Friday, March 23, 2012

How do you do it?

So a few months back someone asked me about how it is that I am able to stay at home with what my husband makes yearly. The truth is it was a hard decision to make...we use to be a 2 income family with only 1 child...WooHoo...You should have seen the money we use to BLOW! At that time if you had of told me that 8 years down the road not only would I have 2 more children but I would be a stay at home homeschooling mom I would have thought you had lost your marbles. Truth is I never thought I would be at home and I never thought we would have anymore children. When we did decide to have more children I wanted to keep working but God had different plans for me and my family. At first the choice was easy to make I was only weeks pregnant with child number 2 when my mothers leukemia relapsed and my sister was just weeks away from delivering her first child and on top of all of that I was sick as a dog and had a husband just beginning the road to addiction recovery! I had alot on my plate so I quit my job for the sake of the child I was caring and to be with my family. I honestly thought that once my mom was better and I had delivered said child I would go back to work...wrong again...Remember I think God had a different plan. Once Duece was born it didn't seem to be worth paying full time day care for 2 kids so I stayed at home. The full benefits of being home with my children are for another post. But once there was no longer 2 incomes so many things had to change about our budget. And over time things have had to change due to income change, number of children and other circumstances. So some of these things seem logical and some may not but this is what we do to save money. I wont lie our budget is TIGHT and EXTRA TIGHT right now. But these are things that help keep us reined in so I can be at home with my lovelies.

Before I run down my list I want to say that I think it is important for me to be a good steward of what is given to me. My husband works very hard to provide for our family and I don't want any money going ot waste on things that aren't necessary or on things that can be done or found cheaper.

One of my biggest money saving tips is to buy the store brand! If it isn't compromised by nutrition or taste then it is a winning choice in my book:) That being said here's my list of no brainer ways to save money and cut a little waste.

  1. Make a menu before you make a list. Shop your pantry so you don't rebuy things you already have. I never go to the grocery store without making a menu.
  2. Always make a list no matter if it is a quick run for milk. If you have a list to stick to you aren't mindlessly buying!
  3. Shop the dollar and discount stores. I know that not all these stores are actually cheaper. But I go to my local Dollar Tree alot because I can get many things for just $1 that would cost at least double that at the big chain stores. My regular purchases here include cat liter, paper towels (only for dog messes), body washes, soap, shampoo, snacks, office supplies, trash bags, all Ziploc bags, and so much more. Worth the trip every single time!
  4. I don't use paper plates, cups, napkins, or bowls. Like I said in another post that is why we have a full set of dishes;) We use cloth napkins and there is a strict rule in my house that the paper towels bought are for dog messes ONLY! Paper products for me are a total waste of my money and I am not too good to wash dishes and fold napkins. Guess the only time we buy these would be birthday parties and large get together like when we had a Christmas Open House.
  5. Eating out...this was one of my last frugal changes because my family loves to eat out. But now that there are 5 of us I have realized the huge waste of money this is and it is now a treat from time to time. Plus hello it is so unhealthy.
  6. Your crock pot is your friend. Allowing you to get away with buying cheaper cuts of meat because they will become wonderfully tender when cooked all day, plus they make cooking the ober cheap dry beans so easy.
  7. Turn off the, TV, actually unplug it all. If you aren't using it regularly it is draining energy and running up your bill the longer you have it plugged in.
  8. Set your thermostat a few degree higher it will not kill you and it will save you money. Oh and open the windows and air the place out!
  9. Before planning a trip for my family to local zoos, water parks, aquariums, etc I look to see if and when they offer a half price or free day. Alot of places do and if they don't look into buying the family "season pass" for our family it was cheaper to buy the pass the the aquarium than it was to get in 1 time so we did and used it 2 mores times...for free awesome!
  10. Just be smart. You don't need it don't buy it!

So there you have it this is how we save money and I get to be at home with my kiddos:) Maybe one of my tips can help you. How do you have money?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Frumps to Pumps ebook

I couldn't be more excited sweet Sarah over at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee has written a ebook for her frumps to pumps challenge. Remember back a few months ago I took part in this challenge to get up and get dressed every single day. I loved it and it really transformed the way I thought about myself. So head on over and pick up the free download and enjoy. You can even find the details about a fantastic giveaway. Enjoy:)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Menu Making and Grocery Budgets

People often ask me how it is that I feed our family of 5 and 3 animals on a weekly grocery budget of around $80-120 a week. Truth is that there was a time when there was only 3 of us and I would easily spend $150+ a week of course this was at a time when I was not budget minded and obviously had a more disposable income. As we have added more children to our family I have had to pull in the reins of course! I thought I would share my strategy and how I actually make it work.

My weekly budget depends on 2 things first what our income was that week Michael works a job where he NEVER makes the same thing 2 weeks in a row and our income can vary drastically from one week to the next and the second thing that affects how much I spend in any given week is what we already have in our pantry...But mostly income:) I try to stay around $100 a week no matter what. But last week I tackled something I haven't done in about a year and that was 2 week menu making and shopping. I had a plan to get everything needed for the meals, pet food, toiletries and paper products. I should have said that above my budget is not just groceries it includes all the above! My goal last week was to spend only $200 I almost made it;) I had a b-day gift to purchase and some "school" supplies plus several things we buy regularly have gone up. Grand total ended up being more like $240 but I thought that was good. Now there were things that I didn't get or things I only bought 1 week worth of so I am sure another $50 will be spent this week to fill in those gaps. I set in with my sales papers, pintrest boards for crock pot and recipes I had been wanting to try and can up with the following diner menu. I don't plan lunches in advance I just keep things here and let the kids decide what the want.

Menu for March 4-16
Sunday- Crock pot chicken tacos
Monday- Taco Pizza
Tuesday- Cheesy bacon potatoes (crock pot), sirloin patties, and corn
Wednesday- Bacon wrapped chicken breast, baked potatoes
Thursday- Pull Pork (crock pot) baked beans
Friday- Fried potatoes and sausage
Saturday- Sour cream crock pot chicken, over rice with green beans
Sunday- Mexican Stuffed Shells
Monday-Vegetable soup
Tuesday- Ranch pork chops with flavored noodles and peas
Wednesday- Cowboy casserole
Thursday- Tortilla Soup
Friday- Old Clothes (don't remember the Spanish name) over rice...This is one of our favs all you do is brown some thin cheap steak with onions and bell pepper then lay them in your crock pot with some spaghetti sauce. Cook all day and serve over rice or noodles we do ours over brown yummy!

So there you have it! 2 weeks! Most people look in my fridge and pantry and think we keep very little food. The truth is we only buy what we need when we need it to keep the cost down. We don't have a lot of excess and we don't buy a ton of prepackaged snacks. I also don't buy alot of paper products that is why I have a full set of dishes:) Everyone gets plenty to eat around here and we have very little food waste. I would love to hear what other people do how you make your menus what is your budget for your family?