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. ๐Ÿ˜‚. 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. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ The front container is another awesome one for those of you who like sandwiches of any variety. ๐Ÿฅช 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. ๐Ÿ˜‹

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

Advertisements

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) ๐Ÿฉ ๐Ÿงธ

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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) ๐Ÿ˜‚

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. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

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) ๐Ÿ˜‚

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. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

Now you know my thoughts..what are yours and please share your garage sale fails and success stories. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ 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. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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”. ๐Ÿ˜‚

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. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ•ฐ ๐Ÿ’ต

This is us

I thought with all the new followers, itโ€™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. ๐Ÿ˜œ

Sometimes life is more about what happens behind the scenes, between the โ€œperfectโ€ pictures, when youโ€™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 didnโ€™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. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ˜‚

You weren’t there for the early years, the dark debt days ๐Ÿ˜ฌ 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!! Youโ€™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. ๐Ÿ‘€

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. ๐Ÿ”ฅ

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

What questions do you have for me?

๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

Be a Goal Getter

I donโ€™t care who you are..you need goals. Think of the old cliche saying that totally applies here..how are you supposed to get where youโ€™re meant to go if you donโ€™t know where that is? I firmly believe that if you take everything else out of the equation, mindset and goals are the biggest drivers of if you will or won’t do something. It also doesn’t matter if youโ€™re on a different path than me and think Iโ€™m crazy for my recent FIRE movement ๐Ÿ”ฅ, you still need goals and the right mindset for whatever your movement is, whether financial, personal, professional, relationships or health related.

Donโ€™t be a flake and say something vague like โ€œI want to pay off my debtโ€ or โ€œI want to lose some weightโ€. If thatโ€™s your goal, then you may as well replace it with โ€œI donโ€™t want to accomplish anything ever” and just get excited about carrying around those extra 15 lbs and all that consumer debt for the rest of your life. We wouldn’t have paid off all of our debt and bought our first rental by being flaky..period.

Instead, set yourself some SMART goals for whatever you are trying to achieve. Stop and brainstorm your life, past present and future state. I know everyone is “busy”, but sometimes you have to make it a priority to stop and reflect. Think about tomorrow, end of the year, two years from now, and maybe even think even farther, like 5-10 years from now. With us being halfway through 2019, itโ€™s also a good time to look back on the past six months. What do you see? Do you like what you see? What will happen if you continue the way you are? Will you get where you want to go?

After you think about your path and your big picture, which will be different for all of us, think about 3-5 micro goals over the next 6 months that will help you get that much closer to your big goal. Get all high tech and write them on a post it and put them on your fridge…where you see them every day. ๐Ÿ‘€ (bonus points if they fall off all the time so you have to look at them even more when you pick them up off the floor)

As you can see, I have crossed out and updated a few of mine when my priorities shifted and opportunities came my way that altered my original timeline. Be ready to adjust as life comes at you, but even when things don’t go as planned, don’t ever give up. Remember to set your goals high enough to push you while making sure they are also attainable with some focus and hard work.

Donโ€™t forget to stop and celebrate your successes as you hit your goals. Then make sure you continue to set new micro goals to get you that much closer to where you want to be! We need to think bigger and get some new goals since we’ve already paid off the student loans, currently looking for our second rental and also pretty sure we have increased our net worth by $25k just in the past few months. So I’m curious..what are some goals you have crushed and what are some that didn’t go so well?

$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. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

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. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ด ๐Ÿ‘ถ ๐Ÿผ

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. ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ

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. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’ธ

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. ๐Ÿคข

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. ๐Ÿ™„

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. ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ˜Ž ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿผโ€๐ŸŽ“ ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽ“

Net Worth Tracking

Iโ€™m almost embarrassed to admit that I never really thought about or paid much attention to our net worth until about 6 months ago. I didnโ€™t really understand that it wasnโ€™t just for โ€œrichโ€ people, and that everyone should at least have a general understanding of where they stand and where they are headed. But itโ€™s also probably better that I didnโ€™t, because my net worth was in the negative and that could have been very discouraging.

Now that we are almost done with our student loans, our final liability (minus our mortgages), Iโ€™m going to start using net worth as my new way to set goals and measure success and/or failure. It’s so easy to take your assets and subtract your liabilities from them.

With getting rid of liabilities and adding a few assets, we have seen a significant increase in our net worth in the past 6 months. Itโ€™s crazy how setting goals, taking action, being consistent, tracking progress and thinking about and sharing with others can really help accelerate success.

Does anyone else geek out on net worth or am I the only one?! ๐Ÿค“

Curious about your own net worth?

I found a cool free app that is easy and also curious what others use to track. WealthPlus Net Worth by Little Appshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wealthplus-net-worth/id933534901?mt=8

Follow me @my_semi_basic_life on Instagram if you aren’t already, and tell a friend or two if you like what you’re reading. ๐Ÿ˜‰