It is the chocolate and kisses of life that make us rich. Enjoy what brings a smile to my face and love to my life.....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Budget & Meal Plan: Topic #1

It happens to all of us. That unexpected time in life where things don't go as planned, and you have to make it so you DON'T break it. Your bank that is.

For the past two months, I have relied heavily on sales, coupons, budgeting, and meal planning. Without these concepts, I wouldn't have been able to stay home while trying to find a job. Times are tough, the economy doesn't make finding a job easy, but you still have to eat, right?

I've tried budgeting before but I guess I wasn't fully prepared to go all out. I still knew that if I went over, there was still more money to do what we had to do and then some. It is different for us now.

We use to spend about $60-$100 a week on groceries. In total, we could have spent $400 a month for two people. We would just pick up things we thought looked good and while I liked a good sale, it wasn't my priority. I wanted what I wanted.

Having a very tight budget has allowed me to see what good sales actually are. Having a husband who works in food service has also shown me that all sales are not worth it, and sometimes you can find a better deal with a full priced item! <----- weird concept, right?

Through my coupon clipping, grocery store circular sale searching, and waiting for the right deals to pop up, I have been able to reduce our monthly grocery spending to $80-$100 a month! That's right folks, that's a $300+ savings! If I didn't do it, we wouldn't be able to afford our bills and I wouldn't be able to find the right job for me. I am completely grateful that we have been able to stick to our guns to get through this time. So I decided to write this blog series to maybe help someone else who wants to learn how to properly budget and plan to have delicious meals without going broke. I hope you enjoy and can learn some tricks to help you!

Topic #1: Making a budget

1. Write down all your bills and your projected payments. Tally them all up so you know exactly how much you need to have each month.

2. Write down exactly how much money you make each month that is deposited into your bank account. Subtract your bills from this number. (I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but some don't write it down. If you SEE the numbers in front of you, it allows you to make a budget.)

3. Go into your bank statements for previous months and add up all the money spent on gas and groceries. Place them into their separate categories, Gas and Groceries! (I'm so smart! :-) )

This is where I noticed that we unfortunately spend a lot of money on gas for getting to and from work. Until we can afford a new non gas guzzling car for my husband, this isn't something we can change. We did however make changes that we don't just waste gas to go on long drives anymore. Every gallon of that expensive car juice has to actually take us where we need to go.

4. Subtract the $$ you spend on gas from the remaining money you had after step #2. This amount will be what you have left in a month to buy groceries, save, buy extras, etc.

This is where you need to come up with some numbers and goals for you and your family. Do you want to save a certain amount of money in a year? Do you want to buy a new couch? Do you need to replace a costly household item? What are your goals?

5. After finishing the above steps, (which took you far less time than I took to explain!) how much money you have left is what you can buy groceries with.

For example, after all your bills you have $300 left. You want to save some of it, so you put $200 in the bank each month, which would give you $2400 savings in a year! Then you take that remaining $100 and you make it work for you and your family. I realize some families are far bigger than mine! So you find a budget that works for you.

It may seem like such an easy thing to do, but if you don't see those numbers in front of you, you could be way overspending. Some think it's easier to just wing it and that is fine. I can tell you that wingin' it never worked for us! We would be in a much better place financially, if I had started doing this budgeting and meal planning earlier in our relationship. We didn't, but we are now!

It takes little steps to get to where you want to go, financially or otherwise. I hope you stick around to learn what has helped us.

Until next time,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oh Monday Monday

Most people hate Mondays. It is the start of a new work week and the end of a perfectly wonderful weekend. I completely understand.

Although, I don't hate Mondays and I never have. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends spent with the ones I love! I love seeing my husband and having early morning coffee with him. I love being able to talk to him whenever I want. I love being able to make memories with him, and I especially love pawning our dog duties off on him!

Then Monday rolls around and I feel like a new woman, every.single.week. I'm excited to get more things accomplished. I love to start the new week off refreshed and happy. I take Mondays as a day to plan, organize and set the tone for what the week will bring.

Maybe it's because I don't have the five day work week like some, and for that I am very grateful. I am cherishing the time I have to enjoy these Mondays. I know it can all change at any time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Butter cream Frosting

Happy FALL!!! 

As the last days of summer came to an end, I felt very sad. It's like saying goodbye to a good friend who won't be back for another 9 months. Sad. On the other hand, a new friend has entered! One that is full of fun promises!

Beautiful colors. Fairs. Apple Picking. Pumpkins. Fall scented candles. Fall decorations. Warm apple crisp. Halloween. Fall baking. Light sweaters. Mums. Crisp mornings. Pumpkin desserts. Cool nights. Thanksgiving. Comfort food. Haunted houses. Candy. Pumpkin coffee. Snuggling. Long drives.

There is so much to look forward to, so goodbye summer!

I started the season off right with making a delicious pumpkin bread. It had just the right amount of pumpkin, cinnamon and a light texture. I felt what made the bread was the pumpkin butter cream frosting! It is delicious.....I would just eat that with a spoon! Although that's not very healthy!!!

Pumpkin Bread
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and allspice. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until yellow and fluffy. Mix in brown sugar and white sugar. Slowly add canola oil, then pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Spray a 5"X 9" pain with nonstick spray and pour pumpkin batter into pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Pumpkin Butter cream Frosting
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp milk

Directions: Cream butter, pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla together. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Frosting will be very thick, add milk to thin. Spread it ALL over your pumpkin bread! Yum!
This picture may be deceiving, I didn't frost it for beauty. I layered the sweet pumpkin frosting all over the top in anticipation for sinking my teeth into it!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Goals

There is such satisfaction in setting a goal, no matter what it is and accomplishing it. I love the feeling I get when I cross off things from my to do list. That being said, I have decided to make up some goals for the fall. These will be goals that I WILL accomplish, with no excuses.

- I will go apple picking
-I will make an apple pie from scratch AND an apple crisp
-I will pick out a pumpkin and carve it
-I will go to a haunted house
-I will go to a corn maze
-I will take pictures of the beautiful colors of fall
-I will take my dogs on a fall hike

I think those are all very reasonable goals and I can't wait to start crossing them off. I'm thinking if the weather is good this weekend we might go apple picking! I sure hope so!
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