Category Archives: Finance

How to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

Wrapped Christmas boxes and graphic for Christmas on a budget

Christmas on a budget. What are some ways we can spend less and save money this Christmas?

There are 5 simple things you can do to cut costs and make sure this year is still one you will look back on fondly.  You will need to:

  • know your budget
  • make a list
  • evaluate your current traditions
  • come up with budget friendly alternatives
  • look for ways to save

Don’t worry, we’ll get to the details of how to do each of those things below.

Maybe you’ve encountered job loss, increased expenses or are working hard to reach some financial goals.

Whatever the reason, you are looking for ways to enjoy celebrating Christmas with your family (our kids still want to have fun after all) but do it on as little money as possible.

Yes, it might take some sacrifices and thinking outside the box.

Your family’s traditions might not happen in the standard way, but you can still celebrate the season and enjoy creating (frugal) memories with your family.

How to Celebrate Christmas on a Budget

Know your budget

It’s really important to know how much you have to spend. That will help you make the decisions you need to in the following step.

You know your finances and what amount, if anything, you have set aside for Christmas.

If you really have no extra money, see what you can come up with and use that money as your budget.

Maybe spend less on groceries or go on a spending freeze and apply what you save to Christmas. You could also find ways to earn extra money.

If you already have money set aside, you have your budget. You will just need to make sure you stick with it as you decide what to do.

Make a list

Second, sit down with your spouse (just the two of you to begin with, add the kids in a little later). You could even turn it into a little at home date night with hot drinks and homemade popcorn or cookies.

Write down all the things you normally do over the Christmas season and on Christmas day.

Think of things such as:

  • normal travel plans
  • visiting family
  • Christmas tree
  • presents (include everyone you normally buy for)
  • holiday baking
  • holiday parties
  • Christmas Day/Eve food
  • outings

Every tradition that you normally do. If you know it, include the approximate cost next to each item.  

Now that you have your list, move on to the third step of celebrating Christmas on a budget.

Evaluate your Christmas traditions

Take that list you just made and now go over it and evaluate each of the items

You need to determine how important everything on your list is.

Are you willing to eliminate it this year? Is it something you could adapt and change to make more affordable? What will work with the money you have?

Let’s look at a few examples from the above list:

-If you go to a farm and cut a live Christmas tree, would it be okay to skip that this year (if not, maybe cut a very small tree)?

-Consider cutting back on Christmas presents. Or even telling family you won’t be able to make it to all of the festivities this year and that you will be celebrating a simple Christmas with just your immediate family instead.

-Instead of the dozens of holiday treats you normally make, have each person in your family select one.

I can’t tell you what to do here. It will look different for every family.

One year, we didn’t get a tree. We’ve done years with very budget friendly presents. We’ve skipped holiday outings that have cost money.

You will need to look over everything on your list and decide what areas your family is willing to cut back on.

After you have done this initial work to conquering Christmas on a budget, this is where you will want to bring your kids into the process. Either for finalizing this step or as you move into step 4.

Come up with budget friendly alternatives

Next you will come up with cheap alternatives – some of these might become new traditions because they are so well loved!

Don’t just take away everything your kids (and you) look forward to about the holiday season. Replace it with something else and give it a positive spin when you present the ideas to your children.

It’s okay to explain to your children that money is tight so things might look a little different, but remind them that it is okay because you are still going to work together to make this a special Christmas.

[This post has a great list of frugal things to do on Christmas day!]

-Maybe this year you will replace your prime rib dinner with everyone making their own personal pizzas!

-Draw names for gift giving instead of purchasing for everyone. (Or do something like this Saran Wrap Christmas Ball Game)

-Go out and find a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

-Instead of whatever paid Christmas outings you normally go on, try a family Christmas light scavenger hunt and make hot chocolate at home to bring with you. (Here’s another link for a printable scavenger hunt with pictures for younger kids.)

-If you decide to not travel to see family Christmas day, check out this post for cheap, fun things you can do on Christmas Day!

Get creative! Let your kids think outside of the box.

[For 11 tips on Christmas Presents On a Budget, be sure to check out this post!]

Look for ways to save

One final tip. Look at which things you are going to be doing and see if you can find ways to save money on at least some of them.

Below are some ideas to get you thinking:

-Wait to buy the baking supplies you need until they are on sale (and they almost all do go on sale over the holidays).

-If you decided to still buy gifts for your kids or any others, keep your eyes open year round for presents. You might find the perfect gifts on clearance.  Don’t discount Facebook Marketplace for buying like new items that you know your kids would love and would otherwise be out of the budget.

-Watch for discount days (often shared about on social media) or Groupons for any paid outings you have decided to go on.

-Pack your own meals for road trips instead of eating out.

Don’t discount small savings. When money is tight, those little things really do add up.

Know your budget. Make a list. Evaluate your traditions. Come up with budget friendly alternatives. Look for ways to save.

These tips will help you conquer Christmas on a budget this year and I think you will actually find yourself enjoying the memories you make.

What other suggestions do you have to celebrate Christmas on a budget?

Christmas cookies and a tablet that says Merry Christmas! How to celebrate Christmas on a budget.

Is Swagbucks Worth It and How to Earn Gift Cards

If you’ve ever heard of Swagbucks before, you might be wondering “Is Swagbucks worth it?”

My answer: it depends. What are your finances like? What is your life like? Do you have more time or more money? Some budgets might make Swagbucks not necessary. Especially if you are busy.

Please know, you can also put as much or little time into earning Swagbucks as you’d like. Don’t feel like you need to spend even an hour a day.

Affiliate links are used in these posts. See the disclosure page for more information.

[If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here with my referral link and receive a bonus 300 swagbucks when you earn 300 swagbucks your first month!]

What is Swagbucks:

Maybe you’ve never heard of Swagbucks and are wondering what exactly we are talking about so you can determine if Swagbucks is worth it for you.

Using Swagbucks you can earn PayPal cash or gift cards to countless places for doing things online or through apps on your phone! Some of these are things I’m sure you are doing already (internet searches, anyone?) or things you can be doing simultaneously as you work (letting videos stream in the background).

So let’s talk about when gift cards would make a difference for you.

Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.

Is Swagbucks Worth It?

It’s time to get one thing out of the way. You aren’t going to become rich earning Swagbucks, but they can really make a difference in your budget. Especially when finances are tight.

For instance, we had an extended spending freeze and cut our spending by over a fourth as we worked hard to pay off our house.

Gifts that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to purchase were made possible. I also used Swagbucks to buy supplements and other supplies on Amazon.

When we were in that 18 month spending freeze, spare time wasn’t something I had much of (spoiler, I still don’t have much of it 😉 ) so my Swagbucks goals were pretty simple and easy: 5 days a week I earned at least 50 Swagbucks. The other 2 I just got 5. If I earn more, great but if not that’s okay.

That put me at 280 Swagbucks a week or 14,560 a year. Buying the gift cards that are on sale with a 12% discount is the best deal. A $5 Amazon gift card (not on sale) is 500 Swagbucks.  So over the course of a year, I can earn around $160 in Amazon gift cards. Not too bad.

You could easily earn more than that if you dedicated more time but you have to find what is appropriate for you and your life needs so you can make Swagbucks worth it for you.

How can you reach those daily Swagbuck goals?

Ways to Earn Swagbucks Every Day:

1. Searches

As you are doing internet searches throughout the day, simply use the Swagbucks’ search engine. That’s easy enough and adds zero time! (Every once in a while I don’t get the results I need from Swagbucks and have to switch to Google, but I always try first). You won’t get Swagbucks every search. It will more likely be every 10 or more. I normally get Swagbucks from doing 1-3 searches each day and the searches typically give me 6-11 bucks. Sometimes, I’ll get 23!

2. Watch

On the left side of the screen, you can click watch. You will have to watch a series of videos (17 videos 1 minute each) and can earn 2 Swagbucks. You will have to click next after each video, but you don’t have to actually watch the video.

3. Daily Poll

This takes literally a second to do and will get you a Swagbuck.

4. Daily To Do List

On your Swagbucks’ homepage on the left column you’ll see a check list of 8 things to do each day. Completing all of the tasks will get you bonus Swagbucks. I don’t stress about getting everything on this list done – some tasks are simply too time consuming (or require making purchases).

5. Play

If I find myself a few Swagbucks short, I go over to the games and play a couple. They don’t take very long and if you happen to select one that seems to go on endlessly, know that you don’t have to finish a game to get credit. You get 2 Swagbucks for every other game you play – up to 10. Make sure you play games that are completely free. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll find the 3 free Swagbucks’ games.

6. Swag Codes

If you already have the handy SwagButton downloaded that gets you a Swagbuck everyday. It also notifies you every time a new Swag Code is available and tells you were to find it. I’m only at my computer a few times a week when they pop up, but they take seconds to redeem and are worth watching for.

7. Daily Discover

Every once in a while I’ll click on Daily Discover to see if there are any easy offers or in store deals that don’t require me to purchase anything I wasn’t already planning on.

8. Surveys

I have a love hate relationship with the surveys. It takes entirely too much of my time for the survey to determine if I qualify or not. I wish they’d have a way to let you know within 3 questions instead of many minutes worth of questions. But, on the occasion that I actually do qualify for the survey I can get a descent number of points and the surveys are pretty enjoyable.

However, they are another thing I don’t always do because they can be a time suck for not many points depending on how many tries it takes to get a survey you qualify for.

9. Shop

If you are ordering online, be sure to check out the shop section to see what you can earn back in Swagbucks. Before you choose to shop through Swagbucks, be sure to check and see what the cash back is at Rakuten! (Join Rakaten using my link and spend $25 and you will get $10) Use the one that will give you more bang for your buck.

[Sign up today with my referral link and receive a bonus 300 swagbucks when you earn 300 swagbucks your first month. Score! The bonus just might make Swagbucks worth it for even just a month as you try it out.]

10. Coupons

Be sure to check out the coupon section and see if there are coupons available for products you already buy! You earn Swagbucks for printing coupons and for redeeming coupons. Navigate there by clicking shop on the left side of their website. You’ll then click where it says grocery coupons.

11. Swago

Swago is Swagbucks’ version of Bingo. This is available once a month for a week. You have to do tasks on the board and creating certain patterns will earn you points. Definitely worth checking out to see if you can get some extra Swagbucks for tasks you are already doing.

12. Follow Swagbucks

Be sure to follow Swagbucks on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to catch when they release codes to get a few bonus Swagbucks. Check out their blog for more codes and extra information as well.  Don’t forget, having the SwagButton installed on your web browser will help you get these time sensitive codes (and give you a Swagbuck each day just for having it)!

13. Swagbucks Apps

Check out this post for 3 Swagbucks apps I have on my phone to earn even more points! Playing videos on my phone is simpler and a way better deal than the computer. You can also submit pictures of your receipts and more.

Don’t forget, If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here with my referral link and receive a bonus 300 swagbucks when you earn 300 swagbucks your first month

What is your answer to the “is Swagbucks worth it” question?

What are you favorite ways to earn everyday?

Swagbucks logo

Originally published February 19, 2015. Updated August 13, 2020.


Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.



Swagbucks is AMAZING! I earn gift cards all year for web searches and streaming videos. The PERFECT way to afford presents when the budget is tight.

Linking up to these fun parties!


Healthy Cheap Grocery List When Money is Tight

lady with a grocery cart looking a receipt. Graphic for cheap grocery list

A cheap grocery list. I know we’ve talked lots about ways to save money on groceries! If you’ve been around before, you know my number one tip is to have a meal plan!!!

Today we are going to get a little more specific with this cheap grocery list.

Maybe it’s the end of the month, maybe money is especially tight right now.

Whatever it is, you are wondering what cheap food you can buy.

Not only what frugal/cheap foods to buy, but what are the healthiest  foods you can put on a cheap grocery list. What are your options.

First, I want to tell you don’t worry and stress. Just do the best you can. Hang in there. Being anxious, as easy as it is to do, (talking to myself here too) about what cheap food to feed your family does no good.

Related Posts on Saving Money:
Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget
How to Drastically Reduce Your Grocery Budget
Dirt Cheap Meals Under $5 Total
Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

picture of beans and other foods and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget.

Cheap Grocery List – aka Healthy Cheap Food

The first two that come to mind are the stereotypical budget foods – but don’t let them scare you off.

Beans. Specifically dry beans. They are super easy to cook and you can season them in a variety of ways and use them to stretch meat or replace it all together. Buying them dry will cost you at least a third of buying a can.

Rice. You can buy a pound of brown rice at Dollar Tree for $1. One of our local grocery stores sells a pound bag for $.50! If you don’t like brown rice, you can find white rice even cheaper.

Lentils. Another affordable legume for a cheap grocery list right here. People use these for all kinds of things. A lentil and rice casserole. Meat replacement in things like sloppy joes. Or one of our go tos is a quick lentil soup.

Rolled Oats. Buy the big container, none of the instant oatmeal packets. You can always make your own oatmeal packets. Breakfast really can’t get much cheaper than this. A jar of cinnamon is only $1 and will season a lot of bowls of oatmeal.

Bag of flour. Grab a bag of whole wheat (or unbleached white) flour. Use it to make a loaf of bread or a batch of pancakes (for dinner or breakfast).

Pasta. Cheap and easy. Make a batch of meatless spaghetti sauce (or replace the meat with some lentils) and supper will cost next to nothing. I always make a big batch so we can have leftovers another meal or two. (<– Another money saving tip right there!)

Peanut Butter. Takes you back to your childhood, I know, but it’s really hard to get cheaper than peanut butter sandwiches. My kids dislike jelly, but of course you can add some fruit to your peanut butter sandwich. Kroger brand peanut butter has the best price on peanut and salt peanut butter – especially if you get it on sale.

Bread. Make bread using flour for pennies a loaf. Also, watch for your local dollar store to get in a shipment of Nature’s Way bread. You can also find bread marked down at Aldi and other grocery stores. Here is an easy recipe for french bread and English muffin bread.

Popcorn kernels. Buy the kernels and pop it yourself for a healthy and frugal snack or even turn it into a snack supper.

Milk. Not to drink. I’m a huge proponent of water. Instead use it to make the pancakes, baked oatmeal etc. Dairy free, sub almond milk.

Eggs. This is really an inexpensive source of protein. Have them hard boiled for a snack, as part of a meal, or in a salad. Scrambled eggs make a great brinner. Can also use to make cheap things such as pancakes or french toast.

Chicken. If you are going to buy meat, chicken will likely be your cheapest bet. Use it as an ingredient – not the star of the meal. Be sure to ration it out and stretch it with beans, lentils, or veggies when you can. If you buy bone in chicken, use the bones to make stock and stretch your dollar even further.

Ground Turkey. As far as ground meat goes, turkey will give you the most bang for your buck! Use for spaghetti, tacos, meatballs, sloppy joes etc. Basically just as you would use hamburger only it is under $2 a pound!

Potatoes. Especially in the fall and winter months when they will often go on sale for $2-$3 for a 10 pound bag. I prefer sweet potatoes and you can also find them cheaper in the fall and winter months. There’s nothing wrong with a baked potato supper. Plan on leftovers and have fried potatoes with the eggs for supper the next night. Make a potato soup with some of the milk.

Sweet Potatoes. A great super food that’s also cheap when they are in season and frequently on sale. Use in soaps, roasted as a side dish, as a breakfast hash, in curry etc.

Summer Squash/Winter Squash. When squash is in season, you can find it for under $1 a pound. I great time to incorporate it into your diet. I love making zucchini corn skillets in the summer and spaghetti squash is a winter favorite.

Check out these spaghetti squash recipes: Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein, Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl, and Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash.

Onions and Garlic. Not only are these a great cheap food, but they also add tons of flavor to recipes. I use a lot of onions and garlic in my house and they are great for you!

Carrots. Not the baby ones when you are pinching pennies. Whole carrots are typically super inexpensive. I get them for $1 for a 2 pound bag. Serve them raw as a side for lunch or supper (or try roasting). Add them to soups or a stir fry.

Celery. In my part of the country a bunch of celery is $1. Use in the same way you would the carrots. Carrots and celery also make great snacks.

Frozen Veggies. Frozen green beans, peas and corn are both under $1 at Aldi. Use in soup, fried rice or as a side dish.

Apples. In the fall and winter months these are often times under $.70 a pound. Add to oatmeal or slice and serve with lunch or for a snack. Of course apple cake is a fun splurge too. 🙂

Cabbage. Right now a head of cabbage is just over a dollar and it will be cheaper in fall and winter months. Shave it for a salad or add to soups and stir fries. I also love sauteing it and having with eggs.

Bananas. Bananas are pretty much always under $.50 a pound and will frequently go on sale cheaper than that.

Canned Tomato Products. Canned tomatoes are cheap. Make your own pizza sauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and tomato soup for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them already made. I know canned tomatoes are controversial in the “healthy foods” world. But you do what you have to do. Another option would be to stock up on tomatoes when you can get them dirt cheap and can or freeze them to avoid the cans.

Lettuce. I can get a head of romaine or leaf lettuce for between $1 and $1.30 at my grocery stores. A bean based taco salad would make a great meal or simply have salad for your lunch or a side dish.

Other In Season Produce. This is key to getting fresh produce in on the cheap food to buy when you are broke cheap grocery list. Only buy what is on sale for a great price. Things like broccoli, corn, peaches, strawberries, grapes. It depends on what is in season and on sale.

Free Menu Plan Guide & Template

Here’s the bullet point list of all the healthy foods for a cheap grocery list, in case you are a skimmer like I am! 🙂

  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Rolled Oats
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Peanut Butter
  • Bread
  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Ground Turkey
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Summer Squash/Winter Squash
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Frozen Vegetables
  • Apples
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Canned Tomato Products
  • Lettuce
  • Other in Season Produce


I hope this gives you a starting point next time you are trying to make a healthy, cheap grocery list.

What other healthy(ish) cheap foods am I missing from the list? What’s the cheapest, healthy meal that you make?

empty grocery cart and a shelf with tomatoes

picture of beans and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget. picture of bananas and a great cheap healthy grocery list that will help you feed your family on a budget.

Originally published October 30, 2018. Updated August 4, 2020.

10 Best Tips for Frugal Grocery Shopping

Do you find yourself needing to do some frugal grocery shopping so you can reduce your grocery bill? If so, I have some great tips for you!

These are the ways to save money on groceries that I’ve found over the last 14 years. In fact, most of them are things my mom did when I was a child as she fed up to 10 people on a budget.

Here’s the bullet list version of these tips on how to save money on groceries, keep reading for the details on how exactly I implement them!

Frugal Grocery Shopping:

  • Plan
  • Look at the ads
  • Shop more than one store
  • Buy in bulk
  • Know rock bottom prices
  • Have a go to pantry meal
  • Use meat as a condiment, not the star
  • Have some meatless meals
  • Don’t pay for convenience food
  • Cook from scratch

Let’s talk numbers for a minute.

$707. That’s what the USDA estimates that my family of 5 (2 adults, 3 year old, 5 year old, and 8 year old) would spend a month on food following the Thrifty Plan.

What if I told you my actual grocery budget a month is between 1/3 and 1/4 of that number? Not only that, I am able to keep it low without using coupons and I feed my family real food! The only boxed foods in my pantry is plain pasta and the only cans contain tomato products, coconut milk, or pumpkin. You too can get your groceries on a budget, a tight budget at that if you follow these frugal grocery shopping tips!

Please, don’t let what I spend on groceries scare you. A grocery budget is a very personal thing. We all live in different parts of the country. I’m fortunate to live where food costs tend to be low. Diet restraints might be different. Eating 100% gluten free will have you spending more than I do. But, wherever you live and whatever your diet you can use these ways to save money on groceries to cut your spending.

When it comes to saving money, sometimes we can struggle with what to cut out of our budget. Especially after we’ve gotten rid of things like paid television and subscription services. What we are talking about today is one of the easiest categories to save money on after you’ve already pared down your budget!

You can reduce your grocery bill while still feeding your family quality food!!!

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of my top 10 tips for ways to save money on groceries.

[For more ideas on frugal grocery shopping, check out this post on the cheapest, healthy groceries to buy]

10 Steps to Frugal Grocery Shopping:

1. Plan

This one is big. If you go to the store without having a plan of what you are going to eat the next week or two, you’ll find yourself adding a lot of extras to your cart “just in case” and making lots of trips to pick up something you forgot. Before you go shopping, sit down and write up a menu for the week. Make a list of everything you will need to buy. Don’t forget to factor in all three meals plus snacks.

My favorite method for menu planning is this template that I’ve used for the past decade. It’s works so well!

2. Look at the ads

Let the ads determine the produce and meat you are going to use on your menu.

Broccoli for $.79 – plan to make Broccoli Pasta one day. Another day serve it steamed or roasted as a side dish.

Buy the fruit that’s cheap to use for snacks and breakfast.

If pasta is on a super sale, grab a box for dinner (mac and cheese, anyone) one night and a couple extra to keep in the pantry.

3. Shop More Than One Store

I know some people say it takes too long to hit up multiple stores. I’ve found that I can do an every or every other week shopping trip and hit up 3-4 stores and still be done in an hour. I get the majority of my list at Aldi and Wal-Mart because I know they will have the lowest base prices. Then I fill in with what’s on sale at other stores.

I live in a small town so our 4 grocery stores are all within a 2 miles of my house. If you are in a big city, look at the stores near your house for your weekly shopping trips. Do once a month trips to the good stores that might be further away or add them on to an appointment or errand you are running anyway.

4. Buy in Bulk

One caveat, this only works if you know you actually like the food and will use it up before they go bad. 😉 Letting food go to waste goes again frugal grocery shopping!

But if you do this appropriately, it is a great way to save! Buy the 5 pound bag of dried beans, stock up on 25 pound bags of flour & rice, and buy 5 pound blocks of cheese if it’s cheaper. Be sure you are comparing prices to the sale prices you can get on the standard sizes, not the regular prices.

5. Know Rock Bottom Prices

Knowing the cheapest a product is going to go helps you make educated decisions on when to stock. up.

If the cheapest price you’ve seen for butter in the last year is $1.99 a pound, when you see it at or below that price, it’s time stock up what you have room in the freezer and budget for.

The same goes for when ground beef, boneless skinless chicken breasts, or pasta go on sale for rock bottom prices.

Buy enough to last you the few months until they’ll go on sale again.

To help you not forgot, start a note on your phone or have a small notebook that you use to keep track of prices, especially on those items that are kitchen staples.

6. Have a Go To Pantry Meal

One of the keys to keeping your food budget low is avoiding convenience food and eating out.

Days are going to come up where you are busier than you thought, someone is sick, or maybe you forgot to thaw out the meat. So what should you do?

Have a go to meal or two you can throw together in under 30 minutes that you always have the ingredients for.  

Maybe have a couple of jars of spaghetti sauce in the pantry for one of these nights or make cheese quesadillas. Breakfast for dinner is another great, easy option. I like to keep refried beans in the freezer to make bean tostadas for those hectic days.

7. Use Meat as a Condiment not the Star

There’s no way around it. Meat is expensive.

Limit your meals where meat is the star of the dish (grilled steak, baked chicken breasts, even curries where meat is the only ingredient) to once every week or two.

On a regular basis use recipes where meat is used as a condiment, or just one of many ingredients.

Think of things like: stir-fries, fajitas, salads, soups, burritos, sheet pan dinners etc where you can cut back on the meat and replace it with more veggies or beans. Cheaper and good for you!

8. Have Some Meatless Meals

Continuing with the meat theme here, include a couple of vegetarian options in your menu each week.

Our breakfasts and lunches are typically vegetarian (if we aren’t having leftovers) and then we also have at least one or two meatless suppers a week.

It really does make a difference and no one’s going to complain about Alfredo Sauce or a cheese pizza. Bean burritos or tacos are another favorite of the kids. A vegetable or potato soup are great winter options.

9. Don’t Pay for Convenience Food

You don’t need to pay someone to prepackage food for you!

Your kids won’t starve if they don’t have cold cereal, poptarts, or toaster waffles for breakfast.

Don’t buy personal packages of cookies, pre-sliced cheese, apple slices, or individual packages of pretzels.

Either do it yourself or find an alternative option!

Put together your own oatmeal packages, slice or grate a pound of cheese at the beginning of the week, separate a big bag of pretzels into mini baggies, and take 30 seconds to slice an apple for an afternoon snack.

10. Cook from Scratch

Not only does this save you money but you also know exactly what’s going into your food.

Instead of purchasing granola bars and cheese crackers, try making your own. Whip up a batch of energy bites or homemade cookies.

  • Make your own taco seasoning instead of buying a packet (plus you’ll have enough for several other meals).
  • Bake corn tortillas into tostada shells.
  • Make a large batch of bread and store the extra loaves in the freezer for later.
  • Make muffins instead of buying them.
  • Homemade yogurt is a standard at our house.
  • Cook dried beans.

The ideas here are endless!

To keep from being overwhelmed, select one item a week or month that you are going to transition to making from scratch.

You’ll love the money saved and improved taste!

These are all of the frugal grocery shopping tips I’ve used over the past 14 years of married life to reduce our grocery bill drastically.

We have saved thousands of dollars simply by spending a little time planning, shopping effectively, and spending a little time in the kitchen.

If you are looking for ways to save money on groceries, simply select one or two of the tips and start there.

Give it a few weeks or months and add an a couple more ideas. Soon, these suggestions will be habits and you’ll find your grocery budget decreasing!

For more information on frugal grocery shopping, you need to download my menu planning template. It is what I use each week to make life easier and save a lot of money!

What’s your favorite way to manage frugal grocery shopping? Is it something your family struggles with? I’m curious, how does your spending compare to what the USDA says?

P.S. Be sure to check out the comments for more great ideas!



10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!


10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!

You might also enjoy these posts:

Financial goals can be scary and exciting! This year we are focusing on paying off our house - here's how we are doing it!

The Secret to Financial Success! Sitting down and doing this as a couple and actually following through as made a world of difference. You'll want to start today!

The best alfredo sauce. So creamy, flavorful, and super easy! We love this recipe.10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!

Originally published October 2, 2014. Updated July 23, 2020.

How to Set Financial Goals

Notebook and pens laying on the table and words saying how to set financial goals
Do you ever struggle with follow through? Setting financial goals sounds like a great idea, but sometimes it can be difficult to actually accomplish those goals. I want to help you out with some simple tips for how to set financial goals AND actually accomplish them.

One of the big financial goals we set several years ago was paying off our house. It felt huge and a little scary, a little exciting, and a lot “I can’t believe we are doing this”!

Since we achieved that milestone 3 years ago, a lot of our financial goals have been house projects and of course the always the need to put aside money for things like “new” vehicles when the time comes.

If you need help coming up with financial goals you could set, here is a great list of ideas!

I’ve found have a goal and a plan to be key actually getting things done. If you don’t have a budget you need to start there, because I really do think a budget is a key to financial success.

Now, I’m going to share some great suggestions to help you with setting financial goals for your family. I’ll also share some of the process we went through when deciding to pay off our mortgage early.

How to Set Financial Goals:

1. Discuss the Options

Sit down with your spouse and discuss big saving projects you have or any debts that you need to pay off.

Mortgage, loans, car funds, remodeling projects, college funds, retirement fund, emergency fund, investment opportunities, and travel are all ideas to get you started. (For a more extensive list, check out this post.)

2. Pick a project

Let me give you a recommendation here.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, start there! Dave Ramsey says $1,000 but I’d highly recommend $2,000.

If you have an emergency fun be sure to tackle any debt (besides your mortgage) next.

After you both of those things are done, look at bulking up your emergency fund to 3-6 months of basic living expenses before you move on to paying of your mortgage or other savings goals.

We were debt free with the exception of our mortgage. We had recently purchased a new to us mini van and still had a little money in a car fund that we continued slowly adding to in case our other vehicle needed replaced (with an inexpensive vehicle).

Our emergency fun was fully funded emergency funded and we have no known major expenses coming our way. Yes, our retirement fund and kids’ college accounts could have also use more but we went for paying off the mortgage knowing that not having that would free up more money to budget with each month.

3. Look at the Numbers

Start crunching numbers!

  • What is the total dollar amount needed?
  • Rework your budget or find a side job and see what money you can throw at it.
  • When do you think you can have your goal accomplished?

When we knew paying off the house was a huge goal of ours, I spent some time looking at the numbers.

Seeing how much time we had left paying off the house as is and then seeing when we’d be done if we put all of my paychecks and extra money towards it was motivating.

Seeing the numbers and looking at dates on the calendar made it seem real and possible!

4. Pick a Start Date

It can be easy to get stuck in the planning stage! Don’t do that. Move through the first 3 steps quickly and then pick a start date! 

Decide when you are going to start and just do it!

Big goals are hard (and often seem scary). Sometimes you just have to make yourself go for it. Maybe you will start today, maybe it will be one Monday, or maybe the first of the month. Don’t put it off more than that or it’s easy to start losing motivation.

stack of $100 bills and graphic for how to set financial goals

5. Know it Will Be Hard

It’s not going to always be easy. It wouldn’t be a BIG GOAL if it was always easy.

Expect challenges, prepare yourself for them, know it’s not going to last forever, and commit to it 100%! Realize there will have to be sacrifices. You will have to say no to a lot of things. Prepare for this ahead of time and realize it’s okay.

6. Have an End

As you are setting your financial goals, be sure to have an end date!

Goals are hard to keep tackling when those hard moments happen if there is no end in site.

You can have two types of ends:

  • time (a date in the future when you’ll be finished)
  • dollar amount

When we paid off our mortgage, I knew both. I knew how approximately how many months it would take to pay off our mortgage and I also saw the dollar amount owed decrease each month.

7. Celebrate the Milestones

Saving up $10,000, $25,000, or $100,000 is daunting! Sometimes, even the thought of $1,000 is overwhelming.

It might seem like you’ll never get there.

To help keep the end in site and the momentum going, break your goal down and celebrate the mile markers along the way.

It doesn’t have to be anything big (you are on a budget after all).

Do something your family would enjoy that doesn’t cost much (or any) money.

8. Visual Reminders

Keep the goal in front of you! Don’t shove it in the back of your mind where you will forget it.

  • Make a paper chain with one ring for every thousand dollars. When you put in $1,000, remove a chain.
  • Draw in outline of whatever you are saving for or paying off and section it into parts. Divide your total needed by the number of parts on your outline and color in a section each time you reach that amount.

Having even simple visual reminders and being able to see the progress can keep you motivated!

9. Plan a Party

Plan something fun that you want to do when your goal is 100% met!

  • Go out to your favorite restaurant
  • Take a day trip to the zoo or amusement park
  • Buy everyone’s favorite foods at the grocery store that haven’t made the budget cut the last year.

Make it fun and something to look forward to. When we payed off our house the kids were just turned 5, almost 3, and I was 9 months pregnant. I was all about keeping things simple. My family loves pizza, so we celebrated with homemade pizza with pepperoni in the shape of a house and a cookie cake the kids helped decorate with a house made from sprinkles. Super simple and cheap but my young kids though it was the neatest thing ever.

Don’t expect it to be easy, but with these 9 steps on how to set financial goals you can select a goals and start tackling it with confidence!

I’m cheering you on. I’ll never forget that moment we sent that last payment and again when it was posted on our lender’s website that we owed $0!

Do you have any tips for successfully setting financial goals? What goals that you are trying to nail this year?

Pens and notebook with words on top for how to set financial goals

How to set financial goals (and succeed at them)!!! Great tips that will help you decide what to set and keep you motivated! (Paying off the house is our BIG goal right now!)


You might also want to check out these posts:10 super easy ways to drastically lower your grocery budget! I've saved thousands of dollars doing these over the years. GREAT ideas!

The Secret to Financial Success! Sitting down and doing this as a couple and actually following through as made a world of difference. You'll want to start today!

Financial goals can be scary and exciting! This year we are focusing on paying off our house - here's how we are doing it!

5 steps to go from surviving to thriving

 Linking up to these fun parties!

How to set financial goals (and succeed at them)!!! Great tips that will help you decide what to set and keep you motivated! (Paying off the house is our BIG goal right now!)