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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Oops! I accidentally went over the grocery budget this week!

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to . See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our .

Well, y’all, I had thought I was about $6 under budget this week… and then I went to add up my receipts and discovered I was actually $1.72 over budget.

Whoops! I realized that I read one receipt as saying I had spent $36 when it actually said I saved $36 and spent $42. Oh well!

I have a little wiggle room in the budget since I’ve been under budget a number of weeks, so it will be okay. But lesson learned: Don’t just glance at your receipt before heading to the store!

(I keep my receipts and then use those to tally how much I’ve spent for the week. I know; that’s ridiculously old fashioned, but it’s usually what works for me. Maybe I should move up to something more sophisticated and techie!! Jesse does track it all in YNAB, but he’s usually a few days behind in tracking and inputting everything, so I usually just go off of my receipts!)

I try to stick as close to the $70 mark as possible — it’s a fun challenge for me PLUS I love getting to show you how it works for our family and the deals that I find!

At any rate, here’s what I bought this week:

Kroger Shopping Trip #1:

  • Back to Nature Cookies — on sale for $0.99 when you buy 5 participating items, used a $1.50/2 coupon that printed while I was checking out = $3.45 for 5 boxes (my kids were SO excited about these!!)
  • Lemon Juice — $2.49
  • Alo Juice — Free with free Friday e-coupon
  • 2 dozen Happy Eggs — marked down to $2.49 per dozen
  • Hillshire Ham — on closeout for $2.09
  • Planter’s Peanuts — $2.49 when you buy 5 participating items, used = $0.99
  • 1 loaf of bread — marked down to $1.39
  • Clementines — $3.99 for a 3-lb bag
  • 3 bags of Sweet Potatoes — marked down to $0.99
  • 1 bag of grapefruit — marked down to $0.99
  • 2 packages of Cheddar Bratwurst — marked down to $1.79 each
  • 3 packages of Eckrich sausage — $1.50 each when you buy 5 participating items
  • 5 boxes of Simple Popped Popcorn — $1 per box when you buy 5 participating items ( each box has a free Redbox movie rental code in it!)
  • 1 container organic Spring Mix (no romaine!) — marked down to $1.79
  • Total with tax: $42.38

Psst! Need some help with cutting your grocery budget? Check out my series: 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget.

Kroger Shopping Trip #2:

Kroger Shopping Trip #3:

Cashback earned this week:  for submitting my receipt and 284 points for submitting my receipt to Fetch rewards (that’s basically the equivalent of $0.28).

Total spent this week: $71.72

Also, I just had to show you this that my friend, Erin, from sent me. 

There’s space to write out your menu and then your shopping list — and then so you can tear it out and take your shopping list with you to the store!

Aldi shoppers, I thought this would make you smile. (And excuse the fact that the meme says “Aldi’s” not Aldi and “grill’s” not grills.)

What We Ate This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here. 🙂

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon (from the freezer) Yogurt, Hard Boiled Eggs, Banana Bread

Lunches:

  • Hard Boiled Eggs, Banana Bread, Cheese/Crackers, Avocados, Salad, Leftovers (for Jesse & Me)
  • Ham Sandwiches, Clementines, Cheese/Crackers, Yogurt, Cookies, Hard Boiled Eggs (for the kids — They are in charge of their own lunches.)

Snacks:

  • Yogurt, Cheese/Crackers, Popcorn, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cookies

Dinners:

  • Saturday: Dinner out
  • Sunday: Fend For Yourself — snack-y food and leftovers
  • Monday: Peppers & Sausage over Brown Rice
  • Tuesday:  Pork Sandwiches, Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Wednesday: Whole Wheat Pancakes, Bacon, Grapefruit
  • Thursday: Turkey Meatballs, Sweet Potato Fries
  • Friday: Leftover Turkey Meatballs & Sweet Potato Fries

What I Wore Today: The perfect outfit for an at-home Saturday

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our .)

It’s a quiet at-home Saturday and I picked a comfy and cozy outfit to wear — all that are pieces I got from Amazon or Proozy at great prices!

My is from Amazon and I adore it — and it’s just $19.99 and comes in a lot of different colors.

By the way, makes it look more distressed, but mine came and it’s brighter and more shiny as shown by these photos.

I pulled the drawstring out of the hoodie part since they were really long and you either need to cut them or just pull them out. Also, the pocket stitching is a little loose and it’s come undone a little bit with a lot of washes, but otherwise, it’s held up really well.

My are some of my favorites and I wear these so often and they are . They are so comfy and they fit really well. Plus, they have held up well with many, many washings (I’ve had them for quite a long time!)

And my shoes are my new Nike shoes from Proozy and they are just $45 shipped through Sunday night! (Be sure to use coupon code MSM45 to get this deal!).

Oh and my tumbler is . It’s one of my secret weapons to help me drink a gallon of water every day.

By the way, would you be interested in seeing posts like this occasionally where I share an outfit and details on where I got everything? Let me know!

We Paid Cash: an RV

A testimony from Jill of :

Five years ago, our little family of four moved from Florida to the midwest. Neither my husband or I knew much about where we were moving, but we vowed  we would take every opportunity to travel and explore our new home. We quickly realized we loved being on the road and that there were so many amazing places to visit!

Two years ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to purchase an RV to explore even more. We also knew we would only buy an RV if we could pay cash. And we did!

So how did we do it?

1. We Researched

We spent months researching RVs and came up with a reasonable budget based on the information we gathered.

We went to multiple RV dealers to compare prices, models and features. We went to each dealer armed with pertinent questions related to pricing that we had found on the web.

Once we gathered all our information we looked over our finances and picked an RV that met our needs and that we could reasonably pay cash for. We chose a purchase price of $15,000.

2. We Set a Savings Goal

We set a 1-year goal to save $10,000. We already had $10,000 in savings, but we didn’t want to empty our savings account. We came up with a savings plan and each month, we put aside $850 in a dedicated savings account.

Having a separate savings account helped us stay motivated.

3. We Found Money in Our Budget

Creating and sticking to a monthly budget was so important to reaching our savings goal. We already have $500 a month dedicated to savings, so we only had to find $350 more each more.

Here are a few ways we found that additional money

  • My husband started taking his lunch to work
  • I ramped up my meal planning, especially frugal and meatless meals
  • We implemented 2 No-Spend weekends a month

Here is where it gets interesting.

About 8 months into our year of saving, one of the dealers we visited ed us about an RV they had on sale. It was still $3500 OVER what we had in our savings. We let the salesman know we would only pay in cash and that we were willing to wait until we had the full amount saved before we made a purchase.

We went back and forth with the RV salesman and even got a call from the sales manager promising us great rates on a loan and that the deal wouldn’t be around forever. We stuck to our guns and simply let them know we would only pay cash and we were willing to wait.

After a couple more phone calls, the dealer lowered the price to meet our budget. We dropped off our check and drove off with an RV the following week!!

We have built so many beautiful memories in our RV since we purchased it and are so grateful we can enjoy it without the burden of a loan!

Jill is a work at home mom to two sweet and crazy kiddos and the creator of . Her goal is inspire other moms to get organized and simplify their lives with uncomplicated strategies to manage their finances, home, and life.

How to Create a Home You Love — even if you don’t have money and don’t know how to decorate!

Other than my podcast interviews with Jesse, this week’s episode of The Jo Show was my very first interview to do in-person — with Myquillyn Smith (aka ) sitting right across the table from me as we recorded (Ryan, my podcast producer and Myquillyn’s husband are in the background of the above photo).

I loved getting to chat with her face-to-face and be inspired by her heart for creating a cozy and inviting home that serves your family well — even if you are on a tight budget and don’t know how to decorate!

(You know what else was so fun about having Myquillyn and her husband, Chad, come to our house for the interview? They brought with them!)

Myquillyn and I talk about the importance of making your home into a place that fits the way you’re called to use it, and she offers practical advice for women who may feel intimidated or insecure about decorating or who want to decorate but don’t have any extra money to do so.

If you’ve ever wanted your home to be a cozy, welcoming place, but aren’t sure where to start, you don’t want to miss this episode!

(And while I’m not much of a decorator at all — as I talk about on this episode! — I surprised myself by truly being inspired by her book. Listen in as I share more on that!)

I also give you some last-minute tips for simplifying December, tell you one of our favorite Christmas traditions when our kids were younger, and share some of our favorite Christmas read-alouds for younger kids.

And I close out the show by sharing some encouragement from my heart to moms of littles. If you currently have babies, toddlers, or younger kids and maybe feel a little overwhelmed by this season of life, I hope that my words will inspire you and help you feel less alone!

In This Episode:

[01:34] – Our Christmas Bucket List is what’s saving my life this week! This simple practice makes our Decembers so much simpler, calmer, and fun-filled.

[06:54] – Instead of just one book, this week I tell you about some of our family’s favorite Christmas picture books.

[07:50] – Today’s guest is  — a woman who is well known on the internet for encouraging people to love their homes and that “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”.

[10:16] – I asked Myquillyn to share advice for women who have insecurities or fears when it comes to decorating their homes (because this is 100% me — I was even insecure about having Myquillyn come to my home and had to talk myself out of that before she got there!)

[15:17] – One of the things I often hear from women is that they wish they could redecorate or change some things in their home but they are on a really tight budget. We talk about this and Myquillyn shares some of her best tips for loving your home and making it cozy and welcoming — on a tight budget.

[17:45] – We talk about what it’s like to be an introvert and how to step out and do scary things in spite of our fears. Myquillin addresses my question on how she has managed to invite 1000 people to her home for a festival and go on book tour. She shares how it’s been for her and why she chose to do this, even though she knew it would be a lot.

[21:58] – Myquillyn shares three books she’s planning to read soon — two of which have been on my radar screen and that I promptly ordered after she talked about them!

[23:04] – And we talk about none other than baths. Yes, for real! You’ll have to tune in to find out why! 🙂

[24:45] – Many listeners have written in to ask about my advice for a first-time mom. I share some of my best advice and encouragement — that I wish I would have learned early on!

Links and Resources:

  • December212012.info
  •  (I’d love for you to follow me there! I usually hop on at least a few times per day and share behind-the-scenes photos and videos, my grocery store hauls, funny stories, or just anything I’m pondering or would like your advice or feedback on!)
  • Have feedback on the show or suggestions for future episodes or topics? Send me an email: [email protected]

How to Listen to The Jo Show

The podcast is available on, , , and . You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for .)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Jo Show” on your favorite podcast app.

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Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

When you want to make Hashbrown Casserole, but you don’t have sour cream…

What do you do when you want to make hashbrown casserole, but you don’t have any sour cream? Well, if you’re me, you decide to get creative and make do with what you have!

This was me two weeks ago.

I woke up Sunday morning and realized that I needed to bring something to our church brunch that morning. We had just bought the Ore-Ida Potatoes at Kroger that were on sale for $0.99 per bag as part of the weekend deal and I had a can of cream of chicken soup + a block of cheddar cheese, so I was itching to make Hashbrown Casserole in the Crockpot.

The only problem? We didn’t have sour cream or Greek yogurt or anything that could stand in for sour cream. And every online search for Crockpot Hashbrown Casserole brought up recipes that had sour cream in them.

However, not to be deterred, I remembered this Hashbrown Potatoes recipe from my sister that doesn’t have sour cream or cream soup in it, so I decided to just try and see if I could make something up with what I had on hand.

Here’s what I did:

I browned the onions in half a stick of butter.

Then, I added the can of cream of chicken soup some milk and heated it through.

 

While this was simmering, I grated some cheese.

I then put one bag of hashbrowns onto the bottom of the crockpot and poured the soup mixture on top. (Note: I should have sprayed the pan, but I forgot to do so — it ended up not sticking to the bottom like I thought it would, but I would still recommend not forgetting like I did. :))

I mixed the soup mixture in with the potatoes.

And then dumped the shredded cheese on top.

And mixed the cheese in.

I cooked it on high for 3 hours. (We cooked it at home for an hour and a half and then brought it to church and plugged it in to cook during the service for an hour and a half.)

The end result was amazing — it smelled so good, tasted amazing, and the crockpot was completely empty in just a few minutes! I would say they were a big hit! 🙂

Not all of my kitchen creations have turned out so successfully, but it’s always a victory when they do — and I get creative and make do with what I have on hand!

By the way, I got 678 points from Fetch for buying the Hashbrown Potatoes! Yay for free points and free gifts cards for something I was already planning on buying!

Looking for another yummy Hashbrown Potato recipe that doesn’t require any sour cream or cream soup? Check out my sister’s Cheesy Hashbrown Potatoes recipe.

Free eCourse: How to Make Money from Home with an Amazon FBA Business

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our .)

If you’re interested in making an income from home and you’re looking for ideas, be sure to .

This e-mail series is taught by the Selling family — a husband and wife team who have been making a full-time income from home through Amazon since 2011.

In this series, you will learn:

  • What an Amazon FBA business is and how it works
  • What types of items you can sell on Amazon and how prices differ
  • How to set up an Amazon seller account
  • Plus more!

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Looking for more in-depth advice on how to make money from home?

Be sure to check out my book , where I share creative ways to manage money, generate income and–most importantly–live a life of deeper meaning, fulfillment, and generosity than you might have ever imagined possible. This book is packed with hard-won wisdom, real-life stories, and practical tips to help inspire and motivate you!

I also highly, highly recommend . This step-by-step guide is packed with valuable information and tips!