7 Easy Way To Save Hundreds Of Dollars on Groceries

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures as well as one of life’s greatest expenses. If you are looking to reduce your spending taking a long, hard look at your eating habits can easily enable you to save hundreds of dollars each month.

Whether you can whip up a gourmet meal in an hour flat and love doing so or if your idea of fine cuisine after a long day of work comes in a styrofoam container, these tips will help you save money while eating well.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission
to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You
will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for
everyone, really.

1. Minimize Impulse Purchases

When you are wondering the aisles of your local store, it’s easy to pick up an extra item or two. A few dollars here or there may not sound like much, but these purchases can really add up. If you wind up spending ten dollars extra every time you go to the store, that’s 5200 dollars a year!

In order to curb impulse spending, have a meal or snack before you go shopping. If you shop while you are hungry, you are more likely to wind up with junk food because it requires less time and effort and you are famished.

You also want to go armed with a plan or a list. If you plan out specific meals, you are less likely to wind up with unnecessary extra items and less likely to forgot critical ingredients.

My favorite way to keep food spending in check combines all of this advice into one easy step and will save you tons of time. You can utilize Walmart’s grocery pick up service for free. Simply use the app to select the items you want and the tome you want to pick them up. If you sign up with my affiliate link here you can get ten dollars off your first order of 50 dollars or more.

2. Pack A Work Lunch

You may have heard this one before, because it is great advice. If you eat out for lunch every day, averaging 8 dollars a day (this may be a conservative estimate for many cities depending on where you are eating lunch and what you order) you can save 160 dollars a month or 1920 a year by packing a lunch.

Pinterest is full of so many colorful, tasty, and inexpensive lunch ideas you never need to get bored with what you’ve packed. You can even prepare and pack all your meals on Sunday and save yourself the hassle of packing individual lunches, or you can eat leftovers with very little effort.

If you aren’t ready to give up weekday lunches out completely, consider eating out for lunch once a week or once a month and you will still save money nearly every day.

3. Use What You Have and Shop Less Often

Consider only shopping for groceries once a week. This will help you keep impulse purchases to a minimum, help you plan your meals in advance, and save you time (and gas!).

In between trips to the store, eat leftovers and get creative with your recipes. If you run out of something, consider looking up substitutions on Pinterest.

Websites like Supercook.com allow you to search for recipes that use the ingredients that you have on hand. This website is a lifesaver if you are waiting for your next payday or completing a no-spend challenge. Every day you stretch your grocery budget out is one step closer to becoming debt-free or saving up for an awesome vacation or your next car.

4. Make A Meal Plan

Making a meal plan can sound intimidating, but it can be as basic as making a list of all of the meals you want to eat for the week (don’t forget snacks and a few extras!). Next, make a list of the ingredients you need for the recipes you selected that you don’t have in your pantry. It can be as simple as that!

Once you are reaping all of the rewards from meal planning, you can make your system more complicated if you want to. Consider making a list of your favorite meals and rotate them around to prevent getting bored of them or having theme days such as Taco Tuesday, Pasta Night, Vegetarian Night, etc.

5.Buy Generics

When you buy brand name products, you are often paying extra money not because the product is more high quality than the generic versions but because the brand needs to recover the money they spend on advertising.

You can compare the ingredients in the name brand product to the generics, and you will often find there isn’t much of a difference. If you save just 50 cents on every item you can by buying the generic version that can quickly add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars saved.

6. Utilize Circulars and Reward Programs

When you are making your grocery list and meal plan, take a look at your local stores latest circular. You may receive them in the mail or you can look up the ads on their website. This will allow you to save even more money by planning your meals based on what is on sale and what produce is on season.

Check to see if your local grocery store also offers a rewards program as well for additional savings.

Apps like Ibotta can also save you money on select purchases. You can browse various retailers (this is not limited to food-related purchases) and can select an offer that appeals to you. Then, simply make your purchase online or scan your receipt and watch the savings accumulate. You can sign up for free here and receive a 10 dollar welcome bonus.

7. Buy in Bulk

When you find an unbelievable deal, stock up! This will allow you to build up a stockpile of ingredients that you commonly use incredibly cheaply and with minimal effort.

Most meats and cheeses are usually less expensive per ounce if you buy in bulk. You can divide large amounts of meats and cheeses and freeze them to save more money.

On the other hand, if there is a great deal on quinoa and you don’t eat much quinoa, pass on the sale! It’s tempting to buy an Item when we think we are getting a great price whether or not we need it, but a sale on an item you don’t need isn’t much of a deal.

If you try even just a few of these tips, you should see signififant savings. What other tips or tricks do you use to save money on food? Let me know in the comments!

Continue Reading

2 Ingredient DIY Toothpaste

There are several reasons you might want to make your own toothpaste.

Many commercial toothpastes have ingredients that can have some very scary side effects.You can research individual brands of toothpaste and ingredients on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

I won’t get too technical here because I don’t have the time or think it’s worth the effort to cite individual studies but there is enough information out there to elicit some concern as to what we are putting into our bodies. Why not avoid these additives if you can?

This recipe will also save you money every time you brush!

One other reason to make your own toothpaste is for the satisfaction that comes with making something yourself.

The actual brushing that occurs is what cleans your mouth so have no fear that you will be sacrificing anything by trying these recipes.

I have heard concerns being voiced about the abrasiveness of baking soda but several studies have shown that baking soda is less abrasive than many commercial toothpastes. Read a brief overview of toothpaste abrasivity here. Note that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is the least abrasive product on this scale besides mouthwash.

Toothpaste

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3 Tablespoons baking soda

Optional: Stevia or peppermint extract ( from the baking aisle of your local grocery store) to taste
1 container such as a mason jar, etc.

Mix and apply.

This toothpaste has a salty flavor. I have experimented with adding peppermint extract but it tastes fine without it so I stopped using it. I have also seen recipes that include stevia but I decided I draw the line at adding sweeteners to my toothpaste.

If you are traveling or want to try something different:

Tooth Powder

3 Tbsp baking soda
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 mason jar or repurposed container
optional- 6 drops peppermint extract (orange and lemon extracts are good too)

Mix and apply.

These recipes may taste or feel a bit different than what you are used to but with continued use you may find you like or prefer these versions of toothpaste.

Feel free to share any experiences, thoughts, or questions in the comments!

Continue Reading

Easy DIY Powder Foundation

It does not get much simpler than two ingredients.

The following recipe is fun to make, will save you money, and can help you avoid putting potentially harmful chemicals on your skin (check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for more information).

This powder can be worn on top of your makeup or as a light powder foundation.

I personally like how it smells a bit sweet and do not add any essential oil but there is a lot of room for experimentation and customization.

DIY Face Powder

Face Powder

4 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 Tablespoon cocoa powder (If your complexion is darker, start with 2-3 tablespoons)

5 drops essential oil of your choice for fragrance (optional)

Blend the ingredients together.

Test the mixture to see if it is right for your skin tone by rubbing a bit on the inside of your wrist.

If it is not dark enough, add a tablespoon more cocoa powder at a time and retest.

A Few Tips

  • Arrowroot powder can be substituted for cornstarch. Nutmeg or cinnamon can be substituted for cocoa powder.
  • You can apply this with your fingers or a makeup brush.
  • If you want to put this mixture in an old compact for extra portability you can add 5 drops of olive, almond, or jojoba oil. If you need more, add a few drops at a time until you get the texture you want.

Please feel free to share your experiences with the recipe below in the comments.

Continue Reading

How to Be More Productive Now

If you have ever oscillated between starting at a blank page, getting sucked into 52 chrome tabs of “research”, and typing furiously until you realize the sun has set and you have a headache from not eating or pausing for air, this technique can help you get more done right now.

I have found this technique especially helpful for writing, but you can use it to clean your house or finish your assigned reading or just about any task.

The Pomodoro technique was named after the tomato shaped timer the inventor used as part of this technique (pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian).

The Pomodoro technique is especially useful because it helps you focus and gives you a solid estimate of how much time tasks take to complete versus how much time you thought a task would take.

This will allow you to plan what you can accomplish daily note accurately, and to say no when you know you are taking on too much for one day.

You can also quickly breeze through smaller tasks and ride the endorphin rush that comes with ticking items off your to do list.

Ready to try it out? Simply:

1. Pick a task and estimate the amount of time needed to complete the task.

2. Work with extreme focus ( no distractions! ) for 25 minutes. Take a five minute break. Repeat.

After a few sessions take a 15-30 minute break.

3. Record how much time it actually took to complete the task and note any challenges or distractions for the future.

It works for me every time I feel myself getting overwhelmed and is much more efficient than when I try to jump from task to task.

Thoughts on this technique or any productivity tips you would like to share? Reach out in the comments below.

Continue Reading

How to Create the Perfect Budget

Making a realistic budget is the first and most important step towards financial independence and the life of your dreams.

Once you commit to trying a budget with an open mind, you will realize that budgeting is simply a way for you to make sure your money is put to work in a way that reflects your values and priorities.

Whether you are a doctor or a single mom, you will be able to see where every dollar is currently going and by making some small changes you can completely transform your finances. If you need some motivation or some convincing that a budget is worth the time you will spend on it, see this article for my top 10 reasons everyone needs a budget.

Before we get started making that budget, I would like to point out that budgeting is not about deprivation. If you feel that you need coffee every day from the artsy cafe down the street, account for this in your budget so that it doesn’t wind up interfering with your rent or your car payment. It’s all about balance. I would never tell you to give up something you love.

There are a variety of apps you can use if you prefer them to a pen and paper budget, but for the purposes of this exercise, I would try getting everything down on paper (feel free to ignore me and use your favorite word processor if you prefer). You can switch to an app anytime you want to if you prefer to track your spending with one.

1. Gather Your Bank Statements and All Pay Stubs/ Income Reports

If you have multiple incomes, make sure to include your spouse’s information. If you are a freelancer or have irregular income, average your wages over the last six or twelve months (whichever you feel will be the most closely aligned with what you expect to make going forward) and look for patterns. Add everything together to get your income from all sources.

While you are at it, take a look through your bank statements over the last month or several months. Are there any amounts that surprise you? For me, when I added up how much I was spending on fast food and lunches at work I received a reality check.

Don’t be afraid to delve deep ( how much have you spent on clothing for the last six months? Entertainment? Etc. Keep digging until you feel like you know where every last dollar went and what you would like to reduce.

2. List All Fixed Expenses

Fixed expenses are any expenses that are the same month to month. The list below includes expenses that are usually fixed monthly payments:

Rent or Mortgage payment
Internet bill
Cell phone bill
Car payment
Car Insurance
Medical Insurance premium
Property taxes
Childcare and support
Retirement Savings

This list is not all-inclusive, so be sure to utilize bank statements, etc. to locate any additional fixed expenses.

If you have bank statements available, try highlighting all your fixed expenses with one color or set of colors, and all your variable expenses with another color or set of colors ( I.e. fixed expenses are dark colors, variables in neons, etc.). This can be very helpful if you are having trouble accounting for every dollar.

If possible, fixed expenses should be on auto pay. This will save you money on late fees in the long run and make your budget even easier to maintain.

3. List All Variable Expenses

Variable expenses are expenses that vary from month to month. Don’t shy away from the truth here. If you spend about 200 a month on clothes and getting your nails done, include that here. This is a judgment-free zone and your budget will only help you if you are thorough and accurate.

Eating out
Groceries
Gas
Clothing
Salon/Spa charges
Entertainment
Subscriptions
Vacations
Contributions to charity
Gifts
Pet Care
Haircuts
Personal Care ( shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, etc.)

4. Make Some Tough Choices

Add up all your variable expenses and fixed expenses and subtract them from your income. If you get a negative number, you are living beyond your means.

If you don’t make some changes, you will keep incurring debt until you are drowning in it. Don’t get discouraged. No matter how much debt you have, you can make meaningful changes once you have a plan.

Fixed expenses can be reduced by asking for lower rates or shopping around (on your auto insurance, for example) or by eliminating the expense completely. For example, if you are paying for satellite t.v. switching to Netflix or abstaining (however temporarily) could save you up to hundreds of dollars per month.

Variable expenses are a bit easier to make changes to. Maybe you could try shopping at your local thrift store. You won’t believe the awesome books, clothes, furniture, and appliances you can find for just a fraction of the price of new items.

Review every expense with a critical eye. Maybe Starbucks is a necessity but you could learn how to change your own oil or do your own nails.

After you have gone through each expense and decided if it needs to be reduced or eliminated, make any changes to your totals. This is your new budget. The money you saved can go towards your savings goals, vacation, retirement, or paying down your debts.

5. Act as CEO of your Budget

Finally, decide how you will track your spending. You can use pen and paper that you carry around with you, a free or paid app, or you can even withdraw everything you need in cash and separate it into envelopes labeled with the name of the category you budgeted for.

Also, be kind to yourself! You are only human and will eventually overspend. If that happens, adjust your budget however you can (reduce the next months spending for that category or any area you can reduce spending in, or look for a side hustle to earn some extra money, etc). Address it, own it, and move on.

I recommend that you re-evaluate your budget every month. Take a few minutes to think about what did and did not work. Update your goals and totals and make sure you feel happy with how you have every dollar working for you

Congratulations! You’ve done the hard work, now sit back and reap the rewards.

.

Continue Reading

Awesomely Easy 3 Ingredient Lotion Bars

I am really not exaggerating when I say I love these bars. I use them instead of a commercial facial moisturizer and lotion, to get rid of dry elbows and feet, and to moisturize the ends of my hair.

They are extremely easy to make and make great gifts. You can also play around with additives such as cocoa powder, vanilla, lavender buds, coffee beans, etc to customize the scent and add variety.

Awesome Bars

Equal parts:

-Beeswax pellets

-Coconut Oil, or any carrier oil (grapeseed oil, almond oil, etc. )

– Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter

-10 drops essential oil (Completely optional. I love the way they smell without any additional scents)

– Muffin Tin, Ice cube tray or soap mold

To determine how much of each ingredient you will need to fill your muffin tin or soap mold with water. Then pour that water into a measuring glass. Divide the amount you just measured by three and this will be the amount per ingredient.

Heat the beeswax in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a pan of boiling water with a mason jar set inside of it (place your ingredients in the mason jar and the lid under the jar).

Add the beeswax first. After your beeswax has melted, add the other ingredients. Heat until all oils are liquid. Then simply pour into your mold/muffin tin. Be careful with the hot oils! I did not use any sort of liner and was able to easily pry my lotion bars out with a spoon after they had cooled.

Let the bars sit overnight or put them in the refrigerator for a few hours. My bars looked like this:

You can store them in a plastic bag, tupperware, etc.

Enjoy!

Continue Reading

10 Reasons You Need A Budget

You might be thinking “yes, mother!” after reading the title of this post but I promise you that having a budget is worth your time. It really can be easy to do and budgeting is not about depriving yourself (I would never ask you to give up your Starbucks fix if it makes you happy!).

In fact, budgeting will allow you to remove or reduce any unnecessary expenses so that you can spend your money on something that makes you happy and reflects your goals and values.

I will tell you how I budget step by step in another post. For now, let’s take a look at why any of us should bother with a budget.

1. To Gain Control of Your Life

     Have you every dreamt of quitting your day job to start a business or become self-employed? Retiring and traveling the world? Owning your dream home? Or do you just want to get your head above water or be able to afford that one item you have had your eye on?

The first step to achieving any of these things is to take charge of your finances. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish by controlling your money and making it work towards achieving your goals and priorities rather than just randomly using it as expenses come up.

If you are serious about achieving your dreams and pursuing what you want out of life a budget is going to be a critical part of that process.

2. You Can Become Debt-Free

     Imagine if you could use all the money that is currently going towards your credit card payments, student loans, and car payments to boost your savings or towards achieving your goals.

Becoming debt-free may take a bit of time and a bit of strategy (more on this in an upcoming post) but it is totally achievable. A quick Google search will show you real stories of people who paid off massive debts and are now doing amazing things. I am paying down my last debt (my car) and it feels pretty awesome.

Saving money becomes like a game. You will find yourself thinking “If I can just shave x amount off of this, I can reach my goal x months sooner”.

Becoming debt free is a journey you can start today by making a budget.

3. Save Consistently

     By making a budget,you can automate savings for retirement, holidays, or emergency spending effortlessly.

Treat your monthly savings like a bill you need to pay and you will be surprised at how much you are able to save without much effort.

4. Understand Your Spending Habits

      You may think you know how you spend your money, but you may be surprised. If you track every purchase for a few months, patterns will begin to emerge.

For me, the amount of money I was spending on eating out was shocking and just plain crazy. I’ve been cooking at home more often as a result and have saved so much money while also improving my health.

You may find that it makes sense to buy your own espresso machine with all of the money you are spending on your drink of choice, or if you love to shop you might give local thrift store a try for a fraction of the cost.

In any case, having all of your expenses laid out in black and white will empower you to make any changes you want or need to.

5. Emergencies

     If you are living paycheck to paycheck or your savings are a bit low right now, a budget will help you get in control of your finances.

Don’t let an unexpected car repair or even a layoff devastate you financially. This is another reason it really pays to plan ahead a bit versus winging it.

6. Retirement

If you plan on retiring, investing and saving are pretty much non-negotiable, right?

7. Be Happier

     Have you ever fought with someone you love about money? Money can certainly cause stress and put a strain on all sorts of relationships.

With a budget and a plan, you can rest easier at night knowing you are on the right track. Even if you have debt or are struggling right now, having a plan can improve your outlook and make things so much easier.

8. Be Healthier

     As you embark on your budgeting adventure, you will be more aware of the choices you are making. Water is cheaper than soda and the joy of cooking at home starts to seem more appealing than a greasy, costly meal from a fast food place.

9. Stop Impulse Purchases

     Have you ever looked around your house and realized that everything you own used to be money? That nail polish you never used, whatever is stuffed in that closet or your junk drawers, clothes you don’t wear, etc.

As you track your expenses, you will naturally be less inclined to purchase things on impulse. Money you don’t need to spend could be better utilized by saving it or paying off a debt.

If you want something now, wait a month or two. If you still want it, see if you can get it secondhand or cheaper somewhere else.

With your budget and your goals laid out in black and white, the true cost of impulse purchases becomes apparent.

There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, but this should be a part of your budget.

10. Simplify Your Life

     With a good budget, you won’t need to stress about when bills are due or whether you can afford new tires for your car.

You will be saving for upcoming expenses, and you will have enough money in your account for your recurring expenses to go through effortlessly.

You can take back all the time you used to spend wondering if you were going to make it through the week and constantly checking your bank balance and do something for yourself. Read a good book, get outside, enjoy your life.

Now that you’ve gotten into the right mindset by knowing all the benefits of setting up a budget, actually getting it done will be nothing you can’t handle. Stay tuned for an upcoming post that will walk you through the process painlessly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the myths surrounding budgets or your experiences budgeting in the comments.

Continue Reading

Make Extra Money With Minimal Effort

       Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission
to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You
will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. Thank you.

      Survey Junkie allows you to take brief surveys and earn either cash (through Paypal) or gift cards for popular retailers (like Wal-Mart). If you need to make extra money after work online or you want to earn extra money for the holidays, this may be the perfect app for you.

       You can sign up for free and begin taking surveys now. This is a legitimate opportunity. No credit card required. No free trial. You will not get rich quickly, but you can make some extra money easily. I took the test surveys sprawled out on my couch in my pj’s!

       In my first three days of using this app I earned 433 points just by checking on the available surveys a few times a day and spending a few minutes at a time on surveys. 433 points translates to $4.33 cash or $4.33 on a gift card (please note, however, that rewards can only be used in increments of $10.00). So, you won’t be able to make enough to pay your rent but with a little time and patience this is a rewarding side hustle.

       If you do decide to try using Survey Junkie I would recommend setting a reminder or alert on your phone so that it becomes automatic for you to check the site periodically.

       If you find that surveys are filling up too quickly, try back late at night or early in the morning, whenever the site seems to have less traffic.

        Overall, this app will not allow you to quit your day job but you can earn a decent amount of money with minimal effort and I personally found it easy to use and well worth the time I spent on the app. Every survey you take is one step closer to being debt-free and achieving your financial goals.

      Are you ready to get started? Click here to sign up now and start earning money now.

       If you do try the app, tell me about your experience in the comments.

Continue Reading