Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University – Week 1

Retirement

If you’ve never attended or even heard of Financial Peace University, then listen up. Financial Peace University is a 9 week course that covers pretty much every financial topic the typical American family needs to know about. It was developed by Dave Ramsey (the guy on the radio) and his team. Each session covers a specific topic and is comprised of watching a video and then some nonthreatening group discussion. The course is usually put on by local churches all over the country. I highly recommend it if you feel like you’re in need of help with your personal finances, or if you wonder if you could be doing a little better. (Hint, you probably could be doing better.)

Our church is putting on a session at each of their locations. It just so happens that the Saturday one fit best in my schedule this year, so I volunteered to help. So for the next 9 weeks, I’ll be talking about some of the highlights and hopefully entice you to sign up for it in your local area. I’ll admit that not everyone agrees with Dave Ramsey and his approach to each of the topics, and that’s fine. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes.

The first weeks session is Super Saving. It covers the basics of the saving components of the program. Dave breaks down his program into the 7 baby steps. Step 1 is to put $1000 in a baby emergency fund and step 3 is to save up 3 – 6 months of expenses as a fully funded emergency fund. He also covers the basic importance of saving in general. The truth of the matter is that you can’t rely on others to take care of you when you get older, and you’re only hope is save money for yourself.

Of the entire lesson, I think the part that has the biggest impact is the story of Ben and Arthur. In the story, Ben saves $2000 a year for 8 years (age 19 – 26) for a total of $16,000 and then stops. Arthur starts saving at age 27 and saves $2000 a year until the age of 65. The funny thing is that in the end, Arthur never catches up to Ben and Ben ends up having about $750,000 more than Arthur. This alone stresses the importance of saving money and starting early.

If you get nothing else out of reading this blog, understand that it’s important to SAVE MONEY and START NOW!!!! If you have kids, or know anyone in high school or junior high, show them the Ben and Arthur link here. If that doesn’t get them motivated to save money, then we’re all in some deep trouble.

Featured Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is a Roth IRA and why do I need one?

Beach

I’ve been pretty focused on finding products and services that will save you money in each post. However, this week, I wanted to take a break from the usual and discuss the Roth IRA. I’m sure everyone has heard of them by now, but perhaps you’ve still got some questions. Well hopefully I’ve come up with just about every question you might have and answered them below. If there is a question that I missed, please post it in the comments and I’ll get the answer for you as quickly as possible.

What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is a type of retirement account that usually contains one or more mutual funds.

What makes a Roth IRA special?

When you put money into a Roth IRA, you put add to it after tax money, which means the money that you take home in your paycheck. The special part about this is that it grows TAX FREE since you used after tax money to fund it.

Grows tax free? What does that mean?

It means that if you put in $1000 into your Roth IRA and it grows over several years to say $50,000, you can withdrawal money out at retirement and not pay taxes on any of it, including the growth. If you had $50,000 in a 401k and decided to pull it all out at once, it would turn into something like $35,000-40,000 after taxes are paid to the IRS. Plus, who knows what tax rates will be like in the future. If they go up a lot, then you would get even less from your 401k when you make withdrawals.

Can I contribute to a Roth IRA?

As long as you have a job and report your earning on your taxes, you should be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. There are income limits however. If you are married filing jointly and make $178k or more, or you’re single and make $112k or more, you should check with a professional to make sure that you can contribute to a Roth IRA.

When can I take money out of my Roth IRA if I start one?

When you turn 59 1/2 you can usually start withdrawing money from your Roth IRA as long as you’ve been putting money in for at least 5 years. You can take your contributions out at any time before 59 1/2, but if you touch the earnings or growth, you’ll be paying a penalty. It’s best to leave it alone if at all possible. For example, if you put in $5500 each year for five years and then one year you decide that you want $2000. You won’t be able to put in $7500 the next year to try to repay the amount you took out.

But I’m a stay at home mom, can I still open a Roth IRA?

As long as your spouse is working, you can open a spousal Roth IRA and contributions can be made on your behalf up to the limit.

How much can I contribute to a Roth IRA?

The limit is currently $5500 ($6500 if you’re 50 or older) for you and your spouse, for a total of $11000. However, you can’t contribute more than you made so if by some chance you made less than those amounts, that would be your cap. Chances are if you make less than that, you’ve got bigger concerns than contributing to a Roth IRA.

Can I start a Roth IRA for my child?

In most cases, the answer is no, unless they made money and you file a tax return for them. So if you’ve got a child actor on your hands, then you might as well start a Roth IRA early for them to maximize the savings.

What does it mean to put money into a Roth IRA?

When you invest in Roth IRA, what you’re really doing is putting money into an investment, such as a mutual fund under a Roth IRA umbrella. The Roth IRA umbrella is what determines how the IRS treats it.

I hope this has been helpful. Before opening a Roth IRA, I would suggest speaking with an investment professional to make sure that you invest in mutual funds that meet your desired goals.

Featured Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recommended Reading Added

I’ve added a recommended reading page to the site. This page includes books about personal finance, career, and any other topics that should be helpful as you navigate life and money. Please check out the books that are there. I plan on adding more as I have a chance to read or review them.

Please check out the recommended books here.

Foot Family Project

Foot Family

In preschool, our youngest was assigned the project of creating a foot family. For those that don’t know what that is and can’t figure it out from the picture, it is essentially a picture made up of outlines of each family members foot, turned into something fun and supposedly represents our family.

My wife likes to take these types of projects on as a personal challenge. She doesn’t think that she’s very crafty, but I think she really underestimates what she can do. So last Sunday, we headed off to the local craft store to find everything that we would need to make a castle setting with a king, queen, and two princesses…out of feet. Unfortunately, our favorite store for these things, Hobby Lobby, was closed on Sunday, so we headed over to Michael’s.

Needless to say, they didn’t have many of the things we needed and definitely not in the size that would be in scale to our feet. This caused us to have to rethink what we were going to be. I took the kids so mom could reevaluate the situation. Eventually, we decided to head over to the Dollar Tree store to see if they had anything that we could use.

Surprisingly, they had just the right items to turn our feet into the barn animals you see in the picture. For $5, my wife bought construction paper and 4 kits that are normally used to turn paper bags into puppets. Needless to say, it turned out to be a success and I’m sure it’s the best foot family in the class. So while the craft stores may have a lot of options, they may not be the best or cheapest option.

Recovering From Unemployment Part 2: Delayed Gratification

Needs Wants

Delayed gratification is just a fancy word for patience.

I don’t think that anyone is born with the immediate skill of patience; rather it is perseverance developed with experience and a true desire to mature and grow.   I certainly do not come by this skill easily, and tend to want what I want when I want it. (What?)  I am the main spender in the family as I do all grocery, clothing and heavy machinery shopping.  (Just kidding about that last one.)  And while my husband definitely cannot be trusted to walk into a store without “accidentally” buying a can of Pringles or something, the blame for our grocery budget busting definitely falls on me.  I am a marketer’s dream!  $3 tank tops?  Get one in each color!  That gum I tried but didn’t like is packaged in a new container?  Try it again!  10-pack of toilet cleaner?  I won’t have to buy any for a year!

You get the picture.

It took me a long time to realize that people on a tight budget don’t have money for any of those things.  It wasn’t until I sat down and put our finances on actual paper to see that we needed to get frugal, fast.  Being frugal isn’t something that has ever come naturally to me.  I’ve never been a saver and I’ve never been very wise with money…until now.  Unemployment has been very good for me in that aspect, and I can honestly say that I appreciate the years of financial struggle that aren’t quite over because they’re definitely helping me grow wiser in this area.

Here’s a few tips if you have found yourself in the position of not quite recognizing need from want:

  • Have you existed without this object in the past?  Then it’s a want.
  • Can you exist without this object for a week?  Then it’s a want.
  • Will it affect your health to go without this?  Then it’s a need.
  • Will it cause major contention between you and your spouse to go without?  Then it’s a need.
  • Do you feel like it would make you happy to have it?  It’s a want.
  • Does your kid tell you he/she will love you more to get it?  It’s a want.

It’s been a rough learning curve for me, honestly.  It didn’t happen overnight that I was able to go to Sam’s Club and only get what I needed and what made sense to buy in bulk.  (Toilet paper, yes.  Toilet bowl cleaner, no.)  And I still struggle to walk through any grocery store and not pick up something I don’t need…but I can do it.  Some expenses are easier to define.  When a family member needed some major dental work done, it was easy to see the need.  When my beloved 2000 Honda Odyssey died and needed a $1900 transmission rebuild, it was easy to see the want.  Obviously the dental work needed to be done.  And unfortunately, just as obviously the transmission did not need to be rebuilt.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t need my own car.  We’ve done the one-car family thing twice in the past, we can do it again.  If all goes as planned I will have saved enough to buy a newer model (hoping for 2007 or better) van in two years anyway, and I get really excited thinking about that!

Truly, this has been a good thing.  We’ve downsized not only the size of our house, but also the clutter, the unnecessary spending, and best of all that guilty feeling that accompanies the wanted item.  We’ve maximized our quality time together as a family since we don’t go out much anymore.  I’ve even minimized the time I spend doing laundry since I stopped adding multiple $3 tank tops to my closets!  I’ve also really learned the true meaning of being grateful, and while I still have to work on the skill of saying “No” to wants,  it’s easy to see when I look around me that I am blessed with all that I need.

In my next guest post, I’ll tell you some of the character-building things and ways to cut corners I’ve learned over our years of unemployment.  I think you’ll be able to see why I’m grateful for those years, as well!

In case you missed it, read part 1 here!

Featured Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saving Money with the Click of a Button Is So Sweet

Honey

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve spent hours filling your virtual shopping cart with a ton of items (hopefully ones you need) and you’re ready to check out. That’s when the promo code box appears. You think, if the box is there, then there has to be a promo code out there somewhere that will save me some money. But where do you start searching? You can start doing web searches and maybe get lucky.

But what if you could just click a button and several promo codes are tried for you automatically without you having to do a web search. Wouldn’t that be amazing?!?!?! You’re in luck if you’re a Chrome browser user. Simply go to http://joinhoney.com/ and install the Honey Chrome extension into your browser. Then when you check out on one of their supported sites the “Honey” button will appear near the promo code box. That’s when you click it and watch the savings roll in.

Or do they? I’ve had Honey installed for quite some time and I usually only shop on Amazon.com. I’ve clicked the button each and every time I checkout and I have yet to save anything. However, it also hasn’t cost me anything to try. To be fair, they do point out that most promo codes are for specific items, which I probably haven’t purchased.

Potential Savings: I wish I had some sort of guess as to what you could save. My only suggestion this time is download it and try it. It doesn’t cost a thing. Please leave some comments if it finds some savings for you.

Featured Image courtesy of piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Replacing a “Poopy” Phone

Swappa

You’re busy, and multitasking is a way of life. There are some places where multitasking should never really take place. Some of those places are obvious to most people, and some of them fall into a gray area for others. One of those gray areas is the bathroom. I know of two people personally who ruined their phones by dropping them in the porcelain throne. If it works after that, it’s never quite the same.

So what are your options?

  • If the phone works, you can keep using it until your contract renews. (Yuck!)
  • Pay full price for a new phone.
  • Extend your contract and get another phone.
  • Pull out an old phone from the kitchen drawer that’s been collecting dust.

But let’s say that you read the post about Ting and you’re convinced that you don’t want to renew your contract, or you like your big carrier, but don’t have the extra cash to go out and buy a new phone and your contract isn’t up for renewal. That’s where Swappa comes in.

Swappa is a site where users can buy and sell good, working phones. Unlike eBay, where you may never really know what you’re getting when you bid, prices on Swappa are set up front and sellers have to follow a certain set of guidelines.

  • Phones cannot have any water damage, including toilet water.
  • Phones cannot have cracked screens.
  • Phones must have clean ESNs (which means they can be activated on the appropriate network when you purchase it).
  • Each listing is approved by a Swappa moderator.

Purchases are paid through PayPal, which gives the buyer and seller extra protections.

Buyers

The price you see is the price you pay. It even includes shipping, so it’s a pretty straightforward system. If there is a certain phone model that you’ve been interested, you can sign up for notifications and receive an email each time someone lists that type of phone. If you like what you see, you can buy the phone.

I believe they originally sold Android phones, but they’ve expanded into all types of phones including iPhones and Windows Phones. They even have listings for tablets as well if you’re looking for one.

Sellers

If you’re a seller, there are no listing fees or commissions that you pay. You simply choose the amount you want to get when you sell it, and $10 is added on to pay Swappa. When the device sells, you ship the phone to the buyer and you get the full amount that you wanted. The buyer pays the $10 fee to Swappa when they buy the device. You’ll need to factor in the cost of shipping since you’ll be paying for that.

We’ve used this service several times to purchase used Sprint phones for Ting, and we’ve directed several others to use it as well when purchasing a phone. It has worked out really well and we’ve been very happy with each phone that we’ve received. They are often in better condition than we assume they will be. Sellers are usually very good at communicating with you and answering any questions you have. In fact, I have even video chatted with the first person I bought a phone from because I had some questions on how to modify it after getting it. Since then, I’ve sent him emails asking different things that weren’t even related to a listing and he’s always been quick to respond.

Potential Savings: You should be able to save 50% or more off the purchase of a gently used phone versus a new one. It all depends on the demand for the device. If it’s a new phone, the price will be higher. If it’s a year or two old, then the price will be even better, even compared to a new version of the same phone.

Parenting Moment – Our “Current” Reward System

Kid with Money

I could have called this a parenting tip or parenting advice, but that would mean I know something more about parenting than anyone else reading this. That certainly isn’t the case.

We’ve got two daughters, ages 6 and 4. One day they returned home from shopping with mom and announced that they were each getting a LeapPad. I guess the guy at the store told my wife that they would be extremely discounted in the next few weeks because a new version would be coming out for Christmas. Anyhow, we can’t let something they’re so excited about come without somehow turning it into a learning opportunity.

The reason I called this our “current” reward system is because, like most parents, we’ve probably tried a hundred different ones by now. This one has stuck for more than a few days, so I figured it was worth sharing.

So, we started with a goal in mind: a LeapPad (or Kindle Fire for the 6 years old). We told them that in order for them to be able to get their prize, they had to earn 100 kid dollars. I was able to find some great printable play money at freestuff4kids.net. We started printing out several sheets on 1, 5, and 10 dollar bills. Each kid got an envelope to put their money in as they earned it.

We’ve tried giving the kid’s money for doing different tasks around the house before. It didn’t last long since they didn’t have a specific item in mind to use the money for. Besides, they technically didn’t lose anything if they decided not to do what we asked them to do. They never had the money in the first place, so it was no real loss.

This time, we told them that they have $5 at the beginning of every day. When they choose to fight, take something from their sister, hurt each other, or do something else they know they shouldn’t do, they lose one of those dollars. On top of that, they also lose a dollar if they come downstairs after being put to bed. They’ve went to bed more than once with all $5, only to lose a good portion of them in about 30 minutes.

So far this has worked pretty well. Whenever things start to look like they may be degrading, we simply ask them “do you want to lose a dollar?” In most cases they stop what they were doing since they know that means it will take them that much longer to get that special item they’ve been wanting. Hopefully they’re thinking “is starting this fight worth losing a dollar?”

We have run into one issue with our 6 year old. She had a breakdown one evening on our way home from the babysitter because she didn’t understand how close she was to the $100 goal. She knew how much she had, but she couldn’t visualize what that meant. To solve that problem, I made a simple graph on the outside of their envelopes and we started filling it in whenever they get their dollars from the previous day. (In our setup, they can’t lose dollars that they’ve earned from previous days.) That seems to have helped quite a bit since she can now see how close she is to getting her Kindle.

I’m not going to say that this approach is right for everyone. I’m sure there are a bunch of you out there finding all sorts of flaws with this or have your own systems. If so, feel free to leave something in the comments below.

Featured Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recovering From Unemployment – Part 1: Getting Into Debt

IOU Piggybank

Unemployment: One of the most counter-productive methods of saving money out there.  And yet, it’s not uncommon to have periods of unemployment in our adult lives.  Unless you’re leaving one job for another, chances are good you’ll have at least a week or two of unemployment, right?  It can be a scary experience, especially if you have few safety nets in place!

In 2010, our sole breadwinner lost his job.  We knew it was coming, fortunately.  He was a pharmaceutical rep for a small company that was bought out by a foreign company.  It had been undergoing some major changes for years, and there was always the threat of impending job cuts.  About 6 months before the actual cut, there was a rumor that the end was near, and soon the company confirmed this.  Fortunately, we were not in debt aside from our mortgage and my student loan.  We had already been dabbling with moving out to the country, and this news sealed the deal for us.  Our house was a major drain on our finances, and while it was my starry-eyed-newly-married-House o’ Dreams, we both knew that faced with any season of unemployment we would quickly run out of money with our giant mortgage.  It was time to say goodbye to the home we’d loved for the last six years!

Despite a treacherous selling market, despite trying to sell a very unique home for far more than the neighborhood’s worth, and despite selling by owner, our home sold in 4 months.  We fell in love with a beautiful home in the country with a much smaller square footage, and happily, a much smaller mortgage.

By then, Ty had been unemployed for two months.  At the time, we viewed this as a “vacation”.  With all the flurry of selling and buying homes, it was just nice to focus simply on moving.  Our daughter had just turned two, and Ty was enjoying getting a taste of experiencing MY job – the life of a stay-at-home mom!  Once we settled in though, Ty started getting serious about his job hunt.

Little did we know how brutal this would be!  At first, we thought this was the perfect opportunity for Ty to switch careers, but while he applied to plenty of non-sales opportunities he was more than qualified for, he never even got an interview.  So eventually he decided even a job he didn’t love was better than no job, and in the meantime our severance package was dwindling.  He started applying for pharmaceutical jobs again, and began to feel the true sting of rejection.

Let’s fast-forward one year.  Ty had a few unsuccessful interviews, but mostly he felt frustrated over the interviews he didn’t even get.  This was new territory for him, in the past he would apply for a job, quickly receive an interview, and usually walk out of the interview with a job.  He had never not even gotten an interview before!  It was a humbling year, to say the least.

By January, he scored a 6-month contract with a pharmaceutical company and we were able to breathe a little easier for awhile.  We also welcomed our second daughter into the family at the end of March!  We tried to replenish our savings account, and he kept searching for permanent work.  Unfortunately, once the contract ended, Ty would go on over 20 interviews over the next year and a half – all fruitless, frustrating ventures.  We both took whatever odd cash-paying jobs came our way, but it certainly wasn’t enough to sustain us.  By the end of 2012 this no longer felt like a vacation, but rather a very scary nightmare.  Unemployment benefits were up, our savings account was dry, and there was little hope in sight.

Finally, finally…a miracle!  My parents expanded their catering business and needed a manager… score!  Not only did Ty get the career change he longed for, but also an environment that built up his crumbling self-esteem, and perhaps best of all:  A Paycheck.  It’s really amazing what a paycheck can do to your psyche, isn’t it?

Now that we have a regular paycheck, we have some work to do.  Although we had tried to budget, cut corners and be wise during our period of unemployment, we still ended up falling back on a credit card.  Most of the debt came from legitimate budget-breakers like a major dentist bill, replacing a few leaking windows, and several auto repair bills, but honestly, some of that debt came from unwise purchases as well.   So now it is time to completely revise the budget:  we certainly don’t have enough money to live extravagantly by any means, but we DO have enough to LIVE and get out of debt, albeit slowly.

The first step is to make an oath to retire the credit cards.  Those things are the DEVIL.  They are too easy to use, and they make a new pair of shoes seem so much more affordable in the moment!  We decided to take this very, very seriously.  This is a time for delayed gratification.  This is a time for continuing to cut corners.   This is a time for hope!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Delayed Gratification!

Featured Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The “ALDI” Experience

Anyone who has shopped at ALDI probably remembers their first time and how awkward an experience it was. If you managed to fill your cart with groceries (assuming you got a cart), you may have found yourself leaving it in the checkout lane and simply walking out. You might have felt like you just walked into an exclusive club where no one checked your membership card.

We had similar thoughts when we first shopped there. After the first time, my wife and I said to each other “well we tried it” and didn’t have plans on going back accept maybe occasionally. Something changed though. As we went back to our old shopping habits, we realized how much extra we were paying for the same stuff at ALDI. Why would we pay a dollar more for a gallon of milk, or frozen pizza, or spices, or almost anything else for that matter.

So we gave it another shot. After about two months of transitioning, we slowly started to feel more comfortable with it. After about a years worth of shopping there, it’s now our first choice before we go anywhere else.

ALDI Shopping Tips

Bring a quarter. In order to use a shopping cart, you’ll need to put a quarter into one of the contraptions on the cart to unlock it from the rest of the shopping carts. Don’t worry, you’ll get the quarter back when you return the cart. You may be thinking “seriously?!?!?”, but think about it. How much do retail stores have to pay for a shopping cart? If we estimate somewhere between $100-200, then by ensuring that it gets returned means they don’t have to pass that expense along to the customers each time one mysteriously disappears. Plus, you can rest assured that you won’t be parking next to a cart corral or that a cart won’t get loose and run into your car. If you’re one of those people who likes to leave a cart anywhere in the parking lot, ALDI isn’t for you.

Bring some bags or be prepared to buy some. Call it environmentally friendly, or another way to pass some savings on to the consumer, either way, you’ll need to bring your own bags or buy some at checkout. They do sell a variety of bags from paper to heavy plastic to insulated for frozen items. If you prefer, you can just grab an empty box from a shelf as you’re shopping and put your items in there when you check out. Oh, I forgot to mention, you’ll be bagging or boxing your own groceries.

Leave the checkbook and credit cards at home. ALDI only accepts cash and debit cards. It’s faster for them and they avoid the fees credit card companies charge. If you don’t remember your debit card pin number, you might want to call your bank before you head out for your shopping trip.

When you’re checking out, if there is an empty cart nearby, put it into place next to the cashier when you’re done. This saves the cashier from having to get up and move it into place and allows them to start scanning the next person immediately.

If you like to shop late at night, you’ll need to go someplace else. ALDI is only open during the most profitable hours, which means when most people would be out grocery shopping. If you like to shop at midnight, ALDI isn’t for you.

Produce can be good or bad. Many times their produce is pretty good and they have quite a selection, but you’ll want to check it out before you get it. You can always ask an employee when they get their produce shipments and they’ll be happy to tell you. That way you’ll know the best day to come in and get it at its freshest.

Things You’ll Notice

No music to calm the shopping nerves. If you hear music while shopping, you might want to get checked out by your doctor. I’ve never noticed any music being played over a speaker system. Music costs money.

To-the-point receipts. Don’t you hate those huge receipts or the six feet of coupons that print out at other stores? Well, you won’t need to worry about it because everything on an ALDI receipt is printed very compactly. It uses less paper that way.

Barcodes everywhere. There are large barcodes on items or barcodes on multiple sides of an item. This helps speed up the checkout process.

ALDI carries more than just food. You might find kids swimming pools, walkers, or a variety of other items. If they get a good deal on something, you might just find it in the store. It’s kind of like a grab bag of goodies and you never know what you’ll find.

Friendlier shoppers. The shoppers at ALDI generally seem to be a little bit more friendly than at other places. It’s not unusual to walk up to the checkout with only a couple items in hand, and have the people in front of you let you go ahead of them. This is a purely subjective observation.

Shopping at ALDI is generally faster and easier than going to a larger store. For one, there aren’t as many choices (who needs 3 brands of flour to choose from) and the aisles are arranged in a way that you can quickly move between them and get what you need.

You will find some, but not many name brands. One local ALDI even has a sign hanging up saying that their store brands are made by the major manufacturers. Does that mean all of the products will taste the same as the brand name products? Not in all cases. However, we have found in some cases that the ALDI store brand product is better than the brand name products. One example is the American cheese slices. They are meltier on grilled cheese sandwiches than any other cheese slice we’ve used. Cereal on the other hand is hit or miss. Some of them are good (like their Cinnamon Life cereal equivalent) and others definitely taste different. This may bother some people, but after a while, you tend to find out what is good to you and what isn’t. They do offer a Double Guarantee so if you don’t like a product, you can always take advantage of it.

We decided to give ALDI a try and I think it’s worth it for most people to try as well. You don’t have much if anything to lose, but a lot of potential savings. Hopefully these tips will help you feel like a pro the first time you go. We don’t buy everything at ALDI, but we do the majority of our grocery shopping there and we think it’s worth it.

Potential Savings: This is hard to quantify, but as a point of reference, we budget $430 every 4 weeks on groceries for a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 younger children who sometimes eat like adults. Most months, we stay under this budgeted amount without any trouble. Shopping at ALDI has given us some extra room in our budget to be able to purchase other grocery items (shampoo, face wash, meat items, etc.) at other places without killing the budget.

Featured Image By Bidgee (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons