Random Thoughts

The weather in North Carolina is just about as random as my thoughts and updates. Yesterday, it was 83 degrees and sunny, today 52 degree with rain and wind.

  • We are currently working on fourth week with no heat or air.  I am doubtful that we will make it a full six weeks because of the forecasted temperatures for the end of the week.
  • Our electric and water bill for the month of April are both significantly lower than budget. Our water bill is most likely due to fixing the leak that has been present in the front yard for six month or so. We are also utilizing our rain barrels for planting.The electric bill is from lack of heat or air and diligence in turning off things.
  • The weather has been helpful in some ways. Because it has been so warm, I was able to begin planting a full 3 weeks soon than I expected this year. I have been very cautious but our last possible frost date is April 30th. I currently have planted 14 cucumbers, 5 yellow squash, 15 sweet peppers, 2 banana peppers, 2 jalapeno peppers, 4 broccoli, 2 cabbage. I also have planted 5 asparagus plants for the future. My oregano, mint  and rosemary all survived the winter.  The plant is to finish planting the square foot garden this coming weekend.
  • I seriously did not think our schedule could get more full, but we were unable to attend piano last week because we did not have an hour of spare time.
  • I am spending part of the day cooking ahead for the week. I am scheduled to attend a continuing education class on Friday. The following week, I am working only 2 days as Kendall has field day on Monday and Zach has one of Tuesday.
  • Summer plans are starting to come together. Currently, we are planning a trip to Michigan in June and a trip to the beach in August. Swim team and lots of pool time will also be on the schedule.
  • We are planning a yard sale in mid May. The kids are actually sorting through toys and clothes today to add to the sell pile.
  • Lily has decided to continue in charter school for the next year!  We all agree that this is the right decision!

5 Things Friday 4/14/2017

  1.  The kids have really enjoyed Spring Break. Monday-Starbucks and Krispy Kreme Donuts. Tuesday- Zach spent the day with a friend. Wednesday- Day at the Zoo with Amanda. Thursday-Lunch at our favorite Sushi Buffet Restaurant, Friday- Celebrating Easter with Cross Walk.
  2. I did some shopping on Thursday. I used 2 printable coupons and grabbed 20 female disposable razors for free at Walmart. This should last for the summer!
  3. We purchased and planted several mosquito plants yesterday. I think I have decided to ask for a tree for Mother’s Day and not purchase any more plants. l will be purchasing vegetables for the garden.
  4. Lily has decided to attend charter school next year. She will finish her classes by the end of May
  5. We are planning a family dinner at my mothers. So I will be cooking or actually preparing crock pots most of the day tomorrow.

5 Things Friday 4/7/2017

  1. I have done lots of shopping this week. We did our monthly trip to Costco, I headed into CVS for an awesome deal on shampoo. And so far I have made four trips to Food Lion.  I actually convinced my mother to head to Food Lion tonight and helped her get a great deal on our Easter Ham and drinks.
  2. Spring is here, I am so excited to say that all my plants have survived the winter except for the mosquito bush. I will definitely be replacing it! The trees I planted in the fall have started to bloom as well.  On my kitchen sink, I have sweet potato slits growing in addition to 6 pear tomato plants!
  3. We have been officially without heat or air for the past 14 days. The temperature is suppose to drop in the thirties today. I hope this is the last cold spell and my goal is to keep the heat off as long as possible. It would help the budget if we could lower electric cost to $150 for April and $200 for May.
  4. All three of the little kids are on Spring Break next week.  Lily has decided that she is going to continue with charter school next year. So we have 7 more weeks until the summer.
  5. Kendall and Zach brought home their report cards today. Kendall has straight A and Zach has 3 in all areas except for spelling. Lily received her report card last week and has all A’s as well.  I am so proud of these kiddos!

Eating on Vacation

As a family, one of the things we enjoy doing together is travelling. This works out well with the girls competition cheerleading in addition to Matt’s family being so far away and in several different states. By far, the most expensive aspect of traveling is food.  I have tried several different methods over the past several years to reduce this expense. I am very please with how my latest method work on our trip to the Myrtle Beach for the cheer competition.  Since December, I have been purchasing and earning gift cards to use on this trip.  I am excited that we ended up feeding 6 of us for each meal.  Gift cards were purchased each month and taken from our regular grocery budget. Total spent on food for four days for six people is $438.31 or $18 a person per day. However the actual amount spent is $174.86 or $7.28 a person. Since we normally do not eat out but once a month, this trip was definitely a treat and we managed to contain our cost!  I am planning to continue using this month as it does reduce our cash outlay and increases our enjoyment!

Below is a break down of each day.

Thursday- Breakfast at home!, Lunch KFC $24.71, Dinner P.F Chang’s $87.10  Total $112

Friday Breakfast IHOP (purchased gift card) $50.00 with tip. Lunch  Chili’s (purchased gift card) $40 with tip    Dinner Olive Garden to Go (used Buy One Take One) $37.86 Total= $127.86   Total cash $37.86

Saturday- Cracker Barrel (gift cards/no purchased) $54.00   Lunch- Left-overs or home made chicken nugget Lunchables      Dinner Steak and Shake  (gift card purchased) $50.00 with tip.  Total = $104.00  Total cash $0

Sunday Breakfast McDonald’s $24.45 (used McDonald app for savings)  Lunch Appleebees (gift card purchased) $49.00 Amanda paid the tip for this. Dinner- Wraps in parking lot. We did stop for TCBY yogurt $10.00 used gift cards and Krispy Kreme Donuts $10.34.  Total = 94.45  Total cash $35

March in Review

I am super behind on blogging for the month. Our cheer trip threw me off, in addition to our crazy busy life. I am hoping to get up several post in the next day or so.

Debit Reduction: This month our overall debt increased by $175. This is sad but because our trip was the last couple days of the month it had a negative effect. I will establish a goal to reduce our debit by at least 200 next month.

Blog Post: 14
Days on Treadmill: 0  Everyone feel we should get credit for the day we spent walking at the outlet stores.

Groceries- $220- This is a great success! I am hoping to keep spending down to $300 for the month of March. My favorite sale of the year is on but other than a trip to Costco this should be our spending for the month.

Gas: $370 spent. This is over-budget, we purchased new windshield wipers for all the vans and our trip to the beach is included on this purchase.

Earnings:  Matt and I combined for a total of $180 this month from our apps and Swagbucks. This is a higher number than both February and January.

I am a bit frustrated with us raising our overall debit but we needed and enjoyed our trip to the beach. I have high hopes for April, small changes over a long period of time always works.

5 Things Friday 3/24/2017

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Shopping on Their Dime

Today I went to Walmart, to search for a special hair product for Lily.  I was not able to find what I was looking for but decided to pick up some special  treats for our trip next week instead. I grabbed 3 different snack size candy bars, a box of Chex mix, a can of hair gel and some special treats for dinner tonight.  My total out of pocket was twenty four cents.

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You will notice on the above receipt that I used three separate gift cards.  The first one was from Shopkicks. Which is the newest app I am using.  It is super simple, open the app as you walk in the store, find certain items and scan the barcode.  I do know that additional credit is given for purchasing items but since there  has not been any items that I normallly purchase I have not.  I have only been using this app for six weeks and this was my first cash out.  I asked for a gift card last night and it was available for use within  five minutes.

The other two card where redeemed on the cricket app. We do not use cricket services but the app offers additional rewards through the mplace app.   Currently I am earning about 1000 points on Mplaces a day. Which this month is averaging out to be a five dollar gift card every 7-10 days!

Free food always takes better!

 

Monday Menu Planning 3/20/2017

I am very hopeful that Spring has finally arrived and will be staying around for awhile. This week, we have 3 baseball practices, 2 nights of cheerleading for each of the girls, piano, church and Matt will be working 3 nights this coming week.   Thankful our breakfast choices have definitely improved after a trip to Aidi on Sunday.

Breakfast–   Saturday-Breakfast burrito bowls.  Sunday- limited choices Monday-choices Tuesday- Spinach egg cups  Wednesday- Baked oatmeal. Thursday- choices .   Friday- Choices.  Choices include :  poptart , fried bologna,  eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have sandwiches, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and salads. I am taking left-overs this week. Nothing new or exciting here. I have gotten slack with taking my lunch so I already have a salad packed for Monday!

Dinner-  Saturday Sandwich and chips Dinner- Dinner out for  Haley’s birthday
Sunday- Lunch- Hamburger and hot dog’s at Mom’s   Dinner- Gumbo over rice
Monday- Grilled chicken pasta and mandarin orange salad
Tuesday- Chicken Enchilada
Wednesday-  Beef and Broccoli
Thursday-  left-overs or homemade pizza
Friday- Breakfast casserole.

Shopping on Sunday 3/19

This morning we were running really low on breakfast items, in fact we had no cereal, poptarts or grits. So a trip to Aldi was definitely in order. We attended an early service this morning so were able to breeze through the store and totally restock our breakfast supply. Total spent was $45.

The next stop was CVS. I was unsuccessful in grabbing the scrubbing bubbles deal from last week so I started with 12 ECB. I was able to purchase 2 18 double roll packs of Scott Bathroom tissue and 2 containers of mouthwash for $3.87 out of pocket or a 92% savings. I also received 9 ECB in return. I am really excited as this was an easy transaction with no glitches!

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Total Grocery Spending for March $135

5 Things Friday 3/17/2017

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  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!