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!
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.
We all enjoy lunch at my brother’s house and the kids spent the afternoon playing outside and hunting Easter eggs.
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.
CVS and I have a love/hate relationship. It remains one of the stores that I always monitor sales at but it is also one that I can honestly walk into and walk out if I don’t get the coupon that I am looking for from the red machine. After leaving last Thursday without purchasing anything, Lily and I ventured back today. Lily did end up buying herself some make up but this does not count in my spending. I only supply the coupons that I have available.
Not a bad purchase for $4.85. I ended up doing a total of 3 transactions. Two of these transactions show 100% savings, which means I only paid tax on the purchases. The final receipt shows a saving of 73%, which is really above my goal of 70% each time. My overall saving was at 80%. I used a combination of paper coupons and those from the red machine. Back to loving CVS for the month of February.
I have often shared about our huge shopping trips to Costco in addition to great sales I find here and there. This week is a different week for us, we are not in need of many things and I could not find a great sale either, so I have spent less than $30 on groceries for the week.
First stop was Dollar General. We needed, like down to the last 2 rolls of cheap spare toilet paper needed, toilet paper this week. I did some research this morning and discovered that Dollar General had a $2 off 2 digital coupon on our favorite brand. The lesson learned is that you can not combine digital and paper coupons. Total spent $8.70
Next, was a quick trip across the street to Food Lion to grab some breakfast deals. They are currently having their Buy 2 Get 1 Free Sale. My receipt showed a 50% saving which is great for this store. I purchased 6 boxes of cereal, 3 boxes of pop-tarts, 6 bowls of instant noodle soup and 2 packs of hot dogs for $16.77
I did stop at CVS but did not receive the coupon I needed to get a great deal on hair styling products so zero spent there.
My last stop was Aldi to pick up the other two needed items milk and half and half. Matt uses the half and half as creamer. Total spent $3.01
How are you saving?
I have really slacked off with CVS over the past year. In fact, I usually only go every couple of weeks. One of the main reason is that they are making it difficult to save money. Just a few weeks ago I was greeted by a sign that stated “Limit of two transactions per household per day.” I asked and got a crazy explanation and thankful someone has at least told them that is not legit. Earlier this week, I stopped by to grab a good deal on deodorant that I found on Southern Savers. I ended up with 4 sticks of deodorant for $5.12 and 5 ECB to save.
Today, Matt and I made a quick trip to CVS to grab more deodorant on a different deal. I also had printed coupons for Campbell’s Soup, $0.80 off 4 cans. I did not realize that Tomato Soup was on sale.
Today I spent a total of $2.25 for 3 sticks of deodorant, 4 cans of Tomato soup, and 2 kit kat bars. I purchased the 3 sticks of deodorant in the first transaction using the 5 ECB from earlier in the week, and the soup with the 4 ECB I received back!
Matt should have enough deodorant for several months and Kendall is one happy girl with four cans of Tomato Soup!