menu planning and store sales.

 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. vs. 18

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about the importance of menu planning and how beneficial it can be for you and/or your family. To see that, check it out here. Well, I recently have been trying to improve the way I do menu planning.

Planning meals is a great way to be organized and save money; however, if you use it to try a lot of new recipes with all of these ingredients that you don’t have/are expensive, then your grocery bill sky rockets..and you wonder: “How did that happen?!”

A couple of days ago, I shared a website with you all about how to find recipes using whatever is already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. It was called “What’s in your fridge?” This was a challenge to utilize what food you already have and plan your menus around that.

Well, today I want to talk about how to plan your menu based off store sales. This is another money-saving tip with your grocery bill. Before making your menu, get an inventory of what you have in your home, as mentioned before. THEN find out what your local grocery stores have on sale that week. After that, decide what’s for dinner in the upcoming week.

Here are ways to find your local store sales:

1. Store fliers/weekly ads.

These can be found online, in newspapers, or in the store.

Here are the links to find the grocery stores’ fliers  that may be in your area:

Aldi

CVS

Dierbergs

Dollar General

Dominicks

Jewel Osco

Kroger

Meijer

Save-A-Lot

Schnucks

ShopRite

Target

Walgreens

Walmart

2. Sign up for emails through Money Saving Mom

This is a great resource and a little bit more convenient than the first option. Money Saving Mom allows you to go to her store deals link and sign up for any local store sales. Then every week, she will send them to your inbox. It’s that easy!

3. Talk to others. 

If you have friends who are also wanting to stay on a budget, get a system where you each share sales, coupon, etc with each other. My mom calls me frequently just to tell me that blueberries are on sale at one store or pork loins are $1.99 a lb at another store.

What to do next?

Once you know what stores have sales, plan your meals.

For example:

At Kroger this week, Ragu Pasta Sauce is on sale for $1.49. At Aldi, Happy Farms Shredded Cheese is on sale for $1.79.

I already have ground beef, spaghetti noodles, onions, eggs, diced tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper at home.

So I can purchase the sauce and mozzarella cheese on sale and buy cottage cheese regular price (or look online for a coupon).

Then I have all the ingredients I need for Lasagna Casserole from Money Saving Mom.

Also, for lunch, I can plan to eat cottage cheese 2 days that next week and find another recipe where I use mozzarella cheese for another dinner that week.

See how that works? It saves you more money rather than just picking out  a recipe that looks good and having to buy most of the ingredients in that recipe.

Use what you have in your home, shop the sales, AND go to multiple stores. Go where the deals are!

You may say, “Well, doesn’t it use more gas whenever you go to multiple stores?” Yes, but if they are all within just a few minutes within one another, it is more cost effective to shop at different stores (wherever the deals are) rather than stay at one place in fear of using a little bit of gas.

What are ways you are able to save a couple of bucks on your grocery bill? 

Remember: It’s about spending less so you can give/save more.

* This is part of the Somewhat Simple link party.

an introduction to couponing.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. vs. 20

So I have this friend. She’s probably one of the most hospitable people I know. Whenever I am sick, she brings me a “care package” of vitamins, hot cocoa, soup, etc… She also will randomly bless with me with beauty products. And almost every time I go to say, “thank you,” she lets me know that most of the items she was able to get couponing! And instead of keeping them for her and her hubby, she wants to bless me with them. Gosh, what a friend. So today she is the guest blogger giving us some tips and a simple introduction to couponing. She doesn’t have a blog; however, she will see your feedback through this blog. So give her some love and let her know what you think!


How would you like to start saving money on your grocery bill? Well after the famous TLC show, Extreme Couponing, I decided I would give it a try. I thought that if I could start saving just $50-$100 a month, it would be worth it.  That is a savings of $600-$1,200 a year! Sometimes when we can see the big picture, it makes it more worthwhile. On average, I usually spend about 2 hours a week. However, some weeks I don’t spend much time at all, especially during the holidays. But its up to you how much time you will set aside for this. The more time you put into it it, the more money you will save.

Here are some helpful hints just to get you started:
Where to find them: Start by ordering your Sunday paper. The Southern Illinoisan (for our local region) has a special 20 for $20. If you live in this area, go to their website. Trust me… you will make that dollar up in no time. You can also ask family and friends to save their Sunday coupons for you. Once you have your coupons you can cut the ones you use and put them in a small coupon booklet that you can keep in your purse. You have no idea how many times I am at the store and see something on sale that I have a coupon for! Since I had it with me, I was able to use it. You can also store them is by putting a date on the front of the paper with a marker. There are many websites like Coupon Mom that give helpful tips on couponing.  On her website, all you have to do is go to the store you like, and she will give you a rundown on all the sales with the dates on the coupons for it. Another great resource is Money Saving Mom.

Know Your Stores: Get to know 2-3 different stores and their policies. This will take time and effort, but once you have it down its not that bad. My three stores are Kroger, CVS and Walgreen’s because they are close to home. I also like the drugstores because of their rewards programs. Coupon Mom has a Drugstore video that explains how to save at these stores. Kroger also has what they call “manager’s specials”. These are items that have been price-reduced. If you don’t know where they are located, just ask a clerk. I usually like to go through the items and see if I have a coupon for it. I have gotten some great deals that way.

 Develop a Stock Pile: Buying items when they are at their lowest price is great. However, when you do this, you often accumulate a lot of stuff. You may be thinking, “I don’t have that kinda space!” Well, I don’t have a big home either, but you don’t have to. All you need is a small space in your pantry and/or your closet where you can store these items. If something is on sale, I try to buy at least six items or more. These items are usually nonparishable items like pasta, can goods, beauty products, etc…. My husbands loves that he can just go in our closet and get toothpaste, body wash or deodorant when he is out. It’s like having a little store in your house. Of course, this will take time to build up, but it will be worth it. 

Expired Coupons: What to do with your expired coupons? Well, you can donate them for military families to use. They are allowed to use expired coupons for up to 1 year after the expiration date on base and at the commissaries abroad. Now you don’t have to throw away an expired coupon. Just go to Coupons to Troops.

 Donate: Once you have been doing couponing for a while, you can donate to a local food pantry, family, or friends. I think the best part about couponing for me is that I get to share with others the blessings God has given me.

-Mayra Miranda McHugh

free ebook: 15 slow cooker favorites.

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. vs. 18

Family Circle is a magazine that I have seen on our coffee table for years. My mom has always liked it. Today I found a FREE ebook from them called 15 Slow Cooker Favorites. You can get yourself a copy too! Who doesn’t like free, crock-pot recipes?

First: Go to this link and “like” them on facebook.

Second: Click on the big picture that says “Get your FREE Printable Cookbook.” It will download a PDF onto your computer.

Third: Save it on your computer.

Fourth: Read, enjoy, and cook up something delicious! Oh, and don’t forget to tell me about it.

Fifth: Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS on the right side of the homepage…..sorry, that’s not REALLY part of this free ebook thing. Just wanted to throw that out there!

Also, I found this deal from Money Saving Mom. She has amazing money-saving resources. Check her out!

 

living an organized life part 4: finances.

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. vs. 20

Student loans, rent, eating out, electric bills, and the list goes on and on. Sometimes thinking about finances makes my head spin. This is not my strong suit; however, I am really trying to learn more about budgeting, money-saving, and the like. Whenever your finances are in order, your life is often a lot less stressful. So a lot of these organizational tips are coming from other resources. I read a lot of blogs and articles about these topics, so I have run across a lot of helpful things along the way. Keep this in mind while reading this series on organization: I don’t expect everyone to enjoy organization the way I do; however, I would challenge you to try out some of these tips in your own life, make them work for you, and see how you feel at the end of the day.

Part 4: Keeping your finances organized

1. Read stories, testimonials, blogs, articles, books, etc about this topic.

This is simply a good starting point to help you get a good grip on money-saving ideas and how to keep your finances running smoothly.

2. Have a few people who are knowledgable and wise in this area keep you accountable.

Kaleb and I have learned from others. That’s what we do. I love it when other couples share their methods for keeping their house in order through organized finances.It’s good to take not only advice from others but have people in your life keeping you in check so you don’t spend more than you have.

3. Have a budget and stick to it.

Crown Financial Ministries is a great resource that has everything from budget calculators to home buying & selling calculators. You can find them here. I actually keep track of my budget in an excel sheet; however, these calculators helped me when I first started getting my finances in order.

4. “Pay” your bills at the first of the month.

What I mean “pay” them at the first of the month is write that check early or set that money aside, even if the bill is due at the end of the month. That way everything that HAS to be paid is “paid” or at least the money is allotted for. Then if necessary, you can cut back on entertainment or groceries if your funds get low because of added expenses that you didn’t except.

5. Save, save, save.

This is good for organization because when an emergency comes up, you have some back up cash. It’s really easy to say things like, “I will save money WHEN I make good money.” But truthfully, if you continue to put it off, then it probably won’t happen. I have noticed that as I get a higher paycheck in life, I tend to have more bills and obviously pay more tithes. Which means saving money still makes me cringe because I still live paycheck to paycheck. If you can’t save much a month, simply save change. My parents bought me a swing set when I was younger by their pocket change only. Also, it’s good to set your savings aside in another account so you don’t consider it as spendable money. Even if you can only put $20 a month in that account, over the course of a year that will be $240. Have a vision for what it can be, not how slow it seems to be going.

6. Utilize resources.

One of our wedding mentors told us about Mint. They use it and have said that it works quite well for them. I have yet to try it. Basically, it is an online resources that brings all of your financial accounts in one place and organizes your bills so you can the “big picture” with your money. Here’s a video that tells more about it. Another resource that a lot of banks offer is BillPay. It may be called a different name at your bank. With this, your bills can automatically be taken out of your account and sent to the company that the bill goes to. This saves money on postage and envelopes, and it also saves you time.

Overall, these seem like fairly basic tips. But it’s good to be thinking, “How can I improve my finances? What are way to help me be more organized?” Whenever your money is in order (even if there’s not a lot of it), there is a lot of freedom.

What are ways that help you keep your money organized?

free ebook: your dream wedding on a budget.

She considers a field and buys it…vs. 16a

Do we have any readers out there? What about kindle user wannabees? Well, I just learned about this money-saving tip for those of you who want to buy all different types of books but can’t afford them. Here’s the thing..there’s nothing better than having an old book in the library in your hand while sipping on some hot tea. I get that. However, if you want access to a lot of books for FREE or very inexpensive..this will interest you!

Ebooks. Now many of you may be saying…don’t you have to have a kindle or nook for that? If you have one, that’s great. But this offer still works for you if you don’t. Amazon has a kindle app for your PC! Download it here. By the way, when I downloaded it..they gave me Pride and Prejudice, Aesop’s Fables, and Treasure Island..for free. Just for downloading it onto my computer. Basically, Amazon has free ebooks. Now it’s important to jump on them quickly because they don’t always stay free for long. Even if you can’t find a free one at the moment you are looking, some of them are only $0.99 to $2.99. If you are an Amazon Prime member, there are even more free ebooks available to you.

The book that I just downloaded for free is called Your Dream Wedding on a Budget: 47 Cost-Cutting Secrets from America’s Favorite Wedding Planner. Click on it to download it. Remember as of Tuesday, January 31st at 7:00am it is free. Hopefully by the time you are reading this, it still is. So take advantage of it while you can! This book is really good for those of you who just got engaged (which I know a few of you readers who just got a ring!), and it gives you great saving money tips so you don’t break the bank for your big day.

So go download some books! And let me know what you find! If you find a book relevant to some of the topics of this blog, I will let my readers know the link and give you credit for it.