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The Best Meal Prep Items

With back to school upon us, along with another year of back to work (after a weekend off..lol), I thought I would share some of the containers that I absolutely love!! If you are trying to stop eating out as much, whether it’s to save money, eat healthier, to simplify your life, or whatever your reason, the right containers can set you up for success! It took me under thirty minutes to prep lunches for myself and my five and ten year old for the upcoming week. With the amount of time it takes to run out and grab lunch, along with the cost, I expect to save over $2,600 dollars for me, $1,000 for kids and 7,000 hours of my time. (15 mins each way to grab a $10 lunch x 5 days a week and kids school lunch at $2.50 a lunch x two kids)

The first and absolute favorite is what I refer to as the “food tackle bait” containers. These bad boys are perfect for bento box snacky type lunches, since they have containers perfect for people like me who get weirded out by their food touching. πŸ˜‚. Also for non-food touching weirdos..it’s still nice to keep things separated and fresh so you can prep in advance. You see modeled here in the back containers with hummus/crackers, guacamole/chips and strawberries, carrots and almonds. Perfectly balanced. πŸ‘ŒπŸΌ The front container is another awesome one for those of you who like sandwiches of any variety. πŸ₯ͺ Seen modeled below in the front with an English muffin, peanut butter, celery, apple slices, and pretzel twists, all of which I’m fully prepared to dip in peanut butter. πŸ˜‹

You guys..I’ve tried a LOT of meal prep containers, and these are hands down the best bang for your buck.  My old ones were cheaper, but they also were cheaper quality and cracked and broke in under two years.  These are heavy duty and also have more space for food.  I’m so excited and I don’t get excited over much, so if you are just as excited and ready to set yourself up for meal prep success, links below to each item.  Follow me for more upcoming posts on ways to simplify your life and save money and your health in the process!

Let me know what you think of these containers and what you plan to do with all that saved time and money!!

Food tackle box container:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FMQL1TN/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=543704-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07FMQL1TN&linkId=431257d1f1e0c1fc4eeda7c3198f420e

Sandwich container:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RP46XC3/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=543704-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07RP46XC3&linkId=d3bb07523bc590f78723b8554b82f17b

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$113,108.34 The true cost of our education

In the above picture from eleven years ago, I see a couple of crazy kids having fun at Mardi Gras without a care in the world. This was pre-marriage, pre-kids, pre debt-free lifestyle and pre-multiple bad hairstyles, including a year with bangs. 😬

The crazy kids above had been in the job force for several years, although I’m not really sure what Matt did then or what he does now even, but I had begun down the insurance career path. Along with entering the job force, I had adopted a lifestyle of debt and had been led to believe that’s just what people do, and student loans are just something you pay back for the rest of your life. So we had around $50k combined student loans and our “almost degrees” to show for it, meaning we each had enough credits to qualify for a bachelors, but didn’t actually have a bachelors degree to show for it. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Matt had been at least paying the minimum on his loans..I was too busy saying I couldn’t afford my monthly payments, yet I could eat out and go party all the time wearing new clothes and driving a new car. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈπŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Things changed shortly after the above pic when we found out we were pregnant with our daughter. We both made the choice to go back to school and get those degrees wrapped up. We paid cash for my last few classes, which I finished up online, while working full time and having a baby at home. It was tough with Matt also working full time and taking night classes three days a week. 😴 πŸ‘Ά 🍼

We weren’t paying on our loans during this time, or the interest that was just stacking up on those already high principal balances. To top it off, Matt’s new career change into a Computer Science degree from a for profit university added another $40k to our already giant mountain of student loan debt. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Fast forward to about six years ago, when we finally started paying the minimum monthly amount on our loans (only because we had to get them out of forbearance). So if your name was Sallie Mae, Mohela, Nelnet, Fedloans, etc., you were on our payroll for the past six years. The amount we were paying in minimums was around $1500 a month, which was more than our mortgage at the time. πŸ˜¬πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ

I often wonder what else that money could have been doing..for us, for investing, for our kids, for donating, for the economy, etc. It would probably make me sick to run any actual math on what we missed out on not investing the money, and how much total we paid in interest. 🀒

We decided to get serious and use the debt snowball method, and continued throwing every extra penny we had towards them. I skipped eating out, meal prepped, bought used clothes, and budgeted like a badass. It felt like the slowest process, and that we would NEVER pay them off. Some of these loans had 6% interest, so a lot of times I was barely even touching the balance when I made a payment. πŸ™„

We set a goal of being debt free by August 2019, because that’s when my son would be starting Kindergarten. It was always a big goal, and even through each of the setbacks, I knew we would just have to adjust and keep going. I would like to say there was some big secret program we used, but we literally just made a goal and made the necessary sacrifices on a consistent basis to crush it. I can’t even say how good it feels to finally write this post, and even ahead of our goal. πŸŽ‰πŸ˜Ž πŸ‘©πŸΌβ€πŸŽ“ πŸ‘¨β€πŸŽ“

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No Spend Challenge 2019

It always starts over a few drinks and a friend saying something like “yeah I am going to try not to buy any new clothes for the entire year of 2019”. Usually you would think in your head that your friend is a little crazy and that’s why you love them. But I’ve had a few drinks..so the idea seems like the best one ever, and I’m all like “hold my drink..let’s do this”. My competitive nature also kicks in to say..oh yeah..you are totally winning this challenge. Even though there is literally no prize because you can’t spend money. πŸ’°

I guess the prize is keeping my decluttered closet decluttered and probably truck loads of time and money saved not going to Target for “batteries”. Why with another crazy challenge Mindy? Didn’t you JUST clean out your closet and don’t you really NEED new things now? Two simple answers 1) NO I don’t NEED anything new and TBH..I do NOT really enjoy shopping that much 2) I do enjoy being debt free and I’m so close to that finish 🏁 I can almost taste it, so I need some fuel to get me across that line.

So you heard it here first. I, Mindy Templeton, of sound mind and body, promise that for the entire 365 days of 2019, I will not buy any clothes or accessories, so no shoes, purses, jewelry, etc. I only have 355 days left right?! Wish me luck πŸ˜‰

Garage Sale Season

With end of summer upon us, I start thinking about all of the garages full of stuff that is no longer used, too small or has been upgraded. I have memories of being a kid and getting up early every weekend to go to garage sales. (bribed with donuts and the hopes of a new toy of course) 🍩 🧸

Nobody asked me about my opinion on garage sales, but I’ve decided to tell you anyway. I can say that I had one several years back and made around $800 when I was on maternity leave. I also did one for a work fundraiser and made around $500 for our Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling team. For mine, I sold a bunch of maternity stuff and baby stuff we weren’t using and all of Kylie’s clothes we had saved from NB-4T, after picking out the gender neutral stuff for Caleb of course. πŸ˜‰

Looking back..I definitely think people with babies up to 4 years have the best luck. Also, people in a high traffic area or neighborhood having a lot of sales the same day can also be successful. But I also think we can avoid the need for a garage sale by sticking to the bare minimums and borrowing stuff that we will only need for a short period of time. Babies seem to be a reason to buy everything, and baby registry’s make it easy to add a bazillion things you will likely be too exhausted to figure out how to use once parenting shows you it’s true colors. Then it will end up in your pile for the sale, likely priced at half what it costs, just to have someone ask you if you’d take five dollars for it. (I know because I’m a garage sale hardcore negotiator) πŸ˜‚

If your sale includes clothes, shoes, and household items, and you still have a closet full after outing for the sale, then it might be time to just stop and reflect on your stuff strategy. Not only did that clutter used to be money, but that money used to be your time.

I will say if I’ve finally persuaded you to join my minimalist lifestyle and you are simplifying your life and need a fresh start, one big sale may be a good idea. But only if it ends there, and you don’t just go out and accumulate more stuff to replace what you sold. Also, think about the time and energy that goes into one. If setting up, pricing, getting nasty warm lemonade for the kids to sell and dealing with them badgering your customers for 5 hours on your Saturday morning with extreme temperature variations like smoldering heat or pouring rain and going back and forth with hardcore negotiators like me sounds like a good time to you..well start borrowing those tables my friends. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

If that sounds comparable to a root canal, then selling things in “lots” on Facebook Marketplace is a great alternative. Or let’s be honest, we all know that person that’s selling clothes that are so loved they should be donated. Just saying..don’t be that friend..also don’t be the friend that sells hand me downs you got from a friend. (Totally did that on accident and still getting shit for it two years later) πŸ˜‚

When it comes to shopping at garage sales, this can be a double edged sword. I remember finding a rocking chair with foot rest at a garage sale for $15 that I used with both kids. I negotiated it from the $30 it was marked at and was so proud. But I’ve also lost all common sense and self control at a sale and just bought the whole damn table of baby clothes I didn’t need. So be careful when you shop..they can be sneaky and fill your trunk up before you realize you only needed a few things. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. 😊

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My Biggest Financial Mistake

We left off on my last post in 2005, driving a gas guzzling 2001 Dodge Durango while commuting an hour and gas being $4 a gallon. 😬 Go back and read Part 1 if you haven’t, because there’s lots of entertainment there that I can look back on now and say..what the?! πŸ˜‚

Back to the Durango part of the story..I had just started Financial Peace University and had also just started dating my now husband in 2007. I really wanted to do the debt snowball and keep the Durango and pay it off. But I was young and stubborn..and well..still financially irresponsible and just flat out stupid. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Sooo..long story short..in 2008 I traded that ole Durango in for a gently used 2007 Nissan Altima. I couldn’t qualify for a car loan with under a 16% interest rate on my own, so my boyfriend (now husband) co-signed. Why are y’all out here enabling my bad decisions by co-signing..can we say enablers?! While I am absolutely grateful for the help on the loans, the now wiser older version of me is like..well..that was a sign I shouldn’t be getting a loan..period!!! If I wouldn’t have had that option, then maybe I would have figured out a different solution that didn’t involve another loan and $300 car payment. πŸ™…β€β™€οΈ

With marriage, my husband brought a 2002 Nissan Maxima that was paid for. We ended up deciding in 2015 to trade it in for a 2014 Nissan Pathfinder SUV that we “needed”. So we did make that Maxima last a minute, and we even kept the Altima after we paid it off. (and my husband is still driving it today with over 200k miles) It smells weird and has different sounds, but it runs and that’s what our requirements list looks like for a car these days. 😜

We ended up selling the Pathfinder because it had transmission issues and pissed me off at the wrong time on the wrong day. The Altima was also causing some troubles, so I decided it was no longer safe to commute in. We ended up doing some minor repairs and my little brother used the car for a year or so. Fast forward to 2017 and impulse buying my 2015 Infiniti Q50..cause I need a luxury car that my kids can spill their drinks and empty snacks all over in, and slam the doors into anything that is there when they open them. It’s also important to have premium gas for a commuter like myself. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Happy ending though..sold the Infiniti and replaced with a paid for in cash 2013 Nissan Altima with 124k miles on it. So we now have NO car payments and two Nissan Altimas to get around in.

I think it’s time to analyze the overall effect this financial mistake of having a car payment for 18 years had on my overall financial wellness. Hopefully this will help prevent it from happening to others in the future. If you take an average of $350 a month over that 18 years, that’s $75,600.

πŸ™„πŸ˜¬πŸ˜­πŸ€’πŸ˜³πŸ€¬πŸ€”πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

I could have easily had one or two cars last me through that timeframe for under $10,000. What would life be like had I taken that money and invested it or saved it and used it for down payments on 4-5 rental properties? I could have used the cash flow to pay for a car of my choosing. Also, did having to ensure I could cover that $350 every month make me less of a risk taker on chasing dreams and playing it safe for a steady paycheck? Deep thoughts and questions we will never know the answer to.

What I do know is that I drove myself down a road paved with bad decisions for 18 years, but better late than never to realize it’s time to take a different road. πŸ˜‰

I’m curious..what is your biggest financial mistake and what did you learn from it?

Haircuts At Home

Well..against several people’s wishes 🀣 I went for it and cut a little over an inch off using the Unicorn method. πŸ’‡πŸΌ πŸ¦„

BEFORE:

My thoughts πŸ’­ ummm..I wish I would have tried this sooner!! I haven’t looked at the back, but my husband said it was straight, and he has to be seen with me, so pretty sure I can trust him. I feel very accomplished trying something that terrified myself and many others for me to try. It was actually so super easy, only took about 5 minutes, and was absolutely FREE. (my husband had scissors so I didn’t have to buy anything) βœ‚οΈ

AFTER:

Just kidding 🀣..

THE REAL AFTER:

My family may be a little scared of me venturing out to their heads next, but going to try and earn their trust through β€œgentle” persuasion and possibly bribery . πŸ’β€β™€οΈ

With a family of four averaging $25 per cut, that adds up to around $900 a year and $15k over an 18 year period. This doesn’t include color, which I already stopped all together 9 months ago, or eyebrow maintenance, which I’m still trying to navigate on my own, literally one tweeze at a time (had a bad home wax incident of 2013 I’m still recovering from). 😬

The verdict: Go get you some nice shears, watch a few YouTube tutorials, put on a brave face, and go for it! If it goes well, send me a shout out. If it doesn’t go well, take comfort in knowing it will grow back soon. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

What can you do with that $15k I just saved your family? Feel free to Venmo it to me. πŸ€‘

What else do you do at home or what should I try next on my new DIY kick?!

(Disclaimer: I am not a cosmetologist and your results may vary, so you have been warned that it’s all on you whatever actions you decide to take after reading this)

My biggest financial mistake

Y’all might want to grab some popcorn. 🍿 I promise you will experience a wide range of emotions when reading this, including disappointment, anger, humiliation, sadness, confusion, and hope. At minimum, some good laughs as you get a glimpse into one of my biggest financial mistakes EVER.

I still remember 18 year old me getting my first car back at the turn of the century. πŸ‘΅ I remember it to the day..because it was on September 11, 2001. I became the proud owner of a 1997 Geo Prizm that I signed up to get a loan on, and since I couldn’t get the loan on my own, my boyfriend co-signed for me. 😳 I was a full time college student and was working part time delivering pizza and taking the max in student loans that I could. πŸ• I remember my car payment being $225 and my car insurance being just as much. So I was paying $450 just for my car and insurance. That Geo started me on the road to bad choices..so buckle up and come along for the bumpy ride. 🀣

When that boyfriend and I had a bad breakup two years later (shocker), I wanted him out of my life completely. Now that I had two years of payments, I really showed him by walking into a dealership and buying a brand new 2003 Chevy Cavalier off the showroom floor with..wait for it..ground effects. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ Everyone please take a minute and reread that and laugh WITH me. It’s best to get a visual, so imagine me delivering pizza to you. But stay with me..it gets even better. I rolled in a few thousand bucks from that Geo Prizm that I traded in because I was “upside down” on that loan. My payment was now $364 a month and I can’t remember insurance cost, because I likely blacked that out of my memory.

I somehow still had friends for the two years I drove that thing around, so thank you to those who stuck with me through the hard times. πŸ‘­ Luckily my brother was driving that thing one day and totaled it. (don’t worry..he was fine) Also lucky me that the dealership saw nothing but dollar signs on my naive ass and sold me GAP coverage, along with everything else they sold. So I was now free and clear of that additional $10,000 that I was “upside down” in with car and old boyfriend baggage. 🧳

This is the part where you started fresh..right..Mindy..right..please tell me..oh geez. One may have taken that clear break as a sign. I took it as a sign to get that SUV with the third row I always wanted..as a single full time college student..still delivering pizza and now also working another job at a video store just to get by. πŸ™„ The year was 2005 and that 2001 Dodge Durango cost me $293 a month, and I’m still blocking insurance costs out, but we can assume around $125. I eventually got a job that was an hour commute, and this was when gas was $4 a gallon, so I was basically working for free. But that job also introduced me to the coworker who heard my bitching about money on the daily and sponsored me starting the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes at her church.

What do you all think I did next? What would Dave had done? πŸ€”

Stay tuned for Part 2..

6 months down!!

What better day than Amazon Prime day to give an update on how my No Spend Year is going. I wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for my coworkers. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ While shopping holidays like today have never really appealed to me, I will say the No Spend has been a bit of a challenge the past few weeks. 😬

Timing was just right that I had a really amazing friend gift me some clothes that I absolutely love and am so grateful for (my new fave skirt..it has pockets!). I did end up buying sunglasses a few months back because mine broke, which I considered a need for eye protection. I also bought some stuff, including a T-shirt for a fundraiser for a friend, but I don’t count that since it was for a great cause. I’ve been battling with buying a pair of sandals for work. I can technically wear flats that I have, so not sure this qualifies as a “need”. Do my feet really “need” sandals when it’s 100 degrees out, but still frigid cold in the office? Probably not. Lastly, I bought a new AppleWatch and new Nike running shoes, but these I can explain..I promise. I work for a great employer, and both were FREE as part of my employee benefits package. Yes you read that right..and yes we are hiring. πŸ˜‰

Overall, I’m SO PROUD of myself for the amount of restraint and growth I have experienced this first half of the year. I would like to thank the former “consumer” in me for knowing her weaknesses, and avoiding emails by unsubscribing to everything, and staying out of any of my “trigger stores”. πŸ˜‚

I would estimate that over the past 6 months, I have likely saved upwards of $2,500. This is just an estimate based on my previous patterns. My old consumer self went to Target 2-3x a month and would average around $100 per trip, along with usually having my hair colored every 10 weeks at about $85, and don’t forget buying some makeup here and there, shoes, and at least one big “seasonal” shopping trip for new clothes around $500ish total. Don’t forget the little random purchases here and there also. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

I’m really looking forward to continuing to save and invest my money for the second half of the year, which will help keep me on track. Besides the savings of time, money and not having extra clutter, I definitely have a different mindset about money. Knowing that every day I’m trading my time for money, reminds me that each purchase, no matter how small, has to be bought with hours of my life. That’s a powerful translation of currency that will always stick with me going forward. πŸ•° πŸ’΅

This is us

I thought with all the new followers, it’s a good time to re-introduce the magic behind mysemibasiclife (you read that right..I totally referred to myself as the magic). To celebrate, my daughter humored me with a photo shoot, and my favorite was one of the bloopers. 😜

Sometimes life is more about what happens behind the scenes, between the β€œperfect” pictures, when you’re trying to pose and get the best lighting, hide that lazy eye, those wrinkles and those frizzy grey hairs. She captured all of these things, all of my imperfections, including crows feet I didn’t even know were there. How fitting to show my imperfections to all of you who have been following along on my imperfect journey to financial freedom. This is me..always laughing at my own jokes, never taking things too seriously, currently staring off into space like only a true dreamer can do. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

This is the entire family that puts up with my latest crazy schemes, understands the bigger picture behind those crazy schemes, sometimes appreciates my hilariously witty comments and penny pinching ways, and packs in the car with me for that fifth trip to the library in a two day period. πŸ˜‚

You weren’t there for the early years, the dark debt days 😬 where we were living beyond our means and got ourselves into a financial spot where all of our paychecks were going towards debt. But you have now followed along as we ditched the debt, got rid of car payments and paid our last student loan off, which puts us at a grand total of $165,000 in consumer debt paid off!! You’re following as I am feeling weak, but holding strong and halfway through my #nospendyear. You followed along as we bought our first rental property and are following along now as we now search for the next one. πŸ‘€

We are excited to continue sharing our life after debt journey, including our ever changing goals, working on growing our net worth, celebrating the success, overcoming the setbacks, and the blood, sweat and tears along the way as we define what financial independence looks like for our family. πŸ”₯

Enough about us though..I want to hear from you..what’s your story? What topics that I’ve covered have helped or would help you along your journey?

What questions do you have for me?

πŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸΌπŸ‘‡πŸΌ