Ultimate Grocery Budget Guide To Change Your Life

How To Grocery Budget - THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! - Animated video of the 6 areas of grocery budgeting + 10,000 word blog post! Now I can save for a house and retire (hopefully early)! - With printables to stay on track!

Don’t want to read 10,000 words of epic brilliance? Watch the video for a summary!

Side note: 90% of the work is done once
10% of the work is simply staying the course with your big ole wallet

This will be life changing even for those who think “but I didn’t make enough money to save”. Just relax your closer to your dream life than you think.


Want printable worksheets to take the guess work out and to keep you on track?

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My Cheap Recipes
(just to name a few)

9 simple pasta recipes
11 ways to flavor rice 
5 breakfasts under 50 cents
3 meals under 50 cents (lunch/dinner)
5 full days meal prep – $9 total
5 full days meal prep – $18 total
low calorie meal prep – $1.50 per day
3 $1 meal recipes
5 ways to eat beans
10 cheap travel food hacks
$1 meal ideas
6 soup recipes


Change or cry…

The last few days of 2017 my usual power through attitude went out the window. I pretty much run off of sunshine and sarcasm but right as the new year came on the horizon my internal cheerleader disappeared and my outlook got dark pretty quick.

In general I’m a very future focused, goal driven and plan oriented kind of person.

You know that saying “you’re either growing or you’re dying”? Well I live a ” you’re either you’re moving or you’re dying” kind of life.

Some days that desire to move is motivated by inspiration while other days it’s more of a very desperate energy. Either way the world of self employment has created this drive in me to not sit still & just keep going.

So at the end of 2017 when the internal voice that says “keep pushing through” disappeared I was left with a real moment of reflection. I started 2017 with the attitude that this year was going to be different. We were going to work hard, create a real household income and not be stuck in our current situation until we die.

A quick recap of that current situation: obsess about work 24/7, not dare think of moving or changing our lifestyle because we’re living at the lowest rung of life with our cheap apartment/no frills living.

But our 2017 income wasn’t better off. It was a lot of work with more perceived reward than actual reward. So at the end of the year I was taking inventory for the first time and the lack of progress felt like a huge blow. The reality check of a year “wasted” hit me hard (that’s pity language, it really wasn’t a wasted year).

After a 7 days of pity my internal cheerleader still hadn’t come back to break the pity party up. I knew from the past that my well of darkness can run pretty deep so I monitor conscious negativity on a daily bases. If I see a spark of negativity it’s my job to not let it turn into a flame. I take my mood very seriously. If I dip my toe in the pool it’s not long before I think I’m drowning. Yes I am an emotional baby if I take my hands off the wheel.

In an effort to turn this frown upside down I pretty much went back to the basics.

The basics…

I calmed the hell down and stopped reviewing the parts that were my failures and mistakes. Reviewing the failures was seriously the entirety of my pity party. I figured I could get more insight out of the mistakes if I cheered the hell up.

Instead of looking to the past I looked ahead. My brain asked me “What is a life that’s other than mine that that actually inspires me?” (Yes there’s a motivational speaker in my head 99% of the time)

I imagined living in a beautiful home. I didn’t picture a generic house. I specifically pictured a home. Something that was warm and inviting that felt lived in and loved. Part of the package for this fantasy home is that it’s in walking distance to an Aldi and a well funded library. <– this is seriously part of disarming the negativity in my head. If I can see myself walking from my front door out to basic adventures I will feel like there’s a glimmer of hope left in the world.

And I imaged all of the ways a home would support Mark my husband. The man needs a garage. He hasn’t built an instrument since we lived in the tiny house in the woods (5+ years ago).

With my emotions shifted my head was clear to now look at the past with more analysis (not emotion).

Looking Over Our Expenses…

As much as I knew what all of our expenses were I had overlooked the value in taking a refresher. Part of the reason why I over looked reviewing our expenses was because our life is soooo minimal (relative term). Like, what’s there to even review?!

We don’t have kids or pets. We’ve had the same apartment for the like 5 years which is priced 30% below market value. (There are new owners so this will be changing). We have 1 used car. Blah blah blah. What all of this means is that it really didn’t seem like there was much to review.

Ohhhhhhh, there it is….

But upon further inspection I saw that our grocery bill was consistently really high. I do have this food blog so that does account for some of the additional spending.

The amount of times in 2017 that I thought to myself “I should just get some minimum wage job to supplement my income” was more than I could count but decided to just press on.

So when I WROTE out every expense we had. and saw how much we spend on groceries it occurred to me that I could likely skim $300 a month away from groceries and funnel it into our dreams & goals.

*Side note: did you know that in 2012 Mark and I saved $24,000 in 18 months while I was waiting tables and he was making $10/hour at a grocery store? (and we were eating 100% organic in those day too. I no longer prioritize organic.)

If you can do more with less then the excess will make you rich
(I drop the mic, no one is impressed)

It’s said that the three biggest costs in our life are housing, food & transportation. If you’re driving an expensive car, living in a nice place or indulging in prepared foods & drinks then you’re leaving money on the table. If you can get any of those costs down then it could change your life.

Our grocery bill was the only realistic area in our life where money could be skimmed from.

*Important Mathematical Digression: Let’s say your three main areas could all come down just a notch. If you spent $25 less on food a week, drove a vehicle that was $100 less a month and found a home or apartment that was $100 less a month. That $300 a month savings could simply be put towards retirement (yawn) and in 10 years it would compound into $50,000. Or $100,000 in 15 years. Or $400,000 in 30 years. 

The hidden $400,000 was sitting in my grocery bill. Uhhhh.

My goal in saying this isn’t that everyone should take their life down a notch. Actually I want to take my life up several notches but I want it to be a win-win for my future and present self. Ultimately I want a long timeline of winning at life.

If I spend all of my money on food I would want that to be by choice and NOT just something that’s happens because I’m being a dumbass.

Because I have a food blog I figured that one post a week (3-5 recipes in each post) would serve me better than striving for two post a week like I had done all of 2017. But I still needed to get clear on how we could reduce use our food budget thoughtfully.

So everything above was my why.

“Why” being I need a house to call a home and I need to prepare for retirement. I swear I could write a 1980s Micheal Keaton blue collar movie with my big dreams. My old-man-goals are real. I feel them in my bones.

And for years now I keep feeling the pressure to save but truly thought that we just didn’t make enough money in order to save.

What I’m about to explain is different

When it really sank in that I actually could be ready to start saving money now and getting my financial life together I started looking on youtube “how to grocery budget extreme”.

After clicking on a few videos my enthusiasm pretty much went in the trash and I clicked out of youtube. I wanted the ins and outs of a working system. I wanted to understand how to get my act together but instead I was weeding through videos of random people showing what they bought and what was in their freezer. I didn’t need to see what anyone was buying. I’ve got my own food habits and preferences. I didn’t need to see their what. I needed to understand their how which lead me down this rabbit hole. Turns out that in order to master this one area of my life in which I have complete control I needed to look at the 6 areas of grocery shopping instead of just that one which most people focus on in their videos. Plus I need an backup plan in case I get bored and fell off the wagon.

Figuring out my where

After 3 years of making hippie recipe videos on youtube I’ve gotten a better eye for prices. Essentially grocery shopping is apart of my job and like any skill the more you do it the more refined your ability gets.

Before you go shopping you really need to decide where you’re getting your groceries from.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much you need to shop-hop between stores in order to get the prices you want. I personally hate driving to a million places to get one ingredient here and one ingredient there. If I lived in the suburbs I might be more into it but in Dallas the traffic, the huge parking lots and the long grocery store lines kills my inspiration to save a buck. I truly might move to the suburbs in part to manage this desire to go to multiple stores without it being a huge headache.

I was considering making a video showing the cost differences between some basic foods between stores. Like here’s a bowl of pasta and sauce from Aldi for literally 30 cents vs the same bowl of pasta and sauce from Whole Foods.

Things to consider when picking stores to shop at:

  • how many stores are you willing to drive to?
  • who sells the most affordable staples and affordable produce? Is it the same store?
  • do you want a store with lots of options or fewer?

Some of this you’ll know and some you’ll figure out. Things change over time. Prices will change. But if you’re paying attention you’ll be 90% better off than everyone else at buying groceries.

I recommend writing out your staple groceries and spending a couple hours going to 2-5 stores to compare prices. I straight up went to aldi and with my phone took pictures of the price tags for every staple item I’d buy. I put those pictures in a folder on my computer. I think I looked that the pictures a bunch for a week and haven’t needed to look at them again since.

The store comparison should only take an afternoon. Do it once, get it out of the way and consider it a one time investment in getting a rock solid grocery budge pillar in place.

Stores to compare even if you don’t normally shop there (you might be surprised):

  • local supermarket (kroger, wegmans, walmart, etc)
  • health food store (whole foods, natural grocer, trader joes, etc)
  • bulk groceries (costco, sam’s club, etc)
  • discount grocery stores (99 cent only store, aldi, etc)
  • ethnic grocery stores (Mexican stores, Asian & Indian grocers)
  • online options (thrive market, AmazonFresh, etc)
  • farmers markets / CSA

The one benefit I personally appreciate from smaller grocery stores (aldi & ethnic grocery stores) as opposed to supermarkets is there are less decisions to make. There’s less shiny objects to capture my heart & mind and pull me away from my grocery list. And there’s way less decision fatigue (more on that below).

Here’s me when I go to my beloved kroger flagship store. I walk down a whole aisle dedicated to the tiny little jar of mustard I want to buy. I don’t see the one I want. I see like 5 ones that I want and 50 other versions in my peripheral that sound even better than the one I had in mind than when I wrote my list.

When I write down plain mustard I’m thinking of a universal condiment. But when I start salivating at the sight of spicy mustard I start picturing specific things I want to eat with it. Dude it’s a trap. Now I want to start buying unplanned stuff to fulfill this imagery in my mind. Oh maybe I should go buy some bread?! There was zero plans to make sandwiches this week but exotic mustard has just inspired my taste buds for gourmet sandwiches or whatever.

The decision overload doesn’t stop there.

Now I’m comparing prices between the fancy mustard to the cheap one I had written on my grocery list. I’m comparing the prices fall all the cheap mustards between like 100 different brands. One bottle is 12 ounces for 99 cents, another bottle is 14 ounces for $1.09….then my head explodes! After my mental faculties are taken out I’m 2,000 times more susceptible to throwing random bags of chips in the chart.

I would go grocery shopping with my sister and shes just stare at me, “That’s not on your list is it?” I’d say “No but…” and she’d reply with, “oh really tell me about it” with this smug little willie wonka look.

  • Decision fatigue can cause irrational trade-offs in decision making
  • Decision fatigue has been shown to make less favorable decisions
  • Decision fatigue can lead people to avoid decisions entirely
  • Decision fatigue can influence irrational impulse purchases
  • Decision fatigue can impair self-regulation

I go to aldi and there’s like 2 or 3 mustards to choose from and not a whole aisle. Some people would see that as a strength and other would see that as a weakness. But less choices mean stronger decision faculties.

Ultimately my Where is a dynamic answer and changes depending on my needs week to week. There’s usually items I need for the blog that I can’t get at aldi.

Figuring out my who

Something to consider is that the person who prepares the meals may not be the best person to buy the groceries. While my husband and I both cook I would say I’m more future focused than him. Being at the grocery store can trigger my planning mind to think “Oh, maybe we should get this random item! I could make a few meals out of this”. But if I write out a grocery list I’m like a coach with a winning playbook. As the coach I don’t need to perform the moves I just need a star player to follow through with the plan. The times that I’ve handed the grocery list off to Mark have been an effortless way to staying on track and not overspending. He just buys what’s on the list.

If you have a couple teenagers in your family ask the one with the most obliging personality to go buy groceries and stick to the list.

If you live on your own ask a friend to go shopping with you and trade grocery lists. They’ll pick out only what’s on your list and you’ll do the same for them.

This works best when you have specific brands or package sizes written out so that your buyer is getting the brands and quantities that best fit your budget.

Figuring out my when (mixed with a little how)…

Huge round of applause for me because I finally connected the dots that timing is another variable that can help get you to your grocery budget goal.

  • how often do you need to go grocery shopping?
  • cycling stores
  • cycling favorite foods
  • cycling staple foods
  • cycling items within a food group
  • cycling to delay gratification
  • cheap / expensive week cycling
  • frozen vs fresh vs dried vs canned
  • meal planning

I’ve come to learn that my naturally extreme / black & white robotic thinking isn’t how most people function. Good golly folks there is gray! Instead of my brain staying “nope, you can only shop at aldi so make it work toots” I’ve come to discover this wonderful world of gray. In this world you can create systems (and back up systems) to accommodate real life.

Let’s say I can find everything I need from one store but there’s a few random ingredients I really want that I can only get from an expensive store that bring on decision fatigue. Instead of getting what I need now I’ll choose to wait.

“Waiting” doesn’t have to be vague. Feel free to find a schedule that makes sense. I find the less often I step into a fancy grocery store the more money I keep for myself. I’m not 100% sure why going to a fancy store less saves me money. Is because I’m simply there less which leads to less impulse buys? Is it because I find cheaper alternatives to that rare ingredient and no longer need to go to whole foods? Is it because as time goes  on I forgot about the recipe as a whole? Regardless of the reason waiting is always something to consider.

Store Cycling could simply be alternating between your preferred store and a cheap store. Every other week you could go to the cheap store or create a once a month cycle for cheap groceries. It’s totally up to you.

Ingredient Cycling is my loophole to prevent me from overfilling the cart. I’ll see 3 flavors of chips or 3 different piles of fruit and be committed to them all. The amount of times I’ve put multiple of the same thing (I’ll get a huge watermelon, a pineapple and a bag of kiwi) into the cart makes no sense. Dude pick out 1 thing, if it doesn’t last a whole week you’ll survive.

I’ll tell myself “pick one out now then put the other item on the following grocery trip list”. I used to actually take my brain’s requests very seriously. I’d write down “peaches” or “chips” then totally lose interest by the next time we’d go get groceries .

There’s also a side benefit to buying less. If I buy more than enough (cheap) fruit to last a week there’s a good chance it will last a week. If I buy 3-5 days of worth of something and I run out it trains my brain to go look in the freaking pantry. Seriously. The amount of times I’ve completely ignored perfectly good staple foods (think oatmeal with brown sugar and frozen blueberries) it’s ridicules. I own so much invisible food in my pantry that I’m confused why I ever need leave my house in order to eat.

Buy less, use the pantry to fill in the gaps and write down the items you wish to buy now on to future grocery trips.

How often you go grocery shopping is major way stack the deck in your favor. By following a schedule it forces you to make the most of what you have. If you run out of something you’ll develop a keener eye for quantity vs time. Oh this bag of potatoes lasts 2 me weeks. Oh this celery will get eaten in 3 days. When you go to buy something it would be ideal to gave a general idea of how many meals you’ll get out of it.

Let’s say this grocery cycle you bought a bag of rice. If you knew how many meals those would create you could avoid buying unnecessary bread or tortillas that cycle too.

Having a solid timeline attached to a pile of money means it’s 90% predictable how  much money you’ll be spending on groceries in a month or even a year. Pick which days are your grocery days and stick to it.

Food group cycling. Instead of getting all the things you like pick a limited number of things per food group. Maybe instead bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, etc you just pick 1 or 2 for this week since they’re pretty much the same food group. On the next grocery trip you’ll pick out 1 or 2 different carbs. Same with produce, same with protein, same with snacks, desserts, junk food and drinks. Over the course of the month you will have a good variety of food but less variety day to day if that makes sense.

Another part of food group cycling is picking one thing from your pantry as the place holder for that week. For example, in the last few months we’ve become loyal la croix sparkling water addicts. By cycling the sparkling water in (every single grocery week) I’ve completely forgot about the hoards of herbal tea in the pantry.

Unannounced to my husband I’m going to lay off the sparkling water and start drink cold brewed herbal tea. The sparkling water will last twice as long since I won’t be drinking it and I’ll be whittling down my ignored tea stash.

If I was rich I would buy a mountains worth of vegetables, one of every kind. But I feel content with sticking to my small staple of vegetables because they’re cheap. Plus I pick veggies that last in 1-2 weeks before going bad. When I’m bored with them I’ll buy different kinds of produce but that produce splurge is expected to not take place more than once a month. I can go several months before getting bored (knock on wood) so I don’t officially schedule the variety but I can anticipate 1-2 veggie splurges every few months.

Schedule your variety using weekly or monthly cycling however it that makes sense to you.

Delaying gratification should be done with care. When finding the line between taking what you want for now and leaving enough for later can be enlightening but also a challenge.

There are some personality types (like my own) who are first to dive into the deep end of deprivation when trying to get my finances in order. While self induced deprivation may not seem like a big deal I think it secretly is. I think being in the head space of deprivation can be toxic even when there’s neuro-chemical rewards such as feeling like to total badass, feeling in control and having some purity complex of doing things “the right way”.

No one can decide what’s deprivation is for someone else. Feel your way through this. Breaking your own rules is a good way to test what’s actually working for you or not.

Remember the goal isn’t to feel frugal or even proud of being frugal. Often that feeling is a distraction. If you saved $2 a day by brewing your own coffee instead of going to starbucks but overlook saving tens of thousands of dollars on house payments because your credit isn’t top notch then you’re living by in a fantasy based on the perceived value of being frugal than actually being frugal.

This podcast blog post “how to spend less and earn more” on the Afford Anything (not everything) blog goes in depth with the pitfall of living in the fantasy of accomplishment while ignore the bigger picture. She gives classic examples such as ordering a cheaper item at a restaurant or getting water instead of soda and why that’s not the best way to run your financial life.

The book I Will Teach You To Be Rich goes above and beyond with explaining how to actually create a healthy financial life. It’s an actionable step by step “6 weeks to success” kind of book. The author Ramit Sethi rails against getting detracted by the perceived wins for being overly frugal. He’s against people cutting out lattes from their life to save a buck. Dude the audio book is hilarious! (PS: that is NOT an affiliate link).

Delayed gratification is great when you know your why. Then trade off is always worth while. Do I want a greasy bag of chips and some extra produce or having my dream home with a secured future…. This one isn’t hard.

Taking a break and delaying the gratification of a great meal can take your flavor inflation down a notch. I’ve heard my father-in-law say many of times that it may not be worth trying the $50 a pound ham or the $300 bottle of whiskey. “What if I find out that I really like it?! It’s not worth it”.

There’s a huge trap that pretty much everyone of us fall into and it’s lifestyle inflation. When we’re youthful living at home or in our first apartment we might be comfortable with the simply of our life. We listen to music, hang out with friends, read books and live on ramen. As we become more valuable in our jobs our paycheck reflects that and lifestyle inflation happens. The fact that many people who earn more than $200,000 a year can live beyond their means should remind everyone else on the totem pole that lifestyle inflation needs a yearly review to keep it in check.

It’s hard to go backwards in life. Adults don’t want to do it. I don’t want to do it. Last year I got hotel inflation. I don’t want to go backward to crappy motels. It happens to all of us.

I talked about this above. There are three main areas of your life where your lifestyle can inflate. Housing, transpiration and food. Delaying gratification in the food department can prevent flavor inflation.

I’ve heard it said that being selective makes the selected more valuable.

If you’re selective with who you’re going to date then the one you end up selecting is by far more valuable. Going out to eat frequently can loses it’s magic but when it’s a rare occasion it feels special. The goal isn’t cold hard restriction as much as it’s about being selective. Making thoughtful decisions and not leaving your life to run on autopilot is what being selective is all about.

Cheap vs expensive cycling can be as simple as just picking one fancy meal a week to make at home. Or even one fancy week a month. Or having one fancy meal everyday along side 2 low budget meals and snacks to compliment it.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever owned a total piece of crap car and in retrospect realized the amount of money you poured into maintaining it could have paid for half of a brand new cheap car. <— this was us 2017. You live, you learn.

The average amount of money we spent last year for groceries in retrospect was crazy. Looking objectively at the numbers we could have been eating high class meals every night if I had done a little planning. But instead I poured too much money into buying a bunch of cheap stuff, into variety for the sake of variety and poured too much into my blog. We could eat better with proper planning or eat the same cheap food but cut the excesses in order to save money. I like doing a hybrid of each.

Fresh vs Frozen vs Canned vs Dried is clearly a personal choice.

Fresh food usually tastes best but that has to be qualified by assuming that you’re actually going to cook it before it goes bad. A good amount of people throw out fresh food because it didn’t get eaten before it went bad which is the same as throwing out money.

Fresh food has a shelf life. If you’re going to the store once every 7 days it would be super helpful to buy a set amount of fresh food (say 3-4 days worth) then have frozen ingredients to supplement the last few days with.

The magic of under buying fresh food is that it’s completely possible that you won’t eat all of it fast enough. So you buy 3 days worth of a few fresh foods then find there’s a some left over buy day 5 you’ll be at an advantage. And the supplemental freezer food create a buffer so you can make it til you’re next grocery trip.

I bought 5 steamer bags of broccoli from aldi (like $1 each). They sat in my freezer as a buffer. If I needed some veggies and I was out fresh produce instead of going to the store early the frozen produce would tie me over. And there was plenty of weeks that my 10lb bag of potatoes or my 2 lb bag of carrots dominated my produce consumption for the week and I didn’t need to touch the broccoli. I think it’s a flipping miracle that I have 5 days worth of produce in the freezer that will never go bad. By having a small sort of supplemental freezer (or canned or dried) food I never have to over buy produce again.

Meal planning is the most straightforward way to buying one what you need. Anyone else have moments where they buy too many random condiments? If you have meals planned for the next 7 days then you’ll cut down on buying random accessory ingredients “just in case”. Take the guess work out of what you need to buy for some fictitious meal. Write down what you want to make for the week and just buy what you need for that.

Meal Prepping is taking your plan for the week and just knocking it out, no questions asked. “Whats for dinner?” someone asked. Then Chuck Norris somehow punches a meal prep in their direction. “Same thing as yesterday!”.

The first time I did a full week of meal prep I instantly was like, “oh, no. NO, NO! This is not for me”. Because I have food blog I tried my hand at it a few more times then found my sweet spot. I think I’m kind of obsessed with it now.

There’s endless ways to do meal prep. You can prep one meal. Some people like having breakfast ready to go. Some people like having grab and go lunches. Other people like having dinner ready so they don’t have to cook and clean at the end of the night. Tons of people love doing 5 full day meal preps. I very much prefer prepping 1 meal and dessert leaving room for one meal/snacks unplanned a day. We aren’t really breakfast people so I’ll make a total of 8-10 meal prep containers and 10 dessert containers total for the two of us in a week. I think that’s my sweet spot.

I’m into meal prep because 1. I’m a pro at making cheap meal prep 2. because I’m too lazy & busy to both cook and clean multiple feasts a day. The amount of times I’ve wanted to eat a bowl of rice but didn’t want to cook it is like 99% of the time. I’ll happily clean a pot if it cooks 20 servings of rice but I don’t want to clean the same pot to cook 2 servings of rice. I just can not get myself to justify the process. Again, I’m a baby certain  about things.

If you’re not into eating the same thing through out the week there’s a way to make 2 different lunch menus and 2 different dinner menus without a lot of extra work. Obviously the very best way to enjoy your meal prep is to not skimp on flavor. If I under salt or under flavor any meal by accident they pretty much get abandoned.

Figuring out my what

No one can say what you should buy, make and eat. There are so many variables that make grocery shopping super individual.

  • food habits
  • cultural influences
  • flavor preferences
  • diet rules (paleo, vegan, keto, vegetarian, raw foodist, calorie counting)
  • diet restrictions for medical reasons
  • budget restriction
  • how many people you shop for in your family
  • activity level
  • what foods you have access to
  • how much food you can store
  • what cooking appliances you have access to

What initially got me inspired to piece this puzzle together was looking up “How to extreme grocery budget” on youtube and not finding enough resources. I watched youtube videos of people showing me WHAT they bought, WHAT their meals looked like, WHAT was in their freezer. Dude, seeing what you eat doesn’t help me. Looking in your freezer is as helpful as opening up my freezer and taking a peek. Seeing WHAT you want to eat doesn’t directly help me understand HOW that fits into the bigger picture of grocery budgeting.

What you eat is 100% your choice. There’s cheap plant foods and expensive plant foods. There are cheap animal foods and expensive animal foods. Cheap beer and expensive beer. The point I’m making is that whatever your lifestyle is 99% of us in the USA can skim some extra dollars off the top and it can change our life.

When I talk about how I meal plan you’ll see that they’re carbohydrate centered. The rice I have in my pantry is literally 4 cents a serving. But DO NOT throw the baby out with the bath water. If you eat low carb or avoid grains everything I’m saying 100% applies to you.

There are trade offs to makes. A budget is simply saying that out of the whole pile of money you have for the year this amount will be put towards your goals while this other amount will go towards your expenses.

Here are some decision to frame your what

  • do you prefer balanced meal
  • do you choose meals dominant in protein, carbs or fat (instead of balanced)
  • do you need high volume meals (like a mountain of veggies) in order to feel full
  • do you have a small appetite
  • do you have non-negotiable foods, foods you’re will not give up or replace
  • do you prefer foods labeled organic
  • are you store or brand loyal with some or all of your shopping
  • any interest in meal prep, homemade freezer meals, crockpot/instant pot meals
  • what foods do you buy but often avoid eating
  • what foods are you quick to consume after buying
  • do you buy a lot of snacks, junk foods, drinks, pre-made/frozen /packaged foods
  • how often do you go out to eat (is this amount align with your goals?)
  • what snacks fit your budget best

This list will help you get clear on your prioritizes, habits, and assumptions. Changing your shopping behavior will be easier when you know what your bright lines are.

What’s a bright line? Ultimately it’s a standard or rule that is clearly defined. If you want to start buying cheaper beer or to buy less packaged food using the word cheap might be too vague to get you to your goal. It’s unclear where you’re drawing the line which makes it impossible to determine if you’re actually achieving what you’ve set out to do.

Let’s say you’re a beer fanatic. You don’t want to give it up but you’re willing to commit to 6 months of saving money on beer. You make this is a 6 month non-negotiable rule so instead of making a promise to yourself to buy cheaper or less beer you establish a bright line around your beer budget. “Cheap” or “less” are vague terms. A bright line could be $25 a month on beer. Then you decide do you want to buy more cheap beer or simply buy fancy beer but much less of it. You know once you hit your $25 budget you’re done for the month since that’s your bright line. You do not cross that line.

Another thing to consider when thinking about your shopping priorities is to do what Ramit Sethi recommends in I Will Teach You To Be Rich (book mentioned above). He says “spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut mercilessly on the things you don’t”.  If you’re not in love with your laundry detergent then buy the cheapest one. If you’re not in love with your olive oil brand then buy the cheap one one.

Maybe it’s just me but I can’t tell the difference between 99% of package foods when comparing the store brand vs name brand (especially at aldi). I really think many of them could be manufactured by the same companies then privately labeled between different brands. If you compare store brand cookies vs oreo brand cookies the ingredients line up perfectly and the nutritional information is identical. If it’s not the same manufacturer than it’s practically the same recipes.

Figuring out my how

  • know how much your grocery budget is
  • know how often you’ll grocery shop
  • know what cornerstone carbs, fats, protein you’ll most often eat
  • plan for redundancy, alternatives and backups to your food choices
  • expect challenges to come up then look for solutions
  • write out a menu or food lists to take the guess work out of future planning
  • determine what your ideal serving of food will cost you
  • determine if you need to start slowly or go all in with budgeting
  • how to plan your grocery shopping
  • plan a regular $21 food challenge
  • monitoring and reviewing your results
  • finding inspiration and mentors
  • handling burn out and boredom

How much to spend on food is up to you. If you’ve been spending too much, too randomly or just shopping at expensive places then let’s assume you can potentially cut 30% off your grocery bill. Don’t ask me where I got that number from. My ambition has been to save 50% off of last years weekly grocery average. There are things I’ve written about here that I will start doing immediately which I think will give me more consistent results. But I’ve been moving the needle in the right direction for months now and it feels fantastic!

How often to buy groceries is another thing you’ll need to figure out. Once a week works best for us because I post recipe videos weekly for my food blog. I’ve heard of people buying groceries once a month. Since I’m dazzled by ambition that really impresses me. Maybe one day I’ll dip my toe in that pool. I think the longest we’ve gone without getting groceries was maybe 2 weeks.

Picking the cornerstone of foods to make up the bulk of our diet came about after spending 30 minutes inside of aldi photographing the price tag of foods I’m willing to regularly eat. I came home and did the math on what a realistic serving size would cost to eat and concluded what my staple foods would be.

I decided that the cheapest form of calories for my taste buds would carbs. Rice is my favorite option to make it in large batches. Beans, tortillas and pasta would my alternatives for when I need variety. *potatoes are a really close runner up.

Then I wrote out a list of meals I can make with my cornerstone ingredients to avoid decision fatigue and falling off the wagon.

If you’re doing a high fat diet then you’re at calorie/cost advantage. Bottled cooking oil is a super cheap.

If you’re doing a high protein diet there’s endless options here too. If you eat meat there’s a lot of cheap cuts, cured meat, ground meat, frozen meat and canned meat to choose from. Eggs and certain dairy products might be more affordable option. Protein powder can be a low cost protein option. A lot of protein powders average 90 cents a serving (20+g of protein). I’ve seen pea protein for 60 cents per serving for 27g protein. Beans are cheap which maybe too many carbs for a high protein diet. One overlooked protein source is actually gluten flour. One serving of gluten flour has damn near the same macros as 4oz of chicken breast for just 29 cents. Gluten flour can be used to make protein muffins cheaper than using protein powder or protein pancake mixes. You can make large batches of protein bars (if you’re inspired to). Lots of options.

Carbs are not required in order to save on your grocery bill. Its just my one of many options! 

Look for redundancy in your system. The quote one is “Two is One, One is None”. Every area of this guide can have a backup. Maybe aldi is my main store but the traffic is driving me crazy so walmart which is closer talks me off the ledge. Maybe I get groceries once a week but I have enough buffer in my freezer and pantry to get by on an extra week in a pinch. Maybe rice is my cornerstone food but I’m so sick of eating it need a homemade pizza to sooth my soul and is less than $2. Maybe I have zero will to live if I have to make another meal prep & do all the dishes that come with that but I’ have ultra lazy recipes in my arsenal that will get me off the hook.

Expect problems to come up. There’s two mindsets you can have when dealing with any situation. Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset are your options. If there’s any area of your life where you’re doing a lot of hoping that things will come together you may have a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset says that you know a certain amount of something. When you hit the limitation of what you know if feel might like a personal failure or you blame people &  circumstances for the failed results. When you hit that inevitable wall you’ll either quit or keep doing the similar behavior expecting different results.

A growth mindset says that ability and understanding can be developed in any area your life. Through time and effort you can get better with any task if you apply deliberate work (not magical thinking or hope).

With a fixed mindset you might just do more of what you know where as a growth mindset you’ll see what more there is to learn so that your process gets smoother with better results. Do not work harder at a system that is flawed. Fix, improve and grow. If something you’re doing is endlessly hard consider that you’ve hit the limit of what you know and need to grow in order to expand and level up. If you think you just need more willpower you likely have a fixed mindset!

I figured out that there were days that we’d be in the car for 6-11 hours for work. No matter how I planned in my head “okay, I’ll eat right before we leave, I’ll eat again when we get home and bring a quart of water” it became crystal clear that we needed to bring  a cooler packed with cold drinks, meal preps and snacks if I actually wanted to win the day. There was 2 weeks of me tweaking around the edges (maybe I just needed a larger lunch before we left? false.) I was becoming unproductive too early in the day because I realized having cold drinks and snacks would fix my problem. Having cold drinks while getting in and out of a hot car all day improved my quality of life by a million.

Notice the problems and brainstorm all of the solutions. Proactively look for any excuses, loopholes and obstacles that your mind offers. Are there loopholes in your mind saying, “Hey, lets buy this $1 vending machine bag of chips. It’s fine, you can afford it”. Notice how your mind lets you off the hook for staying on budget. Write out every single excuse and the circumstance surrounding the excuse. Do not just think this through. Write down ever single thing that comes to mind. This is If/Then Planning. If this problem comes up then here’s my solution.

By writing the excuses out on paper you might see a pattern. “Oh every time I’m at school I think it’s okay to buy soda from the vending machine. I say ‘just this one time but it happens everyday’. So instead spending money at the vending machine I’ll bring extra drinks to with me everyday”. Bam! Your predictable problem now has a solution.

Write out a menu or meal ideas. I have a homemade cheat sheet that stays on my fridge. As obvious as these meals are and as simple as the pool of ingredients I have to choose from is I still get foggy thinking when trying to actually plan my meals.

My cheat sheet pretty much is this. 4 main staple foods (rice, pasta, beans, tortillas) with a slew of variations. Think casseroles, crockpots, how different cultures use the same ingredients, mixing and matching the accessory ingredients and sauces, etc.

Figure out what an ideal meal would cost for you. If rice is literally 4 cents a serving and meal could include 1-3 servings of rice with an accessory of protein and/or veggies plus oil and spices then we can safely assume the meal would be maybe $1 or even 50 cents. I mean if I wanted to be monks about it I could have 4 servings of rice with 1 TB of oil and salt and it would cost maybe 25 cents. Granted I wouldn’t find a big bowl of rice without some high volume fibrous veggies satiating but maybe you would. But knowing that there are 25 cent, 50 cent and $1 meals out there you can help you figure out what you’d like your meals to cost.

As mentioned above you can totally cycle cheap meals with expensive meals. Maybe breakfast and lunch total $1.50 (madness, I know) but your dinner is $5 (living life on the edge). $6 a day = $42 a week for groceries is humble! That’s only $180 a month for groceries. I love it! Lots of ways to make this work for you just be sure to plan it.

Would it better to start slowly or jump all in? There’s two personality types regarding big lifestyle changes (according to Gretch Rubin’s Better Than Before book on habits). You might an all in kind of person who needs to go big in order to feel excited. The other type of person who needs to start small to not to get overwhelmed.

I think I’m the all-in kind of person. My history points to endless amounts of go big or go home but I am the same person who’s strictness will often eventually suffocate my commitments 4 or 10 years in. My point is try whatever method you’re draw to but do not ignore your feelings. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or bored then go back to the drawing board with your growth mindset and find a new way to accomplish your same goals. Or create better goals.

Planning your grocery shopping can be done a bunch of different ways. You can simply write down what you need. You can have a checklist or a phone app for grocery lists. You can preplan the meals for the week and only buy ingredients that will be eaten that week. You can buy fresh food only and rotate through freezer and pantry staples. Lots of options here.

Trying a $21 food challenge (once a month or once a season). A lady I chat with on instagram sent me a photo of this book called $21 Food Challenge (I think that’s the name). I looked into, watched few videos and asked her to tell me what she knew. Dude it was exactly what I was looking for. It was a framework for something I’d been thinking of doing.

This challenge isn’t meant to be a weekly lifestyle. If I understood it correctly the goal is to only buy $21 worth of whatever ingredients you absolutely need for the week while the bulk of your meals come from the long avoided food inside your pantry and freezer. If you did this once a month you could save thousands a year. The thing I really loved about this was that the author says (I think it was her in a video I watched) that you need to celebrate your efforts. If you normally spend $200 a week and end up doing $70 you should feel amazing since you’re moving in the right direction. If you feel disappointed that you spent $70 instead of $25 you might quit instead of slowly improving. I LOVE her relaxed and realistic spirit about people trying their best! 

Monitoring the results has made a huge impact in my life. Before I started writing down how much I spent a week on groceries the bill was astronomical. It was embarrassing. I’m someone who knows better but what doesn’t get measured doesn’t gets managed. After months of tracking I was still spending way too much. Simply tracking how much I was spending helped reduce our grocery bill about 15% which was  less than spectacular.

Writing down my weekly food costs as only half the equation. When I paired goal of $1 and under meals with my weekly costs I saw a 30% improvement! That was huge but my goal has been to get to a 50% savings which requires details I only considered once I started to consider the 6 areas of grocery shopping.

On my fridge is list that shows exactly what we’ve spent on groceries every week for months. When numbers are in my head its hard to look for trends and see opportunities. Now when I look at the data I see what where I’ve been stuck and how much room there is to grown.

Finding inspiration and mentors is a way to get out of your own head. We learn from others, see things that seemed unfathomable as completely possible from inspiration people and a good mentor will help you see your circumstance in a fresh way.

I wish I had a huge wealth of resources when it comes specifically to grocery budge mentors but I keep a pretty busy schedule so I haven’t looked wide and far. If you have any grocery budget blogs that you love leave a link below!

I love Mr Money Mustache’s blog. He has a post called Kill Your Food Budget. I read that YEARS go and it was the first time I had heard anyone point blank talk about 50 cent food servings. I was deeply inspiring but the information didn’t stick. At the time we  dumpster dived for 9 months straight and never paid for food but once we transitioned to actually paying for food again I wasn’t thinking as systematic as I am now.

I read an old Frugalwoods post of them praising their 10 cent breakfast. I laughed about how their breakfast sounded like oatmeal sewage water run off. The post is called Breakfast The Hidden Destroyer. I made soooo much fun of that post that I was crying laughing for a good 2 days straight. But I was DEEPLY inspired by that post and it actually renewed the same old feelings I felt when I first read that Mr Money Mustache food budget post. The Frugalwood’s post got me in the growth mindset and I started looking into the HOW of extreme grocery budgeting.

I read a ton of posts on The Simple Dollar (specifically the food/budget related articles written by the founder Trent Hamm). I read article after article. He was definitely singing to the choir and it felt very assuring and supportive. It was in his blog post that he said if you’re not in love with your laundry detergent then buy the cheapest one. I love that!

I tried finding this gem of a post on same random blog to share with you but couldn’t find the link. I’m going to try to retell this bloggers story. Hopefully I don’t get too crazy on the details but here’s how my poor memory remembers it. I read this really in depth blog post where a family was on their last dollar when the husband lost his good job and was forced to take a low paying one. The wife just had their second kid. They were on an extreme grocery budget then found out that their baby needed an expensive baby formula due to major allergies. I want to say that it left them feeding themselves on $37 a week or something crazy! And this went on for like 2 years (again, I could be remember this wrong). She went into detail to what they ate (think tons of bottom dollar boxed food, discount milk, etc) and in the rare event that they were in dire need of food they’d receive an unexpected donation of food from friends and church. Eventually the husband got an great paying job and their grocery budget was able to grow.

Her comment section was filled with a mix of emotion. Many people were giving praise for how she handled the tough times. Lots of women were talking about their crazy low budgets (2 or 3 times her budge) and being astonished for how well she managed the situation. There was a small number of people criticizing how awful and unhealthy her diet was or how she needed to be all organic. She kindly replied to everyone including those harsher comments and pointed to the objective of needing to simply survived and that thriving had to wait until their income got got better.

That blog post kind of sealed the deal that I could try a little hard, aim a little higher and challenge my fixed mindset.

Handling burn out and boredom is part of anticipating problems, having a growth mindset and feeling the faint glimmer of resistance off in the distance. The number one thing you can do is praise yourself for doing your best. The higher your standard is the harder it may be to admit you’re doing your best but burnout is proof that you’ve actually been trying too hard. If you need to take a break one week, one month or even a full year in the span of a life time that really doesn’t matter. If you’re bored or burned out either take a break and find inspiration or simply let it go. Sometimes more of the same isn’t the solution. Instead of trying to save more money the real solution could be to find creative ways to earn more money. Again, a growth mindset doesn’t have to simply be about getting better at dealing with a problem. It could be about going around the problem.

Schedule breaks, schedule fancy/carefree meals, schedule variety and lean more towards your preferences than to just following the rules.

How to create habits that stick!

When changing your life you’re putting new expectations on yourself. How you manager expectation is fundamental to how you follow through.

Gretchen Rubin has many podcasts, articles, youtube talks and a full book dedicated to the “4 tendencies” or personality types that deal with expectation differently.

4 tendencies for how people deal with expectation:

  • Obligers will meet others expectations but struggle to follow through on their own goals. Do you more easily take care of others need but struggle you take care of you self? If this is you you’ll need someone or something to hold you accountable so that you’ll follow through. If this is your spouse then you’ll likely need to help manage them to stay the course.
  • Questioners will only follow through on things that make sense to them. They can not do something because someone told them to do it unless they are internally aligned. If this is you you’ll likely not need outer accountability with following through. However if your spouse is a questioner you can’t not expect them to just get on board with your idea of changing the grocery budget. If it doesn’t make sense to them you will meet resistance. Do not take it personally, it’s how they’re wired. Ask them what they want in a grocery budget and ask them how you two can meet in the middle with your new grocery goals.
  • Rebels resist expectation whether its from other or from themselves. Rebels need to feel that what they’re doing is authentic and true to them in that moment. If you’re a rebel then reviewing your why every grocery day might help determine if a budget that week feels in line with your authenticity or not.
  • Upholders (such as myself) can meet both outer and inner expectations. If my boss expects something of me I’ll likely do it without needing to be asked. And if I need something done I don’t require anyone outer accountability. If this is you then you’ll likely follow through. If this is your spouse they’ll likely meet the expectation.

Here’s a few articles I found last minute that show simple changes can have a huge impact on results:

  • Don’t say “I can’t”, say “I don’t”. Saying “I can’t buy this because I’m on a budget” may lead to fall off the wagon much more than is you say “I don’t buy this because I’m on a budget”. Saying I don’t might keep you on tracker.
  • Picking Identity Based Habits may be more powerful than results based habits. Saying “I’m the type of person who eat on $3 a day” is different than saying “I want to save money from my grocery bill”
  • Know the difference between Motion and Action. Ahhh, I’ve been endlessly guilty of this. This article changed my life (I read it 5 minutes ago). This one is sneaky and even the smartest of people fall for this. Hint: They both feel like you’re doing something but one doesn’t bring about results.
  • Design your life with your goal in mind. Motivation and inspiration are not reliable.
  • How to bounce back after getting off track. 7 tips to get you back in order.

Changing your family’s life

If you’re responsible for yourself and no one else then all of the work is up to you, you’re the only obstacle and you all will reap all of the reward.

If you have a family then you’ll need to get the other paying members of the household to participate in your grocery budget goals. Do not tell people what they should do. Ask them what they want and see how their wants are aligned with your wants.

I listened to this great Afford Anything (not everything) podcast episode where the husband wanted his high earning/high spending family to cut their cost of living 70%. He said the smartest thing he did was approach his wife with this opening request. He asked her to write down the top ten sources of happiness in a given week. She wrote down things like spending time with family, wine, chocolate and her husband making them home cooked meals. This worked magic because their expensive house and expensive city was not on her list allowing the conversation to move wide open.

By knowing what your spouse wants you can remove the other 99% of things they don’t care about while respecting the small handful of things that fulfill their needs. I don’t have kids but I could imagine a kid kind of going nuts at a grocery store the same way I do. You could give them small agency to pick 1 snack a week or choose a couple of the family meals for the week.

I might sounds like a total poser here but I going to assume family members of all ages can feel fulfillment from contributing to a shared goal. Even if there’s growing pains from transitioning between what was to will be there is reward on the other side.

 

 

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65 comments

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to make this video and mentioning all the useful tips and resources 😉 It’s so crazy how much $ we waste when we shoul eat and budget smarter in all areas. My main downfall is spending way too much $ eating out and using the excuse that we should “live life to the fullest”. I’m wearing nothing but thrifted clothes and shoes that ive had for years but im not thinking twice about spending stupid money eating out or eating convenience food. I needed this video. It’s crazy how we excuse ourselves when we know we could be doing better! I gotta get back on the meal prep and planning instead of impulse shopping and eating what I “crave” right then 😂 Anyway, video was great! Keep on hitting those goals! Hope you get that house soon and find a good apartment meanwhile!

    • thank you, thank you, thank you!!! i’m so glad you’re into the video!

      Yeah, I hear ya. I would love to find a good balance between enjoying the good life and getting shit done 🙂 i swear i either do one or the other. I’d like to do both!

      Mark’s the same way as you. He’ll throw money at records but live a thrift store life with everything else.

      I see good things ahead for all of us.

  2. Duuuuuuuude, this is such a timely post!!! I’m currently living off savings, so I have to keep expenses to a minimum and it doesn’t help that a keto diet is so much more spendy than a vegan diet. (And you’re right, that’s no excuse — your suggestions still apply.) As always, many MANY thanks for the inspiration!

    PS Do you ever think that you and Mark threw out the baby with the bathwater by selling your tiny house? Maybe try again, but build bigger? I got the ebook you realized about that experience and it still totally inspires me all these years later. Being frugal in most areas of life (my secondhand car is 14 years old and I intend to drive it until it falls apart, live in an affordable studio apartment with all utilities included), meant that I had savings in the bank when the sh*t hit the fan.

    • PPS A tip for those without cars: Most grocery stores have online versions of their weekly flyer and a lot of them actually even have all their prices on everything online, which makes it much easier to comparison shop.

      PPPS I tried the discount code, but it didn’t work for me 🙁

      • oh damn! fuck, That remembered me that it makes you add new listings to the discount code.

        Like I can’t just say “for my whole store”. ever new listing need to get added manually.

        All fixed! Thank you so for mentioning that!

        I never look at flyers or coupons. I’m pretty sure I could do much better if I tried.

        My sister uses coupons and points out free stuff from time. I’m like, “WHAT?! Free stuff”.

        How many stores do you shop at on a grocery day? And how far apart are they?

        I think we’re about to move to the suburbs so I see good things ahead for my store variety.

        • The code works now, thanks 🙂

          Great Swedish proverb: If you buy what you don’t need, you steal from yourself.

          • WHAT!!! now that’s a quote! Burn that into my brain when I’m buying groceries.

            I fixed the code! I’m guessing you were my second sale 🙂 THANK YOU times a million!

            I went back and gave the 1st sale $4 refund just in case they tried to use the discount code (since it didn’t work til now).

    • Yay! very very very happy to hear this serves you!

      Yes! we very much realized after we sold the land that we should have just moved out instead of selling it.

      It would have been most ideal to move away then think about the land with more clarity later.

      That’s the classic example of how having money saved prevents you from making rash decision. We didn’t have any money to move so it just seemed like the obvious solution.

      But i can’t complain. We sold the tiny house and that money helped set us up for the life we’ve been living the last few years.

      I think i REALLY needed a change of perspective and letting go of the “dream” that created the tiny house was part of the shedding process.

      If we could have done anything differently it would have been to use the $24k that we saved for the land & house as a down payment for a real house.

      I’m glad we lived so boldly for that year. It’s crazy that that was our past! I wonder what other bold things we’ll do in the future.

      I was thinking of different budget vegan keto recipes. mostly I thought of a lot of cabbage. Not sure how the carbs stack up with cabbage but i imagine cabbage cooked with lots of oil.

      • I’ve been reading this book by Fumio Sasaki called “Goodbye Things” — he makes declutter guru Marie Kondo seem like a hoarder. It’s amazing how much room old dreams take up in the brain! I’m trying to let go of more physical stuff (clutter represents past memories/dreams or future fears) because his thinking is that everything we own should reflect the here and now. Not sure I’ll ever be able to whittle down to that extent, but there’s definitely a lot I can let go. I also used to dream of a tiny house, but instead of moving to one, I just downsized to a tiny apartment — a decision I’ve been super happy with for countless reasons, though I still fantasize about my own tiny house or even van (totally a fantasy and not really an option, because I LOVE indoor plumbing).

        For keto recipes, I buy frozen cauliflower (much cheaper, plus I always cook the cauliflower so it really doesn’t make a difference in terms of texture or taste) and get most of my protein from eggs and cheese (which I usually get at Costco, shred and store in the freezer). Cabbage, eggplant, avocados, and mushrooms are staples ( http://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/vegetables ), plus I get asparagus when it’s in season. Since I can’t really eat fruit (with the exception of small amounts of raspberries, which I get frozen), it’s amazing how much less food I waste!

        In terms of shopping, I look at the online flyers of the three stores I usually shop at and make a list; the prices tend to be pretty competitive, so I find I can just go to one store instead of all three. I rarely ever use coupons. Twice a month or so I go to Costco (butter, eggs, cheese, Nellie’s Laundry Soda, coffee, almond milk, almond butter, cauliflower rice, whipping cream, cream cheese). I try to set foot in grocery stores as little as possible, because I tend to overspend unless I stick to my list and I’d rather not face the temptation!

        I’m surrounded by stores within 5 to 10 minutes away by foot or car, so I have lots of options. Generally, I don’t go to more than two stores in one go because that’s the extent of my willpower 🙂

        • that book making homegirl look like a hoarder has me really intrigued!!! Im going to look that up.

          Ahhh! a book on home organization sounds so dreamy to me! THAT’S WHAT I NEED! i love reading 🙂

          I’m more of a minimalist but after digging into Gretchen Ruben’s work I totally respect people’s need for stuff now. Now i see the stuff as “some people love abundance”.

          I’ve been trying to work up the magic in my mind for home ownership. I’ve been watching videos on interior design a TON lately. I do not have a fashion or design sense at all! Like zero.

          I want to home that isn’t cluttered but i do want it to have decor. I like mid century modern and a few others that seem simply but thoughtful.

            • Forgot one of my quotes from the book where he talks about assessing whether to keep an item: If it’s not a “hell, yes!” it’s a “no.”

              Maybe that’s why I like his book so much. He gets right to heart of the matter, ha ha.

                • Busted 🙂

                  The funny is that I own waaaaaaay less than the typical North American, plus my apartment is only about 400 square feet. My space doesn’t look at all cluttered, but I can barely move in my walk-in closet and I haven’t used half my possessions since moving in five years ago. All that hidden clutter is taking up room in my brain! It’s also annoying having to tiptoe around the stuff in bags on the floor of my closet.

                  Part of me wants to sell some my excess (nice purses from back when I made good money and was more fashion-forward, kitchen gear that would make Martha Stewart happy but gathers dust in my cupboards, non-keto cookbooks I can’t use anymore, extra linens) since money is tight right now, but part of me knows it’s almost impossible for me to do. It’s actually easier for me to give the stuff away (to friends, family, a local youth non-profit that passes clothes and household goods directly to street kids so they can set up their own homes) — less hassle, better karma.

                  In the meantime, I have been giving stuff away, one Ikea blue bag at a time. The problem is that I’m so good at making use of space, it’s crazy how much I still own!!!

                  /first world problems

                  • dude i HATE giving stuff away. I’ll be all pumped like “who wants this great thing for free?!?!” then I have to babysit the person who said “I do” but won’t tell me when and where…. then they just drop off.

                    I’d rather throw stuff away or donate than waste my time trying to get straight answers out of people. which sucks because that’s NOT my ideal world.

                    dude fancy kitchen stuff would be the first to go if i was in that situation…. except the fact that a lot of that stuff is kind of pricey so i would have hard time letting go. But i hate bulky kitchen crappy.

                    I have some myself but i use them all the time so i can’t get rid of them. I still see them as taking up too much space though 🙂

                    we’ve lived in 2 different 400 sqft apartments while saving for the tiny house and land years ago. They were cheap as hell which was great but all had crazy amounts of roaches. It was driving me insane. NEVER again.

                    I’m curious if your 400 sqft apartment fits the vision I now have burned into my mind. in my head a 400 sqft apartment is in a huge apartment complex on a blocks of other crappy huge apartment complexes and full of roaches.

                    Since we need to move now I’ve had a total reality check that the cheap apartment of my dreams do not exist. dream cheap apartment is like 400 sqft for $400-600. it’s not fancy by any means but it’s NOT trash like all the ones we lived in. And isn’t trash like all the ones i saw while looking for an apartment these last few weeks.

                    give me hope! Tell me your little apartment is magical <3 <3 <3 !!!

                    • Ha ha, no — my place is not magical, but it’s a sweet and cozy and I like it a lot. My rent is much higher than yours, but cheap compared to typical rents in my city, which is the most expensive in North America — I pay $950 Cdn, which is about US$720. But that includes all utilities — heat, hot water, electricity, WiFi, I think even cablevision but I can’t remember because I haven’t owned a TV in years.

                      It’s a self-contained studio basement suite (no separate bedroom) in a house (my landlady lives upstairs, and she has two floors so I figure the total footage of the house is about 1200 to 1400 square feet), which means I don’t get much natural light, but it was freshly-renovated before I moved in and it has a dishwasher plus washer/dryer (which saves me trips to the laundromat and probably $50 a month in quarters). Great residential neighbourhood, quiet and central to everything.

                      Other than groceries, my other main expenses are car insurance, gas, and cell phone plan. I paid cash for my little secondhand car, so I don’t have car payments but it’s 14 years old now so now and then I have repair bills. I’m fanatical about taking it in for maintenance twice a year, because that means catching problems early, which is safer and cheaper. (I probably could live without a car; several of my friends do, using bikes or transit to get around, and car co-ops as needed.)

                      I’m Canadian, so medical coverage is cheap (in some provinces it’s completely free for everyone; in my province it’s a maximum of US$28 a month per person, but pro-rated based on income so anyone making less than US$20,000 a year doesn’t have to pay a penny).

                      On a vegan diet, I can spend as little as $50 a week on groceries. I need to work on getting my grocery bill down to that, even on a keto diet!

                    • dude! US$720 for your space sounds magical to me! that and it’s all bills paid. Yeah, definitely magical.

                      to get a 400 sqft apartment that’s not trashed around here would likely cost that amount but the bills would likely be extra.

                      Dallas is a cheaper city to live in. You can buy houses here for $100,000. They may not be fancy but there’s many cities where that’s not possible.

                      My friend bought a cute little house for $120K!

                      my ego hates to admit it but i think we’ll likely buy a house closer to $200K when the time comes. That sounds crazy but I’m put a ton of thought into it and think that’s likely the route we’ll go. But we plan to pay it off early but it might be a few more years before we even have the down payment.

                      i kind of like that you have some budget challenges because you need to do keto. a good challenge is kind of rewarding as long as it’s within your control of course.

                    • OMG, houses are so cheap where you are! In Vancouver, a starter house costs upwards of US$750,000 — and that’s a small fixer-upper in a crummy neighbourhood, far from downtown. Most of the value is in the land and not in the house itself, so even empty plots cost that much. No exaggeration.

                      Your friend’s house sounds perfect, cute and affordable — what would be better?! Back when my parents bought their first house in the 70s, it cost less than three times their household income of $20,000 (I can’t remember if they paid $57,000 or $59,000) but now things are out of control. Back then — or in Dallas now! — it’s a no-brainer to buy if you plan to live in the area for at least a decade.

                      A lot of people don’t consider a mortgage to be debt, but I’ve seen a few people lose their jobs, get behind in their mortgage payments, and lose their homes. A friend of mine is still pissed about the fact I said that until she pays off her mortgage, she doesn’t own the house, the bank does. (She was thinking of getting further into debt for house renos, even though she’s already stretched to the limit financially. Lesson learned: Even when people ask for input, sometimes they just actually want mindless affirmation! Then again, she knew full well that I don’t feel comfortable buying anything unless I can pay cash for it, so why the hell did she did she expect me to encourage her to use a home equity line unless it was for urgent repairs?!)

                      If I won the lottery, I’d buy a little plot of land and build a cob house the size of my apartment 🙂

                    • how does anyone afford to buy a house at the starting price of $750,000? and if that’s the lowest of the low then i would imagine it would require repair.

                      Mark *just* got a grown up job! and that’s a big part of what’s sparked me to look into housing stuff again.

                      The thing that blows me away is that people can say “oh my home costs $200,000” but after connecting the dots IT DOESN’T cost that much.

                      If you buy a $200,000 house after interest that’s a $350,000 (with good credit) and a $400,000+ house with bad!

                      I swear that just clicked like 3 weeks ago.

                      Our goal is to pay our future house off in 6.5 years which would save $125,000 in interest.

                      and to obviously have like 6 months of living expenses saved just in case.

                      I hate to toot my horn of ambition and point to my desire to pay a house off early. I pretty much don’t want to talk about it until it’s done because who knows how realistic that is. or if that bare bottom lifestyle would even be fulfilling. but it’s something I’d very much like to give a try.

                      I mean who knows where we’ll be financially in a few years but I hope it’s at least where we are today and not worse. Ideally we’d be better off 🙂

                      A friend of mine moved to Dallas from CA. She said that in CA she wouldn’t be able to have the life she has here. Like she’d just be stuck paying bills with nothing left over. She said that by living in Dallas she can afford to travel and have a fuller life.

                      The conversation came up because I was like, “buy a house in dallas…. or somewhere else?”. She said that even if Dallas wasn’t her favorite place she could afford to take trips to better places. it was an interesting conversation.

                    • That’s FANTASTIC news about Mark!!!

                      The answer is that most Vancouverites can’t afford to buy a house. Those that do manage to qualify for a mortgage are usually leveraged to the hilt, so it’s easy for them to get into trouble if they get laid off and/or unexpected expenses (often house-related, like needing a new roof) crop up. I totally have faith in you in terms of paying off your mortgage quickly, but most people aren’t capable of that kind of financial discipline and hardly anyone has an emergency fund 🙁

                      Maybe I’m misreading the situation, but it sounds like your friend is making a big trade-off for that cheaper house in Dallas. How many weeks out of the year does she travel? The rest of the time she’s living in a city she doesn’t really appreciate, probably feeling like she’s wasting her life. Not a good trade-off IMO unless she’s spending most of the year travelling, in which case why buy a house?! She’d be better off getting a job that involves lots of travel (I used to know a guy who used to work for Air Canada, and he got to travel cheaply because his flights cost next to nothing) and renting an apartment in California, if that’s where she’s happiest.

                    • To clarify on my friend. She’s really happy being here. She has a huge community of friends. she doesn’t own a house here (yet) and doesn’t travel all the time.

                      I think she was saying that her life is way more flexible here in texas. The biggest trade of is the weather is a bit extreme and the scenery isn’t as glorious as mountains, desserts or forests. But she’s been part of an unschooling community for years, she does weightlifting on a team, travels to see family in CA when needed and raises her two daughters comfortable in TX.

                      I might be overgeneralizing her life and I’m also referring to a conversation we had 5-6 years ago.

                      I don’t think she’s living the trade off you imagined. But it’s not crazy that you thought that.

                      That kind of trade off kind of reminds me of my mentality with the tiny house we lived in. It was very short sided of me. Ya live, you learn.

                    • I’m so glad I misread your friend’s situation! In all fairness, I see it happen so often here that it’s easy to assume yet another person is sacrificing their personal life in order to get ahead financially. I did it for a lot of years, working crazy hours in buildings where the windows don’t open. That’s time I won’t get back but, like you say, live and learn.

                      Well, you and Mark went tiny hardcore! You put up with a lot of discomfort and I was so impressed, but I can see why you wouldn’t want to do that again.

                      On a totally different topic, Indian cuisine is my fave and I’m going to start exploring adapting some of the recipes I’ve tried in the past, tweaking as needed. For example, this lovely potato pea curry dish; I could sub cauliflower florets for potato, but I have to figure out a low-carb replacement for peas. Hmmm. Any suggestions?

                      https://web.archive.org/web/20080512120840/http://veganyumyum.com/2007/02/potato-pea-curry/

                    • that dish looks amazing!

                      I vote using either spinach, kale or zucchini chunks.

                      so did you end up changing careers?

                    • That dish is delish! I used nigella instead of cumin seeds the first time, and that was so tasty I kept doing that. I like the idea of zucchini chunks, but have since discovered peas aren’t too high-carb in small quantities and they’re unique in that they contain lots of water, but it’s contained within the pea.

                      I guess I am in the middle switching careers, though at the moment I’m just living off savings. I ended up in hospital last fall, almost dying of deep vein thrombosis and bilateral pulmonary emboli. I’m still on anticoagulants all these months later and have some long-term damage, though you wouldn’t know it to look at me, as it’s all internal. As for the cause, there were several factors — I’d been doing lots of travelling, plus I was on the birth control pill at the time (like most people, I shrugged off the fine print about one of the side effects being the possibility of clots).

                      Luckily, I had already downsized years ago and had savings in the bank. I also didn’t have debts and there were no medical bills to paid, thanks to provincial health coverage. That said, eventually I do need to find a source of income; it’ll have to be something that requires very energy, because I still tire really easily. In the meantime, I’m assessing my life…in between naps, ha ha.

                      It’s a drag, but I keep reminding myself it could be much, MUCH worse. About a month after I was in hospital, there was an Irish girl in the news because her family was doing a GoFundMe to get her home from Dubai. She was 26 years old and had the same thing as me, but hers was the worse case scenario — she had seizures, several cardiac arrests, and a stroke. I checked out her GoFundMe page not long ago to see how she was doing. The good news is that she’s back in Ireland. The bad news is that she’s still in hospital, can’t walk, and is having to relearn how to communicate 🙁

                    • WOW! that is all so crazy. And scary. Sounds like all things considered you’re doing really well.

                      Did you see my link in the comments here responding to Dianne? i linked to a really impressive episode of a woman who went from food stamps to $80,000 income (PASSIVE INCOME!) with bread baking.

                      That podcast (side hustle school) is a great source of inspiration and ideas for someone looking to create income in their life. The podcasts are like 10 minutes each. Very easy to take in.

                    • Yes, I did see your reply to Dianne — AMAZING! Have subscribed to him, will keep my eye out for inspiration.

                    • It’s been around for a while, so it’s entirely possible. I love watching it whenever I find myself making my life too complicated and/or focusing on what I lack instead of what I have.

                    • oh i told Mark what the houses cost in your area and he said, “oh, is that Vancouver?”

                      He just told me you guys have some really nice weather. Jealous!

                    • Yes, the weather is amazing with mild temperatures all year round. The summers are dry but usually not too hot; today is typical, with a high of 21C/70F and low of 12C/54F. Later this week it gets a bit hotter, but not much. Vancouver gets a bad rap for being rainy but that’s really only in the winter months, which are grey, grey, grey (but it rarely snows, except in the mountains). The mountains and water also make for a gorgeous landscape, which is also part of the reason people are willing to put up with the higher cost of living.

                      Turns out peas are not super low-carb, but not too bad in moderation: 8g net per half cup, which is what the recipe calls for. Not too bad 🙂

                    • i want to visit Vancouver! There’s not many cities i can say that about but there’s a fitness youtuber who had a clip of him walking around Vancouver. My instant reaction was like, “Dude what city is that!?”. I loved the small largeness that I saw.

                      Granted it was just one short little clip but i had a very strong feeling similar to how i feel about Philadelphia.

                      I don’t like massive cities but I love smaller cities that feel large. I could be making how up Vancouver is.

                    • “Small largeness” is a great way to describe it! About half the population was born outside of the country, so it’s quite cosmopolitan for a city of about 600,000. The population of the Lower Mainland, the term we use to include surrounding region, is about 2.7 million. I love getting ingredients at the various ethnic grocery stores, which are super cheap and offer a fab selection of goodies.

                      You totally should visit — my place is too small to host two people, but I’d be delighted to show you both around my hometown!! The ideal time to come is between April and October, in terms of the weather.

                    • it will happen, I have no idea when. but i’ll have to see the city through my eyes at some point.

            • i started looking up Fumio Sasaki “Goodbye Things”. Dude that book has like 8,000 votes on good reads. So impressive!

              • Claudia I live in Canada also. Ontario. I lived in Ottawa mostly, just moved to a small town outside of Ottawa 5 years ago. Ottawa is crazy for housing also. I don’t know how people can afford to buy today.
                I went to Vancouver once when my son was living there many years ago. Maybe 10 years ago. I loved it. He lived very close to downtown. I could walk when he was working. I would love to go back some day. He also lived in Calgary which I visited also. And loved Calgary also. It reminded me of Ottawa. He is now living a life I would love to. He got offered a job in Australia a few years ago and moved there. Which I visited, AMAZING. He is no longer at that job, it folded but decided to start travelling. He is a nomad I guess. He is a digital marketer so where ever there is internet he can go.

                • Awesome that your son is living his dream! Also great that you visit him in his various homes! I spent a few months living in Ottawa in my teens and loved the museums, lots of cultural events. That said, I think you’re smart to leave for a smaller and more affordable town. That’s definitely a trend everywhere across the country. My brother moved to Edmonton ages ago for work and is still there a decade later, because it is so much cheaper than Vancouver. He misses BC something fierce, but I doubt he’ll ever move back.

                  Travel is a huge passion of mine, and I’ve also lived and worked abroad. It’s not for everyone — it takes a certain person to be comfortable, never mind happy, constantly adapting to a new and totally different environment — but I loved it and clearly your son does too 🙂

                  • “you’re smart” should be “you were smart” — clearly I need more coffee to get my brain in gear this morning!

                  • Claudia how do you work and live abroad? I know when you are young you can get a work visa for 2 years I think, but I don’t know if it is like that for older people. Do you have to have a job first? I would love to go abroad for a period of time but as Canadian we can only be out of the country for about 6 months. Do you have any suggestions?

                    • Hi Dianne, sometimes I did it with short-term visas intended for young people and sometimes I’d get sponsored through work. The easiest thing is to find a job in Canada with a company that has international branches, start off working at a Canadian location and then keep an eye out for internal job postings for foreign locations (those postings are longer than six months, but the company would provide medical insurance).

                      Or find a job in Canada that involves a lot of business travel, which is actually ideal because it’s just short jaunts. For example, I’ve worked on out-of-town projects that involved months of heading out to the airport on Sunday afternoon not to return until Thursday evening (it was fun exploring the city in the evenings if work wasn’t too crazy, but it often was unfortunately). Having said that, you have to be in excellent health to live the jet-set life because it can take its toll on the body; I don’t know if you saw a comment of mine posted above about how my life has recently come to a screeching halt due to long-term complications from deep vein thrombosis and bilateral pulmonary emboli.

                      Do you or your husband have a EU passport? If yes, then you could find short-term work quite easily since you won’t have to find a job in order to be work and live in the country. Other than that, I don’t really have any suggestions; it is much harder to get short-term working visas unless you’re younger and/or have highly-desirable work experience. If you have a university degree, it wouldn’t be too difficult to get an English teaching job abroad, but typically you’d have to commit to at least a year in order for a company to offer to sponsor you for a work visa.

                      Alternatively, you could do what your son does — find a way to make money on the computer, so that you can work anywhere! To be honest, that’s probably your best option.

                      Last but not least, another option is to explore Canada — if you’ve never done that, it’s as exotic as going abroad because each part of the country is so different. I actually haven’t seen much of Canada, so I fantasize about getting a camper van and working my way across the country — sadly, I think I’m too fond of indoor plumbing to ever do this but maybe I can move from city to city for six months at a time, living out a suitcase 🙂

                    • PS I’ve come to the conclusion the easiest way to live life, whether the goal is to work abroad or not, is to let go of as many physical possessions as possible so you can up and leave easily. That way you can move to other apartments, cities, countries at the drop of a hat whether it’s due to changing financial circumstances, a crisis in the family, a work opportunity, whatever.

                      Scan photos and letters, take pictures of keepsakes, get rid of the physical copies. All other possessions are replaceable. Keep only what you use in the here and now.

                      I’d be in dire straits right now if I hadn’t already downsized to a small and affordable apartment. In fact, my goal is now to pare down even further!

    • Dude your comment makes my day. Sooo glad this is what you needed. I needed to make it and use it myself 🙂

    • my budget *goal* is $75 but i’m struggling to get it under $100. I just looked at the tracker i have on my fridge. I see that we average closer to $113 a week.

      Usually we’ll get groceries on Sunday for the week and it’s around $70 – $80 which is great! Sometimes even $50!

      Then on Thursday i’ll need to get some random stuff to make a video and it goes to up and over my goal.

      I’m guessing that if I planned the recipe videos in advance while i was getting our weekly groceries it could help us lower that number. I just need to be more thoughtful about it.

      Last year I was making 2 recipe videos a week. And since I make so many random recipes per video i needed a ton of random ingredients.

      Long story short 2017 we were spending $600-900 a month on groceries. It wasn’t until I had that ah ha moment at the end of the year that I noticed “hey, if i work less on the blog then i’ll not be so poor!” Less work AND more money!?!?! – game changer!

      i have some friends (married couple). They’re saving a lot of money, paying off their cars, saving for a house. They have a $50 a week grocery budget. I know they meal prep for the week.

      Meal prepping has made a huge difference in our shopping behavior.

      • Thank you for the info, just wanted to see what kind of numbers are realistic. I was trying for $50 a week for me and my husband but if we need something else the whole plan gets messed up and we don’t even keep track anymore. I do think meal planning would help a lot so I’m gonna get your budget planner thing to help me stay on track.

        • here’s an idea I just wanted to throw out there. Let’s say you have a $75 a week budget but with secondary goal of trying to just spend $50 of it.

          Say you take $75 cash to the store then put aside any money left over in a separate place.

          You can use that left over money one of two ways.

          You can grow your left over pile of grocery money but save it for unplanned last minute grocery needs. Think of this as spillover/roll over grocery money.

          The other option would be that at the end of every month you use that left over grocery money to go out to eat. Or some sort of other reward.

          Set the bar at an achievable height! Then if you hit the extreme secondary goal (like $50) then you get bonus points & goals stars. Those are nice but not necessary.

          Just a thought, I hope this helps.

          • That is a good idea, I was just thinking of something like that! I have another problem though. I tell my husband he should take out cash so it would be harder to overspend but his bank is not located here and mine isn’t either so we can’t take out cash. We made a budget but it somehow always changes. He’s not as good at keeping track of stuff. Any tips to get him to stick to a plan? I wish banks came with virtual compartments that you could stick different amounts of money into for different spending categories. Do they have something like that?

            • Couple thoughts on the cash vs card thing.

              cash is good for the obvious reason that you can set aside the left over money and have a clear idea of your budget. But i totally get that its not convenient. and a for a very long while it wasn’t even realistic for us to try to organize any amount of money in cash.

              one option is you could take the loss and pull money out of the closest ATM once a month and just pay the fees. Aren’t ATM fees like $2.50 or something? If you pull the money out for a months worth of groceries at a time then it’s minimizes fees vs doing it every week. That’s if you can afford to pool a months worth of food money at once.

              Another option is cash back at the register. Maybe buy your groceries. If you hit $50 or are close then get $20 cash back and set that aside.

              The book “I will Teach You To Be Rich” has a WHOLE section on using virtual compartments to organize your money in the bank! That was super enlightening. Not every bank has that option but he recommends a few.

              That audiobook is (illegally) uploaded onto youtube last time I checked.

              I totally know what you mean about not sticking to a budget. 2017 is proof that i went totally sideways in that department.

              Here’s some things to know:

              its totally fair to like the idea or philosophy of budgeting but not actually want to take it on as lifestyle. Most people’s ideals aren’t their reality because it just doesn’t fit their lifestyle.

              do you both individually actually want to budget and follow through but need to get over some obstacles?

              or is it something you agree with but don’t have a desire to follow through with?

              Assuming it’s just a problem solving issue here’s some thoughts. write out 7 days worth of meals you could make for the week. Look through your pantry and freezer and structure some of those meals around those ingredients,

              Write out a grocery list based that weeks meals and write out the costs. If you’re over budget see if there’s a few things you’d be willing to hold off on until next week. If there’s multiples of the same food group and just pick 1 or 2 instead of 3 or more.

              You don’t have to master this for life. Just challenge yourself to get through one week. if there’s something you need from the store consider making something else so you don’t need to buy anything extra to fulfill the recipe.

              between the two of you I vote just the one who is most likely to stick to the list go to the store alone with your list already written out.

              If both of you are challenged to sticking to a list maybe bring in a friend or family to help. Or maybe even pay one of those delivery services like the Favor App to pick up your groceries.

              It’s okay to lose a little bit of money like ATM fees or delivery apps if you still come out financially ahead. You save $20 on groceries but spend $2 at the ATM or $5 on a delivery app – sounds like a win to me.

              It took me the LONGEST time to adjust to buying less. It’s still a challenge but i’ve set a new threshold for what full cart looks like. And my muscle memory is no longer just reaching for things I used to buy habitually.

              I’m still hoping to lower our budget more but we’re on the right track.

              • Sweet! I couldn’t find the whole book on youtube but I can buy it. Sounds like it would be really helpful! I’m not sure about ATM fees but whenever I bring it up my husband doesn’t wanna do it, but yea it’s probably worth it because we would spend more than the fees by not keeping track. The problem with getting cash back is that we can’t take out enough for the other spending categories but it could be really helpful for sticking to our grocery budget at least. I dunno, he doesn’t wanna do these things when I suggest them. He probably has to think of something himself in order to be motivated, or maybe he is scared of losing flexibility or something. I think we both want to budget because we have some things we need to pay off, but it’s not naturally his personality to be a planner so he often overlooks things. He was really motivated at first but forgets about everything so fast. We just started so I guess I shouldn’t expect everything to be going smoothly already. I’ll take it one week at a time and do the things you suggested and hopefully it becomes second nature. It’s so refreshing to see that you struggle too. I used to think you were some superhuman who didn’t even need running water. Anyway I got some really good tips out of this post and wrote them all down. Excited to try them!

                • dude let me know how this goes.

                  I’m the most random person. a bit extreme. I get militant strict then go the opposite way. I’ve been trying to live more of the middle way these days.

    • dude yes! unless you live alone it’s likely not cut and dry. Very glad you’re digging the info. Let me know if i can help in any way!

  3. I love this direction you are going. I so appreciate the time it must have taken to do the video and blog. I am in a different time of my life than you. I am retired and live on a limited budget. I ended up getting an expensive car as we moved and I still needed to get to work for a number of months before I retired. That car is $415 per month. I have thought about selling it, but I would still have about $18,000-20,000 left. It doesn’t make sense. We moved to a very small condo in a small town. To move some place cheaper doesn’t make sense. I have looked at rentals in the City and about $1200 cheapest. We pay $560 with our mortgage and $243 a month for condo fees. If circumstances change soon, I could save enough to pay off the car in 3 years or pay off the mortgage in 5. There is more to this story that I won’t bore you with. I need and want to get ahead.
    I can’t seem to get the 20 percent code.

    • Thanks! I very much appreciate the love.

      we’ll it sounds like you’re living $400 cheaper than if you moved so I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

      we’re about to move and I’m shocked by how much everything costs! I really must have been living in a bubble in my head. I had no idea that all of our options would be a huge increase in our costs. Oh well, we need to move so I have to embrace the higher cost of living.

      Sometimes you just can’t lower your costs any more so then the only alternative is to raise your income.

      I ALWAYS suggest that people to check out Side Hustle School Podcast. The guy does quick 10 minute stories everyday. He tell stories of people who started simple side jobs for themselves.

      The rules for a story to make it on the show it that
      1. its side hustle and the person didn’t need to quit their job in order to make it work.
      2. low start up costs. no loans or anything crazy.
      3. the person makes at least $500 income on the side from the side job every month.

      The great thing about the podcast is that soooo many people are making crazy money with such unique items… and little effort. One day i hope that will be me 🙂

      if you can’t figure out the coupon code but want to buy the download then buy it, leave a note for me and i’ll refund you 20% immediately!

      I noticed my first sale was at full price so i went back and give her the discount without asking through the a 20% refund. I figured there must have been a problem with the coupon. Sure enough I didn’t have it set up properly. I’ve fixed it and had 3 sales showing the coupon code working.

      • I will have to check out that podcast. It sounds very cool. I need to make some extra money. I tried to get a job. I am 64 and though nobody has said it, because it is against the law no one seems to want to hire me. I really feel it is because of my age. I have tried Walmart, and a number of other companies. I have posted ads for cleaning, no body responded. I;m not sure if I posted it for Ottawa I would get jobs cleaning. I moved away to a small town outside of Ottawa when I retired. (I live in Ontario) That would require me to travel 40 minutes to an hour. I worked for over 30 years in a hospital. Enough of my pity party.

        • Even if the age thing is against you don’t get behind that story too! Don’t reinforce the idea that you’re not wanted. Eye on the prize!

          This is one of the most inspiring episodes on side hustle school:

          WOMAN ON FOOD STAMPS EARNS $86,000 TEACHING PEOPLE TO BAKE BREAD

          https://sidehustleschool.com/episode/237/

          This woman made all that money as passive income through the internet! Just blows out of the water the idea that we need to struggle!

          • I started at the very beginning of this, but will definately find that episode. There are a couple of Youtubers, Brothers Green who I just love. One of the brothers fell in love with the idea of making sourdough bread. BTW his looks amazing. You could take a little course from him to master bread making.

  4. This helped me out soooo much! I’ve watched so many video’s for budgeting, and just couldn’t get it… well this is exactly what I needed! Thank you for being so thorough, I know this took some time to put together, I appreciate your efforts. I will be purchasing the printables today!

    • 🙂 dude yes! That’s just how i felt. I’m so glad this was what you needed! I hope the printables help too <3

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