Budget Tips, Food

Marker Board Meal Planning Guide

Groceries is the number one easiest category to go over budget on! Here is how I use a marker board for my meal planning to save me hundreds of dollars on groceries every month!

Meal planning and meal prepping can be extremely stressful if you have no idea where to start. If you are constantly finding yourself getting last minute take out because you don’t know what else to do at 6pm. If you constantly find yourself going to the grocery store and mindlessly wondering through the store, then coming home with things that you already have at home. Or you grocery shop with the greatest of intentions, but end up throwing out a ton of food after a week or two because it never got consumed. It is time to start meal planning. Meal planning gets a little bit of a bad name because people think of all of the fitness gurus out there that tell you that you should only eat chicken and veggies for every single meal. Meal planning and meal prepping does NOT have to be like this. It can be absolutely delicious. Meal planning simply means that you have a written plan for the food you are going to purchase. I have found that my marker board method of meal planning works great because it puts everything in the same spot. It gives you a full list of what you are working with. Marker board meal planning allows you to highlight foods that need to be used up. The marker board itself can be used every week and it can stick to your fridge for easy access. I love being able to have everything written out in front of me so I can make a plan! Things You Will Need to Get Started: Marker board for inventory  Different colored dry erase markers (These are the ones I have!) Patience and Time Steps to Meal Planning: 1) Create a complete list inventory of items in the kitchen My very first step of meal planning is to go through my pantry, fridge, and freezer to make a complete list of EVERY single item.  I use my marker board to make this list in a way that is very simple for me to use. When I list things out, I try to…

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Budget Tips, Money

5 Bank Accounts I Use to Keep My Money Organized

Having separate bank accounts at different banks may seem complicated, but it is one of the best ways to keep your money organized and where it needs to be!

I remember the very first bank account that I set up. It was right after the County Fair. I was 10. If you aren’t a farm kid, the county fair doesn’t mean much to you, but I was a 4-H kid. I got a “premium” check for entering projects into the fair. Ten year old me was so excited. I had just started my paper route as well so that meant more money for me. I had two of my very first paychecks to take to the bank. My mom took me to the bank to open my very first savings account. I was beaming with pride because I was 10 and I had my very own money to put into savings. This is probably where my love of savings started. I remember going down to the bank with my money in my hand. The teller took us back into a cubical where my mom wrote down a bunch of information. Then we sat in the cubical for what seemed like forever before they took the money to put into my account! We finally walked out of the bank and I had a savings account. I still have that bank account, but I have quite a few more now than I did then. Now almost all of the banking is online and almost every bank has a phone app!  It takes 10-15 minutes to open a bank account online if you have all of your information handy! Opening a bank account has become drastically easier since I was 10. Everyone has different accounts that work for them, but these are the 5-7 that I recommend to keeping your money better organized. There are pluses and minuses to different banks. Remember to keep each bank account information accessible, but safe. When you start organizing your money and give each account a specific purpose, you might even find that your money stays in that savings account longer! There are no maximums of the number of bank accounts you can have, but there might be a max number you can have at a…

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Budget Tips, Money

13 Tips to Stay Motivated on a Budget

I have heard so many people say that they have created a budget, but after it's done, they don't know how to stay motivated to stick to it! Here are 13 tips to staying motivated on a budget!

  “I Just Don’t Want To….” has been my motto a few different times while paying off my debt. I am going to call it the seasons changing as well as life just happening. Let me tell you, being in your early 20’s on this journey has been TOUGH..  When you spend 2 years paying off debt, you are likely to have highs and lows. Life happens and it is easy to get side tracked by all of the things going on in other people’s lives when you are trying to stick to a budget. Budgeting gets harder and harder when you aren’t able to keep up with normal life events, let alone extra things. I recently asked my Instagram “what do you need help with when it comes to budgeting?” I would say one of my top answers was “motivation”. That hit me pretty hard since that seems to be one of the things that I have been struggling with the most lately. Let me make this clear first, if you are miserable on your budget, CHANGE IT. Budgeting is not meant to make you miserable. If you find yourself not motivated to stay on budget, it might not be you. It might be your budget. Budgeting is NOT meant to punish you. If done correctly, you should be budgeting so you can say YES to things you want to and no to the things that aren’t necessary. BUDGETING DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO HAVE FUN!! So if you are consistently finding that you are breaking the budget, it’s time to evaluate what is wrong with your budget. But, if you are just in a valley and having a hard time sticking with it. You might just need a little tool to stay motivated. “How do you stay motivated to stay on budget?” 1. Weekly/Pay Period Budgeting I don’t know how many people I have seen that post their budget at the beginning of the month, but by day four, they have completely blown it. “Maybe next month,” they say.  You do not have the willpower…

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Budget Tips, Millennial Stuff

Budgeting Doesn’t Mean NO Fun Allowed

So many times when I start talking about budget, I can see people roll their eyes in the back of their heads. I get the response, "But I want to have fun!" Budgeting doesn't have to mean that you don't get to have fun. It means that you get to plan for fun and for your future. Find out the four things that budgeting can mean for you!

  I have been budgeting for the last two years consistently. Budgeting isn’t something that I would say is a ton of fun unless you are a huge nerd. (Like me.) I am slightly obsessive about my budget. But I know that not everyone has the desire to track everything that closely. I asked what people’s first thought was when it came to a budget. So many people said that to them, a budget mean restrictions, only buying what you need, cutting out fun, or simply STRESS.  When I talk to people about having a budget, the usual response I get is “I know I need to be better with my money, but I just like having fun too much.” or “I prefer to just have fun and see what happens.” I don’t care how much money you make (or don’t make), if you don’t have a written budget of some kind, you are NEVER going to hit your financial goals unless someone else manages your money for you. If you associate a budget with having zero fun this post might just be for you. I still remember when I first started budgeting consistently. In 2017, I was living with 2 other girls and we ALWAYS had Sunday girl’s nights. I never once stopped budgeting for them while we were living together. Instead, I just started putting money aside for it so I knew that the money was there. We started doing more budget friendly items, but didn’t stop having girl’s night until we moved. In the past two years, I have budgeted and worked my way out of debt and into working 3 days a week. I am getting ready to buy a house with less stress, but I have had a ton of fun memories along the way! A budget DOESN’T mean that you can’t have fun. Here is what it does instead.   1. Tells you that you have enough money to cover your bills When you are first setting up your budget, you might be a little overwhelmed at all of the things that you pay…

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Baby Step Three, Budget Tips

5 Things I am Adding Back Into The Budget in Baby Step Three

When I started my debt free journey, I cut a lot of things out of my budget. Now that I am done with baby step two, I am adding a few things into my budget! Check out these 5 things that I will spend money on again!

  When I first started budgeting, I was clueless as to where my money was going. I was spending money on pretty much anything and everything that I wanted, when I wanted to spend it. Restaurants, pedicures, clothes, makeup, food, and so many other things stole my money before I even had the chance to think about where it was going. Originally, I thought “I am paying in cash, so it could be worse. I could be putting it all on a credit card.” I was unknowingly throwing $1,500 out the door every month! But when I realized that I had no money going towards savings or any of my goals, I knew it was time to get a budget down on paper. I started budgeting and putting money towards my goals. This was when I started my debt free journey.  During baby step two, I cut out a lot of things from my budget. It was key to me paying off $15,000 in the first 12 months of my debt free journey. Cutting things from my budget was one of the big ways that I was able to pay off debt. A while back, I wrote a blog post on the things that I do still “waste” money on. A lot of those things are the things that people usually add back into the budget during baby step three. Things I am adding Back into the Budget in Baby Step Three: Coffee Shops I am excited to add coffee back into the budget. While I didn’t totally cut it out of the budget, I only gave myself coffee money a few times over my debt free journey. If I did get coffee, I used discounts, rewards programs, or gift cards. I used Ibotta to get free cash back on my grocery purchases and cashed them out for coffee gift cards! In the last two years, I have probably spent less than $50 of my own money on coffees. Now, during baby step three, I plan to add $25 a month back into my budget for coffee stops. I love…

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Budget Tips

How I Went On a 2 Day Vacation for $130

Sometimes a mini vacation is exactly what you need to feel refreshed and ready to work again! A weekend getaway is the PERFECT way to do this, but it doesn't have to be expensive! Here are a few tips for how I did it for $130

  As I wrote most of this blog post, I was sitting in a cabin in the middle of no where. I wrote most of this the week before I was debt free, while I was on vacation. Crazy, it sounds, but I did actually take vacation the week leading up to me being debt free. It. Was. Wonderful. Work offered me paid time off, which is quite unheard of as a bartender in the U.S., but since I got it, I thought I would take advantage of it.  Getting that paycheck is also actually one of the things that was going to help me hit my debt free sooner because I took my paid time off for days that I usually have off anyway (one tiny perk of working in a restaurant that is open 364 days of the year) After the holiday season at a restaurant in a mall, I knew that I needed to get away. I needed to escape from reality a little bit, so that is exactly what I did. A friend and I rented a cabin at a state park just 30 minutes away from my home. We packed up groceries, books, wine, and blankets and headed to the cabin. We spent 2 days sitting by a fireplace with our phones off, reading, writing, snacking, and napping. To the old traveler in me, this is exactly the opposite of a vacation that I used to take. Before starting this journey, in 2016, I took a 5 day vacation and traveled into six states and two national parks. In five days, I saw multiple people and slept somewhere different ever night. I LOVED this type of vacation, but it was an extremely expensive five days. I knew that I couldn’t do that after being on a pretty strict budget for the last two years. My vacation breakdown: Cabins for 2 nights: $175 Aldi Food we brought with: $50 Food we went to get: $15 Gas to get there: $20 Park permit: $30. (I didn’t include this into my total cost because it is something we…

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Budget Tips

Self Care Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

Self care seems to be a hot topic lately. Maybe it is because in general, we are pretty bad about taking care of ourselves until it is really bad. I have been looking for different self care ideas, but they don't need to be expensive. Here are 51+ self care practices for under $15.

Lately, Self care seems to be the big topic. With all of the news about mental health and working hard, it is inevitable that self care is going to come up often. Taking care of yourself is obviously important, so why do we always need to bring it up. More and more people are advocating for more mental health care because of the celebrities in the news that are struggling. But it isn’t just celebrities that struggle. Because so many people have gotten into the “I am fine” mentality and they often refuse to take time for themselves. When you are working for others for so long, you start to burn out and break down. Being burnt out seems to be a way of life instead of just a temporary period of time. In the American culture, we even tend to brag about how much work we have done or how busy we are. At one point during my debt free journey, I was regularly working 60-70 hour weeks. Between my full time government job, waitressing/bartending, being in the National Guard, trying to run a blog, and trying to maintain my fitness, I was finding myself burnt out at the end of every week. I was exhausted. Most importantly, I was tired of people. When I spent all day every day trying to do other things for others, I was ready for a break. Working two jobs, I quickly found out that I needed to carve out time for myself in the middle of my busy schedule. I needed to do a better job of unwinding, unplugging, and relaxing. Even working one job, I find that there are times in my life that I need to remember this. Life is too short to constantly stress about your life. Self care has been a big conversation topic. It doesn’t have to be all about lavish bubble baths or expensive trips to the spa. Self care is really focusing on what makes you feel good and doing those things. I would challenge you to schedule in time for yourself at least once…

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Budget Tips, No Spend Month Tips

What is a No Spend Challenge?

Maybe you have heard all of these finance gurus talking about "No Spend Months," but you have NO clue what they mean. Here are a few starting points..

  I have been talking a ton about No Spend Challenges lately, but I have received a TON of questions about them! I have done a few No Spend Months during my debt free journey that have allowed me to get ahead on paying on my student loans. Now that I am debt free, I am still doing them to ensure that some of those old habits don’t start creeping back into my budget. To me, a No Spend Month is like a diet “cleanse” or detox. When you do a body detox, you are attempting to feel better by cleaning out the toxins and excess weight that your body is holding onto. When I do a No Spend Month, I cut out any “fun spending” and look at the fun things to do for free instead. I am cutting out excess spending to see what is more important. During October 2017, I was able to put my whole full time paycheck towards debt and just live off of my waitressing money because I barely had any expenses. In January 2018, I was able to put over $2,500 towards my student loans right after I lost my full time temporary job. These challenges have played an essential role in my debt free journey at a few of the most challenging points since I started. In April 2019, I was able to put $2,610 towards savings with my tax return and a no spend month because I am debt free now. Maybe you have heard people say things like “No Spend Month.” Or, this month I had “15 No Spend Days!” Well here is where it finally all gets explained if you are feeling in the dark! Here are a few of the frequently asked questions to help clear up any confusion! What is a No Spend Challenge? Like I said above, a no spend challenge is kind of like a detox. It is a period of time that you allow yourself to say no and cut out any excess spending. I cut out EVERYTHING. No Restaurants. No extra coffee stops.…

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Budget Tips, Money

The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Funds

Pretty much everyone knows that they need an "emergency fund," but where do you even start? Here is the what, where, how much, and how to emergency savings!

When I first started paying off debt, I didn’t want an emergency fund. I wanted to jump straight into paying off debt instead! “Emergencies never happen to me, so why do I need one.”  That mindset is totally wrong, because as soon as you don’t have your emergency fund, you will need it. I am so thankful that I have maintained my savings throughout the journey because I know that I would have needed it. Having a little rainy day fund can be the most important part of getting started on changing your finances for the better. It can also give you a sense of security when your checking account is looking a little low from a large debt payment. In fact, having an emergency fund was one of the biggest things that I credit with allowing me to pay off $15,000 in 2017. At that point in my journey, I was only making about $35,000 a year, but still managed to knock out $15,000 in car payments and student loans.. Let’s start with the very basics. I will caution you with this, if you share finances with someone, this is a topic that both of you should figure out before making any long term financial decisions. What is an Emergency Fund? An emergency fund is really exactly what it sounds like. Extra savings put aside in case of an emergency. Before you start throwing excess money at your debt, it is a great idea to have money in savings to work as a buffer in case something were to happen. If you are following Dave Ramsey’s Plan, he recommends starting with a “baby emergency fund” and then moving into a “fully funded emergency fund” once you have paid off all of your debts. Whether you are following Mr. Ramsey or not, having a little money set aside, just in case is an important step no matter what you are planning to do after that! What is Included as an “Emergency?” This is totally up to you (and your partner if you share a budget with someone else.) Things that…

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Budget Tips, Making Money, Money

8 Steps To Take Today To Start Changing Your Finances!

Starting to make any change in your life can be difficult. Any changes can be terrifying if you don’t know what you are getting into, but if you don’t make any changes, you will be in the exact same spot as you were one year ago. I think being stagnant in life is scarier than making a few things different in your life. Making a step by step plan to start changing can make the change not so hard. If you have been following my journey for a while and you are ready to get started, here is super simplistic steps of getting started. I will tell you that working on your financial goals isn’t always fun. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t start your debt free journey.  The question I get the most often is probably asking for advice on how to get started. My response is usually “just start.” Just do one simple thing to change your finances. Even little things are going to help more than trying to figure out everything you need to know before you begin. My best quote is, “A year ago from now, you will wish you had started today.” So start today. Here are 8 Steps to Take to Start Getting Your Finances Together! Step One: Start an Emergency Fund Emergencies will happen. It is almost inevitable to have something happen that you weren’t planning for. Having an extra rainy day bank account can make the blow of an emergency a lot easier to take. The first 3-6 months of following a budget will be sure to throw you for a loop. You will continuously be surprised by how many things you didn’t realize you were spending money on until you start tracking it. Everyone’s emergency fund looks a little different. When you are first starting out, I recommend $1000 in an separate bank account that isn’t easily accessible. For me, I chose Capital One 360 Savings account.  This account provides me with a little bit of interest every month, but it is still accessible enough that if I needed the…

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