What’s Happening?

I was doing so well and blogging several times a week, and then 7 days of silence what happened?
The short answer is LIFE

But in order to give you an idea about what that looks like for us here is a more detailed answer.

For the next six weeks, Lily has practice for the theater Monday- Friday from 4-6 pm. The good news is that we have worked it out so that Matt drops her off and I am picking her up most evenings on my way home from work. The bad news is that means we are eating dinner at 6:30 which means that the evening does not exist for me.

Kendall stays after school on Tuesdays for Battle of the Books till 3:30 and on Wednesday for Sign Language club. Zach and Kendall both attend a kid’s program on Wednesday nights from 6 to 8pm.

Zach has just signed up for spring baseball this past week. I am assuming that we will start a practice schedule of 2 or 3 days a week very soon. In the meantime, he was asked to play on a different team than he has in the past. This team is playing “kid-pitch” baseball so this adds some interesting changes and expenses to the table.

Matt has been working extra, in fact, today was his sixth day in a row working with it also being his 7th out of 8 days as well. We fully expect this to change over the next month but are open and encouraging to continue try and gain some financial ground this year.

Next let’s talk a little about the weekends.  Friday night, Lily stayed after practice for some fun and food with her cast mates until 8pm.  Kendall attended her very first sleepover on Friday night as well. On Saturday, all three kids had a piano lesson, this is a wonderful opportunity but takes a good 3 hour chunk from our day.  Zach ended up going to a friends house for several hours as well on Saturday.

As you can tell life is back to it’s busy pace around here.

Six Things On Saturday- 2/10/2018

Yes this is the “day late and dollar short” version of 5 Things Friday. I will be the first to admit that the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and emotionally exhausting in addition to being financially straining.

Yesterday, was our first full paycheck for the month of February. The good news is that we were able to catch up from the snow week. I have a plan in place for both our tax returns and am very hopeful that this will allow us back on a slow but steady track to paying down our huge debit this year. We are working to reduce both our electric and water bills to a more normal level. Matt and I have already worked out a Menu plan for the month which means we should be able to keep the grocery bill on a lower than usual level. Another positive is that Matt has been selling vinyl decals on a very steady basis this month. This is definitely helpful as we have lots of unexpected expenses.

I am battling left-overs in our fridge.  Our super bowl party is always fun but we end up with some interesting left-overs.  This week, I made an effort to make meals of left-overs and strongly suggested that Matt and Lily eat left-overs for lunch. Today, I am repurposing left-overs, we had a bag of carrots, and a bunch of celery, several cups of rice and some pulled pork.  I did a little bit of thinking and decided to make pork fried rice.  I chopped up the pork and realized that we had over 4 cups left which is enough to make 2 full meals for us. I let Kendall help chop up the carrots and celery. I added some green peppers and onions and that became our veggies for the stir-fry. One set for dinner and a second set in the freezer for a crazy day of what is for dinner.

Zach has officially started taking piano. He has been asking for over a year but we really wanted him to wait until he was a strong reader before attempting. Kendall started teaching him this week for fun. He even practiced every day without being told. This is definitely an expense that I don’t mind adding.

I am so ready for spring, in fact I have already planned out our square foot garden and added several more containers. I am very hopefully that with a little extra work this year we will have a bumper crop.  I purchased trees a couple of years ago to start work on a landscape line. The trees came with a 2 year guarantee. I received an email yesterday that a new peach tree is being shipped this week. My mother has also been growing several pecan trees in her flower bed. So we should be able to finish the border without spending any additional money!

Our busy schedule has returned. Some days, I am honestly thinking how do we actually do this. This week, Lily has practice for her play, 4 nights and a party the 5th night. Kendall has 2 days of extra curricular activities in addition to church on Wednesday night. Matt has also doubled his hours at work for this week. Yikes, better rest up today!

Saving on Food

Food is the single most expensive item in our budget.  I have been very proud in the past several years to slowly but surely reduce our grocery budget from $800 to $475. I also will just put out there that we no longer have kids in diapers either so that helps.  Eating out is a huge expense and one that we have also reduced significantly over the past several years.   I am trying to find a happy balance between a stocked pantry and shopping sales.  This week the only real need we have is milk, cream and toilet paper but I plan to stock up on cereal and pop-tarts as well because they are on an awesome sale.

I have found two great fast food deals that I want to share with you. First is McDonalds, download the app! The deals always change. Currently, the focus is on mobile ordering. It is super easy to do. Matt and I both have the app so we were able to eat lunch for $5.47 on Tuesday. We used the $1 any sandwich and I added a large fry and $1 soda. Another great deal can be scored today, Sonic had fifty cent corn dogs all day. This is honestly even better than purchasing and frying ourselves!

Saving On Saturday 02/03/2018

I am super excited to share about my trip to Harris Teeter.  I receive the weekly email but often delete it before checking it out, however this week the 12 pack of Cokes for $1.99 caught my eye.  I also was glad that I found packs of shredded cheese for $0.99 each. I stocked up on my limit of 10 and may have convinced by Mother to purchase another 8 on her card. The other really exciting part of this trip was that they are doubling coupons up to $2 this week. This is the most I have saved!

By the numbers:
Total before VIC Card and coupons $176.18
VIC savings                                       $126.20
Coupon Savings                                $19.98
Total Savings                                    $146.18
Total spent                                        $57.30
Saving Percent                                  77%

 

 

5 Things Friday- Financial

Fair warning this is not a happy post, I had even considered naming it 5 Financial Woes but decided that was a bit dramatic.

  1. My snow days last week, which I did enjoy ended up being unpaid.
  2. On Saturday of last week, the windshield of my van started to crack for no apparent reason. The crack has now spread to cover 3/4 of the windshield. It is not actually in the line of site but the entire windshield will need to be replaced in the near future.
  3. Our water bill increased this month by $18.
  4. Our electric bill increased by $160 from last month and $80 from our average bill.
  5. Our earning apps, extra money has slowed to a crawl.  This is expected for the first several month of the year but still a cut in pay.

Thursday Snow Thoughts 1/18/2018

  • Today is actually day #2 of Snow her in NC. I ended up not heading in to work yesterday because of the weather and today is my normal day off.  Yesterday, I cooked several things and today I worked on doing some extra Spring cleaning. Which includes 6-7 loads of laundry and vacuuming of the walls in the living room.

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  • The kids all had eye appointments scheduled for today but because of the snow, they have been rescheduled to March. Lily is most worried because she has 2 pair of contacts left.
  • January continues to be a tight budget month but we are doing excellent with our grocery budget which was $160 for the entire month. Currently, we have $6.41 left. The snow has also helped our gas budget. Neither Matt nor I have been anywhere since Tuesday.
  • For Breakfast, I tried a two ingredient recipe for pancakes. Lily and Kendall LOVED these, Matt and Zach ate theirs but did not want seconds. I liked them and it was a great way to use up bananas.
  • Lily is upset because her charter school, which is online, is continuing while both Zach and Kendall have not had school in the last two days.  I had to remind her that she has days out of school when they attend as well.

 

Monday Menu Plan 1/15/2018

I have always said that menu planning saves us a ton of money, now I have the proof.  On Saturday, we headed to Aldi to purchase some items that we were out of, we even added in three boxes of cereal to help with breakfast this week.  Our total was $25.57.  Matt was working Sunday morning and the kids and I decided that we wanted to make a big “Cracker Barrel Breakfast”. After checking, we need a couple of items to make the things we wanted.  Kendall and I took our list and headed to Food Lion.  The one meal list cost $25.47.  No more special meals for us. Everyone is home on Monday but then it is back to reality.  To end on some good news, we have $6.41 left out of our $160 grocery budget.

Breakfast- Saturday- Pimento Cheese and Bacon Biscuits, Sunday- Cereal and toast, Monday- Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday(kids have eye appointment) pancakes or waffles.

Lunch- Saturday- Left-overs/sandwich, Sunday- Baked Potatoes, Monday- Sandwiches. The kids are taking 1 day of sandwhiches and 2 grab and go days. I will be taking left-over soup all this week.

Sunday- Saturday- Chicken Tacos, Sunday- Egg Casserole, Hashbrown casserole and cooked apples, Monday- Pizza Rolls, Tuesday- Chicken Pot Pie (from freezer), Wednesday-Hamburger Helper, Thursday- Country style steak or pulled pork, Friday- Chicken Nuggets and French Fries.

We are eating a lot of quick simple meals and sandwiches this week but it is just what we feel like. The menu may change depending on the weather and my work schedule.

5 Things Friday 1/12/2018

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  1. I took a sick day today.  This is the first time I have totally called in sick since working at the hospital. The last and only other time I have used a sick day was two years ago when Shingles put me out of work for a week.  I am really tired tonight but at least feeling some better.
  2. I received my first paycheck of the year today. I am very excited that we were able to meet our the required obligations as budgeted. We also are starting a second checking account to use for monies that don’t have a designated name. This way, if the account has money we can spend without touching our budget. I want my budget to be as close to zero as possible but also a way to have some extra money.
  3. We decided to order pizza for dinner today, first because of how I feel and second as a little reward for working so hard at the budget.  Total for dinner was $10.76!
  4. My goal for this long weekend (total of 4 day including today) is getting the snow village packed and put away.
  5. The weather here is crazy, school was delay one week ago because of the extreme cold, today it was 70* outside. The predicted temperature for Sunday is a high 35.

5 Things Friday 12/22/2017

  1. I am on call Christmas Day. I am trying to plan around the expectation that I will need to spend at least a couple of hours at work.
  2. I am cooking dinner on Christmas Day to be ready at 5pm.  Going to be very interesting due to #1.
  3. The menu for Christmas dinner is turkey (never cooked a whole one before), rolls (from the freezer), stuffing (using my sister in laws hack), cream corn (crockpot), green bean casserole (crockpot), cranberry sauce (with fresh cranberries, most requested by kids), turkey gravy (another first),deviled eggs,  broccoli salad, 7 layer salad, (both will be made on Saturday). Lily is making sweet potato pie, candid pecans and brownies (from Costco) are the deserts.
  4. I was asked to teach the Beginner’s Class (2-3 year olds) this week at church. It is my absolute favorite “Jesus Birthday Party”. I headed to Walmart today to get the party supplies. It was crazy but I survived!
  5. The goal of Saturday is to clean out the refrigerator of left-overs so we can fill with Christmas food.

Thursday Thoughts Food and Finance! 12/14/2017

This has been an extremely busy day but I have a huge feeling of accomplishment!

The first exciting announcement of the day….Kendall will get her braces off February 1st! She has already counted the days until her next  appointment! Along the same line, Lily has an appointment that same day and I anticipate that we will begin with braces for her.

Next a little background. In December of last year, we purchased a 800 pound cow.  We have been enjoying this meat, and have already placed an order for a second cow. Unfortunately, it will most likely be March before we can claim our cow.   Another piece of information is that since September, I have been limiting our food budget and trying to get a good handle and use out of the food we have in storage, this also has been a huge saving for our budget. My initial plan was for a huge grocery trip the first week of December after we returned from Disney.   Then life/ Disney happened, I remembered to pay our Verizon bill during out trip and even told Matt that I had paid it.  But I forgot to record it in our bank account.  So in preparation for the huge trip, I was checking out our account and found the mistake. The good news is that we were not complete broke nor did it cause anything to be over drafted.  So we decided to put our major trip on hold.

Fast forward to today, Matt has significantly increased his hours at Dollar General and he also is designing a new site, so we began the process of restocking our freezer and panty.  Part of our day was spent at the local meat market and we also made a fun trip to Food Lion. I will admit, we still are planning a huge Costco trip this weekend as well. I found frozen turkeys at the meat market at my buy price, so I purchased one for Christmas and a second one for the freezer. We also purchased 20 pounds of ground beef, which has been fried and divided into one pound bags. We also purchased several hens to cook later and chicken wings for our planned Super Bowl Party.

The next stop we will call “Our Christmas trip to Food Lion.” Because of the extra income and the fact that we have been lean for so long, we spent time buying some items that we normal do not purchase or enjoy. Zach was with us and we let him pick out several items.  Even at 8, he is aware of what a sale is and that we usually don’t purchase things unless they are on sale. This is honestly the least plan shopping trip I have made in a long time. I did print and use several coupons from the coupon machine, found some sales that I knew were at or below my price point and then we splurged. We ended up spending $137 at Food Lion and saving $45. I think this is awesome for an unplanned trip.

To end the day, we decided to go to Sonic for the BOGO boneless wings. I was really unsure of how many to buy so I ended up with 48 boneless wings which fed us dinner with Haley. I have lunch for tomorrow at least and Matt has several meal. We will definitely participate again with this deal but spend $10 instead of $20.