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7 Ways to Maximize Your Budget

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A woman works in her notebooks at her desk. The title "7 Ways to Maximize You Budget" is overlaid.

If you don’t budget, you should. Even if, by some miracle, you have money pouring out of your ears, you should still have some sort of financial plan and outline. So let’s say you’ve taken care of the creating a budget part and now you’re looking to maximize it and stretch every dollar. This is the guide for you.

I’m going to skip over the things like “make coffee at home instead of buying a daily latte” because if you’re on a budget, you’re already not spending $5 a day on coffee (and if you are, you need more help than I can offer). This tip-sheet is about maximizing your budget by addressing the little things.

Related Reading: Creating a Bullet Journal

1. Adjust your diet

I’m not saying reduce down to Ramen noodles and peanut butter! Hopefully you can afford a little bit more than that. There are ways to adjust your grocery list.

First things first: stop spending money on “happy snacks”. You know, the food you eat that makes you happy but doesn’t give you any good nutrients; I’m talking about chips and cookies and donut holes. You love them, but you don’t need them. Don’t spend $3 on those Cheetos and instead get yourself two apples for $1.

Second, cut back on meat. I know, I know, how dare I suggest giving up bacon!? But I’m not. I’m just suggesting that you reduce. I won’t go on about the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet here, but instead focus on the financial benefits: it’s one less thing you have to buy, and meat is fairly expensive. For the $6 you would spend on some chicken, you could buy a bag of quinoa, some veggies, and eggs instead and still feel full. You don’t have to cut it out entirely, but switching to one day, two days, or weekdays without meat can provide a lot of benefits.

Third, get creative with your staples! With the right spices, you can do a lot with rice, beans, tomatoes… Check out our Pinterest board dedicated to eating on a budget, and/or this
Hot Mess Kitchen: Recipes for Your Delicious Disastrous Life cookbook.

2. Cancel Your Subscriptions

While getting athletic leggings for a third of the price at the store or boxes of snacks from around the world sent to your home each month sounds like a great deal, it can actually be a waste of money if you’re on a budget. Think about it: how many of those makeup products you get in your monthly subscription do you actually use after your first try them out? Maybe one out of five. So now you have a growing pile of products that you don’t use. See? Wasteful.

3. Sign Up For Smart Subscriptions

I know, I know, I just told you to cancel your subscriptions because they’re not budget friendly. But some of them are! Like Dollar Shave Club: for $9 or less a month, you get four razor heads sent to your house instead of spending $15+ at the grocery store. The little things add up, so shop smarter not harder… Does that work? We’re going to say it works.

4. Shop Sales and Stock Up

Make a point of shopping thrift and discount stores first whenever you can. Need a new pair of jeans? Check out TJ Maxx and Ross before going to a designer store; you just might get lucky.

And when your regular-buy items go on sale, buy them. Even if you already have one at home. (This is of course dependent on how strict your budget it). This happened to me recently: I ran out of my favorite Dry Shampoo but couldn’t spare any money to buy more. But behold! in my closet was a backup that I had bought the month before when it was on sale. At the same time, I had bought two bottles of mouthwash because it was a BOGO sale. If you know you buy it often–toilet paper, toothbrushes, canned beans–buy it when it’s on sale, even if you don’t immediately need it. In the long run, you’ll save yourself some cash and some heartbreak.

Related Reading: 7 Ways To Enjoy a Night Home Alone

5. Fill Out Surveys and Sign Up For Cash Back

Grocery stores will often have some sort of rewards system. In Colorado with King Soopers, it’s point towards gas discounts. At the bottom of my grocery receipt is a chance to fill out a survey and get an extra 50 gas points (I need 100 for $0.10 off every gallon). It’s a bit tedious, but it’s something I can do while watching TV, and if I do it twice in a month, I get my savings. It’s all about the pennies sometimes.

There are also great apps like ibotta that can earn you some more cents on the dollar and get you cash back. It’s not a get-rich-quick solution, but it adds up over time and can make for a nice gift to your future self.

A man works on his laptop on his coffee table. It's important to take a few minutes to utilize reward and cash-back programs in order to maximize your budget.

6. Think “Big Picture”

When you’re on a budget, every penny counts. But in the long run, it’s worth it to buy things like mouthwash and floss. Think about it: it’s cheaper to pay for these items than it is to pay for a cavity. Don’t sacrifice your health in the short run to save ten dollars: take care of yourself and avoid a $500 doctor bill.

7. Shop Where It’s Cheap

I already mentioned shopping at discount stores, but this time I’m talking about zip codes. Different cities have different prices and different sales tax percentages. Example: it cheaper for me to buy gas in Longmont than it is to buy it in Westminster; it’s a difference of a couple of dollars to buy food and goods in Westminster than it is in Denver. Now, I’m not going to drive thirty miles to save $0.05 per gallon of gas, but I make a point of filling up where it’s cheaper, even if it’s only a quarter of a tank. Things to think about.


Two pineapples float in a blue pool, lit by the sun. The title "7 Ways to Maximize Your Budget" is overlaid

These are the tips that help me get through the rough patches and make the good patches all the better. What budget hacks do you use?

Two pineapples float in a sunlit pool. The title "7 Ways to Stretch Your Budget" by TwoFeelsWrite is overlaid.
February 27, 2018

Carpe Diem and Other Ambitions for 2018

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Carpe Diem ambitions for 2018

Every New Year’s Eve, I get excited about the new year coming. Anything seems possible, so I make a mental list of all the things I want to do. In reality, I usually only do a couple of those things. I’ve never actually finished a checklist, even if it’s just what I need to grab at the grocery store. But I always make a list so I can go back and remember “oh yeah, those are all the things that would make me happy”. I know we’ve already mentioned some mantras for 2018, but here are some of my personal aspirations for this year.


Budget successfully

Since I started bullet journaling, I see how much money I spend and on what each month. This has helped me realize that I spend way too much on material things, things that I’ll probably get rid of in a couple months anyway. My goal is to pay off as much as I can on my credit cards and loans. Last fall, I switched my car insurance, which has saved me about $50 a month. I also transferred my credit card to an outside bank with 0% APR for 21 months so I can catch up on payments without the interest. I’m looking at ideas by The Penny Hoarder and seeing which work best for me.


“Me” time

Photo by Anna Demianenko on Unsplash

I’m surrounded by people nearly everyday. I work on a team, I have roommates, I hang out with friends, I talk to the cashier at the grocery store. It’s good to have that interaction with people, but sometimes I need to step back and have time to myself. I find peace when I’m doing puzzles, writing, reading, exercise or watch T.V. by myself. It’s a place where I can zone out and purely focus on what I’m doing without interruption, like a meditation of sorts. I want to take an hour a day once a week at LEAST to dedicate to myself.


Related Reading: 6 Mantras to Live By in 2018


No complaints

I know I’ve already mentioned this in our other post, but I’m really serious about it. Too often I hear myself coming up with excuses of why I can’t do something. Granted, money is usually a factor, but I need to think of other alternatives. I don’t want to make people feel incompetent or left out on my account either. So instead of insulting or saying something negative, I’m going to work on constructive criticism, controlling frustration and letting others speak before I do.


Good vibes only

Carpe Diem and Other Ambitions for 2018

I have a lot of friends, but I also have had a lot of people who have hurt and dismissed my understanding and friendship. So as a favor to myself, I’m cutting out those people, and focusing my energy on myself, putting in the effort where it counts. I don’t want to look back and see how much effort I put into something and never realized until all that time was past. I want to take initiative, be forward, push for what I want, what makes me happy and involve those who want to be included.


Related Reading: Our Bucket List for 2018


Carpe Diem

I want to be able to end my day with a sense of accomplishment. I have a journal where I can write one line of whatever I want everyday for the next five years. That page should be something that I am proud of, or an influence someone had on me that day. I want it to be for what I’m grateful for and things that make me happy. I don’t want to take it one day at a time, I want to make it into an event.

January 2, 2018

Creating a Bullet Journal

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bullet journal


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About a year ago, I noticed my coworker writing and doodling in a journal. I figured this was just a planner (she was planning her wedding so I figured it was specific to that). However, when I walked to her desk and asked what she was doing, she said it was her Bullet Journal. She opened it and showed me all of her different pages she had created. She had a section for her wedding, a monthly and weekly calendar, a page with all her usernames and passwords and a page with all her bills, how much each was and when they were due. Each topic was in a different color ink to help her stay organized. That day after work, I set out to buy my own.


What is Bullet Journaling?

Bullet Journaling is like having a journal, a planner, a budget sheet and everything else crammed into one location. Each Bullet Journal is specific to your needs. There are a lot of ideas on how to Bullet Journal on Pinterest.


Where do I start?

TUL Bullet Journal Leather 6 3/4" x 8 3/4"I chose to make my Bullet Journal the way my coworker had, but in the smaller size. My journal is made by a company called, TUL. I bought a TUL Journal because they make all the accessories for the journal as well (inserts, pens, dividers, rulers etc.). What I like about TUL is that I can move the sheets of paper around at any time, and the sheets are thick enough for pen not to bleed through. I bought graphing and lined paper for mine so I could draw calendars on a scale and have paper to write on like a journal. Mine is a  leather, junior size (6.75″ x 8.75″), but there are less expensive journals by TUL for purchase as well. I like the junior size because it’s an excellent travel size (it can fit in my purse perfectly). I bought the leather because there are inside pockets on the front cover, and the material is durable and will last a long time.




I started off by making a cover page. I put a quote that I liked from the internet and tried to make the page look pretty, because this page will always be the first thing I see when I open the journal. When I looked up information on Bullet Journaling, I found several resources that gave me insight on what to include in my bullet journal. The main sections I have in mine are a: Future Log, Monthly Log, Bill Breakdown, Budget Graph, Passwords Page and a section for journaling. I originally inserted an Index and started to number pages. Now that I’ve had my journal for about a year, I never use it, so I jump right into my Future Log.


Future Log

This is the section where I can have a bird’s eye view of the entire year. This is where I can write in holidays, birthdays or major events in this section and use it as an outline for the monthly log.

future log bullet journal

Here is a shot of my 2018 calendar. When I write in my events, I’ll use different colored ink for events. Then, I’ll use that same color to make a box around the date on the calendar at the top of the page.


Monthly Log

montlhy picture bullet journalNext, I make a calendar for each month. I usually draw in a picture with a quote on the front page, just to announce the month with some fun. I usually chose a holiday or event that happens within the month. For example, August I put a picture of the solar eclipse, and March I put a “lucky” quote.

The monthly helps me so I can write in more details on what is happening each day of monthly log bullet journalthe month. I write in vacations, birthdays, holidays and events. I also write in when each of my bills are due and how much they are. This is also how I keep track of all my spending (how much I spend on what day). I use a different colored pen to mark whether it’s an essential living expense (bills, groceries, gas) or “fun” spending (eating out, drinks, shopping). There’s a “notes” section for lists I may need to make or for phone numbers, addresses etc.

There are dividers you can buy to put in between each month, but I just stick on different colored stickies on the edge. Each sticky has the first three letters of the month and makes it easy for me to grab and flip to that month. You can see what I’m talking about on the picture under Future Log on the left side.

Bill Breakdown

At the end of each month, on the back of the page I make a budget sheet. This way I can keep track of when my billsMonthly budget sheet bullet journal are do so I’m not late. Or if I have automatic withdrawal, I can prepare myself and make sure there’s enough money in my account. This also helps me determine how much I spend on necessary expenses vs. “fun” expenses.


I include my paychecks to make sure I’m not overspending each month. This helps me determine how much I can afford to put into my savings each month. The expenses will be specific to you and you can add whatever you like. However, not everyone will need this sheet, but if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, I’d highly suggest it.

yearly budget sheet bullet journalAt the end of the month, I add up my expenses and my earnings and put it on a graph. This shows me what months I overspent at just a glance. Since these pages are mobile, I move this sheet around a lot, but usually keep it in the front of my journal to remind me of my spending habits.



Passwords and Journal

The back half of my bullet journal is lined paper. I keep a page all the way at the back with my logins and password written on it. A piece of ribbon is taped to the back cover to use as a bookmark in my journal section.



There are so many options for building a bullet journal. If you’re finding yourself struggling to stay organized or always stressed about money, I highly suggest starting a Bullet Journal. Do your research and look up all the possibilities for your own Bullet Journal, you won’t regret it.


October 31, 2017