March in Review

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month Goal Met!  I think I have finally got my groove with blogging!

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.  Fail again!

Spiritual-  Goal. I want to spend time reading and or studying the Bible at least 5 days a week for the year. Doing better but still not achieved

Personal Goals: Achieved 1 of 3

Financial Goals:  Achieved 4 of 4

We are continuing to make small steady progress in this area. Income wise this was an awesome month as we received an expected boast. I am also hoping to keep on track during April with our Beach trip.

1.  Pay off all debit by December  2015, except for mortgage.  
a. JC Penny- 79.32- . DONE
b. Home Depot-     $270 a month Payment.  Will be paid off in July Goal met!
c. American Express   – pay $2300 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 $741 for the month.  No real reason for this except we choose to purchase some steaks and convenient foods and this was a 5 week month. Hopefully better on track next month especially with the need to purchase plants for the garden and a trip for meat in our near future. Fail 

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs.  We need to make another repair on the white van this month which cost  $157.  We also have been travelling alot both for cheerleading and for medical appointments. With the repair we ended the month with a total of $474. Because of some extra income we did not need to dip in our emergency fund for this repair so officially this is Goal Met!

Disney- I have decided to add this just to be accountable. This month, I have been selling items online in preparation for our physical yard sale in April. I have been really surprised and excited to see the money come in. I have been able to purchase a stroller that we plan to take and use in Disney, 2 autograph books and a dress.

 

Looking ahead to April- First is going to be to control with grocery budget. I am hoping to eat out of the fridge and freezer for the first 3 weeks of the month prior to our beach trip. I am positive we will at that point have to head to Costco. I will also need to purchase live plants during the last two weeks of the month depending on the weather. I am setting  $100 budget for this which means that I need our grocery spending to stay under $500 for the month. Next is Gas- in April, I am already aware of 3 small repairs that are needed. I am hoping that gas prices will stay low enough to accomplish these repairs in addition to covering our regular expense of gas. Finally, I have reworked our budget and have added a line for saving in our emergency fund. I am so happy to accomplish this goal.

 

Menu Plan Monday 3/30/2015

We are in full swing for planning our yard sale. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can have it on Saturday. I am keeping things relatively easy for the week.

Breakfast-French toast (leftovers) , breakfast burritos (leftovers)  bagels (purchased at Costco on Saturday). Cereal.

Lunch-Lunches for the girls and I have already been packed. This week is a little different for us as all the kids are out of school on Friday. Lily will also miss on Thursday because of an eye appointment. For my lunches I have a salad, tuna salad, chicken salad and a dipping day with hummus.

Dinner- We do have a busy week with at least one scheduled activity every evening so quick, convenient and on hand are the keys for this week.

Sunday: Lunch-with friends  Dinner- soup and/or sandwiches
Monday- Crockpot Pineapple chicken with rice
Tuesday- Pork Fried Rice
Wednesday-Pork Chops , mac and cheese, applesauce.
Thursday-  Not sure about this day yet, I am thinking about squash Lasagna
Friday- hamburgers and tator tots
Saturday- Lunch sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner- pizza( if the yard sale occurs.)

 

Last week we ended up eating brunch out of Thursday and dinner out of Saturday. So definitely a fail in not eating out but this week should be easier to stick to the plan. I did try the egg roll in a bowl, it was eaten but really not all that great so not a repeat dinner.

The Cost of Vision

Eyesight is one of the most important things in our world. So it would also make sense that I would have a cost associated with it. However, I am coming to realize just how expensive it can be. Last Thursday, all three of the little kids had eye appointments. Lily and Kendall were scheduled for their yearly exam. Zach was scheduled at the request of our ophthalmologist, at the girls visit six months ago.  It turns out that she wanted to monitor his eyes and she was right he indeed needed glasses and has the same eye condition as the girls, esotropia, but  he also is very far sighted. After the visit, we came out with some news for each of the kids. Lily asked and was given permission to purchase contact to begin using. Lily is also in need of new glasses as her cheerleading pair is very tight and damaged and she recently broke another pair . Kendall was excited to learn that she no longer needs to patch to improve her weak eye but also needs both glasses for cheerleading and regular glass as well. Zach gets to join his sister with new glasses to be worn.  Vision Works is currently offering a buy one get one free promotion which is why the wired arrangement of glasses. Cheerleading glasses need to be black plastic frames with plain lens while other frames where child’s choice and transition lens .  Unfortunately, I made the decision to drop our eye insurance for this year but on a better note, I do have a medflex account just for this reason.

So are you wondering how much eyesight is costing….

Each appointment plus cost of refraction          $115 x 3= $345
Zach two pair of glasses                                    $309.93
Cheerleading glasses x 2                                   $99.00
Lily and Kendall glasses                                     $289.93
Lily second contact appointment                        $60.00
Contact for six months for Lily                            $120

Total cost for vision $953.86 but well worth every cent in my opinion!

 

5 Ways We are Saving Money On Our Disney Trip!

I will start by saying this has been a post in my head for awhile but one of the big problems for me was to figure out the title.   For the back story, I used actually numbers and talked a little about where most of the money was coming from here. Today’s post is about the specifics of our savings.

1. Separating our large family into two separate groups with one stay in the Campground. This was by far our biggest saving as it allowed not only us to save on the actually cost of staying on property but also were able to purchase the dinning plan for only half the group as well.  Disney does not make life with groups over 4 easy to deal with so by splitting up we saved money and also will be able to enjoy our times together and apart.

2. Travelling to Disney in the over night hours. The drive for us to Disney is approximately 10 hours. Ten hours is a long drive by itself but when you add bathroom stops and three meals you are looking at an overnight stay in an hotel for everyone’s sanity. We are planning to leave around 11pm, the kids will sleep until at least until  5 am so that eliminates at least one bathroom stop. We will stop around 6am for breakfast and will arrive at Disney at lunchtime. We will mostly likely stop just outside Disney for a fast food lunch and then spend the rest of the day enjoying!

3. Purchasing autograph books from Snapfish.  I have already purchased 2 of the 3 autograph books we will be taking with us to Disney. Because I am planning ahead I was able to purchase both book for around $9 each. The books we used 4 years ago are still being looked at and enjoyed today. The lowest cost of a book that I have seen online at Disney is around $25 so I am saving at least $15 on each book.

4. Gift cards- This may sound weird but the little kids and I have already decided that they will be taking $100 in gift cards as their spending money. I am able to purchase these cards in advance from Target. I get a 5% discount for using my Redcard.  This allows me also to use the money that each child usually receives for birthday money to prevent any attacks of the “I NEEDS” while at Disney.

5. Planning in advance- By starting our planning a year in advance and involving the kids we have actually saved money in several ways.  First instead of birthday parties and big gifts, everyone is getting Disney for their birthday. I do have a couple of surprises plan for the kids to open on their birthday.  Zach will be opening the autograph books on his birthday,  He will have a gift to open but also will be able to give the girls their books as well. Kendall will be opening a Sophie dress. I purchased this on clearance and spent $12 instead of $60 along with the dress, she will get a note to share with Lily and Zach that tells about their reservation at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  Lily is most excited we are planning to actually celebrate her birthday in Disney.  I will not be hosting Birthday Parties this year so that will cover the extras for the little kids.  Next the older girls will not be getting Christmas or Easter gifts, instead they get a trip to Disney. Birthday presents will also involve Disney but since they can read that is all I am sharing. Finally, by planning in advance I was able to secure our tickets prior to the increase so I saved money all the way around.

 

Do you know of another way to save?

 

Monday-Menu Plan

After spending the first weekend at home in the month of March, I am happy to report that we have starting to slow down on our schedule just a wee bit, with a final push coming the middle of April with a 4 day trip. This weekend I was able to actually do some cooking ahead and some planning!

Breakfast-French toast (leftovers) , breakfast burritos ( I made a huge batch of “filling” over the weekend), poptarts (these should be running out soon but until they do, the kids are eating at least 2 times a week). I plan to enjoy “green smoothies” at least 2 days this week to use up our spinach.

Lunch-Lunches for the girls and I have already been packed. I made a huge salad on Saturday and even made some tuna salad as well.  Matt and Zach will be eating leftovers and sandwiches this week.

Dinner- We do have a busy week with at least one scheduled activity every evening but we also have  quite a few left-overs that will be eaten along with using up both the chili and slaw I made over the weekend.

Sunday: Lunch- Mexican for Haley’s Birthday Dinner- Chicken/Broccoli casserole.
Monday- Leftovers
Tuesday- Hamburgers and Tator Tots.
Wednesday-Choice of Hot Dogs, leftovers or sandwiches.
Thursday-  Egg Roll in a bowl; new recipe I will be trying.
Friday- Chicken enchiladas that have been previously made and frozen.
Saturday- Lunch sandwiches or leftovers. Dinner- Pizza

As you can tell we are keeping things simple for the week. The plan is to continue with simple meals of the ingredients that we have already purchased for at least the first couple of weeks in April. I would like to avoid grocery shopping until after our beach trip just to finish cleaning out the freezers prior to May when the growing season get in full swing and I want to restock especially the veggie freezer during the summer months.

Playing in Dirt

FullSizeRender (1)

That is how we spent most of this beautiful Saturday! Playing in the dirt!  The temperature was around 65 degrees and it was sunny!  I would call it a perfect Spring day in North Carolina!!

I started the day with a long list of small projects that needed to completed to make our yard at least presentable.

  1. .Mix new dirt into square foot garden.  (See above).
  2. Weed all three flower beds and place new mulch.
  3. Fix square foot garden where it was hit this winter.
  4. Drill holes in large planter and re-plant.
  5. Move and straighten playhouse.
  6. Place lime over wet area of yard.
  7. Mow and trim yard.
  8. Fix Matt’s van, (small leak).
  9. Fix cup holder in white van and add cup holder for Lily.
  10. Wash and hang to dry all sheets.
  11.  Apply mulch to playground and then Preen It (this will prevent weed growth).
  12. Wash dog and all his bedding.

As you can tell we did accomplish a lot. The ground is simply too wet right now to get the playhouse adjusted, so hopefully in the next couple of week we can get this marked off the list.  Applying the weed preventer, need to happen just prior to it raining so I am going to do this on Sunday  in anticipation of rain late Sunday night or Monday.

This is one area that I will admit that I usually forget to budget for however this year, I did not.  I had budgeted $100 for the yard, after using this I ended up pulling $25 from the yard sale profits to keep us even for this project. I am so excited to have this behind me and to not have to borrow money to complete. One  of the ways that I ended up saving money was buying plants off the “clearance” shelves at Lowes. I ended up purchasing all but 2 of the plants from this area  this year. I had great success with these last year as most of the time the plants are simply not blooming or missed getting water prior to being placed in this area.

Lily is a bit of a prissy girl and does not like playing in the dirt but because we were all outside, she was required to at least sit outside as well.

FullSizeRender (2)And finally a picture of the mulched beds and planter…

 

Fun CVS Trip

I was kinda disappointed this past Sunday when I finished my CVS shopping. I ended up not splitting my transactions up the best way and spent $20 out of pocket and ended up with $12 in ECB. My saving total was right at 60% not bad but not great. However the week is saved!!! After work, I discovered a high value Tide coupon ($3 off). I decided to head to CVS just to use the two I printed. I spent $2.15 on the following..

FullSizeRenderI did receive a nice surprise tonight of 2 $5 ECB printing from the Red Machine because of my beauty club purchases.

Total spent for the week $22.31, total value 118.46, total saved 96.15 or 81%!!! And I still have 6 ECB to save till next week.

Random Thursday Thoughts

  • We are traveling again today. First headed to Matthews for eye appointments for all the kids. Next to IKEA to enjoy some window shopping. Finally back to Winston-Salem to pick out new glasses for the girls. I am estimating that we will be travelling over 150 miles and eating out at least 2 meals.
  • I am continue to list items on several Facebook groups in order to sell them. So far all the transactions have worked out very smoothly. I only have one more item that I am planning to list. The real yard sale is scheduled for the first weekend in April. I am planning to post this both online and in our local paper. I have already made $300 and my goal for all the yard sale is now $500. This is a lofty goal but I am hoping that it works out. If not then I will have a huge donation for the year to go to Goodwill and I have managed to really clean out!
  • After travelling tomorrow, our lives should slow down to a more normal hetic pace. It is a full month until we will be travelling again for cheerleading. That trip is so much fun and I am already looking forward to it. Myrtle Beach is always my favorite spot to visit.
  • Currently our budgets are right on schedule. We had to make a small repair to the white van again this past week but if all goes as well we will stay under our $400 gas budget for the month. The lower price of gas is certainly a nice thing and has helped our budget tremendously so far this year. The grocery budget is also doing well for the month with $170 left in it. I am really trying to clean out the freezers as much as possible with plans to start filling them again in May with freshly frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • My goals for the weekend include: yard work and trying to make homemade granola.

Enough randomness for today!

 

5 Things Friday!3/13/2015

1. I decide to post to an online yard sale yesterday, these are all items that I was gathering to sale anyway so I figured I would just get a head start.  If everyone arrives and picks up the items they have claimed I will have made $250! This is going to help with our Disney trip!  We had decided that the first $100 would be used for a stroller, so that takes a chuck but I am super excited to see extra money coming in!

2.Matt is working tonight, tomorrow night and Tuesday night… three nights a month is nothing to complain about but main it just seems like a lot at this moment. It probably has to do with the fact that I worked late and am tired but I was so glad  to put the kids to bed.

3. Our new to us white van continues to need small repairs. Yesterday, we took it to the radiator shop and they were able to fix a small leak that was causing the van to smoke especially when sitting in traffic. I don’t like sitting in the school line with smoke coming out from under the hood!  We are hoping to be able to pay for this repair out of our gas fund for the month. It will leave us stretching a tank for a little over a week but it would also mean that our Emergency Fund is able to stay in tact

4. After a huge trip to Costco last week we have $200 left in our grocery fund. I am hoping to spend half this amount for the month but if some excellent sales come along I may just stay under budget and be happy.

5.We are travelling again on Sunday. This will be the second Sunday in a row that we have missed church. Other than during our annual beach trip each year, I can not tell you the last time that we have missed two Sundays in a row!