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The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo

Today’s post, “The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo,” is a guest post from Mrs. Picky Pincher, the blogger and money saving-maven behind She writes about paying off $225,000 of debt while living the good life.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read on to see the benefits of taking frugality to new levels!

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. Nobody wants to pay more money to live the good life. We all want to be the next money-saving savant, but there’s just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you’ve got to be a total frugal weirdo.

We live in a culture that loves big-ness: big houses, big cars, and big mounds of stuff. The bigger you are, the more successful you clearly must be. But too often big-ness comes at the cost of high debt loads, stress, and working until you collapse to pay off your sports car.

Nobody wants to make debt payments until they’re 80 years old. And that’s why it’s so important to be an utter and complete frugal weirdo.

A frugal weirdo is a person who rejects most of the conventional rules about what we need to spend money on. Instead, the frugal weirdo saves his or her buckaroos to work towards financial independence, whether that takes the form of paying off debt, saving, or investing.

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

Car payments, credit cards, student loans, and even laundry soap are all up for elimination when you’re a frugal weirdo. It’s the key to escaping debt and retiring early. There’s no way you can live independently if you’re chained to a bank note for 30 years, after all.

Don’t get me wrong; it does suck a bit to be the odd gal out. I’ve experienced my fair share of witch hunts from people who want me to upgrade my car, buy a bigger house, and not pump all my money into debt payments.

Haters are gonna hate, though, y’all. I like marching to the beat of a different drummer, and that’s how I’ve discovered the surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo:

It’s cool to be weird!

Tips to Embrace Your Inner Frugal Weirdo

Thankfully, I’ve never been cool or popular or remotely interesting, so it’s been easy to live on my own terms. Here are a few of the frugal-yet-weird lifestyle changes I’ve made to save a lot of money–and how they’ve benefited me tremendously.

Cloth napkins and hankies

I did the math and realized we spent $15 a month on Kleenex and paper towels. That’s small potatoes to most people, but to me, it was money literally in the garbage.

After poking around Pinterest, I realized I could make my own reusable items to replace pricey one-use items. I was tempted to toss out the toilet paper, too, but Mr. Picky Pincher nearly started a household mutiny, so the toilet paper stayed (grumble grumble).

To replace our paper towels, I bought a set of very nice cloth napkins from my thrift store for 25 cents apiece. I paid a grand total of $1.50 and I had fancy cloth napkins instead of Brawny. It took a bit of training to get out of our paper towel habit, but now we feel mighty fancy using cloth napkins to wipe the spaghetti sauce off our faces. Ahhh, luxury.

I couldn’t find cloth hankies at the thrift store to replace my beloved Kleenex, so I made my own hankies. I took a few of Mr. Picky Pincher’s old flannel shirts, rags, and fabric scraps and went to town. I’m not a great sewer, but thankfully all I had to do was cut the fabric into squares and put a hem on them to prevent fraying. The result was 40 pieces of homemade hankies for $0.

Making yogurt 

I am addicted to all things dairy. I have at least five different types of cheese in my refrigerator right now, several quarts of yogurt, and a gallon of kefir. Ahhhh, heavenly deliciousness.

My favorite snack is yogurt, which I used to buy in single-serving cups from the grocery store. It wasn’t until I analyzed my spending habits that I realized how much my dairy obsession cost each month. After doing the math three times, I was shocked that I spent $20 just on yogurt each month. What the hell??

At first I laid off the yogurt and forlornly ate a banana when I was hungry. Then I realized that plenty of people make yogurt at home. I’m clumsy and mess everything up, so I was nervous to do any type of fermenting (knowing my luck, I’d get botulism or something). But my love for yogurt was so strong that I took the plunge and made my own yogurt.

And you know what? I’ve been making my own yogurt for over a year! Instead of spending $20 a month on single-serving yogurt cups, I make one gallon of organic yogurt a month for about $7. 

Weird? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely. 

And you know what?

I was ridiculed for my weird ways. But by making small life changes and cutting my expenses ultra-low, I was able to save over 50% of my income. It wasn’t easy and I spent plenty of nights huddled over pints of ice cream, wondering if my life had gone off the rails.

Final Word

The surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo come down to the numbers. I paid off $14,000 of credit card debt, eliminated a $10,000 car payment, paid for a $12,000 renovation in cash, and paid off $20,000 in student loans. There’s no way I could have done that with my previous spending levels!

The lesson I’ve learned is that it’s more than okay to make your own rules. You’ll find that there are plenty of pleasant surprises when you do what’s best for you.

Thanks again to Mrs. Picky Pincher for sharing her frugal wisdom. Be sure to check out to learn more about the journey to Make Frugality Cool Again.

What frugal tips do you have to share? Would you consider yourself a frugal weirdo?

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

11 Genius Money and Time Saving Routines

Have you heard the old adage “time is money?” While this is true, I often remind myself that time is so much more than that. Time is the great equalizer for all people. For example, Mark Cuban is a billionaire, and you’re most likely not, yet you both only have 24 hours in each day. What counts is how well you utilize your time to live your best life. And with so many things competing for your attention in the noise of life, developing time saving routines can be critical to maximizing your life satisfaction.

As a full-time teacher, realtor, and blogger, I have learned to build time saving routines into each day. They are the reason I am able to pursue three career avenues while also maintaining time for family, friends, and recreation. To be fully transparent, I haven’t always been so efficient with my time. I developed my routines through trial and error, and from time to time, even extreme efficiency cannot help me to juggle it all.

Looking to save time and save money? They go together! Our tips will give you the routines you need to save tons of time, reduce stress, and be happier.

Life-Changing Money and Time Saving Routines

If you’re overwhelmed by life and feel that there just isn’t enough time to do it all, the following time saving routines may be the tricks you need to make the most of your time and boost your happiness! Pick a few to implement this week after reading the tips below.

1. Start Your Day the Same Way Every Day

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then it also stands to reason that the first half hour of your day is the most important. I strongly believe that the first 30 minutes of my day can set the tone for the rest of my day. After coming to this understanding, I decided to structure my waking moments as follows:

  • Press “Snooze” on my alarm clock (not my iPhone – more on that below!) and spend five minutes in quiet to pray and run through the events of the day in my mind.
  • Get out of bed, shower, and get dressed for the day.
  • Let our dogs out and pour myself a cup of coffee (set to brew on a timer from the previous night) while standing at the island in our kitchen.

On the surface these steps may not seem like time saving routines, but if you look a second time, you’ll notice that I don’t do what nearly every person does upon waking up: check my iPhone. 

In the past, I used to spend an easy 30 minutes (or more!) reading the news, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, checking e-mail, and more before even getting out of bed. One day, it dawned on me that this is a huge time vacuum! And the worst part is that it often led me to start my day out grumpy and stressed out about everything I needed to do that day.

My time number one money and time saving tip is simple: find time saving routines that work for you and implement them to start your day off in a positive way.

2. Choose Your Clothing the Night Before

At the risk of having my man card revoked, I’ll be honest: I like clothes. A lot.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to stand in our closet and decide on outfits for several minutes each morning.

By choosing my clothes the night before when I am far more alert, I save myself an estimated 30 minutes each week.

3. Set-up Automatic Payments on Everything

Have you ever sat down to pay bills and realized you didn’t have any envelopes? Cue a trip to Office Max. You resume the process and discover you don’t have any stamps? Off to the post office you go.

Today, there is no reason to waste so much time paying bills when you can automate payments through your various service providers or your bank. Make a list of your regular bills and set up auto pay as soon as possible.

Related Tip: It’s a wise move to review your bills for unused subscriptions every few months to make sure you’re not just throwing money down the drain for services you don’t use.

Trim Financial Manager can help you with this task – and it’s free! Trim Financial Manager, help you find unused subscriptions and even help you cancel them!

4. Handle Mail and Other Documents Only Once

When my wife and I got married, we quickly developed the dreaded pile of mail on our kitchen table. Maybe we thought the other person would just take care of it, or if we just ignored it maybe it would go away. Even today, it rears its ugly head when we both are unusually busy.

Of all the time saving routines I have implemented, handling mail and other documents only once may be the easiest to apply consistently. When I open mail, I quickly choose a course of action: recycle it, shred it, act upon it, or file it.

5. Make the Most of Idle and Busy Work Time

Call me weird – you know you want to – but I enjoy menial tasks even when they’re simple “busy work.” Mowing the lawn, folding laundry, cleaning the house, and running errands are my jam.

Why? I make the most of this time by listening to podcasts, audio books, and even writing articles for this site via voice dictation. For a driven, type A personality, accomplishing two things at once is thrilling.

While I caution anyone against multi-tasking – it doesn’t really work – making the most of your time by engaging your mind during mindless activities is one of my favorite time saving routines.

6. Set Limits Using Timers

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a rare ability to make even the quickest tasks take a ridiculous amount of time if I know I have time to burn. For example, I once spent an hour writing a simple thank you note that should have taken only five minutes. My face should probably be plastered all over posters for Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion).

Setting timers to keep yourself on task is one of my favorite time saving routines because it provides the simplest form of accountability. Do your best to set realistic time limits for all tasks and your productivity will soar.

7. Maintain an Electronic Family Calendar

Whether you are newly-married or have a large family of several children, saving time is all about being organized. My wife and I do not have children, but our electronic family calendar is often the only thing keeping us on top of everything that we have going on.

You can use any number of apps to share an electronic calendar with members of your family. We keep all of our important events, birthdays, bill due dates, vet appoints for our dogs, and much more on our shared Google calendar. It only takes a few minutes to update each week and even less time to check each day, and it is one of the easiest time saving routines you can implement.

8. Tidy Up Often

Have you even gotten to the end of a busy week only to realize that you had let dishes, clutter, and dirty laundry slide for five days? I have, and it’s awful.

time saving routines, save time, save money, clean the house, clean up, tidy up

One of my least favorite but most impactful time saving routines helps us fight back against the weekly build up of clutter: we take five minutes each day to tidy up our house. I like to use a small basket or box and collect items that haven’t been put away, round them up all at once, and then put them away. Even if you do this every other day, it will make a big difference and help you save weekend time for more important and fun things.

9. Cook With Your Crock Pot

If you’ haven’t embraced the mighty power of the Crock Pot, let me say this: it’s time, and you’re going to love it! I estimate that Crock Pot cooking saves us a minimum of 2-3 hours each week.

Related: Get started with our 10 favorite money-saving Crock Pot meals.

10. Batch Meal Prep and Cooking

On a related note, batch meal prep and cooking saves us time when we aren’t using our Crock Pot. It uses fewer dishes, knives, cutting boards, and also cuts down on prep and clean-up time.

11. Carry a Water Bottle

How does carrying a water bottle count as one of our time saving routines? Your efficiency in any task is greatly diminished when you are dehydrated. By carrying a water bottle regularly, you will help your body work closer to its peak efficiency and you’ll avoid having to drop several dollars on bottled water each day.

Start Implementing These Tips

As mentioned earlier, you only have so many hours and minutes in each day. Implementing time saving routines and making them a consistent part of your week can greatly help your efficiency and improve your overall life satisfaction.

If you’re looking for tips to save money, be sure to check out the articles below – they are full of money saving tips that may help you save hundreds or thousands each year!

Related Reading:

What time saving routines do you recommend? Do they also help you save money?

time saving routines, save time, time savers, save money, clean up, tidy up

How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse

How comfortable are you when the time comes to talk about money with your spouse? Not very, in all likelihood. According to a recent article from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA), the three leading causes of divorce are “basic incompatibility” (43%), “infidelity” (28%), and “money issues” (22%).

In fact, one survey respondent said, “Many couples lack the communication skills necessary to navigate financial disagreements in their marriage. The emotional connection of money with safety and security in many people makes the financial disagreements more salient than other disagreements.” Another said, “I have long believed financial disagreements to be the most common cause of marital conflict. . . Now we have empirical evidence. . .”

Most of us don’t require empirical evidence to prove that it can be stressful to talk about money with your spouse; we experience it for ourselves often enough to know the truth. My wife and I agree on most things when it comes to managing our finances, but even that hasn’t stopped us from having some heated conversations from time to time.

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse and Get on the Same Page

However, the truth is that my wife and I rarely have fights or disagreements about money because we have a system that helps us stay on the same page. It works for us because it has helped us define our vision, values, and financial goals as a couple. Finding this common ground didn’t happen overnight; in fact, it took a long time! But it was worth the effort and patience spent to reach the level of teamwork and support we now enjoy.

I hope that the following guidelines and principles will help you to talk about money with your spouse without unnecessary drama, arguments, and fights. I can’t promise that it will lead to conflict-free conversation – in fact, that would probably be a bad thing. But I am confident that our system can help you and your spouse improve your communication and help you reach agreements when discussing financial matters.

Basic Ground Rules

When you talk about money with your spouse, it is important to realize that the entire conversation is similar to taking a walk on thin ice. Over the years, my wife and I have learned to embrace the following principles to keep our financial conversations on track.

1. Avoid using the word “you”

Think about the last time you went on the defensive during a conversation or argument. Did your spouse make an observation about your words, actions, or character?

The truth is that “you” based statements can quickly derail any positive momentum and feelings of good will in a conversation with your spouse. Worse, it can turn minor disagreements into a full-blown shouting match.

Instead of using phrases like “You spend too much money on clothes,” or “I hate when you act like a cheapskate in front of my life,” search for a way to share your own feelings without labeling them as a response to the words or actions of your spouse.

2. Do not place blame on your spouse

Part of the reason why the word “you” is so divisive in conversation is because it places blame on your spouse. However, placing blame, even when it is deserved, will rarely lead to any kind of meaningful resolution to ongoing financial disagreements.

how to talk about money with your spouse without fightingConsider, for example, the phrase “You spent $125 on shoes last weekend, and now our checking account is almost overdrawn.” We can break it down clearly into the following components:

Action/Cause: You spent $125 on shoes last weekend
Result/Problem: Our checking account is almost overdrawn

More broadly, a disconnect surrounding spending on shoes within the budget clearly exists. Rather than placing blame, discussing the matter factually and unemotionally is an approach which is more likely to lead to change.

Consider these subtle changes to the original statement:

“I noticed a $125 charge on our statement a few days ago. Can we talk about our budget line item for shoes?”

This statement is emotionally neutral, and it is followed by a question intended to invite a response and keep the conversation moving forward. Best of all, it articulates the problem without placing blame and invites a teamwork approach to solve it.

Use a Talking Piece

In my experience as a school administrator and teacher, my training in the basic principles of Restorative Justice have influenced my thoughts on conflict resolution. Without a doubt, a single person’s domination of the conversation is one of the biggest problems impacting couples locked in money disagreements.

The solution to helping you talk to your spouse about money without one of you dominating the conversation is simple: use a talking piece.

You can select any object to be your talking piece. The main point is simple: you may speak only when you are holding the talking piece, and you must pass the talking piece to your spouse at an agreed upon time interval. (It is not necessary to use a timer, but you may if you wish.)

What Should You Do If You and Your Spouse Have Big Money Disagreements?

The general advice above will help most couples have financial conversations without becoming quickly derailed, but digging deeper into the details of money problems will require more nuanced conversation and planning.

In particular, some basic preparation is necessary before you talk about money with your spouse in order for the conversation to be focused and fruitful. I recommend that you and you your spouse spend time individually recording your responses to the following simple questions.

  • What do you think is working with regard to how we are handling money?
  • What isn’t working?
  • How does our current budget (or normal spending, if you don’t have a budget) reflect how you would to spend, save, and give money?
  • How does our current budget (or normal spending) fail to align with our family values (i.e. what we care most about in this world)?

Your individual answers to these questions should reveal your individual and collective financial strengths and weaknesses. Based upon your individual answers, you will easily find areas of agreement and opportunities for getting on the same page with money.

Eliminate Conflict Before It Starts

Inevitably, you and your spouse will have areas in which your values overlap and areas in which they do not. Creating a budget is one of the quickest and easiest ways to eliminate conflict over your differences and how they lead to spending.

Over the years, I have heard a number of excuses and complaints about budgets.

  • Budgets are too restrictive.
  • Budgets are for people who have money problems.
  • Budgeting doesn’t work for us.

Related Reading:

If you identify with these complaints, consider these counterpoints.

  • Many people report feeling like they have received a pay raise when they go on a budget for the first time.
  • If billionaire Warren Buffett uses coupons when he takes Bill Gates out for lunch at McDonald’s, creating a budget is not beneath you; swallow your pride.
  • Call it whatever you wish – a budget, a spending plan, an agreement – but financial success simply does not happen by accident. If you do not have a plan for managing your money, you will continue to struggle and experience money fights.

If you do not yet have a budget, follow the link below in a new tab. I will show you how to create a budget that works in an easy-to-follow, step by step manner.

Read: Budgeting for People Who Suck With Money

Allow Some Free Spending

Many people wrongly assume that living on a budget means you must discuss every single financial transaction with your spouse. A basic spending allowance, or blow money, is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not embroiled in constant money fights with your spouse.

The process is simple: set an amount that you and your spouse may spend individually each month – no questions asked – and withdraw that amount in cash at the beginning of each month. If you agree to never spend more than this amount without discussing it first, you will eliminate many money fights before they even begin.

Try an All-Cash Month

In a world full of credit and debit cards, cash is often an afterthought for most couples. However, the truth is that for most people, spending cash is much more emotionally-impactful than swiping your card. Research has proven that spending cash actually activates the pain center in the human brain.

Try a one month fast from your credit card and debit card and see how it impacts your spending habits. No, you don’t have to cut up your credit and debit card and never use them again. However, you and your spouse may learn a lot about your tendencies during a cash-only month.

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

Last Resort

For most people, the above advice will be sufficient to help you talk about money with your spouse and solve your financial disagreements. If you still find that you and your spouse are having frequent disagreements after implementing them, I have one more recommendation.

My friend Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited financial counselor, created the only online personal finance course I endorse: Budgeting for Budget Haters.

I’ve personally reviewed Budgeting for Budget Haters and feel it is one of the best step-by-step resources on creating a budget available today. If you want access to a top professional who will walk you through every step of the way, Budgeting for Budget Haters is for you! You can try the course out 100% risk free for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied after completing all of the forms and related course steps, Adam offers a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee.

Adam’s course is one of a kind, and when you sign-up he will personally help you:

  • Budgeting for Budget Haters | talk about money with your spouseGather the right information needed to create your budget
  • Set smart financial goals and use them to avoid the debt/savings roller coaster
  • Create an annual budget and plan like you’ve never planned before
  • Budget for periodic expenses
  • Budget for the fun stuff and incorporate guilt-free spending
  • Budget with a variable income
  • Prioritize debt repayment
  • Use budgeting software (with on screen instructions!)
  • Talk about money with your spouse without fighting
  • Set up your budget so it requires low maintenance
  • And much more!

As a member of Adam’s course, you get a LIFETIME membership to access four hours of video guides with step-by-step instructions to build a budget that will work for you, access to downloadable forms, worksheets, and spreadsheets, and access to your own personal financial coach who is able to answer specific questions. This last benefit alone is worth HUNDREDS! And as the course is updated over time, you receive all updates at absolutely no cost.

If you’re serious about Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money, sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today using our link for FinanceSuperhero readers and secure your spot in the course for only $97 (or two monthly payments of $57).

Again, Adam could charge $500+ for this course, but he has the heart of a teacher and wants to help you gain financial freedom.

You have literally nothing to lose and Control of Life and Money to gain, so sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today!

Final Word

Money is a stressful subject, and it can be difficult to talk about money with your spouse, especially if you regularly disagree with each other. With the right mindset and a process in place, you can start having fruitful conversations and get on the same page with your spouse.

What tips do you have to talk about money with your spouse?

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

How We Save Money on Food During the Summer

Summer is almost here, and with its arrival often comes big changes to the average person’s diet. Hearty soups, casseroles, and chili are replaced by seasonal vegetables, fruit salads, and delicious grilled meats. In this post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that help me and my wife save money on food during the summer months while still eating well.

Generally speaking, the tricks we use to  save money on food during the summer are somewhat similar to how we save on food any time of the year. However, there are a few tricks that work far better in the summer months than they do during any other season. So grab a notepad and pen, and read on to see the steps we take to save on food during the summer!

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.

You Must Start With a Plan

Have you ever found yourself at the grocery store without a list, with no idea what you have in your pantry and refrigerator, and an empty stomach? I’ve been there, and I can tell you that this is a recipe for disaster.

However, heading to the grocery store without a list during the summer months can be worse than any other time of the year. Our local grocery store of choice always has fresh fruit and vegetables near the main entrance. It’s almost like a trap, and if we don’t have a list, we fall for it. Every. Single. Time!

If you don’t have a list when you enter the store, you’re far more likely to end up with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your cart. Normally, this is a good thing. But if you’re buying far more than your family will eat in a month, you’re just wasting food and money.

Related Reading:

Check Ads and Circulars for the Best Deals

Ten years ago, it was a normal practice to check weekly ads for the best grocery deals. I remember watching my parents do it every Sunday and Thursday. In a digital world, fewer and fewer people have a newspaper subscription, so ads can be hard to come by in some communities.

It is always a good idea to check out your grocery stores’ weekly deals, even if it means checking their website or downloading their app. Especially if you regularly shop at a few different grocery stores, checking out the deals in advance can help you save as much as $20 per week!

Helpful hint: We use our favorite grocery store’s app to save money automatically and earn rewards on items we would normally buy anyway.

Check out Farmer’s Markets to Save on Food During the Summer Months

If you live in a community with a farmer’s market, you owe it to yourself to check it out. As a kid, I spent many Saturday mornings visiting the markets with my Grandpa. He always had an eye for deals, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to head home with a back seat full of fresh beans, corn, tomatoes, apples, and watermelon.

Word of caution: Your local farmer’s market may not necessarily help you save money on food during the summer months on a weekly basis. Plenty of variables, such as your local economy, weather patterns, and even fees charged to merchants at your local market can have a big impact upon prices.

Download the Ibotta App

Simply put, the Ibotta app is one of the simplest ways to save money on the items you would already buy anyway. It is an easy replacement for people (like me) who hate couponing, and the savings add up very quickly over time. The best part is that they recently overhauled their app, making it much easier to save money.

Saving with Ibotta is easy. First, sign-up for free using my link - you'll receive a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up. Then download the app (available for Android and iOS) – you’ll need it later to scan your receipt.

Next, find your go-to stores (click here for a list of over 300 participating stores) in the app, link store loyalty accounts, unlock available rebates, and go shopping. When you’re finished, scan the bar codes of items featuring a rebate, snap a picture of your receipt, and submit. You’ll receive cash back into your Ibotta account within 48 hours, which you can later transfer using PayPal or use to buy gift cards.

Ibotta offers rebates on a wide range of products, including $2.00-$5.00 rebates on many varieties of beer/wine, toiletries, snack foods, and over the counter medicine, among other items.

Again, Ibotta is FREE to use and you'll receive a $10 BONUS if you sign-up today.

Know How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is by far our favorite time to buy and enjoy fresh produce. In our area of the country (the Midwest), it is also the best time of the year to get fresh, locally-grown produce.

One of the most important things to know when buying fresh produce is how to best store it to maximize its shelf life. Download the free printable to store on your refrigerator when you enter your e-mail address in the box – don’t worry, we won’t SPAM you or share your email address with anyone. You’ll also receive periodic communication from us, but you can unsubscribe at any time!

Score the Best Deals on Fresh Local Meats

Balancing the desire to support local farmers with the need to save money on food during the summer can be difficult. I know that when we host large groups for a barbecue at our house, I’m very conscious of how much money we spend.

If you are comfortable buying meat in bulk, Zaycon Fresh is aiming to change that one community at a time.

Zaycon Fresh provides high-quality, farm fresh meat directly from local farmers to your table – and their prices typically beat even Aldi and Wal-Mart! When you sign-up for FREE, Zaycon will leverage the buying power of several local families on your behalf and help you save money on food by purchasing items in bulk.

They send daily e-mail alerts on local sales events, and when you place your order, they take care of the rest. When your order is ready, you bring your receipt to a designated pick-up location near your home and collect your fresh, inexpensive meat without even leaving your car.

Pro Tip: Orders from Zaycon tend to be larger than the average family’s needs, but you can recruit a friend or two to divide up the bill, allowing everyone to save and still eat delicious meat!

Again, Zaycon Fresh is available in 1,200+ communities nationwide, and you can sign-up for FREE to save money on food today.

Stop Buying High Calorie, Dehydrating Beverages

During the summer months, hydration becomes even more important than it is during other seasons. If you routinely spend money on high calorie beverages, such as soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages, you can significantly reduce your budget during the summer by increasing your family’s water intake.

During the summer, my wife and I use these blender bottles for smoothies and water on a daily basis. If you make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you at all times, you’ll avoid the urge to splurge on expensive bottled water or sugary drinks when you’re on the go.

Try $5 Meal Plan

I’ll be honest: I can understand how buys families struggle to save money on food during the summer months. My wife and I don’t have children yet, but we see our close friends are always on the go to baseball practice, swim lessons, games, and much more.

When you’re this busy, it can seem like it is impossible to meal plan. Stopping in for a visit to McDonald’s is much easier, but the hit on your wallet can very severe.

If this is you, it may be time for $5 Meal Plan to come to your rescue. With their free, 14 day trial, summer can be a great time to try out their plans at no risk.

When you sign-up, each Friday at 11 AM ET, you’ll receive a meal plan in your e-mail inbox. The meal plan includes a shopping list and a detailed menu complete with the following:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • One lunch and one breakfast, plus,
  • A random goodie each week – sometimes dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!)
  • Gluten-free options (upon request)

As a member, you’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group to share recipes and tips with other subscribers.

If meal planning just isn’t working out, I recommend giving $5 Meal Plan a try. Again, you have nothing to lose when you sign-up for their FREE 14-day trial.

Final Word

I hope these tips and tricks will help you save money on food during the summer months and beyond. They have helped us save money on food during the summer while still enjoying good meals, and I believe they can work for you, too!

If you have any other tips and tricks to share that others could benefit from, please leave a note in the comments and I will add you tip to this post.

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.



The Best Financial Advice Is Not Sophisticated

Advice and pro tips on just about every topic imaginable are available in just a few clicks or swipes on a pocket-sized device today. The best financial advice is no exception. Based upon the wealth of information available to everyone with a mobile device, there are increasingly fewer and fewer reasons for the lack of wisdom and overall financial mismanagement which are common today.

Ironically, we just may be living in a period of the worst personal financial mismanagement of all-time, despite access to information having reached an all-time high.

Recently, I read a Yahoo Finance article about Derek Sall, the owner of Life and My Finances, who impressively paid off over $116,000 of debt before turning 30. In the article, Sall shared his best financial advice.

“The best tip I can give is just live your own life,” he said. “The best way to just live simply and be content is just to turn it all of and hardly pay attention to it at all. Because that’s what gets people in the most trouble.”

As I read this, I nodded my head in agreement with Sall. It’s very good advice from someone who has earned the right to talk the talk by walking the walk, so to speak.

Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments section – the place where mis-informed and overconfident readers typically congregate to spread poor ideas on large sites like Yahoo.

Apparently, Sall’s advice struck a nerve with the internet trolls. Here is a selection of some of the comments:

  • “Fake news”
  • “Thanks for the useless ad for [Derek’s] blog.”
  • “How much did you get paid for this useless tip?”
  • “So the tip is to just ‘live your life’?”
  • But folks . . . Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, BUT . . . If everyone did that, only buying what they need, just think how many people would be out of manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, mortgage jobs, etc. Also how much sales tax would the government be missing out on?”
  • “nothing new here”
  • “Bet this guy makes $100,000,000 on suckers who buy his book. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that is legal. BEWARE.”
  • “That’s awesome that this guy is out of debt. But it seems like he missed out on doing a bunch of stuff while in the prime of his life. I go to work to make money. The point of having some money is so I can do things that I want to do, as well as save some of it.”
  • “Let me guess, he cancelled his cable and quit getting a morning latte at Starbucks, it works every time.”
  • “The tip is don’t spend money, okay got it.”

After reading through all of the comments, the exact reason why so many people manage their money poorly occurred to me:

The best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Complicating the Uncomplicated

More and more, it seems that people want to reject any kind of advice which is simple at its core. We are prone to rejecting basic ideas in favor of the more complex, as if complicated advice is somehow better by default.

Based upon the comments above, many readers assumed that there was no way Derek achieved debt freedom simply by living his own life on his own terms. In their minds, the secret to financial success had to be more complicated.

This attitude is all wrong.

The truth is that achieving financial success isn’t complicated and the best financial advice out there is not sophisticated.

The Best Financial Advice is Simple

The main reason I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance is because money is simple. It doesn’t have a mind or life of its own, and it does exactly what I tell it to do. It’s like every dollar I possess becomes a tiny employee who exists to answer to my every bidding.

And at the end of the day the total value of my money is largely dependent upon the actions of one person: me. My choices determine whether my financial net worth grows or dwindles.

If I use my basic arithmetic skills and reconcile my earnings and expenses properly, I can be sure that I stay in command of my  choices and my money. And if I plan ahead a bit, I may even save money!

Many people can’t bring themselves to accept that money management is really this easy and simple. They insist that such a basic approach – keeping a budget, spending less than what is earned, and saving the rest – is only for unsophisticated simpletons.

The truth is that there is a tremendous degree of sophistication in simplicity. And realizing and embracing this truth is not only one of the keys to overall financial well-being; it’s one of the keys to happiness in general.

The problem is that we live in a society which has completely rejected simplicity. Take a walk through your local grocery store with open eyes and you’ll see what I mean – dozens of varieties of toothpaste, entire rows devoted to snack foods, and more flavors of ice cream than Dairy Queen.

Variety makes life interesting, to be certain, but there is a breaking point in which complexity leads to analysis paralysis. This is true of grocery shopping, and it is true of personal finance.

Some things in life, including money, are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. It’s time for all of us, the internet trolls included, to accept this truth, embrace it, and live happily.

What is the best financial advice you’ve ever been given? Is it complicated?

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

7 Critical Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest household names when it comes to personal finance experts. His story and teachings have helped millions of people get out of debt and build a well-balanced financial position, and his books, radio show, columns, courses, and videos are among the most popular personal finance materials available. Even so, a vocal contingent of critics question whether Dave Ramsey is right on many key issues.

Ramsey is not bashful about his strongly-held beliefs. He strongly opposes debt (other than 15 year mortgages in which the monthly payment is no more than 25 percent of a family’s take home pay), leads the charge against credit card use, and encourages people who are ridden with debt to pay off their obligations in order beginning with their smallest debts rather than base repayment on interest rates.

Millions of people have followed Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps to achieve financial success, yet his advice is more widely-criticized than many other financial experts.

If you’re looking for a financial guru to follow, Dave Ramsey is certainly a popular choice. His advice is not always easy to follow, but it is difficult to argue with his results.

Read on to consider 7 ways Dave Ramsey is right about money – even in the face of criticism.

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest names in personal finance, but he is criticized widely for many of his teachings. Read on to see 7 critical ways Dave Ramsey is right - and his critics are wrong - about money.

7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right – and Others Are Wrong

Dave Ramsey is the first to admit that his life story and beliefs may be strange to some people. Through a rapid-rise in the real estate career, Ramsey became a millionaire by age 26 and promptly lost everything in bankruptcy soon after.

Writes Ramsey,

I was making $250,000 a year. That’s more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie. That 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt—a lot of short-term debt—and I’m the idiot who signed up for the trip.

When the dust finally settled, the resilient Ramsey was determined to recover and learn from his mistakes and help others win with money.

His Advice is Rooted in Experience and Research

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, it is most important to note that his teachings and philosophies are based upon both personal experience and expert research. Critics and competitors love to paint Ramsey as a fraud, but the truth is that he lived through the trials and struggles that his followers face and came out on top.

When Ramsey lost everything, he started a mission to learn everything he could about personal finance. He read every relevant book he could get his hands on, interviewed countless people who had experienced financial success, and acted upon everything he learned.

From the rubble, Ramsey created a framework that has helped millions of people, himself include, pay off debt and build wealth.

An Expert Motivator

While many financial experts take a strictly academic approach to personal finance, Dave Ramsey understands that motivation to get started is a foundational piece of each person’s financial journey. He is an expert when it comes to empowering people who want to change – as he puts it, those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and motivating them to take action.

The short video below is a great example of his ability to motivate people to take action.

Saving is the Best Way to Get Started

In Financial Peace University, Ramsey teaches students to build a $1,000 starter emergency fund before doing anything else with money. He calls this action Baby Step One.

Dave Ramsey is right when advising people to start with saving because it is an effective way to initiate change and protect against financial emergencies which could cause people to go further into debt.

Much in the same way that a running coach would not expect a new runner to step out and run a marathon on day one, Ramsey helps people start improving their financial situation with slow and manageable change by encouraging saving.

Related Reading:

Quick Wins Are Contagious

On a related note, Ramsey understands that personal finance is not just mathematical, but also emotional, behavioral, and psychological. People are able to start his program and stick with it thanks to the power of quick wins.

Once people move on to paying off non-mortgage debt in Baby Step Two, Ramsey advises people pay off their debts from smallest to largest balance. Thanks to momentum and positive excitement, Ramsey Solutions reports that students pay off all of their debt in 18-24 months, on average.

Money and Multi-tasking Don’t Mix

Over the past decade, consistent research has emerged demonstrating that multi-tasking doesn’t work. According to Psychology Today,

  • Multi-tasking wastes time
  • It decreases accuracy
  • The human brain is not equipped to multi-task

Ramsey deserves credit for realizing this back in the 1990s and incorporating this understanding into the development of the Baby Steps.

Simply put, Dave Ramsey is right – multi-tasking with money is slow, ineffective, and expensive. It is far wiser to focus on one financial goal at a time, especially when looking to pay off debt.

A Budget is Critical

One of the most memorable aspects of Ramsey’s teaching lies in his tendency to repeat teachings in the form of catchy sound bytes. For example, regular listeners have heard Dave say the following many times:

Your biggest wealth-building tool is your income, and the best way to harness the power of your income is the monthly budget because everything else flows from the budget.

The importance of a budget is just one way Dave Ramsey is right when it comes to financial advice.
A look at Dave Ramsey’s recommended budgeting percentages (Credit: EveryDollar)

Though some experts argue otherwise, I believe Dave Ramsey is right – a budget is a fundamental component of a winning financial plan. 

The truth is that people who don’t budget are much more likely to become financial reactionaries who wonder where their money goes each month.

The word “budget” has taken on all kinds of unjust negative connotations. Many people believe that a budget is too restricting, a thing of the past, or something that only frugal or cheap people follow.

As Ramsey points out, other people are afraid to start a budget out of fear of what they might discover. However, the numbers don’t lie – people who create a budget pay off more debt and save more money.

Related Reading:

Leveraging Debt is Risky

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, his teaching on the dangerous risk of leveraging debt may be his most famous.

Even in a time of historically-low interest rates, Ramsey continues to preach the virtues of debt freedom. Why? Ultimately, a life void of debt is a life of minimal financial risk.

On his radio show, Ramsey frequently reminds audiences that 0% of homes without a mortgage are foreclosed on every year. He also is quick to quote the world’s second-richest man, Warren Buffet (“You can tell who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out”), when discussing investment risk.

While some experts continue to falsely teach that debt is a tool to be manipulated for gain, Dave Ramsey is right – very few wealthy people gained their wealth by leveraging debt, and those who did got very lucky.

Final Word

Dave Ramsey’s financial advice is not equally effective for people in all financial stages of life, but there is a reason his framework has helped millions of people get their finances in order. As Ramsey says, his plan teaches people a systematic, common sense approach to managing their finances “God’s and grandma’s way.”

Undoubtedly, Ramsey will continue to draw the ire of critics, but results don’t lie.

What Dave Ramsey advice resonates with you? How do you follow and implement his teachings?

The Best Items to Buy at the Dollar Store

Now more than ever, low-price retailers are locked in a fierce battle to earn your loyalty as a customer. As buyers develop more and more purchasing savvy and shop online even for items like toothpaste, toilet paper, and peanut butter, the stakes are higher than ever. The bottom-line is that shoppers are always on the lookout for the best possible value when making a purchase, even if the local dollar store offers the best value. But it isn’t always easy for buyers to determine the best items to buy at the dollar store.

At the end of the day, the average buyer simply wants a good deal. However,  he or she isn’t interested in spending the time to analyze things like cost per unit, compare manufacturers, and evaluate the effectiveness of a product and its ingredients.

Who has time for that? 

Not every purchase at the dollar store helps you save money. Check out the best items to buy at the dollar store and start spending wisely!

A List of the Best Items to Buy at the Dollar Store

With busy work lives, never-ending house chores and yard work, and shuttling kids to activities, you probably don’t have time to play home economist. If you have three minutes, keep reading and we’ll show you the best items to buy at the dollar store to help you save money and still get maximum value from your purchases.

Cleaning supplies

Marketers know exactly how to hit your pain points and convince you that you need expensive chemicals to keep a clean house and a healthy family. Tapping into your fear and pride allowed them to create a multi-million dollar industry.

The truth is that basic cleaning supplies, such as bleach, ammonia, toilet boil cleaners, toilet cleaning brushes, brooms, mops, dust pans, and dusters are manufactured nearly identically across the board. They are without a doubt some of the best items to buy at the dollar store without sacrificing value.

Related Reading:


Packaged candy quantities seem to change frequently, but many varieties are among the the best items to buy at the dollar store. Stock up on thin mints, hard candy, and generic favorites to save money on your next at home movie night.

Personal hygiene items

These purchases may require a bit of trial and error, as products come and go, but many personal hygiene items at the dollar store are made with the same ingredients as their more-expensive counterparts. This is especially true of shampoo and deodorant. Just be careful with dollar store toothpastes, as many are not FDA approved.

Dishware and flatware

If you’re in the stage of life in which things inevitably get broken by your kids, pack away the nice dishes and use these for a while instead. The ceramic plates and mugs in particular will last a long time. You can also use them for display purposes if you prefer keeping your dining room table set.

Basic Tools for a Starter Toolbox

You won’t find Craftsman or other elite brands there, but if you’re looking to build a basic starter toolbox, the dollar store is the place to start. You can find small toolboxes, hammers, screw drivers, nails, tape measures, duct tape, bungee cords, zip ties, glue, paint brushes, and more at most dollar stores, and these tools are more than adequate for light household use.

Greeting Cards

If you dislike spending $4.99 on a greeting card and don’t have time to make one yourself, cards rank among the best items to buy at the dollar store. Many stores sell them 2 for $1.00.

Party Supplies

Throwing a party soon? Your local dollar store is the best place to score deals on plates, napkins, cups, decorations, and balloons – and you’ll save money compared to visiting a designated party supply store.

Pregnancy Tests

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not: dollar store pregnancy tests are usually just as accurate as their more expensive counterparts when used correctly. Since it takes the average couple several months to one year to conceive, the enormous money saving potential makes pregnancy tests one of the best items to buy at the dollar store by a wide margin.

Hair accessories

Hair clips, scrunchies/ties, bobby pins, combs, and brushes are usually inexpensive no matter where you shop, but if you look carefully and find them in good quantities you can save money at the dollar store.

Home decor

Most dollar stores have taken a cue from their rivals and now offer a selection of home decor items, including vases, decorative plates, mugs, mirrors, and picture frames. Wise shoppers will scrutinize the quality of some items, but they are there to be found.

Similarly, most dollar stores offer a great selection of seasonal holiday decor, from window decals to traditional Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter decorations.

Wrapping paper and gift supplies

While picking up greeting cards, grab wrapping paper and/or gift bags while you’re at it. These items won’t be as fancy as their counterparts at more expensive stores, but they’re just going to be ripped and discarded anyway.

Reading glasses

Many dollar stores offer specialized reading glasses. They are a great value at only $1.

Disposable containers

If you’re planning to prepare a meal to take on the go or bring to a pot luck, pick up disposal containers at the dollar store first. You’ll save a ton of cash by avoiding higher prices at the local grocery store.


Finding good books at the dollar store isn’t easy, but it’s not out of the question to find several best-sellers waiting on the shelves.

What are your favorite items to buy at the dollar store? Tell us in the comments section below.

Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

Do more. Work harder. Jump higher. Go faster. Phrases like these illustrate just how obsessed with increase our culture has become. Holiday spending, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and overall consumption in general prove that we are a culture primarily focused on material possessions. If you’ve bought into the hype and spend your time and money striving to accumulate more and more, you need to know the truth: Buying more stuff won’t make you happy.

I’ll be the first to admit that happiness is one of the greatest mysterious of life. It comes and goes seemingly as it pleases, often without any obvious reason. And when it inevitably goes, human nature leads me to medicate the pain with stuff. But I’ll also be quick to admit that my human nature has led me down the wrong path many times in life, so it probably shouldn’t be trusted.

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

Take a moment and think back on some of the birthday gifts you desperately wanted as a kid. I’m talking about the gifts that you truly thought would change your life forever, like a new bike, video game system, or special toy.

Do you still have that item today? I didn’t think so.

Logically, it follows that your happiness wasn’t really dependent on that one special thing after all.

So why do we buy more and more even though stuff won’t us happy?

The short answer: we’re looking for the quick fix of adrenaline that buying things provides.

The long answer: we don’t understand the true nature of what makes us happy.

When you buy that new car, trendy pair of imported shoes, or new house, it is often for the wrong reasons: making a statement, impressing others, trying to fill an emotional void, or suppressing other feelings.

On the other hand, if you’ve planned ahead, spent within your budget and means, and truly value the items you’ve purchased, then that is a wise purchase. The difference lies in self-understanding and developing an accurate picture of what you value most.

Why Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

The bottom line is that more often than not buying more stuff won’t make you happy. Check out the following reasons to see for yourself why this is true.

More stuff leads to more responsibility

Sometimes my wife and I like to walk our dogs along a trail near some of the largest homes in our neighborhood. It usually leads to a discussion about what it must be like to live in such a large home.

Not everyone will share our viewpoint, but it is undeniable that living in a larger home and having more possessions leads to more responsibility. Psychology shows us that people thrive when their responsibilities provide them with purpose in life, but the opposite is true when too many responsibilities make people overwhelmed.

Buying more stuff can lead to debt

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m so happy to be drowning in so much credit card and student loan debt! At least I’ve got this sweet pair of Jimmy Choos!”?

No? I haven’t either.

The truth is that many people buy stuff they can’t afford to buy and end up deep in debt. Once the adrenaline rush of that new purchases feds, stress and regret move in quickly.

I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that debt and regret rhyme so nicely.

You are not your possessions

My wife and I watch Friends re-runs now and then, and one of my favorite show moments involves a conversation between Monica and Roger, a psychiatrist. After a long conversation, Roger leaves Monica and Ross, who are sitting at the table eating cookies.

“Mon, um, easy on those cookies, okay? Remember they’ re just food. They’re not love,” Roger says.

We laugh, but the same can be said of the stuff we buy. Remember, they’re just things.

They’re not happiness.

And they certainly don’t define you in any way.

Your stuff won’t make you happy because happiness is deeper.

Your stuff is costly

While a lot of items we buy are expensive, that’s not what I mean by the heading above. Your stuff is truly costing you in more ways than you realize.

For example, if you bought a boat and financed the purchase, the cost goes beyond just the principle and interest payments you make each month. Your time spent earning money to make the payments, missed opportunities to do other things because you have a boat that needs to be used every weekend, and lost time and money to maintenance and repairs are additional costs.

Stuff ties us down

The above example of the boat also illustrates another way stuff won’t make you happy: it leads to obligations and limitations on your life.

I’ve watched friends and family buy campers, motor homes, recreational vehicles, bigger houses, new cars, and yes, boats, only to see the initial euphoria replaced by the sinking feeling of a boat anchor firmly resting at the bottom of a lake.

Put simply, if you buy the wrong stuff, your still will have you.

Emotions change

It is true even for the most-stoic of people – emotions change.

All. The. Time.

This is precisely why it is dangerous to allow your emotions to be dependent on the presence of physical items. Every time the initial rush of a new purchase wears off, you’ll be desperate to replace that feeling.

Too many possessions are not healthy

When you have too many possessions, you cannot possibly use them all. Even if you’re not a hoarder, keeping too many things around starts to affect their utilitarian value.

Many experts recommend getting rid of one or two items for every new item purchased. My wife and I follow this guideline when buying new clothing. We also clean out our closets a few times each year and purge clothes that we haven’t worn in over a year. This decision has made both laundry and planning our clothing choices much easier.

Focusing on possessions leads us to miss out on what is most important

At the end your life, do you think you’ll rest in your final moments and recall the experiences you had with your favorite possessions? Or will you cling to your loved ones, recall special memories with them, and cherish your relationships?

Personally, I don’t fear death, but I do fear reaching the finish line of life and realizing that I lived by the wrong values and priorities. Living a life that worships stuff is a sure-fire way to one day end up old, tired, and full of regret.

If you take away one thing from this article, it should be this: stuff won’t make you happy. 

Please don’t wait until your deathbed to discover that this is true.

What choice will you make?

When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

In a culture obsessed with increase, everyone wants more and thinks it will make them happier. But the truth is buying more stuff won't make you happy. Real happiness and contentment is deeper and lasting. When it comes down to it, each of us has a choice to make: will we live a life focused on accumulating more possessions with the goal of increasing our happiness, or will we learn to find authentic happiness in other places?

10 Must-Try Crock Pot Meals On a Budget

Few tools can compare to the money and time saving powers of the Crock Pot. In our household, we use our two Crock Pots several times per week, which saves us from expensive trips to Panera or calling for pizza. We have a steady rotation of Crock Pot meals that we love, and they’re even budget-friendly!

Our 10 Favorite Go-to Crock Pot Meals

In this post, we’re assembling a round-up of 10 of our favorite quick and cheap Crock Pot meals. Some of them are original recipes that my wife and I have created from scratch, and others are tried-and-true recipes created by others that we instantly loved.

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Few tools can top the money and time saving perks of the Crock Pot. Check out these 10 quick, cheap, and delicious Crock Pot meals that everyone will love, including recipes for spaghetti, chicken tacos, beef stew, BBQ meatballs, Cuban Pork, mac and cheese, beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, and chicken tortilla soup. The best part? These recipes are budget-friendly!1. Chicken Tacos

On extremely busy days, chicken tacos are our go-to meal because the ingredients list is very small and prep time is almost non-existent.  The tacos are ready to eat when we get home from work, they’re delicious, and clean-up is a breeze!



-2 pounds chicken breasts or tenderloins
-One jar of salsa (we prefer Simply Nature Organic Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa from Aldi)
-1/4 cup water


1. Place all ingredients in the Crock Pot.
2. Cook on Low setting for 8-10 hours.
3. When cooked, shred chicken using forks.
4. Serve on tortillas with desired ingredients (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.).

2. Crock Pot Spaghetti


When I was young, my aunt made a great spaghetti recipe – sometimes with her Crock Pot, and sometimes on the stove. This recipe from Sarah at Life Should Cost Less is just as good and is very time and budget-friendly!

Here are my favorite aspects of the recipe:

Prep time is only 5 minutes if you’re using pre-browned ground beef
-The noodles cook in the Crock Pot
-Clean-up is a breeze
-You can change up the recipe and use a variety of noodles (bow ties, angel hair, farfalle, etc.)
-You can substitute your favorite sauce or even use homemade sauce

3. Chicken Tortilla Soup


To be 100% honest, I don’t love many soup recipes because they get pretty boring after eating them several days in a row. However, this awesome chicken tortilla soup recipe from Carla Smith never fails to keep my taste buds interested for days on end. It is a perfect mixture of bold, spicy flavors and hearty, satisfying textures.

Technically, this recipe doesn’t fall within the “Crock Pot meals” category. However, you can easily cook the chicken in advance and make the rest of the recipe using your Crock Pot.

4. Ground Beef Tacos



-2 pounds ground beef
-1/2 cup Ketchup (more or less to taste)
-3 tablespoons chili powder (more or less to taste)
-1 teaspon paprika (optional)
-1/2 teaspon Cayenne pepper (optional)


1. Crumble the uncooked ground beef in the Crock Pot
2. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours
3. Drain excess grease and return ground beef to Crock Pot
4. Add desired spices and Ketchup to the ground beef and mix thoroughly
5. Allow ground beef and sauce mixture to warm and thicken slightly (5-10 minutes)
6. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings (lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc.)

5. Game Day BBQ Meatballs



-2.5 lb bag of frozen, fully-cooked meatballs (or substitute homemade meatballs to save more money!)
-1 jar of Heinz Chili Sauce
-1 jar of generic grape jelly
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke


1. Add all ingredients to Crock Pot and cook on low, stirring occasionally

Note: This recipe is a tried and true favorite and may already be a party staple in your family. The addition of liquid smoke adds a unique depth of flavor and adds new life to this classic recipe.

6. Ridiculously Easy Pulled Pork

My wife and I are huge barbecue fanatics, and few Crock Pot meals satisfy the urge for barbecue like this simple pulled pork recipe.



-1 whole pork loin
-1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
-3 tablespoons chili powder
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 cup water
-(optional) Barbecue sauce of choice
-(optional) 4 drops of Wright’s Hickory Liquid Smoke
Pretzel or ciabatta rolls


1. Place the pork loin in the Crock Pot with the fattiest side down
2. Mix the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and apply liberally to the top side of the pork loin
3. Add the water and liquid smoke to the Crock Pot, making sure to avoid rinsing the dry rub off the pork loin
4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours
5. Remove pork loin from the Crock Pot and shred using forks
6. Place shredded pork back in the Crock Pot and add your desired barbecue sauce (optional)
7. Allow sauce to warm and thicken, then serve on pretzel or ciabatta rolls

7. Boxcar Beef Stew


When my wife was younger she was obsessed with the children’s book series The Boxcar Children. Her mom created this simple Crock Pot meal to get her and her brother to eat their meat and vegetables!


-2 lbs beef stew meat
-4 large carrots, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-4 celery stalks, chopped
-4 medium potatoes, pealed and cubed
-1 can tomato juice
-1 cup water


1. Add all ingredients to the Crock Pot
2. Cook on low for 8 hours

8. Set and Forget Mac and Cheese


I seriously wish all recipes could be this easy. This simple mac and cheese recipe from Pip and Ebby is as easy as it gets – and it is delicious!

Making this recipe is simple. Follow the link above, throw all of the specified ingredients in your Crock Pot on low, stir occasionally, and serve 2-3 hours later.

Tip: You can spruce this recipe up even more by adding grilled Andouille sausage and fresh cut scallions. 

9. Cuban Pork

Source: Amy at in collaboration with Smithfield

I had never eaten Cuban pork sandwiches until we attended my niece’s first birthday party. Now I fear I may be developing a new obsession.

This recipe from Amy at is very similar to the recipe my brother-in-law used and is every bit as good. I’m seriously drooling just looking at the picture to the right.

My favorite aspect of this and other similar Crock Pot meals is versatility. You can serve this on your favorite rolls, tortillas, or over a bed of lettuce and rice.

10. Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of our go-to Crock Pot meals simply because it is fast, easy, and doesn’t make an overbearingly high number of servings. You’ll love this chicken noodle recipe on cold winter nights.



-1 lb cooked chicken breast, shredded
-5 cups water
-4 chicken bullion cubes
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 cups egg noodles
-1/3 cup celery, chopped
-1/3 cup carrots, chopped
-2 potatoes, peeled and cubed


1. Pre-cook chicken in oven, grill, or stove top; shred
2. Place all ingredients in Crock Pot
3. Cook on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally

What are your favorite Crock Pot meals? Share your recipe below in the comments!

Few tools can top the money and time saving perks of the Crock Pot. Check out these 10 quick, cheap, and delicious Crock Pot meals that everyone will love, including recipes for spaghetti, chicken tacos, beef stew, BBQ meatballs, Cuban Pork, mac and cheese, beef tacos, chicken noodle soup, and chicken tortilla soup. The best part? These recipes are budget-friendly!

The Biggest Reason Why Budgets Fail and the Easy Solution

If you’re like most adults, you have a love-hate relationship with your budget. You love the hope and optimism your budget gives you at the start of the month, and you hate tallying up the numbers at the end of the month only to realize that you didn’t stick to your budget – again. It is a discouraging cycle, to say the least. And it causes many people to abandon budgeting once and for all and leaves them wondering why budgets fail.

The biggest reason why budgets fail isn’t just about numbers or behavior. Budgets don’t fail or succeed because you switched from Excel to paper-and-pencil. And they don’t fail because you missed a day recording purchases. The truth is that most budgets fail because you haven’t given yourself a good enough reason to follow it.

A budget is easy to create and very hard to stick to consistently. The real reason why budgets fail is so simple that it may surprise you. We'll show you how to create a budget that won't fail you - yes, a budget that you can actually stick to consistently - just by taking a few simple steps. You'll even gain access to a FREE, 10 page printable toolkit!

Examples of Why Budgets Fail So Easily

When many people set-up a budget for the first time, they follow a simple template or pattern their budget on an example they have seen. This practice makes sense, but it isn’t fail-proof.

Part of the reason why budgets fail is the fact that many people simply copy budget parameters without considering their own realistic circumstances. For example, if you use the popular app Every Dollar to create a budget, the app guides you to create your budget based upon the following recommended percentages:

These categories and recommended percentages are definitely a great starting point when building a budget, but blindly following them without considering the specifics of your situation can doom your budget to fail.

Blindly following percentages is just one reason why budgets fail
Click to see larger version (Source: EveryDollar)

For example, maybe you aren’t big on recreational activities. Or maybe you work from home and don’t own a vehicle. In those cases, blindly allocating 5-15% of your total budgeted spending to those categories wouldn’t make realistic sense or add any value to your life. Failing to give each dollar a specific purpose in this manner is one example of why budgets fail.

A second example of common budget failure is setting unrealistic goals. For example, if you’re currently spending an average of $900 per month on groceries for two people, aiming to cut this spending down to $450 in one month isn’t very realistic. It would be much more sensible and achievable to gradually reduce the budget to $450 over the course of 3-4 months.

Similarly, a third reason why budgets fail so often lies in creating a budget that is too restrictive. When you create a budget, think of it less as a drill sergeant trying to inflict misery and more like a coach who is encouraging you to win. It’s much easier to follow a person, or in this case, a budget plan, when you know that it is leading you to where you’re trying to go.

Prevent Budget Failure By Creating a Values-Based Budget

If budgets fail because they blindly follow templates, set unrealistic goals, and tend to be too restrictive, how to create a budget to help you Take Back Control of Your Life and Money becomes clearer:

A successful budget is one which combines recommended percentages with your realistic circumstances and is designed to help you achieve the financial goals that you value the most.

If you’re going to create a budget that will succeed, you have to start with a vision of what financial success looks like to you! The best way to create this vision is by identifying your values.

Why are values the key to a successful budget? Your values are what are most important to you. When you identify your values, you realize the important reasons why you decided to create a budget in the first place.

Simply put, a budget without values sets empty, meaningless targets. If you don’t understand and feel the significance of your budget goals, you will not stay motivated to stick to your budget once the initial excitement wears off.

This is similar to filling a jar with coins for no specific reason.

Put another way: Values are the driving force for meaningful goals. Show me a significant goal, and I will point out the values that underpin the goal. Values are the reason that Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player of all-time after getting cut from his high school team. His love for Competition and Accomplishment gave him all the fuel and motivation to stick to his goals, work hard, and become the best.

Again, the reason why budgets fail is because we haven’t given ourselves a good enough reason to follow them. Identifying your values and linking them to your budget solves the problem!

Stop Your Budget From Failing and Start Winning With Money Today!

I strongly believe that the reason why budgets fail is they focus too much on “how” to manage money responsibly and not enough on “why” it matters. A values-based budget can help you fix the problem.

If you’re ready to take the next step in fixing your budget problems by identifying your values, I’ve created a FREE printable resource to help you.

The MONEY VALUES TOOLKIT is designed to help you create a budget that is built on a foundation of your Values. It will help you

  • Discover your Purpose and Values
  • Review and improve your budget in light of your Values
  • Create Values-based goals to stay on track with your budget

This 10 page guide is a great value, and again, it is FREE. Simply use the form above to become a FinanceSuperhero subscriber and you’ll receive an e-mail with instructions to download your printable PDF toolkit.

What struggles keep you from sticking to your budget? In your opinion, what is the reason why budgets fail?