Savings September In Review

Hey everyone! I have a little different type of  post today. As some of you may know DJ and I have an annual tradition of doing a lil’ something we call Savings September. We have noticed that summers tend to make a big ole’ dent in the spending arena, so every September we use to refocus, re-establish good habits, and look for ways to be smarter about spending, especially leading up to the holiday season. We don’t want this to be limited to September either- the goal is that by creating these conscientious, yet practical, habits we will be able to take what we have learned and apply it to each month thereafter.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a post initially; I never have in the past. However, this year was particularly successful, and a few of you have expressed interest in ways we have saved! SO without further adieu, here are some little easy tips and tricks that helped us save 42% of what we spent in August. Yes-42%!!! Something we predominately learn each time we do this is the little expenses and choices add up!

1.Limiting Eating Out.This one is probably not a big surprise that it’d be a saver & it didn’t mean we never ate out. Basically, we limited our eating out to either social hangouts with friends or date nights together. I tried to be diligent about prepping more and making sure there was something DJ and I could easily have for lunch rather than him buying lunch every day at work. This used to be a routine for us, but it definitely fell through the cracks through the summer. Feels good to be back in the swing!

 

2. Limiting Coffee Out. I definitely still had my Peet’s <3… but I used up old gift cards with a couple dollars sitting on them here and there at various coffee shops. I tried to only go to Peet’s once or twice a week when the school load was extra heavy and ordered a small most times.

3. Groceries. This is probably where we saved the most. I tried to use up every little thing we had in the pantry/freezer/fridge before going back to the store. I would create meals surrounding what we already had. For example, I knew we had fish in the freezer, so I would go get rice and a veggie to “fill in” a meal with what we needed to use up. I also tried to be attentive to making the wisest decision among choices. For instance, usually when I get tomatoes, I don’t pay too much mind to the couple cent difference between the Roma and the cherry tomatoes. But when you opt for the cheaper one and apply that mindset to every item you are buying over weeks, months, years it really adds up- especially on things that you don’t mind a slight difference. Oh, and buying the on sale in season fruits makes a HUGE difference too- and taste better!

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4. Skipping on the non-essentials. I loveee myself some carbonated bevies, especially “ICE” waters. But the thing is, they ain’t cheap when you buy them often! I always throw in a couple bottles when I’m at the store along with some gum from the cash register- but with how frequently I chew gum, it just isn’t a wise investment and a habit that needed some breaking. Rather than buying ICEs, we bought 3 large packs of Bubbly water for $10 and stopped buying gum entirely. I do have mints in need of freshening up my breath on the go though. Not only has this saved monetarily, but I no longer even crave the ICEs or gum. This doesn’t mean I won’t grab a pack here or there, but I don’t have the desire for a piece of gum every hour of the day.

5. Poshmark!!! I sold quite a bit on Poshmark this past month, and then had credit in my account available with the sales. I noticed I needed new face-wash, but my favorite face-wash that I discovered through Fab Fit Fun costs around $34. Ugh! That’s how they get you. I decided to check Poshmark to see if I could find some for cheaper. I negotiated for two bottles that would be about 1/2 of the price using the Poshmark credit. Score! It makes me wonder what other items I can find on there.

6. Being cognizant of saving electricity. I have a bad habit of keeping lights on going room to room (It drove my mom nuts growing up). We have both been extra diligent in making sure to turn lights off upon leaving a room and when we leave the house. It’s a great habit we have developed, and now it would bother me to keep them on and leave.

7. Buying in Bulk. At some point I noticed we were running low on some cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other essentials. I remembered I had received a coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond to get $20 off $80 spent. I bought all the stuff that we needed (including a couple fall candles-  autumn necessities 😉 ) all online. We are stocked up on tons of cleaning supplies, a new shower liner we desperately needed, dishwashing soap, and toilet paper for way cheaper if I had bought them at a regular grocery store. The delivery also came with 2 $60 gift-cards towards HelloFresh. Also, at Target you will sometimes see if you buy a certain number of items, you can get a $5 gift-card back. I always try to stock up on laundry detergent and household essentials when I see those promos going on. Right now if you get a flu shot at CVS affiliated with Target- you can also get a $5 giftcard to Target (just call before you go to make sure they are doing the promotion). But get yo flu shot, peopleeee!

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8. Using Cosmetics I already Have. I don’t know about you, but I have a bunch of little “samples” sitting around of makeup, shampoo, body wash, etc. Rather than just buying something new when I ran out of something, I gathered up all my samples and have been using everything up. Those little samples go a long way! Not only have I discovered some products I really like along the way, but I am clearing up space in the cabinet too. Oh! And I’ve started using olive oil to remove makeup- it works wonders and is so gentle- no more needing to buy makeup remover!

9. Having fun, restful weekends at home. I love to be busy and plan, plan, plan. But even seemingly cheap plans can become expensive, especially around here- you’ve got unexpected parking expenses, food, gas money, etc.. Not having a ton of weekend plans reminded me how important (and fun) just a weekend at home is for rest & rejuvenation. I also was able to get ahead on some school projects, so that always feels good! Oh, and DJ definitely needed the time to breathe now that the season has ended. I’m excited to plan some lax dates this month when we carve pumpkins, watch Halloween movies, make homemade wine together, practice baking soufflés, and have picnics with the lovely autumn weather!

10. Mint. This financial management app is incredible. It is super easy to use and understand. Being conscious of where every dollar goes, seeing our budget clearly, and having alerts when we are about to go over a set budget has been tremendously helpful in being good stewards of our money.

We also have some other just general saving tips that we have used for a couple years or gained over past Savings Septembers:

  • We love Groupon . This is where we get some restaurant deals & most of our hotel deals  (along with Orbitz to collect Orbitz bucks!)- always make sure to get points or rewards for your travels! It’s a free night in a hotel or a free plane ride eventually. I also have accounts with hotel.com & booking.com for when they have the cheapest comparative rates.
  • Installing Wikibuy into your Internet toolbar is a big saver! Every time you are about to make a purchase, Wikibuy will scour the internet for coupon codes, deals, promos, etc. and automatically apply it to your order if it finds one. You also get money back many times and can use that toward other purchases.
  • Sometimes I like to peruse Coupons.com before making a purchase to see if there are any coupons for something I may need too.
  • I have subscribe and save on Amazon for certain things we rebuy every few months- like shavers and Swiffer refills. This saves 5% for each purchase, and we would buy that stuff every couple months anyways- so why not save 5%?

As you can see, a lot of the savings do not come from really any novel ideas, but simply being conscious of each purchase. Hope this was somewhat helpful for someone! If you have any tips and tricks I’d LOVE to hear them too! Have a beautiful week, everyone 🙂

xo <3

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Loaded Vegan Nachos & Lightlife Winner Announced!

Today I am announcing the winner of the LightLife Giveaway!!!! Drum roll…..Congratulations to Melissa V! You have some delicious Lightlife and Nasoya free product coupons coming your way! Thank you to everyone who participated 🙂

So about that recipe… You know how some healthy food substitutes are “good enough”, but just not quite the same? Hold all presumptions about these loaded vegan nachos. I made these for the Super Bowl party I went to yesterday, and not only were they gobbled up in no time, but people were shocked that they were vegan. Something I loved about them is I just kept eating them without feeling weighed down- that’s the beauty of veggie-based eats!

So without further adieu, I present Loaded Vegan Nachos: **Adopted based on Lightlife Recipes

Grocery List

1 large bag Tortilla chips of choice (I used Simply Balanced Organic white corn tortilla chips with black bean and flaxseed)

1 can fat-free refried beans

2 Cup Lightlife  Smart Ground Crumbles

1.5 Cup Low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1 Cup corn

1 Cup Daiya cheddar flavor shreds

1 Cup Daiya pepper jack shreds

1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup green onion

A couple cilantro sprigs

1.5 Cup pico de gallo (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400F.
  2. Place one layer of chips on the bottom of a 9×13 or 10x15x1 pan (usually uses about half the bag)
  3. Layer with refried beans (place dollops of beans around the chips and then use spatula to spread across the chips).
  4. Continue to layer with LightLife Smart Ground, black beans, corn, cheese, and jalapeños.
  5. Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is melted. About 20 minutes. **Daiya cheese doesn’t have the appearance of melting- but it tastes melted when you eat it!
  6. Top with green onions and cilantro and leave a bowl of pico de gallo to the side as an optional add on!
  7. Place the rest of the chips in a bowl next to the dip
  8. Enjoy the best loaded vegan nachos of your life!

Nutrition

per 1 serving: 12 servings total

Calories: 244

Fat: 7.9g (only 1.5g saturated)

Carbs: 30g

Protein: 11g

Sugars: 2g

Fiber: 6.6g

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My First Giveaway! Lightlife and Nasoya

Hey guys! Today I am teaming up with two of my all-time favorite veggie-based brands: Lightlife and Nasoya!

I love them for several reasons:

  • Their mission: “Our mission is making eating better accessible and deliciously easy, because the more people love our food, the more good we can do together.”
  • Their products are vegan or vegetarian and prepared in a healthy and sustainable manner.
  • You do your body a favor without sacrificing the flavor. They have a substitute for just about every meat product you can imagine! My personal favorites include smart bacon, ground crumbles, buffalo wings, tempeh, tofu vegetable dumplings, and smart dogs! I have never been disappointed!

In “light” of the Super Bowl happening on Sunday, I thought I would share some awesome Game Day Recipes with you all to keep you focused on the yard line and less focused on the waist line 😉 

Here are some links to the most epic game day recipes by Lightlife and Nasoya to kick off a healthy and delicious Super Bowl party:

Smart Dog Tater Tot Skewers

Sweet Potato Chili

Loaded Nachos

Tofu Vegetable Dumplings

Trust me- each and every one of these are going to blow your lucky game day socks off!!!

The best part- I’m giving away FREE product coupons! To enter, simply answer these two questions in the comment section on this post!

  1. What is your favorite part of the Super Bowl?
  2. Who are you cheering for?

**One very lucky winner will receive FREE product coupons for Lightlife and Nasoya products. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 years or older to enter and live in the United States. Giveaway begins 2/3/17 and ends 2/6/17. Winner chosen through randompicker.com. All winning entries are verified.**

I will randomly choose a winner on Monday! 

Good luck and happy Super Bowl weekend!

xo <3

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**This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own. I have been compensated for this post with a sample product and/or payment.**