Tuesday Thoughts

I have been very blessed and fortunate because the “little” kids have very rarely been sick, especially Kendall and Zach. Kendall missed two school days last year and yesterday Zach missed his first school day in several years. Zach started complaining with his stomach hurting on Thanksgiving Thursday. He actually threw up on Saturday and Sunday. This morning, he just did not feel like going to school.

While Zach spent most of the day in bed, I found several task to keep me busy all day Monday. I ended up turning five pounds of potatoes into mashed potatoes for future use. I deboned the chicken we purchased on Saturday to make a double batch of chicken enchiladas. I have just enough for use to eat on Tuesday and froze a large batch that will provide dinner another evening with left-overs that can be used for lunch as well.

One of the less fun things that we worked on this weekend was re-organizing and cleaning out the office. Matt was originally the intended occupant for our home office. After completing it use as a nursery, it became his office. I first applied for my position in Guam in February 2017. One of the requirement was that I have the ability to block out all noises from the house in addition to plan walls. So we simply moved everything from my desk in the office and everything from his desk to my desk in the corner of the bedroom. Considering how little time I ended up spending in the office it was crowded but not a big deal. My teletherapy job in Guam has picked up significantly . I am spending between 8 and 10 hours a week working in the office. The crowded room and clutter really started to bother me. So cleaning and organizing occurred. I am very pleased with the result but I am the most proud of the charging shelf that we figured out. This holds all the phones and other devices that need to come in my bedroom at night!

Menu Planning Monday

I was amazed to realize that I have not shared a menu plan since October 7th?? We have changed strategies a little this year, instead of a monthly menu plan we are doing a weekly plan. This added flexibility allows us to use up left-overs and arrange around special events. This weeks plan looks a little different as we are scheduled to go out to eat twice. Monday night is the annual Christmas parade uptown and Kendall is riding in it. Friday night is Lily’s birthday so she picked Chick A Filet for her meal. I have a school discount card that is buy one get one free for Arby’s roast beef and I have a $10 gift card to use on Friday. Between the two, I am budgeting $50 for both nights.

Breakfast- Saturday,-left-over breakfast from Friday dinner . Sunday,-Bagels. Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, pancakes , pop tarts, cereal, French toast or toast.  This is the easiest meal of the day!

Lunch–Saturday-Lunch at Costco, brought most of the rostiere chicken home to use again. , Sunday-left-overs Friday both Matt and I will eat out, Kids have a mix of salads, soups and sandwiches. Matt has two days of salads, and I have one day. He will have sandwiched the other days and I will find the best left-overs.

Dinner – Saturday- Potato soup.  Sunday–Left-overs or sandwhich Monday-Arby’s Tuesday– Chicken enchaladias, I plan to use the rest of the chicken from Costco Wednesday–orange chicken and egg rolls. Thursday– Meatloaf muffins, mashed potatoes and corn bread. Friday- Chick A Filet.

November in Review

Grocery budget Total spent $1187.86 . Yes, you read that correctly. This is most likely the highest amount spend on groceries that does not involve a purchase of a cow EVER. I do want to point out a couple of factors. We have had 5 weekends in November. I did not go to Costco at all during the months of September and October which ended up with two trips this month. Otherwise, I can say that I have my stock pile replenished and plan to limit spending in December to needs only.
Gas– I was successful with keeping track of our gas spending during the month of November. Total expense is $471.71. In other successful news, I set the budget at $500 so we at least stayed below that amount.
Kid/Summer expenses: Lily’s play was the first week of November, I spent around $150 on tickets for all of us.
Earned $100 – This is all in the form of Domino’s gift cards. This is actually one of the higher amounts of earning strictly from Swagbucks this year.
Blogging-10 for the month. This is probably an average for the year so that is great for me.
Exercise– none no excuse, none.

Financially- We are starting to reach steady ground. Matt and I both are working a full time job and a part time job. We did not add any debit this month and I have purchased the majority of Christmas presents. All of our bill are paid and I spent an enormous amount on groceries. I am very pleased with this month and hope to continue on the positive side. I will share our budget next month. I am still making a couple of changes and tweets to it.

Saving and Shopping

We all know that I enjoy shopping and I REALLY enjoy saving money. To be honest I have done my fair share of Black Friday shopping especially when my kids were smaller and it was really a chance to get out in public without three little people attached. Things changes as we all know. I have no desire to go out and fight a crowd tonight or tomorrow. But I wanted to grab some of the best deals of the year so I did both online shopping and in store shopping on Wednesday. We ended up spending most of yesterday afternoon shopping. Crowds were light to no existence and the deals were awesome. So I thought I would share most of them with you!

  • Zach used his money to order a X Box One from Costco online for $213 shipped. I used my Costco membership in addition to my Costco credit card (which I paid off immediately online). I ended up earning at least $9 back in cash for this purchase.
  • Lily wanted to use her money to buy Air Pods. We had anticipated grabbing the Black Friday deal online at 10pm, Wednesday night. However we failed. I had actually put the Air Pods in my cart around 9:30 but the price did not change when I went to check out at 10:01 and by 10:02 they were all sold out online. I quickly flipped over to Staples where she was able to purchase them for $8 more. I ended up going through Swagbucks for this purchase and earned $4.02 back.
  • Lily is going to a semi formal dance next weekend. At Kohls she found a dress for $38. I purchased several books for $2.50 and t-shirts for Kendall at $10 each.
  • Hobby Lobby is always so much fun just to walk through. I did find some baseball ornaments that I will turn into a curtain for Zach for $4.
  • Our last stop of the evening was Shoe Carnival. I was so excited to learn that their boots were already on sale for $19.99 a pair. I was beyond the moon to find a selection of wide calf boots that actually fit me. I purchased 2 pair of boots for $42. Today, I received a $10 reward certificate in my email which is good until February!
  • We ate at Olive Garden and brought home 6 prepared meals to use this weekend in addition to enough left-overs and soup for three additional meals. A total of 3 meals for $80 is a huge bargain in my book!
  • My only stop today, Thanksgiving was at CVS. I purchased several gifts and grabbed anything that was free and we use. I spent a total of $30.23 saved $76.14 or 72%. I also left the store with over 20 ECB to be used during the month of December.

I am excited to shop and save but not in a crazy exhausted ugly people way!

Five Things Friday

  1. We have enjoyed two entirely free meal out this week. On Thursday, we used the gift card that was earned and planned for Halloween combined with IHOP customer appreciation to feed our entire family for the cost of the tip! Friday night is always a hetic night with piano. Matt used another gift card earned via Swagbucks to pick up three large pizzas! We have already enjoyed one pizza and left-overs will be for lunch on Saturday and Sunday!
  2. Kendall is growing. I realized this week that she had only 2 pair of pants that were actually long enough for her. We decided to go to Old Navy to try and find her some pants. We actually found what they call “Ballerina” style pants that fit both length and her waist. We grabbed 4 pair along with 2 pair of boots for her. Lily ended up with a sweater, Zach and Braxton have matching Christmas shirts, I got a dress and Braxton has several new church outfits to wear. Total spent $225!
  3. I knew that I was going to be way over budget this month for Groceries. In fact I am at $882 for the month with a goal of staying under $950. I was a bit concerned until I read this :
    “According to the USDA monthly report for October 2019, the average couple spends $617 per month on groceries alone.
    A family of four with young kids on the Moderate-Cost plan spends $894.40 a month on groceries. Families with older kids spend $1067.50. ”
    Matt and I both are working and make it work with an additional 20 or more hours of paid work each week. Our budget is really enjoying the boast and I am very comfortable with setting and achieving budget related goals for the next year. I am planning to share our new updated budget toward the end of December after a second month (December) to tweak it. I also am anticipating that I will have to only purchase one Christmas present in the month of December along with a birthday present for my mother!
  4. The car that we are driving has significantly reduced our gas spending. Currently, we have spend $268.23 in gas. Because we will be at home more next week, I would guess that we will stay under $300 in gas this month. I can not honestly tell you the last time this happened!
  5. I am anticipating a three day work week next week. Sunday night in Guam. Monday and Tuesday at Davie County. Followed by a four day total vacation! I am excited not only for the break but to finish out our budget for November really strong.

How I Spent my Saturday

The kids and I spent most of yesterday working on my snow village. This is a photo heavy post if you ever wondered.

I had already done some preparation work and cleared a spot in my bedroom and go the ladder ready.

But then Lily and I decided that we would display the snow village downstairs in the living room this year! This way it would all be close together with a small shelf of houses one side of the television and the ladder on the other side!

The biggest job is to get all the houses arranged and cords hidden.

Finally we added the people and the trees!

This is a shelf that just sort of happened but it turned out awesome!

The Disney shelf. Lily hand painted the present boxes out of Styrofoam so they would hold my six cent Welcome signs!

The tacky house shelf!

These are not real snow village houses but they fit in perfectly!
The Ice skating scene has it’s own shelf and actually looks empty

The kids think that the farm shelf if way too full!

Both Main Street and the housing development look totally different this year!

Which is your favorite? Leave me a comment!

Tuesday Thoughts/Catch Up

We survived the busiest six weeks that I can remember. During the month of October, all three kids were involved in one additional activity besides piano and church. This weekend, Lily had three performances of her play. I can honestly say that I was super excited and luck to have yesterday off from work just to catch up.

Income update- The really good news on this front is not only is Matt working a job that actually pays well but we both have part time jobs. This is a source of stress. We had a couple of different discussions regarding how we could or if we should even attempt this. We are at a point where the kids are pretty self sufficient so that allows us to have the ability to add not one but two part time jobs. I am working in Guam via teletherapy as an Occupational Therapist. This was a job that I initially applied for in February 2017. I have decided to limit by availability to Sunday night for a full 8 hours and Wednesday night to around 3 hours. Because of the 15 hour time difference this schedule works well. I will admit that the first week was a challenge but I also feel that once I get in the swing of things, I should be able to maintain a low level of stress. This job will continue until the end of May. At that time, we will again evaluate and decide if I want to attempt this for a second school year. Matt is working 10 hours a week as the marketing manger for the Humane Society of Davie County. We are currently unsure how long this job will last but God has a plan and a purpose so we need to simply obey. My plan is to use the extra money in November and December to get us on track. I will share an updated budget in December.

I took a day from work last Friday to catch up on grocery shopping. I was able to go to Costco, Aldi and Food Lion and restock our pantry. So far for the month of November, I have spent $750 on groceries. I would bet this number will end up closer to $800 but I am definitely ok with that. I will run numbers at the end of the year but I have a feeling that I need to increase our grocery budget instead of decrease this year.

We are currently driving a car that gets better gas mileage than either of the vans. This is a family decision that I don’t feel free to discuss but it should reduce our gas spending at least as long as we continue to drive it.

To close out our busy season, we had a family movie night on Monday. We watched Toy Story 4. It was much better than I anticipated, in fact it is my second favorite Disney movie now!