Creating a budget 101: determine your income

Money rule #1: don’t spend more money than income you take in!

Spending more than you make is a sure fire way to get covered by debt and weighed down by more bills than you already have. Knowing this fact and living by this fact are two different things. It’s easy to say you know this rule to be true and totally another thing to be disciplined enough to make the necessary choices to live within your means. But there is hope – even if you aren’t currently living within your income limit you CAN make changes to ensure that you are moving forward. How you ask? Simple, make a budget.

Now, when you stop laughing and rolling your eyes at me, hear me out...

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Creating a Budget 101: gathering your expenses

Budget. When I say that word how does it make you feel? Freaked out? Overwhelmed? Excited? Restricted?  I am going to guess that over time you have heard many people talk about how important it is to have a budget. It’s important to know what you are spending your money on and to make sure that you aren’t spending more than you are making! However, the actual art of making a budget can be monstrously confusing. How do you make sure you cover all your expenses? How do I know how much I’m actually spending? Where do I even start getting all the information on my expenses?

Know that you aren’t alone in your confusion. I have had a budget that I ‘follow’ (I say that loosely as I’m not always good about sticking to my numbers, cause a good sale price always gets me) for over 15 years...

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Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the House

I would consider myself a fairly organized person and yet still find myself somewhat overwhelmed by the condition of my home with three young children home almost all the time. As a stay-at-home mom I don’t have time to remotely keep up with the chaos and can’t even wrap my brain around the extra time challenge that moms who work outside the home face – regardless of how old their kids are! I often find myself wandering aimlessly through the house knowing that I should be doing something and yet paralyzed about where to start because, let’s be honest, when you have kids in your house you don’t ever really get to complete a task all at one time.

A while back I read the book Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the house by Mike Burns...

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Simple Gift Ideas for the Last Minute

I love to give gifts, but our budget doesn’t allow for grand gifts for simple occasions like mother’s day and father’s day.  So I spend my nights browsing Pinterest finding fun ideas to craft and create with my children only to have life happen which leads to a last minute scramble! Over the years I’ve found some simple, but thoughtful gifts to give to Grandparents and Daddy – all of which are easy to adapt for any occasion. Hopefully you can find a simple gift idea here for your last minute (or well planned ahead) gift giving!

Handprint gifts are my favorite because my kids are little now and I want to remember these days when they aren’t all a blur in the future. And let’s be honest, little hands and feet are adorable!

I sometimes attempt to dip the kids hands/feet in paint, but if y...

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5 Ways to Maximize Savings on Groceries

You’ve clipped your coupons and looked at the sale ad, but are not sure what to do next! Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Each of the suggestions about coupons here and rebate apps here are great on their own, but in the end the best way to maximize your savings on groceries is to combine all the knowledge you have into a master plan! Here are my top 5 ways you can maximize your savings.

#1: Make a List

The best way to save money is to have a plan. And the best way to remember your plan is to write it down – a.k.a. make a list! Every week before my shopping trip I write down exactly what I’m going to purchase….down to the size, brand, and quantity! I spend time figuring out what I want to purchase BEFORE I head to the store and make sure all the coupons I’m planning to use are t...

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Organizing Important Paperwork Before Doing Your Taxes

It’s that time of year again that I always dread – tax time. We usually get money back so I shouldn’t dread it, but it requires gathering so much paperwork and since sorting papers isn’t my favorite activity I never look forward to it. I have a filing system that works great, when I actually use it. It’s nothing fancy, but works for us and makes gathering the papers no big deal once they’ve been filed.

I use a two drawer filing cabinet to store all of our important papers, but a file box would work too. I have folders for a variety of different categories labeled in one of the drawers (I don’t keep them in alphabetical order, but it would make it faster to find things later)! Over the years I have found that having these folders keeping me organized makes life so much easier ...

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Saving Money on Groceries, Level 2 – rebate apps

I had been using coupons when I purchased my groceries for years, but never really felt like I was saving big money. Then I took yet another coupon class and was queued in to rebate apps! What a lovely way to get even more savings on groceries because you can stack these savings on top of your coupon and store sales! If you haven’t already, start HERE to get the low down on how you can be saving money on groceries with coupons and sales. Then once you are ready to take the next step, read on for some tidbits about saving even more with free rebate apps.

Rebate apps aren’t hard to use, in fact everything I know I’ve learned by trial and error. I use four of them on a regular basis and have learned a few things you may want to also know as you get started with saving...

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Couponing 101 for Beginners

Using coupons is a great way to save money, but learning all the rules and lingo can be VERY confusing! I recently sat down with some friends who were totally new to couponing – they were starting with just the knowledge that coupons come from the paper! We worked through the very basics of coupons and how to best maximize your savings when you start out using this information (I also included some of the acronyms so you can better understand the other coupon blogs you read). They left feeling empowered to purchase their first paper and get started on their coupon adventure. Happy Saving!

(Personal note: Our family mostly shops at Meijer stores, which have the MPerks progam, but the coupon basics apply even if you don’t shop there.)

Before you begin there are two important rules to remembe...

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Making a Special Birthday Celebration SIMPLE

making a simple special celebration

Every child wants to think the world revolves around them and I love using their birthday as a way to make that happen. Despite what Pinterest may show you, you can have special AND keep it SIMPLE! Growing up my family never went over the top on our birthday, but I always felt like it was a special celebration of me. As a child my husband was always served breakfast in bed on the ‘birthday tray’. His mom still has a special birthday chair that the grandkids get to sit in when they open presents at our monthly joint family birthday celebrations. For my kid’s first birthday we celebrated with both sides of the family complete with lots of presents and decorations, but I can’t keep up that kind of party going forward as I don’t have the money or the gumption to do a big party every year...

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Canning 101: step-by-step guide to peaches

canning peachesSummer is winding down where we live which means it’s harvest season. I love all the produce that we can purchase from the farmers market or pick from our own garden, but putting it all away for winter can be very overwhelming! I have been very blessed to learn how to freeze and can from my mom and grandma, but I know others aren’t so lucky. I am not an expert, but would love to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way in my adventures to help you be successful too!

We’re going to start with an ‘easy’ one today – a step-by-step guide to canning peaches. I plan to share my spaghetti sauce recipe soon and freezing veggies is so easy…I’ll share my method for that sometime too. The first step to any adventure – canning or otherwise – is to make a plan...

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