We live a very busy life. Our “normal” schedule includes four night of extra activities a week, in addition since August, I have been working till 5:30 at least 3 if not 4 nights a week. In the mornings, I enjoying taking the girls to school and try to get out the door in time for me to have 15 minutes for my devotional time once I get to work. So I am going to share with you, a couple of time and money saving tips that make our weeks at least a little more smoother.
First is the clothing issue, both Kendall and Lily have every strong opinions about school clothes. On Sunday afternoons, our first chore is to pick out clothes for the week. This is a process as each outfit has to be approved by me. Today, we finished quickly in less than 30 minutes. After we pick out each outfit, it is placed in my room or closet so that there are no “last minute” changes during the week. I offer suggestion and even let the girls decided which day they are wearing each outfit. I have my required scrub uniform with optional undershirt. I try to wash these on Saturday so that I can just grab and go during the week.
Next is food, this school year both Lily and Kendall are required to take a snack for each school day. Lily is also allowed to bring a bottle of water. I do keep a small stock of easy to grab items such as Rice Krispy treats and fruit roll up. However, both the girls like to take other things such as popcorn or even chocolate pudding. We pick out the items they want to take for the week and pack it in their bookbags. This is especially important so they can always grab out a snack and one less item on my list.
Finally are lunches. We allow both girls to pack 2-3 times a week depending on the menu. The first step of this process is we print a monthly lunch menu, each girl then reads and circle what items they will be eating or writes pack. No matter what day of the week they chose to pack on we prepare ahead on Sundays. I purchased two years ago “lunch boxes” they are plastic containers with 3 separate areas, the down side is that they will leak but they is usually not a problem. The girls pick what they want in their lunches and it is pack. The “finished” box sets in the fridge until the morning they are packing. We have discovered several easy and favorite meals, they include:
Sandwich sushi- this is a tortilla with meat, cheese and mayo rolled and sliced into bite size pieces.
Toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwiches- by toasting the bread it stays fresh for the week.
Chicken nuggets- Think lunchable on this one. I go ahead and fry the chicken nugget on Sunday, place in a container with ketchup or other dipping sauce. This is Kendall’s favorite and she has never complained about it being cold.
Pickles – I cut these to fit in one container.
Carrots and Ranch dressing.
Tomatoes and/or green peppers- this was a favorite during August when we had lots of tomatoes in the garden.
Graham crackers with nutella to dip in.
Applesauce, jello or pudding- I usually pick one of these and mix up a batch. One box of either jello or pudding fits perfectly into 4 of the small compartments. I pour each into the compartment and set in the fridge, it doesn’t spill because it has settled prior to going in the lunch bag. This is a huge money saver as I can make a box of pudding for less than a dollar compared to a pre-packaged 4 pack for around $1.50. The girls also enjoy having a choice each week.
Cheese and crackers- either American slices or cheese sticks depending on what is available.
I also take my lunch most days, I can pack with the girls but I usually grab a dinner plate that is made from left-overs, because I can use a microwave at work. Other days I have a soup stash at work.
Do you have an easy lunch idea to add?
Lily’s 8th birthday was yesterday and since this is the year of no birthday parties, we have been celebrating for two days. Yesterday, both Amanda and Haley surprised her at lunch at school, then Matt took cupcakes for a special snack to her class. Last night after work, we had pizza with her BFF family and cake. My parents joined us for the cake as did Amanda and Haley.
After the ice cream cake, Izzy( BFF) and Amanda both spent the night. This morning, Haley arrived bright and early and we all set out for Disney on Ice! It was awesome as usual but the pictures are just plain bad. Everyone enjoyed the show.
We ended the day at Olive Garden. It was a great day of all 7 of us together with no drama and lots of excellent memories!
I was able to cross several items off my to do list today including establishing and resetting our budget. For the month of December, the focus will be on staying on track so that we can end the year “even”. I have made some major allowances for eating out and a couple more gifts that I need to purchase. I am most disappointed that I did not get an emergency fund in place but it will be a in place next year!
Several major changes will be occurring a couple of highlights are:
budget will be based on two checks a month, and will include Matt’s steady income. In January and July, I will receive an extra check which will be used to pay for vacations and extras.
eliminated the “auto fund” instead small repairs, oil changes, taxes will come out of the gas budget. At the end of each month, any amount left in the gas fund will be transferred to the second account for more majority car repairs or saved.
added dinning out envelope this will allow us to eat out once a month or if we are careful twice a month. The plan is to add to this account with extra money that is found or left from the previous month grocery fund. This is a cash only envelope which is harder for us to spend. Grocery budget will remain at $600 a month as this is our average for the year!
hair fund has been moved to a cash only envelope. This will also be the “petty cash” if needed!
In April or before if we can pay off the Home Depot card, that payment will be transferred to our emergency fund. I know that it will take several years but I plan to leave this as a regular schedule payment until $5000 is in the account!
I am excited that we are on the right track and I think we are in a good position to succeed this next year!
At the start of last week, I was excited, in my mind, I had a list of things to accomplish over the holiday weekend which would have me well prepared for December. So the best laid plans have now been way scattered. First Lily was sick on Monday and stayed home from school. Next Matt became sick on Wednesday and pretty much was out of commission till Friday. Finally, the Christmas tree that I was so excited to arrive on Thanksgiving morning and even comment how much fun and easy it was to decorate has fallen twice now! Which resulted in late night re-decorating and cleaning.
So now I have a list of things that I need to get caught up on prior to Lily’s Birthday, which is Friday. Here is the short version:
1. Complete and order 3 photo gifts including a calendar for my dad!
2. Seal, address and send Christmas cards.
3. Wrap all presents so that we can use my closet again!
4. Complete decorations outside.
5. Complete Christmas shopping, luckily this involves only 1 more present besides the photo gifts.
6. Ship gifts to family out of state.
7. Budget for December as well as a new system budget for next year! I may be able to postpone the new budget another week as I am sure this is more brain power than I have left.
Matt has graciously agreed to take over the house cleaning this week so that it is presentable for Lily’s party but I still need to order tickets for Disney on Ice on Saturday!
The old master bedroom has seen it’s fair share of updating and painting. Prior to her senior year, Haley decided to paint it a bright blue and pic, (check it out). The other big change came in 2010 when we pulled up the carpet and placed a laminate floor down. At the time, we chose a cheap laminate with the idea that in about 5 plus years we would need to update and replace. However in less than three this is what the floor looked like…
Part of the problem was a cat with a major behavioral issue but I firmly believe that the majority of the problem was the quality of the laminate.
With Haley’s decision to move to her father’s, we knew we would need to replace the floor prior to Lily moving into that room. So that is what we have been working on the last several days. I am very pleased with the result. In total we spent $500 for a new toilet, paint for the half bath that is attached and new flooring for bedroom, walk in closet and half bath. This is a vinyl laminate that is self adhesive. It took us about 4 hours to lay the floor and that included the mandatory breaks that occur with three children in the house.
I am posting these a day early so that I can share a major way to save money tomorrow on home renovations!
Financial goals: November has been a better month for us, however with the expenses of car insurance, which I had not completely saved this time and lot of Christmas shopping it was an expensive month. We were able to reduce our monthly expenses by $100 by reducing cable and eliminating our home security system. This new number will begin in December so I will be developing a new plan for the 2014 with these new figures.
- Pay off Lawn mower by March 2014, so no interest is charged. Payment of $100 made, almost a triple payment. Steady progress. I have added to this initial debt with the purchase of flooring but have a plan to still pay all off prior to interest being applied!
- Pay off all outstanding debt except the mortgage by June- No progress this month but no new debt. We missed this goal obviously but my new goal is June 2014!
- Emergency fund to $2000- I have been talking and being in January this will be a major goal and I will be adding a line item to our budget to make it a reality.
- Maintain a budget using a form of the envelope system -Slight adjustments in this area as well. I am going to be moving several items to cash envelopes such as hair to make this easier.
- Groceries: Spend $600 or less a month We have spent $453 this month. In December my plan is to stick to less than $200 by eating out of the fridge and pantry!
- Gas- Goal Met!! We currently have $150 left in our gas budget which we used for part of our car insurance.
Blogging: Goal: 15 per month: This is post number 14 with another post with pictures about our new flooring!
Devotions: Goal is 5 a week Goal Met! I am really enjoying my morning time.
Weight: Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month.. I have been consistently exercising 2x a week and actually lost some weight in addition to my clothes fitting much better. I will be continuing to work on this next year.
So my goals look much better this month! In December I will be spending some time reviewing each goal and deciding how to proceed for next year. I will plan an several post on budgeting and at least an update in December with new goals stated for January. Progress should be celebrated!
This was a somewhat different Thanksgiving for us this year, out of the past 10 years we have travelled to Michigan for at least 7 or 8 to celebrate with Matt’s family. However this year, I am required to be available for work on Friday so travelling was out of the question. I have spent the day shopping and eating! This morning I shopped online at JC Penny’s prior to a quick trip to CVS to pick up candy, soda and Nyquil. Matt and all three of the kids are fighting colds. Lunch was at my parents and then the adults sat around looking at the Black Friday ads, while the kids played. One of the highlights of the day was my hour and half nap. We decided to decorate our live Christmas tree and since it is smaller than normal we chose to use only about 1/3 of our ornaments. I hope to post pictures of all our decorations later this week.
I ended the night with a trip to Walmart. Matt and I had planned to have a black Friday date but since he is feeling really bad, I decided to venture out alone. I did miss both the skillets and crockpots but I managed to grab a steam mop, pajamas, socks and Zach a guitar.
A very different low pace day but I have to say it was one of my favorite.
I was able to get some extra hours off of work this week so I have been planning ahead to get things done this weekend. I am really excited at how much we have managed to accomplish! I know that the next several weeks will be progressively more busy so I am so glad to feel like I am ahead of the game. Here is a list of thing that we accomplished this weekend: 1. Snow village is total complete!
2. Christmas decorations are almost complete except for the tree which we will be picking up on Thursday. As a bonus, I have even managed to get some of the boxes back up in the attic
3. I am over 75% complete with Christmas shopping. My goal for this next week is to finish up all that I can face the dreaded wrapping.
4. I made an early morning trip to CVS this morning and saved 80%. I will be posting more about this trip on Thursday, when I return to CVS to use up the ECBs that I earned. I always look at these trips as one because I am carrying things forward.
5. We were able to purchase flooring and a new toilet for Lily’s new room. It would be awesome if she actually got to move into her new room on her birthday weekend. But that is a lot of work between now and then!
6. Naps on both days!
7. Finally, we have managed to clean out the fridge so that we can have some really comfort hot meals this week as the weather is too cold for my comfort!