budget | parenting | pregnancy

Guest Post: Top Tips for Thrifty Moms-To-Be

By on October 1, 2020

I am so happy and excited to feature this post by Emily Graham. You can find this budget-friendly article and plenty of other wonderful content on financial wellness at mightymoms.net.

When you’re expecting a new addition, it’s natural to want to splurge on every little thing for your bundle of joy.  However, the last thing you want to do is feel distracted about finances.  Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to prepare for your baby without overspending.  These thrifty tips will have you not only ready for your baby’s arrival but will ensure you’ll be able to focus on every precious moment.  

Take a breather

One of the simplest things you can do for yourself in preparation for your baby’s arrival is to spend time relaxing.  According to research, relaxation helps expecting moms reduce their stress and anxiety levels, feel more energized, and stay in a positive mindset.  Try doing some meditation exercises to help you focus and let go of tension.  Just 10 or 20 minutes a day can help you feel better, and it’s a simple and free addition to your lifestyle.

Revamp the reveal 

Gender reveals come in all shapes and sizes, and with a little ingenuity, you can create a celebration that is inspired, entertaining, and memorable.  For instance, a photo shoot can be terrific fodder for a unique gender reveal.  You can get packs of pink or blue gum, then take pictures blowing bubbles in the appropriate color and post them on social media.  If you spend a weekend at the beach, you could even take advantage of the photo op by writing in the sand, “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl!”  It’s not only clever and affordable, but it also takes less time and energy than a party.  

If you’re ready to party down while pinching pennies, think about fun things like creating a paper maché volcano that erupts pink or blue “lava,” or cupcakes with appropriate colored filling.  You could even have a fiesta and fill a piñata with colored candies.  The key is to have fun with whatever you do!  

Baby and big kid

Setting up your baby’s space is super exciting, and it’s easy to get carried away with everything there is to buy.  How can you stretch your pennies with a whole room to redo?  Actually, there are some pretty clever solutions for the whole shebang.  The key is to think in terms of versatility.  By choosing decor that will be adorable now and remain appropriate later, you can create a beautiful nursery that adjusts as your little one grows.  

The first place to look is your furniture.  It can add up quickly if you need to buy all new bedroom items as time goes by, but with things like convertible cribs and a dresser that doubles as a changing table, you can stretch each piece’s usefulness along with your pennies. If buying brand-new furniture busts your budget, consider furniture hacks to create a cute and comfy nursery. 

For moms-to-be on the go

For some moms, the arrival of a little one is mixed in with other things that are keeping you on your toes, such as work, school, and even other little ones. How can you prepare and save money when you barely have time to stop? Perhaps you could have a pregnancy subscription box delivered right to your door? There are boxes tailored for each trimester such as The Stork Bag and BumpBoxes, and both are filled with items you need (and didn’t know you needed) that are delivered right to your door.

The nursery is another area that takes a lot of time to get ready. Try to dedicate each weekend or free time you encounter to nursery prep. Shop online as opposed to in-store, and take advantage of store pick-up and delivery. Create some sort of timeline for when you want things done, but don’t fret if you can’t stick to it. In reality, as long as the baby has a safe space to sleep, you can forego the nursery altogether, saving both time and money.

Find alternative ways to save

There are plenty of other budget-conscious ways to save for your baby’s arrival. You can lower food costs by bringing lunch to work every day or preparing meals in advance to avoid pricey takeout food. Consider the cost of entertainment and whether you can stream your favorite TV shows and movies instead of subscribing to cable. When shopping for maternity wear, look for deals at places like Target and Old Navy. You can even buy baby clothes used! Of course, there will be some items that you don’t want to scrimp on. For example, when it comes to hospital wear, nursing bras, a breast pump or a baby sling, you want a quality item that won’t fall apart easily, especially if this is your first pregnancy and you plan to have more children. 

There are plenty of ways you can prepare for a baby’s arrival without going over your budget. Take some time to relax, be creative with your gender reveal, and when you put your nursery together, aim for items that grow with your baby.  Being frugal will allow you to not only save money, but limit stress in the long run.  You’ll be relaxed and ready to enjoy every moment when the big day arrives!

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budget

Financial Wellness: Paying Debt

By on September 24, 2020

To proceed from my financial wellness post from yesterday, I want to share a simple formula for applying your excess spending and paying debt or adding to savings.

After finding the excess in your budget and really allocating it out, the quickest way to pay off debt is to stack your outstanding debt from smallest to greatest. Take the excess spending that you have located in your budget and apply it to the smallest total owed until it is 0.

Paying Debt Faster for Financial Wellness

An example is: $270 trimmed from budget

$500 10.00 minimum

$1000 15.00 minimum

$1200 20.00 minimum

$3000 75.00 minimum

$5000 150.00 minimum

Continue to save and cut excess spending and apply the money to the second smallest bill next. And so on and so on. 

Reduce the Amount of Time in Repayment Mode

Instead of spending years chasing the minimum on debt, really step up your payments and knock your debt out much faster. In the above scenario, the repayment plan would knock out the debt in 1 year and 3 months.

As your consumer debt decreases you can continue the plan paying off car loans and mortgages.

If you are already debt free, the same idea works well to start savings for an emergency fund. Ideally saving for 1-6 months of living expenses saved for emergencies, and on and on as you build wealth and investments.

I just wanted to share some tips on financial management. Having this tool is a nice, clear-cut method of repayment without having to increase your immediate income. It is also a nice way to reallocate your budget if you have had a reduction of income.

If you have any suggestions or methods that worked for you, please post in the comments below. I am always happy to share what I know, but I also love learning.

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budget

Budget Decluttering: 3 Simple Steps

By on September 23, 2020

Hello friends! Today I am going to share with you how to declutter your budget. This is a way to look clearly at your spending and My husband and I just took a look at ours at the beginning of the pandemic and found that we could easily save $500-600 a month just in our grocery budget. I blogged about how we did it here

Life is rarely constant, so this is something that needs to be reassessed frequently.

Making a Plan

When sitting down to declutter your budget and make a plan, gather a couple of months of bank/credit card statements, receipts, some highlighters, a pen, and a notebook. 

Step 1: Look at the Past 

Go through you checkbook/bank statement and receipts for the previous month (or two) and record every single purchase that you have made.

Take an inventory of exactly how much your basic living expenses cost and write that number down. Mortgage/rent, utilities, vehicles, etc.

Step 2: Get Organized 

Categorize your purchases into food, entertainment, gas, necessities, etc.

If you do not have a plan, your default plan will be disorder – which leads to failure.

Step 3: Locate the Abundance in your Budget 

Look specifically for where you have spent money without thinking. Look at app purchases, subscriptions that you’re not using or that are unnecessary, drive-thru coffees, and other “mindless” spending. Write all of them down and calculate a total. Vow not to do that anymore and then start using the “excess” to pay down debts.

Awareness Leads to Change

In our personal budget, I found that we could declutter our grocery budget and random Amazon spending. I cut our grocery budget in half simply by having a meal plan, using what we already have (which cuts way down on waste and feels so good!)

This exercise puts into perspective what is a necessity, where there is room for compromise, and where there is not. For instance, we won’t compromise on our health and wellness but will on entertainment, junk food, or other things that do not support our ultimate goal for health, family, and wellness.

Another thing we’ve done is not spend money other than necessities for a month, just to see what it feels like. So much of our spending was “pleasure” spending. A shirt here, a toy there, etc.

We have all had instances where we cleaning out and donating just to make space for the new stuff and why do we NEED the new stuff? This is a practice in mindful spending and something that has helped me have a healthier mindset when it comes to saving or spending.

Tomorrow, I will share how to pay off debt with the excess you find in your budget. It is a simple formula that can be quite significant.

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budget | yoga

Financial Wellness: Tips to Reduce Stress

By on September 21, 2020

On this blog, I have talked about many facets of wellness. One component of wellness that I want to mention is financial wellness.

I am aware that many people are dealing with additional financial stressors right now. I know first-hand how damaging financial stress can be, so I will share any and all tips I have gathered over the years.

The Effects of Financial Stress

72% of Americans pre-pandemic reported financial stress. This is a huge percentage of people worried about paying mortgages or debt and struggling with personal financial wellness.

Stress takes a toll on health, and financial stress can be especially toxic. As a result, the stress manifests physically as migraines, heart disease, diabetes, or sleep problems. In addition, it is common to see relationship problems, delayed healthcare (to avoid an added expense), and poor mental health.

Over the next few blogs, I will share a few ways to cope with financial stress. Such as, how to trim spending, pay off debt, or even earn some extra money. 

Take a Breather & Make a Plan for Your Financial Wellness

Learning to improve your financial wellness and effectively manage your financial situation will allow you to feel more in control of your life, reduce your stress, and build a more secure future. The first step to solve any problem is to make a decision.

If anything I am writing today resonates with you, start your financial wellness improvement journey with this simple stress-reduction technique. I enjoy starting any new project with a clear mind, and this does the trick.

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit undistracted for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Close your eyes and just begin to notice how you are breathing. Feel if your breath is shallow or deep, if you feel constricted in your chest, or if you are relaxed and able to take a full, deep breath.
  3. Acknowledge your thoughts, and do not get hung up on your to-do list or your worries. Just breathe through it.

After taking your breather to clear your mind and open your heart, you are ready to make a plan of action!

In tomorrow’s blog, I will share with you how I learned to declutter my budget. This step only takes a few minutes and is quite enlightening.

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budget | family

Tips for Eating Well on a Budget

By on March 11, 2020

I can’t write a post about marriage without following up with a post about money.

Tax time is always fun. Of course, I’m saying this tongue-in-cheek. For me, each year is a humbling experience when tallying up our expenses. Taxes this year prompted me to do a major budget overhaul. Gus and I have some big goals for the next couple of years, so looking at our expenses was a must. We are also always looking for ways to simplify life, and taking a look at finances is a good way to see your habits.

What we found out is that other than our home, our food is our largest expense. We were regularly spending over $1000 a month on food for a family of 5 (and one is a toddler and the other an infant). Some of that is due to dietary restrictions and buying alternative pantry supplies. However, the majority is just from mindless spending, grocery shopping for fun, and often wasting.

I don’t know how many times we have had to throw away a pound of asparagus because it was buried in the drawer and ended up slimy before I could cook it.

We are now taking control of this situation and working on a healthier budget while maintaining a gluten/grain-free, refined sugar-free diet. Monday morning I attended a meal-prep class that was offered in my MOPs group– it was a very timely class and I was glad to see I was on track with budget and planning.

The suggestion I heard that really resonated was that our budget should be something close to $115 per person, per month. Wowza! Following that formula would drastically reduce our spending. So, here’s how I’m making that happen.

  1. Meal plan (not prep)– I plan for a week. I plan my week according to what we have already in the fridge so that we are reducing our waste. I keep a running list of what we run out of along the way.
  2. Reduce meat consumption. We are omnivores, so this will be different if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Our portion sizes shifted for us when we switched to an autoimmune friendly diet. We reduced our portions and started buying grass-fed and finished beef and pastured poultry (which is more expensive). The Standard American Diet tends to make meat the star of the show, we now make it a smaller player in a meal full of veggies. We have invested in 1/4 of a local grass-fed cow and this has been budget-friendly. I was a little concerned about the initial investment, but it has been a good one. I also stretch our meals. I make bone broths from our veggie scraps and meat bones (in the instant pot too– so nearly no effort). We roast a whole chicken for dinner about once a week, it will feed us lunch the next day and then a batch of broth. So multiple uses for one purchase.
  3. Buy in-season produce. Out of season produce is way more expensive. Just think of the cost of berries in the winter! Our bodies are designed to have varying produce, so following a seasonal plan will reduce budget and support health.
  4. Shop once a week, with a list and at one main place. This was a biggie for us. We used to chase ads, deals and products all over town (and sometimes in the bigger city). This adds up VERY quickly and sucks our time and energy. Sometimes we were shopping somewhere nearly every day. $30-50 each time we entered a store. I now shop at Aldi as our main store and stop at Publix for a few things that Aldi doesn’t carry. I have also stopped our wholesale membership to Costco. I know this works well for some families, but for us, we wasted a lot and would impulse buy. I now do an Amazon order for a few alternative products that are hard to find in our area. These are usually my alternative flours, etc. I do not do subscriptions or meal delivery services. I do not like the amount of waste it creates with packaging, and I also want to choose my own produce.
  5. I know this is stated all the time, but shop the perimeter of the store and avoid processed/packaged foods. I started this years ago, and it is just my habit now. The few packaged items I buy tend to come from our Amazon order, which reduces the cost quite a bit.

These are my most obvious tips. Soon I will share where I find recipes and how I make a rotation so that we don’t get bored or I feel like I am always in the kitchen. I am all about simplicity and time freedom. My “down-time” is limited with all of these kiddos running around and needing things, so I can’t spend all day cooking and cleaning it up!

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