New Year, New Budget

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Dime

January is a great time to create a new budget.  Here are some of our favorite posts about managing your money.

 

Budget: Where is your money going and where did it go?  Meet the Ghosts of Money Past, Present, and Future and learn their valuable lessons!  

 

Budgets: Eating Out and Entertainment  How much do you plan to spend on restaurants and entertainment in 2014?  Now’s the time to decide!

 

Budget Deliverables  7 money management printables, I mean, Deliverables, to help you take control of your finances this year.  

 

Grocery Budgets:  Grocery expenses can take a big bite out of your budget! What tips and tricks do you have to pinch your pennies?  

 

Budgets? Show your money who’s boss!  We want this to be the year where you finally break through and conquer your budget!  Get fired up here:

 

Budgeting, Self-Discipline, and Christmas Lists  How do those 3 things fit together?  

 

 


Snacks Worth Snacking

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We have officially ran out of our freezer snacks and breakfast meals so we spent some time last week on early dismissal day loading up the freezer again.

This time we stayed with our tried and true egg muffins and pancake muffin recipes, but I bought a 48 muffin tin pan that made life so much quicker!!! Gotta love the 50% off coupons at Michaels!!

We did add one amazing breakfast item that will be a frequent flyer in our freezer now. They work great for healthy snacks too.  They are…

Yogurt Granola Bites Let your creativity fly with this one. We used Aldi granola and used 6 different kinds of yogurt. We only put blueberries on top of ours because that is what we had but you could do any berry. We have to limit each person to 3 a day because they would be gone in a flash if we didn’t.

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Continue Reading…


Breakfasts and Lunches and Snacks – OH MY!!!

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Egg Muffins and Pancake Muffins!

Crayons, markers, uniforms, notebooks and pencils are covering my living room floor. School must be starting soon! I cannot believe we have hit the end of summer, but my three big kids are going to start in less than a week.

Our children attend a small private school. Since it is small, lunches sometimes are provided by a sweet mom who cooks for them, but other years no one is available to take on this huge task. This is one of those years. The thought of getting three lunches ready every morning plus a morning, afternoon and after school snack each day became a little overwhelming – that’s 60 ‘meals’ each week! So this year we are going to apply my freezer meal techniques to breakfast, lunch and snacks. (Or at least start out doing it!) Continue Reading…


Treasures In Totes of Gray

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Totes

My husband is a self-proclaimed pack-rat.  There are a lot of reasons for this, and I will admit that sometimes his boxes of odds and ends do come in handy.  (Usually to make something I saw on Pinterest.)  But he definitely likes to hold on to his stuff when he gets it.  Not only that, but he loves to keep little odds and ends that remind him of people or events.  Movie ticket stubs, little rocks or pinecones from trips, and things like that.  More treasures!  More stuff!  Unfortunately, my children have started the same treasure storing habits! Every craft, piece of paper and toy becomes a treasured memory. Over time these items have started to pile up. These blessings have started to become more of a burden. When we have friends over our basement floor becomes a dumping ground for each and every treasure they have ever received.

We Have This Treasure…

This past week we went through all our “treasures” in our basement toy rooms. We are moving out of the baby stage and are starting to move into the big kid stage so the time has come to purge the remaining baby toys and move on to the foosball table and crafts. I was utterly shocked at how easy it was for the kids to sort through what stayed and what went. As we went along they got excited about slimming down the amount of stuff we had to take care of and started brainstorming different people we could pass things on to. I learned a lot from my kids that day.

Continue Reading…


Traveling Food

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Branson

Feeding the Hungry Bears

It is hard to keep kids full, especially on the road. And keeping them full on the road can be very expensive.

We just got back from a five day vacation to the Branson area. This time I thought I would try some new and creative ways to try to keep the food expenses down. The kids and I got busy and made several things to take with us.

Unfortunately the hotel we stayed in did not have a free continental breakfast so the first thing we took was our breakfast. We made egg muffins, blueberry muffins and oatmeal raisin cereal bars. We also took cereal and milk as another easy option.

Three evenings we were at a water park and didn’t want to take the time to leave to eat, so I took food that could easily be cooked in the microwave in our hotel room. One meal I warmed up already cooked taco meat and we had walking tacos. (Fritos in a single-serving bag, meat, lettuce, cheese and salsa). Just make sure you take a glass bowl or a container that you can use to warm up the meat in. Another day we had Easy Mac and hot dogs.

Two of the days we went to Silver Dollar City Amusement park and I took in food to create meals on the go. One day we ate meat, cheese and crackers, yogurts, cuties, veggies with single serving ranch dressing. This got us through lunch and dinner and allowed us to splurge a little and get some fun treats for the evening show. (Side note–don’t forget to take your water bottles or else you will have to buy a drink. We ended up buying one souvenir cup and kept refilling it with water. When I went to get a discounted refill the guy ended up given it to us for free. Gotta love a free large blue raspberry slush!!) The second day I took in a container of peanut butter and tortillas and made up “sandwiches” that didn’t get smashed throughout the day along with fruit and veggies.

For the night we camped, I took hotdogs, baked beans and chips. We also did marshmallows and Keebler Fudge striped cookie smores 🙂 For breakfast we did eggs and bacon.

The sides/snacks we took to fill in throughout the week:

  • Fruit: apples, grapes and cuties
  • Veggies: cut up multi colored peppers and cauliflower
  • Chips: can of Pringles and then snack sized variety bags of chips from Sams
  • Snacks: trail mix (peanuts, raisins and m&m), cheezits, fruit leathers, cheese sticks, yogurts, applesauce in the squeezable containers, beef jerky and slim jims.

It was so helpful to have a tupperware container and one cooler full of food to feed my growing monkeys whenever they needed food. We didn’t have to hear whining about how hungry they were. We got to eat nice relaxing meals in our hotel room without having to wait to be seated or all the work of keeping excited kids in the booth. (Going to restaurants is not really all that relaxing for us at this stage in life…it was nice to have another option for most of our meals!)  It also allowed us to give our kids healthier options full of fruits and veggies that would not have been as easily done at a restaurant.

What have you done to cut expenses and made traveling easier and healthier??

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Vacation – Keeping the Sabbath – A Lost Art 

Budgets: Eating Out/Entertainment

Budgets: Grocery Shopping

Traveling: Toys and Movies

Traveling: Snack Bags!

Traveling: Packing Clothes

Traveling: Unpacking

 

 


Goal Post

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goalpost

This blog post is about goals.

I’ve often thought that if my boys go pro in the NFL, I would want them to be kickers. Great paycheck, potential for a long career, and with a low likelihood of concussion.  Pretty simple.  But I know it isn’t easy.  There is a lot of practice and a lot of pressure that goes along with that tall yellow goal post.

Practice

If you don’t have a goal, you’re just randomly kicking a ball around.  You won’t be challenged. You won’t know when you fail.  You won’t know when you succeed.  You won’t ever get any better.  A goal draws into sharp focus whether your discipline matches your passion, leaving no room for fuzzy wishes.  It gives you something concrete to strive toward.  And not only that, but goals also build on each other over time.  In 2007 one of our goals was for Hannah to learn her ABC’s.  Today she is in 3rd grade, and I’ll bet she would know her ABC’s by now, regardless of whether we set that goal or not.  But that does not mean that the goal was a waste.  The goal itself was practice.  The goals have since progressed to ‘sit and learn,’ ‘read,’ ‘overcome fear,’ and ‘gain confidence in math.’  The annual discipline of setting goals has helped us to guide her through each phase of development.  We have improved our parenting, year after year, through the setting of goals.

Pressure

The second thing about a goal is that it can make all the difference.  You either kick the game-winning field goal or it goes wide right.  And sometimes this truth is just as harsh in real life.  You either save enough money for a down payment on your dream home, or you don’t.  You either invest in that new family at your church, or they feel disconnected and go elsewhere.  You either encourage your buddy to keep fighting, or he despairs and divorces.  This is real life, and achieving your goal matters!  You are on earth for a purpose, and setting goals is a great way to make sure you accomplish it.

The NFL may not be in your future, but the practice of setting goals will help you meet the pressures of this crazy life.  And now is a great time to start!

Posts You May Like:

With a website call Our Purposeful Life, you can bet that we have a lot to say about goal-setting.  Here are some of our favorite posts on the topic.

Growth and Goals

Personal Goals

Marriage and Parenting

Goals for Kids

Budgeting


Budgeting: Where Is Your Money Going, and Where Did It All Go?

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Money is a strange thing.  It is just an object, made of copper or gold or paper.  It’s a math problem.  Paychecks come in, and payments go out.  It completely logical and free of emotion on the one hand, but it is inseparable from emotion on the other.  On the surface, money management is simple:  Spend less than you earn.  But when I’m standing in front of that new gadget that I have been reading about for months, it feels a lot less clear.  Or when it’s been a long week and a nice hot cup of FourBucks would be just the antidote for my lethargy.  Money is tightly intertwined with many bigger issues that we face, making it much more complicated than simple adding and subtracting.

And so, you need a budget.

The Ghosts of Money Past, Present, and Future

A budget works in the past, present, and future.  It gives you a clear vision of the past – how you have measured up over time.  It tells you, in black and red, how you are doing currently.  It helps you plan out the limits of what you want to spend in the future.  And it helps you prepare for good and bad things coming up, like vacations or private school or braces.  (Wow, I’m getting old!) To summarize:  It is a way that you tell your money where to go, and it is a way to track where it actually went.

We have several posts that deal with money and budgeting.  We hope they are helpful for you.

Budget and Money Posts:

Show Your Money Who’s Boss!

7 Budget Tools For 2015 

Your 5 Limited Resources with Unlimited Potential, Part 2  

Restaurants and Entertainment Budget

Grocery Budget

Budgets, Self-Discipline, and Christmas Lists 

MidYear Money Updates 


Unpacking

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Unpacking1

We just got back from an awesome trip seeing college friends. I love seeing family and friends, but do not look forward to coming home and putting everything away. We travel a decent amount, and I have this packing thing down! (If I do say so myself!) I know what to take, and how much, and where to put it into a car. We have a great system in place.

However, unpacking and putting things away is another story.

In the last year I have done a better job of having the kids put their toys and books away the night that we get home, and that definitely helps the de-cluttering of the living room. My main problem now is getting the suitcases completely emptied and put away. There have been times when 2 weeks later the suitcase is still sitting in our bathroom begging for someone to take the final five things out and put it safely back into the closet.

So this trip I set out to do better. Continue Reading…


A Little Wonder!

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I may be late to the boat, but I have discovered this little wonder…

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I love making egg muffins for my kids so that they can have a little protein in the morning. I like to make a whole bunch and freeze most of them to save for another week. I also love to make my children their birthday cakes. I love being creative and making them into shapes that represent an interest they had that year and decorate them accordingly.

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Last year’s boys’ cake.
Girls cake in 2010
Girls’ cake in 2010

 

In times past I have had one major frustration that at times prevents me from doing exactly what I had planned. I hate trying to get them out of the muffin tin or pans!  They never come out in one piece! I will typically miss one little corner or the exact middle of the cake when I spray my pans and then I have a hole or tear that I have to fix in my decorating. With the egg muffins, my pans are a mess and so difficult to clean up. Yes, I could buy new pans that have better non-stick still on them or I could use muffin cups, but I’m not a fan of putting them in the microwave and I am too cheap. Continue Reading…


Sweet Corn!!

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When my in-laws stopped by for a quick visit recently, they brought with them 125 ears of sweet corn. Sweet corn that was picked that very morning from their farm! Not only did we get fresh corn, we got shucked sweet corn. Oh what a HUGE blessing! So the next day, I got busy and cooked and froze most of the corn. I of course left enough for supper since nothing is better than corn on the cob or “cob on the corn” as one of my little ones used to call it.

Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe for freezing corn:

If you aren’t as luckily as me to have your corn already shucked, then shuck your corn and brush/clean off as many silks as you can. Then you cut the corn off the cob. Afterwards, you turn your knife backwards and slide it up and down and all around the cob. This gets the extra juice part off to make the corn even yummier.

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Continue Reading…


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