- 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.
- A tree root was the cause of our electrical problems on Monday. It took until around 11pm at night to fix the problems so the kids, dog and I spent the night at Mom’s.
- The weather this week in North Carolina is beyond crazy. Snow for several hours on Tuesday, highs near 80 on Thursday and a day long rain event on Friday.
- We were able to get our first mile walk in as a family this week!
- I am going to be spending on grocery this weekend in order to stock up but I have to keep spending to less than $50.
- I had high hopes of turning off the heat this week for the spring that that lasted less than 12 hours.
March was a different kind of month. I have really enjoyed the last week off for my spring break. I realized today that I would for 14 days(3 weeks) and have a long weekend at Easter. This should also work out timing wise so we can plant most of the square foot garden. This past week, I have spent a lot of time cooking and shopping!
We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! Yesterday, Saturday the 30th was a total fail as we ate out breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a find your own meal, which meant lots of starch was consumed. I did not stick to the grocery budget in any shape form or fashion, in fact I spent $1100 for groceries this month. Check out this post if you want to see my rationale.
Driving is a way of life for use but I am just trying to get a firm idea of what we are spending each month in order to budget better, $565 is the number for March.
Unfortunately, we did not reduce our overall debt in the month of March. I did keep track of spending. We ended up with 6 days of NO spending for the month. This appears to be a really low number to me. I would like to track April and hopefully will achieve at least 50% or 15 days of no spending for the month.
I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. I did have a doctor’s visit this past week and have lost 2 pounds in 3 months but am `5 pounds heavier than I was a year ago. I am hopefully with the warmer weather and longer days to start walking on a more regular basis. The goal for April will be once a week or a total of 5 times during the month.
This is post number 15 for the month! After two years, I have finally met this goal. Now to continue with the success!
We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month but are at our lowest point of $80 for the month. We have used this entire amount for working on things outside. The good news is that this means we have not spent anything on the square foot garden so we are eating free food at this point.
PLANS: One of the downfalls of my new job is that in both April and May my paycheck will be reduced by $500. I am going to track our spending very closely for now to try and maintain some balance. We will have 2 or more Baseball games a week but this should be less than $10 each week. I plan to keep grocery shopping to a minimal of less than $100 as well. The countdown to summer is on; 12 weeks till I have an 8 week vacation!
I have waited years to be able to post this! Actually, this was only a possibility starting in August of last year when I accepted the position with the Davie County school system. I had a couple of goals that I really wanted to accomplish while out and I am very excited to say that I was able to meet them all!
First I planned to make several trips to several different grocery stores in order to take advantage of sales and really stock up. I shopped at Shuler’s Meat Store, Food Lion 4 times, Costco, Harris Teeter twice, Aldi at least three times, Walmart and at 3 different Dollar Generals. I talked at length about my grocery spending in this post. I was able to grab some winter clearance deals at Dollar General including gloves and fleece blankets for $1.50 each. Braxton got several new outfits.
Next on my to do list was cooking ahead. We are entering a busy season with baseball, art, church and end of school activities. I can finally say that our freezer is full with easy to prepare and things we enjoy meals. I decided that instead of spending an entire day or two cooking, I would attempt to cook one extra meal each day. On Monday, I purchased boneless chicken thighs and place them in two crockpots to cook while we did the bulk of our shopping. Dinner on Monday was a chicken from Costco with potato salad and cauliflower. I did take the remaining chicken, sautéed some onions and carrots to use as a quick soup starter in the next couple of weeks. Tuesday- I grounded up 3 roast from the freezer and made a 10# batch of taco meat (7 meals). I also shredded the chicken thighs and assembled 2 broccoli and chicken casseroles for the freezer. We tried a new recipe for cube steak and loved it. Wednesday- I used the shredded chicken to assemble 2 chicken pies and 2 chicken pot pies for the freezer. Thursday- I grounded up 4 additional roast from the freezer to make sloppy joes out of 5 pounds (5 meals) and another 4 bags of browned hamburger meat to use as meal starters. Friday- We had grilled chicken for dinner, using up most of the salad ingredients in the refrigerator. I also assembled with some help 2 baked ziti. We have a total of 23 prepped meals in the freezer! On Saturday, Matt and I came up with a menu plan for the month of April. I will be adding to the freezer stash with hamburgers this week but otherwise cooking should really be assembling and heating for most of the month.
The final item on my to do list for Spring Break was cleaning out and organizing my closet. I am wearing “real clothes” aka not scrubs to work everyday. I needed to finish sorting through my clothes and getting rid of anything stained or out dated. I even managed to sort my pajama, underwear and socks. I am very pleased with how neat and organized my closet is currently.
One of the ways that we attempt to cut out grocery budget is with the purchase of an entire cow. We purchased 890# of meat approximately one year ago. This works well for us especially since we have the freezer space for all this meat and some to spare. We have been enjoying beef several times a week but it has become really clear that we as a family do not like roast. I have tried several different versions and ways to make the roast with different taste and it still does not end up being all that great, with lots of left-overs. However, we like ground beef and eat it a hundred different ways with no complaint. Now here is how we are saving money today. I purchased last month on Amazon on a 60% off sale a grinder that attaches to my Kitchen Aid Mixer.
Last night, I set 3 roast out to unthaw and today, I cut the bones out of each of them and then ground them up with the grinder. I will admit it was a little bit of work to get this accomplished but less than 2 hours for the entire process. After grinding the hunks of roast into ground beef, I fried it up and tossed in the crockpot with taco seasoning and water. The remaining bones and meat that was attached I placed in a second crock pot and made beef broth that I will bag and freeze tomorrow.
I was able to take 3 meals that we would eat and not enjoy and turn into at least 7 meals that will be quick and easy to prep and at least 16 cups of beef broth. I am definitely calling this a win in the saving department!
The sun is finally shining in North Carolina on a Saturday. What does that mean? Time to wash all the sheets and bed covers so they can air dry. I am so excited. I was able to get 7 loads of sheets and comforters on the line. I did have to throw my mattress pad in the dryer for an hour but overall saved at least 6 hours of dryer use! The best part is how amazing the sheets all smell!
Food Lion and Aldi are the only choices except for Walmart for grocery shopping so I rarely get excited about sales or clearance items. This week was the exception. I found bags of flavored popcorn and cheese puffs on clearance for seventy-five cent each. I was able to grab 15 bags at this price! Yes, I grabbed all the I could find! Food Lion also had Lance crackers BOGO for $3.09 which works out to be twenty-six cent a pack. They are a great snack for the kids especially at ball games and for the pool. I was able to grab 12 packs at this price. CVS ran a sale last week for Coke products. I am good for at least two months. I now have spent exactly half of our grocery budget for March so I need to be careful with my future purchases.
I am hoping to reduce our out of pocket to less than $20 for the square foot garden this year. One way is to use seeds instead of purchasing plants for many of the items I plant. I have been collect packs of seeds for fifty cent over the past several weeks and also looked at what I have purchased in years past and plan to use as much as that as possible. Lowes ran a sale this weekend on plants for 1.50 each which is a little less than half off. I grabbed 2 containers of broccoli and planted them as they need to be in the ground and produce before the heat arrives with summer. I also purchased 10 green pepper plants, these will take ALOT more work as I have to move inside at night and remember to set in the sun during the day. If I am able to keep these alive until the last Spring frost usually mid to late April this will be a huge savings. I am collecting gift cards from Swagbucks to help cover the other expenses of the garden. Free Food will taste awesome this summer!
Where we started at:
Beginning frame work…
First painting …
Next came doors and a top
And my Favorite part….
I have mentioned several times that we have been working in our dinning room to add a bar seating area and new cabinets. We were finally able to finish it this weekend!
I want to be really honest and say that one of the reasons we decided to build it ourselves was the fact, I wanted the drawer to be huge and functional. I am going to share all the picture soon but today, I want to focus on the cost and savings of this upgrade. Which it turned out perfect!
So now on to the savings-
Recycle/ Reused-paint from several years ago when we actually replaced all the cabinets. – door pulls that we salvaged from the cabinets we replaced.
– at least one set of hinges from the old kitchen cabinets.
Each month Swagbucks offers the first gift card earned at a 12% or $3 discount. We also used 2 $10 Visa gift cards earned from Swagbucks to pay for items.
Doing It Ourselves-
I did mention that I wanted both the drawer and cabinet to be a specific size as one of the reasons we chose to do this improvement ourselves, it is also a cost saving measure as a cabinet alone is between $75 and $200 depending on the size and things you want included.
Now the cost-
Wood and Framing material from Lowes after gift cards- $64.54
Bar/Counter-top from IKEA -$138.35
Four Chairs from IKEA-$80
TOTAL cost- $282.89
This is a total win in my book as except for the flooring, the kitchen/dining room area finally looks and feels complete. I have lots of storage and can keep things neat and organized!
- We have spent more money on “unexpected medical cost ” in the past month than in the past 2 years. Matt had an infection under his crown, $17 prescription and $129 dentist bill, Lily had strep throat, $40 co pay and $5 prescription and Kendall has a virus that has kept her out of school for the past 2 days $40 co pay.
- I am becoming more and more frustrated this month as I am tracking every dollar we are spending. We currently have spent $267 in the past 8 days. There is only one day in that time period that has been a no spending day. $99 of that is gas and $40 for a copay. The rest of the list is wants not needs. I am planning to continue until the last week of the month. I am really surprised at the amount of money we are spending and how fast it is leaving my accounts.
- I spent some time this weekend and have planned out most of the square foot garden. We are going to try something different this year, planting/starting most of it from seeds instead of buying plants. I have been collecting seeds at fifty cent a pack over the past several month and will also be using seeds that I have stored for the past couple of years. I am going to over sow the area as well and may have to weed out some plants but this still appears to be cheaper option than purchasing the plants. I do need to buy probably 4-5 bags of soil to add to some of the beds but I have decided against buying the expensive $18 a bag and plan to use gift cards from Swagbucks to purchase at Lowes.
- We have started 2 separate grocery list, one for Costco and one for Aldi/Walmart. I think that I have finally gotten everyone on board with the no grocery shopping until the end of the month. We ended up using French fries last night for the breakfast casserole because we were out of both hash browns and tater tots.
- Hopefully Matt will get the buffet/ bar finished this weekend, we have had a delay in progress due to the weather and another delay due to items not being ready at Lowes.