A Money Management Grid

You may have heard of Stephen Covey’s time management grid which is made up of the following four quadrants:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Not Important and Urgent
  • Important and Not Urgent
  • Not Important and Not Urgent

This grid can help you figure out the priority of your to-do items.

This past weekend I was thinking about how I could categorize things we spend money on so we could prioritize them. I ended up with a modified version of the time management grid, only for money. So here is a money management grid to help you prioritize what to spend your hard-earned money on.

Here is how my money management grid works:

Necessity or Not: There are bills we have to pay, things we need to pay for, or investments we need to make that we would consider necessities. There are other items that we may pay for that are not vital to live, but we like to have them.

Consistent or Not: Some bills or items have a consistent cost associated with them. Every month the mortgage and car payment are the same. Other items do not have a consistent cost, such as groceries. The amount we spend at the store varies each month. We could spend a set amount or we could spend less, if need be.

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)


Money Management Grid

Click on the image to enlarge. 

The items in my example are not necessarily my items. I included several items that I thought were common and others to get you thinking about what items you would include in your own grid.

It is important that you list the items in priority order as well. That way, if you do find that you don’t have enough money, you will know what items need to fall off your list. (Again, my example isn’t necessarily in priority order – it is just an example. Everyone will have their own list of items with their own priority.)

Note that I have savings in both the NC and XNXC quadrants. Savings should really be a necessity and consistent but if you are struggling to just put food on the table, contributing to savings may not be one of your top priorities, or a realistic one. But remember that even setting aside a dollar a day can be savings!

So when you are trying to figure out a budget, consider:

  • Necessity and Consistent (NC)
  • Necessity and Not Consistent (NXC)
  • Not Necessity and Consistent (XNC)
  • Not Necessity and Not Consistent (XNXC)

Your Income – NC –  NXC (average) = $some amount

NC and NXC are the items you consider to be necessities. So your money must first be used to pay for those items.

Then work with what you have left for the Not Necessity items: XNC and XNXC (average), based on priority.

If something does have a consistent cost and you choose to include it as a top priority, then you know exactly how much money you will need for it.

If something does not have a consistent cost and you choose to include it, then you will need to set a budget for that item. For example, for hobby supplies, you may have only $20 to spend every month.

You should also set aside an “emergency fund” for when unplanned things happen or a not consistent item ends up costing more one month than usual.

If “Necessity” and “Consistent” don’t work for you, you can obviously modify the grid to use the criteria that make sense to you.

Also, please note that I am not a financial advisor by any means. This is just an idea I had that I wanted to share in case you would find it helpful. If you need financial advice, please seek professional help. 

If you like this idea, feel free to download the PowerPoint or the PDF version of the blank grid below for your personal use.

Money Management Grid

Download the free printable grid now:

What other items would you add to the money management grid?


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Simply Living ebook Bundle

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Discover the secrets to living simply from five authors who are living intentionally and inspiring others to do the same!

This bundle is on sale for 90% off through 8am EST on Monday, 4/22. Check back next week for the next bundle. It might just have you wanting to head outdoors!

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

25 Intentional Days by AndHeDrew
Laid out in an easy-to-follow format, 25 Intentional Days will take you step by step through setting effective long-term and short-term goals, finding time you didn’t know you had, tracking your progress and creating the life you’ve dreamed of.

Simple Ways to Be More with Less by Courtney Carver
In Simple Ways to Be More with Less, Courtney shows you how to simplify your life and live each day more purposefully. This book will challenge you, brighten your day, and if you let it, change your world.

Inside-Out Simplicity by Joshua Becker
Living simply starts on the inside, and in Inside-Out Simplicity, Joshua shares why healthy relationships are essential to a simplified life. You’ll discover how to live intentionally by embracing contentment, gratitude, and humility and making generosity, kindness, service, and forgiveness a hallmark of all of your relationships.

ClutterFree by Leo Babauta & Courtney Carver
With the tools in ClutterFree, you’ll learn how to eliminate the clutter and create more time and space in your home and life. Leo and Courtney walk you through understanding why we have clutter, learning how to get rid of it and enjoying a clutter-free life.

Flying by the Seat of My Soul by Tess Marshall
Through personal stories, profound lessons, uplifting quotes and stories of others, Tess inspires you to live more passionately and pursue your heart’s desire with more conviction. Flying By The Seat Of My Soul will empower you to move toward inner change, let go of the past, follow your dreams and fly!

The Simple Living bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 4/22. Get yours today!


This post contains affiliate links.

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Product Feature: Weather or Not

Do you have an e-reader such as an iPad or a Kindle? If so, when you are out and about with it, it is a good idea to protect it. You may already have a case for it. But what about if it rains, or if you want to sit by the pool? Do you have a water-resistant case?

What about when your child wants to play with your iPad? Does he or she ever do that with sticky fingers? 🙂

Here is a solution: The Weather or Not water-resistant pouch!

Weather or Not

You can order it from my website. Click Shop Now in the upper right-hand corner and the look under the Travel category.

The best part, you can actually still use the device even in the pouch. It’s true. I tried it out with both an iPad and a Kindle. It works great!

So before you hit the beach for Memorial Day weekend, or take your device to your child’s next sports event, you may want to consider getting one!


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Stop forgetting, there’s an app for that

Reminder Sign

Do you constantly seem to find yourself needing reminders or forgetting what you were supposed to do from one day to the next?

Do you write reminders on sticky notes and then either have them scattered everywhere, or end up losing them?

If you are looking for an app to help you stop forgetting, I recommend Wunderlist. I use it daily to keep track of pretty much everything I need to remember – items I need to buy, things I need to do around the house, classes I want to sign up for, people I need to contact, article ideas I want to work on, and so on.

And its free for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, the Web and Kindle Fire!


Wunderlist has a whole list of features that you can read about on the app’s website, but here are the very basics:

  • Create single and recurring tasks
  • Group tasks using lists, which you can define
  • Share tasks with others
  • Add subtasks
  • Set due dates
  • Set reminders (it will email you!)
  • Add notes
  • Mark off items you complete and feel a sense of accomplishment!

Download Wunderlist from iTunes (affiliate link):

And, by the way, Wunderlist did not ask me to write this post. I am sharing it with you because I find it extremely useful!

What do you use to keep track of to-dos and reminders?


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2 solutions for carrying loyalty cards

Nowadays every store you go has a customer loyalty card. They are free. They offer discounts. It is hard not to sign up.

But soon your key ring looks like this, or worse.

Image of keys with loyalty cards

It is a lot to carry around with your keys.

So here are two solutions:

Solution 1:

Use a separate binder ring for your loyalty cards. You can buy a package of 8 at Target (in-store) for a little over $2, or you can buy a package of 5 from my Amazon store for a little under $3.

Package of Binder Clips

The benefits of using the binder ring instead of your key ring:

1. You can use your key ring for its true purpose – keys!

2. It is much easier to add and remove loyalty cards from a binder ring than a key ring.

Open Binder Ring with Loyalty Cards

I used the larger ring in the Target package so I have plenty of room to add more cards.

Loyalty cards on binder ring

Solution 2:

Use a mobile app. I recently downloaded Key Ring and started adding my loyalty cards. It also lets you enter gift cards and join more loyalty programs. For certain retailers, you can view the weekly circulars and special offers. The app walks you through how to add cards, and how to use your app in place of your loyalty cards in stores (I haven’t tried this part yet.)


Download Key Ring from iTunes (affiliate link):

How do you carry your loyalty cards?



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Making time for what’s most important

It is easy to complain. Doing something about it is the hard part. We can easily complain that we don’t have enough time in general, or that we don’t have time for something or someone.

If only, we had more time.

We can’t add more hours to the 24 hour-day. We can’t make an hour longer than 60 minutes. Even if we all stopped having fun in our lives, time wouldn’t move any slower. It would just feel that way.

So what then are we supposed to do to get more time?

Face of clock

Here is my recommendation and what works for me: Prioritize.

What is most important to me? What do I value the most? What do I enjoy doing the most?

Step 1: Figure out what is most important to you. List your top 3-5 priorities.

Examples: Family, Career, Health & Exercise, Education, Volunteering, Friendships, Hobbies, etc.

How do I make time for those priorities in my day?

It is okay if you gasp and say, “Ah! I don’t make time! I have no time!” It’s life. It has a way of taking over. Hopefully with a bit of thinking and planning, you can take back control.

Step 2: Create a schedule of your day from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Add in your top 3-5 priorities to the time slots (half-hour, 1 hour, 2 hour  – however much time you want or need to spend on that particular priority).

Example: View the printable example and schedule template.

You can create a schedule every week and be very specific about what happens during each time slot. Or, you could create a schedule with open slots for activities that may vary from day-to-day, such as the 6:30-9:00 p.m. slot in my example. For each day or week, fill in which activities you plan to do that day. Over time, you will start to get a sense of how long you actually spend doing those activities and how much you can really fit into your day. It only takes a few minutes to modify your schedule each day or week once you created it the first time. I think it is worth the time. Try it and see if it works for you.

What priorities can I be more flexible with than others?

Step 3: If everything doesn’t fit into your day, consider if something can be moved, deleted or delegated.

a. Depending on your schedule, you could move something from a weekday to a bigger block of time on a weekend.

Example: Family time is very important to you but the half-hour drive-by at the dinner table isn’t cutting it. But maybe that is all that can fit in your day during the week. So on the weekend, plan for a couple of hours to do something together as a family. This way you are getting quality time together each week instead of trying to cram it in where it doesn’t fit.

b. If something doesn’t fit in your schedule, pull out your calendar and schedule another time for it.

Example: You really want to remodel the guest room or [insert another] room, but you can’t seem to find the time. Schedule out a time when you think you can work on it – perhaps sometime over the summer? Nothing is set in stone so don’t worry about it too much, but also try not to constantly cancel the appointments YOU make for something YOU want to do. You are most important.

c. There are things that you may have to “delete” from your day. Yes, that’s right, delete. You can’t do everything, so why not do the things you can do and stay sane! 🙂

d. The other thing you can do is delegate. If possible, teach someone else how to do some of the things you typically do so you can free up some time in your day.

Any other ideas on how to make time for what is most important to you?


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Unexpected finds make perfect gifts

Yes, it is spring. But we received some unexpected snow today.


So I thought it was a perfect backdrop for posting a topic on finding gifts when you least expect to.

Image of holiday presents

We typically associate gift shopping with the holidays, but we engage in it year-around for birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and so on.

But do you plan ahead for it in any way? Here is how I make gift shopping simpler, less stressful, and more rewarding.

I created a private wish list on Amazon for gifts. Whenever I am browsing magazines or shopping online and I see something I think someone may like or that would be a good gift, I add it to my private “gifts” wish list.

My general advice is that whenever you are shopping, look at the items for not only yourself, but also for others. Don’t wait until it is a week before someone’s birthday, or a few days before the holidays.

When someone’s birthday is coming up, or there is a special occasion or a holiday, or I have a “just because” moment, I scan my gifts wish list for any items I have for that individual. I can quickly make the purchase, and I’m done.

One of the best parts is that because I located this item while doing some “general window shopping” instead of doing “targeted window shopping” (where I am looking for a specific item, or an item for a specific person), the gift usually turns out to be quite special, unique, or incredibly loved by the recipient. There is less pressure to find something by doing it this way, and when it is time to get someone a gift, I don’t have to grab the first thing I see.

We have heard the saying that things happen when you least expect them to. Well, finding the perfect gift for someone can happen when you weren’t necessarily looking. You know it is perfect because as soon as you see it, you say “Oh! [Insert Name] would love this!” or “That looks like something [Insert Name] would like.”

If you are out shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, either buy the item and store it away or take a picture of it to remind yourself later to add it to your “gifts” wish list.

If you buy it months, or even a year, ahead of time, make sure to store it some place where you’ll remember where you put it. Create a place in your home where you store all gifts that are yet to be given. It can be as simple as a large cardboard box or an area in a closet.

Have you ever found a perfect gift when you weren’t looking?


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Reward Yourself Daily

We all have days when we feel like all we can accomplish is to just get through the day. Wake up. Survive. Go back to sleep.

Image of a written to do list on a white board

No matter if it is a day like that, or a day when you feel extremely productive, I recommend that you always take a moment to reward yourself.

Before you start a task, think of what your reward will be for completing that task.

As you work on the task if you start to feel like giving up or distracting yourself with something else (like browsing Facebook), think about your reward. Use it to keep you motivated.

When you complete the task, give yourself that reward you promised yourself.

Believe me. It works. I have been using this trick for years to get through high school, college, graduate classes, work tasks, household chores, or anything really.

Ideas for rewards:

  • Piece of chocolate, cookie or candy
  • Schedule or go to a spa appointment
  • A cup of tea or coffee
  • Time – finish something now, have time for something fun later!
  • A small gift you get for yourself (or a significant other can get you a gift and save it for a special occasion, like this!)
  • A cat nap
  • A walk
  • Time to chat with a friend
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Afternoon snack
  • Cuddle time with a loved one or a furry family member
  • Reading a chapter of a book

Wake up. Be Productive. Always Reward Yourself. Sweet Dreams.

photo source

How do you reward yourself daily?


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Tidy Kitchen Tools

I love to cook and I have collected a lot of kitchen tools over the years. While I use all these various tools cooking or baking, my kitchen tool drawer wasn’t making it easy to find what I needed when I needed it.

It was time to organize!

All the items were taken out and sorted. The hand mixer was moved to another cabinet. And I purchased five very inexpensive plastic drawer organizers from Rubbermaid.

View the products (affiliate links) by using the links below. Make sure you measure your kitchen drawer before purchasing so you will know what you can fit.

15 x 6 x 2 tray – I bought 2 of these.

15 x 3 x 2 tray  – I bought 3 of these.


Image of a kitchen drawer before


Image of a kitchen drawer organized

It is so much easier to find items now!

How do you organize all your kitchen tools (spoons, spatulas, pizza cutters, whisks, etc.)?


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Storing Gift Cards

We are often given gift cards to restaurants and stores as holiday, birthday and thank-you gifts. While they are wonderful to have, they needed to be organized in some way.

I searched online to find a credit card organizer to store the gift cards in. I knew exactly what I wanted because I had seem them in stores years ago, but I didn’t know exactly what they were called.

Eventually, I found one and I bought two. A red one for restaurant gift cards and a blue one for retail store gift cards.

I am sure there are plenty of others available, but this is the one I choose and I love it! And, honestly, now that I have the gift cards all organized, we are using them more!

View this product (affiliate link).

Image of a card case

Image of card case open

How do you organize your gift cards?


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