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- Used $.50/1 Kroger digital coupon
- Final Cost: $.99
- Used $1.00/1 Kroger digital coupon, plus a $1.00/1 coupon I got at the register
- Final Cost: $.99 each, plus received $2.00 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $4.00/3 Kroger digital coupon
- Final Cost: $.50 for all 3, plus received $3.00 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $1.00/2 Kroger digital coupon
- Final Cost: $.59 each, plus received $1.50 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $1.00/1 coupon from newspaper
- Final Cost: $3.99
- Were Buy One, Get One 50% off
- Used $1.00/1 printable coupon
- Final Cost: $1.44 each, plus received $1.00 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $.50/1 mPerks coupon, $.50/1 coupon from newspaper, and $.50/1 printable coupon
- Final Cost: $2.50 for all, plus $.25 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $.50/1 coupon I received in the mail
- Final Cost: $2.19, plus $.75 back in Ibotta rebates!
- Used $1.00/1 coupon that printed from the register
- Final Cost: $1.99
- Used $.50/1 mPerks coupon
- Final Cost: $.50
- Used $1.00/3 mPerks coupon
- Final Cost: $.67 each
- Used $1.00/1 coupon from the register
- Final Cost: Free
- Set a date for your initial budget meeting.
- Gather your expenses from the past 3 months to one year.
- Create your zero-based budget that revolves around your personal goals.
- Be accountable and stick to it!
- Little things to include in your budget (That you may be forgetting!)
- How to budget with your spouse when you’re the Free Spirit
- Things to include in a Budget Committee Meeting
- On a tortilla with cheese, lettuce, sour cream
- In a burrito bowl with rice, beans, and other taco toppings
- On a big bed of lettuce as a salad
- Used $.40/1 coupon I received in the mail
I had amazingly good luck and horribly bad luck this week.
The good: I’m using up the last ham in the freezer, so I had extra money to play around with, plus some overage from last week. I rocked the sales with coupons and Ibotta and stocked up on a lot of stuff. If you’re on my mailing list (And if not, you’re missing out! Sign up here!), you’ve already seen my Kroger haul and already know how to do it!
The bad: For the second week in a row, Meijer was completely out of frozen vegetables due to a sale. So my freezer still has no frozen veggies, and I still have a huge overage because of it. Like $30.00.
Really, it could have been worse. Since there’s no sale on frozen veggies at Meijer this week, I’ll probably spend that extra money at Sam’s, because their Instant Savings event starts Wednesday. Or save some of it for more fresh vegetables so I know we’re getting at least some nutrition in us! I just love the convenience of frozen because I can throw them in the microwave while I work on the rest of dinner. Here’s what I bought and how I’m using ham in most of my meals this week:
Entenmann’s Bakery Outlet
Mini bagels: $.50
Brownberry wheat bread: $.50
Sara Lee Artesano loaf: $1.00
Eggo Waffles: Free with a coupon I received in the mail
Ground sausage: Free with a coupon I received in the mail
Green Giant steamers: Free with a coupon I received in the mail
Ranch dressing: Free with a coupon I received in the mail
Kroger instant oatmeal: $1.49
2 Horizon Good and Go snack packs: $1.99 each
3 Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom chocolate bars: $1.50 each
2 boxes Ortega Good Grains taco shells: $1.09 each
Torani chocolate syrup: $4.99. This stuff is amazing in my iced coffees!
Total: $8.64, plus a total of $8.50 back in Ibotta rebates!
Fresh green beans: $1.59
2 bags red grapes: $2.59 each
Romaine hearts: $1.99
Sweet potatoes: $1.79
3 cups yogurt: $.33 each
Pineapple chunks: $.89
Cream cheese: $1.49
Cottage cheese: $1.79
Soy sauce: $1.49
Sriracha sauce: $1.99
Bulgar: $.99, on clearance. Never tried it, but I’ve been looking for something different!
Rice cakes: $1.49
Irish Spring bar soap: $2.29
2 bottles Crest Kids toothpaste: $2.59 each
4 bottles Colgate toothpaste: $1.00 each
Bigelow tea: $2.69
Tazo tea: $2.99
Larabars: Free with an mPerks coupon
3 cans Old El Paso refried beans: $1.00 each
3 jars Meijer salsa: $1.00 each, got one free from the 10 for $10 sale
Walden Farms chocolate syrup: $1.74, on clearance. I’ve heard good things about this and wanted to try it!
Total: $20.13 plus $2.00 back in Ibotta rebates, $5.00 in mPerks rewards, and a $10.00 coupon for my next order from buying shoes (Not pictured above or in grocery budget)
Weekly Total: $66.62
Lunch is always leftovers. Items marked with an asterisk (*) were purchased in previous weeks.
Frozen chicken nuggets*, frozen peas*, grapes
Spiral ham*, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, bread
Creamy ham pasta, grapes
Ham salad (ham, shredded cheese*, cucumber, shredded carrots, tomatoes), toast, grapes
Ham sandwiches, sweet potato fries
English muffins* with frozen sausage patties*
English muffins* with peanut butter* and banana, cottage cheese
Carrot muffins, strawberries, carrot sticks, crackers*, hummus, string cheese*. I’m branching out and trying some new things to get Allison to try and like new foods!
Budgeting. For some of you, that word might fill you with many different thoughts. “Maybe I need a budget, but I don’t know where to start. How do I do it? Can’t my husband just take care of it? I think we’re doing okay, but can we do better?”
I’ve shied away from general budgeting posts on No Getting Off This Train because, to be honest, John and I just recently started budgeting together. We shared the same bank account, and I knew how much I could spend on groceries, but I let him handle everything else and made myself blissfully unaware. Then we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University at church, and we committed to finally budgeting together because we finally understood the importance of both spouses being involved.
We’re not experts by any means, but I want to show you how we started and how we do things, to show you how to create a budget with your spouse. This mini-series will be broken up into a few posts, so as not to overwhelm you with information right off the bat!
Set up a date for your first budget meeting
The most important step is scheduling the meeting! Put it on your calendar, at a time when the kids are in bed and you won’t be distracted. I also make sure I’m not too tired or hungry, either, so snacks are a must right after Allison’s bedtime!
Gather expenses from the past few months
Before the meeting, figure out your current expenses. If you keep track of everything already, gather your expenses from the past year; but if not, at least get the last 3 months so you can get an idea of your spending trends. And from now on, keep all receipts where you’ve used your credit or debit card. You can enter the receipts every week, like John does, or once a month, but weekly may be easier on the paper clutter.
Decide what method to keep track of your budget
Choose whatever is easiest and most sustainable! Whether it’s on paper, a spreadsheet, or a favorite app like EveryDollar (which is what we use), make sure you can commit to keeping up with it, adding your income and expenses as they come in.
We’re very fond of EveryDollar, especially the paid version. Instead of manually entering our transactions, we’ve synced our bank account to the app and the app will pull all the info it needs for us. We just have to drag and drop the transactions into the category we want; it’s that simple!
Create a zero-based budget
Here’s the fun part- trying to figure out what categories you need to add to your budget! Most categories are generalized and apply to almost everybody, like rent/mortgage, groceries, and gas. Others will be more personalized and you have to think carefully about every place you spend money- like Netflix subscriptions and any memberships you may have. Here’s a list of main budget categories that you’ll need to have:
It’s not a full list, but it covers the basics and will get you started! Once you’ve figured out where your money’s going, you now need to create a Zero-Based Budget: Where your income minus your expenses should equal zero. If you have money left over, great! You can put that extra into savings or something else you might need, to make your budget equal zero. If you’re in the negative, you’ll need to do some tweaking- either take out some categories or don’t spend so much in others.
Make sure you’re on the same page
This is super important. You both have to agree on what you just wrote down; otherwise it won’t work. Saying you’ll only spend $20.00 on clothes this month and then going on a $200.00 shopping spree because the 20 dollars “wasn’t enough money” defeats the purpose of having a budget. If you need $200.00 worth of clothes that month, that’s fine! But you both need to agree beforehand that you’ll put that number in your budget and adjust the rest accordingly.
Also- if your spouse is the one doing the budget, make sure you give him all the receipts and don’t forget about them laying in the bottom of your purse. Not that I’ve done that or anything and given John a mental breakdown figuring out where the missing money went.
Keep track of when all of your expenses are due
Unless you only get paid at the end of each month, you won’t have all of your money at the beginning of the month. You may earn, say, $3,000 a month, but you won’t get it all at once if you get paid weekly, bi-weekly, etc. Most of your expenses come out at different times of the month, so don’t get excited at your first paycheck of the month at $1,000 and buy that $500 item you budgeted for, when the mortgage of $800 is due the next day. It takes careful planning, and if you need to write down your expenses’ due dates on a calendar to help you remember, do it! It’ll save you headaches down the road.
Schedule monthly Budget Committee Meetings
One thing Dave Ramsey recommends is having a monthly Budget Committee Meeting. It’s different from the initial meeting you had above; this meeting is all about reviewing the previous month’s budget and how you did, and tweaking the next month’s budget to reflect any changes that might happen- like birthdays, holidays, back-to-school, etc. These meetings are a must and cannot be skipped, so make sure you put them on your calendar! John and I have our meeting the last Sunday of the month so we have time to review and make edits to the budget.
Following these ideas is just the first step. You both have to commit to sticking to your new budget, to remain accountable, and most important, to keep loving each other as you adjust to your new lifestyle changes. It won’t be easy at first, but with every month that goes by, you’ll find yourselves easily putting together the next month’s budget with no problems! So your first steps are:
Any other questions? For the next 3 weeks I’ll be talking about different aspects of budgeting, including:
If you have questions that don’t apply to any of the above, please ask in the comments! I’m not an expert but I can give my experiences and can even do a Q&A post if there’s enough demand!
Are you looking for an easy weeknight dinner? I’m in love with these simple chicken fajitas! Remember how, in my Veggie Spaghetti post, I said I keep an eye out for volume recipes? This is another one of my favorites! It uses 3 entire bell peppers plus an onion, and the chicken helps bulk it up as well.
One way to save time with this recipe is to cut all the vegetables beforehand. Make an effort at the beginning of each week to do some meal prep-cut up all your fruits and vegetables (putting them into snack bags if applicable), thaw and chop your chicken… you’ll save so much time in the evenings, not to mention extra dishes you won’t have to wash!
This chicken fajitas recipe is a good base to turn into multiple meals so you won’t get bored. Here are a couple ideas to try:
I put my leftover chicken fajita mix in a salad recently and wow, it was a ton of food for few calories! However you decide to serve it, you’ll soon realize that you may have found your next favorite dinner!
This week was supposed to be focused on filling my freezer! I succeeded with the fruit (Hurray for 99 cent summer fruit!), but Meijer was out of frozen vegetables so I had to save some money for next week. That wasn’t too hard apparently, because I currently have… $25.00 left in this week’s budget, holy cow. Part of that too is because we’re heading to Cedar Point (again) this weekend, so I didn’t need as many meals!
On another note, if your Kroger has a dairy clearance section, be sure to check it out! I scored a bunch of yogurt that was between 75-90% off regular price, that still had at least a few days until the expiration date. Allison confiscated one the day I bought them, but I still had enough for evening snacks for the next few days. I live for these clearance sections; it’s like a rush whenever I find anything good! Here’s everything I bought this week:
5 Chobani Flip yogurts: $.19 each, on clearance
Yoplait custard yogurt: $.49, on clearance
Orange juice: $1.00
Bubble bath: $1.99
2 bottles hand soap: $.99 each
7 Balance bars: $.50 each, on clearance
2 gallons milk: $1.29 each
Hidden Valley dressing mix: Free after a coupon I received in the mail
Cole slaw mix: $1.69
6 packages strawberries: $.99 each. Freezing most of these!
5 packages blueberries: $.99 each. Freezing all of these!
3 cups yogurt: $.33 each
2 cans diced tomatoes: $.45 each
Hot sauce: $1.89
Baby wipes: $1.29
Peanut butter crackers: $2.29
Green bell peppers: $1.49
Sweet potatoes: $1.59
2 dozen eggs: $.47 each
Almond milk: $1.99
Weekly Total: $54.97
Lunch is always leftovers. Items marked with an asterisk (*) were purchased in previous weeks.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya, bread* (In freezer), strawberries
Shredded BBQ chicken*, rice*, sweet potatoes
Frozen chicken patty* sandwiches, roasted sweet potatoes
Chicken* in peanut sauce, rice*, coleslaw mix, frozen California veggies*
French toast or leftovers
Yogurt*, granola*, cantaloupe
What’s on your menu this week? Share with us in the comments!