- I am starting to really enjoy my work schedule. I have two really long days on Tuesday and Wednesday but Thursday is my day off. I switched things up a bit and Friday (today) is designed to be a shorter day. This actually is giving me time in the morning at home to get ahead and I am home by 5 so dinner is very easy to enjoy.
- Matt is working Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. This is a great thing but it also means that I have some extra chores to finish as we have a competition next week and will leave on Thursday for a mini vacation.
- One of our planned activities for our mini vacation is shopping at an Outlet Mall. I am very excited to grab a couple of Nike gift cards using Swagbucks. My goal is to get at least one pair of shoes for FREE!
- I have ended up shopping quite a bit this week. Including two trips to Walmart and a trip to Food Lion and a trip to Lowes.
- Food Lion is changing things up and running my favorite sale of the year. This is the quarter back sale. I made a trip on Wednesday night and plan to make at least 3 more in the next month during the sale. This week I did a total of 3 transactions spending $57.
- We are managing to stay under budget for groceries this month. So far we have spent $86 after our Costco check. My goal is to spend $150 or less for the month.
- We have managed to reduce our credit card debt for the third month in a row! The reduction is VERY slow but the fact that we are able to achieve this goal for three month in a row is awesome!
- I ordered 16 bags of dirt that arrived last week. The goal for the weekend is to get the dirt spread in the square foot garden and make a planting plan for the year.
- We don’t have a cheer competition this week which means I am planning to spend 3 nights at home and going to bed on a regular schedule.
- I am definitely ready for Spring, during the past week, the temperature has turn cold again and I am not liking that at all. Give me 60 degree days PLEASE!
This month has been hard. I miss my dad more than I ever thought possible and have found myself crying just because. I can honestly say, I have spent most of the month in a fog just existing. I am starting to regain my balance so I wanted to at least have a written record for this month. I did achieve the goal of filing our taxes in February and have actually already received our Federal Refund.
Debit Reduction: $850 . The only downside to this number is that I paid over $2100 toward debit but I did not acquire this in a day so as long as it is being reduced that is progress.
Blog Post: 10
Days on Treadmill: 2 This was actually spent out side walking but at least I can say I was consistent.
Groceries- $454- Below my goal of $500 so a HUGE success for us. I am actually expecting this to be lower for March and April.
Gas: $187 spent. Again under budget
Earnings: Matt and I combined for a total of $160 this month from our apps and Swagbucks. Considering my brain function for February, I am pleased with this number. .
In February, we were able to hold the course in the wind and rain. I am very proud of our progress this month.
I am optimistic that March will continue us on a positive financial note. I am so grateful to know I am shield by prayer for the other needs.
Unbearable Peaceful Exhausted
Last Friday morning the unthinkable happened, my father had a massive heart attack and passed away. This was totally unexpected and unacceptable. We are all struggling to make sense of this. Today is Tuesday, I know that I can’t change what has happened and things are being to make at least a little sense. We have accepted that we are not going to be fully functioning for a long time. We also have realized the need to love and support each other. Today, my mother is able to live alone and thanks to God’s provision which is nothing short of a miracle, she is financially able to continue with a “normal” life. I am fortunate enough to have two additional days out of work. I will return to work on Friday, never returning to normal. I miss my dad, I miss the time he should have spent with his grandkids. I am sad for myself and my mother. As you can probably tell my emotions are all over the place but above all I am EXHAUSTED. I am not sure when or how much I will blog over the next weeks or months. I am certain we need to continue to work toward a more steady financial place but not sure what that place will look like. Random words on a page, seems to fit my life right now.
January ended up being a good start to 2017 overall. I know that I can do better at some things but hey at least there is effort. Here is a look at some of the numbers
Debit Reduction: $115 (this is an overall number which makes more sense to me. This is the amount that we reduced our overall debit not including our van or mortgage.
Blog Post: 13
Days on Treadmill: 2 (I personally think I should get credit for one more day of walking around the Natural Science Museum in Raleigh).
Low Spend Challenge: We did very well with this. We did not eat out except for our time in Raleigh for the Cheer competition. I had purchased gift cards to use for these meals and spent an additional $20! This is a major accomplishment.
Eat out of Pantry Challenge: $162 spent of Groceries. My initial goal was $100 but this is a huge accomplishment/success especially when it includes the purchase of 40 pounds of chicken breast. I know that our spending in February will be much higher due to the need to purchase some basic supplies in addition to our “junk food Sunday”. I will set the goal to spend less than $500 for the entire month.
Gas: $260 spent.
Earnings: Matt and I combined for a total of $200 this month from our apps and Swagbucks. This is less than December but after doing some investigation this is a steady amount to work toward.
January was overall a good month. I did not accomplish everything but progress is achieved no matter how small or how long it takes.
February promises to be a very busy month with 2-3 cheer competitions, church and work commitments. My goal will be to file our taxes prior to the end of the month!
- Kendall is student of the week, but her classroom name of “Super Hero” of the week is way cooler. As part of her celebration, Lily and I joined her for lunch today. I am so proud of her behavior, her grades and her loving spirit.
- I am exhausted this week, it has been a rough week at work. In addition, we have had an activity every night this week. We leave Saturday morning to travel to Lily’s first cheer competition of the season. I need to get us all packed today on my day off.
- Low Spend challenge- The month of January is quickly coming to an end. I have spent $162 on groceries. I did purchase a gallon of milk today, with this we should not need anything else. This is $12 more than I planned to spend this month but feeding a family of 5 for less than $200 is considered a victory not matter how you look at it.
- Eat out of the pantry challenge- The most exciting news of the month is that now all of our food is in the kitchen. We have finally cleaned out enough to fit everything in our kitchen pantry instead of the pantry and extra closet in the shower room. I am making a list of items we are out of. My plan is to use my reward from my “Costco Visa” to purchase these items. I am going to try and stick to a $100 budget otherwise.
- Both our electric bill and water bill are extremely high. After some checking, we realized that we have a small water leak out front that Matt fixed himself. The water bill is $12 higher than our highest so fixing the leak should return it to normal. We also figured out that the emergency heating strips for our heat pump were not working. The parts were covered under warranty but the labor for installation was $80.
- This will be our 3rd weekend in a row at home! I am so excited but I also realize that it will be our last weekend with limited to no plans for a while. The big plan for the weekend is to take down my Snow Village.
- Yesterday, my mother had her final appointment and received her completed artificial leg. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. This process stared on June 9th, 2016 when she fell and broke her hip.
- I was able to spend a little time outside yesterday and I am so excited to discovery that my mint is surviving and growing. I still have oregano growing as well as some rosemary. I am very hopeful that my dill will reappear this year as well. If not having these two herbs survive the winter saves at least $10.
- Our heat pump was not heating as well as we thought it should be over the last very cold spell. Today, we found out that we have a 10 year warranty on the unit and other parts which last until June 2018. Our auxiliary heat strips were not working so we ended up paying $80 in labor. I am so thankful this was not a bigger expense.
- Matt and I both continue to work daily on our app to make money. So far this month things are slower than December but we have still managed to cash out $100 with at least another $50 expected before the end of the month.
This is a picture of all the apps I use that work with MPLACES. Cricket is the best because you can play games in addition to check ins and others. All of the others are ones that you read and click through. 10 is the most points you can earn on each so I keep click to I get a 10 point achievement. Make sure you tweet from each as well.
I had planned to post pictures of the “tower” that we are building in the Dinning room to house our internet including firewall and router. However this project is taking longer than expected so I will anticipate sharing those pictures as soon as it is finished. I have had some time to reflect back on 2016 especially in the area of our finances. Since I don’t have pictures to share, I thought this would be a good place to share some of my observations, along with updates regarding my goals for the month.
First let’s talk food. Last year, we spent a total of $7884.51, which averages out to be $657 a month. This amount is actually less than the $700 a month that I began the year with. It really surprised me to learn that it is almost $40 less a month than our spending in 2015. We have also significantly reduced the amounts we are spending on eating out. I order pizza on Friday night and used gift cards to pay for it. While eating and talking, we realized this was the first “take out pizza” we had eaten in six months! I shared several time that I was participating in an “eat out of your pantry challenge.” I am excited to say that as of today, my pantry floor is empty! I initially set my goal to spend $100 or less on food for the month. I have change this to $150 or less. The reason for the change is that I purchased 40# of chicken breast to be picked up the end of February. This week is the most difficult for me as we are starting to run out of the “normal” convenient meals but I am determined to make it work for the month. So far I have spent $131.11. I did go to both Food Lion and Aldi today. Aldi will be closing for the next six weeks and I wanted to grab a couple of items for our Super Bowl party. I have spent some time over the past few weeks looking at our budget and working on ways to make it work for us. My goal for the year is to spend $550 a month or less on groceries. Small action steps including eating out of the pantry and purchasing only the items we are out of until March this year.
The second challenge that I have decided to participate in is No Spend/Low Spend month. I am excited to say that so far this month, I have not paid for any extra items. The biggest reason for this is gift cards. Matt and I both are using several different strategies to make extra money. Most of the apps and Swagbucks rewards are paid in gift cards. I have been collecting and using these gift cards instead of spending money from our budget. So far this has been paying off. I know that February will be an expensive month because we have a cheer competition every weekend except the last one. However I need to focus on one month at a time. So January is a success.
A final note is that we will continue to budget $300 a month for gas and other vehicle expenses. I anticipate meeting this goal simply because both of our vehicles are in good repair and should not require additional spending this year.
- Today is my first paycheck of the year. We have started out on a much better foot than last year. We will be using cash only for purchase this year. I am determined to make a huge dent in our debit while continuing to enjoy activities including vacations with our family.
- The kids have missed three days this week due to the snow. I ended up with several short days.
- My parents watch the little kids this evening while both Matt and I worked. I was able to purchase pizza for dinner using gift cards from Mplaces/Cricket. I forgotten how good free food taste.
- One of my goal this year is to sort through all of our pictures that are currently stored in several different places. So far, I am making good progress with the cabinet over my desk completed. I hope to sort out a filing cabinet that we stored in the bathroom 4 years agl.
- We are continuing to work on getting our dining room together. I am hoping to share pictures of our progress tomorrow.