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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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Family · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Money Helps

A Financial Tale of Two Sisters

The story you are about to read is true.  The names have been changed to protect those involved. (Note Sarcasm 😉 )

sisters

Once upon a time there were two sisters.  One was named Jane and the other Melissa.

Jane and Melissa were raised by two hardworking, frugal minded parents.  These wonderful parents raised the sisters to understand the importance of saving money,  spending wisely, and budgeting.

Jane and Melissa both began receiving an allowance at age 12.  They were both given the same amount of money and were taught to save at least 10%, tithe 10% and the rest they could spend.

Melissa began babysitting at a young age.  The majority of her weekends and summers were spent babysitting for multiple families.  She was able to earn a good deal of money from this job and she followed her parents counsel by saving and tithing 10% of her income.

As Melissa grew, so did her social life.  She loved to spend her weekends with friends.  She enjoyed using her spending money, and because she had saved and tithed, she felt no guilt in spending the rest.  Melissa and her friends spent the majority of their time together going to movies, eating out at restaurants, and shopping at the mall.

At age 16 Melissa got a job.  This job provided her with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.  She was earning more money now, and was diligent about saving money and preparing for her financial future.  Melissa was very proud of her bank account, and proud that she had been able to save faithfully during her teen years.

When she graduated from high school she had $3,000 in her savings account.

Unlike Melissa, Jane didn’t babysit very much during her younger years.  She tried to do extra chores around home and was able to earn some extra money that way.

At age 16 Jane began working at the same store Melissa had worked at.  Jane was also able to earn a steady income with part time hours during the school year and full time during the summer.

Jane worked hard at her high school job and enjoyed earning money.  She was diligent about tithing 10% of her paychecks, but decided to save even more than the 10% her parents had asked of her.  Instead, she saved 70% or more of each paycheck and kept very little for personal spending money.

Her social life grew, as most teens did.  She chose her friends wisely, and found friends who had similar goals and aspirations as she did.  Instead of going to movies and shopping, like Melissa and her friends did, they instead chose to spend time at each other homes and enjoying frugal activities together.

Jane graduated from high school with $16,000 in her banking account.

Two Sisters.  Raised the exact same way.  Given the exact same allowance.  Worked at the exact same job, received the exact same paychecks.  Yet, Jane ended up with four times the amount of money that Melissa had.

The difference?

Jane was much wiser in her spending.  She chose to participate in frugal activities and understood the value in saving as much money as she could.

Melissa on the other hand did the bare minimum.  She didn’t worry much about the future, and figured as long as she was saving a little bit, she would be fine.  Melissa didn’t realize the life she COULD have given herself if she had only practiced a little more self control.  Her vision was not as big as Janes.

The Moral of the Story

All good stories end with a moral, and this one is no different.

The story of Jane and Melissa has taught me many many financial lessons.  However, there is one lesson that sticks out to me more than the others.

Jane and Melissa received the EXACT same paychecks, for the EXACT same number of years.  Their parents taught them the EXACT same money principles in the EXACT same way.  But, Jane chose to save and save and save, while Melissa chose to spend.

This teaches me that our financial situation is not always about how much money we might MAKE….it is more about how much money we SAVE.  The paycheck isn’t the problem, our spending habits is the problem.

It is easy to use a low paycheck as an excuse for not being able to save money….but I believe we could all spend a little wiser and live a little more frugally, if we are willing to make those changes.

I am able to say this, because this is MY story.  I am Melissa.

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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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5 Easy Ways We Cut Costs While Eating Out

My husband and I do not eat out very often.  We both learned years ago that we are able to save such a huge amount of money simply by eating at home.  We still enjoy eating out occasionally, we just try to do so frugally.

It is possible to enjoy eating out at restaurants from time to time, even while being on a tight budget.  The most important thing is to include the expense in your monthly budget and try to cut out a few common restaurant costs.

Here are the 5 ways we try to cut the costs when we eat out:

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1.  Eat Out For Lunch

Go out to eat for lunch instead of dinner. A lot of places will have cheaper lunch options to choose from. You will also be much more likely to order a cheaper meal, such as a sandwich or salad if it’s during lunch time.

2.  Skip all the Extras

Order water instead of ordering a drink. I will usually request a lemon in my water so I feel like I’m getting something slightly fancy. 😉  Always skip the appetizer and desserts as well.  They are both very overpriced.  Try to order a big meal to fill up on instead.

3.  Shop the Deals

Become familiar with your local restaurant deals. A lot of restaurants will have kids eat free nights. Our favorite Italian restaurant offers buy one entree get one free during a certain day of the week. Find out the deals in your neighborhood and plan your outings around those days.

4.  Split the Meal

Only eat half of your entree and take the rest home for another meal. This way you get two meals for one price.  Or, you could split the entree with a spouse or friend.  Most restaurants will be more than happy to serve you one meal with two plates.

5.  ⠀Turn an Appetizer into a Meal

Consider ordering an appetizer instead of an entree.  Appetizers are usually much cheaper than entrees and still provide a large amount of food.  Look for a restaurant with a trio appetizer for a well rounded meal.

It is possible to still enjoy eating out at restaurants while on a tight budget.  It takes a little self control and some planning, but it is still possible.

What are some of your fave tips for eating at a restaurant while on a budget???? Share below in the comments, I always need fresh ideas!⠀

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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.

 

for free · For the kids · Free Fun · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

50 FREE activities to do with your kids over the Summer Break

Summer break is just around the corner.  I have been looking forward to summer for weeks!  I love having my school aged kids home with me and I always look forward to a more relaxed schedule full of fun family activities.  I talked a little more about summer in my post:  Our Summer Plans: Keeping the kids Entertained and Mom Sane, this post includes how I plan on managing screen time and a couple of our favorite traditions.

Today I am sharing 50 ideas for a FREE and fun summer with your kids.  There are so many free activities to take part of during the summer months.  I love taking advantage of all of them!

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Outside

  1.  Picnic at Park
  2. Play Frisbee
  3. Run through the Sprinkler
  4. “Paint” with Water
  5. Go on a Walk
  6. Picnic in Backyard
  7. Play hopscotch/Sidewalk Chalk
  8. Draw on Sidewalk with ice cubes
  9. Go on a Bike ride
  10. Nature Scavenger Hunt
  11. Go on a hike
  12. Plant a garden
  13. Jump on the Trampoline with water balloons
  14. Play Catch
  15. Blow Bubbles
  16. Go Geocaching
  17. Play night games with flashlights
  18. Catch bugs
  19. Go Stargazing
  20. Make a Fairy Garden
  21. Wash the Car
  22. Learn to jump rope
  23. Make an obstacle course
  24. Set up a Lemonade Stand
  25. Make a Nature Journal

Indoors

  1.  Make Play dough
  2. Do a science experiment
  3. Bake cookies
  4. Make up a play
  5. Build a fort
  6. Make a dream catcher
  7. Make Slime
  8. Play Hide-and-Seek or Sardines
  9. Paint Rocks
  10. Write letters to friends or family
  11. Play board games or card games
  12. Make a summer scrapbook
  13. Play charades
  14. Make an indoor treasure hunt
  15. Go to the library
  16. Sing Karaoke (find free songs on you tube)
  17. Fold Origami
  18. Put on a puppet show
  19. Play Dress-Up
  20. Have a dance party
  21. Put together a puzzle
  22. Make homemade ice cream
  23. Dress Fancy and have a DIY photo shoot
  24. Learn a few magic tricks and put on a show
  25. Make paper airplanes

 

What are some of your favorite free activities for summer time with your kids?