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    January Sinking Funds Update

    When I posted the sinking funds, I was shocked by how many people were really interested in starting their own sinking funds.  It’s so awesome to come together and have the same goals. One of our goals for our family is to stay out of debt and start saving for the boys future. Having our budget and savings plan has really been a huge eye opener into our life and what we really spend our money on. It actually makes us think twice about if we really need something or if we’re just being frivolous. 

    I am sharing our how our sinking funds are going and what our real plan is now that we’ve been doing this for a month.

     

    So I started off not really knowing where we really wanted to put our sinking funds money. I knew Christmas and Birthdays were the most important to really start saving for these events. Past that I didn’t really have dates for things we need them buy.  I’m sticking to $100 a week and then dispersing  that. Because we have birthdays in the the beginning of the year we are throwing more money to those right now but come September I’ll probably start splitting it up or take a break from birthdays. 

    My misc envelope is pretty much anything extra we need. We were invited to a birthday party and a baby shower this month, so as of right now our misc envelope is empty but I’m happy I had a little stash to use for these last minute occasions. 

    I started putting money in the back to school envelope and some class stuff started to come up so I have decided to turn this envelope into a school envelope. We will using it mostly for back to school since Kellan and Knox will both be going to school this next year. 

     

    This nice thing about sinking funds is that if for whatever reason I don’t have enough money for whatever we are needing money for I can always use money from my checking account. The idea of the sinking funds are to prepare for these moments you know are coming up. 

     

     

    Just know it’s not too late, and I hope this inspired you to start your sinking funds if you haven’t yet. I’d love for you to share your sinking funds!

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    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

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    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

         

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    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

     

     

      

     

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    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
    Ziplock
    Sponges
    Clorox Wipes

    Grocery Items

    Flour
    Sugar
    Salt
    Apples
    Salad
    Weekly Vegetable Item
    Ritz Crackers
    Rotisserie Chicken
    Butter 
    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. 

    Oatmeal 
    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.

    Quesadilla
    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.

    Tacos
    Nuff said.

    Chili
    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. 

    *Nachos
    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!

     

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    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

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