Four Easy Ways to Save Money

When you are trying to stick to a budget, it can be difficult due to the rising prices of basic household and food items. It can be really frustrating to have to budget more and more money month to month to pay for basic necessities! Here are some practical, easy tips to help you cut down on your household spending and save money.

Buy Your Meat in the Clearance Section

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Most grocery stores clearance out meat a day or two before the sell by date. Ask the department manager when they usually clearance out the meat, so you know when to shop. Make sure you grab some freezer bags, because you are going to freeze the meat when you get home. I would suggest dividing the larger portions of meat into smaller portions to make it easier to thaw for later.

Once you have divided up the meat into the bags, write the date and the contents on the bag. I also suggest keeping a list of what you have on hand, so you don’t go out and buy meat that you already have. To make the most out of your savings, you will need to plan your meals around your meat deals. I have a great printable Inventory List you can get when you sign up!

Total Possible Saving Per Year: $780

Don’t Throw Out Fruit that is Over- Ripe

How many times have you bought fruit with the best of intentions, and wound up trashing more than you care to admit? Let’s just all agree that we raised our hand on this one! The good news is that you don’t have to do this!

Grab those strawberries, bananas, and peaches that are going to go bad and put them in the freezer. Peel the bananas and freeze them whole. You can use these later for smoothies, banana bread or popsicles! Peel your peaches and slice them, you can use these for peach cobbler, fruit salad, or a smoothie. For the strawberries, cut off the tops and slice them, you can use these for smoothies or a strawberry pie! There are many ways to use your frozen fruit!

Total Possible Savings Per Year : $310

Make Your Own Cleaning Products and Laundry Soap

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Image via Flickr

Look no further than Pinterest to find a zillion articles about how to make your own cleaning products! There are so many great recipes out there for making your own household cleaning items. The key is to read the articles and reviews on these recipes to discern which ones work best. I personally love Vinegar and Dawn!

Total Possible Savings Per Year : $150

Open a Separate Checking Account

Here is a way to tangibly watch your savings build up! Find a bank that is offering one of those $150 bonuses to open a checking account and open an account with them. Usually the only stipulation is that you have money direct deposited into that account.

Have a small amount from your paycheck deposited into that account every week. The trick is to keep the debit card out of your wallet! By the time Christmas rolls around, you are going to have some extra money for presents!

Total Possible Savings Per Year : $300 – $600 (or more)

When it comes to saving money there are endless possibilities! All you have to do is get creative, and be prepared to put in just a little more effort and time. That little bit of effort can pay off big time!

 

Top 5 Ways to Bust a Grocery Budget – And How to Stop Doing It

Do you ever just completely bust your grocery budget? I know I do, and I have really had to learn what my strengths, weaknesses, and pitfall’s are. Isn’t it kind of crazy how adulting looks a lot like keeping yourself in check ALL THE TIME? Well, at least I feel that way sometimes!

So what are the top five ways that I bust my grocery budget?

    1. Going to the grocery store without a list. I do this often and every single time it kicks me in the butt. Do NOT enter a grocery store without a list! Don’t do it! Make a list and stick to it! (The only exception to this rule is when you go clearance shopping for meats,fruit, breads, yogurt and milks. But you should still know what you need and don’t need at home)
    2. Going to the grocery store while hungry. GGSWH will kill you every time. You will buy all of the things because you are starving. So please, EAT before you go shopping!
    3. Not knowing what you have in your fridge/pantry. So make a list, but make sure you actually need the things on that list. I bought two dozen eggs at the store only to realize that I already had two dozen at home. I have also gone a few days with no sugar, because I forgot to put that on my list. I really needed a better system, so I came up with an inventory sheet that you can get for free when you sign up for my  weekly newsletter
    4. I don’t write out the ingredients I need for my recipes. You can’t make spaghetti without noodles or sauce. So make sure that you write down the ingredients for your recipes and check them against your Pantry Inventory
    5. Buying individually wrapped snacks for the kids. It is so much cheaper to buy a bag of pretzels, a bag of popcorn, or goldfish and divvy them up into snack baggies. This is a great chore for your kids. Mine do it without complaining, mostly because they get to snack while they do it. 

Just remember to give yourself a little grace, none of us are perfect and sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged when you go over your budget. Think about the things you did right. So you spent $20 more than you wanted to, but you went to the store with a list for the first time ever. Consider that a win! When you are tempted to give up, DON’T! Practice makes perfect!

One of the ways I have been staying on budget lately is by shopping the clearance and freezing the meat. I got a bunch of ground beef a few weeks ago that was being clearanced out for really cheap. I still have 2 lbs left and have made spaghetti, chili, and enchilada casserole with it so far. Just ask your store what days and times they typically clearance out the meat.

Need some meal planning ideas?

Check out my Meal Planning Tips and Tricks and try out some of my cheap and easy recipes, like One Pan Enchilada Casserole or Crockpot Refried Beans.

 

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Why I Love Ordering Groceries

One thing that I have found to save myself  a lot of time, stress, and money is ordering groceries. Yes, there is a fee, but let me tell you why it is my new favorite way to shop.

I can look at my meal plan and see all the ingredients. I am able to search for what I need and add it to my cart right there as I check it off. Instead of dodging people at the store, and possibly having to backtrack because you missed something, it is all right there at the click of your mouse.

It keeps me from grabbing extra stuff! Have you ever gone shopping hungry? Or with your kids who ask for everything they see? Then you wind up with all of this stuff in your cart that was not on your list, and gone $40 over your budget! Which brings me to…

It’s easier to control my spending and stay within my budget. When I order groceries, I can see my total as I add items to my cart. You just can’t do that pushing a cart through the store. Trust me, I have tried walking through the store with my calculator app open. Yes, I have actually done that! When I can see my total, I can always delete something I don’t really need off of my list. Plus I wind up actually getting all of the things I need, when I can go through and adjust my items.

It is so much less hectic and stressful. Shopping from the couch. Enough said.

I feel more organized when I shop this way. Walking around a crowded store with a full buggy can feel very chaotic and overwhelming. This is so much better.

Lastly, you don’t have to take your kids to the grocery store. Look, I love my kids and they are actually pretty well behaved at the store. But it adds an extra level of stress with kids asking for things, or worse arguing with each other as you walk the aisles of the store. We have all been there. It is not fun.

Right now the two services that I use are Kroger’s Clicklist and Shipt. (Full Disclosure: I am an independent contractor for Shipt). The difference between the two are with Clicklist you order online and go pick up your groceries for a $4.95 fee. With Shipt, you have a membership and your groceries are delivered straight to your door.

Have you tried either of these? What do you like/dislike about them?

FYI: This post is for informational purposes only and I am not being compensated for anything I write in this post.

Meal Planning Tips and Tricks

My biggest pitfall when it comes to meal planning is forgetting to plan according to my schedule that week. I don’t know how many times I have had the best intentions and planned out all these great meals, done my shopping, stayed on budget, but then thrown half the stuff away because I didn’t have time to cook it.

On Friday, when I am throwing away bad chicken, and I am looking at the price on the package, I feel like a failure.

“Look how much money you wasted”, says the snarky voice in my brain. That snarky voice is my worst enemy and I wind up feeling defeated and frustrated at my inability to handle basic things like cooking.

So, I decided to stop planning to cook every night, and overwhelm myself with  tasks that are completely not feasible.

Here are my top tips for a successful week of meal planning:

1.Look over the next weeks schedule before you ever start meal planning or go grocery shopping.

What nights do you have therapy, gymnastics, ball games? How long will they last?

2.  Plan ahead for nights you can’t or won’t have time to cook.

Will you be home before 6? Crock pot meal. Will you be home before 7? No? Plan to eat out or bring dinner with you.

3. Budget money for eating out or plan something easy to take along.

During middle school soccer, I ran home before the game and made two frozen pizzas. I cut them up and put them in foil pans. I packed paper plates and napkins. We ate pizza while we watched the soccer game and threw away the trash as we left the game. All I took home was a little leftover pizza.

Grab some pizza at a quick place like Little Caesar’s, or on your way home go to a kids eat free place like O’Charley’s.

 

4. If you will be home before 7, prep a crock pot meal the night before (or wake up a little early) and turn it on before you leave the house.

5. Make your busiest evening a leftovers night or make Friday night a leftovers night.

We all know how done we are on Friday, and that makes it the perfect night to designate as a leftovers night. The kids can choose something they really liked that week and all you have to do it put it in the microwave.

6. Prep your ingredients ahead of time.

If you are cooking a couple of meals that use ground beef, cook it all on Sunday afternoon and either freeze it or refrigerate it. Chop your vegetables and put them in plastic containers. Make two of one meal and freeze one to eat next week or the week after. Assemble your meal ahead of time and put it in the fridge. You can pull it out when you get home and it’s ready to bake.

7. Do yourself a favor and buy some paper plates. I recycle. I know it is kind of wasteful, but it saves so much time in dishwashing. Or you could make it a habit to clean the kitchen as a family after dinner. Many hands make light work!

Planning out your weeks meals according to your schedule can alleviate overspending and take the stress out of your week.

Don’t start your meal planning until you have checked your calendar. Plan some easy, no hassle meals like my One Pan Enchilada Casseroleor my  Overloaded Baked Potatoes. It is also fine to eat out during the week. Just plan it and budget for that, so you don’t have to feel guilty.

What are some meal planning ideas that you are already using that work for your family?