7qt / saving money on house stuff at walmart vs. target

Hello oh thrifty ones!

I've realized something about being a Walmart shopper vs. being a Target shopper. I'm already not a Target fan due to their pick-your-favorite-gender bathroom policy from last year (which, by the way, was a financial disaster for them), but even if that issue could be set aside, I find Target to be a budget buster for me.

It's too easy to spend money in Target. From the one dollar (which now can be $3, I guess?) bins to the clearance women's clothes, then stationery, and of course throw pillows, and hey look the RUGS ARE ON SALE!

Total: $131, and I walked in there with a list that said:
- lunch meat
- kid toothbrush
- foil

So is it sad to say that at least partially, I'm a Walmart shopper because I buy less there? It's a less aesthetically-appealing store? But therein lies the answer: It's a less appealing STORE. As brick-and-mortars go, their inventory doesn't hold a candle to Target's in-stock homewares. But their website? Gold. And, hence, this series of posts, which highlights things I've discovered through their website and app. And ad least for me, when I'm able to peruse items online, I'm less likely to do impulse buys--and much more likely to add it my cart, then click "save for later," and think about it for days, or weeks, or until it fits in my monthly budget.

WHEW! Here's the stuff happily languishing in my cart:

1 / Modern Farmhouse Storage Cabinet, Rustic Gray Finish
This one's been on my radar for ages. Better Homes and Gardens could easily change names to Faux Fixer Upper. Love the sliding barn door and slots for four baskets. $219 isn't bad for a piece this big and cute. Someone please tell me it comes with that pair of hipster mustard yellow rain boots.

2 / Distressed Ogee Area Runner
I keep vacillating on whether or not to put matching runners on either side of our bed in the master bedroom. But if I did, these would be the winners--22x60" for $16.50.

3 / Indigo Border Medallion Rug
Remember my undying love to my jute rug? The love is still there, but the thrill is gone. I'm itching to put something soft under Stevie's little crawling knees. Largest size it comes in is 5x7 for $68. Very World-Market-ish.

4 / Set of 4 Rustic Frames, 11x14 matted to 8x10
Thinking these would look miiiighty nice and matchy matchy to that farmhouse storage cabinet up above. Four big frames for $25.

5 / Carter's 2-piece cotton pajama set

I keep meaning to just buy these already for Gus. $6.97!

6 / Pioneer Woman Ticking Stripe Comforter

It had me at the words: "100% cotton" and "reverse is floral print." #hearteyes

7/ Pioneer Woman throw pillows
One of each, please. Except that cat one. But definitely the cow.

That's it for my cart! Linking up with Kelly for 7 quick takes.


what happens when no one hears "no"

Poor Steve with his plastic, rotating nemesis.

Sean and I are five weeks in with teaching Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) class at our parish. Last night's lesson had to do with changing personal spending habits--also known as saying "no" to our impulses to buy things because we tell ourselves we "need" them.

I "need" a new van... but really I just want the car that vacuums up after my crumb monsters.  

I "need" another pair of jeans... but really I just want something dressier to wear on date nights. 

I "need" a new rug in the family room... but really I'm just tired of looking at the stains on the current rug.

We've all got to learn to tell ourselves "no." Delayed gratification is a pretty good marker of adulthood. But in this age of snowflakes and the constant urging to treat yo' self, even adults seem susceptible of throwing tantrums.   
People hate hearing "no." And so we have a country full of adults who have yes-ed themselves into hundred of thousands of dollars of debt. 

But it's more than just money matters, of course.

That family who insisted that their little girl get to wear a white tux to her first Holy Communion? They were told "no." They didn't like it.

I've had so many more examples lately--at home, at work, with kids. It's maddening. It's disheartening.

It's what happens in a culture when no one hears "no."

I've committed to doing a monthly budget with Sean, every single month, no exceptions. A budget doesn't mean a damn thing, though, if you don't stick to it. It doesn't work if you get to the end of the month, the clothing budget is at a scant $4, and I see a pair of clogs for $30--and buy them. That's not how it works.

It only works if I tell myself "no." It only works if I set that example for my kids. It only works if Sean and I both keep our promises to stay on track with money.

A wonderful couple in our class came to us and asked for help with their budget. They asked us if we put birthday presents for our kids in our budget. We said "yes, we do, but with how expensive parties can be and wish lists for new toys that stretch on forever, our kids hear 'no' a lot."

The couple looked at us.

"Really?" they said. "You tell your kids no about that kind of stuff?"

"Yeah," we said slowly.

Saying "no" to our wants, our perceived needs, our kids' wants, our tantrums, our kids' tantrums... it's not easy. It's not the norm.

But maybe it should be.


how I failed at meal planning (and what finally made me start doing it)

I'm awful at meal planning.

Additionally, I hate being wrong.

So yeah, this is about how I both learned to do something I hate, and about how I was wrong for not doing it earlier.


I was a dyed-in-the-wool daily grocery store shopper. Back when I had just one babe to tote around in a ring sling, I professed a need, a very real requirement of sanity, in visiting the grocery store every day. I thought as a stay at home mom with days full of diapers and Dinosaur Train that I needed that daily trip to the store, if just to get me out of our apartment for an hour or less each day.

Add my second kid to the carload, and suddenly the trip to the grocery store becomes more than just mom's grand daily adventure--it became LUNCH for my toddler, who swung by the deli counter first for a free slice of cheese, then hit up the bakery after that to procure the token free cookie.

Add some free stickers from the charmed checkout clerks and bam. I've given my toddler an afternoon that rivals Sir Chuck E. Cheese.

Add a third baby to the mix and now I'm rolling three kids deep down the aisles with the double stroller and the preschooler walking alongside. People raise eyebrows at that. They also get out of the way, lest I run over their toes.

Then I added a fourth baby. The first week that school was out last summer and I had all four kids home all day, we went to Walmart.

When we got back to the car after shopping, I swore a parking lot oath to the children and told them to remember this day, remember it well, for they would never, NEVER AGAIN, see the inside of that store all together again, because MOMMY WAS NEVER NEVER NEVER repeating that experience. (I did repeat it. It was equally horrific.)

I came home full of wrath and fury, pounding out plans for meal planning, once-weekly trips to Costco (made on the weekend, just me, myself and childless cart) and meals based on "family-size" bags of assorted freeze-frozen proteins, 30-pack yogurts, 4-lb packages of meatballs and many, many prayers.

I failed. Never once even planned nor executed a meal based on that model.

I continued my haphazard, expensive, daily grocery store trips, continued to make dinner based on whatever I felt like making that day, and continued to bust our grocery budget.

Fast forward through the summer to August, when I started a part-time job at the boys' school.

I learned quickly that one cannot:
- care for a small army of small children
- be on-site at a job 3 days a week
-work from home an ungodly number of hours a week
- even have time to step foot in a grocery store.

It just didn't work. Something had to give. I had to get over my aversion to planning out our family's meals, and had to commit to one weekend shopping trip.

I had to face what had stopped me from meal planning. At the root of it was this stupid, stupid belief: Once you commit to planning out dinners, days in advance for your family, you've got to be innovative! You've got to try new recipes! You've got to take direction! You've got to have discipline! You've got to have respect for your director!

Or so I convinced myself.

The truth? The truth is that a "meal plan" can mean "I plan to have frozen pizzas for dinner."

What the what.

I realized: What (or who) was stopping me from doing that? After all, I'm the mom, right? I get to plan this stuff, right?

I was basing my concept of meal planning on someone else's life--someone who needs 7 new meals every week, based on varying world cultures and taste sensations; someone who doesn't have 4 kids under age 8, is working part time, and whose husband travels roughly 50% of the month.

Friends. This has been a life-changer for me.

I've begun meal planning for REAL LIFE. And instead of beating myself up for meals that aren't instagram-worthy, I'm cheering that dinner gets done, the dinner didn't break the budget, and the dinner wasn't an emergency $45 trip to Red Robin at 6:30 pm.

Here's my list of stuff that makes meal planning a reality for me, not just a guilt trip:

- buy a box of mixed salad greens, a container of my favorite salad-topping cheese (I love bleu) AND a bag of over-priced salad toppings. I love anything with a dried cranberry and a candied nut in it. It runs me about $2.75 at Walmart. Could I get those things way cheaper in the bulk bins at Winco? Yes. But Winco is a lot further from my house and I'm already saving money as it is by making a reliable salad side dish stretch over 3-4 days.

- raw veggies as legit side dishes for the kids. My kids love "cold carrots" as they call them and detest them when hot/cooked. They also love cucumber. I used to think serving either of those for dinner didn't really "count" as a healthy side dish. HA. Now I've let it go and I whip one or the other out with nearly every dinner.

-  frozen meals: they're way cheaper than takeout/delivery. My favorite is this one. And yeah, I'm stocking tater tots, chicken nuggets and gluten-free meatballs every week, too.

-  "no-recipe" dinners. I've stopped holding myself to some golden standard in which dinner recipes for my family must contain 3 fresh herbs, a 1/2 cup of bone broth, a boneless rib roast, assorted root vegetables and some leftover red wine.

No. You know what makes a simple, healthy meal? Baked salmon, steamed broccoli and a box of risotto. I can make that in 20 minutes, with the crawling-but-not-walking baby attached to my leg, with minimal swearing.

 There's a whole list of these at Fun, Cheap or Free.

Leave your best meal planning tips for me in the comments! Please!!