One way some people use to budget their money is the Envelope System. Once you decide a monthly amount for various areas of your budget, you put that amount of cash in labeled envelopes. When the envelope is empty, you are done spending in that area for the month or need to borrow from other envelopes. But, if borrowing from other envelopes you are reducing the amount you can spend in that area.

Dave Ramsey has his Envelope systems on sale for half price thru August 20. The starter system is on sale for $9.

This may be an idea to try if you are having a difficult time sticking to your budgeted amounts. Some areas that people use the envelope system for are groceries, dining out, clothing and entertainment.

Above is a photo I saw on Facebook recently. It may seem like “healthy” food is more expensive but in many cases it is not. It may take more time to prepare it but if you do some of the preparation ahead of time or use the crockpot it may be easier than you think to prepare meals at home instead of going out or stopping for fast food.

You may not see any difference now but in the long run you may face the consequences of how you treat your body now.

With increase in cancer diagnosis and other health issues it is becoming more important than ever to watch what you eat and how active you are.

One tip I have heard is to shop the perimeter of the grocery stores. In most cases this is the meat, produce and dairy departments.

Also, as I have mentioned numerous times, I feel it is important to teach kids how to cook. If they do not learn how to, they will be dependent on eating out a majority of their lives.

Two of the blogs I follow that address this are MoneySavingMom and LifeAsMom.

Along with being good for your health, cooking at home more will likely also be better on your wallet.

FICO recently announced upcoming changes in credit scoring.

In the past, if you paid debts that went into collection, it stayed on your FICO record for seven years which is the same period as bankruptcy. With the changes, paid collections debt will not show up on your credit history.

Medical debt is a major reason many people have debt in collections. Another change will give less weight on medical debt than other debt when determining the credit score.

With a higher credit score, most borrowers are more likely to be offered lower interest rates. Along with lower interest rates, the FICO score has also become a factor in insurance rates, renting an apartment and something being offered a job.

Whether its making lunch for your kids at school or you at work, taking your own lunch may be a way to save money and have a healthier diet.

I have put together a Pinterest board with lunch ideas.

Recently, a friend commented on Facebook that she was going to try to take her own lunch all week instead of going to the company cafeteria. This seemed odd to me, since I have taken my lunch to work most days for 25 years. Once you get in a habit of it, it may not seem like such an inconvenience.

If you are taking leftovers of the meal the night before, pack them up while you are dishing up your meal. If you are taking something else for lunch get it ready while you are cooking dinner or in the evening before you go to bed. This way you are not rushed in the morning and more tempted to purchase lunch somewhere else.

Some people pack a week’s worth of salads, veggies, sandwiches and other items at one time so they only need to do the prep work once and just grab the container each day when they leave home.

One blogger posted about her husband recently starting to keep a box of cereal and bottle of milk at work for lunch to save money for unexpected bills they had coming in. Even some of his co workers have joined him for cereal for lunch.

Above is a photo of a wrap I made one day with dressing, greens, and veggies. Another couple of days, I took a BLT wrap, a tortilla with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and bacon.

I usually cook up a package of bacon and freeze it to use later. This is what I used for the wraps.

Even one or two days of brown bagging can help you save money to spend on something else. Besides saving money, you may be able to lose some weight by controlling the ingredients and the portion sizes.

A couple weeks ago, I found these solar lamps at our local Dollar Tree for $1 each. They are about 4 inches high and have an on/off switch.

You could probably paint the shades with a clear paint, such as stained glass paint if you want a different color. I decorated one with glass beads. I used a hot glue gun, but you may want to use something more weather resistant if you are going to use them outside. I have been using one in one of my bathrooms as a nightlight.

A friend recently pinned a recipe for Crazy Dough on Pinterest and I thought I would try it.

I made half a batch to try it. It turned out great and is easy to use. You can keep it in the fridge for up to 7 days and use as you need. It can also be frozen to use later. You could package in the size of portions you usually use and only need to take out a package at a time to thaw.

I used it for breadsticks, buns and pizza crust. I shaped it into breadsticks and buns and baked at 350 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes. I only baked one bun the one night. It is a great way to have fresh buns and bread when you want it.

The photo above is of the personal size pizzas I made, using tomatoes and onions from my CSA box and spinach and mozzarella cheese. I baked it at 500 degrees for 5 to 10 minutes.

I have recently seen two references to steps to better finances. A post by Jessica at mentioned 7 steps she feels are important.

I also recently read Flipping Burgers to Flipping Millions. It is a little over a 100 pages long and a quick read. It includes many ideas and tips about how to plan to get your financial life in order. In his book he discusses the Seven Unchanging Laws of money as:
1. Save…and begin saving early
2. Control your expenses
3. Make your money multiply…Invest
4. Guard your money against loss
5. Make your home an investment
6. Ensure a future income for yourself and your family…by developing a career, improving yourself and investing.
7. Work and study to increase your ability to earn.

Many of us know these things, but it is difficult to put into action.

As with changing any habit, start with baby steps. Choose one area of your financial life and take steps to change that area, instead of trying to change everything at one time. Once you have that area mastered, move onto another one.

Dave Ramsey talks a lot about needing to be gazelle intense when you are trying to pay off your debt. Jessica had a recent post about how they are being gazelle intense right now to cover expenses with getting rid of their rental property they own in a state they used to reside in.

You may need to make some sacrifices to get rid of your debt but it will be worth it in the long run. And the steps you take will help you stay out of debt in the future.

OnceAMonthMeals has monthly cooking plans that can be made ahead and frozen to use throughout the month. They have a variety of menus including Traditional, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, and Diet.

One of the recipes in the August Traditional meals is Chocolate Chip Pancake Squares. It is an easy way to get the taste of chocolate chip pancakes. They are easy to freeze and warm in the microwave so they are a quick breakfast before school or work.

In place of the buttermilk I used 1 cup of milk with about 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice added to it. You can also use vinegar added to the milk in place of buttermilk. I crushed regular chocolate chips in my blender instead of buying mini chocolate chips.

It may be difficult to drink the recommended amount of water each day. One way to make it easier is to add flavor to your water. There are flavorings you can purchase to add to water, but you can also add fruits and vegetables to make your own flavorings.

The photo above shows a glass of cucumber water, the other is pineapple juice added to the cucumber water. You can either add a few slices of cucumber to a glass of water or I keep a pitcher of water with cucumber slices in the fridge. I change the cucumbers every couple of days. If you have extra cucumbers, this is one way to use them up.

I put together a Pinterest board of flavored water ideas.

Following are a few recent articles about how to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

10 reasons You are still broke – the money spent or lost by these things can add up over time, especially if you are guilty of a number of these items.

How to pay off credit card debt in a year, as stated in the article, even if you don’t get it paid off in a year it is still important to make an effort to pay it off as soon as you can. The longer you carry a large balance, the more you will end up paying in interest charges and have the additional stress of the debt.

1 in 3 Americans have “debt in collections – The amounts in collection range from $25 to $125,000 with the average being owed at $5,200.

Dave Ramsey wrote a post about a high school teacher that is teaching personal finance to juniors and seniors hoping they become millionaires.