- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Sometime saving is not a choice but a matter of necessity. Late Thursday night, it was discovered that we had a major water leak. Matt spent most of the day Friday, figure out where the leak was and how to fix it. The leak was in the supply line that runs from the water meter under the foundation and addition to our main water line. The water was actually running under our foundation. This was not something that could wait. After much research and discussion the only option was to replace the main water line. A professional would charge someone about $100 for this. This option was not even possible on our current budget. We started working around 6pm Friday. Haley helped by venturing under the 18 inch crawl space under the addition (30 feet) and pulled the water line from a foundation vent in a the front back to the main connection. We decided to insulate and use a second pipe for protection at the foundation vent.
Next we all started digging.
Total savings over $800 not by choice but by necessity.
- June is a very promising month with lots of fun planned. The little kids are all on the swim team. We will participate in swim meets on Tuesday afternoons starting the second week in June.
- June is also a three paycheck month for me. I get two of these a year. Because I base my budget on two paychecks a month this become extra money. This extra money will be used to help fund our beach trip and other travel plans for the summer.
- We will be traveling to Michigan this month with plans to spend a couple of days on Mackinac Island. I really enjoy this trip with Amanda, Haley and Lily (at 9 months) and look forward for the younger guys to experience something totally new and different. Other plans include time spent with Matt’s family and of course Bronner’s.
- The Square Foot Garden is slowly starting to produce. This week I was able to harvest snap peas and squash. I am trying something new and “pre-breading” squash for frying. I would like to have 12 packets of frying squash and 12 packs of squash casserole for the freezer.
- Matt discovered a major leak in our main water line late last night. We will be repairing it ourselves not so much fun but necessary.
As we continue with our busy lives and race into the Summer, meal planning becomes even more important for us. We enjoy spending time at the pool. In fact we spent close to 18 hours at the pool just this 3 day weekend. If we are not diligent about making and sticking to a menu plan, we often end up ordering pizza, picking up fast food or Chinese on the way home. Today was our anniversary, so as a treat we had planned to order pizza, we spent $33 for pizza for our dinner. Even at once a week, that adds an extra $120 a month to our budget, over the course of the summer that is half the cost of the condo we rent at Myrtle Beach, so 4 days at the beach vs. pizza once a week. We have built in a little bit more flexibility this summer as we are beginning to start some harvesting from our garden. I want to use and maximize as much of this food as possible.
Breakfast– Saturday-Pancakes. Matt ended up making a super double patch, which means they will be a choice for breakfast over the next couple of weeks. Sunday- Gray biscuits. (I made extra gravy, to use as dinner or as a choice as well.) Monday-Banana/chocolate chip muffins. Tuesday- Choices Wednesday- French toast in crockpot . Thursday- choices . Friday- Choices. Choices include : fried bologna, eggs, grits, left-overs , toast or cereal.
Lunch- Zach and Kendall have sandwiches, grab and go, and salads. I have a salad packed for Tuesday, chicken salad wrap for Wednesday and leftovers for Friday.
Dinner- Saturday-Lunch- Hot Dog with chili and slaw Dinner- -Pasta salad with chicken
Sunday- Lunch- Roast and sauté squash. Dinner- Leftovers (Zach-hot dog with cheese grits, Kendall-broccoli cheese soup, Lily pancake, Matt- sausage ball, and me egg over grits and gravy.)
Monday- Pizza to celebrate our anniversary
Wednesday- Pork chops with squash and/or carrots
Thursday- ?? Beef and broccoli
Friday- Grilled chicken salad.
After starting this post I realized that I have not posted this since mid March. Opps. So I thought I would give a food update as well. We have used approximately 1/2 of our whole cow. One of the biggest problems right now is not eating beef 5x a week. We are actually starting to run out of vegetables which works out well. I did purchase and freeze 2 gallons of strawberries earlier this month in addition to make jam. We have to finish up out sweet potatoes from last year before September. A final food challenge of the month is our planned trip to Michigan at the end of the month. I need to sit down and make a plan, at least for our travel days, we have already been gathering gift cards that will make it much easier and decrease the overall expense.
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.
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.
We have been very fortunate this week to find and be given some great items. Since I have not done a post with bullet points in a long time this is a fun way to be random.
- Food Lion had a sale on “Suddenly Salad” $1 each. We discovered last year that we could add chicken, cucumbers and or tomatoes to make a great lunch or pepperoni and tomatoes for a very different but just as good lunch. I grabbed 10 with plans to use weekly this summer.
- Purchased tomato plants from a local nursery for 50 cent a plant.
- Found a couple of blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart for $3 and onion starters for $2. We planted the blueberries and placed the onions under our house in storage for next spring.
- Use a $2 off coupon to purchase “Got2b ” hair spiking glue for $0.87 cent. I went to a CVS in High Point and the cashier tried to make me feel bad for using coupons. Didn’t work but seriously just scan coupons I promise they will work. We also grabbed Easter Twizzlers for $1.50 a bag.
- Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase drinks for everyone at Starbucks.
- Matt has been enjoying his birthday freebies including a drink from Dunkin Donuts
- I used office depot rewards to purchase a pack of AAA batteries and a notebook. Spent zero out of pocket and earned another $14 in rewards to spend later.
- We have been given several bags of clothes recently so the only purchase has been swim suits for swim team.
What are your good finds?
The weather in North Carolina is just about as random as my thoughts and updates. Yesterday, it was 83 degrees and sunny, today 52 degree with rain and wind.
- We are currently working on fourth week with no heat or air. I am doubtful that we will make it a full six weeks because of the forecasted temperatures for the end of the week.
- Our electric and water bill for the month of April are both significantly lower than budget. Our water bill is most likely due to fixing the leak that has been present in the front yard for six month or so. We are also utilizing our rain barrels for planting.The electric bill is from lack of heat or air and diligence in turning off things.
- The weather has been helpful in some ways. Because it has been so warm, I was able to begin planting a full 3 weeks soon than I expected this year. I have been very cautious but our last possible frost date is April 30th. I currently have planted 14 cucumbers, 5 yellow squash, 15 sweet peppers, 2 banana peppers, 2 jalapeno peppers, 4 broccoli, 2 cabbage. I also have planted 5 asparagus plants for the future. My oregano, mint and rosemary all survived the winter. The plant is to finish planting the square foot garden this coming weekend.
- I seriously did not think our schedule could get more full, but we were unable to attend piano last week because we did not have an hour of spare time.
- I am spending part of the day cooking ahead for the week. I am scheduled to attend a continuing education class on Friday. The following week, I am working only 2 days as Kendall has field day on Monday and Zach has one of Tuesday.
- Summer plans are starting to come together. Currently, we are planning a trip to Michigan in June and a trip to the beach in August. Swim team and lots of pool time will also be on the schedule.
- We are planning a yard sale in mid May. The kids are actually sorting through toys and clothes today to add to the sell pile.
- Lily has decided to continue in charter school for the next year! We all agree that this is the right decision!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- Lily has decided to attend charter school next year. She will finish her classes by the end of May
- We are planning a family dinner at my mothers. So I will be cooking or actually preparing crock pots most of the day tomorrow.
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.