June 28, 2014

About Me

Hi I'm Kierste
I've been married to an amazing man since 2007, I'm A Mom to Two Boys, and I call Utah home.

I graduated with my B.S. from Utah State University in 2011
Major: Family, Consumer and Human Development
Emphasis: Family Finance

What does that mean? Basically Financial Counseling and Education
I know some things about
Credit (and Credit Scores)
Purchasing a Home
Selecting a Retirement Plan
...and a bunch of other random stuff

If you have questions about any of these topics leave a comment or drop me an e-mail at frugalanddomestic@gmail.com and I'll see if I can write a post to help you out.

I enjoy cooking, I'll share a few recipes here.
I despise cleaning, always have.

I love finding a good deal. Actually, it's probably entered the addiction phase. I also really like nice things, and I don't like to sacrifice convenience.
Really, even people I consider to be good deal shoppers are often shocked at just how much I DON'T spend.

Follow along, I'll share financial tips, great tried and true recipes, and an occasional great deal.

June 26, 2014

I'm A Mormon

Typically my posts are about things pertaining to managing personal finances and running a household. 
Today's post is not.
In light of recent publicity of Mormon women desiring to be ordained to the priesthood, I want to share my feelings as a female member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also referred to as the Mormon church.
I am not here to argue with anyone's feelings and opinions. However, I do want to share mine. 

I, personally, have never felt that I am of less value than any man within the church.
I have never felt that I could not fulfill any calling I have had because I do not hold the priesthood.

I understand that I am younger than many women in the church, but in my adult life I have been a member of 5 different wards under the direction of 6 different bishops.
The attitude I have experienced has been one of respect and of gratitude for the women of the church and the things they do to teach, share the gospel, support members and lift burdens.

I am grateful for a place in the world where I feel valued as a woman. 
I am grateful that trying to be a virtuous person is enough. A successful career, a beautiful home, high levels of education, amazing gardening skills, being a excellent musician or a fabulous cook, and other worthwhile pursuits are encouraged, but not required.  
I am grateful for a church where I feel support in trying to improve myself, spiritually and temporally.

I am grateful for a religious community where I am supported in my desire to raise children, and where doing my best in giving birth to, nurturing, and raising children (no matter how many or how few, or even if it doesn't happen in this lifetime) is enough.
I am grateful for support in wanting to spend time with my children. 
I am grateful for guidance and support in teaching those children the gospel.

I am grateful for worthy priesthood holders who have administered priesthood blessings unto me and my children.
I am grateful for priesthood leaders who have supported me, encouraged me, and provided inspired direction in my callings and in areas of personal growth.
I am grateful for priesthood responsibilities which encourage my husband to be a better husband, a better father, and a better neighbor and friend. 
I am grateful to be seen as an equal partner with my husband, every bit as valuable, though our roles are different.
I am grateful that my husband is expected to be an equal partner with me, that he expected to provide for our family and that he is also responsible for the care of our children.

I am grateful for a religion where I am encouraged to converse with God, to ask questions and to independently seek answers. 
I am grateful to be taught the scriptures, as well as encouraged to read them and gain understanding on my own.
I am grateful that I am encouraged to be sensitive and emotional in a world where I often feel that tenderness is discouraged.

Certainly at times I feel very inadequate, lonely, unworthy even, but overall I feel very blessed that no matter where I have lived I have had people around me to lift me up and encourage me.

I understand that there are women who have been offended by priesthood leaders in the church, sometimes those men were acting appropriately based on their position, other times they have been out of line. 
There are men who hold the priesthood that do not live up to their calling.
I understand the desire for life to be "fair".
Sure, I've been unimpressed by priesthood leaders before, but that does not affect my overall faith in God's wonderful plan.

I am grateful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and the purpose and direction it provides.
I am grateful for those who serve in callings they did not ask for and who often feel inadequate in fulfilling those callings.

Kierste: Mom, Mormon.
View my Mormon.org profile here.
Download a free e-book of The Book of Mormon through Amazon here.
Request a free copy here.

June 23, 2014

Budgeting Simplified

If I've managed to convince you to TRY budgeting, you're probably wondering where to start.

Keep it simple. 

Start with just a few categories, then break them down into smaller categories as you find it's necessary/helpful

If you've never budgeted before, start tracking how much you spend in each of your predetermined categories. Next use the amount you're currently spending to determine an appropriate budget for those categories.

There are many ways to budget, try one, if it doesn't work, try another one.
In the last 8 years, I've used 6 Budgeting Methods. 

If needed, try a combination of methods.

There are 4 main components to a budget:

1.  Fixed Expenses: The things that don't change (or don't change often)
This may (or may not) include:
Auto Insurance
Health Insurance (If you pay for it yourself)
Life Insurance
Cell Phones
Spending Money

2. Variable Expenses
Gas (Heat)
Home Improvement
Charitable Contributions
Auto Insurance
Gas (Car)

3. Irregular Expenses
Medical Expenses
Auto Service and Parts
Car Registration
Home Repairs
School Related Expenses

4. Goals/Savings
Emergency Fund
New Vehicles
Down Payment on a Home

This may be a fixed expense if it's a mortgage or car payment, or in variable expense if it's credit card payment or Home Equity Line of Credit that fluctuates. It may show up in your goals category if you are trying to get debt paid off, or it may not be part of your budget at all [insert virtual applause here!]

Budgeting seems simple, estimate your monthly income, estimate your monthly expenses, designate how much income should go to each expense then adjust the allotted amount until all your categories fit within your income.

So why isn't it simple?

What makes Budgeting difficult for you?

The difficulty of budgeting typically stems from one (or more) of three difficulties:

Irregular Expenses like car registrations, birthdays, swim lessons, soccer, school clothes, Christmas, auto insurance, oil changes, tuition, on and on, it can seem impossible.
Surprise Expenses/Emergencies: a car breaks down, the water heater dies, broken bones, chipped teeth...
The Budgeting Method you're using just doesn't work for you.

Here are some possible solutions:

Irregular Expenses
Write down all those expenses and the amount you expect to spend on them.
It might be easier to remember them all if you list them by month

Here's an example:
  Birthday               $XX

  Birthday                $XX
  Valentine's Day     $XX
  Birthday                $XX

  Birthday                $XX
  Birthday                $XX

  Car #1 Reg.           $XXX

  Mother's Day        $XX

  Father's Day          $XX

Then add all the expenses up and divide the total by 12(months).
This is the amount you will need to put away each month(either build it up in your checking account or open a separate savings account for just this money) to cover those irregular expenses.
There is a great FREE website that will do this electronically:
Try it out and see if it helps you keep your budget on track.

Start building an emergency fund. The typical recommendation is 3-6 months of expenses, but if you don't have anything I recommend starting with a goal of a 1 month emergency fund.
By saving 10% of your income every month, after 10 months you will have acquired a 1 month emergency fund. However your income is probably more than your basic necessary expenses so really by saving 10% for 10 months, or 5% for 20 months, you'll have surpassed your goal, especially when you add in earned interest.
[Speaking of interest, we all know that interest rates are low right now, great if you're a borrower, not so great when you're trying to save. Try opening an online/high yield savings account for a slightly better interest rate, it also makes your money slightly less accessible (it typically takes 2-3 days for funds to transfer to your checking account) so you're more likely to only use that money in an emergency. Some companies that offer High Yield Savings Accounts include HSBC, American Express, ING, and Ally]                                    
***This is not an endorsement for any particular bank, compare interest rates and policies to decide if one of these accounts works for your situation.
Establishing an emergency fund will protect your budget from hardships such as car repairs, home repairs, or job loss.

Budgeting Method:
If your budgeting method is too complicated, confusing, time consuming, or overly confining, chances are you'll fail. There is no one budgeting option that will work for everyone, and just because you find one that works now, doesn't mean it will always work for you. If it doesn't work, try another option.
I'll address budgeting methods more in depth in another post, but for now here are 2 ideas to try:

The Envelope Method is a great, simple way to start budgeting. It's visual and it's easy.
1. Gather a stack of envelopes (one for each budgeting category)
2. Write the name of each category on an envelope
3. Fill each envelope with the amount of money you've budgeted for that category.
4. At the end of the month or pay period, however you decide to budget, you can save what's left or leave it in the envelope to rollover to the next month.
            If you prefer to buy a  professional envelope system, Amazon has a couple of great options here and here.

Mint.com is a free, and quite user friendly, online option.
I currently use Mint.com to manage my budget online.
Mint automatically pulls all of my credit card transactions and allows me to easily categorize those transactions so I always know where I stand within each Budget Category.

June 20, 2014

Why Budget?

Why Budget?
Why do YOU Budget?
Why DON'T you Budget?

Many people feel that budgeting is too restrictive and frustrating. 

I find it Liberating.
 Maybe I'm CRAZY?

Perhaps I can make you crazy too!
I budget to... achieve Goals, financial goals specifically, and most of my goals are financial since most things in life seem to involve money.

I budget to... have Peace of mind. When I know where my money is going I also know whether or not I have enough to cover my expenses. I find peace in always knowing where I stand.

I budget to... acquire Security. When I know where I stand, I know if I'm prepared for the future.

I budget to... stay Motivated. When I can know where my money has gone I am more likely to make choices that align with my personal values (Not buying that candy bar means I can put that dollar toward a day at the pool with my kids or a new pair of shoes)

I budget to... have Fun. When I plan for the future I can avoid debt, and money that otherwise would have been spent on interest I can spend on other things.

June 19, 2014

Homemade Baby Food Made Simple

A Great Way to Save Money
When I had my first baby I knew I wanted to try making his food. It seemed like a great way to save money while allowing me to provide him with the best nutrition possible. However, most of the information I found made it seem complicated and overwhelming.

The Truth:
It's no more difficult than making dinner.

The easiest way to make baby food:
Cook foods in a small slow cooker.
Puree with an immersion blender
Freeze individual servings in small disposable containers.

Yes, it really is that Simple.

Some Basic Guidelines:
Look for "OverRipe" fruit for better prices or use fruit that's getting too ripe for you to enjoy.
Cherries, which were on the verge of going bad, and an Apple

I loved using Baby Carrots: They're already peeled and roughly chopped. They are a great food to start with because carrots are hard to overcook and most babies love them.
Try using frozen fruits/veggies: Because frozen produce is typically picked and frozen at it's peak the nutritional content is optimal, plus it's less prep-work for you

For Older Babies:
Start mixing multiple flavors together
Add Meats, Beans and Grains
Brown Rice, Quinoa, Dried Beans(cook overnight in crockpot): High in fiber and very inexpensive.
Chicken Thighs: Dark meat contains more iron than light meat, babies need Iron.
Leftover Pot Roast.
Whole Grain Pasta
Spices: Adding mild spices to Baby's food can make it more palatable and help prepare them to transition to the flavors of table food. Avoid salt (and bouillons), sugar and butter. The goal is to help Baby begin life with optimal nutrition, not acclimate Him/Her to eating potato chips

Carrots and Celery. I mixed some of this up with leftover Pot Roast, and some with Chicken Thighs and Brown Rice
Avoid highly fibrous foods such as Broccoli, Celery, and Grapes until Baby is transitioning more to solids. Those "stringy things" can be tough to chew and swallow.
***Keep in mind that homemade baby food will be much higher in fiber than store-bought food, unless you strain it. If you switch from one to the other quickly it could make Baby constipated or give Him/Her the runs. No Fun.

Recipes? No need.
Use your own meals or store-bought baby food for guidelines.
ex. Beef and Vegetable baby food: Roast, Peas, Carrots, Onion
Keep in mind that Baby needs lots of fruits/veggies, some grains, and after 8 months some meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese. 
Most fruits should be cooked to make them easier to digest and kill any bacteria or mold spores.

Other methods:
If you prefer just blending up what you're eating for dinner that night and feeding immediately a
Magic Bullet or Baby Bullet might be a good option. There are also inexpensive food mills for smaller amounts.

Of course, a regular blender or food processor will work just fine. I prefer the immersion style because it's easier to clean up.
Many people prefer to freeze food in ice cube trays, because a typical cube size is 1 oz. and you can thaw as many or as few cubes as you'd like.

Happy Cooking.

Leave a Comment if you have Questions, or Share a combination your little person enjoyed.

If you want specific recipes and more detailed instructions try visiting http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

June 18, 2014

Six Things My Parents Did Right When Teaching Me About Money

1.  They started young.
If I wanted something, I used my own money to buy it.
As a 3-year-old at Disneyland I purchased my first "souvenir",  a sterling silver pendant of the castle, with my own money which I had earned and saved.
As a preschool aged child I gained experience in saving up for something, and discovered the feeling of accomplishment from meeting a goal and getting something I really wanted.

{You can read my thoughts on allowance here.}

2.  They let me make mistakes
At 10 I bought a doll, a rather expensive (and well made) doll. I had saved and saved and saved. It was a big accomplishment I suppose, however, it never brought me the satisfaction I wanted. Instead of buying the same kind of doll as my friends had, the doll I really wanted, I bought something "better". It was beautiful, and higher quality, but it wasn't the same size, and because of that it wasn't easy to play with my friends and their dolls. Mine was a GIANT. I spent more money, I got something nicer, but I wasn't happy, and I'd spent a lot of money on something that made me unhappy. My parents didn't fix it. My mom let me share my disappointment, she validated me, she consoled me, but she didn't fix it.
What I learned: before making a purchase I take the time figure out what I really want and why I really want it. More is not always better, bigger is not always better, and it's better to delay a purchase than regret it.

3.  They were persistent
The stock market, oh the stock market. My dad started teaching me about the stock market at about age 12. I HATED the stock market.
My parents started a college fund for me, and EVERY time(OK maybe not every time, but it sure felt that way) the statements came my dad would make me sit down next to him and he would show me what was happening with the stocks in my account. I was confused. I was annoyed. I was positive that I wanted NOTHING to do with the stock market. I didn't even understand what stock was I didn't know why these people were paying me money (or not). I'm sure he knew I didn't understand, or care, but he was persistent.
After a few years I started to catch on, little by little. When I started taking a class in college where we learned about stocks and bonds and retirement and choosing mutual funds I was surprised at how much I knew. I was surprised that what I knew was not common knowledge. I still had a lot to learn, but my dad's persistence, with his stubborn and uninterested daughter, had given me a foundation that led to success in the class. This foundation allowed me to focus on more detailed aspects since I already knew the basics. It gave me the courage and desire to start investing for retirement.

4.  They didn't sugar coat the facts
When I wanted something that wouldn't work with their budget or priorities they told me. It wasn't dramatic, and it wasn't a secret.

5.  They expected me to have a job
There's nothing quite like having a job you don't enjoy to teach the value of a dollar. 
Every dollar painfully earned is a dollar not to be thrown away on a candy bar you didn't fully enjoy or a movie you didn't really want to see.

6.  They taught me to shop sales/clearance/second-hand
My motto: The more I save, the more I can spend.
I like to spend money, but I don't like to spend more than necessary

My favorite Pre-Loved items:
A pair of great condition designer jeans for my son at a second-hand shop for $8
A Prince Lionheart Slumber Bear (which I truly believe is a significant contributor to my 2nd child sleeping soo much better than my first) for $2. Yes, TWO dollars!
Vintage Pyrex Dishes
My Toddler's favorites:
A Little Tikes Basketball Hoop
A toddler sized football

A toddler sized putter

These finds are rare, but they make the hunt completely worth it.

June 17, 2014

Four EASY Ways to Improve Cash Flow

 Four EASY Things You Can Do TODAY to Improve Your Budget

1. Compare Insurance Premiums
When was the last time you shopped insurance rates? If it has been more than a year call 2-3 different insurance providers and ask for quotes on your auto and homeowners/renters insurance. It should take less than 30 minutes and can save you money almost immediately.

2.  Sign up for Swagbucks
Swagbucks is a search engine that shares its ad profits with its users. Download the toolbar, use it as your search engine, and it will randomly award you with points called SwagBucks, these SwagBucks can be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, PayPal credits, and other great things. I signed up about 3 years ago and use the Amazon gift cards I've earned to buy books for my Kindle and Christmas presents for my family, as well as diapers and other non-exciting things.
Sign Up Here

3.  Take A Survey
Surveys are a great way to bring in a little extra cash in your spare time. The company I've found the most success with is MyView. Earnings can be redeemed for prepaid credit cards or gift cards to Amazon and other great retailers.

4.  Spend More on Groceries
This is supposed to be about SAVING money! I don't mean always spend more on groceries, I advocate shopping sales and using coupons, BUT... I have found that buying a few more expensive items at the grocery store can reduce the temptation to eat out, thereby keeping more cash in my pocket. If eating out is a budget buster for you, increasing your grocery budget could help your overall financial picture.
Care for an example or two?
It's easier to skip the sandwich shop and make your own at home if you have great bread, high quality lunchmeat and delicious add-ons.
I'm happy to make my own fried rice and orange chicken, but I'm more satisfied and less likely to splurge on eating out if I splurge on a bag of pot-stickers from the frozen food aisle to go with it.

This Post May Contain Affiliate Links, View My Disclosure Policy Here.


The purpose of this blog is to help others find creative ways to save money, provide insight into creating and stretching a budget, and share ideas for running a household. I decided if I'm going to take the time to blog I might as well use it as a way to help stretch my family's tight budget a bit further. There may be affiliate links and other ads in my posts, however all opinions shared are my own and all recommendations are genuine and products which I truly believe are helpful and/or a good deal.
My advice is free use it at your discretion, it is not meant to take the place of legal, accounting or other professional advice.

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

 This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

 The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

 This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

This policy is valid from 17 June 2014

 This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact  Kierste at frugalanddomestic@gmail.com.

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