Seven tips to stop impulse spending

One of the things I hear over and over again from readers is that they have trouble controlling impulse spending. 

"I just can't seem to stop spending money." 

I understand it's hard. I have struggled with impulse spending. I think at some point we all have, especially those with a natural inclination toward spending. After all, there are spenders and there are savers. 

But there are some ways to curb that need to spend. 

1. Avoid triggers. If you are more likely to drop a cash at the Target Dollar Spot, don't let yourself veer your cart in that direction. 

Avoid the make up counter at Dillards, or the bakery at Walmart. 

For me it's Goodwill. I walk in and I see these really great prices and I think "hey, it's only $2.99." But if I do that enough times I can wreck my budget. 

2. Don't shop while you're emotional. Just as you would't go to the supermarket while hungry, don't go to the mall or the shopping center when you're emotional.

If you're feeling angry, sad or vulnerable find a healthier way to deal with those feelings. Write in a journal, talk to a friend or go for a walk. Resist the urge to compensate for your feelings by shopping. 

3. Carry cash. Okay, I admit it. I struggle with the envelope system. I would much rather just use my debit card. But, I know if I go to Target (Look, I am talking about Target again) with cash in hand I am far less likely to spend it on things I DON'T need.  

If you walk into the store with $50 and you know you have to get milk, eggs and grapes for your family, you can't get that lipstick or fancy new hairspray. 

4. Calculate how much it will really cost you. If you are using a credit card really think about how much that sweater is going to cost you once fees and interest are tacked on. 

And while you may pay off your balance at the end of the month statistics show us that MOST consumers don't

If you are on a budget and you spend money not earmarked for that impulse spend, what are you saying no to in order to purchase the shiny object that has your immediate attention? 

Also, calculate how many hours you will have to work to pay for your purchase and then decide if it is worth it. 

5. Block online retail sites. If the cute baby leggings on Zulily catch your fancy, or the latest new release on Amazon has you logging online to spend money, block those sites!

Resist the temptation by not even allowing it to enter your home through your computer screen. 

This brings me to my next point... 

6. Unsubscribe from email alerts. If you get an email from Gap telling you about the latest skirt sale, suddenly your closet might be in want of a new black pencil skirt. But if that email doesn't enter your inbox, the temptation isn't there. 

7. Ask yourself the four questions. The four question are:

 Do I really need this? Do I have something else that will serve the same function?  Where am I going to put it? Can I get it for a better price elsewhere? 

However, if impulse spending is your issue, replace that last question with: Why do I want to buy this? Is there a need I am trying to fill with stuff? Am I just bored? 

I hope these tips help you curb that impulse spending. 

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with impulse spending and what do you to to stop it? 


Weekly meal plan and shopping list 1-26-15 - 1-31-15

I hope everyone had a restful weekend and that you are walking into Monday fully prepared to take on your week. 

But in case you're not I have put together a meal plan and shopping list to get you through until your brain starts firing on all cylinders. 

These are simple recipes that will be easy to make and are even easier on your budget. 

Let's go!

Sunday: Loaded Cornbread. This is so easy and I will serve it with a spinach salad.

Monday: Bean and rice casserole for meatless Monday! This is a one pan wonder and I love it! You can watch a video of me making it Here

Tuesday: "Mexican Pizza" with a quinoa crust! I will be sharing this recipe with you on Wednesday! 

Wednesday:  Mini baked sandwiches. I use THIS recipe from Passionate Penny Pincher. But I use less butter (far less) and I make mine with turkey and provolone. 

We will also have a steamed green beans.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner! Grits, scrambled eggs and fruit. 

Friday: Homemade pizza! 

Shopping List

Print list!

Meat:

1 pound ground beef (put 1/3 pound in fridge stick the rest in your freezer)

1 dozen eggs

Grocery:

1 bag quinoa

1 bag brown rice

corn meal

1 can black beans or one bag of black beans prepped

2 jars salsa

brown and serve rolls

brown sugar

brown mustard

salad dressing

1 package grits

vegetable oil

1 jar spaghetti sauce or pesto

Produce:

one bag spinach

1 pint strawberries

1 pint blueberries

1 bag apples

1 pound green beans

1 onion

1 bulb garlic

Dairy:

butter

1 bag or block cheddar cheese

1 package cream cheese

one pizza crust or one bag of flour and 1 package yeast  (pizza crust recipe here)

1 bag or block mozzarella

1 package provolone or cheese singles (bonus points if you use a block of cheese!)

Check out more meal plans at OrgJunkie!




Becoming a Work at Home Mom Part I: Finding Your Niche

I have been running a business from home for almost three years. And by my own definition of success, it is successful. 

I get asked by a lot of women A LOT of women how to start a business. So I thought over the next few weeks I would walk your through it. 

Today let's discuss finding your niche!

If you want an opportunity, sometimes you have to create it.

I want you to find a piece of paper and write that down. Write it on the top page of your notebook. Put it on the front of your fridge. Write it on your chalkboard. 

opportunity.jpg

I realized when I wanted to start a businesses I needed to create myself an opportunity. I wanted to be a freelance writer. I had freelanced on and off for years, But I wanted to create a consistent income from it.

I loved marketing and creating great online content for people. How could I make a career off of it?? 

I didn’t have any delusions that I would be rolling in the dough, I just wanted something consistent, with the same clients and familiar work. And I did it and it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. 

The first thing I did was make a list of my skills. 

It looked like this:

  1. I can write quality content quickly.
  2.  I have media contacts.
  3.  I am good at social networking and social media marketing.
  4.  I am a great web editor and I work well under tight deadlines. 

I am not telling you this to toot my horn, but it was important for me to make a list of my good working qualities and then seek opportunities. 


The second thing I did was think about who I wanted to work with. 

The key for me was finding my target market, which was small businesses owned by women. I understand their needs, I understand what they are trying to balance and I understand the message they want to convey. And I love the people I get to work with everyday. I am their biggest cheerleader and I also feel like they are mine. 

Third, I thought about my own monetary value.

If I were running my own businesses how much would I pay for my services. 

Then I had to create an experience that clients would want to return to. I was courteous, professional and friendly. But I also made it clear, my son is my first priority and if he is having bad day or is sick or just needs me then my clients have to understand that. 

I have been richly blessed with clients who all understand that. Many of them are moms and they understand what I am trying to build.

Sometimes it isn’t obvious:

Do you sew? Could you make a living making children’s clothing? I have a friend who earns a full-time income making little girl’s dresses and accessories. People pay her top dollar for her custom designs. 

Are you web savvy? There are a lot of businesses out there who need web managers. I have met lots of clients who need someone who works exclusively with Word Press and are looking for people who can keep their websites running. 

Or maybe you have some graphic design experience. Could you spin that into a money making opportunity for yourself? 

My cousin found success working as a closing agent. She thought the work sounded interesting, found out how to get trained in her area and began working with real-estate agents. She works just a few hours a week which leaves her plenty of time for home and family. 

A high school friend of mine became an event planner. She works with clients out of her home and plans everything from birthday parties to fund raisers. 

These women took an idea and turned it into an opportunity. 

There is nothing inherently special about me or my abilities. But I have been able to turn those ideas into a business. So can you. 

Objections: Make a list of things you are good at.

Make a list of things you want to get out of a business.

What about you? Have you ever thought about what type of business you would want to run? JOIN THE CONVERSATION. 

 

 

Homemade Non-Toxic "Pin-sol"

Jason loves the smell of Pin-Sol. I mean, who doesn't? And my mother has told me that all good southern homes smell of Pin-Sol. 

There is something just inherently "clean" about the smell. But here is the thing, a few months back I poured some Pin-Sol in the toilet and it took my breath away. And not in a good way. 

I am not a "natural" or "green" purist. But I have really cut back on the commercial cleaning products I bring into my house. I am really sensitive to smells and as a child I struggled with asthma. And I believe that what is in our environment does have a big impact on our lung health. 

So today I am going to show you how I make my own "Pin-Sol." I use this mostly to clean toilets, but really you could use this for anything. 

You will need: 

Equal parts water and vinegar 

About 20 drops tea tree oil per cup of solution - The tea tree oil is what gives it that pin sol smell. 

5-6 drops orange oil (optional)

Spray or squirt bottle *

Combine your water and vinegar into a bottle or container and mix. Add in your oils and mix again. 
That's it you're done!

*I used an old dish soap bottle, but it is not recommended to use plastic with oils because of potential leaching. However, since I was using my solution in my toilet, I just used a plastic container. 

What homemade cleaning products do you use? 

nd don't forget to link up at Thrifty Thursday. 

Mushroom and Spinach Calzone

I am trying to find new and inventive ways to go meatless or meat less. 

I am still working on getting Jason fully on board with this. But I have several reasons for trying to go meatless once a week. 

There are several reasons I am attempting to do this. 

1. It saves money. 

2. It's healthy. 

3. It's better for the environment. 

My husband, however is a major carnivore. Major. So I have had to get a little sneaky. 

A few weeks ago I made mushroom and spinach calzones. I waited until we were finished eating to point out they were meatless. 

"Yeah," Jason said. "But they have mushrooms, so we're good." 

Yes! Success!

Okay. This is what you'll need:

1 carton mushrooms washed and sliced

3 cups spinach

1 onion, diced

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 clove garlic, minced

pizza dough or refrigerated pizza crust

mozzarella cheese 

 

In a skillet caramelize your onions. You can read a full tutorial on how to do that here

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 Once that process is complete deglaze your pan with a little chicken stock and add your spinach, garlic and mushroom. Cook until the spinach wilts. Remove your pan from the heat and preheat your oven. 

 

Then, because I got EXTREMELY frustrated with the pizza crust, I had Jason fold it over the vegetables for me. When I saw I got extremely frustrated... I had to apologize to Jesus and my family for all the words that came out of my mouth. Yeah, it got ugly. 

I brushed the dough with a little bit of egg before popping them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. 

They were so delicious. 

What meatless dishes have you tried at your house? 


Budget-friendly date nights: Date your spouse on a dime!

I was so excited to guest post at Blissful and Domestic yesterday. Here is an excerpt... 


I can count the number of dates my husband and I have been on since becoming parents. In the first year of our first son’s life we went on three. Three dates in a whole year! Yeah, I know. That’s not good. But it’s tough to find the time, the money, and a sitter. But it is still so important to date your spouse and to spend time with them away from your kids. I have since made more of an effort to plan for dates and so has my husband. But, it is still important to stay within a budget and not let your need for couple time to derail your bank account and savings goals. I wanted to share with you a few ideas on how to enjoy grown up couple time on a dime.
 

Click here for more over at Blissful and Domestic.

Why your budget isn't working

why is my budget failing

I hear it all the time "I just can't make a budget work" or "I just can't stick to a budget" or "I feel like it's really unrealistic to stick to a budget."

That last one is my favorite. I have heard it all and to be honest, I have said it all.

Our family lives on a budget. My husband sits down each week and makes that budget. But we haven't always stuck to it. And recently we have wandered away from it, only to find ourselves sprinting back.

I could make you a list of reasons you should be budgeting. But instead I want to talk about why your budget probably isn't working. And believe me, as the free-spirited spender of my household, I am speaking from experience.

1. It's too restrictive. So the reason #NoSpenduary works for a lot of people is because it's just one month of extreme frugality.

Cutting your budget bare bones and eating PB&J will work for a few weeks, but in the long run, if your budget is too restrictive and doesn't allow for "extras" it won't work long-term.

budgeting for fun why do I suck at budgeting

2. You don't budget for fun. Okay, so this one and the last one are sisters. You have to budget in a little bit of fun. Not much, don't go overboard, but plan to budget $6 for movie rental at the Redbox (or get them FREE). Or budget a few bucks to go on a coffee date, or get an ice cream cone.

It doesn't have to be extravagant, it just needs to be realistic.

Which brings us to #3.

3. It's not an honest budget. Your family needs more than $50 a month for food. And you need more than $35 a month for gas. And your haircut always costs more than you remembered it costing and diapers are expensive.

You have to be realistic in your expectations of how much things cost. Breakout your last grocery receipt and get a good picture of what food really costs, call your hairdresser and ask how much a haircut really is.

4. You forgot something. When starting the budgeting process it's easy to forget things like oil changes, orthodontist appointments and soccer fees.

That's why you need a detailed budget form. I recommend the Dave Ramsey budget forms. They are really detailed (and FREE!) and include things you probably forgot like car maintenance and club dues.

5. You didn't buffer! It's really easy to forget to budget for the unexpected. BUT IT'S UNEXPECTED??? Yes, but unexpected things happen. And I don't mean emergencies like someone needs an ambulance ride.

But things happen like your toddler wakes up from nap on Sunday with a raging ear infection and you have to pay your copay. A buffer of $50 will help you not go into panic mode because you didn't budget for an urgent care visit.

life changes and your budget has to adjust

6. You had a life change. If you had a baby, bought a house, moved to a new city or changed dietary habits your budget might change.

Our kids now eat real food (meaning they aren't on a bottle/nursing or on baby food) and our grocery budget has definitely increased as we buy more fresh produce and dairy. That's fine. I am happy to buy my kids healthy food, but our budget has had to increase and change in that area.

If you move to a new city where the cost of living has increased you will need to make adjustments. And if you've had a baby or expanded your family that will change as well. However babies do not HAVE to be expensive.

7. You and your spouse aren't seeing eye to eye. Jason and I do not have a perfect marriage. We do not always agree and we sometimes argue.

But, when it comes to budgeting we try (very hard) to be on the same page. We are a team. We are in this together and we can't work against each other if it is going to work. 

Sit down and have an honest discussion about what you want and need financially in your marriage. It is tough. You have to be honest with yourself and with your spouse.

If your spouse refuses and won't budget with you, or even talk about money, there might be a bigger issue there. I am not a marriage expert or a therapist, but you might need to seek out help if budgeting is an issue that is tearing at your marriage.

8. You haven't set any goals. Okay, you can't just throw numbers at your budget and see what sticks. You have to have a plan.

Right now we are trying to pay our house off early and build up our savings after purchasing our home.

We set a savings goal each month and we work toward that.

What about you? What are struggling with when it comes to budgeting?



We moved! Welcome to Frugal, Debt-Free Life!

We moved! I woke up this morning to a new website and it feels amazing. I started kicking around the idea of changing my blog name last year and I finally worked up the nerve and worked out all the details to just do it!! 

So now Five4Five Meals is Frugal, Debt-Free Life. 

I feel like the new name and site is a better representation of my overall message "Living a Limitless Life on a Limited Budget." 

With Five4Five Meals I felt stuck with just creating food posts, I felt limited in my reach and really, I feel like the name confused people. 

As getting out of debt and living on a budget became more important to my family the message of that blog shifted. And while food will still play a HUGE part in the new blog, I think I will feel less pressure to create food posts and less guilt when I go a week without posting a recipe. 

All of the links from the old site still work. So if you pinned a recipe you can still click on that pin and get to the correct link. 

SO welcome. Stick around. Make comments. Engage and be a part of this community! 

From a Drawer to a Side Table in Minutes!

from drawer to side table in minutes.jpg

A few weeks ago I was driving home when I saw about eight drawers on the side of the road. Eight drawers! This is a DIYERS DREAM!! So I started thinking about all the things I could do with them, including making a really cute sidetable to house my stack of books in my constant TBR rotation. 

I couldn't resist all these drawers I saw on the side of the road. Any suggestions as to what to do with them? #diy

A photo posted by LydiaSenn (@thesennfam) on Sep 30, 2014 at 2:27pm PDT

This drawer to side table project took just minutes to put together and I was THRILLED with the results.

what you needdrawer to side table in minutes.JPG

To get started you will need a drawer. I see them on the side of the road all the time. But you can also pick them up usually at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I picked up some chair legs for around $2 each at Lowe's. You could also use a spindle.

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Then I had Jason drill four holes in the drawer.

putting legs on a drawer.JPG

Then I just screwed the legs into the drawer and that was it! (Okay, I had Jason put the legs on the drawer and I took pictures.)

from drawer to side table in minutes.png

For a little extra impact I added a cheap drawer pull and scuffed it up a little bit just to give it a distressed look to make the already distressed look of the drawer.

drawer perftect for books.jpg

And look! It's perfect for the TBR pile.

So what about you? Have you tackled any quick DIY projects recently? What should I do with the rest of the drawers?