Posts Tagged ‘budgeting’

Please Don’t Make Me Sad

Whenever I mention our budget on Twitter or Facebook, I get requests to hear more about how we handle budgeting. I take the requests to heart because I love giving you all what you want, but I also tuck them away for a later date. A later date. A later date. I kept putting off a budget post because a) I am no expert and b) it’s different for FFF stuff and while I find it interesting, I don’t want the rest of you running away thinking “what the heck happened to our fun-loving Tina??” You running away would make me 🙁 . Please don’t make me sad. Instead, join me as we talk moolah and share your own ideas in the comments! Don’t make me bribe you with my huge stash of cash fifteen dollars.


Reader’s Request: Budgeting in the FFF Household

Until recently, Peter and I never really tracked our expenditures and would get things we wanted when we felt like it. We shopped for deals and weren’t frivolous by any means, which worked well in our minds. Then, in May, we attended a “financial learning experience” with motivational speaker Joe Sangl at our church. We felt like we had been hit upside the head with a 2x4 and decided to get serious about setting up and living off a budget. Here’s how we did it.

Get A Trusty Spreadsheet: Joe Sangl mentioned having pre-prepared budgeting spreadsheets downloadable for free on his site. Free? I don’t have to make it from scratch? Yes please! We nabbed one, saved it as a Google doc (to access anywhere and be able to easily share the document), and sat down with our calculators together.

Figure Out Monthly Bring-Home Income and “Spend It”: We determined how much income Peter brings home every month and added it to the spreadsheet. Then we started filling in the various columns for different spending areas and spent our money how we normally would in the spreadsheet. Like virtual shopping so to speak. Only…ouch. We blew through our monthly income pretty fast. Time to figure out where to put our dough.


Begin With the Essentials: We determined the biggies that had to stay and the regular bills first. For an example, here are some of those essential spending areas for us:

  • 10% tithe to the church
  • mortgage payment
  • car payment (last one paid today in fact! so extra money to savings now!)
  • bills (electric, water, car insurance, etc) – Any without a set monthly amount or bills paid yearly (like car insurance), we estimated an average monthly expense to put in the budget.
  • goal amount for general savings each month
  • amount for random things that come up like purchasing gifts
  • any specific items needing to save for – We are making a point to save money for an anniversary vacation for next year.

Take a Hard Look at Other Spending: Now it was time to cut where we could. Entertainment budgets, grocery budgets, baby budgets, etc. We used to enjoy going out for a date night once a week…we now take a monthly date night out and eat in a lot more to bring our entertainment budget down significantly. We set a strict, but realistic, budget of $85/week for groceries that I can meet shopping deals, using some coupons, and learning to say no to things I don’t really need (like two packs of goat cheese every week). It was hard, but we realized there are plenty of places to make sacrifices to make a budget work. And sometimes you have to do that. Plain and simply.

Create A Spending Spreadsheet: Along with our overall master budget spreadsheet, we have separate “spending tabs” for each month. These tabs have columns for each section of our budget where we can easily put in our expenditures and have the spreadsheet add it all up for us. It helps us quickly see where we’re at with total spending over the month…because a few dollars here and there adds up FAST and can quickly send you over budget if you don’t keep tabs on it.

We update our spending spreadsheets every day – that bill that posted or that stop at the gas station. In fact, I have a link to our Google Doc in my bookmarks bar so I never forget to update it regularly!


It takes only a few minutes and helps keep us aware of where our money goes and allows us to remain mindful of our status in certain areas. There are also sites like Yodlee and Mint that will sort it all out for you, but we personally prefer doing it ourselves to increase the awareness of our spending.

At the End of the Month: We sit down at the end of the month to see how things went. We determine which parts of our budget roll over to save for other months – for example, electric bills that fluctuate or bills we budgeted for monthly but only have to pay yearly (car insurance). Other areas, such as grocery/entertainment/extra spending/etc, we add up the difference. If under budget, we take the excess and put it aside as “fun money”, to pay down more of our mortgage, add to our vacation fund, etc. If over budget, we would have to take it out of our personal spending budgets that each of us have – Peter from his side projects and myself from my blog money.  Then, we make adjustments for the upcoming month and off we go again. Is your head spinning yet?!

We will eventually budget to save for new countertops. The teal tile makes me barf.

It’s a huge learning process, but I can already see the benefits! I hope this didn’t bore you to tears and helps in some way if you were thinking about budgeting. I cannot recommend Joe Sangl’s site and information enough if you want a deeper overview. It really helped us.

  • Do you use a budget?
  • What would be the hardest area for you to cut spending?

Posted by on August 11th, 2011 56 Comments

Save Money At The Grocery Store

Hi everyone! I have a special post for you this afternoon. Last week, when I posted about my healthy grocery staples a lot of you showed interest in shopping healthy on a budget. I’m still learning the ropes myself, so I was all over my friend Cindy’s idea for her to write up a post and share her tips and tricks with you all. She has fabulous ideas and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. And while Cindy takes over for me here, you can check me out on Cynthia’s blog sharing why faith matters in my health. Now, take it away Cindy!

If you have ever watched Extreme Couponing, you probably notice the lack of produce and the overabundance of processed foods in their cart. You then probably resign yourself to spending more money at the grocery store. I want to teach you that you CAN save 50% or more at the store and still eat healthy! Your cupboards don’t have to look like this…


When my second baby was born in August, my husband and I decided he would quit his job to stay home with the kiddos. We quickly realized we would have to do a major overhaul on our budget. We were spending an average of $800 a month (!) at the grocery and drugstores. Our “budget” only allowed for $400. Besides food, I must fit cleaning supplies, paper products and personal care items (shampoo, soap, contact solution, etc.) for my family of four into that $400. Here are my tips for eating healthy on a budget, without sacrificing your time, your health and your favorite brands!

To most effectively utilize this method, you will need to shop every week to take advantage of the weekly specials. Grab your weekly store circular (most ads run from Wednesday to Tuesday or Thursday to Wednesday) and create your list from the sale items.

Sales Cycles: The easiest place to start (and also where you will save the bulk of your money) is by learning the sales cycles, and it doesn’t involve coupons. Most brands will go on sale at your favorite store every 2-3 months (even the natural and organic stuff!). In order to fully take advantage of these sales, you need to buy enough to get your family through these sales cycles. Stock up, but remember, if it is on sale now, it will probably go on sale again. I still have some VitaTops in my freezer from last October…it’s all a learning process!


Since I eat healthy all most of the time, I don’t spend a ton of time and money in the center aisles, but that’s where oatmeal lies (which only goes on sale 3 times a year)
as well as peanut butter (which goes on sale all the time). You may find that you are spending a bit more money initially as you stock up, but once you have created a stockpile, you will never have to buy these items at full price again! Side note…my stockpile looks NOTHING like those on TV…is it really necessary to store barbeque sauce under your daughter’s bed? We simply have a small pantry in the garage where we keep cereal, crackers, canned foods, and popcorn.

Produce: Plan your weekly menu around the produce on sale. Spinach is on sale? Think salads, steamed spinach, and condiments on your sandwiches. Tomatoes? Homemade pasta sauce (then think spaghetti, chicken parmesan, and homemade pizza). You get the idea. Buy the sale fruit. Often, when it is on sale is when it is at its freshest and tastes best anyways! Only buy what you will use that week…remember, you will be headed back to the store next week! Don’t neglect the frozen and canned (without added salt) fruits and veggies too. Most are frozen or canned immediately upon harvesting, when nutrients are at their peak.

frozen veggies

Meat Department: Buy the sale meat, and freeze what you won’t immediately eat. (As a side note - the more full your freezer, the more efficiently it runs. Bonus! Stock up, knowing that most things go on sale about every 6 weeks. Even organic meats go on sale (but a bit less frequently).

Rain Checks: These gems are all too often under-utilized in my opinion! Here’s the scenario…Larabars finally go on sale, but by the time you make it to the store, they are out. Before you give up, head to the customer service desk and ask for a rain check! Ask for as many bars as you need to get through the sales cycle, or as many as they will let you. When they restock the shelves the following week, you simply present the rain check to the cashier when you are checking out to receive the sale price. Voila, problem solved!


Using these tips can save you up to 50% at your next grocery store trip…and you haven’t even picked up a pair of scissors to clip!



  • Do you use any of these tips? Any of them new to you? I know I am SO doing the rain check thing in the future!!!

Posted by on July 21st, 2011 40 Comments


Catch Up With Recent Posts

Announcement Time

Posted: November 23, 2011 at 7:47 am

Well, I have had a whirlwind of a few weeks over here. I missed all of you so much! I can’t express enough gratitude for your patience while I got some important things sorted out. Some scary things. Are you ready for the announcement? Here goes! I will no longer be blogging at Faith Fitness […]

88 CommentsRead more →

Self-Love Reflection: The Road Not Taken

Posted: November 20, 2011 at 11:47 am

Hello FFF readers! Nice to meet ya! My name is Carissa and my husband and I blog at Fit2Flex.  Well, I blog…he consults! We are both certified personal trainers with a passion for healthy, active living and clean eating.  I am also studying to become a registered dietitian, a race announcer, and a runner.  Stop […]

24 CommentsRead more →

Healthier Eating For Kids

Posted: November 19, 2011 at 10:56 am

Thanks to Plum Organics for sponsoring my post about tips for baby feeding magic. What if you let baby choose what’s for dinner? Check out their cute "Quest for Yum!" video and see what happens! As parents, we want the best for our children. We help them to feel loved. We strive to teach them […]

14 CommentsRead more →


Posted: November 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Hey, everyone! I wanted to pop in and say I am working on some new and exciting changes.  As a result,I may not be posting as much during the coming week.  Please stay tuned for the big announcement! Love you all! And still feel free to find me on Twitter and Facebook for the time […]

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Where The Change Happens

Posted: November 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

It’s kind of funny. I become a certified personal trainer and the first workouts I turn to this week come from someone else. The book came in for me at the library last week and, after flipping through it, I couldn’t wait to give the circuits a go. Making The Cut includes a lot of […]

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From Beginning To End

Posted: November 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

Good morning! First off, thanks for the many congrats yesterday. Love you all bunches for the tons of support you have given me in so many things this year. I hope I can return a little bit of that love through this here blog as well. So yesterday I had my first parent-teacher “conference” for […]

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