Budgeting Feed

Organizing the Nest Survey, Part 5 ~ Family Finances & Budgeting


Good morning, my friends ... and so we continue! :)

Today I'd like to focus on household finances ... an extremely important area of family life to keep organized! So I have quite a list of questions for you this morning ...

1. Where/how do you store incoming bills?

2. Where/how do you store receipts and statements?

3. Do you have a pre-determined household budget (weekly or otherwise)? Where do you write it down? How often do you refer to it?

4. Where do you keep financial goals and/or money-saving ideas?

5. Do you and your spouse talk about finances on a regular basis?

6. Any favorite financial books/resources to recommend?


Once again (and I know I sound like a broken record!) I want to thank everyone who has been participating in this survey. I have found your comments so interesting and helpful! I've taken to printing them out so I can read them a little more closely - reading glasses on, and hi-lghter in hand!

If you'd like to revisit previous survey comments (to read through or add your own), please click on the following links:

1. to-do lists (daily and someday)

2. family food

3. calendars

4. file folders and paper management

(Remember - each time you comment your name is entered in the contest!)


Now just to clarify, I'm not doing this survey for any other reason than to encourage the sharing of ideas between like-minded friends. (That and I'm kind of nosy when it comes to these things.) I'm not collecting data for a book on organizing ... in fact, looking around my house at the moment, that would seem like a rather humorous idea. ;)

But while I have you, I would like to mention a little book I just ordered for myself after seeing an excerpt in Parents magazine. The book is called, Family Inc.: Office-Inspired Solutions to Reduce the Chaos in Your Home (And Save Your Sanity!), and though I've only just started reading, I'm really enjoying it so far! The book revolves around a couple who found themselves quite disorganized and stressed out until they started meeting weekly to talk about family needs and responsibilities. They were both working outside the home at the time, and employed some of the strategies they used to keep on top of things professionally, in their household. I will report in again on this book once I've read the whole thing! :)

Well, until next time my friends, thanks so much for stopping by. Enjoy your day, and I will see you all again sometime soon!


Money $ Monday: Handling the Holidays

In the midst of much busy-ness here, but I wanted to get this week's M$M post up before the day got away from me! 

So here we are nearing mid-September, and though it seems far away, the holiday season will be here in the blink of an eye. This is a busy time of year for most of us, so it's easy to get distracted and then head into the holidays unprepared - meaning, without a plan. And I know when I don't have a plan, I always end up spending more money!

Of course, the holidays - Chistmas, Hannukah, Solstice, etc. - by their very nature, have nothing to do with money. But as we decorate and celebrate and cook and clean and give and get, of course money comes into play. It's up to us to make choices that work for our families, both financially and spiritually ...

Keeping our holidays simple benefits not only our hearts but our budgets!

So my question for you all today is this: 

How do you plan for holiday spending? And how do you keep your holiday budget in line?


If you have a moment or two, I'd love to hear your thougts on this subject. I'm planning several posts on holiday planning for later this month, so I hope you'll check in when you can.

Have a great day, my friends!

Good Morning Links ...

Happy Friday, my friends!

Just popping in very quickly to share a few links I came across this morning:

How to Raise Financially Savvy Kids (Forbes)


How-To: Hankie Holder (Martha Stewart Kids)


Exclusive First Look - Interior Pages from Sherlock: The Casebook (Sherlockology)

(Yes, I've pre-ordered a copy!)


I was up very early today (just could not sleep past four, I'm afraid) so I had a little extra time to putter online. I'm very excited about that Sherlock book! And speaking of Sherlock, Bill and I are planning to re-watch the series starting this weekend, while the boys are looking forward to Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, freshly arrived from Netflix. Crackerjack has re-read that series at least a dozen times ... he absolutely loves it!

Ok, so I'm off for now ... but I will see you here again very soon ...

Have a bright and blessed day!

A Few Late Day Links

Two about budgeting ...

How I Saved My Family $600 a Month on Groceries (Today)

4 Things I Do to Keep Our Grocery Budget at $200/mo. for a Family of Four (Parents)

Two about our beloved DA ...

Downton Abbey Season 3 Trailer (iTv1)

Downton Abbey Star Dan Stevens Off to Broadway - But Will He Return? (Huffington Post)

And one shameless (sheepish) plug ...

Thursday, September 6th 2012 (Daily Bits of Domestic Bliss - my housekeeping blog)


Have a great night, my friends!

Money $ Monday: Of Price Books & Pantries

Good morning, everyone!


My topic this week is two-fold, because I think these two subjects go hand in hand. (And thanks to Chrissy for the pantry-building suggestion!) Having a well-stocked pantry is a boon to meal planning and scratch cooking, and when you buy things at their best price you save all the more. If something you use regularly is on "special," (whether by sale, coupon or both) how much better to purchase it while it's at its best price?

So, say you routinely buy toilet paper (and I'd hazard a guess most of us do) and your preferred brand is being offered at a reduced price ... if you keep track of prices you know immediately if that sale's worth the trip. 

A price book can be kept in a binder or - if my "intel" is correct (and he usually is) - nowadays it can simply be an app on your phone.

So my first question for you all today is:

Does anyone have experience with a price book, and if so, do you keep it manually or electronically?


And here's the second part of this week's topic ... 

Some of us are seasoned pantry keepers, but many of us are just starting out. Filling those cabinets and freezer shelves can be expensive!

So when you don't have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, how do you build up a versatile and valuable pantry? Please share any tips you might have!


As for me, I can tell you I do not keep a price book (other than the random facts and figures I juggle in my head) and my pantry is slowly being built week by week. I've been a bit disorganized about it though, so I feel like my shelves may be filled with good buys, but not necessarily helpful meal starters. (I mean, how many boxes of Cheerios does one family need, lol?) So this is something I'd like to focus on as we head into fall ...

Well my friends, I'm going to sign off for now - time to rally my troops - but I'll check back in here as I can. Enjoy your day, wherever it takes you, and I'll see you here again very soon.

Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Summer's Bounty

KG picking peaches 1

"If produce had a holiday, it would be August. All of August. There's just no better time to eat melons, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, and every other fruit and veggie you can pluck from your garden or pick up at a farmer's market ... Enjoy!"

(From Better Homes & Gardens, August 2012)

I was flipping through my BH&G, waiting for the oven timer to ring, when I came across this quote and I thought it quite lovely ... and so true! I was just thinking about our neighborhood farm stand and what might be fresh there this weekend ... I'm itching to make zucchini bread, and perhaps some peach butter.

How do you take advantage of the bountiful produce at this time of year? Do you preserve it in some way or simply enjoy it fresh while you can? Perhaps you do a little of both?

I haven't done much preserving myself, though some years I put up several jars of my grandmother's picalilli. That's a Labor Day family tradition I would very much like to honor this year! 

Anyhoo, while I'm here, two more things to share - a link and a recipe ...

From Simple Pleasures of the Garden by Susannah Seton, a recipe just perfect for this time of year:

Vegetable Gratin

2 1/2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, diced

8 smallish summer squashes (such as crookneck, pattypan, ronde de Nice, or zucchini), about 2 lbs. total, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

kernels from 2 ears of corn

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

4 tbsp. fresh basil or thyme, or a combination of both

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup lowfat milk

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a shallow gratin dish or other baking dish with 1/2 tbsp. of the butter. Place 1 tbsp. butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper; saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the squash, corn, and salt and pepper; saute another 4 to 5 minutes, until the squash is nearly tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, basil and/or thyme. Stir in the eggs, milk and vegetables.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a crust has formed and a knife inserted into the center comes out nearly clean. Dot with the remaining 1 tbsp. butter, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes longer, until the crust has browned slightly and the edges are bubbling and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Serves 6.

Doesn't that sound delicious?!

I will certainly be making this sometime very soon ... I will pick the basil and thyme from my deck and I'll get the rest of the produce at the farmstand down the street. And I'll see what I can find for local milk, eggs, butter and cheese ... I can't wait to try it!


Also, here's a follow up to the local-food challenge article I posted about earlier this month:

"Shop-Local Challenge Trickier than I Thought"

{I'm really enjoying reading about her journey!}

Well, my friends, thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts if you have a chance ... I hope you all have a pleasant night! 

See you here again very soon!

$ My Budgeting Notes $

Happy Wednesday, my friends!

So this morning I printed out all the comments in the Money Monday post and then sat down with a hi-lighter (and my coffee) and read. Thank you to everyone who took the time to add their suggestions and experiences - there were some wonderful tips! This is one of the blessings of the internet - being able to share ideas with each other in this way. :)

So here are my own thoughts, as scattered as they are ... and let me preface this by saying I am in no way any kind of budget guru. Quite the contrary, actually - as I have miles to go when it comes to being thrifty and clever with household expenses. Hence these Money $ Monday posts - so I can pick all your lovely brains! ;)


As of now, I think the only area I've been working on diligently has been grocery shopping. Like many of you, I find menu planning and list-making enormously helpful with paring down the grocery bill. Coupon clipping - when done well - is also quite helpful as is buying in bulk/shopping sales.


I do try to regulate our air conditioning by turning down the temperature gauge and, in general, using AC as sparingly as possible. But Earlybird is very sensitive to heat so I don't hesitate to turn it on as needed. Bill keeps bringing up the subject of "central air," but I can't seem to commit to the (enormously expensive) idea. I know it probably makes much more fiscal (and environmental) sense to upgrade to a more efficient system but, good golly, it's a huge initial investment!


I must confess I have a real weakness when it comes to books. There's just something about books - new books especially! - that truly nourish me. But I try to temper my urges to buy books - they're expensive of course, but also, they take up a ton of space! (And homeschooling for 12+ years means my house is absolutely teeming with books!) So we do make great use of the library, especially the inter-library loan system. Nowadays when I hear about a new book I get myself on a waiting list at the library rather than rush out to buy it. And yet ... I still find myself at Barnes & Noble a couple of times a month ... even if it's just to browse. ;)


I have a fairly large pantry downstairs so I can stock up on when things are on sale, but I'd also like to invest in a full freezer. (Chest or upright - opinions?) I love the idea of having a freezer stocked with seasonal produce, well-priced meats and homemade "convenience foods" ready to go. To date, however, I have not been very successful at freezing things, so I'll have to read up on that concept ... any suggestions?


I do a lot of scratch cooking, and I'm working on reducing the amount of convenience food I use (prepared foods and packaged mixes, etc.). We rarely eat out - a few nice dinners on birthdays, our anniversary - but we do indulge in take-out more often than we should. That said, Bill takes a home-packed lunch to work everyday. :)


I'm hardly a clothes hound - I still wear clothes that are YEARS old. But that's mostly because I "work at home" and honestly, who cares? I'm just glad they still fit, lol! I save my clothes dollars for special occasions i.e. a wedding or a special dinner for Bill's company. Then, admittedly, I splurge on something new. As for the kids - having three boys has been great. We just save things to pass down! (And we were very fortunate to inherit A LOT of great quality clothes from cousins when Bookworm was small. They've lasted well.)


Laundry is a constant in any family's life, but I don't really save much in this area. For instance, I don't currently line-dry as many of you do. I would love to, but I'm leery of pollen. Has anyone dealt with this? If you have allergies in your household how do you keep your drying linens free of pollen?


Phyllis just left a comment and mentioned another category to consider: gifts. Great idea. Phyllis! I tend to go overboard here, but I start every holiday season with the hope and intention to make as many of our gifts as we can. Not only are handmade gifts more frugal, but, more importantly, they're more meaningful. We get a little better with this every year, but invariably I spend the last couple of weeks before Christmas in a flurry of online ordering. This is something that needs closer attention ...


Does anyone do a Christmas Club at their bank? (Do they even still do those? I remember my mum and grandmother did this.) We tend to overspend at the holidays but my aim is to each month have a little money set aside towards Christmas. I have yet to make that happen but it makes a lot of sense. Does anyone have a system for this?


Well, I think that might be all I have time for right now ... but I am looking forward to talking more about this with you all ... please continue to leave your thoughts below as you have time. I will jump back in the conversation as soon as I can!

Blessings to you all on this day!

Money Monday: Sharing $ Tips

Budget tab

Good (Tuesday) morning, my friends! I'm a day late - though hopefully not a dollar short - with this post, but this week I'd like to talk about budget saving tips. We all have tried-and-true methods for saving money where we can ... would you care to share three of yours? If you have more than three, feel free to expand, and if you have less, that's fine, too. I'll take whatever you've got. :)

Now, I know we're all familiar with the basics of a family budget, but here are the categories I'm concentrating on ... if I've left something out, let me know!









Health Care


Kids' Sports/Activities



Thanks so much for reading today, and please leave a comment if you have the time. I'll add more thoughts later today ... for now I'm going to concentrate on this delicious cup of coffee and getting my household up and running!

See you back here very soon!

Thoughtful Thursday ~ on Food Choices

Here's an interesting article on food choices: "Good, Better, Best: Traditional Foods for Every Budget." (Thanks to my friend Donna for sharing the link!)

Oftentimes, the "best" food choices are the most expensive - sometimes too expensive for a typical family budget. How do we decide how and where to allocate our food dollars?

Are there certain things you buy "organic" on a regular basis?

KG apple

A little food for thought this Thursday morning ... hope your day's a good one!


More Food for Thought ....

... from NBC news: 

Avoiding the Grocery Store: A 30-Day Challenge

The author of this article is going to try to avoid the grocery store for a month. She is following a challenge called "The 30-Day No Grocery Store Challenge." Except for a $30 allowance, it's her goal to bypass the grocery store and buy things more locally:

"I’m one of the many Americans who wants to eat healthier, believes in organic food (in theory, if not in actual purchases) and loves the idea of supporting small, local businesses. But, I almost always find practicalities outweighing these ideals ...

As the mother of two, preschool-age children, I worry about the extra time commitment of this challenge. I also worry that this commitment won’t be sustainable for my budget. Will budget considerations make me consider other changes to my diet as well?"

Ms. Macario will be reporting in over the next several weeks, and I look forward to following along!

Where do you do your shopping each week? Have you changed your shopping habits at all?

KG butcher baker

Have a great Friday, my friends! I'll see you here again very soon ...

Interesting Budget Article ...

Good Morning!

Well, I'm sitting here with my very first cup of coffee, enjoying this article I found at NBC News this morning: "1940s Housewife Showed How to Tame High Grocery Prices." Thought I might pass it on ... really great "food for thought!"

See you in  a bit!


p.s. What are some of your favorite frugal living resources? (Second cup of coffee's kicking in ...)