Saving on Saturday!

I have some fun savings to report this week. Mom, myself, Kendall and Zach headed out yesterday morning to check out some yard sales. I was able to purchase a snow village accessory for $3.

This awesome float for $3
This plastic pot was fifty cent.

Unfortunately, I did not realize that the airplane plant that I had planned to move to the pot was actually 2 plants. I was able to recover a plain black pot from my building and will leave it outside until it turns cold or I can find a matching or different pot to place in before coming inside.

This morning before it got so hot, we spent the morning outside making some updates and weeding. Total spent today was ZERO!

First we added this small platform under the rain barrel to allow us to fill the watering cans without someone having to hold it level. The wood was left from the platform we built this spring.

Finally, because the rain barrel wash out is developing deep holes in the garden, we headed under the house to pull out the remainder of this black pipe that was purchased probably 7 years ago and never used. We decided to go ahead and place it in front of the flower beds as the telephone poles are 30 years old and starting to rot away.

The mud should wash away in a couple of weeks. We also found a basket that I am going to hang in a closet to hold potatoes and several trash cans that we repurposed to hold toys!

I am excited to use items we already had to make needed improvements!

May In Review

May was another different sort of month. It definitely did not fly by but was not as slow as March or April. I am still working from home. I was able to get an additional 17 hours from my Guam job so that was extremely nice. We decided to go ahead and tackle one more home improvement in the month of May, our sink room. I am glad it is finished and LOVE the results.

The square foot garden is actually growing! I was getting really discouraged in the middle of the month. The weather was just not cooperating at all but finally in the last two weeks we are starting to harvest some small items and even the cucumbers that I had written off have returned to life. We did have to spray with bug killer today so hopefully we will not lose alot to these pesky insects. We continue to get a ton of lettuce and a finally a batch of snap peas that made it inside instead of Kendall eating them all!

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- I was doing so well but decided to purchase 4 gallons of strawberries yesterday and a trip to Aldi put us at $607.45 for the month. I keep telling myself that spending will decrease soon. We have almost 2 completely full freezers! I have added an additional 3 meals this week along with some simple breakfast ideas! I think at this point, unless we are set with meat. Going to make a realistic grocery budget for next month…. stay under $550!

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $284.40 is the total for the month which does include taxes and tags on the CRV. The CRV was filled 3 times and the van twice. I do actually expect our driving to go up this month as I finish up work and start to enjoy the summer. We also will be returning to church and going to the pool. The goal for June keep the gas budget down to $300 with the extra going to pay off debit!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! No spend days are 3 this month YIKES! I knew going in to May that spending would increase. But still the goal for June is to have at least 5 no spending days. I am going to change a couple of rules. First, we save change all year to spend at the pool so this does not count as spending! Second an purchases for clothing, hair or piano that come out of a budget envelope does not count as spending as these are “spent” each payday when it is placed in the envelope. I am also planning to switch at least half of my grocery spending to cash as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 17 for the month! At least this is staying on track!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. yea I did walk 3 times this month but only 3 times. This is something that I definitely need to improve on.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Not there at all!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Still way ahead of this one! I have blogged on 32 new recipes but I have 3 more to post this week!

Earnings_ $75 in gift cards. Slow and steady.

June is an exciting time of the year! I finish up work, the kids finish up school and we enjoy the summer. I am extremely grateful that we have the pool open this year. I am hopeful that by the end of the summer, our lives will return to normal with a crazy busy schedule! Our first Disney trip is planned for the end of August, my goals for June and July are to save save and find more ways to save!!!

Saving On Saturday

This week I feel like I am really saving on Saturday. I used up the pork chops from Recipe Challenge #29 to make up a container of pork fried rice. I added some corn and rice and it will make an awesome quick meal one day this week.

After all the cleaning out that has gone on around here the past several weeks, we discovered we actually needed several different clothing items so today we ventured out to find what we needed. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover several awesome deal. First was Rue 21, Lily and Kendall each got a $5 shirt, Lily found some swim suit bottoms for $8.49 but by far the best deal was $1 each for two pair of swim suit bottoms to fit me! I am shocked but seriously if I can wear twice I am making money on them! Next was the Shoe Dept., we purchased 4 pair of sandals for the girls at $9.99 each!! Our final shopping stop was OLD NAVY. I purchased 22 items of clothing! My receipt says I save $136.49 and spent 126.36 including tax! Nothing I purchased was over $8. I did have $30 in super cash and received an additional $30 in super cash to use in July.

Matt and I celebrated our anniversary by stopping at Outback for lunch. This was a splurge! While waiting, I saw that the local strawberry had a special for 2 gallons for $20. This works out to $1.25 which is an good deal in this area! I purchased four gallons and have spent most of the afternoon flash freezing for future use. I did cut up smaller pieces to use in Baked Oatmeal. We will probably uses these strawberries for the next year so I am very excited!

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Kendall is finally almost done with cleaning out her room. She was able to reduce the amount of clothing down to the point of everything fitting in her closet!!! This allowed her to move a huge dresser out of her room! Lily decided to take the larger dresser and was able to empty out not only her smaller dresser but also a bigger standing shelf. Lily does want to replace the shelf with a mirror and three shelves but we shall see. I moved the standing shelf to my room and laid it on it side under my jewelry box. This is currently a place to keep all of Braxton’s toys, clothes and diapers! Finally Zach did not want to be outdone so he exchanged 3 small dressers for one from Lily’s room. I am pleased with the extra space that everyone was able to find and we have moved at least five garbage bags of clothing to the building for a future yard sale or something.

I have been able to sell between ebay and Facebook market place 4 American girl dolls and a ton (50) build a bear outfits. We used this money to cover our tickets to the Disney Halloween party in August.

Our August Disney trip is completely paid for including air fare. The only item left to purchase is a gift card to cover food on the trip. Matt receives 3 paychecks in July so we plan to use the extra check to purchase a gift card to use on the trip! Next, we are going to work on paying for our December trip! At this point, we will have the plane tickets covered between credit card miles and airline vouchers.

I will be working in Guam through the end of June due to the school closure. My goal is to take the entire month of July off of work and resume both Davie County and Guam in August! I am so ready for a normal schedule!

I am focusing on controlling the grocery budget this month to under $550. So far we have been way over budget each month!

Matt and I have decided to tackle our master bedroom sink area. We are going to repaint the walls, change out the cabinet and sink for a double sink vanity! I am hoping we are able to complete this project in two weekends but it may take a little longer.

I am starting to quickly lose hope in our garden this year. The weather has not cooperated at all. We should be having warm spring/summer like days but for the past 2 weeks the temperatures have been stuck in the 60’s. I have covered everything I could on the couple of nights of freezing but things are just not growing well. In addition, we are having to water every other day. We have had little to no rain since mid April. I was so hopeful for the garden especially using all the seed packets but now if we harvest one each from our vegetables that will be the break even point!

Prepping Ground Beef

As COVID-19 continues, we are seeing changes especially at the grocery store, not only are prices starting to rise but we are continuing to see limits and stores out of stock on many items. We have been finishing the last of our cow purchased two years ago and were running on the low end of meat. I was so excited to find the chicken on sale last week. After processing it, Matt and I talked and decided that instead of continuing to wait to purchase beef we felt the need to stock up. I knew that we could not afford to purchase a whole cow right now and also that supplies are not great in the area as well. I decided to head to a local meat market to complete the stock up. I did not purchase any steaks as these are a treat and I can purchase a meal for around $30 when we chose. I also did not get any stew beef as I see at least 2 packs in the freezer and no cube steak as we have probably 4 packs of this left. I did purchase 3 meals of pork chops and 3 sets of wings. The biggest purchase was 40lbs of ground beef. I was a little surprised at finding even at this market, ground beef had a limit. They did not care about packaging but had a strict limit on the pounds that could be purchased. This is totally new for them as I often purchase large quantities for church functions or simply to save myself a trip.

I already had a plan in mind for most of the ground beef but it has taken several days to complete it. I will add that both Lily and Kendall have worked hard several days along side of me to get it all in the freezer in useable portions.

Zach helped me fry up the first 10 pounds, we bagged 2 1-pound bags of cooked meat and threw the rest in the crock-pot to make taco meat. We enjoyed tacos for dinner. I froze 4 1# bags of taco meat along with a single serving of taco meat.

Next up in the crockpot was sloppy joe mix. The recipe I use calls for 6 pounds of cooked meat. This recipe is a little time consuming to prepare but after cooking on low for 4 hours it is definitely worth the effort. We enjoyed sloppy joes for dinner and I bagged 12 bags of sloppy joes for future use. The secret to bagging is 3/4 cup per bag which equals 2 tablespoons per sloppy joe for six people. This is a meal that is quick and no left-overs.

Lily, Kendall and I made 4 bags of Salisbury steak from the remaining 4 pounds of raw meat. The girls ended up making around 50 meatballs which we froze for later use. I am going assume that is another 3 meals.

Cooked ground beef is an easy cheat for a quick and simple meals. I decided to go ahead and fry another 8# and bag up individually. I decided to bag up 4 1# portions and 2 2# portions of raw meat as well. Last but not least I made and froze 18 meatloaf muffins, this will provide us with 3 meals.

A Grand total of 44 meals from 40# of ground beef! I am super excited with this and even more so that I can grab and go to throw together an awesome meal!

5 Things Friday

  • I have worked 5 days at Davie County Schools and 5 nights in Guam. I am tired! But the really good news is that I have 6 weeks and 1 day until summer break.
  • The weather continues to be almost as strange as COVID-19. Today was a high of 64*. I always remember as a child that May 1st was the day that you could wear shorts and go barefooted outside! Not today! The good news from this is that we have been the entire month of April without heating or air. This saved us around $70 last month.
  • My goal for the next six weeks is to get our freezers fully stocked for the fall. This will allow me to really have the summer off. I am going to need to make a large meat purchase so that we can begin the process next week.
  • The square foot garden is continue to grow with all the seeds that we have planted. We used the lettuce that I have harvested over the past several weeks to make salads on Wednesday.
  • We have reduced our credit card debit by over $1000 since January. In addition to purchasing and install our new floor in the kitchen/dinning room and paying for our August Disney trip!

Menu Planning Monday

This weeks plan is looking ALOT different. In fact we are trying something total new because why not? I discovered when cleaning off my desk that I had actually printed a freezer meal plan twice. This is a free plan that included the shopping list and seven complete meals. Last week, the kids each took a day and were in charge of dinner so I asked if they wanted to help try out this menu plan. Everyone is in! I took the shopping list and of course shopped my freezer and pantry first. Matt and I headed to the store on Saturday to grab the remaining ingredients. I was shocked that I spent only $32.10 to purchase the rest of the items needed for seven meals. That breaks down to $4.58 a meal or $0.76 a person per meal. In order not to waste anything on Sunday, I prepared and froze the three remaining meals that we will not use this week. I am going to be starting back to work in Guam this week as well so quick and easy to get started meals may become very important over the next few weeks. I am not sure how I will report on the new recipes this week individually or in a group we shall see.

Breakfast– Saturday- Cinnamon Roll Waffles . Sunday-Eggs and toast or cereal.  Monday,Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes,  cereal or grits. –Still have not gotten around to a baked oatmeal but really do need to make one this week.

Lunch-  Saturday- Gregg’s (a local restaurant) Sunday-charcuterie board with all ingredients on hand. The kids will have school delivered lunches, Matt has 2 days of brats and 2 days of hamburger. I will eat left-overs or sandwiches.

Dinner-  Saturday- Left-overs from Gregg’s (yes it was this much food!). . Sunday- Left-overs. We are making a dent so this is a good thing! Monday- Tuscan Tortellini Soup (Lily is in charge) Tuesday-Matt’s birthday and he chose to eat at Nick’s again! Wednesday- Sausage and peppers over Rice (Zach is in charge) , Thursday-Sloppy Joe Chicken Philly cheese steak Friday-No bake Lasagna with Spinach(Kendall in charge).

Saving on Saturday

  • Instead of buying plants from the big store< Lowes, I decided to venture out and try and find a local greenhouse. After a little bit of searching on Facebook. I found one. I head out early Saturday because I heard they have sold out of plants very quickly. Let me tell you this was by far the best decision I have made. Plants were 3 for $1. I purchased 33 plants for $11 or the cost of one mosquito plant at Lowes.
  • Over the past year, I have been collecting different seeds. The reason, I just could not pass up a good deal. I paid as much as twenty-five cent for all the packets. Since we have some extra time with no extra activities, I decided to go ahead and see what I could start from seed. I have been able to successfully start, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, snap peas, peas and watermelon. I have also planted some green beans, dill and basil from seed as well. The only expenses so far has been dirt which I buy anyway.
  • Matt saw on-line that you could start tomato plants from slices of tomato. I was very skeptical because of the way I hear most vegetables are treated. However, we tried it with two slices of tomato and we have tiny tomato plants growing from them!
  • I have been listing items on Ebay for the past month. Originally, you could list up to 50 items a month without a listing fee. Now they have actually changed that to 200 items a month. This past week, I sold 7 out of 10 items! I also received the highest bid for one item. We are still responsible for a fee at the end but for March it was $12.45 so I am still making a small profit on most items and we are cleaning things out as they go.
  • I talk a lot about food and food waste. We have spent a total of $212 so far from our grocery budget. I expect to keep this number under $250 for the month! We are definitely trying to use what we have an still do some adventures eating and cooking this month!

4/10/2020

  1. This week at home has been more of a struggle for me. I am not sure if it was the fact, I was stressing about some work issues or just this is the fourth week of Covid-19 or my Humira shot. But most likely a combination of all of the above. The good news is that I survived and am hopeful the work stress is behind me as well.
  2. I decided to go out shopping on Wednesday this week in order to avoid the crowds over Easter weekend. Again good and bad news. The good news is that we did avoid the crowds and used pick up for both Lowes and Walmart. The bad news is that it was insane at Lowes. I can’t believe how many people were there. We have spent a total of $77.42 on groceries so far this month. I fully expect to keep this number low this month.
  3. Yesterday, Thursday, the windshield of the van was replaced. It developed a crack from a rock in January and finally reached the point it definitely needed to be replaced. I also will need to get the car inspected and tag renewed this month. I know this will exceed my gas budget even with only filling up once or twice. My plan will be to use some of the gas money from May to help cover the expense as well. I will be at home until at least May 15th so between the two months we should have all the repairs and tags covered.
  4. The weather this week has been beautiful and we have spent a good chunk of time outside preparing the garden. We are expected to have another frost this weekend so if all goes as plan we will be doing a lot of planting next weekend. This also works out with the recommendations by the Farmer’s Almanac.
  5. Speaking of next week it should be a real test of patience and parenting skills. All three kids are out of school for Spring Break. I am off on Monday but have to work the rest of the week. In addition, there is a strong possibility that Guam schools will resume which means I am going to be working both jobs from home. A test of patience is the best description I can give.