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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Making Money

10 Ways I Have Made Extra Money

Making some extra money on the side is a great way to help hit your goals faster! While paying off debt, I did everything. Here is 10 ways I have made extra money.

  Extra money can be a great way to pay off debt, save money or give yourself a little extra spending cash! Depending on your financial goals, the extra money can go multiple different directions for you. If you have figured out your income and expenses and feeling hopeless, there are tons of ways to make a little extra money. When I first started paying off my debts, it was a slow roll. At first, I didn’t think I made very much money. Honestly, as a waitress/bartender I didn’t know how much I was making. Because I always had money, I never tracked how much I had. When I first got serious about paying off my debts is when I got serious about tracking my income. Then, I got serious about making more money. Once I realized that I had a decent amount of money, I realized that I could make more. I watched people online making money from a ton of different ways. I started looking into a ton of different things. Ultimately, when I am looking at different side hustles, I try to decide if the time invested is worth the money paid for the activity. Here are a few ways that I have personally made extra money. 1) Poshmark ($150)  Poshmark is a clothing reselling app and website. You can list your used clothes on the website and make money from them. It is a little like Ebay for clothing. It does take a little bit of time, but it can be great! If you want to sign up for Poshmark, you can use my “ELYLYONS” referral code and get an extra $5 if you make a purchase. Once you spend the time listing things, it can be a little bit of passive income after that. If you spend an hour listing everything, you might make money from that a few weeks down the road because sales can happen anytime. I have spent just a few hours listing things and make money over and over again from those hours. The more active you are on the app,…

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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

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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Debt Free Journey Reports, Money

10 Things I Did On My First Day Being Debt Free

After working on paying off my debt for over 26 months, I am finally debt free! Check out how I spent my very first full day of being debt free! I bet it isn't what you would expect or maybe it is exactly what you expect?

I finally did it! I am finally debt free! In case you missed it, I paid off my very last student loan after 26 months of working my tail off! Two years ago, I posted my plan to pay off all of my student loans. However, at the time, I had hoped that it would only take me 12 months. I more than doubled that timeline, but I still accomplished it. If you are new to this blog and you haven’t read my story, here it is. My name is Elyse. I am 24, not married with no kids and I am DEBT FREE! I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. Everyone has student loans, so it never really crossed my mind that I was in debt. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that “showed up” that month. For that month of December 2016, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. I was excited about all of my new things, until my student loan bill came due. I had officially been “on break” from college for 6 months. My grace period was over. A $415 student loan payment showed up in the mail. I didn’t think that I had $415…

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Debt Free Journey Reports

2018 Debt Free Journey Report

2018 was an amazing year for me! I put $18,200 towards my student loans and I will be debt free a few months into 2019!

My Story! If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey! I want everyone to know where I started to help encourage them. My name is Elyse. I am 24, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt free. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. Everyone has student loans, so it never really crossed my mind that I was in debt. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that “showed up” that month. For that month of December 2016, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. I was excited about all of my new things, until my student loan bill came due. I had officially…

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Debt Free Journey Reports

October 2018 Debt Free Journey Report

October held all kinds of surprises for me, but it was still overall a good month! Find out how I had $600 worth of unexpected expenses and still put over $1,115 towards my last student loan!

My Story! If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey! My name is Elyse. I am 23, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt freeeee. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). There were two or three that showed up that month. For that month of December, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I even went on vacation using mostly my credit card. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up extra waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. Towards the end of the month, I was cleaning off a bookshelf, getting ready to move (again), and found The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. This $15 book completely changed my life path at the time. Dave describes being debt free as such…

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Debt Free Journey Reports

September 2018 Debt Free Progress Report

My Story! If you have been following my story at all, you probably know my story. If not, I tell my story at the beginning of every monthly report for those who just stumbled upon my blog. I gain different followers every month and I don’t want anyone to feel blind as they find my posts! If you have read my story, feel free to skip ahead to my monthly report. I tell this story so I am not just some stranger, but instead someone who just might inspire each and every reader to follow the same journey! My name is Elyse. I am 23, single with no kids and I am proudly on my way to being completely debt freeeee. I never really thought of myself as someone who was in debt. With no credit cards and no car payment, I was not the average American.  All I had was a few student loans. But, it wasn’t until a few weeks before my 22nd birthday that I got a loan for a Jeep and my very first credit card. I should say credit card(s). For that month of December, I thought it was so cool that I finally had a credit card. I was excited over it actually. I was learning about all the different rewards I could cash in and it was fantastic. Even though I had never needed a credit card, I was determined that I needed them then. I had racked up a pretty decent amount of money on my credit cards and started picking up waitressing shifts to get it cleared. While I have never paid interest on my credit cards, I have definitely gotten close. Towards the end of the month, I was cleaning off a bookshelf, getting ready to move (again), and found The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. This $15 book completely changed my life path at the time. Dave describes being debt free as such a rewarding and achievable thing. In his book, he says it will take work and it will be hard, but it…

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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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