Sunday Catch Up 3/01/2015

This weekend has flown by and as I was talking to Matt this afternoon it really is one of the least busy weekend that I see in the next several months. I thought I would take a bit of time this evening and catch you up on the happenings around here.

CVS shopping- I am continuing to make my weekly trips to CVS and the kids are really really enjoying the special one on one time that each is getting. Last week, was an ok week that turned out great. We ended up purchasing a credit card reader for Matt’s business  which boosted our saving. This week was AWESOME!  I made a trip and spent 15 saving $66 or 81%. But I am more excited because Amanda came over and with a little bit of help she made a trip by herself and was able to save around the same amount. I am also very happy because this week alone, we have used $18 worth of coupons from the Sunday papers. This covers the entire month subscription.

Menu Planning- Last week was a bit of a challenge as the kids only went to school 1 day, we also ended up cancelling our scheduled eye appointments due to the weather. Our initial plan included eating out a total of 4 times but instead we ended up eating out once.  Matt and the kids did enjoy pizza from Pizza hut but they used reading reward that Kendall and Lily had earned so the total cost was $0. Here is the plan for next week

Breakfast-I made a batch of French toast on Saturday which will be eaten as leftovers, I am also going to make an overnight egg back and baked oatmeal this week for some warm easy breakfast.

Lunch-Lunches for the girls and I have already been packed. I made a huge salad that I will be eating from most of the week in addition to a couple of days of leftovers.

Dinner- We do have a busy week and plan on going out of town next weekend so we want to eat at home as much as possible.

Sunday- Lunch- Baked Potatoes  Dinner- Leftover soups from the week.
Monday- Shrimp Scampi- Frozen meal I purchased with week with coupons.
Tuesday- Taco Rice Burritos or Taco Rice Salad
Wednesday-Roast
Thursday-  Leftovers or pizza or what ever I decide
Friday- Pork Chops, mac and cheese and apple sauce.

Planning Ahead-  One of the ways I want to increase our funds for our planned Disney trip is by having a yard sale. I have decided to attempt to hold this on April 4th, the Saturday before Easter. This weekend, we have been sorting through everyone clothes especially Spring and Summer clothes. I have discovery that unless someone grows significantly, we actually have enough clothes without the need to purchase any items. Shoes may be a different story but I am excited to save money any way we can.

 

 

February in Review

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month Goal Met!  The snow really help to get me motivated for the month!

Weight: Goal:  Met and maintain weight of 175. This goal will be considered met each month that weight loss is achieved and once this weight is achieved, each month maintained is considered achieved.  Frustrated is the only word I can think about saying with this. Fail

Spiritual-  Goal. I want to spend time reading and or studying the Bible at least 5 days a week for the year. One of the reasons I need to be reminded of my goals each month. Fail

Personal Goals: Achieved 1 of 3

Financial Goals:  Achieved 4 of 4

I am really excited to be able to say that February has been the best month for use financial in a long time. Matt has significantly increased his income and we are exactly on budget for the month of February.

1.  Pay off all debit by December  2015, except for mortgage.  
a. JC Penny- 79.32- . DONE
b. Home Depot-     $210 a month Payment.  Will be paid off in July Goal met!
c. American Express   – pay $1400 this month Goal Met!
d. Personal Loan (used to purchase van) .The current scheduled payment is $217 a month with this scheduled to be paid off in December 2015. Goal Met!

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  Placed $100 in for the month Goal Met!

. 3. Groceries: Spend $600 a month . Currently at $616 for the month. I chose to do some shopping on Friday instead of waiting till Sunday so I am declaring this Goal Met!

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs.  Gas prices hit the lowest price they have been in several years at the beginning of the month. We took advantage and filled the trunk in addition to our gas cans that we use especially during the summer months. We have continued to make some small repairs to both of our vehicles which I have taken from this budget as well. The fact that the kids have been out of school for basically two week also kept our expenses low. Total spent for the month is $398 Goal Met!

 

Beautiful Snow

First a view of what we work up to this morning.

I told Matt we could use this as a Christmas card next year!

I told Matt we could use this as a Christmas card next year!

Zach looked out the window this morning and his first comment was "The trees are even covered with snow" This is our front yard beside the house.

Zach looked out the window this morning and his first comment was “The trees are even covered with snow” This is our front yard beside the house.

2015-02-26 snow day 2 028

We had a good amount of snow the kids really enjoyed playing.

Even enough snow to make a snow family.

Enough snow for 5 complete snowmen.. A snow family!

Enough snow for 5 complete snowmen.. A snow family!

Working together!

Working together!

Each one better start their own snowman!

Each one better start their own snowman!

Disney Budget

10307198_10203858799259339_7281155481593743545_n[1]This arrived in the mail today, so it makes is seem a little bit more real. Kendall and Zach spent a good 15 minutes “reading” it which meant Zach would see a picture and then Kendall would read what went along with it! I am so looking forward to this trip.

Tonight I am going to give anyone who cares to read the real number  for this trip. First I want to give a little explanation about some of the decision we made and then real numbers.

The first Disney trip, we took at a family was in April of 2011. This was our budget trip. We ended up staying off property in a nice house, bringing lunch every day with us and general being very picky about the money we were spending. We had an awesome time and I can’t say that I did not enjoy the trip because we did but it was stressful especially in regards to money. This trip, we have made some major changes and hopefully they will result in a little less stress while we are in the parks.

After talking  to several people, researching and looking at prices I have learned several things. The first and most important of which is that you do not save money by booking your trip yourself. The cost of booking yourself and the cost of using a travel agent is the very same. I decided to use the travel agent this trip to save me from attempting to obtain dinning and other reservations myself.

The biggest expense for our trip is lodging.  One of the few negative things I can say about Disney is that they really are not “large” family friendly. In order for us to all stay together it automatically means what we have to stay in a more expensive resort or the cabins at Fort Wilderness. I have heard some awesome things about the cabins but I don’t like the idea of being very limited. I talked with Amanda and Matt, and we were able to come up with a plan that works for us.  Matt, myself and the 3 little kids, we be staying at the Art of Animation Resort in a Cars suite.  Amanda and Haley will be staying at Fort Wilderness in a pop up camper. Another big decision was that I purchased dining plans for the 5 of us. Amanda and Haley will both be responsible for their own food. Amanda is planning to eat at the camper most nights and I am trying to help Haley save enough money to eat on during the trip. Amanda will also be purchasing her own ticket as she is an adult who is working!

Art of Animation for 7 nights with 2 adult 6 day tickets and 3 children 6 day ticket in addition to the dining plan and a memory maker photo pass equals $5383.

Fort Wilderness camping spot for 6 nights (they were already booked for the first night, so I will spring for a hotel room off site) and 2 adult tickets for 5 days equals $1044.

The dining plan offers basically 2 meals a day and a snack so we are going to be taking breakfast items for the majority of the mornings. We do plan on eating a couple of Breakfast out so we are going to be bring snacks to carry with us in the parks. Currently we have 2 days without a plan for a sit down(reservation meal) one of those days is when we will be in Downtown Disney and we most likely will eat there and use a dining credit. The other day is because “Cinderella’s Royal Table”, which is the princess meal uses 2 dining passes.

Some of the ways that we are planning to save money on the trip included not purchasing the Park Hopper Option, leaving one day of the week unpaid, we will not be going inside the Parks. The current plan is to go visit Downtown Disney, enjoy the pools, visit the campground and just a early to bed kind of day in the middle of the week.

Total Budget for the Trip: $7340
Tickets/Lodging/Dinning Plans:  $6500
Additional Food including travel and snacks: $500
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique   $150
Gas $200

This post is way long so I am going to save the ways we plan to save and fund this trip for next  post in regards to Disney.

 

Birthday Party at Children’s Museum

Yesterday was a full day around here. After church we went out to eat with friends and then headed to Winston to run some errands but most importantly go to the Children’s Museum for a Birthday Party! Everyone was invited and had a blast.  Zach spent a good amount of time in the “Food Lion” area and even played with the Birthday boy here. I don’t think either of the girls got to play in here as we separated and just had fun!

IMG_0565 IMG_0563 IMG_0564 IMG_0566The center of the museum was a climbing up tree only. I was very surprised that everyone seem to enjoy climbing even Zach! IMG_0568 IMG_0567The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory was by far the favorite area to play! We ended the day with a visit for real doughnuts.

IMG_0562The girls spent as much time playing with the wind tunnels as they did in the donut store.

IMG_0561 IMG_0559 IMG_0560

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided to snap a picture on the way out as well.

IMG_0569The kids had an awesome time and this may be a great place to spend the afternoon when we have some free time!

Menu Planning 2/21/2015

Since the kids have been out of school for the entire week, a couple of thing have been pushed forward and this coming week looks extremely busy. The weather is suppose to cooperate with rain on Sunday and then nothing else falling from the sky for a week. You will notice that this plan includes eating out for several meals.  Life happens and you adjust.

Breakfast-We currently have lots of left overs for the week so I am going eat from the fridge or keep it simple. Pancake waffles, muffins and baked oatmeal are all available otherwise toast, cereal or pop tarts.

Lunch-The girls have 2 days packed from last week and on Thursday we will be eating at Ikea. I also have a large container of salad already prepared that I will be taking for lunch as well.

Dinner-  I can honestly say this week is packed. I did start to prepare ahead and cooked twice on Saturday.

Saturday- Mexican night including chips, dip, salsa, Mexican rice and chicken enchiladas. (Actually made a double batch and frozen one for another meal)
Sunday- Lunch out and dinner will be leftovers from the fridge.
Monday- Stuffed Green Peppers.
Tuesday- Pizza Hut, using book-it coupons and Subway to finish us off.
Wednesday-Matt has training for his new job so the kids will eat with friends and I will grab left overs.
Thursday-  Eating out- The girls have eye appointments and will have to purchase new glasses.
Friday- Chicken Fried Rice and eggrolls

5 Things Friday 2/20/2015

1. It has been extremely cold here the last several days, the kids have been out of school due to the weather for the entire week. Last night the pipes to our bathroom froze, luckily they did not burst but this will be a major headache to repair in the spring. I expect our electric and water bill to be much higher than normal. Matt called someone to come look at our heat pump next week because it simply is not keeping the house warm. We woke up to a temperature of 60 this morning. NO FUN!

2. We anticipate small repairs on our vehicles because they are older: however this month we have spent over $100 on parts for these small repairs. I am thankful that Matt is doing all the labor but I had hoped to be able to save some of our gas budget this month, instead it is going into parts.

3. We have received both our tax returns now. I am thankful that this extra income has been able to help us reserve our rooms at Disney World. I am planning a full post on the cost associated with this trip and ways we are saving for it very soon. tomorrow.

4. I should be able to control the grocery budget this month and keep it below our $600. Currently, it has $94 left in it with one week left in the month. I know that I will be shopping at CVS on Sunday but otherwise I hope to avoid any other purchases. This past week I have made several trips to CVS and ending up spending $50 on soda and another $10 on make up but this should not be the case for next week. It was fun to see a couple of receipts that showed 100% savings.

5. Because of the weather, my work hours have been crazy. I will admit to enjoying not going into work on Tuesday or Wednesday until 10 am and getting off prior to 3pm on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was a rare treat. I ended up working only 23 hours so between the past two week I have taken 14 hours of vacation time. I try to save these hours for the summer or events that I need to attend with the kids.

Extra/Entertainment Expenses

 

This is a category or should I say categories that I budget for each  month but after lots of research don’t find much information about.  Currently, I am using a modified envelope system which entails cash for some expenses and separate saving accounts for most others. I love Capital One because it allows me multiple saving accounts and one checking account with a debit card which I can move money into and spend easily. The one downside to my Capital One accounts is that it can take up to a week for money to move from my regular account into the capital one accounts.  I promised to use real numbers this year so here we go.

Currently I have 2 cash envelopes at home. The first is “hair fund” this covers hair cuts for everyone and color for myself. We budget $40 a month. Currently this is being paid by Matt’s business.  We don’t always spend the $40 but this builds and makes it less painful when I need color. This works well for us as the hair dresser lives less than a mile down the road so we can schedule ahead or on the fly and have the money easily available. The second envelope is for “piano” both Lily and Kendall are currently taking lessons once a week. The cost for the lesson is $20 a week.  I do have this as a line item in our budget but usually supply the envelope once a month or use cash from cell phone payments so I don’t have to make a trip to the bank. We purchased a keyboard last summer for $100 and have had to purchase 2 sets of book. Lily is starting on the second set this week.  We are currently going to keep all the books with the goal for Zach to begin in two year with only the cost of lessons to be added.

At this point,  I have five separate accounts with Capital One. The least used account is “Auto Fund”. My initial plan was to use this account to save for car repairs and/or the purchase of a new to us vehicle; however this has not worked out. We did purchase a new to us van in January but have been using part of our “gas budget” to make small repairs. I may, in the future, eliminate this fund because it is much simpler for me to use the gas budget for small repairs. If the need for a large major repair would occur this would most likely come out of our emergency fund.  I am still paying on the personal loan we used to purchase a van last year. Currently, it is scheduled for pay off in December of this year, I may start to save this payment amount for future vehicle purchased so for the time being it is sitting with less than $1 in the account.  “Clothing and Gifts” are designated for the “checking account”  My logic is that these are very fluid accounts and need to be accessed easily for purchases. My budget is $100 a month for each of these accounts. After April, I plan to switch the Gift budget over to
“Disney”, more on this later. “Cheerleading” is by far the most expensive activity that we participate in. Currently both Lily and Kendall are part of a competition squad. I budget $150 a month, however this needs to be increased to $200 in the future. This fund covers the cost of tuition each month, competition fees and uniforms. It does not cover our expenses such as hotel and/or food when attending competitions. Last year I was able to save and allotted a certain amount each month to use for these  completion day expenses however with both girls involved I have not been able to do so. Because of the new job Matt has taken, the plan is to cover all current Cheerleading expenses with this job and place the current budgeted amount of $150 into our Disney Fund and then into a fund to use for expenses on competition day. This fund is a work in progress and is undergoing major changes. My goal is to update this fund and budget in July when things have had a chance to settle down. “Car Insurance and AAA” is not really a entertainment expense but it is a expense that I am budgeting and saving for monthly.  Currently, I place $10 a month to cover our yearly AAA membership and $35 a month to cover our car insurance. The insurance amount is adjusted every six months to reflex the actual amount of our car insurance. The final and newest saving account is “Pool”. We are members of a private swim club that operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year.  Our dues allow us access to the pool all summer long. I also use money from this account to help cover the expense of the little kids participating in swim team.  I currently place $45 a month in this account. My goal is to use this same $45 during the months of June, July and August to cover treats such as food and ice cream while at the pool. In the past, we have used grocery money and dinning out money for these treats but I like the idea of having cash and once it is gone then we have to bring our food and drinks from home.

An honest look at where we spent money on entertainment and other extra expenses.  I did not discuss at all our Disney trip but will be sharing our it as well as how we are saving to cover it very soon.

Snow Day Fun 2015

A more accurate description would be snow plus ice. Sledding was perfect because the top layer was so frozen you could ice skate!  I did not get an entire day off but went in 2 hours late and worked only 4 hours so it gave me some extra time to catch up around here.  Picture overload but enjoy!