3 Unexpected Benefits of Minimalism: My Experience

benefits of minimalism

I decided to go minimalist thinking it was about getting rid of stuff. I leaned that direction for some time, not going overboard with baby stuff or toys after we had our first child, but after the death of my mother, who was a packrat, and you might even say an organized hoarder (is that a thing?). Once I decided to take an even more minimalist approach in my life. I felt overwhelmed by all the stuff in general and wanted less of it in my life. I had no idea there would be numerous unexpected benefits of minimalism.

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Benefits of Minimalism: Saying No Got Easier

I had a hard time saying such a simple word. It wasn’t just with bringing things into my home, I took on tasks I didn’t have time for, it was doing things that didn’t necessarily fit in the budget, putting up with stuff I didn’t have the emotional energy for, sometimes even putting up with people I didn’t have the emotional energy to be around.

I’d ignore a problem as long as possible (an inherited trait apparently) or would double my efforts and try to do more than I should in an effort to prove someone was right to put their faith in me. All because I did not want to let anyone down when it was plain for everyone to see that the expectation could not possibly be met. I exhausted myself and I let myself down.

Once I started purging I analyzed why I held on to things that had little meaning and no purpose. It became very clear that the only way to prevent more things that had little meaning or purpose in my life was to say no to them.

I suffered postpartum depression and crippling indecision after our first child. Walking around treating yourself like a doormat encourages others to do the same. It took a while to figure it out, but once I recognized what was happening I got help. I got better and was able to stop the meds, but anxiety has plagued my adult years. Again, it appears I inherited this trait.

I’ve said no to things recently due to anxiety because I knew I couldn’t handle it. I don’t know that pre-minimalism I’d have recognized the problem and chosen to make a decision for me rather than based on what I felt was expected of me; I feel much more proactive when it comes to my wellbeing.

The Urge to Shop Less Often

I grew up learning to appreciate the joys of bargain hunting and the value of a good deal. Pre-minimalism I spent entire lunch hours scouring stores looking for something I didn’t think we could live without. The better the deal the more you can buy, right?

I shudder to think how many of those good deals were hauled to donation centers in the last few years. In the last two years, I have really only frequented Target for baby supplies. Up and up was my favorite brand for diapers, wipes, and formula. I’d stock up once a month and get the$25 gift card for spending $100 (which I usually used the SAME trip). Something else always managed to find its way in the cart by the time I made it to the checkout.

When we moved a little farther out and I no longer worked I stocked up with online or drive up orders once we no longer used baby food and didn’t meet the free shipping minimum. A funny thing happened – I didn’t miss those Target runs! Lately, if I can’t get it at the grocery store or on Amazon, it’ll take me a good long while before I decide to venture out for it.

I’ve been to Hobby Lobby a grand total of once in the last six months, possibly all year. I spent less than $4 and used the 40% off coupon! We only went in because I couldn’t justify shipping for a $4 stencil that was a 20-minute drive away. My two-year-old kept reminding me why minimalism probably isn’t the only reason I dread shopping these days. We walked out with the item we came for and then headed to the donation dropoff to unload a few boxes.

benefits of minimalism

Benefits of Minimalism: Focus on Quality over Quantity and More Thoughtful Purchases

With this newfound aversion for shopping, it should come as no surprise that I spend less money on frivolous things since embracing minimalism. My purchases tend to be more researched, and when I click the checkout button in my Amazon cart, I’ve found the best value for my budget.

If the value I want isn’t in my budget I DON’T BUY ANYTHING. I also tend to leave items on my wish list for a long time. I go back through every once in a while and delete items I no longer want. In the past, these items would’ve been shipped to my front door, and later made their way into the donation box without much thought.

This is a major shift in perspective; I can’ tell you how many times I walked out of a store with a shopping bag of consolation items. They didn’t have exactly what I wanted, but I bought something else that didn’t really fit the bill to lessen my disappointment in not finding what I wanted.

I’d rather buy fewer items less often and buy quality items. As I said earlier in the week, frugal isn’t cheap. I’m not going for cheap anymore. Lesson learned. Since transitioning to a single income (with no car or student loan, and typically no credit card debt) we’ve actually become better savers. We were always good at saving and cash flowing projects, but just saving to have money in savings? Not so much.

I had no idea when I first started on this journey that the benefits of minimalism would go so far beyond having less stuff. My whole perspective on life has changed since embracing minimalism. I can without a doubt say it has changed my life for the better mentally, emotionally, and financially.

Essentials for the Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

the well-stocked medicine cabinet

Cooler weather is just around the corner and flu season has already arrived. Is your medicine cabinet ready? Ours is… getting there. Our medicine cabinet is actually in a bit of a transition. While we still have some traditional medicines I am adding in more natural remedies and supplements. Here are what I believe to be the essentials for my family’s well-stocked medicine cabinet.

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Traditional Medicines and Supplies

We still have traditional over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers for ourselves and the kiddos. I use them less often than in the past for myself and the children, but they are there when needed. There is also the typical stock of band-aids and thermometers. I don’t mess around with cheap bandages; rashes due to cheap adhesive are no fun. And like I said before, frugal isn’t cheap. Blogtober day 11 is here and we’re talking about my goals for well-stocked medicine cabinet.

Vitamins and Supplements

My husband is big on supplements; he takes a multi-vitamin, Aleve, glucosamine, Vitamin C (recently upgraded to Super C courtesy of Essential Rewards), and an OTC allergy medicine. The kids take multi-vitamin gummies, and recently I added these DHA gummies, which I need to replenish. I take these hair, skin, and nail gummies and Essentialzymes-4, which is wonderful, but I am terrible at remembering to take vitamins and supplements.

All-Natural Remedies for the Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

Since last winter I am a big believer in black elderberry, and try to keep it on hand as it never seems to be in stock at the local Neighborhood Market when we need it most! Any time I feel like coldlike symptoms appear I start popping those dissolvable tablets!

My husband has been taking apple cider vinegar daily for about a year now and swears by it. I have tried it a few times but just can’t seem to get over the taste and smell. Seriously considering the new gummies for myself. No sick days for this mama!

Oils for a Well-Stocked Medicine Cabinet

I love Thieves® for immune support and the smell! We have a roller in the oily shelf and keep a roller on the kitchen counter diluted with almond oil for the kids. I try to make it a habit to roll some down their spine on a daily basis.

There is also a roller of diluted lavender I use on boo-boos and behind their little ears at night. If you’ve read the blog or my Instagram for long you know that my son cut his hand this summer requiring surgery. He is healing well and I massage the lavender into his scar to help it stretch and continue to heal well.

I keep TummyGize™ (and am stocked up, again thanks to Essential Rewards) on hand for when the little ones have upset tummies. I use it on myself as well! This stuff works! We also give them MightyPro drink mix a few nights a week to help things in that department as well.

I also have R.C.™ and Ravintsara on-hand on the oily shelf. There are way too many oils on my wish list to mention them all, but I have a good, basic supply this frugal oiler feels confident using to support my family’s health with our modest budget and plan to add more every month.

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention that new oilers who buy a Premium Starter kit in the month of October get free shipping when you sign up for Essential Rewards! Keep some money in your pocket and get a great start on oiling with all the set has to offer. Now is a great time to get all that oily goodness for a well-stocked medicine cabinet!

Stock Up Now and Try to Stay Healthy

Whatever you deem essential for your well-stocked medicine cabinet, don’t wait till somebody gets sick to make sure it’s on hand! Get your medicine cabinet ready now and have one less worry when you or a loved one gets sick. Better yet, do what you can and utilize what’s in your well-stocked medicine cabinet to prevent everything you possibly can.

Make sure your meal plan includes plenty of healthy, warming options this fall and winter and keep the kiddos bundled tight when they head off to school. I have gotten my flu shot every year since having kids and plan to get mine today! My daughter has a wellness visit coming up and I will get make sure both kids get their shots then. I’m neither a silky mama or a crunchy mama; I trust my gut and do what I believe is best for my family. I encourage you to do the same. Now go get your medicine stocked and keep your family frugal and healthy friends!

Self-Care for Mamas: Self-Care Tips on a Dime

self-care for mamas

Self-Care for Mamas: Take Care of Yourself so You can Take Care of Your Family!

Blogtober post #4 is all about self-care for mamas. My main focus is on stay-at-home moms because, well, that’s where I’m at and it is easily one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had. Working moms can use this too. I’ve been a working mom as well. Sometimes arriving to work to spend the day with adults can feel like a little vacation; other days it feels like you’re just dealing with really big toddlers!

This should go without saying, but some of us, myself included, are not good at this one. So this post and my advice is for me too today. Momming is not for the faint of heart! It takes grit, determination, and a strong stomach to raise kids well! But we can’t take good care of our families if we don’t take care of ourselves.

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Self-Care for Mamas Doesn’t Have to be Expensive

You don’t have to go to the spa every week to practice self-care; kudos to you if you are able to make it, but if your budget doesn’t allow that level of pampering I have some frugal suggestions for self-care at home.

Last Sunday morning I looked down at my toes and realized I hadn’t done anything besides trim my nails since using a gift card in late July to get a pedicure (admittedly, it was a gift card my husband gave me for my birthday last August and I had to scramble to use it before it expired!).

So, I trimmed my toenails, dropped a few drops of lemongrass oil on a cotton ball, and rubbed it on my nails to take off what was left of the old polish. I then applied one layer of fresh polish to wear sandals to church. It felt so good and I wondered why I had waited so long to do such a simple thing for myself.

If You’re Taking Care of Yourself it Qualifies as Self-Care

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even a lot of time to practice good self- care. You just have to recognize the need for it, ask for help, and do what you can to decompress and make sure you’re better able to be there for your family.

I’ve struggled with anxiety the past month. It’s apparently an unwanted gift bestowed to both sides of our family, and while it is easier to deal with now that I am not employed full-time outside the home, I tend to miss signs when it starts to get out of hand. Most recently I let unchecked anxiety keep me from attending a family wedding. While the nuptials were taking place I was pounding out my issues on the treadmill at a local gym. Not my proudest moment, but I had to acknowledge my situation and do what I could to alleviate it.

self-care for mamas

Case in Point:

Yesterday, (Thursday actually – I am writing this post in advance) I felt a little off and was easily irritated by the kids (never good when you’re a stay-at-home mom) and just felt a bit like a hamster on its wheel; I was spinning my wheel and going nowhere fast!

When my two-year-old decided he wanted to “hulp” mama cook I had to scramble to keep him from pulling the bowl of raw meatball ingredients down off the counter and dropped the unopened glass jar of minced garlic I had been trying to open. I almost caught it, which probably prevented it from completely shattering, but it broke.

I immediately panicked; we had quite an ordeal this summer when this same little boy pulled a glass jug down from a shelf, fell with it, and lacerated his hand badly this summer. I hurried him out of the kitchen and grabbed the broom to sweep up the spilled bits of garlic and glass on the floor. When my husband got home and assessed the situation the look in my eye was enough to make him want to head for the hills. He took the kids outside to play while I swept, vacuumed, and steam-mopped the floors.

Know When to Ask for Help

As I cleaned it struck me that our schedule was a bit different this week, he was working later, and I hadn’t been to the gym since that aforementioned weekend session. Light bulb moment. This is my me-time. I don’t really like going to the gym, but I like how I feel when I go regularly.

I’ve felt less than motivated lately and with our schedules being off and the little out of daycare due to budget constraints it’s been harder to go. I immediately reached for the phone and asked a family member if they were available to watch him. I made it to the gym today and felt so much better for it.

It may seem like I’m rambling at this point, but my point is you have to recognize when you need help and ask for it.

Self-Care Ideas for Mamas on a Budget

Here is a simple list of five ideas for self-care when you’re on a budget.

  1. Call a friend up for coffee and reconnect. A cuppa with a good friend can be good for the soul. It’s worth the $5 once a month to catch up with a gal pal.
  2. Give yourself a mani/pedi. If you have any little girls running around make it a bonding moment. I recommend not using it as a reward, but just a nice moment. I know I don’t do this near enough. I’m curious to try a DIY powder nail kit after the damage my nails experienced with a gel manicure.
  3. Ask for help. I am working on this one, but have gotten better at asking my husband to help with bedtime. I’ve considered making it a set weekly thing for both kids. Hi honey! I love you!
  4. Pamper yourself with a DIY hair mask and diffuse a calming blend of oils.
  5. Drink a nice cup of hot tea (or coffee or wine – your choice) and curl up with a good book once the kiddos are in bed.

These are all very simple things but can be so hard to actually do. If you’re not a mama but you know and love some mamas make sure you give them some love this week! Call one up and invite her out for a cup of coffee or offer to take the kids for a few hours so she can decompress. Take care of the mamas in your life; they deserve it so for taking such good care of everyone else.

Happy Haunting for $1: Halloween Finds at Dollar Tree!

happy haunting for $1

Halloween is coming up fast! It would be a fright not to be prepared! But don’t worry! You still have time to get ready without breaking the bank! You can send have happy haunting for $1 Halloween night! Blogtober day 3 is here and I’m bringing you more Halloween deals! If you still need costume ideas, refer back to yesterday’s post of 7 Costume Ideas Pulled Together on a Dime from Amazon and thrift store finds.

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Happy Haunting for $1 this Halloween

This year don’t overpay at the grocery superstore for anything; just go to Dollar Tree and get what you need. Besides staying well-stocked on candy year-round for your trick or treaters you can also get Halloween decorations, costume accessories, and more all in one stop, and all for the bargain price of $1 apiece! Your budget will definitely want to thank me or this money-saving tip!

Whether you need a dragon mask, cat ears, or all the cool accessories for your little ninja (soft and harmless materials!), devil ears, or a full-on ladybug costume complete with wings, polka dot skirt, and antenna you can find them at Dollar Tree! Why pay $30 for a costume that likely won’t fit for long or only be worn once and then donated when you can get what you need for $1 apiece? You can even scoop up some goody bags there too!

happy haunting for $1
Meow!

You Can Shop Online in Your Pajamas for Your Halloween Party!

Did you know that a lot of Dollar Tree items are available online?! Shop for your Halloween party decorations, party supplies, and Halloween candy from the comfort of home! Check out all the great options on costume accessories as well.

Get in the Halloween spirit for just $1

This is a great option for teachers and homeroom moms as well! Where are you going to find everything happy haunting for a class party for $1 or less? While you’re at it pick up some party snacks and keep the savings rolling!

Safety First on Halloween

You can also find a good selection of glow-in-the-dark accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, wands, and even unicorn horns and fake nails in-store and on-line. Keep your precious little princesses, goblins, and ghouls safe while they’re out trick or treating and make sure people can see them! Here is to safe and happy hauntings this Halloween!

Stay safe out there!

3 Tips to Survive and Succeed in a No Spend Challenge

no spend challenge

No-spend challenges are more popular than ever. If you’ve ever thought about doing a no-spend challenge now is a great time to get started! Save up some money for Christmas if you haven’t already, put the money saved toward your debt, or add it to the emergency fund. And for #blogtober day 2 here are my top 3 challenges to help you survive and succeed in a no-spend challenge!

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Set a Realistic Time Period for Your No-Spend Challenge

Setting an unrealistic goal for your first no-spend challenge will set you up for failure before you start. If you’ve never done one or are prone to spend freely start small; try a no-spend weekend challenge and see how you do. If it goes well continue on into the next week.

There are some pretty amazing families on Instagram doing a no-spend year. If you want some major inspiration this is a great hashtag to follow. It should also help you out of your funk if you think you may not survive your first no-spend weekend!

Set Clear Guidelines for Your No-Spend Challenge and Communicate Them with Your Spouse or Partner

Obviously some money may have to be spent depending on the timing of your challenge. Bills do still have to be paid. So, utility bills, mortgage/rent, and other necessities such as gas and groceries are allowed if your challenge falls around due dates or lasts longer than a weekend.

So, essentials are allowed, but meals out, coffee runs, new clothes, mindless scrolling online at shoe sales aren’t. Clear enough? No-spend looks different for everyone. Just make sure you have set clear guidelines for your challenge and that everyone participating agrees on the rules. Communication is key when it comes to surviving and succeeding.

Make a Plan for Your Challenge

And then follow through. If you’re a social person make sure that your crew knows you’re not getting out that weekend. Make sure they don’t ask because you don’t need the temptation! Some people pick a weekend and stay home, watch DVDs, and bake or curl up with a good book and a cup of their favorite homebrew.

Some people do a no-spend challenge during the week and go to their 9-5 but skip the Starbucks line on the way into work and pack their own lunch. Then go home and cook a nice dinner and eat as a family. Take a trip to the library at lunch and find a few new books to read. This time of year is also awesome for getting out and appreciating the changing season; go for a bike ride or take a walk as a family.

This is a great opportunity to break out the board games, old family movies or photo albums, and reconnect with your loved ones. If your fridge and pantry are well stocked invite your friends over for dinner to hang out. If they aren’t you can organize a potluck! Invite your friends to join in on the challenge with you and encourage and hold each other accountable!

Once you have your first successful challenge take advantage of the momentum and plan your next one! If a short weekend no-spend went well pat yourself on the back, send money toward your goals, and keep going! Practice your newfound discipline every day going forward to avoid impulse spending going forward; it can be so easy to get done with a no-spend challenge and then go crazy buying what you think you missed out on during the challenge. Don’t do that! Schedule the next one and make it last a little longer! And let me know how it goes!

Let Me Know How it Goes!

If you want more information on a no-spend challenge there are lots of great books and guides available on Amazon with more information and insight on the topic. Make sure you’re prepared going into your challenge so you can succeed. Just don’t buy one during your challenge, because that would defeat the purpose!

I would love to hear your successes in a no-spend or offer any help if you have trouble. If you’ve ever done a successful no-spend challenge and have tips of your own to add let me hear them! I would love to hear from you.

You can leave a comment with any questions or find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and now YouTube. Be sure to follow along and subscribe for more tips and content. Good luck! I will be back tomorrow with more new content for #blogtober day 3! Hope to see you then.

3 Tips to Gain Peace of Mind: Be the Gatekeeper

peace of mind

Be the Gatekeeper Your Family Needs and Gain the Peace of Mind You’ve Always Wanted

Ever feel stressed when you walk in the door at the end of the day? Is home not the peaceful, serene place you hoped it would be? Wonder how all that stuff wound up there? Wonder what is in the stuff that wound up there? Need more peace of mind?

Lately I’ve noticed on social media and in real life a lot of people being more aware of things; aware of the fact that their home is not a source of peace, their finances are a hot mess, or they’re just fed up with all of the extra stuff they don’t understand listed on the label of the products they use every day in their home.

I also see a lot of people who seem to think that is just how it is. How it is isn’t good enough! They’d like to get more organized, but they have so much stuff and they “need” it all at some point so why get rid of it? Everyone is in debt, so at least they’re not alone in their situation. Non-toxic products cost so much more money, why try.

The government should just write off our student loan debt and ban certain ingredients (no disagreement from me on that last one). Besides, with those student loan payments, there’s no way you can afford non-toxic, cleaner products. It’s just not true friends.

What if I told you that I have three simple (notice I didn’t say easy) tips to help you with all three of those problems? Give you peace of mind in your home, your finances, and your health? You have the power to do that yourself.

I’m going to let you in on the big secret. Maybe you already know it or maybe you never thought of it this way, but you already are the gatekeeper of your home. You just need to learn how to be a better one.

1. Be More Minimal

I’m not saying sell everything and live on a bus, although being a skoolie does look pretty amazing. I am saying you need to take bite the bullet so to speak and start decluttering. Sell it all but the kitchen sink if you have to. We’re after counter space. Breathing room. Find a little of that and you’ll find a little peace of mind.

This can be a daunting task, but you landed in a great spot to find more information on minimalism, decluttering and even organization. It happens to be a passion of mine. Sometimes in order to be a better gatekeeper, we need to throw some stuff out of the gate. A lot more stuff in some cases than others. That’s okay. Start small, see how it feels, and then go from there.

2. Read the Label- Don’t Buy What You Don’t Understand or Trust for Some Peace of Mind

Before you put anything in your cart read the label. If you don’t understand what’s in it Google it. If you don’t like what’s in it don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. It’s your job as the gatekeeper to keep anything you deem harmful, inappropriate, or contradictory to your goals out of your home and budget.

This is one of those times Google is your best friend; google every ingredient, process, or item you don’t understand. Download an app such as Think Dirty and find their independent grade for any number of products while you’re still in the store. You’ll be amazed at how much you don’t buy when you pay attention to the labels.

If the labels with items you do approve of come attached with a high price tag weigh your priorities. Are you willing to spend more money on products you know will meet your standards or will you spend time to DIY some solutions of your own? Be sure you budget your time and money accordingly. You can also check out my Non-Toxic Home and oily pages for some frugal and non-toxic DIYs. I mix my own dish soap, hand soap, and am currently researching my own facewash using non-toxic bases and a few drops of essential oil.

3. No is a Valid Answer. Use it.

Start saying it more often. It is amazing the freedom that comes with one simple word. Don’t want it in the house? On the kids’ calendar? Don’t want to keep spending money like you’re in congress? Then don’t.

The hard truth is that every, “yes,” is a “no,” to something else. Choose your yeses and nos carefully. You don’t get more time back with your kids when you overload the schedule, you don’t build up your emergency fund when you max out the credit card every month, and you don’t pay off debt unless you quit adding to the total. It’s a hard mindset shift for sure, but it does get easier with time.

Choose what matters most to you and your family. Prioritize around what matters most and say no to things that don’t align. Adjust the budget, clear the schedule, and hold fast as a family. One shift in thinking, one decision made more intentionally, and then the next. Slowly but surely, one step at a time you will feel yourself becoming the gatekeeper your family needs at home and peace of mind won’t be too far behind.

alifeonadime is on YouTube with its own Channel!

Sometimes you just have to do it scared!

It’s something that’s been on my mind a while and there’s no time like the present… So as of today alifeonadime is on YouTube!

Be on the lookout for new content! The YouTube channel will feature topics like budgeting, minimalism, and more. I plan to include a lot of frugal DIYs, my favorite frugal finds, tips on being frugal and sustainable!

Be sure to subscribe to the channel: alifeonadime on YouTube

Head on over and subscribe to the alifeonadime channel so you don’t miss out on new content there! And be sure to hit the button to subscribe here on the blog if you haven’t already!

I am very excited, and a little scared! If this isn’t getting out of your comfort zone and really going for it I don’t know what is! I recently posted my first video on Instgram and people were very supportive! It was definitely encouraging.

I know most bloggers write a lot of posts and post a lot of videos before going live. I really wanted this journey to happen organically. This blog and now my YouTube channel will grow along with me. Just like in life I am figuring this out as I go! Come along for the ride with me. We can grow together.

alifeonadime is on YouTube

As always, if there is something specific you want to see just let me know in the comments or contact me! I love the feedback!

See you soon!

Vogue Magazine: 73 Questions Parody

I was recently tagged by @SmithLafrieda of www.MMMoffamilyentertainment.com to do a Vogue 73 Questions post. It sounded fun, so here goes!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

1. What’s your usual starbucks order?

I am not at Starbucks enough to have a usual (we are on a rather tight budget till we get medical bills paid off and build up our emergency fund), but one of my favorite things to order is a mocha with no whip and some chicken chorizo tortilla sous vide egg bites. That actually sounds really good right now. I think I may have to Google myself a good recipe to make my own. The mocha is either iced or hot depending on the weather and always with NO whip cream. It’s a texture thing.

2. What does your workstation look like?

There always seems to be a pile of clean placemats and tea towels fresh from the dryer behind my laptop; I’m a terrible multitasker!

Vogue 73 Questions

3. Favorite food?

It’s hard to pick an absolute favorite. If I truly had to narrow it down it would be the Arkansas Fritters at Tusk & Trotter in Bentonville, AR. This was a favorite restaurant of ours when date nights were a regular thing and anything on the menu would probably qualify. I also love their pizza.

4. Favorite author?

Hmmm. I have read a variety of books primarily on personal finance and minimalism lately, but I think my all-time favorite author would have to be C.S. Lewis. I am not a Narnia super fan, but I haven’t read anything of his that didn’t resonate. I need to dig Mere Christianity back out and reread it.

Vogue 73 Questions

5. What do you think of open relationships?

I agree with Lafrieda: “3 or more is a crowd-So Nope.”

6. What is your favorite video game?

I don’t play very often, but Wii Sports! I love bowling on the Wii!

7. Guilty pleasure treat?

Vogue 73 Questions

I like to eat it straight out of the container. I just have to hide in the laundry room so the kids don’t see!

8. Favorite movie?

9. Favorite book?

I don’t know that I have one, but if I had to choose I would say it was a tie between these two. Hmm… maybe I have more than one favorite author?

10: Twitter or Instagram?

Probably still Instagram, but Twitter is growing on me.

11. Desktop or laptop?

I definitely enjoy my laptop more right now, but mostly because I do not have a desk yet. It’s a little more comfortable at the kitchen counter than the console table where the desktop is.

12. Best advice you’ve ever received?

It was probably to trust my instinct and do what I felt was right/best.

13. What project are you working on right now?

Mostly this blog; I’m still new to the blogging world and trying to figure all this out.

14. Favorite color?

Purple. I don’t wear or use it often, but it is still my favorite.

15. Did you get good grades in school?

I did fairly well in high school but made the Dean’s List in college a time or two. I was more motivated as an adult in school paying my own way! I look forward to the day when I am able to finish my degree. It is not in our best financial interest for me to pursue that now. That is a whole nother post though probably!

16. Dream job?

I am working toward being a mompreneur; I would love to keep doing what I’m doing and actually provide steady additional income for my family without the need for childcare.

17. Play sports?

Not so much; I have an incredible lack of coordination and depth perception.

18. Do You Have a Degree?

No, I do not. I will probably save that story for a later post and not in a Vogue 73 Questions answer though. The good news is I cash flowed my tuition so I obtained no student loan debt.

19. Nationality?

Born and bred in the USA, mostly Irish roots with some Dutch and Swedish according to my sister’s 23 and Me analysis. There were no major revelations in her test so I figured I’d keep my DNA to myself and save $100.

20. What’s your favorite type of blog post?

I really like posts that tell a story but are also informative and helpful. I don’t have a lot of time for entertainment so I prefer my time reading to be spent on personal growth. It helps if they’re funny too.

21. What do you like to collect?

Friends and memories! That’s what’s so great about becoming a blogger; I’ve met so many new people and leared so much in just a few short months! Since I started on this minimalist path I decided to focus on experiences and not things. I’ve always been leary of collections anyway; you get one French rooster for example and the next thing you know that’s all anyone gets you for your collection! It’s the stuff of nightmares I tell you!

22. Describe yourself in 3 words…

I would say I am kind, introspective, and sometimes a little too serious.

23. If you were a rapper what would your stage name be?

I have no clue on this one. Any suggestions?

24. Who was the last person you DMed?

I respond to stories a lot more than I DM, but I believe I last reached out to an IG friend in West Texas after hearing about the latest shooting in Texas. I learned that if you’re in Texas you don’t consider Midland/Odessa to be West Texas.

25. What’s on top of your wish list right now?

Believe it or not, we sleep on an air mattress right now; I sold our old bed and mattress before we built our new house. They weren’t what we wanted anymore and the mattress needed to be replaced. I decided I’d rather take the cash and not move it twice. Here we are a year and a half later still on the air mattress.

We would love a new mattress and for my husband to be able to build this farmhouse storage bed. He’s very handy; he’s built all the furniture in our house except our couch and his dresser. The bed will hopefully eliminate the need for the dresser.

26. Sorting Houses?

Vogue 73 Questions

27. How many tattoos do you have?

Just the one. I have my kids’ names above the anklet and feathers. After some post-cesarean complications with the second child I wanted something pretty on my body to remind me of my pregnancies. I would like a watercolor peony on my arm, but no immediate plans there (we are on a budget and all that jazz).

28. What are you most grateful for?

Family! We literally would not be where we are today without them!

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?

It hasn’t happened yet, but this month is our 13th wedding anniversary!

30. What’s the best thing that has happened to you today?

Nothing much has happened today and I like it that way!

31. What’s the best thing ever?

I want to be funny and say chocolate, but I’m going to have to go with salvation. Without that everything else would be pointless.

32. Favorite season?

Fall! So glad it is just around the corner! Arkansas weather is so meh, but fall is not too hot, not too humid, not to mosquito-y, not too cold. It’s just right for a little while. I am a big fan of sweater weather.

33. Favorite Holiday?

Christmas! I love the music, the food, the family, the meaning…

34. What fictional character do you relate to?

I am drawing a blank on this one.

35. Do you like surprises?

Good ones, yes.

36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever received?

The fact that I am a stay at home mom and my family is consumer debt-free in a brand new house is beyond my wildest dreams!

37. Which surprise made you cry?

Nothing happy is coming to mind, so I’m going to skip this one.

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve given someone else?

Probably my husband’s surprise 30th birthday party.

39. Do you like muffins?

Love them! I make a pretty good blueberry muffin if I do say so myself.

40. Do you cook often?

Pretty much every. single. day. And I’m big on meal planning.

41. What’s your favorite dessert?

Red velvet cake.

42. Is there a dessert you don’t like?

Stuff with lots of whipped cream or nuts.

Cake or Pie?

Cake usually.

What’s your least favorite food?

Green peas or beans. Again, it’s a texture thing.

45. What’s your favorite condiment?

Hidden Valley Ranch. There is no substitute. 

46. It’s 4 am on a random Saturday, what are you eating?

I’d better be asleep at 4 am! If not it’d better be pancakes!

47. If you could teach a college class, what would it be called?

Don’t do this 101. Prerequisite to Do That 102.

48. Best Animated Film

Beauty and the Beast! Forget the holes in the story, it is just a beautiful movie.

49. What has a guy done or said to impress you?

Followed my intuition and advice!

50. Best thing to do on a first date?

It’s been a while, but be yourself. Treat yourself and the other person with respect.

51. What’s the worst thing to do on a first date?

Talk about yourself too much; the whole point is to get to know the other person enough to know if you want a second date…

52. What’s the funniest pickup line a guy/girl could use?

Not a fan of most.

53. Best Comic Book Character?

Not into them, but gotta go with The Wolverine. Only because… Hugh Jackman.

54. Name 3 things that can always be found in your purse?

Keys, lip balm, and a pocket knife. I never remember I have the knife though.

55. Favorite drink?

I love Dr Pepper. I know it’s bad for me, but I still love it.

56. If you could play a historical character in a movie, who would it be?

No clue.

57. Kittens or puppies?

I stink at house training so I’m going to have to go with kittens.

58. Favorite sushi roll?

I’ve only tried shrimp tempura.

59. What lipstick do you use?

Currently, just lip balm and occasionally an old Avon favorite. I really want to try Savvy Minerals lip gloss.

60. What foundation do you use?

Savvy Minerals Mineral Powder. I love it!

61. Blow Dry or Air Dry?

Little of both; I lose patience with the hairdryer and give up.

62. Who is your favorite fashion Icon?

Audrey Hepburn! Full disclosure: I can’t pull off red lip color and am nowhere near as chic. I love her style, but I don’t have it!

63. Favorite Disney Character?

Disney “Beauty & the Beast 3D” Belle. ©2011 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Belle.

64. What are you doing tomorrow?

Taking my boy to speech therapy. Probably housework. Hopefully blogging.

65. Movie you laughed the hardest through?

Nothing is coming to mind.

66. A movie that made me cry?

The Notebook, but I was mad! Hollywood ruins books you already know and love.

67. If you could sing a duet with anybody, who would it be?

Nobody would pay to see that!

68. If your life was a song, what would the title be?

“This is the Stuff” by Francesca Battistelli. “I lost my keys in the great unknown and call me please cuz I can’t find my phone…”

69. What is your favorite animal?

Cat.

70. Favorite Illustrator?

71. The person you want to have coffee with?

Anybody pleasant. There is a devotional writer who has a spot on the radio that starts out, “if we could have coffee together I’d tell you…” Her.

72. What country would you like to visit?

France.

73. Best way to decompress?

Long bath, good book, and a glass!

5 Tips to Save More Dough on Groceries

save more dough

Save More Dough by Using These Simple Tips

It feels so good to be on a budget and know that your money is now going to work for you! But what if you’re spending more money than you realized on food? Even after slashing the takeout budget you’re spending more than anticipated. I know at one point I just thought, “food is just so expensive,” and that we’d always have a problem with this area of the budget. That doesn’t have to be true! Here are five simple hacks that can save you dough at the grocery store! Pun intended.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

1. Shop Your Cabinets and Make a Meal Plan

Before you even think about what to buy at the grocery store you need a solid meal plan for the week. Make a meal plan for the full length of time between grocery trips. Check your cabinets, fridge, and freezer for older food that needs to be eaten. Plan meals around these items first.

Opt for simple, inexpensive dishes if cooking isn’t your forte yet or you are typically pressed for time when preparing dinner. Examples of inexpensive meals include spaghetti night, taco night, turkey meatloaf, pasta salad, baked chicken and veggies…

Consult the Meal Planning and Recipe pages if you need some frugal ideas that are still pretty healthy. It may even be a good idea to invest in one or two good cookbooks. I am to a point where I have several recipes I use on rotation and love to keep a recipe file book on hand. It helps a lot to have a selection of tried and true recipes at hand to make meal planning and prep easier. This can either be a file box or tin with index cards or be kept in binder/book form.

If you shop once a week you need a plan for 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I actually prefer to sit down with the wall calendar and plan out dinners for the majority if not the entire month in one sitting. It saves time and a lot of hassle. It also prevents the endless “what’s for dinner?” question from anyone who can read! Leftovers can take care of at least one night a week with careful planning and portion control. See, budgeting can good for your waistline as well!

2. Make a List

Now that you’ve shopped your cabinets and come up with a meal plan it is time to make your list! Go through each meal on your weekly meal plan and write out all ingredients needed not currently in your cabinet. Need more than just a few items for that ambitious meal you’ve never made before? Is a particularly expensive cut of meat called for but no special occasion to celebrate? You might want to save that dish for later.

Be sure to include any snack items or the ingredients needed for snacks you plan to make yourself in the list. This is one area I need to improve on. I probably spend enough money on snack items a month that if I buckled down I could afford that food dehydrator I’ve been eying after just a few months.

You can even save yourself some time by buying double what you need for one meal and prepping two batches at once. Take that turkey meatloaf for example; from time to time when I bake this tried and true recipe at our house I mix up a double batch and freeze one for later. It takes the guesswork out of things on a more hectic day the following week. Just thaw the day before and put in the oven when you need to set the timer and forget it while you tackle something else on your to-do list.

One last thing on that list – it will take some practice, but organize your list in order of how you plan to move around the store. For example, I shop at Aldi, so I start my list with produce, then snacks, fresh meats, deli, dressings, canned goods, cereal, pasta, spices, and tortillas, dairy, eggs, then frozen foods. It saves a lot of time knowing I can get in, get what’s on my list, and get out without doubling back multiple times to the same aisle.

3. Save More Dough by Cooking from Scratch

Save your dough by rolling your own! I make my own bread and love it. The kids are a harder sell on fresh homemade bread; in fact, they both prefer store-bought. Hence the different school lunches I pack my daughter. See my article on 25 Frugal and Dairy-Free School Lunch Ideas or my Instagram story highlight on School Lunches to see what I feed her instead.

I do however bake bread for my husband’s lunches at work and occasionally enjoy an open-faced breakfast sandwich on one myself. The bread I bake every week can be found in my recipes!

I also save a few bucks here and there making all my sauces from scratch. The pizza sauce I make is really easy and can be found in my recipes as well.

4. Shop the Perimeter of the Store

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. That’s because it works! Stay out of the seasonal and prepackaged food aisles! Avoid the convenience food section, the candy aisle, insert your weakness here aisle. I myself can be a sucker for the seasonal aisle at Aldi because heaven forbid that item I don’t even need isn’t there next time!

It will save you more dough and more time if you just stick to the list and don’t even go down the aisles that have nothing on your list. I repeat – just stay away from an aisle if its contents are not on your list. And put your blinders on when you’re in line at the register! Those items are there for a reason. So much psychology goes into the placement of items at stores. Be aware of this and pay attention so you don’t fall for their efforts to put more in your cart right before you check out.

5. Time Your Grocery Trips Right

If your favorite grocery store has a deal day (when they set out the weekly deals) go then. If your grocery store has a double coupon day for sure do your shopping then if you have any coupons for items you already plan to buy. Please don’t use a coupon for an item you wouldn’t buy otherwise; that’s not saving any money.

If you’re not worried about timing the sales then save money by timing your trip on a day you are out anyway; for example, my son’s therapy clinic (just graduated physical and is now in speech) is right behind our closest Aldi. Right now he has speech on Wednesdays and Fridays so we go grocery shopping on Wednesdays. Some weeks we’ll stretch it out and go on Friday if we have eaten with family more than planned or just want to wait till payday.

We plan our trips to avoid unplanned purchases and save gas. It really does add up; I’ve been more mindful of what time and how often I go grocery shopping this last month and I go two to three days longer per tank of gas between fill-ups!

Bonus Tip – Scan Those Receipts to Save More Dough With Cash Back Apps!

Who doesn’t love free money? That’s what apps such as Ibotta and Fetch Rewards give you! Browse the Ibotta app for cashback on items you already plan to buy and then redeem those points. There are any brand deals on certain items (say chocolate milk for instance) and any item deals that offer 10-50 cents back on literally anything. Just scan the receipt and cash out once you have earned enough rewards. Need a referral code to get started? Click here to get started with Ibotta and enter referral code itxrhcs. For Fetch Rewards download the app through Google Play or the Apple App Store and use referral code 8H9Y1.

For the full list of referral codes and links to cashback and survey apps that I use as well as hosting information check out my Recommendations page.

What are your tried and true ways to save more dough at the grocery store? Let me know! And be sure to follow a Life on a Dime on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see more of mine!

Frugal in the Fall: 3 Items to Include in the Budget

frugal in the fall

So you’ve started budgeting. That’s great! Here are a few activities and expenses that might come up this season to make sure you have fun while still being frugal in the fall.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.*

Don’t Let School Expenses Derail Your Attempts to be Frugal in the Fall

Just because you bought the supplies doesn’t mean you’re done with school-related expenses. Below is a list of possible expenses that could come up. Whether or not you choose to spend money on these items is between your family and your budget; just be sure you don’t miss out on anything you want to do for your kids because you failed to budget.

PTA dues– If you are like me and want to be as involved as you can find time for you’ll probably consider joining. It was just $10 to support and join our school PTA. This was included in our back to school budget category in August. Since a lot of schools start in late August, early September the opportunity may come up this month for you.

T-shirts – You name it at school and chances are at some point they’re going to want you to buy a t-shirt or three. At $15 or more a pop you want to know your limit before your kids start asking if they can have one. We said no to ALL shirts last year, but will probably buy the shirts the PTA sells this year.

Fundraisers– Every year there is at least one fundraiser per semester at our school. Be prepared to say no or know what your budget says is enough before that order form gets thrust in your face by some sweet child.

If you do not feel like volunteering your money on shelf-stable cookie dough for example perhaps you could volunteer your time. There are lots of events that need volunteers. Chances are there is at least one you can make time for this school year.

Book Fairs – These are not cheap. I let my kindergartener take $5 of her own money with the only guideline being NO slime last year and she came home with very little change, an eraser shaped like licorice (which a visiting toddler did try to eat this summer-thank goodness it was too tough!) And a bookmark. Books are sometimes available for $1 but the majority I saw were $12 each. And it’s not just books; there are experiments, diaries, notebooks, craft kits… you name it they’re trying to sell your child one in the library. If your kid has their heart set on a book fair item be sure to check the price on Amazon! It may still make a great Christmas gift but you can still save yourself some money and feel frugal in the fall.

Sports/Extracurriculars– These add up fast! Know your budget and know your child. Don’t encourage or force your child into activities you know they won’t enjoy for the sake of socialization. And don’t feel like you have to say yes to form your kid brings home from school. Be sure to know the full commitment cost of extracurriculars prior to signing up! We felt quite shocked after six weeks of martial arts was up and the studio asked for $700 to continue. Thank, you next! That is not our idea of frugal.

Field Trips– These aren’t always free; sometimes the kids need a few dollars to cover something the school doesn’t. Oftentimes the teachers request lunches packed in which everything can be thrown away when they’re done. With older kids, they often take them out for fast food.

Seasonal Activities

When summer winds down there are often harvest festivals, corn mazes, and other seasonal events to keep the family entertained. These are great activities for the kids! And they can be frugal fun outings! You don’t have to buy all the crafts or jams but events such as the Arkansas Apple Festival are so fun! Aside from parking, it’s free to attend!

They have parades with antique cars and tractors, as well as crafts, face painting, and food vendors… it is so fun just to walk around and see everything. $20 can keep a family of four entertained for a few hours including a yummy snack. Fresh apple slices are available free at the nearby Lincoln Apple Festival here in Northwest Arkansas. It’s a delicious way to stay frugal in the fall!

Home Maintenance – Frugal in the Fall for Savings in the Winter

Fall is a great time to do some maintenance and cleaning around the house. Gutters need to be cleaned out and any exterior damage to the home repaired. Fall is a great time to do this! You can do most of this yourself.

It is always a good idea to get your chimney swept in the fall if you use a wood-burning stove or fireplace. The more you burn the more often you need to have it cleaned out to prevent flume fires and check for signs of damage. Check out the Chimney Safety Institute of America for more information on that.

Upcoming Holidays – Is it beginning to look expensive?

Planning a trip to see family for Thanksgiving? Hosting 16 people for dinner on turkey day? You may want to start setting money aside a month or two early to save yourself a little stress or the urge to swipe the credit card when you see the price of that 16-pound bird. Make it a point to cut back on unnecessary expenditures and be frugal in the fall so you can be sure to enjoy that holiday dinner instead of wonder how much of 2020 you’ll spend trying to pay for the 2019 holidays. There’s some food for thought.

Hopefully, you’ve started saving for Christmas by now. If not you need to get started now! Check out my article Six Months til Christmas for some ideas. It’s later in the year, but the principles still apply. Scale back to be sure you can save up enough money or just opt-out of gift-giving altogether. Just be sure you let your closest friends and family know you are not spreading Christmas cheer in the usual fashion this year. They may be relieved and decide to opt-out too!

Make it a point to cut back on unnecessary expenditures and be frugal in the fall so you can be sure to enjoy that holiday dinner instead of wonder how much of 2020 you’ll spend trying to pay for the 2019 holidays. There’s some food for thought.

What frugal fall adventures do your family go on? I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be sure to post any frugal fall fun my family has here or on social media. Remember, you can follow a Life on a Dime on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Happy fall all!