How to Save Money: Budgeting

how to save money

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Find a free monthly budget template below!

Today is the start of a new little series on the blog, and I think it’s going to be something you’re interested in.

How to save money.

I feel like saving money is a universal goal. And with Christmas around the corner, now is (believe it or not) a great time to be thinking about your finances.

Here’s why I want you to save money:

  • So you can save more for trips, food and life things
  • So you can give more to people and organizations that you love
  • So you can quit worrying about your finances

Since my husband and I went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course when we were newlyweds (thanks, parents),  we have been all about budgeting. Well, I’m the main budgeter in the house, but doing the budget together keeps our relationship, home and finances healthy and fight-free.

Doing a budget is the best way to start saving money.

how to make a monthly budget

After all, you’ve got to know where your money is going before you can figure out where to save.

So, here’s how you start budgeting:

  • Make a budget every month
  • Use a Google sheet, Excel sheet or whatever you like to record what you are budgeting for every part of your life. With my template below, all you have to do is make a copy of the sheet or copy the text yourself to start your own budget.
  • Don’t forget to include the fun stuff like clothing and eating out in your budget – budgeting can be fun!
  • Shoot for a $0 budget where you indicate where every dollar of your income will go out (including what goes into savings)

It may take a few months to figure out just what you need for your budget, but now is a great time to start.

Use my Budget Template below to get started!

Right before that first day of a new month, take 10 minutes to fill out your budget for the next month, adding rows for things you know you’ll need like “Dentist Appointment”, “Oil Change” or “Christmas presents.” And take away or adjust any expenses you know will change.

Get excited: you’re now one big step closer to saving money!

Free Monthly Budget Template (Google Sheet)

Free Monthly Budget Template (Excel Sheet)

Post-Holiday Soup

red bean and farro soup

Your meal plan wants this.

It needs something satisfying yet healthful.

Something with lots of fall/winter flavors but maybe more vegetable-forward. (Anyone else turkey-ed out? P.S. My first hosted Thanksgiving was a huge success.)

Something that only takes a few pantry and fresh items to come together.

red bean and farro soup

Something that you can pair with a crusty piece of bread or avocado toast.

Something like this Red Bean & Farro Soup.

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Fruitful Travels: Chenonceaux

chenonceaux france

Have you ever been to a new city or place where you just kept thinking you are in a wonderful dream? Like the views, food and atmosphere is just too good to even be true?

There are just some places on the planet where you feel so relaxed and at peace, from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave.

Chenonceaux was just like that for me.

chenonceaux

We had to take a few trains from Paris to get there (and while that was stressful), we both just took a big breath and had a huge smile on our faces when we got to this little town in the Loire Valley.

chenonceaux france

But, let me rewind a bit to tell you how we ended up there. Jason’s Grandmere (French grandmother) told us that she and her family used to visit Chenonceaux and the castle there when she was little, and that it was one of her favorite castles in France.

chateau de chenonceau

Once I realized that it was one of those hidden gem towns, I was so excited. So, I booked our hotel, mapped out the train ride and made reservations at what happened to be a 1 Michelin star restaurant in this tiny town. Amazing!

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Fruitful Travels: Giverny

giverny france

Happy France Week!

Today’s travel post is a little special, well it’s a lot special, actually.

It’s special in that it’s about a really magical part of France (well, what part isn’t magical?) and that it’s from a place that we only spent a few hours in.

monet's garden giverny

That’s right! This is a post that you will enjoy whether you’re looking for excursions from Paris, you are a fan of Claude Monet, or you just like to look at beautiful places.

Welcome to Giverny!

giverny france

This quaint, quiet French town is where Monet lived and created the beautiful pieces we know and love.

Giverny is a quick trip (under 2 hours) from the heart of Paris.

monet's home giverny

We went on a day excursion to Giverny and Versailles with ParisCityVision, and I would highly recommend the tour! I was worried that it would be too touristy, but it really was quite nice. We hopped in a comfy bus, enjoyed the views in the countryside, and we got to learn more about Monet and the history of Giverny from our tour leaders.

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Fruitful Travels: Paris

paris

I’m super excited about this week on the blog because…

(drumroll please)

It’s France Week!

This week, all week, I’m taking over the normal recipe feed and whisking you away to the beloved country of France. My husband and I just recently got back from a fabulous 7-day trip there, and I’ve got lots to share about it.

So, grab a baguette and Nutella crepe because it’s going to be a fun and delicious ride!

creperie

First Stop: Paris

Although it was my husband’s first time in Paris, I have been a few times. I spent a few days there on my senior trip after high school with my mom and then again in college with some girlfriends while studying abroad.

But, this was my first time going to Paris with a disposable income. My husband and I have been wanting to take this trip for several years, so I planned it to the max…and I think it turned out pretty well.

paris

WHERE WE STAYED

Hotel Muguet– 7th Arrondissement

I’m a fan of Airbnb and the like, but we decided to stay in a traditional hotel for this trip. First off, my mom knew of this great place and secondly, we didn’t want to risk the place not working out. It’s not as easy to bail on a plan when you’re in Europe and staying there for 6 nights.

hotel muguet view paris

The hotel was quite cozy but nice, and I thought the prices were reasonable (about 150 Euros per night). The best part about staying there was the location. We had beautiful views of the Eiffel Tower from our room, and we were super close to Invalides, Musee Rodin and a 10-minute walk from the Seine.

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Thanksgiving Plan

trees

Inhale. Exhale.

That’s been my main focus since the presidential election two nights ago. I feel like I’ve been a roller coaster of emotions and that some values I hold very dearly have come into question by thousands of people.

I think it’s been hard and weird and restless for everyone.

At a time like this, when my brain wants to go down a million rabbit holes, I find solace in planning. Planning for happier times. Planning for family meals. Planning for opportunities for people to feel loved and well fed. And you better believe that now is as important a time as ever to do this.

So, setting aside the baggage of this week, I’m planning all things Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving plan

This will be my first year hosting Thanksgiving at our house and my in-laws are joining us. There will be 11 of us counting my niece for the big meal, so it’s a nice sized group.

I’m doing my best to get ahead of things and make the cooking easier, so this is how I’ve started planning:

  • Shared a Google sheet with the fam so everyone could sign up for dishes they would like to make (my in-laws rock and are pitching in a bunch)
  • Started to buy a few items like canned pumpkin, baking necessities, etc.
  • Thought about my tablescape- I’m a minimalist, so it will probably be…minimal
  • Started listing out what items to buy beforehand like wine, bread, pastries (hey, Boulted Bread), etc.

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Going with the Flow

pumpkin nutella muffins

Pumpkin here, pumkpin there. There is pumpkin everywhere.

They’re outside of our homes, there are heirloom ones that cost $20, and pumpkin is in practically every packaged food.

Now, I’m not complaining here… I’m just opting to be a little choosy about how I enjoy pumpkin this time of year.

I’m not going to bash you PSL-lovers (nor will I join you, but I also don’t drink caffeine), but I am going to join in with some new pumpkin favorites of my own.

Like these delicious and impressive-looking Pumpkin Nutella Muffins.

pumpkin nutella muffins

The term muffin may be misleading here because I think these can make a great breakfast or dessert any time of the day. They somehow taste both healthy and indulgent, which is just great in my book. And look at that swirly chocolate.

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Ingredient of the Month: Clementines

clementines

I bet you would think that our November Ingredient of the Month would be a squash or maybe even pumpkin. And those are wonderful ingredients, of course. (If you haven’t eaten pumpkin ice cream or pumpkin bread in the past week, then you’re just not doing fall justice.)

Our IOTM is something sweet, tart and one of the few fruits that’s in season in the fall and winter. Clementines!

I’ve been all about the bags of these vitamin C wonders lately, and I even got to buy a few amazing ones from an outdoor market in France.

So, let’s dig in… or unwrap the peel, if you will.

Tell me more:

Clementines are a hybrid in between mandarin oranges and a sweet orange. They have a glossy orange outer peel that is easy to peel. The sweet taste and small size of a clementine makes it a fantastic, on-the-go snack.

clementines

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Meal Kits & Blue Apron vs. HelloFresh

blue apron meals

I don’t know if ya’ll have noticed, but meal kits are all the rage these days.

I’m talking about those services like Blue Apron, HelloFresh and others that send you a box of meals for a week. Due to a few coupon codes and recommendations from family, we tried each of these meal kit services right before and after our recent trip to France.

Here are my unbiased, un-sponsored opinions about meal kits and these two in particular. Of course, I haven’t tried all of the options out there, so I can’t speak to others.

PROS

  • If you are eating several meals out per week, then you will likely save money with a meal kit.
  • Same as above- if you’re eating out a lot, then these meals will probably be healthier.
  • Encourages cooking at home
  • Allows you to get new cooking/meal inspiration
  • Creative ingredients that are individually packaged
  • Most meals can be made in 30 minutes or less

hellofresh meal

CONS

  • Wastefulness- individually packaged foods waste more packaging
  • Cost is generally more than meal planning and grocery shopping (approximately $10-12 per person per meal)
  • No leftovers, or not much
  • You can’t invite others over for dinner… unless maybe you have a family meal kit
  • Products aren’t necessarily local to you- you miss out on knowing your farmers and producers

Let’s start at the beginning.

I was pretty skeptical in the beginning about meal kits. I mean, I’m a seasoned cook, food blogger and foodie, so I’ve got this whole meal planning/shopping/cooking thing down pat, right?! Well, not totally.

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Fruitful Home: Dining Room Chairs

dining-room-chairs

Hello, there!

From my blog survey, I heard that some of you may be interested in some more lifestyle/home posts on the blog, so here you go!

For today’s Fruitful Home post, we’re talking dining room chairs.

We’ve now officially been in our house for almost 1.5 years. That means that we’re getting settled and still adding pieces little by little. One of the most recent pieces was a beautiful custom dining room table that we’ve been dreaming about purchasing for years.

emmorworks table

We are SO happy with our Emmor Works purchase. The wood is beautiful, the modern industrial touches are unique, and it feels great in our dining room. So, now we have to make the big decision of what chairs to pair with the table.

emmorworks table

We would love to have 8 chairs, 3 on each side and 1 on each end.

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