you can use to check in for pickup without coming into the store!) The associates helped me to load everything into my vehicle and they were so friendly! I was beginning to get a little worried about room as I knew I still needed to stop at Aldi before going home.

I did make it to Aldi and thankfully was able to fit everything in:

17156046_10212001919826928_672733932737970983_n.jpg

This is just one view of the kitchen after we unloaded!

17155803_10212001919386917_4414563261517838569_n.jpg

As you can tell it wasn’t just food that I bought but other household items as well. How much did I spend? This was all under $600.00. I will need to visit the local stores for some fresh veggies and milk but this is the majority of the shopping for the month!

What did I get? (I don’t have the prices as I misplaced my receipts somewhere in the mountain of groceries.)

Some of the bulk purchases at Sam’s:

  • Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and other salad items
  • Ranch (dry packs and bottles)
  • boxed macaroni and cheese
  • hotdogs
  • pintos (Sam’s has a huge bag that will last us a few months at least)
  • tea bags (Sam’s also has the gallon size bags which are wonderful)
  • dry cereal, oatmeal, grits (Sam’s had some really good promos going)
  • bags of shredded cheese (I store these in the freezer)
  • 20 lbs of potatoes, 10 lbs of sweet onions
  • 10 lbs of white sugar
  • large packs of pillsbury crescent rolls (another Sam’s promo)
  • toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning wipes (promo), laundry detergent, paper plates
  • crackers, animal crackers, cheese puffs, pop tarts, popcorn, tortilla chips
  • yogurt, cream cheese
  • canned tuna
  • koolaid
  • nutella, peanut butter, and jelly
  • condiments (bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo, salsa)
  • spaghetti sauces
  • variety box of pasta
  • cases of canned tomatoes and veggies
  • lots of frozen veggies, large bag of french fries, box of egg rolls
  • large box of instant potatoes, rice
  • pancake mix and syrup

And at Aldi I got:

  • 12 loaves of bread (I will need to get more before the end of the month but this is a start.)
  • 6 dozen eggs (I may need more)
  • 6 gallons of milk @ Aldi for $1.99 (This was all I could store.)
  • chicken breasts, pork chops, hamburger meat, bacon

There were many other items but that is just an example of what I was able to buy in mass quantity to save time and money. I will still be going once a week to the store to get some fresh items or things that I may have forgotten but the fewer times I go to the store the less likely I will go over my grocery budget.

Some of the meals we will be having include:

Breakfasts (some of these will repeat through the month):

Lunches (these will repeat through the month):

  • hot dogs, mac n cheese
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches
  • PB & Js
  • Scrambled Egg Sandwiches
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches
  • Soup, grilled cheese
  • leftovers

Dinners:

Snacks/Desserts (some of the snacks will repeat through the month):

We will also be having a cookout one weekend so there will be a few more things I will need to get for that once we decide exactly what we will be having. It may seem to be an overwhelming task but you can break it down into smaller chunks to make it easier. I can tell you that I am so very glad that I finally did this and hopefully I am back on track to where I once was.

Menu planning has not always been something that I did. I don’t know how we made it as long as we did before I finally started to make out our meal plans ahead of time. For me this has been a big help in itself. The monthly planning is an even bigger help along with the monthly grocery shop. I can see what a difference it has already made at our house here.

I know this is not for everyone but hopefully this post can help someone.

I pray that you all have a wonderful week!

My First Shopping Trip At Aldi!

I’ve been talking about it for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to doing it. We all have those things that we want to do or need to do but keep pushing them aside or putting them off until later. Well, for me later had finally came and I went to Aldi.

Part of the reason I kept putting it off was because it is a little bit of a drive from me. Earlier this week though I had set my intentions on making this happen, and I did just that. I have been reading some great things about them for awhile. I have heard lots of great things too.

There were a few posts in my FaceBook feed like Passionate Penny Pincher‘s live video that really prompted me to get on the ball and check it out for myself. I have seen other bloggers posting about their savings as well. Part of my New Year’s goals was to be a better steward of my blessings which means I really need to work on some of my financial goals. 

I have been doing a lot of research on grocery budgets and I feel that ours is fairly average considering the number of meals I make and the number of people I feed. We are currently averaging $100 – $150/week on groceries. There may be a couple of times every now and then that I go over that. We don’t eat out very often and I do make a lot of things from scratch. Not only that I do shop the sales and clip coupons too. This does take time but I am dedicated to making sure that we stay on budget so we can work towards some bigger goals in the future.

We had been going to Sam’s club too but they moved their location and it is now farther away from me. Just knowing that there might be a chance to save money on most of the items we need, at one store, was reason to get excited. I’ve watched the videos, I’ve seen the posts, but I wanted to see for myself. Most of the reviews have talked about how amazing this store is and I am a bit of a believer in the ‘if it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is’ saying.

So I made my grocery list. I also printed off the ‘The Ultimate Aldi Grocery List‘ from Passionate Penny Pincher‘s site and got ready to go. So binder and lists in hand I made the 45 minute trip to my closest Aldi. I also made sure to stick a quarter in my pocket on the way out the door.

First things first was finding a place to park. Then I went to the front of the store and waited for the lady in front of me to put her buggy back and retrieve her quarter. I deposited my quarter in the slot, unlocked a buggy, and went inside.

As soon as I went in I noticed the nice wide, uncluttered aisles. I also noticed that they did have some really good prices. I mean really crazy good prices. Below is a list of a few of the items I was surprised at:

  • Eggs, Large -$0.69/dozen
  • Bananas -$0.44/lb
  • Cream of chicken soup-$0.69
  • Honey Nut Oats (like Cheerios)-$1.19
  • Whole Milk-$1.99/gallon
  • Tortilla Chips-$0.99
  • Shredded Cheese (3 cups)-$2.69
  • White Sugar (4 lbs)-$1.69
  • Canned Chili Beans-$0.59
  • Canned Corn-$0.36
  • Apples (3 lb)-$2.99
  • Potatoes (5 lb)-$2.69
  • Strawberries-$1.29/lb
  • Cherry Tomatoes-$0.79
  • Romaine Hearts-$1.99
  • Spinach-$1.49
  • Pretzel Sticks-$1.29/lb
  • Baby Carrots-$0.69/lb
  • Whole Wheat Bread -$0.49/loaf

Of course I got way more than this and more than one of many of these items. I was almost afraid to go to the checkout. I was afraid there may have been a mixup on some of the prices. I did keep in mind some of the tips from the video I had watched. I didn’t buy any brand name items as they did appear to be marked up more than what I could get them for at other stores. I also had my sales lists from two other stores so I could compare some of the prices to know if I was getting the best deal.

I did buy a couple of meat items that were on sale but I didn’t really need a lot as I have still have an overstock of some items in my freezer. My meal plan for next week was planned around some of those items as well. I did see some items that I will want to try out in the future but for the sake of my budget I tried to stick to my list as much as I could. The pretzels and strawberries were a couple of my impulse buys.

I was really pleased with the prices on the fresh produce. I have been trying to include more fresh fruits and veggies in our meals and snacks. These prices could help me achieve that goal and keep me within my grocery budget.

Another good thing about the store is that I feel like I could take my kids, well maybe a couple at a time, and not have to worry about them seeing things that they just had to have. It would also be helpful to have another person there to bag the groceries. I forgot to mention that you need to bring your own bags. They have some plastic bags that you can buy at the checkout. The bags are OK, they may last a trip or two, but I will be investing in some more reusable bags. My favorite FlyLady bags are available here.

For me this was definitely an experience that I will be repeating again. Maybe the next time I won’t need to circle the store 4 or 5 times to find everything I am looking for. It is definitely not a ‘one stop shop’ for me but I’m sure it could be for some people. I will continue to clip coupons and check sales. I will probably still shop at 2-3 stores to get my groceries. The stores I shop at are fairly close together and I make one big circle to get back home. When the new Aldi store opens it will be in a location that falls along the route I normally take so I will be sure to include it in my regular stops.

So, you are probably wondering how much I spent? I got a HUGE buggy load of groceries that filled the back of my truck for $127.64! That included about $15.00 worth of toiletry/paper products and another $10.00 worth of items that I had purchased for my dad. My goal was to spend $100.00 or less on groceries and if I hadn’t bought the strawberries and the pretzels I would’ve come in under budget. I can try again next week!

 

Pantry Challenge Week

What is a Pantry Challenge? Well, it is pretty much what it says. A pantry challenge is a technique I have to use up the food I have in my pantry or freezer.

I set up one week every three to four months as a ‘Pantry Challenge Week’. This forces me to check through my pantry to see what may be hiding in the back. It forces me to check dates on items that I have forgotten about. It also forces me to look in the freezer. Look everywhere in the door, the drawers, and underneath the frozen bags of whatever is lurking in there. Continue reading Pantry Challenge Week

Keeping Up With The Bills

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here.

One important aspect of making sure that everything runs smoothly is making sure that the bills get paid. I don’t know about you but sometimes it gets hard for me to try to remember when things are due and how much to pay.I mean you have the normal bills like the utilities that need to be paid once a month, sometimes you have other bills that are semi-annually or annually, and then you get the unexpected bills like payments on an appliance that just had to be replaced.

The bills have to get paid or we will find ourselves sitting in the dark or with no place to live. We may find ourselves with no way to go anywhere either. Not too mention those outrageous late fees! With so much on our already full plates it can be so easy to overlook something every now and then. Knowing how much is due and when it is due is a big challenge for some people. How do we juggle all of our responsibilities and make sure that everything and everyone gets paid?

It helps to designate a place for all of your bills to go. Then you can use a variety of options to keep up with them. You could just make a simple file by due date or you can write them  on the calendar every month to remind you. I have some of them set up on my Cozi calendar to remind me about them. I also have an Excel worksheet that I created to help me stay on top of this. I am a visual person and it helps me to see it all written down in front of me. This sheet of paper is folded and placed into a desk drawer where I can easily access it when needed.

If you don’t have access to a Excel or another software you can always keep up with your bills in a notebook. Just use what you have on hand and what works best for you. Below is an example of the worksheet I created for my house:

I have a place for the name of the bill, the due date, and the amount due. The ‘ACCT’ section is to remind me how the bill is set up to be paid. The abbreviations stand for:

BP = Bill Pay through my checking account

** = Set up through the Bill’s site

CC = Set up to be billed to my credit card. (This is usually for the ones that don’t happen on a monthly basis.)

You should make your own abbreviations that you will be able to remember. It may be a good idea to write down a key somewhere also in case you forget or in case someone else may need to take over bill paying if you were sick. Keep it simple!

I also have a column for each month. I shaded them to just help keep my eyes from playing tricks on me.

This next picture is of the bills that are paid on a monthly basis.They are listed in order by the due date. I try to pay the biggest majority of my bills around the beginning of the month. This method may not work for you or your family. Make sure you know when the bills are due and pay them according to your pay schedule. After the bill has been paid for the month I simply put a ✓ in the box under the month.

For the bills that only happen every other month, or like the pest control which is every three months, I simply shaded out the other months. For the refrigerator I only have a couple of more payments, yay, so I shaded out the rest of the months.

This next picture shows the annual subscription payments that I currently have. This serves as a reminder for me to evaluate whether I really need/want to keep these services before the due date. I do have them set up to charge to my credit card but by knowing when they are due I can try to be prepared to pay them off when they come due.

Another benefit of keeping up with your bills is that you can see where your money is going. If something happens and you need to make changes you can see what is costing you the most and where you need to make cuts. This will go a long ways in helping you to make a budget, as well.

Just remember to keep your system simple and manageable. It won’t work if it is too complicated or if it takes too long to set up or use. I wish you the best in getting those bills under control.

 

Getting Routines Started 101

‘Your first obligation as a parent is to not bring chaos into your kids’ lives.’

OK, I should’ve written this before I started on the other posts about routines. I didn’t realize, until I was writing another post, how complicated and daunting routines can seem. Truth be told we all have some kind of routine already.

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here. Continue reading Getting Routines Started 101

Feeding an army, part 2

Hopefully you’ve read and enjoyed Feeding an army, part 1

Now that you have your meal planning started what do you need to do next?

**Please note this post does contain affiliate links to which I may, possibly, earn a small commission from if you click on and purchase an item. For full disclosure click here.

Well, hopefully you have a handful of favorite recipes on hand, in your file box or in your notebook. Get them out and start checking your local sales before you head to the grocery store. I have my menus set up on a rotating schedule on my online  Cozi  Calendar. Sometimes I may end up with 2 or 3 meals for the same day. I usually check the sales and see what the specials are before deciding which meals I will be making. I also try to shop for the upcoming week, on occasion I will shop for the month. When I shop for the month I will still go out every 1-2 weeks for fresh produce and other items that we may need. Continue reading Feeding an army, part 2