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Stock Piling your Freezer: How to freeze Pancakes for a Quick Frugal Breakfast

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for all ages

I really think my mom was supermom.  Granted, I didn’t think that when I was growing up….but now that I have become a mom myself, I am able to look back and realize just how hard she worked for our family.

I feel fairly confident when I say that many of you are supermoms as well.  You wake up early, spend all day serving your family, and go to bed late worrying about your kids.  My goal is to be supermom!  I fail about everyday, but I continue to try!

One of the many “supermom” traits from my mom was her willingness to make us a hot breakfast every single morning before school.  I knew that when I walked upstairs after getting dressed the table would be set, and a fresh warm breakfast would be served.  I TRY to do the same with my kids….but I REALLY struggle some mornings to find the energy and motivation.

I’ve recently started batch cooking many breakfast items and stocking up my freezer for quick breakfasts for my kids before they head out the door for school.

Making large batches of pancakes not only saves me time in the morning…it is also a VERY frugal breakfast!  You can spend 30 minutes one afternoon each week making a large batch of pancakes for the freezer, or the next time you make pancakes for breakfast simply double the batch and freeze the extras!  Here’s how!

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Make your pancakes following your favorite pancake recipe.  You can find my fave recipe here!  Let them cool completely.

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Place pancakes on a cookie sheet in a single layer making sure the sides aren’t touching.

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While the pancakes are in the freezer you can prepare your freezer bags.  All this takes is writing what “pancakes” and the date on the bag.

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Put the cookie sheets in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Once frozen take the pancakes off of the cookie sheets and place them all in your freezer bag.  It can be full as large as you need to.  Because you pre-froze them, they should be easy to break apart when you need to use them.

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Stick the bag of pancakes in the freezer and you are done!  Yay!  Easy peasy!

When you are ready to use the pancakes, simply take out the number of pancakes you need and microwave them until they are warm.  I usually microwave them for about a minute.

These are also easy for the kids to get out of the freezer themselves!  If I’m busy getting ready in the morning I sometimes tell my oldest to get out a few pancakes for all of the kids.

You might be interested in my other INCREDIBLY easy and frugal breakfast recipe:  Quick and Easy Overnight Oatmeal.

 

 

 

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Budgeting for Beginners: FAQ

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I receive so many messages on a daily basis from people wanting to start managing their money and living frugally, but they don’t know how to take that first step.  I admire everyone who wants to improve on their life and financial situation, it can be scary trying to make such a big change into the unknown.  I decided it was time for a FAQ article for all you brave beginners.

I asked my followers on instagram for all their budget beginner questions and today I will be answering a few of those.

A great place to start for a beginner is with my Free 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.  This is a challenge made specifically for those just starting to manage money and live frugally.  This will give you a good starting place and should help you develop frugal habits.

FAQ for budget beginners2

Where do I begin?

The best place to begin is your budget.  It is vital you have a working budget.

If you are new to budgeting, it might take you a while to figure out just how much money to budget for each category.  This is normal!  A budget is fluid, meaning it is always changing.  The budget below is one that I made as a free printable.  It has many of the categories I use in my personal budget and is also easy to customize and add your own.  This (along with the spending tracker below) is available for free in my 14 Day Frugal Living Challenge.

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You will also need to begin tracking all of your expenses.  This helps you keep your budget accurate, and gives you a great window into your spending habits.  By tracking your spending habits, you will be able to see what areas you are over spending in and areas you could cut back.

A great resource, and the book that completely changed my financial views, is Dave Ramseys book, The Total Money Makeover.  Check it out from your library, borrow it from a friend, or order it from Amazon.  No matter how you get it, I HIGHLY recommend everyone read it.  Dave Ramsey uses easy to understand terms as explains exactly how to fix your financial situation.

What is the best way to keep track of day to day spending?

There are a few different ways of doing this.  It doesn’t quite matter HOW, it just matters that you do it and that you stay consistent.

For years we used an excel spreadsheet that my husband made.  It took quite a bit of work for him to put it together, but it worked out really well.

About 7 years ago we discovered You Need a Budget.  It is so user friendly and very affordable.  You can download the app onto your phone and update it as you spend.  This is not sponsored in any way, we REALLY do love it!  A similar program is Every Dollar, I have never tried it, but have heard lots of good things.

There is also the good ol’ standard paper and pen method.  I’ve never tried this method, but I do know other people who enjoy it!

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When tracking spending it is important to stay consistent.  Pick a day of the week, schedule a time, and develop a routine for tracking your spending.  We do it every Monday evening.  We save all of our receipts and go through each item one by one and write it down.  It is not necessary to write EVERYTHING down, for example:  when buying groceries, just write groceries and the amount.  There is no need to write down bread and bananas, etc.

You could track your spending daily on your phone, or weekly like we do.  Try a few different things until you find a good fit for you.

How do you start the envelope system?

Using cash envelopes is a great way to limit your spending.  I have an article written all about how to get started and the benefits you’ll gain.  You can check it out at The Envelope Money System: A Beginners Guide.

How do you make a grocery budget?

My grocery budget has been all over the place.  When I first started budgeting, I set the grocery budget FAR to low.  I kept going way over the budgeted amount and couldn’t figure out how to cut the costs down.  I finally decided that I needed to budget more money for our weekly groceries.

I tell this story to give you encouragement that all budgets, but especially grocery budgets, are trial and error.  It might (and probably will) take you a few months before you have the best budget for you.

While you are tracking your spending you should be able to see how much you are normally spending on groceries.  This gives you a good ballpark figure to begin with.  If you feel it is unnecessary spending, you can try to slowly bring the budget down week by week until you get it to a place you feel comfortable with.

How do you minimize grocery costs?

Groceries are one of the biggest expenses for most budgets.  This is one of my personal struggles.

The number one way I have found to keep those costs low is to meal plan.  Plan out every meal you want to eat for the week.  As you meal plan, write out your grocery list, and stick to this list while you shop.  I’ve found using Walmart Grocery Pickup has helped me to stick to my list, AND my budget.

A few other ways to lower grocery costs are to cook from scratch (avoid convenience foods), shop sales, and use the cashback apps regularly.

What are the easiest apps for frugal beginners?

I love cashback apps!  Long gone are the days when you have to sift through ads and cut out coupons, now all you need is a receipt and an app on your phone!  I actually love these apps so much I already have an article written about all my favorites.  You can find it here:  My Favorite Cashback Apps.

What should my budget look like?  What is normal for our family?

No two budgets will look the same.  My normal will be different than your normal.  What I spend on groceries, will be different then what you will spend on groceries, etc.  This is one of my favorite parts of a budget.  You can customize it and find something that works for you personally!

I prefer a zero based budget.  Start with the amount of money you expect to make for the pay period.  Then, using your budget, find a spot for every single one of those dollars.  Keep budgeting until you have “spent” on paper every dollar of your paycheck.

This WILL take some adjustments and some TIME.  Focus more on giving every dollar a place in your budget, and less about how it compares to other budgets.  Again, I recommend Dave Ramseys, Total Money Makeover book.  He gives good advice about how much your percentage you should be spending in each category.

Coming Soon:  I am currently working on an article to share my personal percentages in each category.  Hopefully this can help you get an idea of where to start.

What can you do when you cut back, budget and still don’t have enough?

I loved this question; because it is such relatable and real situation for many of us.

My first piece of advice is to keep your head up!  You are NOT alone!  There are so many dealing with similar struggles.  I strongly believe that together, we CAN help each other reach our financial goals.  Reach out to facebook groups and instagram accounts that discuss this issue.  Surrounding yourself with others in this situation should give you the strength, support and ideas to help get you through it.

I love Dave Ramseys quote to be “gazelle intense.”  When you have done EVERYTHING you can think of and the money is just still NOT adding up, that means it’s time to take more extreme actions.  Here are a few ideas to take when you need to be “gazelle intense.”

  1.  Sell items in your home (see 10 Items In Your House You Can Sell Quickly To Make Money  and 5 Places Online To Sell Your Clutter and Earn Cash).
  2. Start a side hustle.  Is their a side job you could take on to earn some extra money?  Google side hustles ideas and you should be able to find a good variety of ideas.
  3. Look through that budget one more time, what else could you sacrifice?  Could you cancel your tv subscription, quit eating out, lower your phone data plan, cut out all entertainment, etc.  None of these things are FUN, but they might be necessary in this situation.  Here is an article where I share What we cut from our budget to save over $2500 a year.
  4. Could you ask for a raise?  Would it be beneficial to make a job change?
  5. What could you downgrade?  Perhaps trade in your car for a cheaper model or move into a more affordable home?

I understand it is NOT easy when the money just ISN’T there.  ESPECIALLY when you feel as if you have sacrificed again, and again and again.  I get it.  I have been there!  Keep your head up.  Keep trying.  Be “gazelle intense.”  I believe in you!

FAQ from Budget Beginners (2)

I hope these questions and answers helped you in some way as you begin the exciting, yet sometimes difficult world of budgeting.  It’s never easy to develop new habits and start fresh.  Most things in life that are hard, and the ones worth doing.  I can guarantee keeping track of your finances are one of those things.

 

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How to Make the Perfect Zoodles

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My zucchini plants have been generous this year, and I have loved cooking with this delicious vegetable!  Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies because, it’s the vegetable that just keeeeeps on giving, and it is also so versatile!  We have been enjoying zucchini in bread, cookies, on the grill, fried, etc.

One of my very favorite ways to cook zucchini is to turn it into zoodles!  Zoodles is a great, healthier alternative to noodles. (and if you pick the zucchini from your garden….it’s also FREE!)  I will usually serve it under marinara or alfredo sauce, but any of your fave pasta sauces will work great!  If cooked correctly, the zoodles are really not a lot different from regular noodles.  They are also much more filling, with much less calories!  Sometimes my kids don’t even realize what they are eating……emphasis on the sometimes.

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Homemade Zoodles Tutorial

A vegetable spiralizer is my best friend when it comes to homemade zoodles.  I couldn’t find the exact one that I use, but this spiralizer on Amazon is very similar in price and design.  It is also only $15.99, great deal!

First things first, if your zucchini is long, you will want to cut it down into smaller chunks.

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Next, you will need to prep your vegetable spiralizer.  I use the Thin Spiral for my zoodles.  Put your thin spiral attachment in the spiralizer and then stick one of the zuchinni chunks into the middle, in between the handle and the blade.

Now, all you need to do is twist!  This part is so simple (and…kindof fun….really!).  The zucchini will spiral through the blade, be sure to have a plate to catch all the spirals!

You can eat the zoodles raw or cook them over the stove.  I prefer cooking them for a few minutes (don’t worry it is quick!).

Heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the zoodles.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss in oil.  Continue to gently toss the zoodles while they cook.  Cook for 2-5 minutes.  I like them to be soft, but also slightly firm.

Serve with your favorite pasta sauce.  ENJOY!!!

 

 

 

 

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.