My Meal Planning and Grocery Sale Preparation Process

When we first got married, I used to love couponing and shopping for good deals. Of course, we also lived in a bigger city and had a multitude of stores to choose from. AND I didn’t have children so it was easy for me to just run in a store pretty much any time I wanted to. When we moved to where we live now, we were at least a 30 minute drive away from the good stores. I tried to make it work for a while, but after a while it just got to be too much. Maybe it was when I had my home daycare and just couldn’t find the time to get there to shop, but at some point I just gave up trying to coupon and embraced Walmart’s “every day low prices”.

Fast forward to now. I am a stay at home mom. We live on one income, and we are expecting our fourth child. A few months ago we had our little family budget meeting, and my husband told me that I had to cut our grocery spending somehow. I wasn’t really sure where to even begin because I was already struggling to make what I thought was a low budget work for us. Even just getting to the store was a challenge for me. But I decided to work on it. I made the decision to say goodbye to Walmart, and begin shopping at actual grocery stores with sale cycles again. I also bought us a Sam’s Club membership and decided I would also tackle drugstores again, but I would only focus on one right now… CVS. So while it’s still not perfect, and it’s taken me a month or two to get back in my groove… I think I’m figuring it out again. I’ve already cut our grocery budget category down by more than half! Before we were budgeting $450/pay period for groceries. Now I budget $200 per pay period for my grocery trips. (Sam’s Club and Drugstores have a separate budget line now, and I’m in the process of deciding exactly how much these amounts should be. I’m in the gathering stages right now, and I’ll track my patterns over the past months to get a good idea.)

And we also now always have food. We don’t run out of things as easily, and I seem to always have a back-up of whatever the item might be… I have a small stash now of extras and things like Ranch Dressing, Ketchup, Dishwasher Tablets, Laundry Detergent, Pancake Mix, Shaving Cream, My favorite Lotion, etc. It’s also been really nice because there are some weeks that I don’t even have to grocery shop! I’m not even kidding! We have plenty of food, and there might not be anything on the sales list that we really need so we just skip it. This was the case one week when we went out of town in June and another week in July when we just wanted to wait and make a larger trip the following week instead.

I’m definitely not an extreme couponer. I only buy what we use and love. I only buy what’s on sale… at least for the most part. And it’s been working really well.

Today, I’ll share my planning and preparing strategies with you.

(My strategies and things I take into account might be a little different because I almost always have my kids in tow. So you can just take those kinds of tips into consideration when you are making YOUR plans.) Then, I’ll come back and share with you my actual shopping trips with you… what I buy, what I spend, and how I make it all work. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you get some inspiration.

Wunderlist App 
We use this app for some of our church lists, and I thought it would be great to have as a “shared grocery list” for Justin and I. It works out so well because both of us can add things to it and see it at any time on our phones. I also especially love those times where he runs to “get a few things” from the store, and I can see where’s he’s checked things off that I added to the list. It really makes my heart go pitter patter inside. 😀

Being real though, this is kind of my “catch-all” list for needed items instead of writing it down in random places or not writing it down at all and forgetting we need something. If I notice we are running low on laundry detergent or I see that we need poster board for a school project, I add it to our Wunderlist. I also made a Household Staples Sub-list and a Grocery Staples Sub-list which I can glance at to make sure we have our basics covered each week. Obviously this Grocery Staples list needs to be updates since our shopping style has changed dramatically in the past few months. (You can imagine how expensive my Walmart grocery bills were from purchasing all that.)

My Planning Process
1. I go to SouthernSavers.com, and make a grocery list based on the weekly sale ads. I’ve been using this website since my couponing days nearly ten years ago, and I love that Jenny pairs all of the applicable coupons with the actual items that are on sale. It makes things really easy! I also make a list for drugstore shopping. Winn Dixie and CVS are my preferred choices right now.

2. Print and clip any applicable coupons.

3. Write out a meal plan based on the sale items and what’s already in our fridge and pantry. I jotted down a quick plan (in messy handwriting) to give you some ideas, but most of what I planned to buy I knew that we would put up in the freezer for later actually. I like to plan the main parts like the shopping and the deals, and then I’m more laid back and “go with the flow” during the week based on how busy our days are and my moods and how I feel, which aren’t always predictable. Can anyone else relate? 😉

4. Check Wunderlist, and add any items we need that aren’t already on the sale lists. Usually, we we run out of things, they go on sale pretty soon after so it works out, but it’s not always the case.

5. Add any other meal components we need for the weekly meal plan to my shopping list.

6. Go back through the lists, and add up the total costs. It won’t be exact, but this way I can know about how much I will be spending before I even put anything in my shopping cart. You can see how I’ve kind of done this on the lists below. Of course, it’s not exact. Sometimes things are unavailable in stores, and sometimes there are extra deals that I stumble upon and decided to get. Also, I starred the items that are priced by pound because there’s no way to determine an exact cost for those ahead of time so I knew these would be added to my totals that I have shown written in pencil.

7. Go back through the lists and eliminate things we “don’t really need” from it if we are over-budget.

8. Print my lists, and organize my coupons. (Obviously, sometimes I change up the order of these steps. I really like to just add things or cross things off and make notes with pen or pencil once I’ve already printed my list.)

    

Getting Ready for Shopping Day
1. Gather my shopping lists, coupons, store loyalty cards, Extra Care Bucks for CVS if I have any from previous weeks, freezer bags for cold items, etc.

2. Grab my cash envelope wallet and system. Make sure I’ve gone to the bank and filled it based on what our budget allows so I’ll have some money to spend. This is really helping me stay on track with our budget.

3. Clean out my car and make room for the groceries. Right now, they mostly have to fit in my front seat because I have car seats on the two back rows, and that takes away all my trunk space. It’s especially difficult on Sam’s trip days, but we just make do with what we have right now. (When December comes, I don’t know what we’ll do with adding another car seat, but I’m praying about that for sure. Maybe I can find someone to keep the kids once a week, hire someone to shop for me, or maybe somehow God will bless us with a bigger vehicle. I’m not too worried. It will all work out.)

4. Prepare for the day with my littles. They are always with me, and I’m learning to embrace this and make it work for us. There was a time when one of my kids could NOT come with me because he had severe anxiety and meltdowns in stores. Now that he’s a little older, we are learning how to manage this a little better and be prepared for it. To prepare for the day, I fix water bottles, prepare sandwiches or grab snacks to have in the car. I make sure I have my Tula carrier for my squirmy toddler. I grab a bag of candy to use for good-behavior rewards. They each get to choose one piece to have after each store if they listened and behaved well. while we were shopping. If I had to stop shopping to discipline them or something, they lose their candy reward. I have only had to do this one time in the past month of shopping so it works like a charm! I’m not above bribery here, but I make it work for me.

5. Plan the order of stops to make based on location and practicality. Sometimes we plan to do something fun like go to Lynn Meadows or the park while we’re out, but we definitely need to do that before we make our big grocery store haul with all of our cold items. Planning ahead is definitely necessary.

Once these steps are completed, it’s time to hit the actual stores! You can see the breakdown of my actual shopping trips in those posts that will be coming soon.

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful! 

My Sam’s Club Shopping Trip 8/3/18

So, I’ll admit to you that I’m a nerd about some things, and I’m unashamed to say so. One thing about me you should know is that I’m a problem solver, and I want to do things the best way that I possibly can. I’m like an ultra-planner sometimes because I want to simplify a “system or process” as much as I possibly can for myself to make it easier for me down the road. Who knows if this is actually the case or not, but I do enjoy the process so I guess it’s alright. 😉

This post is a part of a series. If you missed any of the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here…
My Meal Planning & Shopping Preparation Process
My Winn Dixie Shopping Trip 8/3/18

My goal with shopping at Sam’s Club is to SAVE MONEY, not to spend more money. I know Sam’s is full of things that look so fun to buy… I saw a sectional on this trip that caught my attention. 😉 But that was an easy one for me to say no to. That’s not always the case. So I want to be really intentional with my planning process and my purchases here.

One thing I think that would make this easier for me is to only shop here once a month. The more often I go, the more often I will see things that will catch my eye and beg for me to buy them. Another thing that I think would make this easier for me is to know WHAT to buy and HOW MUCH of it… so that it will actually last us a full month. This part takes a little trial and error. I’ve been shopping more often than I’d like, but I think *maybe* I’ve finally got it down now! The things I bought in this trip are things that I think will last me at least a month. So you are here as my accountability. I’m not allowed to go back to Sam’s Club until September 5th. ;-D I think I’ll be just fine.

So you can see here that I tried to write down everything we purchased in various transactions and note how long those products lasted us at our house to get a better picture of how often I should buy those items. I have a bit more to do to get this down to a science, but I planned at least this trip out for now, and it works. I was totally guessing on much of this in June and July, and basically starting from scratch with a lot of these items too. Obviously, I won’t have to buy the same condiments every month, and some of these were just the “fun things” like the Chicken Enchilladas or the Pulled Pork.

For the most part, we are using Sam’s Club to buy things in bulk that we use for meal planning and prepping. We like to have simple, healthy meals prepped and divided into containers in the fridge so that we can easily grab them whenever we need to. This saves me from cooking on those busy nights too! We keep the meals really simple, and it’s the same basic components in each one. I try also to meal-plan and cook some other recipes and dinners throughout the week to give us the variety we crave, but these are always available to us, and are pretty much always the same.

Here are my Sam’s Club purchases all loaded into my car in my freezer bags. I have three bags here, and I actually really probably need even more than this – or a big cooler or something. I try to shop Sam’s Club, drugstores, and Winn Dixie all the same trip usually so the freezer bags are a must to keep things from getting too hot in my car.

And here’s what all I bought at this trip displayed for you to see on my kitchen table!

Here’s the breakdown…

I purchased…

3 bags of Frozen Broccoli Florets – $20.04 for all 3

1 bag of Frozen Edamame – $7.98
*My kids love this so I added it to my cart, and it should last us a while, probably longer than a month.

1 bag of Garlic Chicken & Veggie Pasta $8.98
*A gal I follow on Instagram said this was really good, so I decided to try it.

1 box of Mandarin Oranges cups 24 pk. – $7.98
*I love to have these in the fridge available for kids’ snacks or to put with meals. I really like to add in fruit with all of their meals to give them something on their plates that I know they will eat.

1 box of Angus frozen burgers 12 pk. – $14.98
*We love these, and this has been our go-to cheat meal lately. I actually cook them in the microwave too, and they taste JUST AS good as if we had grilled them. Not even kidding! They’re great!

1 box of Digiorno pizzas 3 pk – $12.98
*I got these for nights where I just need a break from cooking or we’re ready for another cheat meal. Having this kind of thing available keeps us from eating out and craving foods that aren’t necessarily in our budget or our diets. 🙂

1 box of Chewy bars 60 ct. – $8.98
*I got these to add to my kids’ snack box for on-to-go snacks, and I’m hoping that since there are 60 in this box that it will last us a really long time! I’ll let you know how that goes.

Powdered Sugar – $4.48
*I needed more powdered sugar for an upcoming recipe, and it’s not one of those things I see go on sale often. I decided it was worth it to buy the big pack of it, and it should last me QUITE some time since I don’t bake that often.

1 large can of Green Beans – $3.37
*They didn’t have the box of 12 canned green beans in store today, so I got this instead. Sometimes we just like a change up of veggies in our meal-prep boxes.

1 package of Butter 5 pk. – $11.98
*We are running low on butter, and since I didn’t place an Azure order this month I figured I better stock up. Butter usually freezes pretty good too.

Mustard 2 pk – $4.99
*Mustard seems to last a really long time in our house, but it was on our list of things needed so I went ahead and grabbed it. These should last us even longer.

3 packs of Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs – $14. 93, $15.50, and $15.39
*This is our protein of choice for our meal preps so I needed to get enough to last us the full month. I hope I did my calculations correctly.

1 pack of Hormel fully cooked, microwavable bacon – $11.98
*Who doesn’t love bacon…. and bacon without the mess is even better!

Total Spent $175.04

Sam’s Club Scan & Go App 
I wanted to share with you about this app in case you haven’t heard about it. It allows you to personally scan your own items when you are in the store and bypass the lines. Yes, it does take away the opportunity to speak to a cashier and have that personal interaction, but I’m an introvert and I like to get going so it’s good for me. I also REALLY love that I can see how much I’m spending before I actually spend it, which allows me to put things back if I’m going over budget. Win win for me!

If you missed any of the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here.
My Meal Planning & Shopping Preparation Process
My Winn Dixie Shopping Trip 8/3/18

Next up, I’ll share my latest shopping trip to CVS.

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

My CVS Shopping Trip 8/3/18

CVS and drugstores everywhere…. the land of FREE!
Before I even looked at the ad and made my list this week, I knew I had $10 in FREE MONEY, aka “Extra Care Bucks” to spend that I earned in a previous week. Even if I didn’t shop the sale ad at all, I could use this like a gift card to buy almost anything in the store (some exclusions apply of course). That’s reason enough to shop and drugstores and “do the drugstore game”.

This post is a part of a series. If you missed any of the earlier posts in this series, you can find them here…
My Meal Planning & Shopping Preparation Process
My Winn Dixie Shopping Trip 8/3/18
My Sam’s Club Shopping Trip 8/3/18

The goal is to only buy sale items and to let these Extra Care Bucks (or ECBs) roll over to use on your next transaction. Sometimes you can make that next transaction the very same day…. like one right after another. I’ve done as many as 4 in a row before, but usually I try to stick to one or two just because it’s much simpler and requires less thought. (Remember, I usually have my littles with me when I shop and thinking clearly isn’t always at an optimum level) I do always try to be courteous of other shoppers when I do this too. The cashiers usually don’t mind because they are used to couponers coming in and taking advantage of their sales and rewards. But If there’s a line of people behind me, I will simply tell the cashier I have more transactions, and let those people go in front of me. It gives me a few extra minutes to gather my thoughts and my coupons for the next transaction as well. You can just imagine how annoying it would be when you’re in a rush and just ran into grab one thing and then you get behind “the couponer” with multiple transactions. Don’t be THAT couponer. Be courteous of others always. But have fun, and get your good deals too. 😉

It take a little more planning to do these consecutive transactions, but when you become a professional couponer (wink wink) , you can do it too. It’s ESPECIALLY fun the week of Thanksgiving! My sister and I have done this together several years when we are together for the holidays, and it’s always fun to see all the deals we get. Lots of our Christmas stocking stuffers have come from these trips.

 

One of the things about drugstore deal shopping, is that it’s less predictable than grocery store sale shopping. This is because of the magical coupon printer that you see usually close to the entrance of the store. You scan your loyalty card when you enter, and it prints coupons for you based on your previous purchases. Sometimes they are really good and high value, which will make you alter your plans a little. Sometimes it’s just a bonus coupon of something you’ve already planned to buy which is also exciting! And the good news is that these are Store Coupons so they can be combined with any Manufacturer Coupons that you brought with you to shop on the very same products for additional savings!

Here’s my CVS list for the week. I add to my list anything that might be of interest to me for that week. I try to go ahead and plan our what I want to buy and in the best order, but sometimes the coupons that print from that magical coupon printer will change those plans. 

I only planned to purchase the three packs of diapers, but I did check out the other deals while I was in store as well. I couldn’t find any of the Honest Baby products, but I did decide to go ahead and purchase the Oral-B toothbrushes. The pack I chose was $4.99 and with getting $4 ECB back, that’s like getting it for $0.99! (We had some sickness in our household this past week so it was time to switch out the toothbrushes anyway to be safe.) I just decided to add this to my diaper deal transaction because I didn’t want to have to find something else to purchase. I’ll just save my ECBs for next week.

Here are all of the coupons that printed for me from the magical coupon printer at the entrance!

And here’s the one that I knew I could use today… score!

So here’s the breakdown of this shopping trip! It’s a pretty simple one with only one transaction. 

I Started with $10 ECB to spend

I Purchased…

3 packs of Pampers diaper jumbo packs $9.99 each
(Deal: Spend $30 in participating products, get back $10 ECB.)

1 – 2pk. Oral-B toothbrushes – $4.99
(Deal: Buy any Oral-B 2 or 4 pack, get back $4 ECB.)

Total: $37.20
Coupons: $3.00 ($3/15 diaper coupon) Usually, I would have additional manufacturer coupons for diapers and additional savings, but I didn’t this week.
ECB used: $10
New Total: $24.20
Saved Today: $21.40 (49%) *Based on retail prices of items without the deals and sales*
Earned Today: $10 ECB + $4 ECB + another coupon for 25% off a single item
(Some couponers like to think of it this way… It’s like getting it all for $10.20 if you subtract my earned savings!)

There ya go! This week at CVS was pretty simple and easy. Maybe next week will be a little more eventful to share with you. 😉

If you’ve missed any of the posts in this series, you can find them here.
My Meal Planning and Grocery Sale Shopping Preparation Process
My Winn Dixie Shopping Trip 8/3/18
My Sam’s Club Shopping Trip 8/3/18

Whatever you do, Let’s Make a Plan to be more Purposeful! 

How I Organize our Budget

We are in a series where I’m sharing my favorite tips and strategies with you that help me to be more purposeful in my life, with my family, and in our household. Purposeful Planning is less about planners and planning systems and more about finding intentional, practical ways to help you do what you do better. It comes from all of the hats we wear as moms, wives, and Christian women. I’ve realized that I do actually have a lot of systems and routines that have come to work really well for me, and I thought maybe it would be helpful to share those things with you – because who knows? They might work really well for you too! So here we are with My Purposeful Planning Tips & Strategies!

This tip would be in the Financial Category… After struggling with another budgeting system and it not working for me the way I wanted to, I decided to just create my own. I’m so glad that I did.

I’ve found a Budgeting System that is working great for us, so I thought I might share it with you in case it might be helpful to you too!

First, I created a “Bill Pay Checklist”, and I use one of these sheets per pay period.
1. List all of your bills that are due each month, along with their average amounts and due dates. (You’ll need to update this as soon as you find out the exact amount each month.)
2. Divide up this list based on when your bills and payments are due each month.
3. Make up a “Pay Period Budget” for each paycheck your family receives. Decide where the money from each check will go before you even spend it.
4. It may be smart to call companies and ask about changing due dates for your bills to make them work better for you.


Currently, we get paid twice per month so I use two of these each month.

The second page of this system is “The Expense Tracker”. What I love about this page is that it also allows me to note the amount of money left in each budget category – kind of like you would do for cash envelopes, although we don’t personally use cash for our spending at this time. This page will show you –not where your money is supposed to go– but where it actually went. It would even be helpful to highlight the various categories to see how much you are spending in each. I’ve done this from time to time because it really helps us to see any problem areas or where we might need to tighten up a little bit.

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Budget Organization Printables! 

This download includes my Bill Pay Checklist and Expense Tracker. You can use these monthly or for each individual pay check to create a simple budget and keep track of where your money is going and how much you have left in each category as you go!  

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    My Purposeful Planning Tips & Strategies

    The more I think and pray about my Purposeful Planning, the more I am convinced that it’s less about planners and planning systems and more about just being more and more intentional and purposeful and having that growth mindset no matter what it is that you are working on. I’ll always love the planner part of it though, because it gives me a place to keep everything organized, but truthfully –  it’s not always pretty, and it’s full of personal information, so I can’t always share it with the world.

    For me, Purposeful Planning comes in the form of being a wife, mothering, homeschooling, church leadership, helping to run a CrossFit gym, and any other hats that I tend to put on either seasonally or just in life in general. I’ve realized that I actually do have a lot of systems and routines that have come to work really well for me, and usually I realize this most when something occurs and those systems aren’t able to be carried out as effectively as they once were (I’m lookin’ at you, first trimester!).

    But I thought maybe it would be helpful to share those things with you – the things I do that work really well for me – because who knows? They might work really well for you too!

    So here are the types of things you’ll be seeing from me…

    • Mom Tips
    • Homeschooling Helps
    • Spiritual Disciplines
    • Household Management Strategies
    • Health & Fitness Ideas
    • And whatever else comes to mind that I think might be beneficial to you!

      These may not be real lengthy posts, as I’m just going to share one tip or thing at a time, and I’ll just post them as often as I can. They may be somewhat random, but I’ll try to tag and categorize them appropriately so that you’ll be able to find them easily in my archives. I might do a big recap post at the end of this series to compile them all together somehow. We’ll see!

      And I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you! What do you want to know? Is there anything that interests you or an area where you’re struggling? Maybe I can help you find that solution you’re looking for! That would be such a joy and an honor for me! Let me know!

      And whatever you do – let’s make a plan to be more purposeful! 

    Strides of Increase, Week 5

    As you know, my word of the year is Increase. When I think about the word Increase, I think about personal growth, getting better, being intentional and purposeful. I wanted to post a regular update of sorts of how I’m using my Word of the Year in a personal way. Sure, it’s easy to choose a word to claim over your year, but if you do nothing with it, it’s really just a word.

    So that is what I’m going to do with my word, Increase, and I’m going to bring you along on this journey with me. Hopefully it will inspire you to do the same with the word you’ve chosen and your own New Year’s Resolutions & Goals. Apply it to your life in a personal way and make some positive changes.

    So how am I striving to INCREASE this year and this week specifically?
    (Personally, Professionally, & in my Family)

    • I’m working to build worthwhile habits.
      January’s habits were…
      Re-establishing the Habit of Working Out – I accomplished this.
      Establish the Habit of Reading Aloud to my Children – I wasn’t perfect at this, but we did make strides. We’ve come to enjoy it. They especially like it when we have a special snack or treat while we read like chocolate milk. 😉
      Establish the Habit of Daily Reading, Personally – I didn’t read every single day so I wouldn’t say that it’s a habit yet, but I did read one complete book and made some progress in a few others as well.
      February’s habits are…
      No Added Sugars – I felt like this was the next step in my journey towards health. I have a major sweet tooth, and while I do eat clean “most” of the time, there are a few tweaks I needed to make such as cleaning up my coffee, eliminating the “flavored waters” I drink that contain all the Aspartame, and other things I have on occasion like ketchup, salad dressing, dairy products, etc. I know that sugar-addiction is a real thing, and I would just like to eliminate this for myself and my children, in time. While I know that there will be some days that I do consume sugars (such as my birthday), I’m just tracking and seeing how many days I can possibly do without.
      -Being Playful – I am prioritizing doing fun things with my children in each and every day, even if it’s just joining them in what they are playing. I have a deep desire to just be present with them. I already do this, where I just soak up all the little laughs and try to memorize the details of their faces or how they form sentences and tell me stories. I can’t tell you how often I just watch and listen to them playing. It brings me so much joy! But I also want to do this in a way that is meaningful to them – where they know that Mom was not too busy to play with them and do fun things. I take this job of mothering very seriously, and I want to always be available to shepherd their hearts when they need it.
      -Drink my water – I already mentioned that I’m eliminating added sugars. This means the aspartame that was in my Crystal Light- typed flavored waters that were my go-to beverage. It’s unfortunate, really, because I find that without flavor, I don’t drink fluids much at all and find myself really thirsty. I’ve used this as an excuse to keep purchasing and consuming the flavored varieties, even though I knew they weren’t the best option for me. So now I feel like I really need to track how much water I’m drinking so that I am just more mindful of it. So far, I’ve found that I like room-temperature bottled water the best.
    • I want to GROW as a Christian and as a person in general.
      -I am loving Priscilla Shirer’s study called Discerning the Voice of God. At a time in my life where I feel so conflicted on so many things, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
      -I also enjoyed watching Lisa Rippy’s videos of Financial Absolutes this week – It was full of practical advice of financial disciplines, but they were all from the Bible. I want to go back and watch her previous videos as well. She is a Facebook friend of mine that I’ve been following for some time now. I don’t remember who recommended her to me first, but I love what she’s doing with Interior Inspirations. She’s a very inspiring woman of God.
    • Celebrate the wins & Focus on the Positive. 
    • I want to build my blog and expand to new territories of influence.
      My blog is transitioning to Purposeful Planning soon. I’m also recognizing relationships outside of my blog, home, and church that I have opportunities just to minister to people and be who I am.
    • GROW my Platform. I’ve been seeking God about what it is that He would have me share with my readers and my social media followers. There is a challenge this month on the topic of Self-Care, as well as a Facebook group to dive deeper into this topic with my readers.
    • Work on and Build each relationship. To do this, I am studying the personality types and love languages of each of those in my immediate family. I am reading and thinking about how to create a life-giving home. I want to better understand, love, and serve those closest to me.
    • Focus on hearts & character. These will be things we will focus on more in our home school and home-life in general. I will strive to be more like Jesus in my mothering and as a wife. Right now I am just focusing on being present with my family and children.So these are the ways that I am personally working towards INCREASE in my personal, professional, and family life. Now, go take your Word of the Year, and make a purposeful plan to bring about positive change in your own life. That’s what it’s all about!Ya’ll have a great week! Go make a plan to be purposeful!

      Look for these posts this week from me in our Self-Care Challenge:
      How to Care for Your Spiritual Well-Being
      How to Care for Your Physical Health
      Letting Go of Fear
      Just Do It

       

       

       

       

       

    Strides of Increase, Week 4

    As you know, my word of the year is Increase. When I think about the word Increase, I think about personal growth, getting better, being intentional and purposeful. I wanted to post a regular update of sorts of how I’m using my Word of the Year in a personal way. Sure, it’s easy to choose a word to claim over your year, but if you do nothing with it, it’s really just a word.

    So that is what I’m going to do with my word, Increase, and I’m going to bring you along on this journey with me. Hopefully it will inspire you to do the same with the word you’ve chosen and your own New Year’s Resolutions & Goals. Apply it to your life in a personal way and make some positive changes.

    So how am I striving to INCREASE this year and this week specifically?
    (Personally, Professionally, & in my Family)

    • I’m working to build worthwhile habits.
      -Re-establishing the Habit of Working Out
      I worked out every day this week, except Wednesday. I even made my morning skill-practice sessions. We’ve got a good routine going now.
      -Establish the Habit of Reading Aloud to my Children
      I didn’t read to my children as many times as I would have liked to, but we still did some. I didn’t take the time to photo document the times we did though.
      Establish the Habit of Daily Reading, Personally 
      This week I read Reading People by Anne Bogel through chapter 6. It’s not much, but at least it’s progress. I think I can easily finish this book this week if I prioritize it.

      I’ll be working on new habits each month and tracking them in my planner. Next month starts three new habits and trackers for me.

       

       

    • I want to GROW as a Christian and as a person in general.
      I am loving Priscilla Shirer’s study called Discerning the Voice of God. At a time in my life where I feel so conflicted on so many things, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

      Would yall just look at that sweet little hand trying to “color” here?
    • Celebrate the wins & Focus on the Positive.
      This week I received photo prints in the mail that I had ordered and added them to my Happy Planner. My Happy Planner just got Happier!
       
    • I want to build my blog and expand to new territories of influence.
      My blog is transitioning to Purposeful Planning soon. There will be a challenge this month on the topic of Self-Care, as well as a Facebook group to dive deeper into this topic with my readers.
    • GROW my Platform. I’ve been seeking God about what it is that He would have me share with my readers and my social media followers.
    • Work on and Build each relationship. To do this, I am studying the personality types and love languages of each of those in my immediate family. I am reading and thinking about how to create a life-giving home. I want to better understand, love, and serve those closest to me. 

       

    • Focus on hearts & character. These will be things we will focus on more in our home school and home-life in general. I will strive to be more like Jesus in my mothering and as a wife.

      So these are the ways that I am personally working towards INCREASE in my person, professional, and family life. Now, go take your Word of the Year, and make a purposeful plan to bring about positive change in your own life. That’s what it’s all about!

      Ya’ll have a great week! Go make a plan to be purposeful!

      Look for these posts this week from me:
      Discover Your Passions (with Free Printables!)
      Determine Your Core Values (with Free Printables!)
      Letting Go of Perfection
      How to “Sabbath” (with Free Printable!)

       

       

       

       

       

       

    Track Where Your Time is Going (with FREE Printable!)

    In a financial budget when you are trying to evaluate whether or not you have “room in the budget” to add something new, what do you do? You might take time to look and see where your money is actually going to be sure your budget is accurate or if changes need to be made.

    The same can be done with our time. The only difference here is that all of have the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day. I’ve also created a worksheet for you to create a a “Time Budget“, but it’s important to see “where our time is actually going” before we can tell it where we want it to go. Make sense?

    So I’ve created a Daily Time Tracker for you. Print as many copies as you need as each of your days may look a little different, depending on your obligations. It’s important to write down what you are ACTUALLY doing during that time, not what you usually do or want to be doing.

    You may be surprised to find some extra margin time in there to do something you really love – the time you spent perusing Facebook or watching a T.V. show, perhaps? I know that when I first did this, I was surprised to see how much multi-tasking I was doing when I had to write in many many tasks on a line and even scribble things in the margins of the page. It really gave me a detailed view of how I was spending my time, and I’ve been able to make some changes to it so that I’m spending my time more wisely now. I hope you will be enlightened by this as well. Go ahead an do it for a week so that you can have an accurate view when you get ready to work on your Time Budgets soon.

    Get your FREE Daily Time Tracker! 

    We all have the same 24 hours, but it’s important that we can see “Where our Time is Actually Going” so that we can be strategic in “Telling it Where to Go.” This FREE Time Tracker will help you to do just that! 

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

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      Strides of Increase, Week 3

      As you know, my word of the year is Increase. When I think about the word Increase, I think about personal growth, getting better, being intentional and purposeful. I wanted to post a regular update of sorts of how I’m using my Word of the Year in a personal way. Sure, it’s easy to choose a word to claim over your year, but if you do nothing with it, it’s really just a word.

      So that is what I’m going to do with my word, Increase, and I’m going to bring you along on this journey with me. Hopefully it will inspire you to do the same with the word you’ve chosen. Apply it to your life in a personal way and make some positive changes.

      So how am I striving to INCREASE this year and this week specifically?
      (Personally, Professionally, & in my Family)

      • I’m working to build worthwhile habits.
        -Re-establishing the Habit of Working Out
        With sick kiddos and snow days this week, I missed my morning “Bonus Work” gym sessions, but I did make 4 workouts this week so I’m okay with that.

        -Establish the Habit of Reading Aloud to my Children
        We read several days this week. Layten also brought me a Playstation Game case for me to “read” to her one day, so at least I know that she’s enjoying our read aloud time. I took a few pics to document the books we read.

        This one was fun because Layten has learned how to say “apple”, and there are apples on literally every page.

        Establish the Habit of Daily Reading, Personally 
        This week I read Stronger than the Strugger by Havilah Cunnington, chapter 1 and Reading People by Anne Bogel through chapter 4.

      • I want to GROW as a Christian and as a person in general.
        In addition to my habit of reading the One Year Bible, this week I began my first supplemental study of the year – Priscilla Shirer’s study Discerning the Voice of God. It’s already SO GOOD! (And the video sessions are available free right now through LifeWay if you want to get a book a join me!)

        Would yall just look at that sweet little hand trying to “color” here?
      • Celebrate the wins & Focus on the Positive.
        I’m doing this by memory-keeping in my Happy Planner, but here is some photo documentation of a few things…

        A Moment that they are playing well together… definitely cause for celebration!
        Lawson lost his very first tooth! Literally about an hour after we noticed it was loose, he pulled it himself. I hope they are all this easy!

        Justin competed in the Hometown Throwdown CrossFit competition near us this weekend. He and his partner placed 5th in the RX male division. He had about 8 of our CrossFit members come out to support him, plus his family of course.
      • I want to build my blog and expand to new territories of influence.
        My blog is transitioning to Purposeful Planning soon. There will be a challenge this month on the topic of Self-Care, as well as a Facebook group to dive deeper into this topic with my readers.
      • GROW my Platform. I’ve been seeking God about what it is that He would have me share with my readers and my social media followers.
      • Work on and Build each relationship. To do this, I am studying the personality types and love languages of each of those in my immediate family. I am reading and thinking about how to create a life-giving home. I want to better understand, love, and serve those closest to me.

      • Focus on hearts & character. These will be things we will focus on more in our home school and home-life in general. I will strive to be more like Jesus in my mothering and as a wife.
        This little fella is a “drink snatcher.” I’m guilty of usually being a little possessive over my drinks, but Daddy reminded me that one day I will miss having a little boy to come a snatch my drinks from me. #Perspective

        So these are the ways that I am personally working towards INCREASE in my person, professional, and family life. Now, go take your Word of the Year, and make a purposeful plan to bring about positive change in your own life. That’s what it’s all about!

        Ya’ll have a great week! Go make a plan to be purposeful!

        More photos from the week… 

        Playing “Astronauts” by laying their car seats down in the kitchen and using a slinky for a seat belt…. Love their imaginations!


        Justin and his workout partner… I love his game face!


         

      Strides of Increase, Weeks 1 & 2

      As you know, my word of the year is Increase. I am so excited for this word God has given me and all He has in store for us this year! When I think about the word Increase, I think about personal growth, getting better, being intentional and purposeful. When I read the definition the words Intensity, Expand, Grow, and Swell stand out to me.

      As inspired by Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com, I wanted to post a regular update of sorts of how I’m using my Word of the Year in a personal way. Sure, it’s easy to choose a word to claim over your year, but if you do nothing with it, it’s really just a word. That’s why I personally love when I hear that some have chosen words like Intentional, Purposeful, or Grow – because these are words that signify that there will be some actual work and action put behind the sentiment. I sure hope that there is and that those who choose words like this, as well as others, are able to use them to make actual changes in their lives and see a positive difference.

      So that is what I’m going to do with my word, Increase, and I’m going to bring you along on this journey with me. Hopefully it will inspire you to do the same with the word you’ve chosen. Apply it to your life in a personal way and make some positive changes.

      So how am I striving to INCREASE this year?
      (Personally, Professionally, & in my Family)

      • I’m working to build worthwhile habits. The 3 habits I am focusing on for the month of January are Workouts, Personal Reading, and Reading to my Children.
        I am working to re-establish the habit of working out and building that back into my routine after taking some time off with pregnancy complications and my miscarriage last month. This has been going well so far this month. I’ve lost some of my strength and abilities from taking a month off, which is pretty frustrating, but I’m challenged and excited to keep going and reach more goals in this area.
        I really love to read, but it’s one of those things that will fall between the cracks if I don’t make specific time for it. I have no specific goal as far as how much I read per day, but I’m trying to read 12 books this year so a book a month is the pace for that. You will most likely see benefits from this as the information I’m taking in is usually what comes out in my writing as well. Currently I’ve been re-reading The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, The Life-Giving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson, and Reading People by Anne Bogel. I read whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment.
        I really want my children to develop of love for learning and for reading. Currently, I have a kindergarten who reads really well but lacks confidence. I want to encourage him in this, and I want all of my children to see that reading can be a beautiful thing. It’s one of the things I want them to look back on our homeschooling years and remember fondly, but it’s not something I’ve been so great at prioritizing in the past.
      • I want to GROW as a Christian and as a person in general. These things are already established habits for me, but I will continue in my daily readings in the One Year Bible and strategic prayer and journaling. I’ve also added in handwriting scriptures when something jumps out at me, which really I’ve always done as well. I just ordered the Bible study book Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, which will be my first supplemental study that I will do this year. It’s an online study made available through Lifeway, I believe. The video portions will be sent via email, and I will do the study portion throughout the week. I also love to listen to podcasts while I fold laundry or clean up the kitchen (it makes those tasks a bit more enjoyable too – try it!). This week I listened to “I’m Glad it Happened” by Elevation Church Podcast. Sooo good! There’s so much about this past year that I would’ve never wished upon myself or on anyone, but I can honestly say now that if God gets the glory from it and there’s a purpose in it, I’m glad it happened. Here’s a quote that I actually paused the podcast to stop and write down…
        “I’m not nervous, anxious, stressed out, maxed out… I know how this ends. God is going to get some glory out of everything I’ve gone through. The more I’ve gone through, the greater the glory. I’m glad about it. I’m not glad about the pain. I’m glad that in the pain, there is a purpose. I cried enough about it. I spent enough time wishing and praying it would go away. But now I’m standing here with my praise intact and in my right mind. I’m glad about it. I’m glad it happened.”

      • Celebrate the wins & Focus on the Positive. Sometimes it’s so easy to get stuck in the negatives and have a pity party. Been there. Done that. I am memory-keeping and journaling in my planner and noting the positive things. I also really love to write answered prayers in my prayer journal. I also have this picture in my head that I stumbled across a while back. It’s a framed poster, a beautiful one, with handwritten answered prayers. It was gorgeous, and I’d love to recreate it to hang somewhere in my home someday. Here’s a similar one that I found on Etsy to give you a visual.

      • I want to build my blog and expand to new territories of influence. When I first wrote this down as one of my goals, I didn’t exactly know what I meant by it, but I’ve already seen this one begin to play out. My blog has expanded to Purposeful Planning, which will launch on Patreon tomorrow, January 15th, as well as Purposeful Planning on Instagram. With that, my territory and people that I am able to influence has definitely seen some Increase. This is exciting, and I pray that I am able to use that for God’s glory and not my own.
      • GROW my Platform. I’ve been seeking God about what it is that He would have me share with my readers, my patrons, and my Instagram followers. Currently, there is a Self-Care Challenge on Patreon, and I will most-likely be posting soon on the blog about how to create a life-giving home, as well as other intentional and hopefully inspiring posts like this one.
      • Work on and Build each relationship. To do this, I am studying the personality types and love languages of each of those in my immediate family. I am reading and thinking about how to create a life-giving home. I want to better understand, love, and serve those closest to me.
      • Focus on hearts & character. These will be things we will focus on more in our home school and home-life in general. I will strive to be more like Jesus in my mothering and as a wife.

        So these are the ways that I am personally working towards INCREASE in my person, professional, and family life. Now, go take your Word of the Year, and make a purposeful plan to bring about positive change in your own life. That’s what it’s all about!