Monday, January 27, 2014

Money Monday- Using Your Grocery Budget Efficiently

Brett and I have a terrible habit of eating out because we are to lazy to cook.  Being a family of 2 this doesn't absolutely break our budget but we still hate wasting money.  

We've done 2 things over the past year to help us keep a consistent grocery budget and keep a stocked pantry.  

The first thing we did was look for ways to cut our grocery budget.  We did this in June.  We found ourselves making lists but not sticking to them, shopping all the time rather than once per week and other bad habits. 

Here are a few of my tips for cutting your grocery budget:
*Pick one day a week to do your shopping and stick to it
*Shop the ads
*Stick to your list
*Plan all your meals (lunches included!)
*Don't buy in bulk if it doesn't make sense for your family
*Keep your left overs and eat them!
*Shop your pantry
*Plan your coupons

After we became accustom to our grocery budget, shopping day and meal planning we stuck to this budget.  I mean STUCK TO IT!  

Brett and I carried our lunches, we shopped our pantry, we substituted ingredients, and most importantly we took our budget seriously.  

After six months of this we now work on keeping our grocery budget but also take advantage of sales to stock our pantry.  We do not stock pile to a crazy level.  If our pantry is full our pantry is full.  We don't add to it.  What I mean by take advantage of sales is when you are on a grocery budget sometimes you just can't afford to take advantage of the sales without breaking your budget. 

Now what we do is the weeks we spend less on groceries we plunk that money down into our 2nd checking account.  This account is where we keep our "money saved".  This account allows us to buy extra groceries, take advantage of sales, emergencies, etc without having to get into our savings account.  

I am the type of person that having a savings account means it is money saved not emergency "hey that is an awesome sale!" money.  It is kind of a spin off Dave Ramsey but not using cash.  I hate keeping cash in my wallet.  

My biggest advice for someone who wants to cut back on their grocery bill or use their grocery money more efficiently is take the time to plan.  Plan all your meals, plan your cooking days, plan your shopping trips, plan your coupons and know what you have in your pantry.  

How do you use your grocery money efficiently??  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Help Us Think of a Name and Enter to Win a $25 Gift Card!

We are starting a fun new series on the blog but we need help with a name! We are going to work on certain rooms in the house and projects but we want your help in deciding materials, decor, paint, etc. Kinda like "Blog Cabin" on the DIY network but our projects will be more budget friendly, easy materials, and DIY projects. 

So help us think of a name! 

Leave your ideas below to enter. On February 1st I will create a poll on my blog and the winning name will receive a $25 Lowe's Home Improvement OR The Home Depot gift card. Gift card will be their choice depending on location of stores. Winner will be announced on February 7th.

1. Enter as many names as you would like. One name per comment please.

2. If commenting on the blog please leave your email address in case you win!

3. If the same name is given the first comment will receive credit and the entry.

4. Please follow Mandy Jean Chic. I have many ways to follow my blog  I will not check on this to verify the entry but it would be nice 

Disclosure: Gift card will be purchased with my own money and this is not sponsored.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Money Monday- Paying Bills and Making Mistakes

I am almost embarrassed to admit this to you guys but I know I am not alone.  Last week I made a HUGE HUGE HUGE mistake on our joint bank account.  Brett gets paid every other Friday and I get paid on the 1st and 15th.

Here is my mistake....

I was thinking the 15th was on a Sunday and scheduled my FJ Cruiser payment for the 14th.  Why would I do that you ask???  Because I was looking at a December calendar.  :(

Why is this a mistake??

Any other month our joint bank account would be fine for that mistake but at the end of the year I move the leftover money that is in our joint account into investments, savings, or pay extra on our mortgage.  So on January 14th our balance didn't cover the payment and we were hit with 3 NSF fees.  Each NSF fee is $38!!!  I paid $120 in fees because of this mistake.  Way to go Mandy Jean!!

This will never ever happen to me again.  I am not going to cancel my overdraft protection because in the case of an emergency it is a good thing to have but I am going to put every bill we have on automatic payment.

To help hold myself accountable the bills I need to put on auto pay are:

  • Mortgage
  • FJ Cruiser
  • Water
  • Cell Phone
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Internet
  • TV (If I don't cancel it)
  • HOA Dues
  • Trash
The bills we already have on auto pay are
  • Car Insurance
  • Prepaid Legal
  • Netflix
  • Ipsy
  • Gym
  • Adobe
  • IRA Contributions
  • Savings Contributions
Goodness I am so mad at myself but having a plan so this doesn't happen again makes me feel better :)  

Do you have your bills on auto pay?  Does it work well for you?  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Funday!- Sandia Mountains and Cedro Peak 4x4 Trip

I am going to start back up with my Organize Now challenge.  The last two weeks have been person organizing projects (mind, soul, etc) but this week starts more projects I can share with ya'll.  :)

One of my goals was to schedule a fun day for me and Brett.  Last Saturday was our fun day.  We jumped into our FJ Cruiser and met a couple of friends for a day of 4x4 fun.  I took more videos than anything.  Brett is still editing a few in imovies and I will upload them as they are done :)  The first video is of our friend Kevin.

We ended up taking the back road from Placitas up the Sandia Mountains and backdown.  We also decided to run the Cedro Peak trail.

This is our FJ Cruiser, Abby.  Abby has a 3inch Toytec Ultimate Lift.

Camerons new baby, Lilly.  The weekend prior Brett helped him lift the Jeep.

I am pretty sure Kevin was the only one prepared for the mud.  

This was taken in the Sandias.  Just before i twisted my ankle :(

The view from the road to Cedro Peak

New FJ Cruiser and a older FJ40.  I want a FJ40 so bad but they are CRAZY expensive!

More Cedro Peak views

A dirty truck is a happy truck. :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Design Inspirations/Shoot Fly Shoot

About a month ago I took a few photography and photoshop classes via Shoot Fly Shoot.  If you just purchased  or have a DSLR camera I highly highly recommend checking out their classes.  I learned so much and their classes are so easy to follow.  

When you head over the their website you can select the classes you want.  They currently offer Photography 101, 102, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop classes, Lightroom, Room makeovers and a few more. For more information click on the image below.
(affiliate link)

I was the most interested in the Room Makeover because I am a huge fan of Layla Palmers (The Lettered Cottage) Pick My Presto.  Layla does AMAZING room makeovers using photoshop.  

I decided to play around with a few of my own.  :)  Enjoy! 

This is the inspiration for my kitchen.  This makeover was my very first one.  

I also did a quick makeover for my friend Allyssa.  She has a rustic style like I do.  :) 

A quick nursery for a friend who is expecting a little girl

These makeovers are not to scale and strictly for inspiration purposes only.  

I wanted to share Shoot Fly Shoot with ya'll and a few of my little projects.  These are fun to do :) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Money Monday- Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix vs DirectTV

As much as I love DirectTV it is getting so expensive!!!  We seriously pay between 100-110/m.  I have been looking for ways to save money on our satellite bill and I have a question for ya'll.  Do you have experience with Apple TV or Hulu Plus??

We watch very few actually weekly shows.  Not even kidding we watch NCIS, Ghost Adventures, and NHL.  I rarely watch HGTV anymore because I am so tired of being homes and watching people shop for homes.  Even the remodel shows are ridicules.  Not all of us have $70,000 to renovate a bathroom.  Just sayin' HGTV... 

Currently our DirectTV bill breaks down to:

 Current Charges for Service Period 01/01/14 - 01/31/14 
01/01 01/31 ULTIMATE Monthly   77.99 
01/01 01/31 HBO and SPORTS Monthly   29.00 
01/01 01/31 Advanced Receiver-HD Monthly   10.00 
12/26 01/25 NHL CENTER ICE: 2013-14 Early Renewal in 4 Payments   0.00 
01/01 01/31 Advanced Receiver-DVR Monthly   10.00 
01/01 01/31 DIRECTV Whole-Home DVR Service Monthly   3.00 

01/02  Additional TV   6.00 
01/02  Primary TV   6.00 

This adds up to $141.99!!!!  I am so over paying this much!!!!

Here are my options:

#1-  Just pay it and enjoy

#2-  Look at changing my package.  HBO will be coming off by the way.  I only purchased that for the Wings 24/7 show.  Here are my options:

Honestly, looking at the channel line ups the only difference between Choice and the currently package is DIY Network, cooking channel, Nat Geo Wild, H2 and a few channels we don't watch.  I will need to see how much we actually watch these channels.

#3-  Call DirectTV and threaten to leave.  See if they will treat me as a new customer with some of the deals.

#4-  Bundle my internet, Verizon and Directv and see what kinda deal that will give me.

#5-  Check into Apple TV, Hulu Plus and Netlix.
My investment for Apple TV would be $99 for the product.  I have a HDMI cable.
Hulu plus is $7.99 and Netflix is $8.
Once per year i would have a $99 fee for Game Center for all my NHL games. GO WINGS!!

Currently I am paying around $1600/year for DirectTV plus $180 for the NHL package.  If I went with Apple TV, Hulu Plus and Netflix this would be $192/year plus $100 for GameCenter.

I would be saving around $1488 per year!!!

Have you used Apple TV, Hulu and Netflix???

I am seriously thinking about switching....  What do you think??

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014BloggerChallenge- Inspiration for the New Year

This year I am doing the 2014 Blogger Challenge with a few other gals.  Our first challenge was to post our New Years Eve inspiration quotes.  I have a few :)  Ya'll know me... I can't pick just one.  

Oh I need to remember this one.

This is a huge one for me.  One of my goals this year is to start telling people no.  I need more time for myself, my blog and things I love to do.  I am going to cut back on the volunteering I do.  


I love this quote.  I live my life by this: "it goes on".  Sometimes we all need to remember this.  

Wise advice from such a young lady :)

she believe she could so she did.

Sometimes I need to believe in myself more and quit taking everything personally.  The only person not allowing me to succeed is myself.  I need to turn more I can'ts into I cans.  

What are some of your favorite quotes??

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Organize my Life with "Organize Now!" Week #1

The first week is to Organize Your Mind.  Here are a few of my favorite excerpts from the book. 

"There is a common saying:  if we change our thoughts, we can change the world"

"Sometimes chaining your mind can give you a whole new perspective about your life and your surroundings.  And your surroundings can affect your mind- so the first step to organizing your life is organizing your thoughts and clearing your mental clutter"

Each week is broken down into goals,tips and tasks.  I will only be sharing the goals, tips and tasks that pertain to me and my life.  I am only sharing these because I didn't write this book and I am only using it to help.  I HIGHLY suggest picking this book up and following along with me.  :)  

My goals this week:
Minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night-  I am terrible about this.  I always have the attitude of "one more thing!"
Update my To Do list on my phone-  This will allow my brain to be free from remembering every detail i need to get done.
Schedule time to walk Hank and Kimber-  With the weather getting chilly this one will be hard but I will start out by doing this once this week, twice next, 3 times, etc.  Eventually I would love to do this daily. 
Set my blog/channel goals-  I am a big goals person.  I love having goals because I think they help to keep me focused.

I've added everything to my planner for this month.  What are you doing to organize your life?