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.

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.

Five Things Friday- 8/25/2017

Today I am going to post 5 things we are currently doing at our house. Some are an new attempt and others are ways we stay sane around here.

  1. Each child is responsible for their own laundry.  To break this down, you are responsible for getting your dirty clothes in the basket. A parent, usually Matt will place in washer and move to dryer, if you are younger than middle school. We started this several years ago, around the age of 2, a child starts helping put away the clothes after they are washed and folded. By Kindergarten, you should be folding and putting away most of your own clothes. Currently, Zach needs help folding socks and with some hang up clothes, he is second grade. Kendall, fourth grade is totally responsible for moving from dryer and getting put away properly. Lily, 7th grade, is responsible for doing her laundry completely.
  2. Clothes for school must be picked out and approved on Sunday afternoons.  This saves a ton of time each morning. The difficult part is “fun” weeks when you get to wear pajamas to school and such.
  3. Lunch and snacks for the entire week are planned and prepared on Sunday as well. The only excepts  are sandwich days. They must be planned but I try to make the day of for fresh bread. I will be the first to say this also encourages me to plan ahead so I don’t have to spend 15 minutes each morning figuring out what my lunch for the day is going to be or worse yet spending $7 for lunch in the cafeteria.
  4. 100 miles to Disney- We have our Disney trip planned for Thanksgiving. Our 100 day mark was just after our beach vacation. I enjoy walking down the beach but the kids really disliked it and complained about how far it was. Their complaining got on my nerves but also got me to thinking. I have read several times that you can walk up to 10 miles a day at Disney, this translates to several hours of whining which really is no fun. Here is my interesting solution- Each person needs to walk 1 mile a day in preparation. So far we are doing excellent. I am encouraged to see the kids walk and it is super motivating for me to make sure I get at least a mile of walking in.
  5. This is our newest thing. I am making the kids responsible for keeping all toys,clothes and crap out of their floors. Each night when I kiss them goodnight if they have stuff in the floor it will go in a bag. You may purchase the bag back for $5 at the end of the week. I started this yesterday and allowed extra time and reminders to clean up. My goal is by the end of December for this to become a habit and I wont have to reminder everyone to clean up before bed.

Thursday Thoughts- Summer Ending

  • Zach and Kendall have Meet the Teacher night today. They will start school on Monday so it will be back to a crazy busy regular routine again. Zach is planning to play baseball and Kendall wants to try a couple of new things at school.
  • Lily is almost finished with her first week of school. She has been working for several hours each day this week. She is very excited to continue in the online charter school and even more excited that she is planning to join several clubs this year. Another big thing in her life right now is that she is planning to audition for the youth theater.
  • Our garden is nearing the end as well. We ended up pulling up two huge carts of dead plants this week with. We do have several watermelons that are left and peppers but otherwise there is not much happening.  I spoke with my neighbor this evening and at least she made me feel much better that her garden did not do very well either especially the tomatoes.
  • We completed our back to school shopping trip tonight. I had not been looking forward to the trip so at least it will be easier to start packing lunches and snack now that we are stocked back up.
  • Matt and I had a date night Monday. The not so little kids went over and spent the night with Amanda for pizza and a movie. We used an Applebee’s gift card for dinner. After the experience, we had it has solidified our decision not to purchase any more gift cards to Applebee and therefore not returning to that restaurant chain for a very long if ever again.  We ended our date night by going to Walmart where we used 2 gift cards from MPlaces and finished earning and use 2 additional gift cards from Shopkicks to buy some cereal.

July in Review

July- Where did it go….

Debit Reduction:  Failure
We broke even for the month. This is an improvement from last month but still not where I want to be.

Blog Post: Fail
I had 12 total blog post for the month. Again an improvement from last month but still not where I want to be.

Days on Treadmill: Zero
Water walking days-7  Getting better……

Groceries- Goal Met!  We spent a total of $306.92  for the month of July in groceries! Second month in a row under budget with this and it did include our snack box for the beach trip.

Gas: $450 for the month. This is about $170 over budget which is the cost of annual inspection, tag and taxes on my van.

Earnings:  July was an awesome month for earning. Total $285
Swagbucks: $100 for Me, $75 for Matt
MPlaces/Cricket Rewards:  $10
Mileup: $100

Things I Learned This Week

  1. The amount of daylight and the time the sunset changes dramatic if you travel far enough.  In Michigan, I noticed one night that is was 9:15 and still daylight outside. I actually watched a second time to make sure I was not crazy and the sun did not set until 9:45pm.  We were on the far west side of Michigan but still crazy to me that it varies that much.
  2. Driving at night is ALWAYS the quickest and best way to travel even with kids that are “older”.  On the trip to Michigan, we left at midnight and travelled until after 5am,when  we needed gas before making the first stop. On the way, home our longest stretch of driving was from 8:30pm until 11:30pm.
  3. Check the weather prior to travelling and remember to take at least one extra change of clothes. I had everyone pack one pair of long pants and a jacket in our suitcases. The night we left North Carolina, the temperature was 75*, the same day in Michigan the high was 68*.  Our jacket needed to be in the car with us and we could have worn at least one other day of long pants if not two days with warmer clothes. It was also VERY wet in Mackinaw City. My pants were wet and I did not bring another pair to change into.
  4. Mackinaw Island is home to 17 different fudge shops, 2 Butterfly house and has a motorized fire truck and ambulance.
  5.  In Mackinaw City, where we stayed two night, most business are open from April to October only, including Starbucks.
  6. It is fun to just explore and take suggestions. One of my favorite stops this trip was the Soo Locks. We only ended up seeing this because it was raining and I asked on Facebook for suggestions.
  7. The fort on Mackinaw Island was taken by the English in the War of 1812.

Saving on Saturday 6/17/2017

Saving money often takes a little time. This Saturday, we spent time doing some things at home that will save us big money later in the week.

First, we spent about 3 hours this morning cleaning and detailing our vans, in addition to my Mother’s car.   This was a family project because we all get to enjoy the benefit of a clean better smelling car to ride in. My mother paid the kids for helping with hers so it was definitely a winning situation. I am basing my prices from my local full service car wash. A comparable package is $37 plus tax. I am subtracting $7 that we will spend at a car wash for the exterior wash, total saving of $30 a car times two cars is $60.

Next, our trip to Michigan is coming up very quickly so I did some extra cooking today. The items I cooked will each reduce our need to purchase meals by 2 meals so that is a total saving of $100.  Matt has a list of other items that we will be bringing with us that will make this trip even more affordable. I plan to post detail descriptions in addition to total spending and savings once we return.

Matt is working at the coliseum this evening so the kids and I decided to go to a local church which was sponsoring a community day. The kids had lots of fun in the bounce houses and even a horse back ride.  They provided a meal of hot dogs and hamburgers. The kids enjoyed 2 snow cones each for desert!  Total savings $40.

 

Savings for today =$200!

 

 

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.

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.

IMG_2438

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.