Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Your grocery budget probably needs a little revamping like mine does, and so I created a few tips for creating what I believe is a functional grocery budget. This method of dividing up your expenses will help you to make sure you aren’t overspending, and of course, help you to make the most of your money.

Don't miss our top Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget! There are great ideas to give you family a great meal at a reasonable price!

Tips For Creating A Functional Grocery Budget

Don’t forget to budget for all meals and snacks, not just dinner. Many menu plans include only 1 meal a day – the evening meal. This doesn’t help you to create a shopping list or functional grocery budget when it doesn’t provide for breakfast, lunch or snacks. You need to focus not just on the menu plans that give you low budgets for one meal a day, but also plan for your snacks, breakfasts and lunches.

Make healthy foods a priority. One thing often seen in a grocery budget is not enough room for healthy foods. If you are sacrificing your health to save a few dollars each month, it isn’t worth it. Feeding your family great nutrient-dense meals and snacks isn’t an option – it is a necessity. I follow a 40/30/30 rule when shopping for groceries. 40% of my grocery budget is fruits and vegetables. 30% of my grocery budget is lean meats and dairy. 30% of my grocery budget are things like dry beans, rice, spices and other items to fill in gaps in the menu plan.

Use coupons only on items you need. While I’m a fan of coupon use, when it comes to your grocery budget it is important to not get carried away. The thrill of the coupon hunt can quickly become a reason to spend more money for the sake of the “deal”. Make sure you are couponing for items that truly are needed and the best deal possible. Just because there is a coupon available doesn’t mean that they should be used.

Plan meals that can be used multiple ways. Not only do you want to plan low-cost meals, but you want to plan for things that will provide you with leftovers for lunches or a second evening meal. You may also want to look for meats and protein sources that are versatile. Things like a roast or hamburger can be used in multiple recipes making them easier to buy in bulk packages and stretch further. A roast cooked on Monday can have leftovers used in a quick beef and vegetable soup, stew or even tacos or chili. A whole chicken can be shredded and added to soups, casseroles, salads and sandwiches. Using every bit of the cheaper cuts of meat throughout your weekly menu plan can easily make your grocery budget manageable.

Follow your local sale cycles to stockpile as needed. Sometimes it’s beneficial to buy extra of select items when they are at their lowest prices. This can be vegetables and fruit in the summer months to freeze for later, or can be canned goods in winter months. Watch your local stores sale cycles and stock up accordingly to provide your family with food at the best prices possible year round.

These tips for creating a functioning grocery budget are just the beginning. To really do well you also need to take into consideration your area, sale cycles and your family needs. A functional grocery budget is one that provides your family with great meals while staying within the expense plan you can afford.

Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt

If you are able, living below your means to pay off debt is a great way to make sure you are financially secure for years to come. This is truly one of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy financial outlook. Learning to live beneath your means gives you the ability to focus on bettering your life, saving for the future and become satisfied with what you already have.

These excellent Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt will revamp your budget and help you to meet your financial goals in no time!

Tips For Living Below Your Means To Pay Off Debt

Don’t upgrade even if you can afford to in your budget. This is truly the biggest part of living below your means. When you can afford an upgrade, it’s hard to resist doing it. The truth is, very few upgrades are needed. A larger home is almost always unnecessary. A new phone every time the latest version is released is rarely necessary. Even new shoes, pants or seasonal wardrobes aren’t really needed for most people every year. Stop competing with those around you. Truly focus on buying only what you need instead of what you want.

Upgrades to avoid:

  • New vehicle when your existing one is sufficient and/or paid for and able to be repaired for less.

  • Upgrade to larger or nicer home or apartment when your current home is sufficient for your family size.

  • Upgrades to cellular phones, televisions, gaming systems and other electronics

  • Upgrades to adults wardrobes when clothing owned is in good condition and wearable. Kids grow fast and upgrades are expected. Most adults can wear the same items for much longer than children.

Never pay full price for anything. I’m always trying to share the best deals with you and of course, trying to encourage coupon use. Before you buy anything from groceries to new clothing or a car – check for sales, coupons, rebates and any promotional discount available.

When you pay off a debt, apply that payment toward other debt. One way to continue living below your means is to put any “extra” money toward other debt or savings. When you pay off one debt, it may feel like you have extra money to spend. Instead of looking at that money as more you can spend, look at it as if it is more to save. You can apply that money toward other debts, or directly into your savings account if debt has been alleviated. You can then continue as you are in your monthly budget, effectively living below your means and saving more for future needs.

Have extra wages directly deposited into savings. If you receive a raise, or have extra funds in your paycheck each pay period that don’t apply directly to budgetary needs then ask your employer to direct deposit part of your paycheck right into your savings account. This way you can create a quality savings account to help pay off debt or to be there for an emergency fund in the future as needed.

You can easily begin living below your means to help pay off debt even if your budget is paycheck to paycheck. Focus on what you can save and put as much as possible toward your debt payments to create a better financial future for yourself.

7 Frugal Living Tips For Single Income Families

When it comes to much needed frugal living tips, those with one income households will love our ideas in this post.  They are designed for the family that is working to make ends meet on one household income but still want to live nicely.  It can be tough, but living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have savings accounts, vacations or even nice presents at the holidays.  It simply means you work to make that happen in new and different ways.

Don't miss our top 7 Frugal Living Tips For Single Income Families!  These will help you make ends meet, pay off debt or save for a fun filled vacation!

 

7 Frugal Living Tips For Single Income Families

Coupon as much as possible.  Obviously, I’m already an advocate of couponing, but it has to be said.  Using coupons along with sales in your local stores is one of the best ways to save money in your household budget.  Coupons are excellent for not just grocery items, but also household cleaning supplies, health and beauty products and even mainstream retail shopping discounts.

Pick the splurge you really want.  Someone once said that when you are on a diet and want a splurge, pick something you can’t have just any day.  Make it a splurge you really want. There are many conveniences that cost money, but what is the one splurge or convenience that is truly important to you?  Perhaps your spouse wants the extra television channels for sports, or you just really need that gourmet coffee to make it through the day. Don’t splurge on fast food or convenience items that aren’t truly special.  Make your splurges count.  Fewer splurges and better splurges will save not only money but feel much more rewarding in the end.

Shop everything second hand.  Second hand is amazing for kids clothing, books, movies , furniture and even some electronics.  Whether it’s buying kids clothing gently used or grabbing a refurbished laptop for half the cost, second hand can give you the things you want – even name brands – at a fraction of the cost.

Make it yourself.  This is probably one of the most popular frugal living tips out there aside from couponing.  You can make so may items yourself.  Laundry products, meal kits, homemade breads and cakes. You may even be able to craft and sew clothing and create home decor for half the price.  If you can make it yourself for less money, then do that instead.

Utilize online rewards programs.  There are a ton of amazing online rewards programs to choose from.  Some offer a rebate on purchases you make, and others are simply websites you use to earn points or money to redeem for gift cards.  This can give you extra cash for splurges, or money in the bank to pay for bills. Some of my favourites are Swagbucks, Checkout 51 and mail in rebates for free products.

Menu plan consistently.  I cannot say this enough.  Your grocery budget can make or break you.  Not only does a menu plan act as one of the best ways to eat healthier, it keeps you from eating out as often.  It’s really a win-win.  If you know what you are cooking, then there is no question of spending the extra money on takeout or convenience foods in your grocery store.

Downsize as much as possible.  This is tough, but if you are a one income home, then you are likely only in need of one vehicle.  Smaller homes to rent or buy are another option, but don’t forget simply purging things from your home.  You can create a large amount of liquid cash just by going through closets, bookcases, and video collections.  Sell these items in local community swap shops or on online classified and auction sites.  A minimalist life is one that is much more affordable and often much more emotionally satisfying.

These practical frugal living tips are ideal for any family – not just those that are living on one income.  No matter your income and budget, you can use these ideas to create more funds for paying off debt or simply saving for the future.

Budget Meal Planning Tips For Busy Moms

Budget meal planning is vital to the health of most household budgets. Nobody looks forward to rice, pasta and beans for every meal, but sometimes a financial strain means you have to really look closely at your food intake as a place to eliminate extra expenses. These tips for busy moms to help budget meal planning become easier, are perfect for keeping you well fed and your finances in order.

You'll love our Budget Meal Planning tips for Busy Moms!  Great tips to keep your family eating amazing food while you juggle life on a budget. 

Budget Meal Planning Tips For Busy Moms

Stick to what your family loves. One of the biggest budget meal planning blunders around is trying out too many new recipes each month. Unfortunately, what looks great on a blog, television or in a magazine may not meet your families taste preferences. Stick mostly to those tried and true recipes and flavors you know everyone will eat so you aren’t wasting money on food that ends up in the garbage. Try 1-2 new recipes a month and if they are enjoyed, add them to your rotation.

Keep an accurate track of what you have on hand. A pantry and freezer list is a must when you are budget meal planning. Your meal plan should include items you have in stock in your pantry. Knowing what you have on hand keeps you from spending too much on items you don’t need, and will keep you from making last minute stops at the grocery and spending extra because you forgot an ingredient.

Get to know your butcher. Whether you use a traditional butcher shop or you local grocery store meat counter, knowing the butcher is a great way to find the best deals on meats. Not only can you talk to them about the end pieces of meats that are perfect for stews and chili, but you can find out when they are running a sale, or when something is about to be marked down because it is near the end of its shelf life. These little things can save you a ton of money on meat purchases.

Create a core base of ingredients. Many families like specific flavor profiles more than others. When you figure out what your family tends to gravitate toward, you can easily start shopping for those items in bulk. Whether it is a type of meat, produce or base like pasta or rice you can find most groceries in bulk for less than individual servings would cost.

Plan meals for leftovers. One of the best ways to save money while meal planning is to actually plan your menu for leftovers. Not only can larger batches of some meals save money on a second evening meal, they can save money on your lunch expenses. Soups, casseroles and many one pot meals are perfect for leftovers. If your family doesn’t like eating the same thing multiple times in a row, you can easily create the double batch and store it in the freezer until later in the month. Then all you have to do is thaw and reheat in the oven or slow cooker.

These budget meal planning tips are perfect for moms who are busy juggling kids and work. Not only will they help you stay in budget each month, they will provide you with great meals your entire family will enjoy.

7 Ways To Cut Household Expenses In Half

Everyone wants to cut back on household expenses and these tips are perfect for seriously cutting your household expenses in half. Some are easy to accomplish while others may be drastic measures that only a few families can manage. All will help to cut back on the money you are spending each month to maintain your home.

We have these amazing 7 Ways To Cut Household Expenses In Half ready to help you make ends meet with ease!  Check out these tips to become financially free!

7 Ways To Cut Household Expenses In Half

Downsize as much as possible. While this may seem obvious, many families overlook the bigger ways to downsize as they feel they are impossible. Things like moving to a smaller and less expensive home, selling the second family vehicle or simply purging items from your home that are no longer needed can easily create more money in the budget. Limiting extra curricular activities can also be a great way to cut household expenses with ease. This can mean limiting the number of teams your kids play on, your own gym memberships or even your weekly nights out with friends. You don’t have to eliminate everything, but you can downsize your activities to a more manageable amount.

Start couponing regularly. Simply Frugal brings you tons of coupon deals on a regular basis, and using these to save money on everything from food to household supplies can greatly cut back your household expenses. Just make sure to not get carried away and spend more than normal just because you have a coupon for something. Utilize coupons for the best deals on products you would already normally be purchasing.

Cut out extra expenses. Check your household budget for things you are spending money on that can be prevented. This can be eating out, new clothing splurges or even special channels on satellite or cable television. There are a lot of little purchases made each month that add up fast. You may also consider spending time calling insurance companies, policies and banks to try and eliminate any unnecessary monthly fees. Check your credit cards and pay off or transfer balances on those that have higher interest rates so you save a little more money each month on expenses.

Make your own household products. One easy way to cut household expenses is to begin making your own products to use around the house. Homemade laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover or even homemade body scrubs and lotions can all be made for less than branded products, and you will like the fact that they contain fewer chemicals.

Monitor utility expenses and cut back when possible. Usually next to mortgage/rent and food, utility expenses are the highest monthly bill. You can monitor these regularly and cut back by conserving water, adjusting your thermostat or even investing in solar panels or better energy efficient utility systems.

Grow your own food. A garden is a great way to save money on your grocery budget, but can also be a wonderful way to cut household expenses by providing not only for the current food you need, but year round. Can or freeze fresh fruits and vegetables you grow to use throughout the off seasons. In urban areas you may also consider raising chickens to provide your family with eggs and chicken to eat later in their lives.

Have one spouse become a stay at home parent. This is a drastic choice, but it can easily lead to household expenses being less. If you are paying a lot each month in childcare expenses, take out or even someone to come clean your home, then it may be even more financially beneficial for one parent to stay home with the kids instead. The savings on daycare will be huge, but you can also save by being able to menu plan, keep the household running smoothly and perhaps doing some work at home projects.

These ways to cut back on household expenses are just a few of the many ways you can work on your budget. Reducing expenses is the number one way, which is obvious. How to do that can be difficult depending on your individual situation. Think outside the box and your household expenses can be cut in half.

I’m Wondering: What’s Your Idea of Frugal Fun?

Since I know you Simply Frugal readers enjoy having fun, and most likely on the cheap, I’m quizzing you for your brilliant frugal fun ideas!

I’m wondering:  What’s your idea of frugal fun?

How To Live Frugally To Pay Off Debt

There are tons of tips for how to live frugally to pay off debt, but today, I have gathered some of what I feel are the best ways for you to focus your income to get rid of debt and create financial freedom. Some simple changes in how you view money can truly make all the difference in the world.

Don't miss our best tips for How To Live Frugally To Pay Off Debt! Take the best tips and put them to use creating a better financial future!

How To Live Frugally To Pay Off Debt

Create a functional household budget. A functional household budget is actually looking at your true reliable monthly income and true reliable monthly expenses. Fluctuating pay from part-time jobs that aren’t consistent, sales online or occasional side jobs are not consistent and shouldn’t be included. Focus on what is your primary income, then create a list of all of your regularly occurring expenses. This list should include things like housing, utility, transportation, health, savings, groceries and similar items.

A functional budget shows you what you have coming in and going out each month. If you have less coming in than going out, it’s time to look closely at the differences. Is the difference because your income is too low, or is it because you’re making poor spending choices? It’s often a combination of both poor spending habits and an income issue. If you cannot easily change your income status, it is time to look at what your expenses actually are and streamline as much as possible. That means eliminating things that are not necessities until you are in the clear and able to meet your needs.

Understand wants versus needs. This is one of the biggest things to understand when you want to know how to live frugally to pay off debt. It boils down to what is coming in as income and going out as expenses. Typically the expenses that are necessary are what have to go. What is necessary to some is not to others. For my online business I have to have high-speed Internet with faster speeds than some. Others can do fine with a lower plan or simply using their cellular phone carrier for Internet. What is a necessity to me is a want for them. Take the time to look in detail at each item on your expense sheet and determine what can be removed as a want until you are better able to afford it.

Things to consider that are typically wants and not needs:

  • Newer vehicle
  • Larger home or living space
  • Pampering like: manicures, pedicures, professional hair styling, massages or spa treatments
  • Eating out
  • Entertainment like: new video games, movie theater tickets, or amusement parks

Make savings a priority. Ultimately if you want to live frugally to pay off debt, you need to also consider saving money in the process. For most families, debt racks up because of a lack of savings to pay for expenses that occur unexpectedly. A savings account is not just for vacations and future purchases, but for a rainy day. Job loss, poor health, vehicle repairs or even a new roof on your home can all happen out of nowhere and quickly incur debt if you do not have a savings fund in place.

Everything about how to live frugally will fall into place under these windows. Once you realize what you have coming and going out each month, you can begin to focus on how and where to save money. Using coupons, eliminating expenses and cutting corners can all be done better once you understand what your true financial needs are.

7 Places To Find Discount Baby Clothes

Babies grow so fast, it’s hard to keep them in clothes that fit! Don’t miss these great Places To Find Discount Baby Clothes that are of great quality and fit easily into your limited budget!

Babies grow so fast, it's hard to keep them in clothes that fit! Don't miss these great Places To Find Discount Baby Clothes that are of great quality and fit easily into your limited budget!

6 Places To Find Discount Baby Clothes

eBay: A huge powerhouse in the discount baby clothes industry is actually eBay. This online auction site is a great place to buy gently used and brand new items at a fraction of the price you would in a store. Check out various large lots of clothing for the best prices on bulk purchases with discounted shipping. You can also earn money back once those clothes have been outgrown by selling your own items on eBay for credit.

Craigslist/Kijiji: Looking at these popular online classified sites can bring you many opportunities to grab kids clothing and specifically discount baby clothes at great prices. Remember to always arrange to meet in a public place and have someone go along with you for safety.

Local Facebook Buy & Sell groups. There are so many buy & sell groups on Facebook. I happen to think they are a great place to find discount baby clothes. They are similar to a garage sale or yard sale, only online and easy to choose what you want without having to drive all over the place to find it. Much like Craigslist, it is important to arrange to meet in a public place and have someone come along with you for safety.

Thrift or second hand stores. There are tons of great thrift stores and second hand stores all over the place, and they are ideal for finding amazing discount baby clothes that will work into your budget and keep your little one clothed.

Consignment sales. Consignment stores and sales are an amazing place to sell your own gently used items, but also to buy great name brand items for your baby at deep discounts. Watch for pre-sale days, special offers and great name brand quality items for up to 75% off retail prices.

Hand me downs. Take any hand me down items that are offered to you from friends, family and neighbors. You’ll be surprised at how many people will offer you items for your baby. Take what’s offered and go through items to choose what you can and are able to use. Pass on the the items you aren’t able to make use of to others.

These are some great places you can easily find discount baby clothes that are in great condition while staying within your budget. Your baby doesn’t need a ton of clothing when they are little, but as they grow you’ll find it can be costly to keep them in new sizes all the time. These tips will help you to manage keeping your baby in cute clothing without spending outside your budget.

I’m Wondering: What is Your #1 Money Saving Tip?

wondering

Okay guys, today I want to know your number one money saving tip. The thing you do that saves you the most. Or some little hack that you do to to avoid spending full price on something. Then once we’re all done sharing our tips and tricks, I thought it would fun if I compiled all your ideas into one printable sheet that we can read again and again. (Don’t worry, this will be a free printable for everyone to enjoy!)

Let’s get on with it shall we?

I’m Wondering: What is Your #1 Money Saving Tip?

Do you have something you’re wondering about that you would love Simply Frugal readers to answer? Send me your questions, here.

Money Saving Ideas When Buying Kids Clothing

Parents are always looking for money saving ideas when it comes to raising their kids. Some of our best tips are about how to save money on those necessities like kids clothing. We are going to share our best tips for how to save a significant amount of money on your kids wardrobe. These tips are easy, useful and work no matter where you live.

Don't miss our easy Money Saving Ideas When Buying Kids Clothing to keep your budget in tact and your kids in great brand name clothing they will love!

Money Saving Ideas When Buying Kids Clothing

Shop second hand. Whether you choose to look at local yard sales, thrift shops or consignment sales, shopping second hand is one of the best money saving ideas when it comes to buying your kids clothing. Most second-hand purchases are up to 75% off the original price. This makes those clothes they are only in for a few months, much easier to afford. Babies tend to grow so fast they don’t stay in the same size for long, and buying second-hand is a great way to save tons of money. This is also a great way to find name brand pieces for your tween or teenage children at a much lower price. You may even be able to set up a clothing swap with your friends or neighbors who have kids of similar ages and sizes. Swapping back and forth can save everyone a lot of money and give kids a fun new wardrobe.

Shop online. While you may want to go to a local store to try on some pieces, shopping online can often make it much easier. You can find exactly what you are looking for, eliminate the arguments with your kids in store and utilize great online coupons, deals, free shipping and more that are offered by many popular brands. You can also take advantage of some great sites like eBay for savings on second-hand clothing. Some allow you to send your kids clothes in to earn credit while eBay offers you a chance to list your kids gently worn items to make a little money.

Get to know your store sales and clearance procedures. One way to save is to actually figure out how your local stores do sales and clearance. You can ask the sales staff, or watch sale cycles to get an idea about when the best deals will happen. You can easily figure out when clearance happens so you can stock up ahead of seasons by buying the end of season products at discounts. Ask about any special customer sales, coupons or email newsletters that will alert you to sales earlier. Many large retailers offer great promotions to what they consider their VIP members who sign up for their newsletter.

Make your own. This is one of the classic money saving ideas when it comes to buying kids clothing. However, with the time involved, the price of material and changing seasons it can sometimes be more expensive. There are a few fun things you can do, however, to make your own clothing. Upcycle items like your own worn out shirts, dresses or pants to create items for your kids. Perhaps you can make fun pillowcase dresses for little girls, or just use t-shirts to create fun tote bags for your teen to carry. There are always options for making your own or upcycling an existing item to revamp and give it a new look.

With this list of money saving ideas you can easily stay in budget while buying clothes for your kids no matter the season!