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Category: Frugal Lifestyle

5 Frugal Things

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 



frugal things

5 Frugal Things

  1. Mr. Daisy has been on an English Muffin kick at breakfast lately. Luckily while I was strolling through Target for some mommy-time, I noticed a Cartwheel coupon for 50% off all Thomas varieties. I picked the last 3 packages up for about $1.20 each. I went back yesterday evening but they did not re-stock 🙁

2. Rather than buying Mr. Daisy snacks for his lunch, I whipped up a batch of white macadamia nut cookies with pantry staples that were on hand.


3. Mr. Daisy spent the rainy weekend in the garage working on several cars. He performed some routine maintenance on our vehicles in the form of oil changes and tire rotations. Keeping up to date on the maintenance of our cars is vital to our frugal journey and I am so fortunate to have a mechanic for a hubby. He also put brakes and wheel bearings on his mom’s vehicle…we will get a free dinner as payment for services!

4. I made a big pot of potato soup Saturday afternoon that served as dinner on Saturday, dinner on Sunday, and lunch for me today.

5. In an effort to reduce our waste, we invested in a reusable Keurig cup. Neither of us are big coffee drinkers, so making a pot of coffee would be a waste. However, using k-cups is a much larger form of waste as the cups are non-recyclable. We purchased a plastic one, however I think I’m going to use some Swagbucks and get a gift card for Amazon to order a stainless steel k-cup like this one. 


Frugal Fail

If you follow me in Instagram, you already know that I killed our brand new vacuum. It was a Christmas present and I dearly, dearly loved my Shark vacuum. Mr. Daisy attempted to be frugal by tearing it apart and fixing it. Unfortunately, I had done far too much damage. I hopped on the Kohl’s website through Swagbucks and ordered a new vacuum for in-store pickup. I paired a $10 off coupon, 20% off, and 2SB per dollar via Swagbucks and only paid $110 for a $199 vacuum. I also received $20 back in Kohl’s Cash which will be used to buy Mr. Daisy some new socks.

Buying a new one right away may not have been the most frugal-minded action in some people’s opinion. But an efficient, functioning vacuum is essential to our household. We have quite a bit of carpet. Add a toddler, 2 dogs, and people who are constantly in and out into the equation. I vacuum daily. Sometimes more than once. So this was a worth it purchase for me. It will definitely be thrown into our Aw $hit budget category!

What frugal adventures did you have this weekend?

A Frugal Week in Review {+some random thoughts}

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

Are you ready for some miscellany? Here’s what has been happening on the Daisy Homestead:


Homesteading                                                                                Mr. Daisy tilling up the garden

Naughty Mr. Daisy. Do you see the gesture he’s giving with his left hand? How rude.
Little Daisy the Sassy Supervisor

Hiking & Nature Walks

I’ve been enjoying the recent beautiful Great Lakes weather by getting out on the trails and doing some hiking during my lunch break:

Nature Preserve at the local Agricultural College
A flowering tree. I’m a biologist…but botany was not my concentration…


I’ve got two books on my bookshelf right now, one fiction and one nonfiction.

For nonfiction, I’m reading  Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving . I am only three chapters in, but I am truly enjoying this read. It’s an easy read and the author is the perfect combination of sassy and informational. I have laughed out loud quite a few times!

On the fiction front, I am reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth. She also authored the very well known Divergent Trilogy that I enjoyed up until the end of the last book. I’ve never been so upset at the ending of a book – I actually stopped reading and didn’t finish! Mr. Daisy makes fun of me because I still get fired up about this! But, I digress. Carve the Mark lives up to the Divergent Triology in transporting the reader to a completely different world. Her descriptive writing makes you feel like you are in the book, and that’s what I love about reading fiction.

Eating & Grocery Shopping

I’ve fallen off the wagon on recording our grocery purchasing and intake, but I promise, we’re still eating 🙂

We spent $130.37 at our regional large chain (Giant Eagle) and earned $0.30  in fuel perks to bring our total to 50 cents of each gallon of gas. Later in the week, I spent $21.39 at ALDI for produce and some items to make side dishes for the two bowling banquets we have this week. My super simple Veggie Pizza is a hit at these events!

I’m giving us a little grace with our grocery spending. I understand that it is one of the easiest categories in which to cut back spending, however our family has other categories to focus on. Like eating out. We spent $400 in April on eating out. I about fell out of my chair when I was working through our finances. So, if a few more dollars spent each week at the grocery store will reduce/eliminate the eating out, so be it!

What We’re Watching

Mr. Daisy and I make it a point to spend time together each evening after Little Daisy is asleep. This usually consists of us snuggling on the couch watching TV while he plays with my hair. I really wish WordPress had a heart eyes emoji!

We’ve been watching Heartland on Netflix and yearning to move to Alberta and buy a ranch. We’ve also been watching the NBA Playoffs rooting our Cavaliers on. Defend the Land! 🙂

May will be here Monday, and with it I will be discussing our financial and family plans and goals for the month.

What have you been up to in April?

Credit Card Utilization Percentage + a free spreadsheet!

For those of you that are new here, this blog chronicles my family’s journey out of six figures of debt. This epic amount is a combination of student loans, credit cards, vehicle loans, and a personal loan. If you’re interested in a more in depth explanation, check out this post.

One of our primary financial goals for 2017 is to knock out our credit card debt to reach a utilization of less than 30% in hopes of giving our credit scores a boost. We are currently renting from my in-laws and will need to be out of this home by February 2018. We have zero desire to rent again, so we have less than a year to get ourselves mortgage-ready and in a lender-favorable position.

I assume that some of you will read this and think that we are crazy for wanting a mortgage while being in six figure debt. Personal finance is just that, personal. Unique. Different. Our decisions may be the last decision someone else would choose, but that’s the beauty of living in a diverse world.

What is credit card utilization?

Expressed as a percentage, this is the relationship between balances on your credit cards and the credit limits.

Example: You owe $450 on your Kohls credit card. Your credit limit is $1000. 450/1000=0.45=45% You are utilizing 45% of your available credit.

Why is credit card utilization important?

Your credit card utilization is a significant element used in calculating your credit score. Banks interpret high utilization rates as an inability to efficiently manage your money.

Why 30%?

Banks and lenders need to see evidence that you can manage your money in a wise manner. I am not a fan that one must go into debt in order to prove your acumen in finances. You would think that by prudently managing your money and paying cash for everything would be proof enough. But, I digress.

From my research and conversations with several lenders, a utilization rate of less than 30% is the industry standard that places you in the “good” category. A utilization of 1-10% is even better.

I have received conflicting information on 0% credit card balances. One lender says that in order to increase your credit score you should charge a manageable amount and pay it off each month in order to avoid interest. Another lender informs you that you should carry a small balance from month to month. What to do, what to do? (If any of you have any insight, I’d love to hear it!)

If this graph is any indication, carrying a 1-10% utilization rate on your credit cards results in the highest average credit score.

Credit Score Chart

Source: Credit Karma

Calculating your credit card utilization

I created this extremely simple Excel spreadsheet in order to get a snapshot of our family’s credit card utilization and I wanted to share it with you all.

Here’s a snapshot:

These are not our numbers. How I wish they were. 

How to use the credit card utilization spreadsheet

  • Enter the account information: account name, due date, minimum payment, current balance, and the limit.
  • The current utilization, target utilization balance, and total to pay have built in formulas so it should automatically populate.
    • If it doesn’t, the calculations are as follows:
      • Current Utilization = Current Balance/Limit
      • Target Utilization Balance = Limit*0.3
      • Total to Pay = Current Balance – Target Utilization Balance
  • The Current Utilization and Total Utilization cells are formatted to appear red when the value is greater than 30.49% and green when less than 30.49%.
  • You can assign priority however you see fit. Personally, we assign priority to the highest Total to Pay amount.

I am quite sure that there are more fancy and sophisticated spreadsheets out there to capture this information. But if you’re like me, you like simple and straight forward.

Here is a link to download the Excel file:

Free Credit Card Utilization Spreadsheet & Calculator

If you try it out, let me know what you think! Also, if you find it useful – share with your friends!

5 Frugal Things: The Free Edition!

This post contains affiliate links – but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I’ve personally tried out and love. 

{Much like a budget, a food journal or a gratitude journal, I believe that recording and acknowledging your frugal successes (and maybe some failures) is a necessity when you are embarking on a frugality adventure like myself. I first came across 5 Frugal Things on THE FRUGAL GIRL who came across it on THE NON-CONSUMERADVOCATE.COM and I’ve been hooked since.}

frugal lifestlye

Today’s 5 Frugal Things is exciting because everything I will be sharing with you was FREE!

Even more exciting, the items are free AND useful. Cue singing birds and heart eyes emojis.

Free buckets for container gardening

I was fortunate to snag these buckets from work to use for our container gardening and other random jobs around the yard. They’re a bit yucky as they contained vitamin E oil. The scientist in me is anxious to see if there is any different in the plants that were grown in the “dirty” buckets vs. buckets that were cleaned out. Stay tuned!

Free feminine pads

Thanks to Crystal over at Money Saving Mom and her regular freebie posts, I snagged a free sample of some feminine pads. These are perfect to throw in my first aid kit or 72 hour emergency bag.

Free Emergen-C samples

Again, thanks to Crystal’s posts, I received 2 free packets of Emergen-C and a coupon. Mr. Daisy drank one this morning because he said he felt a cold coming on. He loved the taste!

Coupons for free Bath & Body Works

I received these coupons for free lotions and shower gels at Bath & Body Works. My mom gave me hers also so I will be getting 4 free items! As much as I despise receiving a load of junk mail and promotions, signing up for retail stores’ mailing lists often results in some great coupons. My favorites are Elder-Beerman, JC Penney, Bath & Body Works, and Kohls. I am usually able to get free items through their promotions!

Free Proactiv via Swagbucks

Have you ever heard of Swagbucks? I’m sure you have. And I hope you love it as dearly as I do. I do virtually ALL of my shopping via Swagbucks, minus grocery shopping.

For example, I have really been wanting an electric griddle. I stumbled upon an excellent deal at Kohls,  shopped through Swagbucks, selected in-store pickup, and earned cash back. Win win situation because I received a little kickback and more importantly, I go right to Customer Service to get my item and I walk right back out. I do not stop at racks, I do not impulse shop. I go directly to the door. (Did you pretend you were reading that off of a Monopoly card? Because I did.)

So, I was perusing Swagbucks the other day near the end of my lunch break and came across a Proactiv deal they had running. Receive 3,000 swagbucks for trying Proactiv. If you’re unfamiliar with Swabucks, 100 swagbucks = $1. Therefore, 3,000 swabucks = $30. The trial I selected cost me under $30. Therefore, I’m trying this Proactiv (something I’ve been wanting to try for ages), for free.

If you’re interested in learning more about Swagbucks, feel free to shoot me an email, leave a comment, or click this link.

Have you had any frugal or free adventures recently?

Miscellany {5 things style}

Yesterday I mistakenly stated that I would have a guest post up on The Frugal Farmer. I’m not sure what I was thinking, because it will be up Monday, April 10. I’ll blame it on mommy brain 🙂 

5 Frugal Things

  • I scanned my CVS Xtra Care card at the in-store kiosk for some coupons. I received a $1.50 off a laundry detergent purchase and there happened to be an off-brand (I’m not picky!) for $1.47 making it FREE.
  • We experienced some torrential rain late last week that resulted in a roof leak. Although we rent, renting from family means that we take care of whatever repairs we can. Mr. Daisy climbed up in the attic and realized the leak was coming from the chimney. We had some goop (I have no idea what it’s actually called) so he patched up the leak in a matter of minutes. There will be no long term damage since we handled it immediately and it cost us $0.
  • We have been diligently composting our coffee grounds, produce scraps, and paper. Even Little Daisy is in on the fun!
  • I sold a few items that have been up on eBay for a better part of one month. An extra $75 in our account got transferred directly to savings. (In my post from yesterday, I talk about how we are focusing on savings rather than debt repayment over the next few months)
  • I packed and ate lunch at work all week (which is HUGE for me), drank home-brewed and work-brewed coffee and tea, did not have to purchase any Easter eggs (thanks to Little Daisy’s grandmas) or a basket.

5 Things That Are Making Me Happy

  • The Duluth Trading No-Yank Tank(I’m not affiliated, but hit me up Duluth!) This tank top is the bomb. The price is extremely reasonable when compared to the quality and performance of the product. I have curves, and my tank tops are constantly riding or I’m pulling them down so that I don’t resemble a plumber. These tank tops do exactly what  they say they’ll do. Whether I’m working in the garden, throwing bales of hay, helping a cow give birth, or simply cleaning my house…these bad boys stay put. They’re soft, breathable, have the perfect amount of coverage, and hold up well. I have 4 of them, that’s how much I adore these tank tops. Mr. Daisy raves about their button down shirts, t-shirts, and outerwear also.

work clothes

  • Although I don’t appreciate that random winter storm that hit us last night, I can appreciate the beauty:
snow storm
                                I love the way fresh snow looks on tree branches.
  • Prior to this snow storm, spring had sprung here in the Great Lakes region. With spring comes babies! Baby pigs, baby cows, and baby chickens. Little Daisy is getting her first dip into the spring farm lifestyle and she’s soaking it all in. Here’s some proof of spring:
                                                   Little Daisy helping haul compost.


crocus flowers
                                                                Crocus flowers
  • Another thing I’m loving that could have been included in my 5 Frugal Things is a contest I won on one of my favorite blogs! Hannah over at Eat, Drink, and Save Money offered a $50 gift card to a really cool website called IncrediBundles and I won! I picked out items for Little Daisy’s Easter basket that only cost me $2 out of pocket. Here’s what I got her:
  • Lastly, I’m loving that my mom and I just planned a girl’s day getaway for her and I later this month! It will be nice to hit up some museums a few hours away and just bond with her.

What are you loving this week? Do any of them cross over into the frugal world?


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DIY Taco Seasoning {and a recipe to use it in!}

I’m not on my frugal high horse with this homemade DIY taco seasoning. I know that taco seasoning packets aren’t going to break the bank, they cost like $0.69. But, by making this spice blend I am not contributing to senseless packaging waste and I know exactly what is in my spice blend. No starchy fillers here.

homemade taco seasoning

The following recipe will fill a 3 oz glass jar. I used these nifty little jars that I found on clearance. You can use virtually any type of container, just make sure that it is air tight!


DIY Taco Seasoning

3 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

I combined all of the spices in a small mixing bowl and stirred them together really well. I also gave the jar a good shake once all the spices were in.

So, now you have this delicious homemade taco seasoning. What are you going to use it for (besides tacos, obvs)? While I was sick last week, Mr. Daisy made this delicious One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet that the entire family loved! It’s basically like a homemade version of hamburger helper. What I really love is that it is a one pot, 30 minute dish. It’s even quicker to make if you prep your meat ahead of time! I have successfully used rotini and elbow pasta in this recipe.

One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet


1lb ground beef, venison or turkey

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of black pepper

3.5 tbsp of our homemade taco seasoning (or 1 packer store bought)

2 cups water

1 cup salsa

8 oz uncooked elbow or rotini pasta

~1.5 c shredded Taco style cheese

Optional toppings: cilantro, fresh tomato, sour cream


(Skip 1-4 if you have prepped your meat already)

  1. Preheat a deep skillet (a lid will be needed!) over medium heat.
  2. Add ground meat and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook thoroughly.
  4. Drain grease.
  5. Add and stir in taco seasoning, follow with the water, salsa, and pasta noodles.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Stir well, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Cook for approximately 15 minutes until the pasta is tender.
  9. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese.
  10. Season and top with additional toppings if preferred.

This recipe tastes just as good as leftovers the next day! If you’re looking for a new, fun, quick & easy recipe to add to your arsenal – this One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet will fit the bill!


This week in frugal food {what we spent & what we ate}

I apologize for the blog silence over the last week. I came down with what my doctor diagnosed as viral pneumonia. {Truth be told I don’t care what it’s called, it was awful.} I was laid up for 5 straight days and am just now starting to feel like myself. If it wasn’t for my meal prep last Sunday, we would have likely eaten takeout all week. But since I had food prepped and ready to go, Mr. Daisy took over dinner duties when he got home from work each night. So – back to our regularly scheduled programming! 🙂

frugal shopping frugal meal plans

Last week’s roundup

You can see our meal plan from last week HERE and I am so proud to say that we stuck to meal plan every night except one! Because of how awful I was feeling, I didn’t get around to throwing ingredients in the crockpot for vegetable soup. Instead, Mr. Daisy cooked up some turkey paninis for him and Little Daisy and I made myself some Ramen.

Weekly frugal shopping trip

Little Daisy and I made our way out to do some grocery shopping today while Mr. Daisy worked in the garage. We spent $67.04 at our regional retail chain and $11.22 at ALDI. I mentioned in last week’s post that I had been avoiding ALDI due to how incredibly packed it is. It was no different today, there were only 4 carts left! But, the prices again reminded me of why I need to suck it up and just do it. The prices make it worth it. For example, Mr. Daisy loves to have pretzel rods with chip dip as a snack. Pretzel rods at the regional chain store are $4.59 for a rather small bag. At ALDI, a large tub is only $3.49. Sliced Muenster cheese at the regional store is $2.50 for 10 slices, and $1.89 for 11 slices at ALDI. Some other great deals at ALDI this week were $0.29/dozen eggs, $1.04/ gallon of milk, and the everyday $0.99 spices. However, the regional store had an amazing stock up deal on bread, $0.50/loaf! I bought 6 and plan to freeze most of the loaves. I’ve never froze bread before, so here’s to hoping it works out. If it doesn’t, I’m only out a handful of change per loaf. I’m over budget by $20ish, but I’m not stressing about it too much.

If you’re interested in a detailed list of what I purchased this week, you can find it in pdf form here: Frugal Shopping Trip April 2 2017

I also snagged some FREE laundry detergent at CVS this week with a coupon, yay!

Weekly frugal meal plan

Breakfast: Nothing out of the ordinary here. I made some blueberry muffins that we’ll work our way through for breakfasts and snacks.

Lunches: I’ll be taking leftovers when they’re available or make a big salad with some lunch meat. Mr. Daisy will take his normal packed lunch.


Monday| Pork shoulder roast in the crockpot

Tuesday| Family dinner at my grandfather’s (not my week to cook, yay!)

Wednesday| Cornbread chili casserole

Thursday| Breakfast for dinner

Friday| Homemade chicken nuggets

There’s not much meal prep on the horizon for this week’s meal plan. I moved the pork shoulder from the deep freezer to the fridge to defrost, cooked up 1 lb of ground venison for Wednesday’s casserole, and made the blueberry muffins.

What’s on your meal plan for the week? Did you stay on budget shopping?

Weekly Frugal Meal Plan

I’ve decided to change things up a bit and talk about what we spent and are planning to eat in the beginning of the week. If I lay my frugal meal plan out here for everyone to see, there is a better chance that I will actually stick to it. Fingers crossed!

frugal shopping frugal meal plans

Weekly Grocery Trip

On Sunday I spent $85.52 at the grocery store and accrued $.60 in fuel perks. Mr. Daisy ran his truck over later that evening to fill up for a whopping $1.20/gal. Full disclosure, I haven’t made it to ALDI the last few weeks. It’s just too. damn. crowded. I truly love the efficiency of ALDI, but I have zero patience when it comes to cart traffic. I don’t have the option of going shopping in the middle of the day or at other potential slow times. I’ve tried everything…Saturday mornings as soon as they open, Wednesday evenings an hour before closing…but to no avail. I don’t browse through the grocery store. I have my list and I know what I want. I’m afraid you’ll see me on the news for reckless operation of a cart 🙂 So, that’s why my grocery bill has been a bit higher than normal. I have no doubt that this grocery trip would have been more around my goal of $50 but I just wasn’t in the mood to battle the crowds.

No grocery picture, sorry! So, here’s a quick rundown of what I purchased. I put it in a pdf so that if you’re interested, you can click and read it. If you’re not interested, I haven’t wasted any extra blog space for you to scroll through .

Shopping 032617

Weekly Meal Plan


Mr. Daisy eats Clif bars each morning on his way to work with his coffee. I can get them for $1/bar at a regional chain store. That’s not too frugal, but in comparison to him running through a drive-thru each morning, it’s definitely frugal. I’ll take the $5/week breakfast over a potential $20-$30/week.

We are fortunate that Little Daisy’s daycare provider feeds her breakfast each morning. If she’s up especially early one morning I will give her a piece of toast while I get ready for work.

For myself, I alternate between peanut butter toast and maple brown sugar oatmeal. With coffee of course. Both of these tend to hold me over until lunch so I’m not itching for a snack at 10am.


Our predominate lunch expense is with Mr. Daisy. He is unable to re-heat leftovers or have a hot lunch. Most of the time he will eat right in whatever equipment he’s operating (not while in operation, though). He alternates between egg salad, tuna salad, and salami sandwiches. He also packs some chips or pretzels, cashews (which are not cheap!), Gatorade, and some sort of snack. It reminds me of a lunch your mom would pack you in 4th grade, but it works and he’s not picky. Little Daisy of course eats at her daycare and I always try to bring leftovers to avoid food waste. However, there are times when I get restless and need to leave my desk. Once per week I’ll use some of my weekly spending cash and grab lunch out (usually meeting with my brother’s girlfriend).


Here is our weekly dinner plan:

Monday| Breakfast sausage and cheese quesadillas with rice and black beans

Tuesday| Family meal at my grandfather’s. It is my week to cook and I am making a big batch of baked spaghetti.

Wednesday| Crock Pot vegetable soup with grilled cheese. I have a love/hate relationship with my slow cooker, but that’s a post for another day.

Thursday| BBQ shredded chicken sliders with a veggie side.

Friday| We have bowling league this night. I’m sure we will have leftovers from the week, so we will try to eat some of those up.

Saturday| We are going to experiment with our new smoker on Saturday. I think my husband is planning on smoking a wild turkey breast, so we will have that for dinner!

Sunday| We will pick through the fridge and try to gobble up leftovers to reduce any food waste.

Meal Prep for the Week

In order to spend as little time as possible preparing dinner after work (and more time with my family!), I try to do a bunch of meal prep on Sundays. This saves in cooking time as well as clean up time. This week I spent only 45 minutes doing the following:

  • cooked up 1 pound of ground breakfast sausage for Monday’s meal
  • cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef for Tuesday’s baked spaghetti
  • boiled 4 chicken breasts for easy shredding for Thursday’s meal
  • moved the wild turkey breast from the deep freezer to the refrigerator to thaw for Saturday
  • I have a small basket on the counter full of Mr. Daisy’s lunch items. He is NOT a morning person, so rifling through the house getting his lunch ready is not the way Mr. Cranky Pants wants to start his day. So, on Sunday we pre-portion out his chips, cashews, and fill his basket with his other items so all he has to do is grab what he wants and go.

That 45 minutes is time well spent in my eyes because it leads to more time with my family during the week.

I’m hoping to calculate a cost for each meal because I am curious to know, maybe you are too! I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, sorry 🙂 I will update you next Sunday on how well we stuck or didn’t stick to plan!

Do you meal plan or prep food for the week? Why or why not?

What We Spent | What We Ate {still on budget!}

Although we had a crazy busy week with dance rehearsals, recitals, and broken vehicles; we managed to stay on budget and eat from home. Hooray!

What We Spent

This week’s grocery trip was $95.00. Although it is much more than my budgeted amount per week,  we *should* come in right on budget. This week’s shopping trip included several toiletries and household purchases like toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, shampoo, deodorant and so on. Moving forward, I think I’m going to break the budget down into a few more categories and be more specific about what is spent on food vs. household items vs. personal items so that I can visually see what is being spent on each. What do you think?

grocery haul
This week’s cart. Groceries this week included household and personal items, lunch-y items for Mr. Daisy and items for a big family dinner this weekend.

What We Ate

Sunday 3/19: I spent a few hours doing some food prep for the week ahead. I have no doubt that this is what saved us from ordering take out while we were running around everywhere. I made some venison meatballs (so yummy), cooked 2 pounds of ground venison, and boiled chicken breasts to shred. Mr. Daisy threw a venison roast in the crock pot when we woke up that morning.

Monday 3/20: We had dance rehearsal and photos, so we didn’t make it home until about 7pm. Little Daisy and I ate some granola bars on the way to rehearsal and Mr. Daisy had packed a larger than normal lunch. When we got home, I pulled the pre-made meatballs out and threw them in a skillet with homemade pasta sauce while I pre-heated the oven. Once the oven was pre-heated, I quickly assembled some meatball subs and baked them for 10 minutes. We had green beans on the side. Quick and easy and definitely wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t prepped.

Tuesday 3/21: It was Little Daisy’s first ballet recital! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little bit. Again, we got home around 7pm and Little Daisy was whooped. I made her a PB&J with some grapes on the side before she collapsed into bed at 7:30. I had some Ramen and Mr. Daisy made macaroni and cheese. It wasn’t the healthiest, but I prefer it over going through a fast food drive-thru!

Wednesday 3/22:The day that the dreaded budget setback reared its head. While Mr. Daisy was out in the shop diagnosing his truck, I made some angel hair pasta with leftover meatballs from Monday’s meal. Served with garlic bread and some peas on the side.

Thursday 3/23: On Thursdays, Little Daisy usually spends time at my mother-in-law’s with her aunts and baby cousin. Mr. Daisy and I used what was left of our weekly spending cash and stopped in at our favorite local restaurant. We had wings as an appetizer, Mr. Daisy had a huge hamburger, and I had a chicken wrap with their delicious homemade potato chips.

Friday 3/24: Today we will be running around getting the parts that are needed for Mr. Daisy to work on his truck. I’m not sure what our plans are for dinner. If we eat at home, it will be something quick and simple like a tuna melt.

What was your week in food like? I’d love to hear about it

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Budget Setbacks {& how I handle them}

When it comes to planning and organizing, I am 100% Type A. You should have seen our first budget as a married couple; there were pages and pages of categories and formulas and colors. It was too specific. Because of the specificity, our first budget failed. Big time. I was trying to be far too precise and particular about tracking our money and telling it where to go. For example: under Little Daisy’s category, I had 5 budget lines. Why does an infant need 5 budget lines? I was also trying to track every transaction as it occurred. I would be checking our online banking at least once each day. You know what happened? I got tired, burnt out, and pissed that my day was now revolving around our money.

Fast forward 3 years and several other budget system fails: I’ve created a much simpler, visually pleasing, and easy to navigate budget. Even my free-spirit husband doesn’t mind sitting down to our  weekly and monthly budget meetings. I still tweak it each month because life happens. Our daughter is getting older and we are hitting different milestones and seasons of life. Just like the world around us, our budget is a living thing. It evolves with the ebbs and flows of time. We have the quick weekly check-ins, the mid-month check, and the “big” end of the month/beginning of the next month meeting. Less is definitely more when it comes to our budgeting style.

The Budget Setback

But just when you think you’ve got said perfect balance and your system is flowing perfectly…BAM! In comes the budget buster! Crashing through your wall like the god damned Kool-Aid Man. Not just a $50 buster that you forgot to budget for. But a $600 vehicle repair that was most definitely NOT in your plans.

Mr. Daisy has been worried about his transfer case for about a month. We knew it was going to need replaced eventually. He crawled under yesterday and in his words, “It’s puking fluid. Needs fixed now.” But as he was under there he also noticed that the front ball joints were in bad shape, the water pump needed to be replaced, and might as well throw in the wipers while we’re at it. Before our balanced budgeting days, I would have had a mini meltdown any time something popped up that I hadn’t accounted for.

Now that I’m in my budget-Zen mode, I take a few breaths and look at the bright side:

  1. If we had to take his truck to a shop to get repaired, this would easily cost us well over $1200 with parts and labor. Mr. Daisy is a mechanic so no labor costs and we have the wholesale hookup on parts through my Dad and brother’s businesses, so no crazy marked up parts prices.
  2. Daisy’s truck will get him from point A to point B safely.
  3. I enjoy working on vehicles with Mr. Daisy. One of his 5 Love Languages is Quality Time and he appreciates when I take interest in something that he’s doing. (I would prefer that it didn’t cost $600, but I digress).
  4. We can afford the costs of repairing his truck and we can afford having two vehicles. We are fully aware that this type of setback would cause other people in other situations much more grief than it has caused us. It will not affect our ability to put food on the table, get to work, or disrupt our daily lives and we are grateful for that.

It is natural and automatic to immediately compartmentalize unplanned and unfortunate setbacks into the “The Sky is Falling” category. It’s something that I did for a really, really long time. I would get frustrated and give up on budgeting and gaining control over our finances. It was difficult for me to see that light at the end of the tunnel and still is sometimes. If this would have been a $3000 repair, I would have panicked. No doubt about that. In my struggle to become more calm and Zen with our budgeting and finances; I am trying to teach myself  that much (if not all) of life is about balance. It’s about understanding which situations require calmness and which require an intense approach. Does this small thing really require an argument with my husband? Does the plant that Little Daisy accidentally knocked over validate me losing my patience?

It’s nothing groundbreaking on how I handle budget busters and life setbacks in general. I attempt to find and keep stability, get back up from whatever set back it is, notch it in my brain for future reference, and move on. It may require creative tweaking in next month’s budget, but life will go on with or without me pouting about something. There’s no room for hostility towards something I cannot control when there’s an adorable three year old asking me to play Candy Land with her.

What types of budget setbacks have you encountered? How do you handle them?