- I used a sick day today. After visiting 2 doctors, I have a stye that is infected and has likely caused a eye infection as well. Or a sinus infection caused the stye. It is a classic case of which came first. I know that my head hurts, my eye is very swollen and red. And I am having trouble seeing. It is truly as much fun as it sounds.
- This weekend is going to be very busy. Kendall is participating in All County Chorus with practice Friday night and Saturday. Her performance is Saturday night. Zach has baseball practice on Saturday. Lily and I will be participating in and in charge of a fundraising lunch at church on Sunday. I am praying this infection does not slow me down too much.
- I was able to grab razors this week at CVS for 90% off. The best information was when I talked to the manager who was telling me about couponers that come in an usually clear the shelves for most deals. They decided that 90% was not good enough so he ended up putting a lot of items back out. These folks must have watched too many extreme couponing shows!
- The weather is really crazy around here. We had a beautiful snowfall that did not stick 2 weeks ago. Today the temperature is 63 with rain. The good news is that I have not had my heat or air on in almost two weeks. I am hopeful we can go at least 6 weeks (mid May) before needing to turn the air on. The bad news is that our grass is out of control. We need to mow but can’t catch a dry day that we don’t have a baseball game.
- I have achieved success with growing things from seeds. I currently have 8 watermelon plants and 6 tomato plants that we started from seeds. I am hopefully depending on the weather to plant most of the garden next week. We currently have pepper plants, broccoli and cabbage growing successfully.
My goal for today at CVS was to buy hair spray and hair gel that we are running dangerously low on. I did manage to accomplish that goal but also racked up an awesome trip for saving as well.
I spent a total of eighty-nine cents and saved #33.13 or 97%. I included tax in my spending and also saving percentage so it does not get much better than this. Fifty-two cent was the sales tax. CVS sent a bunch of coupons via the mail last week, which is not unusual but it included coupons for free items which is unusual. The face mask and nuts were both free items. The toothpaste was a money maker using a $2.00 manufactures coupon and getting $2ECBs. I also had a coupon for eighty-eighty cent off a candy bar. The full size Hershey bars were on sale for eighty-eight each and the Reese eggs were 2 for $1. Other CVS coupons included $4 off $20 and 25% off regular priced items.
CVS was definitely worth the trip this week!
I am starting to see a cycle with CVS shopping. The best sales are usually January and February with a huge slack off after that, It has been true again this year. I have gotten in the swing of checking out the CVS sales every week. I have skipped a few weeks of shopping just because they had little to nothing that I need or use in the stock pile to grab.
Last week, I was able to score both cans of Diet Coke and 2L on sale for my stock up price. I only buy 2L at or below $1 each and I stock up at seventy-nine cent each. I was able to purchase a total of 6 case and 16 2L this past week. Even better is the rain check I got for 16 more 2 litters.
This week was a great week to shop CVS. I spent a total of $6.83 and saved $37.60 or 85%. I purchased 4 bottles of body wash and a bottle of mouthwash in addition to most of the candy I will use at Easter. I used only 1 coupon for $1 off Irish Spring Body Wash. The other savings came from using ECB and coupons from the red machine. I started the trip with $10 in ECB and ended with $7.45 in ECB. They have changed the rules for earning ECB with beauty products but I am anticipating getting another $6 in rewards when I shop next week. This makes grocery shopping so much cheaper in the long run!
I have often said in the past that saving money and living on less is a lifestyle choice. I will also be the first to admit, it is not a fun or easy choice. I wanted to highlight some of the better choices that I made this week.
Gardening– The weather earlier this week was beautiful, highs in the 70’s for several days in a row. We took one afternoon and spent about 2 hours trimming the rose bushes and removing weeds from the garden and flower beds. I am really excited to have extra time this summer to spend working and caring for the garden. After some thought, Matt and I have agreed to use our Swagbucks for both plants and supplies that we need to eliminate the initial cost. I estimate that prior to planting, first of May, we should have around $150 in gift cards to use for this project. I am hopeful that this will cover not only the cost of the plants but also some fertilizer and additional dirt. I did purchase 2 packs of seeds at Walmart this weekend. We found for fifty cent each. I used Shopkicks ($2 card earned in the store) to cover this purchase. No upfront expenses make any and all food we manage to raise FREE!
Groceries– This is probably my greatest struggle. This week we have focused on eating up and not letting any of the leftovers from junk food Sunday go to waste. One evening this week was a left-over meal. Additional, we have been using these items for lunches. I enjoyed one day of a huge salad that included broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and tomatoes from the veggie tray. We added taco dip to our dinner of chicken enchiladas and spinach dip (creamed spinach) to our Salisbury steak meal. I made egg salad with the remaining devil eggs which both Zach and Kendall took for lunch.
I also have found some new crock pot recipes that I want to try over the next couple of week to add to our list of quick and good meals. This particular website even provides a grocery list but I want to try each recipe using what we already have before spending additional money. If these turn out to be repeats, they will be a summer project to stock the freezer while I am out of work during the summer.
I purchased a grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid on sale for 60% off today. Our family does not particular enjoy roast, we purchased a whole cow last year with probably 20 different roast. My plan is to use the new attachment to turn the roast into hamburger which we used on a regular basis.
CVS- I have slowly been stock up on a variety of items from the weekly sales. I have managed to make a weekly trip the last several weeks. My saving percentages have been around 75% for each week. I have needed to restock on toothpaste, shampoo and body wash up front before moving on to laundry detergent and paper products. I am limiting myself to spending $10 or less per week at CVS.
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?
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.
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.
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!
- Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was! The house temperature was 78. Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
- We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
- I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding. We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
- I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
- Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days. I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
- I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
- Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!
We celebrate Easter but it is usually in a low key kind of way. Today was no exception. This morning we started with Easter Baskets at around 6:30am.
Basket and emoji toys are great things to pick up at the after Easter sales. I would wait until everything is 75% off. Candy is always a good deal at CVS with the ECB, another option is also Target. The Dollar spot at Target can be great for some small socks and stickers. Finally shop at Five Below to grab even more candy and Hot Wheels Cars if you need.
Easter outfits are always fun! Especially when you plan ahead. Lily and Kendall’s dress were purchased at Costco in February for $16. each. I order Matt and Zach’s matching purple shirts from JCPenny on sale for $9.99 each. Amanda found her dress at Goodwill and David’s shirt was another sale purchase. My outfit was the cheapest from my closet.
I planned ahead and purchased the ham at Aldi using a $5 off $30 coupon several weeks ago. We came home and enjoyed left-overs for dinner in addition to ham salad I made that will last for several weeks.
I am giving a huge sigh of relief as I type this. March was a long and busy month but I honestly don’t feel like I was overwhelmed by it. The best news of all is that we are ending the month on a good financial note. I still have to pay for pool dues for the year but other than that yearly expense, we are on track. We did not make major gains this month but we did not have major loss either. Personally I have spent several days this month working in the yard and even managed a walk one day. Spring appears to have finally arrived as well. The weather shows highs around 70 for much of the week. We did turn off the heat on Thursday, so my fingers are crossed for an entire month without heat or air.
Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance.
- Total paid to credit card debit $2096 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $200. Amanda purchased a new washer and dryer that she is paying for and has already covered over half of it. It is very difficult to get a good read on the actually numbers but we are basically at the same level of debit as we were in January. Slow and steady progress is the best method and unlike last year, in which we started increasing our debit in March and never looked back.
- Grocery budget $475- Total spent $726.27. Yikes, I did spend extra to purchase ground beef and had several trips to stock up on good deals. I have already discussed with Matt that we will be on a purchase only if we are out grocery budget for April. I am allowing my self 2 exceptions, chicken breast from Zaycon at the end of the money if we have enough remaining out of the very small $100 budget and purchasing Suddenly Salad if they go on sale for $1 or less a box.
- Gas budget- $280- Spent $261. This is really impressive since this was a 5 week month.
- Kid/Summer expenses : uggh lets just say Lily had a 3 night play that was $9 a ticket and Zach started Baseball along with several field trips and the purchase of year books for Zach and Kendall. I really don’t feel like finding a number but it was all covered.
- Earned $100- this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money and I hope to see this number double in April.
- Blogging- 11 for the month. Super busy this month. I initially set the goal for 20 but 15 may be more realistic.
- Exercise- 4 total days for the month. a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not.