Our 2017 Budget ~ Our Cozy Den

Our New Family Budget 💵 {we let the KIDS plan it!}

The past month has been a BIG month for our family! My husband graduated from seminary, completing his Masters of Divinity. This new phase of life brings some changes in our family budget (and schedule), as his finishing school means we no longer get a housing allowance from the military. (Read more about that in the benefits page here.) In order for the kids to understand why our lifestyle would be changing a little (fewer upgrades in the grocery store, fewer movies out and restaurants) — I wanted them to have a say in how we allocate our budget. I started by having the kids Read More

Why We Got a Mortgage 🏡 {when we could've paid cash💰}  ~ Our Cozy Den

Why We Got a Mortgage 🏡 {when we could’ve paid cash💰}

Here on the blog, I try to be very transparent about our finances, our budget, & our spending. I think it really helps people to see that it’s possible to live a frugal lifestyle if they can see exactly how much we spend, what our weekly grocery budget looks like, and other details about our lives. Lately, we’ve found ourselves in a (slightly-stressful) and different financial situation from our normal, so I thought I’d be open with you all about that too! Our Recent Transition On this date 3 years ago, we paid cash for a home. We had just moved to Findlay, Ohio so that Read More

How to Save on Gas with Kroger Fuel Points (WITHOUT shopping at Kroger!)

How to Save on Gas with Kroger Fuel Points (WITHOUT shopping at Kroger!)

The cost of fuel is one of those expenses that is hardest for me to predict when I write out our monthly budget. Every choice we make to leave the house, take a trip, or fill up the tank affects our bottom line. We do several things to cut our expenditures in this category. Those things include: hypermiling to reduce our consumption planning errands like the UPS guys do (right turns, people!) using the Gas Buddy app to find the cheapest gas in our area (and predict rises and falls in prices) A lot of the time — in our town at least — the Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

Time & Money: Earning VS. Saving

There are 24 hours in a day. That’s an indisputable fact. Everyone has exactly 24 hours to allocate to various pursuits, and we all have priorities that shape our days. I see so many people chasing another dollar “to make ends meet”, while at the same time maintaining a lifestyle full of expenses that are higher than they need to be. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the thought process that goes into my philosophy on money: that it is better to save than to earn. Calculate your rate of earnings. Minimum wage in the US is currently $7.25 an hour. If Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

How To Write a Budget {and actually USE it!}

Ah, yes… dreaded B word: Budget. People think of a budget and they cringe. Budgets are restrictive. No fun. Too hard. Well, I tend to disagree. When done properly, budgets give you an immense sense of freedom! Before we had a written budget each month, I would feel so guilty about every penny I spent that I didn’t feel was vital to the family. Every time I bought myself a book, a shirt, or lunch out with my friends… I felt plagued with feelings like “We can’t afford this.” or “I shouldn’t be spending this money.” Once we had a written plan in place, it Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

Save Money on Gas!

The single greatest thing that we have done to save gas is called hypermiling. It’s a relatively new concept, but one that is gaining in popularity. It basically means, increasing the expected miles-per-gallon of your vehicle by altering your driving habits. It can be done in any vehicle, not just hybrids or compact cars. In fact, we drive a minivan and get much better than expected fuel efficiency. There are many steps to hypermiling, but the basic concept is: avoid the brake pedal like the plague. When you hit the brake, you’re basically wasting all the gas you used to get up to that speed. Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

Why I Threw My Budget Out the Window {for the summer!}

I’ve always been very diligent with my budgeting: zero-based budget, every month; track all income and spending in my spreadsheets; keep my all cash envelope system in check. I’ll admit, it can be really hard at times! It can also be exhausting to keep track of it all. In case you missed me talking about it earlier — my husband is out of town for military training for the summer. He’s been in seminary for the past few years on his quest to become an Army Chaplain, and we’ve been living on his very low Reserves income, which is usually about $600 a month. But Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

Life with One Vehicle

A few years ago when Byron decided to go to seminary and leave full time active duty Army service for a season, we made a lot of decisions about what our life would look like during this period of time. For example — we were adamant that we would pay cash for a house. We did spending freezes to boost our savings. We cut back on certain indulgences in our lifestyle. And we transitioned to a one-car family. I wanted to tell you a little bit today about how much it has benefited us to do so! Benefits of having just one vehicle   More Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

How To Use the Envelope System (& WIN an Envelope System Wallet)

I’m a HUGE fan of the Envelope System. You may have heard of it – Dave Ramsey has been touting its benefits for years, and frugal housewives have been using it for decades. It can seem overwhelming at first, but here’s a quick tutorial on how to get started using it to save your family BIG money. First, let’s talk about WHY. To put things simply, people spend more when they swipe a card over using cash. It’s all about the way your brain registers the money as a tangible resource leaving your possession. When you swipe a card, it’s an abstract thing – you Read More

The Ultimate Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

🚫3 Things We Don’t Buy {and we save 💰 big because of it!}

Ever since I started posting details about our budget and how our family lives on $550 a month, I’ve been getting tons of questions from people about the little things in their budgets that add up to BIG expenses. It feels like most of the time, my answer is: “I don’t buy that.” There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of things that fall into this category. Walk through any Walmart and you’ll see thousands of products that companies want to make you think you need, but people got along for centuries without it and you can get along just fine without it too! Here are just Read More