3 Ways Your Planner Can Help You in Times of Distress

Last week, I received some news that dramatically changed my day to day life and affected me and my family in multiple ways.

It left me angry, frustrated, sad, happy, confused and questioning why. I was a ball of emotions. The day after I received the news, I didn’t follow my normal routine. I really wasn’t sure what to do. I felt so off the entire day. My head was all over the place.

The next morning, I opened my planner to the beginning pages and felt instant peace. Here’s why:

1. AFFIRMATIONS

In my planner, I have written down affirmations of who I am and the person I want to become. It has helped me tremendously remember in times of distress what defines me and what doesn’t. And studies show, what we focus on is what we become in the end. My affirmations include things like: “I am a good wife. I am wonderfully made. I am beautiful. I am loved by God and my family. I am safe. God has great plans and a purpose for me.” They may seem really “woo-woo” at first, but I promise you that it will change your life after reading them day after day! Head over to my Pinterest board and pick out some affirming truths to add to your planner. After I read through my affirmations I felt centered and remembered who I was and who I am striving to be.

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Image from @chibird on Instagram

 2. GOALS

During my morning routine after I read through my affirmations I move on to my goals. My goals are 90 days long and I use the PUSH goal system from Chalene Johnson. The news I received actually hadn’t changed my goals at all, which was a relief as I am really close to achieving some of them this round! Studies have also shown that reviewing your goals every day is extremely beneficial and keeps you on track. You can also compare your goals to your to-do list you have written down. You might find that they compare very well or they contrast! Reviewing my goals helps me stay focused on the short-term target instead of pining after an ambitious year-long goal or the dreaded. . . New Years Resolutions! 

3. VISION

Lately, I’ve realized that I am TERRIFIED to write down exactly what I want my life to look like. Would I want it to be too big, too much? Would that make me turn into a greedy, rich, unhappy person? Or perhaps I would want too little, leaving me to die wishing I had done more or helped more people. (These are the things that I think about at night, ha! Thank youuuu anxiety and being a worry wart.). So a few months ago, unprompted, I just sat down and blocked out everything that had gone on that day and just dreamed. I wrote down what my daily routine would look like, I wrote down what kind of friends I would have, what my house looked like, what my job/sources of income were and what kind of person I was. It was so freeing and I could sum it all up in 5 sentences. Some people call this a CRAFL (a Crazy, Ridiculous, Amazing, Fun, Life). I remember studying the “magic question” in college as well when I was majoring in Psychology that would help people dream again. The question is, “If your life could look like or be anything in 5 years, what would that be?” This is a similar question you can ask if thinking long term is too overwhelming (I know it is for me, certainly!). After reviewing this I realized that this news didn’t totally set me all the way off the train tracks on the way to creating the vision I have for my life (like it certainly felt it had).

Reviewing these 3 things (affirmations, goals, and your vision) can be incredibly beneficial to keeping you on track, especially when we get hit out of nowhere with news or circumstances out of our control! Affirmations especially can help anchor us to who we are and what we are here for, despite what the world or our circumstances tell us.

I encourage you and dare you (oh, shoot!) to try reviewing one of the 3 types of daily review exercises above and see what it can do for your life. Tell me in the comments below, which one will you add to your planner and daily routine?



How I Use My Hobonichi Techo Notebook: Part 2 – Weekly Layout

Hey, Planner Peeps!

Last week we chatted on how I use the monthly layout in my Hobonichi.  I got some great feedback on it and so appreciate it whenever you guys let me know what you like seeing on the blog!

This week we’re panning over to the weekly layout, which I use mainly for a habit tracker! I’ve found that as a human, we thrive on routines and our habits make up a big part of those. My body thrives and my mind thrives when it knows what to expect next. Even though some people claim, “Ah, my personality thrives off of spontaneity!” that may be true, but as you go throughout your day – you’ll realize you have habits and routines established that you might not have even been intentional about. My habit tracker in my Hobonichi has taught me a lot. A few of these things being:

  • I’m not so diligent about some habits and I’m way more diligent about others

  • It’s all about progress, not perfection!

  • Some habits matter more to my productivity than others

 

By the way, did you know I have a Pinterest board dedicated exclusively to planner layouts and ideas? I’ve found lots of great ideas from there and when it comes to ideas for your planner, I’m all about borrowing and stealing ideas from others!

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I write down the habits I want to keep track of that week and then fill in the boxes on that line for the corresponding day. Super easy to put together and there’s something about coloring in boxes that I find soothing. Don’t judge me.

Basically, I started out with a really small habit and that was drinking a glass of water. Don’t try to create 10 different habits at once, as most of us New Year Resolutioners know, it gets overwhelming quick! Most healthy habits are building blocks of small steps you can take each week to get better and better. Did you notice I’m at 8,000 steps a day but everyone makes a big hullabaloo about 10,000? I’m not quite there yet – but soon will be!

When I wanted to started to drinking more water, I challenged myself to just start drinking a glass right when I wake up every morning (did you know that 80% of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Water is so important!). It’s also important to make sure your habits are measurable and not just general (for instance, read a chapter of a book, drink 80 oz., 8,000 steps, etc! Also, to see how much water you should drink every day, take your body weight and cut it in half and then that’s how much in ounces. So 200lbs = 100 ounces of water a day).

I then usually write and track these in the morning or night and look over what habits I am doing well on and which ones I could use a little push on. I’ve found tracking these to be really helpful and notice that when I don’t have a good week (or my anxiety feels overwhelming), it’s usually contributed to by not sticking to my routine and habits!

Do you have a habit tracker? There’s a lot of bullet journal peeps that are big into them since they’re so easy to create and make your own layout for! Do you find tracking your habits overwhelming or helpful? I wanna know! 

How I Use My Hobonichi Techo Notebook: Part 1 – Monthly Layout

Hey, friends! I am so excited today to be sharing with you that I’ll be starting a new series on the blog all about how I use my Hobonichi Techo Cousin (A5) Planner. A few weeks ago I asked my peeps on Instagram if they wanted to know more about how I use it and I got an overwhelming response that YES, you guys want to see more of the insides! To be honest, I have hesitated sharing this because I firmly believe in finding a planner and doing what works best for YOU and you alone within it. I’ve tried to copy other peoples planning styles or the way they decorated, and it never worked out. The style I have now is completely hodged podged from various techniques and trial and error over the years. But I realized initially, that those people SHARED their planner layout with me too, so why not share mine with you?

Back to the Hobonichi. I get questions about it A LOT and I love that it’s sort of an obscure planner. This is partially because it’s not American made, but it’s from Japan! The Hobonichi is the most popular planner in Japan, hands down. Some of its notable features are that it’s paper bound, but many folks keep it protected in stylish covers. I did a review of it a few months back and decided that it was too much and my husband used it instead. I switched to an Erin Condren planner for a little while, but suddenly found myself wanting to track more health habits and not finding a lot of that functionality within the Erin Condren planner. So alas, I am back in a Hobonichi! As you can see, it’s totally fine to jump from one planner to another every once in a while, as my seasons of life have changed with my planners in the past and still do. The key is to stick to some consistency and make it a daily habit, regardless of what planner you use.

You can find a lot of Hobonichi covers on EtsyAmazoneBay, or my personal favorite, AliExpress! AliExpress is where I bought my infamous pink unicorn cover. I absolutely LOVE being able to customize the outside look of my Hobonichi. It helps it feel more like “my planner” and I can change the cover with the seasons or my mood. (Like scoring a super cute mustard yellow fabric color for the fall!)

There are 3 main parts to the Hobonichi Cousin size. The monthly layout, weekly layout AND a daily page for every day of the year. Considerably, this can be overwhelming to some. But it is rare to find a planner with all 3 types of layouts. Most only have 2 out of the 3. The Hobonichi A6 only contains a monthly layout and weekly layout. A GREAT option if you’re not a fan of how big the A5 is, but still want a quality, customizable planner!

The monthly layout I use for 2 things: my bill tracker and daily gratitude log.

Yes, I do indeed collect cute Pokemon cards for my desk.

Yes, I do indeed collect cute Pokemon cards for my desk.

If you want to hear more details about how I use my planner for our budget, definitely check out this guest post I did on the lovely Lydia Lois’ blog on the subject! Her blog is all about helping millennial’s save money and use it wisely, among many other awesome, helpful topics! As you can see, on the left hand side, I write down all our recurring bills for the month and any random bills that may occur during that month as well. I then write their due date in the calendar section. I scratch them out as we go and as they get paid.

The monthly section is something that I look at every day in the morning as a part of my morning routine (more on the morning routine coming soon!)

Every morning, at the end of my morning routine, I write down something good that happened the day before or something that I was super grateful for. I usually add a KeenaPrints sticker or a Sweet Kawaii Design sticker to brighten it up even more. (BTW, you can use code LORNA15 for 15% off on all orders over $10 on www.keenaprints.com!)

Sometimes I will write down really big events that are happening that month if I want to refer to them, other than that – I usually just plop them in my daily layout and look ahead to see what’s coming up next!

I hope this helps. If you can’t tell, I love, love, love my Hobonichi and can’t wait to share with you next week all about how I use the weekly layout. It’s certainly not what most people use it for, but it has helped me tremendously with my habits! I keep things simple, I keep them fun and that’s how I get things done.

The Honest Truth About Why I Think You Need a Planner

I’m not into the hustle. I’m into hard work. I used to look up to people who were busy, martyring themselves for causes or metrics that in the end were purely being chased out of vanity.

I decided to write this post because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about WHY I am so passionate about planners and intentional living. I’ve found that it’s certainly not looking back at a to do list that has multiple items checked off. Even better, it’s about looking at your week, your days, your lists, knowing you are accomplishing the right things and you can feel good about it all.

If I’m being really honest, I hate the weird connotations I feel when I hear the word productivity. I feel tired. I feel sad. I feel like a cog in the machine.

I came to the realization a while ago, that I would rather live in a 500 square foot apartment and eat Top Ramen, working in a job I really enjoy making pennies, rather than be praised by people I don’t like for accomplishments I achieved at the sacrifice and cost of what REALLY matters to me.

For me, it was sacrificing positivity (a HUGE personal value of mine) for a label that I didn’t really want.

And life is just far too short for that.

When I was 9 years old, I saw my first glimpse into death.

It was Thanksgiving Day and we had just sat down to eat, when all of a sudden we heard a loud, eerie sound of metal clashing. We ran outside and saw a horrific scene of injury, blood, trauma and pieces of metal that were once normal cars. It was so silent, but all so loud at the same time. 

I’ll never forget my Dad walking over to the driver of the truck that had been slammed into by a small car, all because of a failure to stop at a  stop sign. He held the mans wrist in his hand and waited to hear any sign of life. Calmly, he put his hand down and walked back to me slowly, shaking his head. He locked eyes with me as I stared and quietly said, “He’s gone.”

I still think about that accident to this day, because it was truly a wake up call for me. It all happened within seconds, and within minutes peoples lives had forever been changed.

I have sacrificed relationships for money that was lost just a few days later.

I have sacrificed actually enjoying my life and being present for numbers or Instagram followers or Facebook likes.

And I have wanted and coveted what someone else had (cars, houses, influence, following) not realizing all the panic, the pain and the drama that ensued sprinting after those things instead of pacing themselves.

That’s the key though, with using a planner. You are planning the life YOU want to build. And that’s why I am so passionate about helping people find the right planner and using it.

Maybe you don’t care about money. Or maybe you do? Maybe you care about having peace in your life. . .  Or maybe you care about having your days filled with your family and friends. Maybe, it’s having your days filled with connecting and working with people who have the same spark you do and the same drive to see things accomplished like you.

We are all different, but a life lived with intention, is hardly ever a life wasted. 

Today friends, I challenge you to write out your 5 values somewhere in your planner where you can scan over them every day. These are key, intrinsic priorities that help you make decisions, choose the life path you want to walk down on and they make sure that no matter what, you are living the life you are called and intended to live.

Here are my personal, 5 values:

* Peace
* Trust
* Positivity
* Service
* Health

I’d love to know, what are your five values? If you feel comfortable, I’d love to have you share them in the comments below! Too many of us are busy living lives that are filled with the agenda of others, instead of stopping amidst the noise and creating the agenda our inner compass is calling us to live.

Rifle Paper Co. Planner with Sarah Robinson

Hey, Planner Peeps! I’m so excited to share this space with a very special guest this week. My friend Sarah Robinson and I met through an old job and we soon started a mastermind with two other lovely ladies! Sarah writes over at  Beautiful Between and loves to share about hope, love and redemption. We got Chinese food together last November and she generously showed me her planner. I fell in love and immediately asked her to write a post on how she used it, along with her systems! Without further ado, here’s my lovely friends way of living life, intentionally:

I shouldn’t even be writing this.

At least, that’s what I would have believed not long ago.

I never saw myself as “organized.” My half-done checklists got lost in some notebook or another as I kept searching for the perfect planner, the perfect system, and the perfect way to get everything done.

Really, I was searching for ways to live up to my unrealistic expectations. I crammed my schedule full to the brim, edge to edge in planners and calendars, desperate to do enough that I would finally feel good enough.

Want to know what’s funny? I was convinced I wasn’t a perfectionist because I wasn’t perfect enough.

In all my frantic striving to just be good enough, I was focused on the wrong things. I made lists and set goals for things I wanted to accomplish, but they often went undone. And I beat myself up for all that I couldn’t quite manage.

It wasn’t until I stopped asking what I wanted to do that perfectionism’s grip began to loosen.

Now, I’m asking a better question.

Who do I want to be?

It’s so much more than what I want to accomplish. It’s not about the checklist and the achievement. It’s about identity: who I am and who I’m becoming. It’s about building the life I want.

Now, I don’t find my value as a person in what I cross off the list daily. I’ve learned that much of who I am and who I become is wrapped up in my daily activities, and I get to choose what they are.

I want to live a life that fully aligns with my values, so I make sure it shows up in my daily to-dos.

So what does it look like in practice?

First, determine who you want to be and break that down into specific traits. Here’s my example list:

I want to be someone who:

  • Loves people really well.

  • Creates meaningful work that touches lives.

  • Stewards my one life well.

  • Lives a generous lifestyle.


Then, take each of those traits and break it down to specific tasks/things that contribute to it in your life. These should be things you can schedule or principles you can implement as you fill your planner. Here are some examples for each of the traits above.

  • Loves people really well:

    • Schedule reminders to reach out to loved ones.

    • Prioritize margin/open space in my schedule for unexpected opportunities to spend time with people.

  • Creates meaningful work that touches lives:

    • Schedule time for deep work, research, thinking, even prayer.

  • Stewards my one life well:

    • Prioritize what makes me healthy so I can give of myself how I want to.

    • Schedule exercise, grocery shopping, counseling, and down time.

    • Consider what I say yes and no to. Sometimes I need to say no to good things to make room for great things.

  • Lives a generous lifestyle:

    • Schedule payments to keep moving toward being debt free (so we eventually have more money to give).

    • Set aside a little money from each paycheck for generosity (so we have money available whenever an opportunity arises to help someone).


The tools of the trade

This is a planner blog, so of course I’m going to share the tools that work for me as I create the life I want. Also, please know that while Lorna may use affiliate links and receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase the items below, I don’t get anything for these recommendations. These are just tools I love that help me become who I want to be. I think they might help you, too!

Rifle Paper Co. Planner

Last year, my husband hunted high and low for the perfect gift: a planner I would love. After TONS of research, he landed on my gorgeous Rifle Paper Co planner in a dusty pink. I love the heavy paper, the floral cover, and the quotes on every two-page spread.

I also LOVE the two-column layout! In 2017, it was perfect for me because I don’t usually fill my planners with my entire to-do list. Instead, I include up to 3 “most important things” that I list in order of importance. On one column, I list the top 3 tasks for work. I list the top 3 for my personal life in the other column. Then, I tackle them in that order.

If I only complete those 3 things that day – or even if I accomplish the single most important thing on each of my lists – I count my day a success. It feels good to have my own definition for success and know I can attain it.

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Highlighters & fine point felt pens

I love having color to freshen up my pages, so I try to write in my planner with fine felt markers. I usually go for colored Sharpie pens or Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (my favorites!).

I also hate crossing or checking off items in my planner – it looks so messy! Instead, I highlight items as I complete them. It’s a bright, visual way to show my progress at a glance. 




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Airtable

My writing has taken off over the past several months. It’s become a business and requires more attention and planning than a hobby. I’ve also started taking on some freelance clients and, much as I love my Rifle Paper Co. Planner, it wasn’t cutting it for my ever-expanding to-do lists, editorial calendar, and multiple projects.

Airtable is an incredibly flexible online tool full of templates to manage any kind of project, lists of clients, or even personal stuff like menu planning or keeping track of your favorite books. The best part is that it’s FREE and 100% customizable.

It’s the perfect complement to my analog planner. I track complex details and connect important information for my projects in Airtable so I can see where I am on big projects at a glance. But I still write down my 3 most important things in my planner to keep me focused.

What it all comes down to

I use these tools so I can have the life I want: one of joy, wholeness, and purpose. I use it to chip away at the important commitments and tasks that I’d otherwise sacrifice at the altar of the urgent. I use it to define success and move myself toward it.

But most of all, this is how I free myself from unrealistic perfectionism. This is how I’m becoming happy with who I am and what I do. And that is priceless.

Want more from Sarah? Click here to get her free mini-ebook on living a beautiful life right now. 

How to Find the Perfect Planner for Your Life

As the new year approaches, we all love to start things fresh and new with a new slate! And for many people, that includes buying a brand new planner too.

The planner industry has exploded over the past few years and it seems like everyone is coming out with their own planner and major brands are bigger than ever. That being said, it can be really overwhelming to find one that works for you. Often, we buy planners thinking that it will finally be the one or the product that helps us get organized and reach our goals. But there’s a need to be intentional and think through your decision, so you don’t end up wasting money and feeling guilty you bought yet again, another planner you didn’t use. Here are a few ways you can filter out which planners are not the right fit for you and which ones are!

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1.Lifestyle

This is key when finding the right planner. Each and every one of us has different schedules, priorities, and goals and our planners need to align with this! For instance, I have a very flexible schedule that allows me to work whenever and I rarely have time-sensitive meetings or appointments, so many planners with hourly layouts like the Passion Planner just don’t work for me! I’d rather have room to scribble down notes, ideas or important tasks I need to make sure I get done that day. When I was in college though, I fluctuated between the Passion Planner and the Plum Paper Student Planners as their layouts are created and suited with students in mind and are more schedule focused. 

Another example is a stay at home mom who has 5 kids in 5 different activities might need to plan out her day hour by hour, so something like the Purposeful Planner or the Day Designer work great for her so she can keep all her plates spinning as she takes it day by day. 

Take time to think through your days. What stresses or bums you out? What do you need more clarity on with your schedule? Would a planner with a monthly layout help you budget your bills? Will a planner with a daily layout help you stay focused and take it one step at a time, but still allow you to plan ahead with appointments? Find a planner that has a layout that’s conducive to your lifestyle and make it work for you, don’t work to make it fit into your life!

2. Style/Color Scheme

This is also very important, as you want to be carrying this thing around with you everywhere! I recently switched over to a Hobonichi and to be honest, the outside covers of it aren’t pleasing to the eye or my style at all. So I hopped over to AliExpress and bought a $20 unicorn cover for it and now I can’t help but take it everywhere with me! Some prefer planners with more modern and professional style like a Filofax or like Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner. Some prefer simplistic styles with splashes of color like MochiThings planners. Others prefer complete control over the aesthetic of their planner so a good old-fashioned Moleskine and Bullet Journaling works well for them (although, when I was bullet journaling I fell in LOVE with the Leuchtturm 1917 journals). And of course – there’s some that prefer wild, crazy, fun colors so the classic Erin Condren and Lily Pulitzer planners are right up their alley.

3. No Such Thing, Jellybean

It’s time we all accepted that there is no such thing as a perfect planner. Sorry to bait and switch ya, but it’s true! The planner itself is a guide to helping you plan out your days and weeks, but it’s up to you to stick to it and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to get messy and write and make mistakes in your planner! If it’s dated, you will never be on that same date ever again, so go for it.

Take your time, breathe and explore your options. Rushed decisions are rarely ones we are happy with later and the same goes for choosing the right planner for you. Your unicorn planner is out there, I promise! ?

So tell me in the comments below, what’s your biggest struggle when looking for the right planner? I wanna know! 

How I Use My Planner For Our Budget

Something I just love about having a planner is that it can help capture my thoughts, keep me on track and help me see ahead! When I started to utilize my planner to help me with our budget it became a game changer and gave me so much more clarity on what money needed to do what and go where. This system is simple, takes a few steps and involves a monthly layout, which most planners have!

A fresh start in my Hobonichi Cousin (A5). 

A fresh start in my Hobonichi Cousin (A5). 

STEP ONE
Use the side of your monthly layout to list out allllll your monthly bills. I don’t include categories that fluctuate or that we pull cash out for (gas, food, fun money, pets, etc.). List out recurring monthly expenses like utilities, phone bill, insurance, student loan payments, Netflix subscriptions, etc.

STEP TWO
Next, go through each bill and look up its due date and the amount that will be due. (If you’re not sure, it’s ok to estimate it!) Then, find the day it’s due and write in the name of the bill and the amount owed.

STEP THREE
Next, write out the days of the month that you get paid. You can always ask the bookkeeper at your work for a list of dates that your paycheck will be deposited or when they plan to write checks if you’re not sure!

STEP FOUR
Now, as you get paid, you can look ahead and see what bills are due before the next time you get a paycheck. As you pay your bills, cross them off in your monthly layout and on the list on the side. I recommend that you do all of this the day you get paid! This makes it so your bills are paid each pay period, you have the money you need for your cash envelopes and you don’t have any remaining money sitting in your checking just tempting you there. That remaining amount can go toward savings, sinking funds, or paying off any debts you still owe.

More than anything, make your budget and planning as easy as can be. Some tips that we have found helpful:

– Use envelopes for categories that you tend to overspend in (for us, it’s always FOOD!). If you hate the hassle of envelopes, they make adorable wallets like these that help keep your cash separate!

– If you’re married and both working, sit down, write out your expenses and see if you can live off of one income.

– If you can, assign each paycheck a job! For instance: the first paycheck of the month will go towards your bills and necessities (pull cash for food money, gas money for the month, etc) and the second will go towards savings or debt payments and paying down debt. If you have side hustles or income, you can then use that money towards fun things like dates, entertainment, etc.

– If you struggle to pay your bills throughout the month with the timing of a paycheck, call the company and see if they will move the due date of your bill. (We’ve done this before and have found most companies want your money and are willing to make things easier for you! ?)

– As you go throughout your days and you think of something you need to budget for with your next paycheck, make a note of it in your planner on that day and use the $ sign before it. That way, when you get paid you can look back and see what you need to remember to budget money for and not forget.

– Now that you have written out what days you get paid, make a note/task for the day BEFORE you get paid to write out your budget for that paycheck. That way when the money hits your account, you already have jobs assigned for your dollars.

– Get cute STICKERS! Goodness, budgeting can be stressful and overwhelming at first. Make it fun with stickers like these:
KeenaPrints
Sweet Kawaii Design
o MonsterMomentsCo
Erin Condren

I’d love to know, how do you use your planner with your budget? Do you pair the two together or keep them separate? Tell me in the comments below!

Just remember, budgeting is a habit that takes time to perfect and it takes a while to find systems that work for you. Like anything, if you stick with it, you will figure it out eventually! You can do it!

Our $35 Weekly Grocery Budget

Hey, Planner Peeps!

I don’t know about you, but sometimes figuring out how to buy groceries and stay within a teeny, tiny budget can be really crazy. A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I had gone to the grocery store that day and had a budget of $35 to spend for our groceries that week. I shared that I was mad, because I went over and had spent $36.39 (ugh, those bottle deposits get me every time here in Oregon!) and was beating myself up. But then I had a flashback to 5 years ago when I was first married and I had written down in my planner how bummed I was because we had spent over $100 that week in groceries for my husband and I. I love planners and planning, because they help me to be able to look back and see how much progress I’ve made and just how far I’ve come. It’s really inspiring and motivating!

However, I had so many people asking me how the heck I shop for two people on such a tiny budget, I knew I had to write a post about it to show you guys how I do this. But first, a few disclaimers:
– I am only shopping for two people. Not a family! Just my husband and I.
– Neither one of us are really picky eaters or have strict diets. We honestly both really just love food and are thankful to go to bed with full bellies at night. The $35 weeks are admittedly, not the healthiest weeks for us!
– This is not our grocery budget every single week. How our food budget operates is we take out cash for all our categories we tend to overspend in or need to reign in (food, gas, entertainment, pets, gifts, etc.). We take out $100 each week for food and toiletries. This $100 covers eating out, groceries, coffee runs (I work from home so this is vital for me, I HAVE to get out of the house!) toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, etc. So, this fluctuates each week. Some weeks we don’t eat out at all and the grocery budget is huge! (I tend to stock up on staples when this happens! Yahoo!) Other weeks we want to eat out with friends and family so we just deal with a tiny grocery budget. We are HUGE Dave Ramsey fans and this small budget will not last forever. In fact, once we are out of debt we plan on doubling (if not tripling) this category amount because we love to eat out and try new places. I can’t wait!
– Don’t compare yourself! We live in an area that has a decent cost of living and this is a sacrifice we are making temporarily while we pay down debt. Just because we get by on $35 a week on groceries sometimes, doesn’t mean you have to as well.

Ok, now! Lets do this.

Tip #1: Use what you have.
Scavenge your pantry for those odds and ends that are still edible, but might be collecting some dust! A can of black beans and some leftover tortilla chips? Grab a cheap bag of shredded cheese and some salsa and you’ve got nacho night! Don’t forget the freezer! Are there ribs from that BBQ from a few months ago that you forgot you threw in there? Leftover frozen veggies and those veggies in the fridge that are going bad soon that you can use to make a yummy stew? Rice that you can use for chicken stir fry? Get creative and keep it simple!

Tip #2: Check coupon sites before you go and shop the sales!
My all time favorite coupon sites are Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom. Check these frequently before you go to a particular store (you can search deals by store, brand, etc nowadays! It’s awesome!) and see if they have any freebies or moneymakers that you can take advantage of! I’ve gotten free toothpaste, free floss, free paper towels, really cheap toilet paper, body wash, makeup, shampoo, conditioner and more from stacking a coupon with a sale that store is having. Toiletries can get really expensive and if you have the storage space, I highly recommend on stocking up when these good deals are happening! Even if you don’t need toiletries, check for food items too. You can start to get creative when you find out that Keebler crackers are only $0.50 that week!  Also be sure to check meat prices. A few weeks ago the store had a great sale on chicken drumsticks for only $0.99 a pound. I was able to get 3 pounds of chicken for only $3! That might not seem like a big deal, but when your grocery budget is only $35, it totally is. 

Tip #3: Shop at Fred Meyer/Kroger and get their “Woohoo” deals!
Yes, I know – you did not expect those store names! They have a reputation for having higher prices, however – they have incredible markdowns on the perimeter of the store! You’ll find these markdowns with the red and yellow “woohoo” sticker on it.


quinoa.jpg

Wooooooohooooo! Great deal!

 

Check the produce section (especially bagged veggies and bagged salad), the deli area, the meat are and the dairy area specifically for these stickers! I make it a little bit of a game and try not to buy any Woohoo deal that’s over $1. Obviously, this quinoa was over a $1. So I do try to make exceptions for staples like this. Or, bagged cheese will be on sale for $1.50, of course I’ll make an exception for that because it’s a great deal and bagged cheese is a versatile food. I’ve gotten fresh salsa for $1 and all sorts of other fresh foods for very cheap doing this!

Tip #4: Scavenge the Manager’s Special Section @ Fred Meyer/Kroger
You’ll find these areas discreetly off to the side, but they often carry great deals! Our Fred Meyer has two. They always have one in the produce section that has bagged produce for $0.99. I’ve gotten a bag of apples, peppers, brussel sprouts and more for $0.99 a bag here. Often, the fruit or veggies are just a little bruised or have a spot on them, but they are still fully edible! The other area is in between the dairy section and meat section. On one side it contains the bread markdowns and the other side contains just general markdowns and woohoo deals in general. The general markdown side is where I got the Woohoo quinoa!  Scope out these sections and you’ll see things to start getting creative and pulling together with recipes and such! Often, these sections are hidden. So don’t be afraid to ask an employee if they can point you in the right direction!

Here’s a video on me talking my head off about all this, with a few other tips!

I hope you found this helpful and that this gives you some hope. We have come a looooooooooong ways when it comes to reigning in our grocery budget and we are so excited to pay off all of our debt in the process!