Tag Archives: budget

A Recap of Our January, Goal Progress, and a Big Announcement!

I can’t believe it’s already February! My apologies for not writing this earlier this month; work has been insanely busy with a few managers needing time off and so I needed to work longer hours than usual to keep up with everything.

January Recap:

Even among all the craziness, January was still a great month! The best man from our wedding, Luke, got married at the beginning of the month, so we started the year with a road trip down to the wedding. I found a great deal on hotels.com for a beautiful lodge near the ceremony.

Cedar Creek Lodge was absolutely wonderful! It was originally a conference and corporate retreat center, and they opened up to commercial bookings a few years ago. When we arrived, we learned that they decided not to put us in the more hotel-like atmosphere of the lodge, but instead upgraded us to our own little cottage! Had I been thinking ahead, I would have taken tons of pictures. These cottages are brand new. Everything was pristine and beautiful. The cottage had a king sized bed, plus a twin with a trundle, and vaulted ceilings.¬†We had a screened-in porch with a table, chairs, and twinkly lights. The description stated that breakfast was included, and in the kitchenette we found a basket of fruit, cereal, granola, and muffins. In the mini fridge were bottles of milk and orange juice, and cartons of yogurt. We had supper at their Town Hall restaurant, where I had the best sweet potato fries and veggie club I’ve ever tasted. And I (barely) beat Peter at a game of pool. ūüôā

We had just gotten cozy for the night when suddenly – we lost power! I called the number it said to call for emergencies, and the woman told me that there had been a sudden outage in the area and about 1,400 other people were also without power. She said we were welcome to leave and they were going to give us our money back for our stay either way. I told her that since it was 10:30pm, we didn’t know where we were, and we have a toddler, we would stay. We took the blankets off the twin and trundle and that kept us plenty warm. The power turned on again around 7am, and the heater was very welcome. We are already talking about coming back this summer to stay there and enjoy their saltwater swimming pool.

2017 Goals Progress:

Personal Goals

Complete the 15 Days to a Healthier You challenge in January¬† This was so beneficial for me. It was much more holistic than I had anticipated and I’ve really been mindful of more aspects of health since this course. I’m drinking more water, processing emotions (something that is very difficult for an ESFP personality type like me since we prefer to be happy all the time, even if that means that we have to ignore issues or just hope they go away). Crystal will be hosting another challenge later in the year; be sure to sign up to be notified for the next round!
Complete 2 yoga challenges and 1 CouchTo5k challenge
Quit coffee for the month of January. I did it! I can’t tell if I have any more energy than usual, but coffee is back to being a treat that I choose to enjoy rather than need to survive. It’s more fun to have coffee with Peter on the weekends now that I’m not depending on it to wake up.

Family Goals

Save a certain amount (I will update you all on our progress by %). More on this in a minute.
Take an actual family vacation.
Find a meal plan system that works for us and stick with it. I’m making slow progress with this. We decided that it would save us money to travel 35 minutes each way to head a couple towns over to the nearest Aldi, so we tested this theory on Friday. We were able to get 25-30% more food for the same amount of money that we normally spend each week at Walmart! This week I’m looking forward to marinated pork with roasted brussel sprouts, ¬†spaghetti with meatballs, and quiche. We were able to get 3 dozen eggs for $1 less than 1 dozen here at Walmart! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve missed Aldi so much!
Grow a garden. Not quite the season to check this off yet, but I am in the planning stages of what I want to grow. 

Business Goals

Get my blogging/writing done early before my family wakes up. I love blogging, but I do not want it to interfere with family time. I’ve been doing well at this, but when I’ve been getting to work at 7:30 and not getting home till 5, I’ve been too tired this week to get up earlier.
Complete 2 Pinterest improvement challenges. Keep track of numbers before and after to see if it’s making any difference.
Stick to an organizing system for income and expenses.
Transition to a different hosting platform for the blog.  Done! Now hosting through Siteground, and their customer service is amazing!
Post in CHL at least 4 days/week. This needs to change to 2-3 for the rest of the year. I love writing, but as I wrote earlier, I’ve found a better balance if I take a couple days off writing to spend improving the site, focusing on Pinterest, or writing articles for other sites.
Send at least one newsletter a week (be sure to subscribe! I share what I’m learning, what kinds of fun things we discovered, and good deals if I find them). This happened once this month. I’m thinking these will be a Thursday or Friday night task.
Submit at least one freelance/guest blog post every week. I submitted one in January.

Announcement:

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know this already. On January 6th we found out we are expecting! After two years of struggling with an inability to gain weight, I’ve finally found something that works. I was able to stabilize my metabolism and I think that had a lot to do with being ¬†able to carry another baby. We are currently 8 weeks, due in mid September. No real food aversions right now, but I have noticed a much more intense nausea after eating something sugary. When we were expecting Tristan, I ate a half pan of brownies for breakfast. Now if I eat one brownie, I’m kicking myself for not choosing a piece of fruit. Thankfully I can still (usually) tolerate my chocolate plant-packed protein powder, which I either make into a shake with hemp hearts and coconut milk or I add collage hydrolysate powder and hot water for a delicious mug of 24g of protein and nutrition from 26 plants.

I haven’t really gained any weight yet, but I’ve already had to pack away all my regular pants and switch to the much more comfortable maternity waist band! Coworkers joke with me that I might be having twins and the doctor I work with wants me to get an ultrasound to rule it out. He’s used to my more traditional ways by now, and laughed when I told him “if it’s twins, we will find out eventually!”

I mentioned above that our savings goals have changed. We took one look at our little Chevy and quickly realized that there isn’t enough space for two carseats! We are currently saving up to pay cash for a Chevy Traverse. We looked at an Equinox but decided that if we had more than 3 kids (which is still our goal), we would have to upgrade cars again. We drove a Traverse last summer while our car was in the shop and we loved it, so now we are aggressively saving and will hopefully begin shopping for one in late spring/early summer.

The owners of our rental house are looking to sell, so we did some quick house hunting in the area to see if anything was worth the hassle of a quick move. Ultimately, we decided to sign a new one-year lease, since any new owners have to honor the existing lease. It was a busy week of looking at houses, looking at our budget, and deciding that we are truly happy and content with our current location.

We were also planning a summer vacation trip to Chicago, but after needing to adjust our savings goals, we have decided that staycations are much more within the budget for now.

February Goals:

I found a prenatal yoga course on YouTube that I will be doing this month.

We will continue to save for our new vehicle, and I will continue to work on meal planning and creating good food for my family.

I will create a filing system for income and expense tracking.

I will submit my two articles for February’s contribution to Splendry.

 

I hope you all have a marvelous Monday!

 

{This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

Get the Most out of Your Holiday Budget – Part 3: Groupon Coupons

{This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own.}

I wrote before about the amazing wonders of Groupon Goods, but did you know that there are also Groupon Coupons?

I am a recovering coupon queen. Yes, I was one of “those people.” I had bookshelves dedicated to my stocks of razors, shampoos, and hair dyes. I had buckets of toothpaste. I had a 5 inch zippered binder that held all of my coupons in neatly organized card pages that was so heavy it set off my airbag alarm. I was addicted to the show Extreme Couponing. I even went dumpster diving at the local dump (once). I was a mess.

I left that life once I went hippie. I started making my own toothpaste, so I stopped purchasing it from the store. I made my lotions and my deodorant and I stopped dying my hair. I stopped buying the Sunday paper, but I still love a good deal and happily use coupons whenever I can.

So let me tell you just how happy I am that Groupon now has coupons for major retailers! For instance, Shutterfly has 13 coupon deals right now – including signing up with Shutterfly and getting a custom magnet, address labels, and 50 4×6 prints, all for free! I love Shutterfly’s frequent deals featuring free prints, but I have never seen one with free prints plus free address labels and a magnet!

Overstock.com has Groupon Coupons right now. I will tell you, my favorite set of sheets came from Overstock and I absolutely love the quality. Their deals are already great, but through the end of the month they have up to 70% off their inventory. I see great deals for everything from furniture to jewelry to clothing – and with free shipping!

If you’re traveling, the Marriott has special deals, including saving 20% off room rates and a free breakfast.

I love holiday shopping, and can’t stand paying full price for anything. Be sure to check out Groupon Coupons before you purchase anything online to make sure you are getting the very best deal!

Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Budget: Part 2 – Earn gift cards with Dealspotr

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Part two of our frugal holiday series brings me to my latest exciting discovery – Dealspotr!

I am a big fan of Swagbucks, a search engine where you can earn points towards gift cards. Those gift cards were a lifesaver in our early marriage, and we used most of them to pay for groceries.

There are many deals I want to share with you readers. I struggle with sharing deals because I never wanted this blog to become a “deals blog,” partly because that’s not my passion and partly because that’s an awful lot to keep up with. Occasionally I will post deals related to natural living, but that’s about it.

Enter Dealspotr!¬†With Dealspotr, I earn gift cards by posting thrifty deals I find. I also have my own profile “feed” where I share deals I believe my followers will be most interested in. I’m especially excited about this feature, since I can¬†share my favorite deals with you all without changing the focus of my blog.

I’ve been able to play around with how everything works, and I’ve already earned a $20 gift card! This will definitely come in handy this holiday shopping season, as I have some things on my list that can only be ordered online.

Pros: 

  • Using Dealspotr makes it possible to earn gift cards fast! I like Swagbucks, but it takes awhile to earn gift cards without spending money on the shopping or deal features.
  • Are you ready to make a purchase but want to make sure you’re getting the best deal? Be sure to check out Dealspotr for any coupon or promo codes – if it’s out there, it’s posted and available for you.
  • I can post my favorite deals on a feed for my followers, which is great for deals that I want to pass on but aren’t necessarily in line with the “voice” I want for this blog.
  • I can add affiliate links to the deals I share.
  • I can insert specific Dealspotr deals into blog posts (with affiliate links if I have them!), and if that particular deal expires, it is automatically replaced with a similar product. This way I don’t have to go back and change my posts and links, they stay evergreen.
  • Gift cards are offered in the form of Amazon gift cards or Paypal. I am especially fond of using my Amazon Prime membership to order things with gift cards, so I’m thankful to have another avenue to earn ways to purchase things I want but don’t want to use our regular family budget to purchase.

Cons:

  • It took me awhile to navigate the website for the first time and post my first few deals. Once I learned how, it was much easier.¬†It could just be me and my inability to learn new websites quickly. As a bonus, I’m now thoroughly comfortable with how to screen shot deals on my computer.
  • Adding affiliate links to any deals I share is time-consuming. I generally spend 5-10 hours a week on the blog between writing, marketing, and working on various projects “behind-the-scenes” that no one necessarily sees. I love that I can just earn points by scrolling through and liking/sharing new deals on my Dealspotr feed, but if I want to work on increasing my affiliate income, it’s a bit tedious and time-consuming. I also don’t like that if I share deals with my affiliate links, I don’t earn points towards gift cards like I would without the affiliate links.

Conclusion:

Dealspotr isn’t just for bloggers, everyone can sign up with a profile and earn gift cards! There is huge opportunity to earn lots of free or discounted products using gift cards and shopping through rebate websites! I would highly recommend it as another gift card source.

 

{This post is sponsored by Dealspotr and contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation in the form of products or money, but all opinions are completely my own. Please read my full disclosure for details.} 

Get the Most out of your Holiday Budget Part 1: Groupon Goods

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{Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own.}

Can you believe Christmas is only 5 weeks away?? Have you been wracking your brain to find ways to stretch your budget and still give awesome presents? Look no further than Groupon Goods!

I first heard about Groupon when I was in college, when the mother of children I babysat told me about how she purchased discounted gift cards for a fancy dinner date. I had never heard of this before, but I was immediately hooked. You mean, I can get discounts on everything from restaurants to movie theater tickets to sporting events? And then when Groupon Goods started, the deals and quality really impressed me too!

If you’re familiar with Groupon, you know the deals are good. Groupon Goods is no different, but it’s better. A 2-minute search around the Women’s Clothing revealed deals on adorable boots, cozy blanket scarves, and even Gilmore Girls-themed sweatshirts that I may or may not need that say “I drink coffee like a Gilmore.” Yes and yes please. I also saw amazing deals on jewelry, just in case you wanted a new sparkly something for the holiday parties. My favorite part of course is that they look¬†much more expensive than the actual cost. As the Crunchy Hippie Life mama, I have to say the best deals I spotted tonight are amazing deals on essential oil diffusers, salad to-go cup containers, and organic jerky sticks! I also saw a doorbuster deal for a box of contacts for $10.99 that is too good a deal to pass up if you’re a contacts user like I am!

I have personally purchased multiple items using Groupon Goods and can speak to the quality. In fact, I’m going to have to rework my personal Christmas list a bit to accommodate some of these awesome deals!

There are so many great gift ideas with Groupon Goods, it’s like a one-stop shop for all your needs, and even cheaper than my beloved Amazon!

Where are you doing most of your Christmas shopping this year?

NEW EBOOK – and a cook-along!

Dirt Cheap Nutrition - get the best tips for stretching your dollars and improving your nutrition!

Monday was a huge day for me – I launched my first ebook!

This book is special for me. I had been thinking about it for a long time and finally decided that it wasn’t going to ever be written if I just sat and thought about it. So even though I was super busy with multiple things, I still made it a priority to sit down and write a little each day. I spent my usual veg-out Facebook time reading articles about writing ebooks and publishing options and marketing. Finally, on Monday, I was able to release it to the internet.

It has been SO fun getting texts and pictures from people who have read my book and followed the outline to change their grocery budget. In fact, I have enjoyed it so much that I’m going to document a batch cooking session next week, starting on Thursday. Pictures will be taken and uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the hashtag #dirtcheapnutrition

Will you join me? I would love to see everything you create for your family!  There are  2.5 things you need to do:

  1. Buy my book! It’s only $2.99!
  2. Begin a sourdough starter (directions in the book) if you don’t have one going already.

2.25 – Leave me a comment that you will be joining me next Thursday!

2.5- Upload your own pictures and use #dirtcheapnutrition

Thank you all for your support of this project. It’s completely overwhelming and I’m so grateful to you all!

 

{This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see our full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Crunchy Hippie Life!}

3 Apps to Save Money on Groceries…Without Clipping Coupons!

3 apps to save you money at the grocery store - without coupons!

I used to use coupons extensively. My coupon binder was so big and heavy the air bag sensor thought it was a person if I happened to put it on a seat. True story.

Since I became more of a hippie and less excited about saving coupons for things I didn’t use, I’ve seen and tried several ways to save money at the grocery store. Lately, my routine has involved the use of 3 (free!) apps. This takes less than 5 minutes and I’ve already gotten $10+ back!

When I return from my shopping, I  first log on to Receipt Hog and upload a picture of the receipt. As you upload pictures consistently, you earn coins that can be traded in for PayPal cash or Amazon gift cards.

Next, I log on to the ibotta app, and I look through the rebates available for where I shop. In St. Louis, I attempted this but since Aldi wasn’t an available store, I never used the app. The grocery stores here in town participate, so this time it’s lots of fun! There is usually at least one rebate I can use. They usually have rebates on fresh produce! My favorite deal so far was when I purchased day old bread for $0.50 and there was a $0.25 rebate for any loaf. Score!¬†*Note: I intentionally do not look at the ibotta rebates before shopping, as I don’t want to buy something just to make money back.*¬†Money is given in gift card form, or paid to a PayPal account. Sign up now and get an instant $10 when you redeem your first rebate!¬†

Finally, I head over to my Walmart app and scan the code. The app searches the Internet to check for the best prices, and gives me back the difference if they find a better price. I just started using this probably 3 weeks ago and have made over $6 just by scanning a couple QR codes. The money is given in Walmart e-gift cards.

None of these will get me the savings of extreme couponing, but I’m making healthy choices for my family and I get to save money without clipping coupons!

How do you shop?

 

This post contains affiliate links. Please read our disclosure here.

How to Get What You Want…FOR FREE

How to use what you have to get what you want for free. Frugal and creative living at its finest!

Okay okay, so there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But have you ever thought about bringing back the barter system?

I absolutely love bartering. If I have something that you need, find useful, or believe is beautiful, it makes sense to trade! Money is tight for many of us, and the thrifty home manager finds creative ways to stretch a dollar. Bartering is a way you can live “for free,” since the exchange of money is not involved and uses only what you already have.

Last summer I traded a gallon of Tropical Tradition’s coconut oil for several pounds of meat for my family. Read about it on my MoneySavingMom.com reader tip.

In December I was able to trade again. We had been talking about getting a toy chest for Tristan’s ever-growing toy population, and I happened to see a friend (who actually lives in the same neighborhood) put a large toy chest on the local buy/sell/trade site for $60. I knew we wouldn’t spend $60 on a toy chest but I also knew she had been wanting a few essential oils for awhile. So I messaged her and asked if she would consider a trade and she agreed! The following weekend she brought over the toy chest and I gave her three bottles of essential oils ($60 worth) I had purchased with free product points. It was a great trade!

What do you think about the practice of bartering? Have you bartered before? Tell me in the comments!

How to eat organic for FREE

organic food free

Happy Monday friends!

The biggest argument I hear to healthy eating (that honestly, I’ve given myself) is “it’s too expensive!” So today I wanted to show you how you can actually eat organic food for free.

Yes, free.

When we first got married, I brought my amazon prime account into our marriage. Which was super awesome because not only did we get free shipping on basically anything, but we had access to the Prime movies – yay free entertainment! Right after we got married, Amazon introduced the most awesome thing EVER – Amazon Pantry.

The general idea is you order however much of whatever pantry-ish item you want for a flat shipping fee of $5.99. Oh, and they give you a running total of how big your box is (and they can get pretty big). One time Peter did a one hour phone survey about going to college and earned a $50 amazon gift card, and so we headed right on over to Amazon Pantry and ordered a HUGE order of food and toilet paper. I think we paid $0.28 in total.

This was so awesome we wanted to take advantage of this goodness again, so I started earning Swagbucks and trading them in for amazon gift cards.

I’ve been diligently earning Swagbucks again recently, so I took a look at the Amazon pantry. They now have TONS of organic options! I saw everything from granola to broth to pasta. Obviously you can’t get your perishables there, but if you can earn Swagbucks, turn them into gift cards, and get all of your nonperishables organic, how much of your grocery budget would that free up to get the rest organic?

So, how do you earn Swagbucks? 

  1. Join for free! {If you use my referral link, you help me earn swagbucks faster!}
  2. Install the Swagbucks search bar as your main search site. Anytime you search, you have the chance to earn Swagbucks!
  3. Earn 40+ points every day just by adding the swagbucks tv app on your phone and letting it run for an hour or so while you do other things, answer the daily poll, complete the NOSO (just click “skip” the whole time till the end), and enter a swag code, which is usually sent daily.
  4. Refer friends (you earn 10% of all of their earnings for life!
  5. Use the “shop and earn” feature. This is my favorite! Anytime you order anything online, check Swagbucks first to see if they have a partnership. Chances are they do, so you first log in to your swagbucks account, click “shop and earn,” then click the store you want to go to. This creates a unique code that tracks how much you actually spend, and you earn so many Swagbucks per $1 spent! Right now Amazon is giving 5 SB/$1. Christmas shopping = FREE GIFT CARDS! They also have partnerships with Walmart, Target, Vitacost, and even Groupon and Living Social!

I’m going to be blogging a lot more about Swagbucks this year. One of my goals for 2016 was originally to pay for all of Christmas just with Swagbucks gift cards. However,¬†now that I see this I’m thinking of all the organic things I can purchase for free that I can use to benefit my family’s health.

Starting in January I will be posting monthly updates of how much I have earned that month and then to date (for the calendar year). I hope this will encourage you that with a little ingenuity, organic healthy living IS possible!

 

photo credit

 

How we are saving $312 a year with this one simple change!

Mr Crunchy and I recently decided to start doing laundry at our apartment complex rather than our former laundry location.  This saves not only gas money, but also allows us to do this:

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This idea may seem really simple to you, and perhaps a little inconvenient, but Mr Crunchy calculated that it costs about $1.50-2 to dry each load.  We typically do a few loads twice a week, so now we only dry one load  with the items that dry fastest.

This saves us around $6 a week, which adds up to $312 a year! ¬†With all of our other budget cuts, this helps that much more. It’s exciting to be able to see so much difference with our budget!

How to Eat Real Food on a Budget

 

When I first moved out, my food budget was $27 every two weeks. ¬†This did not include money for milk and eggs purchased from a farmer, but included everything else. ¬†My grocery budget has increased over the past two years, and what’s right for me may not be right for other situations.

I am often asked where I get my food. ¬†When preparing this post, I realized I now do basically all of my shopping online with immediate needs purchased at Whole Foods or the local farmer’s market. Here are a few tips for a successful healthy and budget-friendly shopping trip.

When shopping at a store,  shop with cash.  When shopping online, have a budget.

Whether you choose to pre-load a Visa gift card as your “cash” or you deposit cash into your account when you purchase online, having a budget will help keep impulse spending under control.

Shop with a calculator

so you don’t go over budget.

Eat mostly produce.

I have found that the more produce I eat, the more energy I have and the better I feel, so I aim for 8 servings of vegetables a day and 1-3 servings of fruit (to help limit my sugar intake). ¬†I then add in my proteins for the day, along with plenty of healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, salmon, and the occasional handful of cashews). ¬†Most of my produce is purchased organic online, but especially during the summer I like to visit the local farmer’s market. ¬†I love supporting local businesses so occasionally I’ll order straight from a farmer.

Stock up on favorites.

This may go without saying, but buy things you know you love and will use. ¬†Experiment occasionally, but do so in small quantities until you know you really love a certain product. ¬†For instance, I got a great deal on a 5 gallon tub of coconut oil. ¬†I know that I will use that 5 gallon tub of coconut oil, so that was a good purchase. ¬†But if I had purchased a 5 gallon tub of pickles because it was a great deal‚Ķwell, I hate pickles so it wouldn’t be great deal.

Limit processed purchases.

The ingredients I buy are basics that I use to make my food staples (coconut flour/oil, olive oil, raw honey, etc).  I drink water, coffee, tea, kombucha, bone broth, and the occasional mug of hot chocolate or tea.  I make most of my basics, including kombucha and bone broth.

Cycle purchases.

I don’t eat my fridge and pantry empty every week, so I don’t purchase all of these things every week. ¬†This is one huge way I can make my budget work for me. ¬†I generally use about a quart of coconut oil every other week or so. ¬†I could spend $17 on a quart every other week, but that would cut into a lot of the purchases. ¬†I made my big 5 gallon purchase when the price was $11 a quart on sale. ¬†Now I don’t have to buy coconut oil for a long time, and have that savings freed up to spend on other things, like eggs (I eat about 2 dozen a week, on average).

Order online and order in bulk.

I signed up for a local organic produce delivery service (more on that in a later post). This significantly limits my personal impulse spending, and also saves on shipping costs.

I used to be quite the coupon queen, but because I now buy mostly online and make just about everything, I don’t use a lot of coupons anymore. ¬†I do, however, take advantage of sales and specials.

Thrive Market is an online store best described as “Whole Foods with Aldi prices and Amazon convenience.” For every membership sold, Thrive Market donates a membership to a family in need. It’s a great program and it’s how I save hundreds of dollars every year, without sacrificing quality of food! Click here to get 25% off AND free shipping on your first order!¬†

How do you budget for real food?

Disclaimer: In order to support my blog, I do receive compensation for promoting some companies and their products.  I provide honest reviews and only promote companies I personally use and enjoy.