Maple Alps

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Clean Up Your Budget This Spring

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

Of course, the title of this post is about cleaning up your budget, so it is assuming you have already have one, but if you don't have one and want to use your money intentionally, you definitely need a budget (post on that coming)! It's never too late to make one and never the wrong time of year to clean it up a little bit. 

Spring Clean Your Budget | www.maplealps.com
 

Evaluate your spending and make a list of your expenses.

Ideally you've been tracking all of your spending already, so take a look at your numbers. Make a list of your necessary expenses - the nonnegotiable ones that you can't change such as rent/mortgage and other bills. Assess your spending.

 

Clean Out Your Un-Needed Expenses and reorganize:

Maybe you can cut back on your gas and electricity consumption, or perhaps you decide that your monthly manicure isn't completely necessary. Maybe your life situation has changed since you last created your budget and you can cut back in different ways. Here are a few other ideas:

Make Your Own Lunch: Leftovers work great for this - make a little extra the night before and put it in a container for the next day right away. Not into leftovers? Make a fresh salad or a sandwich - or something completely complicated, but fresh!

Skip the Daily Coffee Shop Visit: While your daily visits for coffee won't make you broke, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by making your own! Buy a reusable coffee mug that keeps your beverage of choice hot (or cold) for a long period of time. I make myself some herbal tea every morning before heading off to work, and my mug is a permanent fixture on my desk. If it’s not there, I have very concerned students who ask if I had a rough morning…

Quit a Subscription: Whether it’s Netflix, a gym membership, or a magazine, you may want to reevaluate the value of some of your subscriptions.

Start to Meal Plan: Save on your grocery bill by meal planning and shopping what you already have in your fridge and pantry. Save money AND keep food from spoiling!

Related: Cut Down on your Grocery Bill Without Cutting Back on Food

 

Make Goals

Now that you have cleaned up your expenses and hopefully have some left over, go ahead and start thinking about what your goals are! Maybe you can set aside that extra cash to save up for something you really want or need, or pay off a large chunk of debt you have.

 

 

Did you add your budget to your Spring Cleaning list? It's never too late!


 

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?


 
 

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

Last week, my husband and I went shopping. When I say shopping, I mean that we went to our favourite stores and browsed, and when I say browsed, I mean just that. After two hours, we walked back into our house with not one bag in tow and the same amount of money in our account that we had when we left. I was not terribly shocked, but I am certain that just a few years ago, that would not have been as easy to accomplish.

Living mindfully has naturally resulted in thinking about where our money goes. It is amazing how just thinking about it changes buying habits that sometimes leads to spending what one does not have. Instead of collecting things in our home, we have been discarding. Instead of noticing our money disappear, we have been saving, and instead of always thinking about spending money, we think about giving.

I decided to share today just a few of the reasons we believe being intentional and mindful has helped us save money.

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money | www.maplealps.com

 

Have Only What You Need

I lived in the same house my entire life. When I decided to live abroad, I packed two suitcases and that is what I lived with the entire time. I came back to a full closet and drawers and realized that over half of the things I owned and had collected over time, I didn’t even need. I had just survived three years with what could fit into two suitcases. This opened my eyes greatly. I now need more than what can just fit in two suitcases (having a kitchen will do that), but I still have everything I need and love while avoiding excess.

 

Being Content With What You Have

I never realized the release I needed from material things. Because I had collected so much over the years and kept everything organized, I was not aware of each item I had. This was far from mindful. As I cleaned out closets and drawers and boxes, I finally saw the amount of useless possessions that was drowning me.

How Living Intentionally Can Help You Save Money | www.maplealps.com

 

Find Pleasure in the Simple Things

Because spending money is not on my radar, I get to enjoy more simple pleasure and realize the value of the things that cannot be bought. Once in a while I still love browsing through the mall to see the sights, but urges to purchase anything unless I need them hardly occur. If it does happen where I see something I like, it automatically comes to mind that I don’t need it and I leave the store quite content without whatever it was.

 

Free From Consumerism

I don’t feel the need to have the newest and best things anymore. Everything in my home has a place and a purpose, and I have no intentions to let that slide. I have experienced such a release and rest after getting rid of “stuff,” and I don’t want that frustration anymore. My spiritual life has been strengthened and I am able to think freely without inhibition. Thinking about giving generously to those in need or causes I believe in has become more natural (and more doable!).

 

Have you found that saving money is just one awesome perk of living intentionally?
Tell us about your journey to intentional living!


 
 



 

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 June 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!

thredUP

I’ve made some money using thredUP while cleaning out my closet. It’s easy: they send you a pretty bag, you fill it with your gently used items and send it back - all for free! They will go through and either buy your items or put them up for consignment. You have the option to donate the remainder of what they don’t accept for free (they are pretty picky) or have them send it back to you for a small fee. Best part? Because they are so picky, the clothes they offer for sale are in good condition - for a great price! Here’s a link for you to get $10 to spend today to update your closet.

 

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!


 

How Not To Go Broke From Buying Groceries

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps35 Comments

Food is one of those things that you need to survive. I have not yet met anyone who does not require it in some capacity; it’s just not how we’re made. Unfortunately, groceries are not always the cheapest, and it seems that every time I go out, prices have escalated! With not much extra money to spare, a lot of planning and strategizing goes into our grocery shopping. Being intentional about our purchases translates into our necessities as well, so I decided to share a few of the things we do (and one we hope to do soon) to keep our food bill down.

How Not To Go Broke From Buying Groceries | www.maplealps.com

 

Check your fridge and pantry first!

Shop your own home! On occasion, we have done a “no-spend” month, where we try to use up our staples in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. We will allow ourselves fresh produce because we need it, but it has almost become a game to see how little we can spend.

 

Meal plan

I talked about why I meal plan here and more about my process here. We’ve since added a giant chalkboard in our kitchen where the meals for the week are outlined so that everyone can see. If we need to switch it up or swap some meals, it’s not a big deal! Meal planning is definitely one thing that keeps our grocery bill down.

Make a list - and stick to it

This is so important! So many times I’m tempted to get waylaid by the specials or see items that aren’t on my list that I want to get. Most of the time, if I do get them, they don’t get eaten, which results in wasted money. It is so much better to stick to your list. This is also why I usually do the grocery shopping by myself and leave the husband at home :)

 

Get Creative + Embrace Leftovers

If you have looked through your crisper and see some carrots and celery, think about what kind of meal would use those ingredients. Voilà! One of the meals for the week! You're welcome. Also, embrace leftovers. Don't let food go to waste! Get creative with this too; make new meals out of existing ones, or designate a day in the week where you tackle leftovers (or take them to work for lunch). 

 

Buy in bulk

Depending on the store and product, it is usually cheaper to buy in bulk. Explore your area’s stores and prices, and you will likely be pleasantly surprised! We like buying my spices, nuts, beans and flours in bulk. This has saved us a lot.

 

Use Coupons Responsibly

Use coupons only for the items you are going to buy anyway (and make sure they are actually the best price!). This goes along with sticking to your list! You will end up spending more if you buy according to what coupons are available. Coupons are great, but use them wisely!

 

Related: 10 Apps and Extensions We Use to Save Money

Use Rebate/Coupon Apps

I use a few rebate/coupon apps for my grocery and other shopping. One of my favourites is Ibotta. As I said with the point above, use these rebates responsibly as well. No use buying something only because you have a rebate. When you do that, you are not saving. You are spending extra. PS: Use my referral link to download Ibotta and get a $10 welcome bonus!

 

Grow your own food

We are working on planning our own little garden in our yard. I cannot wait to grow some of our favourite produce and save a bit of cash!

save money on groceries | www.maplealps.com

Check out the farmer's market

Local food is usually cheaper and good for you too! Don't be intimidated; I promise you'll love going to the farmer's market once you try! 

 

Do Your Research + Consider Unit Prices

I had a spreadsheet where I had all of the local stores I frequented (Aldi is a favourite!) and the unit prices for each product or staple we buy listed. I also have the sales prices and vague dates, so I know exactly where to shop, and when to buy what. We have since moved and I haven't updated my list, though we have mostly the same stores to choose from. You can try this too! Opt for a simple notebook and pen to keep track if you don't want to mess with a spreadsheet. You can also keep a photo folder on your phone (taking snapshots of price labels).  Comparing prices can be a great money saver - plus, there is a certain satisfaction you receive when you know you bought something at the best possible price for you. 

 

Take Your Calculator to the Store

Just in case your store doesn't display unit prices and your mental math doesn't go that quick.

 

Learn How To Store Food Properly

If you do not store your food properly, chances are it will go bad before it has to. Increase the life of your groceries by learning what is best kept where and how.

 

How do you save money on groceries? I would love to hear your tips, and I hope you have been able to add to them with this post!