There, I said it…and It doesn’t really matter where we go, because wherever we end up, there is usually good food, new experiences, and is devoid of any chores. But before we go on our trips, we like to save some extra cash so that we can be smart with our money and not max out our credit card for a getaway.
Here are the steps we took to save some moolah, without having to eat boxed macaroni and cheese every night:
Follow a budget.
It doesn’t have to be super strict, but you have to follow it in order to reap the benefits. For a free, online budgeting tool, check out everydollar.com or mint.com.
Use coupons/ savings apps.
I know, I know. Who has time to cut coupons, look up ads, etc.? But once you get in the flow, it can get really fun. Here are some things that we use to save more! I put them in order of awesomeness:
I cannot say enough good things about this app. You can earn gift cards to different stores, which can help you save big later. Learn about it in the link. You can also go to this link to download the app!
If you buy your groceries at Target, this app is great for saving on things that you might already buy, and you can stack it with the Target Red Card! PS: There is a debit card version of this for people who do not want a (or another) credit card.
Local Ads/ Sunday coupons:
Decide what you want to cook/buy that week based on what sales are happening! For more couponing and meal planning ideas, check out Tina’s posts here and here!
Ask for cash back at the store.
Once you check out and use all of your resources for saving money (coupons, apps, etc.) decide how much you are able to ask for. For example, if your budget for groceries is $60 per week and you only spent $40 that week, then you can push the cash back button at the register and take $20 home with you. You still spend the $60, you still get your groceries, AND you get to save up your money!
Put it away right when you get home. If you leave it in your wallet, then it is likely to stay there until you hit the coffee line the next week. Find a place where you can put your money and know not to touch it. My husband and I have one of those glass jugs, like Ellie and Carl have in the movie Up. Some people have a hidden envelope, other have actual piggy banks. It’s your preference!
Saving for Vacation…Or Something Else
Even though we use this primarily for vacations, you can really use it for anything–Christmas gifts, diapers, new tires, or giving extra at your home congregation. It’s up to you! This is something that we decided would be our alternative to using our credit card too much, or overbuying at the store. It keeps me from wanting to impulse buy and helps us look forward to what we can do with our savings.
What is your favorite way to save some extra cash? Comment below!
I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
Becoming debt free and starting to really make your money work towards your values instead of against them excites many of us! We’ve lived the debt-burdened life and don’t want it anymore. We proudly wear the title of “recovering spender.”
(This post contains affiliate links.)
I received a copy of The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman in order to review it. Since my husband and I paid off all our debt several years ago using Dave Ramsey’s plan, I was excited to see what insights Lauren had to bring. Let me just say that Lauren opens up her life in this book. It’s not just a list of what you need to do, but it speaks to the heart of the spender and says, “You can regain control of your life! You don’t have to feel ashamed and out of control any more. There is hope. Here is my story. This is what I’ve learned and I’m going to share exactly what I did with you.” And she truly does.
Lauren opens up about the prideful, tough moments of her life, how she became a spender and how she is in recovery from it and always will be. She shares exactly how she and her husband paid off over $40,000 of debt in about four years. She breathes fresh hope into the lives of other spenders. But this book is not only for spenders. It’s got something great for savers too–some great tips on how to save more money, make more money, and how to help the spender in your life, especially if you are married to one.
Spender or Saver?
In order to get out of debt and save money for the things we hold dear, many times we first have to take a step back and see what money actually means to us. How do we use money? Are we more of a Spender or a Saver? Then, we can see how best to approach our view of money and change it to work for us instead of against us.
You may be a spender if you…
Purchase things on impulse like a new outfit, a dog, an expensive purse, or a house!
Hide purchases in your trunk so your spouse won’t see them.
Feel guilty about the money that you’ve spent.
Try not to spend money but then see something and blow your budget.
Don’t have a budget. Budget? No, that’s too constraining!
Have a budget but try to figure out how to rearrange the money so you can purchase that item.
Have credit card debt that rolls over from month to month.
Feel crushed by the amount of debt you owe, but can’t stop spending.
Buy things when you feel stressed.
Don’t know how much money you have in your bank accounts.
Don’t know how much money you owe or when the bills are due.
You may be a saver if you…
Want to put your spouse on an allowance.
Cringe at the thought of your spouse doing the grocery shopping.
Buy only exactly what you need and nothing more.
Know how much is in checking, savings, retirement, etc.
Know exactly how much money you owe and when it will be paid off.
Aware of the bill due dates.
Don’t like “wasting” money.
The Recovering Spender
Whether you are a Spender or married to one, Lauren Greutman’s new book, The Recovering Spender, is a must-read.
As a Spender…
you will learn how to regain control of your life and stop feeling ashamed of the money spent.
As a Saver…
you will learn how to engage the Spender in your life in a way that truly encourages them to make adult choices instead of treating them like a child and putting them on an allowance.
Financial Bucket List
As a Spender herself, Lauren made highly impulsive decisions, from coming home with a pug on a whim to charging $12,000 on her credit card to win a “free” car to going away with her husband to visit her brother-in-law and coming back with a deed to a new home! What finally made her change was something simple, but it took a lot of practice. She sat down separately from her husband and thought about what she truly valued. In the book, she provides a “Financial Bucket List” so you can write down what you value in different areas of life. Then, it’s important to come together with your spouse and to discuss both of your values.
By doing this, you will be able to use your money to work towards your values instead of against those goals. Then Lauren took action, finding ways to save money and to make money as a stay-at-home mom, so that they could pay down their debt and save money for the things they valued most!
Take a minute and list in your mind a few things that you value.
No worries, I can wait…
“My guess is that you weren’t thinking about upgrading your cable package or buying that new Coach purse you’ve been coveting. In fact, that question probably helped you to think about your money in a whole new light. You probably thought about your family, your faith, your job, or your health. Those things that you think about, those are your true values, so start making your spending a reflection of your true value system.” – The Recovering Spender
When we see that the value of money is really about aligning it with our core values, we get a real sense of purpose and it becomes easier to change our spending habits to meet those values.
One of the things that impressed me the most was how Lauren was able to take the dread out of the “B”-word (Budget) and turn it into a comforting tool. She encourages us to establish our budget in a different way than I’ve seen before. Her method seems less frustrating and complicated than what I’ve done in the past, and her approach sets you up for success instead of failure.
Money in Marriage
When you are married, it is extremely important to understand each other’s values. It’s the starting point to openly communicating and working together to keep finances from tearing your marriage apart. Start dealing with:
The Underlying Financial issues in your relationship
Be aware of your culture differences
Make a Financial Bucket List together
Make your marriage flourish
-The Recovering Spender
About her marriage, Lauren states:
“The biggest reason we were able to be on the same page was because we were communicating and taking responsibility for our own actions. There was no more finger-pointing and blaming, only a team effort working toward the same goals.”
She gives many great tips about how couples who have completely different value systems around money can come together, discuss, and work towards the same goal. Financial issues do not have to destroy marriages!
Hope & Purpose
Through the pages of Lauren’s book we see hope for those who struggle with spending money and purpose. We see that we can learn what we didn’t know before, and we can create new habits that align with our values. In doing this, we see from her example, that we can free our lives from the chains of debt and we can also free ourselves from cluttering our lives with things that can never truly make us happy. Reflecting on her journey that was filled with so much pain, loss, and out of control habits, she said,
“I feel like I am doing exactly what God has called me to do, which is use my weakness to teach others. To teach you how you, too, can become a Recovering Spender.” – Lauren Greutman
Be encouraged to live a fulfilled, debt-free life and pick up all Lauren’s tips and tricks on how she did it in her book, The Recovering Spender!
Check out Lauren’s new book as well as a few of her others.
(Plus, I added my favorite erasable pens. I found these extremely helpful for budgeting and planning out events and writing bill due dates on our calendar.)
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Tina’s new favorite frugal meal planning tool.
Last month, I shared some favorite grocery apps that can help save money. Served for today’s special is a side dish of Menu Planning! My hubby and I enjoy helping families learn how to budget, live within their means, save, and be good stewards of the resources God has given them. We are often asked for ideas on how to save money while getting out of debt. My hope is that these tips will be helpful for your family as well, in any stage of life. Today, I’ll share easy meal planning ideas to help save time, money, and sanity!
Meal Planning is a big deal. It’s time-consuming and if we don’t plan well, it can be more expensive than it should be.
(If you missed Part 1 about ways to save money on groceries, here it is.)
Hanging on to our hard-earned dollar bills a little longer means not only finding ways to cut back on grocery spending, but also having a plan for that spending. Here are a few helpful ideas for frugal meal planning:
Create Your Own Frugal Meal Planning Menu Planner
If you’re crafty and have the time to make it, a Hanging Menu Planner is the way to go. Here are some options:
Cork Board Menu:
If you’re like our friend Tia, you might get one made for you! Our friend Kayla made this cute board for Tia’s birthday. She bought a half cork/half dry-erase board at Walmart and decorated it. Tia can hang her eMeals recipe print-outs (more on eMeals below) and write notes for her kids on the other side. Tia says the best part is her kids no longer ask, “Mom, what’s for dinner!?” I love it!
Pinterest has an overwhelming supply of ideas and options, so just pick one you like and go with it.
Use a Frugal Meal Planning Menu Program
If you’re not so crafty or don’t have time to create, there are another gazillion time-saver menu planning ideas out there. I’ve tested several subscription and non-subscription online, downloadable, and app-based programs. Here are my favorites:
Pinterest “Weekly Meals” Locked Board:
I have a locked Pinterest board that I call “Weekly Meals.” This is the cheapest plan (free), but I do have to make my own grocery list and decide which day to make which meal. First, I pin a recipe to one of my other boards (faves, sides, sweets, etc) and then re-pin the recipes I want to make in the current week to the locked board. (This was not my original idea, I learned it from another blogger. Kudos to her, because it’s one of my favorite options!)
eMeals (My Highest Recommendation!):
Do you want to save money, time, eat well, and not waste food? Or maybe you don’t know how to cook? Then eMeals is for you! It’s by far my favorite of all the online planners. When my husband and I were getting out of debt, we actually saved $200/month on groceries by using eMeals! That’s just for two of us–we’ve heard of families saving a whole lot more than that. They have a wide variety of plans for different diets (classic, gluten-free, diabetic, vegetarian, paleo, budget friendly, simple gourmet, etc). They plan the meals and shopping around sales at your local grocery store. When they have you buy an ingredient for one meal, that ingredient will be used up in another meal, so it limits waste. (Is there anything in your fridge right now that you bought for one recipe, and haven’t used it since? Then you really need to check this out!)
Even paying $5/month for a one year subscription, which includes a free phone app, we still saved $200, and I no longer stressed about what to cook or how to cook it. Back to our friends, Kayla and Tia. They both started using eMeals for their families this month. Neither of them had previous experience with cooking much more than frozen pizza, but with this plan, they can cook! Shopping is made easy with a categorized grocery list; recipes are simple and easy to follow. You can occasionally find a Groupon to reduce the cost even further. Here’s one for a 6-month subscription: https://www.groupon.com/deals/emeals-12-little-rock. I can’t say enough about it! Here’s the link to eMeals website – there are free sample menus you can print & try it out! http://emeals.com/
I can save my pinned Pinterest recipes, edit and rate them, as well as any recipe I add via online or hard copy. The menu planner is stellar and the grocery list is superb. These guys have really thought of everything. Their pricing is reasonable too. Oh, and if your friends use it too, you can share any recipes you’ve uploaded or keep them in your secret recipes box. SO fun! My goal is to use Plan to Eat with my new Magnetic Menu Board to complement each other!
Combining money-saving apps with a meal plan, is a sure way to hang on to those God-given dollar bills a little longer. Next time: Hanging on to Dollar Bills by Yard Sale-ing & Yard Selling!
I’d love to hear how you do meal planning!
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