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!

 

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!

 

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.

Monday Menu Post -02/20/2017

Crazy busy and what appears to be normal, yes that describes my life these day. This week we add to the normal chaos with me attending a continuing education class on Saturday and Matt work both Friday night and Saturday night.

Breakfast–   Saturday-Biscuits and Gravy. Sunday-Waffles Monday-choices Tuesday-  Choices Wednesday- Baked oatmeal. Thursday-  Scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits.   Friday- Choices.  Choices include :  baked oatmeal,  eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have sandwiches, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week. Nothing new or exciting here. Except the fact it keeps us from spending money on lunch.

Dinner-  Saturday Fajitas using left over steak and chicken. Dinner- Chicken and Broccoli casserole
Sunday- Lunch- Chicken pie at Mom’s   Dinner- Cheeseburger pizza
Monday- Salisbury steak rice, carrots
Tuesday- Cheeseburger pie
Wednesday-  Sloppy joes
Thursday-  Beef and broccli
Friday- spaghetti or pizza

Menu Planning- Valentine’s Week

As hard as I try not to think it and dare not speak it, my life continues, I know that I will continue to mourn and miss my dad forever but time does not stand still so I keep praying and stepping out in faith. We have our typical busy week going on with four evening of multiple activities this week and most likely a cheer competition on Saturday.  Menu planning is the only way we can function.

Breakfast–   Saturday-French toast. Sunday- Cereal for kids and baked oatmeal for me. Monday-Baked oatmeal for everyone Tuesday-  Choices Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits.   Friday- Choices.  Choices include :  baked oatmeal,  eggs, grits, French toast, toast or cereal.

Lunch- Zach and Kendall have chicken and stars soup, chicken nuggets, , homemade lunchable and chips w/salsa. I am taking left-overs this week. Zach has decided he wants to purchase lunch at school this week, he will be using his own money as well. We did limit it to one time per week.

Dinner-  Saturday- lunch chicken wings, fried pickle chips and cheese sticks. Dinner- Grilled chicken
Sunday- Lunch- Panda Panda  (local Chinese place)  Dinner- choice of left-overs
Monday- Rice Creole
Tuesday-Steak and baked sweet potato
Wednesday-  Roast in crock pot
Thursday- Corn dogs (Sonic has for $0.50)
Friday- Spinach Ravioli .

 

Do you have your plans made?

Saving on Sunday 02/12/2017

My mother had me purchase a paper for her yesterday. Since our small town does not have a Sunday paper, sometimes coupon inserts are in the papers in the rank. Coupon inserts are not guaranteed so it truly is a hit or miss game. I felt like I hit the jackpot yesterday when her paper contain 3 inserts. They were of course the same three insert but at least there were three. I have a Sunday paper delivered to my house from the larger town that is 45 minutes away.

CVS has an awesome sale on Mitchum deodorant this week. It is on sale for $3.99 and there is a coupon for $2 in the inserts today. I scored BIG with finding four coupons in the inserts I have.  The other sale that I was hoping for was Irish Spring Body Wash. They are currently on sale for $3.99 with a $1 off coupon in this weeks paper and 2ECB for each one purchased. I lucked out again and found 4 body wash coupons.

I split my purchases up into 3 transactions which looked like this:

#1 2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 of coupons and 3ECB from a previous purchase.   Total spent $3.54 with 4 ECB received and a coupon for $2 off $6 purchase of body wash.

#2  2 Irish Spring Body Wash- used 2 $1 off coupons, coupon for $2 off $ and 4 ECB from first transaction. Total spent $.42

#3 4 Mitchum deodorants- used 4 $2 off each coupons and 4 ECB from previous transaction. Total spent $.84

Total spent : $4.80- which I placed on a gift card received from Swagbucks so in reality $0 out of pocket.
Total Saved $35 or 88%

 

 

Goal Update-

I had planned to post pictures of the “tower” that we are building in the Dinning room to house our internet including firewall and router. However this project is taking longer than expected so I will anticipate sharing those pictures as soon as it is finished.  I have had some time to reflect back on 2016 especially in the area of our finances. Since I don’t have pictures to share, I thought this would be a good place to share some of my observations, along with updates regarding my goals for the month.

First let’s talk food. Last year, we spent a total of $7884.51, which averages out to be $657 a month. This amount is actually less than the $700 a month that I began the year with. It really surprised me to learn that it is almost $40 less a month than our spending in 2015.  We have also significantly reduced the amounts we are spending on eating out. I order pizza on Friday night and used gift cards to pay for it. While eating and talking, we realized this was the first “take out pizza” we had eaten in six months! I shared several time that I was participating in an “eat out of your pantry challenge.” I am excited to say that as of today, my pantry floor is empty!  I initially set my goal to spend $100 or less on food for the month. I have change this to $150 or less. The reason for the change is that I purchased 40# of chicken breast to be picked up the end of February.  This week is the most difficult for me as we are starting to run out of the “normal” convenient meals but I am determined to make it work for the month. So far I have spent $131.11.  I did go to both Food Lion and Aldi today. Aldi will be closing for the next six weeks and I wanted to grab a couple of items for our Super Bowl party.  I have spent some time over the past few weeks looking at our budget and working on ways to make it work for us. My goal for the year is to spend  $550 a month or less on groceries.  Small action steps including eating out of the pantry and purchasing only the items we are out of until March this year.

The second challenge that I have decided to participate in is No Spend/Low Spend month.  I am excited to say that so far this month, I have not paid for any extra items.  The biggest reason for this is gift cards. Matt and I both are using several different strategies to make extra money. Most of the apps and Swagbucks rewards are paid in gift cards. I have been collecting and using these gift cards instead of spending money from our budget. So far this has been paying off. I know that February will be an expensive month because we have a cheer competition every weekend except the last one. However I need to focus on one month at a time. So January is a success.

A final note is that we will continue to budget $300 a month for gas and other vehicle expenses. I anticipate meeting this goal simply because both of our vehicles are in good repair and should not require additional spending this year.

Menu Planning

Today is Snow Day #2 for us.  The kids school has already been cancelled for tomorrow and I would bet a delay or closure again on Tuesday. I have a really short day at work tomorrow to begin with so even if I go regular schedule, we should still enjoy another day with extra time at home.  I feel very confident and satisfied with our breakfast choices. I am also extremely hopefully to keep our grocery budget less than $100 this month as we have finally completed a plan for the month.  You will notice more elaborate, read time consuming, meals at the beginning of the week.

Breakfast–   Saturday- pancakes. Sunday- French toast  Monday-Egg muffins Tuesday-  baked oatmeal Wednesday- choices. Thursday-  Choices Friday- Choices.  Saturday- Pancakes Choices include : pancakes, baked oatmeal,  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- Chicken Stew Dinner- Chicken Stew.
Sunday- Lunch- personal pizza on bread Dinner- shoulder roast with carrots and potatoes, deviled eggs and broccoli corn bread.
Monday- Copy cat lettuce wraps
Tuesday- Alice Springs chicken with sweet potatoes and pineapple
Wednesday-  Sloppy joes and FF
Thursday- Stuffed green peppers
Friday- Leftovers or pizza.

Matt will be going to pick up buns for our sloppy joes along with eggs this week before our local Aldi closes for remodeling.