What’s Happening?

I was doing so well and blogging several times a week, and then 7 days of silence what happened?
The short answer is LIFE

But in order to give you an idea about what that looks like for us here is a more detailed answer.

For the next six weeks, Lily has practice for the theater Monday- Friday from 4-6 pm. The good news is that we have worked it out so that Matt drops her off and I am picking her up most evenings on my way home from work. The bad news is that means we are eating dinner at 6:30 which means that the evening does not exist for me.

Kendall stays after school on Tuesdays for Battle of the Books till 3:30 and on Wednesday for Sign Language club. Zach and Kendall both attend a kid’s program on Wednesday nights from 6 to 8pm.

Zach has just signed up for spring baseball this past week. I am assuming that we will start a practice schedule of 2 or 3 days a week very soon. In the meantime, he was asked to play on a different team than he has in the past. This team is playing “kid-pitch” baseball so this adds some interesting changes and expenses to the table.

Matt has been working extra, in fact, today was his sixth day in a row working with it also being his 7th out of 8 days as well. We fully expect this to change over the next month but are open and encouraging to continue try and gain some financial ground this year.

Next let’s talk a little about the weekends.  Friday night, Lily stayed after practice for some fun and food with her cast mates until 8pm.  Kendall attended her very first sleepover on Friday night as well. On Saturday, all three kids had a piano lesson, this is a wonderful opportunity but takes a good 3 hour chunk from our day.  Zach ended up going to a friends house for several hours as well on Saturday.

As you can tell life is back to it’s busy pace around here.

January In Review 2018

The final week of January has been a rough one for us, on many different levels. Today is Thursday and I can see a small light at the end of the tunnel at least for this week. Both our electric and water bill will be extremely high for February so I am already working the budget numbers to accommodate the extra amounts.

Since I am not totally positive on what things I want to monitor this year I am going with a list method of goals and may decide to add or delete a few as the weeks go on.

Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance.

  • Total paid to credit card debit $1050 total reduction in credit card debit $415
  • Grocery budget $160- Total spent $200. This is still $275 less than budget.. I will be increasing the February budget to $300.
  • Gas budget- $280- Spent $235
  • Kid/Summer expenses : $85
  • Earned $170- this is indeed a much lower amount but this is the expectation until at least March.

Personal- This is truly where I am add or change several things

  • Blogging- 15 for the month. I am going to set a goal for 20 but realize that is probably not realistic.
  • Reading The Bible – 31 days complete!
  • Exercise- 7 total days for the month.  Again setting a goal for 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not.

5 Things Friday- Financial

Fair warning this is not a happy post, I had even considered naming it 5 Financial Woes but decided that was a bit dramatic.

  1. My snow days last week, which I did enjoy ended up being unpaid.
  2. On Saturday of last week, the windshield of my van started to crack for no apparent reason. The crack has now spread to cover 3/4 of the windshield. It is not actually in the line of site but the entire windshield will need to be replaced in the near future.
  3. Our water bill increased this month by $18.
  4. Our electric bill increased by $160 from last month and $80 from our average bill.
  5. Our earning apps, extra money has slowed to a crawl.  This is expected for the first several month of the year but still a cut in pay.

Saving on Saturday

Today, I am saving time and money by cooking ahead! I am also sticking to items that I have in the pantry or freezer as I have a very small grocery budget this month. Today, I focused on using frozen chicken breast.  I  was very pleasantly surprised when my instapot was able to cook 10 breast from frozen to done in less than an hour (30 minutes actually pressure time).  I shredded those in my kitchen aid and used for a Chicken Taco Casserole and Chicken Enchiladas. I also froze 2 packs of shredded chicken. The casserole is one of our quick easy items to use on a busy day. Chicken Enchiladas will be lunch tomorrow. While the instapot was working, I started dinner for tonight, which was Creamy Italian Chicken. This is a recipe that Amanda has made before so I knew that it was good. That is a total of 5 meals in less than 2 hours of total time.

Matt made a batch of homemade pimento cheese that we will use for breakfast in the morning . I also pulled out the ingredients for a beef stew for dinner tomorrow night. This recipe is from Zach’s calendar so he is excited to try it.

The best part of all these meals is cost today is $0!   We used all the ingredients from the pantry and freezer. First week of January behind us with a  total of $20 spent in groceries!

5 Things Friday 01/05/2018

  1. We did a budget reset this month and today was the first paycheck. The good news is that everything is covered but I had to use “other” money to purchase gas. I am hopeful that if we can stay lean in January, February forward will be a much easier budget-wise.
  2. The little kids are staying with Amanda tonight!  A huge win for us is that Matt and I cooked dinner. Shrimp Alfredo with Penne Pasta and cheddar bay biscuits.  We really enjoy eating out and that is always our first instinct when the kids are gone.
  3. So far this month, we have spent $20 in groceries.  I am very hopeful to keep our spending at this weekly level for the entire month. I did budget $160 for the month but need definitely need to spend less as we have had an extra couple of bills pop up this month.
  4. Lily is currently practicing to audition for the Youth Theater in a couple of weeks. I am amazed at her talent and glad to see she is practicing and not expecting it just to happen.
  5. IT IS COLD!  In fact, we have not been about freezing the first 5 day of January! I DISLIKE  the cold and would just love to stay in bed all day.

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.