Sunday, October 9, 2016

How to you stay focused and inspired when you're tempted to go off your budget

How do you stay focused and inspired when you're tempted to go off your budget? For me it's self control and willpower. I think it's important to have a strong emotional connection to your goals. Rather than having a goal of I want to stick to X budget or save this much. Why are you saving? For your family? For financial freedom? Keep going with the whys until it's so clear to you, you can't see why you would do anything else. This can get you pretty far. 

Remember how hard it was to claw my way out of debt. I remember how painful it was being unemployed for 9 months, coasting along for the first 3 thinking I'd be fine since I had 7 months' savings plus unemployment for 6 months, then the unemployment and savings running out, then the credit cards getting maxed out, finally finding a job and clawing my way out of debt in a year.

I also keep a written monthly budget on my phone (EveryDollar App), and I put every penny I spend into the app. Before I buy anything I look to see if it's in the budget. If it's not then I either have to not get it, plan to save up for it, or not spend somewhere else and modify the budget accordingly. But I also have "poor kid syndrome" so I'm always horrified of being broke even if I've got a good job and money saved up. 

Also work with cash - once it's gone it's gone for the month. Remembering that you can't spend more than you make. Remembering I can't afford it…

So let me know how you stay focused and inspired when you're tempted to go off your budget.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

WinCo Foods Bulk Price List

One of the ways our family saves money on our grocery bill is by purchasing bulk items. We shop at Costco and WinCo Foods for all of our bulk items. I keep track of what we typically spend and how much things cost using a spreadsheet. Knowing the price per unit helps knowing what I should buy and where.

Below is a break down on many bulk items you’ll find at your local WinCo. The pricing is based off of my local store so your store may differ. Also, WinCo Foods bulk pricing can change at anytime so just be aware that this list is only meant as a general reference to help you get started on creating your own spreadsheet.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Meaty Savings: How to Save Money on Meat and Fill Your Freezer

A few years ago someone introduced me to Zaycon Foods. Zaycon Foods is a new approach to buying fresh meat at wholesale prices. These deals are incredible, lower than even the grocery store blowout sales. An extra benefit: the meat is fresh from the farm, never frozen and raised hormone free.

Their most popular product is their fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breasts–which contain no hormones*, additives or artificial ingredients. The chicken comes directly from the farm and has never been frozen.

They sell the chicken in 40-lb. boxes–for only about $1.79 per lb.! (In comparison, the chicken breasts we buy at the local grocery store are nearly $4 per pound. Check the costs before ordering…they fluctuate but are generally MUCH cheaper than at the grocery store!)

How Zaycon Works

Farmers send meat to a butcher for processing and sale preparation. Zaycon Foods then buys the meat directly from the butcher at discounted wholesale costs. Zaycon schedules truck deliveries in certain cities all around the country. Consumers register and order meat and fruit. Meats are carefully packed in a refrigerated semi tractor-trailer. All meats come in large 20 pound to 40 pound cases. Just place an order, meet the truck, and take home fresh meat!
What Zaycon Offers

Zaycon is most known for its well-priced meat. However, fruits are available when in season. Again prices fluctuate so you will want to check before ordering. Here are some sample prices offered:

  • Chicken: 40 lb case for $1.79/lb. Grocery prices: $3.39/lb
  • Ground Beef 93/7: 40 lb cases for $3.79/lb. Grocery prices: $4.29/lb
  • Hickory Smoked Bacon: 2, 15 lb cases for $2.99/lb. Grocery prices: $4.81/lb
  • Salmon Filets: 25 lb cases for $7.99/lb. Grocery prices: $8.99/lb
  • Cod Filets: 20 lb case for $5.29/lb. Grocery prices: $6.99/lb
  • Strawberries: 8 lb flats for $1.49/lb. Grocery prices: $1.99/lb

Other products Zaycon offers include:

  • Bacon-wrapped pork fillets 
  • Beef franks 
  • Polish sausage 
  • Pork loin 
  • Ribs 
  • Pork sausage links 
  • Catfish filets 
  • Turkey-breast 
  • Roast ham 
  • Wild Alaskan code fillets 
  • Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon filets 
All of Zaycon’s prices are listed on their website and vary per “event,” as they call the days when they delivery certain products to areas nationwide.

Note: You can only buy the chicken in 40-lb. cases. There is no maximum amount that you can buy, but you obviously will need the space for at least 40 lbs.


  • Visit the website.
  • At the top right click “Register now.”
  • Fill out all information and get started.
  • Immediately after registering, all local events will appear. Events indicate the day Zaycon trucks arrive with fresh meat from the butcher.
Happy savings! Let us know if you have used Zaycon.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

How our family saves $10,000 a year!

Here are a few ways our family saves about $10,000 a year!

1. We eat breakfast from home.

It is so enticing to hit up the drive through for breakfast because there is just no time. But we began making breakfast at home.

Every Sunday Shelly makes a breakfast frittata. It’s basically eggs, diced potatoes and onions. It costs less than $1.50 per day to make a nutritious breakfast at home! Saving us $14 a week or $700 a year. 

2. We pack a lunch.

I take leftovers for lunch. Every once in a while, I will have to buy lunch. But the rest of the time I take leftovers from home-cooked meals.

This saves us about $50 a week (or more!) or $2,500 a year. And we are wasting less food.

3. Eliminate credit cards.

Did you know the typical credit card user embraces about $15,000 in debt? If their interest rate is 14 % that is $2,100 in interest annually. (Source)

4. We negotiate our bills.

We simply called our provider and asked, very politely, if they would lower our bill because we are loyal customers. You can negotiate just about anything, credit cards fees, car insurance, and your cellphone bill. In total we saved about $40 a month or $480 a year!

5. We started driving fewer places.

We are now saving about $45 a week by reducing one tank of gas a week purely by choosing to drive to fewer places.

That means we stay home more, but we find lots of ways to entertain ourselves and save about $2,340 a year.

6. We started buying our meat in bulk.

We were able to get boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.89/lb. per pound from Zaycon and 92% lean ground beef for $3.99 a pound. I am not sure on the actual math on what this will save us. But here is a rough analysis of some expenditure.
  • Chicken: 40 lb case for $1.79/lb. Grocery prices: $3.39/lb
  • Ground Beef 93/7: 40 lb cases for $3.79/lb. Grocery prices: $4.29/lb
  • Hickory Smoked Bacon: 2, 15 lb cases for $2.99/lb. Grocery prices: $4.81/lb
  • Salmon Filets: 25 lb cases for $7.99/lb. Grocery prices: $8.99/lb
  • Cod Filets: 20 lb case for $5.29/lb. Grocery prices: $6.99/lb

7. We cut out our cable plan.

Instead, we use Netflix and Amazon prime, factoring out the cost of those two items per month that is saving us $59 a month or $708 annually.

8. We cut the club.

We ditched Costco, which was $55 annually and instead use Amazon to order bulk items like toilet paper and shampoo.

In total, that's over $10,000 a year! Just by making small and simple choices to eliminate the small things.

What about you? What are some ways you cut out the little expenses?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Throwing a party, frugally?

Throwing a birthday party or a little get together? Here are a few tips to keep the cost down. Okay - so, having been sooooo broke for the greater part of my twenties, and also LOVING to host a party like nobody's business, I've learned a lot of tricks, but it really depends on the age and starting time of the party to gauge the expectations. For example - a crowd of 30 somethings is going to have a different expectation completely from a crowd of 20 somethings. If the party starts after dinner (anytime after 7) people shouldn't expect that you’d be providing them with supper - unless you've specified that. So here were my go-tos (For people in their twenties):

1) Booze - BYOB, but I did always have the odd person who would run out, so I'd have extra on hand.


2) Drinks for in-between, DDs - iced tea, hot tea - both super economical. Look in the freezer aisle for frozen juices from concentrate if you have to - dress them up with some fruit. A go-to for me is to have a nice big jug/decanter full of water with lemon slices. It looks super pretty and is thoughtful, without being expensive, at all. You may be able to borrow something like this from a family member or friend. Combined with tea or iced tea - you have your bases covered.

FOOD - If you have to serve food, turn it into a potluck and ask each of your guests to bring in a little something of their own. Potlucks are the best! There's always a lot of food, nobody feels like a moocher, and the cooking snobs get to show off. Those who can't cook can always pick up cookies or a pie from the grocery store. Also people with dietary restrictions can bring what they'll eat.


If you are not hooked on the whole potluck thing and you still need to feed people spaghetti is very cheap at about $2.04 for 2lbs of spaghetti noodles and about $2.00 for a jar of Prego.


SNACKS - Then, I would pick up a variety of bargain chips. No Name chips work just fine, especially if you put them in a bowl, no one will know the difference. The Dollar Tree often carries party mix as well - the trick is having a variety (depending on the size of the party, I'd go with 5 bags of different munchies, and could usually achieve this for $4-$5).

CAKE - definitely go a boxed cake. I'm not sure if you have icing sugar at home, but you could compare pricing to see what is more economical where you live - a home made frosting here or a store bought can. You can also make a cake with a box of cake mix and a can of soda! It's actually pretty good! I do this all the time. Match the color of the cake to the soda that means sprite/7up/cream soda in a white or yellow cake, cherry in red velvet, cola in chocolate.

DECORATIONS - Do you actually need a banner that says "happy birthday?" Everybody knows it's your birthday. Better to go classy. Pick a color/theme and stick to whichever you choose: you could go 'picnic' with red and white checkered tablecloths from the Dollar Store, white and craft paper with an accent color is pretty, 'vintage tea party' is very nice-looking - tea cups with your treats in it, doilies from the Dollar Store will add to the effect. Look around in your environment and see what you can find. Wildflowers look awesome in mason jars as well as vases - they look great in buckets, even.

LASTLY - make a EXCEEDINGLY good playlist - music sets the entire tone for the night, so it's really what will make or break you!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What’s Worth Buying at the Dollar Store?

Dollar Tree

Dollar stores can be very hit-or-miss. Sure, there’s loads of stuff well worth a dollar. But there’s a lot of rubbish, too. If you’re a dollar store shopper, tell us what’s worth buying.

Here are a few thing I think are worth a buck cleaning products, micro USB cables, AUX cables, birthday cards, get well cards, really any cards. Cups and plates. They are cheap, fairly durable, and most people won’t even notice (or care). If something breaks, no big deal. Save the fancy stuff for special meals or when it’s just you. Oh and party supplies! What else is a deal?

Tell us: what’s worth buying at the dollar store? If you have any advice on what items aren’t worth it, go ahead and mention those, too.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How to Keep Utility Bills Down

Looking to reduce your utility bills? Well I have a few tips for you!

Replace your standard bulbs with LEDS

I would replace all the bulbs with LEDs right off the bat. They're going to last a very long time anyway. Also, you can install dimmers for the main bulbs to reduce electricity. You have to be careful here about product selection, because not all dimmers actually reduce consumption and not all LED bulbs are dimmable.

Dry clothes on a rack or line

Another idea is to dry clothes on a rack or line. It takes a bit getting used to, but avoiding that damn dryer can save you quite a bit, depending on how often you wash clothes.

Dry clothes on a rack or line

Change out your shower-head

For shower-heads, you are probably looking for something at 1.5 GPM or lower. Taking shorter showers will help as well.

Get out of the house

The less time you spend in your house, the more you'll save on heating and cooling. If you have interests that involve being outside, feel free to capitalize on that. During the summer, you can save on cooling costs by cooking outside on a grill. You can also invest in a smart thermostat. Some smart thermostats can automatically learn when the house is likely to be occupied, and when it is likely to be empty. This allows it to automatically pre-heat or pre-cool the house, so that it's at a comfortable temperature when a resident arrives. If the residents' lifestyle changes, these smart thermostats will gradually adjust the schedule, maintaining energy savings and comfort.

Get out of the house

Find alternative forms of entertainment

Find alternative forms of entertainment that don't involve running a big TV for a few hours. If you like the news in the morning, you can listen to a similar news program on your phone using TuneIn.

Find alternative forms of entertainment

Check insulation

Check the insulation in your attic and other areas. If there is a lack of proper insulation, take care of that or you're going to blow a bunch of money in heating/cooling costs. Also check to see if there are air leaks around windows and doors. Get some weather stripping foam to minimize this.

Probably the most universal advice I can give is to just look at everything that uses electricity or water and figure out ways to use it less or find an alternative that uses less or none at all.