A Simple Habit To Increase Your Savings Exponentially

How to reduce spending

There are two ways you can create wealth. 1. Earning more money 2. Saving more. Out of the two, we have more control over our spending habits than earning more money.

Even if you have lean budget and you don’t want to reduce your spending, there is one simple way that will greatly reduce your spending.

It’s quite simple: ELIMINATE WASTE. It’s around the same line of MINIMALISM. Minimalism indirectly helps reduce the waste. Let’s say you have tried all the ideas to reduce grocery spending, and want to reduce it even further, look nowhere other than your kitchen.

  • Go to your kitchen and find out the items that are about to expire. Make some meals out of them
  • Create weekly meal planning with the ingredients you already have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. Once in a few weeks, I cook all my meal from items in the kitchen without buying anything from the store. Those are days when I get creative and cook some different meals. Some turned out to be really nice, some turned out to be ok
  • Clean your fridge, freezer, and pantry once a month. When you take everything out for cleaning, you are forced to see the unused items that are about to expire
  • Maintain a “Monthly Waste” list and stick it in the freezer. Every time we waste something, that item and its value are entered in the waste list. It’s easy to throw something and not think about it in the next minute.  But when you write the item you wasted and its value, you can feel a pinch in your heart. So next time when you waste something, you’ll think twice (the current one in my mind is unused Asparagus stems in the fridge. I’m thinking of making a soup out of it. Hopefully it turns out well)

Where to start:

Below is the timeline I follow when it comes to cleaning the unused items.

ItemTimeline
ClothingOnce a month
Kids ToysOnce a quarter
FurnitureOnce every 6 months
Anything that's torn and not fixedevery 3 months
Kids clothesAfter every season
Foodafter expiry date (obviously)
MedicineAnything that you know you won't use it anymore + expired
Makeup + skincareanything not used in the last 3 months + expired

How to avoid waste:

  • Don’t buy bulk if you are not going to use the item within 2 months
  • If the item doesn’t excite you, it has to go. Whether it’s piece of clothing or a kitchen utensil, if you don’t find it exciting to use or wear, it needs to go
  • Invest in good quality items and buy less. For example, I only have 4 kitchen vessels in total (including my pressure cooker). I cook all my meals using those 4. It’s been over 2 years since I ditched my extra utensils and I haven’t missed them so far. Try it. you’ll be surprised.
  • Have a budget (Here is more on how to start budgeting). High-quality items are typically expensive. If you buy expensive items within the budget, you cannot buy too many items and fill up the house

When you start implementing the above ideas, you might feel like you’re throwing away too many items at once. But those are the items you have not used for a whole or you can no longer use. If possible consider donating them or selling them on Facebook. Once you’re past the first step, the total waste goes down and you can eventually see a difference both in your spending as well as in your life.

Weekly Meal Planning – April 17, 2017

Indian weekly meal planning + weekend prep

Super late to the menu plan party for this week. My dad flew to India last week and Chuttu started daycare. A lot of things were happening that I didn’t have time to put together a menu on Thursday. Nevertheless, here I am sharing my next week menu with you:

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnacks
Whole wheat pancakeRice, moong dal sambar, and carrot curryPesarattu with coconut chutneyFrozen yogurt bark (my favorite dessert lately)
Dosa waffleRoti with Chayote kootuIdly with coimbatore style kurma (this kurma is my mom's recipe. I'll share the recipe later)Chia seeds energy balls
Oatmeal breakfast cookiesRoti with eggplant kootuBaked pasta + SaladCrunchy puffed rice snack
Cereal + smoothieLemon rice, tamarind rice, and potato fryTofu masala burgercarrots with dip, fruits
PB&J with fruitsRice, yogurt gravy, and beans-lentil usiliSalsa soy casserole (I will replace soy instead of chicken and use grains instead of rice in this recipe)
Masala lentils

If you’ve been following my blog, I don’t follow a set rules on the menu plan. I change it according to our current lifestyle. This week I included Snacks in my menu planning.

Do you know why? Because I’ll be sharing my weekend-prep with you in a video if you’d like to join me. I do prepare some of the snacks during weekend to keep healthy snacks around the house all.the.time.

Below is my weekend-prep list. Would love it if you can join me as well:

  • Chia seeds energy balls
  • Puffed rice
  • Cooked toor + bengal gram dals for paruppu usili
  • Cooked lentils for snacks
  • Cooked moong dal (for sambar + instant payasam)
  • Whole wheat pancake

Below is the list of ingredients you need for the above menu: 

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnacks
Spinach
Egg
Instant oats
Nut butter
Chia seeds
Flax seeds
Milk
Honey
Goji berries
Whole wheat flour
Banana
Dosa dough
Moong dal
Chayote
Eggplant
Carrots
Lemon
Tamarind
Potatoes
Yogurt
Green beans
Toor dal
Black beans
Salsa
Corn
Grains
Soy chunks
Chia seeds
Puffed rice
Peanuts
Yogurt (for frozen yogurt bark)
Raisins
Chickpea
Baby carrots
Dates
Dry coconut
Pistachio
Walnuts
Flax meal
Cacao
Vanilla extract
Nutmeg (optional)

Once again, if you are looking for some Indian meal planning inspirations + support, check out the Indian Meal Planning Support Group in Facebook. I’ll see you around! 🙂

First YouTube Video on Weekly Meal Planning

I’ve been meaning to shoot videos on meal planning for at least a year. As an outgoing introvert (!) I’m always hesitant to throw me out in the world, be it in the blogging world or YouTube world. After so many months I got the courage to do my first video and here I am posting it on meal planning. Guess that deserve a separate post? 🙂

Healthy Dessert: Frozen Yogurt Bark

Healthy Dessert - Frozen Yogurt BarkI hope i’m not the only one who has sweet tooth and crave something sweet after every meal. It’s definitely an effort not to go overboard on sweets. So I don’t keep any just food at home and I’m always on the hunt for healthy desserts.

Recently I came across this frozen yogurt bark and in the last couple of weeks I made it twice. The first time, I finished almost all of it in one day. The second time, rest of the family joined me. Yup!

Frozen Yogurt Bark with Kiwi Fruit

Ingredients:

  1. Vanilla yogurt (You can even use plain yogurt and mix it with Honey)
  2. Mango
  3. Walnuts
  4. Raisins

Direction:

  • Simple pour the yogurt onto the baking sheet and spread evenly
  • Top it with mango, walnuts, and raisins
  • Freeze overnight
  • Break it into barks and Enjoy!

Side notes:

  • The bark can topped with any your favorite fruits and nuts
  • It required less than 5 minutes of prep time
  • It has enough sweetness from natural sources to satisfy your craving
  • Fat free yogurt works perfectly fine
  • I got box full of bark from just 1 small cup of yogurt. So even if you eat all of it, the total calories will be less
  • You can make the bark as thin/thick as possible. The freezing time varies depends on the thickness

Child Planning Checklist

As much as baby brings joy to the family, baby also adds major set of responsibilities for parents. Whether you’re thinking of planning for a family or currently pregnant, a little preparation for the upcoming Bundle of Joy helps you better prepared for your baby’s future.

Doctor Checkup:

Before planning for a baby, do your annual checkup (if you haven’t done one in the last 12 months), take that multivitamin, and workout. If you have any issues such as thyroid, PCOD etc, it’s time to address them. Reg multivitamins, I was told by the doctor to take prenatal vitamin at least 3-4 months before we start planning.

Insurance Needs: 

Health Insurance:

Does your employer offer health insurance? If not, search for the one that fits your upcoming needs. If your employer offers one, check your current enrolled plan to see if it fits your needs. For us, HSA was a little expensive than the PPO plan. My pregnancy was better covered under the PPO plan and we didn’t pay much other than the deductible for our second delivery. Even though we paid high premium, considering the delivery cost and doctor visits after delivery, PPO plan worked for us. For our son (my first delivery), we were under HSA plan. Comparing both the plans, PPO was a better plan for my pregnancy.

Life insurance:

Life Insurance itself needs a separate discussion. In summary, if you don’t have life insurance already, make sure to have term life insurance (why “term life insurance” is another big topic) to cover the baby needs until he/she becomes independent. I’m talking about 20-25 years term life insurance here.

Plan a Trip:

My husband is a big travel bug. We traveled quite a lot until our son was born. Even though it didn’t stop us from taking trips, the trips are shorter and planned completely around the baby for the first few months.

We took our baby moon trip to New Orleans just few weeks before my delivery. We are so glad we took it. Take that baby moon and travel as much as possible before delivery (if you health permits). Life takes a 180 degree turn after the baby is born.

Childcare:

I’m not kidding when I say some good daycares have long wait-lists. One childcare I know, had 2.5 years wait-list. Research the area you live and understand the available childcare options. Even if you don’t need to register right away, it’s good to have it in your list.

Baby Furniture:

If you are having a girl, get a full size ladies dresser. If you having a boy, get a man’s chest of drawers. If you do not know if it will be a boy or a girl, wait until the baby is born. By doing this, you eliminate the need to buy baby dressers etc. which will become useless after a few years. If you start off with full size furniture, it will be useful for many years to come.

Baby Freebies:

Here is a full list of baby freebies available for expecting moms. Babies add additional expenses. So, don’t forget to take advantage of these freebies.

Baby Essential Checklist: 

There are millions baby essential checklists available in Pinterest. Buy only the essentials until the baby is born. I got checklist from multiple sources and started putting together one of my own when I was 3 months pregnant. In the next 6 months, I tweaked it so many times and bought only the essentials.

For first time parents, until the baby is born you might not be able to predict the exact things your baby needs. Let me tell you, each baby is different. For example, my son hates the crib and my daughter loves it.

Education Plan:

If you are planning to contribute to your kids education plan, explore the options available in your country. 529 is an education savings plan in US. Here is more on how to choose a 529 for your kids. You can start investing in 529 plan in your baby’s name after he/she is born.

If you planned anything else other than what’s in the list, do let me know. I’d love to add them here.

Choosing the Pediatrician:

Start interviewing pediatricians as soon as you can; there are a LOT of well baby checkups and vaccinations the first year. If you can, talk to all of the doctors and nurse practitioners in the practice since your pediatrician won’t always be available in an emergency.

RELATED:

Post-Delivery Freebies from the Hospital

8 Baby Freebies For Expecting Moms

How To Choose A 529 Plan For Kids Education?