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

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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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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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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Christian, Money

5 Things I Learned From David and Goliath about my Debt Free Journey

The story of David and Goliath has been used to tell many lessons, but here are just a few of the things I learned while I was reading it and applying it to my Debt Free Journey. #davidandgoliath #debtfreejourney #lessonslearned #godonmyside #godlydebtfreejourney #withgodanythingispossible

David and Goliath is a bible story that has been used many, many times over to make a point about winning battles when God is on your side. It is the story of a young boy who steps up to battle to fight Goliath, a well trained warrior.  They are representing their lands, but David is just a small shepherd who’s job was to tend to his father’s sheep. He wasn’t a fighter. David stood up to fight against Goliath. While David was scared, he was confident that God was on his side. God would protect him, and he did. Most of us have heard the story about David and Goliath. If you have been to church even once or twice, you probably have a good idea of the story. I remember growing up and watching the Veggie Tales story of David and Goliath as well. If your childhood wasn’t filled with Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, then you seriously missed out! If you don’t have your own bible to read the story, I strongly recommend checking out the “She Reads Truth” Bible. The story of David and Goliath came up in the devotional that I have been doing. It really made me think about David and Goliath in a day to day aspect. Sometimes it seems like such a kid story because I was told the story probably a million times while growing up in bible studies and Sunday School. But David and Goliath isn’t just talking about a young boy defeating a giant. It is told as a reminder that overcoming obstacles isn’t impossible. It is about reminding you that you can do anything. Here are 5 things that I learned about my Debt Free Journey from the story of David and Goliath. 1) Your opponent may seem huge. “He was nine feet, nine inches tall and wore a bronze helmet and bronze scale armor that weighed on hundred twenty-five pounds.”  (1st Samuel 17:4) Goliath was huge and he was well trained, but in the end, David still wins. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what your “opponent” may be.…

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Budget Tips, Money, No Spend Month Tips

5 Things To Prepare for a No Spend Challenge

Preparing for a no spend challenge is extremely important.

      One thing that has helped me tremendously with paying off $15,000 on a $30,000 income was No Spend Months! They may seem a little crazy, but you can accomplish anything in 30 days if you set your mind to it! No Spend Months are great for resetting your finances after a splurge or really just focusing in on what you already have. I wrote a whole post covering “What is a No Spend Months”, but basically I only spend money on gas, groceries, and pre-budgeted items. Every month is going to have a reason why you can’t do a no spend month. Every month is going to have a holiday, a birthday, a baby shower, or an excuse not to try to stick to your budget. I always sit down at the beginning of the month to decide what items are budgeted for throughout the month. Whether your goal is to not spend for one week, a month, or even a whole year, you have to be realistic about your goals. Everyone has to set their own rules for a no spend month. The best thing you can do for your goals is to prepare for obstacles that might come up throughout your no spend time. Here are 5 things to do to prepare for a No Spend Challenge: 1. Set your goal. When setting your goal, really think about why you want to do this challenge. Is it because you know you have been spending too much? Or maybe you have too much stuff in the house already and you are going to focus on getting rid of stuff and not bringing more in. Another great goal is to pay off the rest of a debt. If you are super close on one of your snowball accounts, maybe the whole point is to really focus on getting that student loan/credit card/car loan gone! When preparing for your no spend month, make a list of the things that you hope to get out of this month. I don’t recommend your goal being much more than half of your take…

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Debt Free Journey Reports

November Debt Free Journey 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 22 (almost 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. 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 the 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,…

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Making Money

Ebates: The BEST Way to Make and Save Money Online.

I have posted about Ebates on my social media a few times, but I finally wrote an in depth review of it!

I have recently stumbled upon Ebates and I think I am in love. I don’t really know what love feels like because I have been single for so long, but I am pretty sure this is it. Multiple bloggers have told me how great it is and how much money you can save when shopping online, but I never bought into it. I have I always pushed it off that I don’t shop online that much. Or I don’t really need to shop online and it will encourage me to shop online more. Well, let me tell you that I am pretty sure that I have missed out on THOUSANDS of dollars’ worth of discounts, sales and cash back in the time that I have been ignoring their plea for me to join Ebates. I saved a ton of money using Ebates with my Christmas shopping, but there are also a ton of other ways to save on Christmas as well! During my Debt Free Journey, I have looked for as many opportunities as I can to save and earn more money. I LOVE getting great deals when I shop online. The cheaper I can get it, the better! I don’t know how I have been missing out on this great deal for so long. I just got a $275 purchase for $210 and $22 cash back for it! Plus FREE overnight shipping. Find out how below? What is Ebates? Ebates is a website specifically designed to advertise coupon codes and discounts while you are shopping online. They also provide a cash back incentive for shopping through them. Coupon Codes When you go to an online store, you can see all of the active coupon codes for a store.Some may be 20% off or Free Shipping. It tells you exactly what and how much, plus the offer code. You can still use them on top of your store cash back! There are always tons of coupon deals that go unused because they aren’t well known. Ebates finds those coupon codes and shares them for that extra savings! Store Cash Back…

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Debt Free Journey Reports, Money

October’s Debt Free Journey Report

October is so great for fall activities and some of the best foods on the planet. It was also a FANTASTIC month for my debt free journey. I did a NO Spend Month and made sure that I was only spending money on groceries, gas, and prebudgeted things. See here how I paid off $2000+ in one month on a SINGLE income.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This is one way that bloggers make money, but it is at absolutely no extra cost to you if you choose to make a purchase based on my suggestions! If you would like to read more about how this works, check out my Disclosure Policy! My Story If you have been following my story at all, you probably know that 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 22, 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. 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 the 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. 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 will be worth it. He has been right.…

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