Saving Money

Things have returned to normal around here. At least as normal as they will ever get!

I am  very happy to report that we have been sticking to our grocery budget so far and I can even see a difference in our pantry.  I also noticed this week, we are starting to run out of the preferred snacks and lunch for the kids. I have started a list on the refrigerator in order to determine if we need a Costco trip for February and unfortunately the answer half way through January is yes! My goal is to keep the list going for another two weeks and try to stretch things as far as I can.  So far, I have spent a total of $48.57 cent on groceries with a goal of $60 or less for the month. 

One of my favorite website to read these days is http://theprudenthomemaker.com/ each week she list all the ways she has saved money and then encourages others to provide their list as well.  Most weeks we do the same things so I will definitely not make a list each week but maybe once a month or so would be fun.  Here are the ways we have been saving money lately.

  • Stopped at CVS this morning for free toothpaste. The CVS app has a $1 off any toothpaste coupon. I bought Crest, which was on sale for $3.00 used the coupon and $2ECB. Paid tax of fourteen cent and earn 2 ECB back.
  • Used water from the kids water bottles to water all the plants
  • Purchased 2 dinner plates at the local Chinese restaurant and brought them home to eat. Total of $23 to feed all 5 of us plus a left-over meal for someone for lunch.
  • Used Nail polish already purchased to paint my nails on Sunday night instead of getting a manicure once a month or more.
  • Menu planning and prepping the crock pot at night. We have eaten out only twice since Christmas. Once we used a gift card and the Chinese from above.
  • Made pizza dough in the bread maker instead of ordering pizza for lunch on Saturday.
  • Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase a Roku Stick and picture frame that I wanted.
  • Stocking up on items on sale such as shampoo and toothpaste instead of buying when we are in need.
  • Repurposing left-overs like tonight used rice from Saturday evening and from Chinese instead of making a new batch. This way, we have less food waste. Saturday night, I made a batch of rice and then gave everyone a choice of pulled pork, pepper steak or beef and broccoli that were left-overs.
  • Adding layers of clothing, instead of turning up the heat in the house. The temperature is currently set at 69 but we all have been cold. I ended up adding a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm.

Are any of these new or different to you?

Monday Menu Planning 01/07/2019

I have mentioned that my plan for 2019 is to get back on a budget with spending and to reduce my overall grocery budget. I really do have a stockpile and my goal is to go through and use ALOT of it up during the months of January and February. Another way to reduce expenses is for us to not eat out. This is a hard one!

Breakfast- Saturday– Toast and Eggs  Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole . Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. I had purchased a couple of boxes of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios, this have been a huge hit so far and probably will only last until Wednesday.
LunchSaturday-Chic-A-Filet (My mother treated Lily and I) Zach and Kendall had school so that took grilled cheese sandwiches. Sunday-Baked Potato bar. Monday– Salad for me, soup for Kendall and Zach, Lily and Matt had burritos. Tuesday– Ham salad for me, Kendall and Zach had grilled Cheese sandwiches, Lily a salad, Wednesday-Soup for me, chicken nuggets for Zach and Lily, Kendall-vegetables to dip, Thursday– leftovers for me, Zach has chicken nuggets and Kendall a roll up. Friday- I eat out, Zach, Lily and Kendall have soup.
DinnerSaturday-Leftovers, Sunday– Turkey Cheddar Soup- used a soup pack mix and added in our left-over turkey , Monday-Hamburger Helper  Tuesday– soft tacos . Wednesday– Salisbury Steak with left over stuffing and carrots, Thursday– Chicken fried Rice .  Friday -Grilled Chicken if the weather permits.

2019- A Look Ahead

We have talked about 2018, now on to what I hope to accomplish in 2019.

I like the idea of choosing a word for the year. I am not sure how to keep this in focus but I am going to work on that. May learn a new verse each month or find something each month to share?   Mainly, I just want to remind myself that I always have a choice as to what I focus on.  My word for 2019 is “JOY”. I am going to choice joy no matter what is happening and I want to find joy in the little things of life.

Financially- The overall goal is to reduce our debt. I would like to reduce our personal debit to less than $20,000 or by $6,000. This is a very lofty goal but any reduction is a significant improvement so I want a goal that seems almost impossible.  One of the biggest changes I want to make this year is the way I spend money. We are now paying our bills essentially a month ahead of time. This means that I actually paid all bills due in January on December 31st. By continuing in this manner, I will be able to move unspent money into another place and keep much better records.  I also plan to use cash method for keeping up with most of the items except for gas. Finally, I want to use our second checking account as a slush fund/sinking fund account. Any extra money such as mileage checks or money earned from apps will go into that account. I can use it for extra such as meals out or other wants as they arise. For example, I eat out with my co-workers on Fridays, this will be where the money comes from. Today, I ordered a late Christmas gift for Matt’s father and the money came out of the account. This will allow me to not overspend in addition to keeping track of what extra we do have to spend.  I am not planning to set a gas budget for the year as there is little to no way to control this when we go over. We simply can’t stop driving. I am going to track our spending for gas to achieve a better understanding of what we are spending.   Grocery budget is $400 a month. This will be a reduction from last year even without including our cow purchase but again we have to have a goal.

Personally-
Blogging- I am going to set the goal at 15 a month. I enjoy writing and I want to spend time doing it more often this year.

Weight- I need to lose at least 30lbs. I like to keep track of days exercised as it again gives me something to improve.

Bible Study- This is a area that I definitely need to make changes in. I am going to be realistic and set a goal of 3 times a week. If and when I have meet this goal for a month I can always increase.

Now let’s talk about specific goals for January- I have already paid our bills including some extra Christmas cost.  I don’t have a saving goal this month because I honestly don’t have a way. Baby steps!

No spending outside of the Slush fund.
Groceries at $60 or less
Keep up with gas spending for the entire month.
Walk at least 10 times this month, before I can start this I need to get my snow village put away so I can set up the treadmill.

2018 Review

It was the worst of times and the best of times.  2018 was definitely a hard year for us on all aspects, personally, emotionally and financially. Yet, I am totally at peace and looking forward to 2019.

2018 was a year of change, Matt began a full time position and I switch from working at the hospital for 12 years to working in Davie County schools. These were both huge positive changes but they required a lot of faith!

I have been planning a recap of the year just to have it in one place for several days and finally sat down tonight to pull number. First I must admit that I have no idea what our grocery or gas spending was during the month of December. I just did not keep up. For the sake of having a number, I am going to say we spent $300 in groceries.

We did purchase a whole cow in 2018 and should have enough meat to use this entire year. The average amount for grocery spending was $617 a month or $7400 for the year. I am shocked at how low this number really.  That is around $125 a month of each of us including all household items for cleaning and laundry.

Auto expenses are another huge expenses for us. Looking back we spent an average of $250 a month prior to August on gas. With our job changes in August, I honestly can’t give an average. I am going to work diligently in January to find out this number! Extra expenses including purchasing of the red car, a new windshield for the silver van and new tires for the silver van.

Our financial gain for the year was reducing our debit by half. The majority of this reduction came from my retirement but I am convinced that slow and steady will win the race and we will be able to stay on this same course.  One really bright spot was the fact that we earned an average of $110 a month via Swagbucks and other free apps.

I did not meet my blogging goal, one single time in 2018 and gained weight so both of these goals will be placed back on the list of 2019.

As you can see 2018 was rough and I am positive 2019 will be much better if the only thing that changes is my attitude.  My goal is to get up plans for 2019 in the next couple of days!

 

Saving on Saturday

I was really hoping to find some awesome after Christmas sale this year. I usually buy items for the gift drawer in addition to some new Christmas décor.   I will admit that I am disappointed, in fact the best sale I found were at Lowes and Harris Teeter.  We headed to Lowes the day after Christmas basically to have something to do. I was surprised to learn that all Christmas was at 75% off and even more surprised at how little was left out. I did find and purchase my favorite item.

It was the display so I was offered an additional 10% discount. I had to wait patiently for around 10 minutes to claim it but ended up paying $20 for this awesome light! Even better, I used a Lowes gift card earned from Swagbucks really it was a nice freebie!

My other find was a jingle bell wreath holder for $1.50 at Harris Teeter. I did buy some gift tags, a couple of table cloths and platters but that was it for sales.  I may try to go to Dollar General and Walmart again next Saturday (5th) to see if they have better deals I can not resist.

Food!

If you have been at our house or read a couple of blog posts you realize that food is our biggest expense except for the mortgage. It also requires the most time and effort. I honestly don’t mind cooking if and when I have the time. But here is the real confusion, I enjoy and prefer to eat out. Life and our budget tell me that this is not a reality so back to cooking I go.  The balance of having enough easy simple meals for school days and cooking ahead is hard to achieve.

During the recent snow, I cooked only two meals a day and we enjoyed left-overs the third meal and even had some for the next week. Last week, we enjoyed quick simple meals Monday- Thursday.  I decided on Friday two separate very different things, first- I wanted Seafood, specifically flounder and shrimp for dinner and second- I need to stretch and make a plan for food so we did not waste  any food over the Christmas break. The good news is that so far it has been working! I thought I would share a recap and part of the current plan.

Friday night- Flounder and shrimp. The local seafood place has a special for 24 pieces of flounder, 6 baked potatoes and cole slaw for $22.95, I also added 2 plates of popcorn shrimp to bring my total to $45.00.  This was ALOT of food especially for the cost and actually around the same as we spend for Chinese. I knew I wanted to save the baked potatoes for a second meal, so I split one for the kids that wanted it. On Saturday, I used the baked potatoes for twice baked potatoes, which became our Sunday lunch. We also had left-overs on Saturday at dinner as well. I know we have at least a fourth meal from this so I am very pleased to stretch $45 into four meals at around $10 each!

Saturday- For breakfast- I used some cinnamon raisin bread that Amanda had brought over to make French toast this was a HUGE hit with only 1 piece left.  Lunch was a special treat of McDonalds.  I used the app and we brought it home for drinks. Total spent was $15.  Dinner was left-overs see above.

Sunday-  I really try to make this as much of a day of rest as possible. This week to avoid going out after church, I placed the twice baked potatoes in the oven and they cooked while we were at church.  I actually planned ahead for dinner as well. Saturday night we cooked up 2 pounds of ground beef and chopped up the ingredients for Pasta Faggioli soup. Everything was placed in the crock pot in the fridge so we move it out and turned on before heading to church for our special breakfast. The soup ended up much better than anticipated, we made up 4 lunch containers and froze for January in addition to a small container of left-overs for this week.

Monday- I had left-over gravy in the fridge and decided to make breakfast bowls. We used a pound of sausage, 12 eggs, green peppers that were frozen from the garden and onions. I fried 6 hash browns to complete breakfast. The remaining egg mixture will be rolled into burritos and frozen for a quick breakfast during school. We should have an addition 6 breakfast burritos. Lunch is left-overs, I plan on a flounder-cheese sandwich. Dinner is BBQ at my mothers!

CVS Saving

This year has been a struggle on many fronts. I am also going to admit that I have fallen off the wagon and stop doing several things that help keep us on track. One of those is shopping at CVS regularly. I could not honestly tell you the last time I went to CVS or the last time I planned a CVS trip.  So now that I have admitted that, I am going to work on getting “back in the swing of things”   Luckily our stash has been a very positive thing and I have used a lot of items instead of buying. Matt did let me know that he was down to his last stick of deodorant and I actually opened our last bottle of shampoo this week. Although this does not put me in panic mode, I knew I need to start CVSing again.

I did not take any coupons with me to the store, only used the coupons that printed from the “red box”.  I was aware that shampoo was on sale but not deodorant. My first stop is always the “red box”  Let me tell you this trip was gold.  Lily was shopping for some make up so as I was wondering around I discovered the awesome deodorant deal.  I completed 3 transactions to make the most of my money. Lily did the first transaction and used a $6 coupon that had printed. She earned 5 ECB and I was able to use those.

My transaction #1 2 bottles of ELVIVE shampoo on sale 2 for $8, used 2 off 2 that printed and Lily’s 5 ECB Total $1.56 for 91% savings. Earned 4 ECB back

My transaction #2 2 sticks of Speed Stick Men’s deodorant and antiperspirant on sale for 2 for $5. Used $1 off any deodorant that printed and 4 ECB from first transaction. Paid twenty-eight cent for 100% savings.  Earned 2 ECB back

My transaction #3 4 full size piece of candy, used Buy 3 get one free and $0.75 off coupon that printed, 2 ECB from previous transaction paid $1.31

Total paid for 2 bottles of shampoo, 2 sticks of deodorant and 4 pieces of candy $3.41

Yeap this is a win!

Monday Menu Plan

This is most likely my last menu post for 2018. I will be home on school break from December 23rd until January 2nd. I am hoping for a lot of less stressful/ busy days. I also want to continue the word of the week LEFTOVERS!  I will adjust each day to maximize the food we have and also not overwhelm with the same food items each day.

Did I mention left-overs? We will have BBQ on Christmas Eve at my mother’s and a huge meal on December 30th.

Left-overs- During the snow last week, my compromise was that I would cook only two meals a day. This seemed to work well but also has left my refrigerator full. I ended up only cooking one meal a day on Saturday and Sunday but still we have left-overs.

The plan for this week is really simple and easy.

Breakfast- Saturday- Grits and Bacon Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole left-overs or bagels. Monday- Sausage and egg on bread (some had croissants, some biscuits) Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday- Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles.
Lunch-Saturday-Left-overs  Sunday-Left-overs. Lunches are packed for the week and included salad, soup and chicken nuggets.
Dinner – Saturday-Leftovers, Sunday- Chinese  , Monday-Sloppy Joes and French Fries Tuesday-  soft tacos and or nachos. Wednesday- Chicken Fried Rice, Thursday- Salisbury Steak, rice and vegetable.  Friday- Famous Left-overs.