Saturday Savings /Square Foot Gardening

Today was a really exciting day for me… we harvest our first items from our garden, broccoli!

They don’t look very large but they make excellent Mickey ears and we harvest two of our four plants. Just two gave us enough for 2 meals.

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I stockpile for a couple of different reasons, first is savings, second is convenience and third is nutritional. Today, we used up our loaf of sour dough bread that I made on Thursday so I decided to make another batch. I have been putting dates on the items I buy in bulk to determine if I really am saving money. I used the last 6 cups of bread flour that was purchased in March 2016. The savings is broken down this way, $15 for a 25 pound bag which lasted fourteen months. That is $1 a month for not only bread but also pizza dough. Even if the cost of the other ingredients is $1 a week, I am still saving at least $5 a month on bread by making our own.

Today was also the day that we chose to go strawberry picking this year. The kids LOVE this and it actually saves us $3 a gallon to pick our own. We have enjoyed lots and lots of strawberries today in addition to make strawberry jam that will be enjoyed for the next year. We also have frozen a gallon for use in smoothies.

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.

Sunday Shopping Secrets

One thing is for sure, I have been doing a lot of shopping this week. I thought I would share with you some of the reason/tips I am using to shop this week.

  • Most coupons site, tell you that sale cycles are every six weeks. They are very direct in saying you need to buy only enough to last for that six week cycle. I disagree, my best example is the Quarter Back Sale at Food Lion. I have been shopping and loving this sale for at least six years with my first blogging about it here. Initially this sale ran in January and June, things have definitely changed with it only occurring once last year. So I am taking advantage of it.  I made a list of all the items I remember purchasing in the past, checked to see if we had a year’s supply of and then made my shopping list.  If the sale occurs again this year, I will only need to restock items that I am low on.  For example I did not buy onion soup mix or taco seasoning this time because I have enough for at least a year. I did purchase 12 ketchups and 10 mustards.  For this sale, I try to stock up for a year for most other sales, I plan to stock for 3 months at a time or stock depending on storage space.  When we start to get low on items I start checking for sales and usually am able to grab the items before running completely out.
  • ALWAYS scan your loyalty card and read the coupons when it is an option. This week, I received a BOGO coupon for any soda at Food Lion. The next trip I received a coupon for $1.00 off any Dole Salad. I checked the prices on salad and actually picked up a small bag for FREE. I did not need the salad and would not have purchased for free is always for me. CVS gives out different coupons to different customers but it still is nice to check out the deals. I was able to combine my coupons and a red machine coupon to purchase Easter candy.
  • My final secret is simple sounds but probably the most important one. Have a basic idea of what things cost and if you find at or below that price grab up as many items as you have coupons for or as many as you can easily store. Here are my simple rules I always use:
    • Less than a dollar usually is a great deal, except for toothpaste. This week I found 2L Diet Cokes for $0.79 this is an awesome deal, so far I have purchased 30 at this price  but am out of room to store.
    • I will only buy toothpaste when it is twenty five cents or less. Most of the time I grab the free stuff.  I always make sure to grab free toothpaste even if it is the only item I get.
    • Toilet paper should only be bought when it is less than 40 cent a roll. To figure this out simple divide the price of the package by the number of rolls.  I don’t count double rolls in this because really I am not paying by the sheet!
    • I check on SouthernSavers.com if it is listed on her site, I will consider buying just because it is at least 40% off.

 

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!

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!

 

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.

Thursday Thoughts/Update 01/26/2017

  • 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.

5 Things Friday-01/06/2017

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  1. It is currently snowing in North Carolina. This is honestly, one of the best kind of snows. Today is Friday and the snow did not begin until around 4pm so I was still safe driving home at 5:30. We are expecting all snow and no ice. We are all home for the weekend so the kids can enjoy a couple of day playing in snow and I don’t have to worry about heading toe work .
  2. Lily’s second cheer competition of the season has been cancelled due to the snow. She was really excited about going but I am glad to have some more down time.
  3. We filled our freezer with beef on Wednesday. It was about what I expected in regards to quantity. I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and tenderness of it. We will continue to stock up the freezer this weekend so I have no plans to venture anywhere until at least Monday.
  4. One of the fun task I accomplished today was to start planning our Disney trip in November. It is always fun to research options and decide which day to spend in which park in addition to thinking about where we want to eat each day.
  5. Yesterday, I realized that our local Aldi store is closing to remodel for six weeks beginning next week. I was planning to limit our grocery spending for both January and February, without this convenient store, this task will be easier. I did however grab some items to keep her for the next several months. Total spent $42.57 which still leaves me with $45 to spend out of my $100 grocery budget for January.

Menu Planning

I mentioned in yesterday post that I am attempting to participate in two separate but very related challenges this month, No Spend January and Eat from the Pantry. Today I want to share the most important thing that will help us achieve both of these planning. This is actually a two part process, first is making food ahead of time and the second is planning and using the meals.

Part of the time I spent for my three day weekend is cooking ahead. On Saturday, we made 6 batches of pork fried rice using left over BBQ from Christmas.  We ate one of these for dinner on Saturday. On Sunday, we made taco rice and cheeseburger pies. On Monday, we made Salisbury steaks and mashed potatoes. We were able to use pull out raw hamburger from our freezer. Which was very helpful due to the fact we are receiving the cow I purchased in December this week.

The final step in this process is Menu Planning. There is a slight increase in the need for this with attempting to eat out of our pantry.  Here is our plan…

Breakfast–   Saturday- grits, eggs and  bacon . Sunday- Donuts  Monday-Baked Oatmeal  Tuesday-  fried bologna and eggs Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Choices Friday- Choices.  Saturday- Pancakes Choices include : leftovers, eggs, grits, French toast,, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, ham and cheese roll up, homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week.

Dinner-  Saturday- Lunch- left overs  Dinner- Pork Fried Rice and egg roll.
Sunday- Lunch- Shrimp Gumbo in crockpot (kielbasa and shrimp, both from freezer) Dinner-  left-overs
Monday- Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and fruit
Tuesday- Steaks and salad
Wednesday-  Chicken cacciatore (found in freezer) and pasta
Thursday- Broccoli and cheese soup in crockpot
Friday- Leftovers or pizza.

I did have to make a quick trip to CVS this week for a total of $14.45 out of our grocery budget.

 

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.