Happy 2016!

Good Bye 2015 I hope it found all of you well!

Hello 2016, I am ready to take you on!

2016 is going to be a year of transition for me but I am excited to take it on with a "NO EXCUSE" mentality!

Who is with me?

We will be enjoying meatloaf, mashed potatoes (maybe sweet this year), and salad for New Years Day dinner as this is our tradition I started the first new years day my husband and I were together.
For NYE we have dinner at my parents and normally get home just in time to see the ball drop and hit the hay.

I will be back on January 2nd with the Introduction to #TNTLFreshstart challenge...but let me just say you should be ready to get your house in order, make a few dollars all while setting some great 2016 financial goals!

Happy 2016 everyone!!

XX- Jen


2015 in Review, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and What I Learned

Last week I shared with you the top viewed posts on TNTL in 2015. This week I am going to review the whole year for not only TNTL but our family and finances too.

I am a big believer in reflecting on yourself and learning from the past.

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein
I have no interest in being labeled as insane. Different. Odd. Weird, those do not bother me. Knowing that I can learn from my mistakes, failures, and past experiences means that I get a lot of FREE self development!

2015 has been a rough year. If you have ever heard of picking one word to define your year mine would be REFINING.

I normally don't pick the one word at the beginning of the year because I really don't think you know what the good Lord has up his sleeve for you and if you focus too much on what you want then you are shutting out the possibilities he has for you.

I could tell this year was going to be a year of learning and humbling myself more when my grams passed late in 2014. I carried and still carry that pain of loss with me to this day. It has very much broken me in ways I never thought I could be broke. I have always pride myself on understanding that death is part of life. As a Christian I know that this earth is not our home. I have never lost anyone I loved more than my Grams. As I sit here and type this tears are steaming down my face. I know that this pain will help me one day and it has made we realize that I have so many emotions I have not even tapped into at the age of 29. We also experienced the loss of one of me and husband best friends. This is a whole other level of lose because he was so young and we had not seen him is quite a while. We miss him terribly and the sting of live being so short awakeness us almost nightly.

I can not label this experience as good, bad, or ugly. I am just calling it a learning experience.

For 2016 I am taking a slightly different approach to how I view my one word. I am giving myself a call to action instead of a word. I think if I set out how I want to act in 2016 I can still follow the path laid out before me. For 2016 I want to take on each day with "No Excuses". I do not think I make many excuses and am pretty determined by nature but I feel like I have a new prospective from the refining this year and want to take advantage of this.

Do you do one word for each year? I would love to hear them!

I know this is not my typical type of content. I didn't even thing I would share about my grams. Sometimes I just have to let my fingers lead me.

Let's get into the review!!

Beach Trip 15

Jeff's First Pole Barn Design, Built By Highland Building Services
The Good

  • TNTL has seen some considerable growth this year. More than that we have seen an amazing community develop! I have to thank all of you for that and for trusting me to help you with your finances.
  • I have finally found my groove with how often to post, what to post, and how to make this blogging thing work!
  • TNTL has guest posted for WC Parents, The Hippie Juice Mama, and The Frugal Homeschooling Mom. This was a goal of mine in 2015!
  • I joined Periscope and love it. I will be back in action on Periscope come January so if you would like to join in on this live platform you can find me.
  • TNTL family has been doing some good things this year too, Our oldest son completed his first year of competitive soccer. He ended up with 3 goals and learned a lot about how to be a team plyer. 
  • My Husband saw one of his first designs built in real life. It was so amazing to see the progression of his design take life. He has since designed another build and it was just recently completed! 
  • Our little man has made leaps and bounds in learning this year. He is counting to 12, knows all of his colors, and is starting to work on his alphabet. 
  • We also went on our very first family vacation to the beach!!

The Bad
The Little Guy with Stitches
The Oldest!
  • I learned that committing to too much is not good. It is not only draining but it takes precious time away from family, friends, and other commitments. This means that I have scaled back on my posts,and my extra curricular activities so I could concentrate on things I will never get back. This was a hard choice when you are trying to grow a business and feed your passion but it was the right choice.
  • Our family experienced staples for the first time! Our little man, who is a monkey by nature, crashed is head into our end table and required 8 staples!
  • My Husband who I will from here on out just refer to as Jeff also experienced a first with an emergency surgery having his appendix out and then taking a tumble down our stairs and breaking his elbow within 48 hours. Darn Compression stockings and wood stairs!
  • I did not do a good job with couponing this year. This year we increased our grocery buget and concentrated on eating balanced. I found that I stopped couponing for food as much but I also had a great stockpile for personal and home supplies. So I didn't need to coupon for those items either.  I have depleted most of this so I will be starting again in 2016
The Ugly
  • My little Jetta has had another terrible year. This car has been so draining financially but we do not feel it is wise to have two car payments because we could not afford it. Not having a working vehicle for a majority of the year has been frustrating. I am hoping the recent repairs fix the issue but, lets just say I am not holding my breath.
  • Jeff's job has been very demanding in 2015. This is the first year I felt this way. He has had a total of 3.5 week off this year and work most weekends. While he is the sole provider for our family he has a salaried position so this extra work has not blessed us financially and has left him feeling very tired. I pray that 2016 is a better year for this, I know that boys and I miss him!
We built a Tree house
That about sum's up the this year it was a rough year, it was a refining year, it was a year of firsts.

I am ready to move on to 2016 which I am visualizing as a year or improvement and joy.

Thank you all for taking this journey with us!


Moments captured 


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope that each and everyone of you are spending this day with someone you love, good food and fellowship.

I am officially on my "Unplugged week" and will be back January 2nd.

Don't worry I still have great content coming to your inbox this week. Thanks to the wonderful world of scheduling software.

Merry Christmas!

Glory to God in the Highest, and Peace on Earth, Good will towards men. Luke 2:14

XX- Jen


The Top 8 Most Viewed Articles from 2015

2015 has been a great year of fun and frugal around here at The Nifty Thrifty Lady.

We have covered everything from Local Farmers' Markets to Planner Reviews and why we increased our grocery budget!

I wanted to provide you with a recap of 2015. Use this look back as in inspiration to start 2016 off on with bang both financially and personally. 


7 Days of Christmas Giveaway {Reader Appreciation}

Today Starts the 7 Days of Christmas Giveaway which is my way of showing all of the Nifty Thrifty Lady readers my appreciation for them.

This year I have partnered with three wonderful business women I personally know to help me spoil you all!


7 Days of Giveaways-Reader Appreciation!

I had to share a little sneak peek with you all!

I am so excited to be able to offer this amazing giveaway for you all.

Starting December 7th you can enter to win one of the great Christmas Gifts seen in the video below!

I would love to extend this to as many of the Nifty Thrifty Community as possible so if you get a second head over to Facebook and Share or Tag this video with a few friends... I would greatly appreciate it!

Be sure to check out one deal a day while you are at it!



Happy Thanksgiving!

I pray each and everyone of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Please know that I am truly thankful for all of you in the community.

God has blessed me tremendously by giving me this platform to touch others lives and it is not something I take lightly.

Please enjoy food, family, and fellowship today and thank you to those that are severing us and can not be with at home with their family!

Here is a little something to make you smile




Let's Catch Up: Entrepreneurs, Turkey, Updates, and More

Hi Everyone!! I feel like it has been a while since I just chatted with you all. I don't like to just continuously share content without making a connection. That is just not how I roll.

So how is everyone? We are in high gear here prepping for Thanksgiving, taking finals (me anyway), and planning for December which is always a fun and festive time.

October and the beginning of November has been a very productive time for me with The Nifty Thrifty Lady and I am excited to share a few of the things that I CAN and maybe shamelessly tease you all about the things that I can't just yet. What to Expect November and December

  • One Deal a Day  I know that many of you are going to be done Christmas Shopping this Friday. GO YOU!! I also know there are others that won't be. For those I will be bringing back the ever popular One Deal a Day. I basically search the web for one HOT deal a Day that is 50%  off or more and share it with you. If you have an item you are searching for please let me know in the comment below
  •  5 Days of Giveaways-  I couldn't make it through the Holiday Season without giving back to you all that make this passion of mine possible. During the week of December 7 - December 11 I will be hosting 1 giveaway a day. Make sure you have subscribed to my Daily Reminder to Save so you can enter each one! 
  • Small Business Saturday- I have reached out to many small local businesses in the area and will be sharing a list of specials and events they will be holding in honor of Small Business Saturday! 
  • Unplugging- I do it every year and it will happen again. I will be completely unplugging from all tech devices from Christmas Eve until New Years Eve. I will be January 4, 2016 with a very fun decluttering/organizing month so we can all start the new year off with a little extra money and peace of mind. 

Blog Updates

  • I am an entrepreneur- WOW! It has taken me almost 5 years to fully own that statement and it's still very uncomfortable when I have to say it out loud to anyone else but me. The cold hard facts are that I am making every attempt to start my own business. What business you ask? Well that will be revealed in due time. I have been reading and studying every business book I can get my hands on, in addition to finishing my Accounting degree in July of 2016. I am preparing myself and obtaining the knowledge and resources I will need to launch mid 2016! I am very excited about this and again owe you all the most heartfelt thank you as you have given me the encouragement and motivation to pursue this dream. DON"T WORRY THE NIFTY THRIFTY LADY IS A HUGE  part of my new adventure and will not be going anywhere.
  • Affiliate links-  As you all know I never charged for anything but my Get a L.I.F.E. {lesson in frugal economics} workshop. I thought this would be the best idea given most of the topics I teach are for those struggling with finances anyway. The time has come for me to own that I am a service and admit that I need to start thinking more like a business owner in some aspects. Charging a small fee for classes is one. I also researched what is called affiliate links and decided to become an affiliate with select stores and companies that I personally use. By Law I have to disclose every affiliate link that I use, which I would anyway. What this means for you is really no change. If there is an item I use an affiliate link for and you click on the link and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. It does not charge you more. Basically I am compensated for advertising their product. I have struggled with implementing this on my site. However, as highly respected business man (Micheal Hyatt) has a great podcast on Why a person should not feel guilty for charging. If you want to listen here it is (p.s. this is NOT an affiliate link, I still use them sparingly). This really hit home for me and I prayed about it for a very long time. I hope this does not make any of you feel like I am selling out because I am not. I plan on still provide you with the same content. I promise.
  • A How to Guide and Get a L.I.F.E-  I can not wait to tell you all that Lessons in Frugal Economics will be coming back in 2016! I am getting chills just writing that because this is my BIG idea, this workshop is my why. I am also nervously going to be releasing a How to Guide in what else but MEAL PLANNING. This is such a challenge for my and I am loving the process of writing, researching and challenging myself to improve my skills. 
  • It has been a rough year. With the recent one year mark of the passing of my grams I have been a bit sad. As I reflect over the past year I think that would sum up how I felt. My Husband and I lost our grandmothers within a week of each other last year and in July we lost a very close friend do to a seizure. We had a long year of lose. Our boys keep us grounded and makes sure we do not commiserate too long on any one thing! Thank the Lord for them!!

I hope you all are doing wonderfully! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

I wish you all very, very Happy Thanksgiving with lots of stuffing, family, fellowship, and love.



How to Cook and Freeze Dried Beans

Cooking and freezing dried beansI am back with another installment of Back to the Basics|Saving in the Kitchen. Where I show you simple tasks that generations before use did to save a few dollars.

Today I am answering a reader's question. I mentioned that I cooked my own beans and she wanted to know how.



Sausage and Lentil Soup with #premioplease

Making Sausage and Lentil soup cooking video
Today's post is what inspired me to do a whole weeks worth of cooking videos, what I am kindly dubbing 5 Video in 5 days. This delicious Sausage and Lentil Soup is perfect for the winter and budget friendly too. But first the back story.

I am part of Influenster a company that lets you review items for free and in return you talk about them on social media. This is one type of review I love to do because I don't feel guilty about telling my 100% honest truth if for some reason I am not wowed by the product. That being said I will always find a kind way to speak the truth because I want you all to trust my word.

I have done two other reviews for Influenster and they rocked. Literally, I did the Rock your Lunchbox and a fun summer Voxbox Nurturebox.

The Voxbox I got this time was from Premio and they makes very good sausage! I had actually used premio one other time because I had a coupon for it and was pleased with it then.

I decided to feature the sausage in my first cooking video and could not have been happier with the out come.

Are you ready for a simple and hearty winter soup?

Don't you want to make this right now?

I love that you could substitute a lot of different things which is one of the ways I cut costs on meals.

Here is the Printable Recipe for this yummy Sausage and Lentil Soup.

Ingredients for Sausage and Lentil soup

If you loved this recipe make sure you join the TNTL Newsletter to stay up to date on all of our family friendly recipes and finance tips!

Quick and Easy Sausage and Lentil Soup
 Have you tried Premio Sausage? What were your thoughts?



Weekly Meal Prep

How and when to Meal prep weeklyToday I am taking you along "Vlog" style as I complete my  Weekly Monday Meal Prep.

Meal prep is a very important step that allows me to be more intentional making meals at home instead of dialing the phone for pizza delivery. MAKE THE TIME TO MEAL PLAN
Each Monday I set aside around 30 minutes to prep food and drinks for the rest of the week. In all honesty which day you meal prep or how many times a week you prep does not matter. The important part is you are following through and preforming the action.

I use the same outline, if you will, to structure my prep.

  • 1 homemade after school snack
  • 1 lunch that will be used for multiple days 
  • Refill water pitcher
  • Make tea
  • Cut fruit and veggies for the week
  • Cook rice 
  • Assemble any marinating bags I would like to cook
  • Prep salads
You will see in this weeks video I do not do all of these items each week. It depends heavily on how much time I have in the evenings and what I have on the menu. I suggest testing out meal prep a couple weeks in a row to see what works for you and your family.

Without further ado here is the 2nd of 5 food videos for this week!

What and when do you meal prep?

Stay tuned for 3 more Videos this week...Tomorrow will be the perfect recipe for a winter soup!



3 Ingredient Chicken Quesadillas

3 Ingredient Chicken Quesadilla
This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase thru a link you are supporting this site thank you!

During the fall our time in the evening is very limited. We are either on a soccer field, basketball court, or enjoying the holiday festivities. One of my families favorite quick meals is a 3 Ingredient Chicken Quesadillas that take 15 minutes or less! The best thing about this meal may not even be the food but the fact that you can feed your family a quick, healthy meal and skip the drive thru lane.

I am also very excited to debut my first cooking video! Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies and I love creating in the Kitchen, Don't worry I am not going food blogger but I did want incorporate some of my food recipes on the blog because they ARE frugal!

Today's recipe is so simple anyone can do it. So let's get started


30 Days of Seeking to Give Thank in Everything - Day 5

Day Five
Be Thankful for your trials. If you’re being tested, you’re being perfected. Which means you have a divine purpose and reason to rejoice.

Yesterday was a fun day of looking for things to be thankful for. I surly had my ups and downs even though my spirits

were happy.

I think that was my take away from yesterday.

Think will not go your way every day. They just won’t no matter how thankful or happy you are.
We have trials and tribulations are we can be refined, humbled, and hopefully so we can learn from them.

When I started my day out with the thought I am going to look for the things already happening in my life to be thankful for, I noticed I take so many of the little things for granted.

  • I am thankful I have and can afford the internet to write this email to you.
  • I am thankful for how independent my children are, even though that independent spirit causes lots of parenting battles.
  • I am thankful for bottled water and I am thankful I get to stay home currently with my children.

Most days I openly admit I concentrate too much on the trails and not the outcome of them.
Today, I want us to think back to past trials and think about what God was trying to tell us from them, how were we different afterward?

This is not going to be easy, no one likes to think about their hard past. However, if we never reflect on what we learned then we will never know what we are thankful for as a result.

Write 1-3 things you are thankful for as a result of going through a trial

Along with the memories of the hard times. Grab a photo album and remember some of the good times as well!

If you would like to share your list's use #NTLthankful on instagram or tag me on your favorite social media platform.

If you would like to get morning emails to start your day so you can SEEK thankfulness you can sign up here.



30 Days of Seeking to Give Thanks in Everything Day 4

30 Days of Seeking to Give Thanks in EverythingDay Four

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything- Ephesians 5:20

Did you thank someone yesterday that has had a role in encouraging your spiritual growth?

 It is amazing the power we have in the two simple words of “Thank You”.  We can transform someone’s not so good day into a great day, we can reaffirm someone’s talent or business who may be doubting it or we can hurt someone’s feeling by taking their kind gestures for granted.

This challenge has already been a good reminder to me to say thank you more often even when it may seem like it is given.

Today I want to have “Free thankful day”. I want us to wake up and throughout the day look for things we are thankful for.

No I have not ran out of topics but I think if we are honoring God and remembering to be thankful we should be able to see a small change in our mindset.

I have notice that I am more gracious with my kind words and the little things I normally feel discouraged over are not as big as they once were.

What are you noticing?
You’re Day
List everything that you are thankful for in your day

Be fully aware of the little and big things in your life today. Say thank you to those that do something for you and remember to thank God for the list you compile!

If you would like to share your list's use #NTLthankful on instagram or tag me on your favorite social media platform.

If you would like to get morning emails to start your day so you can SEEK thankfulness you can sign up here.

Thankfulness Challenge Day 4 FREE DAY


30 Days of Seeking to Give Thanks in Everything- Day 3

Day Three

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul- Harold Kushner

Day two was hard for me. I do not like to think about myself very much and I am very quick to point out my faults. To think about being thankful for myself seemed silly! The quote for yesterday spoke to me all day telling me to be thankful for what I do have instead of wishing and comparing myself to the thing I don’t. The truth is the things I do offer no one else may.

I have to be honest I am excited about the transformations that will take place in our souls after this challenge, but I am a little afraid too.

  • I am afraid that maybe I will be a negative Nancy and stop looking for the good in every situation after the 30 days are up.
  • I am afraid that I won’t have a transformation at all! That choosing to be thankful instead of ungrateful will not really change my mindset.
  • I am afraid that maybe it will really work and I have spent a long time making life hard when the simple answer is to seek being thankful!

Do you have any of these fears or maybe you’re fearing something else?

I do know this. God has said that it is his WILL for us is to Seek Thanks in ALL Circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:15). I don’t think that God would put as much an emphasis on thankfulness if it was not a life changer.

Today I want us to focus on our faith.
List 1-3 reasons why you are thankful for your faith.
Thank a person who has encouraged you in your faith
If you would like to share your list's use #NTLthankful on instagram or tag me on your favorite social media platform.

If you would like to get morning emails to start your day so you can SEEK thankfulness you can sign up here.


30 Days of Seeking to Give Thanks in Everything - Day 2

Day Two

Gratitude: Helps us see what is there instead of what isn’t

How was day one? I promise I won’t ask this every day! I am just curious if your memory helped you see your day in a different light. Mine did.

One of the memories I am thankful for having is a summer day during band camp. It was my sophomore year, I played the clarinet and our group was having sectional in a random hallway. During the summer is was very odd to see other students in the building so when I saw my middle school art teacher it didn’t really strike me as odd. What did was the tall student that was walking behind her. I remember all us girls wondering if it was her son or if she would be a new teacher.
  • 3 years later I ran into that same tall student a again, at a job that I did not want as a teenager.
  • 13 years later that tall student is the father to my 2 boys and a man I proud to call my husband.

That memory is one I don’t often think of. It took this challenge to stir it up again. What kept burning in my brain all day was this little voice asking “Do you think this wasn’t a plan?”

Our marriage is not perfect and we have been facing some pretty consistent lows over the past year. I admit some days I doubt rather I made the right decisions and wonder how God can let our marriage spiral like it has at points.

When I remembered this memory I was like a big hug and God saying “Jen, I know exactly what I am doing!.”

Today I want to look at ourselves.
List 1-3 things that you are thankful for about yourself.
Highlight that characteristic in your day. Maybe you are thankful you are a good listener, call a friend and ask them how they are and just listen. Maybe you are thankful you are good at your job, go to work and put in a little extra effort!

If you would like to share your list's use #NTLthankful on instagram or tag me on your favorite social media platform.

If you would like to get morning emails to start your day so you can SEEK thankfulness you can sign up here.




30 Days of Seeking to be Thankful in Everything - Day 1

 Day one
“Train yourself to find the blessings in everything”

Today is day one of our 30 day journey to seeking to be thankful in everything. I am already anticipating the transformations!

I know it seems rather cliché to host a thankful challenge in November, the same month as Thanksgiving.

First, I want to say that I am not doing this to build my blog, followers, or make money.

Although my motives may be selfish. I am doing this to honor a calling I feel God has been pressing on me. He has been giving me little nuggets of good and testing me to concentrate on that. Folks, let me tell you the good here has been very little lately, which is why I think God is making this so relevant in my life.

I know that this time of year is also hard for so many people, me included. 10 days from today will be a full year since my grams has been gone. The days are gloomy, social media is highlighting all the fun families have, and Christmas is around the corner and some of us know that our tree’s may not be as filled as others.

But there is one thing to be thankful for each day, sometimes it is that we get to get up in the morning, other times it is an accomplishment, and other times we have to find the gratitude in hindsight.

That is why I am doing this, because I want us to all “Train ourselves to find the blessing in everything”. I want us to change our mindset, create a habit, and take action!

So let's jump into Day 1

Today I want to start with a memory or memories even.
List 1-3 memories that you are thankful for having.

Throughout the day bring them up in conversation, think about how those memories have transformed you into the person you are today.

If you would like to share your list's use #NTLthankful on instagram or tag me on your favorite social media platform.

If you would like to get morning emails to start your day so you can SEEK thankfulness you can sign up here.

I am so excited to get the word out about this challenge I am sharing it at Intentional at Home Thrusdays.



30 Days to Seeking Thanks in Everything

30 Day of Seeking to Give Thanks in Everything
 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you- 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Hi Friends! I have been very humbled and blessed lately by the community that has been building around The Nifty Thrifty Lady. I will not take credit for this at all, I barely even facilitate it! I have been praying for a small, loyal, and encouraging group of frugal ladies and I feel like God is working on this.


Inventory Systems: FREE PRINTABLES

Free Printable Inventory Sheets
I have a great free printable for you today..food inventory systems! I know that probably sounds a tab bit boring, but I promise the method I use and the printables will help make meal planning a breeze!

Why Keep a Food Inventory?

When I worked in the food industry (yes, this is a whole other post) I was responsible for food inventory daily because in a restaurant setting it is very hard to predict the usage of food from one day to the next. This experience made me dislike taking inventory of anything and vowed NEVER to do anything as mundane again.

 Well never say never! 

About 6 months into living in a full size house with food storage areas in several different spots and having a family of 4 I broke out my pen and paper and started taking inventory. I quickly saw the benefits of not having to run up and down the stairs to see if I had a pound of meat or rummage through my pantry to see if I had a can of beans. When I went to make my meal plans for the month all I had to do was update my inventory sheet and BAM! I could sit in one spot and be done in under 30 minutes!

To sum it up
  • You save time- by knowing what you have and how much
  • You save money- by not buying doubles or triples and using what you have on hand first!
How do you use the Inventory System?

I have had many systems in place over the years. Each one had their pro's and con's to be honest. But I have settled on a simple monthly excel spreadsheet and love it. This requires me to inventory once a month.

Along the top runs the months and then down the sides runs your categories, I left the subcategory blanks since we all have different eating habits.  I take inventory a day or two before I meal plan so it is fairly accurate. 
  • I do not inventory as I go- I used to do this and it became a big hassle! When someone would use something (cough...cough.. My husband) they would not write it down. This caused more of a problem then help. 
  • I do not inventory my fridge- This may go against the grain..but that is something I am known for! I have tried inventorying my fridge. I have found that this is very repetitive because our fridge stores the very same thing and the shelf life is so short!
Tips to using the Inventory Sheets
  • Keep the sheets visible- I have the sheets on my freezer and in my pantry. I have heard other keep them in their meal planning binder or planner.
  • Set one day a month to take inventory. I like to dub the 29th inventory day.
  • Write a reminder.
  • The more organized your freezer and pantry are the more inclined you'll be to take inventory.
It is time to get yours and start taking inventory!!

If you are try it and love it let me know you can use #theniftythriftylady on all forms of social media or Tag The Nifty Thrifty lady in your photos!

I hope you find this a useful as I do. 

Don't forget your Family Staples List!

Free Printable Freezer ad Pantry inventory sheets