What You May Be Missing by Getting a Large Refund

What You May Be Missing by Getting a Large Refund

Dave Ramsey speaking on a stage.

8 MINUTE READ

It’s a story as old as time itself. You go to the mall, you buy a nice pair of jeans, but when you put them on at home they don’t quite fit as great as you imagined. It happens to all of us.

So, what do you do? You go back to the store, return the jeans, and they give you a refund. Then you get on with the rest of your day without giving it a second thought.

Did you bust out a victory dance after getting that refund? Did you throw a party with all your friends to celebrate? No, of course not. That would be silly. The store was just giving you your money back. That’s what a refund is, after all.

So, why do we act like kids on Christmas morning when the IRS gives us a refund? Think about it: When the IRS sends you that refund check, they’re just giving you your money back. That’s why it’s called a tax refund. We hate to break it to you, but Santa Claus doesn’t live in Washington, D.C.!

And the reality is that big fat refund you’ve been getting from Uncle Sam every spring could be costing you a lot more than the price of a nice pair of jeans.

 

Don’t let taxes stress you out. A tax pro is the way to go!

What Your Tax Refund Is Costing You

Here’s the bottom line: When you get a tax refund, that just means you’ve been loaning the government money interest-free throughout the year—and they’re just returning money to you that was already yours. So, from now on, whenever you get a tax refund, I want you to imagine Uncle Sam saying, “Whoops, sorry about that! Here’s your money back.”

During the 2019 tax season, more than 111 million taxpayers received a tax refund and the average refund was $2,860.1 That means the average taxpayer had almost $3,000 sitting there doing nothing in the IRS’s coffers all year! They could have put that money toward hitting their financial goals throughout the year.

Let’s say you’ve been receiving $3,000 tax refunds every year. That means you could have had an additional $250 in your paychecks every month. What exactly could you do with that extra cash? We can think of a few things!

  • Pay off debt faster. Whether it’s credit cards, car payments or student loans, adding almost $3,000 to your debt snowball throughout the year can make a huge difference and save you from accumulating all that interest.
  • Quickly build up an emergency fund. Every little bit counts! And the sooner you can get your 3–6 months’ worth of expenses socked away, the sooner you can start investing for retirement. Speaking of which . . .
  • Save more for retirement. Need to give your retirement savings a boost? An extra $250 invested each month for 20 years could add more than $200,000 to your nest egg! That way, your money is actually earning interest instead of sitting there doing nothing with the government until April.
  • Make extra payments on your mortgage. Life without a mortgage payment is a really sweet place to be and adding an extra $250 to each monthly mortgage payment can help you get there faster! Not only that, but you could also potentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
  • Save for major purchases faster. Maybe you’re ready to replace that mattress you’ve had since college. Why wait until April to splurge? In just six months, you could have an extra $1,500 saved up for a new mattress. No more tossing and turning in the middle of the night!

By adjusting your tax withholdings, it’ll feel like you gave yourself a raise! But the key to making the most of it is to have a plan for the extra money you’ll see each paycheck. If not, that money will feel like it vanished into thin air and you’ll have no idea where it went.

You have to give each dollar an assignment with a budget, and there’s no easier way to do that than with EveryDollar, our free online budgeting tool.

Why You’re Getting a Tax Refund Every Year

When you get a chance, pull out your most recent paycheck. You’ll find a section labeled “Taxes,” which shows you how much your employer takes out of your paycheck and sends to the IRS to pay your fair share of federal income taxes. Those are your tax withholdings, because that’s how much your employer withheld from your paycheck for taxes. Makes sense, right?

The problem is, your employer might be withholding too much, meaning you’re overpaying the IRS throughout the year. So, when you fill out your tax return, the IRS will see that you paid them too much and send you a check for the difference in the form of a refund.

What you really want is to set your tax withholdings so that you owe nothing and get nothing from the IRS every year. That way, the government gets exactly what you owe in taxes from every paycheck—no more, no less. That’s the goal!

How to Stop Getting Big Tax Refunds

By now you should realize that a tax refund isn’t free money. It’s your money—money you should be receiving with your paychecks throughout the year. So, how do you stop getting a tax refund every year? Adjust your tax withholdings! Here’s how.

1. Add Up Your Withholdings

Get out your last paystub again and see how much your employer withheld for your federal income tax. Let’s say your employer takes out $350 each paycheck and you get paid twice a month. That means your employer is sending $8,400 to the IRS in taxes each year. Now you have to figure out if that’s too much or not enough.

2. Calculate Your Tax Liability

Your tax liability is how much you’ll owe in taxes throughout the year. If you’re single and your taxable income for 2019 is $50,000, that puts you in the 22% tax bracket and on the hook for about $6,860 in income tax.

3. Subtract the Difference

Now it’s time for some simple subtraction! Just take your annual tax withholdings and subtract your estimated tax liability. Using the example above, you’re potentially sending $1,540 more to the IRS than you need to. It’s time to fix that!

4. Adjust Your Withholdings

So, you’ve crunched the numbers and found you’ve been sending too much money to the IRS. Now what? Simply divide your estimated tax overpayment by the number of pay periods you have left before the end of the year to get your number.

So, for example, if you have 16 paychecks left and you have that $1,540 difference, your employer needs to withhold $96 less from each paycheck to get your tax withholdings just right.

To adjust your withholdings, you’ll need to fill out a new W-4 tax form, which tells employers how much tax to withhold from each paycheck. Before 2020, you could claim “allowances” on your W-4 that helped your employer figure out how much money to take out of your paycheck for taxes. The more allowances you claimed, the less money your employer withheld.

To make a long story short, there’s a redesigned W-4 form for 2020 and you’ll notice there are no more allowances thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs ActInstead, this new W-4 walks you through five steps that aim to account for all your income so that your employer can accurately calculate how much to take out of your paycheck for taxes. The IRS’s new tax withholding estimator can help you figure what changes you need to make on your new W-4.

There’s no two ways about it: All this tax withholding stuff is exhausting. Your best bet is to get in touch with your tax pro to figure out how much you need to adjust your tax withholdings and what you’ll need to put on your new W-4 to get it right.

After that, set up a meeting with someone in your employer’s HR department. Explain to them how much you want to adjust your withholdings and find out what you need to do to turn in a new W-4. They should be able to work with you to get that done!

Work With a Pro to Get Your Withholdings Right

Tax forms, tax withholdings, adding and subtracting . . . it’s a lot to process! And chances are you still have some questions about your tax situation and whether or not you really need to adjust your withholdings.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

A personal planner showing a calendar with PAYDAY circled on the fifteenth of the month.

11 MINUTE READ

Ahh! Don’t spend any more money until we get paid on Friday!

Sound familiar? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it probably does.

A lot of people think living like that is pretty normal. And you know what? They’re right. These days, 78% of workers live paycheck to paycheck.1 And 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.2 But you don’t have to be normal and live like that for the rest of your life. You can stop the cycle once and for all. Let’s do this!

10 Ways to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

1. Get on a budget.

Don’t know where your entire paycheck goes? Start doing a budget. That’ll tell you exactly where your hard-earned money is going—no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Without a budget, it’s pretty easy to live this way. Why? Because you don’t have a plan. And you really can’t make your dollars stretch because you might not even know how much money you have to work with! That’s where your budget will show you places where you can cut back and actually start to save money (more on that later).

Don’t worry, though, we’re not going to leave you hanging without telling you exactly how to do a budget (we aren’t that mean). Here’s the deal with a budget: Your monthly income minus your monthly expenses needs to equal zero. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any money left in your bank account. Instead, you’re just making sure every dollar in your paycheck is given a job to do. And by job, we mean you’ve decided exactly where that money will go for the month (including savings).

 

Start budgeting like a boss with our FREE budgeting tool!

First, jot down your income for the month (your regular paycheck and any other money you bring in). You can do this the old-fashioned way on a notepad or a spreadsheet, or you can get with the times and use a free budgeting app like EveryDollar. Next, start listing all your expenses for the month. Things like rent, food, internet, phones, and everything in between should be added to the list. And because expenses change from month to month, you need to be sure to make a new budget before each month begins.

Now you want to subtract all your planned expenses from your monthly income. The goal here is that you end up with zero (remember, that’s zero left to budget, not left in your bank account—having a buffer can help with that). This means you’ve given every dollar of your income a place to go for that month.

Okay, let’s address this whole buffer thing we just mentioned. You should keep some money in your checking account. Nothing crazy, just $50–100 will do. You’ll want this buffer to stay there to help you avoid any overdraft fees or any kind of “oops!” Now here’s the next, super important step—forget the buffer exists. Put it out of your mind completely so you aren’t tempted to overspend!

2. Take care of the Four Walls first.

If you live waiting for your next payday and struggle to cover all of your bills, you need to focus on the things you really need to survive. We call these essentials the Four Walls. The Four Walls are your priority, so pay for these things in this order before anything else:

  1. Food
  2. Utilities
  3. Shelter
  4. Transportation

If there’s any money left over after you take care of the Four Walls, make a list of what else you need to pay and tackle it in order of importance. When you run out of money—that’s it. If things are really tough, yeah, your credit card bill might not get paid that month. But one thing is for sure: Your family will be fed and have a roof over their head no matter what.

Keep telling yourself that all of this is temporary. The sun will come out tomorrow. You’re about to make more money (yep, it’s true!), so this whole “living paycheck to paycheck” business is a thing of the past.

3. Stop living with debt.

Living like this and playing around with debt is a recipe for disaster. You can’t get ahead that way! Believe us, not having enough money to pay for something and then reaching for a credit card to fund it is no way to live.

But debt isn’t just credit cards. Debt is sneaky. It comes packaged as student loans, car payments, store credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, business loans, payday loans, and even “buy now, pay later” deals like Afterpay. Anytime you owe somebody else money for anything—it’s debt.

Anytime you owe somebody else money for anything—it’s debt.

Ready to give debt the boot for good? Here’s how: First, stop taking on any kind of new debt! That means stop paying for things with a credit card to make ends meet, stop robbing Peter to pay Paul, and stop living beyond your means. And step away from the almighty FICO score, people.

You can’t get out of a mud puddle if you keep adding dirt and water to it. Instead, start focusing on paying off your debts smallest to largest using the debt snowball.

4. Sell stuff.

It’s time to bring in more money! One of the easiest ways to get your hands on some extra cash is by selling whatever you can. Maybe that’s your jewelry, clothes, baby items, or even the extra car sitting in your garage (gasp!). Look, if you know you can part with something and get cash—do it! Well, within reason. Don’t go selling a kidney on the black market or anything like that. But do get so intense about selling things that your pets and kids start wondering if they might be next.

5. Get a temporary job or start a side hustle.

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you probably need to bring in more income consistently—not just when you sell some stuff. While you can (and should) go after promotions and salary increases at your full-time job, you might need to do something to increase your income sooner. Hello, side hustle!

Some great options for making extra money are waiting tables, driving for Uber or Lyft, being a barista, working at a call center, or signing up to be a substitute teacher. There are even plenty of work-from-home jobs you can do after hours or on the weekend too.

And even if those don’t work out, you can still take up odd jobs around your neighborhood (think cutting the grass, picking up leaves, babysitting or dog walking).

If you want to start up a side hustle, focus on using your talents (you know, things you’re good at) to make extra money. You can use your design, sewing or baking skills to help bring in some money. Be on the lookout for opportunities that will add any extra cash in your pocket.

6. Live below your means.

Is the antidote to living paycheck to paycheck more money? Maybe. Sometimes. But like they say, “More money . . . more problems.” It doesn’t matter how much money you make if you’re busy spending it all.

If you can’t live within your means now, you’re not going to be able to do it when you’re making more money either. If you aren’t careful, a bump in pay can make you spend even more money. This kind of thing is known as “lifestyle creep” or “lifestyle inflation.” All of a sudden, you can afford things you couldn’t before, and you might start becoming pretty loose with those purse strings.

Sure, it’s tempting to spend more money when you’re making more of it, but don’t do that! Stay intentional, pay attention, and stick to your budget no matter how huge that raise was.

7. Look for things to cut.

This isn’t the time to buy T-bone steaks for dinner, go see the latest movie, or visit your favorite restaurant. This is the time to cut back on any unnecessary expenses that you can. You’re living paycheck to paycheck here, so tighten it up. Look for any area in your budget (you’ve created one now, remember?) where you can spend less.

But there’s nowhere to cut back, you say? Look again. And again. And again.

Suspend or pause the subscriptions you have (think Netflix, Hulu, meal delivery kits, specialty makeup boxes . . . anything). Don’t forget to call your cable, internet and cellular providers to go ahead and downgrade or stop your service for now. None of these things fall within the Four Walls.

We know making sacrifices doesn’t feel good. It hurts! But keep reminding yourself: This is not forever.

We know making sacrifices like this doesn’t feel good. It hurts! But keep reminding yourself: This is not forever. You’re making temporary sacrifices. It’s time to put in the work now so you can be in a better position in the future. You know, “live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.”

8. Save up for big purchases.

Nothing makes you count down to payday like knowing you blew your last paycheck on some big impulse buy. Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you let a purchase like that get the best of you. You’re better than that!

The next time you see something you want to buy that isn’t in your budget and you can’t afford right now, save up for it. Let’s say you want to buy a $100 pair of fancy headphones to listen to your jams at work. All you need to do is budget for it and save $25 each month for four months. Simple as that.

9. Start an emergency fund.

All you need is $1,000 to have a safety net under your feet. If coming up with $1,000 sounds like an impossible mission right now, keep looking for things to cut and ways to free up more cash flow. If things are tight, it’s going to take some time to save this emergency fund. It’s not going to happen overnight. And that’s okay! Just keep working at it. Once you’ve got this taken care of, you’ll be amazed at how much peace having an emergency fund gives you.

You might wonder why the heck you need to save right now if you’re just busy trying to make ends meet. But guess what? That starter emergency fund is going to be your best friend as you keep trying to get ahead. Knowing you have this buffer between you and life will make you way less reliant on that next paycheck coming in. If you get into a jam, that emergency fund is there to keep you from slapping down a credit card. You know it’s going to rain eventually, so you came prepared with an umbrella. Genius!

10. Start thinking about the future.

You’ve been so focused on making ends meet each month that you probably haven’t come up for air to even think about the future. And when you’re worried about just surviving until the next payday, that’s easy to do. But it’s time to start thinking and dreaming about the future—what could you do with your money later on down the road? You know, once you stop living paycheck to paycheck and all?

Give yourself permission to dream a little. What are your long-term goals? Maybe you want to retire early and spend your golden years traveling from coast to coast. Maybe you want to send your kids to college debt-free. Or maybe you just want the peace of knowing your account isn’t going to be overdrawn again. Whatever it is you want to accomplish in the future, it isn’t going to happen unless you start paying attention and being intentional today.

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck and Start Living Again

Sick of living life staring at a clock, counting down until your next paycheck arrives? Good. You should be. It’s time for things to change. And you have the power to do it! Get on a proven plan for your money that will walk you through it all—no matter where you’re starting. Sound good? It’s not some pipe dream. This plan actually works!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

How to Save for the Future When You’re Worried About Today

How to Save for the Future When You’re Worried About Today

9 MINUTE READ

There are seasons when saving even a dime seems nearly impossible. We get it!

Saving for the future isn’t easy, especially when you’re dealing with credit card payments, living paycheck to paycheck, and everything else life throws your way. Sometimes, the idea of saving money can feel downright intimidating.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your future for the better now.

It is possible to make saving a priority! By making a lot of intentional choices and getting your goals and priorities in the right place, you’ll be setting yourself up to save like no one else.

How to Save for the Future

We all know we need to save for the future, but most people don’t save like they should. Why is that? Here are some of the important savings questions you need to be thinking about:

Do I have a budget?

If you aren’t telling your money where to go each month, then you’re going to be left wondering where it all went. Without a budget, there’s no plan that could guide you.

Savings Secret #1: Make a Zero-Based Budget

Making saving a priority won’t do you much good without a budget. You need to give every dollar a name!

 

Ready to start saving? Download our free budgeting tool today!

That means if you make $3,000 a month, you need to figure out exactly how you’re going to spend $3,000 before the month begins. You can divide it however you want between giving, saving and spending, but we recommend these percentages.

When you find extra money in your budget (because you cut back on things like restaurants or gadgets), don’t just hope it drifts into your 401(k) or car fund. Put it where it needs to go. If you don’t give it a home, you’ll spend it and end up scratching your head over that missing $100 you thought you had. Be intentional!

Do I have competing goals?

You’re funding your retirement, stashing a little away for your children’s college funds, and paying off your student loans—all while maintaining minimum payments on your credit card bills, car loans, and new bedroom furniture. Phew! That’s exhausting! And yet you’re wonder why you can’t make progress in any area. It’s because you have competing goals, friend.

Savings Secret #2: Focus Your Intensity

Don’t get caught up in trying to make progress on multiple fronts all at once. Instead, focus all of your efforts on whatever Baby Step you’re currently on. (More on this later!) If you’re still paying off debt or saving for a fully funded emergency savings, then that’s where your focus should be right now.

Use visual aids to help you stay motivated to meet your savings goals. You can be as creative or as bare-bones as you want about this. The idea is just to keep your progress in front of you.

That might mean printing out a simple savings thermometer and coloring it in as you progress toward meeting your goals each month. Or it might mean letting your kids put a jelly bean in a jar for every $20 you save toward your Disney trip (and eating one too).

When you make your progress visual, it will feel real and give you the extra motivation you need to skip the coffee shop or work an extra shift.

As long as we’re talking about jelly beans, that reminds us: don’t forget to reward yourself during your savings journey. When you hit a big savings goal, go ahead and treat yourself—within reason. You’ve done great work, and in order to keep doing it, you have to stop and celebrate the little (and big) wins along the way!

Can I tell myself no?

You can’t tell yourself no, so the desire to save isn’t a high enough priority to delay the purchase of that extra pizza, or smartphone, or couch. So, you spend all your dollars away or, worse yet, go into debt to buy a bunch of stuff. You do make enough to save money. But you have to be willing to quit spending it on every little thing that catches your eye. You can save money—it just has to become a big enough priority to you.

Savings Secret #3: Make It a Challenge

All those little things can really add up. And once you start saying no to a couple of things, you’ll be surprised at how much easier it gets. What should you do with that newfound cash in your pocket? Save it, of course! And here’s how.

Who can resist a challenge? For one year, you’re going to save a little bit each week. Put aside $52 the first week, then $51, then $50 and so on.

Having 52 weeks in a year means there are 52 opportunities to save little by little. By the time you get to the end of the one-year mark, you’ll be down to saving just a couple bucks. And after 52 weeks, you’ll have an extra $1,378 in your savings. Not too shabby at all.

Am I suffering from lifestyle inflation?

You got a raise—way to go! But don’t fall into the trap of lifestyle inflation. A raise in pay doesn’t automatically mean you should increase your lifestyle. No matter how tempted you are to upgrade your life, don’t do it! Those extra dollars in your paycheck could be going toward your savings goal instead of being spent away on purchases you think you “deserve.”

Savings Secret #4: Make Your Raise a Direct Deposit to Savings

After you pat yourself on the back and eat a piece of cake to celebrate your raise, pretend it never happened. We’re serious. Transfer the amount of your increase into your savings every payday. Your savings will jump up like crazy and you’ll never be any the wiser for it.

To save a little more, try letting your bank help you out. Plenty of banks will round your purchases up to the nearest dollar amount and toss the difference into your savings. How easy is that? You’ll never even miss that 62 cents, and your savings will gobble it up—no questions asked.

If that isn’t your cup of tea, just set up an automatic transfer from your checking to savings each month. Just think of it as future you sending a bill in the here and now. Believe us, it’ll be the best bill you’ll ever pay.

By now, you’re probably feeling like you’ve been doing everything wrong. And maybe you’re hoping for a step-by-step plan to help you get started. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

So, Where Does Saving Fall in the Baby Steps?

Your future is directly impacted by what you do in the present. Too often, people make the excuse that they “just don’t make enough money” to save. But you can save! You just need to take control of your money with a proven plan first.

Baby Step 1

If you’re in debt, you’re very first plan of action needs to be saving up an emergency fund—yes, even before you start paying down your debt! We call this Baby Step 1. It’s where you scrape by, tighten up the budget, and pile up $1,000 as fast as you can. Once you’ve done that, you move on to Baby Step 2 and attack all your debt!

Baby Step 2

Are you with us so far? Okay, great! Now here’s where some people get tripped up: while you’re paying off your debt, you need to stop saving toward the future. This means pausing things like your 401(k) retirement contributions, little Junior’s college savings, investing in mutual funds, and beefing up your own savings account.

We know that’s not exactly a popular school of thought. But if you follow what’s popular, you’ll still be paying off your student loans when you hit retirement! And we don’t want that for you.

So here’s the deal. You need all of your momentum, energy and money going toward your goal of becoming debt-free. If you have five different goals you’re trying to manage at once, you’re watering down the impact you could be making and delaying your eventual success.

But don’t get confused. You should still save up to make purchases for things you’ll need. We call these “sinking funds.” You know Christmas is in December, so start a sinking fund early in the year to save up for it.

So saving up for specific purchases is fine, just make sure you aren’t funneling money to your 401(k) until you’re debt-free.

Baby Step 3 and Beyond!

Once you’ve paid off every debt except your home mortgage, you can start beefing up your emergency savings and breathing a little sigh of relief.

But don’t take your foot off the gas yet! Sit down and figure out how much you and your family would need to cover three to six months of expenses. This will be the amount you need to stash away in your fully funded emergency fund (Baby Step 3).

When you reach that magical number in your savings account, congratulations! You’ve hit Baby Step 4 and can relax as you begin to build wealth. Now is the time to start investing 15% of your income into retirement. At this point, you can also start working Baby Step 5 (saving for college) and Baby Step 6 (paying off your home) all at the same time.

Remember all that money you were using to attack your debt? Now you’re using it to save for your future!

Keep Your Priorities in Mind

It’s not always easy to save money. But saving for the future today means you’re that much closer to reaching your money goals tomorrow. It just requires making a zero-based budget each month and staying motivated along the way!

If it’s a struggle to find the money to pay for your family’s wants and needs right now, you can always make adjustments in the budget (do you really need that expensive cable package?) and take on side jobs to ramp up your income.

These momentary sacrifices like living on less will be nothing compared to the thrill of paying for your next car with cash, watching your emergency fund grow, or kicking your retirement up a few notches.

Your ability to save for the future is only limited by your determination. Believe in yourself, stick to the budget, and don’t listen to that negative voice in your head. You’ve got this!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

Ways to Turn Saving Money Into a Game

8 Ways to Turn Saving Money Into a Game

5 MINUTE READ

So, you might think saving money is a chore you have to do, but who says you can’t make saving money fun while you’re at it?

Here are 8 ways to turn the task of saving money into a game—one that you can win!

1. Have a “no spend” month.

First of all, we don’t mean that you stop paying your rent or electricity bill. Then you’d be out of a home, in the dark, and have much bigger fish to fry than playing our little saving game. Don’t do that. Remember to take care of the Four Walls (food, clothing, shelter and utilities, and transportation).

Instead, fill in the blank here: This month, we aren’t going to spend any money on _________. That could be entertainment, restaurants, or anything you want. Then, take the budgeted money you saved and drop it in your savings!

2. Put a sticky note in your wallet.

In big, bold letters write “Do I really need this?” on a sticky note, scrap of paper, or index card, and keep it in your wallet. You can even try wrapping it around your debit card. Just make sure you stick it somewhere visible. The idea here is to get you to see it before you make a purchase. We all need that still, small voice in our head (or wallet) to keep us in line.

 

Ready to start saving? Download our free budgeting tool today!

3. Save all your loose change or dollar bills in a big jar.

Is it flashy? Nope. Is it an ode to the water jug of coins your dad saved in the den back in the 1980s? Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re saving money.

Every time you have to break a dollar or find loose change in your pockets, dump those extra coins into your jar. You can even start a competition between your family or friends to see who can save up $20 first!

4. Increase your savings by $1 each week.

This is a really good one to start at the beginning of the year. You can start out slow with $1 on the first week of the year, $2 on the second week of the year, and so on. If you keep that up all year long, by December 31, you’ll have saved $1,378! Happy New Year to you, indeed!

5. Get competitive.

Who can resist a good challenge? Face-off against your spouse, sibling or friend and see who can save up $200 first. Or, set a date as a finish line and see how much money you’ve each saved by that point. May the best saver win!

6. Get the kids in on saving money too!

Are your kids begging you for a new toy every time you go to the store? Of course they are. Instead of being quick to buy it for them, encourage them to save up for that big-ticket item they want.

This means finding small ways for them to do things around the house and giving them a commission for completing the work. Say you’ll pay them 50 cents for every room they vacuum. Then sit back, relax and watch them save up while you enjoy the fruit of their labor (hello, mess-free carpets).

You can make it a full-on sibling competition too! Let the kids save up for a while and offer a small prize at the end of the game for whoever saved the most! Be sure the kids can actually see their savings as it adds up. Our Smart Saver Bank or a clear jar is much better than a cute piggy bank that doesn’t show how much money they’ve saved.

7. How far can you stretch a dollar?

Can you and your spouse go out to eat for under $5? Can you each spend only $10 on your upcoming anniversary? How long can you make that full gas tank last? Make it a challenge to see how far you can stretch your dollar. You might be surprised at how creative you can get!

8. Do a pantry challenge.

Ready, set, don’t buy any more groceries! See how long you can make the food in your pantry last and think outside the box with the meals you make!

Ready, Set, Start Saving Money!

A word to the wise: don’t get too carried away with the fun and games of saving money that you forget to be intentional with the money you save. And don’t let the money hang out in your bank account and tempt you to spend it! Put the hard-earned money you saved in a separate savings account, sinking fund, or toward your next goal in the Baby Steps! Now get to work saving!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

Does Buying in Bulk Really Save You Money?

Does Buying in Bulk Really Save You Money?

8 MINUTE READ

Does buying in bulk really save you money? There’s only one way to find out: Swing by your neighborhood warehouse store, eat the samples, and load up that shopping cart! Okay, we’re kidding. But we are serious about eating some samples.

Buying in bulk can seem pretty intimidating—especially when you’re trying to stick to your budget. You need a game plan before you even walk through the door of the store. And we’ve got one ready for you! Here’s what you need to know:

How to buy in bulk

While it might be tempting to grab that 80-ounce jar of mustard, ask yourself, Am I really going to eat that? You don’t want to buy in bulk just to end up with the “bulk” of it in the trash. Stick to buying things you know you or your family will eat.

Comparing prices is always the name of the shopping game—but that’s even more true when it comes to buying in bulk. Cost per unit is extremely important here. But what the heck does that even mean? Don’t worry, there’s only a tiny bit of math involved. All you need to do is figure out how much you’re paying per item. Calculate it like this:

 

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Total item price ÷ unit weight or number = price per unit
(Example: $1.79 ÷ 12 eggs = $0.15 per egg)

It’s pretty quick and painless to figure out on your phone (even when you’re standing under all that florescent lighting).

Where can I buy in bulk?

There are two heavy hitters in the wholesale world: Costco and Sam’s Club. Both stores are pretty similar when it comes down to what you’re there for. If you want to buy a 10-pound bag of cubed cheese, this is where you’ll find it! But you can also buy in bulk at other stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club and even online outlets like Boxed and Amazon.

What should I buy in bulk?

In general, there are some items you can count on to be a better bargain at a wholesale store. Things like dental care items (electric toothbrush heads and dental floss), paper products (toilet paper and paper towels), batteries, gum and cereal are usually cheaper when purchased in bulk.

Resist the temptation to stock up on things to avoid making a return trip, or the (not real) pressure to do all of your grocery shopping at the warehouse store so you “get your money’s worth” out of your membership. Watch out for overspending!

What should I not buy in bulk?

This goes without saying, but you don’t need to buy everything in bulk. Some things just won’t make sense for your household or your budget.

And yes, we’re going to keep saying this: don’t buy anything in bulk you won’t actually use! Especially if it’s perishable. Buying perishable items—like produce—in bulk is always a huge gamble. The odds are ever in your favor that it’s going to spoil before you can eat all of it. Yes, 20 avocados for $3.99 is a steal. But if they all go bad before you can eat them, what’s the point?

And as appealing as it is to buy things like condiments and spices in bulk, they may outlive their shelf life and potency. Nobody likes lackluster garlic powder, after all.

What about buying meat in bulk?

If you’re serious about buying meat in bulk, and we’re talking “live off it for the rest of the year” serious, there are a couple of options you can look into.

You can buy meat at many warehouse stores, through online farm-to-table suppliers like Zaycon Fresh, or straight from a local farmer in your area (use a website like EatWild to find a farm near you).

Let’s just cut to the chase: If your grocery budget is tight, dropping $75 on a big pack of meat in one month won’t be the right thing for you. But if you can eat off that 40 pounds of chicken for the next 6 months (and you already have a deep freezer, vacuum sealer, and a massive amount of zip-close bags on hand), then $75 might be a worthwhile investment.

Cost comparison of buying in bulk

We went out and compared 15 items you might find on your family’s Kroger grocery list against their bigger cousins at Costco (tax not included).

Here’s our buying in bulk vs. grocery store breakdown:

Grocery Store Item Grocery Store (price per unit) Bulk (price per unit)
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats $4.49 ÷ 2.6 lbs. = $1.73 $7.99 ÷ 10 lbs. = $0.80
Sabra Classic Hummus $3.99 ÷ 10 oz. = $0.40 $5.99 ÷ 32 oz. = $0.19
Trash bags (store brand) $4.99 ÷ 80 ct. = $0.06 $15.79 ÷ 200 ct. = $0.08
Folgers Classic Roast Coffee $7.99 ÷ 30.5 oz. = $0.26 $10.49 ÷ 51 oz. = $0.21
Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal $3.59 ÷ 18 oz. = $0.20 $5.99 ÷ 48 oz. = $0.12
Cliff Bars $1.25 (per bar) $19.99 ÷ 24 bars = $0.83
Whole Milk (store brand) $2.79 (one gallon) $2.51 (one gallon)
Chobani Yogurt $1.00 (each) $17.39 ÷ 20 ct. = $0.87
Eggs (store band) $1.79 ÷ 12 eggs = $0.15 $3.49 ÷ 24 eggs = $0.15
Cheez-It Crackers $5.99 ÷ 21 oz. = $0.29 $7.99 ÷ 48 oz. = $0.17
Prego Pasta Sauce $5.49 ÷ 67 oz. = $0.08 $6.99 ÷ 134 oz. = $0.05
Late July Tortilla Chips $2.99 ÷ 6 oz. = $0.50 $6.79 ÷ 28 oz. = $0.24
Del Monte Peaches $2.49 ÷ 29 oz. = $0.09 $6.29 ÷ 106 oz. = $0.06
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese $1.00 (per box) $13.99 ÷ 18 boxes = $0.78
Charmin Toilet Paper $18.99 ÷ 18 ct. = $1.05 $21.49 ÷ 30 ct. = $0.72

 

Does buying in bulk really save you money?

The short answer is yes. But it all depends on what you’re buying.

Looking at our list, you can see some immediate winners right away. If you’re an oatmeal fiend, it makes more sense to buy 10 pounds of it for $7.99. To get 10 pounds at the grocery store, you’d have to buy four boxes of oats. That would set you back $17.96! And to equal the amount of hummus you get in bulk, you’d have to buy three 10-ounce tubs of it. That’s $11.97 instead of $5.99—basically a $6 difference!

If you just want three Cliff Bars, grab a couple at the grocery store for $1.25 a pop. That’s a lot more budget-friendly than dropping $20 on a box of 24 bars. But if you toss those bars into your kid’s lunch box every day (and you already plan on buying 24 of them anyway), going the bulk-buy route would save you right around $10. Just don’t get sucked into buying more than you actually need.

But sometimes you won’t see that much of a difference. Buying eggs in bulk will save you a whopping $0.09. That’s not much to write home about.

5 questions to ask yourself before you buy in bulk

  • Will this go bad before I can eat all of it?
  • Do I have enough freezer/pantry space to store it?
  • What is the price per unit (or ounce)?
  • Do I really need so much of this item?
  • Have I budgeted for it?

And don’t forget that these warehouse stores require you to become a member to get all the perks of their club pricing. That’s an annual fee of $45(1) to $60(2) for basic membership, depending on the store. And if you have to drive an hour out of your way to get to the nearest store, what you’re saving might not be covering the gas it costs to get you there.

Always stick to your budget

Is buying in bulk always the most budget-friendly thing to do? Not necessarily. It really depends on your needs. Like everything else in your budget, consider whether or not it works for you and your specific situation. Don’t feel the pressure to buy in bulk if the upfront cost doesn’t make sense for your budget. But if it fits your lifestyle and budget, grab a few staple items in bulk and see how much you can save!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

SAVING 15 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

15 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

The words

12 MINUTE READ

We hear it all the time: “Eating healthy on a budget is impossible!” And the truth is—nope, it’s not. Did you know plenty of healthy foods are actually budget friendly? It’s true! You know what isn’t budget friendly? Processed junk. Yeah, we said it.

And get this . . . we’re not talking about only beans and rice here (although, that’s a perfect example of healthy and cheap). There are plenty of ways you can stick to eating healthy on a budget!

Cheap Foods for Eating Healthy on a Budget

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Rice and beans are healthy for you, and they’re pretty dang cheap too. Cook up a veggie medley on the side, and you’ve got yourself a super inexpensive and healthy meal. You can even get fancy and do black beans and brown rice. Throw in some salsa and have yourself a fiesta.

But you don’t have to survive on just beans and rice to master eating healthy on a budget. Here are some budget-friendly ingredients to add to your grocery list:

  • Eggs
  • Multigrain pasta
  • Multigrain bread
  • Oats
  • Russet potatoes
  • Cottage cheese
  • Spinach
  • Tuna
  • Dried lentils
  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Brown rice
  • Chicken breast
  • Apples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Kale
  • Peanut butter
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Dried beans
  • Quinoa
  • Yogurt
  • Frozen fruits
  • Frozen vegetables

Best Places to Buy Cheap Groceries

There’s no denying marketing works—even food marketing. Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that in order to “eat healthy,” we have to shop for groceries at the well-known, specialty “healthy grocery stores” (you know the places).

 

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Those kinds of stores might have things on sale, sure. But there’s no need to do all your grocery shopping for the week there. And guess what! Lots of other stores sell fruits, veggies and other healthy food items at slashed prices too. Here are the top 13 American grocery stores with the cheapest prices!1 You can use this as your go-to grocery store list when eating healthy on a budget:

1. Aldi

2. Market Basket

3. WinCo Foods

4. Food 4 Less

5. Costco

6. Walmart

7. Trader Joe’s

8. Walmart Neighborhood Market

9. Lidl

10. Amazon

11. H-E-B

12. Peapod

13. Sam’s Club

15 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

1. Plan your meals.

That’s right—it’s meal prep time! And guess what? It really isn’t as hard as you might think it is. Making a plan for your meals is kind of like making a plan with your budget. It might take some practice at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be golden!

Spend one night a week planning the meals you want to make for the next seven days. Depending on when you go grocery shopping, these meals might use up what’s left in your fridge or be based around your grocery shopping list for the week. Either way, just make sure you have a plan and stick to it.

2. Shop for produce that’s in season.

Shopping for a watermelon in December is probably going to cost you—and will it even taste good? We’re willing to bet it probably won’t. Unless you have a pregnant woman in your house who has to have watermelon this very instant, just skip it and shop for fruits and veggies that are actually in season. Your wallet will thank you!

A great place to buy produce in season is your local farmers market. Now, not everything at a farmers market is going to be cheap. But hear us out—you never know what you’re going to find.

Walk around the entire place before you buy anything. This way, you can take note of who has the best-looking food at the best prices. Some vendors will even cut you a deal if you buy multiple items or pay in cash. And if you head to the market later in the day, prices may be marked down to help them sell the last of their items.

You don’t need to do all your produce shopping at a farmers market. Just stick to grabbing a few essentials that fit in your budget. Don’t forget—you can always negotiate prices too.

Bonus tip: Buy extra of the fruits and veggies that are in season and freeze them. You can enjoy them over time and not feel rushed to eat five containers of strawberries before they go bad.

3. Stop buying processed food.

Hey, you know what isn’t healthy and racks up your food budget? Processed food. We’re talking about things like chicken nuggets and pizza pockets, refined sugars, boxed mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, prepackaged meals, cookies, hot dogs, potato chips and other salty snacks. They’re not cheap, and they’re not doing your health any favors, either. And you’re trying to eat healthy here, remember?

A good rule of thumb: Stick to the outer edges of the grocery store when you shop. The closer you go toward the middle aisles, the more processed the food gets.

4. Go meatless.

It’s no secret that eating meat all the time isn’t the healthiest option. Give your body and budget a break and go meatless for a while. Maybe that means you cut it out for the month (gasp) or just go a few nights a week without it. There are other (cheaper!) ways to get protein these days, like dried beans and lentils.

When you do buy meat, just be picky about what you purchase. Stick to lean cuts of meat that are on sale.

5. Make enough food for leftovers.

Making healthy food at home—win. Making healthy food at home with plenty left over for meals during the week—double win. Be on the lookout for meals that can feed you and your family for days on end. Meals like chili, stews and casseroles are going to be your best friends in this department. Slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes are great for this too!

6. Don’t eat out.

Yes, this no-brainer did make our list. Even though we all know this is a huge part of eating healthy on a budget, not enough of us actually make it a priority and stick to it. When you’re super hungry, it’s just a little too easy to swing by the drive-thru or build-your-own-burrito line. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the wisest decision.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

Cheap Recipes for Your Summer Cookout

Cheap Recipes for Your Summer Cookout

Cheap Recipes for Your Summer Cookout

6 MINUTE READ

Ready or not, it’s summertime! There are pool parties, snow cones, trips to the lake and best of all—barbeques and cookouts! If you’re not a grill master, you might be a little nervous about what to bring to (or even how to host) a barbeque. Have no fear. We have some great tips and cookout recipes to help you kick summer off with a bang!

Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe

Yields 2 cups

If you buy packaged, premarinated meat at the grocery store, it’s going to cost you. Sure, it’s convenient . . . but not for your wallet. And instead of just grabbing a bottle of barbecue sauce or marinade to solve your problems, why not make your own! This cheap and easy BBQ sauce recipe is sure to please both your crowd and your budget!

BBQ sauce recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low heat for 30 minutes, being sure to stir frequently.
  3. Let cool and serve!

Now that you’ve made your killer BBQ sauce recipe, you’re going to need some meat to pair it with. Look for cheap cuts of meat to grill up, like chicken thighs, drumsticks, or of course, ground beef for juicy burgers.

 

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Tart Coleslaw

Serves 6–10 as a side

This isn’t your drippy, run-of-the-mill coleslaw from the grocery store deli. If tart, savory and crunchy suits your fancy, give this coleslaw recipe a try.

tart coleslaw recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag shredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix)
  • 1–2 apples
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Chop apples into small cubes.
  2. Add chopped apples, shredded cabbage and carrots mix, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries to large mixing bowl
  3. Toss with apple cider vinegar and mayo until mixed throughout.
  4. Serve right away or refrigerate.

Mexican Street Corn

Serves 6–10 as a side

Bring a little bit of flavor and spice to the table with this dish. It’s the perfect pairing of budget friendly meets taste-bud friendly. Plus, you’ll impress your friends with your knowledge of trendy food finds too!

mexican street corn recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ears of corn on the cob, grilled or steamed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chili lime seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup Cotija cheese
  • Cilantro (to garnish)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut corn off the cob and place in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, chili lime seasoning, garlic powder, fresh lime juice and Cotija cheese to bowl and stir thoroughly.
  3. Add cilantro for garnish. Best served while still warm.

Cook’s note: Depending on the season, it may be cheaper to substitute 5 cups of canned or frozen corn for your Mexican street corn.

Apple Crisp

Serves 8–12

Nothing says an American Summer quite like apple pie, but why not surprise your guests with a twist on a classic? Hello, apple crisp! It’s apple pie’s hip, low maintenance cousin.

apple crisp recipe

INGREDIENTS

For Apples

  • 8-10 peeled apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Topping

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and spray medium baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Cube peeled apples and add to mixing bowl. Combine with lemon juice, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Once mixed, add melted butter and stir.
  4. Add apple mixture to baking dish, then top with oatmeal-flour mixture.
  5. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.

Cook’s note: Make this apple crisp recipe less expensive by substituting the apples for 8 cups of fruit on sale at your local grocery store and leave out the cinnamon. We especially love this recipe with peaches or berries.

5 Tips for a Cheap and Easy Cookout

Now that you have some tasty (and cheap!) cookout recipes, don’t miss these extra tips that can help you save even more!

1. Shop at a dollar store for paper products.

Breathe a sigh of relief, because people expect to eat on paper plates at a cookout. They just do! That’s good news for your budget and your dishwasher. So, don’t waste money on the fancy napkins and paper plates, and just grab what you need at your nearest dollar store.

2. Buy in bulk.

If you need that ketchup bottle to make it through 20 plates of burgers, you might want to grab a massive bottle of it from your favorite warehouse store. The same goes for any other condiments you know you and your guests will want.

3. Host a BYOB.

Let’s be real here—buying drinks to please the taste buds of all your guests gets real pricey, real fast. If you’re trying to have a cookout on a budget, then that just isn’t going to fly. Here’s the simple fix: Ask your friends to bring their own drink of choice with them. Gasp! It’s a revolutionary concept—we know.

4. Grill fruits and veggies.

If you have a friend who can’t eat meat, then they’ll surely appreciate that you thought of them. Plus, grilling up some tasty fruit or veggie kabobs is much cheaper than springing for expensive cuts of meat!

5. Make it a potluck.

If you’re in charge of grilling up the meat, the least your buddies can do is bring over their favorite side dish or dessert. This is a great way to let everyone show off their signature dishes while taking the pressure off of you to provide the entire meal. All you have to worry about is perfecting your grill recipes. Best of all, you never know what new cookout recipes you’ll gather up from what your friends bring with them!

Make It a Cookout to Remember

Who says having a cookout has to cost you an arm, a leg and a drumstick? With these tips and flavorful recipes to guide you, you can shop on a budget and cook up some delicious recipes for your friends and family. It’s as easy as apple pie . . . we mean, apple crisp. Use our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, to get your cookout budget started, and get ready to have a summer cookout to remember!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

30 Ways to Save on Groceries

30 Ways to Save on Groceries

30 Ways to Save on Groceries

18 MINUTE READ

It’s easy to waltz down the grocery store aisle and fill up your basket with things that aren’t on the list. Maybe it’s the fluorescent lighting, strategically placed products at checkout, or that squeaky wheel on the cart that messes with your sanity—and your budget.

But that doesn’t mean you get a free pass to spend like crazy! It’s time to reel it in and learn how to save money on groceries. We recommend spending 10–15% of your take-home pay on food, which includes groceries and dining out. But don’t just take our word for it. Here are 30 easy ways to go grocery shopping on a budget, plus some tips from Dave’s Facebook fans!

1. Redefine dinner.

If the word dinner makes you picture a big homemade meal with a nice cut of meat, two steaming sides of fresh veggies from the farmers market, a warm loaf of French bread, and a chocolate dessert—chill out and cut yourself some slack! This isn’t 1952, and supper doesn’t have to be a big feast.

Your kids and spouse will survive on BLTs, omelets or a big salad several times a week. Don’t be afraid of serving simple meals or doing breakfast for dinner to make your groceries stretch! Eggs are inexpensive, and you can whip them up into different dishes like frittatas and quiches.

 

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It’s time to reduce your guilt and your budget by rethinking the most misunderstood meal of the day. Freeeeedom!

2. Crunch some numbers while you shop.

If you keep a running tally of how much money is adding up in your cart, you’ll save yourself from any surprises when you get up to the checkout line. Pull out the calculator on your phone and keep track of all those veggies, fruits and other staple items you’re putting in your cart. This might make you stop and ask yourself—wait, do I really need that $5 fancy sparkling water that isn’t on sale?

“Stick to your list and use a calculator as you shop to stay under budget. We’re under $50 a week for our family (two adults and a toddler). No junk food either. It’s doable!” — Amanda N.

3. Round up your grocery cost estimates.

This is a fun little trick to play on yourself when you’re stumped for how to save money on groceries. While you’re walking around with your calculator, round up each item’s price. The $1.59 product becomes $2, that $7.75 item becomes $8, and so on. If you do this for everything in your cart, you’ll still know approximately what you’re spending but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re standing at the checkout line and coming in under budget every time.

“I use tally marks to keep track of what I’m spending, and I always round up every item. Even if the item is $1.29, it gets two tally marks. That way, by the time I check out, I’m both aware of approximately what to expect and surprised to still be under what I wanted to spend.” — Jillian H.

4. Raid your pantry.

Challenge yourself to look through your pantry (or fridge) and see what kind of meals you can throw together with the ingredients you already have. Who says you have to stock up on more groceries when there are perfectly good chicken thighs shoved in the back of your freezer and a couple unopened cans of black beans and salsa on your shelves?

“Don’t feel like you need to buy something just because you’re out of it. Raid your pantry and fridge for substitutes first. Make your meal plans around what you already have.” — Carla A.

5. Think before you bulk up.

Buying in bulk is amazing . . . when it actually saves you money. Don’t assume that the big bulk buys at the discount stores are automatically the cheaper option. When you’re grocery shopping on a budget, be sure to stop and compare the price per unit or ounce for the item you’re buying.

As tempting as it is to stock up, don’t buy more than you really need—especially when it comes to perishable items. Buying bulk cereal might be a great investment for a family of four, but if it’s just you and your spouse, that 40-count of Greek yogurt might not be the best buy.

6. Start freezing and storing meals now.

Need to figure out how to save money on food fast? Say hello to freezer meals. There are a ton of freezer meal recipes online. Look them up! You can set aside a Saturday to make several freezer meals and then reap the benefits later on down the road. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also save time. Can’t beat that!

“Cook big meals and divide leftovers into portions and freeze them. Freeze as much as you can from your shopping. Nothing beats already having it.” —Anthony R.

7. Pay with cash.

It’s like Dave always says: Cash is king! The best way to be sure you’ll end up with a lower grocery bill is to stick to the budget and pay with cash. When you go to the store with cash in hand, you know exactly how much you can spend—because once the cash runs out, that’s it!

Plus, it’ll help you prioritize the meat-and-vegetable necessities rather than the ice-cream-and-cookie impulse buys. Those little extras are okay if you plan for them!

If you still find that you’re eating like royalty at the beginning of the month and then scraping by at the end, take out cash for groceries every week instead of once a month. That way, you’ll have a better picture of how much you can actually afford to spend each week.

“Use the envelope system and put unnecessary items at the end of the counter. I would tell the cashier I only had a certain amount of money to spend and to stop when I got to that point. Instead of it being an embarrassment, it was a bonding moment for me and the cashier when I made my goal, or even if it didn’t work out.” — Jan B.

8. Don’t allow for budget-breaking surprises.

This is one of the simplest ways to save money on groceries. When you get to the store, stick to your list! That’s the key to staying on budget. And if you go shopping as a family, let your kids help plan the meals and then find the items. It’s much easier to stay on budget when you’re shopping with a plan and working as a team . . . and when you get comfortable saying no to candy.

“Our grocery store offers ‘scan it.’ You can walk around with a scanner and scan your items as you shop. It keeps a total for you so you’re never surprised at the register—and you can decide if you really need certain things.” — Jamie M.

9. Shop in season.

When you’re grocery shopping on a budget, it’s super important to live by this rule. Buying a pomegranate in mid-July will probably cost you an arm and a leg—and it might not even taste good! So, throughout the year, make it a point to only buy fruits and veggies that are in season.

10. Ignore eye-level items.

Have you ever noticed how the most expensive items on the grocery shelves tend to be right at your eye level? That’s no coincidence.

Grocery stores are smart. They want you to go for the splurge items! Instead of falling for those marketing tricks, look up and down as you shop. The more affordable brands could be higher or lower on the shelves. Think of it as a treasure hunt for the best price!

11. Try different grocery stores.

Why did you pick your current grocery store? Is it the friendliest? Is it in the most convenient location? If we’re being honest, most of us probably shop where we do out of habit.

Don’t let a comfortable routine cost you money.

If you’re not sure which grocery stores are worth your time and money, ask around. People who are getting the best deals will gladly gush about their favorite spots.

Also, if you want to save money on food, be sure to check the weekly ads in your area for what’s on sale at competing grocery stores. You might find that shopping at the store down the street is costing extra money in the long run. Figuring out a new shopping plan may be frustrating at first, but it’s worth it to keep some extra cash in your pocket.

12. Learn the sales cycles.

Are you ready to do a little detective work? Start paying attention to when your favorite items go on sale and how much the price drops. You might even want to jot it all down in a small notebook or on your smartphone. Whatever you do, just make sure you’re keeping track of those sales so you can see if there’s a trend. Soon you’ll be able to anticipate them before they hit!

13. BYOB.

Nope, it’s not what you think.

It’s time to bring your own bag to the grocery store! Lots of stores will give you a discount off your total grocery bill just for bringing in a reusable bag. Your savings will usually run somewhere between five and 10 cents per bag! Five bags could save you anywhere from 25 to 50 cents. Hey, savings are savings!

14. Don’t shop when you’re hungry.

People do a lot of silly things when they’re hungry. They say things they don’t really mean, eat all of their roommate’s chips, and aimlessly stroll the grocery store aisles like zombies.

And while your best friend might not hold you responsible for what you said when you were “hangry,” your grocery bill won’t let you off the hook so easily. Step away from the 48-count of frozen waffles and put back that pineapple upside-down cake from the bakery.

Walk into the grocery store with a full stomach, and you might be shocked by how much lower your grocery bill is!

15. Stick to a meal plan.

It sounds like a chore, but meal planning can actually be a lot of fun when you’re learning how to save money on groceries. Pick a day of the week when you’ll plan out the meals. Once you decide what you’ll make for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, write out each ingredient needed for those meals—plus a few snacks, of course. Try to use ingredients you already have on hand before you think about the other ingredients you need to shop for.

And remember: A list can make or break your budget. So stick to your meal plan for the week and let your list be your guide!

16. Don’t buy more than you need.

We love a deal. Everyone loves a deal. But if you get suckered into buying stuff you don’t really need, did you really get a deal at all? Buying something just because it’s on sale is a good example of this. If it wasn’t part of your planned grocery list, then you still spent more money than you were intending to—deal or no deal.

“Just because something is marked two for $5, four for $10, etc., doesn’t mean you have to buy that many items. You get the same discounted price if you buy just one.” — Stacy H.

17. Test out your green thumb.

This might not be for everyone, but if you can grow your own tomatoes, bell peppers and cauliflower in your garden, you’re sure to save money at the grocery store. Why? Because you don’t have to buy any of those things there! You can just go out and grab them from your garden, Little House on the Prairie style. How awesome is that?

18. Shop online and pick up at the store.

If you’re looking for another hack when it comes to grocery shopping on a budget, you might want to consider using curbside grocery pickup. You can select the exact items you want online, pay for them, and then pick them up at whatever time works for you.

Many grocery stores are offering this service and customers seem to be enjoying the convenience factor. But here’s why we really love it: You tend to cut out the impulse buying and stick to your grocery list and budget! No more getting up to the register only to discover that family-size box of cereal isn’t on sale after all. And no more buying rolled oats just in case you’re out at home (you can walk to the pantry to see for yourself—mind blown).

Some stores offer a pickup service for free but others will make you pay a small fee, so be sure to budget that into your overall cost too.

19. Use apps on your smartphone.

When you’re searching for ways to save money on groceries, don’t forget about all the rebate apps out there!

Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51 and Walmart’s Savings Catcher are just a few of the great apps that can help you save. While rebates don’t give you a discount up front (like a traditional coupon), you should see savings in the long run.

20. Try going meatless for a meal.

Look here, carnivore, don’t be afraid to branch out and have a meatless meal once or twice a week. Buying large quantities of meat can make your grocery bill skyrocket (especially when the meat isn’t on sale). So instead, find some meatless recipes to whip up on Meatless Monday—or whatever day of the week you choose!

“We do a meatless meal one to two times a week. We budget $500 for a family of five. Sometimes it’s too much, sometimes it’s the perfect amount. If we don’t spend it, we put it toward our debt snowball.” — Holly M.

21. Eat leftovers for lunch.

We all know this—going out for lunch will seriously eat into your food budget. If you’re dropping $10 just twice a week, that’s $80 a month being spent on going out to eat (and we’re not even talking a nice dinner out with friends on Friday night).

Don’t waste your money like that when you can take leftovers and save a ton!

“We almost always have a nice dinner every night and are really good about taking the leftovers for lunch. No matter what you cook, if you consistently eat at home, it’s way cheaper than going out all the time.” — Cindy N.

22. Buy generic.

You know generic pasta is cheaper, but you’re still not convinced it won’t ruin your grandmother’s lasagna recipe. Are generic brands really as good as the name brands?

A group of Consumer Reports “taste testers” found that most store brands measure up to the name brands in taste and quality—and they’re usually 15–30% lower in price!1 In other words, your less expensive lasagna will taste just as delicious as Grandma’s.

Still not sold? According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, when buying staples like salt, sugar and baking soda, chefs were more likely to buy generic than you and me.2 And they’re the food experts! The study concluded that if more consumers purchased store brands, we could save roughly $44 billion.

With that kind of money on the line, it pays to be brand disloyal.

“We shop at a great grocery store known for their low prices, and most stuff we buy is generic. We no longer buy desserts or junk food, which cut probably $200 from our budget.” — Erin A.

23. If you buy it—use it!

Nothing is worse than discovering funky vegetables and fruit floating through the abyss in the back of your fridge. And to make it worse, all those rotten cucumbers and moldy peaches are dollar signs you just wasted. Ouch!

Try your best to actually use what you buy at the grocery store. Put a list on the front of your refrigerator if you think that will help jog your memory. Whatever you do, just don’t let those items go to waste.

24. Shop the farmers market at the end of the day.

Okay, heads up—not everything at a farmers market is going to be inexpensive. But by the end of the day, most farmers don’t want to take their food home with them. It’s to their advantage to part with the items, even if it means they barely break even.

Walk around your local farmers market toward closing time and see what kind of deals you can score. Make a reasonable offer for the box of produce they have left. Chances are, you’ll get a great deal on delicious, fresh fruits and veggies!

25. Preserve and store away.

When ingredients are overflowing at the farmers market (or in your garden), buy in bulk and preserve them for the winter. Yes, it may seem like you’re spending more during the summer between the extra produce and canning jars. But think of each one of those jars of tomato sauce or pickles as an investment.

You can buy a box of pasta for a couple of bucks and pull a container of your homemade “summer in a jar” tomato sauce off the shelf in the winter. You’ll have created an affordable dinner, plus think about how gratifying it will be to eat sauce you made!

And speaking of sauce, you can save yourself time and effort if you invest in a vacuum sealer. Plan a day where you make big batches of sauces—like curry, tomato, cheese, etc. Vacuum seal and freeze them for when you want all the comfort of a flavorful sauce with minimal effort. All you need is some simmering water or a slow cooker to revive the sauce. Bon appétit!

26. Shop the perimeter of the store.

The inside aisles of the grocery store are mostly made up of processed food that can derail your budget. Instead, shop the outer edges of the store for fresh fruits and vegetables, grains and beans. Look for nutrient-dense items and fresh, seasonal food. Your wallet and waistline will thank you.

27. Skip the packaging.

A pre-packaged bag of lettuce with a dressing packet and fixings will cost double what a head of lettuce with some simple, homemade dressing would. Go for the unpackaged fruits and veggies whenever you can. They’re cheaper and usually healthier too.

28. Grow herbs and spices.

A store-bought pack of rosemary, mint or chives can get pricey. So even if you don’t have a ton of space to garden, it’s worth it to plant a few fresh herbs indoors or on your patio to save money. And if you can’t use your harvest right away, puree and place it into ice cube trays to freeze.

29. Only buy meat when it’s on sale.

No secret here: Meat can be expensive. And if you want grass-fed beef or extra lean cuts of organic meat, the price is going to go up. So, what’s a savvy budgeter to do when grocery shopping? Well, you could become a vegetarian, sure. Or you could just learn how to become a better meat shopper.

Look for great deals on meat when it’s on sale. Don’t worry about it going bad before you can use it all, because you can always stash it away in the freezer. Also, look for cuts of meat that are cheaper alternatives to what you usually buy. Instead of chicken breasts, opt for chicken thighs. Skip the sirloin and use ground chuck. Pass on the pork chops and grab the pork loin.

30. Leave the overspenders at home.

Word to the wise, if you find that your kids are the culprits of adding all those “not on the list” items to your cart, you might want to leave them at home. Yes, we’re looking at you with the box of cookies, little Jimmy. On the flip side, maybe it’s your spouse who needs to stay far away from the grocery store.

“My #1 [grocery store hack] is banning my husband from going to the grocery store! We saved at least $300 a month by him not going.” — Melissa W.

Better Habits for a Better Grocery Bill

A few new habits can help you lower your monthly grocery bill, stick to your budget, and meet your money goals faster. That means more cash to pay down debt, invest for the future, or save for something fun—like a babysitter and a nice meal out where someone else cooks and cleans up.

Try one of these grocery store hacks on your next trip down the grocery aisle, and you could be pleasantly surprised by how much cash stays in your pocket!

Don’t have a grocery budget? Well what the heck are you waiting for? You need one to truly figure out how to save money on groceries! Create your budget with our free budgeting.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

7 Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas

7 Budget-Friendly Meal Ideas

A steaming slow cooker of white chicken chili

10 MINUTE READ

Imagine this: You’re gathered around the dinner table, conversation flowing, plates and hearts full. Someone smiles and compliments, “Wow. This is so good!” And you respond, “Thank you. It’s a savory and budget-friendly meal.” You both high-five.

Okay, maybe it’s more like you’re rushing from one thing to the next, so everyone’s scarfing down the meal and you just get a muffled “yum” before everyone’s out the door.

Either way, you’re trying to balance life and your budget while eating real food. And you can—with these seven recipes! Try them all in a row, and you’ll have your whole week covered. Or sprinkle them throughout your month. However you decide to serve them up, these budget-friendly meal ideas will help you fill those plates without busting the bank.

Meal One: Salsa Chicken Rice Bowls

Ingredients

For Salsa Chicken

5 pounds frozen, boneless chicken breasts

1 jar salsa

1 packet taco seasoning

1 cup water

Other Ingredients

2 cups dry rice

1 can corn

1 can black beans

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 head of lettuce, chopped

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Directions

Dump water, salsa, taco seasoning, and frozen chicken into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Then use a fork to shred the chicken. You can serve from the slow cooker to keep warm.

 

Ready to start saving? Download our free budgeting tool today!

Open the cans of black beans and corn. Heat each until warm (either on the stove or in the microwave). Cook rice according to package directions. Set out the rest of the ingredients and let everyone build their own bowls with rice, chicken, salsa, corn, black beans, tomatoes, lettuce, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Budget Tip

Yes, fresh tomatoes taste better. If they’re in season and on sale, grab them. But if not, find canned tomatoes without added salt and use those instead. You’ll still get nutrition with way less cost.

Pro tip: Use leftover chicken from this recipe for cheesy chicken quesadillas (see recipe a little further down) and use the extra lettuce to make a salad to go with spaghetti later in the week. If you want, you can also make an extra 1 1/2 cups of dry rice here for the upcoming chicken fried rice meal.

Estimated meal cost: Less than $20

Serves: 4–5

Meal Two: Turkey Meatloaf and Potatoes

Ingredients

For Turkey Meatloaf

1 pound ground turkey

1 egg

1 box stuffing mix

1 cup water

1/8 cup BBQ sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

For Potatoes

4 large potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and pepper (or your favorite spices)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Throw all the meatloaf ingredients except that ketchup into a bowl and mix it up until everything is evenly combined. (Use your hands for better mixing results. It’s gross and cold but worth it.) Pat the meat mixture into a greased loaf pan and cook for 30 minutes. Remove and slather with ketchup. Return to oven for 15 more minutes.

Side Dishes

Make roasted potatoes! First, cut about 4 large potatoes into small cubes, tossing them in olive oil and whatever spices you like (salt and pepper are classic, or you can add some Italian seasoning to mix it up). Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook at 450 degrees F for 25–35 minutes. It’s super simple and super delish. Add a bag of steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies, and you’ve got a complete and wonderful meal.

Budget Tip

When the steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies go on sale, stock up! You can often find them for just $1 a bag! But don’t forget they’re in your freezer when you’re meal planning later in the month.

Also, grab a bag of whatever fresh potatoes are on sale. If you’re cooking all of these recipes in one week, you’ll use some for baked potato night too.

Estimated meal cost: Less than $17

Serves: 4–6

Meal Three: Breakfast for Dinner

Ingredients

For Pancakes

1 cup milk

1 cup self-rising flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Nonstick cooking spray

For Scrambled Eggs

8 eggs

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons of butter

Directions

Whisk all the pancake ingredients until the lumps are long gone. (Be careful not to overmix!) Heat a griddle, pan or electric skillet to 370 degrees F and spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Use 1/4 cup of batter per pancake, and space each about an inch apart. Flip when large bubbles form in the batter, and remove the pancake after about 2 minutes on the second side. Reapply cooking spray and continue to make pancakes until all the batter is gone. You’ll have 10–12 pancakes.

Side Dishes

Serve with scrambled eggs. You already have a bunch of eggs in your fridge for multiple recipes this week. Just crack 8 eggs into a bowl and add 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 3/4 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/2 cup of milk. Scramble the mixture with a whisk or fork. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in the bottom of a skillet over medium-high heat and pour in the egg mixture. Scramble them in the pan to your preferred consistency. This is a super cheap protein!

Budget Tip

Notice this is a meatless meal night. Add at least one of these to your plan every week because meat ain’t cheap. Try bringing in other proteins to your menu like eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, quinoa and nuts. And don’t be afraid of generic brands when you’re loading up on spices, flour and sugar. They’re the same as the name brand—they just didn’t spend as much on advertising or fancy labels.

Estimated meal cost: Less than $13

Serves: 4–5

Meal Four: Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas

Ingredients

For Quesadillas

Flour tortillas

4 cups shredded cheese

Salsa chicken (see previous recipe)

Sour cream (for dipping)

Butter

Salt

Other Ingredients

1 can black beans

Tortilla chips

Salsa

Directions

Set your stovetop to medium-high heat. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of two flour tortillas. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Place one tortilla butter side down in the skillet, sprinkle the top side with cheese, add shredded chicken, sprinkle with a little more cheese, then top with remaining flour tortilla butter side up. Heat until golden brown on the bottom, then carefully flip and brown that side too.

Side Dishes

Heat up a can of black beans for a side dish. Grab some tortilla chips and pop open a jar of salsa. So simple. So yummy. So cheap.

Budget Tip

If you’re using the leftover salsa chicken from your rice bowl night, not only did you make your prep work way easier, but you’ve also just stretched your dollars even further. Bravo, savvy chef.

Estimated meal cost: $18–24

Serves: 4

Meal Five: Spaghetti With Meat Sauce

Ingredients

For Spaghetti

1 pound ground beef or turkey

1 package spaghetti noodles

1 can marinara sauce

1 jar parmesan cheese

For Side Salad

Bag of salad (or a head of lettuce)

Croutons

Directions

Place the meat in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir until it’s browned all the way through. Drain the grease. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the can of marinara sauce to the pan. Stir until heated through. Cook the noodles separately according to package directions. After cooking, you can mix the pasta and sauce into one pan or let people build their own plates. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.

Side Dishes

Salad goes so well with pasta—and it’s good for you! If you find a bagged mix on sale, grab it. Otherwise, use regular lettuce and do the chopping yourself. Use the parmesan cheese you sprinkled all over your pasta and sprinkle it on those greens. Top with some croutons or any chopped veggies you have handy. As the Italians say, “è molto buono!” (aka “it’s very good”).

Budget Tip

Save some money with this meal by using the leftover lettuce from Salsa Chicken Rice Bowls night for your side salad. And if you buy a bag of croutons, don’t forget about them in the pantry. Make another salad soon!

Estimated meal cost: $15–18

Serves: 6–8

Meal Six: Chicken Fried Rice

Ingredients

2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed

2 cups cooked, day-old rice

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 fried rice seasoning packet

1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots

2 eggs

Directions

Heat sesame oil over medium-high heat, add the cooked rice, and sauté until heated through. Add cubed chicken and seasoning packet. Cook for 5 minutes until chicken is warm. Add frozen peas and carrots, and sauté for 2 minutes. Push rice to one side, making space in the pan. Crack the eggs, scramble until cooked, then mix through fried rice. Serve with soy sauce or Yum Yum sauce.

Budget Tip

First of all, with a meal as all-inclusive as this, you’ll save money by skipping a side dish! Buy a big bag of rice this week since you’ll be making two meals that call for it. Also, say thank you to those frozen peas and carrots. Goodbye chopping, hello savings.

Estimated meal cost: $14–18

Serves: 3–4

Meal Seven: Baked Potato Bar

Ingredients

5 potatoes

Olive oil

Salt

Optional Toppings

Sour cream

Shredded cheese

Butter

2 cans chili

Steam-in-the-bag broccoli

Directions

Scrub each potato with cold water and dry completely. Then poke holes in each one with a fork 8–12 times so they don’t explode. Set your oven to 400 degrees F and move the rack to the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat each potato evenly in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay them on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the spuds. Flip them every 20 minutes so they’re cooked through evenly. Test the doneness by sticking a fork in: The outside should be crisp while the inside is soft. Set out toppings and let your hungry fam build their potato plates however they please.

Or if you want to cook potatoes in your slow cooker, try this: Rub each potato in olive oil, sprinkle with salt, wrap them individually in foil, and put them in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Side Dishes

If you still have some lettuce left, make a salad! Chop up some cucumbers and add some of that shredded cheese to give it extra flavor.

Budget Tip

Serve with canned chili or other beans to top. This added protein will help fill up your crew without a huge added cost.

Estimated meal cost: Less than $15

Serves: 5

Bonus Recipe: Rachel Cruze’s White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

3–4 chicken breasts (frozen or thawed)

2 cans Rotel

3 cans white great northern beans (liquid and all)

12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons cumin

Optional Toppings

Tortilla chips

Sour cream

Directions

Dump all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Shred chicken with a fork. Serve on top of tortilla chips and top with sour cream.

Estimated meal cost: Less than $15

Serves: 5–6

Budget for Meals to Save Serious Cash

Those moments you spend sharing a meal together (even rushed ones) are valuable. And just like so many other valuable life moments, they don’t have to cost a fortune. With these easy, budget-friendly meals, you can spend less time worrying about and making dinner—and more time on what really matters in life.

And if you want to keep your grocery expenses from eating away at the rest of your budget, you need a budgeting tool. You need EveryDollar. It’s quicker and easier to use than any recipe. Download EveryDollar and become top chef in your kitchen and top boss of your money.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp7/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach

Full Tree, Full Life

Full Tree, Full Life

Full Tree, Full Life

4 MINUTE READ

I LOVE Christmas! It makes me sappy, sloppy emotional. The least little thing makes my eyes leak almost every day this time of year. Sappy ole Papa Dave. Jesus, kids, Santa, food, friends, and watching the generosity of folks is about as good as it gets for me.

I love our ole tree. Sure, we have the fancy items the decorator puts up for the parties and stuff, but the family tree is my fav. Sharon has collected so many ornaments that we really need three trees! Anything meaningful, and some things that aren’t, require a carefully selected ornament for the tree.

When we travel to Jamaica in July, I’m required to stay in the shopping area or flea market until we find the perfect Christmas ornament for the tree. (Insert eye roll.) But we come home with an ornament from every trip. Jamaica alone could be its own tree, but this morning I did notice ornaments from some cruises, plus Jamaica, New York, London, Paris, Panama, Greece, Alaska, Israel (duh), Aspen, Guatemala, Hollywood, and Park City, to just name a few. Lot of years, lot of miles.

Every event needs its own ornament. One of the oldest is a plexiglass tree from 1982, “Our First Christmas.” And every time we had a baby . . . ornament . . . when they grew to be a hockey player or cheerleader . . . ornament. When they went to high school or college . . . LOTS of UT ornaments.

When the babies got married . . . ornament . . . when the babies have babies . . . ornaments. So, when Super Samuel David, our youngest grandbaby, joined us on Super Bowl Sunday in February this year, he got his ornament. When Daniel married pretty Allison in April this year (that was a fun party), they got their wedding ornament.

Family dogs have their own ornaments. This morning I found Maggie’s, our Golden Retriever who died last summer (I miss her).

There are antique ornaments from my childhood tree and from Sharon’s as well. Of course, there are handmade ornaments made by the kids from their childhood with their little pictures in them. There are house ornaments for the year we moved into a new house. There’s even an ornament from The Great State of Tennessee from that time we dressed up fancy and went to the Governor’s Mansion for a Christmas party.

Most of these family ornaments have dates, and those events from decades ago seem just twenty minutes ago, including 1982.

A lot of you probably have trees like this. I just never thought of this tree as the story of the best parts of our life until this morning. A regular biography in evergreen. See, that’s the thing. The best parts are evergreen. They keep adding and growing, and the love gets deeper and deeper. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate, and it all ends up documented in the form of an ornament on this tree. This tree is packed full, my life is so full, and I am grateful beyond measure.

This life is going fast. An old friend told me the other day, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end you get, the faster it goes.” This ole Christmas tree reminds me to squeeze every ounce out of every day. This tree reminds me to be grateful, because we have been blessed beyond measure. When I have gratitude, I can’t keep from being generous, which is the reason for the season. God sent His only son, and He was born in a manger—generosity beyond measure.

Did I mention I love Christmas, and I’m emotionally sappy beyond measure? Merry Christmas to you and your family! And may your tree, your life, be so full it causes you to overflow with generosity.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now http://lock-in-your-position.com/lp3/?sponsor=homeprofitcoach