5/2/18

Our Grocery Spending 2017

I can hardly believe it myself because I'm no good at record keeping, but for the entire year of 2017 I tracked our grocery spending every single month.

We are a family of six, 2 adults and 4 kids ages 2, 4, 6, and 8. We eat almost exclusively at home. These numbers include toiletries and household goods. It also includes going out to eat for convenience, but not for planned, special meals at nice restaurants. It includes alcohol. It does not include dog food, cat food or diapers and wipes.


Here are the results.

January $741.10

February $774.43

March $667.60

April $954.67

May $1,160.83

June $919.83

July $615.00

August $1067.00

September $629.73

October $995.20

November $509.29

December $ 689.24

The average comes to $810.26/month.

It was enlightening to take a year and observe and study our food spending habits and how much we actually spend on groceries.  Mostly, I'm happy with the amount we spent. I worked really hard to watch our spending. My only basis for wanting to cut down on the budget is how much food we wasted and gave to the dogs in 2017.

About half way through the year, I got really interested in the topic of food waste. Have you heard the shocking statistics about how much food Americans waste?! Google it and you will quickly find that the average American family wastes about $2,000 worth of food per year. It totally believe it.

With the realization that our family wastes a little more food than I care to admit, I've tried to focus on many of my habits in the kitchen in order to decrease our food waste. Because food is money!

One thing I implemented was a regular grocery shopping day. I now keep it like I would a dentist appointment, and I buy no more than one week's worth of groceries. This helped me get a better understanding of how much food we actually needed to get through one week.

Another thing I've done, though I've kept it to myself, is declare 2018 "the year of the humble meal."

scrambled eggs + toast
grilled cheese + an apple
a bowl of oatmeal

Simple, humble meals are good and good for you. They require little energy to put together and they are low cost. Also, they are made from grocery staples.

I don't believe in making big announcements about changes in your kitchen like "we are eating less meat" or "I'm going to stop buying chips." Just do it and see how it goes. If you say it out loud you will definitely get push back.
...

Questions, thoughts? Are you happy with your grocery spending?
Do you feel like you waste food?  If so, why do you think that is?

4/26/18

Managing Kids' Clothes is Serious Business

If you have multiple kids and distinct seasons where you live, you know the enormity of the task of switching out kids wardrobes each season.

They are growing.
The weather changes.
You want to save hand-me-downs for younger or future, unborn children.
Maybe they need new clothes, and you have to decided what they need, how much of it, and how much to spend.

It's a lot.

I am by no means an expert on this topic, but I have refined my system to the point that I don't feel completely overwhelmed. FYI, in case you are new around here I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls.


These are my best tips and guidelines for managing, buying, organizing, and dealing with your kids' wardrobes.

1. Realize that your kids don't need excessive amounts of clothing. There is no set number, but you probably need less than you think. Yes, you need enough that if the laundry backs up for a couple of days, they will have plenty to wear. But you don't need much beyond that.

Less is probably enough. The benefit is that it's less to manage and you will save so much money if you have the mentality that your kids don't need closets bursting with clothes.

Maybe you need to do a big purge. That leads to my next point.

2. Shop your own stuff. Decide what you definitely want to keep. For every seasonal switch out, I like to get all (yes, all) my kids' clothes out and put them in a huge pile. This way I can evaluate and get a really good inventory of what we have. Then I pretend I'm at a consignment sale and I "shop" our own clothes. From the oldest to the youngest, I put together a little wardrobe for each child for the new season. This is actually really fun for me. As I do this, I make a list of what we need to buy.

3. Set a budget. Children's clothing is a major budget buster for many of us mamas. They will only be little once and we want them to look adorable during these glorious and precious days. And so we make emotional purchases. Maybe we feel pressured because of how our friends (or strangers on Instagram) dress their kids.

I get it. MiniBoden is my love language.

A budget will give you freedom to spend and have fun with the allotted money, but it also gives you a limit. This limit will help you discern what clothes you love the most and want to buy, and it will also keep you from being a hoarder and buying too many clothes.

4. Now that you have a budget, buy only what you love! If you want to buy 2 more expensive outfits vs. 4 cheaper ones - go for it! Enjoy dressing your children in clothes you love. Of course keeping in mind that kids are hard on their clothes.

5. Limit your storage for sentimental items and hand-me-downs. We are all constantly are talking about how our homes don't have enough closet space. No, y'all! We have too much stuff.

This is very personal, I know. Maybe you want to have more babies. Maybe you can't part with all the baby clothes. Maybe you feel guilty because you spent a lot of money on these clothes and you might sell them.

I'm not telling you how or that you have to do it, I'm just putting the idea in your head. Limit your storage. Don't keep more than you can comfortably store.

For example, I have ONE medium sized box for sentimental baby clothes. I could have saved triple that. But why do I need 3 boxes of baby clothes to keep forever? I don't.

Keep your favorites. The same goes for clothing you are storing for your kids to grow into. Keep your favorites.

In summary...

Less is plenty.
Shop your own stuff.
Set a budget.
Buy what you love!
Limit your storage.

That's it!

Okay, hit me up with your questions and tips!


Would you look at those angels?!
3 of them are wearing hand-me-downs

4/16/18

Do you have a command center?

Lately I have been taking a hard look at the "problem" areas and systems in our home -

the major laundry back up that happens on weekends
the sock problem (need I explain?)
the breakfast crisis I face regularly because one of my kids loathes oatmeal

At the top of this list was the depressing level of paper clutter that lived on my kitchen counter. For a while, I embraced it. I declared that the counter-corner would be my command center and all school papers, bills, invitations, etc. could live there in a tidy pile. Why fight it?

But stuff attracts more stuff, so the pile would grow with kids' art, lists, pens, iPhone earbuds, cash, receipts, toys. Every day I would make a plan to tame the pile, but I could never completely eradicate it because the business side of household life is ongoing. I realize this now.

 

So after a year of living in madness, I came up with a solution. I moved it. I moved my command center. So simple. I found an unused corner in our home and set up an old, bedside table to serve as a desk. I bought a $9 bulletin board. Boom. Problem solved.

Last night at dinner I noticed how much lovelier the kitchen was because my "office" wasn't staring me in the face reminding me of the appointments I haven't made and the school projects we are behind on.

As much as moving the command center out of the kitchen has helped me, so has the bulletin board. Getting my important things vertical where I can SEE them has been a game changer. I feel less stressed and I'm taking action sooner rather than letting things sit there undone in a pile.

Do you have a command center?
Do you have any nagging problem areas in your home that need to be addressed?

Sometimes the solutions (or partial solutions) are simpler than we think!


3/29/18

Easter Basket Tips

My sister did the smartest thing with her kids' Easter baskets last year. They did them on Saturday instead of Easter Sunday. I thought this was brilliant because chocolate candy and your Easter best do not go together.

So we are totally doing the Saturday thing this year.



A couple of other thoughts and ideas....

I don't go crazy with candy. One or two special treats is more than plenty. Each of my children will be receiving one chocolate bunny. This was a revelation to me after a few years of everybody getting their own big bag of candy.

I also like to think summer when doing Easter baskets. Traditionally I give bathing suits. This year is an exception because we are good in the swimwear department. Sunglasses, sidewalk chalk, beach towels, goggles, pool rings (as pictured above) make for fun, useful gifts.

My friend, James, said he always got little packets Zinnia seeds tucked his basket. I think this is the most charming idea since after Easter is the appropriate time to plant Zinnias.

Debt Free Dana shared the idea of recycling and rounding up all your stuffed animal bunnies (and there are many in our house!) and putting them out with the Easter baskets. It makes of a great presentation and you are using something you already have. My kids would love this.

Debt Kickin Mom shared in her Insta-stories recently that she is putting a hand-me-down bathing suit in her younger daughter's basket. I totally stole this idea and I'm putting some cool hand-me-downs in George's basket this year.

Everything does not have to be new! I love this idea. We can save money and really squeeze the value out of things we already have with a little re-packaging.

So what tips do you have about Easter baskets? Please share!

.....

Also, this post. They were so little.

3/26/18

Ain't No Party Like a Laundry Party

This past Sunday afternoon I found myself in a catatonic state on the sofa...just done with it all! I was rejecting my young. I couldn't imagine what we were going to have for dinner. And I was feeling extra depressed about the heaps of dirty laundry that contained all the school uniforms needed for Monday morning.

I don't find myself here too often, but yesterday was dark, one of those times in which you can't even think of a good idea to pull yourself out of your breakdown.



When my husband decisively volunteered to make eggs for the kids for dinner, I felt the beginnings of the signs that I was going to live again. Things were turning...

His alleviating one small burden gave me back the ability to think.

And I declared a laundry party for later that evening. The whole family would pitch in and do our ginormous laundry together.

These "parties" are always met with griping and complaining, but the hardest part is starting. Once the first dish towel gets folded, the momentum gets going, and the laundry is done and put away before we know it. Even Caroline can walk her clothes to her bedroom! And she delights to do so.



These pictures are from a few weeks ago before our family went on a little beach vacation. We had a laundry party and then everyone packed their own bag for our trip (except for the 2 y.o.).

Sometimes delegating and dividing up the housework can be one more thing to manage and oversee. But sometimes it brings a great deal of relief. It's all trial and error. Laundry parties are working right now and I only see more in our future.

What about you? How do you divide the labor in your home?

3/21/18

Loving that Frugal Life

I am totally into frugal living these days. Obviously, there are financial benefits to a frugal lifestyle. But beyond those, I enjoy the thrill being resourceful. Limitations breed creativity. It can be really fun to come up with a way to do something without going and buying all the things.

I'll admit, frugality can be tedious. For example, making everything from scratch in your kitchen.

But more often I find that frugal choices lead to simplicity. For me, frugality often means less errands, better planning, and less angst over purchasing decisions. As the mom and family buyer, it leaves me with more space to be with the people instead of being at Target and Starbucks. 


Another bonus of a frugal mindset is less time going down the rabbit hole of online shopping. When I make up my mind that I'm not going to buy anything...guess who gets about the business of making banana bread?!

What I'm saying is...I start doing instead of scrolling and "consuming"  for minutes upon hours upon days. And that is freeing!

For fun...
Here's a handful of frugal things I've done lately.

1. Re-used a birthday balloon for my husband's birthday dinner. It's silly, and small but I'm really proud of this balloon's second life. It has lived on our kitchen ceiling since my daughter's birthday in JANUARY. I thought about going a buying a balloon and remembered...I already had one!

 

2. I gave my boys haircuts at home the other day. That's $28 I did not spend.

My kids refuse to give me a normal smile. Best he could do.

3. When the weather warmed up a few weeks ago, I evaluated the girls clothes and discovered that Caroline needs almost no new clothes or shoes for spring and summer. I have tons of hand-me-downs, so I can go on and resist the temptation to buy size 3 little girls' clothes.


4. When we recently returned home from a family trip, I made sure we had a meal planned ahead for the evening. I took out chili from the freezer and it was so easy to throw it on the stove. The last time we went out of town, I had no re-entry meal plan and we spent $45 going out to a Mexican restaurant.



5. I've been freezing herbs. Before they go bad, I dice them up and put them in the freezer. Yes to not wasting food!


I make myself rich by making my wants few. -Henry David Thoreau 

What frugal things have you been doing lately?


Our Getting Out of Debt Story

3/12/18

3 Get Out of Debt/ Frugal Living YouTube Channels

When we were first married and I knew absolutely nothing about personal finances, Stephen put me onto Dave Ramsey. I became a complete nut for getting out of debt and living on a budget. And almost 12 years later I am still totally into this topic.

Recently, I found that there is an entire world on YouTube dedicated to moms living their best life, getting out of debt, and being frugal to meet their big financial goals.

Below are links to my three favorites. I love these channels. In the morning when I'm cooking, unloading the dishwasher, or folding laundry I turn on the ol' YouTube in the background.

These videos keep me inspired! Especially when I just want to throw my hands in the air and dive into a box of bonbons.

Debtkickin Mom

Lydia Senn

Debt Free Dana

Do you have any favorite YouTube channels?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...