Non-Grocery Quarterly Budget

By now, if you are following along, we have only begun to work on the budget, but you should have a basic budget with your income and expenses and you should know what you have left each month. That is where this journey begins. 

From our previous post, you should have everything included in your budget and those non- necessities highlighted.  What does that leave you?  In our budget this month, we have about $670 left over for gasoline, food, and entertainment. Keep in mind that is one income and doesn’t include savings, or extras.   Your number will be more or less depending on your situation. Whatever that number is let’s break down those numbers.

Mr. Maker uses 1 tank of gas per month and on average it is $40 to fill. Mrs. Maker will go through about 2.5 per month and it will cost about $80 to fill 2.5 times. We need to set out $120 in the budget for gasoline.

This leaves us with about $480 for food and household items.  As I mentioned before my grocery budget is $70/week, so this month it will be $280 and I add $20 cushion in there. Leaving $180 for household items and extras.

You might have noticed that my grocery list and menus do not include paper products, cleaners, shampoo and so on…..that is because we order those items quarterly on Subscribe and Save 

To maximize the savings you want to make sure you are ordering 5 items per order to get the 15% savings.  To do this, I stagger our order so that things like dish soap (which comes in a pack of three)  don’t ship every month.

We won’t use all three dish soaps in a month, we use about one per month, so we stagger this out to every three months.

Dog Food is a monthly delivery, same with K-cups. We have toilet paper, kitchen cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and fabric softener all staggered so that there is always 5 items each month, but not so that we are stock piling things.

Including cat litter, cat food, and dog food ($20) we spend about $60/month with Subscribe and Save.

I am sure there is room to improve and if we were being super strict, we could make adjustments here.

I priced shopped, so that you didn’t have to. Using the dish soap from above. Subscribe and Save offered three bottles for $9.41.  Similar stores were $11.37 and $11.67.  The savings on this one product is $2.26. Every item we ordered offered this same type of savings. Assuming 5 items each month with a savings of around $2-$3.  That’s $10-$15 savings.

To sweeten the deal, Mr. Maker has an Amazon Store Card which offers 3% cash back on purchases.

Our Subscribe and Save monthly order of $60 gives us 3% cash back or  $1.80

We save on average $20/month for shopping non- food items this way rather than at the grocery store.  They also offer coupons you can clip on site for your first order. 

Once we get into the specific grocery budget you will see that I do not have any line items for dog food, toilet paper or the like. If you don’t have pets, or your pets aren’t divas like ours you will have room to save here as well.

On our tally of things we USED to waste money on: ADD $240.

I will say, I am not a brand name snob, I am a chemical gluten free product snob. I also won’t switch to generic or no name toilet paper regardless of the savings.

We would love to hear about your tips and tricks for this type of thing. Our household just started using Subscribe and Save, prior to this we bought everything at the grocery weekly or hoarded it if we found a sale that we couldn’t pass up. I can think of better ways to spend my time than shopping for toilet paper 🙂

 

 

 

 

Summer Pops

 

Print
Summer Pops
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Well it's just about the time when the kids are bored of Summer, it's brutally hot outside, and everyone starts to get on each others nerves.  I always find that when that begins, it's best to fill their loud-whiny mouths with HomeSpun Summer Pops. 

Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 strawberry sliced
  • 3-6 blueberries
  • 1 leaf mint
Instructions
  1. Start with these Summer Pop Molds , they make 6. Super easy to use.  Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. * If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

  2. Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. 

Recipe Notes

If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

SWAGBUCKS

It’s Friday and you know what that means, we are either making or saving money!!!

This week we are going to build off of the EBates post and show you how to make even more money doing what you already do.

As you will learn later this week, I am a huge promoter of Walmart Grocery Pick Up. 

Walmart grocery pick up is excluded from Ebates, however it is not excluded from swagbucks.

The current promo is 3 swagbucks per $1 spent.  My current Walmart Grocery Pick Up  order is $91  meaning I could get 273 swagbucks for this week.

For the month of July if I spent that amount every week at the grocery store. I would have around 1100 swagbucks.

With the swagbucks, I can redeem for Amazon gift cards. 1,000 swagbucks would get me a $10 gift card.  They also have current promos for Dollar Shave Club 

That’s $120 in Amazon cards a year, just for groceries I was ordering anyway.  That’s two months of Amazon Subscribe and Save.

I really hope this all makes sense for you. Services like this are easy to use and require very little effort to help you live you best HOMESPUN life.

I would love to hear about other services like this that you are using!! Comment below.

A Shot Of Wonderful

Last year sometime in August, we had a plan to take the girls out back to school shopping. The thing about Fibromyalgia or any chronic pain is that it never flares at the right time, as if there would ever be a right time. Here I am barely able to walk with two teenagers who want to go go go.

While getting shoes, we decided to stop into Whole Foods for lunch.  In the center isle by the checkouts, there it was. KOR Turmeric Shots, know now in my house as the “shot of wonderful.”

We forked over the $2.50 and within 10 minutes I was able to tackle the mall, carrying bags, and feeling like my normal self.  No more sitting on the bench and hoping that the day would end soon.

With that, I did what anyone would do and went back in and bought a weeks worth. Almost $20.  Now, I am not saying that my health isn’t worth $20 a week, but like everything in my life, there had to be a way I could do this myself.

So with a little trial and error and the help of the smoothie counter clerk at Whole Foods, I created my own DIY Turmeric Shot….renamed A Shot Of Wonderful.

If you suffer or know someone who suffers with chronic pain, try it.

Recipe:

  • Grated Turmeric Root, approx 1 TBSP (if not available in produce section you can buy at most organic smoothie stores or use turmeric powder which is very similar.
  • 1 Whole Carrot Grated
  • 16oz of Coconut Water 
  • 1 Squirt of Honey
  • Strain to remove pulp

*optional orange or tangerine slices. (We used cucumber)

Blend until drinkable. I used our Nutribullet 

Makes enough Juice to fill 6 of the dressing sized Tupperware containers.

I will say it stains, so put something down on your counters and do not use the “guest towels” to clean up.

HomeSpun Food Wrap

Good morning Mrs. Maker again…by now you’ve probably learned or assumed that I love a project and a challenge. This next piece was a bit of both. The project itself was super easy, but making a video…that is a work in progress. We went for it, more to show a different spin on how to do this, but being a work in progress I would appreciate feedback.

Now, onto the good stuff.

Between BBQ s, Meal-prep, and Leftovers we use a lot of plastic wrap. If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen. Plastic wrap can take up to 500 years to decompose!

In our effort to create less waste and do better at green living, this HomeSpun idea was perfect for this.

Bees Wrap is the BEES KNEES!

Bees Wrap is an eco-friendly, reusable alternative to plastic wrap that hugs bowls and pans with just the right amount of cling. You can buy ready made or Homespin it yourself.

It’s perfect for wrapping snacks, fruit, veggies, cheese, bread and even bowls.

To use, just place over a bowl or container, wrap around food like cheese, or fold into a snack bag. The warmth from your hands will mold the wrap into the desired shape.

They can be washed with cold water and a mild soap

*Since they cannot be washed with hot water they are not recommended for meat or the dishwasher.

Depending on how frequently they’re used, they can last for up to a year. After that all you need to do is re-wax them in order to keep using them.

Let’s get this party started!!

Stuff you will need.

Step 1

Using scissors to reduce fraying, cut several squares from your cotton material.  I cut several different sizes you just need enough to have a bit of overhang on your bowl or pan.

Step 2

Choose a large flat work surface and make sure to cover it with something that can withstand heat. (I used an old giant cutting board.) Tear off two square sheets of parchment paper, both bigger than your largest pre-cut cloth square.

Step 3

Place one pre-cut cloth square on top of your  parchment paper. Sprinkle beeswax beads evenly over cloth square, making sure to cover all the way to edges.

Step 4

Place second sheet of parchment paper over the top. With a hot iron on the “cotton” setting, gently iron over the top of the parchment paper, going back and forth a few times.

Step 5

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and take a look at the fabric. Areas that did not get enough beeswax will be lighter in color. Simply sprinkle a small amount of wax on those areas, cover with parchment paper, and iron again.

Step 6

Carefully remove the hot fabric from your work surface and hang to dry. Fabric will stiffen as it dries.

Viola’ you are making a difference and creating less waste. 

This project worked out very well for me, but I am curious to see how it went for you. Let me know in the comments. Please include pictures if you would like.

Monthly Budgeting-Your Next Moves

Good morning, Mrs. Maker here- I hope that you are enjoying the budget tools we have provided so far.  By now you should have about half of your monthly receipts saved up and a good idea of what money is coming in and going out of your house each month.  We suggested that you highlight those areas on your budget or even with the receipts that you collected that weren’t necessities. For Mr. Maker and I that would include:

  • Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. $12
  • Cello lessons. $60
  • Ice cream $15
  • Daily Growler/Food Truck $22

As I mentioned previously, we aren’t asking you to give up lattes or anything. We do want you to be aware of where your money is being spent. If you have a month where the electric bill is higher than usual, you had to get  new brakes, or you had a lot of friends getting married or having babies like Mrs. Maker did last year,  you need to be able to cover those expenses and NOT on credit.

Mr. Maker and I look at our household budget using only one income.  After all the bills are paid, the remaining money is divided between the above items and groceries since these are variable or non-necessity items.

Last month for example: After all bills were paid- The Maker family had $460 left in the budget.  Based on my menu planning and meal prep,  groceries were going to take up approximately $80 a week or $320 for the month. That would leave $140 for the remaining items above. That is where we begin to pick and choose what we want to pay for and what we need to do without or find another way to make it happen for less.

To give you some ideas of ways we could save just based on the above mentioned.

  • We could walk to the United Dairy Farmer, pick up a gallon of ice cream and bring it home to enjoy on the patio. Spending about $5 and saving us $10.
  • We could forgo the food truck at the growler and just have a pint of beer. The Daily Growler does not serve food so we would have the ability to bring our own in. I could make some sandwiches and a veggie tray at home and save us about $12 – or since Mr. Maker is a home brewer, we could forgo the trip all together and have a beer on our patio saving the entire $22.
  • It is summer and our daughter doesn’t take cello lessons in the summer, that would put an extra $60 back in the budget for the three months of summer.
  • With Netflix and Hulu while I put these in the non-necessity areas. With a lot of our favorite shows like, Game of Thrones premiering over the summer, we don’t want to do away with these services. I can do without ice cream but not without Jon Snow.

I would invite you to sit down as a family and look at your own budget. Kids have the best ideas  of ways that you can still spend time together without spending money.

Menus, Grocery Budget, and Meal Prep are coming soon- but the basics the foundation for knowing what you have to work with is where you begin. We would love to hear some of your creative ways of saving a buck or two so please message or comment.

Dollar Shave Club

Let”s face it – pun intended – shaving is one of those things that we all just want to get over with each day. Done it for years… Over those years, I’ve tried it all, and learned a thing or two about many of the most popular razors out on the market. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed that the price of razor blades has soared over the years. While the razor itself is fairly cheap, the cost of restocking its blades can be incredibly high.

Here’s what I want from my razor:

  1. Don’t slice my face to ribbons
  2. Don’t cost an insane amount of money
  3. Be durable, and not a cheap piece of crap
  4. Oh, and if you could help me avoid going to the store, that would be great

These things (and more) are exactly what Dollar Shave Club (DSC) has done for me! I can have them automatically ship razors to me on my schedule, get a great shave, and only spend a few bucks a month. Score! I’ve settled down with my new best shave razor, the Dollar Shave Club 4X. I can easily get the shave I need for $6 per month! And, I don’t even have to leave the house!

I was an early adopter, and have been a member for over 4 years! I am a marketing/design guy, and I was snagged by their launch video – “DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades Are F***ing Great”. It made me laugh, and want to give them a try!

So – How does DSC work, exactly?

Well, you have three super affordable choices with DSC.

The Humble Twin

$1/mo + $2 s&h
Keep it simple. Get 5 stainless steel, twin blade cartridges a month. Free reusable handle in first box.

The 4X

$6/mo – ships FREE
A more advanced razor with a wide open back for a fast, easy rinse. Comes with 4 refill cartridges per month.

The Executive

$9/mo – ships FREE
The final frontier. Get 4 stainless steel, 6-blade cartridges a month. Free weighty handle in first box.

Dollar Shave Club Welcome Kit

All come with a free handle, shipped with your first box. Need more blades? Change your shipping options. Need fewer blades? Change your shipping options. You have no obligation and can change quantities or upgrade/downgrade to the other razors at any time. They even have a smartphone app in case you need to make changes to your monthly order on the go, or need to pace a one-time order.

I had used Gillette for many, many years before I gave DSC a try, and I was glad for the savings. I started with the Humble Twin and while it was nice and inexpensive, I did miss having a 4 or more blade system. I right away upgraded to the 4X and found just what I needed.

I had Mrs. Maker give the razor a try, and she loved it as well. Same with our daughters. We ordered a few extra handles, and now we all are on the DSC bandwagon, and saving a TON to boot! We have adjusted our monthly delivery to accommodate the entire family!

My opinion? The 4X razor is great. The handle is a hefty metal body with copious amounts of knobby rubber on the outside. There is little chance you’ll lose your grip on this thing.

The razor head has a lot of space between each blade so that it should not clog up, and the head rotates smoothly and easily for adjusting to the manly contours of your body.

The actual shave with this razor is excellent. The four blades work as expected to give you a gentle and clean shave. This is made possible by the ribs on the rubber hair lifter on the leading edge of the razor head. After the work has been done the orange strip of soothing glides by, leaving your face smooth and fresh. Another great shave, and no nicks.

So – to wrap it all up? If you are looking for a great shave, at a low price – then I strongly recommend the Dollar Shave Club 4X. You’ll always have sharp blades because they ship to you monthly without you having to remember. You’ll get a close shave every time with no fuss. The handle is great to hold and big enough that you won’t feel like it’ll slip out of your fingers.

Take it from me – Give it a try! You won’t be sorry, and could be saving yourself $20 or more EVERY MONTH!

Friday Money Maker

It’s Friday and I like to finish off very week by showing you how to either make or save money…well who are we kidding…I like to show you everyday how to make or save money.

By a show of hands how many people use EBATES? (Crickets)

Just what I thought, like you I hadn’t heard of it either but a few years back a friend of mine said “you guys buy a lot of things online, why not use Ebates?” Well the cynic in me thought this sounds fishy and I have no time for this. What do I have to do surveys or something? Well one day I thought, I would at least check it out.

I literally set up a login, entered my address (so they could send me my money) and installed the prompt on my browser, and BAM just like that every time I shop online I get $$$.

Now I am not talking a few pennies…..in total this past month has netted me $86.72, all for signing up.

If you don’t want it on your browser, you just go through EBATES first then shop at the store you select. It’s not wonder their slogan is  You already do it. Get paid for it!

 

My K-Cup Dilemma

One of the biggest challenges that I have found in writing this blog, is that I want to be genuine. I want people to understand why I encourage them to do what I do. I want to talk about things I have real experience with. I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I should go back to the beginning of the month for this story. I have an Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save, and hopefully you will too, as we get to that part of the saving money on grocery section. This month though, Amazon sent me a few things I didn’t order, one of them being Brooklyn Coffee Variety Pack of K-cups. Now I am a Dunkin Donuts gal myself, but I have to admit that this has quickly become a new household favorite enough to change our monthly order from Dunkin to Brooklyn.

Lately, I have become the recycling patrol at our house. Showing the girls what can and can not be thrown away. Digging through the trash with gloves on to remove anything that was missed and move it to the big green bin.

We have also forgone the brewing of an entire pot of coffee during the summer for the ease and convenience of one k-cup at a time. Since we all are coming and going at different times with different schedules.

This brings me to my present dilemma. What can we do to reduce the amount of k-cup waste? After but a few moments of research, I found that while all of the separate components of k-cups are recyclable, its the actual breaking down that is too complex to move them through the recycling process. So every k-cup needs separated from it’s foil top, filter and grounds removed and if you compost, composted and then foil and plastic recycled.  Well if that is what needs done then we will do it and off I began texting on our “family<3” text….”quick quick we need to break apart all the kcups after brewing so we aren’t wasting them”, I even threw in a fact about 13 million cups wrapping the equator or something. Then paused.

If my love of wine has taught me anything, it’s that a seal cutter similar to that of wine opening, must exist and alas it does.

I searched and ordered with a left over gift card I had from a rebate offer and for $10 we will have a recycleacup . This works just like a wine cutter, you attach to the used k-cup, twist, and spin around. Once complete all parts separate. No fuss, no mess. The foil top comes off for recycling, the filter and grounds remove to move to compost, and the plastic cup can meet with the big green bin.

I quickly ordered and in 2-3 business days, this two pack will be mine. This will allow me to continue my new obsession guilt free and the kids will still think I haven’t totally lost it. I can only guess what the look on Mr. Maker’s face will be as he ponders my adventure off the deep end.  I’ll keep you posted on what I think of it, and hey if you have used or have a better way, let me know.

 

 

 

Cloth Napkins

Today I want to share with you one of the easiest ways to reduce a few bucks out of your budget and do something go for the environment. Cloth napkins.

Now I know what you are thinking, she’s nuts. My kids are messy and the last thing I need is more laundry. I don’t have time to wash and starch and iron and fold napkins. Napkins? I thought you said I wouldn’t have to give up on my comforts in life.

Not to fret, The Maker family doesn’t either.

100% cotton napkins are not the way to go, they don’t wash well and after the first laundering they end up rumpled and wrinkled not to mention the manufacturing of cotton based napkins is much more intensive. Limit your purchase of cotton-based napkins although the most prevalent in stores. Instead, opt for organic cotton or another alternative material that has required less manufacturing. My recommendation is Pioneer Woman cloth napkins. They are attractive, wash well, and hold up through a ton of use.

Choose to wash your cloth napkins in cold water to reduce to the amount of energy used in the wash cycle, then hang them out on the line to dry.

If we reuse utensils, plates, cups, and food storage containers, why not incorporate cloth napkins?

Next time you are putting laundry in the washing machine, just imagine how easy it would be to do add a few cloth napkins to your load of towels.

I just wanted to get a few facts for you on why this change in your families life is worth it.

  • Paper products are responsible for more than 28% of all waste in landfills.
  • The U.S. alone uses over 160 billion paper napkins every year, adding up to 4 billion pounds of paper waste.

Another source from a curious blogger found some more interesting environmental impacts for paper napkins as well:

  • 0.07 gallons of water is required to produce a 0.08 ounce paper napkin (not including water to grow the tree).
  • 31,500,000 gallons of water would be used to make the 450,000,000 paper napkins used per day. This is equivalent to 477 Olympic size swimming pools or daily water use for 315,000 to 393,750 people (according to the U.S. Geological Survey, on average each person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day).

As an added bonus, my daughter and nieces think this makes every family dinner “fancy“, that alone is worth it to me.

Let me know if you made a similar switch in your house and how it’s working for your family!!