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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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. 😊

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)

Teach Them Instead

I always hear people and have even said myself that “I want to give my kids everything I didn’t have” or “they deserve the world” and obviously that doesn’t mean buying a bunch of crap and “spoiling” them. But let’s be honest..it kind of starts to look like that no matter how much you try not to spoil them.

We make sure they have all of the latest and greatest name brand clothes, hot toys or electronics “because their friends have them” or “because we just couldn’t resist the clothes sale and went a little overboard”. We make sure they are attending all of the activities and getting them top of the line sports gear and paying a little extra for that personal pitching coach (or whatever your sport is). We’ve all been there, and even though they are persuasive, I don’t think they really care about any of those “things” they get.

I decided to change the game this year while I still have the chance. Instead of spending money on them, I’m more interested in spending time with them. My kids both still want to hang out with me, and the older one could change her mind tomorrow (she’s turning ten soon and really into herself and her friends these days, so my window is getting narrower by the day).

So why wouldn’t I use this opportunity to spend as much time with them as I can and start teaching them the things I wished I would have known instead of buying them what I didn’t have? We had both kids help with painting and cleaning up at our rental house, and we explained all the details and why we bought it. I also recently read The Latte Factor with my oldest and we talked about it as we went along, and how the little things add up financially. We’ve also been doing a lot of walks and pool time and there’s so many options that don’t cost money.

So why not save that money you were going to spend on junk, invest it in some real estate or other retirement account and instead invest your time with your kids. I have a feeling the kids will hold on to the memories with you for a lifetime and forget all about that new outfit or toy before they even outgrow it.

No more Preschool Payments!!

It may just be May 1st to most people, but today is the end of a chapter of our lives in the Templeton house. It’s a bittersweet moment. We got to write our LAST PRESCHOOL CHECK EVER!!!

While I am sad about my little man growing up, I am not sad about no longer having that expense. We are fortunate that we have only been paying for Part Time daycare, and Grandma watched both kids two days a week. We paid her by sending her articles about how we are helping her stay young by letting her watch the grandkids. 🀣

When I go back and add up our total for two kids, we have paid over $71,280 total. 😳 And that was just for part time. While it is a lot when you add it all up, both of our kids attended Montessori school and I do believe that a great preschool experience is a foundation for a lifelong love of learning. We moved a few years back, and wanted to ensure we lived in a great school district, so they will continue to have access to a great education as they go K-12. We also are fortunate that Matt works from home, so we have saved big on before/after care.

If you’re keeping track of my #debtfreejourney you will remember that a few weeks ago I also sold my car. Between no more daycare, no more car payment, and no more premium gas, we are saving around $1,150 a month!!! πŸŽ‰

That money can go towards our #realestateinvesting goals or towards paying off the last of our student loan debt.

Anyone else celebrating a major money win right now?! Let’s celebrate together. πŸŽ‰

No Spend Year Check-in

There have been 107 days that have come and gone in 2019. Of those 107 days, I am very proud to say that I have stuck with my no spend challenge!! If you haven’t read my original post, I started with saying no clothes, no shoes, no purses and no accessories will be purchased for the WHOLE year. Once I saw how easy it was and began to see my savings build, I quickly made the decision to add on no dying my hair and no makeup. I’ve also had a few questions along the way that I wanted to answer.

Yes..I can still eat out or grab a coffee if I choose. I am continuing to live off my monthly allowance like I’ve done for years, and once it’s gone it’s gone (until the next month).

No..I do not have a giant stash of makeup somewhere that I’m using up. I have decided to go makeup free and only use a tinted moisturizer/sunscreen and occasionally curl my eyelashes. Never been more confident in my own skin!!

Yes..my family is supportive..for the most part. 🀣 My husband rarely shops, so it’s not a big deal for him to go a year without. The kids did recently get new shoes, socks and undies, so I’m not depriving anyone of necessities over here. My son had a growth spurt, and I did also get him a few pairs of pants and shorts the next size up.

We also have lucked out and scored some awesome free stuff (love our neighborhood and finding freebies). When we have outgrown stuff, I usually try and post it to pass on to another family. It’s like a free exchange of goods and it’s awesome!! It’s where I get almost all outdoor toys, sports gear and this month alone, I got all the clothes pictured below, including a nice Adidas jacket and bonus Christmas gift bags they came in that I can reuse, a few nylabones for the puppy, a used IPOD, a wicker outdoor set, a bike and a puzzle. I have given away some clothes, pull-ups, a few toys, Tupperware, slime making supplies, etc. It also helps me with an outlet for purging while downsizing to a more minimalist lifestyle. Do some research and ask around if you don’t have a neighborhood page..there are free (or practically free) resources everywhere!

Like I mentioned, I have LOVED my No Spend Challenge so far and have gained so much from it.

1. I’m forever changed when it comes to spending habits. If it doesn’t bring me value..I don’t need it. Through this process..I’ve also learned about and refocused on what I truly value.

2. I don’t miss anything..none of it..the cute new outfits, the freshly dyed hair, the $100 random Target trips, the sales at Old Navy, Ann Taylor outlet, etc. I honestly don’t even remember where all I used to shop, because I’ve been unsubscribed and haven’t gone into a store in so long. So nice having my money and time back!!

3. I love using what we have and swapping with neighbors because it makes me feel like motha earth would totally high five me for respecting her ass and I’ve met some cool peeps along the way.

4. I secretly love being rebellious to societal norms of consumerism and taking a path less traveled. It’s just icing on the cake if I inspire a few people through my journey who also begin to think twice about their own habits and values.

5. The little things DO add up and I’ve been able to do some big things because of it (the big things took years of hard work, but the no spending certainly helps). In the past 107 days, I have used my new relationship with money, and the savings I’ve had while not consuming, to get one step closer to being debt free (paid off car last week). In the past 107 days, we have also purchased our first rental property.

Interested in joining? I encourage you to give it a test run on a no spend weekend, week, or month and see how it goes. If it’s surprisingly easy, or you are ready to dive right into the deep end, you can jump on in for the whole year with me. πŸ˜‰

And don’t forget the power you hold in your life and beyond!!!

Organizing my life

I don’t know if the eleven years of me bitching finally wore my husband down or what, but I’m so happy for what he finally did to organize our lives. You may have seen my post last week on Instagram about the garage door incident..if not, shameless plug to go follow my_semi_basic_life on IG and FB. You’re seriously missing out on everything, because a lot of times I post short stories and pics there. πŸ˜‰

But back to my point. Trying and failing at times to live a more minimalist lifestyle leaves us with a million places to be at once sometimes. I don’t want to glorify the “busy” life, but I think we all fall victim to overcommitting our time once in a while, and it can get hard to keep up with a husband, two kids and three dogs (yes the dogs have activities). 🀣

To give you a glimpse into our world in the month of April, here are a few examples:

I have to travel for work about once a week, my husband is gone for a week for work, daughter has softball two nights a week, Girl Scouts every two weeks, along with a family camp out, son has t-ball two nights a week, there’s 735 bday parties including my sons bday, aerial yoga classes, ladies night, book club, dr appt, dentist appt, dog obedience training classes, dog walker helping a few days, school presentation, Easter activities, take your kid to work day, contractor and property management bids and sweat equity to get our rental renter ready, and likely several things I’m forgetting. Keep in mind that doesn’t count normal stuff like groceries and food prep or the urgent care visit I’m waiting for as we speak for a sick kid…phew. Are you exhausted just reading that?! Try living it! Once again..not trying to make being busy seem glamorous, as it just escalated really quickly, and by the time I noticed, I was already in too deep. 😬

But my awesome husband set up a Family Sharing calendar and it’s a GAME CHANGER. We can at least now add events as we learn about them, so the other person knows what’s up. For my next trick, we just have to figure out how to be in two places at one time. 🀣 If you are a single head of house family, this would be great to coordinate with the other parental unit or even for grandparents or people that help with care.

We have iPhones and I’ve conveniently placed directions below (full disclosure that I didn’t set it up and have no clue if these are legit directions, but Google rarely lies).

If you use Android, first of all, stop that. πŸ›‘ But if you must, directions below for you.

Now you can coordinate your busy schedules also..your welcome. πŸ˜‰

Also, please feel free to share other apps or ways you calm the chaos in your life..would love to hear other ideas. πŸ’‘