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What I Learned From the July Pantry Challenge

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I just finished my month long pantry challenge!!  If you’re not aware of the term, a pantry challenge is meant to encourage you to use up items you already have in your home, (pantry, fridge, freezer, shelves, etc.), instead of spending money at the store on groceries.

My goal was to save a little extra money during the month by spending less on groceries.  To do this I decided to cut my regular grocery budget of $400 a month in half.  This would mean I could only spend $200 for our family of five.  This was no easy task and I was incredibly intimidated from the beginning, but I was determined to make it work.

The pantry challenge is now officially over (thank goodness) and I am proud of how the challenge went.  I would LOVE to say that I was able to only spend $200 on groceries….but I didn’t quite accomplish that.  I went over budget by $1.98.  I spent $201.98 on groceries for our family of five….and you know what I am so PROUD of MYSELF!!!

I wanted to share all about how I was able to make it work and what I learned during the process.

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Make a Plan

The ONLY way I could be successful with this pantry challenge was to plan ahead. I’ve always been a meal planner, but I learned quickly I needed to be much more detailed about planning every snack and meal.

At the beginning of each week I looked through my pantry, made an inventory of all our food.  I wrote down the meals and snacks we could make with what we ALREADY had in the house.

I was able to eat out of the pantry exclusively about 50% of the time.  The other 50% of the meals I tried to only plan really frugal meals with only a few cheap ingredients I would need to buy.  This meal planner that I use is available as a Free Printable in my Free Frugal Living Challenge.

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Successful Meal Plans

I listed out a few of the meals and snacks I found to be the most helpful in keeping the grocery costs low.  A few of these recipes (starred) are also available for free in my Frugal Living Challenge.

Breakfasts

*Fluffy Eggs

Pancakes

Eggs and Toast

Oatmeal

*Breakfast Potato Casserole

*Slow Cooker Oatmeal

Lunch

Muffin Tin Lunch

Sandwiches

Salad from Garden

Leftovers

Dinner

*Freezer Burritos

Layered Zuchinni

Spaghetti

*Taco Soup

*Balsamic Chicken

Pasta Bake

*Taco Tortilla Soup

Grilled Chicken

*Korean Beef

*Baked Island Chicken

Snacks

Pretzels

Homemade Cookies

Energy Bites

Popcorn

Canned Fruit

Bananas

Homemade Pudding

Homemade Bread

Grocery Shopping

I am a little obsessed with grocery shopping using Walmart Grocery Pickup (hello, shopping in my PJs and groceries loaded in the car FOR ME!  Sign me up!).

With my $200 monthly grocery budget, I was only allowed $50 a week.  One of my favorite things about Walmart Grocery Pickup is the ability to watch my cart total while I’m shopping.  (I know I COULD use a calculator at the store, but I’m just not great at it….) Being able to see how much I’m spending WHILE I’m shopping was crucial for me during this challenge.

If my cart ever went over the $50 amount I knew I needed to go back through the cart and delete a few items.  This was MUCH harder to do than I had anticipated!  My family all had to sacrifice a few items we were use to having regularly in order to make the month work.

Getting the Family Involved

I would LOVE to tell you that my family was totally on board and excited about my little July Pantry Challenge Experiment……but, they didn’t really love the idea.  When they saw the amount of food I was bringing home with each grocery trip they started complaining about the lack of food.

I tried to get my kids excited about the goal and had them help me make a lot of our homemade snacks.  They liked being able to help and were somewhat excited at the thought of having a challenge.

Unfortunately, this only lasted a couple of weeks.  As the month went on they began to get a really tired of the challenge.  The biggest problem was the snacks.  They are use to having snacks in the pantry, and we just couldn’t have those this month.  I decided to make a list of snacks we did have available and I hung it on the fridge.  This helped them a lot!  I think they had gotten so use to those convenience snacks (not awesome parenting, I know) that they had forgotten about all the other great options we had.

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Even though my family didn’t necessarily ENJOY the pantry challenge, I am really glad they were able to go through it with me.  It was such a good life lesson for my kids to learn about stretching dollars and how much food really costs.

What I learned

My biggest takeaway from the July Pantry Challenge is that I CAN live on less than I usually do. Yes, it took A LOT more effort, (preparing a lot more food from scratch and a lot of time planning), but I CAN do it!  We survived.

Moving forward I have a new sense of motivation to stay in budget, shop my pantry, and really spend with a purpose.  I’ve always told myself the lie that I HAVE to spend money on this food because we NEED it……but, we don’t!  We were just fine having less food around.  I am excited to take this new knowledge and adjust my grocery shopping from here on out.

What’s Next

My pantry challenge is over!  Does this mean I get to spend a lot of money next month restocking my shelves?????  Absolutely NOT!

I will be going back to my regular grocery budget of $400 a month.  I will slowly try to restock my pantry, but I will always stay within that $400 budget.

I honestly was terrified for this challenge!  I really didn’t know if I would be able to meet my goal, $400 a month is usually a little bit of a challenge.  But I did it, and I’m so glad I was willing to try!  If you are wanting to find a way to save a little extra cash, try having your own personal Pantry Challenge.  Be sure to come back and let me know if you did it and how it went!!

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Finances · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps · Side Hustle

10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money

Did you see my post 5 Places Online To Sell Your Clutter and Earn Cash?  I am a HUGE fan of selling ALLLL of my house hold clutter (because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of clutter) and making some quick and easy money.  I make the goal to sell a few items every month.  It’s not a huge money maker for me, but it gives me a little extra spending money!

I’ve had a few people comment to me that they just have “nothing to sell.”  I truly believe EVERYONE can find SOMETHING (probably even a few things) to sell.  The more desperate you are to earn some money the more likely you’ll find something.

Today I am sharing a few household items that will usually sell quickly.  I am hoping these ideas will inspire a few people and help you brainstorm what YOU have in YOUR house to sell.

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10 Household Items You Can Sell Easily

1.  Children’s Clothes

Children’s clothes are ALWAYS a hot item to sell online.  Clothes will need to be in good condition (no stains or rips) in order to have a good chance of selling.  Brand names (think Gymboree, Gap, etc.) will sell best.

2.  Furniture

Used furniture is a GREAT sell.  There is always someone wanting to buy.  The great thing about selling furniture is that it doesn’t matter if the furniture is older or newer, you will most likely be able to sell it.  There is a different market for all types of furniture.  The older items will usually be bought by someone looking for a DIY project and the newer by someone looking for a good deal.

3.  Electronics

Do you have an old phone or ipad laying around?  Or maybe a computer that doesn’t work anymore?  Electronics is a popular item to buy/sell used.  Phones are so expensive to buy new which makes for a lot of people jumping on the opportunity to buy a cheaper used phone.  Try selling your non working electronics as well!  There are a lot of people out there who will buy something that doesn’t work so they can use the parts out of it.

4.  Baby Items

Baby items are some of my FAVORITE things to sell.  High chairs, strollers, bumbo seats, cribs, bouncers, etc.  These are all hot items to buy used.  Use a magic eraser and washcloth to clean them up for an easier sell.

5.  Kids Toys

If your kids are anything like mine, you probably have toys laying around that never get used.  Clean those toys up and sell them!  Popular items include plastic play toys (such as play kitchens and slides), barbies, hot wheels tracks, etc.

6.  Tools

Do you have a garage full of tools like I do?  Look through all those tools (or ask your husband to do this) and find a few that haven’t been used in months (or maybe years???).  We have been able to sell MOST of the tools we have tried, but not all.

7.  Decorations

Search your house and try to find a few household decorations you could part with.  Maybe your style has changed or you just want to scale back a little bit on the decor.  Either way, there is always someone looking to update their home and will love getting a good deal on used decor!

8.  Clothing

Look through your closet (or your husbands closet) and find a few items that haven’t been worn for weeks.  Sell them!  If you’re not wearing something regularly, there’s no reason to save it in your closet.  I’ve sold shirts, pants, shoes, etc. If the price is right, it will most likely sell.  Be sure to get out all stains before trying to sell any clothing.

9.  Holiday Decorations

I have WAY to many boxes of holiday decorations.  I have found that all I really need are a few favorite pieces and the rest of the holiday decorations are just not necessary.  List these items for sale about 3-5 weeks before the actual holiday.  This will increase your chances of being able to make a sale.

10.  Outdoor/Yard Items

Do you have a swing set that rarely gets used? Maybe a hose that just seems to sit around.  I have always been successful in selling outdoor items.  Things like bikes, slides, lawn mowers, sports equipment, etc. all sell really well.  Look through all of your yard/outdoor items and if you find anything that seems to take up more space than necessary, sell it!  Try doing this during the late spring months when everyone is anxious to get outside.

 

What did I miss?  What are some of the items you sell that are always bought quickly? Share below in the comments so we have even more ideas!

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5 Places Online To Sell Your Clutter and Earn Cash

I am a member of online affiliate programs.  I may receive compensation for purchases made through links on this post.

I try to sell a few things online every month.  I don’t make a lot of money doing this, but I do make a little bit, and I am a firm believer that EVERY little cent matters.  I’m sure if I spent more time doing it I could easily make even more money.

I’m convinced EVERYONE can find at least a few items to sell.  Clean out your closets, look under the bed, search through your garage.  Try to find something that hasn’t been used in years (or even months?).  There is no use in hoarding something if it’s not getting much use.

I love clearing and the clutter AND getting to make a little extra cash on the side.  Being able to do it ALL online makes it EVEN better (hello, not leaving your house and getting to stay in PJs!)!!!

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Here are a few of my favorite places to sell online:

Sell on Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is my very VERY favorite place to sell.  If I price my items right, they will sell immediately!  I love to post large items on Facebook Marketplace; such as furniture, baby items, lawn care, etc.  I have the most success with these.

Sell on ThredUP

Thredup is where I sell a lot of my clothes and my kids clothes.  All you do is request a free bag to be sent to you, fill it full of clothes, and send it back.  Thredup will do all the sorting, picture taking, selling and shipping your items for you.  I really like selling with them because it requires VERY little effort on my part.  I have found that they are a little picky about what they accept (which is really nice as a buyer).  But, if you have clothes in good condition that you want to get rid of anyway, send them to thredup!  You can sign up through this link for a free $10 credit to shop.  It’s a great way to get a feel of the website before you start selling.

Sell on Poshmark

Poshmark is very similar to thredup.  It’s a great place to sell and buy used clothing.  I have found they aren’t quite as picky as thredup, making it easier to sell through them.  I am still a little new to poshmark and learning the tricks, but so far I have been very pleased.  Poshmark will give you a $5 shopping credit if you use my code sweetfrugallife when you sign up.

Sell on Ebay

I have had quite a bit of success selling on ebay.  I don’t sell with them as much as I use to (thredup and poshmark are just MUCH less work), but they are a great resource.  I’ve sold clothes and little trinkets and electronics stuff on ebay.  Sometimes it takes a little adjusting with the price to find the right fit, but more often than not I have been able to make a sell.  If you want to have a little more control over how your items are sold and for what price, ebay is a really good option for you.

Sell on Amazon

I have never personally tried selling anything on Amazon , but I do know others who have.  The fees are a little more than ebay’s fees, but EVERYONE shops amazon now, so I’m betting it is a really great market.  You will need to set up a free business account to start selling, but it is fairly straightforward from there.

Remember NOT to give up if an item doesn’t sell immediately.  Usually that means you will need to make some changes; such as adjust the price, take different pictures or try a new selling website. Try a few different changes BEFORE giving up.  Different websites tap into different markets.  Be patient with it.  Selling items online is a learning process.  The more you do it however, the easier it becomes.

Where have you had success selling household items?  Share in the comments your favorite place to sell!

Finances · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

Overspending Triggers and Solutions

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my spending habits.

I sometimes have these really awesome moments when I am keeping to my budget, spending wisely, and stashing lots of money away into savings…….

But then, I have my moments where I S.T.R.U.G.G.L.E.  I shop impulsively.  I buy things without consulting the budget.  I develop a “I need it so I get to have it” mindset.

Does ANYONE else have this happen????

I ALWAYS know this behavior is wrong.  I ALWAYS know that I shouldn’t be buying “x,y, and z.”  Yet, I ignore that small voice of reason and just keep on spending.

I have learned that these overspending urges are usually the result of a trigger.  SOMETHING going on in my life (usually emotionally for me 😉 ) that causes us to want to overspend.

 

The other day I got an urge to SPEND.  Like, really really spend.  I wanted to buy decorations for my home and I wanted to buy myself a few new shirts and I wanted to go out to eat and I wanted to take my daughters on a back to school shopping spree and I just.wanted.to. SPEND MONEY!

I was fortunately able to stop myself in this moment and asked myself, “What brought on this urge to spend?”

I thought a lot about my emotions in that moment and I realized that I was feeling frustrated.  I was frustrated by my budget.  I was frustrated that I was so limited with the amount of money I am “allowed” to spend each month.  I just wanted to throw the budget in the garbage and show that budget that I can spend what I want when I want!

Once I realized what I was feeling, I knew that I needed to change something in the budget.  As a parent, I always ALWAYS choose to have money budgeted for the kids wants/needs instead of budgeting for my wants/needs.  Which I am so HAPPY to do for them, but I was limiting myself so much that I became frustrated which resulted in me wanting to overspend!

So, I decided to change my budget.  Next month I will be budgeting more money for my personal spending money.  I am hoping that by doing this it will eliminate that trigger and help decrease those spending urges.

Everyones will have different  triggers and you won’t experience the same trigger every time.  I tried to brainstorm below a few possible overspending triggers and a suggested solution.

Overspending Triggers and Solutions

Trigger:  Overspending because you are bored and shopping is a form of entertainment.

Solution:  Develop a new (cheap) hobby.  Ask a friend to join you in the hobby to help keep you accountable and active with it.

Trigger:  You lack confidence and are trying to boost your self esteem with new purchases.

Solution:  Read some self help books (from the library) about confidence.  Learn to develop inner confidence without needing to spend money.

Trigger:  You are upset or emotional and use shopping as therapy.

Solution:  Find a new way to release your emotions.  Go for a run or walk.  Call up a friend or watch a favorite movie.  Find a non-spend alternative to help you calm down.

Trigger:  Feeling jealous when you hear how friends have been spending their money.

Solution:  If your friends are a temptation to spend money you need to distance yourself from them.  I have unfollowed friends on social media before because their posts trigger my urge to spend money.  If you need to make some new frugal friends, do it!  Just do whatever it takes to delete that temptation.

 

Trigger:  A friend invites you to do something that will encourage you to overspend, maybe a day of shopping or a weekend trip.

Solution:  Be up front with your friends.  Tell them your spending limits and the activities that you will be able to or won’t be able to participate in.  Kindly ask them to stop inviting you to the activities out of your budget.

What are your personal spending triggers?  What are the solutions YOU have come up with to help overcome those triggers?  Share with me in the comments so we can help each other out.

 

Finances · for free · Frugal Life · Frugal Living Challenge · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

Show Me the Money: 4 Ways to Earn CASHBACK on Purchases

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Who likes free money???  I LOVE free money!  And I’m betting you like free money too!

This post is all about how to earn cashback, just by shopping like you regularly shop!!

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Cashback with Discover Card

My FAVORITE way to earn cashback is by shopping with my Discover Card.  I talked in detail about why I love my Discover Card in my post The one idea I disagree with Dave Ramsey on.  In short, when I shop with my Discover Card I automatically earn cashback on all purchases.  They give you 1% cashback on EVERYTHING and 5% on different categories that are rotated monthly.  (Currently, I am receiving 5% on groceries).  You don’t have to do anything, just use your card and your cashback will grow.  I earn around $500 cashback with Discover a YEAR, and all I do is shop like normal!

Cashback with Ibotta

I love shopping with ibotta.  This is the very first app I check after completing my grocery shopping.  All you have to do is shop, check the app for rebates, scan your receipt, and the money is instantly put in your ibotta account.  Easy.  Peasy.  They have a wide selection of rebates, common items are milk, apples, pantry items, broccoli, beauty and household.  I can almost always find at LEAST one or two items to receive a rebate for.     If you don’t currently have an ibotta account you can get a FREE $10 just for signing up for one through my link.  (FREE money people!)  Once you have $20 in your account you can redeem your money as cash or a gift card.  I have earned over $100 by using ibotta!

Cashback with Checkout 51

Checkout 51 is very similar to ibotta.  It works as a rebate program.  You shop, scan your receipt and qualified purchases and you will get the rebated money instantly in your account.  Once you reach $20 in your account you can request your money, same as ibotta.  It only takes a few minutes to check for rebates and one minute to scan your receipt.  I have made over $50 cashback using Checkout 51!

Cashback with Ebates

It is so easy to earn cashback with Ebates.  If you like to shop online, you need to shop through the Ebates app.  If you shop through the ebates link you will earn cashback for every purchase.  They have a large variety of stores available to earn money with.  Everything from Kohls, Ebay, Zulily, Justice, Aerie, Lowes, Gap, Ulta, and so so many more.  Before I make ANY online purchase, I always check Ebates first to see if they offer cashback for that store.  All you do is click on the store link in the app, you will be taken to the store website, you do your shopping, and instantly earn money back.  SO SO easy!

 

If you are going to be shopping ANYWAYS, you might as well be earning a little cashback along the way, right???  RIGHT!

A quick word of caution however.  It can become easy to want to buy a product JUST because you see you can get a rebate for it through ibotta or Checkout 51.  Be careful to NOT to fall into this temptation.

I have found the best way for me is to do my shopping FIRST and then check the rebate apps to see if I bought anything eligible for a rebate.  (Except for with Ebates, you must check Ebates FIRST!)  This has helped me immensely to not buy things I really didn’t need in the first place.

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What cashback secret did I miss???  How do you like to earn cashback?  Share your successes in the comments!  I would love to hear all about them.

 

 

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What we cut from our budget to save over $2500 a year

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I am not naturally a frugal person.  I was raised by two frugal parents, but I lean more towards wanting to shop and buy things.  It has been a huge learning process for me to become more frugal and to learn the value and beauty in cutting back and saving money.  This learning process has been over the course of years, and quite honestly, I’m still learning and trying to better myself.  Today though I started thinking about all the things we have cut from our lifestyle over the years, and they have all been slowly cut out, and I was blown away with the amount of money we are saving ourselves just by making a few different lifestyle choices!

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Pack that Lunch:  $1000

Packing a lunch for work, instead of eating out with coworkers, has been our biggest money saver.  Every night I pack a lunch for my husband to take to work.  The lunch mostly consists of some leftovers from dinner, occasionally he will bring a sandwich.  I was so surprised to find out this simple habit is saving us over $1000 a year!

Change your own oil:  $210

My husband taught himself how to change the oil in our two vehicles, all it took was watching a few you tube videos.  It takes him less than an hour to do and he claims it’s super easy.  He uses this oil drum to drain the oil.  You can deposit the oil for free at most auto parts stores.  This is not some natural talent he has, he had to get out of his comfort zone to learn this skill, however this simple task saves us $210 a year.

Cut the Cable:  $480

A few years ago we decided to get rid of our cable TV.  We were actually already on a fairly cheap rate, but we decided we could do without it.  We have saved $480 a year by doing this!  There are so many great options for cheap TV.  We use Netflix.  But I have friends who use Hulu, Roku, or Amazon Prime.

At Home Haircuts:  $200

I bought clippers 14 years ago for $20.  You can find a similar pair to ours here:  Wahl Complete Hair Cutting Kit.  I have been cutting my husbands and sons hair ever since.  This is a $200 annual savings.  If you know me, you know that hair is really NOT a talent of mine.  I have watched a few you tube tutorial videos and both my husband and son get very basic cuts.  I have made my some a few mistakes on both of them, but I keep learning and trying.  And luckily boys hair grows out fairly fast!  😉

Workout at Home:  $840

We have never had a gym membership and this decision saves us $70 a month.  We have learned to get a good workout in at home.  We go for a run or bike ride during the summer and find great you tube videos to follow during the winter.  I buy cheap weights and exercise equipment to use from the thrift store.  My favorite you tube channels to follow are fitness blender and yoga with Adrienne.

The Results:  $2730

Just by making these 5 adjustments to our lifestyle we save $2730 a year!  So in five years we have saved $13,650!  Ten years it will be $27,300!  Those little expenses don’t seem like a big deal, but over time they add up to be a very very BIG deal.

It really has not been hard to cut any of these things from our budget.  We have been living this way for years and honestly never seem to miss a gym membership or cable TV.  It has just become our way of life, and it’s a great life!  It can be hard to form new habits, but once you do those habits become your way of life and you often never really look back!

Take a look at your budget and lifestyle.  Can you find a few things that you could change in order to save money?  I promise the pay off is so worth it!

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Finances · For the kids · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Money Lessons for Kids: The night we taught our kids the TRUTH about money

I have been wanting to give our kids a really good object lesson about how to handle money.  We talk about this topic constantly, and we give them chores to help them learn how to save and spend wisely, you can read all about that here:  Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits; but I just kept wanting to find something that would make a big impact on them and the real adult world.  I began brainstorming ideas and came up with a game plan that ended up having a greater impact than I ever could have imagined.

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We told the kids that we were having a family meeting and that they all needed to come join us.  We excitedly announced to the kids that we would be having a money lesson (cue groans.)  I ignored these sour face expressions and got started with our plan.

Phase 1:  The Marshmallow Bank

First, I gave each of the kids 5 marshmallows.  I told them that those marshmallows were theirs to do whatever they wanted with.    But, if they wanted to put the marshmallows in the marshmallow bank the marshmallows might grow.  My 12 year old and 9 year old decided to put all of their five marshmallows into the marshmallow bank.  My 5 year old decided to eat three of his marshmallows and put the other two into the bank.  I took the marshmallows away and put them into the “bank” (aka my closet).  We left those marshmallows alone to sit in the bank for a while and we moved onto Phase 2!

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Phase 2:    Real Life

For Phase 2 I really wanted to give my kids an understanding of exactly where mom and dad’s money goes each month and WHY we just can’t give them every.single.thing. they want all the time!  I also wanted to give them an understanding of what responsibilities they will need to expect when they become adults.

To prepare I got out enough cash to resemble how much money my husband earns in one month (I did this during the first of the month when I had a bunch of cash on hand from my cash envelopes).  We pretended that a quarter was $25, $1 was $100, $5 was $500, $10 was $1,000 and $20 was $2,000.  I then got three bowls filled with snacks.  The first bowl had cheerios in it and a $50 sign, the next bowl had fruit snacks with a $100 sign on it and the last bowl had a few mini candy bars in it with a $500 sign.

I gave the kids all of the “money” that our family has to live off of for one month.  I explained that after they paid all of their monthly bills than they could use whatever money is left to go shopping at our “store.”  At this point the kids were SO excited about their money.  All of those bills looked like a gigantic wad of sum to those three young kids.  They could not wait to buy out the entire store!

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Then the bills began…

We listed off every bill that we have to pay each month and how much that cost.  As we listed it off the kids had to pay us their “money” for those bills.  We included everything!  They had to pay for life insurance, car insurance, retirement savings, college savings, sports and piano lessons.  They paid for electricity, groceries, car repairs, and a few date nights.  We had them put money into their emergency savings account.  If it was on our real budget, the kids saved for it.  As the huge wad of cash slowly dwindled the looks on the kids faces kept dropping and dropping.

Once the bills were all done being paid my daughter exclaimed, “But where did all of our money go?!?!”  The kids had about $10 leftover, an equivalent of $1000.  Not enough to buy each of them one of the coveted candy bars.  They had to settle for a few fruits snacks and cheerios.

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Phase 3:  The Lesson

At first the kids were a little upset.  They were asking questions like, “So does this mean we don’t have any money?!?!”  and “I don’t understand where the money went.”  We then explained to them that we do have money.  We have enough to pay for everything in our budget, everything that they had to pay for.  We have enough for the soccer camp, the piano lessons, food on our tables, the necessary clothing and occasional fun family activity.  We talked about how we have enough money for those things.  But, we do not have enough money for ALL the things.  We talked about why and how we make a budget each month, how some months we might budget for a fun family activity and another month we will budget for new school clothes.

As the conversation continued I could see the understanding start to set in their eyes.  They began to realize the importance of a budget and why they are told no to some of the things they ask for.  They learned the importance of saving money each month and budgeting for the many bills that come with being an adult.

Phase 4:  Investments

Now it was time to check how our investments were doing in the “marshmallow bank.”  When I went to go get the marshmallows I tripled the amount of marshmallows each of the kids had in their bowl.  My 12 and 9 year old ended up with 15 marshmallows and my 5 year old had 6 marshmallows.  My 5 year old was a little disappointed when he saw how little marshmallows he had compared to his two older sisters.

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We then explained to the kids the importance of investing your money and how if you do it wisely your money will grow.  We demonstrated how the more money you invest, the more money you will earn in return.

I was so very happy with how this money lesson turned out.  My kids really seemed to understand and grasp what we were teaching them.  The conversations we had throughout the lesson were very real and mature and I am hoping this is something my kids will remember as they grow up and begin making their own personal money choices.  And once we were all done we totally let them have a few of the mini candy bars…..just because I try to be a nice mom.  Sometimes.  😉

 

 

 

Finances · Good Ideas · Money Educatioin

The Envelope Money System: A Beginners Guide

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About a year ago I changed the way I was spending money.  I decided to quit using my debit card for purchases and try only using cash.  I’ll be honest, I did not think this change would make much of a difference.  I am a little bit prideful and a lot of stubborn and I really felt that I was strong enough to spend smartly with my debit card.  It only took one month of paying with cash to realize that I was wrong!  I couldn’t believe how quickly my wad of cash depleted.  It was a huge wake up call for me to watch that envelope empty so quickly.

Today I am sharing how I use the envelope system and a few of the tricks I have learned a long the way.

There are some things I buy with cash, and other things I buy with my credit card.  I rarely use my debit card.  To read about why I use a credit card for some purchases read my post The one idea I disagree with Dave Ramsey on.

My husband and I try to have a budget meeting at the end of every month.  Monthly is what we have found works for us.  I know others that budget weekly or bi-weekly.  We use these budget meetings to discuss how we did on our budget throughout the month, make a new budget for the next month and decide things we could do better or different.  At this time we decide how much both of us will need over the month for our daily spending.  These categories change monthly, the most common categories are:  clothing, house expenses, pet food, children’s extra curricular activities, groceries, fun and other.   We always have an “other” category for any extra expenses that come up throughout the month.  We have NEVER had a month go by without something coming up that we forgot to budget for.  Always make sure you have an “other” envelope.

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Once we have our budgeted amount I go to the bank, withdraw the amount of money we will need and start stuffing my envelopes.  You do not need anything fancy for your envelopes.  We use boring cheap white envelopes and just write the names of each category on them.  I then put the amount of money I need in each envelope.

 

This money has to last me all month.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  I leave these envelopes home at all times.  My husband doesn’t like the idea of me walking around with so much cash and I have found that I am to tempted to spend it if it’s with me.  When I need to buy something I simply take out the correct amount of cash from the envelope, no more and no less and go to the store.  I also leave home all debit and credit cards.  This is my way to get rid of all temptation and to prevent any impulse shopping.  The amount of cash I put in my wallet is ALL I have to spend for that shopping trip so I have to really pay close attention to what I’m putting in my shopping cart.

I am fairly loose with the envelopes and will occasionally switch some of the cash around in the envelopes mid-month.  It’s hard to always know exactly how much we will need for each category.  I never spend over the amount of monthly budgeted cash.  That large sum is non negotiable and we have to spend carefully throughout the month to make sure it lasts us all four weeks.

I recommend everyone at least TRYING doing most of their spending with cash each month and see how much less you spend.  It has really opened my eyes to my spending habits and is a great object lesson for everyone to try.

Amazon · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Teaching Kids Smart Money Habits

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It is so important to me to teach my kids how to be smart with money.  I want them to learn while they are young how to handle money, how to budget, how to save and how to spend wisely.  I would rather then make mistakes with $5 than with $5,000  I wanted to share a few things that have worked for us as we’ve tried to teach our kids good money habits.  Parenting is such a personal thing, and there is more than one way to be a fantastic parent.  This is the way we feel is best to teach our kids, but understand that others may disagree and may have other ways that work for them and their family.

A few years ago I read Dave Ramsey’s and Rachel Cruze’s book titled  Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money.  This book is so well written and gives really good advice for how to go about teaching your kids about money.  I really really recommend it to EVERY parent.  Check your library for it or buy it on Amazon, either way, just read it!  I have implemented a lot of the lessons I learned from Smart Money Smart Kids:  Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money, but there are a few things we have chosen to do different with our own kids.

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Allowance

I know, I know!  There are a lot of people who are against giving kids an allowance.  I understand the reasoning’s behind not wanting to pay your kids an allowance.  I do.  I get it!  None of us want our kids to grow up to be spoiled or entitled.  We all want our children to understand that in order to have money, you have to work for it.

So why an allowance???

We decided to give our kids an allowance after discussing with my husband the different ways we were both raised.  I did receive a monthly allowance while growing up.  With that allowance I was expected to tithe 10%, save minimum of 20%, and with the rest I was expected to buy all of my own clothes, make-up, shoes, etc., and pay for any extra curricular activities or outings with friends.  I grew up to be very responsible with money.  I did not become spoiled, entitled or lazy.  I did not expect a free handout once I became an adult.  Instead I learned early in life how to budget and save and spend wisely.  Instead of asking my parents to buy me a brand new pair of name brand shoes and being disappointed when they told me it was to much money; I instead was given a set amount of money and I learned to decide for MYSELF that the name brand shoes were to much money and I would rather shop around for a better deal.  I am so grateful to my parents for helping me to learn this lesson.  My husband did not receive an allowance, his parents were against it.  However, they paid for all of his clothes, his extra curricular activities and outings with friends.  He is good with money, but he is the first to admit he wishes he had received a money lesson similar to mine in his early years.  Because of these two life experiences we have decided to give our kids a small monthly allowance.

Once our kids turn eight years old they start receiving a small allowance of $5 a month.  We teach them to save 20% and tithe 10% to our church.  After they save and tithe they can then use the rest of the money as spending money.  They use it when they want to go to a movie or other activity with their friends, they use it for buying birthday presents for friends and family, and any other thing they want to save up and buy with it.  Once they reach age 13 this allowance amount will increase and they will then be expected to buy all of their own clothes.  My oldest will be turning 13 (yikes!) in 6 months so we have been planning how best to make this work.  I went through and added up how much money I spend on her clothing and activities a year.  I divided that number by 12 (for 12 months), added a little bit of extra to help cover the amount she will save and tithe and I have come up with her monthly allowance.  She will be receiving $20 a month and will be responsible for budgeting that money to be able to pay for everything she needs to pay for.

Chores

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Chores are an excellent tool to help kids learn valuable lessons.

We have some chores in our household that my kids are expected to do without receiving any money whatsoever.  Cleaning is a part of life and I want them to learn to keep a house clean just because that’s what you do.  They have daily chores and weekly chores that they must get done before playing with a friend, going outside to play or having any screen time.

My kids daily chores include making their bed, picking up any clothes or clutter off the floor, doing the dishes (each has a separate job for dishes) and practicing the piano.

Saturday is the day we work on weekly chores.  On Saturday they are expected to:

  1.  Sort their laundry first thing in the morning.  I then wash and fold the laundry.  That evening once the laundry is done they put their clean clothes away in their dresser.
  2. “Deep clean” their bedrooms.  Deep cleaning in our home consists of picking up all clutter on floor or dresser, organizing their closet, cleaning out from under the bed, dusting, vacuuming, and making their room look very presentable and nice.  I always check after they say they are done to make sure they did it thoroughly.
  3. Change their sheets on their bed.  They take off their sheets and bring them to the laundry room for me to wash.  They then get a clean set of sheets from the closet and put those on the bed.
  4. We have 6 weekly house chores that we rotate through each week so that they all get a turn helping with each chore.  These house chores are different rooms in the house.  Each room is suppose to have a thorough cleaning, I have typed of lists to go along with each of the rooms so they know exactly what is expected.  These 6 chores are:  Entry way and foyer, kitchen, basement, bathroom, great room and your choice (the choices include cleaning out the car, doing the laundry for the day, or washing all the windows).

I wanted my kids to learn that a part of life is cleaning the house and you never get paid for that (unfortunately!).  But, I also want them to learn that the harder you work the more money you will receive.  So, we came up with some chores that they get paid to do.  We raise chickens and the kids are responsible for feeding, collecting the eggs and routinely cleaning out the coop.  They are suppose to mark it on the calendar after they do their chore and they are paid 25 cents for each day it is done.  At the end of the month I add up how many days they did their job and give them their pay.   We have also provided a list of EXTRA chores they are few to do whenever they want to earn more spending money.  My kids utilize this list often when they find something they want to save up for.

 

Teaching Money Habits

When our kids turn 8 and begin to receive an allowance we buy them a savings tin that we found on Amazon years ago.  You can buy the girls version here and the boys version here.  These tins have three separate slots for saving.  I like them because they make saving a little more fun for the kids, they love having their own key to lock their money in their personal bank, and it makes separating the money easy.   You do NOT need to spend money on savings banks though.  Feel free to set your kids up with three envelopes or three jars, anything that will store money will work!

 

 

The very first things our kids do after receiving their allowance or chores payment is go get their savings bank and tithe 10% to our church, save at LEAST 20% for their future, such as college and a car.  I often will pay them with change to make it easy to divide the money up between.  If it’s time for their monthly $5 allowance then I will give them 4 one dollar bills and 4 quarters.  They know that two quarters go into their tithing bank, one dollar in their savings and the rest into spending.

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Lessons Learned

The lessons I have seen my kids learn since implementing these methods have been HUGE and absolutely PRICELESS.  A few of the things I have watched them learn are:

  1.  Their future is important to them.  More often than not they save MUCH more than the required 20%.  They understand that they will be responsible for a lot of their future expenses and are very motivated to save for those moments.
  2. Some things are just not worth spending money on.  Their have been moments in the store when they have fell in love with a toy.  I always remind them that they have their own money to spend and if they want to buy it they can.  So often they have expressed that that particular toy looks fun, but is just not worth spending their hard earned money on.  They choose wisely when they make purchases.
  3. The harder they work the more money they will have.  A few months ago one of my kids was continually not getting completing her chore with the chickens.  When this happens I don’t nag them, I just go outside and do it myself.  The end of the month came and one of my kids earned her full wages, the other child who had not been making her job a priority earned very little.  She was very disappointed by this, and the next month she was outside first thing every single day making sure she was getting her job done, she did not miss a single day that month.
  4. It feels good to give.  We teach our kids that paying a tithe to our church is a way to help and bless others who might not have much money.  My kids love to stuff their tithing bank full of money, they have mentioned to me that they want to help other people and would rather give them money than buy something at the store that will only be fun for a day.

These are just a few of the things that have worked for our family.  I have loved watching my kids make mistakes with money and then learn from those mistakes.  It has been amazing when they begin making smart money choices all on their own.

What are some methods that have worked in your family to teach your kids money smarts?  I am constantly trying to learn and improve in whatever ways I can.

Frugal Life · Money Educatioin

The Frugal Life: What it means to me

The word “Frugal” means something different to everyone.  Some find the meaning of the world unpleasant, boring, and blah.  Others find it necessary, practical, and a way of life.  I find the meaning beautiful, strong, and empowering.

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I have longed admired the pioneer women.  The ones who worked from sunrise to sunset.  These women washed laundry by hand, baked and cooked meager meals over a fire.  They had small homes and large hearts.  I’ve heard story after story of women who were hardworking, selfless, and humble.  These are the women I look up to.  I find them strong and their simple way of life beautiful.

Life has changed.  I am so grateful for the conveniences we have, for the advances made in technology and life.  But, I often lean towards those old fashioned ways of life which seems in many ways simpler and in so many ways beautiful.

Frugality reminds me of those simpler days.  I love the feeling of providing for myself, of growing my own food, my husband building our own furniture.  It provides me a sense of connection to the remarkable pioneer ladies from old days.  This is what it means to me to be frugal.

I found this quote today and it resonated so deeply with me.

“More stuff isn’t happiness.  Be grateful and thankful for what you have.”  –Sherry Borsheim

I believe it takes a strong and brave person to try to live a frugal life in a world full of conveniences and entertainment.  It takes a great amount of thought, effort, and strength to ignore the bombardment of marketing everywhere you turn and enjoy the simple, important things in life that are right in front of you.

Being frugal doesn’t mean you are deprived.  It means you can be empowered.  Empowered to control your spending.  Empowered to enjoy your life the way it is right now without needing to keep up with those Joneses and buy everything in front of you to find happiness.  This takes strength.  It’s not easy to live frugally.  But, when I do I find more happiness and joy from the important things in life:  friends, family, myself.

Love the life you live.  Work hard to make the life as great as you possibly can.  Be proud of your frugality.  I find it an absolutely beautiful way to live.

What does being frugal mean to you?  Do you find it beautiful and empowering like I do, or does it hold a different meaning?