Tuesday Thoughts

I have been very blessed and fortunate because the “little” kids have very rarely been sick, especially Kendall and Zach. Kendall missed two school days last year and yesterday Zach missed his first school day in several years. Zach started complaining with his stomach hurting on Thanksgiving Thursday. He actually threw up on Saturday and Sunday. This morning, he just did not feel like going to school.

While Zach spent most of the day in bed, I found several task to keep me busy all day Monday. I ended up turning five pounds of potatoes into mashed potatoes for future use. I deboned the chicken we purchased on Saturday to make a double batch of chicken enchiladas. I have just enough for use to eat on Tuesday and froze a large batch that will provide dinner another evening with left-overs that can be used for lunch as well.

One of the less fun things that we worked on this weekend was re-organizing and cleaning out the office. Matt was originally the intended occupant for our home office. After completing it use as a nursery, it became his office. I first applied for my position in Guam in February 2017. One of the requirement was that I have the ability to block out all noises from the house in addition to plan walls. So we simply moved everything from my desk in the office and everything from his desk to my desk in the corner of the bedroom. Considering how little time I ended up spending in the office it was crowded but not a big deal. My teletherapy job in Guam has picked up significantly . I am spending between 8 and 10 hours a week working in the office. The crowded room and clutter really started to bother me. So cleaning and organizing occurred. I am very pleased with the result but I am the most proud of the charging shelf that we figured out. This holds all the phones and other devices that need to come in my bedroom at night!

Five Things Friday

  1. We have enjoyed two entirely free meal out this week. On Thursday, we used the gift card that was earned and planned for Halloween combined with IHOP customer appreciation to feed our entire family for the cost of the tip! Friday night is always a hetic night with piano. Matt used another gift card earned via Swagbucks to pick up three large pizzas! We have already enjoyed one pizza and left-overs will be for lunch on Saturday and Sunday!
  2. Kendall is growing. I realized this week that she had only 2 pair of pants that were actually long enough for her. We decided to go to Old Navy to try and find her some pants. We actually found what they call “Ballerina” style pants that fit both length and her waist. We grabbed 4 pair along with 2 pair of boots for her. Lily ended up with a sweater, Zach and Braxton have matching Christmas shirts, I got a dress and Braxton has several new church outfits to wear. Total spent $225!
  3. I knew that I was going to be way over budget this month for Groceries. In fact I am at $882 for the month with a goal of staying under $950. I was a bit concerned until I read this :
    “According to the USDA monthly report for October 2019, the average couple spends $617 per month on groceries alone.
    A family of four with young kids on the Moderate-Cost plan spends $894.40 a month on groceries. Families with older kids spend $1067.50. ”
    Matt and I both are working and make it work with an additional 20 or more hours of paid work each week. Our budget is really enjoying the boast and I am very comfortable with setting and achieving budget related goals for the next year. I am planning to share our new updated budget toward the end of December after a second month (December) to tweak it. I also am anticipating that I will have to only purchase one Christmas present in the month of December along with a birthday present for my mother!
  4. The car that we are driving has significantly reduced our gas spending. Currently, we have spend $268.23 in gas. Because we will be at home more next week, I would guess that we will stay under $300 in gas this month. I can not honestly tell you the last time this happened!
  5. I am anticipating a three day work week next week. Sunday night in Guam. Monday and Tuesday at Davie County. Followed by a four day total vacation! I am excited not only for the break but to finish out our budget for November really strong.

Tuesday Thoughts/Catch Up

We survived the busiest six weeks that I can remember. During the month of October, all three kids were involved in one additional activity besides piano and church. This weekend, Lily had three performances of her play. I can honestly say that I was super excited and luck to have yesterday off from work just to catch up.

Income update- The really good news on this front is not only is Matt working a job that actually pays well but we both have part time jobs. This is a source of stress. We had a couple of different discussions regarding how we could or if we should even attempt this. We are at a point where the kids are pretty self sufficient so that allows us to have the ability to add not one but two part time jobs. I am working in Guam via teletherapy as an Occupational Therapist. This was a job that I initially applied for in February 2017. I have decided to limit by availability to Sunday night for a full 8 hours and Wednesday night to around 3 hours. Because of the 15 hour time difference this schedule works well. I will admit that the first week was a challenge but I also feel that once I get in the swing of things, I should be able to maintain a low level of stress. This job will continue until the end of May. At that time, we will again evaluate and decide if I want to attempt this for a second school year. Matt is working 10 hours a week as the marketing manger for the Humane Society of Davie County. We are currently unsure how long this job will last but God has a plan and a purpose so we need to simply obey. My plan is to use the extra money in November and December to get us on track. I will share an updated budget in December.

I took a day from work last Friday to catch up on grocery shopping. I was able to go to Costco, Aldi and Food Lion and restock our pantry. So far for the month of November, I have spent $750 on groceries. I would bet this number will end up closer to $800 but I am definitely ok with that. I will run numbers at the end of the year but I have a feeling that I need to increase our grocery budget instead of decrease this year.

We are currently driving a car that gets better gas mileage than either of the vans. This is a family decision that I don’t feel free to discuss but it should reduce our gas spending at least as long as we continue to drive it.

To close out our busy season, we had a family movie night on Monday. We watched Toy Story 4. It was much better than I anticipated, in fact it is my second favorite Disney movie now!

Saving on Saturday

Our single largest expense besides our mortgage is groceries. Typically, the majority of our groceries are food. In order to reduce our overall spending, I always must focus on reducing the amount of money we spend on food. The only real problem with this is that as the kids grow, they eat more food!

One of the ways that I have found to reduce our grocery budget is to make sure we don’t waste any food. I typically do not make a menu plan for the weekend. First this makes my life a little less stressful and second it also allows us to focus on using up left-overs. Today, I feel like I have been really successful at this task. Typically on Saturday mornings, I try to make a bigger breakfast but not this morning. Zach finished a pancake and piece of sausage left-over from Cracker Barrel and I finished the baked oatmeal from last week. Lunch today was pizza left-overs for the kids, I ate the turkey, dressing and green beans plate left-over again from Cracker Barrel, Matt ate some left-over pulled pork. For dinner it was twice baked potatoes! We had crockpot baked potatoes one day last week and I filled the pot up so we had plenty of left-overs. I even froze 8 additional potatoes that can be used in the future either for a lunch or dinner. We are currently out of cheddar cheese so instead of running out to the store, I shredded a block of Colby jack and used in the potatoes instead. The final way, I saved money on food today is a little bit unusual. I signed up to bring a desert tomorrow for our church dinner. I planned to make a peanut butter pound cake. When I pulled out the recipe, I needed two additional sticks of butter. Instead of rushing to the store, I searched the internet and found a slightly different recipe that used more peanut butter and less butter. Another huge win in the food department!

I have not been couponing as much as I would like and really have not been able to find many deals at CVS lately. However, Lily had a personal hygiene need. I had 3 ECB from several weeks ago, I scanned my CVS card and received an additional 3 ECB. I was able to purchase 2 bags of product which should last about 2 months for a total out of pocket of twenty-one cent! Another huge win!

Tuesday Thoughts

We are starting to see an end to our busy fall season, ok so not an end but a slowing down of after school activities. In three weekends, Lily will perform in the show Elf. Zach’s last scheduled baseball game is next Tuesday night. I do anticipate one or two night of a tournament the first few weeks of November. Kendall has her homecoming and last football game, she will cheer at this Saturday. I think that basketball season starts the first of December.

We dug up over 20 pounds of sweet potatoes on Saturday from our square foot garden. We also pulled several pimentos, jalapenos and green peppers. This is a sad time of year because I do not like the cold weather.

On a bright note with the cooler weather, our electric bill for the month was down by $60!

Grocery shopping this month has consisted of two categories, items we are out of and need for a specific reason and items of clearance. Our total spending for the month is $176. This amount includes 10 cases of drinks! I don’t anticipate a lot more spending during the next week and half. I do have a stock up trip planned for Costco the first week of November.

I have begun anticipating and counting the days until my first day off of work in three months!! However, this may occur sooner because today, Kendall stayed home from school. If she is unable to return to school tomorrow then I will be staying at home as well to take her to the doctor.

Everyone in the house is anticipating this Friday. Matt should receive his first paycheck from his new job and a paycheck from the Humane Society. I have spent several hours working out details but we should be set on a good course starting this Friday! I do anticipate a budget redo starting in January. I wanted to give us a couple of months to adjust and make plans before making any major changes. I am planning to going back to a more cash based system with use of envelopes and our Capital one account in order to keep a better track of our spending

Tuesday Thoughts

I am so excited that I get to spent 3 complete evenings at home this week! We have no football game(cheerleading) or cheer practice this week and only one baseball game. I am planning to get some extra cleaning done around the house as the things has gotten dirty and overlooked during the past couple of weeks.

We are hopefully that we have finally fixed the leaky shower problem. Matt re-caulked the shower pan on Saturday and I am planning to start using it again today. We have already purchased the tile to finish this project but need to find several hours in which we can spending working on it. We may be able to spend some time on the project on Saturday but that depends heavily on the weather as well.

North Carolina is finally experiencing some cooler temperatures. I finally turned off the air on October 3rd. This is very late for us as we usually can get a good week or so with no air in September. I am hopefully that we can at least keep the air and heat off for most of the month of October but we it can depend heavily on when the first freeze of the year is.

Matt loves his new job. The first week was a challenge especially with our crazy busy schedule. I am hopefully that we will be able to get into a good routine that will allow him to work his second job at least 3 evening a week so that we can have some time to work on projects around here on the weekends.

I have spent a total of $47 on groceries so far this month! I am super excited about this and hope to continue this streak for most of the month. I am making a Costco list and am holding out hope that the quarter back sale will appear at Food Lion soon!

5 Things Friday

  1. This October has been the hottest on record. The last three days we have had temperatures in the mid 90’s. However that is suppose to change tonight. The temperatures are suppose to be dropping until lunch tomorrow. The predicated high tomorrow is 68*
  2. The square foot garden is still producing. This week we have harvested pimentos, green peppers and a single tomato. We are still getting sweet potato flowers so they are still all in the ground. I anticipate digging these up next weekend or maybe even two weeks out depending on our crazy busy schedule.
  3. Matt starts his new job next Tuesday! This will bring in a huge booster in income but a significant decrease in time to complete task at home.
  4. Matt has made our shower functional!!!!! He still needs to replace tile but the overall out of pocket cost of the project is less than $30. I am going to wait until it is completely finished and then post pictures and a number break down.
  5. Next week will be one of our busiest to date. We have multiple events and commitments Monday- Friday night.

Saving on Sunday

We have definitely started one of the busy season of our lives. We have a minimum of three ball games a week in addition to scheduled practices and other events. During the month of September, I have two established goals first keep grocery spending to a minimum and second eliminate going out to eat. Today, I want to share how we are able to accomplish both of these goals.

I have a snack bag that I carry in my van all the time. I periodically refill it with snacks, typically you will find granola/fruit bar, rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and packs of applesauce in it. I have a huge purse and simply throw the snack bag in my purse before heading into a ballgame. If we have packs of chips, I let each of the kids add a bag of chips to my purse as well. This eliminates the need/ desire to purchase snacks at the game. Snack usually cost around $1 each for five people that is $5 a game or $15 a week that we are saving by bring in our own snacks.

The second way we save is by bring our drinks. The child that is participating in the game always needs a Gatorade or a water bottle. Each game I see at least one if not three parent buying a drink from the concession stand because they “forget” to bring one. I usually also pack a water per person or can of soda in our small cooler. I have never seen a sign at a school event that says “no outside food or drinks” so I usually just carry the cooler or I can always send the kids back to the car to grab a drink. At competition events, I will bring at least a water bottle in my bag and we do go back to the car to snack and even eat. Most Gatorades are $2 each. I can buy a 6 pack not on sale for less than $4 so I am saving a minimum of $4 a week. This does not include the $1 water for the rest of us or at least $12 a week.

Finally, we always plan ahead for the games. We always try to eat prior to the games. At worse, we have planned a portable meal such as hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets or burritos. This way, we can eat in the car prior to the game starting or even during the game. Now I do want to say that my whole family REALLY like ball game food. I have not seen nachos or chill cheese fries that don’t look delicious and usually smell even better. However, if we chose to eat even at one game at week, we spend at least $20 a week or $80 a month. Eighty dollars will buy us a nice meal even better than ball game food. One way we enjoy the ball game food is that if we all have eaten dinner prior to the game we can share an order of nachos for $3 or even a couple orders of fries. This way we are still saving at least $15 a week!


5 Things Friday

  1. I am tired. No other explanation need!
  2. First football game that Kendall is cheering at is tomorrow and she is beyond excited.
  3. The weather outside is still hot and muggy! We have not had any rain in over a month! Our rain barrel is half empty which is the lowest it has been all year.
  4. I am still harvesting lots of peppers and basil but the last tomato is slowly turning red. I actually have already pulled up the majority of my tomato plants because they were dead. I was hoping to get another handful but this appears to be the last one. I have planted 2 lettuce started in a cup of water, a packet of spinach and a packet of carrots. I am really hoping to harvest a few items into November and December. I am going to also try and let the basil self seed this year. We have had an abundance so I am very hopeful this works. We are anticipating a good crop of sweet potatoes. The plants are slowly starting to die but I want to stretch the growing time as much as possible especially with heat we are still experiencing.
  5. Lily is participating in youth theater this fall which is another addition to our busy schedule. She basically has practice every day from 4 to 6pm.

Monday Menu Planning

Last week went really smoothly except for the day, Matt forgot to put the pork roast in the crockpot. We decided to have left overs for that meal which worked out fine. I was able to find and purchase chicken breast for $0.99 a pound this week. We purchased a total of 25 pounds. 3 of the 5 pound packs were combined with a bottle of Italian dressing for grilled chicken. The remaining two packs I split into 4 bags to be used for crockpot meals. This week our schedule is starting to pick up with something on every night except for Thursday. I guess that balances out with Monday being Labor Day and everyone home.

Breakfast- Saturday,- Eggs, sausage toast and grits. Sunday, Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of breakfast burrito, omelet oatmeal, grits, pop tarts cereal, Lunchable brunch French toast or toast.  I purchased some everything bagels this week to add to the mix.

Lunch–Saturday-left-over pizza , Sunday-Pulled pork sandwiches. Monday- Sandwiches. Zach is taking lunchables and Kendall is doing a mix of dipping days, sushi, uncrustable and a sandwich. My plan is to take pasta salad, salad and maybe a couple of days of left-overs or wraps depending on what is available. Matt purchased a bag of chicken nuggets to use in his lunch this week. Everyone is enjoying the extra junk food that is available because of left-overs from Zach’s birthday party.

Dinner – Saturday- Pasta salad- I added fresh tomatoes and green peppers, carrots from the fridge and cut up chicken breast that were left over.  Sunday–Shrimp Scampi- packet in my closet and used left-over spaghetti pasta from the refrigerator. Monday- Grilled chicken- I am hoping for leftovers but this depends on the number of people that come for dinner.  Tuesday– Taco Pasta  Wednesday–Baked potatoes in crockpot. All three kids have a orthodontist appointment so I wanted something soft. Thursday– Cheeseburger Pizza- from the freezer. Friday- Leftovers or sandwiches because I have a meeting.