The Ultimate Guide To A Better Grocery Budget: Week 1


Anyone else ready to tackle their grocery budget this month? 


You’re not alone!


After Christmas I always feel like it’s a great time to reign our grocery budget in, so today is the perfect day to start.


Each Tuesday for the rest of the month (going right up until February 1st), I’ll be sharing the Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget, including tips to help busy families transform their grocery budget (even if you don’t have tons of time to clip coupons.) I’ll also include pics of what we actually buy, so you hold me accountable too. 🙂

My biggest tip?

Start with a great menu plan.

(THIS is the one I’ve been use and I. love. it. Highly recommend if you’re looking for one! AND, starting next Monday we’ll be doing the Countertop Cooking Challenge with this program. Use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout to get the lowest price!)


Let’s get started . . .



1. First things first ~ determine your grocery budget.

Before you start really tackling your grocery budget, look at what you’ve spent over the last few months on groceries and decide how much you’d like to cut your grocery budget.  Expect to save about 20% on your grocery bill over the next month as you’re building your pantry with basic staples, and you should see significantly larger savings in the next six months.




2. Decide how much you want to spend each week on “stockpile” items.

Remember that just about every item in the grocery store will go on sale within six to twelve weeks, so purchase enough non-perishable items when they’re on sale so that you won’t have to purchase those items again at full price. When I see a great price on something I’ll purchase as much as my grocery budget can afford, so I’m not paying full price when it’s not on sale. 




3. Know your prices.

Goodness, this is probably my biggest frustration ever when talking to folks who spend too much on groceries!  So many people naively go blindly into the grocery store with a list in hand (or maybe worse, with no list at all), without even considering what’s on sale. This is the easiest way to spend way too much at the grocery store, and you can easily save big if you just put a little forethought into shopping!


Can I just tell you the easiest thing you can do EVER to reduce your grocery budget is to know what really is a good price? By determining a stock up price (at the very least just for produce, dairy and meat products?) and only buying items at their stock up price, I’m betting you can cut your grocery bill by at least 1/3 each week.


And above all else . . . 


shop with a grocery list and menu plan. 

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When I’m completely on track, I use Tiffany from Eat at Home Cook’s Menu Plan and love. it. Before shopping I go through her list, shop my stockpile, and mark off what I can by shopping my pantry before heading to the store. It’s quick, easy, and I get my grocery shopping done in record time.

Head on over HERE and check out Tiffany’s Menu Plans ~ through next week they cost as little as 1.13 per week when you use the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I really do just love mine. If you’ve tried them out in the past I’d love to know if they’ve worked for you!

eat at home

Here’s what our grocery shopping looked like this week . . . 


(My big splurge this week was on those pre-sliced apples for $4.98. I know it’s WAY too much to pay, but my kids gobble them down like candy and I love that they have an easy healthy snack ready whenever they need it!) 

I followed Tiffany’s Menu Plan exactly, shopped my pantry before heading out, shopped at Walmart (gasp!) and spent $45.99 for all the groceries I’ll need to make 5 meals + 1 dessert.


(Note, I’m using the Whole Foods option this week ~ made the Chicken Florentine Quesadillas last night and they were fantastic, and her slow cooker beef tacos are cooking up in Mrs. Potts right now. Success!)




So, start with your grocery budget, know your prices, and make a menu plan and grocery list ~ I know you can do this. 

And starting next Monday (2/6/17), we’re starting a Countertop Cooking Challenge and I would just love for you to join me.

My friend Tiffany from Eat at Home Cooks is offering us her VERY best prices for a few days only to the very first people to sign up using the code EARLYBIRD at checkout, and I want you to be included! 


  • Weekly menu plans for the entire month
  • A set of slow cooker menu plans
  • A set of whole foods menu plans (those are the ones we’re using right now)
  • A set of traditional menu plans
  • One quick click to download all 3 sets of menus (in color or black and white ink)
  • This month, because there are 5 weeks in the month, you’ll actually get access to FIVE WEEKS of menu plans for as low as $1.13 per week!


Decide today to really transform what you’re spending, and I promise you’ll see success. Leave a comment if you’re joining us, and (if you feel comfortable) let me know what you’re spending so we can all decide to stick together and transform our finances in 2017.


Happy penny pinching! 


Looking for more ways to change your grocery budget?

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3 Ways Couponing Can Raise Your Expenses


3 Ways Couponing Can Raise Your Expenses

Why do you use coupons?


To save money, right?


Did you know that coupons can (sometimes!) cost you more than they can save you?


When you’re couponing it can be easy to get caught up in the game, but if you’re not careful, you can spend more than you intend to and not even realize it. It’s not that coupons aren’t a great way to save money because they are. It’s more that they can become a huge waste and often, that huge waste goes unnoticed in the day to day humdrum of life.


Not sure how?


Let’s take a look at 3 ways couponing may raise your expenses.



1.When You’re Buying Items You Don’t Actually Need

It is incredibly easy to allow yourself to buy something simply because you have a coupon and it’s on sale. Unfortunately, this is a great way to waste money as well.


If you’re buying things only because you have a coupon and not because you have a true need for it, you need to ask yourself if it is a product that your family will actually use or if it will simply end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. When those items do more than collect dust or expire, you’ve wasted the money you spent on it. It doesn’t matter if you only spent $0.25 on it, eventually that $0.25 adds up to a significant amount of money added onto your grocery budget.

Instead, make sure that every item on your shopping list is an item that you truly need. By doing so you won’t be wasting valuable money from your grocery budget.


(However, if that 25¢ item can be donated to someone who CAN use it, by all means, go for it!)



2. When You’re Buying More Items Than You Can Reasonably Use

Buying your groceries in bulk can be a fantastic way to save money on groceries, but buying in bulk can also cause you to spend more. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a huge container of ketchup or 25 smaller bottles of mustard, when you’re buying more than the average bottle size or number of an item, it’s bulk.

If when you buy in bulk, you purchase more than you can reasonably use before the item spoils, you’re wasting money. This money can show in your grocery budget, your gasoline costs (since you’re transporting more products), and possibly even in your household expenses.

When you buy more than you need of an item, you have to have a place to store them. This might mean that you’re being forced to live in a bigger home, have to buy a storage shed or even both. Those expenses can be quite hefty and will make their way through your family budget as a whole.

To prevent that from happening, be sure that you’re only purchasing the things you need in reasonable amounts that can be used by your family before they expire. Keeping the number of items to a reasonable amount will help prevent storage issues that could be extremely costly.




3. When You’re Printing Coupons That You Don’t Actually Use

Ask just about any couponer and they’ll tell you that they print coupons but when you’re printing coupons for items you won’t use or are not using those coupons before they expire, you’re wasting money and causing your expenses to go up. Not only will you cause your ink expenses to rise, but you’ll wear your printer out quicker and you’ll use more electric than you should be.

On top of that, if you’re printing coupons close to their expiration date, you’ll very likely use more gasoline on that last minute (and often unplanned) trip to the grocery store to use them before they reach their expiration date.

Instead, make sure that you’re only printing coupons that you absolutely know you will be able to use before they expire.



Couponing at its core is a great way to save, but when you use those coupons, make sure that you’re keeping a keen eye on things. If you don’t, you risk spending more than you intend to without even realizing it.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one ~ leave a comment to share! 



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How to Save on Grocery Bills by Shopping *THESE* 7 Weeks a Year

how to save on grocery bills with strategic shopping


I was thinking about all the great deals going on this week at Publix, Kroger, Walmart and Target, and it dawned on me that there are really 7 weeks each year that you need to grocery shop . . . and one of them is right upon us! As we’re gearing up for grilling out, the corporate folks at our favorite grocery stores have everything strategically planned around what they know we’ll buy.

Which means all we have to do is outsmart them. 🙂 

Here’s how to save on grocery bills by strategically shopping these 7 BIG weeks of each year.

There are seven big shopping cycles each year that are absolutely the best weeks to shop, because stores know we’re ready to shell out some cash. These are the weeks that stores will have seasonal items on sale for their lowest prices of the year, so you can easily stock up.


Curious which weeks they are? Here we go!


(ranked in order leading up to the very *best* times to grocery shop)

How to Save on Grocery Bills – Shop THESE 7 Weeks:

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7. Super Bowl

Come February when we’re all ready to make every appetizer on the planet, retailers are stocking their shelves with great prices on everything you’ll need to whip up a bit batch of chili. Stock up during Super Bowl on these items:

  • paper products
  • canned tomatoes
  • beans
  • tortilla chips
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream
  • soda
  • canned goods
  • chips and dips

6. Labor Day
  • chips
  • soda
  • ground beef, ribs, boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • corn
  • apples
  • cereal
  • snack size mixes (for back to school)
  • uncrustables
  • everything back to school

5. Memorial Day
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • chips and dips
  • condiments
  • marinades
  • hamburger and hotdog buns
  • chips and salsa

4. 4th of July
  • blueberries
  • peaches
  • watermelon
  • cherries
  • marinades
  • chips and dips
  • angel food cake
  • baked beans
  • condiments
  • beef
  • firewords
  • soda
  • paper products
  • bug spray, sunscreen

3. Easter
  • canned veggies
  • cream soups
  • ham
  • baking supplies – flour, sugar, brown sugar
  • Nestle tollhouse
  • butter
  • eggs
  • vinegar
  • Sister Schuber rolls
  • candy


2. Christmas
  • oranges
  • baking supplies
  • Nestle morsels
  • ham, turkey
  • stuffing mix
  • Sister Schubert rolls
  • cranberry sauce
  • hot chocolate
  • butter
  • eggs
  • boxed potatoes, gravy
  • cream soups
  • canned pumpkin

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1. Thanksgiving
  • pumpkin
  • apples
  • baking supplies
  • Nestle morsels
  • ham, turkey
  • stuffing mix
  • Sister Schubert rolls
  • cranberry sauce
  • hot chocolate
  • butter
  • eggs
  • boxed potatoes, gravy
  • cream soups
  • canned pumpkin

how to save on grocery bills during THESE 7 weeks

Have you found other seasonal cycles that are worth shopping? I’d love to hear which are your favorite weeks to shop! Leave a comment to share.

And if you have other tips and tricks for how to save on grocery bills – I always love to hear them!



Looking for more savings tips and tricks? Here you go: 




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5 Steps To Budgeting {On An Irregular Income}

budgetirregularincomeDo you have an irregular income? If your paycheck varies each month, monthly budgeting can be hard, but there are a few things you can do to make it work for you.

Irregular incomes can be extremely hard to budget for obvious reasons. You can never count on a set amount of income from month to month. It can leave you open to not having enough income to cover your expenses, having to draw from your savings and other financial stresses. Learning how to budget your irregular income can help prevent those and other financial crisis moments from happening. 

5 Steps To Budgeting {On An Irregular Income}


Here’s what you can do though to make budgeting on an irregular income work for you: 

1.  Determine your average income.

To do this, take the past 3 or 6 month’s income and add each month up. Take the number you are left with and divide by the number of months that you added (3 or 6). This will give you the average income that you make each month. You will use this average when figuring your budget.


2. Create your budget.

Just like you would normally do, create a budget based on the average income you found in step #1, create budget categories and assign income to your expenses. Ideally, you should have fewer expenses than you do income. Once your expenses are covered, be sure to place any income that you have left over into your savings account. Doing so will allow you to build a buffer of savings for yourself so that your budget can handle a month when your income might fall below your average (which absolutely will happen from time to time.)


3. Skim your expenses.

When budgeting an irregular income, you really want to skim your expenses down as far as you can. To do this, consider your “must-cover” expenses first. When you put your budget together make sure that you budget enough to account for these expenses before anything else:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Gasoline and car related fees
  • Must have medical costs




4. Budget for non-necessities.

Once your main expenses are covered, you’re free to account for any budget items that aren’t necessary such as entertainment, extra-curricular activities for your kids and so on. When your income is irregular though, it’s incredibly important to make sure your basics are covered, and as much as you can put money into savings to bulk up that savings account when you’re first starting out. Be sure to focus on covering those primary expenses first, then take care of a few non-necessities, and finally add any excess income into savings to cover months where your income is less.

savenomoney35. Bulk up your savings.

After a few months of budgeting especially focusing on those main expenses, work towards building up your savings so that you can cover up to a full month or more of your budget using your savings account. Once that happens, you can officially live off of last month’s income, which will allow you to constantly stay one step ahead of yourself and your expenses. Living off of your previous month’s income can take the financial stresses of having an irregular income away and give you a sense of peace about your financial future.  If you’re new to budgeting and totally lost at where to start, I highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover ~ you’ll learn more tips and strategies to help you live on a budget, no matter your income.

How Real Budgeting Works In Our House

Looking for more budget solutions?

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9 Secrets to Saving on Medical Expenses


If you’ve been looking for ways to save on medical expenses, you’re not alone!   The cost of office visits, prescriptions, and follow-up care can be overwhelming and disheartening – but there are several things you can do to lower your costs.   Check out these 9 tips and tricks to save money on your medical bills!

Ways to Save on Medical Expenses


1. Be Honest With Your Doctor

It’s normal to fear your upcoming medical costs before you ever leave the examination room.  Rather than wondering and worrying if there’s anything that can be done – have an honest chat with your doctor before you go.  Ask if all the tests/procedures are necessary (especially if you have a high out of pocket deductible) and if there are any generics for the prescriptions he’s writing.   Sometimes there might even be an over-the-counter medicine that’s equally effective.

Simply knowing you’re in a bind might prompt your doctor to offer you options, or a helpful tip.

… and be sure to ask for SAMPLES!

Doctors offices normally have a supply of various drug samples that are up for grabs – if you know to ask.  By requesting a sample of the drug you need, you may save yourself a few weeks off the purchase of the prescription.

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2. Get Some Prescriptions FREE

Before you run out to fill that new prescription, check around to see if you can get it for free. Some pharmacies (like Publix) have a list of prescriptions they offer at absolutely no cost – while Walmart & Target have a similar list of $4 prescriptions.

Here are some examples of what prescriptions are routinely offered for free or at a value price:

  • Blood Pressure Medication
  • Common Antibiotics
  • Diabetes Medication




3. Make Sure to Get the Best Prescription Price

Unfortunately – only a handful of prescriptions are part of the free or cheap group above.  When you’re faced with a pricier prescription, arm yourself with the tools to find the absolute lowest price in town.  It could mean BIG savings for you over time!

One useful site is GoodRX (they also have a mobile app).  GoodRX  lists the costs of your prescription at pharmacies in your area.  The nice part is, you don’t need to drive all over town to get the best price – just show the cashier at your pharmacy and they’ll match the lowest price around!

*Read more details here

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4.  Check for Manufacturer Coupons

Anytime you have a new prescription, it’s a good idea to search the internet for coupons.  Manufacturers will sometimes have printable coupons, rebates or copay discount cards available!

5. Call the Company and Ask for Help

It never, ever, ever, EVER hurts to try – right?

There may come a time when the prescription that you need is just completely unaffordable.  That’s an awfully scary place to find yourself – and people do every day.
Often, a simple call to the company that makes the drug in question, can be the first step to HUGE savings.  While there’s no guarantee, if you call the company to explain the situation, and ask if they offer a drug assistance card – you could receive phenomenal discounts out of sheer goodwill.  I know of a woman who’s worried phone call to a drug company brought her $2000 prescription down to only $10 a month ~ it never ever hurts to ask!

6. Pay the Bill Up Front for a Discount

You can often get a discount if you offer to pay off the full bill up front for a medical expense.  While that’s not always possible – getting the bill paid in full can leave a lot of extra money in your pocket over time.  Of course that requires budgeting for medical costs…

Just getting started budgeting?  Check out How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House and print out my Free Printable Budget Spreadsheet.


7. Review Your Bill for Mistakes

You guys . . .  this tip might seem a little silly, but wait until you hear the stats.  While researching how to save on medical expenses, my mind was completely blown when I read in an article that 9 out of 10 hospital bills contain overcharges (9 out of 10!!)  If that’s the case – we should all be reading through our medical bills to make sure there are no add-ons or discrepancies.


8. Take Advantage of Employee Health Savings Plans

Does your job offer a health savings account like an Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?  If so, learn all you can about it!  These are great ways to help you save if you have a high-deductible plan.

An FSA is basically money you set aside for the year’s out of pocket medical costs and whatever you put aside will not be counted as taxable income.  The only thing to remember here is that whatever you don’t use by the end of the year – you LOSE (watch the cut off date for when you lose that money – typically March of the following year).  Here are some things you can spend your remaining FSA cash on so you won’t lose it:

  • Sunscreen (be careful not to overstock – this does expire after awhile!)
  • Breast Pumps
  • Contact Lenses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Over the counter medicines (time to toss out anything that’s expired!)
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Chiropractor visits
  • Diabetes testing kits
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Canes, Walkers, etc

Whatever you spend it on – don’t let it go to waste!



9. Staying Healthy

We’ve all heard the saying prevention is the best medicine… and in many cases it’s SO true!  Staying in shape, eating healthful foods, and avoiding health risks are all ultimately saving you big money on future medical expenses.

If you need some motivation for living frugally while managing to eat well and get in shape – you might also enjoy these tips for how to save on organic food!

What other tips do you have for saving on medical expenses? I’d love to hear your thoughts ~ leave a comment to share!

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How Much To Budget For Car Repairs?


A few years ago, my husband was out of town and I’d taken my youngest to run some errands while my other kiddos were at extracurricular activities.


We stopped at several different places, and sure enough at our very last stop my car completely stalled.


Now, I know nothing about cars, and of course (really?) I left my phone at home while hurrying out the door.




So I was completely stuck, and ever so thankful for the sweet man who helped jump start my car. When I got home, I called my husband and he suggested I take it to get a new battery ~ thankfully they fixed everything right up and the car was just fine.


So why on earth am I telling you all this? 😉


While it really wasn’t a big deal at all, for a few minutes I was stranded, with no phone, no one really to call to come save me, and I was pretty worried.


However, I wasn’t worried at all about the cost of the repairs, because I knew we had saved for exactly this situation.  




We had enough set aside in our car expense budget, and even though the situation was stressful, I could at least check that one off my worry list.


Wanna talk real numbers?  


Each month, my husband has a spreadsheet including all of our expenses (all based on the Dave Ramsey plan), so we budget $75 monthly for oil changes and car repairs per car.


We’ve been fortunate and haven’t needed much work on our minivan, so whatever additional money is put in that account now goes towards a new car fund when we need one. (Our car now has 189,000 miles on it, and it won’t be too long before we’re needing it!)


It’s worth keeping a minimum $700-$1000 in that account because I know just how quickly those car repair bills can add up, but you may decide on a different number, especially if you already have an emergency fund.


I really can’t tell you how much peace comes from having money set aside for specific items in our budget. Right now the big ticket items we save for monthly include home repairs, gifts, yard projects, a vacation fund (our favorite!), clothing and even our kids activities. If you don’t have a written budget, schedule a few minutes this week to get started.  (It will give you so much freedom!) And while I know it’s not always fun to put away some of your hard-earned money for not-so-fun expenses that pop up, I promise it’s so worth it.



Do you save towards car repairs or other specific items that you know can bust your budget? I’d love to hear how you determine what to save . . . leave a comment to share!


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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How Real Budgeting Looks In Our House


How Real Budgeting Works In Our House


Download your free copy of a Monthly Budget Spreadsheet HERE to get started.


I get tons of questions for more information on exactly how we handle budgeting around here, so here’s a quick overview of our monthly budget planning.


We by no means have it all figured out, but this is what’s worked for us for almost twenty years . . . maybe it will help you too!


We started years ago using the Financial Peace envelope system, however, at least for our family, keeping up with cash for every single item was just difficult to manage. So, here’s how we’ve tweaked it to work for us:

  • Every two weeks (on Friday), we withdraw cash for groceries, dining out, and entertainment
  • Once a month, we have an automatic withdrawal taken out of our checking account and deposited into savings for other specific items (keep reading)
  • When we need one of those specific items, we transfer money back into checking from savings to cover those expenses.


So, what kind of things do we budget for beyond food? Here’s an idea . . .
  • Kids sports and extracurricular activities
  • Vacations
  • Christmas gifts (we start saving every January)
  • Birthday gifts
  • Car expenses
  • Car replacement
  • Life insurance
  • Home Owners Association dues
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Furniture Replacement (I don’t think my husband puts much in this one, but I forced him to add it in the spreadsheet) 😉
  • Clothing
  • Dry Cleaning
  • Hair Care
  • School Supplies
  • College Fund
  • “Blow” money
Then, within our monthly budget we have a separate tab (we use a simple Excel spreadsheet) that includes our savings account totals. I just looked at it this morning and the one that we currently are using has been around since 2007 ~ it was interesting that we now have well over ten times what we started with in that little savings account, and I can’t tell you just how much freedom comes with that!




If you’re new to budgeting, here are several free budget spreadsheets you can use to get you started :


I’d love to know how your family handles monthly budget expenses, and what other suggestions you have. Leave a comment to share ~ I love hearing from you!



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Debt Free Letter From A Reader

I received this email from a reader yesterday, and it was so inspiring to me! If you’re overwhelmed with your finances, know that YOU HAVE CONTROL TOO. Thank you so much Cathy for allowing me to share and your kind words!

Hi Laurie,  My name is Cathy and I have to thank you so much for your blog.   


My story goes something like this, I was very poor as a child so when I got married I decided that I would not do without to that degree.  So hubby and I proceeded to get ourselves in debt.


If we wanted a new couch and could afford the monthly payments we got it.  We barreled along like that for a few years until we were pretty deep in debt.


Enter the first loan consolidation. 


We continued on this path until 2007 or so. 


I looked at my life and did not like what I saw.  I started researching money saving ideas, frugal hacks, and how to save.


Enter coupons. 


I continued this way on my own for a year or so and then hubby jumped on board.  By this time I had a vision and realized that we could be debt free.  After, five years we were.


We had paid off a little over $55,000.00 for our home, two credit cards and my student loan.  Boy did it feel good.  The only thing is we lost a little bit of our control afterwards and started spending.


We did not get in debt but we spent our whole salaries.  Then last April I lost my job,  but thankfully we had learned how to live frugally.


Now I feel that God is teaching me how to live content in what I have.   It has been a challenge and so far I have had no luck finding a job.


But we can afford to wait. 


It has been blogs like yours, the first one I read every day, which have encouraged me to keep going.  So please keep up the good work.


Guys – Cathy’s story is so inspiring to me ~ as I completely know that she’s been able to change her finances dramatically, which allowed herpeace during a difficult time. 


If you’re in a place where you feel like your finances have overwhelmed you, I encourage you to stop, take a deep breath, and really determine how you want your finances to look.
Determine today to take control, and set things up so that you win.


I have faith in you. Just like Cathy, you can do this. 


Be encouraged right now, right where you are. Today’s the day to transform your financial future ~ you can do this!


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:


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My Teensy Tiny Couponing Pet Peeve




Maybe like a few of you out there, I have a teensy-tiny couponing pet-peeve.


Over (and over, and over. . .) I hear people complain that they just don’t have time to coupon.  They work, have busy families, spend time driving kiddos to every activity in town, so couponing just can’t happen.


I get that.  Really, I do.


However, I spend one to two hours each week (clipping, sorting, and shopping) to save an average of $60 – $80 each week. Now I don’t know about you, but for me making $30 to $40 per hour for something I have to do anyways is a pretty decent hourly rate!


(See an idea of what my grocery trips look like HERE – you can also read more about our family’s 2015 grocery budget HERE.)


Now, I don’t work outside of our home, but I do spend more hours than I care to admit sharing deals with you guys. 🙂  I also have three busy kids, a home to (somewhat!) keep up with, meals to prepare, and a hubby to take care of. (Okay, truth is he doesn’t require much care and he’s an amazing help to me!)


Before I started PPP, I spent hours hunting down every deal in town, easily saved 70-90% on every grocery trip and shopped at least 3-4 days a week.  But the reality is, I can’t do that these days, and something has to give.  So, here are a few tips that I use to pinch a penny when I’m also in a pinch for time (which is just about all the time!)



  1. Determine the very best store to use coupons at in your area.  Believe it or not, you don’t need to hit every drug store, grocery store & supermarket in town to coupon well.  I typically shop each week at Kroger, and supplement my trips with a quick Fresh Thyme, Aldi’s, Sam’s Club run for milk & fresh produce, but that’s it.  (I really do love a good CVS or Walgreens trip, but only do those when the deals are fantabulous!) 🙂
  2. Learn exactly where things are in that store, and organize your coupons before you shop.  If you send me to a grocery store other than my normal Kroger (even another Kroger in town!), my stress level goes way up. Seriously.  I also tend to save less, because I’m not sure where things are at, and am tempted to look at things I don’t need!  By knowing your store well, you’ll find deals you need, skip over the ones you don’t need, and get through the store pretty quickly (a huge time saver!)  And, most items go on sale at a decent price on a 6-8 week rotation at all grocery stores, so if it’s on sale this week at Kroger and you’re a Publix or Meijer shopper, odds are that deal will come to those stores next week!
  3. Use good coupon matchup websites!  As you probably know, there are zillions of coupon blogs and websites out there for you to choose from.  Trying to coupon on your own without help is just crazy when so many folks do hours of work for you!  Choose your store (click on “Store Deals” at the top of PPP), find the deals on your favorite coupon site (I hope it’s Passionate Penny Pincher!), and make sure to read through all the deals at your favorite store before you shop.
  4. Print your coupons.  My coupon binder is a mess right now.  There are coupons everywhere, I have at least 15 inserts that need to be clipped, and I’m not sure there will be any time to fix it real soon.  But I also have a home that needs some Christmas decorating, a few children that need dinner, and a to-do list that’s a mile long.  So to make my life easier, I take advantage of our 10 Minute or Less Printable coupon list (we have them for Target, Kroger and Publix), and head to the store. It’s an easy way to manage my love of saving even with limited time, and really works for me (which is why Shannon works so hard to put them together for all of us to use!) Also, be sure to take advantage of e-coupons as those are just an easy way to save.
  5. Recognize your limitations.  For the longest time when I started using coupons, I was incredibly competitive and wanted to coupon better than anyone else. (I don’t even know who I was comparing myself to!)  Over the last few  years I’ve realized that my time is valuable too, so if I save $50 in an hour (or almost $47, like I did tonight), that’s enough for me.  If I spend an extra hour or two running all over town to save an extra $2-$3, my “per hour” rate goes way down, which just isn’t worth it to me at this point!  So, determine how much time you want to spend, save as much as you can during that time, and LET. IT. GO. (Really!)
  6. Decide to do it.  I know that there are some of you out there who truly don’t have an hour to spend stressing over coupons each week, and if that’s you, I really do understand.  But, if you do have an hour or two each week to shop, go ahead, decide to save, and do the best you can with the time you’ve been given.  (You’ve got to go to the grocery store anyways, so why not do it with a plan in place?) If all else fails, determine to really shop the sales ad. (That alone is a huge savings!)
  7. Don’t get overwhelmed because other folks on TV do it better than you.  Do the best you can do.  Save what you can save, and don’t worry about what anyone else does.  A penny saved truly is a penny earned, whether it be $20 worth of pennies or $200 worth of pennies!  (And, much of what you see on TV isn’t “reality TV” in any way:  so do not compare yourself to that.)
Are they ever going to put me on TLC’s Extreme Couponing (or heaven forbid, Extreme Cheapskates? Yikes!)  
Nope.  Do I care?  Absolutely not!  I saved 69% on my grocery bill, got items that we really do need, and did it all in an hour.  I’m pretty happy with that!  And yes, it’s definitely fun to have one crazy amazing grocery coupon trip.  But, my bill was $21.49 tonight, I saved $46.93, and it took me an hour.  Woohoot!


So, now that my rant is over (aren’t you glad that’s through?), I’d love to hear how YOU did saving at the grocery store this week.  I promise, after years of penny pinching it is so worth it!


New to couponing? Start out by checking out all our store coupon matchups over HERE, and also take a minute to visit my beginners series over HERE.


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Headlights, Cleaned Up Cars & Toothpaste

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Here are the supplies I used

Folks, I spent a solid 83 minutes yesterday scrubbing my poor minivan out.



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It must have been Midlife Crisis Monday at the carwash, because every man over the age of 50 was there buffing their fancy sports car out while I scrubbed, vacuumed, and scoured mine.

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It was bad. 


As I was slaving away at least twelve cars came in and out around me (clearly they didn’t have french fries from 2012 stuffed neatly between their seats), and I thought about just how much moo-lah is out there in cars. 


My minivan looked pretty pitiful next to all those fancy cars, but it’s paid for, gets us from point A to point B without any problem, and can haul just about anything we need.


The thing I love most about my minivan? Because it already has some wear and tear on it, I don’t stress completely over spilt drinks (although they do frustrate me!), and my kids climbing in the car with muddy shoes isn’t the end of the world. (I spend enough time stressing over my house staying clean ~ having a fancy new car would mean I’d have to worry over it staying perfectly tidy too!)



Choosing to give it a deep cleaning made such a difference as I drove kids all over town, and it cost me just $5 for the bargain car wash. (I’m all about paying for the drive thru carwash, as long as it includes a free vacuum!)

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Today I decided to try out the toothpaste trick on my pitiful headlights, and while they’re not perfect, five minutes of work definitely helped. All I did was grab a tube of toothpaste, rub it into the headlight with a rag, then rinse it off with water.

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(Well, it was a success until the dog decided to race across the street to the people who are laying a sidewalk – my puppy’s food prints are now all over that sidewalk, but at least the headlights are clean!)

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.31.54 PMLeft side wasn’t cleaned yet in this picture – right side was just finished. 


Have you tried anything else to shine up dulled headlights? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried, and goodness, if you just want to make your life a little more peaceful this week block out an hour and get your car clean.


No matter what you have, whether it be ugly vinyl flooring, cabinets from 1968, or horrendous carpet that needed to head to the dumpster 18 years ago, giving the space you’re in a really deep cleaning will make it feel just a little brighter. 




I’d love to hear what you’re projects you’re tackling today!





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No Spend Challenge: Days 13, 14, 15, & 16


We survived another weekend in our No Spend Grocery Challenge, and while it isn’t as hard as I’d expected, I’m amazed at how quickly money can get spent even when we’re working to really stick to a tight budget!  With a family of five there are just a lot of expenses (eating out is huge), but we’re sticking with our decision for the month and didn’t do too badly this weekend.


Friday night Jackson and Caroline were out for the night so we just had Reagan with us. We spent Friday afternoon working to finish up our taxes (bleck – not a great way to spend a Friday afternoon), and by the time we finished we were famished. We’d promised Reagan we’d go see Cinderella though (it was so good!),  but the next showing was too soon for us to sneak in dinner. We ended up spending a small fortune on popcorn and drinks,  and by the time it was done it was too late to even get dinner! Between the tickets and popcorn we spent $45 (Y.I.K.E.S.) but it was worth every penny. We all loved the movie (I highly recommend this one!), and my sweet seven-year-old even shed a tear or two. 😉

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don’t judge – some days  you just need a butter burger 🙂

Saturday we headed to Culvers with coupons in hand and spent $12 for lunch for the three of us, and after church yesterday all five of us had pizza for $17. Honestly, drinking water while eating out saves a ton, but goodness if I’m being truthful with you it’s hard to do! We don’t go out all that often, and my kids only drink water and milk when we’re at home, so they’re really missing those sodas.


We did the math with them though yesterday, and the same $12 that we could easily shell out for drinks for the five of us would purchase 3 salads, 3 orders of breadsticks or 3 orders of wings. Right now we’re adding that money to donate, but it’s a good lesson in how much those drinks can do to bust your budget!


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I made a trip to Kroger to get some groceries (we were out of milk), and by the time I re-stocked on some produce and dairy products (as well as half gallons of milk – they’re $1 per half gallon this week in our area!), I’d spent $41. As long as I stick to my budget throughout the week we’ll still be on track (our goal was no more than $50 per week), but it definitely reminded me that every time I step into the store I’m likely to spend a little more than I’d planned. (Which is why skipping shopping completely is often my favorite way to save!)


So, our total including today that we’ve spent is $70 during the last four days. (I’m not counting our Cinderella splurge – because it was really entertainment and not eating? ahem.) We’re finishing up our challenge at the end of the week as we near Spring Break, but it’s definitely been so worth keeping track of where we’re at to know where our money really goes each month.  I so fought the idea of taking on this challenge, but am loving staying on track in what we spend on food, so we can enjoy splurging on the things we really love! Here’s where we’re at for the month so far:

  • Day 1, 2 & 3 = $5.17
  • Day 4 & 5 = $15
  • Day 6, 7, 8, and 9 = $67.89 (this included several meals out while I was out of town – we knew we would go over for those few days)
  • Days 10, 11 & 12 = $48.34 (including $30.34 in groceries)
  • Days 13, 14, 15 & 16 = $70
  • Total = $206.40 for all groceries and several meals out


I’d love to hear if you’re joining us this month how it’s gone for you, as well as any other tips you have to stay on track. Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

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How To Organize Coupons?

Easily Organize Coupons




As I’ve shared with you all before, I’ve tried every method of organizing coupons on the planet, so I thought you’d like a peek at what I’m using now! I definitely think this is the easiest way ever to keep up with coupons ~ would love to hear your thoughts.

If you can’t see the video, go HERE.

Here are a few notes from the video:



Looking for more ideas on organizing coupons? 

See how I’ve created a coupon binder (this is a lot of work but definitely works for some folks ~ I’m not using it any longer but it might work for you!)

And see how another way to (really easily) organize coupons.



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Easiest Way To Penny Pinch? Don’t Buy It.


A few weeks ago I was out shopping and kept noticing all these great deals. There was a stock up price on chicken, a great deal on cereal, BUY ONE GET ONE FREE shoulder roasts (my favorite cut of meat for the crockpot), and a few other bargains just begging me to stock up.


I stuck them all in my cart, then mentally started adding up my grocery total. As we’ve been working harder since the new year to stick to our grocery budget I knew those “deals” were going to put us over our budget, but it kind of hurt to think about not stocking up when they were all such good prices.


Then I remembered that thing I’ve learned after years and years of penny pinching. (Are you ready for this?)


There’s almost always another deal. 




That stock up price on chicken? It’ll come back again. (Unless it’s under 99¢ per pound ~ then I would have bought the whole store out.) 😉


Another cereal deal? Yup, those are a dime a dozen and within a few weeks time there’s bound to be another bargain.


And those roasts? Well (~ahem~) honestly I did buy the roasts. BOGO shoulder roasts are just too hard for this penny pincher to put away, especially in the midst of the-it-really-is-winter-and-we-use-our-crockpot-way-too-much-because-it’s-cold-outside-season. 😉


But guess what? I saved a whopping $45 on that grocery trip by simply not choosing to grab all those great deals. As luck would have it I came home and noticed at least 5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast in my freezer, plenty of cereal, and enough groceries already in my kitchen even without those extra deals.


There are so. many. great. deals. that we post here on PPP and that you can find at the store, but ultimately if they’re beyond your grocery budget they probably aren’t worth it. I’ve said it before (over and over and over?) and I’ll say it one more time . . . there is no other area in your family’s finances that you can control as your grocery budget, so this is one area I can choose to maintain control in.


Are there any items that you find on sale that you simply can’t pass up? For me deals on fresh meat and produce are the hardest to walk away from (I don’t ever really skip a great price on fresh produce), but choosing to save on other items by leaving at them at the store was well worth it for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Tin. Isolation on the white.

Download my free stock up price list if you haven’t already!

New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:


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Grocery Budget Check Up 2015 Week #1


It’s that time of year (I know y’all are so excited!) Time to start talking grocery budgets. I’ve said it so many times before (some of you are tired of hearing I bet!), but there is NO OTHER AREA IN YOUR FAMILY’S FINANCES THAT YOU CAN SO EASILY TAKE CONTROL OF AS YOUR FAMILY’S GROCERY BUDGET.


Woohooo! 😉 (I know, I know . . . but it really is kinda fun when you’re able to whittle that grocery budget down ~ promise!)


I’ve had an overwhelming number of requests this last week from people asking how much their grocery budget should be, how to use coupons effectively, and how to really change their grocery budget in 2015. Here are a few (easy!) tips that will hopefully get you started:

  1. Consider what your grocery budget currently is. If you’re new to couponing, plan to decrease your budget by 10-20% over the next three to four weeks, and then determine to slash it by up to 50% in the next 3-4 months.  (Read this post for more tips.)
  2. Choose one (one!) store to shop at and learn their coupon policy really well. Find every website you can sharing information about deals at that store, and look for as much information online prior to shopping each week so that you go in prepared to get the best deals.  (See more on beginning couponing information HERE to get started.)
  3. Look at what’s in your pantry and take a few days off from shopping by using what you already have.
  4. Shop the sales ads. Chicken on sale? Then your family gets chicken tonight. 😉 Once you’ve built your stockpile up you’ll have a little more variety, but for now use your stores sales ad as a guide to your menu planning each week.


In 2015, my goal is to spend no more than $90 to $100 each week at the grocery. 

This is substantially more than I’ve ever spent for groceries each week (it wasn’t long ago we only spent $40-$50 weekly!) But, we’re eating more and more whole foods, my kids are getting bigger, we now live in an area where fewer stores double coupons, and we got a dog. 🙂 I’ll continue using mostly only printable coupons will work to help save my sanity, and feel like this is a pretty realistic goal. (We’ll see!)


I get asked pretty frequently what’s included in my grocery budget, so thought I’d share a quick list:

  • groceries
  • toiletries
  • paper products
  • cleaning supplies
  • pet food (new this year!)


If you need to change your grocery budget in 2015, today is a PERFECT day to start, and I promise, you. can. do. this. (really!) Determine today how you want your year to look, set realistic goals, and decide to take control of your finances instead of allowing them to control you.  I can’t wait to hear what your goals are, and am excited to see how we’ll do in 2015 to pinch those pennies even further. You can share your goals by clicking HERE ~ I’m cheering for you!



New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:


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My Wingback Chair Story + Why Patience & Budgeting Is Worth It


My $2 chair


It’s time to chat budgeting . . . anyone else with me? 


When my husband and I were first married, we bought the cutest little ranch fixer upper. It had a pretty basic floor plan – tiny living and dining room right off the tiny foyer as you walked through the front door.


It was a solid three years before we could afford to do anything with those little rooms (the owners before us chose a lovely neon turquoise carpet ~ seriously ~ who puts in neon turquoise carpet?) When we finally were ready to fluff up those rooms I had big dreams in my head.


My mom gave us our piano, and I just knew that little living room would be perfect if I could just afford two wing back chairs to sit opposite the piano (flanking either side of a tall window ~ I wish I had pictures to show you!) I would move kitchen chairs into the living room to see how they would look. I’d sit in each corner waiting for a chair and just imagine they were already there. And I stayed up at night dreaming of the perfect wingback chairs.


I really wanted those chairs. 😉


It went so far that I actually believed that if I just had those chairs, my daily prayer time would become consistent. Because clearly with those chairs I’d have just the perfect spot to sit down with my Bible and Bible Study book in, so all my excuses would just fly right out the window.


It finally occurred to me that Jesus didn’t exactly need wingback chairs to make way for His own quiet time. 




(Y’all, I kid you not, these thoughts really did go through this 23 year old’s head . . . gracious I’ve always been a mess!) 😉


Sure enough, one day while walking through JCPenney I saw a Buy One Get One Free LaZBoy Wingback chair sale. 


I needed them. 


I convinced my husband they were perfect (what man doesn’t get excited when you say the word LaZBoy?), and was so stinkin’ excited to finish up the room I could hardly stand it. (These were them exactly ~ bleck!)


Because we couldn’t afford what I really wanted (I was dreaming of something more like these back then?), I settled for those chairs, and honestly hated them in every single room we moved them to. I finally sold those suckers on Craigslist two years ago for less than $100, and was so ready to see them go.


And guess what?


They didn’t magically make me spend more time in Bible Study.


They didn’t automatically fix all the other flaws in our home.


And they didn’t just up and make me perfectly happy.


Buying stuff never does.


Fast forward fifteen years.


I’ve learned a lot about stuff. I’ve learned that waiting for what I really want instead of settling for second best is oh-so-worth it.


I’ve learned that Goodwill and thrift stores have awesome bargains, and if I decide eventually to throw away that $2 chair it won’t break my heart the way never being satisfied with those $399 chairs did. (They were $399 for both after the BOGO sale – just to clarify.) 😉


I’ve learned that contentment doesn’t come from stuff to begin with, and you can make just about anything beautiful with a little work and determination.


The moral of the story? 


Don’t fool yourself into believing that if you have just that one thing your life will all of a sudden find peace. Because while you may fill that one spot, another ten spots will pop up just waiting for some attention. (Promise. I’ve been there.)


Instead, determine your budget, if you can afford to frugally fix things up have at it, but don’t stress over buying something right this second that you have no business buying. Choose to make whatever space you’re in beautiful by simply tidying it up, clearing off the counters, and slapping some fresh paint on a room if you need to. (Need inexpensive paint? Try the home improvement store clearance bins!)


If you’re just starting out, know that one day your budget really will change, and those things you’ve dreamed of forever might just come into reachAnd, odds are your taste will really change along the way, so be patient and do things for as little money as you can while you have time to figure out what you really love.

Determine today to stick to a budget in 2015, and wait patiently for the things you really want until you can afford them. It may take some time to get there, but I promise it’s so worth the wait!



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Five Items I Was Surprised To Find At Aldi


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I made a quick run to Aldi today, and was pretty surprised that they carried quite a few items I didn’t know they had! I’ve always picked up fresh produce and string cheese there (they consistently have the best price on string cheese), but there were some new items that caught my eye today.  Here were the things I noticed that you may have missed too . . .



1. K-Cups priced at $4.99/12 or $.41 each (compare to $.31 per K-Cup at Amazon)

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2. Lots of gluten free options (LOTS!)


3. Coconut Oil (great price!)

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4. Organic Cereal (Simply Nature Organic Walnut or Tropical Mango Passion $1.99 per box) as well as quite a bit of Organic Produce (I haven’t priced it to be sure this is a great deal compared to your local grocery store ~ I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you normally shop organic)



5. Whole Wheat Flour ($2.29 – I forgot to take a picture!) and spices/seasonings (I actually knew this one, but didn’t want you to miss it – they have tons for just $.99 which is a great way to save!)



Don’t miss my list of 20 more items you need to buy at Aldi!

What other items do you purchase at Aldi that help your family save? I would love to hear them ~ it’s been a few weeks since I’ve been to Aldi so I was thrilled to stock up on whole wheat flour and fresh produce easily this week. Love that store! 😉
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Five Ways To Feed Your Family For Less (Even Without Coupons)

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I made a quick run to Kroger yesterday to pick up our groceries for the week, and was again reminded of just how important it is to really shop strategically whether I have a bunch of coupons or not. I literally only used two coupons on this trip, but my family’s grocery bill for our entire week of meals and snacks was just $66 – here’s what I bought:


(note – this sale is no longer available but the principle behind shopping this way still works!) 🙂

Bought 2 Kroger Cereal Bars $1.67

Bought 1 Kroger Grahams $2

Bought 1 Kroger Whip Topping $2.19

Bought 4 Kroger Betty Crocker Cake Mixes $.94, used $1/4 Betty Crocker Cake Kroger ecoupon

Bought 2 Turkey Hill Ice Creams $2.50 (regularly over $5!), used $1/1 Turkey Hill Ice Cream (could also use $1/2 Turkey Hill Ice Cream)

Bought 1 Kroger Pudding Cups $.89

Bought 1 Kroger Fruit Bowl $1.99

Bought 1 Kroger Cheese $3.79

Bought 1 Kroger Private Selection Cheese $1.99 after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought 7 Kroger Private Selection Yogurts $.39 after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought 1 Kroger Hot Dog Buns $1

Bought 1 Kroger Softsoap $1, used $.35/1 coupon from the 9/14 Smart Source insert

Bought 1 Kroger Turkey Breast $3

Bought 4 loaves and buns Kroger Whole Wheat Private Selection Bread $.99 after after Buy 4 Private Selections Save $1

Bought White Rain Hair Spray $1.29

Bought 2 lbs Bananas $.55/lb $1.11

Bought Bag Potatoes $2

Bought 2 Kroger Tomatoes $1.09

Bought 2 Ball Park Franks $2.99

Bought Cannelini Beans $1

Bought Kroger Condensed Soup $1

Bought Kroger Sour Cream $1.69

Bought Kroger Beans $.69

Bought 3 gallons skim milk $2.77

Bought Carrots $1.49

Bought 2 pounds grapes $1.69/lb.

  • Paid $66.63 after coupons for 1 weeks worth of groceries



So, if you’re a big couponer you’re probably not all that impressed with my deals (although that Turkey Hill Ice Cream savings was pretty exciting!) But, if you’re a regular mom who just needs to learn more about how to easily save on your groceries each week, here are five ways to easily save.


(I’m all about easy – aren’t you?) 😉


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1. Watch the price per ounce.

I needed a few cans of tomatoes for this Pasta Fagioli recipe, but didn’t have any coupons with me. The “sale” price on the Del Monte were $1 per can, while the every day price of the Kroger brand was $.69! My family will never know that I dumped Kroger brand tomatoes instead of Del Monte into Mrs. Potts, but I saved 30% off the “sale price” on the National brand without clipping a coupon.


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2. Look for in-store sales.

Through tonight Kroger is having a huge Private Selection sale where you can try out their “fanc-i-fied” store brands for a sale price, AND $1 extra off when you purchase four participating items. I love a fancy roll when making hamburgers or grilled chicken sandwiches at home, and to get them for $.99 (the same as the inexpensive low-end store brand) was an incredible deal so I stocked up.


They also had their whole wheat loaves on sale for $.99 after special savings, so I’ve stocked my freezer. This was a huge savings, and didn’t require clipping a single coupon!


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3. Stock up on produce seasonally along with a sale.

My kids love fresh fruit, so I almost always purchase a bag of apples, some bananas, and at least one other fruit to last us through the week. This week grapes were on sale for $1.69/lb. which is a little more than I like to pay, but I know they’ll eat through them, and it’s a healthier alternative to other snack foods!

And, just by looking around I noticed that while the Granny Smith Apples were $3.99/3 lb bag, Paula Red Apples were on sale for just $2.49. My kids thankfully like them all, so I bought the Red Apples and saved $1.50, without a coupon in sight.


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4. Use a coupon when you can. 😉

If you have just five minutes before shopping, scroll through the deals for your favorite store here on PPP and see if there’s a deal or two worth grabbing. I literally spent 3 minutes looking through the Kroger updates, knew that I could get a good price on Turkey Hill Ice Cream and Soft Soap, and saved an extra $5 for about three minutes of effort. I’m thinking that’s almost $100 as an hourly rate, and is totally worth it for me!

5. Menu plan, menu plan, menu plan (and make a thorough list before you shop.)

Odds are every time you set foot in the grocery store for “just one item” you find an extra three (or four or five) items to purchase. By having a menu plan and grocery list in place and really considering what your family needs for the entire week, you’ll save a bundle on those little “extra” trips to the store.


Be sure to look over your family’s weekly schedule before you  head out.  If you have snack duty for your child’s school, a special get together or anything else that will require extra food, add those items to the list and limit your grocery stops as much as possible. AND, before you head out always shop your own kitchen first – I realized I already had all the meat, chicken, and pasta that I would need this week at home, so I saved by using what I’d stocked up on earlier, when those items were at stock up prices!



Your turn now! Do you have any tips on how to really reduce your out of pocket expenses even when you aren’t using a ton of coupons? Coupon savings are the most fun for sure, but I’ll take spending just $66 on a week’s worth of meals whenever I can.



New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:


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These Coupons = Real Cash

Pretty regularly, a friend or acquaintance teases me for my penny pinching (I’m betting you’ve been there too.) And, more often than you’d imagine, I have someone ask if they can just pay me to “coupon” for them. (Kinda’ defeats the purpose, huh? And I’m thinkin’ they couldn’t afford me!) 😉  A few days ago after printing a slew of new coupons that had just came out (you can print them here too), I decided to count up just how much *money* I had.


Sure enough, it was over $100.


I think people tend to forget that in many ways, coupons really are cash. Yes, they’re just little slips of paper, but they’re an awesome way to “barter” with your grocery store to always get the lowest price available.  So, instead of thinking of those coupons as little annoyances that tend to overwhelm you (don’t worry, they overwhelm me too!), try to think of them as cold hard cash that your grocery store is sweet enough to let you use.

Got it?

No excuses.

Clip those coupons.

Pinch those pennies.

And determine to find financial freedom in your future.


I promise . . . you can do this!!!


$0.55 off off any One (1) Horizon™ Mac & Cheese $2.00 off (1) Armor All Trim & Plastic Restorer  
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Yes, this is my affiliate links to use if you’d like, which is how PPP continues to run each day. Thank you so much for your support, and print more FREE high value coupons right from your home when you goHEREHERE and HERE. 

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Grocery Budget Check Up Week 8


How are you doing on your grocery budget this week? Our pantry was pretty full after last week’s shopping trips, so I made a quick run to Publix yesterday and that was it for the week. We’re eating a lot from what we already have on hand, and I’m working really hard to be resourceful with what’s in the kitchen rather than making an extra trip to the store.


Guess what? It works!


We spent just $23.42 this week at Publix (while saving $27 – not all that exciting but I’m still keeping life simple around here), and I may use some of our extra cash this week to pick up fresh fruit at Sam’s Club or Aldi.  So, nothing too exciting to report, but I’m thrilled to be way under our grocery budget for the week, leaving me extra moo-lah to spend on the things I really love to buy. 😉




I’m still keeping tabs on my grocery expenses with just an envelope each week ~ you might want to do the same thing to hold yourself accountable too!   I’m amazed at how much that’s helped me stay on track this year – just knowing that I’ll have to account for whatever I purchase in that envelope really makes a difference.

Have you stock to your grocery budget this week? Remember that couponing is not a competition, but I do encourage you to do the very best you can do with what you have right now ~ you have the power to save so much on your grocery budget in 2014 if you really determine to do it! Feel free to also share how you’ve been doing in the comments section, and we’ll work on it together. 😉


Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Easy Ways To Save $10 Each Week

(See how we enjoyed this frugal feast last summer for just $1.49)


Over the last few months while I’ve had some anxiety about our upcoming move, I’ve really buckled down on how I spend every penny each week. As I’ve shared before, we take out a certain amount of  money every two weeks for groceries, miscellaneous expenses and eating out, and for the fourth time in a row, I think I’ll come out this week ahead of the game. Success! 

(Here’s when we spent $3.49 on dinner – love that!)

Here are a few things have worked for our family and might work for you too:


Eat at home. I can’t tell you how many nights in the past few weeks I’ve wanted to skip cooking and pick up dinner on the run, but determining to use what I already have on hand has saved us anywhere from $25-$50. Last night when we had a last minute showing of our house I really (really!) wanted to skip cooking (my menu plan flew right on out the window), but instead glanced in the freezer and found salad, ravioli, and garlic bread. My kids were thrilled (they love ravioli night), it took me less time to prepare than a trip through the drive thru would, and easily saved us $20.


Take advantage of the leftovers. So often I pop our leftovers in the fridge, and then let them hang out there until they turn green enough for me to throw them out. 😉  I’ve really been trying to make myself eat the leftovers while I’m at home for lunch (you would think I’d be doing that already, right?), so that we’re not wasting any of the food that’s been cooked at home. This has easily saved me $10 each week , and I’ve felt so much better not letting all that food go to waste!


Use what you already have. Last week after making breakfast for dinner our home reeked of bacon. I wanted to bake a batch of brownies so our home would smell a little sweeter when people came to look at the house (I’ve  heard brownies work wonders for home sales), but when I got to the pantry we were all out of brownie mixes (eek!) Instead of heading to the store and paying full price for a box mix, I remembered the fourteen bags of chocolate chips I stocked up on at Dollar General a few weeks ago. Then I found this recipe on All Recipes, and just used what we already had on hand. Do that a few times a week, and you could easily save $10 if not more!


Plan ahead. My kids seem to always have some kind of school project lurking around the corner, so the last time I was at the Dollar Tree and found their project boards for $1 (and poster boards for even less), I stocked up and bought 6 sheets of poster board and 4 project display boards. (I typically only buy what they need, but it drives me nuts to have to pay full price!) Since those boards can cost up to $8 a pop at the local office supply store, this was such an easy way to save $10 simply by purchasing the things I knew they would use at the very best price I could find them.


Now, I know none of these ideas are earth-shattering, but they WORK, and really can help you reach your financial goals. If you’re in a place where you need to scale things back financially, consider coming up with ways to use what you already have, and really trim out excess things you can live without each week. Ultimately, we’re in charge of every dollar we spend, so let’s choose wisely where it goes!


Have you come up with any easy ways to eek out an extra few dollars each week? While $10 doesn’t sound like much, it adds up to a whopping $520 a year, and there are plenty of things I could find to purchase with an extra $500 bucks.  Also see how our family saved $320 in less than five minutes, and share your ideas for pinching an extra few pennies each week too!


  Are you working on your 2013 taxes? Be sure to read this post on How To Save On Your Taxes Today ~ it will save you money and time (promise!) Also easily save hundreds each year just by making sure you’re getting the best price on Homeowner’s Insurance ~ it worked for us, and can definitely work for you too.

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Grocery Budget Checkup Week 7: Lots of Shopping!


I completely skipped last week’s Grocery Budget Checkup while we were in Disney (and didn’t do any grocery shopping), but this week it was time to stock up! I hauled my two older kiddos to Kroger early in the week to stock up on produce with the $25/$50 coupon that was available a few weeks ago (it did work for me) as well as some Angel Soft toilet paper, and goodness, those kids can stock up on some fruit.



We easily hit the $50 mark and even went a little over, but our fridge is now stocked with apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapes, carrots and salad. My kids love fresh produce, so I’m happy to be stocked up even if we spent more than I’d planned!  Here’s where our money has gone this week . . .

  • Target: Spent $4.31 (I used a $5 Target gift card I had from a recent purchase)
  • Walgreens: Spent $3.27
  • Kroger: Spent $45.05, Saved $40.98
  • Publix: Spent $23.15, Saved $23.07
  • Total = $75.58


I’m still keeping tabs on my grocery expenses with just an envelope each week ~ you might want to do the same thing to hold yourself accountable too!   I’m amazed at how much that’s helped me stay on track this year – just knowing that I’ll have to account for whatever I purchase in that envelope really makes a difference.


I just added up my totals (beginning January 16), and we’re at $303 which comes out to a little over $50 per week. I’m pretty content with that! Especially since I’m using almost only printable coupons right now (I just can’t find the time to keep up with all the inserts), shopping strategically and using the discounts I can easily find is definitely working for our family.


Have you stock to your grocery budget this week? Remember that couponing is not a competition, but I do encourage you to do the very best you can do with what you have right now ~ you have the power to save so much on your grocery budget in 2014 if you really determine to do it! Feel free to also share how you’ve been doing in the comments section, and we’ll work on it together. 😉


Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Are You Going The Right Way?

piggy bank images


I have a tendency to get lost way too easily when I’m driving. It happens all too often, almost every time I visit a new area, because I simply fail to devise a plan before heading out (and am a little navigationally challenged to begin with.) 🙂


Once I was driving in Atlanta (on Peachtree Boulevard, of course), and sure enough, got lost.  Now I wasn’t horribly lost. . . I could almost see the road I needed to be on the entire time I was turned around.  But for the life of me, I just couldn’t get my car steered in the right direction.  Here was the problem:  every time I recognized I was heading in the wrong direction, I turned around, checked my map for directions, and then *hoped* I’d make the right turn, but never really determined a plan.


I never really understood where the map was pointing me, but kept hoping that if I made a different turn, eventually I’d end up in the right place.  After about twenty minutes of one-way streets, no-left-turn signs, and u-turns through tiny parking lots, I finally was headed in the right direction: home.


It’s so easy to do the same thing with our finances. Instead of putting our financial goals into action, we turn back and forth, not sure where we’re going and without any sense of direction and purpose.  We want to see a change in our finances, but simply fail to come up with a way to get there. (I understand, I do the same thing all too often!)


Without a written budget, there’s no way to know for sure where you’re going. Whether you have a simple pen and paper budget or use a basic spreadsheet in excel, sitting down and writing out the plan for your pennies each month can transform your future. (You can also download our family’s free budget spreadsheet for an idea on where to get started.)


Do you use a cash budget and have you found a difference in your spending because of it?  Or, are you struggling with starting one and trying to determine where to begin?  Today’s a great day to start. . . make a decision to decide where you want your money to go right now!


 Are you working on your 2013 taxes? Be sure to read this post on How To Save On Your Taxes Today ~ it will save you money and time (promise!)


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How To Save On Your Taxes Today

Have you started filing your taxes yet this year? Dealing with taxes is one of those things I never look forward to, so I’m so thankful that we have a tax specialist who handles most of the work for us.


As much as my husband and I enjoy pinching a penny, we’ve never done our own taxes in hopes of saving an extra buck.  Using someone we know (and trust) to handle our taxes has saved us hundreds (maybe thousands?) of dollars over the last fifteen years.  Because their daily business is working on taxes, they know the ins and outs of the tax code, are aware of deductions that we’re clueless about, and they know our family personally (so they’re always looking for additional savings that work for us!)


Here’s what our tax preparer handles for us:

  • Let’s us know what paperwork needs to be completed prior to starting our taxes.
  • Updates our taxes with additional deductions that are available.
  • Looks for even more ways to save on our taxes both for the current year and in the future.
  • Completes all the tax forms necessary and submits them to us to look over and sign prior to filing our taxes for us.


Unless you’re very savvy at filing your own taxes, it’s possible you’re paying too much. People who hire tax professionals save time on their taxes and usually get a greater returnUsing a tax professional to tackle your taxes will help you find ways to lower your taxes in the future, as well as ways to save on your current taxes this year.  And you can’t beat the the freedom of having someone do the hard work for you while  you save both money and time!


If you’re looking for a good tax preparer in your area, go HERE to find one of Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers already working in your area. It won’t cost you anything to get in touch with them, and most likely they’ll save you money right away this year, which you can use on things you really love. (Because who wants to throw extra money towards taxes that could be well spent somewhere else?)


Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider program is a great place to start looking for a tax help, savings on insurance, a realtor, or even investing advice.  Find out how you can get in touch with a tax professional who’s partnered with the Endorsed Local Provider program in your area!


Do you typically do your own taxes, or do you choose to have someone else do them for you?  If you’re not sure where to start, go HERE to find out using a pro can save you $800 or more! 

This is a sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers, however all opinions are my own.



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Grocery Budget Check Up Week 5: Spent $51.41



How’s your grocery budget looking this week? As I have so much on my plate right now, I haven’t been able to shop as much as I’d like (so I’m oh-so-thankful for my little stockpile!)  I did make a quick run to Publix for their best deals earlier in the week, and also stocked up this morning at Dollar General Market on fresh fruit and milk to get us through the weekend.


While I was at Dollar General I thought I need to start making a weekly trip on Saturdays when they offer their $5/$25 coupon, because I could easily find $25 to purchase there in just produce and milk alone (plus I need to check, but I think they have some great deals on paper products and a PPP reader mentioned she loves their prices on coffee!) I also ran to Target for the M&M deal earlier in the week, so now we’re stocked up for Valentine’s Day. 😉


(I’m still keeping tabs on my grocery expenses with just an envelope each week ~ you might want to do the same thing to hold yourself accountable too!)



Here’s where our grocery budget went this week:


  • Publix $38.17 (saved $45.07)
  • Target $2.59 (saved $6.53)
  • Dollar General Market $10.65 (stocked up on produce)
  • Total: $51.41 
I also swung by Bruegger’s this morning to score a few free bagels (my kids are going to be so excited.) 😉
Have you stock to your grocery budget this week? Remember that couponing is not a competition, but I do encourage you to do the very best you can do with what you have right now ~ you have the power to save so much on your grocery budget in 2014 if you really determine to do it! Feel free to also share how you’ve been doing in the comments section, and we’ll work on it together. 😉


Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Budget Check Up Week 4: Use Your Stockpile!



How did you do this week on your grocery budget? It’s been one of those crazy-busy weeks around here, so I didn’t have much time to shop (which always helps my grocery budget!) I’m so thankful for my little stockpile (and cleaning out my freezer a few weeks ago), because we had plenty of food already on hand which made life so much easier.


(I’m still keeping tabs on my grocery expenses with just an envelope each week ~ you might want to do the same thing to hold yourself accountable too!)


Here’s where our grocery budget went this week:


We ate out a little big more than we planned last weekend plus had some unexpected other expenses pop up, so I needed to stick to my budget. I’m tickled that we made it through the week with $3 to spare! 😉  We typically take out a certain amount every two weeks for groceries, eating out, and other miscellaneous expenses, so I was glad to be able to save on our groceries to have extra cash for the other items we needed this week.
Try keeping your receipts together too so you can see exactly where you’re spending your grocery budget, and then you’ll know where your money has gone each week. I’m amazed at how that just keeps me mindful during the week of wasting money without thinking about it, because I know I’ve got some accountability for it! Feel free to also share how you’ve been doing in the comments section, and we’ll work on it together!


Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Free Guide to Budgeting From Dave Ramsey


Love, love, love this! Right now you can download your free Dave Ramsey 2014 Guide to Budgeting.  After sharing our grocery budget goals for 2014, this little freebie comes just at the right time!


You may also want to check out Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider program if you’re looking for a realtor, tax help, or even investing advice.  Consider talking to an ELP to help you work on your 2014 taxes also!  Find out how you could benefit using an Endorsed Local Provider ~  click here today for free help.



Love a bargain? Find more freeb stuff HERE.

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Grocery Budget Check Up Week 3: Saved By Eating At Home

How did you do this week on your grocery budget? I spent a bit more than I have over the last few weeks (mostly because of some great sales that I didn’t want to miss), but stocked up on a ton of groceries. I was most excited though because after cleaning out the freezer last week I realized I already have a bunch of meals right in my kitchen, so this weekend we managed to eat out just one time on Sunday after church (which is the best we’ve done in awhile around here!)


Here’s where our grocery budget went this week:


  • Dollar Tree: $3 for bread (plus more for school supplies)
  • Publix: $51.99 (saved $87.09)
  • Kroger: $6.98 (emergency – realized I needed snacks for my daughter’s Upward game at the last minute!)
  • Publix Trip #2: $5.45 (saved $15.34)
  • Dollar General $17.02 (stocked up on clearance items plus milk, fruit and veggies)
  • Total: $84.44
So while I was just under my $85 goal for the week, our pantry is stocked and I already have everything I need to make my absolute favorite Baked Spaghetti recipe (so we can stay on track again this weekend!) One thing that I’ve realized in the past is that I often look forward to the weekend as a time to get a break from cooking, but as our weeknight schedules have gotten crazier (and I’m cooking less and less full meals during the week) it’s nice to be able to cook more on the weekends when we’re actually home.  Eating out of our freezer last weekend easily saved us $50 over what we would spend on a dinner out ~ success!


If you need to change your grocery budget in 2014, I encourage you to hold yourself accountable to make changes each week. Keep your receipts together so you can see exactly where you’re spending your grocery budget, and then you’ll know where your money has gone each week. I’m amazed at how that just keeps me mindful during the week of wasting money without thinking about it, because I know I’ve got some accountability for it! Feel free to also share how you’ve been doing in the comments section, and we’ll work on it together!


Remember that your grocery budget is the one area in your family’s finances that you have so much control over simply by purposefully shopping the sales ads and using a few coupons, and you really can change how your family spends this year.  Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Help! How Do You Save When You’re Eating Out?


If you’ve hung out on Passionate Penny Pincher for any length of time, you know that spending lots of money on food (which just gets eaten and then is gone . . . ), is something I just don’t enjoy (at all!)  However, as I looked at our schedule this fall, I realized that there was no way that we could eat at home on Monday nights.  (Between just three children, we have up to six activities between 4 PM and 9 PM . . . crazy.)


Last year we struggled through and tried to grab sandwiches in a mad dash early in the afternoon, but as the 3-4 o’clock hour is now taken over with homework, there’s no (reasonable!) way that I can manage dinner at home this one day of the week . . . anyone else have one of those nights on their schedule?


While we don’t eat out much, and certainly not very extravagantly, even two to three meals out per week can really hit a budget when you’re feeding a family of five (especially when one of them is an 13 year old boy!) And, while I know that fast food isn’t always the healthiest option and wouldn’t be my first choice most nights, by limiting the number of meals that we do eat out I feel like it’s occasionally worth the splurge to save my sanity.


So, I’ve been trying to come up with a few inexpensive restaurant meals on the cheap those nights that dinner at home just isn’t going to happen.  Here are a few we’ve far:


  • Little Caesar’s Pizza and Crazy Bread (using $1.99 Crazy Bread coupon):  Paid $7.02 for dinner by bringing drinks from home.
  • Subway $5 Fotlongs:  Paid $10.24 for 2 footlong Subs by bringing a can of Pringles along with drinks from home
  • Jack’s (using Buy One Get One Free coupons from Enjoy the City booklets): Paid $12 for 4 cheeseburgers, fries & drinks
  • Sam’s Club (everyday low price!):  Paid $12.45 for 5 slices of pizza with drinks


And here are a few more restaurant deals to try on our list . . .


We’ve really watched our dining out expenses these last few weeks, and have managed to save $75 in just two weeks by planning our meals out in advance, always ordering water (which is hard some days, but saves almost $10 per meal!), and trying to eat at home on nights when we don’t have a crazy schedule. I was pretty shocked when I saw just how much money we saved just by changing a few habits; which means maybe my hubby and I can enjoy a movie night out with our savings! 🙂


What tips do you have for saving on your family’s budget while eating out?  Please leave a comment to share (I need all the help I can get on this one!)

Looking for more budgeting tips? Check out this post on how we’ve found financial counsel using Dave Ramsey’s ELP program ~ read more HERE.

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Why You Need A Realtor

Have you ever wondered why people use a realtor? It’ll help you not waste money or time ~ here’s our story.


Recently we found out we have a big move looming way too closely in the future. I’ll share more details as we wade through them all (if you don’t mind saying a prayer for us as we muddle through this I’d sure appreciate it!), but right now finding a realtor is at the top of our priority list.


Before moving to Alabama we were fortunate to have a fantastic realtor (thank you, Betty!) who made our first two home sales and purchases go as smoothly as we could possibly imagine. We gave her a quick call prior to listing each home and she helped us determine what our sale price should be, gave suggestions on what we should do to prepare our house to sell, and helped us navigate through the entire home selling and purchasing process. Both our homes sold within two weeks (such a blessing) ~ and we couldn’t have had that kind of success without her.


Having someone who knew what she was doing walk beside us as we sold our homes and purchased new houses was invaluable.


Here are a few facts about realtors and home sales:

  • People who use a realtor sell their home in less time than those who list it themselves, and usually they make a larger profit on their home.
  • According to the National Association of Realtors, those who use a realtor are 16% more likely go sell their than those who try to sell it on their own.
Because we’re in the process of finding a realtor again, we researched local realtors through Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) program. Literally within minutes of filling out the ELP form online I received an email back from three different realtors, as well as phone calls to schedule an appointment. I’ve set up a few meetings with them, and have been very impressed so far with their knowledge and skill level (and I love that there are several in my area to choose from!)


The best part about finding a real estate provider, tax professional, or even investment through Dave Ramsey’s ELP program is you’ll work with someone who’s not only experienced, but is also aware of your personal financial goals. When meeting with a local Real Estate ELP this week, I knew they were aware of our objectives, understood our family’s decision to live purposefully on a budget, and I felt we could trust them to help us in this major financial decision.


There are jillions of projects that you can pinch a penny or two on by doing them yourself ~ painting a room, fluffing up your home or tackling a new home project are definitely things worth saving money on and doing yourself if you’re able. But there are some things that are simply worth finding a professional for.  If you’re like us (and feeling completely overwhelmed by too many decisions ahead of you), being able to find just the right trusted person through the ELP program will give you peace in the midst of what can be some very difficult decisions.  And using an ELP will give you peace of mind knowing that you’re using a trusted partner who wants to see you reach your own financial goals too.


Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider program is a great place to start looking for a realtor, tax help, or even investing advice.  Find out how you can get in touch with a realtor who’s partnered with the Endorsed Local Provider program in your area. And, even if you’re not looking for a realtor right now, consider talking to an ELP to help you work on your 2014 taxes ~ go HERE to learn more.


This is a sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers, however all opinions are (of course!) my own.



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Grocery Budget Checkup 2014 Week 2: How’d You Do?


Sooooo, how have you done this week on your grocery budget? I’ve really been working to keep our family eating more at home (which is so hard some nights when we’re just busy), and trying to stay on track with our grocery spending as well. Here’s what we’ve spent this week:


  • Aldi: $23.43
  • Target: $9.82 + earned a $5 Target gift card
  • Sam’s Club: $17.74
  • Publix: $6.49
  • Total: $57.45


I’m trying to really hold myself accountable right now by keeping my receipts clipped together in my office so I really know what I’ve spent (and then share it with a few thousand readers on the internet ~ eek!) 🙂  Even though we pay cash for our groceries, it’s easy for that cash to go quickly on little items here and there, and I really want to know exactly where my money is going. If you’re hoping to see how you’re saving this year, just keeping your receipts clipped together each week may be helpful for you too!


If you need to change your grocery budget in 2014, I encourage you to really hold yourself accountable to make changes each week.  Remember that your grocery budget is the one area in your family’s finances that you have so much control over simply by purposefully shopping the sales ads and using a few coupons, and you really can change how your family spends this year.  Share how you’ve done this week by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!


(By the way, I shared this old post on how to really change your grocery budget over on Facebook and apparently lots of folks enjoyed it ~ might be worth checking out if you’re looking for some extra ways to save!)

(You can also download this free printable monthly budget spreadsheet if you’re new to budgeting ~ go HERE to get yours.)



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Free Printable Budget Spreadsheet


I’m so incredibly excited about today’s 25 Days to a More Organized You project! My friend Cheryl from Beyer by Design has taken our family’s monthly spreadsheet and put it together in a free printable version that you can download to work on at home, which will hopefully help keep your finances a wee bit more organized in 2014 (and trust me, when your finances are organized, everything else just seems to go a little bit smoother!)


Soooo many folks have asked for this, so I hope it helps you see how our family handles our monthly budget, and encourages you to get stay on a budget in 2014 too.  Here are a few tips to get you started:



  • We add a small amount of money each month to our checking account just to have extra savings (usually around $50.)
  • Several of the accounts included in the budget are items that we plan for monthly, and then move once a month over to our savings account (you can see what our savings account spreadsheet looks like on the last page of the PDF.)
  • We take our “useable” expenses out of our checking account twice a month on my husband’s payday (this includes groceries, eating out, lunches, entertainment, etc.)
  • We save all year long for “big” expenses ~ these include things like Christmas gifts, vacationing, homeowners association expenses, etc.
  • On the last page of the PDF you’ll see our savings account spreadsheet which includes what money is allocated in our savings account each month towards certain long term goals.  This is my FAVORITE part of the spreadsheet as we can look back and see what we’ve saved, and look forward to what’s coming in the future!



Remember this is just a look at how our family handles budgeting, and may be different than what you do however this has worked well for us. (I think my husband’s kept it up for 14 years now!) I’d love to hear how your family handles your budget, and if you have any questions, leave a comment to share ~ I hope it helps you get an idea of where to start if you’re new to budgeting!

 Go HERE to print yours.


Also print these free printables while you’re at it:

Looking for more ways to get organized in 2014? See the first three days of our 25 Days to a More Organized You Series . . .


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Grocery Budget Check Up Week One: Determine Your Grocery Budget


It’s that time of year (I know y’all are so excited!) Time to start talking grocery budgets.  


Woohooo! 😉 (I know, I know . . . but it really is kinda fun when you’re able to whittle that grocery budget down ~ promise!)


I’ve had an overwhelming number of requests this last week from people asking how much their grocery budget should be, how to use coupons effectively, and how to really change their grocery budget in 2014. Here are a few (easy!) tips that will hopefully get you started:

  1. Consider what your grocery budget currently is. If you’re new to couponing, plan to decrease your budget by 10-20% over the next three to four weeks, and then determine to slash it by up to 50% in the next 3-4 months.  (Read this post for more tips.)
  2. Choose one (one!) store to shop at and learn their coupon policy really well. Find every website you can sharing information about deals at that store, and look for as much information online prior to shopping each week so that you go in prepared to get the best deals.  (See more on beginning couponing information HERE to get started.)
  3. Look at what’s in your pantry and take a few days off from shopping by using what you already have.
  4. Shop the sales ads. Chicken on sale? Then your family gets chicken tonight. 😉 Once you’ve built your stockpile up you’ll have a little more variety, but for now use your stores sales ad as a guide to your menu planning each week.


In 2014, my goal is to spend $85 each week at the grocery. I did do some major stocking up this week (after not having a regular grocery trip in the last month. . . ) so here’s where I’m at today:


  • Aldi: $6.75
  • Publix:  $61.21
  • Total: $67.96


I’ve increased our budget a bit over the last year as my kids are getting bigger.  I wanted a little wiggle room to purchase extra fresh fruits and veggies instead of so much “snack” food, and started using only printable coupons will work to help save my sanity (I loved it in 2013!)  While this means my budget isn’t down in the $50-$60 range, I’m content with spending less than $85 each week.


If you need to change your grocery budget in 2014, today is a PERFECT day to start, and I promise, you. can. do. this. (really!) Determine today how you want your year to look, set realistic goals, and decide to take control of your finances instead of allowing them to control you.  I can’t wait to hear what your goals are, and am excited to see how we’ll do in 2014 to pinch those pennies even further. You can share your goals by clicking HERE ~ I love hearing from you!



Also check out this post on ways to prepare when the unexpected really happens ~ see how wise financial planning saved my in-laws hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years ago.

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When The Unexpected Really Happens

 long term care insurance do you need it

Four years ago, one of the most unexpected things our family could imagine happened. In September of 2009, my (very healthy) father-in-law contracted West Nile Virus.  Within hours, he turned from a completely energetic seventy-year-old man (riding twenty-two miles on his bike for his seventieth birthday), to someone who no longer had use of his legs, and very limited movement of his chest and back  as well. (See his story here ~ he’s one of my favorite people on the planet and I’m oh-so-thankful for him!)




As you can imagine, our life stopped for awhile. Don spent the next eighteen months in several hospitals and rehab facilities hoping to re-gain strength, however the virus left him paralyzed and unable to care for himself.  I really can’t express in words to you just how difficult it was for us as we watched him, but even more so for he and my mother-in-law.


However, years before he became sick, my in-laws purchased a long term care health insurance policy which truly has given them so much more quality of life than they could have dreamed of without it. Thanks to his long term health plan, Don was eventually able to return home. Without the plan his only option would have been to remain in a nursing home, and while he was incredibly fortunate to have wonderful care in those facilities as well, there’s just nothing like being home.

I would love to think that sudden illness never happens, but have seen entirely too closely that sometimes we’re given little control over our own future. My husband and I have been discussing our own need to find long term care insurance, which really is just awful to even talk about. (Am I the only one who would rather pretend it doesn’t exist?) However after seeing firsthand how my in-laws quality of life has been so much better thanks to their policy, I know it’s something we’ll consider at some point.


Have you considered purchasing long term care insurance for your own family? According to statistics, 69% of people aged 65 and older will need some type of long term care after age 65 – and not having long term care insurance can cost your family anywhere from $300,000 – $400,000 or more. 


Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider program is a great place to start looking for Long Term Care Providers, and they can help you find services in other areas of your finances as well, including investing, real estate, health insurance and tax services.  Find out how you or your parents could benefit from Long Term Care Insurance ~  click here today for free help!


This is a sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers, however all opinions are (of course!) my own.



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{And Now A Break From Our Regularly Scheduled Programming . . . }

Goodness gracious, is anyone else just plain ole’ worn out from all the Christmas bargain shopping yet? There have been so many fantastic deals in the stores and online this year, but as I keep typing even I’m a wee bit overwhelmed by it all. (Anybody with me?) This is a re-post that I needed to hear myself as a reminder of what this whole season is about, and maybe you need to hear it to day too.


Ugh. (Can you just hear me say that across the screen?) Ughhhhhhhhhhhh. . . yup, that’s exactly how I mean it. Yesterday I finally made it to Bible Study where they’re studying the Advent Conspiracy. I went because they were leaving after the study to visit 305 8th Street Group Home, which is one of those places that’s completely doing God’s work, so I wanted to tag along.


As we talked throughout the class, we shared how much we have in comparison to others around the world, and yet somehow don’t even know it. In fact, according to this, if you make just $30,000 you’re in the top 7% of income earners in the world, and if you make $50,000 you earn more than 99% of the people in the entire world. WOW.

But for some crazy reason, we assume that everyone has everything . . . don’t we?


We assume all too often that our home should look like this . . .

Photo Credit

Instead of this. . .

Photo Credit

And that our children need this . . .

(which I really do absolutely love, by the way!)

Photo Credit

Instead of this . . . (y’all bare with me, this one’s just painful to see and I even struggle to put it up because it hurts my heart so badly)

Photo Credit ~ See more HERE.

That tears up every ounce of me. (I really may take that picture down soon because I can’t even handle it being here, but I want someone to acknowledge it exists ~ in our world we totally forget!)

Please, please, stop feeling like you’ve got to keep up with someone else. You are blessed right where you are, just like I am (I promise!) You may want to read more about the Advent Conspiracy, and consider ways your family can scale back just a bit this Christmas to give to those who are truly in need. And please don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love Christmas and Santa and presents a ton around here (my kids love all of it, and I’m so glad we can share that fun with them!) But I do want them (and myself) to remember that that’s just not reality for 99% of the world, so a slightly more modest Christmas might help provide water for others too.


I’d love to know if your family does something special over the Holidays to bless others, whether it be preparing an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox, sharing with a local food pantry, or giving a gift through Angel Tree Ministries. And please don’t be mad at me for sharing (I really like sharing deals the most!), but I’m hoping you’re up for this one today.


Leave a comment to share your thoughts by clicking HERE, I’d love to hear from you!






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Christmas Budget Check Up: Use Cash.

Note ~ I’ve had several readers request our family’s budget spreadsheet, and promise that my husband is working on getting a copy of that up for you guys. Watch for it over the next week!


A few weeks ago, I met my sister-in-laws and mother-in-law for our annual birthday shopping day. As it worked out, my sister-in-law had just cash to spend (normally she uses a debit card or credit card that she pays off monthly.) When we were talking a few days after shopping, she mentioned to me “you know, it really was a lot harder to spend that cash than it is just to hand over my card.


Ain’t that the truth?


We do about 90% of my Christmas shopping online so we do use a debit card, but it is still oh-so-easy to spend too much. If you’re shopping online often this Christmas season, I encourage you to come up with a way to manage how much you’re spending. Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Keep a very detailed list of what you’ve purchased. If you’re like me and shop frequently from Amazon, log in to your account and see exactly what you’ve purchased so you have a detailed amount of what you’ve spent and what gifts are marked off your list.
  • At the very minimum, keep a simple notebook near your computer and write down every item you purchase while you shop.
  • Use your debit card instead of credit card for online purchases.
  • Take advantage of Swagbucks during the Holiday season and be sure to use those points for free “money” during the Holidays (I just got a $50 Amazon Gift card thanks to Swagbucks credit this week!)


How’s your Christmas shopping (and budgeting . . . ) going? There have been so many deals racing around here and I struggle (more than y’all will ever know!) hoping to encourage you to pinch those pennies but still get some fantastic prices on items you’re purchasing for Christmas this year. Don’t forget that even though there are zillions of incredible bargains out there this time of year you don’t have to buy them (I know it’s hard!) Instead though, determine exactly what you want to purchase for each person on your list, and stick to your financial goals. (You can do this ~ I know you can!!!!)


New to budgeting and don’t know where to begin? Here are a few posts to you get started:



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Christmas Budget Check Up: Plan Your Purchases

Christmas Shopping Season is just about to take over everything many of us do for the next few weeks . . . which can be so much fun, but can also lead to a lot of stress and over-spending (yikes!) Here are a few tips to keep you grounded as you shop:


1. Make a list. Write down every single person that you’ll give gifts to this Christmas, including immediate & extended family, teachers, school bus drivers, friends and neighbors. (Check out this free Christmas list download. to get you started.)

2. Decide how much you’re going to spend on each person, and write that amount down next to their name on your list before shopping. Think about whether or not there are ways to make more inexpensive gifts for some people like a homemade gift, baked goods or consider a small gift wrapped up with a sweet note. 

3. BEFORE YOU SHOP, determine your entire Christmas budget. Right down to the penny. (Yes, this one is hard!) Beyond your per-person spending limit, know exactly how much you’d like to spend before heading out to shop. (Be sure to include extra money for gift wrap, tape, tags, etc.)

4. Anticipate how you’ll spend your “savings”. (Note: this is a bone of contention in our home!) My hubby is one incredibly passionate penny pincher, so he feels that if we get a great deal on an item, those savings should not be spent during the Christmas season. However, I always want to spend the full amount on each person that I budget on my list, so if I find a great deal I’ll buy them more great deals! This is not the greatest way to spend my savings, but we have so many people purchase for our family who are incredibly generous. (And, I want to be generous right back!) However, if your budget is tight this Christmas, don’t spend those savings on more Christmas gifts. Instead, put it right into a savings account. (Wouldn’t it be fun to fund a savings account with extra Christmas spending money because of your deals?)

5. Choose how you’ll shop. Using cash will definitely help maintain control of your spending over the holidays, however I know that can be difficult when so many deals are available online. If you shop online, put your budgeted amount into your checking account and use a debit card. If you absolutely are set on using a credit card, be sure to write down every single purchase on your list so that you don’t over-spend. As we all know, those credit cards can be a HUGE budget buster!

6. Plan what you’ll spend on giving generously to those in need. I’ve shared how I just about felt gived out during the Holiday season a few years ago, and learned just how important this was. I realized that much of this was because while I happily said yes to every place to donate early in the Holiday season, but by the middle of December I was done: and so was my budget. This year my husband and I are going to have an honest discussion about what and where we want to give together so that we can choose to give to those that we both feel most passionate about. (To see more on giving over the holidays, you may want to check out The Advent Conspiracy.)


What other tips do you have on saving during the Christmas season? I’d love to hear your ideas, and I’ll keep up with all the bargains over the holidays to help you pinch a few extra pennies this Christmas.


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Have You Created Your Christmas Budget?


It’s November 7th. Know what that means? The Christmas shopping season is in full swing, and every marketer on the planet is trying to figure out what they can convince you to buy.


But here’s the thing . . .it’s up to you to make those purchases, up to you to decide where you want your hard-earned dollars to go, and completely your decision this Christmas as to how much you want to spend. You really do have control of your money!  So, today’s the day to plan your Christmas Budget if you haven’t already.


Take a few minutes and determine a plan as to what you want to spend this year on Christmas ~ really.  Don’t put it off until tomorrow, don’t plan to wait until the bills come rolling in next January ~ instead, decide exactly how you want your Christmas Budget to look in 2013.


Here are a few items to consider as you’re planning:

  • Christmas Gifts for immediate family
  • Christmas Gifts for not-so-immediate family 🙂
  • Teacher Gifts
  • Neighbor Gifts
  • Christmas Cards
  • Christmas Baking
  • Christmas Giving (donations to charity, either monetary or donations of non-perishable items)


As I’ve shared before, my ever-so-organized husband creates a monthly budget for our family, and included in that is a certain amount each month that goes into our savings account for Christmas.  It makes the Christmas Season so much less stressful for us, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t started that already!  However if you don’t have that money set aside, I still think you need to determine what your budget is before going one step forward. (You need to set a goal just to keep things in focus!)


Here’s the thing: On January 31st, very few of the items that you’ve purchased for Christmas will have really mattered to someone, but any debt that you incur will undoubtedly add to your anxiety in the New Year. I absolutely love giving and receiving Christmas gifts, and love finding deals, but it’s not worth sacrificing my sense of financial well-being for a gift that will inevitably be stored in a closet.  I know it’s hard, but setting your budget can transform your Christmas from a season of stress to a season of value when you decide what really matters.


So, go ahead . . . get to work! I’d love to hear any other tips you have for preparing your budget for the Holidays, so please feel free to leave a comment and share.




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How Cleaning Out A Closet Saved Me (At Least) $100

See more about how Reagan’s tiny room has become a favorite spot in our home, and what we’ve done to frugally fluff it up.

Okie dokie folks, if you need some serious motivation to get a closet in your home cleaned, here you go. I’m determined to get through all the closets in our area before Thanksgiving (because even here in Alabama we need to pull out those winter clothes!), so this weekend I tackled my daughter’s closet and bedroom.


I procrastinated for several weeks on this one, and every time I walked into her room I was completely (seriously) overwhelmed. I even considered buying her new clothes because I had absolutely no idea what she had in hand-me-downs for winter, but the room was in such bad shape I didn’t know where to begin.


Now, in my defense, I had pulled down the winter clothing boxes from the attic a few days ago, and of course when Reagan saw those boxes she had to attack. 😉 So, her room normally isn’t (quite?) so bad? And, a few weeks ago she and her big sister decided they were going to start rooming together so they had moved her mattress. Puh-lease tell me I’m not the only one whose children have a tendency to move furniture without their mother’s permission . . .


Before (seriously, hanging my head in shame as I show y’all this stuff ~ eeeeeeek!)



After (ahhhhh, so much better!)




So, how did cleaning out that one closet (you can see the actual closet pics HERE) save me $100? Simple! After doing that cleaning I realized that Reagan had every thing she needed for winter, so I don’t need to buy her a single thing. (Unless it’s really cute, and in the budget, right?) The best part is I have so much more peace each day when picking out her clothes for school. . . why on earth didn’t I get started sooner?


This is all the stuff that managed to get donated or given to friends ~ whew! My husband just couldn’t give up the horse though (reminds him of our kids being little, so it’s making it’s way to the attic) 🙂


Do you have a closet or two in your home that could use some serious TLC? Join me this month as we get them cleared out . . . I’ll post any updates as I do them, and would love to hear any tips that you have on organizing kids clothes too!


Looking for more tips on organizing? Here are a few posts from last year’s organizing series that might help get you motivated:

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Let’s Talk Christmas (deals.)



Okie dokie folks, time for a little heart-to-heart about that fantabulous (don’t you love my new word?) Holiday just around the corner. . . Christmas. (Or as my buddy Shannon likes to remind me, Christmas.)  Grab a cup of coffee and a piece of Halloween candy, curl up on your sofa, and let’s just pretend we’re having a chat face to face about how we’re going to handle this one.


In just a few days, the deals are going to be flying fast and furiously at you (including quite possibly a few hundred here on PPP ~ yikes!), so I want you to be prepared. I promise you’ll see deals on Legos and Xboxes and Kindles and Barbies and just about anything you could ever imagine anyone on your gift list will ever need.


But that doesn’t mean you have to buy them.


Because the deals are out there, my job is to make sure you see the best of everything, and find you as many awesome deals as I can.  However, I do not want you to purchase a single item that you do not need or cannot pay for even if it’s a dealDid you hear me??? I mean it.


Instead, I want you to take a few minutes over the next week and really determine exactly how much money you have to spend on Christmas and what to purchase for every single person on your list. I hope you’ll find some deals here on PPP, and my promise to you is that I’ll only post items I see at their lowest prices. (I research everything before I share it, and personally purchase 90% of Christmas gifts online ~ it just makes my life so much easier!) But, I do not want you to spend one single penny on things that you have absolutely no business buying.


Got that?  REALLY??? 


Okay then. (You can even use a handy free printable gift list like this one to get you started.)


Go get your kids ready for the day, enjoy an extra piece of chocolate for me, and watch for the online deals to go a wee bit crazy here over the next few weeks. But, in the midst of it all, take a deep breath, determine to stay really focused on only what you need to purchase (and even more focused on what this season is all about), and choose to enjoy every bit of the Christmas season as it races its way towards us.


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Choosing To Stick To The Budget: How A $1 McDonald’s Sundae Saved Us $16

Have you ever had one of those days when you need to pinch a few pennies but just don’t want to?  I had one of those days yesterday at our house.


My husband was working late, I took the kids out to run some errands, and every single ounce of me wanted to splurge and take them to their favorite Ice Cream Sundae bar . . . which even after a coupon would easily cost us $15-$20.

But, we’ve been spending a lot lately. There have been extra activities that we’ve enjoyed this summer, we went on a huge vacation last month ago, are heading out on another short trip soon, my kids all are involved in several different sports, and back-to-school clothing shopping is just around the corner. After my husband looked over our budget last week, I knew it was time to reign things in.


So, instead of a trip to Zen Beri (our family’s ice cream place of choice right now), we made a stop at McDonald’s and spent $4 on hot fudge sundaes ~ a savings of around $16 which is enough to stock up on quite a few school supplies if I shop wisely! It wasn’t my favorite choice at all, but it was a better way to be a good steward of them money God has entrusted to us, and my kids handled it really well.


Here’s the thing: I don’t want my kids to think they always have to have everything (which is such a struggle in the world we live in!) Thankfully after years of penny pinching we have plenty of wiggle room in our budget, and it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if we’d spent that extra moneyBut, I’m called to use wisely what we’ve been given, and some days that means making a decision that isn’t necessarily our favorite choice. (But we still did get some ice cream!) 🙂 


Have you had to choose a more penny pinched route any time this summer? I’d love to hear how it’s gone for you . . . it’s so worth it in the long run and such an example for our children, but not always the easy choice!



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How Much Should A Family Spend On Groceries?



It’s been awhile since we’ve talked budgeting, so I decided it’s high time to bring it up. With the summer craziness around my house it’s been all I can do just to keep on top of my children and my home, so worrying over my grocery budget has gotten put on the back burner . . . anyone else feel that way?


But, deciding how much you should spend on groceries be is soooo important as a penny pincher, and a huge key in  changing your financial future. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again and again and again), there is NO AREA IN YOUR FAMILY’S FINANCES THAT YOU HAVE AS MUCH CONTROL OVER AS YOUR GROCERY BUDGET. Did you hear me???  (If not, please read it again. I promise, I’m right on this one!)


We can’t (easily) change how much we’re going to spend on our house payment, electricity bill, phone bill or cable bill. Now, we can do smart things to make those bills smaller, but it’s rare that you can slash them in half without some major work. However, every single time you walk into the grocery store you decide how much you’re going to spend on your groceries. You can decide to check out the sales ads, clip a bunch of coupons, or simply skip it all and spend too much. It’s totally up to you.



So, how much should a family spend on groceries?  That depends (a lot!) on you. Our family of five is sticking to about $85 a week and it seems to be working for us. (We’ve done it for less, but as I’ve worked more and my kids have gotten bigger, $85 is a reasonable amount for us, and gives us room to donate as well.)  Here are a few factors I want you to consider before deciding your grocery budget:

Update as of 2015 – we now spend between $85 – $100 each week as our kids are getting bigger.

  • What is your current grocery budget (if you have one)? How much do you normally spend each week at the grocery store?
  • How long have you been couponing (if you coupon)? Do you have a stockpile?
  • How much time do you (realistically) have for clipping coupons and shopping the sales ads?
  • What area of the country are you in? 
  • Do you have a store in your area that has good produce prices? (For us, having an Aldi, Fresh Thymre or Sprouts as well as a Dollar General Market really help us trim some of the more expensive items in our budget ~ if that’s not an option in your hometown your expenses will definitely go up.)
  • Are there grocery stores in your area that have great coupon policies? Can you shop Amazon for items that you can’t find good prices on in your area? (i.e. diaperspaper & cleaning products, allergy free foods)
  • Do you have children in diapers? Do you have teenagers who can’t seem to get enough food? 😉 
  • Do you have special allergies in your family or eat a special diet? Or do you try to eat primarily organic food? (See suggestions on how to save on organics over HERE.)


To tell you a set amount of what you should spend is hard as it varies so much by family, location, and where you’re at in your life. But, I will say that determining what you want to spend each week is so important, and can really help you trim down what you spend at the grocery store. If you want to reach your goal of saving more, you really have to decide exactly what you want to spend, or you’ll simply go over your budget each week without a plan.


Here are a few interesting calculators that you might enjoy (for fun!), to see how your family’s grocery budget fits. I’ll be honest, I think these are waayyyyy high, but that’s coming from a passionate penny pincher! 😉

If you’re willing, I’d love to hear what your family’s estimated grocery budget is per week (feel free to comment anonymously too!) And, if you have any extra tips on how to save at the grocery store, you know I’d love to hear them!




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How’s Your Summer Savings Going?

One of my favorite PPP readers (and longtime friend) emailed me yesterday sharing where she’s been at this summer as far as couponing. Oh my heavens I think we have all been there and I thought it was so refreshing to read her honest thoughts!  Hopefully it will be motivating for you to hang in there too.


So I wanted to tell you that I struggle with the couponing thing much like I struggle with other “hobbies”. I’m all in and organized and then I get behind, miss a sale, run out of printer ink, you get my drift and then it seems a million miles back, uphill. Confession time…I have not couponed this summer. The guilt piles on everyday and pushes me further from a homecoming like the prodigal son. Dramatic I know, but I’m reminding you how the female brain works or at least this female.

I’m telling you I lost my way to tell you I found it again. (Also how we females like to stage confessions!) knowing last Friday that we were heading to the beach I had to watch the girls live in excitement while I lived in dread. I knew that I was facing a $300 grocery bill upon arrival because you need everything at the beach. Mid-day Friday I decided to return to my better self and have a plan. I went to Publix 72 with double batches of printable coupons (Earthfare 10/35 was a great start!) I had a thousand things on my to do list but this one was begging to make it a priority. I ended up with $200 worth of groceries for $27 including the raid on my pantry. I’ve included photos of our beach food BEFORE the Walmart run. I spent $100 at beach Walmart guilt free and can now enjoy this abundance of food without the black cloud of unplanned expenses.  

You CAN come back to the things you know to be true. Again and again!  Thanks for what you do!


Thank you Lana sooooo much for your sweet encouragement and reminder to us all not to give up! Do you have moments too where you struggle to keep up with couponing? Hopefully this will encourage you to stick with it, and know that even if you’ve “fallen off the wagon” for a week or too (or more . . ) it’s not hopeless. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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