Menu Planning Monday 9/17/2018

This has been a bit of a different weekend. Everyone was home from Thursday till Monday. All three kids were out of school on Monday so things are a little off. We did manage to eat out only 1 meal (Sunday lunch) and I did prepare a lot of food ahead for the coming weeks and months. You will notice extra soup and soft foods on the menu this week, both Zach and Lily had their braces tighten and need some softer options.

Breakfast- Saturday-Eggs and Bacon, Sunday-Quick meal (we woke up late) Monday- Eggs and toast, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch-Saturday-Baked Potato soup in Instapot  Sunday- Coach’s  Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I even managed to take my lunch on the work day which was Monday. 
Dinner – Saturday-Country Style steak  Sunday- left-overs  , Monday-White Bean chicken chill Tuesday- Soft Taco , Wednesday-Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Thursday- Sloppy joes and French Fries. Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread(I made baked Ziti last week and ate so we just brought this forward.)

Six Things on Saturday 9/15/2018

  1. I really wanted to write a post about saving today but a couple of things stopped me. First, we still have at least one major purchase (lawn mower) to make with my retirement money. So that is definitely not saving. Second, our weather here is nasty but just nasty enough for me to not want to go outside. Hurricane Florence is dumping rain on us and wind makes it miserable outside.
  2. I have now officially cooked six meals in a row. Yesterday, I doubled everything. Today the focus was on using up things. This morning we had bacon and eggs. Matt cooked a second pound of bacon for use in lunch and dinner. Lunch was instant pot baked potato soup which everyone loved. We did have enough to make several lunch for the day like today that braces making eating difficult. Dinner is country style steak with potato salad (the last of the potatoes)along with rice and several items I am pulling from the fridge.
  3. The major accomplishment of the day was cleaning all the floors. We (yes everyone pitched in) spent about 2 hours vacuuming and steam mopping. I also watched the living room rugs.
  4. Rugar even got a bath today.
  5. We have ran the dishwasher at least 5 times in the last tow days. I think I have lost count.
  6. We are planning to save money tonight by watching “COCOA” on Netflix. It should be a good way to end the day.

Cooking Ahead

I was surprised and excited to learn on Wednesday that due to the impending hurricane, my school system would close early on Thursday and be closed all day on Friday of this week.  The reason for my excitement was the thought of how much I could get ahead with cooking.  I made a trip to the grocery store to grab the stuff I needed to make baked ziti Wednesday night. I also ended up sending Matt to the store Thursday night to get some shells we needed.

Here is what my day looked like:

Breakfast- triple batch of sausage gravy.  The remainder will stay in the fridge for use for either a hearty quick breakfast or breakfast bowls for dinner next week.
After breakfast, I browned 3# of hamburger meat. We bought a new pan at Costco that made this job so much easier.  The meat went into the crockpot with taco seasoning and water while we ventured out to piano.

Lunch- Matt ate an burrito, Zach and Lily had mashed potatoes. Both had adjustments to their braces on Thursday. I had hummus and chips and Kendall a sandwich. After lunch, Matt and I formed an assembly line and made 27 beef and bean burritos. We froze these. Two minute in the microwave and these make a great lunch or quick dinner.

Dinner-I started working on dinner around 3pm. Using my Baked Ziti recipe ( I plan to post and update the link on Saturday). It is very simple to make one ziti to eat and another for freezing. We ended up having friends over for dinner. I was able to pull enough lettuce out of the garden to make a decent salad.

Accomplishment of the day: 3 breakfast meals, 25 frozen burritos and two awesome baked ziti!

Favorite Sale of the Year

I am so excited but I almost missed it. Food Lion, our local grocery store, is having my favorite sale of the year. The quarter back sale! Basically for every “store brand” item you buy you receive a quarter back for your next order/ trip.   I usually watch for this sale and plan ahead making sure I stock up on things like ketchup and mustard.  Opps missed that whole sale announcement.  I went to the store last night to purchase a few groceries needed to make baked ziti.  As I am walking around the store, I see the sale sign and know I need to take advantage of it. I quickly  start thing and start exchanging items in my cart for store brands in addition to trying to find the best deals.    I grabbed muffin mix, pasta mix, rice mixes and some breakfast items that we always need!  Matt was excited to see hot sauce (6 bottles).   I also found some items on clearance that increased my total but overall I am so excited. My overall goal was to purchase the needed items with “quarter back”,

By the numbers:
Original items on the list   $25.45
Summer clearance Items (skewers)  $ 2.79
Total Spent  $54.90
Total Saved $30.18
Saving Percentage is 54.97%

Food Lion is the only local grocery store and to save 55% on store brand items is AWESOME!

We are using the cash method for groceries this month which makes it a bit more difficulty for me to make another trip because I want to keep my cash. I will likely wait and monitor sale and make only one trip a week for the rest of the month!

Reset Budget

As promised, here is our reset budget that started September 1st. The current plan/ goal is to stick with this budget until next July.  This represents a combination of both Matt and I regular salary in addition to my extra money earned via Tiny Eye. I will share some additional information if you are interested after the budget

offering 580
Mortgage  944.52
water 30
electric 276
Road runner 138.2
Car Payment 344.02
cellphone 306
Groceries 500
Adobe/Computer 75
AAA/Insurance 100
Gifts 298
Gas 300
Piano 120
Clothing/Hair  80
Medical 100
Saving 120
Chores 200
American Express 200
5/3 Card 200
kids/pool 200
Auto 100
total 5211.74

The last four lines American Express, 5/3 Card, Kids/pool and Auto are all based on my expected income from Tiny Eye. I still do not have a start date nor a steady schedule so these are very fluid at the moment. I hope once things settle ( By December) I can post more realistic numbers.

The following categories are cash: Groceries, Gifts, Gas, Piano, Clothing/Hair and Chores.

Currently any “extra money” is being held in our main checking account. In the near future any extra cash will be place either for fun or in the kids/ pool account.

Medical- $83 a month until April of this is being paid for Zach’s braces. The remaining is for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. I was able to stock up on most medication and doctor’s visits prior to changing jobs so I anticipate keeping this fund at the same level but allowing it to grow after April.

Gas- We are closely monitoring this category for the next several months as I am not sure about traveling and how much we will actually spend. I may need to increase by $50 a month just from observation so far in September.

Chore- I have checked local prices and this is most likely less than I would be paying for house cleaning every other week. Money that is not being used will either roll into fun money or may stay in the main account depending on our needs.

Clothing/Hair- this may seem high at first glance but with 5 heads of hair it is probably a little low. This is again a category I will be closely monitoring.

Gifts- 5 children for both Birthday and Christmas. This will also include gifts for parties or other occasions as well.

Thoughts or Questions?

Monday Menu Plan

We have added several kid activities this week and anticipate that I will begin skype in Guam some time this month. We are adjusting our plans and hopefully will find a new normal very quickly. I have discovered that I simply do not have the time to fix eggs in the morning. I also do not like cereal and a eggo waffles is not enough food. Matt and I cooked up breakfast burrito stuff and egg muffins to make our morning much easier.

Breakfast- Saturday-Biscuits (choice of toppings), Sunday-Men’s breakfast and gravy biscuits. Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch- left-overs Sunday- Gregg’s Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I was successful with only eating out last week on Friday.
Dinner – Saturday-steaks and sweet potatoes, Sunday- left-over or breakfast food prep , Monday-Rice Creola, Tuesday- cheese quesadilla and Mexican rice , Wednesday-Bagel bites , Thursday- Pork fried rice and egg rolls  Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread.

September Financial Reset

Disclaimer– This is a hard post for me to write. I have actually been avoiding it for several days. It is not hard because of regret, I stand by our decision but it is hard because it is not the conventical choice and it requires that I admit how far in debit we really are.

History– With my recent job change, I needed to decided what to do with my retirement. For the past 10 years, it was mandated that I place 2% of my earnings in a retirement account. The best news is that the hospital matched this 2%. In addition because of my length of employment, I was fully vested.  I was given a choice of simply leaving things alone with a small percentage based fee every quarter. 2nd option was rolling the monies into my “new” retirement system or similar, or 3rd, take a partial  or  full withdrawal facing the penalties.

Choice made– After much thought, prayer and comparison, we chose to take a full withdrawal from my retirement. The penalties include 10% Federal tax, 5% state tax and 15% early withdrawal penalty. My logic for this decision is that I am not losing any money that I placed in the account. My employer match covered all the penalties and still contributed to my final pay out. Matt’s logic was a little different as although this was a HUGE boast to our budget, in retirement it was not enough to cover a full year, really a small drop in the bucket.

How we spent– I really wanted to use this money in a way that would affect us in a positive way. I did not want this to become a decision that even a year down the road, I looked back on and regretted.  I spent HOURS planning and working and re-working the numbers. First, my new job is awesome but I will actually be bring home around $400 a month less than previously.  I did set up a summer savings account which will “pay” out the two months that I don’t receive a pay check. I will receive 12 paychecks a year which allows budgeting to be much easier. We loosely based on decisions on the “Dave Ramsey 7 Baby steps”

First we established an Emergency Fund of $1000 dollars. Next we paid off all outstanding medical bills. Matt will not be covered by my new insurance so we decided to also set aside some money to off-set any medical cost we will incur. We also will all a line to our budget on a regular basis for medical cost. Our next step was to pay off credit card debit. We have been able to reduce our debit by half. We do have two remaining debit that we will continue to pay at with the goal of payoff within 2 years. We have also used some of the funds to fix/ repair/replace items around the house and with our vehicles.  Several of these are large purchases such as a car and both a new push lawn mower and a riding lawn mower.

The Result:  We did a total budget reset on September 1st.  I am excited to begin “fresh” we were able to start with a cushion for both groceries and gas. My pay schedule is once a month at the end of the month. This is exciting for me as we are leaving on last month salary and using a more cash system. I plan to share the budget in detail very soon! But for now… the clean start is working and feels awesome!

Wordless Wednesday Zach’s Birthday

Started very early (6:30) with opening is Gizmo watch from us.

 

After piano, we were shopping at Walmart, where he used some of his birthday money to purchase an electric scooter.

Lunch at Red Robin… including a birthday song and sundae for desert.

Amanda got him a remote control toy. He played with for hours both Saturday and Sunday.

And finally a baseball cake of course!

August in Review

August was stressful, both financially and personally. We weathered a lot of changes. Even with the knowledge that all the changes would eventually be for the better, it was stressful and frustrating. One of my greatest frustrations has been trying to reset/ restart our budget in September. To be honest, this process is not complete so I am very reluctant to share all the details. If things occur as I have been promised by next weekend, I will share our new budget in addition to the changes we have been able to make.
Financial- August was a month of wait and see. All the bills have been paid for the month and we did reduce our overall debit by $200. Alot of planning and preparing and re-thinking has occurred with our budget this month. One of the biggest changes is starting in September we are going to be using a modified cash envelope system.
Grocery budget $475- Total spent $550.  I spent ALOT of time and money on preparing food ahead of time the week prior to starting my new job. I am fully stocked on most items and need only to buy a few things hopefully over the next 3 months. My plan is to raise the grocery budget to $500 and use a 3 month rotation of cash. In other words I will carry any money left in the budget for 3 months before adding to saving or paying on debit. There will be no borrowing for the next month because if the cash is gone, find another idea.
Kid/Summer expenses : We spent our week at the beach with a full day of shopping. I also paid school fees, ($14) and baseball sign up ($90). Lily will start youth theater in September and I expect around $200.
Earned $60- Much lower than other month but we were out of town for a full 7 days with no extra earning potential.

Personal-
Blogging-12for the month.  A definite improvement that should continue over the next several months.
Exercise- 8 total days for the month. Small improvements are key in this area. I hope to continue this trend but this is heavily dependent on the number of additional hours I pick up with my skype therapy.

We survived the biggest changes that have occurred in our lives, outside of having kids. I am happy with August. We are beginning September with a clean slate and new beginnings that have us set up for success. I am so optimistic and can’t wait to share!

Menu Plan Monday 8/27/2018

We stuck to the plan for most of last week, except we decided to eat Chinese on Friday night as a treat!  The kids really like the pepper steak so it will go on the menu again. I am really liking the ability to head to the building on Sunday night and pull up items for dinner for the week.  I am finding the theme for this week is clean out the small amount of this and that left in the fridge.

Breakfast- Saturday-Pimento cheese and bacon biscuits , Sunday- Left-over gravy and biscuits. Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, eggs. eggos or grits.

Lunch- Saturday-hot dogs at Big Toy Day(see pictures) Sunday- Pasta salad and orange mandarin salad. Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps.  My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, tuna salad, pimento cheese and crackers and left-overs

Dinner – Saturday-left-overs from Amanda, Sunday- general left-overs , Monday- Bacon cheese burger pasta, Tuesday- steak fatijias , Wednesday-Chicken pot pie and cole slaw, Thursday- Spaghetti and garlic bread and Friday- stuffed green pepper casserole.