All posts by ECVtalks

3 Slow Cooker Meal Ideas That Are Budget-Friendly

Cooking home-cooked meals every day for the whole family can cost you, but food doesn’t have to be expensive to be delicious especially if you know how to budget your money. If you’re on a tight budget but still want to enjoy fulfilling home-cooked dishes with your family, here are 3 slow cooker meal ideas that everyone will love – so will your wallet!

Try these slow cooker meal ideas today:

Coco Sweet Potato Curry

What you need:

  • 1 kilogram sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 red chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 1/4 cups passata
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped (for serving)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and cook onion until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic amd ginger then season with paprika and cayenne. Pour mixture into a crock pot. Return pan to heat then cook chillies, red peppers and cabbage in 1 tablespoon oil for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring mixture to crock pot. Heat remaining oil and cook sweet potatoes for 5 minutes. Add potatoes to crock pot. Pour passata and coconut milk over everything. Stir, cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. When ready, stir in peanut butter and top with coriander.

Rosemary & potato wedges
Image from https://www.pxfuel.com/

Mixed Herb Potato Wedges

What you need:

  • 2 large potatoes, sliced into 8 wedges each
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, mix together flour, mixed her and cayenne pepper. Add potatoes and oil. Season with salt and pepper then toss to mix ingredients and to coat potatoes. Transfer to a crockpot and cook for 1 to 2 hours on low or until potatoes are cooked through.

Spicy Garlic Mushroom and Tomato Pasta Sauce

What you need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • Small bunch parsley (leaves only)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped tomato
  • 2 cups spaghetti pasta, cooked
  • 1 2/3 cups sliced chestnut mushroom
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

In a pan over medium high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil then cook mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic then cook for 1 minute more. Transfer mixture to a bowl with parsley. Set aside. Return pan to heat, add remaining oil, onion, celery, tomatoes, chili and salt and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a crock pot and cook for 15 minutes on low. Toss spaghetti with tomato sauce and top with garlic mushrooms.

A delicious meal doesn’t have to be expensive – try these slow cooker meal ideas that are budget-friendly!

Donna H. is a nutrition expert. Although not professionally, she has dedicated over a decade of her life researching and interviewing licensed nutritionists to gain the knowledge she has today – all for the love of healthy eating and dieting. She is an avid slow cooker and has contributed countless of recipes to countless popular websites.

Check out helpful tips and tricks as well as easy and delicious slow cooker recipes when using a crock pot.

Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Donna_H./1519703

Is Your Cash Flowing?

How much cash do you have left at the end of the month after you’ve covered the essentials AND treated yourself? (I’m guessing not much.)

Wish your paycheck went a little further? You’re not alone—not by a long shot. Most Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and saving little to nothing. So how do you increase your cash flow so you can stop living in the Sucker Cycle and start saving and investing more?

In the book, HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker, we attack this challenge head on in Milestone 5 of the 7 Money Milestones.

Here are a few tips to get your cash flowing towards your future…

Redirect your cash flow
There are a million little things that siphon away your paycheck. Credit card debt, monthly subscriptions, and your fast food habit all chip away at your income. This “death by a thousand cuts” is a foolish spending cycle that prevents you—and countless other suckers—from creating an emergency fund, protecting your income, and building wealth for the future.

That’s why it’s so important to make and maintain a budget. It’s like a map of where your cash is going. Once you have that knowledge, you can figure out where you need to dial down your spending and start redirecting your cash. Don’t get too detailed. You don’t need to get overwhelmed by spreadsheets. Try creating a one-page list of expenses, freeing up as much cash as possible. Take your budget to your financial professional and discuss how best to use this available cash.

Open up new income streams
Budgeting and cutting back on spending might not be enough. Life throws plenty of unexpected (and expensive) problems at us that might not have a budgeting solution. You may need to look for new income streams to maintain the lifestyle you want while also saving for the future.

You’d be surprised by how many possibilities there are to create additional income streams—many of which offer the chance to make money from home. Maybe now is the time to discover that your favorite hobby or area of interest is actually a way to earn some cash. That could look like a side hustle or weekend gig, but you might find that your skills and ideas are full-time business opportunities just waiting to happen! Research which of your ideas and skills are in demand, figure out how much time and effort it will take to get started, and decide how much time you’re willing to commit. (It could be easier than you think!)

Increasing your cash flow can open up a whole new world of opportunities. That extra money you have from cutting back on takeout and streaming services could be how you fuel the power of compound interest and finally start saving for retirement. That several hundred dollars you bring in from teaching guitar lessons each month could be how you pay off your credit cards and free up even more cash. There’s no doubt your options can really open up once your cash starts flowing!

Watch out for Budgeting Potholes

Maybe your numbers never add up or too many expenses are coming “out of the blue”. You might also feel a sense of dread every time you make a purchase. No matter what you do, this whole budgeting thing doesn’t seem to be working.

Hang in there! Here are a few budgeting potholes that might be slowing down your financial goals and how to avoid them!

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Excessive or Frivolous Spending
A job loss or a sudden, large expense can change your cash flow quickly, making you wish you still had some of the money you spent on… well, what did you spend it on, anyway? That’s exactly the trouble. We often spend on small indulgences without calculating how much those indulgences cost when they’re added up. Unless it’s an emergency, big expenses can be easier to control. It’s the small expenses that can cost the most.

Recurring Payments
Somewhere along the line, businesses started charging monthly subscriptions or membership fees for their products or service. These can be useful. You might not want to shell out $2,000 all at once for home gym equipment, but spending $40/month at your local gym fits in your budget. However, unused subscriptions and memberships create their own credit potholes. If money is tight or you’re prioritizing your spending, take a look at your subscriptions and memberships. Cancel the ones that you’re not using or enjoying.

Stinginess
Budgets are supposed to help you use your money wisely. They should be a positive part of your life—they’re not supposed to make you feel like you’re constantly failing. But sometimes our passion to save money and get our financial house in order gets the better of us, and we set up budgets that are too restrictive. While coming from good intentions, an overly thrifty budget can actually make it harder to achieve your goals. An impossible to follow plan can make you feel discouraged and resentful. You might even decide that it’s not worth the hassle! Try starting with a more reasonable strategy and then build from there!

Too complex
Sometimes our budgets are just too complicated to actually be useful. Not everyone loves working with numbers, and sometimes fiddling with spreadsheets can get so overwhelming that we just want to quit. Plus, there’s plenty of room for human error! A good option is to investigate free budgeting sites or apps. All you do is punch in the correct numbers and the magic of technology will do the rest!

One time budget
Life is constantly changing. Your simple, streamlined budget might be perfect for the life of a young single professional, but will it still hold up in five years? Where will the portion of your paycheck that works down your student loans go once you’re debt free? And when will you start saving for a house?

Take some time every few months to review your budget and see what’s changed. Evaluate what you’ve accomplished and areas that need improvement. Ask yourself what your next milestones should be and if those line up with your long-term goals!

Budgeting takes work. But it shouldn’t be a burden. Cut yourself some slack, prune your process, and stay consistent. You might be surprised by the difference filling in budgeting potholes can make in your financial life!

Did you think of another budgeting pothole that we didn’t mention? Tell us in the comments. 💬

How To Make A Budget You Can Keep

Some people love to live a life of thrift.

It’s a challenge they tackle with gusto. Shaving down expenses with couponing, hunting the best deals with an app on their phones, or simply finding creative ways to reuse a cardboard box, gives them a thrill. For others, budgeting conjures up images of living in tents, foraging for nuts and berries in the woods, and sewing together everyone’s old t-shirts to make a blanket for grandma.

To each their own! But budgeting doesn’t have to be faced like a wilderness survival reality TV competition. Sure, there might be some sacrifice and compromise involved when you first implement your budget (giving up that daily $6 latte might feel like roughing it at first), but rest assured there’s a happy middle to most things, and a way that won’t make you hate adhering to your financial goals.

Simplifying the budgeting process can help ease the transition. Check out the following suggestions to make living on a budget something you can stick to – instead of making a shelter out of sticks.

Use that smartphone. Your parents may have used a system of labeled envelopes to budget for various upcoming expenses. Debit cards have largely replaced cash these days, and all those labeled envelopes were fiddly anyway. Your best budgeting tool is probably in your pocket, your purse, or wherever your smartphone is at the moment.

Budgeting apps can connect to your bank account and keep track of incoming and outgoing cash flow, making it simple to categorize current expenses and create a solid budget. A quick analysis of the data and charts from the app can give you important clues about your spending behavior. Maybe you’ll discover that you spent $100 last week for on-demand movies. $5 here and $10 there can add up quickly. Smartphone apps can help you see (in vivid color) how your money could be evaporating in ways you might not feel on a day-to-day basis.

Some apps give you the ability to set a budget for certain categories of spending (like on-demand movies), and you can keep track of how you’re doing in relation to your defined budget. Some apps even provide alerts to help keep you aware of your spending. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, there are even apps that mimic the envelope systems of old, but with a digital spin.

Plan for unexpected expenses. Even with modern versions of budgeting, one of the biggest risks for losing your momentum is the same as it was in the days of the envelope system: unexpected expenses. Sometimes an unexpected event – like car trouble, an urgent home repair, or medical emergency – can cost more than we expected. A lot more.

A good strategy to help protect your budget from an unexpected expense is an Emergency Fund. It may take a while to build your Emergency Fund, but it will be worth it if the tire blows out, the roof starts leaking, or you throw your back out trying to fix either of those things against your doctor’s orders.

The size of your Emergency Fund will depend on your unique situation, but a goal of at least $1,000 to 3 months of your income is recommended. Three months of income may sound like a lot, but if you experience a sudden loss of income, you’d have at least three full months of breathing room to get back on track.

Go with the flow. As you work with your new budget, you may find that you miss the mark on occasion. Some months you’ll spend more. Some months you’ll spend less. That’s normal. Over time, you’ll have an average for each expense category or expense item that will reveal where you can do better – but also where you may have been more frugal than needed.

With these suggestions in mind, there is no time like the present to get started! Make that new budget, then buy yourself an ice cream or turn on the air conditioning. Once you know where you stand, where you need to tighten up on spending, and where you can let loose a little, budgeting might not seem like a punishment. In fact, you might find that it’s a useful, much-needed strategy that you CAN stick to – all part of the greater journey to your financial independence.

3 Ways to Save Money (No Formulas Needed)

When you’re ready to take control of your finances, it can seem overwhelming to get your savings plan going.

Every finance expert has a different theory on the best way to save – complete with diagrams, schedules, and algebraic formulas. Ugh. But saving money isn’t complicated. Here’s a secret: the best way to save money is not to spend it. It’s that simple.

Turn Off the TV
The act of turning off your TV to save money on electricity may not make much difference. Running a modern TV for as long as 12 hours per day probably costs less than $10 per month.* The real expense associated with your television comes from the advertisements. Look around your home and in your driveway and you’ll probably see some of the fallout associated with watching television. Advertisers have convinced us that we need the latest and greatest gizmos, gadgets, cars, homes, and that we need to try the latest entree at our favorite chain restaurant before the deal goes away forever! Skipping the TV for some time spent with family or enjoying a good book may not only cost you less money in the long run, it’s priceless.

The 30-Day Rule
Here’s how it goes. If you want something, and that something isn’t an emergency, make a note of it and then wait 30 days before revisiting the idea of purchasing that item. Your smartphone is perfect for this because it’ll probably be in your hand when you first find the item you want to buy. Use a note keeping app or a reminder app to document the date and details about the item. After 30 days, the desire to purchase that item may have passed, or you may have concluded that you didn’t really need it in the first place. If you still want the item after 30 days – and it fits into your budget – go for it!

The 10-Second Rule
The 30-day rule is useful in a lot of cases, but it may not work so well for some types of household spending, like grocery shopping. 30 days is too long to wait if you’re out of coffee or cat litter. Even so, the grocery store is a hotbed for impulse buying – sales, specials, and check-out aisle temptations may be too much to resist. Instead of dropping items into your cart on a whim, wait 10 seconds and then ask yourself for one good reason why you need to purchase this particular item right now. Chances are pretty good – that there isn’t a good reason. Ding! You just saved money. That was easy. (Hint: Always make a list before you head to the store.)

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the idea that algebra+ trigonometry + calculus + geometry = financial independence, which money-saving tip will you put into practice first? (Quick note: The 30 Day Rule does not apply here – no need to wait to get started!)

Source:
Crank, Josh. “How Much Electricity Does My TV Use?” Bounce Energy Blog, 4.12.2018, https://bit.ly/2LZA4kq.