Financial Tips to Help You Stay at Home

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We always knew when kids became a part of our story that we wanted to make it possible for me to stay at home. A year or so before I became pregnant with Chickadee we decided we would go ahead and try living on only one income to see if our dreams could become reality. What a HUGE challenge this way. We were going to start thinking about money differently. But we were determined with with a little budget tightening and cost cutting we figured out how to make it work. Fast forward about a year and a half later and I was finishing out my last school year as a teacher and looking forward to an arriving bundle of joy that fall! Let the crunch time begin! 

My first step was brainstorming in the areas we could save money (even if it was just a little bit). Small savings in lots of places can really add up!

Look for where you can pay less Call all the folks you pay bills to. See if you can get a lower gas rate, a better deal on cable (or cut it all together), a cheaper cell phone plan (Costco has a counter where they will compare them all), or a deal for bundling your insurance. You can always save money in these areas. The retention folks are your best bet for how low these costs can really be!  

Grocery Shopping Now you can definitely cut coupons, but I currently don’t have time for all the work involved. I do try to do the digital ones for the stores where I grocery shop. I also try and make our meal plan from what is one sale at the grocery store. I make a list and stick to it. I often buy the store brand. At my store the Buy One Get One deals….you can just by one and get 50% off. Also there are lots of options out there to buy in bulk. Take advantage of Costco, Sams, Amazon Subscribe & Save, etc. for items like paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, detergent, etc.

Create a Budget I married an accountant, so we’ve been using a budget since day one. We have a certain amount set aside for each category (food, clothes, utilities, entertainment, gifts, tithe, etc.) so we can see where our money is going. It helps us decide where we can continue to cut, but also lets us see our progress in saving in different areas. Seeing the fruits of your budgeting is very rewarding. 

Buy Consignment We buy  A LOT of things on consignment to help save money and ease the financial stress spending causes. I am a part of a Facebook group in my area where folks are all the time selling kids clothes and toys. They also sometimes sell furniture, art, books, etc. There are so many good deals out there….also check out yard sales and second hand stores! And remember, when you outgrow or no longer have a need for items you can sell them and make money as well.

Live Below Your Means Saving for a rainy day (or a sunny one!) is important. A surprisingly large amount of Americans are living pay check to pay check. Try and save with each pay check, $25 a month is an easy place to start. Then grow from there. I remember when we were looking at new cars a few years ago. I really wanted a Lexus SUV….my husband brought me down to reality “Ummm, we aren’t Lexus people.” Truth. Just because you have it doesn’t mean you should always spend it. And in the same breath, if you don’t have it…don’t spend it. DON’T get caught in credit card debt. We use credit cards and reap the point benefits. However, we pay it off every single month. Living below your means is essential to savings and alleviating financial stress. 

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I wanted to stay home and raise our kids. For me these are the moments in life that really matter. Can you identify with our story? So what would be your first step? SunTrust is also here to help. So take a step, then another – each action will increase your confidence and move you toward financial well-being. 

Here are the facts:

Over 70% of Americans are financially stressed
12% of Americans skip going to the doctor because of financial concerns
80% of people admitted that their personal finances keep them awake at night
21% of couples who rate their financial stress as at least “somewhat high” are arguing more
32% of adults say their finances keep them from living a healthy lifestyle

 Yall, this is not okay! 

During the Super Bowl (on SUNDAY!) SunTrust will share for the first time their #onUp movement. They want to encourage Americans to take control of their finances and life a life well spent. Will you take the pledge? SunTrust is hoping to get 5 million Americans on board! Want to join the movement? Sign up here.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  

The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.

Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.

Join the movement

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

The Most Delicious Pudding Dessert Combination

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I made a pretty light dinner the other night and so felt the need to also serve dessert. I was hoping the treat would hlep overlook the fact that dinner was a bust. Trying to manage a 2 year old and 10 month old during the witching hour while cooking dinner is tough folks. So you know, sometimes we just have grilled cheese :)

Following by delicious dessert.

Pudding is always a hit with Chickadee so this night I ran with it and added a few toppings to make it extra special. I’ll keep this quick and to the point, I’m sure it’s not new…similar to the dirt dessert.

Jello Chocolate Instant Pudding & Milk | Cool Whip | Fudge Stripes

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Make the pudding according to the package directions. After the pudding sets, spoon into a bowl, top with cool whip, and then with crunched up cookies of your choice!

Enjoy. Your family will thank you!

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Toddler Valentine Fingerprint Art

***So I have noooo idea why the internet fairies decided to send out a comment response as a post yesterday, sorry about that. I you wanted to know the kind of sausage I used in this one pot recipe, it was Hillshire. I double checked at Publix on Monday :)

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Hey Friends! I hope yall are staying warm and dry wherever you are. We have had a mix of rain and “snow” down here in Georgia and it has kept us indoors for the better part of a week. This mama is going a little stir crazy…you? I’m here to share a fun little Valentine art project that passed the better part of 45 minutes for us the other day & turned out really cute. I plan on repeating this project today so thought I would share the fun.

So it’s SUPER simple, all you need is some construction paper, painter’s tape, and kid friendly paint (we used this Crayola paint *affiliate). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves and then I’ll leave you a few tips below.

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 The last step would be to peel the painter’s tape off. A few tips from our experience….1. make sure you have something under the construction paper to protect your work space (we used an open cereal box). 2. Use a smock or large bib to keep paint off their clothes. 3. Keep baby wipes near by for easy clean up 4. Use scissors to cut clean tape lines so you get straight edges. 5. Shake your paint and let your toddler just use the paint left in the lid. Shake again when you run out. 6. Depending on the age of your little one, you might want to help them make sure they have their fingerprints where the paint meets the paper.

So there you go, easy peasy! We did a heart too (this time Chickadee used a paintbrush)….the possibilities here are really endless!

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Happy Wednesday!

One Pot Sausage & Spinach Pasta

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A few weekends ago I said goodbye to my little munchkins an awesome husband and headed to Auburn, Alabama to hang out with 4 of my 5 favorite girls from college! III held down the fort while I was away and knowing that the kids were in great hands, I had an amazing weekend. We ate at all our favorite restaurants, walked around downtown, stayed up late reminiscing, and then slept in until 8 (that is late when you are raising toddlers!). We also shared recipes, and when I got home I had a week’s worth of dinner ideas. The one pot sausage pasta was so easy and absolutely delicious!

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Another thing I learned this weekend is that most of non-bloggers that find recipes on Pinterest wish us bloggers sharing recipe posts would get to the details. So without further ado…

One Pot Sausage Pasta
Serves 4
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 1 lb. smoked sausage (sliced)
  3. 1 cup of diced onion (I use frozen diced onions)
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. Half a red pepper, chopped
  6. 1 cup frozen spinach
  7. 2 cups chicken broth
  8. 1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel, mild
  9. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  10. 1 1/2 cups rotini pasta (or any short pasta)
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  13. 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese
Instructions
  1. 1. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to an oven-safe skillet (I used The Pioneer Woman's cast iron pot) over medium high heat. Add sausage, onions, red pepper, and spinach and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. 2. Next add broth, Ro-Tel, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. 3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Place in oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling.
  4. 4. Serve with garlic bread.
Adapted from The Best Simple Recipes
Adapted from The Best Simple Recipes
A Step In The Journey http://astepinthejourney.com/

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 You will not regret whipping up this dish. And the best part, only ONE pot to wash!

DIY LOVE Mailboxes for Kids

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Yall, can I be honest for two seconds. I really haven’t felt like blogging lately. I’m not sure why, maybe I just needed some inspiration. Okay…two seconds over because well, I got some inspiration.

Chickadee loves going to the mailbox. She is so cute carrying in the mail and opening up all the pieces (and stacks of Amazon packages). No one gets excited about the water bill like a 2 year old that just got to tear some paper. So she is my inspiration for this project, along with Valentines day that is just around the corner.

We love a good craft project. Chickadee is such a little creative, so these Valentines mailboxes were right up their ally.

Chickadee’s mailbox is made from a yogurt container and wrapping paper tube left over from Christmas.

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Sprout’s mailbox is a red solo cup and paper towel tube.

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For both mailboxes I used a razor blade to slice a 1.5 inch slit in the middle. Then I slid in the tube and taped it on the inside. We used cardstock, washi tape, stickers, and crayons to decorate both of the mailboxes.

I attached them to the wall using painter’s tape at first, but they fell immediately. So next I tried masking tape and so far it’s held everything in place.

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My hope is to leave them a love note each night in February with a little message sharing something we love about Sprout & Chickadee at this age. And if things get crazy, maybe a little fun treat every now and then!

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So what do you think? I already shared a few love notes with Chickadee and she got so excited about opening up her own mailbox and finding a little LOVE inside. I think February is going to be a lot of fun!!