March Meal Plan Madness!

Welcome to March meal plan madness!

To be honest, planning meals each week is one of my least favorite tasks. I run out of creativity and often get stuck in a rut of the same meals over and over again. However, I am committed to making weekly meal plans, because it is the best way for me to avoid overspending at the grocery store. Like I mention in this post, spending less each month means that Andy and I can save more money for a down payment.

In honor of the Final Four coming to San Antonio this weekend, I thought I would post our meal plan for March.

Here’s a few quick notes about my meal plans:
  1. I only plan dinners. We eat much of the same thing for breakfast (eggs, toast, cereal, oatmeal) and lunch (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, leftovers), so I already know what items I need to buy for breakfast and lunch.
  2. We only eat meat for dinner 2-3 times a week. We like to save money by eating more vegetarian meals, but we also like the way our bodies feel after eating a vegetarian meal.
  3. I usually only plan one week of meals in one sitting. This calendar shows the past four weeks of planning.

Let the madness begin!

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

1

2

3

potato soup, apple-cinnamon muffins and salad pizza and salad veggie frittata, polenta and salad

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

sloppy joe and roasted potatoes spaghetti with artichoke hearts, bread and salad vegetarian tiki masala, rice and salad tacos, corn and Spanish rice veggie burgers, roasted potatoes and salad pizza and salad hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad and carrot sticks

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

Take out from Subway 🙂 spaghetti, bread and salad burrito bowls pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes and salad veggie frittata, corn muffins and salad pizza and salad roast chicken, mashed potatoes and a green vegetable

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

veggie burgers, baked potatoes and raw veggies (ie: carrot sticks, cucumber slices and cut bell pepper) breakfast tacos and Spanish rice pulled pork sandwiches, homemade mac and cheese and coleslaw pesto chicken pasta (using leftover chicken from roast) and salad teriyaki veggies and rice pizza and salad tacos, corn and Spanish rice

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

pasta, bread and salad burrito bowls hot dogs, baked beans and potato salad veggie lasagna and salad leftovers 🙂 pizza and salad BBQ chicken, sweet potatoes and corn

Join the madness and let me know how you like to meal plan by leaving a comment below!

Credit Temptation

I felt it last week: the temptation to get a credit card.

It all started in a harmless way. In anticipation of summer, I was thinking about how nice it would be to escape the Texas heat and go visit family in the temperate Northeast. The girls and I have a very flexible schedule in the summer, and we love quality time with family.

The problem is that we live several states away from them. Going to visit family requires either a two-day drive or an easy three hour flight. Of course, our mad dash to save for a down payment means forgoing luxuries like air travel. Or does it?

Enter the timely mailing from Southwest Airlines reminding me that we are frequent flyer members. It tells me that I can earn more miles by applying for and using their handy Southwest credit card. In fact, when I am approved for the card, I will automatically get enough points to cover two round trip tickets to any where in the Continental US!

I imagine stepping off the plane in Pittsburgh and feeling fresh and energized with two happy children rolling their suitcases in tow.

 

Poof! A little red demon complete with pitchfork and pointy beard appears on my left shoulder. His voice is smooth and reassuring.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “You can pay the balance off each month. You won’t even accumulate debt. You’ll just earn frequent flyer miles while making regular purchases.”

“Wait!” an angel on my other shoulder shrieks. (The angel strongly resembles Andy.) “What are you thinking? You’ve been through the credit game before, and you know that most people don’t win.”

I remember the credit card debt that I quickly accumulated as a college student. (You can read the full story on this post.) That credit card made it easy to buy without being aware of how much I was spending and how much I owed. Before I knew it, I had maxed it out.

The demon presses his pitchfork into my shoulder. “Don’t listen to him. Think about all of the visits that you can take to see family. Think about skipping all of those hours in the car and flying in comfort.”

“Think about the hidden fees,” the angel rebuts. “Think about the non-usage fees. Think about the credit card companies getting rich on people’s poor financial decisions.”

Poof! The angel and the demon disappear, and I come back to my senses.

The angel is right. I can’t resist the temptation to overspend with a credit card in my wallet. The credit industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is built on the understanding that people will buy what they can’t afford or don’t realize they can’t afford.

This summer will not bring easy, breezy flights to visit family, but at least I won’t be stressed out over spending too much on credit.

 

The Drive to Save

During the summer breaks of my college years, I, along with hundreds of other university students from across the country, participated in a Christian leadership training program in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We worked together at various establishments, lived together, learned Christian leadership skills together, and so forth. Twice each week, the students crowded into an area church (thankfully, outfitted with crisp air conditioning) and a pastor addressed us about any number of topics: evangelism, servant leadership, maintaining a Christian witness in college, and many others.

One time my pastor took up the topic of marriage. His delivery was capital, and, because he was speaking to hundreds of young adults about a topic that we all desired to experience, he held our rapt attention. The most memorable part of his comments was a story about a young man he had mentored. The young man was convinced he had found his future bride. Knowing the young lady, my pastor supported their union. But there was a condition: “You need to save $10,000 before you ask her to marry you.” When I heard this statement, I expected the story to end by my pastor saying the fellow required several years to accumulate that sum. I was wrong. Driven by his desire to marry, the young man saved every cent in short order. The story demonstrates that, when the longing is present, money can be saved quickly.

Thankfully, Ginny and I are not saving to marry. But we, like the romantic in my story, are driven. And drive is a major requirement in saving.

We have received some helpful advice in the area of saving from Dave Ramsey and his team. Click here to sign-up for a five day email series from Ramsey that is chockfull of tips on saving for a down payment.

How has your drive helped you save? Share your story below in the comments.