Saving Money Using Sinking Funds



    This year is the year for budgeting and saving for me and my family and sinking funds is the first step for us.  I started a little budget series last year and the first step for me was doing a grocery budget. I feel like the grocery budget was a good step that is easily customizable for every family. If you missed that you can find how I setup and use my grocery budget here. This has been a great way for us to save money in the grocery section of our budget.  Read more


    Easiest Teacher Gift EVER

    This year for a teacher gift I wasn’t too sure what we wanted to do. We’re stuck in a strange place because, you want to do something that is thoughtful but if you don’t really know someone, so how do you know what to get them? I also feel like I want to be practical in giving gifts and not pick something out that will never be used or ultimately end up in the garbage. 

    So this Facebook group I’m in did a poll on teachers asking, what is it you really want for Christmas if you were to get a gift from your students and their families? The NUMBER ONE gift request was…GIFT CARDS. I would also like to add that they said personal cards and letters were ULITMATE NUMBER ONE, buuuuuut if you wanted to buy something a gift card was ideal. They said a big no on mugs, homemade food, and nick knacks of any sort.  Of course any gift is appreciated but if you think about it teachers that have been teacher for 5 or more years add twenty plus students you’re bound to get a few mugs every year and those things take up a lot of space. 

    With all of this in mind, I knew this year I wanted to do a gift card of some sort but wasn’t sure how I wanted to display it. I went to target one day and saw these cute little trees for only $5! I thought the nice part of getting these were that they could be used again and again whether at home or in their classroom for next year. 


    Kellan has his teacher and a teacher aid. So I set a budget on what I want to spend for this teacher. The nice part about this gift is that it is SUPER customizable and so easy to change up for person to person. If one teacher likes Target and one likes walmart, well there you go, everyone can get what they want!

    I didn’t want to just have gift cards on there so when we made these little salt dough ornaments a couple of weeks ago at a friends house I thought it would be a nice personal touch to have Kellan decorate them to personalize his gift for them. 

    The nice part is if you’re waiting until the last minute to do these the trees will probably already be on sale!! SCORE! 

    You’ll need a small tree. (I got these from Target for $5 but I’m sure Walmart has similar ones)
    Gift cards in any assortment
    Any added decor you’d like to personalize your gift

    Some of my gift cards didn’t have little hooks so I used twine and hot glue to make my own little ribbons. Just make sure you don’t glue the numbers of the card so they still have access to them if they need it. 

    Also, don’t break the salt dough ornaments if you can. haha

     That’s it! You can spend as little or as much as you’d like! 

    I hope you guys got some inspiration from this extremely easy teacher gift! 
    If you did I would love for you to tag or send me photos of yours.

    You can find me on instagram @ebrooks



    Family Christmas Photos 2019

    This year’s family Christmas photos were my favorite pictures we’ve taken to date. The kids had fun, we were in the comfort of our own home, and it just felt very natural for us to be silly and take pictures.  If  you can’t tell the boys are just maniacs! It was also nice to have Illy be apart of some of our photos. The one of here looking right at the camera was everyones favorite! Here are our 2017 Christmas photos and apparently we didn’t do 2018 haha. 

    Christmas Photos 2017






    How To Start A Grocery Budget

    Having a budget has really made an impact on our life. I know that may sound silly but it has really put into perspective where we have been spending our money and where we can cut back a little to put away for a buying a new house, car, and upcoming vacations. So I wanted to start a little budget series on what we are doing and what might not be working and what has really helped us on this budgeting journey of ours.

    This week I want to focus on the grocery budget. I personally feel like this budget is where we struggled in the beginning because we pretty much just bought whatever we wanted. Also, I’ll share in just a moment but we planned meals based off of what sounded good and not used what we already had. I’ll explain my process in how this really saves us a lot of money but I shop our house first before I make a meal plan for the week and go to the grocery store. 


    What should my budget be?

    This is my top question I get asked. Your budget is customized to you and your family but a base to start off at I like to use this equation. $100 per member of your family per month. For example, we are a family of 5 so that puts us at $100 x 5 = $500. If you are a family of 2 I would start your budget at $300 and see how you do.  So our families grocery budget is $500 a month. I break this down by week, so we get $125 a month on groceries. Typically, I stay under that unless there is a major meat sale somewhere and I stock up.  

    The grocery category for me entails, groceries, household, and cleaning items. If this doesn’t work for you I would recommend starting a separate household budget. This works for my family because we shop at Costco and Sams Club and get most items in bulk that last 4 to 6 weeks. 


    What to buy in bulk?

    I have some staple items that we ALWAYS buy in bulk. I hate buying certain items for the grocery store because it’s sometimes the same price for 1 item that you could buy for bulk for 2.  For staple items it’s more of our household items that we like to keep stocked and get for a cheaper price.

    Household Items

    Toilet Paper 
    Paper Towels
    Clorox Wipes

    Grocery Items

    Weekly Vegetable Item
    Ritz Crackers
    Rotisserie Chicken
    Burrito Tortillas

    These are more of staples items that the prices usually never change and when buying in bulk are actually cheaper in the long run then if you would buy them from your local grocery store. For example:  Ritz Crackers at our local City Market are $2.99 a box. 1 box contains 5 sleeves of crackers.  Sams Club has Ritz Crackers for $7.49. 1 box contains 18 sleeves of crackers.  So $2.99 x 3.5 = $10.47 so you’re saving $2.98 for the box at Sams then if you would have bought them over at City Market. And don’t get me wrong. If they go on sale at City market for $1.99 a box I will always pick them up but if they are not on sale I will grab them from Sams Club. 

    How to make a grocery list?

    This is where shopping your home first comes in. First and foremost before I start my grocery list I do a list of what I already have on hand. I start in my fridge, then my freezer, and last by pantry.  For my fridge I make a list of produce that we need use up, any left over food, and things we could use to make a meal with.  In my freezer I write down thing that I can use to make meals. 

    Once I have my list of items I already have on hand, I try to see what meals I can make for what we already have at home and what items I need to pick up from making a meal. Here is my list from last week. 

    Quick disclaimer, I am NOT a couponer. I do not collect coupons. This is just not for me and I would rather spend my time doing something else. Not saying I never use them I just don’t like to stress about them. With that being said, I do use store coupons. Safeway, City Market, Sprouts always have their own coupons you can use on their apps or in-store. 

    I use the store apps to look at weekly ads they have and what the deals of the week are. Typically, I pick one grocery store that has more deals on what we need and shop their that week. We also shop at Sams club to get the staples that we might be out of.  This is what my grocery list looks like for the week and once I go through the ads of what is all on sale.  

    What are some easy go-to meals?

    I shared on my instagram stories a couple weeks ago about me meal prepping and one of the best things I did was make some easy grab and go burritos. One of my staple items I buy every week is a rotisserie chicken. I shred it up when I get home and we use that throughout the week for quick meals when we’re in a hurry or something else comes up. Every Sunday I make up some rice and bag it up for easy meals.

    Breakfast Meals:

    Make ahead breakfast burritos and sandwiches.
    I use Jimmy Dean sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and cheese for the burritos.
    Bacon, fried egg, cheese, for the sandwiches. 

    The boys like frozen blueberries tossed in or any fruit we might have on hand with one minute oats.

    Lunch Meals:

    Grab and go burritos.
    I use the shredded chicken, rice, cheese, and black beans and freeze.

    Again, I use shredded chick or beef and cheese. 

    Dinner Meals:

    Crockpot Chicken
    Having a chicken in the crockpot you can make anything with it. This is always an easy goto meal for us. We like to toss is green chilis or bbq sauce, heat up a veggie, and serve with rice/quinoa/noodles.

    Nuff said.

    I shared my chili recipe last year and this is one of our easy dump and go meals. I usually have like 95% of the items I need to make it!  You an find the recipe here and the pumpkin can just be taken out if you don’t like pumpkin. 

    If you’re in a pinch and wanting to add something that’s quick and easy nachos are ALWAYS a goto for us. We use any leftover meat we have made from the week and usually do nachos on the weekend. BBQ Chicken nachos, Green chili Chicken nachos, Ground Beef nachos.

    Make your budget work for you

     Meal planning is one way to make your grocery budget work for you. Anything you do not eat can be frozen and saved for a later date. Any veggies I don’t use before they go bad, I chop up and freeze to save for meals at a later time. For example: we bought carrots in bulk and used for a couple dinner and snack but still had a bunch left. I chopped some up and froze them and I shaved some up for carrot cake and froze so I could make later. 

    Double batching food is a great way to make your budget work for you. If you’re planning a meal that is on sale, buy double to make a second one and freeze for a later date. 

    Making homemade things saves on your budget and gives you more to spend on other items you may want.   


    Stayed tuned for the second part of this budget series!



    Packing A Diaper Bag For 3 Kids

    Thank you Lily Jade for sponsoring this post.
    All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

    I am still packing a diaper bag for all of the kids. We are almost 100% done with diapers! WOOHOO!! If you could see me right now I have the biggest smile on my face! I never thought I would get to this point in my life but they day has finally come! We haven’t been in diapers since the beginning of June but during nighttime Kai is still wearing one just as a precaution.  Read more


    DIY Blanket Ladder Under $5

    I’ve been wanting a blanket ladder for the last year. I just haven’t been able to pull the trigger on spending $50-$250 on one. Yikes! So, I figured if I could make a headboard I should be able to build a ladder, right!? I looked all over the internet at what type and what would be easiest one to make. I initially wanted to do one with dowels but I didn’t know how easily the nails would go into the dowels without splitting the wood. 


    What you’ll need

    2 | 6ft 2×4
    5 | 18″ 2×2
    10 | 3″ nails


    Wood Stain
    Spray Paint
    Sand Paper



    First let me tell you that, Home Depot has scrap wood that might be warped or damaged in some way. This is where I found all of the 2×2 wood that they carried. The wood was 70% off! I only needed one piece cut up into 5 pieces so it worked out great!  I got my 5 2×2 piece for like 37cents and the 2×4’s were $1.98 a piece so my total came to to like $4.87

    Just like my DIY Headboard (if you haven’t checked it out you can here) Home Depot makes cuts so I just picked out the wood that I wanted and asked them to cut the exact measurements I needed. This is a total time and money saver for me. Since I do not own some sort of saw this is a wonderful perk. 


    I gave the gentleman my measurements and within minutes we were out of the store. 

    I wanted my rungs 10″ apart. I got my tape measure and measured out every 10″ and marked it. 
    My biggest tip is to nail the nails in first on the 2×4, just when they start splitting wood on the other side. This will help big time so you don’t have to hold the 2×2 wood in place while trying to get the nails in place.  Definitely learned my lesson on the second board. 

    Finally just get to hammering. 

    I did one whole 2×4 and then flipped it over and lined up the second 2×4 and did a nail on the top rung and then the bottom one to hold everything in place. And finished it off with the middle three rungs. Now would be the time to sand spots you need sanded. I did not do this. I’m content with it not being sanded but if you have nice blankets and/or want to guarantee no snags definitely sand where the blankets will hang. 

    I was very unsure about what color I wanted to do. Ideally every blanket ladder is some sort of wood color. I thought about white but the whole room is white and so I went with the color 



    I absolutely love it!

    Honestly haven’t seen any black blanket ladders and I think it adds a great pop to the room and then adding a fun color of blankets will just look great against the black color. 


    If you do end up making one, 
    I’d love for you to tag me on instagram @ebrooks so I can see what you created!