Monday Musing 1/25/20016

  • We have 5 weeks before Zach and Kendall start back to school and 4 before Lily begins her adventure in a Charter School. The next three weeks are what we consider slower because the girls have cheer on Monday and Thursday. They will also have piano once a week.
  • I was able to make a deposit on our next Disney trip this week using money that we have earned from Swagbucks. Matt and I are both using this site to earn extra money. I am so excited. The goal of this trip is to totally pay for it with money not included in our regular budget!
  • Our garden has not produced like we had hope but one of the biggest reason is the heat. Currently in NC, we are experiencing Day 26 of the summer with highs in the 90s. A typical summer is 29 days of 90 degree temperatures.
  • Matt has assembled the new water barrel to start collecting any rain water. Hopefully we will be able to water the garden on a regular bases without increasing our water bill.
  • I did plant 3 additional tomato plants and a dill plant this weekend with hopes of increasing our harvest.
  • We have really enjoyed our 2 trips to Emerald Point, a water park, this summer. We hope to go a couple more times but plan on spending only 4 or 5 hours at the park instead of 8.
  • The plan for August is to re-stock the pantry so our spending may be really close to budget.

Saturday Savings

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Today was the final swim meet of the year and I have a ton of pictures that I will post during the next week but for now we have been doing some serious saving.

First up is a budget buster- we have a leak in the  main water line from coming  the street to the house. The first leak occurred over the Fourth of July and it failed again today. Matt was able to fix the leak and repaired  the leak for less than $5. If we could have found a plumber to come out on a weekend or holiday just the service fee is at least $100 per trip, so we saved at least $200.

We were given a bag of cucumbers and squash. To be honest, I am exhausted and did not want spend anytime doing anything in the kitchen. But this is a lifestyle choice so I fried squash for dinner, chopped up and cooked the remaining squash with onions and carrots. I have a squash casserole ready for the oven tomorrow and we have a bag that will be used for a casserole in the future. The cucumber have been cut into spears and place in a jar. Our pickles will be ready in three days and will last in the refrigerator for up to a year. This is hard to place an exact price on but I am going to say that we saved at least $10 by doing these things.

We did save money at the County swim meet by waiting to purchase t-shirts until later in the day, when the price was reduced, we saved a total of $7.50.

How are you saving?

Saving on Saturday-7/16/2016

I have said many time that it is the little things that save money. So after realizing how far behind I am on blogging this month, I thought I would make a list of things we are doing this summer to get our budget back under control.

  1. Menu planning- We have switched to a month long plan. One of the best parts of this is that we can switch around days without having to worry about if we have certain ingredients or not. Our menu plan is based around the meat in our freezer’s at the first of the month. Fruit and veggie are most like what we have either in cans or fresh or as in today on sale.
  2. Not shopping- This one sounds so very simple and actually makes the most sense. I know that if I go to Costco, I can always find a good deal on snacks and cereal or other foods that we don’t usually buy. Sales are great but I realized in January that we needed to consume the great deals. I have been able to reduce our food budget by over $150 by simply not shopping. I have a list that can be added to if we run out of something and my goal is to shop Costco once a month. I also have been stopping at Aldi about every other week to grab things in smaller quantities or pick up fresh items. Yesterday, I grabbed 2 containers of blueberries along with some lettuce, poptarts and sausage.
  3. Planning ahead which really goes along with menu planning. We have a pool membership that we pay yearly and this year, we purchased season passes to the water park.  I have purchased chips and cookies and other convenience foods to take with us as treats. We will usually take either a pasta salad or wraps or sandwiches for lunch. I did some research on our last visit to the water park and the best deal was $25 for a pizza and 4 drinks. I spent $24 at Aldi yesterday and grab more than enough stuff to finish out 3 meals instead of one. The kids are enjoying our special treat such as a package of cookies and we are not breaking the bank.
  4. Not eating out. This by far is our biggest down fall. We enjoy eating out. At the beginning of our budget journey we would honest eat out 3-4 times a week. When our income was reduced to one, we have been slowly decreasing the times we eat out. I was so excited to find out that we have eaten out twice in July. Once for Kendall’s birthday with my parents and once yesterday.
  5. Stockpiling- When I do shop, you will find that I don’t shop like a normal person. I shop the deals and then stock up. It is not usually for me to purchase 10 2-liters at a time or 10 bottles of ketchup if the sale is the right one. I am finding that sales are becoming fewer this year but I am still able to shop with my price list.
  6. Wasting as little as possible- This week on Wednesday evening, I saw three very wipe bananas on the cabinet. I knew we needed to use these ASAP. I was able to make banana bread and top with strawberry jam for breakfast on Thursday. We also are trying to preserve as much of our garden harvest as possible. This week alone I have made 2 batches of spaghetti sauce and a batch of frozen cucumber relish. This does requires some flexibility with our menu planning but it seems to be working for us.

How are you saving money today?

5 Things Friday

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  1. We have survived our busiest week of the Summer!  Vacation Bible School everyday in addition to swim and piano. Matt is also working tonight and tomorrow so things are different to say the least.  One of the causalities of this week is this is only my 5 or 6th blog post for the month. I am hoping to get several post out this weekend to play catch up.
  2. I had two specific yes! answers to pray today. I am so thankful and excited!
  3. Our garden tomatoes are starting to come in, slowly but surely, I have made 2 batches of spaghetti and a couple of cans of tomato sauce.
  4. We purchased a new kitchen table and finally got it assembled yesterday!  It will seat 7 regular and up to 12 with the expandable end!
  5. Today is payday so I need to sit down and work on the budget today. I am excited that both our gas and grocery budget is below for the month. In addition we have only eaten out once this month!

Menu Plan for 7/11/2016

This is honestly one of the busiest weeks this summer. The kids and Matt have Vacation Bible School every day from 8-1pm, swim practice on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, swim meet on Tuesday and swim dinner on Friday. On Friday, we also have piano and Matt is scheduled to work both Friday and Saturday. It will be busy and just in case we get a storm on either Monday or Thursday, the girls have cheer practice. The good news is that we have been planning ahead so this week should not blow our budget.

Here is the plan:

Breakfast–  Saturday- Gravy Biscuits, Sunday- Chocolate Banana Bread.   Choices will include  cereal, toast, grits, breakfast bars, granola bars eggs or left over baked oatmeal or breakfast burritos-previously made  The focus this week is quick and simple to get everyone to church and work on time.

Lunch- Sandwhiches, left-overs, chicken nuggets.  This should be the biggest struggle of the week.

Dinner-  Saturday- Lunch- Sandwiches.   Dinner- Pasta salad
Sunday- Lunch- Pork roast, potato salad and deviled eggs.   Dinner-nachos made with Taco Rice
Monday- Hamburger steak and French fries or left overs from Sunday.
Tuesday-Wraps during swim meet
Wednesday- Cheeseburger Pizza
Thursday- Chicken and Broccli in crockpot with rice
Friday- Baked spaghetti.

The plan for dinners this week is to prepare ahead as much as possible. I did go ahead and make the Baked spaghetti on Sunday. Each night if we can prepare the next day, we should survive this crazy week.

Budget and Garden Update

July is the middle month, it brings several exciting events and also provides an excellent time for me to look at our budget and decide what is and is not working. Matt and I spent several hours over the weekend looking at number both the ones in my head and the ones that are on paper. This has been a very different year so far for us in several ways. First is that Matt has not had a steady income of any form. This is the first year since he started working at home that we have not had this extra money. We also have taken on several expenses including remodeling the kitchen and our van that was purchased exactly a year ago. Next is that I have been very diligent about keeping a close tab on the actual amounts that are being spent. Here is a list of the current change that will go into effect this month.

  1. Grocery budget will decease to $550. The first six months we have averaged spending $525 a month. So I am really comfortable with this number.
  2. Gas budget will decease to $300. When we purchased the new van, we also purchased a maintenance  plan which includes oil changes for the first 5 years. In addition, we have purchased tires in February.  I no longer have the older car for expenses and the van that Matt is driving is in good repair and since we purchased has only required routine things. Gas prices are hovering around $2 a gallon so this should allow us to keep on track as well.
  3. For the time being, I am going to eliminate the “eating out” budget.
  4. I will be adding a category for “camp” this will be used to help pay for several summer camps next year.
  5. I am reducing the clothing budget to $100 each month. My plan is to rely heavily on 2nd hand clothing or continue to only shop sales.

Overall this reduces our budget but allows us to continue to work on bigger goals.

 

The garden is producing at a much slower rate than I had anticipated but we are still able to use and not purchase a lot. So far we have been able to cook and freeze green beans, freeze a couple of lasagnas bags and 6 set up for squash casserole. The tomatoes are starting to come in and I have been able to freeze several bags of tomatoes. I am not sure if I will be able to make spaghetti or not this year, but we have enjoy several really good sandwiches.  I was also able to make one batch of cucumber relish. I planted an additional 10 plants of cucumbers but with the extreme heat and little rain till this week, I only have 4 of these survive. The biggest disappointment this year is the corn. I don'[t think that we will be able to get more than we can eat.  We are in the process of developing a water collection system that should help to ensure more and better results next year.

Kendall’s Birthday!

We had a swim team meal on her birthday so we brought the cake!

We had a swim team meal on her birthday so we brought the cake!

She ended the night of her actual Birthday by throwing away her car seat!

She ended the night of her actual Birthday by throwing away her car seat!

On Sunday, we enjoyed lunch with my parents and then Kendall, Lily and I headed to the mall. Kendall called this “a big girl shopping trip.”

Of course, we had to go to “Build a Bear”

Both Kendall and Lily had to buy their own scent!

Both Kendall and Lily had to buy their own scent!

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After finishing a lot of shopping, Kendall chose to eat at “Olive Garden”

Desert to go!

Desert to go!

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