February

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.

Combining Apps and Gift Cards to Save

We have all heard that in order to get the best deal, you have to combine sales and coupons. I want to first say that this is not always the case but after that I am going to talk about an awesome deal that I got at Walmart.
First is that sales and coupons usually do save you money. However, you must be careful that you know your prices and that you check things out. We ran out of toilet paper last week since I could not find a decent deal on one of the couple of brands that we choose to use. I found a couple of $1.00 off coupons and headed to Walmart. The store of course was out of the product that I could use the coupon on.  I decided to do some checking. I was able to find Scott’s Extra soft for thirty-three cents a roll. This is a great deal and the same price I normally pay with coupons and sale. Lesson learned check your prices!

Now to explain how I got paid to shop at Walmart.  I cashed in my Mplaces for a $25 Walmart gift card. Since we are out of toilet paper, I decided to use it so as not to spend money from the budget. Our Walmart is in a shopping center, within 5 minutes of entering the area, Matt and I both completed our 25 daily check ins for Mplaces including a 100 point check in at Cricket. Next I have started using a new app called “Shop Kicks” I am sure this will be a slow money marker as I avoid shopping but I am going to scan items and complete only when I am shopping for other things so hopefully an extra $5 a month. I earned $2.50 with this trip so a really good start. With my $25 gift card I purchased 5 2 liter soda for the kids, 1 2 liter for me, 3 12 packs of Dr Pepper/ Diet Dr Pepper and 30 rolls of toilet paper. I ended up paying $2.71 after the gift card.  Next I came home and submitted an offer on Swagbucks which gave me a $5 Walmart gift card back and 200 or $2 in swagbucks. So this trip was a $7 money making trip for me and we now have toilet paper for at least a month. The Swagbucks deal is purchase $10 in Diet Dr Pepper or Dr Pepper products in one trip and earn $5 E-gift card and 200 swagbucks.  I am hopefully to make it back to Walmart and do this deal at least one additional if not two more time before the end of February. Are you going to join me?

Dinning Room Cabinet

This is the first of what I think will be 3 custom cabinet that I have envisioned for our dining room.  This is a very functional cabinet so I am so excited about it. I will admit that I had originally planned one day to complete this task which including the electric wiring from the breaker box of 4 new outlets. This project ended up taking us 2 full days to complete. The most exciting part of this is the cost. We spent ZERO out of pocket for this. Here are the details on how we accomplished this. First we salvaged the hinges and handles from the cabinets that were removed several weeks ago. Next we used gift cards to Lowes that we earned via swagbucks.  I am so excited to share this first step in the dining room.

step one, including wiring of the new outlets

step one, including wiring of the new outlets

Complete frame for the cabinet

Complete frame for the cabinet

Adding the shelves

Adding the shelves, check out the mess on the floor I want to hide.

front view

front view

side view

side view

final project..... It looks so simple and clean!

final project….. It looks so simple and clean!

Final 5 Things Friday for 2016

  1. Today was my final paycheck of the year. It was nice to sit down and pay out the bills. I also spent some time looking at the budget in addition to trying to get a good idea of where we are financially and where we need to head in the next year.  I am planning to share more on this later this weekend.
  2. We have been able to “earn” around $325 this month between apps on our phone and swagbucks. I realize that December is probably a big month but hope to earn at least $200 a month between Matt and myself.
  3. I get to enjoy a 3 day weekend, for me this is rare, in fact I think that this will not occur again until next Christmas.  We also don’t have any plans to travel, so I have made a list of things I want to accomplish this weekend.
    1. Put away all the Christmas decorations- snow village will stay up until MLK day in January.
    2. Help to build platform for trampoline and get it bolted in place. We also need to come up with a plan to get rid of the old one.
    3. Move the small refrigerator to the building and help remove the cabinets hang above it. This is in anticipation of beginning the next stage in our kitchen remodel which is to build a new buffet and officially make a dining room.
    4. Re-organize the closet in the shower room in hope of starting my “major project of the year.”
  4. I have decided that I need to sort through and get an organizational system going for all the kids pictures, art work and certificates. I have books for pictures of Haley and Amanda but realized yesterday that I have over 10 years of pictures in drawers and cabinets that really need to be addressed. I honestly know this will be a MAJOR undertaking but am going to set it as a goal for the year so I will at least need to address it once a month.
  5. We spent the entire day shopping yesterday, it was loads of fun but exhausting. I really am having a hard time staying focus today so hopefully some extra sleep will help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving

This is an awesome time of year to be shopping and I really do enjoy getting some great deals. I am going to share a few of these deals and other suggestions to help you save today as well.

First, if you are shopping on-line be sure you check and use the places that offer cash back. We needed to purchase some new sheet last weekend, so I check out the sales at JCPenny’s. I ended up going through Swagbucks to make the purchase so I was able to grab 3 sets of sheets and 4 shirts for around $115 including shipping. I will also be receiving over 800 swagbucks with no real extra work.

I made some last minute trips out Friday night to Dollar General and even texted Amanda to make a stop for me. The reason a sale on Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars. The sale was Buy 1 and Get 2 free. Which made each of the cars thirty three cent. This is an AMAZING deal that I have scored one time before. I was able to grab 100 cars in three different stores. We hide some of the cars and placed the others in a gift drawer. Zach decided he needed some new cars and offered to purchase them from the gift drawer. I am so glad we got extras. I do have plans to use some of the cars as gifts for my church group in addition to they make cool birthday gifts.

I have also taken advantage of sales online at Bath and Body Works, The Children’s Place and JCPenny’s again this weekend. JCPenny is currently running their black Friday deals on-line which is a huge sale.

Finally, I am using my CVS card to purchase items. Here is a picture of my trip today.
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I used $14 on the gift card leaving me with another $10. I saved $45 or 76% prior to using the gift card. I am so happy to be able to use free money to buy things we all need!

Monday Musing 1/25/20016

  • We have 5 weeks before Zach and Kendall start back to school and 4 before Lily begins her adventure in a Charter School. The next three weeks are what we consider slower because the girls have cheer on Monday and Thursday. They will also have piano once a week.
  • I was able to make a deposit on our next Disney trip this week using money that we have earned from Swagbucks. Matt and I are both using this site to earn extra money. I am so excited. The goal of this trip is to totally pay for it with money not included in our regular budget!
  • Our garden has not produced like we had hope but one of the biggest reason is the heat. Currently in NC, we are experiencing Day 26 of the summer with highs in the 90s. A typical summer is 29 days of 90 degree temperatures.
  • Matt has assembled the new water barrel to start collecting any rain water. Hopefully we will be able to water the garden on a regular bases without increasing our water bill.
  • I did plant 3 additional tomato plants and a dill plant this weekend with hopes of increasing our harvest.
  • We have really enjoyed our 2 trips to Emerald Point, a water park, this summer. We hope to go a couple more times but plan on spending only 4 or 5 hours at the park instead of 8.
  • The plan for August is to re-stock the pantry so our spending may be really close to budget.

Saving on Saturday-7/16/2016

I have said many time that it is the little things that save money. So after realizing how far behind I am on blogging this month, I thought I would make a list of things we are doing this summer to get our budget back under control.

  1. Menu planning- We have switched to a month long plan. One of the best parts of this is that we can switch around days without having to worry about if we have certain ingredients or not. Our menu plan is based around the meat in our freezer’s at the first of the month. Fruit and veggie are most like what we have either in cans or fresh or as in today on sale.
  2. Not shopping- This one sounds so very simple and actually makes the most sense. I know that if I go to Costco, I can always find a good deal on snacks and cereal or other foods that we don’t usually buy. Sales are great but I realized in January that we needed to consume the great deals. I have been able to reduce our food budget by over $150 by simply not shopping. I have a list that can be added to if we run out of something and my goal is to shop Costco once a month. I also have been stopping at Aldi about every other week to grab things in smaller quantities or pick up fresh items. Yesterday, I grabbed 2 containers of blueberries along with some lettuce, poptarts and sausage.
  3. Planning ahead which really goes along with menu planning. We have a pool membership that we pay yearly and this year, we purchased season passes to the water park.  I have purchased chips and cookies and other convenience foods to take with us as treats. We will usually take either a pasta salad or wraps or sandwiches for lunch. I did some research on our last visit to the water park and the best deal was $25 for a pizza and 4 drinks. I spent $24 at Aldi yesterday and grab more than enough stuff to finish out 3 meals instead of one. The kids are enjoying our special treat such as a package of cookies and we are not breaking the bank.
  4. Not eating out. This by far is our biggest down fall. We enjoy eating out. At the beginning of our budget journey we would honest eat out 3-4 times a week. When our income was reduced to one, we have been slowly decreasing the times we eat out. I was so excited to find out that we have eaten out twice in July. Once for Kendall’s birthday with my parents and once yesterday.
  5. Stockpiling- When I do shop, you will find that I don’t shop like a normal person. I shop the deals and then stock up. It is not usually for me to purchase 10 2-liters at a time or 10 bottles of ketchup if the sale is the right one. I am finding that sales are becoming fewer this year but I am still able to shop with my price list.
  6. Wasting as little as possible- This week on Wednesday evening, I saw three very wipe bananas on the cabinet. I knew we needed to use these ASAP. I was able to make banana bread and top with strawberry jam for breakfast on Thursday. We also are trying to preserve as much of our garden harvest as possible. This week alone I have made 2 batches of spaghetti sauce and a batch of frozen cucumber relish. This does requires some flexibility with our menu planning but it seems to be working for us.

How are you saving money today?

5 Things Friday

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  1. Tonight, while the kids watched Toy Store, I was able to spend a couple of hours with our budget. I am relieved to say that I have developed a plan that should get us back on track for the year by August. We had several big set backs in May including a contract for Matt that fell through and the freezer.  I have been avoiding looking at the accounts but made some realistic decisions and have a plan. I know that continues to provide for us but I also realize that I have to work with the income we are given.
  2. Matt is on board with planning a Disney trip in November 2017. My current goal is to use Swagbucks to place the deposit in September or October. This trip will be paid for entirely from outside my income. It is a huge challenge but something I want to prove I can do.
  3. Our new freezer is AWESOME. We still need to install the solar powered fan in the building to help protect it but yesterday I was able to re-organize all the freezer in preparation for the summer harvest and chicken delivery.
  4. I officially have a three day weekend starting today. I am off work on Monday so that I can attend several different events at the school for the end of the year.
  5. We have four and half day of school left. I am probably more excited about this than the kids. Tonight was also the first official pay out for chores. I know at least one of the kids was upset. I am hoping they will pick up and do more chores with ice cream at the pool as the goal.