Maple Alps

finances

How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

The grocery budget. The bane of my existence. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the whole grocery budget thing, so I decided to share today about how we cut down our budget without changing our diet.


A few years ago, our grocery bill was pretty much through the roof. For only two people, we were sure spending quite a bit on groceries. Naturally, the bill would be even higher in months like December (Christmas parties galore!) and July (Camping trips, anyone?). We knew we had to make a change and fast.


After we paid off the first third of our student loans back, we decided it was time to really be tight with our grocery budget and we have thus far been successful. In fact, our way of looking at our budget has simplified altogether as a result of this and managing and saving money has never been easier. I decided to focus on the grocery part of things today. Stay tuned for a budgeting post!

How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com




What Is Included in my Grocery Budget?

For us, “grocery” includes anything that we eat and any other expendables such as toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.). Basically anything you can get at your local grocery store that is a necessary consumable for survival. So if you have kiddos and choose to buy diapers, that would fall under that category, and for a cat, food and litter would also fall under this category.




How Much is in my Grocery Budget?

For our budget, our rule of thumb is $100/month per person who lives in our house. You will probably want to consider pets as well as they have food and waste needs as well. We count our fur baby as half a person at $50/month and we never actually end up spending that much on her. This keeps things SUPER simple, because you’re only thinking about one number to stay under per week!




Being Strict About Shopping

In order to keep this realistic, it is EXTREMELY important that you only go to the grocery store once a week, or once every two weeks. Have you ever noticed that every time you go to the store you end up dropping anywhere between $30 and $50 a time? Yes. That is why you need to be strict with yourself and only go once a week.


I get it, you might run out of milk or something. So write it down, and go to the store and ONLY BUY MILK! Keep those blinders on!


Writing lists also helps you use coupons effectively if you do that to save money.




Related: How Not to go Broke From Buying Groceries




Make A Meal Plan and Shopping List

This is key if you want to stick to the once a week shopping trip. That one time a week trip needs to be guided by a strict shopping list. I get it, you forget to write things down sometimes, but try to visualize everything you will need for the week as you plan and write the grocery list down. Then, when you go to the store, stick to it! We also keep a running shopping list on our fridge. So when we run out of things like ketchup or salad dressing, we can add it to the list quickly and easily.



Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner




Shopping Our Kitchen

Every few months, we make it a point to shop our kitchen for our meal plans. This essentially means that we try to use up everything in our pantry and freezer before buying more. I know that a lot of people like to keep a fully stocked pantry, however, sometimes this leaves you prone to buying too many duplicates or forgetting what you have. We make sure that our pantry is laid out in a way that we can see everything we have when we open the door. We use clear glass containers so we can see the amounts of everything we have as well. We use up our things before adding them to the list.


By doing this, we have also been able to take better note of what items we use more than others and know what we need to write down on the list. Some items are only bought once for an experiment or special event and never needed again.




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner Part 2




Eat A Lot of Fresh Produce

Getting in your share of veggies actually helps you keep your budget down! Targeting fruits and vegetables that are in season is really great for your budget, and your body as well! Processed food - especially the plant based kind - can be pricey!



Related: 10 Apps and Extensions We Use to Save Money



Making/Growing Our Own Staples

I’ve learned how to make a few of our staples which has cut down on our grocery bill. Bread is the one that has saved us the most so far, since my husband likes heavier bread being from Europe and all. Things like ketchup and almond milk cost about the same to make as to buy (I’ve done the math and it’s true for our area unless the ingredients are on sale).


I know a lot of people who save a lot on their grocery budget by growing their own food! We haven’t done this yet for ourselves since I have a black thumb...



Shop Sales Strategically

Buy more of your staples when they are on sale, and avoid the sales of things you don’t generally eat - unless you have it on your meal plan or know for sure you will eat it. I’ve seen the tendency of people to buy things simply because they are on sale, only to have them go to waste later!

Having Fun and Being Positive

We allow ourselves to have a few splurges a month (like a pint of our favourite vegan ice cream that costs way too much!), but the best thing to keep in mind is not that you are restricting your budget, but that you are creating a way of life that keeps you mindful of everything you spend and everything you eat! It’s a good thing-trust me.





Controlling your grocery spending can be hard to do, but I believe in you! Reduce your spending and increase your savings! It will be worth it.


 
Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com
 
How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com #groceries #savemoney #budget

Eating Cleaner on a Budget

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps13 Comments

One of the things I hear most from people when we talk about eating clean or healthy is, “but I can’t afford to eat healthily!”

I honestly used to think the same way, but now I know that everything is doable on a budget - you just have to prioritize and do a little research! Below are a few of my favourite ways to eat clean on a budget. 

Eating Cleaner on a Budget | www.maplealps.com

 

Use Your Freezer

There are so many great foods that freeze so well! When I stock up on our favourite staples, I always consider how well it keeps. Since there are only two of us, our freezer gets a lot of use. Some favourites to stock in there are spinach, kale, tofu, beans, nuts(!), and tomatoes.

 

Plan Ahead

Make a meal plan to most effectively use your groceries.

 

Eat less meat/Be a vegetarian

We choose to not eat any meat at all and it has cut down on our grocery bill. Yes, while there are meat substitutes out there that are wildly expensive, we choose to greatly limit these as well and opt for making it from scratch or only having it once in a blue moon (a.k.a. When there is a crazy sale). Most meat substitutes found in stores are highly processed and full of sodium anyway, and aren’t the best for you!

Eating Cleaner on a Budget | www.maplealps.com

 

Consider a Homemade Pantry

Pancake mixes, cake mixes, canned beans….all of these things and more you can do yourself! It’s actually simple, takes the same amount of time as it would to go to the store and buy them, and is much better for both your wallet and your body! One cookbook I use that helps me greatly is The Homemade Vegan Pantry. I love all of the ideas in it and adapt them for my own use.

 

Save Your Scraps 

Don’t waste those onion skins and celery and carrot ends! Collect them and store them in your freezer and make a simple vegetable broth (that can also be frozen, by the way!). That saves on having to buy veggie stock.

 

Reusable Water Bottles

If drinking more water is in your cleaner eating plan, skip buying the bottled water and the extra sugar and calories from bottled juices and invest in a good quality reusable water bottle. Pay next to nothing and stay hydrated - it’s a no-brainer and a win-win.

Eating Cleaner on a Budget | www.maplealps.com



Shop in Season and Locally

Start paying attention to what is in season for cheaper produce. Shopping locally will not only give you a great deal but also help your local farms and community! Your freezer comes in handy for this as well - so much produce, depending on what you want to do with it later - can be frozen until you're ready for it. That way, it doesn't go to waste.

 

Skip Organic Produce in Some Cases

If you've ever heard of the dirty dozen then you'll know that there are some foods that you can skip in the organic section, and some you probably shouldn't. Your decision!

 

Try Store Brands

So many grocery stores offer high-quality organic food for less [enter applause]! 

 

Don't Forget Apps!

Using apps to save me money has really paid off over the last few years - no pun intended! One of my favourite rebate apps for grocery shopping is Ibotta and I love it! By the way: Use my referral link to download Ibotta and get a $10 welcome bonus!

 

Eating clean doesn't have to make you go broke by any means! With a little extra effort, you can make your dollars stretch!

 
Eating clean on a budget is easier than you thought!
 

How do you eat clean on a budget?


 
 

What You Can Do with $7.99/month That Doesn't Involve Netflix

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

I wrote about some things to do instead of streaming television shows a while ago with the angle of time and our minds being precious. What I didn't talk about was the other thing streaming sites like the popular Netflix takes from us: our money. As Christians, we are called to be stewards of our money, resources and time, and in fact, none of those things truly belong to us. They were entrusted to us to use for God's work.

Here are some things you can do with $7.99 that doesn't involve Netflix (though I heard prices for that have been going up, so $7.99 might not even be enough for that!)!

 

Take a friend out on a cafe date

Get some tea and talk about the wonderful things God has been doing in your lives. 

Rent a bicycle and explore parts of the city you have not before

See your city through new eyes, and meet and talk to people you may not have ever thought to. Using your legs is free though! :) 

Go to the dollar store and put together a package to mail to a friend

Even the smallest of surprises in the mail can bring joy and encouragement to a friend.

Buy some stamps and send out some cards

Bless others by letting them know you are thinking about and praying for them!

Buy a meal for someone in need

And pray for and with that person.

Join a gym

I actually know someone who used Netflix money for a very basic gym membership instead! Turns out those exist!

Put it into your savings account

You'll have a pretty good amount by the end of the year to use for a good cause or pay off a chunk of debt.
 


What creative things would you do for $7.99 that doesn't involve streaming?


 
 

10 Apps and Extensions I Use to Save Money

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps21 Comments

I’ve been seeing articles all over the internet about apps that save you money. If you know me, or have been reading this blog for a while, you know I like saving money, so I’ve been guilty of having a lot of “money-saving” apps on my phone’s home screen. Over the years, however, I have weeded out and chosen my favourites, and today I decided to share with you my tried and true apps that I use almost every day. No one has paid me to share this with you, and even if they did, I only share things I truly love and think will enhance your life. I have included some referral links that will benefit you, however!

[updated February 2019]

Great apps to use to save money! So glad I came across this article! | www.maplealps.com
 

Ibotta

Ibotta has been a great money-saver for me! I always check it before heading out to shop - and even when I get home. The best part is that it doesn’t only qualify for groceries: since there are so many different stores and offers available, I can support my yarn addiction and my husband gets his electronic fix while we save money! Check out Ibotta here and use my referral link to get $10!

 

Target

Cartwheel is now included in the Target app. On it, you’ll find coupons in every category and as of late, you can collect points that go toward some pretty fabulous prizes [update: this was a trial and no longer available]. If you have a RED card, the savings add to the extra 5% you get off, so I think it’s a win. What you can also do is scan items to find out if the products are offered on the Target website for cheaper. Target price matches to their website. Why the prices are different, I do not understand, but it is worth it to check - I’ve saved several dollars per trip taking a few seconds to do this!

Shopkick

Shopkick offers several ways to earn points (called kicks) that you can redeem for a variety of gift cards. You can earn kicks by simply walking into a store (literally walking in) and scanning items. Earn more by submitting receipts with eligible items purchased on them. There are also ways to earn kicks online. I have been using it and love it! We'll both get 250 points toward a free gift card when you try it. Use code GIFT461377 or download it here.

 

Checkout51

Similar to Ibotta, Checkout51 is a rebate app. You scan your receipt after you are done shopping, and you’re good to go. This one takes longer for me to collect money since I do not buy a lot of processed food, but I still slowly collect on produce. So far, I have gotten a few cheques from this app, so I know it’s legit, and an extra $20 here and there isn’t too bad either.

Drop

I started using drop and now I don’t know why I didn’t start sooner! With Drop, all you have to do is connect your credit card or debit cards and earn points whenever you spend money at certain stores. You can choose the stores you frequent and there are certain bonus stores to get offers for as well. It is pretty constantly working in the background and you can redeem points for gift cards! Use my code urew6 to get $5 when you try it today! Or use this link here.

 

GasBuddy

GasBuddy has saved me a lot of money on gas. With a quick tap of the screen, you can find all the gas stations nearby with current prices updated by other users. I like helping to keep the app updated and accurate by verifying gas prices and fixing the ones that have changed.

Amazon

Who knew the Amazon app could save you money as you shop?! It’s easy to scan barcodes on products while in the store and see if the exact same thing I cheaper on Amazon. Some stores, like Target, even price match as long as Amazon is the seller. This has saved me money so many times!

 

Honey

Honey is a Chrome extension that has seriously changed my life. Instead of googling online coupons (that may or may not work), Honey automatically finds them for you. Not only that, but they also have a cashback rewards program that can be used to redeem Amazon gift cards. I never found an Amazon gift card I couldn’t use! Try Honey today by using my referral link: here.

 

Ebates

This one is not a new one, but it’s new to me. It took me a while to figure out, but once I did, I was really happy I had, and wished I would have taken it more seriously sooner! You can also have this as a chrome extension. Find rebates on almost everything you buy on the internet - from Amazon and Etsy purchases to booking hotels and rental cars (that’s where I make the most of the money!). The extension will automatically recognize the page you’re on, and ask if you would like to use the cash back options. It’s great, especially when you were going to spend the money anyway. Why not get some back? Check out Ebates here and use my referral link here to get a bonus $10!

 

Swagbucks

I started using Swagbucks my freshman year in college. It's basically a search engine that wins you money. Honestly, it used to be more awesome than it is now and I used it to get hundreds of dollars worth of Amazon gift cards. Though I don't use it as much now, I do use some of the features, like searching and the occasional survey when I want. They also have a ton of great informative videos to watch, and I check those out once in a while to get some points. It's my default search engine that wins me free money! They also have a similar program like Ebates to get rebates on certain deals. If you're going to buy something anyway, why not get some money back? Use my referral link to try it for free today!

 

Do you use any apps or extensions to save you money? Any of these ones? I'm always looking for more ways to save, so tell me in the comments below about your favourite apps to save you money!


 

Women of Intention Week Twelve: Finances

Women of Intention, MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

Welcome to week twelve of the series, Women of Intention! So glad you've decided to stop by! For more information, and a list of topics, visit our introduction post HERE

Finances: Maple Alps! Women Of Intention #WomenOfIntention16

THIS WEEK'S INTENTIONAL WOMAN:

Today, we are going to meet Deb from Saving the Crumbs, an amazingly practical and informative blog written by her and her husband. They talk about finances, economy, frugality, efficiency...you name it!

Because of this, I think it quite appropriate that Deb will be sharing with us about intentionality when it comes to finances today! After reading this post, be sure to check out Saving the Crumbs and share this post :)

Find Deb on TwitterFacebook, and Google+


Briefly tell us a bit about yourself: What are your passions, work and interests?

Hi! I’m Deb, and for the last year I have had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom with my little girl. So my greatest interest and responsibility right now is the enormous task of molding her little heart and character to love what is pure and to desire to do what’s right. I’m realizing this is the most challenging job I’ve ever embarked upon!

Besides being a mom, being economical and living simply are probably some of my greatest passions and tend to trickle into just about every aspect of my life. So my family’s interests usually revolve around our little garden, nature, ministry, and saving money. In fact, we love good deals and being thrifty so much that a few years ago, my husband and I started a personal finance blog called SavingTheCrumbs.com where we share things like eating for less than $60 a month and paying off our house in 2 years. We just share what we’ve done and hope that it can benefit other people who might be needing encouragement or ideas in this area.

 

Why would you say approaching finances intentionally is important, and how can one practically begin doing so?

It’s true that money isn’t everything in life, but money does affect just about everything in life. Ultimately, our material possessions, our families, our relationships, and even our spiritual walk can be positively or negatively affected by how we approach finances. The problem is that it’s so easy to like expensive toys, brand name clothes, and fancy vacations -  and it’s easy to want them now even if we don’t have the money for it. But it takes very intentional effort to see past our present wants to our future needs, find joy in the simple things surrounding us, and have confidence making these decisions even among our peers.

Probably the most important first step is to find out where all your money is going. It’s amazing how it seems to just disappear without us even realizing we gave it away! But it has certainly gone somewhere, and your first job is to trace down every penny - groceries, utilities, cellphone bill, stopping by Taco Bell on the way home, restocking toilet paper, Amazon purchases, even that soda from the vending machine. Once it’s all down on paper, you might be pretty shocked where those pennies have been rolling off to and turning into pretty big bills! The necessary game plan is usually fairly obvious at that point.

How does your intentionality with finances affect the other areas of your life?

Before we had our daughter, both my husband and I worked. We didn’t earn a lot, but we minimized our lifestyle enough to live on just one salary and put the other into savings. So when our daughter arrived, we were already accustomed to a one-income lifestyle. I was able to quit my job and become a fulltime mom. What a privilege and blessing it has been! I know not everyone is in the position to do that, but it definitely wouldn’t have been possible for us if we hadn’t been intentional with our financial decisions ahead of time.

In addition, because we choose to live fairly frugally, my husband is able to work for a ministry doing what he really enjoys and has a passion for. He doesn’t feel like he has to get a high paying job doing work he may not enjoy in order to sustain an inflated lifestyle. Having these options is part of the “financial freedom” that we strive for.

What is one piece of advice you would give to encourage someone who is struggling with intentionality in the area of finances?

Be willing to look past the present. Take a visit to your future self 5, 10, or 20 years from now. What does it look like? Owning your own home, traveling the world, being a missionary, being a stay-at-home mom? Once you have a clear picture in your mind, decide how you will get there. Then start being intentional now to take steps along the paths that lead toward your goals.


What about you? Were you inspired by this post? Are you intentional when it comes to your finances? Why don't you tell us about it in the comments, and connect with us on social media?

(Don't forget to use the hashtag #WomenOfIntention16 so no one misses it!)