2017 End of Year Financial Update

One of the reasons that I continue to blog after 7 years is that I enjoy having a record of our lives. I decided to go back and read what we were doing last year at this time and it is amazing how similar my years are starting to look. I am also able to see where we are financial and make plans that should work.

This year has brought about many life and financial changes for us. The biggest change is that Matt is working a part time job. Our goal is to return to a stable financial ground and then begin to complete some of our “wish” list. I spent several hours between last night and today looking and gathering data  in order to get a good picture of where we are and how to achieve our overall goal for 2018. I am planning to continue the monthly review post as this make finding things much simpler. I have decided on two big changes that will occur. First, we are returning to cash for both gas and groceries. I am talking the actual cash that you carry. I will plan to transfer money to cover any Costco trips on the day the trips are made as well. It has become very easy to just bring out a card but that is not how I want to live so to stop takes a drastic action. The second is more of a mind set change, we are budgeting all money except for extra earnings. These extra earnings from apps will be used for eating out. We enjoying eating out and this is basically fun money that the whole family can enjoy. Other small changes in amount will also help us gain a more stable financial ground.

As you read you will see I like the idea of January being a time to reset our budget. Now on to the numbers…

  • We increased our overall debt this year by $6500. Our current minimal credit card payment is $989.69 a month.  The plan for at least the first six months is to keep this minimal payment the same each month, which should get us started in the right direction in order to reduce it by $10,000 this year. We will focus on paying extra on the small cards as we earn or save it.
  • Extra earning in our budget is money earned from apps. I know that this amount may decrease this year due to several of the apps are no longer paying out. I have said all along every little bit helps and it adds up quickly. In 2017, we earned an additional $2,315.  In 2017, this money was designated to help pay on our Disney trip. This year, we will use the extra money as a “slush fund” it will cover unexpected expenses or treats including eating out and gifts.
  • Groceries- I am amazed by these numbers in a good way. We did not include the cost of purchasing a cow but we also are eating more food as the kids grow. In 2017, we spent a total of $5,578 on food or an average of $464 a month. These amount include anything we use in the house such as toothpaste and laundry detergent as well.  I set the January grocery budget at $160 due to our December stock up. Otherwise, the grocery budget will be reduced to $475 a month!
  • Gas- We are going to change the way we budget for this as well. We will begin budgeting $70 a week strictly for gas, this will actually decrease the monthly budget by $20 but should be easier to maintain especially for 5 week months. Along with this change, I am changing the “insurance category” to  included taxes, tag and repairs. This will increase $20 a month to $92.
  • In the past, we have had a “pool” fund however this is changing to “Summer fund” which will include the pool along with summer camps and swim team expenses. My goal for this fund is $2000. . We will plan to place $100 a month into this fund with an additional $400 from each of my “extra” paychecks going into it as well. This first year is budgeted a little differently as the money will need to be available sooner, so we will use our income tax return to fund at least $1000 this first year.

I am actually excited to start with our new budget and see if I can save even more!

 

5 Things Friday 12/22/2017

  1. I am on call Christmas Day. I am trying to plan around the expectation that I will need to spend at least a couple of hours at work.
  2. I am cooking dinner on Christmas Day to be ready at 5pm.  Going to be very interesting due to #1.
  3. The menu for Christmas dinner is turkey (never cooked a whole one before), rolls (from the freezer), stuffing (using my sister in laws hack), cream corn (crockpot), green bean casserole (crockpot), cranberry sauce (with fresh cranberries, most requested by kids), turkey gravy (another first),deviled eggs,  broccoli salad, 7 layer salad, (both will be made on Saturday). Lily is making sweet potato pie, candid pecans and brownies (from Costco) are the deserts.
  4. I was asked to teach the Beginner’s Class (2-3 year olds) this week at church. It is my absolute favorite “Jesus Birthday Party”. I headed to Walmart today to get the party supplies. It was crazy but I survived!
  5. The goal of Saturday is to clean out the refrigerator of left-overs so we can fill with Christmas food.

Tuesday Thoughts on Saving.

I have not been stock piling since August. In fact, I have been trying to use anything and everything that we had in order to reduce our grocery budget. My rule for the last 3 months has been if we did not NEED it, we did not buy it.  Things started to look a little bare around her and I became a lot uncomfortable.  So the time has come for us to re-stock. I am going to say that I have learned what things we need and what thing we like to have around. I am hopefully that in the future, I can continue to reduce the budget by using things we have and only purchasing things that we NEED or things that we can use in the next couple of months.

One of the stores that I have not been shopping at is CVS.  I have picked up some items here and there but am becoming more and more frustrated with the rules and how they feel like as an individual store they can make up certain rules. Currently, the rule is “2 transactions per person per day.”  I have been able to do 4 transaction just by asking and got the explanation as to why the rule but it is stupid.  Anyway, Zachary needed 6 pictures printed out for a project. I remember getting a $2 off photo coupon several weeks ago. I also had $2 ECB from a candy purchase. Sunday, I order the prints from home and had to add a seventh in order to be above $2. CVS also has a sale $0.99 for Hershey candy bars with a store coupon printing for $0.74 off one.  Finally, I had a raincheck for a bottle of glue that was also needed for Zach’s project. I spent a total of $0.98 on 3 full size Hershey Candy Bars, a bottle of glue and 7 pictures. I also have  50 cent ECB that was associated with my raincheck. I am very pleased with this trip!

The next way, I am saving is using what we have. I used the last of the dog shampoo before our Disney trip. My Dad told me last year to use cheap shampoo instead. Of course, I went a step further and used a small bottle of shampoo from one of our hotel stays. The dog smells awesome and I did not spend any money!

Thursday Thoughts Food and Finance! 12/14/2017

This has been an extremely busy day but I have a huge feeling of accomplishment!

The first exciting announcement of the day….Kendall will get her braces off February 1st! She has already counted the days until her next  appointment! Along the same line, Lily has an appointment that same day and I anticipate that we will begin with braces for her.

Next a little background. In December of last year, we purchased a 800 pound cow.  We have been enjoying this meat, and have already placed an order for a second cow. Unfortunately, it will most likely be March before we can claim our cow.   Another piece of information is that since September, I have been limiting our food budget and trying to get a good handle and use out of the food we have in storage, this also has been a huge saving for our budget. My initial plan was for a huge grocery trip the first week of December after we returned from Disney.   Then life/ Disney happened, I remembered to pay our Verizon bill during out trip and even told Matt that I had paid it.  But I forgot to record it in our bank account.  So in preparation for the huge trip, I was checking out our account and found the mistake. The good news is that we were not complete broke nor did it cause anything to be over drafted.  So we decided to put our major trip on hold.

Fast forward to today, Matt has significantly increased his hours at Dollar General and he also is designing a new site, so we began the process of restocking our freezer and panty.  Part of our day was spent at the local meat market and we also made a fun trip to Food Lion. I will admit, we still are planning a huge Costco trip this weekend as well. I found frozen turkeys at the meat market at my buy price, so I purchased one for Christmas and a second one for the freezer. We also purchased 20 pounds of ground beef, which has been fried and divided into one pound bags. We also purchased several hens to cook later and chicken wings for our planned Super Bowl Party.

The next stop we will call “Our Christmas trip to Food Lion.” Because of the extra income and the fact that we have been lean for so long, we spent time buying some items that we normal do not purchase or enjoy. Zach was with us and we let him pick out several items.  Even at 8, he is aware of what a sale is and that we usually don’t purchase things unless they are on sale. This is honestly the least plan shopping trip I have made in a long time. I did print and use several coupons from the coupon machine, found some sales that I knew were at or below my price point and then we splurged. We ended up spending $137 at Food Lion and saving $45. I think this is awesome for an unplanned trip.

To end the day, we decided to go to Sonic for the BOGO boneless wings. I was really unsure of how many to buy so I ended up with 48 boneless wings which fed us dinner with Haley. I have lunch for tomorrow at least and Matt has several meal. We will definitely participate again with this deal but spend $10 instead of $20.

Monday Menu Planning 12/11/2017

Menu Planning has taken on a new level and meaning this week. I “forgot” to record the paying of a bill last week. This mistake meant that we were not able to make our huge restocking trip to Costco on Thursday as we had originally planned. Instead, we scaled way back and spent less than $100 to purchase meat and several other items that we were completely out of.  This week, the plan is to shop on Saturday. I know this is not the smartest thing we could do but it will be easier this Saturday as opposed to next Thursday prior to Christmas. This weeks menu plan is simple and uses what we have or were able to purchase last week.

Breakfast- Saturday- Cereal and milk. Sunday-Big Breakfast ( eggs, bacon, grits and toast), Monday thru Thursday Choices or cereal and milk, . Friday- Baked oatmeal-Choices of eggs, fried bologna, grits, French toast or toast.

Saturday- Kids ate at Amanda’s, Matt had Burger King and I had Biscuit King (both Matt and I ended up working) Sunday- Baked Potato Soup in Instapot. I am so excited that this worked and turned out awesome!  Lunch are planned out with a special treat on Thursday of IHOP since everyone has doctor appointments and we have a gift card left over from our trip!

Dinner- Saturday- Chili from crock-pot. Sunday- Burger King (total of $5 after gift card), Monday- Pork Chops with stuffing and green beans. Tuesday- Spaghetti Wednesday- Salisbury Steak, rice and fruit. Thursday- not sure yet but it may just be left-overs. Friday- Church dinner!

Disney!

Disney was awesome!! I can honestly say it will be remembered as one of our best trips EVER!

I have been very vague about sharing a lot of details especially here (on the blog). One of the reason, was safety and the second was the overall expense. Since we are back I feel much more comfortable sharing in regards to safety.  As far as expense, yes it was super expensive but it was a trip that Matt and I agreed to, a choice that we made and the only thing that matters is that we agreed!  We also agreed that we will not be planning another trip until we have conquered out debit! But let me share some of the details. I will be sharing more pictures and such over the next couple of weeks as well.

We left around 1pm on Thanksgiving Day and arrived to our room right around midnight. This did not stop us from begin up bright and early Friday morning for Epcot. This was a change from our previous trip as well. We stayed even the first night on site and it was so nice to arrive and know that we did not have to get back in the car for 10 days.

We spent 3 days in Magic Kingdom, which allowed up to ride EVERY ride and enjoy most shows and of course meet a lot of characters. Epcot was seen in two days with the first spent with our friends. We did accomplish our goal of eating around the world. We tasted at least one food item from every country.  We watched Whoopi Goldberg narrate The Candlelight processional, which is truly an experience. We spent one day each at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We also scheduled a day for resort hopping and a second day for the pool and Disney Springs. My favorite show after the live production of Beauty and the Beast was the Hollywood Studio Christmas special “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” It started at 8pm which allowed us to get back to our room at an average time. Of course, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were awesome and lived up to everything!

Zach planned ahead and chose to celebrate his birthday at Animal Kingdom. He wore his birthday pin all day. We ate breakfast at Tusker House and he received a cupcake with Mickey sprinkles and a card signed by Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Lily chose to celebrate her birthday at Magic Kingdom. She wore her birthday hat, from 2 years ago, and a birthday pin. She was lucky enough to receive a signed card from Belle and Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant.

We were fortunate enough to receive several free items including a funnel cake, a marshmallow Mickey and each of the kids received a Mickey ice  cream bar on Lily’s birthday.

The resort was the only thing that did  not live up to our expectations. The layout was confusing and especially hard to navigate at night. The housekeeping was slack. I ended up calling at least 4 night to request more towels and wash clothes.  We stayed at Port Orleans  Riverside, which is considered a moderate resort but it was definitely not what we expected.

We ended up with the Dinning Plan which we used every last item! We actually brought home 3 additional bottles of water and 4 bottles of Diet Coke.  I enjoyed not having to worry about the cost. The only down side to the dinning plan for us was that gratuity was not included, for table service meals.  We tried several different table service meals this time. Tusker house was great at Breakfast and the Garden Grill was an great dinner. I was disappointed at the Cape May Café so we will not be returning there. My overall favorite was definitely Be Our Guest!

I just downloaded over 850 pictures from our memory maker and we probably have another 500 between our phones and IPAD. But I promise to share only 7 or less at a time.

We stayed at total of 10 nights and returned home on Sunday (12/3) around 8pm.