New Year, New Budget

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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?  



Breakfasts and Lunches and Snacks – OH MY!!!

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

Traveling Food

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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



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

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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 

MidYear Money Update

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July 1 marks the midpoint of the year.  We have checked off 6 months for 2014, and we have 6 months left.  For many companies this marks the beginning of a new fiscal year.  For us, it is an opportunity to sit down and make sure that we are still on the right path.  Back in December/January we described our annual Budget Summit and Deliverables,’ and I like to prepare an update at 6 months to see how the year is progressing.  Continue reading

Freezer Meals Round 2!!

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Freezer Meals

Happy Thursday!!

Today I am going to give you the opportunity to get another round of Freezer meals. This time I took the suggestion of one of our readers. She wanted to know if there was a way to do recipes that can be cooked or warmed up quickly the day you wanted to eat the meal. She was a working mom and needed to get supper on the table quickly after getting home. The meals I picked can either be baked in 20 minutes, warmed up on the stove quickly or can sit in the crock-pot while you are away (except for 1 meal that takes 1 hour).

The 10 meals I picked for this round are below: Continue reading

Pizza Lunchables

Finished Product!

I am always looking for lunch ideas for the girls. My husband can literally eat the exact same lunch every single day, and has since we got married. I, on the other hand, can not. Therefore I try to add variety to my kids’ lunch…some weeks more successfully than others. Our school is peanut-free which takes out some common options. Before school started last fall I came across this pin on Pinterest, and it was a great find! My kids love Pizza Lunchables but I am not willing to pay the price for them on a consistent basis. Here is a wonderful, yummy alternative to the store bought ones!! Continue reading

Budget Deliverables


We’ve talked about budgets and how to save money, and today we are going to share some of the tools that we use to keep ourselves organized.  These aren’t fancy, and they may or may not help you, but here we go…

First, get a 3 ring notebook.  If you are me, you will get a white or black one from Walmart.  If you are Dana, you will get a nice pink one with a floral print.  Regardless, it is worth it.  Put these deliverables into the 3 ring notebook and keep it in a handy location.  I think the correct Blog Word is ‘Printables,’ but as Luke would say, “That is girlish.”  So I will call them “Deliverables.” Continue reading

Budgets: Eating Out and Entertainment

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In our epic quest to tame the budget, we now turn to a couple more of the big targets:  restaurants and entertainment.


Remember that money is a tool.  It is a basic principle that you can spend money for:


  1. Quality
  2. Achieving your goals
  3. Convenience
  4. Fun

Keeping that in mind will help us to allocate our money effectively.


Restaurants are definitely convenient, but the math is just as inconvenient:

Nice dinner for the Hansons at home:  $12
Nice dinner for the Hansons at a restaurant:  $20-$50 Continue reading

Budgets: Grocery Shopping

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Budgets used to be a four letter word in my book! However as I have gained knowledge in this area, it has been fun to see the money get saved!!

The main area that I really focus on is food. You have to have it, and as your family grows you need more of it! It is also the easiest area to splurge in and waste money. But on the positive side, it is the easiest budget line to see immediate results.

Here are some tips on how to start saving money immediately: Continue reading