Growing Our Stockpile

My primary area of focus for the month of July is going to be to grow/replenish our stockpile. The only constraint is the $700 food budget.

The rationale behind this decision has several different aspects. First, July should be the month in which our garden produces the most. Next, and more importantly is that we are running low on items that can no longer be neglected. As we made our menu list for the week, we realized that 4 of 7 meals were going to be chicken. Zaycon also notified us this week of a change in the delivery date of our ground beef order, unfortunately this is our week of vacation.

Our first stop was the “local” meat processing plant- Shuler Meats. We ended up purchasing $230 worth of meat. This may seem extremely high but in reality this meat in addition to the chicken we already have will last 3-4 months.  We purchased 30# of ground beef, chicken drumsticks, NY strip Steaks, cube steak, round roast, beef stew and sausage. Looking at the numbers we have enough meat for 47 meals, that is an average of less than $5 a meal or less than $1 a person per meal. Wondering what we did with all this, glad you asked!  We took 20# of the ground beef and fried it up, freezing it in 1# packs for use in many common recipes and for quick meals like tacos and hamburger helper. The other 10# we made into “Salisbury steaks”.

We have also made trips to Aldi, Costco and Food Lion in the last two days as well. Aldi had an awesome deal on blueberries so I have froze several pints of these for future use. I also purchased a couple of bags of dried beans that have been cooked and frozen. Throwing away food is the biggest waste of money in the US, so I ended up steaming and freezing spinach as well as a bag of apples that became fried apples/apple pie filling to prevent their waste.

Out of our garden, we are getting an abundance of cucumbers, I have made several batches of “cucumber relish” and discovered an awesome recipe for “refrigerator pickles” that the kids love so I currently have 3 gallons of these. Tomatoes are one of the easiest items for me, I simple dice and cook we use these for any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes, tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes. I have even been known to add seasoning to these for recipes that call for Italian style tomatoes. I am able to finish and freeze at least one batch ever couple of day.

The final and smallest way, I am growing our stockpile this month is couponing. I am determined to stick to our budget but hope to add a couple of snack foods for future list if the right sale occurs. Do you have any plans to grow your stockpile this summer?

June in Review

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month Goal Met!

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.  UGGH! I know it can not have anything to do with the fact that I stress eat nor that I have not been exercising regularly! Ok so it is my fault for this one!

Spiritual-  Goal. I want to spend time reading and or studying the Bible at least 5 days a week for the year. Fail again

Financial Goals-
1.  Pay off all debit by December  2015, except for mortgage.    This goal is actually meet in one sense but not in the big picture. Part of my refinancing the house helped to speed  up the goal.  Currently, the only two debts that we have are the new mortgage payment and starting in September a car payment. I will be eliminating this goal in July because it is no longer a goal.  I am very comfortable with both the house and car payment.  I mostly like will change this goal to funding all budget categories for the month starting in August. Any better/other ideas?

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  Met. Added $100!  Remember it is baby steps!

. 3. Groceries: Spend $700 a month .Goal Met After much discussion and debate, I increased by grocery budget to $700 beginning in June. I “think” that I am right on target however, I have no proof. I accidently deleted by budget app during a swim meet and was unable to retrieve the information.  We did end up cancelling our Zaycon order for ground beef due to the change in delivery date, which if I am remembering correctly was more than my overage but I can’t be sure.  I do know that in July, I am planning to start restocking our freezers and this will include a trip to the local meat processing plant.  With our new budget in place, this should become a more realistic and achievable goal.

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs.  This is a huge FAIL!  I had a costly repair on the car and van this month. I am not sure how badly I failed as the budget app was the most accurate record.  Another change is that we are reducing this to $350 a month which I may drop to $300 in September. I explain the rationale for this here.

Disney- No progress. This will change in July!

June was one of the most stressful months that I can remember in several years., but as Matt said we survived and even the last several day are starting to calm down.  I hope to be able to focus on our budget more in the next several months and avoid any major new expenses as well. If I learned anything in the month of June it is “God’s timing is always perfect, and much better than mine!”

Wordless Wednesday- Camping

This past weekend, Amanda brought her pop up camper and set up in the front yard. Haley came and spent one night with all the kids sleeping outside, everyone else spent 2 nights. Looks like they had fun!

Budget Changes!

I have been talking about changing our budget for several months now. One of the major things I was waiting on was the house refinance. One of the biggest changes that I am able to make at this time is how I fund both the gas and grocery budget. In the past, I have split this cost between my two checks, starting in July I will fund both of these up front from my first check in the month! Our new budget starts July 1st and I am trying my best to get everything wrapped up and paid for prior to the end of June.

Here are the new numbers:
Mortgage: $938
Van Payment: $ 345
Pool: $40 (This will cover our yearly dues, in addition to allow for spending money while the pool is open in the summer.)
Clothing: $150 (increase of $50)-growing children is the only explanation I have for this.
Groceries: $700 (increased from $600) I simply can  not feed us for $600 each month.
AAA/Insurance: $72 (increase of $25, to cover new van with additional required insurance.)
Gas: $350 (decease of $50 a month) The rationale behind this was that with the new van, I should be able to reduce the amount of money we are spending each month that are directly auto related. Out of this budget, I do pay taxes on the cars, tags/registration, routine maintence, small repairs and of course gas. I will wait until the end of the year to evaluate this category again.

Look for an update on my goals in the next several days!


Mortgage Refinance- COMPLETE!

Background- I have lived in this house for 22 years as of next week. The original house mortgage was at the interest rate of 9.99%.  This mortgage was sold and re-sold so many times that I lost count. The last company that we ended up with was called “OCWEN”. When interest rates headed down in 2007, we decided to try and lower our interest rate.  At that time, we were told, by the mortgage company, that the only way we would qualify for a lower interest rate was to allow our mortgage to become 3 months behind.  I did some checking and because of my previous bankruptcy, the fact that I was a stay at home mom, and Matt work history of less than 5 years, it would be very difficult for us to qualify for a regular mortgage/refinance without a significant cost of $3 to 5 thousand dollars. So we did allow our mortgage to get  90 days behind and were able to lower the rate to 5.99% with a whole new mortgage of 30 years. This has turned out to be a costly mistake.  As you know interest rates have dropped significantly again in 2010, however our credit showed a 90 day past due on the mortgage so we were stuck in a not the best mortgage.

Now to the start of the process, we had decided that once we were able to get out of consumer debt except for our mortgage that we would have a significantly higher chance to qualify for a re-finance or new mortgage. I have been watching our credit scores over the past year and had a goal of  attempting a re-finance in January 2016. For some reason, or in my opinion, God’s timing, a piece of mail caught my attention the first of May. This was an advertisement for re-financing at a rate of 3.5% and it stated we had already qualified. After some quick checks on the company on the internet, I decided to give them a call. My honest thought was that there is almost nothing worse than Ocwen where you spend 10 to 20 minutes a month trying to pay your bill.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was true, we did qualify and we started the process.  On Friday, the process was completed at least for the most part when we received an wire transfer of most of the equity that we had built up over the years.  We are still waiting on our escrow money from Ocwen. I am not going to say it is completely finished until this is received. One other piece of information to keep in mind as you read the numbers is that we did build an 800 square foot addition to the house which is currently our master bedroom suite. We did not finance this addition so most of the equity was gain by this 3 year project.

The new interest rate is 3.85%(a drop of greater than 2%), on a conventional  mortgage.  The mortgage term is 15 years, which is down from 24 years that were left on our current mortgage. One of the biggest surprises was the appraisal value of our house which came in at 140,000. .  A decision that we made to withdrawal 20% of equity is probably not one that everyone will agree with. However for us, it has allowed us to have a complete reset of our budget.  A final change of plan that occurred during this process, was our very apparent need to purchase a new van. After prayer and number crunching we decided  to use some of the equity as a down payment which allowed us to achieve a manageable payment on a very nice family van.

My plan is to share our new budget that will start July 1st in addition to  making some updates to my yearly goals/monthly goals during this  next week. I hope you will stay around to watch this chance for us to position ourselves in a much more stable position in regards to our budget and savings.

Saving On Saturday


This week I have several things to share!

First up is the garden, I have already been able to make: 3 batches of Cucumber relish, most of which is frozen to be enjoyed the rest of the year. 4 bags of squash to be used for squash lasagna.                                                              2 bags of frozen tomatoes (they first started getting ripe yesterday, so I am hoping that by the end of the week I can add 30 or more bags to my freezer.                             1 gallon of pickles, we will be taste testing these to determine if I can make more or not.
We have enjoyed fresh produce almost daily with just enough squash to fry up at least once a week, green beans once a week.   I know that if the temps don’t cool off soon and we start getting more rain then I am most likely at end of both cucumbers and squash but I am praying to see much improvement this week. I was so disappointed today that I ended up finding the first batch (6) green peppers that are rotten. We still have several watermelons, a cantaloupe and at least one pumpkin growing!

Next up for saving was my quick trip to CVS on Sunday. I will be really honest and say that I am becoming a little more disappointed with CVS each week. This week I purchased 3 cases of Diet coke and paid $0, out of pocket!  The sale was 3 for $12, I used a free 12 pack purchased with coke points, 2 ECB from several weeks ago  and the $8 remaining dollars came off a gift card that I received several weeks ago for purchasing $30 of certain products.

Finally, Harris Teeter is running a super doubles event this week. They will double all coupons up to $2, with a limit of 20 daily. I ended up spending $34.08 but saved $74 or 70%.  This  may sound like a high amount but I ended up with 12 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 4 boxes of Suddenly Salad,4 bottles of shampoo, 4 cans of hair spray, 2 bottles of spray gel and 2 bottle of mouse along with several other items. I am so excited because we use ALOT of hair products around here!

How are you saving money?

5 Things Friday

1. The closing on the re-financing of the house is set for Monday morning at 8am. I will be so glad to get this finished. The company that was eager to help and answer questions up front has turned out to have very sad communication skills. We found out the date of closing when an attorney called to schedule with us around 2pm this afternoon.
2. With the rain the last several days, our garden may not fail! This evening we picked another batch of green beans (plan to use on Sunday), several cucumbers (made another batch of cucumber relish) and more importantly we found a pumpkin, several watermelon and a cantaloupe growing along side of our green peppers. We should also start with tomatoes in the next week.
3. I have managed to demolish our new food budget of $700 this month. I purchased 40# of ground beef to be picked up in July, which puts me currently at $792 for the month. Uggg when does this get better?
4. If the weather cooperates, we will be spending the majority of the day at the pool tomorrow, I am in need of some rest and non stress time BADLY!
5.Both the girls are practicing piano in the morning before I head to work. I was able to recognize one of the songs that each was working on. I am so pleased and proud of the way they are learning music.

Random enough?

Random Thursday Thoughts

  • Matt and I have survived our first week of car sharing. Because we do not feel comfortable driving the white van and the truck does not have working air conditioning, we have been car sharing.  The current plan is continue for at least 2 more weeks.
  • My summer clothes shopping is finished. I was able to purchase 2 pair of shorts for myself, a t-shirt for Matt, a shirt to match a skirt for Lily, a pair of short for Lily and 3 pair of shorts for Kendall today all for $92 or about $11.50 each.
  • We will be increasing our food budget to $700 a month starting in July. Today I used our rewards coupon from Costco help us stay on track for the budget for June. We only needed 3 items but decided to go ahead and buy some extra produce and a couple of fun food items as well. Out of pocket was $23 for 22 items at Costco or $1 an item. No way to match that!
  • We are suppose to close on our new mortgage next week so I plan to share more detail and our new budget some time after that.
  • I am already working on the new budget but had to adjust both the water and electric bill higher than I anticipated due to the extreme heat (above 90 for the past 10 days with prediction of another 10 days). At this point if we do not water the garden will be start to lose anything that we have. I had planned to water every third day but I may have to alternate every other day in hopes to still get a decent harvest.
  • Tonight we made the tough decision to skip a practice. We are in week 3 of 8, with 4 night a week swim practice in addition to cheerleading and piano. Because we have been car sharing, everyone has been out to at least 8:30 each night this week. I am tired and so are the kids, which is evident by attitudes so Zach, Kendall and I stayed home while Lily  went to cheerleading only.
  • Amanda is planning to bring a camper over next week and stay the week allowing the kids to sleep outside in the camper with her a couple of nights. I am not sure how this will work out but everyone is excited so at least it should make for some good stories in the future.