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Category: Earning & Managing Money

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…

This Hashbrown Casserole is SO simple -- even when you feel like you're missing ingredients!

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.

Why We’re Not Getting a Christmas Tree This Year

Why We're NOT Getting a Christmas Tree This Year

“Does anyone want to get a big Christmas tree this year?”

I asked the question a few weeks ago as we were discussing our plans for December and Christmas and what traditions we would do and what we wouldn’t do this year.

Our pre-lit artificial Christmas tree had breathed its last breath last Christmas, after a faithful stint as our stalwart Christmas tree. Every year, it had looked a little more Charlie-Brown-esque and had yet another string of lights that didn’t work.

So last year, after setting it up and realizing that it had probably served well past its prime, we decided it was time to retire it and figure out a replacement for it this Christmas.

Fast forward a year, and it was time to decide on a replacement or what we were going to do instead. And in typical Paine family fashion, I put the decision up for a vote by asking if people wanted to get another big Christmas tree.

Right about now I need to stop and say that some of you might be shocked that we would even consider NOT getting a big Christmas tree. (When we told some of our friends we were thinking of not getting a Christmas tree this year, they about fell out of their chairs. I know, it sounds so Scrooge-like to admit it!)

But after our beans and rice law school years when we had an almost $0 budget for Christmas, I have learned that Christmas joy doesn’t come from the money you spend; it’s a result of the special memories you make together.

From the beginning of our marriage, we’ve given ourselves permission for Christmas to be different each year. We’re not married to any tradition.

Just because we did something last year doesn’t mean we have to do it again this year.

Instead, at the end of November, we all sit down together as a family and discuss what we’d love for December to look like this year. We each choose one family activity to put on the calendar and we decide if there are any traditions from previous years we want to make a priority — including, this year, whether or not to have a big Christmas tree.

There has been so much freedom in this — especially as the kids have gotten older and what is important and exciting to them has changed a lot.

This year, at the end of our Christmas tree discussion, they decided they really didn’t want a big Christmas tree (which I honestly was surprised about!). Instead, they asked if we could get little Christmas trees for each of their bedrooms.

Let me tell you, they had so much fun picking out their trees (we got them from Target, by the way) and picking out decor for them. They each have a unique tree in their own rooms and I love seeing the joy that it brings them.

And then Jesse got a little 3-foot tree for our living room that is just perfect. We added some Christmas pillows and a few other little Christmas decorations and it’s the simple Christmas look I’ve always dreamed of for the main area of our house.

By the way, want to know what other activities the kids picked to do together in December? They asked that we have Game Nights on Fridays, Movie Nights on Saturdays (“And please no cheesy Hallmark movies!” They begged!), and that we all get Christmas jammies.

That’s it, you guys. I listed off a long list of other ideas and nobody was interested in any of them.

Jesse and picked a few other things we’re going to do together (an Advent devotional, a fun weekend road trip to see John Crist’s show — tickets to his show was actually my birthday present from Jesse!, baking Christmas cookies, and spending time with extended family), but otherwise, we’re keeping December really low key.

I share this to give you permission (in case you need it) to let some traditions go or to simplify things this year if that’s what your family or soul needs.

There’s no joy in overcomplicating things or stretching yourself too thin. And it’s okay if your Christmas looks very different than some one else’s!

Looking for some simple and frugal Christmas ideas? Check out ALL the posts I’ve shared in my A Simple Christmas series over the past few years.

Get Your FREE Copy of Celebrating & Savoring A Simple Christmas

You can . I wrote it a few years ago and it’s packed full of a variety of ideas to slow down and savor the Christmas season. (Since it’s a few years ago, not all of them are ones we still do, but I hope that it will inspire you!)

To get a copy, . Then, click on the link in your inbox to confirm your email address. You’ll be emailed a download link as soon as you do so.

How to Stop Buying Cheap Stuff

Trying to stick to your budget but keeping getting pulled in by great deals? Here's how to stop the cycle!

Thank you for all you do. I have been inspired to be more mindful about my purchases. I would like to hear you address an issue I have had and that is buying things because they are so cheap but not needing the items. So, the purchases just sit there. A purchase only is good if you need it. -Tina

At this time of year, when there are deals and sales galore, it’s easy to get caught up in the sale frenzy and spend money on items that aren’t actually a good deal for us.

A sale might be a great deal for some people, but just because a sale is a great deal for some people doesn’t mean that it’s a great deal for everyone.

So how can you be more mindful of your purchases and not just spend money because it was a can’t-miss deal? Well, here are four suggestions I have:

1. Have a budget.

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? I know, it’s not exciting to have and stick with a budget.

But guess what? It will be exciting when you don’t have to stress over getting a credit card bill that you can’t pay!

Jesse and I have always lived on a strict written budget. And we attribute the current financial position we are in almost 100% to the fact that we have stuck with a budget since the time we were married.

(Hate the word budget? Then don’t use that word and use a different more positive word that works for you.)

A budget has also forced us to communicate about our wants and needs and goals. And it’s forced us to be really creative when times are tight.

There are times when it’s been really hard — because having a budget has meant that we have had to say no to a lot of good things and fun things and things we’d really love to have or do.

On the flip side, a budget has also given us permission to spend money. As soon as we had some wiggle room in our budget, we were able to add a Blow Category to our budget. Living on a budget and spending less than we make has also allowed us to have the extra money to give generously.

The best thing about a budget is that it lets you know whether you can spend on an item or whether you shouldn’t spend on an item. When you see that great deal on shoes at the mall or electronics on Amazon or cereal at the grocery store, you will know whether or not you have the money for it by consulting your budget.*

Psst! Feel like you can’t cut your budget but you’re not making ends meet? Read this post.

2. Use cash or a prepaid card or gift card.

A budget is imperative, but if you need help with actually sticking with your budget — especially when it comes to purchases like your Christmas gifts — you could make it easier for yourself to follow through with a budget by using cash or a pre-paid card or gift card.

These might not be as efficient as using a debit or credit card, but they will certainly be more effective at helping you stick with your budget.

I prefer cash since I can see exactly how much I have left to spend. For me, there’s something about having to pull out cash and hand it over when shopping that forces me to really examine each purchase and be 100% sure I want to spend the money on it.

I’ll find myself asking questions like, “Will I really use this? Could I get this for less money somewhere else? Do I really need this right now? How often do I think I’ll use/wear this?”

Using cash is great for in-store purchases, but it doesn’t really work for online purchases — and that’s where most of the best deals often are. This is where a pre-purchased prepaid card or gift card can come into play.

Designate the amount of money you plan to spend online for Christmas gifts (or whatever the purchases will be) onto this card and then that will highly motivate you to actually stick with that pre-determined budget!

(You can also earn free gift cards to use on Christmas gifts! Here are some of my favorite sites to use for that.)

Psst! Thinking you might want to start using cash envelopes? Read this post on 7 Budget-Saving Cash Envelope Hacks.

3. Get some accountability.

If you struggle to stick with your budget and are often swayed by “good deals” to overspend, I would encourage you to set up some accountability. This could be in the form of a budget tracker program like You Need a Budget. But I’d strongly suggest taking it a step further and asking for someone to be your accountability partner.

This would be a person who would know what your financial goals are, know what your budget is, and would get to check in with you regularly on how it’s going sticking with your budget. You could even give them access to your budgeting spreadsheet or software so they could check up on you in real-time!

Also, set up parameters for what influences you have in your life. If you find that reading certain blogs or following certain people on social media or going to certain stores or reading certain magazines or websites causes you to want to overspend, maybe you need to just stay away from them.

In the same vein, replace those negative influences with positive ones. Have people around you who will encourage you to stick with your budget, make wise financial choices, and live intentionally and frugally.

(Need some help finding frugal friends? Read this post.)

4. Wait 24 hours.

If you have the money in your budget, but you’re just not sure whether you should spend it on this item, a great exercise is wait 24 hours before purchasing it.

This gives you time to consider whether you really think it’s a good deal. It gives you space to step back and analyze whether or not you will really use something. And it also guarantees that you’re not just buying into an adrenaline rush and buying something you’ll later regret.

If you still think the item is a great deal after 24 hours, then you can guiltlessly purchase it. And there’s a really great chance it will be something that you will love and use for years to come because you were so thoughtful in your purchase.

What tips or advice would you have for Tina? Share them in the comments.

* One of the tools we love to help us track our spending and make sure we are sticking with the budget is using You Need a Budget. You can read more how it works and why we love it so much here.

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