Tips for an Organized Move

Organized Moving. Is that possible? I feel like you go into moving with organized intentions, but at about the 50-75% completion mark, caution is thrown to the wind. The back of the car is piled with stuff. Boxes are no longer clearly marked or packed properly. You debate whether you want the rest of this stuff, or if you should just throw it away! I’ve collected some Tips for an Organized Move that will help make the moving process less of a disaster!  organized move

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I’ve been there!

Below are some tips to have a more organized move, while not spending tons of cash. My husband, daughter, and I are moving in a month or two and I am determined to make the best out of a stressful situation. An organized moving experience!

organized move

Tips for a More Organized Move

  1. Get tons and tons of boxes. And don’t pay for them. Likely you know someone that works in a store or restaurant that receives shipment boxes regularly. If not, hit the mall or grocery store. They get shipment everyday and likely have boxes to spare. Remember, ask nicely and plan ahead, you may have to come back at a later date to pick them up.
  2. Don’t mark your boxes… with markers. Instead, get a different color/pattern tape for each designated box area. IE, pink = kitchen, red = living room, etc. This will save you from writing each room 4 or 5 sides of a box. And it’s easier to see at a glance. Also, pick up an electric yellow or other obnoxious color to additionally mark fragile items. Put color-coded maps up in several places of you new house, including all entry ways. So. Much. Easier.
  3. To pack your closets, group your hung clothes in large bunches with a rubber band. Next, put a large garbage bag upside down over the clothing (you’ll have to pop a hole in the bottom of the garbage bag to get your hanger hooks through there. I’ve done this on many occasions and it is a life saver.
  4. Pre-pack all of your out of season items… cooking utensils, clothing, beach towels, heavy blankets, you name it, pack it up!
  5. If you plan on painting or carpeting, do it before you start moving in. The goal is to touch the items you’re moving the least amount possible. It will not be helpful to move everything into your new house, then move it all around the house while you paint. = No fun.
  6. If you’re going to rent a moving truck, reserve it early, especially if you plan on moving during the summer months. I’ve found that even if you change your dates, you still lock in the lower rate.
  7. Speaking of moving truck, consider the dolly/hand truck and moving blankets that you can typically rent with a moving truck. If you are willing to gamble, wait until when you pick up the truck to inquire about renting these. Chances are good that if the moving company has the blankets and hand truck in inventory, they will rent them to you on the cheap (or even free!).
  8. And one more thing about the moving truck. You should be able to purchase insurance coverage for the truck – DO IT. Check with your insurance agent ahead of time just to be sure, but 99% of the time your normal vehicle insurance does not cover vehicles as big as moving trucks. Don’t risk the purchase of a $60,000+ vehicle (sometimes for as little as $20/day). Things to make sure: Daily price, deductible, coverage, loss of use coverage, and if they can give you a better rate!

Organized Move

Happy Moving!

 

 

So, we’re buying a house…

We’re kicking off 2018 by tackling on of the top to-do’s on our list: buying a house!

Saving on Buying a New House

In the spring of 2017, my husband and I decided to sell our house a rent for a little bit. Kind of a crazy idea, but let me explain:

It was definitely a Seller’s Market in Michigan, and we didn’t want to miss out. We knew that our last house wasn’t going to be our forever house, so we decided to jump in. We did a little bit of apartment research, and were able to find something super cute and close to town. Over the summer we were able to walk up to the Farmer’s Market and other events in town.

We found out that, while the walking-distance perk was nice, we didn’t attend as many events as we thought we would. This made living in a downtown area not as much of a priority as I had thought. Where I live, the closer to town you are, the higher the taxes are, so we’re happy to avoid that a little bit.

My husband started a new job in December which was another big thing on our to-do list. This definitely helps in buying a house. He was at a little bit of a dead-end with his previous job, but fortunately his new job has endless opportunities. I’m really excited for him.

We really started house hunting after Christmas 2017, we are SO OVER apartment life. Even though our apartment is very nice… it’s worn out its welcome. It’s time to buy a house. I’m sick of hearing the neighbors walk, talk, and whatever else they’re doing upstairs or next to us. I do not like the parking lot. And there isn’t enough space in the kitchen for all my gadgets (Christmas Baking 2017 was quite challenging!) – baking is my thing.

Saving on Buying a New House

When we moved into our last house, we painted every room, walls and ceiling. It was such a pain! We swore (literally and figuratively) that we would hire a painter when we moved into our new house but now that we’re getting closer to closing, we’re rethinking our grand plans of hiring painting, carpeting, and moving. I can be cheap (frugal sounds nicer), I just don’t like the idea of spending so much money all at once.

Here’s what we’re doing to save some money buying a house:

  1. Painting ourselves. Well, painting the house ourselves! There’s 10 rooms plus entry way (2 stories tall), hallway, hallway going upstairs, and upstairs landing. I’m most nervous about the 2-story entry way. As I think through this, I think I just don’t know how to do the 2-story painting, so I’m chickening out!
  2. Cleaning the carpets. The carpets are in really good condition, and could make it a couple of years. We’re going to borrow a carpet cleaner and deep-clean the carpets a couple of times. This should buy us some time on carpet replacement.
  3. Moving ourselves. Moving is so hard. We had originally thought we’d hire someone to move the big stuff and we would do the rest. Now, it just doesn’t seem worth spending hundreds of dollars. (Side note: I’m so picky anyway I would probably end up doing more work anyway!) I will just rent a moving truck (side note: rent your moving truck as early as possible. Usually you can adjust your dates as the move gets closer. Typically the longer you wait to lock in a price, the more expensive it is. I’ve seen prices be 4-5x more when making your reservation less than a week out!
  4. Having an over-lap in our closing date on the house, and end-of-lease for our apartment. We’ll have about two months to clean, paint, and move. Hopefully it won’t take that long to do all of our chores, but it sure beats having to do it all in one weekend!!!

Saving on Buying a New House

2018 – The Year of the Stay at Home Mom

2018 – The Year of the Stay at Home Mom

year of the stay at home mom

2018 is the year of the Stay at Home Mom. (Or becoming one!) The New Year is one of my favorite times of the year. (You probably hear me say that about any time of the year that I write about, but the New Year is a favorite in a different kind of way.)

I LOVE Christmas, but WOAH is it overwhelming. And the week between Christmas and New Years is always a blur – like summer vacation when you’re a kid. You never know what day it is, or when it’s time to stop eating or go to sleep. My husband and I have been hosting a couple friends over for New Years for the past few years, so I guess it’s becoming a tradition. After NYE, it’s time to clean and purge! Once everything is put away and minimized it feels like such an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Time to just relax and appreciate winter. (I don’t mean that sarcastically, I promise!)

This is also the time when I really think about what I want to achieve in the New Year. It’s a fresh start. I don’t pressure myself to have my New Year’s Resolutions in place by 12:01AM on January 1.

I’m having such a hard time being away from my daughter so much (#EveryMotherThatEverLived). I’m also having a hard time paying my daycare bill every week! YIKES! My husband and I are hoping to have or be close to having a second baby this year, and we just cannot reason with the cost of full time day care for two kids – I mean woah!. We have a really great day care that I LOVE, and I think I would still want to have her attend school a couple of days a week (she’s three right now and in preschool).

In the ultimate scheme of things, I see myself working from home with the ability to put my family first – a stay at home mom! In my current situation I do not feel like I am able to put my family first. Are you feeling this way? I’m so overloaded by things that – in the scheme of things – really aren’t important.

My husband and I are taking some actions to modify our budget. I don’t know if I will necessarily quit my job because I do get a lot of value out of my job (and I know a lot of moms do). I just feel like in general, I am not focused on the true important things. And I think that starts with living a more simple life.

Here are some of the things we’re doing differently this year:

stay at home mom

  1. Grocery & Meal Planning, which directly ties into #2:
  2. Scaling back our (my) inventive and never repeating meal planning. I am exhausting myself with trying to reinvent the wheel every meal. We are simplifying things this year. Taco Tuesday (I didn’t want to be cookie-cutter, but I’m embracing it), chicken and veggies, simple stuff. I will make Saturday or Sunday my exciting fancy meal day. Just one per week. I am just over spending an hour and a half on dinner on a week night.
  3. We’re scaling back on birthday presents. I think we’ve been going over board on presents the last couple of years. We have just decided that if we’re going to make a purchase, we’re going to purchase something for the house, or for everyone to use. At least for now… I love presents!
  4. DIY. I used to love to repurpose and DIY… I feel like with this new challenge upon us + buying our new house in February I’ve got the bug again.
  5. Staying home more. This also includes holidays. We’re going to start hosting more holidays (which seems a little backwards in trying to save money…). We have found that we spend the same amount (or more) money and prepare the same amount of food when we go to other family members homes for holidays. We’re going to be hosting more holidays this year because A) we love to, and B) we can better control the expenses.

I’m looking forward to making some strides this year. I will definitely be posting and sharing things that we’re doing to lead a more simple life!

How to at Shop Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank

I’m going to share with you my secrets of shopping Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank!

I LOVE shopping at Whole Foods. In my opinion they’ve really got it right. The layout of the stores make sense, they are not too large or overwhelming. The displays are intriguing and tell a story (elaborate retail visual display alum over here). And, most importantly, the variety of healthy food options, organics, allergy/diet-sensitive needs (among other tasty things like pretty baked goods, wine and beer bar, and locally sourced goods). I’m going to show you how I shop at Whole Foods without breaking the bank!

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Things I don’t like about Whole Foods:

(Get ready, this is a short list…)

  1. Distance to my closest Whole Foods (about 40 minutes)
  2. They are always busy (see: crowded; long check out lines; people who leave their shopping cart on one side of the aisle and shop on the other side…)
  3. Finally, the price tag

I know it must be possible to shop at Whole Foods and stock my kitchen full of healthier options without breaking the bank.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank
How To Shop Whole Foods on the Cheap!

Whole Foods App

Here is a good way to shop Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank: download the app and sign it. The app will show you all available coupons on one screen, and sales on the other screen. What I like about the app is that the coupons are all automatically available for you, you don’t need to scroll through and decide whether you will need the coupon or not, nor is there a limit on how many coupons you can select. Win/win.

Ibotta

I use the Ibotta shopping app every single time I go shopping. It is mostly for grocery shopping, there’s Whole Foods, Target, Meijer, WalMart, and even places like JoAnn’s. Click HERE to download the app using my special code.  Use my code MTYXSMI to get a $10 Welcome Bonus!

Pre-Plan Your Shop

For the love of all wonderful things in the world, please do not go to Whole Foods on a whim and think you will A) get everything you need, B) stay within budget (how do you know your budget if you didn’t plan this out?!) or C) plan on leaving the store without any unplanned splurges.

While you’re at it, don’t dare go there hungry either. A brioche, some gelato, and one-of-each macaron later, it’s just a bad decision. (I like to treat myself to a green juice/smoothie as a healthy treat to start, or maybe a latte.)

Here’s a picture of how I make my shopping list.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank

The first photo is my original list that I make before I start shopping, in this case with a green smoothie at the cafeteria at Whole Foods. The second photo is post-shop. As I cross items off my list, I write the price next to the item. This way, I can add up my total before checking out, and if I’ve gone over budget, I know exactly which items I can put back to put me back in the comfort zone.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank – Bulk Up

One of my favorite sections of Whole Foods is their bulk section… it’s glorious. Shop here as much as you can. You can get as little or as much as you would like, and the prices are SO MUCH BETTER. You can even get spices, baking ingredients, make your own peanut butter, and beyond! Don’t pay for packaging in the other aisles!!! Go for bulk!

Take advantage of the Whole Foods private brand, 365. Everything you read/any employees you talk to will tell you that the in-store brand is a gem. Choose the 365 brand wherever possible.

How to Shop at Whole Foods Without Breaking the Bank – Things to Avoid

Prepared Foods

I love the ease of prepared foods, sometimes it really is a cheaper alternative than buying the ingredients. Maybe it is $5 for a small container of pico de gallo, how much is it to buy half a dozen tomatoes, a red onion, a bunch of cilantro, and couple of limes? Likely more than $5. Not to mention the increased likeliness of food waste… have you ever used a WHOLE bunch of cilantro?! And on top of all that, you’re buying some time back into your busy schedule.

Gift Shopping

Anyone else a compulsive gift giver? I am. It’s my love language, and I love picking up special treats for my friends and family for no real reason. (Here’s my Mom Gift List.) Especially from a store that makes me feel so special! I need to remind myself that I’m going in to Whole Foods to grocery shop, not Christmas shop for every one in my life. If you ARE going to purchase a gift for someone, just be sure that it was something already on your list and accounted for in the budget.

“just Because”

Don’t buy things just because they look pretty, are displayed beautifully, etc. Just because a pile of radishes look so bright pink with luscious green leaves and it gives you an idea for a healthy salad your husband would just love… leave it alone! (I can say this because I have done this before.) Stick to your list.

Watch out for the beverage section. It is so easy to drop another $20+ by letting a couple cold-pressed juices wind up in your cart. If this is something you’re into, consider investing in a juicer. A drink for the ride home is one thing, a weekly supply of carrot juice is an entirely different animal. Don’t let this blow your budget.

Product Placement

Another important tip is to avoid the front of produce displays. Just because Honey Crisps are in season (that meant $3.99/lb) doesn’t mean there isn’t an equally delicious (organic) apple variety on the back of the display (Organic Jonagolds, $1.99/lb).

Remember, they’re in business to make money, so it will require a little extra work to save some $$$. I am happy to say I got out of Whole Foods with a week’s worth of groceries for a family of three for $133!