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Budgeting and How You Can Tackle It

Budgeting and How You Can Tackle It

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Begin by Budgeting Your Food

I’m often asked about how we save money to be able to live on only my teacher income. So, I thought it would be a good time to update everyone on our budgeting tactics. The pandemic has brought some challenges, but also offers some savings.

How to Save Money on Food

First up, the biggest budgeting buster in almost any budget is food. Groceries and take out used to make up so much of our expenses. If you want to save money, this is probably the place to start. We do major meal planning. I know what you are thinking, “ugh, meal planning is a pain!” Or “I don’t know what I will be in the mood to eat that far out.” But, if you want to save money, you need to do it. I have tried many different ways to meal plan, but my favorite right now is to sit down once a month and plan out dinners for the month.

Yes, you heard correctly, I meal plan for a month at a time! I have a notebook that I jot down recipes that I think my family would like, AND that include ingredients that I most likely have in my pantry or could use for several different meals. Then I flip through the meal book and pick which meals we will eat. I try to spread out the chicken meals and the Mexican so we don’t tire of any one meal. I also plan one or two meatless meals each week. I always add in leftovers at least once a week. And I include things like chicken nuggets or breakfast for dinner because sometimes you just need something easy.

How I Meal Plan While Budgeting

Meal Ingredients to Keep on Hand and Quick Meal Prep

The other key to this, is to prep as much in advance as possible. I will spend a couple hours on the weekend once or twice a month just prepping meals that I can pull out of the freezer and cook. We are less likely to order out if we have a meal that just needs to be heated up!

Once you know what you will eat for the month, you can check your pantry or freezer to see what you need to buy. Make a list and stick to it! Also, shop places like Aldi for better prices. We save so much money by shopping at Aldi it is insane!

Check out some of my meal plans!

Negotiate Your Bills and Don't Spend Extra

Next up-call your insurance company! We saved hundreds of dollars this year with one quick call to the insurance company. You can also do this with other bills, like internet or cable (you still have cable?! – seriously, save money and cut that bill all together).

Embark on a no-spend month. That sounds scary right? But, it really isn’t. You can still buy things like NECESSARY groceries (try to shop your pantry first), and pay your bills, but you don’t get to go shopping for anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. And no, those cute shoes on sale are not necessary!

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

I know, its cliché. But seriously, why are you still buying paper napkins? Get some cloth napkins and save money. Paper towels? Same thing – switch to cloth. You can also use old clothes (like t-shirts you don’t wear anymore) or towels that have seen better days for use around the kitchen. Buying paper plates? Stop. I know, they are so convenient. I love me some paper plates, but you know what I love more? Saving money by not buying them! Stop buying water bottles and get a refillable water bottle.

I’m not telling you anything new here. The less consumable products you buy, the more you are going to save. I’m not as extreme as some. We still use toilet paper and tissues. Some people actually use cloth for that…not sure I can go there!

Reduce your energy bills by lowering the thermostat in the winter. We keep ours at 66. Yes, is it chilly, but we just throw on some more layers or use a blanket. In the summer, we keep the thermostat set to 78. It gets toasty at times, but the humidity is lowered, and it is still WAY better than outside, so its doable. We also turn off lights when we can and open the curtains to brighten our spaces.

Budgeting in a Garden

Plant a garden. It doesn’t have to be huge. Just think about what your family likes to eat and plant accordingly. And freeze whatever you can before it goes bad! This year I am adding broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, and beets to my garden. I know I will be able to freeze a lot of that to use over the winter months! Plus, I’m trying out some new grow bags to increase what I can plant!

Additionally, gardening is a great family activity. Your kids will be able to planet seeds or plants, watch them grow, and then get to taste what they helped make. Another great reason to add a garden into your budgeting!

Pay Down Debt

I make a concerted effort to pay down as much debt as possible because the thought of continuing to pay interest makes me sad. We are paying more than the minimum on things like the car payment. We hope to have that paid off this year instead of 2024, which will save us plenty on interest. Make sure you are paying off your credit cards each month. That interest is absurd! This is also where a no spend month will help set you on the path to paying off your credit card debt.

What do you do to save money in your family? I am always looking for new ways to save money! Hopefully you found something useful here that will help you save money for your family.

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