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Have you ever lived paycheck to paycheck? If you’re nodding your head, you’re not alone — I’ve done it too. As of January 2019, as many as 78 percent of workers are in the same situation. One thing that helped to pull me out of the cycle involved learning how to budget my income correctly. While it’s not a foolproof solution, it can help keep your head above water while you work toward bigger and better things. Here are six of the budgeting tips I picked up along the way. Start by Writing Your Budget Down Keeping a budget isn’t tricky — unless you attempt to do it in your head. I don’t care how good you are with numbers. It takes forgetting one thing before you’re over your budget and scrambling to keep up with your bills. Write your budget down. Take an in-depth look at your income and your expenses — everything from bills and groceries to the money you spend on movie tickets and fast food. Account for everything that comes in, and everything that goes out. Just having it down on paper can help you keep track of everything, so you don’t make any mistakes or […]

The post 6 Family Budget Tips to Help You Start Saving appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Feeding a family is freaking expensive. The average cost of feeding a family of four like mine is nearly $300 every week. I’ve had weeks where I’ve doubled that. Now, we’re not counting special dinners or birthdays here — I’m just talking about regular, weekly grocery trips. When I was regularly spending more than $400 a week on groceries, I realized something had to change. Here are some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way to help reduce food costs at home. Meal Planning Honestly, I hated meal planning at first. It seemed like a waste of time, and I had a hard time sticking to it. Once I turned it into a habit, though, I can’t see myself doing anything else. Instead of wandering around the grocery store trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I plan out each meal before I ever head out the door. I figure out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the entire week, then that’s all that I buy. Meal planning makes it easier to craft home-cooked meals even on my busiest nights. Instead of staring into the fridge forlornly trying to figure out what I’m cooking, I’ve […]

The post These Tips Will Help to Reduce Food Costs at Home appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Choosing a school for your child can be like pulling teeth with a wet spaghetti noodle, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t give you a lot of options. I consider myself very lucky — I live in one of the best public school districts in the state and don’t have to shop around when it comes time for my oldest daughter to head to kindergarten. Unfortunately, a lot of parent’s aren’t as lucky, which is when private school becomes an option. Is sending your little one to a private school worth the cost? The Average Cost of Private School Before I delve into the pros and cons of private school, how much does education at one of these establishments cost? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the annual cost of private school for K-8 students is somewhere in the ballpark of $7770. Once your little ones get to high school, the price nearly doubles — $13,030 a year. This seems like a lot of money, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Public school is free, but your child isn’t guaranteed the best education unless you’re lucky enough to live in a district where all […]

The post Is Private School Worth the Cost for Your Child? appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Let me be real for a minute. Food is freaking expensive. The average cost of groceries for a family of four averages out to about $200 if you follow the four plans the FDA provides as a guide. When I realized I was spending more on groceries every month than my bills, I knew it was time for a change. Here are eight tips and tricks I learned along the way to help you slash your grocery bill without compromising your diet or living on nothing but ramen noodles. 1. Plan Your Weekly Menu How many times have you walked into the grocery store with no idea what you needed and just a vague idea of what you wanted to eat for the rest of the week? Stop shaking your head. I do it, and I know you’ve done it, too. This is a great way to spend a ton of money on food that you don’t need that will spoil in your fridge before you get around to eating it. Instead, take a few minutes to plan your weekly menu. Figure out what foods you want to have on hand for breakfasts and lunches, and choose what dinners you’re […]

The post What You Can Do to Help Slash Your Grocery Bill appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Who can honestly say they sat through “Marley and Me” without sobbing through a mini-pack of tissues? Dogs remain one of the top pets in America for good reason: puppy parents know they have an intelligent, loyal friend who’ll make little things like arriving home from work a cause for celebration. However, as much as our canine companions add to our lives, they do cost a pretty penny. While it may only cost a little bit to initially bring Rex home from the shelter, his parents still need to keep him in kibble — even if he weighs 10 times more at age 5 than he did at 5 months. Dogs love unconditionally, and they cannot understand when their human gives them away due to lack of financial resources. Head off future heartaches by fully understanding the costs of opening your arms and home to a new four-legged friend. What Are the Initial Costs? Bringing your new dog home involves paying the adoption fee, of course, but it also means stocking up ahead of time on food, poop-scoop tools, chew toys, leashes and bowls. The cost of adoption varies by geographic area and the pet’s age, but it primarily depends […]

The post How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Dog? appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Let’s be real here. Raising a kid from infancy to adulthood is freaking expensive. There’s no way around it. The average cost of raising a child for a middle-class family is $233,610, which is nearly a quarter of a million dollars over 18 years. Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor after seeing that number, I’ve got some tips for you to make baby financial planning a little bit easier. These are tips that I wish I’d read before I had my first child five years ago — but better late than never, right? You don’t need to have a quarter-million dollars in the bank before you have your little one. Here’s why. Look at Your Health Insurance While having a kid isn’t as expensive as raising one, it will still take a decent chunk out of your wallet if you don’t have good health insurance. A healthy natural birth with no complications can set you back upwards of $8,200, and that number goes up with the number of painkillers and other medical interventions required throughout the birthing process. Take a close look at your health insurance plan and see just how much is covered by your […]

The post 9 Ways to Make Planning for a Baby Financially Easier appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Hectic workweeks can make keeping the family — and yourself — well fed a bit stressful. Late nights and long commutes can make swinging through the nearest fast food drive-thru an appealing temptation. Doing so too often gets expensive, though — especially if it results in a need to buy bigger pants. Home-cooked meals aren’t only cheaper and healthier, but they also help you keep portion sizes in check. Whipping up your own meals provides the opportunity to experiment with which flavor blends you and your family adore most. Give these cheap, easy, healthy meals a try the next time you crave something homemade. You don’t need to be Emeril Lagasse to master them. For Vegetarians Vegetarian fajitas. By the time your tortillas heat in the oven, your spicy veggie toppings will be ready to go. Everyone uses peppers and onions when they make fajitas, but don’t hold back: Experiment with broccoli, corn, carrots — the possibilities are nearly endless. As an alternative to wrapping these vegetable delights in tortillas, you can also serve them over rice and beans or even lettuce for a fajita salad. Sprinkle with colby-jack cheese or vegan crumbles. Vegan pizza lunchables. Vegans also watching their […]

The post These Cheap, Easy Meals Will Make Your Workweek Easier appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Writing a budget is something they used to teach in high school, well before I made it to those hallowed halls. Along with shop and home economics classes, this life skill course went the way of the dodo in favor of teaching students how to regurgitate answers onto a standardized test. Don’t even get me started on THAT topic. My point is that high school students are graduating with everything they need to go to college — and none of the skills that will actually serve them throughout their adult lives. That’s why I’ve decided to tackle the concept of budgeting, and how incredibly important it is. I’ll walk you through the steps I followed to finally learn how to write a functioning budget for my household, as well as some tips and tricks that might help you along the way. WTF Is a Budget Anyway? Everyone has probably heard the term budget at least once in their lives, but what does it mean? To put it simply, a budget is merely a map of your income and your expenses. You write down how much money you have coming in, then plan the money you’ll be spending in the coming […]

The post The Incredible Importance of a Family Budget appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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Just like every mom, I believe my kiddos are the best in the world. But as much as I love my little yet rapidly growing bundles of joy, spending every minute of every day with the young ‘uns leaves me ready for a padded room and a funky jacket that buttons up the back. Blessedly, I’ve managed to avoid losing my mind by escaping to my office for a few hours every weekday. While I have the utmost respect for stay-at-home moms, I still cannot comprehend how they manage. To those without kids at home, considering heading to work as a reprieve sounds crazy, but trust me, hearing my four-year-old’s rendition of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen for the 4,500th time makes me miss the office elevator music. I’m grateful to be a working mom, and here’s why. A Little Peace and Quiet As I have two little ones often dashing around the house like a herd of elephants while screaming their tiny lungs out, silence, to me, truly is golden. I love getting into my car and tuning into my favorite Sirius station without tired tykes in the back whining, “Are we there yet?” My commute gives me […]

The post 10 Things to Be Grateful for as a Working Mom appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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We don’t live in the 1950s anymore. Being a mom and building a career are no longer mutually exclusive concepts. Unfortunately, society seems bent on making working moms feel guilty about putting their kids in day care so they can build their careers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of these chastisements: You’re not raising your kids, the day care is. Why’d you even bother having kids if you’re at work all the time? You should put your career on hold and be a stay-at-home mom instead. And on and on and on. Excuse my French, but these statements and any others like them are pure and utter bullshit, straight from the bull. I was in the same boat. I had an established career before my husband and I decided that we wanted to start a family. Sure, we were a two-income household, and he made enough that I could have stayed home with our new bundle of joy, but I hated — absolutely hated — the fact that I was automatically expected to abandon my career as soon as I became a mother. No matter what we do, there will always be naysayers who […]

The post Why You Need to Let Go of Your Working Mom Guilt appeared first on Mindfulness Mama.

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