Stockpile Full?

photoThis is a picture that I took today of one of the 3 closet/areas that I use to keep most of my stockpile items in. If you can see most of this shelf is complete full and it actually has about another 2 foot of space above it as well. I have been working over the past several days to straighten and organize my stockpile. One of the reason is that I have been making some pretty awesome purchases over the past several weeks, such as Scott Extra Bath Tissue for $0.32 a roll and needed to make room to store it. Another reason is that I have been looking at our budget for the next several month in an attempt to locate enough money for a trip at Thanksgiving.

I have discovered several things during the arranging and rearranging of items. The first of which is that quite literally, we are out of space. I have moved and boxed and rearranged but at the end of the day, my stockpile is full!!  I can honestly say it is overflowing. A second thing that has occurred to me is that most of our freezer space is full as well. This would not normally be a huge deal; however I have recently order and paid for a huge 120# order of chicken breast that will be picked up the second weekend in October. So I have to find a place to store this food. The final thought that occurred to me was no wonder my grocery budget is slowing climbing higher and higher each month. I am focusing on buy the great deals but failed to realize that I have 20 boxes of cereal already purchased on a great deal. Taking into account all this information in addition to the trip that we would like to take over the Thanksgiving weekend, I have decided that I will be limiting the amount of shopping and purchasing that I am going to be doing over the next two and half months.

I am definitely going to commit to and be accountable for living off our stockpile until December, approximately two and half months away. Because I know that as soon as I make the commitment to do this undertaking then we will start to run of things or will need to purchase milk and eggs or even worse Diet Coke.   I am going to budget $100 a month for groceries during October and November. I have a CVS gift card from our recent toilet paper purchase for $10 so this will be my play money to keep shopping the best deals. If you are wondering about the grocery budget for September, we have $7 left which may or may not get used at CVS as well. My goal with allowing $100 in spending is to purchase only items that we are “out” of.  I know that I may miss some really good deals but I also realize that I need to make some space prior to the first of the year when my local store usually runs the best sale of the year. I also will be able to grab “free” items and pay just tax! I will be the first to say that this is going to be hard for me as I enjoy the “shopping game” and love to play it especially at the grocery and drug store but I also realize that this is a great opportunity to prove my self control, manage to save at least one half of the money need for our trip, reduce our overall grocery budget for the year and clean out the 10 boxes of mac and cheese that have been hiding in my closet.  I am going to plan to provide a weekly update on my spending just to make myself accountable!  Does anyone else have a stockpile that is full?

Freezer Cooking- Not as Expected!

I have been doing some type of freezer cooking for years. I have done this several different ways including share a day with friends as well as simply doubling recipes to place in the freezer or most recently finding ways to process meat/chicken when purchased in large quantities.  I have learned that doubling is the easiest way to keep the freezer stocked but it is not always convenient  to work things this way. This weekend, my best friend and I decided to try a menu plan. I am going to be really honest and upfront, I did not spend the money to actually purchase the plan so I am hopefully that the problems I had/discovered would have been covered if we had purchased the plan. This is the actual plan.

First, the reasons that I was excited to attempt the plan. This plan includes 20 meals but in reality it is 10 meals that can be repeated. This was a huge plus as it allowed us both to work together share the cost and end up with 10 meals. We were able to reduce some of the cost by using ingredients that we already had on hand such as the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Total spent out of pocket was $66.25 each. I did end up with 11 meals because I could tell that the soup was easily tow full meal so that cost per meal is $6. The fact that this plan used four different types of meat and was gluten free were also high on the reason to try list.   Another advantage to this plan was shopping at Costco, I love Costco and the food is always a better quality.  We were not able to find all the ingredients at Costco so we did end up spending money at Food Lion as well. Finally, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to try the plan was the idea of “completing/assembling” in 2 hours.

Now on to reality, first as I mentioned we were not able to find all the items at Costco, which meant we shopped the first time at Food Lion. Second as we were working on the meals, we realized that some of the ingredients were incorrect, for example we only used two cans of black beans instead of four, we needed an additional two or three peppers and two cans of rotel were left off the list entirely. My husband ended up going out to grab things twice while we were assembling. Finally the biggest negative about this list and preparing it was the actually time we spent. I didn’t keep account of shopping time but we spent 5 hours at my friends house cooking on Saturday. I have gone back to the site today and realized that she used the word assembled in regards to the two hour time frame. I did not purchase the plan so I have not watched the video but I am pretty sure that when she used the word assembled it was just that putting all the items in a bag. This plan is labor intensive and require a lot more than just assembling.  We both enjoyed spending time together and overall this was probably not as much time as most people spend on preparing two weeks worth of meal but I had I anticipated the time more accurately than it would have been more enjoyable.

I am excited to try the food because each of the meals looks and smells good so in the end this may not be a bad experience; however I will be very careful about my reading in the future.

 

Thursday Random, Budget Related Thoughts

I made the comment last week that September was turning into a very expensive month. I am relieved to say that things have calmed down a bit and although it will still be an expensive over all month, I am hoping that we can stay on track budget wise.

As of today, I have spent $380 of our $600 monthly grocery budget. This does include a 120# of chicken from Zaycon food, that will not be picked up until mid-October. I currently am planning to do a freezer cooking day with my BFF on Saturday which will add somewhere between $50 to $100 to the budget. This will give us another 10 crock pot meal for use as well. I am expecting $20 in rebate cards from my stock up of Tide Detergent. I will be using this as they come in and moving $20 into our special saving funds, which I will explain in a minute. I also have $7 left on a gift card from CVS. My goal for the rest of the month is to speed as little as possible on groceries. I will definitely be under budget this month, the only question will be by how much?

Currently we have $240 remaining in our gas budget for the month. I estimate we will need to use at least $180 of this but should be able to hang on to the remaining $60.

I was able to finish out Zach’s clothing needs for the fall by purchasing some clothes from a friend!  She has the next size up as well so if Zach decides to grow I have an option to purchase  without breaking the budget again.

The weather has been very usually in North Carolina this week. Beginning on the 7th, we have not used out central air. I am so excited about this, I have been keeping a close eye on the weather and realized that today (Thursday) was the warmest out of the week. The temperature did get up in the high 80’s and the temperature in the house was sitting at 84, but we survived and with a cold front passing through along with rain, our goal is to make it at least 2 weeks without central air in September. We are usually able to enjoy a lower electricity bill for October and November so this should generate some nice savings for us.

Now for the announcement of where these savings are headed.  We would like to make a trip to Michigan to visit with Matt’s family over the Thanksgiving holiday. However, after much discussion and a hard look at our budget, we agree that in order to make this trip we will need to save around $1800 for the trip. So we are both search for any extra money in our budget in addition to searching for extra ways to earn money. For us this is a lofty goal for an 8 week period but I am excited to see where this challenge leads us!

 

OLD FASHION BIRTHDAY PARTY

Warning this is very picture heavy!

Yesterday we celebrated Zach’s 5th birthday with a party at Uncle Steven’s and Aunt Tara’s house.

Matt made this sign as a "thank you!"  The top says Zach

Matt made this sign as a “thank you!” The top says Zach’s 5th Birthday party.

Zach got a special birthday shirt but I didn’t get a picture of the front!

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I have heard several comments about how much fun was had by all and I really enjoyed it as did all the kids.

We were honored to be joined by family and friends.

 

 

First were pictures with the tractors…

Then came something even better…tractor rides….

Of course we had lots of food. (pictures of the cake will be up Wednesday)…

Opening Presents…Zach loves them all!

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And the rest of the party activities consist of adult talking and the kids playing in the dirt!

The most amazing part of the party was how much fun the kids had just playing and how quickly time pasted!  We did not leave until around 8pm, the party started at 4pm.

Budget Busting Week!

I had such high hopes for September, budget wise that is.  I discussed in my month end post for August, that I was not going to officially join in on any of the challenges for saving in September but did plan to try and save so I could met several of my year long goals.  However, at a week into September, I feel like I am already falling behind, my only thought is that maybe the rest of the month will get much more less expensive.

The first hit that our budget took this week was unplanned medical expenses. Both the girls had eye appointments on Thursday, which were accounted for but I have ended up taking Kendall to the pediatrician this week as well as Lily to a dermatologist. On Thursday alone, we spent over $175 on medical expenses, which does not include my dentist/cleaning appointment that will probably end up costing around $100 after the insurance pays.

The next hit is in the area of groceries.  My plan was to spend less than $100 besides the huge chicken order that I will be placing this week. I had forgotten that I would need to pick up a few last minute things which ended up being almost $80 including a flea collar for the dog.

Finally, gas, in addition to spending so much on medical expenses by the time we went to three different cities on Thursday, we had put 225 miles on the van. Which means that both the car and van need to be filled this weekend as well. So we will have spent almost half of our allotted gas money for the money in the first week. Yikes!

August in Review

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month  Post number 15!  Goal met!  Busy month again but at least that gives me something to say!

Weight: Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December 2014.   I have only lost 2# this month and definitely have not made it with exercising 3x  a week. I said last month I was rethinking this goal and have decided to increase it to 175 which is the point I stayed between the girls and little kids in addition to the point I was at when I met and married Matt. I know this is probably not where most people think I should be but it is where I am comfortable and plan to stay!

Financial Goals:

1.  Pay off all debit by July 2015, except for mortgage.   Updated this goal again this month as other than credit card debit we have a personal loan and after taking a hard look at this we have changed our plan to get all debit paid off !  At this point, I am unsure if we will stay debt free but it is a goal I want to achieve prior to making any other larger purchases.  Goal met for this month.

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  We are sliding backwards again on this goal. I can’t seem to get my self ahead on this goal. It is currently sitting at $100.

. 3. Groceries: Spend $600 a month . Goal Met  Total spent $600. I had planned to come in way under for the month but with some of the purchases we made at the beach in addition to stocking up on meat. I am glad to report that we did not go over for the month. In September, the plan is to make a huge chicken purchase but little else so I hope to be under for the next couple of months.

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs.  Total Spent $499.72. Goal MET.   I did add an additional $100 to the budget this month for our trip. The amount spent includes a small repair on the van and inspection, taxes and tags for the car!  Hopefully we have gone over the hump with gas spending for the year!

Overall I did meet 4 of 6 goals. This is the same ratio as last month but different goals achieved. I am feeling much more optimistic about our finances so that is a huge step for me.

I have noticed that during the month of September, several of the blogs I regularly read are doing challenges for saving money and/or cutting the budget for the month. I am not going to participate officially with any, but I do hope to place a little more in savings this month. One of the reason, that I am choosing not to join in is that currently our budget does not have any wiggle room. If we stick to budget, than that is huge and means additional savings but in addition we are in the middle of Birthday season and I have already started slowing purchasing Christmas gifts, so no extra spending may be difficult as well.

Thursday Shopping

We need to have a couple of pairs of glasses worked on in Winston this week so after checking out a couple of ads, I decided we would make a couple of stops to coupon as well. Overall I am very pleased and actually think this is one of my better savings trips overall.

First stop was Harris Teeter- I spent $14 and saved $65 or 82%   This include 5 packs of Oscar Myer hot dogs for $0.51 each, 2 cups of Greek yogurts-free, Laughing Cow Cheese and hair products!

The second stop was at Target- I spent $27 and saved $50 with $3.00 remaining on a gift card. The saving was 65%, however because Target prices are lower than most this is actually a huge deal. My purchased included 10 boxes of cereal, 5 2L drinks, 2 packs of juice boxes, 4 Rev sandwich  wraps, a couple packs of cookie dough and some school supplies.

Finally stop was Home Depot.  I do have a Home Depot Credit Card and usually use it to make purchases for the house. Over the last two years, I have not paid any interest or fees to this card so I am not opposed to use it. I received in the mail on Thursday a 10% your entire purchase coupon. We were able to purchase a new gas grill for less than $150 combining this coupon and a great sale. I am not even sure how to calculate the saving but wanted to include it so that you know to watch your mail and use what companies send you!

I do want to mention one more stop we made but it was actually in Lexington. We went to the Food Lion to pick up some pasta salad mixes for Zach’s birthday party. We had excellent timing and walked in just as the meat was being reduced. So we decided to go ahead and grab what looked good and we knew we could use. This ended up being around $110 of meat including hamburger, beef and chicken. At first you might think this is not a great deal but in addition to the hamburger we already have this should be enough meat for us till mid to late October.

Overall I am very pleased with this shopping day!