5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week #93

When times get tough, the first place to start cutting costs is on food.  I’ve spent a lot of time this week cooking from scratch so we can stretch the grocery budget.

Having food ready to go makes life easier for the whole family!

Our family has spent 20 months paying off debt.  One thing that helps us get through is weekly check ins.  So on Fridays, I like to think about all the things we’ve done for the week to save money.

If you like money saving tips, you’re in the right place!  Check out the entire series here.

The 5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week

Ideas for saving money with your family.

Used a Bowl

My family loves grapes.  But for some reason, they usually are forgotten in the crisper and go bad before we eat them.

So when grapes went on sale, I was hesitant to buy them. But I came up with an easy solution that made all the difference!

I washed up all the grapes, cut them into small stems, and place all of them in a bowl (no lid).  Not only did everyone see them when they opened the fridge, but they actually ate all of them before they went bad this time!

Baking Day

Taking some time in the kitchen to whip up a few batches of easy to grab foods can really help your grocery budget.  This week I made breakfast burritos (eggs, sausage, and cheese) and cream cheese and chicken taquitos.  They didn’t take long to put together, and the family had easy food on hand to take with them.

Used Up Leftovers

You really need to start your meals with leftovers whenever possible.  Let’s say you made too much spaghetti one night. (I had an entire pound of it in the fridge after spaghetti night.  I think it cloned itself or something.)  On another night, use it as a side dish!

I warmed a little oil in my skillet and tossed my leftover spaghetti in the oil.  While it warmed, I added some spices like garlic, onion flakes, oregano, salt and pepper.  As it finished warming, I sprinkled a little extra oil and some Parmesan over the top.

It was so good!  I was excited that everyone ate the whole batch down, and I didn’t have to throw away any of it.  You can read more about why I prefer to use food like this rather than binge on pantry challenges here.

Girls Night

A few friends and I really needed a night out.  We considered going to a comedy club or trying a break out room.  But in the end, we decided what we really needed was time to just sit and vent.

So we found an awesome deal on a hotel room where we could swim, watch Mom movies, and talk…kid free!  By the time we split the cost of the room, it was as much as we would have spent on tickets anywhere else.  And probably saved us money since we didn’t have to buy extra drinks or entertainment!

By the way, my friend found the best deal on booking.com.  I hadn’t heard of that site before, but you might want to keep it in mind the next time you make plans!

Movement

One of my goals for the year is to move more.  Blogging requires a lot of time sitting and working at a computer.  Nothing in my life right now gives me a lot of time to get up and move.

But this week, I’ve decided that I have to make moving more of a priority.  I won’t claim to be exercising!  But I am fitting some yoga into my day (perfect for stress!). And each night I’m trying to take a little walk with the kids.  That doubles as family time and movement.  Win/win!

And it’s all free!

That’s how we saved money this week!

Unfortunately, things are still rough around here and I think our debt is not going to get much of a fight from us this month.  But the more I stew on that, the more I think it’s actually really ok that it’s happening this way.  More on that coming soon!

Be sure to check out my recipe for  Cream Cheese and Chicken Taquitos!  So easy and so goooood.

Make These Easy Cream Cheese And Chicken Taquitos In A Flash!

How did you save this week?

How to Choose Which Type of Debt to Pay Off First

Inside:  Ready to pay off debt, but not sure where to start?  Let’s look at your options!

Medium Sized Family readers, give a welcome to Jacob from Dollar Diligence!  He’s going to give us his perspective on debt today.

A few years ago, I paid off $25,000 of student loan debt in just 15 months. This was a HUGE feat for me and I am so glad that I did it. If I did not, I would still be living in the minimum payment world with a payoff future date of 10 or more years from now. Not what I wanted.

When it comes to debt, whether you have student loans, credit cards, or even an auto loan, you want to make sure that YOU choose what debt is paid off first. If you do not choose, then your money will not be allocated properly and you will remain in debt for longer than you needed to be, which means wasted money in interest payments.

Let’s take a look below at what I would recommend to you when you start to choose what debt to pay off.

So you know you need to get that debt paid off, but which kind of debt should you get rid of first? This post helps you sort it all out.

Avoid Indiscriminately Paying Off Your Debt

One of the biggest mistakes that many people make is that they indiscriminately pay off their debt. What this means is that there is no rhyme or reason to the debt pay off and it just happens. Pretty much like if I have three credit cards and each one has a minimum payment due of $25, then I make that $25 payment per month. Should I have some extra money one month, I toss it to whatever card I choose at that moment.

The reason that this is not a good strategy to follow is because you will find that you never actually make any true progress. If you were to take some time to plan out how to pay off your credit cards, you would be in better shape. For example, if I have those same three cards and each one has a balance of $450, $100, and $310, all with the same interest rate, then you would want to pay down the $450 first to eliminate it since it accumulates the most interest. Remember, interest compounds on your balance.

Aim for the Highest Interest Rate Debt FIRST

Similar to the example above, you want to pay attention to what you do when it comes time to pay off your debt. You should ALWAYS knock out the highest interest rate debt FIRST. Why? Because interest compounds. The more debt you have, the more interest you accumulate. For example, you would accumulate MORE interest on $350 than you would on $130.

Credit cards do have high interest rates, so you should choose to eliminate them first and for good. You can pay up to as much as 25 percent on these cards. Wow! You should start with the highest balance and then work your way down to the smallest balance until all of the debt is paid off.

Student loans through the Department of Education are not as harmful of a debt for you, but you do want to focus on making payments and paying them off. While the interest rate may seem reasonable at 4 to 7 percent, over 10 to 20 years, it is not as nice as it once seemed.

How to Choose Which Type of Debt to Pay Off First

When it comes to student loans, private student loans are the ones you want to focus on and knock out because these types of student loans often come with a higher interest rate and unless you qualify, you may not receive approval to refinance.

If you have a mortgage, you may be wondering just what you need to do with it. Or, maybe you do not have a mortgage and you want to know whether or not it is a good move for you. Here is the low down.

Mortgage rates are usually pretty low and you will likely luck out with a rate somewhere between 3 and 4.5 percent. Since mortgages do carry lower interest rates, they do not accumulate as much interest as you may think. This is good for you and it may be wise for you to apply for and receive a mortgage should you be in a position to want and afford one.

Don’t Delay When It’s Time to Pay

The worst thing you can do is take a backseat approach to your debt, whether it is from student loans, credit cards, or an auto loan. You should be proactive about paying back the money you borrowed, but do make sure you pick and choose where the money goes to maximize your pay off strategy.

 

Jacob talks about all things money at his personal finance blog Dollar Diligence. You can find him on Twitter for similar content and corny jokes.

Make These Easy Cream Cheese And Chicken Taquitos In A Flash!

Inside:  A few simple ingredients make these cream cheese and chicken taquitos the easiest recipe you’ll make all week! Snacks and lunches just got better!

Most Moms’ ears perk up when they hear the works quick, easy, and chicken.  Who doesn’t want another simple (and affordable!) recipe to add to their collection??

That’s why I’m such a huge fan of this cream cheese and chicken taquito recipe.  It’s as easy as making a sandwich would be.  But I can make these ahead of time and put them in the fridge for lunches or snack time.

And, pssst, I’ve frozen these with success, too!  I know “they” say cream cheese doesn’t freeze well, but we’ve had no problems with it.

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5 Ways We’ve Saved Money This Week 92

In case you aren’t familiar with our story, our family is wading through month number 20 of paying off a big chunk of debt.  We’ve stuck with the plan through thick and thin.

In late July our ratty old paid off van quit on us.  And now my computer died.  It wasn’t even that old!  We have no idea what happened to it (though I suspect the kids…ahem.)

I’m kind of glad all of this is happening now rather than a year ago.  I might have been more tempted to give up then.  Now it just makes me double down on my resolve to be out of debt so we can have a deeper savings account for problems like this!

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Your Simple Checklist for Saving the Most Money This Fall

Inside:  Doing a few things now can save you a ton of cash later. Just follow this simple checklist and you’ll be sitting pretty this fall!

To do lists seem to get longer every year.  Everyone is busy all.the.time. So it’s no wonder that things slip through the cracks.  The next thing you know, you find yourself with an expensive repair bill that could have been avoided.  Ugh!

Let’s prevent the problem before it happens.  Take some time this week to go through this checklist.  Be a little proactive and you can save yourself a ton of money later.

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