Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Budget Binder

Today I'm here to share about my budgeting binder! I wrote about my envelope system HERE. I started my budget with the new year, but really any time is a great time to begin! I personally use THIS to budget. It's a great starting point and you can change it to fit your needs. Once you have your budget figured out, you are ready to make your binder!




I started by buying a 3'' binder. When I began I used a smaller size, but realized with all my receipts I would need something larger. I printed out a quick label, and you can download it as well by clicking on the picture. 
Inside my binder I have a pouch where I keep everything I need for budgeting and bill paying. Inside my pouch I keep a supply of stamps, envelopes, pens, a small stapler, sticky notes, and my budget notepad. 
After my supply pouch, are my binder dividers. The first two dividers are my bill schedule and fixed monthly bills. 
                         
Inside each of these is a bill schedule document. One is for my fixed monthly bills (mortgage, phone, car payment, cable & internet, etc.) and the other is for variable bills (water, gas, electricity, etc.).  I fill in all my bills that are due and their due date, and check them off each month I pay them. This is super handy so I never forget to pay a bill. We were constantly forgetting to pay our parents for our phone bills (we stay on our parent's plans, it's WAY cheaper than getting our own), and now we always remember each month. 
You can click on the above picture to go to the site where I found these. 


Then I have my credit & loan accounts listed. 

 
We have LOTS of student loans to pay, so I filled out one of these for each one. 
It helps me keep track of how much we've paid and how much we have left to pay, as well as interest rates and other important info. 


Then medical expenses...
Lastly, an "All Other" tab. 
Currently I just have my "additional income" list, where I can list any additional money we bring in for various reasons. Then when I budget for the month, I can take the additional money we have into account .
In addition to the things I listed above, I also have clear page protectors in between each divider. I use these to put any receipts we have. This keeps them neat and not falling out of various pockets. This has been the best system for me so far. 
 
And that's it! That is everything I have in my budget binder. I've included a PDF of my binder cover and dividers if anyone would like to use them. Just click any of the pictures above to download the PDFs.  Enjoy!

Do you follow a monthly budget?
What is your favorite thing to spend your money on? Mine is my student loans. I just love it so much. HA. But really, I like to go out to eat with Drew. 
Am I the only one still paying off student loans?
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Envelope System

Often the new year comes with resolutions being made, many times forgotten within just a couple of weeks. This year, I decided to really stick to a budget. Before we were married, Drew and I took a Dave Ramsey class and I have always made a budget on my computer. We never really stuck with it. I decided that this year I wanted to try using cash envelopes, and really stick to our budget.

After Christmas, I searched around to find a cash envelope system that I could carry with me. Most of what I found online were super expensive or just plain ugly, so I finally settled on one of Dave Ramsey's options.  It wasn't too expensive, and it seemed like it would fit my needs. 

I received it a few days after ordering (thanks, Amazon Prime!) and was so excited to start using it. It had enough envelopes for me to use daily, a note pad in the middle, a place for cards and a spot for my checkbook. 

Unfortunately, After just a few days of using this wallet, I was already having trouble with it. My first problem was that I couldn't stick my loose change in the envelopes. I had to all change from each envelope into one vinyl change pouch, which I didn't like. I wanted to keep all the change separate, but there was no way for this with the wallet. 

My next problem I had almost immediately was with the envelopes themselves. I hadn't even been using them for one full month when they started tearing. 

 Plus, I had almost used up one entire side with my writing.
 Finally, the wallet wouldn't stay shut. It needed a clasp or button or something to keep it secure, as it was always opening up in my purse. I knew it just wasn't going to work out. So I started searching for a different option.  After looking at lots of different budgeting wallets, I found Jennifer's Etsy shop. I looked around and was relieved to find exactly what I was looking for! I wanted envelopes that had zippers so they could hold cash AND change, but I also wanted them to be clear so that I could see what was inside. Jennifer's wallets fit all of these parameters, while also being completely adorable! Jennifer's line of wallets are also much more affordable than some of the other options on Etsy, which I very much appreciated.

After I placed my custom order with Jennifer, she kept me up-to-date on how things where going, and even let me make changes as time went on. I had some reservations about having white on a wallet (I cannot have anything white, I get it dirty in no time!) and she explained that she uses vinyl, so it is very easy to clean!

After a very short time, my box arrived. I was so excited to open it and start using my new wallet! To my surprise, Jennifer had wrapped it beautifully.


After admiring the packaging, I quickly started comparing the two wallets before changing everything over.

As you can see, Jennifer's wallet is a bit bigger, but also MUCH MUCH cuter! 
I chose the Aqua chevron, and the wallets are now coming with a clasp closure, which is a much better way of keeping the wallet shut!




On the inside cover, it has three pockets to use for cards. I don't have very many (I don't use credit cards) so I have two in each pouch. They fit perfectly! 

For my envelopes, I chose to have one each for my blow money, groceries, entertainment, clothing, Jeffrey, Car, Home, Vacation, and Gifts. 


Inside the gifts envelope, Jennifer put a divider so that I could see how it worked. This allows you to have less envelopes inside the wallet if you want, which makes the wallet much thinner. 


I ended up taking a few of the envelopes out, as I requested too many. They were very easy to take out and put back in. I was a little nervous about it- but it honestly couldn't have been easier. 


I decided to leave in ONLY what I use the most- Groceries, Clothing, My blow $, Entertainment, and Jeffrey. 

The wallet also includes a little note pad in the back with a place for a pen. 


This is where you can write the budget category, and keep track of your purchases and  how much you have left to spend. I decided to make a sheet for each envelope and stick in inside, and keep the pad in my budgeting binder like so- 




This way, I have a place for my check book. 


I am incredibly impressed with Jennifer and her work. From the moment I first emailed her to the moment I received the wallet, she has been the sweetest, most easygoing person to work with. She went above and beyond for me, and she is the kind of person that treats every customer like family. She was more than willing to customize, and answered emails within minutes. Jennifer also makes really awesome wallets for children to learn how to budget! If you are looking for a better solution for your budgeting, check out Jennifer's Etsy shop here. You can also check out her Facebook page here, and her twitter page here

If you are interested in buying an envelope system, you can get 10% off all of Jennifer's products by using the code PAYINCASH when you check out of her Etsy shop!

Do you budget?
Are you currently using a cash envelope system?

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*I recieved this wallet free of charge to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza

Last week I bought a few gluten free products to try. One of them was Betty Crocker's Gluten Free rice flour blend. I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to make with it, but I knew I would need flour at some point, so it found it's way into my cart. 

Sunday evening, Drew and I were both hungry for pizza. I quickly researched pizza crust recipes, and combined a few to make my own. I figured that the rice flour blend would be perfect for pizza. Luckily for me, and now for you, it was! I've only ever tried frozen gluten free pizza, and as always, homemade is better. Of course, if you are not gluten free, you can use regular all purpose flour. 

I hope you try this out and enjoy! 

Preheat oven to 350º.
In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water. Let set for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.
In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder and  2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water. Then stir it all together until well combined.
Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and begin pressing the dough into the pan. Work from the middle and push to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge. You want it to be less than 1/4 inch.

Put the pizza in the oven to pre-bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until it begins to look dry. You may notice cracking, that is normal! 

Remove from oven and spread with pizza sauce, 

cheese,




and toppings. 

Bake pizza in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the crust edge looks golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Cut immediately and serve.
 

Ingredients 
3 cups gluten free flour blend
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar, divided
1 Tbsp yeast
1 1/4 cup warm water, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions 
  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a small bowl, combine yeast and 3/4 cup warm water. Let set for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the sugar a few minutes in.
  • In a separate bowl, combine gluten free flour blend, salt, baking powder and  2 Tbsp sugar. Whisk until well combined.
  • Make a well in the dry mixture and add the yeast mixture. Add the olive oil and additional 1/2 cup warm water. Then stir it all together until well combined.
  • Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and begin pressing the dough into the pan. Work from the middle and push to spread/flatten the dough out to the edge. You want it to be less than 1/4 inch.
  • Put the pizza in the oven to pre-bake for roughly 25 minutes, or until it begins to look dry. You may notice cracking, that is normal! 
  • Remove from oven and spread with pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings. (The sauce I made is listed below.)   Bake pizza in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the crust edge looks golden brown and the cheese is melted.
  • Cut immediately and serve.



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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Phone dump

It's been so long since I've written here! Things have been crazy around these parts. We've had two snow days and yet I still feel like I have so much to do! This will be a random dump of what has been going on lately.


Our first "snow day" (we actually closed because of temperatures) my mother and I went shopping. I decided to get a makeover with my gift cards I received for Christmas! I was in desperate need of some new makeup, so this worked out perfectly. 

                                          Before                                                           After
I had so much fun browsing around Sephora. I could spend hours there.  

After having my makeup done, we went into Macy's and saw this Downton Abbey jewelry! or....  overpriced cheap jewelry with a popular name.  
Last week Drew really wanted wings, so we went on a night that they are super cheap. I cannot eat wings, but they had nachos!  I didn't realize when I ordered that they can feed FIVE people. Yikes.  

Typical breakfast lately- Chex, banana, and coffee. 

I made my own flavored greek yogurt with some frozen fruit and honey- so good! 


 A SUPER EXCITING package that I cannot wait to share with you!
 My beautiful mom and me after shopping. 

 The shoes she bought... what do you all think of them? I personally think they are hideous, but to each their own. 

My mom is a certified Zumba instructor. She was showing me some of her moves. 

 Homemade gluten free pizza. SO GOOD! Recipe coming soon. 

We hung out with my friend Sara this weekend. She is gluten free too, and made Chocolate Chip Clouds and homemade GF chex mix. Yummy!




What was your favorite part of this weekend? My favorite part is knowing I don't have to go to work tomorrow. What? Is that rubbing it in? 
What do you think of my mom's shoes? Ugly. Right?
What was the best thing you ate this weekend? For me, it would have to be that chex mix. Gluten free pretzels and bagel chips? Heaven. 
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