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!

January In Review 2018

The final week of January has been a rough one for us, on many different levels. Today is Thursday and I can see a small light at the end of the tunnel at least for this week. Both our electric and water bill will be extremely high for February so I am already working the budget numbers to accommodate the extra amounts.

Since I am not totally positive on what things I want to monitor this year I am going with a list method of goals and may decide to add or delete a few as the weeks go on.

Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance.

  • Total paid to credit card debit $1050 total reduction in credit card debit $415
  • Grocery budget $160- Total spent $200. This is still $275 less than budget.. I will be increasing the February budget to $300.
  • Gas budget- $280- Spent $235
  • Kid/Summer expenses : $85
  • Earned $170- this is indeed a much lower amount but this is the expectation until at least March.

Personal- This is truly where I am add or change several things

  • Blogging- 15 for the month. I am going to set a goal for 20 but realize that is probably not realistic.
  • Reading The Bible – 31 days complete!
  • Exercise- 7 total days for the month.  Again setting a goal for 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not.

Saving on Saturday- 1/22/2018

This week we , Matt, kids, my mom and myself, decided to search out some clearance deals.  I will go ahead and say that Matt was able to get the best overall deal.  Matt works at Dollar General.  Until Tuesday of this coming week, the majority of Christmas items are twenty-five cent each.  After hearing of his awesome deal, we decided to browse the other Dollar Generals in town.

On Friday night, Matt found a candle that was placed in the wrong area with a twenty-five cent coupon on top of it. He purchased the candle for me and a box of candy canes for a total of twenty-six cent. He also submitted his receipt to Ibbotta and receive a twenty five cent rebate so a candle and box of candy canes for one penny after rebate.

One store had lots of canned pumpkin (I purchased 12 cans) a container of green sprinkles and a container of cloves all priced at twenty-five cents. We also found a Cars stocking also priced at twenty five cent.  I also purchased tissue paper, gift boxes and bows of varies sizes.   Plastic round ornament boxes were priced at $3 each, I purchased at total of three at two separate stores. I also found some paper plates for a Ladies banquet that I am responsible for a table at. These were not on clearance but a great deal.  I ended up spending a total of $50 !  I will say I am very impressed with my self.

Our final stop was the local Big Lots, we found all Christmas items between 50% and 75% off. We also discovered at the register that this weekend, we received an additional 20% off. I am excited to say that we found wrapping paper that will work for several occasions for less than seventy five cents a roll! This was a huge score and completes re stocking our wrapping paper.

Today, we claimed and sorted the recycle paper bin at our church. I started with many years ago.  After less than an hours work for the sorting we have a case or more of paper that will be used for printing coupons, art work and recipes for the next six months or so.

 

 

 

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.

October in Review

This was a different month for us.  On the positive side, we did not put any “regular/usual expenses” on credit cards. But on the negative note, our debit load did increase but this should be the highest it goes and from December forward it is the focus!
Debit Reduction:  Did not happen see above

Blog Post: This is my 12th post of the month. I seriously need to up my game. I did notice that I did not even post regularly on Wednesday this month so pictures should be an easy addition.

Days on Treadmill: Goal Met! We walked a total of 20 days this month!

Groceries- Goal met!  We spent $291 on groceries this month!  Two months in a row, below budget. I am hoping for a third!  I will say that we have cleaned out and turned off one of our freezers and plan to turn off our third refrigerator prior to our trip.  The pantry is also starting to look empty. My current plan includes a minimal month for November with a huge trip to Costco planned for December. I am also very hopeful that Food Lion will run it’s quarter back sale in January. I will be re-evaluating our grocery budget at the end of December. I honestly think that I will raise this to at least $600 next year because of the growing kids that live here.

Gas:  Fail! We are over budget this month by $75. I did have another flat tire this month but other than that gas is a huge expense for us.

Earnings:   We are continuing to focus on bringing in every extra penny we can. This month was an average month
Swagbucks = $175   Matt earned $75 and I earned $100
Ibotta= $20  Matt was able to cash out this month.
Shopkicks= $5
Total $200

November is a fun month with our trip to Disney!

 

Saving on Sunday- 10/15/2017

We are approximately six weeks from our Disney vacation. As you can guess, I am in fully saving mood.  Here are the ways that I have been saving money and or time this weekend.

  • Coupons- I found and printed rare coupons for sodas this weekend, saving a total of $1.50 on the sale price which was a .75 cent savings from the regular price.  I also found coupons for $1 kids meals at Olive Garden. We were able to save $15 dollars just on Amanda’s birthday meal by using these.
  • Apps- I don’t always talk about this but free money is saving money in my book. On Saturday, we headed to Walmart, I was able to earn a $2 gift card while in the store and used it to reduce our total expense.  This month alone with money made from different apps we have purchased 5 T-shirts and 3 Christmas presents. Total saved $60
  • Planning ahead- yes we have another busy week scheduled. In order to save time and money, by not eating out, we plan ahead. I am taking sandwiches to church tonight for Kendall and Zach to eat instead of a quick trip to McDonalds. I have to be at work at least 2 mornings by 8am so I have muffins made in addition to green peppers and onions chopped for eggs to make things quick and simple. I will not be home to eat dinner on Monday night so Matt is bring chicken nuggets to the ball game for Lily and I to eat. I estimate each meal to be $10 so that is $40 saved right there.
  • Waste not/Want Not- It is a deliberate effort for us to use things and not be wasteful. This weekend we were gifted 5 pounds of potatoes and 3 pounds of ground beef.  I honestly was not in the mood to cook and shepherd ‘s pie which would use both of these ingredients does not sound appealing right now. Instead, I used the 5# of potatoes to make mashed potatoes which went right into our freezer for use in the future. Out of the ground beef, I made a pot of chill. This is at least 2 meals if not more for lunches and 2 meals of meatloaf muffins. Peppers of all variety were picked from the garden and cooked or chopped for later use. The three banana left on the cabinet were turned into muffins for breakfast.  I can honestly say that we waste less than 5% of the food that is brought in the house.

How are you saving money?

5 Things Friday 10/13/2017

  1. I have started my Christmas shopping. I had decided to scale back on Christmas this year, simply because my kids are blessed and don’t have any needs just wants. I am super excited that I have purchased a total of 5 gifts one for eachfor  a total of $15.10!
  2. Matt and I both were able to pick up extra work this week. This should be very helpful in keeping us on budget for the month.
  3. I do anticipate our credit card debit to increase overall this month. The reason is that I paid for a continuing Education class today. My company will reimburse me once I have completed the class and have a certificate. The only down side is that will take at least a month so the balance will be higher than I anticipated through October.
  4. Free food is the best! This week we have been given 5 pounds of potatoes and 3 pounds of hamburger. The plan for Saturday is to turn this free food into quick delicious meals!
  5. We are FINALLY starting to enjoy fall temperatures which also mean a reduction in our electric bill.

Monday Menu Planning

I did spend some time looking at the food we have available for the next couple of month. We definitely have enough meat but the real trick is that we need to use parts of the meat that are not always our favorites or that I don’t know how to change up. This should get interesting in November in regards to meal but prior to then, I think if we can stick to the plan, we will definitely be ok.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cheese grits (used American cheese instead of cheddar) Sunday- Cereal. Monday-  baked oatmeal. Tuesday- Choices, Wednesday- Choices. Thursday- Biscuits, Friday- choices.  Choices include- left-overs, eggs, French toast, cereal or toast.

Lunch-  Saturday- Leftovers    Sunday- Panda Panda for Chinese. We were at Walmart on Saturday and the kids grabbed 5 lunchables each to make it through the week. I am going to be taking left-overs, soup or tuna this week in random order.

Dinner- Saturday- Pizza soup. Sunday- Pizza or Left-overs . Monday- Fajiti Rice Casserole or left-overs , Tuesday- chicken nuggets Wednesday-  Chicken Enchillas Thursday- Steak Fajitas using beef stew  Friday- Salisbury Steak rice and carrots.

 

September in Review

September brought about some major changes from us. The first of which is that Matt started a part time job which will mean a weekly income. I have choice not to include his checks in our budget until after our trip. We will use the money to supplement what is missing and also to pay on the trip.

Debit Reduction:  We managed to hold the debit to the exact same level as August. This is not quite a success but a huge jump in the right direction over the last several month.

Blog Post: Fail
This is post number 12 for the month.  Life is busy and I have got to still find a good balance with work, kids and life. .

Days on Treadmill or Walking for Disney: 28!  This is a huge accomplishment! I am so excited!

Groceries- Success !  We spent a total of $392.08.This alone is a savings of $400 when compared to last month!

Gas: Goal Met! We spent $189 for gas including filling both our vans which is a $50 decrease from last month.

Earnings: We are continuing to make money via apps this month things are starting to improve but we also saw huge changes in MPlaces. I have been averaging $15 a month and now $5 is good. But free money is free money. 
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $50 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards:  $5
Shopkicks: $5
Ibotta: 21.78 (you can only cash out for greater than $20, so this amount has been building for a couple of month. And I don’t expect to cash out with this one again this year.)

Total for the month $190!

We officially have 55 days until our Disney Trip. My goal is to tight the belts and save as much as possible.  I will be going back to a cash envelope for groceries this month. I already have a menu plan in place so I am optimistic that we can keep the groceries down to $200 or less for the month. I do anticipate a trip to Costco but this will have to be part of my cash only. October also bring Amanda’s birthday. We will be going out to dinner but I have already given her a DVD player so that definitely will save on expenses.