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.

Monday Menu Planning 12/11/2017

Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of.  This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.

Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome!  Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!

Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!

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.

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.

5 Things Friday 9/15/2017

  1. We were unable to repair the kitchen faucet so we ended up purchasing a new one yesterday. We decided to go with a name brand and great warranty. It was expensive but this should be the last kitchen faucet that we ever buy.
  2. Lily is really enjoying the youth theatre this fall, they are working on “Annie” Each family is required to provide a silent auction item. We purchased 2 stainless steel cups and Matt has customized to make a special souvenir.
  3. We did end up spending more money than I had anticipated on groceries this month again. We also had to renew our Costco membership as well. The total spent for the month is $353. My strategy for the rest of the month is to avoid grocery stores.  I am sad that Food Lion is running their quarter back sale but I am not planning to go.
  4. I was able to score an awesome deal on soda. We managed to grab 4 cases for my mom, 5 8 packs for our Disney trip and 11 12 packs for us to use. Spending a total of $40.14!!!! This should keep us stocked until the end of November.
  5. I have returned to using a paper planner. Partially by choice and partly because of the new computer. EVERYONE is assigned a different color and so far I am liking the ability to glance ahead and behind.

5 Ways We Are Saving 9/8/2017

  1. Tis the season for weddings at least in my department at work. Matt and I were able to make a gift this week. The bride to be really liked the gift as well. Total Saved $40.
  2. Windows are open!  This means no air conditioning and/or heat. We ended up running the air from Thursday to Monday last week but based on the predictions for our weather for the next 10 days and the average highs after those 10 days/ Our plan is not to use air until next spring!
  3. Eating from the freezers and pantry. I have a lot of food in our a stockpile. This month I am really sticking to the idea of eating what we have. The one exception is if we run out of a staple such as eggs. We currently do not have any sausage for breakfast but I am going to attempt to use lunch meat in omelets for the month.
  4. Staying at home, I know that I have said this before but I need to post it again for my benefit. If we don’t run out to pick up x then I am not spending money. I am also saving gas money!
  5. I wanted to have a no spend month but I needed a haircut this week, cost of $10. Matt is anticipating starting a job and is in need of black shirt and pants. We were able to locate 2 additional shirts at Goodwill but will most likely need a couple of pair of pants. We ended up spending $8.54 for the shirts.

How are you saving money?

Tuesday Thoughts 9/05/2017

  • My computer died on Saturday. I was thankfully able to get a replacement but I am still trying to re favorite and find all the things that I had carefully arranged on my monitor.
  • We ended up celebrating Zach’s birthday Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He had a great time. Thursday evening his friend came over and they played with Nerf Guns inside because it was raining. Friday night was cake and family. Saturday was a trip to ToyRUS and eating out at Red Robin. I am hopefully to get some picture up soon.
  • The weather here in North Carolina is much cooler than normal. We were able to turn off our air conditioning last week for a total of 4 days, have been running for 4 days and again turned off the air. I am very grateful for the stretches of time that we are able to not turn on the air. This is definitely the earliest I can remember not running air constantly.
  • September is going to be a no spend month for us.  Zach is playing Baseball so we will have the expense of games but unless it is broken and or empty then I really want and need to tighten down on our spending for September, October and November.
  • This weekend along with some major food preparation, I took a good inventory of what meats and other items that we have. Currently our plan is to purchase another cow in January and purchase chicken breast in February.
  • Lily auditioned for and received a part in the Lexington Youth Theatre production of Annie. She does not have a solo but we are all very excited for her to be part of this.
  • I have been successful at using my Electric Pressure cooker for 3 things this weekend. I am actually really surprised but glad that I have been able to use this and hopefully will get more use as the winter comes.

June Update

June was certainly not the month I expected it to be. We did not increase our income and we ended up with two major house repairs that have definitely knocked up back a bit with our debit reduction. We still are living very comfortable but July-October are going to mean some serious belt tightening.

Debit Reduction:  Failure
Due to the things stated above we actually have increased our debit by close to $1000 at this point. Ouch

Blog Post: Fail
I had 9 total blog post for the month. I can honestly say that June was an extremely busy month, including 4 afternoons for swim meets and a week long trip to Michigan. I have some very good intentions and plan so I hope to at least hit 15 this month.

Days on Treadmill: Zero
Water walking days-7  In addition to a full day of walking on Mackinaw Island.
I am actually documenting improvement in this year!

Groceries- Goal Met!  We spent a total of $405  for the month of June in groceries! This is a huge win as the past several months have been over budget!

Gas: $355 for the month. This is about $50 over budget but does include our entire trip which was 5 tanks of gas!

Earnings:  June was a positive month in this area as well. I am expecting some changes starting in July but our earning is consistently increasing. Total $220
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $75 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards:  $15
Shopkicks: $5
Ibbotta: 24.75

 

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is one of my “extra” paychecks. I budget for 2 paychecks a month so on the 2 months a year that I receive 3 paychecks it allows a little bit of wiggle room. This time the majority of the check is going to travel. We are headed on two major week long trips this summer.
  2. Our garden is starting to produce. We are enjoying squash, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. I have also harvest and frozen basil and oregano. I have been disappointed so far with the cucumbers but there is still hope. I am most excited about the watermelon. We already have one that is soft ball size with lots of blooms and other small one starting to form.
  3. The first week out of school has been just as crazy busy as the weeks before school ended. Monday night was swim team practice. Tuesday night was suppose to be Swim Meet but a storm cancelled that so we headed to Costco. Wednesday night- I got confused and we ended up relaxing at the pool for an hour. Thursday- make up swim meet. Friday- yard work.
  4. We recently lost a close friend who was the spouse of our piano teacher. The girls got a 5 week break from lessons but I am thankful they resume this week. Zach will be attending a reading camp in July so as you can see we are staying busy.
  5. Extra earning this month have been awesome. The current goal is to purchase Zachary’s birthday present with these earns in addition to adding to our Disney fund.

Saving on Saturday 6/10/2017

I should actually title this post making money on Saturday but let me tell you the story to back up the facts first.  This week, Lily made a sweet potato pie and used up the rest of our nutmeg. We also are running low on hand soap for the bathrooms. My original plan was to place an order through Target and use a gift card that I had from MPlaces. Target has changed their rules so that I was not able to get nutmeg shipped to me without a $25 purchase. We also needed some vegetables for a salad. So I decided to head to Walmart. I had $20 in giftcards from Cricket for there. First I checked Southern savers to see if there were any really good deals at Walmart, yes indeed there were. I ended up finding a lot of good deals including free cereal. I checked the list of deals for Walmart and printed out the list that matched coupons I had. I ended up with 10 coupons to use.  I also checked IBOTTA for the deals that she had listed on the site.

At the store, I did not fine one of item on my list and a second items was $1 more than expected so I did not purchase it as well. I also grabbed nutmeg, without a coupon in addition to a watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and carrots. My total started at $46.36 before coupons and dropped to $38.61 after coupons. While in the store, Lily and Kendall enjoyed doing Shopkicks. I was able to cash out for an additional $5 gift card on Shopkicks in the store.  I used $25 in gift cards, this brought my cash total down to $14.74. I came home and scanned my receipt in IBOTTA where I received back $8.50 in rebates in addition to $5 for a special promotion by cashing in one receipt this month. I don’t often use IBOTTA because I only purchase items we need and rarely find things on their list. In fact the last time I scanned a receipt was January of this year.  You are only allowed to  cash out IBOTTA for amount greater than $20. I  had $11 sitting in the account starting last August so with my additional money today, I moved $24.50 to paypal.  As soon as the money arrived in paypal, I transferred to my bank account.  This entire process from start to finish took less than 10 minutes.

Final math:  $24.50(rebate) – $14.76(cash)= $9.74 profit in addition to the $45 worth of groceries!