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How to Become a Stay-At-Home Mommy on a Budget

One of the questions I get asked is “how do you afford to be a stay at home mom?” I never know exactly what to say because honestly, we don’t have an abundance of money just floating around. Staying home has meant that we don’t eat out very often, we give a lot of thought to what we purchase, and although we live a frugal life, we live a happy life.

Let’s be honest, affording to stay at home is not easy. It’s not something that was just magically bestowed on us although we do KNOW it’s a blessing. However, living on one income brings a new set of challenges and sacrifices.

My husband and I have always tried to be “smart spenders” and careful with our money even before having children so that definitely gave us an advantage once we had kids and more expenses. I continued working after my first daughter was born until she was about 18 months old. I then  transitioned to a stay at home mama. I always wanted to be a SAHM but didn’t think we could afford it.

So how do I afford to be a stay at home mom?!

Here are a few ways we save money so I can afford to be a stay at home mom. I think most people want to save money but often times it seems time-consuming and overwhelming to keep track of expenses and stick to a budget. I know as a busy mama, it’s not always easy to keep up with coupons or tracking every dollar in and out of the checking account. I actually need improvement on setting a budget but these are few easy ways that just keep us living within our means.

1. GROCERY SHOP SMARTLY & COOK MEALS AT HOME

With a house full of girls and daddy, our grocery bill is growing on a weekly basis. I try my best to plan out weekly groceries, even if it’s just a note I keep on my phone. While the grocery bill might increase, I’ve noticed that when I cook more at home, our monthly food bills are significantly lower than when we get take-out.

I do most of the shopping with the girls so it’s pretty common that I forget things since I’m always distracted in the stores with them. But, I’m going to try a new way of organizing separate lists for the 3 stores we mainly shop at. It frustrates me so much to go to a store one day and realize I need to go back in the same week!

I try to get most of our groceries at Aldi which really helps save on our grocery bill. It’s not always the most convenient place to shop when I have the girls since I have to bag the groceries but it is the cheapest!

2. BUY IN BULK

A huge money saver is buying in bulk! We love to buy household supplies like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper towels, diapers, and non-perishable food items in bulk every month. It’s a time and money saver and everyone is happy that we’re usually well stocked on all of our favorite snacks. I love that having a bulk supply of household goods means that I’m not making random trips to the store to pick up one or two things.

3. FOCUS ON ESSENTIALS

Of course, essentials are different in every family. We’re pretty good about distinguishing between our needs vs wants. We definitely splurge on the “wants” but that’s only if our budget allows it. So what do I mean? Well, we don’t have cable – seems like a staple in many households. We know it would be cool to have but we can’t afford all the “cool” things so we don’t. We have AppleTV and that’s our splurge.

I don’t often shop for new clothes for myself or the girls. When I do shop, I look for sales, shop end of season sales for the next season, and my youngest mostly wears big sister’s hand me downs.

Taking it a step further considering essentials we decided not to send my oldest to preschool this year. Instead, I home-schooled her to prepare her for kindergarten. Many families in this area, start children in preschool or a formal daycare setting pretty early so I felt a bit of pressure. But, the reality is that preschool is another expense. I was a teacher before staying home so we decided not to try and scrounge up the money for preschool and I incorporate learning time into our days.

Oh and treats like pedicures, manicures, and fancy coffees — well, those are treats for special occasions. It’s not to say that I won’t ever treat myself but I just think of how we could use that money instead so I enjoy my cup of coffee at home and paint my nails myself.

4. ENTERTAINMENT

We knew for this lifestyle to work we had to choose entertainment options carefully. 

The girls LOVE to get out of the house and enjoy activities but we mostly find activities that are free. We love exploring museums, libraries, parks, playgrounds, or inside playgrounds at Chick-Fil-A. Also, when we go places, we pack our own snacks and drinks. We make impromptu picnics just a part of the fun.

Another tip is to plan ahead and search for coupons. We wanted to take the girls to Disney World and when my hubby and I were searching for deals, we saw that Bass Pro offered a deal we couldn’t pass up. After much consideration, we took the plunge and were able to enjoy Disney for a fraction of the cost. I check for coupons for places like Chuck E Cheese and often we get more tokens for our money. Groupon has also been helpful for our family when dining out.

5. EARN MONEY AT HOME

There are many ways mamas try to earn money while staying home. I know finding the time and life balance can still be kinda tricky. But, I have many mama friends who supplement their income in various ways. I personally started health and fitness coaching with Beachbody when I transitioned to a stay-at-home mom. I loved having an outlet and something new to learn and challenge myself with.

I know there are no quick and easy solutions for a family to afford to live on one income. We have made sacrifices and sometimes I have a little worry about putting my career on hold and what that means for my professional future but I don’t have any regrets. I wish every mom who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom could be home. I remember the emotional stress I felt when I had to work every day when I had my first daughter. I enjoyed working but my heart just wanted to be home with her. I know I don’t have all the answers but I hope this gives some insight into how we make this life work!

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Meal Planning with Kids + a Kid-Friendly Meal Plan

I LOVE eating healthy and challenging myself to feed my family right. My main motivation in writing this blog this morning is to help make natural & healthy living easier for other families. Certainly, this job is easier said than done, and getting kids to actually eat the healthy foods we prepare can be difficult.

I’ve also found that having kids help with acquiring the food (through gardening and shopping) and preparing the food with kid-appropriate tasks like chopping with a crinkle cutter, stirring food or helping serve goes a long way toward helping my kids want to eat the food I prepare.

I’ve been meal planning for quite a while now because it helps me save time and money in the kitchen. I have seasonal meal plans for Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter that I rotate with the seasons, but I try to let my children get involved in the meal planning each season so they have a vested interest in eating the food.

Here is a kid-friendly meal plan that is sure to please all kids.

Monday: Beef and Broccoli Chinese Stir Fry

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yield 4 -6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of thinly sliced strip or sirloin steak
  • 2 lbs of broccoli, cauliflower or mixed
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp Cicinut Aminos (similar to soy sauce)
  • 3 Tbsp oyster or fishsauce
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • arrowroot to thicken
  • Sesame seeds (optional-topping)

Instructions

  1. Marinate beef in coconut aminos at least 10 minutes or as long as overnight
  2. Cook broccoli in lightly salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes until slightly tender, pour into strainer to remove any excess liquid
  3. While cooking broccoli, combine coconut aminos, fish sauce and broth in bowl or shake in canning jar until well-mixed, set aside.
  4. Drain any liquid off beef and put into pre-heated skillet or wok with butter
  5. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so
  6. Add sliced onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes
  7. Add broccoli, cook one additional minute
  8. Pour sauce over until just heated.
  9. Top with sesame seeds if desired.

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Tuesday: Healthy Gluten Free Homemade Pizza-Meatza! (sounds weird, but you will like it!) with Salad

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yield 6 +

Upside down pizza with a meat crust is a more filling and gluten and grain free way to make pizza.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasonings of choice (I suggest basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and other herbs)
  • Meat topping of choice (optional- I’ve used scrambled sausage, bacon, ham, leftover chicken, etc.)
  • ½ lb Mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
  • Jar or Pasta/Pizza sauce
  • Chopped veggies of choice (onion, bell pepper, spinach, olives, mushrooms, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. In medium bowl, mix 2 lbs ground beef with eggs and 2 T Parmesan cheese and any desired spices
  3. Mix well by hand until incorporated
  4. Spread onto greased cookie sheet (must have a lip on the sides)
  5. Roll or press the meat onto the bottom of the cookie sheet by hand. Once oven has preheated, put meat on cookie sheet into oven and cook about ten minutes until browned and most moisture has cooked off. It will reduce in size quite a bit! Just make sure it is cooked enough, you want it pretty solid.
  6. Remove from oven and put oven on broil
  7. Spread pasta/pizza sauce over “crust” then top with veggies, meat then mozzarella. I recommend putting some very thinly sliced onions on the top (uncooked) which brown nicely and add a nice crunch.
  8. Put back into oven under broiler and watch closely. It will only need to cook 4-5 minutes. Cook until cheese is lightly brown and bubbly.
  9. Remove, let cool 3 minutes, slice and serve. This is also really good cold for lunch the next day (or breakfast!) It has a similar texture to real pizza and tastes better, in my opinion.
  10. Serve with Salad

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Wednesday: Grilled Citrus Chicken Salad with Egg, Cucumber and Apple

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yield 2 +

A delicious salad with grilled chicken, cucumbers, extra protein from eggs and a hint of citrus.

Ingredients

  • 2 (or more for leftovers) large chicken breasts (or 4 thighs)
  • 1 orange, lime or lemon
  • Spices
  • 1 Chopped cucumber
  • 1 apple, peeled, sliced and chopped
  • 1/2 cup slice strawberries (optional)
  • 2 or more hardboiled eggs
  • lettuce or spinach for salad
  • homemade dressing of choice

Instructions

  1. Bake Chicken in oven for approx 1 hour (or slice and pan fry) with sliced orange, lemon or lime and spices on top (salt, pepper, cilantro, garlic, etc) or just sprinkle some lemon juice on for flavor
  2. Hard boil 2 (or more for leftovers) eggs and let cool
  3. Prepare lettuce or spinach in bowls
  4. Chop cucumber, apple and other veggies if desired and put on lettuce
  5. Prepare homemade dressing of choice (last week’s meal plan has these)
  6. When chicken is done, slice or cube and put on top of salad
  7. Top with dressing

Thursday: Crockpot Barbecue Ribs with Sweet Potato fries and homemade coleslaw or salad

(Note: this meal is best made in the morning for eating in the evening so they can be slow cooked)

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yield 4 +

These delicious slow cooker ribs are simple to prepare and a great meal to come home to on a busy day.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of beef or pork ribs, cut every 3-4 ribs to fit in crock pot
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce (make sure it’s grain free. I think Lea and Perrins is)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup honey or molasses (optional)- can also use a dash of stevia

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion and place at the bottom of a crock pot (at least 6 quarts!).
  2. Sprinkle the garlic and chili powders, salt and pepper on the ribs an put them in the crock pot also.
  3. Mix the tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, worcestershire, liquid smoke and sweetener if using and then pour evenly over the ribs.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.
  5. Toss in sauce before serving.

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Friday: Curried Shrimp and Vegetables

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yield 4 +

This curried shrimp and vegetable stir fry is a quick and simple meal idea for a busy night and it goes from frozen to finished in 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp (frozen or fresh, tails removed)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 T butter or coconut oil
  • 1-3 tsp of curry powder (if you don’t like this, just sauté the shrimp in butter and add spices you do like)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (can or carton)
  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower or other frozen veggies of choice

Instructions

  1. Melt butter or oil in skillet and add sliced onion
  2. Cook until slightly soft and add coconut milk, curry seasoning and other spices if desired
  3. Cook a couple minutes to incorporate flavors
  4. Add shrimp (thaw if frozen) and cook approximately 5 minutes until shrimp are cooked
  5. Serve with steamed veggies of choice topped with butter and salad with homemade dressing

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Saturday: Stuffed Peppers with Guacamole and Salad

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yield 4 +

Simple and delicious stuffed peppers with ground meat, onions, garlic, tomato, zucchini and eggs are a protein-packed meal idea.

Ingredients

  • At least 2 Bell peppers (any color)- I suggest making 4 for leftovers
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, or garlic powder
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 fresh diced) (and any other veggies you would like to “hide”
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 raw eggs
  • Spices of choice (I used cumin, chili, garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro, etc)
  • Avocado or pre-made guacamole
  • Salad or veggie of choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Brown meat in large skillet, add onion and garlic and cook 4 minutes, add zucchini and cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add tomatoes, spices and eggs and mix well
  4. Cut tops off peppers but keep them. Scoop out seeds and spoon meat mixture into peppers (if you are only making 2, you will have extra meat, just make into meat type balls and cook with it)
  5. Bake in oven 30-40 minutes in glass baking dish until well heated and peppers are slightly browned. Keep an eye on them, this can happen fast.
  6. Top with guacamole and serve with salad.

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Sunday: Healthy Shepherd/Cottage Pie

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yield 6 +

Shepherds pie with a cauliflower topping instead of the traditional potato topping to sneak in some extra vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 (or more) pounds of ground beef, turkey or other meat
  • 2-3 heads of cauliflower or 3-4 bags of frozen cauliflower
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (no corn! It’s not a veggie!)
  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon each of basil, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and a little cayenne
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of butter
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese (optional)
  • Cheese to top (optional)

Instructions

  1. Brown meat in large skillet and season to taste when cooked. Set aside.
  2. Saute diced onion in skillet until somewhat soft. Set aside with meat.
  3. Pour mixed veggies in the skillet to heat on low heat and in the meantime…
  4. In large pot, boil several cups of water. Add cauliflower, cover, and cook until soft enough to mash.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, pour off the water, and add butter and cream cheese to the pot.
  6. Add spices and mash. (I use a hand blender to make it really smooth).
  7. Mixed veggies should be cooked by now.
  8. Mix the meat, onions mixed veggies, raw egg and any additional seasonings and put in bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  9. Spread mashed cauliflower mixture over it until smooth.
  10. Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.
  11. Add cheese and bake 5 additional minutes (optional).
  12. Serve warm (or reheat later).

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Healthy Meal Plan Shopping List

This shopping list contains all the ingredients for the above recipes for 2-3 people for a week. Double or triple for a bigger family. I usually double dinner recipes to have leftovers for lunch, and buy a lot of lettuce and spinach to make salads with lunch. Make sure you have enough eggs, and you have easy leftover omelets for breakfast each day.

Meat

  • 3-4 lbs beef ribs (or roast or stew meat)
  • 4 (or more) lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 2 (or more) large chicken breasts
  • 1 lb flank steak (or more)
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen shrimp (no tails)
  • 1 package bacon

Produce

  • 4 or more large bell peppers
  • bag of onions
  • 2 (or more) medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cabbage or shredded coleslaw bag mix
  • bag of grapes
  • 2 heads fresh broccoli (must be fresh)-for snack salad
  • bag of apples
  • mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 orange, lemon or lime (optional)
  • 1 (or more) cucumber
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • avocado or pre-made guacamole (check ingredients!)
  • strawberries (optional)

Frozen

  • 2 bags frozen broccoli
  • 3 bags frozen cauliflower
  • 1 bag mixed veggies, no corn

Dairy

  • 1 pound butter (organic is best)-or more
  • mozzarella cheese (optional)-but for Pizza
  • 3 dozen eggs (not dairy, I know, but in the same area)
  • 8 ounces or more plain, full fat unsweetened yogurt
  • carton of unsweetened coconut milk (or can get in can)

Other

  • snack foods of choice
  • olive oil for salad dressings if desired
  • 1 can or jar diced tomatoes
  • curry seasoning (optional)
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • big jar of tomato sauce (or can) no seasonings added
  • jar of pasta/pizza sauce (check ingredients)
  • honey or molasses (optional-for barbecue sauce)
  • can of coconut milk (or fresh)
  • lemon juice

Snack options: nuts of choice, more eggs for deviled eggs, avocado or guacamole (highly recommend), tuna, canned wild caught salmon, almond butter, celery, apples, cream cheese, cucumbers, etc.

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How to Create Healthy Habits with Little Ones in the House

I haven’t mentioned this much on the blog but I am a health and fitness coach through Beachbody along with being a mom blogger, a Homeschooling parent, a wedding coordinator, etc. It’s a busy life and because I spin a lot of plates at once, I have a lot of friends and people ask me how I fit it all in. How do I exercise everyday with 2 very young kids at home? How do I eat clean with toddlers in the house? How do I fit in a healthy lifestyle when chaos breaks out?

While these are all good questions, they all fall into one category. I have created a healthy “lifestyle” for my family and me. My week consists of a lot of planning, implementing and executing strategies to keep our lives “healthy.” It has become a habit for us and can for you too…with just a little work on your part.

Because the need seems so great (at least in Facebook world) to know the answers to these questions, I thought I would give you some tips to help you and your family get on track to a healthier lifestyle.

My weekly routine (and yes, routine is IMPERATIVE to success with this) consists of waking up no later than 5:00 AM. In the beginning it was hard but now I truly don’t even need to set my alarm. I head downstairs, do my daily Bible reading, start a new blog or finish one that has been started :), check in with all of my clients in my health and fitness groups, read some personal development, and work on my Beachbody business until about 6:30 AM. I then head down to our basement to “get my sweat on!” I workout for an hour. This takes me to 7:30ish. (I know my husband needs to leave the house around 8:45 AM for work so I plan my morning around him helping the kids once they wake up…which is usually 7:00 AM). I shower and am downstairs to be “mommy” by 8:45 AM.

**I know this schedule doesn’t work for everyone…I get it. The point isn’t about the schedule not working for you, the point is that YOU need to design a schedule that DOES WORK for you and allow yourself NO EXCUSES (and no I am not yelling…I am just EXTREMELY passionate about what I do and I know that ANYONE can do it if they put their mind to it).

As far as eating healthy in our household, I have just a few tips.

  1. The kids eat what we eat…I do not make 2 separate meals. I have found that if they are hungry, they will eat it whether they love it or not. If they know I will make a separate meal just for them, they would manipulate the situation to get what they are wanting.
  2. I preplan all of our dinners. I sit down in the week (usually Thursday or Friday) and plan out the next week’s meals. Then I make a grocery list that reflects those meals. I try to grocery shop on Sunday or Monday for the week and prep some of the meals (crock pot meals, grilled chicken, etc.) so that when we are in a rush or I know I won’t have time to make a grand and healthy meal, I don’t have to. We can just reheat it and stay the course (beats fast food any day).
  3. I shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store. I have found that when I shop through the aisles of the store, I tend to buy more snacky foods and sway off of my list. So, I make sure I stick to the list and stay away from inner aisles.                                                                                      
  4. I bake all of our sweets in the house. I don’t buy cookies from the store. I make them fresh and with healthy ingredients…Check out this website for some ideas on healthy baking recipes).      https://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/                                                                                                                                                       
  5. I give myself NO EXCUSES to stay fit and healthy for my family along with being a good example for my kids.                                                                                                                                      

The last piece to my puzzle is one that I feel is almost the most important…the piece I could NOT live without…I have accountability partners…LOTS to be exact! As a health and fitness coach through Beachbody, I run private online accountability groups each month. These groups have given me the support to stay the healthy lifestyle course, dig deep to work hard and the motivation to not give up. We have a blast and I walk away each month with a new group of friends and accountability partners that I didn’t have the previous month. This has allowed my repertoire of friends to be all like-minded individuals and that makes it SOOOO MUCH EASIER when making healthy lifestyle changes that will last.

If this resonated with you and you are stuck and need the motivation to stay the course, need someone to guide you to a healthier lifestyle, need some new healthy recipes or even a meal plan to follow to get you started, need to get healthier, I would love to help you on your journey. Feel free to shoot me a message and I will make sure to get in touch with you.

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Top 10 Ways/Ideas/Coupons to Save Money RIGHT NOW

 

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As a stay-at-home mommy, I have to get creative with our finances. I am always looking for a deal, shopping at second-hand stores and garage sales, and looking through online coupons to get the best bang for my buck. Anyone who knows me well knows I am FRUGAL! I have the hardest time spending top price for anything and if I think it is something I could make, own second-hand or just flat out don’t “need,”  there is no way it will get purchased. For example, I was at a Christmas craft fair with my mom a year or two back. Every booth I approached (homemade soaps, hand-painted signs, knitted afghans, Christmas decor, jewelry, etc.) I couldn’t help but think…Why would I buy this when I could make this for $3? I am a pretty crafty person and I feel like all crafty people might think this way (maybe I am wrong). So…I paid $5 to get into the craft fair just to walk out empty-handed with the thoughts that I can do all crafts (BTW I do NOT knit! LOL).

My dad brought it to my attention that not all people think this way (it is a slight obsession of mine). Some people find it more difficult to search for the best deal, make their own crafts, etc. than to just buy the item. So, I am going to make it easy on you and provide a list of the top money-saving techniques I use as a stay-at-home momma. That’s right…all the deals and quirky things I do to save moola in one spot for your convenience!

1. Grocery shop at Aldi’s

I have found that I can get all of my staple foods at Aldi’s Grocery Store. They provide many different gluten-free options along with many organic options. My grocery bill went from $200 a week from shopping at Meijer, Kroger and even Wal-Mart to just $90 a week (yes I said $90!!!) give or take $10.

2. Go to second-hand stores

If your kids are anything like mine, they LOVE to play and they LOVE to play without thinking of getting messy (rightfully so on most occasions). Unfortunately in our family, we are boy heavy and don’t get many hand-me-downs for my oldest daughter so I am on my own with her wardrobe. So I am sure you can imagine my frugal self is not going to go to Baby Gap and get “play clothes.” I shop our local garage sale sites, Once Upon a Child stores and, in the summer, go to garage sales throughout the community. Then, when it is time for her to look “put together,” I go to the kids’ stores I like (Baby Gap has GREAT sales) and buy clothing on sale. If it isn’t on sale or a good deal…like practically free (LOL), I pass it by.

3. Throw Parties for Multi-Level Marketing Friends

Want that Pampered Chef cookware? that Matilda Jane clothing for your daughter? that thirty-one cooler bag? those Norwex rags?, then throw a party and get most of your items for FREE! That’s right…I work hard at getting my party filled with people who love those brands, let them “shop” for their favorite items, and get the perks for hosting a party! I have gotten $1,000 worth of free Pampered Chef, 2 Matilda Jane outfits (worth probably closer to $200), and more Norwex rags than I know what to do with…all for FREE! (I told you I was frugal)

4. Use Groupon

 I have purchased many Groupons that have gone unused so I want to share how I have adapted to make sure that no longer happens. I don’t buy a Groupon unless I am physically in the store/ restaurant at the time of purchase and I use it right then and there. rarely do I have Groupons sit unused anymore. I have been able to save our family so much money when we are out to eat at a restaurant. I will also scan Groupons available for purchase before making a decision on where to eat as a family. We go where the deal is!

5. Use Kroger gift cards and get cheap gas

If you are making a large purchase of some sort, go to Kroger and buy a Visa gift card. You have the money to purchase the item you would like to buy and you get Kroger fuel points on top of it. Anytime I want to get someone a gift card for their birthday or holiday, I get it at Kroger.

6. Don’t spend big money entertaining your children

When it comes to entertaining my little ones, I look for FREE before anything else. They are so simply entertained at this age that I cannot imagine spending gobs of money just to keep them entertained when an empty over-sized box does the trick most days. Some of our go-to’s are the Art Museum, local library (they put together many different activities throughout the month that we attend such as magic shows, toddler yoga, family story-time, craft night, puppet shows, movie night, etc.), local metro parks,  play dates are always fun, etc. The thing I realized is that my girls want my time, not a bunch of stuff, and I’ll find money in my pocket and joy in my heart doing things this way.

 7. Master the 10-second rule

Whenever you pick up an item and add it to your cart or take it to the checkout, stop for 10 seconds and ask yourself why you’re buying it and whether you actually need it or not. If you can’t find a good answer, put the item back. This keeps me from making impulse buys on a regular basis.

8. Swap babysitting with neighbors

We usually ask family to watch our girls but in an instance where they are unable to help us out, we revert to a sitter. It amazes me how much babysitters cost these days. Some sitters make $12 an hour!

So, let me get this straight…if I go on a date with my husband to dinner and a fancy show, we are gone for about 5 hours. Let’s break this down…

Babysitter arrives 15 minutes early to get the low-down on how everything works…

So her fee would be around $63

We go to dinner = $35-$40

We go to a show = $25 x 2 = $50

Our date night costs us a WHOPPING $153!!!

If we swapped date nights with friends and FREE sitting where our kids could have fun with their friends all evening we would save $63…which for me is a lot of money…like more than half of my week’s grocery bill! If we eliminate the sitter, now our evening costs us $90 and I am okay with that once in a while.

9. Always ask for fees to be waived

Any time you sign up for a service of any kind and there are sign-up fees, ask for them to be waived. Sometimes (not always), they will be–and you save money just by being forthright about not wanting to pay excessive fees.

10. Cancel the cable or satellite channels you don’t watch

Many people with cable services often are paying for a premium package that they don’t really need. For the longest time, my hubby and I were paying an arm and a leg for cable and internet which we barely watched and used. Fast-forward several years and now we have eliminated our cable bill. We have basic cable (which we rarely watch), Apple TV, and pay for Netflix and Hulu. Our savings has been HUGE since we have done this.

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How to NOT Break the Bank for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-day-table

One thing I have learned as a stay at home mommy is how to budget and save for the best bang for my buck. Holidays can be overwhelmingly expensive if you don’t plan things out. We aren’t hosting this year (and never have) but I came up with a list of important to-do’s to help cut the costs of hosting Thanksgiving in your home.

1. Create a meal plan

Get the idea in your mind of you want your table to look like when the guests arrive. Do you want mashed potatoes and gravy or sweet potatoes with brown sugar, carrots or green bean casserole, or all of the above? Once you have decided on what the “feel” of how everything should be and what the menu consists of, get to work writing it down. Remember, Uncle Joe does not need to go home with a HUGE plate of leftovers!

2. Set your priorities

Once the menu is complete, figure out what you feel is a must for the holiday gathering. It isn’t necessary to have 3 different desserts and 2 different potato options. Think of your guests and what they might enjoy and go from there.

3. Set a budget

If you don’t have an arm and a leg to spend then it is important to set a budget. A group of 10 people can eat a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving Day meal for just over $70…that’s right….$70! Set the budget and STICK TO IT once you are at the supermarket.

4. Shop your pantry

Before leaving to get the supplies at the store, double check your pantry to see if you have any substitutions or even ingredients that are required in your recipe.  It’s likely you already have at least a few of the ingredients on your list. No need to buy the same ingredient twice!

Congratulations! The planning stage is done and now you’re ready to hit the grocery store.

5. Leave the kids at home

I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot focus when I have my girls with me. When shopping for the meal and supplies, you want to stay focused (and stick to the budget). When the kiddos tag along, I usually end up spending more than I had anticipated.

6. Buy generic

Go generic where it makes sense but splurge on the stars of the meal. Generic tends to have the same ingredients as name brand items so don’t feel like you need the most expensive ingredient to make the recipe taste good. But if a generic brand only saves you 50 cents and could jeopardize your famous sausage stuffing recipe, it’s okay to stick with name brand.

7. Skip prepackaged meals

Making food from scratch is a MUST when cutting costs. By purchasing prepackaged foods, you’re not just paying for the ingredients. You’re paying for everything that went into making the meal and getting it to your local grocery store.

8. Save a tree

Take out Grandma’s fine china or dust off your own and get the real silverware ready. It will feel more “traditional” and classy anyways. Yeah you have a bit more work to do when everyone leaves BUT you’re saving trees, cutting costs, AND looking classy when hosting. Don’t have enough silverware and plates for everyone…that’s okay…borrow from a friend or neighbor!

 

Turkey just tastes better when it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. So make a game plan and stick to it. Keep the grocery list under control, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a delicious and regret-free (well, except for that third slice of pumpkin pie) Thanksgiving feast.