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Making a Budget: No One Wants To, But We Need To!

In the 13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year post, point #13 was to find someone to be an accountability partner for spending and budget making ideas.

Before you can look for an accountability partner, you need to do something first. You need to make a budget.

I know, I know. Making a budget is really, really, really hard. 

I know because I struggle with it too. However, I am determined to make a budget this year, adjust it when necessary, and stick to it. I have to give my money a place to go and I have to keep a tighter eye on where it is going.

Making a budget is not an overnight project. You need to look at the last 2-3 months and determine your expenses (bills, groceries, gas, etc.). How much, where, and frequency of money being spent is all things that need to be noted. How much money you make and frequency of money being paid to you needs to be noted. From these things, make a budget.

You can use a computer program or go low-tech (like me) and use a notebook or a planner. Just so yo…

13 Ways To Save Money In The New Year!

A new year and new goals! Yes! One of my goals for the year is to live as frugal of a life as possible. What I was really saying is that we are going on a spending fast. We literally will be cutting back expenses and saving money as much as possible. My finances are not where I want them to be and I need to change that.


What will I be doing to save money in the new year? 

1. Unsubscribe to all or all but a few (3-4) emails a day that encourage me to part with my money. Most of the time, I just delete the emails before I read them, but I have moments of weakness and click on them. No more!

2. Commit to spending no money for anything not on the goals list, that is frivolous, or unnecessary. 

3. Write out your goals to know where the money needs to go and what needs to save for. Where does your money need to go? What are your goals for the year? Think about the areas of the home/homestead, prepping, financial, gardening, and kids. Set a plan for those goals and how to attain them. Check out …

Everyday Carry (EDC) Bag: Everyone Should Have One!

(Today's post is linked to a post from Are We Crazy, or Not! Hop on over there and check their post! They are very knowledgeable and give great ideas! You can also see what others carry in their EDC Bag.)
Everyday Carry (EDC) Bags are one of the most important items that a prepared person should have with them. They carry the most immediate things you need for an emergency as well as daily life things. 
EDC bags are not bug-out bags or get home bags. They are the bags you carry with you everywhere. You would have them with you at work, home, shopping, camping, and any where else you may go. As you can see, my EDC bag is also my purse. I carry a lot of things in my bag that are daily use items as well as emergency needs.
I choose my bag because of the size, the fact that the strap was long enough to carry cross-body as well as over the shoulder, and the pockets on the inside of the bag. My bag came from Thirty-One Gifts of all places, but was close to what I was looking for. You ca…

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!

Food Brick and Water Brick Giveaway!Eartheasy.com has graciously agreed to sponsor a pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway to one of our loyal readers so they can get their food and water storage off the ground! Today you get the opportunity to win FOUR water bricks and FOUR food bricks! The Water Bricks can hold up to 3.5 Gallons of water, and are sturdy enough to stack up to 4 feet tall. They are small enough to slide under a bed, and light enough (even when full) to be easily carried with their handy handle. The Food Bricks are the same size as the water brick, but they are specifically designed to pack, stack, and store food. They interlock and stack perfectly with the waterbricks. Both bricks are made of heavy, durable, BPA-free food grade plastic. Food and Water Bricks are perfect for preparedness, disaster relief, or any outdoor activity like boating, rafting, camping, tailgating, and more, and you can enter to win your very own set of EIGHT food and water bricks (4 of each) today!
Meet …

What I Do To Be Organized

I am not a naturally organized person. I don't carry around a planner because I forget to write things down in them or forget them altogether. I am a visual person and need to have my organization in front of my face or somewhere my eyes will see.

I use these tools to see where every one will be, where I need to be, what needs to be remembered, and for papers that cannot be lost.

My calendar and two of my lists
Large Desktop Calendar Hung Up on Office Door
- Everything gets written there so everyone can see it
- Everyone writes down their schedule - no exceptions!
- I use Command strips to keep it up

Google Calendar on my phone
- Reminders set up for bills, blog, and appointments

To Do Lists
- I live off of these things!
- Always one in my pocket or nearby
- I use them at work and at home
- I also leave a to do list for my kids so they know what needs to be done by them every day

Shopping Lists
- I write down what we are out of as well as the sales I am interested in


Bulletin Boards
- I…

Preparedness on the Cheap: Inventory Your Food Storage

(Preparedness on the Cheap is a series of articles for the prepper and everyone else that doesn't have a lot of money, but needs to take steps to be prepared. A good deal of prepping is learning, planning, and organizing. Prepping doesn't have to cost a lot of money, but does involve a lot of doing!)
This is when I first put up these shelves. They are no longer this empty!
While prepping can cost you a lot of money, there are some very easy prepping things to do to keep you sane and your money to be spent a little more wisely. This week I am going to tackle inventorying the food storage.

Doing a food storage inventory can seem like a daunting task, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks:

1. Knowing what you have on hand to make meals.
2. Knowing what you need to stock up on.
3. Knowing what you need to can from the garden this year or even plant in the garden this year.
4. Having a concise list in case of disaster.
5. What you have been eating every day vs what you thought you wo…

Frugal Friday: Clean Up Email Time!

Being frugal is not just for money. A lesson I have learned over the last year is that being frugal applies to all areas of life except for family and friends. The time you spend with them is priceless and cannot be overspent!

However, there is an area that has really come to my attention. My email. I was not being very frugal in the area of my email. The realization of how many emails I received in a day was staggering. I would open my email and have 60-80 unread emails. I would delete 20-30 emails right away. I would read through a few emails 'just because' and be disgusted I wasted my time reading them.


I would get emails for sales, for freebies, for places I like to shop at, four coupons, for products I like to use, and for things that perhaps I might be able to get something free from. Honestly, what a time waster! To be truly frugal, how I spend my time needs to be evaluated too.

A lot of those emails I got did not feed my mind, feed my soul, encourage me, or had the pot…

10 Totally Free Prepping Things To Do

This post is a part of the 30 Days of Preparedness Round Robin with Prepared Bloggers! Thank you for visiting!

I love prepping lists! I have so many printed out and filed in a binder so I can look at them. I get motivated from them and finds all sorts of ideas to get things done!

I am offering you today a list of 10 totally free prepping things to do. Some of the things will take only a few minutes to do, some will take a few hours, and some might take more time than that. You can do these things with your family or invite your friends over to do these things. The only thing that might not make this totally free is canning jars. However, I am assuming most of you have jars on hand!

10 Totally Free Prepping Items To Do

1. Learn to get around your house in the dark. Think about the days when you were a teenager and had to sneak in and out of your house without your parents hearing. You didn't do that? Oh. Moving on....

Learn your escape plan and be able to get around in the dark in case …

Planning for Christmas - Week 3

With Week 1 and Week 2 down, the planning has begun, the wish lists have been given to you, and you have your lists ready. Right?

If you don't, don't feel bad! You have plenty of time yet to get going!

This week we will be focusing on three things. None of them are very difficult, but all of them need some time to get accomplished. That means getting started now!

1. If any homemade gifts or stocking stuffers need to be started, start now. If you are doing anything like homemade extracts, jams, jellies, butters, vinegars, candles, or whatnot, start now. Anything that needs time to cure or develop flavor should be started now. Anything you can do now should be started so you are not stressed out later!

2. Now is also the time to start purchasing gifts. To make it easier on your budget and your wallet, start purchasing now. I have a few gifts already for Dane, one for Paige, and one for each of the girls. I also have a good deal of the stocking stuffers bought, but I do that all …

Planning for Christmas - Week 2

(I was a bit busy this week and am a bit behind. Monday's frugal update will be next Monday! Thanks!)

With Week 1's Planning for Christmas, we got our holiday notebooks and our list of people we wanted to give presents to written in it. This week will be building upon it.

First, I want you to write your family traditions in your holiday notebooks. Anything you do for the holidays that your family loves to do, you love to do, food you love to make, and whatever else you consider a tradition. Think about what your family loves to do at the holidays.

Notice I use the word "love". If you have a family tradition that seems like a burden, reconsider that tradition. This is all about making the holidays fun, easier, frugal, and organized. If a tradition is a burden, it is becomes a chore and that is not what the holidays are about.

After writing down your traditions, make a list of things you need to make those traditions happen. Whether it be food, gifts, craft supplies,…

Planning for Christmas - Week 1

As I mentioned in the Christmas in September post last week, we will be getting ready for Christmas one week at a time! We have plenty of time, we just need to get it planned!

This week we will be doing a couple of things. None of them are too difficult and will help you keep it altogether!

First, find yourself a notebook to write in. This can be anything that contains paper! You might want a small notebook that you can fit into your purse or a school notebook that is big enough to not lose. You can use an old notebook or a new notebook. Whatever floats your boat! Just make sure there is plenty of paper so you can keep multiple years in the notebook.

Next, in that notebook, I want you to write down anyone you need or want to buy Christmas presents for. If you have birthdays coming up, you may want to write down those too so you can keep the birthday gifts separate from Christmas gifts. Paige's birthday is right before Christmas so I find including her birthday keeps me sane and ma…

Christmas in September - What?!?!

(From Christmas 2010 - My kids were so little!)
Time to start thinking about Christmas!

What that you say, Erica? Not ready for that Christmas thing!

Me neither, but let's get a positive attitude about it!

We have three months and two weeks until Christmas! I also have two birthdays in that time so a little more creative planning is involved. I like to think ahead about these things and get the ball rolling.

I have simplified Christmas to only giving my kids four gifts and a stocking stuffed full. This makes my shopping easier, but I still get to buy sixteen gifts total. Oy!

I have the kids' gifts broken up into four areas:
(1) Something to wear
(2) Something to read (usually about 3-4 books)
(3) Something they want
(4) Something they need

I ask nicely (maybe I mean demand) wish lists from all of them. That way I know what they want, especially the teenagers. They can be the tricky ones! This year I have a college student too. New territory for this mama! I have no idea what…

Weekend Ideas and To-Do's

I am feeling a little lost right now. We are looking at several big changes happening to us over the next week.

Four kids going three different directions.
College and high school.
Junior high school and elementary school at a completely new-to-us school district.
School starting next week.
A kid moving to college at the end of the week. 
A mama feeling a little frazzled over logistics and change.

Change happens, but I am not a fan of it for various reasons. However, my one way to cope with change is to get organized and get things accomplished. This weekend looks to be busy for almost everyone, but me!

Things to get done:

Clean the kitchen
Make lactose-free yogurt for Paige
Make a double batch of granola
Make a batch of cheese crackers
Make a triple batch of granola bars
Boil/Bake a dozen hard-boiled eggs
Mail out sold books
Clean up office floor
Hang up big calendar so everyone can write down reminders and happenings
Clear off bulletin boards in office
Get any college paperwork do…

10 Days in July Update

I told you all I would try to keep you updated on my progress in 10 Days in July project list. This has been going okay. I would like to be further along, but I am happy with where I am. I am at least getting something done!

The list:

The Kids Are Gone Project List

1. Change out the outlet in the living room. Cords just fall out when plugged in. **STARTED**

2. Clean and purge Paige's room. This will be a multi-day project.

3. Purge toys out of Dane's room. He has grown out of a lot of toys!

4. Fix the leg on the loveseat. Hopefully I can just fill in the leg and re-screw it onto the loveseat. Otherwise it will be bricks holding up that end.  **DONE**

5. Get some canning done. I have chicken stock, beef stock, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam to get done. **Chicken Stock and Chocolate Sauce are DONE**

6. Put together second set of shelves in the basement and organize the rest of the stuff on the floor. **DONE**

7. Find shelves or reorganize my office for the books I am sell…

10 Days In July

10 Days in July...that is how long my youngest two kids are going to be gone. My oldest two kids will hardly be home either between working at the camp, regular work, college orientation, and summer fun.

This already feels weird, but I will taking advantage of the time to do some projects in peace. I have several small and big projects to get done and I want to get started. I always have to have a list first, otherwise I will not remember what needs to be done.

The Kids Are Gone Project List

1. Change out the outlet in the living room. Cords just fall out when plugged in.

2. Clean and purge Paige's room. This will be a multi-day project.

3. Purge toys out of Dane's room. He has grown out of a lot of toys!

4. Fix the leg on the loveseat. Hopefully I can just fill in the leg and re-screw it onto the loveseat. Otherwise it will be bricks holding up that end.

5. Get some canning done. I have chicken stock, beef stock, chocolate sauce, and strawberry jam to get done.

6. Put together…

How to Simplify The Life and Mind: Home

Simplifying the life and mind is to get rid of the stuff not needed anymore. Needing less to live better.

When I talk about simplifying my life, I am not talking just about the material things I own. I am talking about the commitments I have, the obligations I try to meet, and the people in my life as well as our homes.

For now, I will talk about the home and things we have in it. As this series goes along, we will get to the rest of the simplifying of our lives. As you will see, this all flows together and one thing will lead to more.

In my home, the worse the house becomes, the worse I become. I become grouchy, disorganized, lazy, cluttered, emotional, and very frustrated. I like my house to be clean. Not a perfect clean, just a liveable clean. You will never see the dusting done every week and the dining room table totally cleared. But you will see things being picked up, put away, and cleared walkways. That is my goal every week.

What does your home look like? Is it something you …

Decluttering Life and Mind

Lately I have been doing a lot of decluttering at home. As I alluded to in Monday's post, I have been noticing things. The more cluttered I am in mind, the worse the stress seems. If my house is really messy and very disorganized, I feel disorganized and sort of lost with what I need to do.

If I go through a pile of papers and deal with them, I feel better. If I clean, tidy, and organize a shelf, I feel better. I feel less stressed when I accomplish something. Going through a pile of papers is an accomplishment. Cleaning off a shelf is an accomplishment. Fixing the broken lampshade is an accomplishment.

I like feeling accomplished. It's good for my self.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a clean house. More times than not, I think we can be hard on ourselves about having a clean house and we unintentionally cause more stress. I can't have any more stress in my life. So having a perfectly clean house is not going to happen.

However, I like knowing where everything i…

Frugal Tip Friday: Pasta Leftovers

This week's frugal tip is an off-shoot of yesterday's post about Corn Casserole. In the tips and suggestions, I have listed one about using up the ends of pasta that are in boxes. I don't let these gems go to waste! This is still food and money spent. I have actually helped people clean out their food pantries and kitchens and they will throw these away. What?!?!

Don't do that! Let me help you!

Invest in one of these:



I use these containers a lot! They are so handy!  I don't use them for cereal either although I should. I use them for leftover pasta and chocolate chips. If I have a little bit left in the bottom of a box or bag of pasta, I will dump them into the container. Then I will use the pasta in dishes such as Corn Casserole and Cavatini where I don't care what the pasta in them looks like. Besides, the kids think it is fun to see all the different shapes!

If you don't want to pay full price for one of these cereal containers, you don't have to. …

Once A Month Grocery Shopping

Do you hate grocery shopping? (Um, yes I do. If you like it, that's ok!)

Do you want to save time and effort? Do you want to save money and be frugal? Would you like to look into your pantry and see all the food you have to make a meal without thinking about it?

Of course you would!

Something I have been doing the last three months is doing my major grocery shopping only once a month. This has been such a blessing to me in the way of freeing up my time, being more organized, and creating less stress. I have been saving money because I am not in the grocery store every week and making impulse purchases every time I am there. I feel good knowing that I have at least a month's worth of groceries at home in case of emergencies.

I usually end with more than a month's worth of groceries because I plan for thirty days of meals, grab and go breakfasts during the week, and breakfast and lunches on the weekends. And y'all? We never eat that much and that often at home. We end …

Trying to Simply Life (And Not Being Very Successful)

The title says it all. I have been trying to simply life and I have not been very successful at it. I know I have areas I need to work on, but actually doing it has proven to be a bit difficult. Not because I don't want to, but because I am trying to depart from things that have been a part of me for a long time.

First of all, no matter how cliche it sounds, having a clean, decluttered, organized house will help you. I speak from experience. I don't mind a disorganized and chaotic house. I feel normal in them. But they do not help with my sense of peace and calm either. I get frustrated when I cannot find something. Having everything in its place leads to less frustration. Not having to dig my way through a bunch of clutter helps preserve my time (and sanity).

Am I perfect? Oh, no! My house is not the cleanest and gets very cluttered. When I start to feel cluttered in my mind and chaotic in my thinking, I know a good decluttering and cleaning session is in order. I feel better…