Tag: budget

Gift Ideas for the Minimalist Mama

Gift Ideas for the Minimalist Mama

So, here’s the deal. I am a minimalist mama but I also love Christmas and presents and shopping and all. the. things. So, while it may seem as if these two are at odds with each other, I’ve simply found a way to incorporate the […]

Mottos, Minivans, and Staying Debt-Free

Mottos, Minivans, and Staying Debt-Free

      We did it.   We finally bought a van!!   We are in full celebration mode over here, and I can’t rave about it enough. I never thought I’d be a van mom, but, boy, is it convenient!! The sliding doors, the […]

My Favorite ALDI Finds

My Favorite ALDI Finds

 

ALDI. It is my obsession every. single. week.  Our family has been shopping there consistently for several years and I still haven’t tired of going!!

 

If you’ve never been there, it’s a shopping experience unlike any other. You can read here about why I love it, but today I want to share my favorite ALDI finds, which are in NO particular order. My goal is to either get you to try ALDI for the first time, or to branch out and try something new!!

FRESH FRUIT + VEGGIES

 

ALDI is, hands down, my favorite place to buy produce. It’s inexpensive which provides you an easy way of making the healthy choice rather than one that is cost efficient. Their selection is vast and they have an entire section for those who like to shop organic.

GLUTEN-FREE ITEMS

 

I decided to make this one gigantic category because there are so many gluten-free (GF) things I love. I have been GF for about five years now and am always on the hunt for a new favorite GF food, because, let’s be honest, sometimes they’re hard to come by! Thankfully, this isn’t the case at ALDI. Their GF brand is called liveGfree, and I’ve loved everything I’ve tried. Here are some of my current faves.

 

 

These Black Sesame chips are great solo or with some red pepper hummus. They also have a Sweet Chili version that is SO GOOD if you like a little bit of kick.

 

I also love these Sea Salt crackers. They’re perfect for a bologna and cheese tray or on their own (*ahem* I say “cheese tray” despite the fact that I hate cheese & have no idea if they’re actually good when combined with said food, but you cheese people usually eat it with crackers, so here you go.)

 

 

These baking kits are DELISH. The brownies are gooey and the pancakes are fluffy, as they should be. I haven’t tried the white cake mix, but judging by the other two, I’d say it’s a safe bet that it’s all sorts of wonderful.

 

Not pictured is their GF pasta. They have several varieties but each one we’ve tried is better than most other brands.

HUMMUS

 

First of all, if you don’t love hummus, something is wrong. with. you. Second, if you do love hummus, GO TO ALDI. It is, hands down, my favorite hummus out there. They have so many varieties, but my go-to is this Hummus Quartet. It features four different flavors and is perfect for those indecisive moments (do I want classic or roasted red pepper this week??).

CHIPS

 

I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little snobbish about tortilla chips. I hate when they’re too salty, and I also don’t like when they’re round. ALDI has several options to choose from, but these Restaurant Style Tortilla Triangles are my fave. They come in a ginormous bag, and they’re cheap to boot. Go get some!!

TRAIL MIX

 

This is for all you snackers (hello, family)!! ALDI has some top-notch trail mix that is perfect on the go. This Cranberry & Nut mix is my personal favorite because it’s dairy-free, but if you’re not worried about that, there’s a bunch more to choose from.

PB & HONEY

 

Per usual, ALDI has several varieties of nut butters, including cashew butter which is fantastic, but a special shout out goes to this organic peanut butter that has one ingredient: peanuts. They also have raw honey which is delicious, as well as agave which I often use in various baking recipes when substituting for sugar.

BREAD

 

A special shout-out to my homie, Sprouted 7 Grain Bread. We are besties. It’s delicious, healthier than most breads, and saves me from baking my own.

ALMOND MILK

 

We are a dairy-free family but still crave milk. Hello, Almond Milk!! ALDI has a fantastic selection, of which we love the Chocolate (obviously). I’ll admit, it’s a bit thinner than other brands, but the taste can’t be beat. (And as you can see from the picture, other people must love it too because it was picked over the day I took pictures!)


SALAD MIX

 

If you haven’t tried one of ALDI’s salad mixes, today’s the day. If you’re in a jam for a side, these will make you look like you’ve got it all together (shhhh. No one has to know you literally just dumped it into a bowl five seconds ago). Everything you need comes in the bag, including toppings and dressing.  They’re currently selling the three pictured above, but my absolute favorite is a cranberry salad mix that they often have in the summer. Fingers crossed it shows up this year!!


OILS

 

We are an olive oil family. ALDI has several to choose from, including Grape Seed Oil which they’ve recently started carrying.

 

(P.S. For anyone that has read the word EVOO in recipes and just skipped over it like I used to because I didn’t know what it was…Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You’re welcome.)

CHICKEN SALAD

 

You guys. I love chicken salad. There was a day, before my first pregnancy, that I despised the stuff. Then I became pregnant. And suddenly I craved it. And then I discovered this Cranberry Almond Chicken Salad. It is all sorts of wonderful and I suggest you hop in your car and pick some up ASAP. (It’s great with the GF crackers I mentioned up above, which is how I often eat it myself.)

PIZZA

 

ALDI has some fantastic pizzas, but our favorite is this Five Cheese Traditional Crust. It’s cheap, huge, and you can add all the toppings you love at home!

BREAKFAST SANDWICHES

 

You know those days where you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to make eggs? These sandwiches are LIFE. They’re microwaveable and delicious and I often make myself a chocolate protein shake to go alongside one. My favorite? Turkey Sausage.

TISSUES

 

If you have kids, you know you use A LOT of tissues. ALDI’s got your back! These boxes are 99 cents AND they have lotion which is a win win. I usually dig through all the boxes to find my favorite pattern: birds.

ALL THINGS BABY

 

Ok, mamas. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for (even if you didn’t know it). ALDI has an entire line of baby stuff called Little Journey. This includes diapers, wipes, formula, food packets, and snacks. The entire line is cheaper than any other brand I’ve found, and they pride themselves on their quality by giving moms what they want.

 

 

Let’s talk diapers. Every mama needs them, but hates spending the money. ALDI has quality diapers from size NB to 6, as well as pull-ups. They are cheaper per diaper than any other store, including Amazon Prime with “Subscribe and Save” (sorry, Amazon). The diapers themselves are not as plush as Pampers or Huggies, but I’ve had less leaking problems with these than the name brands.

 

 

As far as baby nutrition goes, ALDI is where it’s at. I had to supplement my oldest from the very beginning, and we used Little Journey Advantage formula, which would compare to a basic Similac. ALDI also carries Gentle for sensitive stomachs and Soy for those kiddos that need a dairy-free supplement.

 

The baby food packets at ALDI are my current fave. I made most of my own baby food with my oldest, but the second time around, it was one of the things I chose not to do because #time. ALDI eases the burden of mom guilt, as their foods are organic and most are simply green beans + water, or butternut squash + water. I feel confident and safe feeding these to my babies!! (P.S. They’re only 79 cents. Say WHAT?!)

 

I’m stopping here, even though I seriously have like fifty other things I love. My hope is that you’ll try something new and if you haven’t been to ALDI, you’ll drop everything and GO. Like, today. Like, right now.

 

What are your favorite ALDI finds? Is there anything new you’d like to try?

 

XO, Kayla

 

P.S. For more of my favorites, sign up below to receive my monthly emails. You’ll get one at the beginning of every month with some of my favorite things and an update on posts you may have missed. I hope to see you in your inbox!!

My Best (Not-So) Kept Secret: ALDI

My Best (Not-So) Kept Secret: ALDI

This post contains affiliate links. Everyone has that one thing that they absolutely cannot live without. For some, it’s chocolate and coffee. For others it’s long bubble baths amidst candlelight. For me, it’s ALDI. Yup, I said ALDI (I am not ashamed)!! But I am […]

5 Ingenious Ways to Save Money

5 Ingenious Ways to Save Money

  Mamas, this is the year that I want to be crazy creative at saving money. Remember that minivan I talked about in my last post? I want it BAD. Which means I am looking for all. the. ways. that I can save a little […]

New Year, New Budget: How to Be a Goal Digger

New Year, New Budget: How to Be a Goal Digger

I want a minivan.

I want the collapsible back seats & the sliding doors, the ample space for groceries & the leg room. Heck, I’ll even take the soccer-mom reputation if it means I can wear my yoga pants everyday (who am I kidding, I already do)!!

But, do you know what else I want? That pretty pale-pink KitchenAid mixer, a new vacuum cleaner, some comfy V-neck tees & a pair of black Nike sneakers. And, while we’re at it, a new washer and dryer would be great since ours are from the 70s. Oh, and I’d love to remodel our bedroom & maybe refinish our hardwood floors in the living room.

The problem is, these all cost money. While it would be easy to get a loan for the van and put the rest on a credit card, we’ve decided to live debt-free, which means we have to choose. Should we save for a minivan or slowly spend the money on all the other things we have our eyes on?

Determining your financial priorities is critical to the success of your budget. Well-planned goals point you in the direction of your endgame and keep you on track. You can’t keep your eye on the ball if you don’t know where the ball is.

So, here are my steps on how to be a goal digger (cue Kanye).

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Set a measurable goal. This is the most important step to becoming a goal digger. Your goal has to be measurable in order to determine how close you are to accomplishing it.

Example Goal #1: I will eat less sweets this year.

Does this mean 1 dessert a day, a week, a month? What was my typical eating habit before I set my goal? What constitutes a sweet-does this include honey or, dare I say, chocolate?! This goal is not specific enough to allow me to track my progress.

Example Goal #2: I will only eat 1 dessert a week this year.

This is measurable. If I only eat 1 dessert this week, I know I’ve met my goal. But, if I eat more than 1, I know there’s room for improvement, and I can set boundaries accordingly (darn you, peanut butter fudge cheesecake!!).

Hint: When it comes to creating a measurable goal for your budget, it usually means you need to have a dollar amount associated with your goal as well as a designated time frame.

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Write it down (your goal, that is). Post this bad boy everywhere-on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, your nightstand, your car visor. Type it in a note, screenshot it, and set it as the background on your phone. Write it on your hand, get a tattoo, carve it in your lawn. Whatever it takes to remind you of your goal, do it!! Writing it down will keep you accountable.

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Compare every purchase to your goal. This is crucial!! By comparing your needs/wants to your goal, you can determine whether or not they’re necessary to your life right now. You know that KitchenAid mixer I mentioned? If I buy it now, I won’t be able to put that money in my minivan fund, meaning the van may have to wait a month longer in the end. Is it worth it? Thinking of purchases in regards to your goal puts them into perspective. (Hint: a lot of small purchases can add up quickly. See my post on how to change your spending habits.)

After some debate, we’ve decided our goal for the year is saving for a minivan. It’s the highest priority for our family and the other things can wait. With that being said, this goal is going to take some work. It’s easy to stay motivated at the beginning of the year, because the decision is fresh on our minds. However, when March rolls around and Justin Timberlake just so happens to be in Cleveland, we’ll have to make a decision: save for the van or take back the night with JT? (Fingers crossed that we can do both!!)

Who’s ready to be a goal digger this year?!

XO, Kayla

P.S. If you feel like you’re having a hard time saving money for your goals, see my post on creative ways to save a little here and a little there. You might get to your goal sooner than you think!!

P.P.S. The year I wrote this post was the year we bought our minivan!! Read about our journey to saving + driving the van of our dreams here!!

Post Christmas Buys

Post Christmas Buys

    Merry [day after] Christmas!!   I don’t want this holiday to end. I just can’t help myself!! Lucky for me, we aren’t celebrating Christmas with my family until the first week in January, so excuse me while I force my prolonged holiday spirit […]

Christmas Gifts Part 2: Fun Ways to Do Christmas on a Small Budget

Christmas Gifts Part 2: Fun Ways to Do Christmas on a Small Budget

  My life is a bit of a conundrum: I am a huge lover of all things Christmas while at the same time loving a good deal and saving money. You’re probably sitting there, thinking, “How in the world are you supposed to do both […]

Christmas Gifts Part 1: How to Spend Less for Christmas

Christmas Gifts Part 1: How to Spend Less for Christmas

 

I’m going to reveal a little something about myself…I love Christmas!! It is, hands-down, my favorite time of year, and I want to start celebrating in October to make it last as long as possible!! However, my husband keeps me tame and makes me wait to play my favorite Christmas tunes until November 1st (I’ve already tried and was shut. down.). This year is no exception. I. Can’t. WAIT!!

 

Despite my childlike anticipation, there’s nothing like money to make the holidays stressful. This year, we have another child to buy for, and as the primary budgeter in our household, the subject weighs on my mind.

 

If you’re like me, you love gift-giving. I enjoy every part of it: the hunt for the perfect gift, wrapping it, adding a ribbon for some flare, and then watching as my loved one opens it to reveal what I chose just for them. Each step is my favorite. But. The joy of the season is quickly robbed if our budget is tight and I’m stressed over the amount of we’ve spent.

 

I’ve implemented a few strategies over the years to help us decrease our spending during the holidays and would love to share them with you!!

 

  • Game plan. Nate and I sit down each year and determine how much we want to spend per person. This is so helpful when I go to shop, because I have an established budget and don’t have to stand in TJ Maxx with my two kids under two trying to determine if this item is too expensive (talk about stressful). I simply look at our budget we’ve put into writing and say “yay” or “nay.” Done.
  • Thrift shopping. Now, some of you are probably like, “EW.” Don’t check out just yet!! There are plenty of things that you can buy at thrift stores, garage sales, surplus stores, etc. that are perfectly fine for gift giving. For example, most of the large toys that my children own are used. The reason being, children go through toys fast because they outgrow them, they get tired of them, mom’s are like, “this toy makes too much noise and I am DONE,” and more. SO. When I am thinking of what I’d like to buy my kids for Christmas, I look at places that have used items. (For example, a friend was selling her child’s tool table and it was in beautiful condition. SG is never going to know the difference between a new tool table and the used one I bought for $35.) I always make sure that I can clean the item and that it’s still in good condition. You will save so much money if you start to think smart about your shopping and look for things that aren’t brand new. I promise!!
  • Plan ahead. This is one of those “shady parent/friend” tips. Have you ever received a gift that maybe you didn’t love yourself but it would be perfect for a friend? Save it!! There is no shame in re-gifting if that person will truly love it. Otherwise, the item will most likely sit in your home unused and untouched for two years before you decide to take it to Goodwill. Put it to use before then! Another idea is to save baby gifts. We received several gifts this summer for ÉM that were perfect for the developmental stage she’ll be at in December. Rather than putting them in the basket with the other toys, I kept them back and plan to give them to her for Christmas this year. It saves me time and money, because I don’t have to add one more thing to my ever-growing Christmas gift list. Done.
  • Shop before December!! This one has exclamation marks because it. is. KEY. To all you procrastinators out there, stop it!! You are most likely spending more by waiting until the last minute, not to mention you’re spending all your holiday hours in the stores with all the other procrastinators when you could be creating beautiful moments with your family. Here are some ideas on how to stop the cycle: 1. Start looking for sales and deals throughout the year. You don’t have to go crazy and shop in March if you don’t want to. BUT, starting in October is not unreasonable. Most stores will have good sales before December and you’ll be so thankful you started early. 2. Online/house parties. You know all those parties you’ve been invited to, like Norwex, Thirty-One Gifts, or Usborne? Start shopping for Christmas!! There have been numerous times where I’ve been invited to a party, and I hit a conundrum wall: I don’t want to spend money but I really want to support my friend and not be a party pooper. So guess what? I buy with a purpose. Your mom loves to shop at ALDI? Buy her a Thirty-One canvas bag for Christmas. Boom. You have kids? Buy some Usborne books and save them for their stocking. Double boom. This is a perfect way to hit two birds with one stone and you can stop feeling guilty about buying something you might not use just because you don’t want to say no (that’s another issue we’ll have to tackle later).

 

I hope this list gives you some ideas on how to start spending less during the holiday season by simply being smart throughout the year with your gift giving. Game plan with a budget, do some thrift shopping when possible, plan ahead throughout the year, and shop before December. And if this list is overwhelming, just pick one that you’ll stick with this year. It’s really not hard once you start changing your mindset. AND you might get so motivated that you’ll implement more than one!! You do you.

 

You can read about more ideas on how to get creative with gift giving here, and maybe even implement some minimalist strategies into your holiday season.

 

Tell me which of these you’re most excited about or what money-saving Christmas ideas have worked for you in the past. I need all the money-saving tips I can get!!

 

XO, Kayla