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How to Organize Finances

My weakness in saving money is keeping track of finances. I am not very good at accounting! I am happy to report that I did set up online bill pay this week! It was easy to do and I think it will help me stay organized. Below are some tips on personal finance organization.

Don't miss our tips for How To Organize Finances to stay on track and in budget!

10 Essential Tips on How to Organize Finances

By: Mrs. Not Made of Money

Keeping finances in order is a difficult task for many people. However, it does not have to be so hard. Here are 10 tips for keeping your personal finances organized.

Use accounting software.
There are a number of companies that have created software specifically for the purpose of helping individuals to manage their finances. Accounting software can help you track your spending over time and to help you successfully maintain a budget. You also don’t have to worry about missing bill payments again, because most accounting programs will allow you to set up reminders. This software can be a huge help during tax season, as you will already have everything you need to complete your taxes neatly organized instead of having to dig through a huge pile of papers to find the information that you need. We use Quicken for our finances and prepare our taxes with TurboTax.

Create an organization system for your important papers.
You should consider investing in a filing system for your important paperwork. This will help you to locate the items that you need in case of emergency or at tax time.

Take a list when shopping.
Have you ever gone into the grocery store planning to get one thing, then left with a basket full of items? Making a shopping list can help you to reduce the amount that you are spending at the store and keep you focused on purchasing the necessities only.

Eliminate bills for useless services.
If you are not using a particular company’s services regularly, stop letting them charge you every month. Instead, call the company immediately and cancel those useless subscriptions.

Store valuables in a safe deposit box.
Storing valuables in a safety deposit box can keep these items safe in case of a house fire, theft, or another adverse event. It will also help you stay more organized by assessing the value of important items in your home.

Sell old items before buying new ones.
To reduce clutter and save money, make it a rule to sell a used item before purchasing a new one. If you are interested in buying some new gadget or gizmo, consider selling the old ones first. That way you can have some money to put toward the new electronics while also removing the old items from your home.

Close duplicate accounts.
If you have multiple credit cards or bank accounts, consider closing the ones that you don’t need or don’t use often, especially if they have monthly or annual fees. This can help you to those fees on those accounts and also help you to figure out what your actual income and expense levels are more efficiently.

Invest in a shredder.
Nothing can make it more difficult to get organized than to have tons of paper cluttering the house. Consider investing in a shredder to get rid of some non-essential papers and protect your identity at the same time.

Review your credit report.
Keeping track of your credit report will help you to keep track of your credit and help you to notify the credit bureaus immediately if there is any strange activity in your name.

Pay the bills online.
Paying bills online helps to reduce paper waste. They can also often be automated to ensure that everything is paid on time.

Keeping your personal finances organized can help you save money and simplify your life!

10 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Personal Finances Organized was reprinted with permission from

Do you have tips on How to Organize Finances? Share it with us below.

Tips for Staying Motivated to Cook

If I don’t plan my meals, I am often tempted to go out to eat. Thankfully I live in an area that requires a bit of a drive to restaurants! The drive is deterrent for me and forces me to cook. I have found that writing out a strict menu plan does not work for me. I like a flexible plan! Determine what works best for your family- a flexible plan, a written out weekly menu or even a monthly menu.

Motivating Yourself to Cook At Home

By: Mrs. Not Made of Money

Cooking at home always seems like a good idea when you’re charting out your monthly budget. You know that cooking at home is cheaper than eating out, and you probably even like the idea of sitting down to a family meal together. The problem comes into play when it’s 6 PM, and you haven’t even started dinner yet. How do you resist that temptation to just gather everyone up and shuttle them off to McDonald’s or Applebee’s?

Create a Weekly Menu

The first key to keeping up your motivation to cook at home is to have a plan. The worst question to be stuck with on your way home from work is “What am I going to fix for dinner?” You can avoid this dilemma by creating a menu plan for the entire week all at once. Create your plan on Sunday (or whatever works for your family’s schedule). Then, shop for the entire plan. Now, it will be easier for you to go home and cook dinner than it is to start all over again and decide where you’ll go out to eat.

Do the Prep Ahead of Time

The next key to motivating yourself to cook at home is to prep as much of your dinner as you can in the morning before you leave for work. No one wants to work eight hours and then come home to prepare a meal that will take two hours to cook. However, if you know you already put that casserole together and that all you have to do is pop it into the oven, cooking dinner at home seems much more hassle-free.

Remove Temptations

Finally, one other key to staying motivated to cook at home is to remove the temptation to spend extra money on eating out. Once you decide what your allowance for food is for that week, place that amount of cash into an envelope. Take that envelope with you and use that money when you purchase your week’s groceries. Now, whenever you’re stricken with the temptation to eat out that week you can simply look into the envelope and see if there’s enough money to eat out there. If there’s not, you know you can’t eat out.

Often, many people choose to eat out because it just seems so much easier than cooking at home. However, if you plan and prepare your meals you can remove, or at least minimize, a lot of the obstacles to cooking at home. In no time at all, you’ll wonder why you ever preferred to eat out.

Motivating Yourself to Cook At Home was reprinted with permission from

For more tips on menu planning and cooking on a budget checkout Make the Most of Your Grocery Store Budget and Make the Most of Your Meals.

Planning a Wedding on a Budget

It’s wedding season! Some of you may be planning weddings yourself or have friends that are planning weddings. Did you know that you don’t have to break the bank to plan a wedding? With some planning and doing some work yourself, you can have a nice wedding on a budget.

My husband and I had an evening wedding with approximately 150 guests on a very tight budget. For the next few weeks I would like to share a few tips on how to plan a frugal wedding. Now if you are not planning a wedding, I hope that you can implement some of the tips in the next large party you host!

If you have family and friends that are willing to help, don’t be afraid to put them to work! I am lucky to have a very supportive and talented family. My mom and I made a list of people who offered to help. We noted their talents and strengths. My aunt and cousin have wonderful voices so I asked them to sing. The bridesmaid dresses and table decorations were made by my wonderfully talented mom. The party favors were put together by me and my husband. Our engagement pictures were taken by my grandpa. And the food was made by all of us!

From the beginning I knew that we could not afford a catered event. But, I did want a dinner. We ended up having a cookout (or barbecue as we call it in California!) style meal that was made by family and friends. My great uncle grilled beef and chicken. The other menu items were homemade chili beans, green salad, garlic bread and potato salad. My dad arranged a deal on the meat with the butcher at the grocery store. The bread was purchased from a local bread company at a discount. The rest of the items were purchased in bulk at Costco. It took some organization to feed 150 people, but it worked and the food was great!

We did have wine and beer at the reception. At the time, Trader Joes had a good inexpensive Two Buck Chuck Wine. Whenever it was in stock, I would go buy a case. Around New Year’s Eve, I stocked up on the champagne by watching the sales. It was much easier on the budget to buy a little at a time. Plus, it was much more affordable for us to purchase the alcohol versus a catering service.

Ask your friends and family members if they are willing to help out at your wedding or event. Figure out what you can do yourself that will be more cost effective. Although it was a lot of work, I enjoyed doing a lot of the wedding planning. It was sure rewarding when almost everything worked as planned!

Next week, I will tell you how to make inexpensive favors and decorations! Have you planned a frugal wedding? I would love to read your ideas!

Now it’s your turn!

If you are a blogger, write a post about your idea for making dollars out of change. It can be on any topic as long as it has to do with saving money. Please link directly to your post and not your homepage. A link to Madame Deals in you post is appreciated!

If you do not have a blog, we still welcome and encourage your participation! Please leave your thoughts in the in a comment below!

This post is linked at My Coupon Teacher.

Preserving Fresh Strawberries & Cherries

This weekend we picked strawberries and cherries at  local orchards. I always pick enough fresh fruit to preserve some for the off season months. Some of the fruit will be frozen and some will be canned. Of course we eat a good amount of fresh fruit too!

To make your fresh fruit last longer, do not wash it until you are ready to eat it. For cherries, pick them with the stem on to make them last longer. Always pick ripe yet firm berries and cherries.

Cherries Image

If you don’t own a cherry pitter, try using a large paper clip or safety pin. The frugal in me decided not to buy a cherry pitter for the one time a year that I buy cherries. I found that using the rounded end of a safety pin worked very well.

cherry pitting

Freezing fruit is very easy. Wash and de-stem the fruit. Place a single layer of fruit on waxed paper on a cookie sheet. This step is called flash freezing and it is done so the fruit doesn’t stick together. Freeze fruit that is ripe, but not mushy.

Freezing Strawberries

When the fruit is frozen through, remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible. I have a hand held vacuum sealer that I use, but it is not necessary. The fruit will last for several months. Since they are not all stuck together, you can take a small amount out at a time.

This year I am going to try canning Strawberry Butter. It is basically just strawberry puree and sugar. Strawberry Butter requires less sugar than jam which will be healthier for my boys! They love jam but I dislike the amount of sugar that it requires. Canning is perfect for fruit that is a bit mushy and very ripe.

Other fruits I have planned for the summer: Blackberries, Peaches, Blueberries and Apples (and most likely in that order!). Picking your own fruit is a lot of work, but it is a family fun event that we look forward to each summer.

Affordable Wedding Gift Ideas

As wedding season rolls around, you may find yourself scrambling for an affordable wedding gift. I have been to several weddings in my life, and I always make sure to bring some type of gift, no matter where I am money wise. There are plenty of thoughtful gifts that won’t break the bank. We wanted to put a list together of some ideas for you to find the perfect gift for the new Mr. and Mrs. that you can afford, and they will love!  Below you will find some ideas on affordable wedding gifts.

Invited to a wedding and a little strapped for cash? Here are some great wedding gift ideas that are affordable and the bride and groom will lo

Affordable Wedding Gift Ideas

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Grocery List

Top 10 Reasons to Use a Grocery List

10. Because you always forget the one item necessary to make that recipe.

9. Because if it is not on the list, it’s a “NO”.

8. Because your child just sneezed. Tissue, huh!

7. To relocate that pesky fly.

6. Because you are at the store and you don’t know why.

5. To protect your cart from the extra junk food.

4. Mommy brain!

3. To distract the shopper next to you. While they pick up your list, you pick up the last sale item!

2. How else would you remember all of our rock bottom deals?

1. Because you can submit your list to