Budgeting

Our $75/Week Grocery Budget

Last week I shared our current budget in my post about How We Live on One Small Income. It was, by far, my most popular post to date! As a follow-up, I thought I’d give you all a peek at what grocery shopping looks like when your budget is only $75/week.

Our $75/Week Grocery Budget from My Homemaking Diary

This week I spent $62.15 on groceries. Here’s a a breakdown of what I bought:

  • Bread $3.99
  • Pickles $3.29
  • Milk $3.84
  • Yogurt (4-pack) $3.99
  • Sour Cream $1.69
  • Eggs (1 1/2 dozen) $2.19
  • Fruit punch $0.89
  • American cheese $2.54
  • Deli ham $2.64
  • Frozen veggies $1.09
  • Potato chips (2 bags) $4.00
  • Spaghetti sauce $1.25
  • Ranch dip mix $1.69
  • Frozen grilled chicken breast $6.99
  • Gluten-free cheese ravioli (2 bags) $7.98
  • Strawberries $4.99
  • Salad mix $2.50
  • Grapes $3.65
  • Baby carrots $1.25
  • Cucumber $0.69
  • Bananas $1.01

In addition to the items listed above, I should also have another loaf of bread and package of strawberries, which I’ll pick up tomorrow. Both items were Buy 1 Get 1 Free this week, and I mistakenly thought that if I just purchased one it would be half off. When I got home and checked my receipt I realized this wasn’t the case, so I’ll go back tomorrow and pick up those.

With the groceries above and a couple of items from my pantry, we should plenty of meals to get us through the week (although maybe not a ton of variety as there will be repeat meals). Here’s a look at what we’ll have to choose from…

Breakfasts

  • Fruit & yogurt parfaits (including mixed nuts from the pantry)
  • Cereal (left over from last week)
  • Oatmeal (also from the pantry)

Lunches

  • Ham & cheese sandwiches with a side of chips and a pickle
  • Egg & cheese sandwiches (my current pregnancy craving) with a side of grapes

Dinners

  • Ravioli with a side of salad (we have plenty of dressings to choose from in the fridge)
  • Grilled chicken breast with a side of mixed veggies
  • Omelets with a side of strawberries

Snacks

  • Cucumber slices or baby carrots with ranch dip
  • Chocolate peanut butter cups (left over from last week)
  • Potato chips
  • Bananas

The meal plan above is only for five days because we’ll be at a family reunion on Saturday and my mom’s house Sunday. Also, there is enough food to make the ravioli and grilled chicken dinners twice, which is why I only have three dinners listed. Finally, please remember that I am only feeding two adults and a toddler. If I had a larger family, we would definitely need to buy more!

Our $75/Week Grocery Budget from My Homemaking Diary

Thank you so much for reading! I know it might seem a little silly listing all of the groceries I purchased and meals I plan to make this week, but I thought it might be helpful for those wondering how to feed a family on a small budget. If you’d like to see more grocery hauls and meal plans like the one above, please leave a comment and let me know!

Budgeting

How We Live on One Small Income

How We Live on One Small Income from My Homemaking Diary

When my husband and I first decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom, we knew that we would need to live on a tight budget in order to make it work. Back in our two-salary days, we would go to the movies whenever we pleased, eat at restaurants several times a week, and buy whatever caught our eye at the store. Those days are now long gone, but you know what? I don’t miss them a bit! When my daughter was born, I felt like we truly became a family. Fancy dinners and vacations were fun, but I wouldn’t trade the joy of raising my daughter for all the money in the world! With that in mind, I thought I’d share our current budget to show others that it truly is possible to live–happily–on one small income.

Here’s a look at our current budget…

  • Rent $950
  • Groceries $300
  • Utilities $215
  • Health Insurance $155
  • Gas $110
  • Shopping $100
  • Mobile Phone $85
  • Internet $80
  • Hair $40
  • Church $35

Total = $2,070

One of the first things you may be wondering is where our car, credit card, and student loan payments are. The answer is–we don’t have any! We follow the Dave Ramsey approach to personal finance, which means that we don’t lease cars and are basically allergic to debt. If you currently have debt, I highly recommend following Dave’s advice to get out of debt and stay out of debt (and no, this isn’t a sponsored post!). For the other items in our budget, here is a little more detail…

Rent

Our rent is, by far, the largest item in our budget. We currently live in a modest two-bedroom apartment, but because we live in an area where the cost of living is high, our rent is simply enormous (or at least it feels that way to me).

Groceries

Our grocery budget is currently $75/week for a family of three (two adults and one toddler). This budget was fairly easy to stick to when it was just my husband and I, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s become impossible now that our daughter is getting older. We always go way over budget in this category.

Utilities

We pay about $160 for gas/electric (we use a budget plan to keep the bill steady all year) and $55 for water. I try to conserve energy where I can by turning lights off, opening windows instead of turning on the air conditioner, etc., but these bills pretty much are what they are based on the size of our home.

Health Insurance

My husband has health insurance through his job, but they don’t cover spouses or dependents. Luckily, because our income is so low, I was able to purchase a very affordable plan through the government healthcare exchange. I know there are some people who don’t like “Obamacare” for political reasons, but it has been a blessing to our family.

Gas

My husband’s job is about a 10-minute drive from our home and both of our families live in the area, so we don’t use tons of gas. We also don’t take weekend trips or vacations anymore, which saves on gas as well!

Shopping

This is another item in our budget that is tough to stick to–especially with a toddler–but not impossible. I save money is this category by shopping at Dollar Tree, only going shopping once a week (to eliminate impulse purchases), and always having a list and sticking to it!

Mobile Phone

My husband and I both have older phones and haven’t upgraded in years, so we only have to pay for voice and data (no device payments or insurance fees).

Internet

We don’t have cable television in our home, which keeps our cable/internet bill low. Our $85/month budget includes basic high-speed internet, Hulu, and Netflix.

Hair

My husband gets his hair cut regularly, which costs us about $40/month. I save money by having my mom cut my hair for free!

Church

I know a lot of people feel strongly about tithing and give 10% of their income to their church, but we don’t do that currently. When we first joined our church together after getting married, our pastor specifically told us to only give $2-$5 per week (because he knew my husband’s income). We like to go over that amount by participating in church functions and donating small amounts to our church’s various missions/drives, but our current budget for this is very small. I plan to make up for this in the future by giving very generously when we are able to do so!

Irregular Expenses

Another item that isn’t accounted for in our monthly budget are irregular expenses, which includes things like birthday gifts, car insurance (paid annually), and dentist visits (twice a year). We pay for these items using money that we save from our tax refund each year. Because there are three of us living on one small income, we receive a fairly large refund. We put this money into our savings account, and then withdraw the money throughout the year as needed.

And that’s our current budget! It feels a little strange to put these numbers out there for the whole world to see, but I really want to encourage others to see that it truly is possible to live happily on less. We don’t always stay within these numbers, of course (and luckily we have savings and my husband is usually able to pick up extra hours at work to help), but this is what we strive for. Our frugal lifestyle might not be for everyone, but for us (in this season of life, at least) it works!

Cleaning

My Weekly Cleaning Routine

My Weekly Cleaning Routine from My Homemaking Diary

Last week I had a bad cold which means that basically no cleaning got done in our house all week! To make up for last week, I plan to give our home an extra thorough cleaning this week and with that in mind, I thought I’d share my weekly cleaning routine.

Some people prefer to clean by task (Monday dusting, Tuesday vacuuming, etc.) but I prefer to clean by room. There’s just something so refreshing about having an entire room clean that really motivates me to get things done. Here’s what my current routine looks like…

  • Monday – Living Room
  • Tuesday – Kitchen
  • Wednesday – Bathroom
  • Thursday – Nursery
  • Friday – Bedroom

I don’t plan any chores for the weekend because I usually spend Saturdays meal planning and shopping and on Sundays we go to church, visit family, and rest.

In addition to weekly cleaning, I also have a list of tasks that I complete daily. These help me stay on top of the mess and keep the house generally tidy. Here’s a list of the chores I do every day…

  • Wash dishes
  • 2 loads of laundry
  • Tidy up rooms
  • Spray & wipe kitchen table
  • Sweep kitchen floor

Together, my daily tasks and weekly tasks make up a simple cleaning routine. If you’d like to try my routine out for yourself, I’ve created a cute printable so you can follow along! Just click the link below to download…

Weekly Cleaning Routine

Weekly Cleaning Routine from My Homemaking Diary

Do you follow a weekly cleaning schedule? If so, do you prefer to organize your cleaning routine by task or room? Leave a comment and let me know!

Beauty

My Simple Hair Care Routine

Today I thought I’d share my simple, affordable, cruelty-free, gluten-free, minimalist, natural hair care routine!

My Simple Hair Care Routine from My Homemaking Diary

Let me just start by saying that it took me forever to find decent hair products that were both affordable and free of dangerous ingredients. I spent years and an embarrassing amount of money (in my pre-marriage days) trying every shampoo and conditioner I could find with the words “natural” or “organic” on the bottle. Most of them were terrible! They either stripped my hair dry or turned my head into an oil slick. There was no in-between.

After years of searching and countless dollars spent, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally found products and a routine that work for me! This is not a sponsored post, but I still want to share the names of the products I use, in case you’ve been on a similar hunt for affordable, natural hair care. The three products that I use are…

  • Desert Essence Fragrance Free Shampoo
  • Desert Essence Fragrance Free Conditioner
  • Desert Essence Coconut Hair Defrizzer and Heat Protector

That’s all I use as far as products go! As for my daily routine, it’s actually pretty simple: I shampoo and condition my hair using the products mentioned above. After showering, I comb my hair with a wide-tooth comb and then wrap it in a towel while I finish getting ready. Once I’m dressed for the day, I flip my head upside down and spray my hair generously with heat protector. I then blow-dry my hair upside-down using a paddle brush. Once it’s fairly dry, I flip my head right-side up and use the paddle brush to smooth my strands and curve the ends under. And that’s it!

I’ve been following this routine for over three years now and while it’s simple, I think it’s very effective for my type of hair (long and straight). I even did my own hair on my wedding day, and I think I looked great! Here’s a picture of my husband and me on our big day…

myhomemakingdiary.com

Thank you for reading about my simple hair care routine! I hope enjoyed the recommendations and tips. If you decide to try it out for yourself, leave a comment and let me know! Also let me know what natural/organic hair products you recommend.

Crafts & DIY

St. Patrick’s Day Classroom Treats

Last night I made little treat bags for my husband’s students for St. Patrick’s Day. I think they turned out pretty cute!

St. Patrick's Day Classroom Treats from My Homemaking Diary

Each bag contains mini marshmallows and Skittles, with a couple of Rolos on top. I made little tags that say “You’re the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!” and the marshmallows are supposed to represent clouds, the Skittles are the “rainbow” and the Rolos are little pots of gold.

The treats ended up costing more than I expected (I ended up needing twice as many bags of Skittles than I originally thought) but I still think they ended up being pretty inexpensive. Here’s a breakdown of how much it cost me to make 25:

Cost:

  • Clear plastic treats bags: Free (I had a bunch left over from a previous project)
  • Green cardstock: Free (from my craft stash)
  • Rolos: $3.33
  • Skittles (4 bags at $2.24 each): $8.96
  • Mini marshmallows: $1.32

Total = $13.61

That comes out to about $0.54 per bag. Not too bad for a cute little homemade treat!

Organizing

Bedroom Closet Makeover

One of the big projects that needs to be completed in our home before baby arrives is switching bedrooms. We currently live in a two-bedroom apartment. When we first moved in, my husband and I slept in the larger bedroom and used the smaller one as an office. Once we found out I was pregnant with our daughter, we moved the office into the living room and set up the smaller bedroom as her nursery. Now that we’re expecting our second child, we’ve realized that the only possible way to fit four of us into two bedrooms is to give our children the larger room (they just seem to need so much more stuff than we do!).

Last weekend we decided to take the first step toward making the transition and started switching the closets. So far I’ve taken everything out my daughter’s closet and moved all of our things in. I didn’t take a before picture (I wish I had thought to do that!) but here’s what it looks like now…

Bedroom Closet Makeover from My Homemaking Diary

I love how clean and organized it looks! Our closet wasn’t in terrible shape before the move, but my husband had a lot of extra clothes and music equipment that were cluttering things up, so we headed to Target and purchased some clear plastic bins to get everything organized.

We also had a problem with laundry overflowing our hampers and spilling over onto the closet floor, so I picked up four mesh laundry hampers from Dollar Tree to help keep things under control. There are separate hampers for colors, whites, jeans, and towels.

Bedroom Closet Makeover from My Homemaking Diary

Overall, I’m really happy with how our new closet turned out! It was also a very inexpensive project, which is important when you’re living on one paycheck! Here’s a breakdown of how much we spent on our bedroom closet makeover…

Cost:

  • Clear Plastic Storage Bins (5 at $2.99 each): $14.95
  • Small White Storage Box: Free (an old one I had lying around)
  • Mesh Hampers (4 at $1.00 each): $4.00

Total = $18.95

Next up is the nursery closet. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it this week. My poor daughter hasn’t been able to play in her room for over a week due to the contents of her old closet being piled up all over the floor!