Monday, October 5, 2015

Day 5: Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

It's day five of the Living Well Spending Zero Challenge from and we made it through the first weekend - Wow!  I think the weekends will probably be the toughest part of this challenge for my family, but we can do it.

Today's challenge task is to recreate restaurant meals from what you have at home.  This is supposed to teach you that you can eat just as well at home as you can going out.  The idea is to create copy cat recipes of your favorites or just find something to replace that restaurant meal with.

I'm not the best cook and I don't tend to go to super fancy restaurants.  I mean seriously, the fanciest place that I have been to in the last year was the Olive Garden.  Even so, creating copy cat meals seems hard to me.  But... I know there are websites out there that can help with that.  I think the best copy cat thing I could do right now is with finding a way to make my husband's favorite Starbucks drink.  He'd like that, so I'll look into it.

Other than that, I started thinking about my kids and what they order when out.  And that brought me to my THIRTEEN BOXES of Macaroni & Cheese that I counted during the pantry inventory.  Yes, thirteen!!!  I've got this stuff stacked up in my house, yet whenever we go out to eat (9 times out of 10) my daughter orders it.  And the restaurants are making it straight from the blue box.  So why are we paying quadruple the price for it?  It makes no sense!

I'm not doing it anymore.

We have a new rule in our house that has now been developed because of what I am learning through this challenge: If we have it in the cabinet at home, you don't get to order it at the restaurant.

From now on, eating out is a treat and it is a treat for something you wouldn't normally get.  Macaroni & Cheese from the blue box is not restaurant worthy.  Neither are hotdogs, corndogs, or anything else with word "dog" in it.  I'm just so tired of throwing our money away.  There are plenty of restaurant items that are actual treats that my kids would like, so when we finally do go out to eat again, it will be with those treats in mind.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 4: Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

It's day four of the Living Well Spending Zero Challenge from and I am so proud of myself and my family right now.  The weekend is coming to an end and we did not eat out at all - that is a HUGE victory for us!

Today's task for the challenge is to create meal swaps with friends.  I don't have any local friends who are doing this challenge so that doesn't really work out for me, but I do have a very good friend doing it in another state.

My friend and I will be swapping recipes and ideas with each other via email.  I think that is a great option for anyone who doesn't have a friend doing the challenge close by.  Sharing ideas, even in email, can help you stay committed and give you a fresh perspective on what you may think to be a drab situation.

Remember, often times other people see things you can do that you may have overlooked.  I am so happy to have a friend to share with.  Thank you, Robin!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 3: Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

It's day three of the zero spending challenge from and it also happens to be Saturday - the weekend!

Today's task for the challenge is to take the pantry and freezer inventory lists and create meal plans based on what you have on hand.

I love meal planning.  I tend to plan out a week at a time, but the challenge is looking at planning out as much as you can for the month.  I was really stoked when I planned out twelve different meals - that is pretty darn awesome!

And timely.

Weekends are truly the hardest part in my household because weekends are when we eat out.  A lot.  We tend to eat out every weekend, sometimes more than once.  We are foodies.  Big time.  And it depletes our resources quickly.  We will not be eating out at all this month.  I anticipate BIG savings from this one fact alone.  And those savings will be great to add to our bill payments as we get ourselves further OUT of debt.  Score!

We are also focused on finding more free weekend fun for our family.  We enjoy geocaching and that is always free.  We just have to pack up lunches and not eat out.  We can handle that!  We also enjoy time at the park and the kids can always spend a couple of hours at the library picking out books.  Then there is the big family Monopoly Challenge we are having today.  Bug is currently OBSESSED with Monopoly so he is super excited to have the family battle it out today.  I'm also hunting down some fun fall crafts on Pinterest for the kids to do this month.  Really, there are a lot of free things out there if you're willing to take a little time to look.

What freebies are you finding?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Day 2: Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

It's day two and this challenge is definitely on!  Today, Ruth over at asked that we take inventory of our pantries and freezers.  It's always interesting when you start looking into what you actually have.  Discoveries get made.

As I began to clean out my pantry, which is really just a large cabinet, I uncovered a few oddities.  I first noticed that I have a can of chipotle peppers that has been back behind everything else for well over a year.


I don't know!

The peppers don't expire until May 2016 so I kept them and I figure I can make soup or burritos or something.  I'll be checking out Pinterest for ideas.

Then I took note of the ridiculous amount of macaroni & cheese stored up.  We have THIRTEEN boxes!  My daughter loves to eat that stuff so we are in the habit of buying it in bulk at Costco.  But thirteen boxes just sitting there?  She only eats it once a week.  I think I need to do some price comparison after we run out.  With her only eating it once a week, it may actually save us money to just buy a box every time we do weekly shopping rather than loading up in bulk.

We also have cans of olives and beans, chicken broth and spaghetti sauce.  There is some rice in there.  I actually allotted for buying more rice during the month because we eat it often.  Same goes for pasta, we only have one box.

We have popcorn - a lot of it.  That will be good for snacking.

We have flour with which I can make rolls one day.  We have Bisquick and that is alway good for something.

Sure, there are a few items that will have to be purchased along the way, but over all I do believe we will be able to use up a lot of what we already have and save a bit of money in the process.

You may notice the three boxes of tea in that picture as well.  They are in the upper right of the cabinet.  Yeah, I am about to go make myself some iced tea.  I bought that in bulk at Costco, too.  Sometimes I think buying in bulk costs more than it's worth.  I'm truly seeing it now.

And the freezer... Otter Pops.  It's exploding in Otter Pops!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

4 Ways to Enhance the Eco-Friendliness of the Home

Building an eco-friendly home is not just good for the environment. It can be good for your pocket book as well. Many environmentally sound renovations can cut energy costs while being affordable to install. As long as you're willing to change the way you think about decoration, virtually any home can be "green."

Energy Efficient Appliances and Lighting

Energy star compliance can help you save money on monthly bills. Installing new appliances and replacing light fixtures with LED alternatives can save you a great deal of money while promoting eco-friendliness. Due to the innovations of manufacturers, nearly any major appliance has an efficient alternative from kitchen stoves to tankless water heaters. When it's time to renovate the kitchen, consider these new appliances and what they can do for the room's aesthetics as well as energy consumption.

Repair Instead of Replace

Many carpenters can repair and repaint cupboards to match your ideas for decorating a kitchen. Instead of purchasing new cabinets and other wooden materials, consider what can be done with what you already have. This may save you money while reducing the waste of your renovation. In many instances, a new handle and a fresh coat of paint can ultimately change the look of an older cupboard or set of drawers.

Windows and Doors

A lot of homeowners don't realize just how much their wasting in energy costs due to the problems with windows and doors. Although the glass may be in perfect condition, the frame could be compromised. This can make it more difficult for the furnace or AC unit to maintain the temperature of the house. Not only can contractors help you refit the structure with energy efficient windows and properly sealed doors, they can make sure that there are no compromises in the structure.

Bathroom Renovations

A family of five can easily consume an average of more than 400 gallons of water per day in the bathroom. By installing aerated faucets and shower heads, this usage can be greatly reduced. Replacing the old toilet with a more water-efficient model has potential to cut more than 100 gallons wasted per day depending on the number of people in the home.

These are only a few ways that you can add an eco-friendly atmosphere to your house. For more information regarding how you can add more environmentally sound additions to your home, visit us today. Innovations such as these are beneficial for you as well as the planet.

*This is a sponsored post

Day 1: Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

It's Day One of the Living Well Spending Zero Challenge hosted through and I am so excited to get started!

I have signed my commitment to the challenge.  I've agreed to not spend any money on excess stuff.  My family will only making purchases that are for our survival, and only spending money on necessities.  We are going to save a bundle in doing this.  Yes!

And I did a broadcast on Periscope today where I just reintroduced myself and talked a bit about the challenge.  I plan to broadcast every day of this challenge just to share where I am at and to encourage others along the way.  I really think that a journey like this is one that needs support and accountability.  Periscope is a great tool for both!

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” 
Luke 12:16-21

The disease of "more" is one that has infected millions of Americans and my family is not immune.  Changing our ways will be difficult, but it will be worth it.  All the stuff in the world means nothing if God is not central in everything.  And storing up stuff (and really it is just stuff) always leads to discontentment as we think we need more room, more space, bigger this, and better that.  It's a vicious cycle and our family is not going to live in it any longer.  How about you?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living Well Spending Zero Challenge

I am super excited because tomorrow starts the Living Well Spending Zero Challenge from - a seriously cool website that I am jazzed to have found!  This challenge is basically a spending freeze for the month of October.  Yes, you can still pay bills and buy those essential items (we all need toilet paper) but otherwise it is a freeze and I can't wait to get started.

I've been going through a bit of a personal transition lately.  I really feel that God is placing new things on my heart and that He is teaching me in the area of finance and spending and contentment.

Recently, this verse has been etched in my mind:

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  
Luke‬ ‭12:15‬

I am really starting to see where I have placed a lot of value in the wrong things and this spending zero challenge couldn't have come at a more opportune time for me.

As I embark on this financial adventure, I am learning that I really do already have enough and that it is essential that my family get out of debt.  Credit cards, car payments... We are slaves to the lender in every way right now and it is killing us.  It is killing our spirit, our joy, and our family unity.  And it must stop.

A 31 day challenge will be a tremendous help to get me on the right track.  And there's still time to join so head on over and sign up today!
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