Budget Tools

This is Part 28 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu.   Want to make sure you don’t miss a new course?   Subscribe to In Good Cents via RSS or e-mail!

Rolling Rewards, and even simply couponing, can be overwhelming and challenging.   Always trying to build more and more rewards, without losing them, can get crazy, so here’s my advice for keeping it all in perspective.

  • It’s okay to lose some of your rewards!   If you go into the store and “blow” them on formula that you need, but you don’t get any rewards back, that’s great.   You saved money on something you needed to buy, so don’t feel guilty about that.
  • Take a break now and then. Every so often, I do go in and just spend my rewards, then I take a month off and start all over.   That’s okay too.
  • You don’t need to get every deal.   Get what you need and what you can donate, but if a great deal slides by and you miss out, just take a deep breath and go on!   There are tons of deals and you won’t get them all.
  • You don’t need to be a pro overnight. Start slow.   Just get one thing a week at first and add on as you get better and more comfortable.
  • Don’t judge yourself by others. It’s fun to see people who get $200 worth of stuff for $10, but if you only saved $1 this week, that’s $1 saved.   Celebrate and don’t beat yourself up, because you didn’t save $190.

- – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – -

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

Grab the Saving Soiree e-Course button!

In Good Cents Savings e-Course

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e-Course: Getting Paid to Shop

by Beth Montgomery on April 26, 2010 · 1 comment

in Coupons & Rebates, Tips & Basics

This is Part 26 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu. Want to make sure you don’t miss a new course?   Subscribe to In Good Cents via RSS or e-mail!

It’s what you’ve all been waiting for – how to make money shopping.   We’re going to touch upon exactly how you roll rewards to make a profit in store credit when shopping.

Note to RSS and e-Mail Subscribers: There are videos embedded into this post, which will not appear to you.   To view it, please visit the post on the main site or check out the In Good Cents You Tube Channel.   While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe, to get the latest videos first, before they are posted here.

- – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – -

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

Grab the Saving Soiree e-Course button!

In Good Cents Savings e-Course

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e-Course: Navigating In Good Cents

by Beth Montgomery on April 26, 2010

in Coupons & Rebates, Tips & Basics

This is Part 24 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu. Want to make sure you don’t miss a new course?   Subscribe to In Good Cents via RSS or e-mail!

It’s crazy, but I teach so many classes and always forget to mention how to navigate and find the deals on In Good Cents, so today that’s what we are focusing on!   I’m going to show you what you can find on In Good Cents and where to find it.

Note to RSS and e-Mail Subscribers: There are videos embedded into this post, which will not appear to you.   To view it, please visit the post on the main site or check out the In Good Cents You Tube Channel.   While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe, to get the latest videos first, before they are posted here.

- – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – -

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

Grab the Saving Soiree e-Course button!

In Good Cents Savings e-Course

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This is Part 22 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu.   Want to make sure you don’t miss a new course?   Subscribe to In Good Cents via RSS or e-mail!

I’m pretty sure You Tube hates me, because every time I pose really cute for the camera to start and think I have the perfect thumbnail, You Tube picks three of the most awkward poses of me for the frozen screen shot everyone stares at when they check out my page!

But, that’s not what we’re here to talk about.   We’re talking about getting ready to go shopping.   So today, take a peak into my life as I prepare for a grocery shopping mission with my 5-year-old daughter (the Head Coupon Clipper), while the two Associates from the Mission Determent Department nap!

Note to RSS and e-Mail Subscribers: There are videos embedded into this post, which will not appear to you.   To view it, please visit the post on the main site or check out the In Good Cents You Tube Channel.   While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe, to get the latest videos first, before they are posted here.

Want my nifty little menu plan, shopping list, and deal-seeking list?   Download them and print them!

- – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – -

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

Grab the Saving Soiree e-Course button!

In Good Cents Savings e-Course

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e-Course: Making a Meal Plan

by Beth Montgomery on April 21, 2010

in Frugal Cooking, Tips & Basics

This is Part 21 of the 30-day Savings Soiree e-course by In Good Cents. View the most recent course in this series or head to the Saving Soiree e-course main menu.

Want to make sure you don’t miss a new course?   Subscribe to In Good Cents via RSS or e-mail!

For some of us who can’t stick a a plan to save our lives, meal planning can seem tedious and unnecessary, but it really does save you money.   Here’s two simple reasons why:

  • When you plan your meals before you shop, you won’t have to run to the store for extra last-minute ingredients that will add to the grocery money you already spent.
  • With meals already planned, you’ll be less likely to opt in for take out or spend money at restaurant.

Meal planning, like organizing your coupons, is about finding what works for you.   It may look different for everyone, depending on you and your style.   You may go with monthly meal plans or you may do weekly meal plans.   You may choose to plan dinners, but have flexible breakfasts and use leftovers for lunch.   My suggestion would be to start with the Themed Approach, then change it up until it fits into your family’s life.

Download or Print
Meal Planner

- – The Themed Approach – -

For beginners, this is the easiest way to start out.   Make yourself a weekly or monthly theme.   Below is the one I started with for my own family, along with a few simple examples of what I might make that day:

Sunday:

  • Breakfast/Lunch: Big Brunch Combo
  • Dinner: Restaurant

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Baked (Waffles, Pancakes, Muffins/Freeze Remaining)
  • Lunch: Cold Lunch (Cottage Cheese, Sandwiches, Raw Fruits & Veggies)
  • Dinner: Mexican or Chinese

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Dairy/Fruit (Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Strawberries, etc…)
  • Lunch: Hot Lunch (Chicken Nuggets, Mac & Cheese, Hot Pockets, etc…)
  • Dinner: Italian/Pasta

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast: Cereal & Milk/Cold Quick Meal
  • Lunch: Finger Foods (Crackers, Cheese Cubes, Chicken Nuggets, etc…)
  • Dinner: Left-Over Night

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Cereal & Milk/Cold Quick Meal
  • Lunch: Hot Lunch (Chicken Nuggets, Mac & Cheese, Hot Pockets, etc…)
  • Dinner: Salad Night

Friday:

  • Breakfast:   Hot Breakfast (Omelets, Potatoes, etc…)
  • Lunch: Cold Lunch (Cottage Cheese, Sandwiches, Raw Fruits & Veggies)
  • Dinner: Family Night (Pizza, Finger Foods, etc…)

Saturday:

  • Breakfast: Frozen Left-Overs from Monday
  • Lunch: Left-Overs
  • Dinner: Slow-Cook Meal (Freeze Leftovers)

This approach eliminates a lot of the extra work, because you have an idea of what to make each day and before you go shopping simply have to fill the details.

- – The Scheduled Approach – -

If you like more variety, a scheduled approach might work better for you.   It’s similar to the above approach, yet instead of picking a “theme” for each day to help you plan, you can pick anything you’d like.   Still you pick a meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day throughout the month or the week.   This is a bit of flexibility, but still scheduled enough to save you time and money!

- – The Flexible Approach – -

I tried the Themed Approach, then went to the Scheduled Approach, but when it comes to cooking, I tend to go with my urges.   Too often I found myself throwing out my plan for the day, because I was in the mood for something different.   If I had the ingredients on hand and it didn’t require an extra store trip, I’d make it.   Now, I take a more flexible approach that works for me.

I make sure I have 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 7 dinners, so I can make it through the week without extra grocery trips.   But, depending on how my week looks, I may make one meal on Monday that can turn into another meal for Tuesday and Wednesday.   Or, I may feel like having a freezer cooking or baking day, and make a few meals for the week in a single day.   When it’s warm, I cook outside, when it’s too cold, I love homstyle comfort foods.   You get the point.

I have a plan.   I rarely stick to it.   But, I can’t stick to a recipe, instruction manual, or step-by-step plan, so why should meal planning be any different for me?   Unlike many other frugal shoppers, this works for me though, but if you’re new, I wouldn’t try this first!   It could end up costing you, instead of saving you.

- – Additional Resources from Previous Posts – -

Confused or want more help? Don’t forget that I teach classes and speak in the Central Indiana area! Use the code ClippingMyBudget to get $10 off a public class.

Grab the Saving Soiree e-Course button!

In Good Cents Savings e-Course

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Hi. I’m Beth. And I am addicted to spreadsheets.

Yeah.   It’s sad but true. I think it’s fun to make spreadsheets. Creating complicated spreadsheets, like the one I designed for my husband to use to track his NCAA Tournament picks that automatically moves teams over to the next round, is my idea of a good time.   In fact, I’m so bad, that I sometimes spend 5 hours trying to figure out how to use a spreadsheet to do something that would have taken me only 5 minutes if I had just done it manually.   But, everyone allowed to be crazy in their own special way, right?

With that in mind, I figured now was the perfect time to once again share my shopping list creator.   However, for those of you who don’t get a kick out of spreadsheets, I’ve make a simplified version with instructions for you!

It’s a new year. You have a clean slate. So now is the time to create a budget and stick to it. Seeing how much you are going to spend before you head to the grocery store will help. All you do is enter in what you plan to buy, the price, any rewards you’ll earn, any coupons you’ll be using, and the coupon value. The spreadsheet will automatically double coupons for particular stores, plus figure out your grand total, coupon total, rewards total, final out-of-pocket, your total after rewards, and your percent saved after coupons and rewards.

Plus, when you are all done, you can highlight your list, then print it to take to the grocery store with you as a detailed shopping list. You’ll be armed and ready to save money, because you’ll know exactly what you are buying, how much it should cost, and what coupons you should be using.

If you’d like the simplified version, which includes 3 spreadsheets – one for standard stores (e.g. Walmart), one with stores that double coupons up to $0.50, (e.g. Kroger or Marsh), and one that offers rewards (e.g. CVS or Walgreens). It also comes with instructions for use and is filled in with examples (which you can delete easily). You can download it below:

- – Simple Grocery List Creator – -

Available in Excel Format from Google Docs

To download: Follow the link, select “File”, and select “Download As”.
Note: Other download formats are available, but I recommend downloading it as an Excel document, because you will lose formatting (including the formulas) in CVS and other file formats.

If you’d like to get high tech, you can also download mine. You can use it to create multiple lists if you plan to hit multiple stores. It’s set up for Meijer, Kroger, Marsh, Target, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens, but you could easily change the store column name to match stores near you. It also has a sheet that calculates your grand total for all stores.

- – Advanced Grocery List Creator – -

Available in Excel Format from Google Docs

To download: Follow the link, select “File”, and select “Download As”.
Note: Other download formats are available, but I recommend downloading it as an Excel document, because you will lose formatting (including the formulas) in CVS and other file formats.


Now you’re armed to save your cents… Start checking out the latest store deals!   Happy shopping.

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