Personal Finance

  • 6 Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    Have you recently started a new job? Are you entering the workplace for the first time? If you want to make the most of your opportunity then these money tips for starting a new job are for you.

    Financial Tips For Starting A New Job

    Starting A New Job Off Well Financially

    When you are starting a new job you likely have a lot on your mind. You have to learn new systems, meet new coworkers, and find your groove in a new environment.

    It’s easy to push aside paperwork and not worry about your money.

    You will be getting a paycheck regardless, right?

    When you start a new job it’s the best time to evaluate your financial situation and make money moves. If you take the time follow these money tips you’ll be setting yourself up to win financially for a long time.

    6 Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    The following money tips are things I always suggest for people starting a new job.

    If it is your first job ever then it is even more important to do these things when you start working! This will change the course of your life if you start early.

    Sign up for your 401k.

    When you start a new job you are often eligible for contributing to a 401k plan. This is something you should sign up to do as soon as you are eligible, especially if your company offers a match.

    A 401k match is when your employer matches your 401(k) contributions by also contributing a certain amount to your account based on what you have contributed.

    The average 401k match is 4.3% of a person’s pay.

    When you start a new job you should immediately contribute enough to your 401k to get that employer contribution. Not doing so would be like saying you don’t want an additional 4% of pay from your employer.

    Many people call the match “free money” but it’s actually just part of your compensation package. Your employer offers it as long as you take the action of signing up and contributing to your 401k.

    You should always do this even if it feels like you can’t “afford” to at first. That employer 401k match is the best return you can get on your money.

    Set up auto-draft for savings from your paycheck.

    One thing that helps many people to save more money is to set up automatic drafts from their paycheck directly to savings accounts.

    Many employers offer the ability to set up direct deposits to multiple accounts. You can select a certain percentage like 10% of your paycheck to go directly into a savings account.

    Setting up auto-draft savings helps many people save money because the money they don’t see is money they don’t spend.

    If you can’t set up the direct deposit at your employer to do this then you can always set it up at your bank. Set up an automatic transfer for your payday to move money from your main checking account to a special savings account.

    This is so helpful to do as soon as you start a new job because you won’t miss that money. It will never be part of your regular spending and you’ll be able to save up money faster.

    Make a budget.

    When you start your new job you should make a budget for yourself.

    This budget should be based on the amount you will be bringing home after your taxes, 401k contributions, and your automated savings.

    If you’ve never budgeted before, here is a helpful video to show you the basics:

    How To Budget For Beginners

    There are a number of ways to budget including spreadsheets, apps, and by paper. I personally prefer writing my budget out on paper because of the benefits of achieving goals you write down. When you write out your budget your brain processes the information differently and that helps you better stick to your plan.

    You can check out my beginner budgeting bundle for worksheets to help create your budget.

    At the very least, plan to track your spending with an app like Personal Capital or Mint. Having an idea of what you are spending per month can help you avoid a financial mistake like spending more than you make.

    Research your benefits.

    Do you know all the benefits that your company offers? Most people don’t but taking time to research your benefits when you start can help you win big.

    You probably know about the health insurance or even life insurance offered with your new job. But do you know about all the other benefits?

    Here are some common job benefits your company might offer:

    • Health insurance
    • Disability insurance
    • Dental and vision insurance
    • Life insurance
    • PTO/paid holidays
    • Retirement planning
    • Paid family leave
    • Paid gym memberships or fitness equipment
    • Remote work or flexible schedules
    • Student loan repayment
    • Continued education and professional development

    There are many different potential benefits that your company may offer. It’s up to you to learn about these and take advantage of the ones that might benefit you the most.

    The best time to do this is when you start the job so you can get all the benefits as long as possible.

    Learn what your health insurance plan covers.

    Your health insurance is likely something you won’t think about until you need to use it. However, it’s a great idea to get acquainted with what your plan offers.

    Look over your health insurance benefits and ask some questions:

    • What is your monthly payment?
    • What is your yearly deductible?
    • How much do you need to pay if you go to the ER?
    • Which hospitals and doctors are covered by your insurance?
    • How much will your prescriptions cost?

    Figuring out these numbers will help you figure out how to budget. You’ll know if you will you need to save up a medical sinking fund or will be able to cash flow most expenses.

    It’s also helpful to know where your health insurance is and how to access it later when you do need the information.

    Money Tips For Starting A New Job

    Take your time making big purchases.

    The final thing on this list is perhaps the most important: take your time and don’t rush into big purchases.

    Do not go out and buy a car or a house as soon as you start a new job. Do not quickly rush into these decisions that will have ramifications for years to come.

    Doing anything that takes part of your income each month should be a big decision.

    If you are thinking about a big purchase like a home then do some research first. Learn as much as you can while you adjust to the new job and also build up savings with your new income.

    Here are a few helpful posts for potential home buyers:

    Whether it’s a new car or a new home just make sure you are being thoughtful and considering all the impacts on your new income.

    Hopefully these financial tips for starting a new job have you starting off on the right foot!

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  • How To Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    Do you want to get a sign up bonus for using a grocery app to save money? Fetch Rewards is an awesome way to save money on groceries and very easy to use. Let’s look at how to add a referral code on Fetch Rewards to get a bonus when you start!

    Use referral code MV7RR when you sign up for Fetch Rewards for minimum $2 toward your balance to get FREE gift cards.

    How To Use Fetch Rewards Referral Code

    Signing up for Fetch Rewards is easy!

    In this video tutorial I show you how to use sign up for a Fetch Rewards account and use a referral code. This referral code will give you points that you can use to get free gift cards to your favorite stores.

    Entering A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    This Fetch Rewards tutorial video shows:

    • how to open a new account on the Fetch Rewards app
    • where to enter this referral code (MV7RR) on the Fetch Rewards app
    • how to scan your first receipt in the Fetch Rewards apps to get points

    Please note: You must enter the referral code before scanning your first receipt in order to get the sign up bonus points. If you scan a receipt before you enter a referral code then you will not get the referral bonus points.

    How To Sign Up & Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards

    1. In the App store search for Fetch Rewards
    2. Download the app
    3. Open the Fetch Rewards app on your phone
    4. Click sign up with email button
    5. Enter personal info for your account details
    6. Click the orange sign up button
    7. Enter your birthday & gender
    8. Enter your phone number & state
    9. Tap the “Start saving” button next
    10. Click “Okay” or “Maybe later” to enable notifications
    11. Click “Okay” or “Maybe later” to enable location notifications
    12. Enter referral code MV7RR in the box
    13. Click the “Enter code” button
    14. To get your free points you will need to scan a receipt (points are rewarded after your first scan)
    15. Skip through the intro slide to go to the home screen
    16. Click the orange camera icon at the bottom right corner
    17. Grab any grocery receipt you have within the last 14 days
    18. Line up the receipt with the lines on screen
    19. Click the orange camera icon in the center of the screen
    20. Your receipt will upload while you wait
    21. Your points will automatically be added to your account

    And that’s how you sign up for a Fetch Rewards account and start off with enough points to redeem your first gift card!

    Want more? Read: How To Use Fetch Rewards For Beginners

    How to Add A Referral Code On Fetch Rewards When Already Signed In

    The most common question I get on my Fetch Rewards video is some variation of this question:

    • How do I redeem it when I already logged in?
    • How to I use the referral code if I already made my account?

    The easiest way to redeem the referral code on Fetch Rewards is when you first sign up. However, it is possible to still add a referral code even if you have created the account.

    If you skip the chance to enter upon signing up, here’s how to redeem it after:

    • tap on the Me tab
    • select Refer a friend
    • then entering code MV7RR.
    • You MUST do the referral code before scanning your first receipt. If you scan a receipt before entering a referral code then you will not get the bonus points.

    That’s how you enter it after signing up! You still have to do it before scanning any receipts, so if you have signed up and scanned receipts you are no longer eligible to get a referral code bonus.

    Fetch Rewards Referral Code

    This referral code will get you between$2 – $4 worth of free gift cards when you use it upon signing up.

    Fetch Rewards regularly changes the amount that new members can get but you’ll at least get $2 for using the code!

    You will enter the code when you sign up as shown in the video above. You have to enter the code before scanning your first receipt to get the free points.

    Learn more about Fetch Rewards in my review here.

    Find other great apps to save money and earn money with referral code bonuses.

    Earn More Points On Fetch Rewards

    Wnat to earn even more points on Fetch Rewards?

    Besides the referral bonus when you sign up for a new account there are multiple ways to earn more points.

    How To Earn Points On Fetch Rewards

    Some of the ways you can earn points with Fetch Rewards include:

    • scanning receipts
    • buying participating items
    • completing special offers
    • referring your friends to Fetch Rewards

    There are even more ways to earn points since I filmed the video above!

    Fetch Rewards FAQ

    Below are some of the questions I often get asked on videos about the Fetch Rewards app referral code program.

    Are there any Fetch Rewards hacks to earn points fast?

    Unfortunately there are not glitches or ways to cheat the system that you should use. Sometimes people will promote a “glitch” or “hack” to earn points fast on Fetch Rewards but these will often get your account banned and you will not be able to redeem gift cards.

    What’s the Fetch Rewards Referral code?

    Fetch referral code MV7RR will get you 2,000 bonus points when you download the app and enter this referral code.

    How much are points worth?

    Every 1,000 points on Fetch Rewards is equal to $1. For each 1,000 points you earn by scanning receipts or referring friends to the app you will get $1 of gift cards.

    What can I do with Fetch Rewards points?

    You can redeem Fetch Rewards points in the app in exchange for gift cards to hundreds of businesses. My personal favorites are Target, Amazon, and Starbucks gift cards.

    You can start redeeming gift cards for as little as 3,000 points for a $3 gift card.

    How can you get paid from Fetch Rewards?

    Fetch Rewards does not pay out in cash. They only offer gift card rewards but there are many different ways to redeem gift cards on Fetch Rewards and dozens of different companies.

    Use referral code MV7RR when you sign up for Fetch Rewards for minimum $2 toward your balance to get FREE gift cards.

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  • M1 Finance Free Stock

    Since I use M1 Finance every week on my personal finance YouTube channel people often ask, does m1 finance give free stock to new users?

    Some investing apps like Robinhood give out a random free stock when new users sign up. Does M1 Finance do this too? Can you get a free stock by signing up for M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance Referral Link (I also get a bonus!)

    M1 Finance Free Stock

    Technically M1 Finance does not give you a single stock when you sign up like Robinhood or some other apps do. Instead they give you a cash bonus that will invest in ANY stock slice you pick.

    Depending on the current M1 Finance promotion you can get anywhere from $10 to $50 in free stocks.

    The stocks you get will be whatever you pick to be in your M1 Finance pie.

    This is actually the best possible way to get free stocks from an investing platform because YOU get to pick what free stock you get. Instead of getting a throwaway stock from a company you’ve never heard of you can pick the stocks you want. If you get $30 when you sign up then you can by $30 of Apple stock or Tesla stock or an ETF of the whole market like VTI.

    Because M1 Finance allows for fractional share investing you can buy a fraction of whatever stock you want with the sign up bonus.

    What Is M1 Finance?

    M1 Finance started as an investment platform but their tagline now is M1 Finance: The Finance Super App™.

    You can invest, borrow, and spend your money in one easy-to-use platform. At M1 Finance they are striving to have all of your financial needs taken care of in one place.

    M1 blends the best of modern financial technology with personalization and automation. They allow you to take control so you can make your own money moves easily.

    It is designed for long term investors who want a simple design with powerful automation. M1 has been very clear that they are focused on long term investors not day traders. It’s a great place to invest long term and offers retirement accounts like Roth IRAs.

    M1 Finance is regulated and safe to use. Your investments are covered under Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) in case of the firm’s insolvency or misconduct. You can feel secure that your M1 Finance investment account is covered.

    Feel free to read more about the details of SIPC insurance here.

    For all the details behind M1 Finance you can look them up on FINRA’s Broker Check.

    You can see my full M1 Finance review here.

    M1-Finance-Review
    Review of M1 Finance

    M1 Finance Free Stock Bonuses

    M1 Finance offers many different bonuses for people signing up to use their services.

    There is almost always a M1 Referral Bonus. These bonuses have ranged from $10 – $50 bonus when someone signs up and opens a new account through a referral link.

    The most common free stock sign up promotion is $30 for using a referral link. (It changes often so double check to see how much they offer at the moment.)

    M1 Finance has also offered rollover bonuses in the past. This is where you get a cash bonus for rolling over an account to M1 Finance. You can then use that cash that you get to buy stock for free. If you roll over an account to M1 Finance from another platform you could get up to $4,000 for their recent transfer bonus.

    You can check out there current bonuses and promotions on the website.

    How To Sign Up For M1 Finance

    How To Open A M1 Finance Account Via Referral Link

    Sign Up For M1 Finance

    Here are the steps you should to take to get the M1 Finance bonus:

    1. Click on this referral link to open M1 Finance
    2. Enter your email and password and then click “Sign up now”
    3. Follow the sign up instructions to open the account type of your choice (the video above walks through the setup if you want to watch how to do it)

    Account Funding Requirements

    You must contribute a specific amount per account type to get the referral bonus:

    • Individual brokerage – $100
    • Joint brokerage- $100
    • Custodial account – $100
    • Trust account – $5,000
    • Retirement (Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA) account – $500

    Important M1 Account Notes

    • You must fund the account after opening in order to get the bonus. Always double check the amount you must contribute to get the bonus to make sure the requirement hasn’t changed.
    • The bonus can take a few days to show up in your account. It will automatically drop into your investment account once it is processed. If you have auto invest on then it will automatically invest into your investment pies. Otherwise you can invest into the stock or ETF of your choosing.

    M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus

    How much will you get as a sign up bonus when you join M1 Finance with a referral link?

    The standard sign up bonus with a M1 Finance referral link is currently $50.

    You can only get this bonus if you are referred to M1 Finance. If you just go to the website without a referral link you will not get it.

    The referral has changed multiple times. It has been $10, $30, and $50. The have periods where the amount changes and increases.

    The same is accurate for how much you can earn by referring people with your own referral link within the app. The amount can range from $10-$50 for what you can earn when you refer your own friends.

    Get More Free Stocks & Cash Bonuses

    I love giving out free stocks and cash via app referral links. You can check out my full list of referral codes and links for free bonuses.

    referral codes for free stock bonuses
    Best Referral Code Bonuses

    M1 Finance is one of my favorite platforms to use and recommend because of their mission and how easy the app is to use. I also love that they have given out major amount of free money via sign up bonuses!

    I hope this M1 Finance review was helpful to you! If you’d like to support my work feel free to do one of the follow:

    1. Use my M1 Finance referral link
    2. Buy me a coffee

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  • Fun Low Cost Activities

    Finding fun low cost activities can make being frugal much easier.

    When I’m working on a big financial goal like paying off debt I often need a temporary period of frugality. Drastically cutting back my spending on entertainment and frivolous purchases helps us make faster financial progress. That’s why I’ve occasionally done no spend month challenges and love to find fun cheap activities.

    The biggest hurdle to frugal living personally has always been how to entertain myself on the cheap. In the past I’ve spent $100+ on a night out with dinner, drinking, and other activities that cost a lot of money. I’d also go shopping for fun when I didn’t have anything else to do for a couple hours. Most of my entertainment options in the past cost me a ton of disposable income!

    But after a little thought and time spent doing no spend challenges, I now spend most of my time doing very frugal or cheap activities.

    There are plenty of ways to have a lot of fun without spending a lot of money. Let’s look at some of the fun low cost entertainment ideas you might want to try.

    Frugal & Fun Low Cost Activities

    Here are some examples of frugal activities that I use and you might want to try if you are looking for low cost ways to have fun.

    shallow focus on blond haired woman in white long sleeve shirt carrying a baby on her back

    Outdoor Activity Ideas

    Go for a hike. Nature is amazing and free. Even if you aren’t in a mountainous area you probably have a park with at least rolling hills and lots of trees. We live in a city and still are within a short drive of a nice hike. Even in flat areas there are ways to get outside and walk in nature that are enjoyable.

    Go out and exercise. Bring a friend or your dog for company while you exercise outside and enjoy nature. Run, walk, skip, bike. Just move your body outside. It’s free, fun, and a great way to improve your mood and life.

    Visit a park. You probably live near a park and don’t utilize it nearly enough. Visit your local park and take advantage of what is there for free. Parks around here offer playgrounds, fitness equipment, sports fields, and more. There is always something free and fun to do there.

    Community Activity Ideas

    Go to the library. A library card is so useful for low cost fun! You can check out books, DVDs, music, etc. all with one library card. You can also rent new e-books that are released. A good book can keep you entertained for hours at no cost.

    Take part in community events. Most local community events are free or very cheap to start with in cities and towns. Check your local newspaper or neighborhood groups online to find community activities you can participate in on the cheap. You can usually find parties, performances, speakers and more.

    Volunteer at events. Volunteering at events is a two for one deal – you get to volunteer and enjoy an event. You can get into a lot of events and festivals for free just by offering to volunteer for a few hours. Work then enjoy the festivities.

    Be a volunteer. Volunteering at shows or sporting events often lets you watch for free or gives you a chance to view at another time in exchange for your labor. Volunteering is usually a win win for everyone and a great frugal way to spend your time

    Food Focused Ideas

    Pretend you’re on “Chopped” for dinner. Chopped forces constestants to cook with random non-matching ingredients, but you can do this yourself at home! Give yourself a pantry challenge for dinner and see what you can make with wacky ingredients. It’s fun, challenging, and helps you prevent food from going to waste.

    Host a tea party. While hosting a party usually requires big expenses, hosting an impromptu tea party can be fun and frugal. Bake a treat from scratch and offer up tea to all your guests for a fun part for less than $10.

    Host a BYOB game night. Game nights with friends are super fun and cheap. Have everyone bring their favorite game and make it BYOB so everyone can enjoy what they want to drink or eat.

    Host a potluck. Similar to the game night, host a dinner where everyone you invite brings a dish. It’s a low cost way to have a really fun evening and delicious dinner.

    group of people making toast

    Frugal Activity Ideas

    Try a dollar store craft. Visit your local Dollar Tree and challenge yourself to making a pretty craft for less than $5 for all the supplies you need. Get creative with supplies from the dollar store and what you already have or can find for free. You can search Pinterest for a ton of frugal dollar store craft ideas.

    Explore thrift stores. Not only can thrift stores be a great source of secondhand deals, they can also be incredibly fun and entertaining. Visit several in your area and discover the weirdest item for sale you can find.

    Plan your next shopping spree without spending. Instead of impulsively buying items, do a little window shopping and pre-planning to find out how you can get what you want at the absolute best price. Check out when there might be a sale next and see if Ebates is offering cash back.

    Destination Activity Ideas

    Go to free concerts. If you live in a city with any type of music scene then there will often be free concerts happening. My city has a free summer concert series which are incredibly fun for a free event. There are lots of other free concerts throughout the year.

    Visit the zoo on free day. Zoos always have a free day or at the very least a free afternoon for locals. Our local zoo is super fun to visit on the free day even if it gets a bit crowded. It can be worth the savings.

    Go to museum free days. The museums in most major cities have free days or free hours where locals can come in for free. These are a frugal way to experience the culture and history in your city. In some cities there are even museums that are always free to visit. Find out when admission is free or reduced and plan a visit to the museum without breaking the bank.

    Take a tour. Touring local neighborhoods or businesses nearby is a frugal option for family entertainment. Many places charge nothing for entry and a tour while others charge a nominal amount. I’ve enjoyed touring places that make things like dairy products and manufactured items.

    aroma beverage breakfast brown

    Education Focused Ideas

    Take a free course. Thanks to the internet there are now free courses on hundreds of topics available online. Pick something you’re interested in and sign up to learn more!

    Watch free things online. Between free shows on Hulu and Ulive plus a million things to watch on YouTube, you can be entertained for free for days if you simply plug in and search for things to watch online.

    Listen to a podcast. Put on your favorite podcast or find a new one to try out. You can learn a lot while listening to podcasts and also pair it with another activity like taking a hike outside.

    Find things to do without money. There are literally hundreds of things you can do without spending money. Here are 50 things to do without spending money to get you started.

    Those are just a few of the low cost activities that can be useful when you want to have fun but not spend money.

    There is a lot that you can do that is active, social, and fun without spending a lot of money. Sure it’s nice to spend a ton on a night out now and again, but it’s totally not necessary to have a fun time!

    Want To More Low Cost Frugal Activities?

    Try a no spend challenge! The no spend challenge printable bundle has a long list of no spend ideas that can help you figure out ways to have fun without spending any money.

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable PDF Spending Control - Pennies Not Perfection

    No Spend Month Challenge Printable

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  • How To Grocery Shop On A Budget

    Learning how to grocery shop on a budget can save you thousands of dollars per year. It’s one of those financial skills you can pull from your back pocket to fix your household budget in an emergency situation.

    I’ve never been an extreme coupon user or someone that enjoys living frugally. However, I love growing my money by investing so I like to save money in order to invest more. To do this I’ve learned some frugal living hacks like how to grocery shop on a budget.

    How to grocery shop on a budget? It just takes planning!

    Saving Money At The Grocery Store

    Rushing through the store shopping for groceries is unfortunately what many of us do in our day-to-day lives. This is the most expensive way to shop. Without knowledge, planning, and conscious effort the typical grocery shopping method ends up costing you hundreds of dollars per month extra.

    You cannot save on groceries if you rushing through the store or too rushes to plan before hand. Once you take the time to go through this process once you will be able to refine it and improve over time.

    This post will cover a few of my favorite tips on how to save on your grocery bill, especially if you have children.

    Start With Educating Yourself

    Saving money on groceries begins with education. Unless you know how to cook and what to buy then you won’t be able to succeed in cutting your budget down. Buying all convenience foods will make your grocery bill substantially higher.

    There are two forms of educating yourself on grocery savings:

    • First, you need to learn about ways to cook foods that are easy to fit into your lifestyle.
    • Second, you need to educate yourself on how grocery stores work and the ways you should shop.

    Learn About Cheap Meals

    There are a ton of great books on how to cook great food on the cheap. A couple good ones include:

    budget bytes cookbook to slash your grocery bill

    Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half – This book and the blog by the same name are a great resource for learning easy recipes that don’t cost much to make. Beth makes simple recipes and breaks everything by the price per serving of the recipe. It is a great way to educate yourself on how much your favorite foods cost to make at home.

    ten dollar dinners to save money on food bills

    Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week – This book is another fantastic option for educating yourself about affordable meals that you can make during the week. Dinners can be an expensive meal so it will save a lot of money learning how to make these.

    Learn About How To Grocery Shop

    You can also educate yourself on the basics of how to grocery shop and how to save money on your groceries.

    There are many ways to do this from watching YouTube videos and reading blogs to taking a course about saving money on groceries.

    This course from my friend Kelly shows you

    • how to learn the grocery store sales cycles
    • how to utilize grocery pickup
    • ways to use apps to save money
    • tips to shop smarter and use what your have
    • how to meal plan efficiently
    • ways to track sales for the best deals
    • how to make a plan for your leftovers
    • shopping for the best price per ounce
    • how to stretch your grocery money further
    • more tips and tricks to save money

    The course gives you a lot of real world examples and tips Kelly learned while keeping her grocery budget very low during her debt payoff. It also shows examples of Aldi grocery hauls that you can recreate in order to save money.

    My favorite way to save money at the grocery store I learned from the course is by using apps like Fetch & Ibotta. Check out these posts to learn more:

    Before The Store: Make A List

    First and foremost, make a list.

    Before any other step to save money at the grocery store is the fact that you need to make a list. It is mandatory to help you not buy things you don’t need.

    Most people, myself included, spend too much money because we are disorganized. We don’t really know what we have at home or what we need at the store. We shop without a list and end up buying things we don’t need and forgetting things we need.

    We hit the store with no list, just vibes.

    It is a terrible and expensive way to shop.

    When you start your grocery shopping experience with a list you are much more likely to save money on food. You’ll know what you need to buy and stick to it.

    Let’s look at the steps to take in order to make a money savings grocery trip.

    Step 1: Check Your Pantry

    Before you make your grocery store list you need to first check your pantry. What do you already have on hand? What foods have you already bought and need to use? This is the first step to saving money.

    You can pick some of the items you already have on hand to plan your meals for the week.

    You can also decide what items might need to be replenished if they are missing.

    Keeping an inventory of what is in your pantry is the best way to make this happen quickly. By always having a list available and updating it when you run out of items you will be able to replenish when things are on sale.

    You can try a pantry inventory printable like this one to keep you organized:

    Use a pantry inventory list printable to get you organized for grocery shopping on a budget!

    Step 2: Set Your Grocery Budget

    The next step after seeing what you already have is planning the amount you can spend.

    What is your grocery budget for this week? What amount are you able to spend after paying yourself first in your budget? Is it higher or lower than normal? Do you really need to scrimp or is this a week you can stock up on sale items?

    Your grocery budget is one of the most flexible line items in your budget and you should take advantage of the weekly flexibility.

    When you have a little more to spend you can stock up on pantry staples and sale items for your freezer. If you are short for the week then you can figure out the cheapest meal plan you are comfortable with for a week and make it work.

    Set the amount you are able to spend for the week based on your budget and other spending. Once you have this number written down you will then plan everything else around it. You will not go over this amount so your plan will have to account for the budget.

    Next you will look at the current grocery sales to see how to grocery shop on a budget.

    Step 3: Shop The Sales

    When you are learning how to grocery shop on a budget the sales will be your best friend.

    Using coupons, sales, and apps all starts before you actually hit the store. It’s the second step in saving money after taking inventory of what you already have.

    In this step you’ll look at the weekly grocery sales and determine what foods are cheapest. The sales will include the foods that are currently in season which makes them less expensive. This sale information is how you will plan your meals for the week.

    You will also want to check the store coupons and any other coupon sites you enjoy using. Compile these coupons to help you choose the foods you will buy at the stores. take the time to look for coupons or write the manufacturer of your favorite brands and they will send you coupons. Most of them like you to take a survey and then they send you the coupons you check off and some even send samples, can’t beat that.

    Finally you will also look at the grocery saving and cash back apps like Ibotta. This will give you another layer of information about the price of foods for the week.

    Next you will take all of this price information and plan out your meals for the week (or longer).

    Step 3: Make Your Grocery List By Planning Your Meals

    Once you have the coupons and sales matched up then you can think about what will go with these items and stay within your budget.

    You’ll want to plan out meals for the week based on sale items, typical cheap meals, and things that you love. I know when my children were little they loved spaghetti and meatballs because we would have it average of twice a week. It was a big money stretcher since pasta was a cheap pantry staple. It is really a good meal for children and I always made my own sauce which helped a little for their taste buds.

    Make a plan based on all the information you have already. At the very least you should plan for 7 dinners and 7 lunches. Some of those can be leftovers or planned meals outside the home. But you need to have a written plan for your grocery list.

    Once you have planned out the meals you have then you need to make a list for the store. Look through the planned meals and add items to your grocery list that you need to complete each one. If you already have it in the pantry you can skip it or add that to the list to replenish your pantry staples.

    So we have a list, we have coupons, and we have a meal plan, what is next? Heading to the grocery store!

    Shopping To Save

    Are you starting to see how prep work is key to how to grocery shop on a budget?

    Now that you have the list ready you have several ways to shop:

    1. In person at multiple stores
    2. In person at the store
    3. Shopping online for grocery pickup
    4. Shopping online for grocery delivery

    Which option you go with will depend on how much you want to save. I wrote the list above in order of most savings to least savings.

    If you shop at multiple stores you’ll be able to get items at the best price depending on who sells them at the lowest price. This option can save you a lot of money but will take considerably more time. If you shop in person at just one store you’ll still save money but you will not always be able to get the lowest price in your area.

    Shopping online will save you money because you can easily stick to your list. If you do grocery delivery due to the convenience you’ll need to pay a little bit more. It’s possible you can save enough with good planning to make delivery worth it!

    Shopping For Groceries With Intention

    When I shop I go to Kroger since I have found that their prices fit my budget. I always make sure I have my list and I am never in a hurry, that can cost you too! Taking my time and shopping with intention saves money in the long run.

    When you rush through you may miss something that has been marked to clear out or mistake prices which can give you additional savings.

    For instance, I found pork sirloin (tenderloins) mis-marked one day and they said “save 14.97” instead of “save 5.37” like it was supposed to, so I got them for the 5.37 total. If I had been rushing through I would have missed a great deal. Now instead of one meal, I will filet them and into butterfly chops and have many meals for the price of one. I picked up all of the ones that were mis-marked, three in total. I do this often with clearance items too as long as the date is workable. Shopping slowly with the intention of looking for deals that aren’t on your list can help stretch your money further.

    That is just one of the many times I have slowly walked the isles and found great bargains to stretch my dollar. This is along with my planning. I always search for bargains that I may have missed or not known about. It is like a big treasure hunt. Each grocery dollar you find can be saved or invested!

    Enjoy Feeding Your Family Well

    Remember you can feed your family healthy flavorful food for a lot less that you might think. Shopping with a plan and with the intention to save goes a long way. It is easier to to learn how to grocery shop on a budget and make delicious meals.

    After you learn to shop for groceries you can then move on to the process of cooking. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking it is possible to learn how to efficiently make meals you enjoy.

    Feeding yourself and your family well can be a source of joy when you know it is saving you money to spend on things you love.

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  • How To Save Money On Dog Food & Expenses

    My dogs are my babies and they take up a significant percentage of our monthly budget. I’m always looking for ideas on how to save money on dog food and other expenses.

    Americans spend a ton of money on household pets. In fact, each year we spend over $50 billion on pet expenses. That’s a huge amount of money spent on our pets!

    Budgeting For Dog Food & Expenses Is Part Of Life

    As a pet owner, budgeting for your pet is just part of life. I include my dogs each month in our budget and they have their own sinking fund. It is similar to budgeting for expenses for kids or any other dependent.

    We spend money, we make tough choices, we sacrifice at times to get them what they need.

    Everyone has to decide what matters most for them when spending money on pets. However, it’s always a great idea to try to find ways to save so let’s look at some cost cutting ideas for dog expenses.

    (I personally have dogs which is why I default to talking about dog related spending but this applies for all pets!)

    How To Plan For Pet Expenses

    The best way to take care of your pets is to plan ahead for the expenses they will encounter.

    1. Make a budget line item for dog expenses.

    Pets deserve their own line in your budget. You know you will spend at least some money each month on your pet and your budget should reflect that reality.

    I have a line for monthly dog food and other pet expenses. I also break down the yearly cost of things like heartworm medicine and flea medicine to either save up monthly or purchase when needed.

    2. Have an emergency fund for pet emergencies.

    Everyone should have an emergency fund for things like a job loss. However it can also be helpful to have a dog related emergency fund specifically for any dog related emergencies.

    Going into debt for pets should not happen. It often makes hard situations much harder when you have to pay off debt for vet bills. If at all possible you should try to avoid vet debt and instead always have a pet emergency fund of some kind.

    Emergency Fund Savings Tracker Bundle | Emergency Savings Printable By Amount 1
    Emergency Fund Savings Tracker Bundle | Emergency Savings Printable By Amount

    Pick a reserve amount you are willing to spend in an emergency and save up that amount. Maybe that’s $1,000 or maybe it’s $5,000 or more. Whatever you can save and feel comfortable spending should be set aside in case of an emergency where your pet needs care.

    We’ve had to use our emergency fund on vet bills in the past. Having money set aside for this purpose can make the experience so much easier.

    How to Save Money on Dog Food & Expenses

    Let’s look at some of the ways you can actually save money on dog food and other expenses.

    1. Save money on pet medicine

    Medicine can be one of the most expensive things you have to buy for your pet. Unfortunately when it is something your dog needs it is impossible to say no regardless of the cost.

    My dog definitely has had to have some pricey medicine and I always find a way to make it work.

    For routine medicine you can save a lot of money by ordering online instead of at the local vet’s office. You can also use GoodRX for pets online to find deals on medications.

    You can also get many pet medicines at cheaper co-ops as well if you have one nearby. Since I grew up in a semi-rural town we had one and this helped save a ton on medicines. This is super useful for medicines given over and over like heart worm medicine or allergy pills.

    2. Save money on pet toys and supplies.

    Specialty pet products can suck you in and cost you a lot of money. It can be tempting to constantly buy new dog toys and outfits for holidays and suddenly you’re spending way too much money.

    The most important way to save here is to mentally prepare yourself. You can do this by realizing your precious pet doesn’t really need a memory foam bed or custom clothes for each season. They are perfectly equipped to be happy with less of these modern items.

    If you want to buy dog toys, then it is best to shop the sales. Pet stores offer coupons, have sales and also have clearance sections for toys. You can buy toys and special items for the entire year during a sale like Black Friday.

    Your dog won’t enjoy it more because you spent more money, so save on toys and stock up for when it’s time to replace toys with new ones.

    3. Save money on pet food. 

    Feeding your pet will be a regular expense each month and should be in your monthly budget.

    There are lots of high quality high dollar pet foods out there all claiming to be the best thing ever created. I used to buy my dog a top dollar dog food when she was a puppy. I spent thousands on food during her first year of life buying those $100 bags of dog food! I changed my plan after her vet told me it was not necessary and many cheaper brands were just as good.

    Save Money On Dog Food

    You can save money on pet food by not overthinking this area. Most bulk bags of dry dog food or cat food are perfectly fine for your pet. In fact, our vet recommended one of these lower price brands over any other and that is what we now buy. It’s the same one my husband fed his dog for 15 years.

    Just because a dog food costs more doesn’t make it automatically better, so save money on pet food this way!

    Other ways to save money on dog food:

    • look for coupons for your preferred brand online and in store ads
    • sign up for email newsletters for dog food discounts and samples
    • buy during sales and stock up when it is cheapest
    • ask your vet if there is another brand that costs less but provides what your dog needs

    Those dog food savings tips will get you started!

    4. Save money on vet care.

    Vets can be incredibly expensive for both routine care and emergencies. This will likely be a large amount of your yearly pet budget. When you have a big emergency it can cost even more than you expect.

    To save money on standard vet care you can investigate the discount plans some vets offer. There are variations of this with many different vets and animal hospitals. Some vets offer discount payment plans where you pay a smaller monthly fee that covers vet appointments, any emergency visits, and medicines. I personally have used one of these plans. It saved me money each year and it saved me over $200 when my dog had to go in for an emergency.

    What about when your pet needs an expensive operation? You can sometimes arrange for discounts with vets for various circumstances like paying in cash. Ask you vet and see what options are available – sometimes you can save money just by asking.

    This is also a time when pet insurance might come in handy. The best time to get pet insurance is when you first get a puppy because otherwise it does not cover as much.

    Paying For Pet Expenses

    Pets are incredibly important and a huge part of your life, but they can be an expensive part of life. Paying for all of these expenses can be difficult but worth it.

    Here are a few ways to make sure you can pay for all your pet expenses:

    • include your pet’s in your monthly budget
    • start a sinking fund for your yearly pet expenses
    • save up a pet specific emergency fund

    Make sure you take care of your furry friends by including them in your financial plans.

    From one dog mom to another: They are worth it!

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