Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Ways I Save: Groceries

One of my close friends refers to me as "The Friend Who Doesn't Pay For Anything." Which is pretty hilarious because I don't feel that way a lot of the time.

So  I'm going to share a series of posts of how frugally we live, the tips and tricks I use to save a buck(s), and how we are constantly striving to be better stewards of our money.

I grew up in a very frugal home (oh the stories I could tell!) so it's pretty much ingrained in my DNA to not overspend. The few times we do overspend I tend to go into panic mode. That's really not a good reaction, especially if it's something that I spent a dollar for that was supposed to be 50 cents... ah hem...

On the flip side though, I've noticed there are a lot of people who were not raised like I was and that I'm definitely in the minority. Managing money is hard and I'm no master by a long shot, but the way we control our finances can really make us or break us. It should also not reign over our emotions, for example me freaking over spending an extra 50 cents.

Nothing is new that I'm sharing. It's simply things that work well for us. I have been asked how I get away with living the way we do. So if it helps someone else, yay! If not, no worries.

I'm going to write this in a series so I can go into more depth with each topic. First up- grocery shopping!


1. Make A Budget
Commit to weekly or monthly total that you will spend on groceries. If you're married, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page and then hold each other accountable. For example, ours is $400 per month for a family of four. Sometimes we do go over, but that is usually during month when a store is having a killer meat sale and we stock up our deep freezer like it's the apocalypse. If you go slightly over, don't beat yourself up. Set a doable amount, then try to save an extra few dollars each month.
2. Eat
Oh yeah you read that right. Before you go off trying to search out the best food deals, make sure you're full! Otherwise your list, followed by your shopping cart, followed by your pantry will be full of overpriced ready-to-eat meals and junk food that sounded mouth-watering and will ultimately destroy your budget.

3. Make A List
This has some sub-categories. It sounds like you just write a bunch of items down that you're low on and you're set. Let's think deeper on this shall we?

-Find several recipes you usually cook or new ones that sound delicious. Pick maybe 3-5 for a start so you don't get overwhelmed, but you still have enough meals for a week or so. They don't have to be fancy at all but do make sure your family will at least try them. See what ingredients you have on hand FIRST then see what you're lacking. Put those items on your list. I will tell you cooking from scratch is probably my number one money-saver!

-Search the grocery store weekly sales. Most everyone gets the weekly circulars in the mail mid-week, or you can look them up on the store websites. I usually see what other bloggers have to say about what's a good deal and what's not. Now remember your ingredients you need? See if any of those match up with the store deals. Look at multiple stores too! For example, if you need ground beef and King Soopers has it for $3.99 a pound and Safeway has it for $4.25 a pound then you just saved yourself 26 cents a pound! Seriously, those pennies add up quick, and don't even get me started on the price of ground beef these days... I think raising a few cows may be cheaper... yeesh!

Anyway... back to what I was saying...

-Stick to your list! Don't impulse buy! Just say no! I definitely don't have a perfect track record with this, but if you want to get some serious control you will have to lay down the law about what you choose to spend your money on. Don't even go to the parts of the store that have the ready-to-eat food, candy, soda, etc. Put your blinders on, zero in on your list, and if you have to get out of that store as fast as you can! :)

Side Note: Stores usually put their best sales on the front page to draw you in, but you need to be careful because they will also put items that are a normal price up front too. I won't be able to give a full blown rock-bottom price list right now, so feel free to ask if something's a good deal or not or search out money-saving bloggers near you.

4. Hunt For Coupons
I used to get the Sunday newspaper for coupons. It worked quite well for a couple years and still recommend this, however for me personally the paper stopped paying for itself. It did work well for finding coupons for lots of different food items (and some restaurant and department stores as well). Coupon websites, money-saving blogs, and even Facebook have proven beneficial to being able to print coupons. I shop at King Soopers a lot and their e-coupons are usually pretty good, plus I get gas points to boot! Last I checked King Soopers and Safeway are the only stores that double coupons (up to a dollar) but make sure you know each store's coupon policy before shopping, which can be found on their websites. If you can match a great sale with coupons you can get lots of products for half price or even less!

5. Lower Your Standards
Remember how I complained about ground beef skyrocketing in price? We are starting to use more ground turkey instead. I have found ground beef to be around $4 a pound (and that's for the super fatty kind! Ugh!) and $2.50 a pound for Honeysuckle ground turkey at King Soopers. We really do prefer ground beef, and when it goes on sale we'll stock up, but to save us nearly half price I'm buying a different kind of meat.

This goes for almost every kind of food. Get the store brand versus the name brand- it will usually save you at least 33% if not more and truly there's not a big quality difference. Check the price per ounce on each item to see if it actually is a better deal. I've been surprised sometimes that brand names can be cheaper!

Find the parts of the store that say "Manager's Special" or "Markdown." Though beware on the "Manager's Special" on perishable items because 99% of the time they are items that are quite close to their expiration date. So either freeze or eat it immediately. I have found so many great deals in these sections on not just food but things like trash bags, diapers, toiletries, and even toys!

All this may seem like it's tedious, time-consuming, or downright confusing. It took me several MONTHS to get to a place where I felt competent deal shopping. Don't give up after a week. Getting control of what you buy at the store is going to take time, diligence, and discipline.


If you have questions, ask away in the comments. Or feel free to share any grocery saving tips you use!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is Pain Worth It?

This post has caused me to really dig deep. It's one thing to say I believe something, another to search out WHY I believe it. To make sure I'm not just saying I believe in something because I am politically conservative or raised in a Christian home. 

This is my way of justifying why I believe in life. Why I believe someone shouldn't end it all because of suffering.

It is because I truly believe life is precious.

It's a gift.

This is something I have always believed, but as I've had it challenged, it is truly now something I believe in the marrow of my bones.

I don't want to write this as a rebuttal. I don't want to write this from a "I'm right, you're wrong" stand point. I have no desire to defend myself in this either.

So why am I bothering?

Someone out there needs to know that their own life is precious, it is a gift, it is sacred.

You are treasured, you are loved.


It's been on the news and blogs everywhere about Brittany Maynard choosing to die on November 1 due to her excruciating battle with cancer.

I can't relate to her struggles on her level, and I'm not going to try. I am, however, going to say how utterly heartbroken I am for her. I pray God comforts her in every moment of her struggle, but more importantly I hope she hears how beautiful she is, how adored she is, and how living her life, no matter how difficult and physically painful it is, will be worth it.

I may not be in her shoes exactly, but I have been at the place of despair, darkness, hopelessness, and pain (physical/emotional/you-name-it pain). I do know what it's like to be thinking that it would be easier to end it all, that the pain is so great it's unbearable, and that my family wouldn't have the burden of me any longer. In a way it does sound brave, noble, and sacrificial.

 But that is a lie.

Why? Because when I was in that deep, dark pit I didn't believe in hope. I didn't believe life could get better. I thought that was the end of my rope, and it very well may have been, and I didn't need to keep  putting myself through a life of misery.

Hope is more real than anything, and it has taken me not just one, but a few seasons of extreme misery, pain, and hardship to realize how true this is.

In the Bible Paul says in Romans 5:3-4 that "...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Paul, who suffered way more than anyone would want to, still found it possible to say that our sufferings lead to hope. That's the highway. We can't fully appreciate hope without having some amount of suffering.

1Timothy 4:8,10 "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come... This is why... we continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers."

I am a Christian and my suffering is all through a Christian lens. I know if I hadn't gone through those times of hardship, my faith would never be this strong. I also wouldn't have two beautiful little girl faces to greet me every morning. It took people close to me to show me I am loved; that my life was worth living

I have learned how much God loves us. Life is His idea, His "thing" if you will. He's all about it. He values it way more than any human ever could. He not only created us and breathed life into our lungs physically, but He also gave us life- a life to be lived. He gave us life, presently on earth and eternal, as a gift and He doesn't want us to waste it or trash it.

Genesis 2:7 "Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person." (emphasis mine)

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (emphasis mine)

 And again:

1Timothy 4:8,10 "Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come... This is why... we continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers."

God is crazy about life! And not just eternal life (though that's a big deal too) but He cares about our lives on this planet. He sees our suffering and it hurts Him too. He suffered the most of anyone, and He gets it.

I realized through my suffering that God values my life more than I ever could. I so hope I'm not the only one.

This life is stinking hard, no matter who you are or what you're going through. But we don't have to give in to our suffering or let the misery take us down, because if we do we may miss something amazing. We may miss seeing a miracle in our medical diagnosis. We may miss seeing that child we hadn't dare to hope for. Or simply we may miss that extra smile from our kids, watching the sunset one more time, holding our spouse's hand one more time. Because that is nothing to take for granted.

This is why I believe Brittany Maynard should be brave and choose life.


This song "Not Alone" by Red is so beautiful. If my writing didn't make any sense, I know this song will. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hey all! I am starting this new blog to, obviously, share whatever's on my mind and heart. You may agree, disagree, or simply not care and it's all fine with me. It may be completely goofy or something seriously difficult to get through. God gives us lives that are filled with a LOT a bit of everything, but thankfully He didn't want us to do it all alone.

I just hope something somewhere touches your heart or makes you have a great belly laugh! Or I will share some fun money-saving tips, especially since one of my friends refers to me as "the friend who doesn't pay for anything" or some yummy recipes (you have not lived til you have made, and subsequently devoured, tomato soup from scratch).

Slight disclaimer, to slightly discourage the trolls, though trolls will be trolls... I will stand behind pretty much everything I have to say on here and it may offend people. I understand not everyone likes tomato soup, so please be kind to us tomato soup loving freaks. So please be respectful, and I hope this becomes a vehicle where we can all grow deeper and learn to love tomato soup.

Happy blogging, self!