My Thoughts on Aldi

Aldi Sign


When the grocery store Aldi opened up in our area, it was all I saw on my Facebook newsfeed. Still, it took me months to actually get into the store to check it out myself. When I finally did get there, this was my face:



Not Impressed


There were some things that I found interesting, though. Here’s my overview of the store:

  • In order to get a shopping cart, you have to put in a quarter to unlock it. That’s great to keep the outside area organized, but it was hard to figure out where to put the quarter. Big thanks to the family who was coming out and saw my struggle, and they gave me their cart. I offered my quarter, but they said that they got it from someone else.
  • There is only one pathway in, and it’s down the aisle with all of the packaged Aldi-brand stuff. Now, it is great that everything is so inexpensive because there aren’t any brands. But when you have a child that has a soy and peanut allergy, it means that you can’t purchase anything.
  • The rest of the store honestly reminded me of a very cheap, old grocery store (despite the fact that this particular location had just been built and opened a week earlier). It also had that really funky old-store smell to it. No good!
  • The prices were great though! Did I mention that?
  • I liked the bagging section, but it was honestly much more annoying to get everything over there to bag. This was just one more step. I’m quick at bagging my own groceries because I put them on the conveyor belt in a particular order.
  • The carts. Let’s talk about the carts again. Thankfully I went on an Audrey-Mommy Date day (when Tim had David), because it was absolutely not the store that you can shop with two toddlers. Because the carts are all connected together, you have to carry your child to the carts, put in the quarter, and then put the kid in. Yes, there aren’t any double carts, but even if you wanted to put one kid in the kid section and one in the basket section (I’m not saying to do this, as it is dangerous, but people do it all the time), how do you unload the cart? Take the kids and cart to the car, unload and put everyone in their seats, and then go back to return the cart? So you leave your kids in the car for someone to call the police on your neglectful mothering. Sigh. No, if you are going to Aldi, better just leave the kids at home.

So basically, Aldi is not a place for me. It just doesn’t suit my shopping style, wants, or family diet needs. But for those who love it, I can see why you do.

So, do you love this store? I would love some convincing to try it again some day!

SAHM Mom Survival Guide eBook Review

“We don’t have the benefit of a routine ‘eight to five’ job where you accomplish the same tasks day in and out. Our lives take us in a million different directions and there is no way anyone can keep all of those things. Getting the events, appointments, and schedules out of your head and onto paper will free you from the stress.”  – Rebekah, The Stay At Home Mom Survival Kit

SAHM SK Book Mockup

As a Stay at Home Mom of our twins, I have a soft spot for other mamas who try to do other things in addition to mothering and taking care of the house. Many of us were professionals before becoming wives and mothers, and it is honestly hard to just completely turn off the switch to want to have adult interaction and help others, thus setting a good example for our children in being a steward of the world.

Most of us bloggers don’t blog just for ourselves. We are hoping to reach others and somehow touch them, whether that is to make them laugh, cry, or create. Today, I want to feature a Stay at Home Mommy Blogger (Rebekah with Charming Imperfections) who has done that with her new ebook, The Stay At Home Mom Survival Kit. I had the chance to read an advanced copy, and it is fantastic for anyone who needs a little (or a lot of) help getting organized to run an entire household. Don’t let the name fool you, as this is really fantastic for all moms, dads, or even those without children. It really could be called the “Household Survival Kit,” because of how versatile it is! Although, if you are a SAHM, you will love Rebekah’s tidbits and discussions at each section.

So what is included in this survival kit?

  • Schedules: More than just a cute calendar, the scheduling pages will give you the chance to organize and plan for every event and appointment (with 6 printable pages)
  • Finances: Get on a budget, organize your bills, tackle that debt, and commit to becoming financially wise with the pages included in this section (with 13 printable pages)
  • Meal Planning: Meal planning is simplified with the inventories, planning pages, shopping lists, and strategy worksheets to help you feed your family and save money (with 10 printable pages)
  • Housework: Every checklist and chore chart you need to get started and stay on track towards a cleaner, more comfortable home (with 7 printable pages)
  • Activities: Take the work out of fun with the planning pages included in the Activities section. Plus, get the Vacation Planning Kit for free (with 11 printable pages)
  • Health: Monitor your weight and fitness progress, keep track of medications, and have information on all the medical facilities you visit on one page (with 10 printable pages)

The book is structured with a narrative and then the printable pages. Each section explains the background and also instructs you how to use and modify the printables to fit your family. It is absolutely beautiful, but it is also designed to take minimal ink when printed. It will also look gorgeous in black and white if you want to save your colored ink.

“As a mom of twins, I have to be organized. Our household wouldn’t function any other way. I really loved this eBook, as it was almost as if I wrote the book with the way that I try to keep my home, finances, and lists organized. Rebekah does a wonderful job explaining each of the sections well and then having thorough and cute charts, lists, and calendars that we can print out and use. This isn’t just a book for Stay at Home Moms, though! All families could take their household organization to the next level with the help of this kit!” – Dory Doyle

The entire eBook is $15, but there are also some free printables available on the book’s webpage if you want to try before you buy.  If you purchase this book during the launch week (September 15-22), you can save $5 by using the code LAUNCHWEEK. In addition, 10% of all sales from September 15-October 6 will be donated to a local charity called Esther House, which is a transitional, grace-based facility for women and/or women with children who have experienced incarceration, abuse, homelessness, and emotional and spiritual wounds.

There are also a slew of other products and updates coming from Rebakah and Charming Imperfections, including a holiday planner coming in mid-November and a New Year Planner and expanded Health and Fitness section coming at the end of December.

SAHM SK 46x60


Disclaimer: In the spirit of full disclosure, this post includes affiliate links, which means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from Charming Imperfections. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.

How to Have a Successful Yard Sale

YARD SALE Tips and Tricks -


Spring and summer is the prime time in our family to clean our our closets, shelves, and garage. And that means YARD SALE! Normally, our neighborhood will have a multi-family sale which usually brings in lots of traffic. We weren’t able to participate this year, but we still decided to hold our own sale. Here are some tips that we have learned from years of organizing and selling at yard sales:

Family Yard Sale No Address

1. Advertisement: Make sure to advertise far and wide. Take out an ad in your paper, put a notice up on Craigslist, talk it up on your local buy/sell groups, and plaster it on Facebook. Then, put up a sign (or a few, depending on where you live) in front of your neighborhood at least 4 days prior to the yard sale, but no more than 6 days (you don’t want them to think that it is a leftover sign from last week’s sales). We created this little ad to post on social media outlets without our address (people sent a message if they needed it), and then we had one with our address for a few select places.

2. Start cleaning out early: Don’t wait until the last minute to get and sort through your things. Sure there will be a lot of piles and boxes for a couple of weeks, but it will make for a successful and much less hectic yard sale. As a rule, anything that isn’t set out in our garage the night before the yard sale (at the latest) doesn’t go into the sale.

3. Organize into categories: We like to organize into the following categories:

  • Men Clothes (and type)
  • Women Clothes (and type)
  • Baby Clothes (and sizes/season)
  • Appliances
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Housewares
  • DIY and crafts
  • Toys and stuffed animals
  • …you get the idea

4. Hang up clothes: While it may be a hassle to get everything hung up, it is the ONLY way to sell clothes. If you put clothes on tables (even if you neatly fold them), the first person that visits the sale will mess up your organization, and no one will touch the clothes from then on. I speak from experience.

5. Get things off the ground: The only things that should be on the ground are furniture. Everything else needs to be on tables (tray tables or fold-up tables work great for yard sales). If it’s on the ground, no one will want to bend down to look closely. Put it on a table, and it’s much more convenient to shop.

6. List prices: Either have a poster board with prices or have everything labeled. Sure, people won’t look and will still ask the price, but that way you can refer to it and they know that you didn’t pick the price out of thin air. It also helps you feel more organized and ready to sell.

7. Be willing to sell for cheap: Make sure to see my welcome phrase in #9, but it’s important that you are willing to sell for cheap. If you won’t, be ok with it not selling.

8. Be ok with negotiating: This is my favorite part of yard sales, both from a buyer and seller’s perspective. This is where the fun comes in, and if you negotiate with a smile on your face, your customer will leave feeling like they got a good deal and you will have a little extra cash in your pocket.

9. Have fun: Whenever someone walked up to our yard sale, I greeted them with a big “Hi!” and followed that with saying, “Everything has to go one way or another! If it doesn’t go home with you, then we will be taking it to Goodwill. It doesn’t come back in the house.” Sometimes I would add, “We love to bundle, and the fun of yard sales is haggling. So let’s have some fun!” I always got smiles, and it let them know that we weren’t too set on any prices.

10. Stand up for your stuff: There will be some potential customers that come and either take things (Seriously, you can’t pay $1 for that Polo shirt?), want to be jerks about offering $2 total for 25 items (and pushy when you try to negotiate), or put their hands on EVERYTHING. Know your limits and where you feel comfortable going with this. Here are some stories from the yard sale trenches:

  • A man came and wanted to purchase 4 things, which we had $1 listed on each of them. He offered us $0.50. One of the items was a new-in-box wrist guard (that he was trying to hide under his other things), so I told him that I would go to $1.50, but that was it. He said, “No, 50 cents.” But I stood firm and told him that he had quite a lot there, including that wrist guard (which I pulled from the bottom of his pile so he knew that I saw his trickery.” I won out, and he got a great deal at $1.50.
  • There was a woman who grabbed about 40items of clothes (I kid you not). We put a flat price of $3 for each item of adult clothes and $5 for each jacket or coat. She had well over $300 of items if they were new. She offered $50, and I told her that according to our prices, it would be $150. We settled on $80. She got a great bargain, and I knew that if I didn’t sell to her, it was late enough in the day that they would go to Goodwill. Win for everyone.
  • Our first customers of the day were 2 mothers and 2 kids. The kids (about 8 years old) ran over to the toys and immediately wanted two things on the table and started playing. We settled on a price, and the daughter ran off to the car with the toy in her hand. I called after her, asking her to bring back the toys until they were paid for. One of the women started flailing her arms and complaining and threw the toy on the table and they stormed off. I was sorry for the woman’s reaction, but how did I know that they wouldn’t just leave without paying? Those toys later sold to a very sweet family.
  • While I was talking to a very kind family about some baby items and toys (who had a slight Spanish accent), a woman came over to us to look at the table. She started talking in a very loud voice about how they probably didn’t know what a dollar was and couldn’t understand me. How absolutely rude and uncalled for. Needless to say, I didn’t sell her anything (I would rather lose a sale than to acknowledge that type of behavior).
  • A young couple arrived at the yard sale about 35 minutes after we opened. They saw our patio set and loved it. We originally had a price of $40 for the table, chairs, and umbrella (what a bargain!). They just stood and stared at it for a good 10 minutes while we helped other customers. When we had a few minutes to chat with them, they told us that they only had $20 on them, but they could run to the bank and get $10 more, but that was as much as they could afford. We knew they wanted it, and we were more than thrilled to give it to them for $30. In fact, we would probably have settled for $10 just because of how much they wanted it (but we didn’t let them know that).
  • And although this happened years ago (at our first yard sale), I still think of this young man fondly, so I must include it in this post. When Tim and I were in college, our first “big purchase” together was a Nintendo NES game system and about 20 games. When we bought our house, we hadn’t used this system for 2 or 3 years, so we decided it was time for it to find a new home. A young man about 18 or 19 came by and just was drooling over this system. He couldn’t afford the price we put on it, but he showed us the money he had in his wallet and asked if he could get it for that. One look between Tim and me, and we knew that he was the right owner for this system. For us, yard sales are a great way of making money, but they are an even better way of connecting to people.

So, did we miss any tips that you think are important for yard sales?

#IceBucketChallenge and #BathWaterBucketChallenge

We were challenged by Paul and Merelene Valder to take the Ice Bucket Challenge as a part of our Lot 15 Hokies tailgating group. We have decided to donate to Hospice of the Piedmont in the memory of Tim’s Uncle Dave (and our son David’s namesake). We have challenged our twins Audrey and David (we have something special for them), my brothers Tee and Josh, and the University of Richmond radio station, WDCE.

And then…

Audrey and David were challenged (by us) to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. While it isn’t quite safe for babies to take this challenge, they did take the Bath Water Bucket Challenge. They now challenge their baby cousin Matix and baby friend Baxter to take the Bath Water Bucket Challenge. Please Note: All bath water was WARM!

Help Build a Non-Fiction Library for a Classroom in Need!

DonorsChoose Students.jpg



My good friend Cameron is a 1st grade teacher in North Carolina, and she teaches 22 children in a high-poverty area. Here is something that she says about her school and population:

“My school is 98% free and reduced lunch, mostly Hispanic and African American. The majority of my students come from single working parent homes. While some students show up the first week of school with some school supplies, I provide most of the supplies out of my own pocket. Our county took our stipend supply away this year to pay teacher salaries, so I am leaning hard on for materials this year. With no stipend this year, there will be no money left over for books and games.”

This will be her third year in this school and also her third year in first grade. She is an incredible teacher, and constantly is looking to making these children’s lives better. She knows that they have a limited amount of background knowledge coming into the classroom, and on top of teaching the curriculum, Cameron tries to provide them with knowledge of the outer world beyond their neighborhood as well.

My Students: Do you ever remember your teacher having to stop a lesson and goggle (or find) information or a picture about a topic we were studying in class? No. Me either. But I find this to be a daily part of my teaching because my first graders are not coming to class with the same foundation of knowledge.

I have twenty curious and excited first graders. They come to school every day in the best uniform (collared shirt, khaki type pants) they can. Every day their parents send to school the best child they can send. Unfortunately, that student is not always prepared for the lesson at hand. My students come from a very high poverty neighborhood. Frequently they come to me with very little background knowledge about the world outside of their neighborhood. Often, they have very low reading skills. And more often than not they need help with basic life needs.

My Project:Due to the varying nature of the depth of background knowledge, the requested books will help my students gain or further their understanding of the world outside of their neighborhood. The leveled readers will also allow for students of varying reading levels to go on adventures through nonfiction!

My students love to read! However, my ability to provide my students with varying levels of nonfiction reading is very low. Your donations to my project will help provide my students with real life reading examples on each and everyone of their own reading levels.

My students need leveled readers to provide reading material on their reading level, as well as readers that provide a solid nonfiction reading background foundation.”

As you can see, she is trying to create a nonfiction leveled library so that ALL of her students (no matter what their reading level) can be exposed to nonfiction texts.

When I was in elementary school, my favorite books were the non-fiction books in my classroom library. Because of this, I tried to build this up in my classroom when I was a teacher, but I know how expensive this can be. When Cameron asked me to share this DonorsChoose site to help her with my friends, I knew that I had to do more and share it with the whole blog community!

So, please take a look at her site and look at her request. She has priced out exactly what she needs and the cost. She needs a total cost of $1,207.50 to make this a reality. As of now, she has $30 donated. If you cannot donate, please think about sharing her site with someone who may be able to help.

Thank you so much!

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for this post. I just wanted to help out a friend and many children in need of a good classroom library!



The TLC VoxBox

I have received one other VoxBox in the past, and I was a little underwhelmed with the contents inside, so I took a little break from the program. I still periodically get emails from Influenster, and when I received one that was geared specifically to moms, I knew I had to apply. I am so happy that I did! I got a box that was so full of amazing goodies!


So what was included?

1. Neosporin Neo To Go! (Retails for $4.97-$7.50)

This is the perfect item to keep in your purse or diaper bag in case of a boo boo. With two soon-to-be-mobile children, I’m sure we will use this plenty! It’s great to have something quick and easy to grab and then protect our kiddos from infection, pain, and stings.

2. Breyers Gelato Indulgences Gift Certificate (Retails for $4.49-$5.99)
#GelatoLove | Facebook | Twitter

With the flavors Vanilla Caramel, Raspberry Cheesecake, Tiramisu, and Triple Chocolate, it is near impossible to choose which one to try. Since I can’t eat too much dairy, I let Tim decide, and he picked out Triple Chocolate. I tried a little bit, and it was outstanding! I’m not sure we would get it all the time, but it was a wonderful special treat!

3. Ivory Bar Soap (Retails for $3.99 for a 10-pack)
#SudLife | Facebook | Twitter

As part of our effort to live a clean life with simpler ingredients, I love that a bar of Ivory soap was included. This bar of soap has just basic ingredients, and it can be used for so much! In fact, I found this list put out by Procter & Gamble with tons of uses of Ivory soap. Plus, if you do a search on Pinterest, you will come up with about a thousand and a half more ideas.

4. AVON Anew Reversalist Express Wrinkle Smoother (Retails for $30)
#AvonANEW | Facebook | Twitter

This is an item that is a great go-to item for moms that don’t have time to put on a full face of makeup (like me). You just slide open the compact, dip your finger in, and pat the wrinkle smoother on your fine lines. To be totally honest, I cannot say how well it works, as I don’t have too many fine lines yet (now gray hairs… that’s another story), but I did it on some of my smile lines, and it was hard to tell the difference. I have read some reviews where people swear by this, though, so that’s something! I will attest to the fact that it is so smooth and soft on your skin, and it doesn’t look dry or caky the way that some cover-ups or makeup can appear on the face.

5. Puffs To Go (Retails for $.49 for a single pack)
#PassthePuffs | Facebook | Twitter

After just having gotten over a cold-turned-sinus-infection, I will say that I have never needed soft, lotion-filled tissues as much as this spring. I used box after box, but when I was on-the-go, I was out of luck! I could never find soft tissues in a to-go size. I’m so glad I have this now! I can just throw it in my purse, and I have 10 tissues that won’t wreck my nose with constant irritation.

6. Shell Fuel Rewards Network Card
#FuelRewards | Facebook | Twitter

I am not someone who is picky about where I get my gas. I basically look for the cheapest price. I’m intrigued by this free fuel rewards card, and I wonder if it will actually help us save money. There are also ways to save on gas when you shop at different online stores and eat out. The only problem is that I wonder if I will remember to use this card when I’m out and about. Still, it was very easy to set up, and free is free! Plus, it’s not a credit card.

Budgeting for the Nursery

Budgeting for Nursery -

Ok, usually I have let Tim take the lead on the financial posts (“Challenges with a Cash Budget” and “Envelope Budgeting“), but since I am in charge of the nursery, I want to write this post!

In our household, Tim has been the driving force to help us stay on target with our finances. I am 100% on board (Nerd Fact: I had actually been listening to Dave Ramsey since I was a teenager), and we talk about every single financial decision together. Yet, with my busy working schedule during the school year, it became increasingly difficult for me to take the lead on paying bills, calculating the budgets, keeping up with the accounts, etc. Tim got into a groove of handling all of those aspects, and I love him even more for that. Instead, we decided that I would handle the cash “envelopes.” It was something tangible and practical. Then I got REALLY sick in the first trimester, couldn’t go anywhere (especially the grocery store), and Tim had to take that over as well. Can I publicly say how much I love and appreciate my husband?

Now that I am going to be a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) this upcoming year (to prepare for the impending birth of our twins and through their first months), we are changing the way we handle the finances. We are still keeping our cash budgeting. We are still staying on budget, but we are taking an even more traditional approach. For now, Tim will still be paying the bills online out of our joint account, but I am slowly taking over some of the other budget categories that are not as simple as a cash-only system.

Specifically for now: The Nursery!

Back before I got pregnant, I would dream with Tim over what our dream nursery would look like. I would show him the tens (hundreds?) of pins on Pinterest, and then I would see his eyes glaze over with dollar signs floating out into mid-air. Very quickly, he brought me back down to reality and asked how much I thought my dream nursery would cost. I gave him a healthy estimate, and that made him feel a LOT more comfortable. Now remember, this was all BEFORE I even got pregnant. Once we had a ballpark figure, Tim was okay to dream with me.

Fast forward to now. I’m pregnant. With twins. Holy cow. So, we have so many things we need… and many big-ticket items are TIMES TWO! Yikes! Can I have my dream nursery on my original budget? After all, I will now have to get 2 cribs, two sets of sheets, different items that are twin-specific, and lots more clothes and diapers. Well, let’s hope!

The first thing we did was take a look at our savings. We had put ourselves in a really good position financially by becoming debt-free (except our house) this past year. We live exclusively off of Tim’s income, and my income has gone towards a nice nest egg: our 6-month emergency account is fully funded, plus we have a certain amount that we earmarked for the upgrades and nursery. This was key to not freaking out at our size-able nursery budget. We already had the money saved up for it!

We made sure to leave our emergency fund completely intact. That is something that we will not touch, especially since we are moving down to a one-income family.

We then figured out how much we had left to fund the house projects and nursery. After lots and lots of research, and changing around of the numbers, we figured out our detailed budget for specific items. While we aren’t going to break down our exact budget for each section, here are our categories that we are using:

Windows (replacing all 20 of the windows in our house)

Electrical (moving around electric and installing a ceiling fan in the nursery)

Paint (materials and hiring the painter)

Curtains (4 windows/8 panels of custom curtains lined with blackout panels)



Changing Table



Car Seats

Misc. Decorating and Accessories

Misc. Baby Items


So we budgeted down to the last penny. But this is where the fun comes in! We figured out how much all of our dream items will cost. IF we can get them for a cheaper price (or find a more inexpensive option than our original idea), we save money in that category. That gives us more money in another category (probably Misc. Decorating or Baby). For instance, it is looking like our curtains will be completed for less money than originally budgeted . So, we would then have possibly a large chunk of change to spend somewhere else (probably on diapers). This presents the BEST challenge. I get to track every penny we spend and try to be as thrifty as possible. If I can’t get a better deal on an item, it’s okay, because we already have the money put aside and budgeted. It’s a win-win for us!

In addition, we have registered for some of the items on the list (the cribs, the glider, the bedding, the stroller, and the car seats). We don’t assume  that anyone will buy us any of those items, because they are so expensive. If someone does, then that would be amazing, because it would free up money to go towards Misc. Baby Items (basically all of the other necessities for the twins).

By the way, this is also what we did when planning our dream country club wedding on a lower-than-average budget. We gave ourselves $XXX, and we made it work. I would highly encourage you to try this on your next big project. It is so much fun to try to scrimp and save wherever possible!

If you want to see how truly nerdy we are, take a look at this conversation that we had on iMessage the day after we finalized the budget:

Dory: (sends the link for several Ikea dressers that are a LOT cheaper than our budget)

Tim: Well that seems pretty compelling. Maybe a trip to ikea in the next few weeks?

Dory: Exactly. I looooove those prices! And it would be done. I could even spend 100 on getting amazing knobs and still be way under budget.

Tim: Do they have cribs?

Dory: They do. They don’t have the look that I love, but I’m totally willing to look at them in person.

Tim: Ok, we’ll look at them, but PB is still the leader for the cribs. I love having a budget!  Gives us some good guidelines!

Dory: Oh me too. This makes it soooooo much fun!

Tim: It means we can spend without worrying about having enough for other things. Gives me a very comfortable feeling!

Dory: Me too! Now, it’s FUN to do it, instead of worrying about the money aspect of it. I LOVE BUDGETS!!!

Need AA Batteries?

A friend just posted this video to Facebook. What an interesting way to get cheaper AA batteries! I wonder how long they will last. Will they be as good as some of the name brand?

If you have tried this, leave a comment and let me know!

Challenges with a Cash Budget (and how we deal with them)

Challenges with a Cash Budget


Just about a year ago, Dory and I went through a bit of a financial awakening.  We made a commitment to paying off our debt (my car and Dory’s student loans) and to saving some money.  In order to help accomplish our goals, we switched to a cash envelope system, using cash to pay for most of our expenses (outside of mortgage, utilities, etc).

It was a huge adjustment and has been a continual learning process.  At first, it felt very weird to be paying in cash – we felt like we were the only ones, and cashiers definitely gave us some strange looks.  As time has gone on, either we’re getting used to this, or more people are paying in cash, including some of our friends. At this point, we’ve really gotten the system down and have been making huge progress!  Here are a few challenges we’ve encountered, and how we’ve dealt with them.

These were our old cash envelopes. We would carry them around in Dory's purse when we did our shopping. They were really bulky and awkward.

These were our old cash envelopes. We would carry them around in Dory’s purse when we did our shopping. They were really bulky and awkward.

You can’t spend it if you don’t have it (with you)

One thing about cash – you can’t spend it if you don’t have it.  There have been a few times that we’ve gone out to do something, and realized we left the envelope with the money at home.  This has really forced us to be intentional with our trips out, and has definitely decreased our impulse buying.  That’s really the whole purpose of the cash budget – to force you to be intentional with your spending.  Dory now carries a different wallet that is perfect for the envelope system (though I’ll just grab some cash out of it if I run out by myself…), which has also really helped.


We now use this Thirty-One Coupon Clutch (in a different pattern), which has several sections to organize the categories of our budget.

We now use this Thirty-One Coupon Clutch (in a different pattern), which has several sections to organize the categories of our budget.

You can’t spend it if you don’t have it (left to spend)

The second piece to “you can’t spend it if you don’t have it” can be extremely evident when it comes to the end of the month and don’t have much left for groceries.  Obviously, we’re not going to let ourselves starve, but treat this as a challenge – can we do it?  Can we stay under budget?

To do so, we’ve had to be creative with our meal planning.  Dory even created a menu board to keep us on track. Thinking through what’s in our pantry and finding simple, cheap and yet still healthy recipes, and doing some disciplined grocery shopping (even tallying up where we are as we add things to the cart).  It’s actually been a lot of fun, and we’ve come up with some great dishes.


At first, both Dory and I managed out own separate checking accounts for our “allowance,” separate money that was allocated for us to spend however we wanted.  After we got used to managing cash, having that extra debit card and having to manage  a bank account with such a small amount of money just got to be a hassle.  We’ve gone to cash allowances, and we haven’t regretted it at all.  Most of what we buy using this money is something local (restaurants, clothes, etc).  The only issue with this is when we want to buy something online…

Online Shopping

So how do we buy things online when they fit into one of our cash budget categories?  Pretty simple, actually – we buy the item with our joint debit card and deposit the cash to cover it.  We always have a buffer in our checking account (or else we would make the deposit first), but we still try to do this pretty quickly, so we don’t forget and spend the cash elsewhere.  We used to write up deposit tickets and have to work with the tellers, until we discovered Wells Fargo’s Envelope Free ATM Deposits – I’ll post more on these later, but they are a huge time saver.

Anyone else out there using cash?  What issues have you faced, and how do you deal with them?

My (Donated) Coupon Clutch Giveaway on Belly Blog

My dear friend Sarah (from A T-Shirt and Pearls) is expecting her first little one this summer, and she has been quite busy. Not only is she a rockin’ kindergarten teacher at our school, about to celebrate her 4th wedding anniversary (I know this because we got married on the same day!), a great blogger, a soon-to-be mother, and great cook, but she is also a Scentsy, Velata, and Grace Adele consultant.

Recently, with her regular blogging, she has also been writing for the Belly Blog. Her newest post is wonderful, because it is about budgeting when you are getting ready for a baby. I’d like to claim that Tim and I turned her and her hubby on to Dave Ramsey and our “envelope” system.

Well, keep reading the whole post, because at the bottom, there is a giveaway from yours truly!

This coupon clutch is truly the best! Tim and I have it in a different pattern, but we use it daily for our “envelope” system… much better than bulky or flimsy envelopes.

You have until Wednesday, April 3 to enter the giveaway. Please make sure to check out the blog post so that you can be sure to enter!!!! Let’s show Sarah some love!

Didn’t win it? That’s okay! You can always order it on my Thirty-One website at