Category: finances

Four Simple Tips to Help You Do Your Own Taxes Online (For FREE)

4 Simple Tips to Help You Do Your Own Taxes Online For Free with #TurboTax #Absolute0 #adI am terrible at math and numbers and all things accounting. So is my husband. Even so, we’ve managed to file our own taxes every year with the help of TurboTax and a little determination. You can do it, too. You CAN do your own taxes online. Really you can. If the idea of doing your own taxes stresses you out, I’ve got four simple tips to help you AND save you money.


Frugal Friday – Pregnancy Tips Part I

This whole pregnancy thing is so new to me, and I have been getting tons of great advice from friends, online friends, and total strangers. I’m a member of the Frugal Living community on Blog Frog, so asked those fun folks for their best frugal pregnancy tips to share with y’all. They came up with some great stuff! I’ll share all of the tips with you over the next few weeks.

Frugal Pregnancy tips:


Have a friend who was just pregnant? Talk to them about maternity clothes. Maybe they’ll let you borrow some shirts.

You don’t have to have every cool thing they make for babies. I’d splurge on a cradle swing even before a crib.

Talk to friends and neighbors who are all done having kids – esp if they just had their last kid. They’re dying to get rid of their old stuff. Check for safety issues.

Make sure your car seat is less than 3 yrs old.

Don’t pay any medical bill that hasn’t been through your insurance. I overpaid the doctor’s office because they insisted on a certain amount that *they* expected. It took a WHOLE YEAR to get my refund check.”

– from Heart Baby Home

“This may sound silly to you but I just had a baby and this my personal experience. With my first, I craved taco bell like no tomorrow. And I ate it all the time. And whatever else I craved. With the baby I just had I craved pizza all the time. Instead of ordering out for it, we did homemade pizza and almost always had some in the fridge. When I was hungry but didn’t know what I wanted I would eat cereal. I had a ton in my stockpile and after awhile that’s what I craved. Those two things helped me save money on my cravings while pregnant!”

– from Fabulessly Frugal

“Always try the cheaper brands first. My babies all did fine with the off brand diapers and I saved nearly $10 on a big box (buy the big box) each time. This is the same for wipes, food, bottles, etc.

Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but if you can, it’s the way to go. There are so many benefits for mom and baby, but it is a big money saver. Formula is about $22 a box and will probably get you through a week. Do that for a year and then move into sippy cups when baby can have cow’s milk.

Also, get items that grow with the baby: a crib that turns into a twin bed, a car seat that grows with baby,

And, don’t buy what the baby doesn’t absolutely need. Unless the baby really needs it, don’t introduce the pacifier, or the bottle, etc. Once you buy one of those, you will buy 40!

Our baby started eating the same things we were eating as soon as he could have solid foods. A $6 mini food processor makes your meal edible for the baby. Since we get vegetables from the garden and meat from the farm, we know the baby isn’t getting overly-processed foods either.”

– from Keeping Up with the Joneses

“These are all great ideas. “Don’t buy what you don’t need”…I agree. I never had a changing table and I never missed out. I know several of my friends that said that was a useless item. If you feel you must have one buy one that grows with them like Kimberly said. In this case get a dresser with a changing pad on top.

I would not forget about thrift stores and yard sales too. You can find really awesome clothes for you and your baby all up until they are about 3-4 years old. Most people have too much stuff for their baby that is never used or maybe used only once and that includes clothes, and bedding.”

– from Saving Your Green

“And all you need is sleepers and onesies for the first few months. Nothing fancy, nothing expensive.

Somewhere for them to sleep, if even a pack&play next to your bed or cradle/basinet/baby moses basket for first couple of months too.”

– from 3 Boys and Adoption ?!?

I would love to hear all of your Frugal Pregnancy tips as well. Share them with me in the comment section!

Frugal Friday – Financial Peace University

One year ago, we were in the middle of Financial Peace University. It rocked our world and changed our financial future forever. Now we are debt free, have a 3 month emergency fund, and are saving for a house and baby, and investing for retirement. That is a world away from where we were, and we owe it all to the Dave Ramsey plan. Because we believe so strongly in his plan, when we heard our church was offering the class we had to volunteer. I can’t make it every week because of my work schedule, but Jed is committed. He is a gifted teacher, and is so excited about sharing our journey with the folks in the class.

He had class tonight, and the 15 people added up their debts (consumer – non house) totally $304,000 for the group. Wow. I can’t wait to hear their stories of freedom in a few months or years. The class is 13 weeks long, and according to Dave’s website over 1 million families have already gone through it. Each family pays off $5300 in debt and saves $2700 in just 90 days on average. That is truly awesome.

I think this may be Jed’s new ministry. He gets so fired up about financial freedom, and loves sharing it with everyone he knows. Being able to do so in an environment where people actually signed up to hear about it is a great fit for him. I want to support him as he helps others along in their financial journey. Hopefully he can officially become a FPU coordinator and lead more classes. Teaching others will help to hold us accountable as well.

How does your family hold itself accountable financially?

Need a budget? Do it here in 2 minutes:

frugal friday – an ode to aldi

oh aldi, how i love thee…
you force me to remember my reusable shopping bags.
you fill your aisles with cheap olive oil,
affordable frozen items,
off brand chips that seem glamorous and european,
and even organic produce that fits into our budget.

this week we found fresh organic strawberries for 99 cents a pound!!!! i am in love. the downfall of this little german wonder is that you can’t find them everywhere, you have to bring your own bags (which i appreciate), and you have to pay for a cart (you get your money back when you return the cart). also, you can only use cash or debit, no credit. yay!! dave ramsey would approve. they don’t take manufacturer coupons, because they sell all of their own brands. we shop there first, because you won’t find everything you need there. but, you will find some great deals on some of the items on your list.

currently, jed does most of our grocery shopping. he says i always come back with some expensive fancy cheese or an unnecessary baked good. so not true, but who am i to get upset when the man wants to go to the grocery store? he’s on summer vacation, right? might as well make himself useful. we make a list, look through the grocery ads, collect the coupons, and then hit the stores.

i was in no way compensated or coerced to write this post. it was written purely out of love for aldi, and gratitude for the amazing 99 cent organic strawberries.

what is your grocery shopping strategy? do you visit a bunch of stores, or stick to one? clip coupons or search the ads? share your wisdom.

frugal friday (just barely) – finishing baby step 3

yesterday we took another HUGE step towards financial freedom. we finished dave ramsey‘s baby step 3!!! this means that not only are we debt free, but we also have 3 months of expenses saved in an emergency fund. i cannot express to you how free this makes me feel. it took ten months for us to get through the first three baby steps, but it has been an awesome journey. we have taken control of our finances and are able to give more than ever before.

here’s the thing – i am TERRIBLE with money. when i left home for college, i made one bad financial decision after another. i maxed out 8 credit cards, bought a brand new car i couldn’t afford, and spent whatever i wanted. i consolidated all of my debts into a big loan and paid on it for several years. while i was paying it off i opened up new credit cards at gap, banana republic, old navy, and victoria’s secret, then got a new visa and discover card for good measure. i was basically a disaster. i was always later with my rent, trying to explain myself to roommates, and completely unable to get it together.

in early 2006, i felt really convicted and overwhelmed by the way i was dealing with money. i again consolidated my debt and cut up all of my credit cards. by the time i married jed in 2008, i was completely debt free. jed was a different story. he still had a few credit cards, a major loan from his parents, and the dreaded student loans. still, i thought we were doing ok. we were very frugal throughout the first year of our marriage, and never used credit cards. but, we still had all of that debt hanging over our heads.

last year we were introduced to dave ramsey’s ideas by jed’s brother, sam. he and his wife michelle had taken control of their finances using dave’s plans, and were eager to share the program with us. i fought it. big time. i did not want a budget. i did not want to sacrifice to pay off “his” debt, when i had already worked so hard to pay off mine. one fateful weekend we were driving to houston and happened to listen to dave’s radio show. it was a “debt free friday” with people calling in to scream, “we’re debt free!!!”. i was hooked. we started the program the next week, and the rest is history. we have found such freedom.

if you are drowning financially, or even just struggling a little, go check out dave. his ideas are not rocket science, just the common sense that we try to hide from as we run up our credit card bills. i am not receiving any kind of compensation for this post, just trying to share the wealth.

i’m linking to:
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frugal friday – cash money honey

i am now starting my 4th month as a blogger, and i’m trying to find a focus for this thing. i added a tagline to the top – living free in Christ and free of debt. i’m starting this weekend with a frugal friday post about the 2nd part of that tagline. what does it mean to live debt free, to me? freedom.

i am terrible with money. terrible. my financial past is dark and scary. i fought this whole budget thing pretty hard, until i listened to the dave ramsey show one time. i was hooked. i am a free spirit and thought that a budget would make me feel trapped and fenced in. in fact, now that we are on a budget i feel more free than ever.

we operate on a cash system now. i carry a “financial peace university” wallet that came with cash envelopes for just this purpose. it was really difficult at first to get used to cash again. i mean, has anyone used it since they first got a credit or debit card? no, ma’am. here’s the crazy thing – when you use cash, you spend less. it is science, people. your pain receptors (in your brain) are triggered when you spend cash, but don’t feel a thing when you use a credit or debit card.

with the cash system we are using, we do our budget at the beginning of each month. we then go to the bank and pull out the cash. it goes into our envelopes, and makes sticking to the budget so easy. if all the dining out money is gone, we eat at home. if all the grocery money is spent, we make due with what we have already purchased. if my “mad money” has dwindled, i’ll have to delay the purchase of that cute new dress. self control is a good thing.

you would be amazed by the looks i get when i pull out cash. people are annoyed because it takes 30 seconds longer, cashiers think i’m crazy. that’s ok. we are taking control of our financial future, and it is ok if others think we are weird. we are weird. normal people are swimming in credit card debt, and we don’t want to be normal.

what are you doing to be frugal? what system does your house use? i’m so interested in finding out what other people are doing. share your wisdom, friends.

here is a link to some of dave ramsey’s budgeting software:


jed and i are on the road to financial freedom, and we have a few people to thank. thank you dave ramsey, sam and michelle (jed’s brother and his wife who told us about dave). after a year of hearing about sam and michelle paying off their debts, we finally listened to dave’s radio show. all it took was one hour before we drank the kool-aid.
in just four months of attacking our debt, we paid off $11,000 and became debt free. now we have over 2 months of expenses saved in an emergency fund and it feels amazing. i have never been good with money, and it feels fantastic to have no debt and a huge safety net. doing the total money makeover has been the best decision we’ve made since our wedding day.
dave’s total money makeover has 7 baby steps, and we are on step 3. this saturday we are going to see dave live at the potter’s house. our hope is that it will keep us inspired to finish the baby steps and reach true financial freedom.
you can check out dave’s full plan here: