Tag Archives: budget

Happy New Year: Do You Need a Budget?

1 Jan

YNAB_logoHappy New Year! I love a new year for many reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is that it’s a new opportunity to restart. Each year I start off with new ideas, goals to aim for, achieve. As the year progresses, those goals become realized…or not. Either way, when a new year approaches, I appreciate the opportunity to evaluate the previous year and think through ways to simplify and streamline my life. This system of evaluation leaves no stone unturned in my life; I enjoy thinking through changes and new ideas for my personal life, the realm of our home-cooking & keeping house, my family, homeschool, finances, etc.

With 2013, there will be no huge changes, though, to one realm of our life–the family budget. Thankfully, for our family, we discovered a new, FABULOUS budgeting software, You Need a Budget, back in the Fall. My husband and I discussed and determined a budget while engaged 11 years ago and implemented that budget months later when we were married. Living on a budget was not a new concept for us. However, we had always struggled with the best way to stay “in the know” about the status of our budget spending from day-to-day. We used the envelope system, in theory, through the budget software that was on our home computer. Our “envelopes” and allotted money were on the computer rather than in our wallets. The only problem for me was that I didn’t know how much was in each budget item at any point in the day. If I was making a big shopping trip, I would check the computer before leaving home, but I wasn’t always able to do that. I tried to explain that to my sweet, accountant-major husband, and he loved the power of the Accounting/Budget Software we were using on our computer. So, we “bee-bopped” along for 10 years of marriage, always agreeing on our budget, but neither of us loving the inability to check out budget numbers when away from our home computer. However, our introduction to You Need a Budget (YNAB) has changed all of that!

At any moment of any day, my husband can whip out his fancy-pants IPhone 5 and check the YNAB App to see the status of our budget. Me, with my broken-screen IPod Touch (not-so-fancy-pants) well, I can also access the YNAB App over any WiFi connection to check the numbers. I LOVE THAT! I love the boundaries and freedom of a budget, so having YNAB at the touch of my fingers is glorious. We control our money; our money doesn’t control us.

So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to create and implement a budget, I would encourage you to look into YNAB. My husband wrote a lengthy, in-depth guest post back in September with his favorite things about YNAB. You can read the post here. As for me, (cue Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, my favorite movie), these are a few of my favorite things about YNAB:

1) Access 24/7 for me and my husband–We can access our budget, expenditures any moment of any day on his Iphone and my Ipod Touch. I’m in Target, wanting to buy a cute new sweater. Is it in the budget, I ask? Hmmm…let me check YNAB. After checking my “mad money” line item in our budget, I can quickly determine if I can buy it or not. It’s that easy. 🙂 No smartphone? The desktop version for your computer is just as marvelous!

2) Real-time updates–If my husband is out for lunch a picks up a few things for me at the grocery store, when he enters the receipt into YNAB, it immediately shows up in YNAB for both of us. That was one of my biggest struggles when we had the high-powered Account Software on our home computer, the lag time in charges could be 24-48 hours. Thus, what we saw on the computer screen wasn’t always the actual numbers. YNAB updates immediately.

3) It’s easy to use–My accountant-major husband understood our high-powered Accounting Software that we’d used in our previous decade of marriage. Me, not so much. My budgeting system was a spiral notebook and pencil prior to marriage. Before YNAB, I never felt like I had a full grasp of how we were doing on our budget as we rolled on through life. YNAB has changed all of that for me, us.

4) My husband loves his Iphone, so he’s all over YNAB–Getting my sweet husband to update our budget on our high-powered Accounting Software was not always easy. It was usually a task that he did once a week. So, the other 6 days of the week, I was clueless as to how much money was left in each category. Since my husband uses his Iphone so much throughout the day, he checks YNAB multiple times daily. He’s a little OCD anyway…and so those tendencies are coming out with YNAB with no complaints from me. 🙂 YNAB has given him more motivation, desire to know (sometimes every 30 minutes, ha!) what’s going on with our money. I LOVE THAT! We are communicating more about our finances, financial goals daily. Thank you, YNAB!

5) We have YNAB disciples,  making more YNAB disciples–We’ve shared with several friends about YNAB, and they’ve started using it. I love hearing how much they are loving it, too. The tell-tale sign that YNAB’s working for them is that several of them have gotten their friends and families switched over to YNAB. The proof’s in the pudding; it works.

So, start 2013 out with a bang, set yourself up on a budget with YNAB. You’ll be glad that you did! 🙂 Even better, click here to purchase YNAB and get $6 off your purchase.

Happy 2013!

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Black Bean Dip

7 Dec

IMG_7202This is one of the Mosleys’ favorite, favorite, FAVORITE recipes! It’s been a staple in our home for at least 10 years. I, first, got it from my friend, Amy after my husband and I were married (ten years ago this year!). Ten years later, I’m making it even more frequently! My boys love, love, loveBlack Bean Dip. I usually make it early in the week, and my boys eat it most days for lunch. It’s so YUMMY!

I love Black Bean Dip for three reasons (in addition to its wonderful YUMMINESS!):

1) It’s rich in protein and fiber. This dip is very filling; I love that it’s hearty for my boys! I wrote here about how my occupational title should be “Food Fixer,” not Mother.  My boys eat ALL the time. Some days, literally, it’s every half hour. Whew! Black Bean Dip keeps their tummies full longer due to the protein and fiber in the beans.

2) It’s meatless, so it’s easy on the pocketbook! Anytime I can serve my family meatless protein dishes, I do because it stretches my budget. My Black Bean Dip falls into the category! YAY! One other way that I’ve found to stretch my budget with this recipe is to use dried black beans. Buying the dried black beans in bulk is much cheaper (and healthier!) than using them from the can. I can buy organic, dried black beans at a local produce store cheaper than I can by the non-organic, canned black beans. I just cook the dried beans in my Crockpot all day, and then, I freeze them in a Ziploc 2 cup portions. One can of black beans equals about 2 cups of my Crockpot black beans. I make several pounds of the dried beans at a time, so I have a huge stash of frozen black beans in my freezer AT ALL TIMES.This makes it easy for me to whip out a package of black beans at any time and whip up a dish of Black Bean Dip, which is what I did today. 🙂

3) It’s a CROWD PLEASER and feeds a crowd! Anytime I have a wedding or baby shower that I’m helping with, friends over for dinner, a gathering in my home, or a potluck at church, I make this recipe. I am constantly asked for the recipe; it’s always a hit at parties! My friend, Amy, who first shared the recipe with me gave me the great tip of transferring it to the Crockpot after it’s baked. Once it’s in the Crockpot it can be kept on the “Warm” setting and served at a gathering. Taking it to a gathering without the Crockpot is not such a great idea. The dip is best served warm, so use the Crockpot version for those occasions. When I use the “Crockpot” version, I typically double the recipe. I also have started doubling the recipe at home for my boys since their appetites are growing, growing, growing. This makes the recipe last longer in our home. 🙂

So, if you’re looking for a great recipe to take to a Christmas party this year, or if you just want a new non-peanut butter and jelly lunch option, try my Black Bean Dip! The recipe is below including instructions for using/serving in the Crockpot.

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Black Bean Dip

1 can or 2 cups of black beans (rinsed & drained)

1 12-14 oz. package frozen corn (cooked, rinsed & drained)

2 cups salsa

1 cup plain yogurt (original recipe called for sour cream)

1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)

1 cup mozzarella or Monterrey jack (shredded)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mash black beans.  Add next 5 ingredients (corn-cheddar cheese) to black bean mixture. Stir Well. Pour into 1.5 or 2 qt. Pyrex dish (or a favorite dish…doesn’t matter that much) Top evenly w/mozzarella (or monterrey jack) cheese. The types of cheese can be switched up (only cheddar, only Monterrey jack, etc. to suit your preference).

Bake for 20-25 min. or until dip is bubbly or thoroughly heated.  Serve w/tortilla chips.

Crockpot instructions:
This dish can be doubled (or tripled!!) VERY easily.  Follow the instructions for making the dish except do NOT top with cheese.  Bake as per instructions above.  When finished cooking in the oven, transfer the dip to Crockpot and top with mozzarella or Monterrey jack cheese.  Keep Crockpot on “Warm” setting.

ENJOY!What are your favorite meatless recipes? I’m always looking for new ones! Please share! 🙂

Zax Mail Club–free food for ADULTS!

7 Dec

Zaxby's Kidz ClubI wrote a post a couple of months ago about the Zax Kidz Club and how much we LOVE it! If you haven’t signed your kids up for it yet, stop everything, go read the post and sign them up! 🙂 We just got Son #3’s (our December baby!) free birthday kids meal this week. 🙂 Thanks, Zaxby’s!

If you’re an adult and you love Zaxby’s, I have good news! There’s an “Adult Club” of sorts from Zaxby’s. It’s called the “Zax Mail Club.” All that you need to join is an email address. 🙂 By signing up, you get a coupon emailed to you for one FREE meal deal, and they’ll send you a coupon for a free Nibble sandwich on your birthday! Thanks to my friend, Mandy for telling me about this! 🙂

So, go sign up for the Zax Kidz Club and the Zax Mail Club and enjoy some free, YUMMY Zaxby’s!

Buying Gift Cards for Christmas? Earn some bonus $$

22 Nov

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We buy multiple gift cards for Christmas gifts. Kroger carries most of the gift cards that we purchase, so we buy them there; this is the reason why. 🙂 Kroger has a promotion each Thanksgiving/Christmas season that gives you 4x Fuel Points for each gift card purchase. So, if you buy a $25 gift card, you get 100 fuel points. 100 fuel points=10 cents off at the pump. Kroger now lets you accumulate up to 2000 points for $2/off per gallon! So, as we’re buying Christmas gifts, we’re also saving money on gas. 🙂 Win-Win!

Other gift card promotions that I’ve heard about:
Chili’s–10% off gift cards when you purchase $100 or more
Logan’s-$10 Logan Bucks for every $25 gift card purchase (BLACK FRIDAY only)
Outback-$20 Bonus card for every $100 gift card purchase (November 1-December 31)
Carraba’s-$20 Bonus card for every $100 gift card purchase (November 1-December 31)
Texas de Brazil-$10 Bonus with $60 gift card purchase (for a total of $70) or $25 Bonus with $100 gift card purchase (for a total of $125)

Happy shopping!

Earn Some Extra $$ While Shopping Online for Christmas

21 Nov

I know that many of you will be braving the Black Friday-palooza this week. I loved Black Friday shopping when I was a kid. Mom and I always went together, and it was so fun bargain hunting! Black Friday when I was a kid was nothing like it is now, though. Seriously, stores are opening on Thursday evening?!?!? Can’t believe it! I haven’t been shopping on Black Friday in years now that I’m a mom. I think I need every minute of sleep that I can manage! ha!

I like to do as much of my Christmas shopping as I can ONLINE! One of the primary reasons that I like to do this is because I have learned how to earn money while I’m shopping online! 🙂 I’m all about getting PAID to shop online, aren’t you?!!?

Swagbucks–The first way that I earn money online is Swagbucks. Swagbucks, essentially, is a search engine (think Google, Bing, Yahoo). When you sign up for Swagbucks, you download a Swagbucks toolbar for your internet browser. You, then, use the toolbar as your regular search engine, and you are rewarded with Swagbucks randomly as you search. On the toolbar, it shows your total number of Swagbucks. You can use your Swagbucks to purchase items in the Swag Store. They have almost any gift card imaginable in the Swag Store. My favorite gift card to buy is the $5 Amazon.com gift card, which requires 450 Swagbucks. Since I signed up for Swagbucks about 3 years ago, I’ve probably earned the $5 Amazon.com gift card 12-15 times. There are multiple ways on their website to earn more Swagbucks rapidly. If I had more time, I’d attempt some of those. However, just by my usual internet searching online–not going out of my way to do anything extra–I’m earning the Amazon gift card 4 or 5 times per year. I love free money. 🙂 Thank you, Swagbucks. 🙂 AND, once you sign up for Swagbucks, you can refer your friends and you’ll both earn Swagbucks! (See, I’m referring you, so that means I’ll earn Swagbucks based off of my referral to you.  Thanks!)

ShopAtHome Banner

Shop at Home–My other favorite, easy, no extra effort way to earn money while shopping online (in my pjs if I like! yay! another online shopping BONUS!) is through Shop at Home. Through the Shop at Home website, they have participating retailers with whom they partner. The participating retailers offer Shop at Home customers a percentage of their total purchase in a reward when they go to the website through Shop at Home. For example, if you shop Kohl’s huge Black Friday sale (which has already started online!) by FIRST going through Shop at Home, searching for “Kohl’s” and clicking through the Kohl’s webpage via Shop at Home, you will earn 6% back in your total purchase. In other words, you are getting paid to shop online. 🙂 That’s my kind of shopping! I have earned $150 cash from Shop at Home during the 2 years that I have been signed up with them. Thank you, Shop at Home. 🙂

If you sign up for Shop at Home through my referral link, you and I both get $5 added to our account if you make a qualifying purchase within 30 days of signing up. 🙂 So, go sign up and refer your friends and earn more money! You will receive a check once you accumulate $20 in rewards. I love that on “My Account” page I can always see how much I’ve earned and how much more is needed to receive my $20 reward. It also clearly states when you will receive your check, so there’s no guessing.

So, if you dare to brave Black Friday, find some extra bargains for me! If you decide to stay home and shop in your pajamas (like I do!) don’t miss out on your free money by using Swagbucks and Shop at Home!

Photo credit: Good Cents

Nashville City Saver book–free shipping today (10/31)

31 Oct

I missed my opportunity to get a copy of the Nashville City Saver book from one of our local middle schools. I was SO bummed because we LOVE the City Saver book! Some of our favorite coupons are Sweet CeCe’s, Nashville Zoo, FOUR free movies from Comcast On-Demand, Cheekwood Botanical Garden, Phillips Toy Mart, Cori’s Dog House, The Chocolate Covered Strawberry…and I could go on and on and on! The book costs $25, but we easily make up for that in a couple of coupons–especially the Comcast On-Demand movies! There are 4 coupons for a free $4.99 On-Demand movie. That’s already saved us $20! AND…we quickly use up every Sweet CeCe’s coupon, but let’s not even talk about how fast we use those 4 coupons. 🙂

If you’re like me, and you’ve missed out on buying the 2013 Nashville City Saver book, you’re in luck! You can order it online today from their website and the shipping is FREE! I’m taking advantage of this and ordering my copy now! 🙂 In other words, I’ll see you at Sweet CeCe’s when my City Saver book arrives next week. 🙂

Zaxby’s Kidz Club & Kids Eat Free today if dressed in costume?

31 Oct

We live about 30 seconds from Zaxby’s in our town. When we moved here 18 months ago, several people warned us that such close proximity to Zaxby’s was dangerous. We didn’t have a Zaxby’s nearby where we lived previously, so I didn’t understand what they meant. Fast forward 18 months, and I now TOTALLY understand what they meant. 🙂 Zaxby’s=highly addictive.

One of our first months here, our boys got kids meals from Zaxby’s. On the kids meal sack, it had a form for enrollment in the Zax Kidz Club. I filled out the form for all 3 of my boys and mailed it in. The form said they got a FREE COOKIE just for joining (my real purpose in signing up!) and a free kids meal on their birthdays. I had LOW EXPECTATIONS for the Zax Kidz Club and actually forgot that I had enrolled. I remembered the following  week when all three boys received a Zax Kids Club postcard with a Free Cookie coupon. Several months later, in July, my two sons who share a birthday month both received their Free Kids Meal coupon postcard in the mail. The next month, August, they all received another Free Cookie coupon in the mail for Back to School. In October, they all got a Free Kids Meal coupon for Halloween and in December, they got free cookies for Christmas. In February, they each got another Free Cookie coupon for Valentine’s. In May, they each received a Free Cookie card for Mother’s Day; they were supposed to use it as a gift for their Mom on Mother’s Day (how cute?!?!?). Wow, Zaxby’s! Thanks for all of the yummy, Zaxby’s food…for free! 🙂

After initial LOW EXPECTATIONS for the Zax Kidz Club, I’ve turned into quite the advocate for it! My boys get some really great yummy, free Zaxby’s food all throughout the year. They love taking their coupons in and getting free cookies or kids meals, and I love how it stretches our Eating Out budget. 🙂 For example, this past Sunday we had Zaxby’s for lunch after church because my boys had just received their Free Kids Meals postcards for Halloween last week. We usually eat out for lunch on Sundays, and earlier last week, I was wondering how we were going to stretch the $10 left in our budget for Sunday’s lunch. The next day, the Zax Kidz Club postcards arrived. 🙂

If you haven’t signed up your child/children for the Zax Kidz Club, you totally should! You can download the form here and mail it to them. Your Free Cookie card will arrive in a couple of weeks. The Zax Kidz Club is open to children age 10 and under. Make sure to fill out individual forms if you have multiple children. Don’t forget to fill in the date of your child’s birthday; he/she wouldn’t want to miss their Free Kids Meal around birthday time!

Also, our local Zaxby’s is giving a Free Kids Meal TODAY to kiddos wearing their Halloween Costumes. I have a lunch date there with a Civil War Soldier, a Ninja and a Knight! 🙂 If you have a Zaxby’s close by, call ahead and see if they have the same promotion.

Our newly discovered, knocks-our-socks-off budget App (You Need A Budget)

25 Sep
And now, readers, a guest post from my hubby. Enjoy!
The long and winding road of managing personal finances has finally ended for the Mosleys. We have long searched for a financial software that was:
  • simple,
  • not overly time consuming 
  • accessible to both spouses
  • Mac friendly (not required but a plus.)
We tried excel spreadsheets (achieved none of these goals), Quickbooks (not accessible to both spouses and sometimes time consuming) and a few terrible solutions on the Apple App Store (not naming names to avoid defamation lawsuits).
Then we found YNAB (You Need a Budget) for the second time. I tried it about a year ago when it was in version 3, and it left much to be desired. Enter YNAB 4. It is the perfect solution for us. Here are a few reasons:
  1. Simple, user-friendly interface. The desktop and iPhone app versions are clean, easy to use and easy to understand.
  2. Introduces a simple and flexible approach to budgeting. YNAB is similar to the Envelope System without the envelopes and with more flexibility. The software does a great job of implementing this budgeting approach.
  3. Provides confidence and accuracy by keeping track of vendor, bank account and budget account for all charges. Many of the Envelope System solutions available are too simple. They keep track of the vendor and budget account, but they do not keep track of bank accounts. So, it is difficult to know if all charges and expenses have been entered into the software. By keeping track of the vendor, bank account and budget account, YNAB makes it easy to know if all expenses have been entered. Therefore, confidence in the accuracy of the numbers on the screen.
  4. Syncs with multiple devices including Mac, PC, iPhone, iPod touch and several others. There are several accounting programs that will allow me to manage my finances well. The problem? My wife needs to know numerous times a day how much we have available to spend in a particular category. With YNAB, she has instant access on her wireless device at all times. Also, she can enter her expenses as she makes them.
  5. Allows downloads from bank. Are you likely to forget to enter an expense? It is always difficult to enter this manually. With YNAB you do not have to enter them. You can download your data from your bank. Also, YNAB has an excellent ability to recognize and match charges that have already been manually entered.
  6. Has helpful training and support. New systems of budgeting and new software require training. YNAB does it well with online video tutorials.
  7. Free trials for desktop client and apps. It takes about a month to see the YNAB process work. I am guessing that is why they offer a 34-day free trial. It is easy to setup and offers full functionality. They also offer free versions of the iPhone app, but it is not as developed as the paid version. Do not judge the app until you see the paid version.

This list above contains the positives about its functionality. Here are our favorite things about YNAB after using it:

  • We have access to our budget 24/7.
  • When we open YNAB on my iPhone or my wife’s iPod Touch, we have confidence in the amounts of money that we see on the screen. If it’s been spent, it’s in YNAB. We can confidently check the amount of money left in a budget item, say Eating Out, and decide if we have enough money to eat with friends after a soccer game.
  • YNAB has helped us discover areas in our budget where we can save more money! This has occurred without any increases in our income.

So, if you need a budget, you should try You Need a Budget!

–> Click here to purchase and get a $6 coupon off the paid version.

Chili’s: Kids Eat Free (September 10-12)

10 Sep

If you’re looking for a way to stretch your “Eating Out” budget (we always are!), Chili’s has KIDS EAT FREE today through Wednesday, September 12. We LOVE “Kids Eat Free” at Chili’s because they allow TWO free Kids Meals per adult. Most restaurants allow 1 free meal PER adult but not Chili’s. 🙂 This is fabulous news around our home because we have THREE ravenous, carnivore-aholic boys. At Chili’s, each boy gets a free Kids Meal (YAY!). At other places, we only get 2 free meals and end up paying for 1. 😦

Chili’s has this promotion quite frequently. Although it’s not a weekly standard event (ala “Kids Eat Free Mondays” at our area FireHouse Subs, Chick fil a or Brixx), it seems to roll around often. I find out through Chili’s emails delivered via their Email Club. I sign up for all of my fave restaurants’ email clubs. This pays huge dividends around my birthday and email club anniversary (think, free food and desserts!) Chili’s Email Club is one of my favorites because I continually receive emails with freebies from them. 🙂

Yay for Kids Eat Free! Now, run to Chili’s this week, the chips and salsa are calling….