Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: How Does She do a Budget: Q and A

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Does She do a Budget: Q and A


Are you all recovering from Fourth of July this morning? I don't know about you, but we go all out. BBQ with the family, water gun fights (kids vs dads), the whole enchilada. We pretty much rocked Fourth of July in the "W" Household.  That being said the little redheads are recovering from a day in the sun and a late night of firework bliss. Those bright lights never get too old to those littles do they? Heck us Moms are thoroughly impressed as well:) So while we vegge out today and recover, I wanted to answer some questions that have been filling up my inbox this past weekend.

It is time for How Does She do a Budget Q and A
All of these questions are in response to 
my How Does She Live on $14,000 a year post.

Question 1:

 "Great post! I've been thinking for awhile about making my own bread (that would be my baby step 1, I suppose). How do you store your bread and how long does it last? Thanks!"
 -from Amanda

Great question! I get bread storage bags from Wal-Mart. They are sold by all the other baggies. They come with twist ties and everything. You can also get gallon size freezer bags as well. I store my bread in those also. I usually have one loaf out at a time. Any other loaves I have that are baked will go in the freezer, until we are ready to eat them. Usually bread doesn't last more than a week here. It is gobbled up way too fast. I think though I have left it out for at least 2 weeks and it was still good. After that it starts drying out and stuff, Very similar to store bought bread.

Question 2:
"Loved this post. We also make our own bread, etc. Your tips also work great on an ecological scale too! I think you might have done a post like this before, but if not can you post about how you do your monthly grocery shoppings in depth? "
- From Stevie

 Absolutely I can! I have a post on my grocery shopping. You can find it here.
and here is how I do Costco.

Question 3:
 "Thanks for this post! I really need to buckle down and set a budget. I'm generally not a big spender, but I like to splurge on things for my girls, and they're both too young to notice it. (They're both under 18 months). I also was wondering how you get the internet so cheaply. We're paying over $50/month, and it'll go up to about $75/month when our first year runs out, which I think is outrageous. Any tips there? Thanks!" 
-From Sharon

Good Question....
Let me think. Hubby is usually the one who takes care of the internet. I know that we get the Internet through our local cable provider. Our cable company offers a few different Internet choices, when it comes to the speed of the Internet. I would call your cable company and ask what type of internet you are signed up for. You may be singed up for something more expensive and not even know it. Other than that the $35 was just what we were signed up for when we moved and hooked up the internet in our current house.

Question 4:
 "This is so awesome! thanks so much for sharing! i always luv to read how people budget, live within their means, etc. i know some people say - just do it, but it's so much harder than that! any ideas how to get your spouse on board with helping make the budget?"
-From Michelle

This is a hard one. I actually have  a friend who is going through something similar. He has big ideas for them to save money, but his wife does not want to do it. She is all for it in her words, but not in her actions. I can tell you I was very similar when I started on this journey with my hubby. I was raised in a family where I literally got what I wanted. I was privileged. I didn't want for anything. Both of my parents made very good money and were able to splurge on things for my brother and I. I had no clue what bills and hard times were before I got married. It took my hubby literally showing me where every dollar was going in the month. He showed me what we were paying on fast food, groceries, bills,clothes, etc. He asked me what my goal was for us financially and what my goals were for the future. Then we talked about weather my spending habits would support our ultimate goal. It wouldn't have. I needed to change. Hubby was only asking me to watch my spending and stick to a budget. Once I got that done, then I started in with the monthly meal planning, homemade everything and such. I took baby steps. Once I had the basics down it become fun trying to think of ways to save money. It still is!Talk with your spouse and be honest, but firm. Say that it is important for you to make a change and you want to make it together. I hope this helps. If any one else has some tips for Michelle please comment below. This is a tricky question.

Question 5:
(more of a comment but needed to be addressed)

"I think that you have some good ideas but most are not manageable! My husband and I both work and have to drive to work. Only living on one tank of gas a month is not realistic where we live! "
 - Anonymous 

First of all I wish I could personally e-mail Mr/Mrs Anonymous. If you have not linked up your e-mail please do so. I love to write everyone back, but need your e-mail to do so. Now Mr/Mrs Anonymous I understand why you may feel the way you do, but there is no need to get frustrated. Having two people going to work is totally different. My hubby only goes to school and I am a stay at home Mom. Obviously me filling up once a month works for me, but wouldn't work for you.What I would say is try other ways to save money. Don't pick out what wouldn't work, but look at my tips and see what could work. What little change could you make. Those little changes will add up overt time and make a big difference. I know they will:) Also I live in Nevada. Gas prices are different everywhere. Again just take my advice as suggestions. I am just sharing what has worked for my family. Also the once a month filling the gas tank is for both Hubby and I. 
I Wanted to make sure everyone knew that. 

 Question 6:

"Wow, I'll have to come back to this post - definitely want to invite you to join in on my Wednesday homemaking link up. :) We lived on 12,000 a year, but had help from family and did NOT own our own home. I'm curious as how you own a home... Shared with Pinterest - wishing you lots of great traffic and admirers".

This was a popular question. First off remember we planned for buying a house and paying cash. We saved the whole 5 years my hubby was in the military. He served 2 deployments to Iraq, where he received something called "war pay". We got  a little extra each month. We put that extra towards paying off our car and saving for a down payment on a house.  We also live in Nevada. If you pay attention to the news, than you will know Nevada is one of the top ten states for unemployment. Unemployment means lots of foreclosures. People have lost their homes like crazy here. It is now a buyers market and not a seller's. This is sad, but it did work in our favor. We were living in an apartment and knew that with Hubby's next semester in school we would not be able to afford the rent without dipping into the $32,000 we had saved for a house. That being said we hated thinking of spending that hard earned money on rent in an apartment. That is when Hubby decided we should buy a foreclosure. He started looking up homes. We ended up buying a manufactured home for $30,000. We used the rest of our money for moving and fixing up the house. You can see here everything we did to fix up the house. So that is how we bought our house and paid cash. We knew we only had $32,000 to spend on a house. We only looked at homes within our budget and we stayed within that budget. That was the key to making it work. I didn't need a big house. I just wanted a place for my family and that is exactly what we have and we are happy. I think people get too caught up in wanting bigger and better. We just wanted something we could afford and we could be together. That is what was important. We were looking ahead and I am so glad we did.

Also I wanted to include some of the tips you all gave. 
They are awesome and need to be shared. 

Here we go:

" is an awesome website to help with learning to budget. It shows exactly where you are spending your money and will spell it all out in graphs so you get the visual. "

"You guys are absolutely amazing!! I am so inspired by you right now. We have always struggled with budgeting and have spent the last 2 years getting ourselves back in line. It has been SO hard to only have one car, move in with our inlaws and all the other sacrifices we made...but the day we could shout from the rooftops that we were debt free made it all worth it. The thing that helped us most? Definitely the cash envelope system. I am a very visual person so actually seeing when I was out of money worked wonders for me :) I loved this post and LOVE this series!"
-From Toni

"Great advice. I have a budget and stick to it. Paying in cash is the biggie for me. Thanks so much for sharing at the All Star Block Party."
- From Holly

"What a great post, thank you for sharing. My husband and I are currently following the Dave Ramsey method. We use cash for groceries and we have a budget spreadsheet that we follow. Everything is laid out on the spreadsheet every penny is accounted for. Since we started using cash and following a strict budget we have been able to pay off our cars and have started to pay off other debt too. I really need to check out thrift stores I would love to find a bread maker and make my own bread at home."
-From Shirley

"AMAZING post girl!!!
We also BUDGET down to the very last penny! And I will second that a BUDGET IS KEY!! We do our own version of the Dave Ramsey envelope system. It was very hard at first for me. I fought it hard. BUT once I saw where all our money went-vs-where it could go I was on board. Now I can't see life any other way!!! And I will second also paying CASH is a must. It seems to hurt a little more than using a debit/credit card!"

-From Tasha  

"This is a really interesting post with good ideas. There is a TV show called "Til Debt Do Us Part" and she says pretty much the same. She gets talking to couples really in debt and gives them tasks to get out of debt. I don't know if it is available in the USA because it is Canadian but it is worth checking out. However, I would NEVER be able to pay cash for a 200,000$ house, because this is what houses cost over here. Nevertheless, I enjoyed your post. I am already very thrifty and, aside from my house, I am debt free and intend on staying that way. I think everyone should buy only what they NEED instead of what they desire. It takes a lot of restraint at first but, if you are creative, it becomes a game and a lot of fun ! "

So there we have it...the burning questions answered. I hope this all helps and I look forward to doing more in the How Does She series. All your comments and e-mails inspire me and keep me wanting to create and write. Thank you always for your kindness and for taking some time out of your day to come here to my piece of blog land.

Want to find out more ways to save money?
Check out some of my other posts:

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
Freezing Your Milk
Living on $14,000 a year
How Does She Q and A
Breakfast and Lunch: Meal Planning and Saving Tips 
Fresh Produce All Month Long 
 Save Money at Costco
Menu Planning: Pantry Staples List
Weekly Menu Plans + Printable Shopping Lists
I also love these books for great money saving inspiration

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  1. Great answers to the questions you received. I was delighted to see my comment up there :)
    Have a great weekend

  2. Hi Danielle, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please go here for the details!

  3. is an awesome website to help with learning to budget. It shows exactly where you are spending your money and will spell it all out in graphs so you get the visual.

  4. You still didn't answer the many questions about your buying fresh fruits & vegetables. ???

  5. My husband and I are getting ready to have a HUGE change in our budget. He is a high school teacher, and I am an office manager in a doctor's office, but starting September 1st, neither of us will have those jobs anymore! He is starting chiropractic school full time, we are moving to a new state, and I will be taking a significantly lower paying job. We will be living on one small income!

    So... these posts are coming at the perfect time. Thank you so much!

    One question I have (and others have had to) is what you do about fresh fruits and veggies. I know there are some that can be frozen, but what about the things that cannot be frozen?

  6. Thank you for all the great ideas and tips on saving money! I really need to save money at the grocery store so this post was very helpful! I love Costco and can't wait for the post about saving money there!

    Lori : )
    Thrifty Decor Mom

  7. I love your budgeting ideas!!!! I will definitely work on the grocery one and use only cash to pay for them. My husband is fighting cancer and unable to work and my pay is about to drop drastically so I am looking for ways to economize. We already live below our means so that's a plus. You inspired me to put my budget on paper and work it out!Thanks!

  8. After reading your blog, I was inspired to start a budget. I found a great free site to use to set up a budget that you tailor to your expenses and income. It lets you track your monthly expenses and also has a report section. It's called

  9. As a newly-wed a full-time student and a part-time waitress and wife to a full-time student this is inprorational. Sometimes I look at our bills and think how are we going to do this. I was lacking the fundamentals of budgeting and finances and I am learning them from you! We have similar ideals in life, family is what counts. And you are giving me the tools to put what is important back into focus. Thank you!
    Sherry from NY

  10. danielle, i really think you hit the nail on the head for most money problems when you answered the question about how you were able to buy a home for $30K. "...I think people get too caught up in wanting bigger and better. We just wanted something we could afford and we could be together. That is what was important." i know (from personal experience) i got caught in the status quo of what the bigger, nicer house, cars, vacations, etc would look like to others. i cringe when i write this or think about it, but i KNOW that i did and i admit it so i learn from it and not continue that cycle. there's nothing wrong with wanting and working towards better, just make sure it's for the betterment of one's family and not in comparison of what others have or think. I say this because i'm living it and hope that maybe someone else will learn from my mistakes.

  11. Love your blog and this post. How do you manage fresh fruits and veggies?

    1. I actually have a post on it. THe link is below this current post

  12. I have a family of 6. We have $60 for groceries until next Friday. Any suggestions? Please find me on facebook to reply. Dena Couch in Larned, Ks!

    1. I looked you up on facebook. Hope to hear from you soon:)

  13. I think your post is great! My hubby and I also budget, in response to the person who said their spouse wasn't really on board my suggestion is this: try to get them included in the ways you are trying to budget! My husband at first was weary of the the budget, meal planning, paying with cash, but he was all hands on deck when he came grocery shopping with me, when we sat together and talked about where the money was going, and did it together, being able to talk about each of your expectations is key! We budget for the month as a whole but then separate it into 2 week increments. This helps us since we get paid every 2 weeks, and might be good for others who are just getting started with budgeting.

  14. Curious what you do for meat? Where do you buy it? Costco bulk? Walmart? Thanks!

  15. Curious what you do for meat? Where do you buy it? Costco bulk? Walmart? Thanks!

  16. Wow this is such a great site! I have a question about how you saved up the money to pay cash for your house.Did you put it in a savings account or what did you do? Also how did you save with having to pay rent, me and my fiance are wanting to save to buy a house but its just so hard with having to pay rent. Thanks.

  17. Im not sure if my comment went though earlier so here it is again. I was wondering what you did to save to pay cash for your house. Did you put it in some form of a savings account or how did that work? Also how did you save money with having to pay rent on an apartment? Thanks.

  18. I am impressed! It takes alot to impress me. You go girl :) You are knowledgable and I love your attitude. I bet you are a joy to be around. My husband and I are very blessed, but after reading all of this, we are not "WISE". It is so crazy to spend crazy amounts of money just because you have it. I am going to talk to the hubby and get him on board. I know he will because we do everything together. You are such an inspiration. I bet you will be famous with the blog, but I know you will still be wise with your money! I want to save now, just because you made me see how smart it is. Bless you and your wonderful family <3

  19. Not sure if anyone mentioned this but Wal-Mart will match any local store ads! I always get a newspaper each week and see what sales are going on and what items I can get at Wal-Mart and price match. I do this so I can do my shopping at one store instead of wasting gas and money driving to different stores. So grab you a paper and find those deals! Head to Wal-Mart and start saving!

  20. I am in love with your blog! My hubby and I have 4 kids and he makes under 30K a year. We own my van but it needs too many repairs now so it has to go. He had to get a vehicle when he started his current job and since wehad no savings at the time we now have a loan. My question for you is how does the envelope system work? Our debit card gets us in trouble but its hubby's and get works on the road so please any suggestions on how to get him to pay attention to his spending would be fantastic!


    1. Hi there! The Envelope system is just that you have separate envelops with cash for your expenses. It is a way to hold your money and know that once it is gone for the month, it is gone. Does that make sense? You can find more about it here.

  21. I just wanted to say that I love your blog. My boyfriend is in the military and as we start to plan for our future together your blog has been so helpful in figuring out our money and plans. I'm in college and I only work part time and it is so helpful to see how you save money on groceries and projects. Thank you for your inspiring stories, keep blogging (:

  22. Wow, this is a great great Blog, You rock..
    I am so greatful to find this, I am a wife of a tech Sgt. in the AirForce, he just came back from 1 yr tour from Korea and all that extra money we thought we would have is gone.. seriously I had and still have not a clue on finances.. too much Shopping, wasting our money, multiple trips to groceries a week etc.. well he came back sept. and we just purchased our first home, its a new year and I want to be where you are at now financially stable and payed off in a few things.. your blog is an inspiration.. I am taking baby steps and I know I can do this for my 3 boys and my Husband who deserve it. I can do this... I am so excited to fully commit to this..Thank you Danielle,

  23. This blog is great! I found it from you yahoo news article. To the question about the Internet--sometimes if you have an offer from a new provider and call your current provider who wants to raise your fees when your "promotional" offer expires, they will match the other offer not to lose your business, OR at least keep you at the original promotional rate.

    I can't wait to keep reading through your posts! My husband was an Army Major and I had a good job, now he left AD and went to school. My new job pays less, and I've felt trapped that I can't compete with the friends who stayed in. Your post is so great-totally added wisdom to change my whiny attitude!


  24. I haven't seen these addressed at all and even though I see that you homeschool, I am going to ask anyway...

    how do you budget for holiday things like christmas?
    how do you budget for school supplies? (my mom always baught more folders notebooks pens etc than we needed for future needs as well)

    and this last one requires more tell before ask.
    I am a mom of 2 and hubby and I are planning on a 3rd in 2014. I bf'd my 1st but my sons dr said he wasnt getting enough (I wasnt producing enough) so I have to give him formula. On the plus side he is starting solids but still needs formula until he is one. other than switching to store brand formula (we are currently seeing if he will do well with the switch) and making most of my own babyfood (we only buy Jared bananas pears and applesauce and boxed cereals). what could I do to save on baby feeding?


    1. I'd consult an internationally board certified Lactation consultant or a breastfeeding group or even another doctor before switching to formula. There are some wonderful sites run by IBCLC's. Often doctors mistake slow gain in a child as "not getting enough." If the child has 6 or more wet/dirty diapers in a day (and poops count for two since babies pee when they poop), the child is getting enough. Visit for more info.

      I don't mean to sound preachy or anything, I just know that if I were in a similar situation and there was the possibility I could have been mistakenly mislead I would want to know about it!

    2. Hi just want to pop in and say I don't know your doctor's reasoning why he thought the baby wasn't getting enough, but often doctor's make assumptions based on weight gain so slow gainers are presumed to "not be getting enough" or base volume on pumped amounts or one or two weigh before/after eating. None of these measure how much a breastfed baby is eating. The only true indication is diapers - what goes in must come out. 6 diapers minimum per day (and poops count as 2 since they pee when they poop). If your baby was making 6 or more diapers, please continue to breastfeed and get a second opinion. If a baby were not getting enough to eat there would be other indications. If baby is acting like a normal baby and hitting milestones & diapers then baby wsa getting enough. I'd check into meeting with an internationally board certified lacation consultant and/or a breastfeeding group. (I've been there with smaller/slow gainers.)

      Regarding baby feeding - if you eat it baby can too, just make it smaller and softer! With my first I pureed what we ate and found myself still buying baby food because of the effort I put in to it. With my second I literally would take my food chopper and chop the daylights out of whatever we were having and give it to him. As he got older the pieces got bigger. I didn't spend a dime on baby food with number 2!

  25. Hi there is was wondering if you might have any tips for shopping on a budget, but with dietary concerns. I have celiac disease and can't eat most any pre-packaged/processed foods due to contamination. I am just starting out trying to live on a very tight budget (with quite a bit of debt) with my boyfriend and we find it very hard to work it with my limitations. ANYTHING to help would be so great!

  26. I have been told that cable companies charge unnecessarily for higher internet speeds than most people actually need, and they give you the higher speed for a good price on a promotion, hoping you won't notice when it goes up. So for what most people need, the lowest speed they offer is fine and you wouldn't even notice it. Second, part of your monthly internet bill is renting the modem. If you purchase your own, you will save the $7 or so they charge for it per month.

  27. To save on your internet bill, only select the lowest speed (if you're just using it for everyday browsing, or even watching movies you don't really need the higher speeds they offer). Also buy your own modem instead of renting theirs and paying a monthly rental fee. (We are paying about $7 per month for ours)

  28. Hi Danielle,

    I am curious where and how you buy your meats like chicken? Maybe I missed a blog post on this topic...but I looked a little bit and couldn't find anything about meats. I typically buy it frozen from costco, but you said you normally stay away from all of costco's frozen stuff. You can respond to me at Thanks!

    1. We actually go meatless most of the time, but when we do buy meat I look for marked down meat, really good sales, and we buy chicken, lean turkey, and stuff like that.

  29. When dealing with service providers, as long as it won't jeopardize the relationship, it may be worth it to ask if they can do better. I called our phone-tv-Internet provider about our bill and options and got extra bundle discounts and free in province long distance! I'll take whatever I can get!

    Thanks for so many inspiring ideas.

  30. Thanks for so many inspiring ideas.

    As long as it won't jeopardize the relationship, ask service providers if they can do better. I called my tv-phone-Internet provider to discuss options as what I was paying did not fit my budget, and they offered additional bundle discounts and free province-wide long distance!

    I also price match at Walmart.

    These may not add up to a lot, but I do what I can.

  31. I find it very challenging stay within my budget at the grocery store. I try to buy local and from farmers that live in my area. My average bill for two people is 150 a week. I know my diet is healthy, lean proteins and tons of fresh fruits a vegetables and I don't throw away much but I would like to keep my bill around 100. Could you advise?

  32. Have you posted how much you spend for your monthly grocery shop?


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