Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Ways to Stick To Your Grocery List (and avoid over-spending!)

I must admit, I very often overspend during grocery shopping. I love going through all the shelves and checking out new products and reading labels and comparing and being intrigued with nice packaging.
Groceries, like bookstores and thrift shops are my happy places. I always look forward to going to the supermarket, even if it is only to buy a bottle of banana catsup.

But then, because I love grocery shopping so much, I tend to overstay and therefore, overspend. I try to stick to my budget, and for many months now, I can say that I have succeeded, most of the time. So what are the things I have done differently resulting to my no longer spending more than I have planned?

1. Write a grocery list. If you are already familiar with the lay-out of the supermarket you frequent, try to write down your items according to the supermarket lay-out. I mean, if upon entering the supermarket, the first shelf you’ll see is the canned goods section, list all the canned goods you need to buy first. If the next shelf you’re going to find is the condiments and cooking supplies section, write down the stuff from those shelves that you need. This way, you don’t have to go back and forth and be tempted to loiter in those shelves and alleys you don’t need anything from.

2. Take note of the brands. Frequent grocers like me, most often than not, are already familiar which brands offer quality but are less expensive. Sometimes, though, it does not necessarily mean that if something is less expensive, it is already the better choice. Be discerning of the reputation, pricing and size of the product you are buying. Be wary and discerning of marketing strategies, too. Do not be tempted to try a new product just because its TV ad and jingle are so entertaining.

3. If you only have a few items you intend to buy for that day, opt for the shopping basket instead of the pushcart. This way, you will not be pressured to fill your cart with unnecessary purchases.

4. For those who are trying to make the healthier choice when it comes to grocery shopping, I suggest head for the fresh produce section first. Ever since I have become more conscious with what my family eats, this is what I do. I buy the veggies and the fruits and the chicken and other meat products first. By the time I have rolled my pushcart towards the middle of the grocery, where the dry goods are, either I am already tired, or my mind tells me I have reached the budget limit for that day. So the tendency is I just buy the very essentials in the dry goods, then I head for the counter and pay. This way, I have walked away from the temptation to overspend, plus I have chosen the healthier path for my family, too.

5. During days that I am on a tight budget, I prefer not to bring my daughter along when I go buy our grocery supplies. I am able to discipline myself more when I am not with her, because kids would always want this cookie and that bag of chips, these candies and those mallows… most of which are not important and necessary. I also find grocery shopping with my husband more helpful because I tend to buy only the necessities whenever he’s around. 

5 Ways to Avoid the Morning Rush

Moms of school-age children will agree that the hour… or for some, the less than an hour of preparations before going to school is always the most stressful part of our daily routine. The moment we have to wake our kids up, may I say is one of the most challenging. Who would want to be disturbed from one’s sweet sleep anyways?

In our home, my alarm goes off at 5:45am, but I usually press the snooze button twice. So realistically, I get up at 6:15am. I go downstairs to check the preparations our maid has done, then I fix my daughter’s school lunch and snack, then I go back to the room to wake up my child. I am blessed to have a reliable maid who does most of the work in the morning but I see to it that every night, before I sleep, I write down everything she needs to do. From what to cook for breakfast, to where to find the juice tumbler my daughter prefers to bring for that particular day. I make my child wake up at 6:30 am, and am I glad that it only takes a couple of minutes for her to get out from the bed.

So anyway, coming up with this smooth routine resulted from hits and misses in the past. But I am happy that we’ve been stress-free for some time now.

Before going to sleep the night before, here are the things I do:

1. Make sure all my child’s homework, to-do’s and to-bring’s to school are all ready for the next day.

2. Plan what to wear. School uniform for Monday and Tuesday as well as Thursday, Girl Scouts uniform for Wednesday and PE uniform for Friday. I make sure the maid already knows what shoes, accessories and socks go with those specific uniforms. The Girl Scouts uniform come with badges, pins, a cap, so those should be ready in the living room where my daughter dresses up every morning.

3. Plan what to cook for breakfast, snacks and lunch. As I said earlier, the maid does the leg work, I write the instructions. Some days when the maid goes to school (she attends highschool classes once a week), I instruct her to prepare everything she can before leaving early in the morning, then I do the packing. My husband brings breakfast and lunch to work so those are also in my daily instructions.

4. In our case, we don’t turn on the television during school days. Or at least in the morning before my daughter goes to school. Television stalls her and slows down the way she eats, moves and dresses up. It only took me one morning two years ago when she was only in Kinder and that’s it. I declared a no-TV policy on school mornings.

5. My daughter eats very slowly thus I make her take a bath first before breakfast. This way, she becomes alert and is more awake when it’s time for her first meal. I can even put on her socks and fix her hair while she eats.

There. With this kind of routine that we’ve been doing for the past couple of years already, mornings in our home aren’t as stressful as in other households. I hope you build the perfect routine that’s best for your family, too. 

Happy Mornings!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DIY Planner

Ever since I can remember, I've always been someone who love lists. Things to do lists, specifically. I dislike wasting my time, I get upset whenever a day passes without me accomplishing anything. As early as when I was in gradeschool, I remember scouring the bookstores for the perfect calendar. A few years later, planners have been invented and I was an instant fan. I love writing down what I needed to do for every single hour, sometimes even every half hour. At night I'd record what happened during the day.

As years, okay decades passed by, my taste for the perfect planner levelled up. And there just wasn't anything available in the stores that fit my needs and my lifestyle perfectly. Either there aren't enough spaces for my records, or the alignment isn't according to my taste, or the color of the cover isn't my style. Ohwell.

So this year, I have decided to make my own planner. For about 3-5 years already, my husband always receives at least two planners for Christmas. And since he's not the type who'd use one, he always end up giving me those. I am a happy wife each time he does, because that saves me a hundred or so pesos to purchase one for myself. But then again, most of these planners have very, and I mean, VERY limited space.

Okay, I digress. As I was saying, this year I am making my own planner. My husband, again gave me around 3 notebooks this year. Two are planners, and one is a hardbound, leather notebook. Because the latter was lightweight and looks nice, it won and is now my 2015 DIY Planner.

I have yet to take pictures of it, but just to give you an idea, here are the portions/segments/corners I have included on a week to week basis:

Dates of the week
Main Focus and Project for the week
Days of the week with space space space for my daily activities
Personal To Do-List
Work To Do-List
God's Word Page (this takes more space as I tend to write a lot depends on what the Holy Spirit tells me to)
Notes/Doodles/Ideas Corner
Highlights of the Week/Gratitude Corner
And for every quarter, I have devoted a special page for Analysis and Progress.

Also, on the first few pages of the planner, I have written down my WORD/THEME for the Year, and my Scripture Verse for the Year.
As well as a Vision Page where I write down how I see myself in:

one year, three years, five years, ten years, twenty years, forty years.

So there, making mental note and including in my list now that I have to take a photo of a sample page to share with you.

In the meantime, here's to all of us LIST LOVERS and PLANNER FANATICS!