Showing posts with label budget. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budget. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Start Saving Money By Having A Poverty Mindset! Learn 25 Ways to Extreme Living and Saving!


We all want to save money, but sometimes we just don't know how to save more money than we already are. We don't want to take the next step in frugal living because we know that we will be looked upon as crazy. However, sometimes you need to save an extreme amount of money in a very short period of time. You might be suddenly faced with only having half of your normal income. You might find yourself with a lot of medical bills or a large repair bill.

You might also desire a different kind of life. You may want to prepare, to homestead, or just live a simpler and less stressful life. Most people don't think they can afford to do those things because they are so tied down with debt or other obligations. However, most people can if they would re-examine their spending.

In other words, you will need to practice a level of frugality that most of us don't want to think about. I call this poverty living. We are all living (or should be living) at a level of frugality that seems a little tight, but sometimes we need to get a lot tighter.

What does poverty living entail? Basically, living as broke as you can while still covering the necessities. Some of you, like me, already have done this before and never really had a name for it. While some of you already may live like this and do not have any other way to save more money, some of you may feel the need to do this just to get your budget and finances back under control. You may also feel the need to do this because you are facing an uncertain financial future. And, like I mentioned before, you may have some large bills you need to pay.

How does poverty living and saving work? How can you start living this way?

1. Take a long, hard look at your finances. You need to take a notebook and write down every single bill, expense, and spending you do now. You also need to look at any future expenses you know you will need to pay for. This is the time to get really tough with yourself and/or each other as a couple. What items in your budget can be eliminated, paused, or reduced? Do you have expensive habits? Are you extravagant gift givers? Are you kids in too many activities or have expensive hobbies? This is the time to examine everything including your lives. If you need or want to live as frugally as possible, sacrifices need to be made short term and possibly long term.

2. Get your grocery spending under control. Some of you will say that you don't spend a lot of money on groceries or at least as much as your friend spends on her groceries. You need to change your thinking. You are practicing a whole new level of saving so you need to focus on you. You need to carefully look over your receipts. You need to start making a list and sticking to the list and the budget. You need to plan meals around basic foods, what you are growing, and what is on sale. Going without a list and with no plan will make for a miserable time for you and your budget. You need to make the time to do this. You can also start a price book so you can get an idea of when an item is the cheapest, where the best price is, and how often it is on sale.

3. Meal plan and plan your meals around cheap, basic foods. If you are trying to save money, having fancy meals of salmon, steak, and lobster is not going to be possible. You need to keep your meals as frugal as possible. You may not be able to have meat as much as you like either. Casseroles, one pot meals, and soups will feed a lot of people cheaply. Make sure you also plan for breakfasts and lunches. If you think you will get sick of the same foods all the time, you may just need to suck it up. You are trying to save money. You can find a lot of ways to jazz up your meals with getting bored, but you will need to be creative about it.

4. Sell what you don't need. If you have four vehicles, only two are in working condition, and you only have two drivers, sell the two non-running vehicles. You can sell vehicles as is as long as you are honest about what is wrong with them. The same with the stuff you have in the garage, house, shed, and anywhere you are stashing things. Now is the time to make a little extra money! If you don't need it, get rid of it. Some things will only have a purpose once or twice a year and that is okay. However, your kids' outgrown toys, clothes, and equipment are not doing you any good sitting in a closet. Neither is the sporting equipment that you used ten years ago but think you will use again someday.

5. What are the necessities for you and your family? What do you really need? We all think we need things, but most of the time we can live without them. Sacrifices will need to be made in order for this to work. A good deal of the things we think of as necessary we find out is not necessary after living without them for a few months. You just need to really examine everything you purchase or use and ask yourself if you can live without them.

6. Unless you are getting it for free, no eating out, no going out on dates/nights out, no alcohol, and no other bad habits. They aren't necessary no matter how much you think they are so now is a good time to get rid of the bad and expensive habits and any other costly fun things. You may suffer some withdrawals, but the suffering will be worth the money saved and possibly improved health. You can also add soda pop, candy, and other "treats" that we think we need for ourselves. We don't need them and we would be better off without them.

7. Write down every penny spent, earned, and examine every purchase. This is a learning process. You will make mistakes, but in order to know where your money is going, you need to be on top of the spending. Ideally, you do not want to spend any money, but life is never ideal. However, by writing down every purchase and expense, you can easily see where your money is going and where it shouldn't be going. From there, you can make the necessary corrections to save even more money. And sometimes, just the thought of having to write down the expense will stop you from purchasing the item. No one wants to write down that they spent $1.29 on a candy bar.

8. Figure out what the true cost of things is. You may think your child needs to be in activities like basketball, dance, and other sports. You may think it is only costing you $40 for the registration fee. However, you are also spending money on additional vehicle gas, vehicle wear and tear, your time, possibly fast food to feed the family, special clothing and shoes, and more. That $40 is more like $400 before the season is over. While I believe kids should be involved in a few things, sometimes parents get kids involved in things they don't want to do. The same can be said about our hobbies and past times.

You need to examine the reasons to be involved in things and decide if the cost is worth it. Most of the time, it is not. This can apply to any area of your life. Maybe you have a home business, but that business is costing you as much money as you earn. You might have a hobby that is costly. You might like to do crafts, but the supplies are costly. You need to look at everything involved with those things and ask yourself what the real cost is for the hobby or past times.

9. No more food waste. When you are living below the poverty level, you do not have the luxury of wasting food ever. If you are raising food, you better find a way to preserve it somehow if you cannot eat it all. If you have leftovers, you should be eating them until they are gone. If you cannot eat all the leftovers, you need to freeze them or offer them to friends. If you do not like leftovers, you either need to get over yourself or make just enough food for the meal. You do not have the money to be throwing away food. If you have little bits of food or vegetables in your fridge you don't know what to do with, make a refrigerator clean out casserole or soup.

10. Clean and take care of your things. Neglect and disrepair will only cost you more money. You need to make sure your things are clean and in good repair. Most of the time keeping your items clean will cost you almost nothing. If something breaks, have it fixed or fix it yourself. Most of the time, the repair will be cheaper than buying the item again.

11. Save money any way you can. You need to always look for the savings in almost all of your decisions. This doesn't mean you should buy cheap goods that will break quickly instead of quality. This means you should always examine everything to see if you can save money. Saving items like rubber bands, twist ties, bread sacks, scrap paper, and more will save you money and extend the life of your purchase. Turn on a lamp instead of the overhead light because the lamp will take less electricity. Use grocery sacks for trash bags instead of using the real thing. Put on a sweatshirt and drop the thermostat by two degrees in the winter. Ask yourself constantly how you can save money and do it.

12. See how far you can stretch a tank of gas. Buying gas for your vehicles can be a budget killer. If you are driving to work every day, ask yourself if you can carpool with someone. Maybe you can walk or ride a bike to work. If you do have to drive, drive the speed limit. You need to also combine your errands. Try to limit your trips you are making. Ask yourself if it is really necessary to make the trip if not for work or family. Reduce your grocery trips to once a week or twice a month. If you need to go to the library, where else do you need to go?

13. Have a no spend week, month, or even longer. If you really want to curtail your spending, this is a great way to do. You need to set your limits and allowable purchases (gas, groceries, prescriptions) before you start. You also need to write down anticipated expenses and what you will do if unanticipated expenses do come up. However, this works best if everyone is on board with it. If you live with others, you need to talk to them. You can still practice a no spend month yourself, but it just might be more difficult.

14. Never turn down free items if you need or want them. Some people will turn down free items offered to them just because of their pride or they think someone else will need it more. If you can use it or need it, by all means, accept the free items. Accepting and using free items is the number two way to save money (number one is not spending money).

15. Learn to trade and barter. Trading goods and services is a win-win for everyone involved. If you have eggs and your neighbor has apples, trading those things with each other helps everyone involved. Bartering is a similar concept. You can offer to clean for someone in exchange for a haircut or another service. Whether trading or bartering, you are saving yourself a great deal of money.

16. If you have some expensive habits or friends, this is a good time to put them on hold. We can have the best intentions when we are trying to save money, but our habits and our friends can ruin those intentions in seconds. Habits like a drink after work, daily coffee runs, ribeyes on Friday nights, and expensive night outs can be the ruin of a good budget. You might think that these things will ruin the budget at the time, but over time these things can really add up and take away from the money you are desperately trying to save. Friends can be just as bad. Some friends may not feel like they can have a good time without an expensive meal out, lots of drinks, and/or a day of shopping. You can deal with them by leveling with them about the fact that you are saving money and cannot do those things anymore. You can maybe find other things to do with them that are free or inexpensive, but you may just have to stay away from them for a while.

17. If you have a credit card problem, you need to deal with them. I know a lot of people who are completely responsible with credit cards and pay them off every month. They are very conscious about what they spend and use them responsibly. I am not talking to those people. If you have problems with credit cards, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible. You may need to cut them up or put them in a safe deposit box away from you. If the interest is very high, look at switching or transferring to a low/no interest card in order to save money on interest. Then you need to pay them as quickly as possible. You need to learn to live on cash or within a budget if credit cards are a problem.

18. Buy used before you buy new. Almost everything you consume can be purchased used except for food, personal items, and maybe undergarments. Most of the time, you can find what you need to purchase used on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, resale shops, thrift stores, and sidewalk curbs. If you can anticipate needing the item and you find it before you need it, purchase it. This would be in cases like winter coats, clothes for growing children, school items, and more. You will save so much money this way and you will also stop the cycle of consumerism.

19. Shop from home first. Most people will go out and buy something new instead of using what they have at home. Back to school shopping is a prime example of this. Your kids probably came home with items they used last school year that is in perfectly good condition. However, we have been trained to think they need everything new when school starts again. We need to ditch that thinking. Look over their last year's items and reuse what you can. The same goes for gifts. Most of the time we have a brand new item at home that will work for a wedding or baby shower gift. Yes, this is regifting and make sure you do it right. Remove the card and make sure you don't give it back to the person who gave it to you. You may also be able to make a present with items you have on hand already.

20. Reuse, reuse, reuse. Most items are not disposable, but we treat them as such. It is easier to throw something away and purchase new again. However, a person living at poverty levels do not have that luxury. Wash, fix, repair, mend, and reuse items again. If something like a towel (for example) is no longer sufficient for the shower or bath, it can be used as a cleaning rag. Plastic bags can be washed out and reused again and again unless you use them for raw meat. Ask yourself if you can reuse this item or find another use for it before throwing it away.

21. Buy non-disposable items. On the flipside of reuse, reuse, reuse is making sure to purchase non-disposable items. This may seem like you are spending more money, but you are spending money on an item you hopefully never have to purchase again. Using handkerchiefs or a washcloth instead of facial tissues will save a lot of money. Using rags or cleaning cloths instead of paper towels will save a lot of money. Using plastic or glasses food containers instead of plastic food bags will save money. Look for the items you can use again and again instead of disposable items.

22. Realize saving money is in the little things as well as the big things. Many people have this idea that you cannot save money unless you are saving money on big purchases. This is simply not true. With a poverty mindset, you need to look for the savings in everything and often times the real savings in the little things. By not buying the coffee every day, you are saving $1-4 a day which adds up to $7-28 a week. In addition to those savings, you aren't tempted to buy the donut or bagel which is $2-4 a day or $14-28 a week. Already you have saved $21-56 in a week which is $84-$224 a month which is very nice payment on a bill. This is the mindset you need to create - little savings add up to big savings over time.

23. You may not be able to buy organic, non-GMO food or special ingredients. Back to the good old grocery budget. Most impoverished people can not afford this kind of food unless they are growing it themselves. While I mentioned before that you need to convert to cheap, basic foods, that doesn't mean you need to eat junk or eat unhealthily. You need to keep food to rice, beans, vegetables, fruits, and eat well but cheap. You just may not be able to afford organic food, hemp seeds, or anything that is marked up due to being the new health food cure-all.

24. Use everything until it is gone and do not purchase new unless you need it. When you are poor, you do not have the luxury of throwing away a half-used bottle of shampoo. You suck it up and use it up. You add a little water to the bottle to get the last bit out after tipping the bottle upside down for several days. The same should go for almost everything else that you use. You do everything you can to use up the last little bit of everything. Then you need to ask yourself if you need to buy another one or do you have something else on hand that will work. Most people do have something that will work instead of buying new. However, if you need it, by all means, buy another one and try to make it last longer (unless it has a short shelf life!).

25. Work as much as you can (within reason). If you are truly needing to get out of debt, pay off big bills, or just trying to save a large amount of money, you need to work as much as you can. Most people are not willing to do this. However, if you are offered more hours at work, take them. If you have the opportunity to work a part-time job in addition to your full-time job, do it. The only caveat to this would be if you have to pay more to work more. Having kids in daycare longer is usually not beneficial for the budget or family life. Sometimes you can work from home or telecommute which will help you save money as well as make more money. I would just steer clear of multi-level marketing jobs that ask you to spend money in hopes of making more money. Yes, they do work for some people, but often they don't work for others.

Some of you are thinking you already do most of these things, but can you take it further? I know I can and should. If you are stuck for ideas, the internet is a wonderful place full of good ideas. If you think you can't live without a smartphone, satellite television, and more, research other cultures and extreme savers. They will teach you quickly that you can and you would be spending your time much more productively without them.

Do you think you can live like this? Do you think you could make the sacrifices for the bigger goal?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?
The Budget Is Getting Tighter! 15 Ways We Are Making Lincoln Scream And You Can Too! 


Sunday, April 15, 2018

What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?


One of the ideas that have been on my mind has been extreme frugality. I am currently in saving money mode (which is normal) while trying to amp up my frugality game. I am back to using paper coupons, digital coupons, Ibotta, SavingStar, and much more. I'm paying a lot more attention to sale flyers and really deciding if I need any of that which, by the way, is in direct conflict with the stockpiler in me!

However, along with being frugal, I want to have a bigger impact on my savings and my spending game. To save more money and spend less money, you have to make more meaningful decisions about where your money goes and how your money is being spent. In short, you have to become more extreme in your frugal living game.

Frugal living has several aspects. One of the biggest aspects of frugal living and practicing extreme frugality is daily living. You have to examine every decision you make every day. Because being frugal is not just saving money on just big purchases, but being consciously aware of the money being spent on small daily purchases and how you are using the items you already have or purchased.

For whatever reason you decide to practice extreme frugality, you need to know and understand your reasons. Those reasons will be your motivation. The reasons can be many, but not limited to:


  • To rein in your spending
  • To pay down debt
  • To purchase a car or home
  • To save money for college
  • To save money for retirement
  • To save money for emergencies
  • To make a conscious effort to not spend money
  • To make frugality a part of your life

Whatever reason(s) you decide to practice extreme frugality, you need to know why you are doing it. Write down those reasons and place them everywhere you need to see them (office, computer, wallet, kitchen, etc.).

Now, that you know your reason for being extreme in your frugality, you need to find ways to tighten your spending. Some ideas to tighten up your frugal game could be:


  • Asking yourself to wait 3-7 days before purchasing anything besides necessities
  • Asking yourself if you have something already on hand before purchasing anything
  • Making a conscious decision to purchase used if at all possible
  • Eliminating food waste and examining if food scraps have another use
  • Using reusable items before purchasing single-use items like water bottles and drinks
  • Only purchasing clothes when something needs to be replaced and can't be repaired
  • Using washcloths and rags for paper towels, napkins, facial tissues, and more
  • Eliminating electrical use when possible and using solar or hand power instead
  • Walking or biking instead of driving the car
  • Making your own cleaners and beauty products
  • No more eating out and tightening the grocery budget
  • And so much more...

Every decision you make in a day should be examined for frugal reasons. There are always ways to save more money.

There may not be things you are willing to do to save more money. That is okay, but ask yourself why you are not willing to go that far to save money or not spend money. If saving/not spending money will hurt yourself or harm your family, then you shouldn't be doing it. There is a fine line in extreme frugality and withholding a critical necessity or service to not spend money is crossing the line.

Extreme frugality may bring on extreme cheapness. In some cases, being cheap is not a bad thing. People may view you are cheap just because you are not willing to buy something, go to a "party" for the sole purchase of buying something or will not go out bar hopping. That is not being cheap, that is being frugal. Being cheap is only spending what you have to without thought to others or yourself and potentially causing harm. Being cheap is also spending the least amount of money possible even though what you are purchasing is pure crap and you will be buying a new one when that item breaks easily. Being cheap is also taking advantage of a situation to get something free or get the upper hand over someone just so you don't have to spend anything. I could go on about being cheap and sometimes it is a good thing, but not usually.

You want to be fair in your extreme frugality. You are doing this for yourself and your family. Being cheap is not always being fair to yourself or others. However, in your frugality, look for the free things you can get. Being extremely frugal does not mean your life is over with or that you can not have any fun. Take advantage of these free things:


  • Look for free things you can do or take home. 
  • Take advantage of your library for books and movies. 
  • Look for events around the area that do not cost you anything but maybe gas money. 
  • Look for things that people are giving away for free. 
  • Be a curb shopper, dumpster diver, free garage sale box looker. 
  • Be creative with what you have and what you find.
  • Have staycations often and keep them as frugal as possible.
  • Learn new skills with items you already have.
  • Don't say no when someone wants to treat you or your family.

You can still live a full life even though you have your nose to the extremely frugal grindstone. You can still have fun. You can still be involved in things you love, but just be conscious of what it is asking of you financially. Some groups and things are fun, but if you are constantly bleeding money to be in while trying to actively save money, something is wrong. You may have to let those things go for a time while you are being extremely frugal.

While being extremely frugal is a very good thing, you still have some things to keep in mind. Being an extreme frugalister can make your mind think some funny things. Like you shouldn't throw anything away or give anything away. Like you should be a hoarder. That couldn't be farther from the truth! Yes, by all means, keep what you can use or think of a use for. However, if you have things you cannot use at all, you should give them away, sell them, donate them, or responsibly recycle them. Please don't be an episode of one of those shows! If you have stuff not serving you, do something with it. Your home shouldn't be a fire hazard because of the stuff you own.

Lastly, you have to be intentional in your extreme frugal game. You have to be content with what you already have. If you are used to shopping a lot, you need to figure out why and stop. You have to be happy with what you have and not use shopping as stress relief. You have to be content with what you have and not be envious of what the neighbors have. You do not need to have the latest, greatest things. That is not being contented. You need to be content with the ten-year-old car and a house without a pool.  You need to be happy with wearing out your clothes without buying this season's newest fashions. You need to be okay with bringing your own lunch and not going out to lunch every day or every week. You have to be content with what you have and your decisions to save money so you can achieve your goals. Otherwise, being extremely frugal will not be an easy process for you.

Extreme frugality is not for everyone, but everyone can do it. You can try it for a short amount of time or the rest of your life. You never know when you will need to be extremely frugal so being extremely frugal now will only serve you later. I would encourage you to give it a try and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Other articles on frugality:
Are You Frugal? 
50 Ways You Are Not Being Frugal
Is It A Need Or A Want? What Should You Spend Your Money On?


Sunday, December 31, 2017

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year


While everyone should be a frugal lifer, a lot of people struggle to do so. Life happens and you end up spending more money than you want to. You are busy and money just flies out the window. A good deal of living frugally is planning ahead and having goals. What do you want to accomplish financially? In what areas do you want to save money? How can you simplify your life to spend less money? Only you can answer those questions, but let me help you set some frugal living goals for the next year!

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year

1. Learn new things to cook from scratch. You can save so much money on your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Processed food and eating out is so expensive even with a good deal or a special. Learn to make things from scratch and you will also improve your own health as well.


2. Find new ways to save money. When you are a frugal lifer, this can be hard. You think you already know and have found all the ways to save money, but I can almost guarantee you that you can find more. It can be tough, but I am sure you already know of more ways to save money.


3. Have a no-spend week each month or a no-spend month twice a year. I think these are really healthy for a frugal living lifestyle because they force you to really think about if you need something or you just want it. You also are forced to eat what you have at home, be less wasteful, and make do with what you have.


4. Ask yourself if you really need to buy something. Do you really need it or do you have something that will do? How long can you wait before you buy it? Implement a 3, 7, or 14-day waiting period before buying something other than groceries and household necessities. Sometimes you can find something at home that works just as well or you will find out that you don't really need it.


5. Challenge yourself to buy all your clothes used. You can make exceptions like underwear and socks if you want to, but honestly, I have found those brand new, in package or store tags still on, at the thrift store too.


6. Limit your monetary pleasures. Are you eating out a lot more than once a week or once a month? Are you getting massages, manicures, or pedicures every month? Do you shop just to shop? Do you stop at the convenience store for a candy bar every day? We all have something that we waste money on in the name of treating ourselves. A little pleasure is always a good thing, but is there a way you can do that and not spend money?


7. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, you should start one. Everyone should have an emergency fund of at least $1000 to cover those kinds of expenses. If you have one already, what can you do to double it? Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover 3-6 months of your normal income in case you lose your job or get injured for some reason.


8. Are you out of debt? If you are, great! If not, what can you do this year to get out of debt or lessen the burden? Can you cut back on your expenses more to pay down your debt? Can you find other ways to make money to pay down your debt?


9. Organize your things and make an inventory of what you have. Seriously, so much money is wasted because we don't know what we have. We have food in the kitchen and in our pantries that go to waste. We have more things in our closets than we will ever use. We buy batteries because we can't find the package bought a month ago (for example). Take stock of what you have and organize your things.


10. Make a budget or review your budget. This can be the hardest things about being a frugal lifer. I really have trouble sticking to a budget because of unplanned expenses. After something upsets my budget, I lose hope and focus. However, this is the year I need to start. I want you to start your budget too if you don't have one. If you do have one, this is a great time to sit down and review your budget. Are there any increased expenses? Can you save more? Can you pay down more debt? Can you put more in retirement? Work on your budget today!


What frugal living goals do you have for this upcoming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, December 10, 2017

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!


Long before thrift shopping was cool, I was doing it to stretch my budget and because I just couldn't afford new things. In fact, my parents did the same thing! I grew up on hand-me-downs until I outgrew my cousin's clothes. Almost all my books came from used bookstores and the library. We went to auctions and garage sales. My parents needed to stretch their pennies too!

Now thrift shopping is cool. Thrift stores are gaining popularity as are the "for sale" or "garage sale" groups on Facebook. Craigslist is still going strong and eBay is still a great place to unload your used but still in great condition goods. Consignment shops are still a good place to buy and unload your good condition goods (and make a little extra money!). Garage sales are still fun places to shop!

I have a lot of fun thrift shopping as long as I don't go overboard. I want you all to be thrift shoppers too. If you are but know someone who should be, show them this post!

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!

1. Thrift shopping is sustainable. If you are even a little bit concerned about our planet, you know there are way too many goods being produced today. More than can be used actually, but people still demand and buy them. By buying used, you are breaking that cycle and keeping perfectly good things from going to the landfill. To keep the sustainability cycle going, you should use those used goods until they are completely worn out or pass them on to someone who can use it. 

2. You are a non-consumer. As stated in #1, you are breaking the consumerism cycle. When you purchase something used, you are a non-consumer. You are not buying something new. You are not supporting the mass merchandisers. You are not succumbing to advertising telling you to need something new. You are using what someone doesn't need anymore and you are not supporting people who have no interest in your local economy.

3. Thrift shopping supports your local economy! Whether you buy something from a used goods store or a person, your money stays right in that area. Your money isn't going to some big corporation who cares very little about you. Your money is going to a local organization (except Goodwill) or people who will, in turn, spend that money locally. 

4. Why buy new when used will do? This phrase is attributed to a certain person, but honestly, it has been around awhile. Why? Because it is true! Used is just as good as new in most situations. Most of my clothes and my kids' clothes were used growing up. We got new things for gifts on birthdays and holidays, but otherwise, they were used. Even when they were in high school, we regularly found almost new and new clothes for them at the thrift store. I still buy almost all of my clothes used because you can't beat the prices!

5. You save money! Doesn't everyone like to save money? You can outfit an apartment or a house for hundreds of dollars cheaper than buying new. Does buying used things gross you out? Wash them once and get over it. You are saving money! 

6. If you have kids, you are teaching them frugality. My kids liked to go to the thrift stores and garage sales growing up. They still do even as teenagers and young adults. They also have found a lot of great things there. They learned one way of being frugal and they learned that used things were not gross. The younger they learn that, the better.

7. You will find brand new things while thrift shopping. Honestly, this is the best. People are often too lazy to return something to the store or cannot return it so they will just donate it to the thrift store or sell on a garage sale. Their loss is your gain because, most of the time, you will get it for only a few dollars. Score!

8. Anyone can thrift shop! And I do mean anyone. Some of the most financially stable people I know are avid used goods shoppers. They love a good deal and refuse to pay full price. Let's take some tips from those people, shall we? You can be a prepper, homesteader, parent, retiree, single, married, young, old, rich, poor, and anything else you can identify with. Anyone can be a thrift shopper!

9. You can find really good presents while thrift shopping. I have found a lot of presents while thrift shopping. Books that look brand new. Clothes with tags still on them. Sets of dishes still in the original sealed box. Candlesticks and vases because I know people that collect them. You get the hint. Start your gift shopping at the thrift store or online consignment sites and go from there. 

10. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I know that sounds pompous, but it is true. The idea you will be saving money and scoring some really good stuff is addicting. When you realize you can do this all the time, you will be hooked!

11. The inventory is always changing. If you can't find what you are looking for one day, wait a few days and come back to the store/check again online. More than likely, you will find what you want at a price that is reasonable or cheap. 

12. Thrift stores have sales too. They get a lot of things donated or consigned to them. They often do not have the storage for these things so they run sales. Our local stores often run a buy 1 get 1 free or buy 2 get one free sale. They also have bag sales where a bag of goods is five dollars no matter what you have in the bag. I know other thrift stores will have 50% off sales and more. Keep your eyes open and you will find even better deals at the thrift stores. 

Thrift shopping is fun! The pursuit can be challenging at times, but the results are usually worth it. Just know, even with thrift shopping, you need to be mindful of your budget and not get crazy while shopping. Sometimes, people will buy whatever they want because it is a good deal, but they still overspend. 

What is your favorite thing to buy in the thrift store?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, December 26, 2016

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas


What do you mean next Christmas? Christmas was, like, yesterday!

I know, I know. However, now is the time to set your budget for next Christmas and to start saving money for it. You know how much you spent on gifts, food, entertainment, and all the little extras. If you don't know, now is a good time to find the receipts and add them up. 

Now that you might be in shock over how much you spent, you need to take the time now to come up with a plan for next year. My goal is to pay cash or have the money in my checking account to pay for Christmas. I start early buying gifts so I can spread out the spending more. Saving money now allows me to start buying early because I have the money already saved.

If you were forced to use credit cards to pay for Christmas this year, this plan is for you too. Pay off those credit cards as quickly as possible and start putting some money away for next Christmas. If you used credit cards for the points and cash backs and can pay them off right away, that last little bit was directed at you. I understand using credit cards for those sort of things. Just be able to pay them off right away, okay?

Saving money for next Christmas can be painless, but might also require a little sacrifice of time, money, and giving up a guilty pleasure or two. You are trying to not stress about how to pay for Christmas when December rolls around. You want to give the best Christmas you can reasonably afford to. This is how you can do that. 

How To Start Saving Money For Next Christmas:

1. Set a budget! Look at how much you spent for this previous Christmas. Did you spend more than you thought? Were there some surprises you were not anticipating? Do you or your significant other like to go overboard with the gifts? Now is the time to look at these things. 

You can set your budget according to what you spent this year. If you thought you spent way too much, set a specific dollar amount you will spend on the kids, grandkids, parents, and everyone else that you bought for. If you know that you will have to chip in on a gift for the boss or a coach, figure that in. Then set a budget for food, the extras, and entertainment. 

For the rest of the steps, my estimated budget is $1000 (which is close, but I using this amount for figuring the rest of the steps). 

2. Come up with a savings plan. You know how many paychecks you will have between now and next Christmas. In my case, exactly 26 paychecks will happen. How much can you spare from your budget to save for next Christmas? I know I can usually spare $25 a pay period (and that is being stingy). At roughly $50 a month, I will be saving $600. 

An easy way to make sure the money is being saved is to have it automatically taken out of your account and put directly into a savings account. You can do this by having it direct deposited from your paycheck or setting up an automatic transfer with your bank. If you have good self-discipline, you can do the transferring yourself. 

Some people prefer to save money as cash and to use cash. You can still withdraw the money every pay period and put in an envelope marked for Christmas. If you think you might have trouble with spending it on other things, put it somewhere safe in the house and not in your purse/wallet. Otherwise, leave it with a trusted family member or friend who will also not spend it for you.

3. Figure out how to make up the deficit. If you cannot save enough money from just your paychecks, you need to figure out how to make up the difference. As you can figure, I still have $400 to come up with to make up the difference. Honestly, this is just making extra money and we should all know how to do this by now. If not, here are some ideas:

  • Side Jobs
  • Tax Refund
  • Selling Unused or Not Needed Things
  • Redeeming Cans and Bottles for the Deposit (If you have this option)
  • Selling Things on Consignment
  • Babysitting, Pet-sitting, and House-sitting

Put this money away in the Christmas savings. If you earn more money than you need, then keep saving it for other things. You can never have too much money saved, especially in the emergency fund!

4. When you do decide to start shopping, spend wisely. You never know when you might trip over a deal of the lifetime on something you wanted to give as a gift. When you do spend, use the cash you saved or transfer the money into your checking account. 

5. Keep a careful accounting of what you are spending through the year. You can use this for the following year's Christmas budget. Sometimes, surprises happen and you have to spend money on a gift you were not planning on. Keep the receipts in an envelope with a small ledger of what spending has occurred. This way, you can figure that in for next year. 

How do you save money for Christmas? 

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Is It Better To Live Within Your Means or Try To Earn More To Afford More?


This is the fairly simple question. The answer is much more complicated. 

Is it better to learn to live within your means? The answer should be yes for many reasons. Many people struggle with this though. 

We think we are entitled to things. We think we deserve certain things because we work hard. We think we should have a fancy house, a new car, expensive vacations every year (sometimes multiple times a year), name brand clothes, the newest gadgets, expensive cell phone plans, satellite/cable television, and more.

Saving money and working towards things like homes and cars was a concept that was extremely common until the late 1940's and the 1950's. To be in debt to someone was considered to be a temporary thing, not a lifestyle. Debts were paid off quickly if debt was even accrued. Cash and bartering was the common practice. Producing your own goods was considered the best thing for families. It was a matter of pride to have money in the bank.

Attitudes have changed. Drastically. Marketing targeted the newly created middle class and baby boomers. Buying on credit became the thing to do in order to have nice things. You work hard so you deserve to play hard. You kids needed the newest toys. If your friends have it, so should you! Why have old things like hand-me-down furniture when you can have new furniture? 

Young adults then wanted what their parents had. They didn't realize or didn't care that their parents had worked hard for what they had. They didn't understand how their parents had scrimped and saved for their home, nice car, and relaxed middle years. They just wanted what their parents had and they wanted it now. Whether or not they made enough money to afford it.

Who cares if they could afford it? They could just buy it on credit!

The lesson that was forgotten in just a few generations was to learn to live within their own means. To budget their income. To save for what they wanted instead of using a credit card or borrowing the money. 

I have no room to talk, by the way. Most of us do not have room to talk.

We learned from those around us. I was fortunate to have extremely frugal parents, but they struggled too. I have had some extremely hard money lessons. I thought I could handle all the debt I accrued and my daily expenses and bills too. I was pretty stupid. 

I still struggle with living within my means. Every two weeks, my budget is planned out. However, a major unplanned expense can throw my budget off for months. A small miscalculation can have me overdrawn for a week or more. Even though I make extra money from my Ebay sales, this blog, and selling things online, sometimes it doesn't seem like enough. 

Unfortunately, most of us are this way or have been this way. Being in debt is stressful. Many people cannot afford to miss work or use very limited personal time off. Many cannot afford to miss a paycheck or to lose their jobs. Many struggle just to live within their means. So they try to earn more.

Adding to your income can sometimes be the solution to getting out of debt or getting some necessary home/car repairs done. Whether it is a series of small independent jobs, a part-time job, working a side hustle, working from home, or selling off unnecessary things, making extra money can always help. However, these can come at a cost too.

You can become dependent on the extra income and pretty soon that will not be enough either. You will spend even more time away from loved ones if you work outside of the home. Temporary sacrifice can be a good thing to help pay off debt or to get your savings built up, but long-term sacrifice can have an effect on your life, your relationships with loved ones, and your health. Is it worth it?

Even if you work from home to make extra money, there is a cost involved. You have to spend time away from the family in a quiet space to work. If you work after everyone goes to sleep, you get less sleep which impacts your health. Income is not always consistent. Depending on the week or season of life, you might not be able to work as much as you would like or need to. Sometimes, working at home also involves spending more to make more which can not always be a good thing. 

Don't get me wrong - I think working at home to make extra money is the way to go if you can do it. It takes a lot of discipline to work consistently and get as much done as you can with the distractions around you. You have to make your life just as much of a priority as your work, but it can be done. 

If you are single and alone, these costs may not bother you. If you are in debt or need extra money for a new car, by all means, try to earn more. It is better to live life, go into a relationship, or even a marriage debt free and with a comfortable cushion of savings. 

However, if you are working more to afford more, is it worth the cost? Is spending time away from your family so they can have more worth the cost? If you are working all the overtime you can get to be able to live in a five bedroom home when a three bedroom home would do just fine, is it worth it? If you are driving a gas guzzling status symbol to work when a small compact would cost so much less, is it worth it? Is killing yourself to be able to afford more worth it?

I think it is better to live within your means. I say this knowing that I work a few jobs from home, but I am trying to build a cushion in my budget and be able to afford repairs, birthdays, and holidays. I try to work when my kids will be the least impacted like over my lunch hour or at night after they go to bed. Sometimes I include them in my work if I can. I tried the part-time work outside of the home and the sacrifice wasn't worth it. I missed too much time with them and, as a single mom, I couldn't afford to do that. So I learned to live within my means and make sacrifices at home of things we did not need.

Learning to live within your means makes you more content and happier. You don't feel the pressure to keep up with the neighbors or your friends because you made the commitment to make the most of what you earn and that's it. If you need to earn more, you know it is because you need to get something you need or to make repairs that are in your budget. 

What do you think? Is it better to live within your means or try to earn more to afford more?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, July 29, 2016

Eight Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout


Are you tired of pinching pennies?

Are you tired of beans and rice?

Are you tired of wondering when the debt will be paid off?

Are you tired of being frugal?

Frugal burnout is a real thing, folks!

Constantly watching your pennies and wondering when you can afford what you really need or want just gets to you after awhile. I know, for me, that I just get tired of it all. I get tired of checking my bank account constantly. I get tired of keeping track of my spending. I get tired of not being able to buy whatever I want. I get tired of saying no to my kids. You get the idea. 

Being that aware of your money all the time can wear a person out. Even though you should have an emergency fund, real life happens. Your car breaks down or an emergency room trip happens. It just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and cry! 

You are trying so hard to get ahead! You are being as frugal as you can and life is still tough. This is where frugal burnout comes in. You get so tired of trying to be frugal and pinch pennies that you just give up. You lose track of the goals you set. Your budget starts to go awry. You make a purchase of your credit card. 

You can avoid frugal burnout! Here is how:

1. Look at and assess your financial goals. Having your goals written out and visible helps to keep you focused. Some people need visual reminders to keep motivated. Having a meeting with your significant other (or yourself) and reassessing your goals every month will help keep you on track. 

2. Stay motivated! Keep track of your progress. Make a chart showing how much you have to pay off and how much you have paid off. Keep the chart updated and celebrate your progress in a fun, free way. 

3. Have fun! Laugh a little! Sometimes people can get way, way, way too serious about being frugal and then they get burnt out. Remember to have some fun and laugh! Play games, attend a free concert, have friends over, watch a funny movie, and cut loose for awhile! Your outlook on your frugal life will be much better for it!

4. Realize setbacks are inevitable and you can do this. Stuff happens. You can plan and anticipate as much as possible with your budget and finances. However, sometimes the car battery will die. You might get into a car accident. You might be laid off from work unexpectedly. You can still be a frugal maniac! Regroup, replan, and get back at it!

5. Find someone who is frugal and start a support group. Seriously, find some like minded people. They are great for accountability, for new ideas, for support, and for having fun with! 

6. Watch your favorite frugal YouTube videos and channels! Get yourself some inspiration! I love to listen to YouTube videos while working or just working. I have learned some great tips and ideas that I would never have thought of myself. Listen to others talk about their frugal ideas and journeys have given me a lot of motivation and inspiration over the years. 

Some of my favorite frugal YouTube Channels are Living on a Dime, Big Family Homestead, Jordan Page Fun Cheap or Free, Lydia Senn, and frugalgreengirl

7. Read the Tightwad Gazette (or reread!). I am not kidding. This is the best frugal book out there. I learned so much from this book and was able to adjust my attitude in several areas of my life to become more frugal. If you can not afford it, ask your library if they have it or can get it for you. Take the time to read this book from cover to cover. You will not regret it!

8. Reassess the budget. Sometimes the budget needs tweaking. You should review it every month. However, even I am not very good at this. Take some time this weekend to see if the budget is working, where you need to improve, where you can cut back at, and where you are spending your money

Whatever your frugal goals are, you can do it. If you get into a slump, use one of these ideas to get you back on track!

What do you do when you are in a frugal burnout?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, December 14, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 Update & Month 3 Beginning


Month 2 Update:

November started out with really great intentions. I was set up for the month with one grocery trip and two trips to other stores. I was hosting Thanksgiving and thought I knew how many people were coming. 

Then two days before Thanksgiving hit. We made a trip to the store when I figured I did not have enough food (I was wrong, of course). We had more people coming along with bad weather and I started to panic a wee bit about having enough food. So I went to the store and spent another $50 I should not have spent. 

If that was not bad enough, I went back the next day too! However, I am not sure I am counting that since it was Rob's food I was buying and being reimbursed for. He just couldn't make to the store after he got off work (he's a trucker).

I also made a trip to Dollar General. I had a $30 gift card that I had earned a while ago for trying a product and taking a survey. It wasn't a specific card to Dollar General, but could only be spent in certain stores and Dollar General was the only one close to me. I had this card for awhile and realized it expired the end of November! Eek! No matter what the experiment is, I cannot throw away free money! I did, however, make it into another experiment that I hope to blog about this month yet. 

I did cancel my Amazon Subscribe and Save this month. I didn't feel right about taking it and I didn't really need anything that was being shipped. My kids might argue with that, but they will live.

Month 3 Beginning:

Month 3 actually began last week. I did grocery shop a few days early and without a detailed list, but I was driving by an Aldi's. I do not pass up an Aldi's when I drive by one because they are usually cheaper than my regular grocery stores. 



Case in point: This month I spent $120 on groceries for almost the same stuff that I bought last month for $175. I was able to get a half-gallon of Paige's milk for $2.79 each versus paying $3.99 at our local stores. Almond milk is about the same. Produce is almost always cheaper as is spices. 

I am almost in love with Aldi's and try to do all my grocery shopping there. And with some big changes happening at my house in January, shopping cheaper will become even more important. Rob is moving in with me at the end of January! Yeah (like jumping over the moon yeah!)!

Like I mentioned, I did not have a list. I really hope that doesn't end up being a disaster. I do keep a list on my phone of things I run out of so I know I need to get those things. I also don't have a specific meal plan for December. I am trying to use up expired and soon to expire food in the pantry right now so meals are being based around that.

I also made a trip to K-Mart to get two bags of dog food, six cans of wet dog food (I had 2 - B2G1 Free coupons), two bags of treats (B1G1 Free coupon), three small bags of cat food, and 1 bottle of conditioner. I spent $64 there after coupons and discounts.

I made a trip to Target also to get under eye concealer (K-Mart doesn't carry my favorite brand), two bags of whole wheat flour, and some Christmas cards. I spent $20 there with coupons and discounts. 

I think this month will go better. I am still Christmas shopping, but hope to get that done soon. I also usually make French toast, bacon, and Apple Fritters for Christmas brunch. I did not buy any Texas Toast Bread for the French toast because Aldi's did not have any. I might try my hand at making French Bread for French toast. Otherwise I will be making a very short trip to the store for that and more apples if they supply doesn't hold out. Dane eats 1-2 apples a day so that is a distinct possibility!

I also don't know what I am bringing to my parents for Christmas there. Most of our family meals are potluck, but those bringing food are usually assigned a food group like bread, vegetables, salad, and whatnot. I should probably ask my mom what she wants me to bring! Hopefully that won't mean a trip to the store either!

As you can see, I am not perfect. I try and I do love this challenge because it is keeping me out of the stores and on budget. I will have some new challenges coming up with this challenge, but Rob knows about this so he won't be surprised. If he wants something, he will just go get it himself. 

How did your month go? What surprises are you anticipating for this month?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Want an Easier Life? Commit to Becoming Debt Free Now!


Life is what you make of it. I want a life away from worry and stress. I want a life that I can control within reason. I can't do that when I am stressing out and worrying.

The single biggest thing that makes me worry and stress out? Debt.

Debt can rule your life. It can make you a slave to your money instead making your money work for you. It can cause your to lose sleep, become anxious, and generally be cranky towards those you love (and not love). Debt can be the factor that breaks up marriages, drives a wedge between family relationships, and can even cause medical issues due to stress and anxiety.

Who needs that?

I don't and you don't either. Do I know what I am talking about? Oh yes. I still struggle with it even today. I was doing well, but our medical bills exceeded what I had set aside in my emergency fund and savings. Ouch. I have insurance, but with deductibles and out of pocket expenses I got socked a bit. I still have a student loan that I was planning on getting rid of in the next year. And I have the dreaded car payment (that should be disappearing soon).

So I commit to becoming debt free. I want these bills gone. I know a lot of this will go away soon with my tax refund and extra income coming in, but in the meantime I am making payments on the medical bills, a student loan, and a car payment.

And I hate it. I am anxious about it. I am already an insomniac so losing sleep is already normal. Having debt doesn't help the insomnia though.

What do I do about this? What should you do about this?

1. I make monthly payments. No matter what. Even if my budget only allows a $25 payment, that is what I do. Making a monthly payment shows that you are making an effort to pay the bill. Making monthly payments will also keep you out of small claims.

2. I make a list of my debts from smallest to largest. Dave Ramsey suggests this in his debt snowball program and I totally agree with it. I tackle the smallest debt first. When that debt is paid off, I continue onto the next debt. If another bill shows up, I readjust my debt list to include that bill. I was still getting new bills from a doctor appointment and tests in August in November yet. I was constantly shaking up the list for three months in a row.

3. I make a plan of attack. I look at my budget and decide what I can do to pay now these extra debts. This month I paid off the $52 bill to one hospital. I have four other medical establishments to deal with yet (labs and radiology reads, MRI at a different hospital, dental, and our usual hospital). I paid $50 to each of the other places. The next bill is $130 and I will tackle that next month. I continue to make the same payments for student loan and car.

I know from working in accounts receivable that companies would rather see an attempt in payment even if the amount is low. If they do not see an attempt in payment, they wonder if you ever intend to pay and will proceed with tougher bill collecting. Most companies understand that people are on tight budgets and tough times happen. You should always talk to the companies and try to pay what you can.

4. I look over every bill before I even begin to think about paying it. I caught a mistake in October when I realized that the company that reads the MRI did not file to the right insurance. While I knew this was probably going to the deductible on the insurance, I also knew I would benefit from having it refiled right. I did benefit from it because the bill was cut in half with the savings from Blue Cross Blue Shield. You need to carefully read over every bill and question everything. Don't be afraid to call either and ask what a certain charge is. You should be able to understand your bills.

5. I commit to avoiding debt in the future. This year I had one daughter injure herself and another daughter who needed treatment for an old injury. These were unavoidable and not within my control. I try to save my money for these situations and avoid the situation I find myself in now. I am going to save money for a vehicle for when I need to purchase another one.

Committing to becoming debt free only works if you pay your debts you have now first. After you have those paid off, take that money and put it in savings for the next crisis or large purchase. Using credit cards or using charge accounts will not help you stay debt free either. Being debt free means not accruing debts and creating more. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Saturday, November 28, 2015

10 Money Saving Tips for a Frugal Holidays!


Christmas time can just be a crazy time! So many people you want to give gifts to, so many things your kids want, and only so much money to spend in your wallet! What is a person suppose to do?

I am here to help you! I use these tips to help me save money at Christmas and still feel good about the holidays. These tips can help you too!

1. Set a budget! I set a budget for each kid of $75 each and try extremely hard to be under that. I don't have a budget for stockings, but I try to find item cheaply and that will take up some room!

2. Make some of the gifts yourself. Beware: some gifts cost more to make than to just buy. Be a thrifty present maker! Make sure it is a labor of love and not on your wallet.

3. Decide carefully who you are buying gifts for and who you are not. Despite the generosity of the season, not everyone needs a gift. A card stating your appreciation for all they do can be enough. A small plate of cookies are fine too. However, teachers can only get so many cups and plaques before they don't have room for them anymore!

4. After you decide who needs gifts, decide what. Be specific. Make a list. Your child's teacher does not need an elaborate gift. Be reasonable. Most teachers would appreciate a handmade card from your child stating their appreciation of their teacher.

5. Offer your services instead of a gift. Offer a night of free babysitting. Offer free snow shoveling. Offer to make them a meal when you know they will have a crazy busy night. Offer free baking lessons to a younger child or a teen. These gifts are very appreciated and will more than likely be used quickly!

6. Shop the clearance items year round. Stores are trying to get rid of toys in anticipation of the holiday seasons throughout the year. You can snag some great deals that way. Even during the Christmas season, I find a lot of presents from the clearance shelves.

7. Shop Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I can't stand the craziness of Black Friday, but the deals are awesome on a lot of things. They are just as good on Cyber Monday when a computer and a cup of tea are all you need. Just don't spend more than you need to!

8. Used can be as good as new. My kids have gotten a lot of used things as gifts. Heck, I am not sure some of the things they got were ever used, but I found them at thrift shops and garage sales. I buy a lot of the books I give them used for very little money. When I score like that, I can't get much happier!

9. Think practical on Christmas stockings. I have two broke college students now who appreciate the practical things like lip balm, pocket tissues, fingernail clippers, razors, tweezers, pens, ponytail holders, bobby pins, hair bands, and so on. I put a few fun things in the stockings too, but the kids always appreciate the practical things too. I usually get a "Oh cool, I needed some of these!".

10. Limit the gifts! I give my kids four gifts each and a full stocking. I also buy 2-3 movies as a family gifts. I keep the gift count down to four to make reasonable, practical, and not to set unrealistic expectations for my kids. I don't worry about how much I spend on each kid because I have a budget (see #1) and I stick to it.

How do you make your holidays a frugal affair?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Once A Month Shopping Challenge: Month 2 and November's Meal Plans


Here we are, Month 2 of the Once A Month Shopping Challenge!

I tried to be a little more prepared for this month. I have officially made my three planned stops as of yesterday. The first stop was to K-Mart to get:

2 bags of dog food
2 bags of cat food (grain-free for the cat with a sensitive stomach)
1 bag of cat litter
1 bottle of shampoo (for me)
1 bottle of shampoo/conditioner (for Dane)
2 bottles of conditioner (1 for me, 1 for Paige)
2 bottles of Vitamin C gummies (buy 1, get 1 free)

I cannot find the receipt right now, but I know I spent $76 with taxes and we saved $25 with coupons and discounts. Some things like cat litter have gone up a bit and that surprised me. 

The second stop was to Menards. I have this receipt! At Menards, I bought:

1 Plastic Window Kit to cover my inside windows
1 Plastic Door Kit to cover my back door until I get a new storm door
1 Garden Hand Shovel to replace the one the dog chewed up
2 different size drill bits because the ones I had were dull
1 set of sticky mouse traps
1 bag of Fast Set Repair Mortar for the basement drain. We have caught snakes coming up through the sides of it where the cement has crumbled. 

I had a Menards rebate check for $10. My total after that was $19. Not too bad! I also got another rebate to mail in when I bought the window kit. 

The third stop was to Fareway. This trip was for groceries and this one hurt! I won't list everything because this was a big grocery shopping trip that included Thanksgiving. I am hosting it this year!



The highlights and deals:
Frozen vegetables for $.77 (I bought 6 bags)
Shredded cheese - 8 oz. packages for $.99 each (limit 3)
Pork Sausage for $1.99 a pound (I got 3 - 1 lb. packages)
10 pound roll of 85% ground beef on sale for $2.99 a pound (I got one roll)
Store pasta on sale for 10/$10.00
A lot of produce 

I spent $174.00. I am still in shock, but I am trying to step back and realize if this is for the whole month, that is not bad at all. I shopped a lot of deals and saved quite a bit that way. I did have to buy meat which always kills me. I bought two roasts in addition to the meat listed which were $18 total. That is just expensive, but both roasts will provide two meals and 2-3 days of leftovers afterwards. That is not bad.

I already have the turkey and ham in my freezer for Thanksgiving. I bought potatoes, stuffing, apple cider, cranberries, and fried onions for the green bean casserole. I have a lot of food in my pantry already for side dishes. Plus our holiday meals are potluck so many other people will be bringing more food. 

The November Meal Plan is going to look similar to October's meal plans. I will be incorporating more slow cooker meals that are low carb for me. The kids will probably have rice with them, but I need to be more diligent about sticking to eating better. I have my freezer meals for the slow cooker and we are also trying Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef and Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja. I can't wait to try them!

November Meal Plan
Chili (slow cooker)
Beef Stew (slow cooker)
Mongolian Beef (slow cooker)
Ropa Vieja (slow cooker)
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cavatini (for sports banquet)
Pork Chops and Roasted Vegetables
Homemade Pizza
Fajitas
Tacos (2 times)
Baked Rigatoni
Taco Chili Mac
Turkey Pot Pie
Spaghetti
Slow Cooker Roast Chicken and vegetables
Chicken Loaf, rice, and vegetables
Fritatta
2-3 Freezer Meals
Thanksgiving 
Thanksgiving Leftovers
Leftovers from slow cooker meals

I realize the leftovers are a tentative thing. I usually make a lot when I make slow cooker meals so we have plenty of leftovers. However, I am living with the joy of a growing boy. If he is hungry and even remotely likes the meal, he can eat a lot! Holy moly! Paige can also eat a lot too which makes for an interesting meal time some nights. 

As always, I make my own bread and snacks for myself and the kids. We have chickens that produce eggs which is my breakfast almost every morning. This month, I am going to try to make my own tortillas (those are more expensive than ever!). 

How is your shopping challenge going? What are you planning for meals for November?

Thanks for reading,
Erica



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