stretchingcents

What “Screen Free” week will look like in my house…

You're invited

This coming week is “Screen Free” week.  I encourage everyone to try at least limiting their family’s screen time this week.  My kids have complained about the idea the most, but I think I’m the one that is going to struggle!

What’s our normal screen time? From 6-6:30 I watch the news while checking in on my emails and Facebook messages.  I get the kids up at 6:30 and then they get to watch TV while I make breakfast until 7.  The TV goes off until we get home from taking Tommy to school and then Alice gets to watch 30 mins to an hour of TV while I get a few things done like the dishes and making the beds. The TV goes off until later in the day, and I try to keep my phone put away as much as possible during the morning.  I do tend to replay to email and messages when I hear my phone buzz though.  During naptime (1-2:30) I spend a lot of time on the computer or my phone working on my Usborne business, writing blog posts, or planning for church things like Bible study.  After Tommy gets home from school the kids choose when they want their TV time which is usually about an hour.  They typically choose to watch TV while I’m cooking dinner.  While cooking, I typically check in on Facebook and check emails.  Once the kids go to bed, Zack and I usually watch TV or do computer work.

Are we going totally screen free this week?  No. As much as I’d love to, I can’t totally get away from my phone and computer.  We are going to try and go totally TV free though.  I am actually unplugging them tonight just so we don’t turn them on out of habit.  I have also downloaded an app on my phone called “Quality Time” that I have set to turn off everything other than texts and phone calls.  I have this scheduled to run each day from 9am-12, and 3:30-7pm so that when my kids are awake I’m focused on them.  I will still do work before they get up, during naptime, and after they go to bed ( I have to keep earning money right?)

Why do I want to do this? I really like my family, and I know my phone and the TV distracts me from giving them my 100% attention.  I also tend to use TV as a babysitter when I’m trying to get things done and my plan is to try and find ways to get them to help me instead!

I’d love to hear if you are planning on going screen free! I have a Facebook group set up here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1788853434772090/ Where I will giving away prizes when people post about their week.  Stay tuned for updates on my week!

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How to save on your phone, cable & internet

There are plenty of websites and lists of ways to save on your bills, but I decided to write a list of tips that will actually save you money.  They are all things I have learned from experience and have saved us bunches of money.  I understand every situation is different, and each family has their own needs, but here is some things that have worked for us. At the end, I’ll show a breakdown of my current bills.

1) Do you really need it?

  • Home Phone– If you have a cell phone, do you really need a land-line phone?  We kept one for several years because we didn’t want to give out our cell phone to businesses or  to my students at the time.  When we kept track of how many people actually called our home phone, we realized what a waste of money it was!  We saved about $17 a month by canceling. So far, I haven’t had that many extra calls on my cell phone, so no regrets there.
  • Cell Phone- How much data do you really need? There are 4 people sharing our plan (3 smartphones) and we share 6 GB of data a month.  We have never ever gone over.  In fact, there are 5 days left in this billing cycle and we have only used 3.85 GB. Yes, there are MANY unlimited plans, but do you REALLY need that much? Could you connect to wifi? Could you use your phone less?
  • TV- This can be a touchy subject!  Totally getting rid of the TV is not an option right now for our family, but we have learned to live with very few channels.  A few years ago we were looking for ways to cut our bills and decided it was time to cut the TV package we had.   I “need” (ok not really) the local news and weather and we really like having a few kid choices. When I called to say we wanted only the local channels they said there was no such package, but when I said I would be canceling, they told me about a few unadvertised  packages.  We decided to try it for a month, and if we REALLY missed our channels we would switch back.  We did miss our channels but realized it was only because we were watching way to much TV to start with, and decided to just watch less TV.  I would challenge you to cut the TV totally off for one week….you’ll be amazed at how much you will get done!

2)  Ask about unadvertised deals

  • Companies always have unadvertised bundling packages.  Like I mentioned above, until I threatened to cancel, they said they didn’t have what I wanted.  Be  sure to make it very clear what you want, and let them know you will change companies if they can’t give you what you want.
  • Comcast also offers a few random discounts if you talk to the right person.  We currently have a discount of $10 a month simply because I talked to the right person and they said they could give me a discount because we used such a small tv package (???). It is listed on the bill as an extra “Bundled Services” discount.

3) Compare Companies

  • If you are stuck in a contract, it usually will not make sense to switch companies, but as soon as you can, you should shop around.  We used to have Direct TV, and had really poor reception at our house, so as soon as we could, I called comcast to see what kind of deal I could get.  Everyone likes honesty, so I was honest with them and said basically “this is what I have with Direct TV, I pay ____ each month, can you do better?”  Of course they wanted my business and gave me a better deal. I then called Direct TV, and said “Comcast can offer me _____ for ___ price.  Can you do better?”  And again…of course they could!  They offered to take  about $40 off my bill each month for 3 months, which was an amazing deal!  I kept Direct TV for 3 extra months, then called Comcast again and said the same thing.  Direct TV couldn’t match Comcast’s price, so we switched!

4) Check your bill EVERY month!

  • This seems like an obvious tip, but I’m sure people miss mistakes companies make on their bills ALL the time.   These mistakes I usually find are weird charges on my cell phone bill, charges for extra cable boxes, late charges when we paid early, being taxed extra because we were listed as living in the wrong county, not getting discounts I was promised, and the list goes on.  One month I found over $25 in errors on my cell phone bill!

5) Remember no one likes a grouchy person- and ask for discounts!

  • If something is wrong, its up to the company to make it right.  The biggest thing to remember is that no one wants to help a grouchy person though!  No matter how mean and rude the person on the other end of the phone is, be nice and I promise you will get what you want!  Here is how a conversation went with Comcast once:

Me: I called 3 weeks ago to get our new cable box and it still hasn’t arrived.  Can you check to see when it will come?
Comcast: I see you called last month, it was never ordered.
 Me: I understand this is not your fault, could you please re-order it?
Comcast: Yes (with a sigh that made me feel like I was asking for a HUGE favor)
Me: Since we have been without TV in that room for 3 months while we have been waiting for our box to be repaired, and then a new one sent, could you give me a discount?
 Comcast: No we don’t do that kind of thing.
Me: Thank you for being so helpful already, are you sure there isn’t anything you can do for me?
Comcast: Actually, I can go ahead and credit you $20, will that make things right?

See how easy that is!  Throw in a few compliments, and ask more than once in a very nice way, and you can almost always get $$ taken off your bill.  I never ask for anything outrageous, only what I think is fair.

6) Ask for Job related discounts

  • Teachers get 15% off with Verizon.  I think nurses can also get this discount, and a few other professions.  It never hurts to ask!

Here is what we are currently paying:

Verizon (cell phone): I share a phone plan with my husband, Mom and Dad.  We have been sharing a plan for year because for a long time it didn’t financially make sense for my Mom to have her own plan when she didn’t use her cell phone much.  Now all of us except for my Dad has smart phones, but we still come out ahead sharing a plan. Here’s the  breakdown of a typical monthly bill:

  • Plan for 4 phones: $59.50
  • Smartphone 1 (device, access fee, taxes, warranty): $35.58
  • Smartphone 2 (device, access fee, taxes, warranty): $37.92
  • Smartphone 3( device, access fee, taxes, total equipment coverage*): $48.69
  • Phone 4 (access fee, taxes): $24.18

Cell phone bill total: 209.87 (Split 4 ways so we only pay about $120 a month)

*We pay for full coverage on my husbands phone because after hitting it with the lawn mower, bulldozing it at the dump, and just this month dropping it down a chimney….its totally worth it 🙂

Cable/Internet Bill:

  • TV (Limited Basic Service): $15.31
  • Internet (Performance Internet): $61.95
  • Taxes and other charges: $9.19
  • Discounts: -$10.00

Total: $76.45

 

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Grocery deals this week & a GREAT deal for teachers!

After scanning the ads, I think I will be doing my shopping at Martins and Food Lion.  I try to stick to only one store per week, but this week both stores have a few good deals on things I need.

Kroger 

  • The only deal that caught my eye was a dozen eggs for $0.77.  That’s a great price, but not worth it for me to make a special trip.

Martins:

  • Fresh Corn is 8/$2.00.
  • Potatoes and Onions are buy 1 get 1 free.

Deals when you spend $25 in one trip: Be sure you pick up the flyer on your way in so you get the coupons

  • Strawberries are $1.99 for a 2 lb package when you spend $25!!
  • Tostitos chips are $1.98 when you spend $25
  • Triscuits are $1.88 when you spend $25
  • Italian Sausage value packs are $0.99/lb when you spend $25.

Buy theirs, get ours free deals:

 

IMG_20170427_095228497IMG_20170427_095221477

  • Buy 1 Hidden Valley salad dressing for $3.19 get the store brand free.
  • Buy 1 Mott’s fruit snack for $1.99 get the store brand free.  There is a coupon in the 4/9 smart source for $0.50 off 2 which Martins doubles to $1.00 off . So if you buy 2 Motts, and 2 store brand you get 4 boxes of fruit snacks for $3.00!!

 

 

 

Other deals:

img_20170427_095143102.jpgCake mixes are $1.33 each, but if you buy 4 you get $2.00 off which brings each box to $0.83 which is pretty good! Yes- making your own cake is probably cheaper, but honestly, I don’t make a cake that tastes as good as the box mix 🙂

 

 

Food Lion:

  • Chicken drumsticks and thighs $0.79/ lb Good price, but not stock up price
  • Food Lion brand chicken nuggets $3.99 each. Tyson nuggets often go on sale for cheaper, but I’ll probably buy a few bags since we are almost out.
  • Food Lion brand potato chips 2/$3
  • Food Lion brand salsa 2/$3 Not a stock up price, but we eat a lot of salsa
  • Green Cabbage $0.49/lb Great to use in salads, coleslaw, egg rolls & stir fry.  You can also freeze it if you plan on cooking it later!
  • Red Delicious Apples $0.99/lb We go through about 6 lbs of apples a week! Yay for when they are on sale!!!

SUPER AWESOME FOOD LION DEAL!!! On Tuesday May 2nd, teachers, school staff and faculty get 5% off their total purchase!!! You must have your teacher ID and MVP card though, and the ad says there are exclusions…probably alcohol and cigarettes.

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$79.31 for a week of groceries (plus diapers) and my menu for the week.

IMG_20170424_121757108This week I went I spent a little more than I would have liked, but if you subtract out the cost of diapers (about $9 for 2 packs) which comes out of the “kids” portion of my monthly budget I didn’t do too bad.  Here’s what I got at Food Lion this week:

  • Carrots- $1.79
  • Watermelon- $2.99 It rolled behind the chips in the picture
  • Lemon- $0.79 Why? Because Alice insisted she wanted a lemon with her lunch and didn’t believe men when I told she wouldn’t like it I thought I’d go ahead and let her try…she no longer likes lemons (unless they are in water)
  • Lettuce- $1.59
  • Mushrooms- $1.59
  • Dried Cranberries- $5.59 Cheaper than fruit snacks!
  • Coffee x 2- $4.99 each
  • Juicy Juice x 2- $3.10 for both They were B1G1 
  • Green Beans x 9 – $0.50 each
  • Canned corn x 2 – $0.50 each
  • Canned peas – $0.50 Again Alice insisted she likes canned peas but I’m pretty sure she won’t.
  • Large can of beans- $3.59 I need this for an event this week
  • 5 boxes of cereal- $11.13 total This is NOT a good price on cereal but I get 27 oz free a month on WIC.  Unfortunately the cereals I am allowed to chose are not very healthy so we eat the free cereal for snacks instead of breakfast.
  • Peanut butter x 2- $2.17 each It is cheaper to get the larger containers, but this is the size I have to get for WIC
  • Tortilla chips- $1.97
  • Sour Cream chips- $1.49
  • Store brand wheat bread x 2- $1.06
  • Nature Valley wheat bread- $3.39 Free on WIC, otherwise not a good deal!
  • Cupcake liners- $3.48 Why are they so expensive?!?!
  • 1% Milk- $1.39
  • Whole Milk – $1.49 Both milks are free on WIC
  • Luvs- $3.99
  • Huggies- $4.99 I had a -$3.00 coupon

Total after tax: $79.31 Total after WIC- $57.03

My Menu for the week: Note- many of our dinners do not appear super healthy, BUT my kids eat crazy amounts of fruits and veggies during the day as snacks so at dinner my goal is to get protein in them.

We ate out at our favorite Mexican Restaurant Sunday night (El Paso). We always have leftover rice and beans which we bring home and incorporate into our dinners during the week.

Monday- Nachos, Corn, and fruit.  We use the leftover rice and beans from Sunday and top with cheese to make a yummy nacho dip.IMG_20170424_172320892

Tuesday- Big Salads- Lettuce, ham, hard boiled egg, cranberries, sunflower seeds, cheese, carrots &  homemade croutons.  The kids usually eat just the “toppings” for dinner. See my recipe for croutons below.

Wednesday- Spaghetti and Salad (leftover from Tuesday night)

Thursday- Quesadillas, corn, and salad.  Quesadillas will be made with cheese mixed with the rest of the rice and beans from Sunday

Friday- Carnival at the school- We will either eat dinner there, or have a frozen pizza at home.

Saturday- PBJ, fruit, and chips picnic at the playground since we have a late Tee Ball game

Sunday- Homemade fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

Homemade crouton “Recipe”:

My kids refuse to eat the heals of bread, and frankly I don’t like them either! I save all the heals in a bread bag in the freezer.  Once the bag gets full, I either make croutons or french toast casserole!

To make croutons:

  1. Cut bread into squares
  2. Season with olive oil and spices
  3. Toast in oven set at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes flipping every few minutes.  Careful! They go from not done to burnt super fast!
  4. Store in tupperware container or freeze in a gallon size ziplock.  To use from frozen- pull out what you need and toast in the toaster oven until warm.

 

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A few stock up items at Food Lion this week…

I haven’t made my grocery list for next week yet, but in the Food Lion ad I do see a few stock up items!  These are items that are priced pretty low and you should definitely grab if you have the money in your budget!

Canned veggies are 2/$1.  This probably includes, green beans, corn and peas.  The lowest price I’ve seen them is around 35 cents, but I would go ahead and get a month or two worth of these if you can.

beans

Luvs diapers area  great deal this week.  There is also a $2.00 coupon in the 4/09 red plum coupon insert and you may have a $2.00 off coupon available as a ecoupon. (I already used mine this month)  You can only use one coupon per pack though.

Capture

Food Lion brand coffee in the big canisters is on sale this week for $4.99.  This is a stock up price if you like this type of coffee.  We drink A LOT of coffee so this is what we buy for our everyday stuff.  If you are used to gourmet coffee you probably won’t like it, but maybe this is a place you can start saving some $$$!

Other items that are a pretty good deal:

  • White mushrooms are $1.59 a pack
  • The Nabisco stack trays (with chips ahoy, oreos and nutter butters) are buy 1 get 1 free. You can get 2 packs for $5.29.  This is a good deal if you need snacks for snack day!
  • Juicy Juice boxes are buy 1 get 1 free and there isn’t a price listed but it is probably worth checkout out if you typically need to buy juice boxes.  We like to have these on hand for T-ball snack days.

I’ll update this list if I find more deals!

 

 

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Ham and Broccoli One Pot Pasta Dinner, plus other tips for getting the most out of a ham (or turkey)!

IMG_20170419_170828373I posted awhile ago that Easter is the time of year to stock up on hams.  Well I did, and this week my little family of 5 is eating one!  If you have ever tried to eat an entire ham or turkey with just your family, you know you tend to get sick of it before it’s all gone.  Here are a few ways we like to stretch the meat as far as possible without eating the same thing every night for 2 weeks.  Almost all of these ideas work for hams or turkeys.

Dinner #1: Cook the ham following the package directions and serve with sides.  For our ham I cooked it for 25 mins per pound in a casserole dish with a little water and covered with foil.  For our first dinner we just eat the meat sliced off the bone.

What to do with the leftovers: First, cut all the meat off the bone into a mix of sandwich slices and cubes and place in fridge.  Next, for ham I take all the juices and put them in a mason jar into the freezer to use as ham stock or bean juice later.  I wrap the bone and freeze it to use in pork and beans, or soup later. (Once its been boiled for soup or whatever I give it to the dog!).  Save the fat to use in green beans if you like to eat your beans that way.  For turkey, I take all the juice, fat and bones and put them into a large pot and boil for about an hour.  Then strain the juice and freeze in mason jars to use as stock later.

Other Dinner ideas:

  • Sandwiches
  • Toast meat with slices of cheddar on triscuit crackers for a yummy snack.
  • Combine meat, noodles, veggies and stock for soup
  • Quesadillas
  • Salads
  • Omelets
  • Stir fry
  • Fettuccine or some sort of pasta dish See my recipe below

Once you are sick of eating ham or turkey, freeze whatever you have left into family serving sizes to use later.  Already cooked meat is great for a quick dinner night!

My Ham, Broccoli and Cheesy Pasta “recipe”- Done in under 30 minutes and made in 1 pot!

I say “recipe” because I hardly ever use a recipe.  I made this up as I went along tonight so nothing is really exact.  Feel free to message me or comment if you need more details.  It took me about 30 minutes to make this, but that included completely stopping everything so I could go referee an argument over legos, plus several short breaks to stop Isaac from eating blocks, an argument over who had the red cup, and a discussion on why we don’t jump on the back of the sofa 🙂

  1. Boil noodles (I used garden rotini) in a pot with about 2 cups of stock and enough water to cover noodles.  I used a half a box of noodles (about 2 cups) for my family of 5, but you can adjust this amount by adding more or less noodles, stock and water.
  2. Add frozen broccoli in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking noodles. I used chopped broccoli because it cooks quickly.
  3. Strain liquid into a large measuring cup and set pasta and broccoli in a serving dish.  I placed my colander over my big 4 cup pyrex measuring cup to separate the liquid from the noodles.
  4. In your now empty pot, add about 2 tbs of butter and about 1 tbs of flour to create a roux.  Heat until bubbly and then slowly pour in the liquid you saved.  Boil until thick and add about 1 large handful of grated cheddar cheese.  Stir until all melted.
  5. Return the noodles and broccoli to the pan.  Add chopped ham (I used about 2 cups).  Stir until all combined.
  6. Pour everything back into the serving bowl or just leave in the pot!

I served this with buttered wheat toast.  Everyone ate it and liked it so its a keeper!

 

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Fruit Smoothies! Fun, frugal and full of fractions :)

Alice got Usborne’s “Start to Cook” cookbook for Easter and she decided the first thing we were goingstart-to-cook to try would be fruit smoothies.  First- let me rave about this book! This is truly a beginners cookbook! It is full of pictures and super simple directions.  The best thing though is that it actually teaches HOW to cook.  For example-  In the fruit section you learn how to cut, peel and zest different fruits! You also learn how to pick out good fruit at the store and the difference between natural and added sugar.

 

For our fruit smoothies we needed strawberries, bananas and pineapple juice.  I didn’t give her ANY help in choosing what we would make, but she happened to pick a recipe that had all its ingredients either on sale, or were already in our freezer 🙂

The price breakdown:

  • Strawberries: $2.00 at Food Lion and we used probably 50 cents worth.
  • Pineapple Juice: $2.99 for 6 cans and we used 50 cents worth
  • Bananas: FREE out of the freezer.  We never seem to be able to eat the last banana on the bunch, so I peel it and stick it in the freezer.  They are perfect for smoothies!!

The total for 3 kid-sized smoothies: $1.00!!! Beat that Smoothie King!

How did I slip in a fraction lesson?? After teaching middle school math for 8 years I had plenty of experience with kids being totally lost with fractions.  I have decided my kids will know their fractions and LOVE them! I try to show them examples of fractions whenever possible.  In this recipe we had to cut bananas in half so I talked about how 1 whole banana when cut in half makes 2 equal pieces.  We talked about where I should cut to make the 2 pieces.  We needed 1 cup of strawberries we so talked about where “1 cup” is on the measuring cup.  We also needed 2/3 cup of pineapple juice so we talked about how that is less and 1 cup, and that 1/3 plus another 1/3 gives us 2/3.  If we needed another 1/3 we would have 3/3 which would be equal to 1 cup!  That’s not so scary is it???

smoothies

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Groceries for the week under $55 at Food Lion! Plus my weekly menu

Today I did my grocery shopping for the week, but the planning started several days ago.  My weekly routine for menu and grocery planning starts on Wednesday mornings over coffee.  Each Wednesday the Food Lion, Kroger and Martins ads come in the paper.  While drinking my morning coffee, I take a pen and circle anything I think looks like a good deal.  If I think I have a coupon for the item, I write “coupon?” next to it.  Whichever store ends up with the most circles is typically where I shop for the week.  Sometime over the weekend I figure out what our week looks like. I then make my menu plan and add anything I need to buy onto my grocery list.  The morning of my grocery run I check my lists, the ads, and then check the store website and Ibotta for coupons.  Yes, it takes me several days to plan my grocery run, but I really only spend a few minutes each sitting.

I’m a little crazy about how my list is written (you can see it below).  I write my list in the order I shop the store, and I include an estimated price next to each item.  As I shop, if an item is more or less than I estimated, I make a little note so I know if I have money at the end for ice cream 🙂  This week I ended up under budget, but we’re saving the extra so we can go out to eat at the end of the week.  (Last week, my groceries ended up being just under $30 so we should have plenty!)

My list:

list.jpg

Things I bought because they were on sale: Strawberries, ham and McCormick spices (they were buy 1, get 1 plus food lion had a load to card coupon for $2.25 off 2. I got garlic powder and chili powder for under a dollar for both!)

Other notes- I didn’t buy the coffee because it was $6. We are running low, but I don’t buy it unless its under $5.  The LUVS diapers would have been a great deal but I left my coupon at home (They are $6.99 and last Sunday there was a -$2.00 coupon).  Food lion wheat bread was on sale for $1.09!! I also didn’t get peas because the kids decided they hated peas and would only eat broccoli. I ended up buying 2 things not on my list: cupcake liners and birthday candles because I forgot I needed them.

The final total: $54.80 ( I paid $49.23 because the milk is covered by WIC) This is for a full week of groceries…I shouldn’t have to go back to the store until next Monday or Tuesday.

Here’s this week’s menu: There’s a lot of ham…

Breakfast- PBJ, cereal, juice fruit

Lunch- nuggets, leftovers, pbj, fruit, crackers, cheese Today we did go to McD’s for Tommy’s last day of spring break…it was in the budget though!

Dinner:

Monday- Ham, Green beans, Mac and cheese

Tuesday- Deer BBQ, left over mac and cheese and green beans. Given to us by a friend! Can’t wait to try it!

Wednesday- Ham and Broccoli cheesy pasta. No recipe for this…I’m just gonna make it up

Thursday- We have Tball at 6, so the plan is to have a picnic at the playground with ham, cheese, crackers and apples

Friday- Chinese stir fry and homemade egg rolls This was on the menu last week but we ended up going to my Mom’s for dinner 

Saturday- Tommy’s bday! Pizza!!

Sunday- Tball pics during our normal dinner time, so the as long as we stay on budget this week our plan is to go out to dinner after pictures

Other- Alice got a cookbook for Easter and has decided we need to make smoothies this week.  I also need to make cupcakes and cake for Tommy’s bday.

 

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A simple way to save money…

A simple way to save on sports drinks...

Right now on Amazon you can get Gatorade mix for $11.93 ($12.01 for lemon lime).  The prices fluctuate from about $10 to $13 BUT it is always cheaper than buying the smaller drinks.  My husband mixes up a big jug for him employees, but we also mix smaller batches in water bottles to take on the go.  (The kids actually call it baseball drink because we only let them drink it when they have a Tee Ball game)

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How to Budget: Getting Started

Updated from January 2012

The number one rule to saving money is not spending more than you have.  The number two rule is knowing how much money you have at your disposal! The best (and maybe only) way to do this is by creating a budget.  It can take months to get a working budget for you and your family, and you will constantly have to update it as life changes.  Tonight I’ll walk you through a few steps to get started.

The first thing you need to do is get an idea of how much you typically spend and create a few categories of spending.  If you are paid monthly it is a little easier to set up a monthly budget.  If you get paid weekly, you may want to start just budgeting for a week, but once you have enough saved where you could hold your checks and cash them at the end of the month the budget process will be a bit easier.  I think the monthly budget is easier since most bills are due monthly.

  1. If you use online banking, go back about 3 months and start making list of what your spend your money on, and how much. If you don’t have a way to look at the past month, just write down everything you spend your money on starting now. You will want to create categories for each expense.  The categories in our budget are:
  • Groceries
  • Fast Food/Eating out
  • Bills
  • Gas/Car
  • Clothes
  • Pet
  • School
  • Medical
  • Baby/Kids
  • Church
  • Savings
  • Other (for us this is usually household type stuff like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc)
  • One Time Expense (when something random happens, like you need to buy someone a gift)

Calculate the average (total for category/ # of months)  you spend on each category,

2) Next make a list of things that cost money that happen only once or twice a year.  Ideally you will put away a little each month so these are covered when the bill is due. Our list includes:

  • Vacation
  • Car insurance
  • Property Tax
  • Christmas
  • Amazon Prime
  • Kids sports (ballet, basketball, and t-ball)

Figure up how much you need to set aside each month in order to have the $$ available when the bill will be due.  (Example- Amazon Prime is $90 per year so 90/12=7.50 so we set aside $7.50 each month to cover this expense)

3) Add it all up, and see if it is equal to or less than your monthly income.   If it is less than what you make celebrate!! If it is more than what you make, see if you notice any areas you can cut your spending, and keep reading my blog for tips on how to get your spending down.  Remember- your only choice if the numbers don’t balance is to spend less or make more!

Attached is a great document to use when calculating your monthly expenses.

Cash Flow Plan

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