Random Thoughts Tuesday

Hold on tight this weeks seems crazier than normal for me…

-We completed some much-needed landscaping on Saturday in the gorgeous 70s weather, total cost for our front flower bed? $30

- I am still using the ECB I earned at CVS several weeks ago this week, I spent $0.73 and earned another $1.49ECB for 4 2L Diet Cokes, a tube of toothpaste and a box of antacids.

-Our paypal account was hacked into yesterday, I am so lucky to have State Employees Credit Union, because they saw something fishy, I did not lose any money. We had at least 11 different transactions attempted on both our debt cards. The really annoying part is that we cancelled both our debit cards so have very limited access to money at this point.

-The weather over the weekend was awesome, in fact we have used neither heat nor air for over a week now. Tonight the temperature is supposed to drop below freezing…I am hoping this is the last time!

-I am going to miss Lily awards day on Thursday and her class presentation due to a computer training that is required at work! Double YUCK!

I NEED a vacation!!!!!!

 

Haircuts! Picture Heavy!

After I found the little kids matching Easter outfits, I decided that we need pictures. Family pictures are scheduled for Saturday. So today, I schedule everyone who wanted one a haircut. I let the little girls decide what they wanted and surprisingly the both chose to get short cuts. Kendall’s is more dramatic but I LOVE both of their new dos!

 

First up Kendall…

Now for Lily…

photo 2

finishing touches on Lily

finishing touches on Lily

And finally  the finish products~~

 

Making Money at CVS

I am excited to report that CVS paid me $0.36 to take items out of the store today. I have figured this saving several different ways but this was the easiest, so I will start with it. I had $5 ECB from a previous purchase, I am counting this a spend amount. In addition to the original 5 ECB out of pocket I spent 6.60, total spent 11.60. I came home with 11.96 in ECB! Profit of 0.36!

 

In addition to the 5 ECB from previous purchase, the red box gave me another $2 in ECB from my Spring spending. I used one newspaper coupon for $4 off a Gillette Razor the remaining coupons were given to me by CVS.

Here is what I purchase:

11 boxes of CVS chewy Antacid, these are a month long deal, Buy one for $1.49 and get $1.49 back in ECB. The limit is 10 per card. I have 2 cards.

1 Gillette Venus Razor with 2 refills, coupon above
1 can of Skinimate Shaving gel- Use a $3 off $10 coupon that printed last week.

1 2L of Ginger Ale
1 1L of Diet Coke- I wanted to use all ECB on my first card because that makes it easier to keep up with.

Taking the ECB that I ended with out of the equation I spent $6.60 and saved $36.65 for an 82% savings. This will definitely make my next couple of purchase free or very close.

 

Budget Update with New Goals! 4/3/2014

I am excited to review our budget numbers over the past few months. We are making steady progress. I hope to continue this progress by becoming even more accountable for financial stuff in the next few weeks. I am always afraid to use real numbers but at this point, I have come to a conclusion that unless you are going to contribute to our financial situation then you can’t have an opinion. I also hope that real numbers will encourage someone else.  In the same line, I am going to share my current short-term and long-term goals. These are specific items that I will need to pay over in addition to our regular budget. I will be using any savings in our budget to help cover our additional expenses. At work we are in the process of switching to a new computer system. Our latest memo mentioned mandatory overtime, so currently I am working around 5 extra hours a week to help with these expenses.

Looking back over the last 3 months, I have reduced our Grocery budget to $505 a month. I have been playing with the idea of changing this amount to $500 a month and this is a strong encouragement to do so. We have been spending  exactly $400 a month between gas and the small auto repairs that have been popping up. I am comfortable with this number because in the next several month we have tags, taxes and inspections due on all three vehicles so even if gas prices drop a bit this money will still be needed.   Another success it that we have reduced dining out from over $450 in January to $180 in March. This continues to be an area we need to reduce but so far so good. Finally a big failure is in the purchasing of clothing, we have spent over $1000 on clothes in the past three months, this averages to $365 a month. I currently budget $100 a month.  My goal is to shrink this average during April, May, June and July because we have already purchased all the needed clothing for the summer.  I may need to purchase a couple of new items for school in August but hopefully the next 3 or 4 months will have little to no clothing purchases.

Goal time… This is in additional to our regular budget.

Short term goals:  These need to be met in April. This is also the order I will place money.                            1. Pay the additional $300 for my crown. Currently I have $100 saved and will use my Medflex to cover the remaining after my $400.
2.  $220 to cover a business expense for Matt.
3.  $100 in our Emergency Fund to stay on track for the year.
4. $100 for ten bags of rubber mulch for the playground.  This goal can actually be pushed to May if need be.

Long Term Goals: These are for the next 6 months
1. $400 pool dues
2.  $2000 to repair our septic system- I have no clue of the cost for this but this is a save range. I will be counting our Emergency Fund in this amount for the time being because if it cost less than anything left will stay in this fund.
3.  $1000  to replace the floor in our Living room.

Wordless Wednesday- Beach Airplane

We discovered this great little airplane park after eating at PF Changs at the beach!

 

March Update

Financial Goals-

1.  Pay off credit card debit by June.  Continue to make steady progress in this area. Goal MET!

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  I was able to not only make the goal for $100 for March but I caught up $100 for February!  GOAL Met!

. 3. Groceries: Spend $600 a month-  The goal for March will be $400 or less. I actually spent $403.  I am very happy that I have been able to keep the budget low! I am positive that our spending in April will be close to the $600 mark as we will need to purchase meat in addition to a large Costco trip.

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs. I have spent $348.00! Goal met! This did not include the $120 we spent on travel for the beach.

I will be adding a goal for the month of April. I need to save $400 to pay for the crown on my tooth. Currently I have $150 of that saved so I must save an additional 250 this month to cover the rest of the expense.

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month  This is number 15! Goal met!

Weight: Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December 2014.
Total failure for the month, between the awful weather and our beach trip. I did not make any progress this month!

A great month overall but I need to focus more on my weight and exercise in the next month!

 

 

Individual Time= Busy Weekend

One of the hardest things about having a larger family in addition to have 3 kids so close in age (8,5 and 4) is finding time to spend with each child individually. Zach is the easiest for this to happen because during the school year he is at home with Daddy most of the week. Usually at least one Thursday a month, I am home and try to spend some quality one on one time with him as well. This weekend, both Lily and Kendall were about to get some quality alone time as well.

Kendall is usually a very quiet and well-behaved child but she has struggles some this year at school with talking. This week she was able to achieve 3 of 4 day with excellent behavior. I decided to reward her, to take her to a bread making class that my Sunday school class was sponsoring. She loved it! The class was really informal and all the ladies including the teacher made her feel special. She was able to spend about 3 hours with just me on Saturday. I decided to ask her what was the best part?  Eating of course …photo 1

On Sunday, our church reserved most of a theatre to see the movie “God’s Not Dead”. I had initially purchased tickets for all five of us to go and planned on letting Zach and Kendall use their mobigos and our phones for more entertainment. However at lunch my sister-in-law, volunteered for the younger guys to come over to her house this afternoon. Their family had watched the movie last weekend and she figured that both of them would have a hard time staying entertained during the movie.   Both Kendall and Zach were excited to spend the afternoon on the farm. Lily became an only child, she was able to enjoy watching the movie with her friends but also got to get some special time with both of her parents.

I really enjoyed the individual time with each of the girls. It just is really hard both time wise and money wise to develop individual quality time with each kid but I hope they remember and enjoy it!

Saving Money/Menu Planning/New Recipes

I have mentioned before that we have 2 freezers in addition to the 2 small freezers that are part of our refrigerators. I love having all the extra space to freeze things and I often have had all of the freezers full. Last year I was able to clean out both of the larger freezers and made one a dedicated veggie freezer and the second one for meat.  The idea is to keep just enough for meals and a couple of convenience meals up in the house. However, what has tended to happen is that we just stick things in the two freezers in the house instead of going to the building. One of the next things on my cleaning list is to organize and rearrange the freezers to make things easier to find.  We have been slowly trying to eat things and rearrange slowly.

We have lots of chicken from our big purchase in October. My original thought was that we would have one chicken meal a week so that should last a year. I am finding that each of the crockpot meals is making at least 2 meals with leftovers. I have also discovered that only 2 of the crockpot meals so far has been worth the effort.  I would say at this point that we have eaten less than half of the chicken that was purchased.

The other meat item that we have in abundance is ground deer meat.  We have been using it in some of our favorite recipes but the “wild” taste was proving to be a little strong for our taste buds. However I have discovered what I hope to be a solution to this problem, bacon grease.  Tonight we used a pound of deer meat fried in bacon grease for cheeseburger pizza, and no one was able to taste any of the “wild” flavor. My hope is that we can use this secret trick to get a lot of use out  of this meat.

After all that let  me get back to the original intention of this post. So other than deer meat and chicken, we only have one more pack of cube steak in the freezer. We do have several packs of bacon and sausage in addition to at least one kielbasa sausage but as you can tell our choices for meat are limited. I really want to use up most of this meat prior to purchasing any more but you can only eat tacos, and spaghetti so many times. So I decided to search the internet for new recipes using chicken and ground deer meat. So far I have collect right at 10 that I am planning on using in the next two weeks. We actually tried a new recipe on Thursday with chicken and one with deer on Friday. Neither of these first two dishes make the cut, they were not awful just not good enough to repeat. My goal is to make it at least 2 additional weeks in April with using just the meat we have on hand and trying the new recipes. However, in my head, I am hoping to be able to not purchase any meat until the last weekend of April.

Do you have any awesome chicken or ground deer recipes to share to help me achieve this lofty goal?