10 tips to eating healthy on a small budget

eating healthy.jpg

 

One of the biggest expenses most families face is also one of the most necessary expenses in life. In a struggling economy where many families literally live paycheck to paycheck the simple act of keeping food on the table for every meal that is nutritious and inexpensive can be the hardest job a parent faces.

Here are 10 Tips To Eating Healthy On a Small Budget that will help you stretch those dollars just a little bit farther and manage to feed your family on a limited income. Even if you are not on a tight budget this can be a great way to eliminate unnecessary expenditures that will allow you to save in other areas.

10 Tips to eating healthy on a small budget

Buy Meats in Bulk: While not always the case, typically you can find the lowest price on meats per pound by buying in larger quantities. Depending on your overall budget this could mean something as large as buying a side of beef and having it butchered or something as simple as always buying the family packs of meats in the grocery store. Remember to always check the price per pound as well as look at the difference in price if bone in or bone out. Sometimes even with paying for the bone in your meats you are still getting a lower price per per pound of actual meat because of the extra you pay for the convenience of having it boned.

Grow Your Own Vegetables: You don’t have to have acres of space or even a fancy system to grow a few commonly used vegetables at home. For under $25 investment you can grow things like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, herbs and other simple vegetables in small container gardens or small beds at your home. Canning or freezing your extra vegetables when there is overstock is a great way to save not only during prime growing season but year round. You can get a inexpensive Raised Garden Kit on Amazon and it will last you years!

Barter for Homegrown vegetables: If you don’t have the time, ability nor desire to start your own garden, check with local friends who do and barter for their home grown vegetables in exchange for things like babysitting, house cleaning or lawn/yard work.

Cook Beans from Scratch: Rather than paying $.50-$1 per can of beans or lentils, buy the dry version and cook from scratch. Pinto beans, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans and lentils of all kinds are very inexpensive when purchased dry in bulk and are super easy to cook slowly in a slow cooker to be used in multiple recipes. Check out how I cook beans in my crockpot

Skip the meat: One of the easiest ways to eliminate excess cost in your food budget is to skip meat in some of your meals. Great vegetarian dishes are satisfying, full of nutrients and much less expensive than the calorie laden “meat and potatoes” variety many of us grew up eating. Use beans, hearty root vegetables, eggplant, eggs and more to provide the bulk you are used to without the calories or cost.

Ask for Coupons: Go right to your favorite organic or natural company and tell them how much you love their product. Usually they will send you coupons as a thank you for your time and effort in sending them a simple note.

Boost Flavor with herbs and Spices: Growing your own herbs is one of the easiest things you can produce in your garden. A $2 pot, a bit of soil and a few packets of seeds and you have amazing flavors to add to your dishes. Branch out of your comfort zone of salt, pepper and garlic and embrace rich flavors of curry, smoky paprika, a pinch of cayenne, cumin and tumeric for color, flavor and richness that will satisfy your taste buds without breaking the bank.

Meal Plan: I cannot begin to say enough about simply sitting down and making a basic menu plan for the week or month. The last minute expenses of stopping at the store on the way home add up to sometimes 3-4 times what your expenses would be if you only planned ahead. Here is a great meal planning guide for busy moms

Make Freezer Meals : Whether it’s because your family doesn’t like to eat the same thing two days in a row or because it is more cost effective to make in larger batches, freezer meals are an excellent way to boost savings. Utilizing sales on meats, vegetables or items about to go out of date is also a great way to make freezer meals for easy evening meals that stretch your budget.

Have Breakfast for dinner: Simple breakfasts of egg white scrambles with some spinach, salsa and whole grain toast are not only inexpensive but easy to make, tasty and healthy options that satisfy the whole family.

Eating healthy and staying within your budget isn’t impossible, it simple requires some planning and organization. These 10 Tips To Eating Healthy On A Small Budget should help you to focus on things your family can easily do that will save you money and help you maintain your healthy eating habits.

What other tips do you have?

Learn how to use coupons with WIC in California

Learning How To Use Coupons With WIC In California 2

LEARN HOW TO USE COUPONS WITH WIC IN CALIFORNIA

For many families, the ability to take advantage of the Women, Infants and Children’s supplemental food program means the difference between having enough formula or milk to drink each month.  This program better known as WIC is a great grant sponsored method of helping lower income families stretch their budget.  Learning How To Use Coupons With WIC In California will help you to make this extra food budget go that much farther for your family.  While every state varies on their requirements and regulations related to the WIC program, we are going to share some great tips for you to take advantage of if you are on WIC and living in California.

The WIC program provides grocery relief to pregnant and nursing moms, infants and children under the age of 5.  This program gives families access to milk, eggs, cheese, dry beans, peanut butter, bread, tortillas, juice and some fruits or vegetables.  While this is not a program that hands out money to individuals, it does present checks that are redeemed in store for the products listed and approved by the individual state and national guidelines.

Some tips listed in the California WIC information:

Stretch your WIC checks and food dollars:

  • Buy lower-priced milk and twin-packed milk when available
  • Use grocery store club cards
  • Use store coupons (examples below)

Snip20150109_2

 

 

Example: You will find that some local stores offer STORE coupons that Can be used in conjunction with Wic checks. The circled store coupon above will give you a FREE box of General Mills cereal when you purchase 2 General Mills Kix or Cheerios (which are WIC approved). Depending on your qualifications–you might have a WIC voucher that allows for 36 oz of Breakfast cereal. This is a perfect combo to use the free store coupon from above! The STORE actually gives you the box for free.

  • Buy store or generic brands
  • Take advantage of buy one get one free specials

WIC checks must be applied only to specific food items that fall within the guidelines listed in your California WIC program information.  This is typically a set brand, ounce limit and of course limit per purchase.  These checks must be used in separate transactions from the rest of your purchases and cannot be combined with other discounts.

You cannot use coupons directly on WIC purchases, you can however utilize savings apps and programs to redeem cash back on products purchased with your WIC vouchers.  This gives you a chance to stretch your other food dollars farther.

Once you have redeemed your WIC vouchers for items like milk, formula, cereal, bread, cheese and fruits or vegetables, save your receipt to use later.  You can scan and submit your receipt to various savings apps for potential cash back rewards given for choosing specific branded items. 

Great savings apps to consider for this:

iBotta

BerryCart

Snap by Groupon

Take advantage of the potential cash back savings to then apply to your other purchases in the future.  Since WIC checks are for specific food products and not a dollar amount, you typically cannot use coupons to make that check go farther.  The exception is in regards to the fruits and vegetables you purchase.  This check is for a specific dollar amount, so you may be able to use in store coupons or digital coupons on your store rewards cards to lower the price of the vegetables thus stretching your WIC dollars even farther.

If you are able to secure WIC for your family, ask your local office more about how to budget your WIC checks into you monthly food dollars.  Take advantage of this great program to supplement your family grocery budget and ensure your children are being fed nutritious foods every day.

What to Buy in January

What to Buy in January

What to Buy in January

The New Year is here, you might be thinking about more ways to save a buck or two. After all, you just spent a great deal of cash during the holiday season, so now you may be looking at how to scale back. Well you should know that January is a month for steals and deals, and if you are really looking to save some cash, now is the time to shop. Take a look below at 20 items to buy in January so you can be sure you are getting some bang for your shopping buck.

1. Winter coats
Now is the time to snag a warm winter coat, perhaps even in a size up so your child can enjoy it next year too.

2. Snow suits
Retailers are already thinking spring clothing so look for hot deals on snow gear such as suits and ski wear.

3. Glove and hats
You will be able to use these cold weather accessories all the way until spring. Grab a few extra pairs of gloves and hats and always be prepared…for less.

4. Snow boots
The wet winter months are not over yet, so snag a pair of boots for a bargain and look great all winter long.

5. Weights
Did you resolve to be fit this New Year? Retailers are counting on it and will be offering free weights and other weight products for less.

[Read more…]

How to get the best deals at Bath & Body Works

How To Get Great Deals At Bath & Body Works

 

Everyone loves the classic smells of Bath & Body Works products. As a woman there is nothing I like to see more in a gift bag or under the holiday tree than a box that has some of my favorite products in it. As a bargain shopper, it can be tough to spend the extra money on these products, but we have learned How To get the best  Deals At Bath & Body Works on all of our favorite scents. Not only do we routinely get free items, most of the lotions, shower gels and candles we have in our closet were over 70% off when we paid for them. Here are some great tips for you to grab these same sales!

How to get the Best Deals at Bath & Body works

Snip20141230_34

Sign Up For Their Email Club: Hands down this is the number one savings method. Not only will you receive emails telling you when items are marked down online and in store, but you’ll get great product coupons in the mail. Once every 2-3 months you receive a coupon in the mail for a % off a purchase as well as one for a totally FREE product. Typically they give away their trial sized products, but over the course of a year you can easily grab 6-7 free trial lotions, body gels or mini candles!

Stack % Off Coupons With Their Buy 3 Get 3 Sales. One of the best ways to save is when you take advantage of their Buy 3 Get 3 Sales on their Signature Collection. You will pay around $35 (depending on product choices) for 6 bottles of lotions, soap, bubble bath, body spray, etc. Add to that a coupon for anywhere from 15%-40% off that you have received from a prior purchase or in the mail and you can walk out of the store with 6 bottles of product for as low as $18!

Shop Post Holiday/Season Clearance. After the holidays and at end of season a lot of seasonal scents will go on sale for up to 90% off. This is the best time to stock up not only on your favorite rare scents, but on future items for gift giving. Holiday Sales to watch for are: Post Christmas, Post Mother’s Day, Post Valentine’s Day and end of Summer. There are many of their fragrances only found during specific times of year that will go on clearance in store and online at the end of season or holiday. If your local store doesn’t have it, always check online to see if it is in stock there.

This year you can have your favorite brand of bath and body products for a fraction of the cost. Take advantage of our tips and learn how to get great deals at Bath & Body Works. Not only is this perfect for your own personal use, but it helps you create a wonderful gift closet that all of your friends will love having you create baskets from.

How do you save at Bath & Body Works?? 

How to Start an Emergency Fund | 31 Day Budget Challenge

 How to start an emergency fund

How to start a Emergency Fund

If you are like most people and live from paycheck to paycheck, you probably wonder how you could possibly manage to learn how to make an emergency fund on your income. The irony is that because of your financial status, you probably need an emergency fund more than someone who has more money.

Why? Because if you don’t have one, an emergency could wipe you out and leave you wondering how you are going to pay your current bills. People in a higher income bracket have a bit more cushion.

Figure out how much: Decide how much you want in your emergency fund and how much you can put in each month. Then, determine how long it will take to reach your goal based on your monthly contribution.

Ask your bank for help. Banks often have programs just to help you save up some money when you don’t think you have money to save. For example, some banks offer change transfer programs. When you spend money out of your checking account, the change gets transferred to your savings account. That means if you use your debit card to pay for an $.89 candy bar, $.11 goes into your checking account. You never miss it and it makes balancing the checkbook much easier, but that change adds up fast.

Turn your hobby into a side job. You probably have some skill in an area other than the one you are employed in. Maybe you like to paint or make jewelry. Keep your regular job, but start selling your projects or services that you do on the side. The money from your side job goes straight into the emergency fund so you don’t spend it. You still have the same income from your normal job, but now you have some extra income to put into the emergency fund.

Recycle. There is some money to be made recycling and it doesn’t take a lot of effort. You can collect metal and sell it to your nearest recycling facility. Aluminum cans are probably the most well known items to be recycled, but you recycle any kind of metal. Cat food cans, vegetable cans, old nuts and bolts, and just about anything else that is metal has some monetary value. You can even look for items to pick up around your neighborhood. The money that you make from recycling can go into your emergency fund. You’ll be taking control of your finances and reducing your carbon footprint on the planet at the same time.

Participate in the 52 week Money challenge. Save small amounts each week and watch it add up! You will be surprised as to how much you can save in one year– the 52 week money challenge guarantees $1,378 if followed each week.

Have it taken out of your paychecks: If your employer allows direct deposit–they may give you an option of depositing into two bank accounts. Have a set amount taken out each paycheck which can be sent to a separate bank account. Usually, the “out of sight out of mind” technique works well.

Learning how to make an emergency fund is really learning how to manage your money more efficiently. You may need to scale back on some of your expenses like cable or cell phone bills. You may need to find ways to add to your income. Everyone should have a good-sized emergency fund, but keep in mind that if you only get to put a few dollars away at a time, it’s still more than you were putting away before.

Challenge for this week: Start small and find extra money to put away for a emergency fund. If you don’t have a lot, start with finding ways to cut your monthly expenses and put that extra savings into a account.

If you have extra money, and direct deposit with your employer– have a select amount taken out each paycheck and LEAVE it! Lets say you make $1000 a paycheck and you can afford $20 taken out each paycheck. After a few weeks, you will have adjusted to getting just $980 each paycheck and will soon forget that you are even missing that extra $20.

Check back next week for learning how to budget on a irregular income!

Just joining the 31 day Challenge? Check out the previous posts below:

post 1: 31 Day Budget Challenge | 3 Reasons being disorganized can ruin your budget

post 2: 31 Day Budget Challenge | Creating a budget that works

post 3: 31 Day Budget Challenge | 100 ways to save $100 this month

post 4: 31 Day Budget Challenge | 7 Ways to stick to a budget

post 5: 31 Day Budget Challenge | stay on budget using cash

post 6: 31 Day Budget Challenge | The #1 reason why your budget isn’t working

 

 

How to save money on groceries {Yes, it’s possible!}

Snip20140922_53

 

How to save money on groceries

There is no doubt that California is expensive. When people think about saving money in California, I think they instantly think of ways to cut back on certain expenses like  electricity and water.. maybe cut off the cable or ways to save on gasoline. For most people I think groceries is the LAST thing they think that they can save on– because, we gotta eat, right?! :)

The truth is: groceries are the first thing you can pretty much count on saving money on. Why? because the money you save is in YOUR control. No, you can’t control the prices of food but you can control when you shop, how you shop and learn to take advantage of store sales and discounts.

Why Coupon?

Couponing is a easy way to get an instant discount on items that you purchase regularly– even if it something that you have never tried or maybe want to try–coupons are a great way to get items at a discount without much needed effort.

Tip: When manufacturers release new products–you will often see high value coupons once that product is released. This is a great time to seek out coupons which may give you the item for cheap or free!

[Read more…]

The Power of 24 hours

 

Just thought I’d bring this back as a reminder (and something I struggle with!)

waiting. I admit that I absolutely hate waiting. I especially hate waiting when I feel like something is a good deal and it might not be there tomorrow. I am one of those “emotional” decision makers… and I get upset when I can’t just say yes to what it is that I want.

Have you ever purchased something(big or small) and felt buyer’s remorse? So bad, that you feel regret for buying it? Even though I strive to save money–there are times that I want to buy something–especially if I feel I’ve worked hard and earned it.

After many emotion-induced splurges.. I implemented the 24 hour rule into my families financial decisions and I’m so glad that I did! No more regret at the end of the day. No more emotion putting me into debt.

There is such power behind waiting 24 hours and sleeping on the newest “splurge”. You will let your emotion settle and then you can go over in your head the REAL reasons why you need this… you may just find you have convinced yourself that you DON’T need it or can go without for a bit longer.

So next time you have that moment where you feel you absolutely need something, give yourself 24 hours. You might even save yourself some money! ;)

Are you guilty of emotional spending?