Summer on a Budget

We are still working diligently to maintain our spending and increase our income.  However, it is summer time and we really enjoy the summer and all the fun activities that come with it. Here are the two secrets to creating a summer full of memories on a budget shoestring.
1. Plan AHEAD
2. Watch for specials.

Today was a great example of how we are enjoying our summer.  Each year the water park, Wet and Wild, that is about a 30 minute drive away, offers some awesome deals. The only problem is the best deals run from Black Friday till February.  We used the kids Christmas gift from Matt’s dad to purchase our season pass. We were able to purchase four everyday pass for the same price as one day of admission. In order to receive free parking, we upgraded Matt’s pass to priority which included parking and tickets to “bring a friend”. We also purchased refillable cups that can be used all season. We took our first trip to the water park today. I had planned ahead and packed lunchables in our cooler which waited in the car. We activated our season passes and got our refillable drink cups. I was pleasantly surprised to receive coupons with each of our season passes that included two additional refills on our cups. By planning ahead, we spent four hours enjoying the water park with no additional cost.

This morning, I received a text from Sonic with ice cream cones for fifty cent. After piano we stopped for a treat. $2.14 for four ice cream cones!

The kids are exhausted and very happy with our “awesomely fun day”

Five Things Friday 6/8/2018

  1. After much prayer and consideration, Matt is currently seeking a full time job. In the short term, he is picking up extra hours as they are available. Every extra dollar helps and I have to have a new budget in the next month or so that includes EVERYTHING that we need.
  2. Zach was invited to go to the beach with a friend this weekend.  This is his first real time away from family. I am hoping he has an awesome time but it is really quiet around here tonight.
  3. We have our first swim meet next Tuesday. I love to be outside and cheering on the kids.
  4. Bath and Body Works is currently running their semi-annual sale. I used the last little bit of my last bottle yesterday. I am so happy that I received both the orders I placed. I split up the order even though it costed more in shipping in order to use $10 off $40 for each order.
  5. I pre-purchased an additional 80lbs of chicken today. This order will not arrive until October. I also have ordered 40lbs that we will receive in July. The reason, I placed the second order is that I was able to purchase at $0.99 a lb. This is the lowest and best price. I am hoping between the two orders this will last us an year!

Saving on Saturday-6/2

I am so excited to share this.  Amanda and three little kids are camping and rafting down the Dan River this weekend. I am getting some pictures and it looks like a lot of fun.  I have been putting off some much needed spring cleaning tasks for several months and this house is starting to look like a hoarder lives here.  I am going to go ahead and admit that the plastic totes from our yard sale were still sitting empty in the living room.  That makes this weekend a perfect time to get some cleaning and organizing done. I decide to tackle the closet in the living room on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprise at how good it looked afterwards.  Did you ever read the book “If you give a Mouse a Cookie?”   This is exactly how my life works.  If you clean out the Living room closet and takes something to the Linen closet, you realize how bad it is and you must clean it.   I was actually able to make a huge difference in the Linen closet using storage bags and rearranging plastic containers. I ended up moving a plastic drawer set from my shower room closet. Did you guess?  Next up was the closet in the shower room.  This is actually a closet that I see daily, so it was one of the cleanest and neatest but I did a little bit of straightening. I decided to move the vacuum into this closet to make it easier to get to out for the kids this summer. I opened the “extra closet” in the dining room to get the vacuum and here is where the real work and savings began.

I, first, should explain that this closet is the access to the garden tub in our master bedroom, and it is also the original front door to the house.  I have always “envisioned” this as an extra storage space. After Matt finished working, I shared my idea with him. The biggest challenge was that we really did not have any money to put toward this project. I am happy to say, we salvaged some wood and nails from my parents house/building last year and it worked awesome for this project.

Empty

full

Next we removed an organizer from the laundry room, to allow for more space. Relocated a shelving unit to the corner and add more storage for our food supply.  Matt and I both spent several hours and ideas but finally were able to re-use the wood from the laundry organizer and some screws that we claimed from my dad’s building.

I am super excited that we actually finished all this! No food is left sitting in the floor and we also moved the plastic totes.   Total time spent was around 12 hours on Saturday.  Total out of pocket $0 (ZERO)!

5 Things Friday 5/25/2018

  1. I have a 3 day weekend! WOO HOO I am so excited to have at least one day to stay at home!
  2. Our square foot garden is thriving. I am so very hopeful at this point. We have enjoyed lots of lettuce and some basil. I am excited to watch everything grow but even more excited when we start eating out of the garden.
  3. Our freezer is once again full. Matt picked up our 890 of beef on Tuesday. Our chest freezer was a great fit. We have spent several hours cooking, so far we have 13 bags of cooked grounded beef.  32 beef and bean burritos, 12 meals of Salisbury steaks and 5 meals of sloppy joes (minus the buns).
  4. May has been a slow and expensive month. I am holding on tight to make it till June. We are definitely over budget with both gas and groceries for the month.
  5. Lily has not had an episode in almost 2 weeks (Sunday). This is a huge praise in our books.

Happenings-5/20/2018

Things around here are always busy and usually pretty interesting. May has been a really busy and expensive month. Lily’s strange “episodes” have added both and of course cause lots of worrying and frustration. I thought I would try to update on the happenings and upcoming plans for the last week and half left in May.

I am going to start a new part time job soon. It is a very unique experience, providing Occupational Therapy via skype.  I am still wading through the process of learning the ropes and applying for licensure. I am so excited.

We should receive our cow that we purchased some time in the next week. I have spent some of my time trying to clean out the freezers and get a good idea of what food we need to eat in order to store the meat.  I anticipate that we will make a 10 or 15 pound batch of Salisbury steak next weekend. I am also planning on making around 5 lbs of taco meat and turning most of that into heat and eat burritos.

In addition to our 900 pounds of beef, we are also scheduled to receive 40 pounds of chicken breast. Hopefully everything works out so that we have approximately 2 weeks between the beef and chicken. I am planning to make packets for grilled chicken in addition to cooking and shredding some to use in dishes over the summer.

I have been able to finish my hours of continuing education that are required every year and have successfully renewed by Occupational Therapy license. I was also required to purchase malpractice insurance which was more than I anticipated.

All three kids have decided to go to church camp this year. I am excited for them but this is by far the biggest expense of the summer. Matt and I are both anticipating being able to work extra during the week they are gone.  That should help offset the expenses.

We currently have approximately three weeks of school left. Our local store “Food Lion” ran a special this week on lunchables.  Most ended up costing $1 each while others were $0.50.  I decided that this was a justifiable expense and purchased enough for the kids to use for lunch every day for the rest of the school year. Matt and I are also focusing on bring food for lunches so that we do not add to our already, over stretch food budget.

The kids are practicing for swim team in addition to Zach’s baseball games and regular church activities for the next two weeks which again means less time to do anything.

Finally a positive note, I get to look forward to a 3 day weekend starting next Friday!  My goal is to get everything caught up so that I can enjoy at least 4 hours sitting by the pool.

5 Things Friday 5/18/2018

  1. The Square Foot Garden is looking AWESOME!  We are already enjoying lettuce that we sprout from some we had purchased. I am truly amazed at how much we are harvesting.  Everything is growing so well. I am so hopeful that this garden will help us reduce significantly our food bill this summer.
  2. I have really enjoyed baseball season this year and always look forward to swim team starting. However, these two overlapping for 2 weeks has added to the craziness of our schedule.
  3. Lily has been at a series of doctors over the last two week. The official count is 6 and that does not include our trip to the emergency room. I am very grateful for my decent insurance and our medical flex spending card that has help cover most of these expenses.
  4. I should start my part time job in July!! I am super excited at this opportunity not only for the extra pay but a definite change overall for me.
  5. The pool is officially open but with the weather stating rain all weekend, who knows when I will enjoy a relaxing day by the pool?

Overwhelmed

I am the first to admit, I am an organizer, a planner and a list maker.  I usually jump right in and check items off my to do list as quickly as possible.  But I am also seeing that when I am overwhelmed I avoid.   Guess I should go ahead and admit upfront that I have definitely been avoiding things over the last week.

I have already explained how May is one of the most expensive months that I can remember. Dave Ramsey puts it very clearly “we have an income problem”. Both Matt and I have are actively seeking ways to increase our income in whatever way possible.  First way of increasing our income was our yard sale on Saturday May 12th.  We did ok with the yard sale. We (people who live at home) earned a profit of around $90.  The second way, Matt and I are trying to increase our income is adding hours at work. Matt is working as much as possible. In fact last week, he worked every day except Wednesday.

I have applied for and will be starting a new part time job as well. This is where a lot of my feeling of overwhelmed is coming from.  I have been juggling 3 or 4 different paper applications  that are require in addition to completing continuing education hours both for the new job and for renewing my Occupational Therapy license. I also agreed to become the treasurer for our youth group at church.

Back to my avoiding, last night I spent close to 4 hours lying in bed watching TV. I did not even want to set in front of the computer.   I was very tempted to do the same today but have caught up on everything not directly related to the new job. I still have another 5 plus hours to complete this week but writing this blog post is my reward to at least seeing the end in sight.  Hopefully, by the first of June, things will settle down and I can return to quickly checking things off my to do list!

April in Review

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. We have had several large expenses this month but we continue to focus on the small gains.

  • Total paid to credit card debit $1483 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $612.We are final down to a level that is less than we ended with in December of last year. We have experienced a boast in income which we hope to increase and continue in the summer.
  • Grocery budget $475- Total spent $531.77. Yikes, It happened again and this does not include our cow purchase. The good news is that I have already made a menu plan for the month and plan to stick to $100. We will be receiving our cow sometime this month but I really don’t expect this to add to our cost at all. I am going to limit spending to what we are out of and Suddenly Salads if they go on sale.
  • Gas budget- $280- Spent $230. Gas prices are starting to increase in our area so I seriously doubt we come in under budget for the next couple of months.
  • Kid/Summer expenses :Swim team and Baseball games.
  • Earned $88-this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money. We have decided to use this “extra money” for gardening and other yard supplies.

Personal- 

  • Blogging- 9 for the month. Super busy this month. The blog was technically down for over a week. Hoping to get back in the swing of things.
  • Exercise- 2 total days for the month.  a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not. This weather SUCKS!  I am looking forward to the summer and time in the pool.

5 Things Friday-4/27/2018

  1. We stopped at Lowes after the baseball game tonight and purchased $95 worth of plants. The full moon is scheduled for Sunday so according to farmer’s you are suppose to plant during the upswing of the moon. I am just so excited to get my garden started this year.  I do know that we will need to purchase several additional items but I wanted to at least get the majority started at the “best” time this year.
  2. Matt’s debit card numbers were stolen this week and I have spent almost 5 hours dealing with the aftermath.  We are expected to get back the entire amount that was taken but it is a HUGE  pain in the mean time.
  3. I can file this under the “joys of motherhood.” Tomorrow it would appear that all three of the little kids have somewhere/ something to do.  Which means that I will be playing “taxi” for the part of the day that I am not planting outside.
  4. We are in the middle of baseball season. I actually really enjoy the games but it adds a different level of complexity to our schedule.
  5. Next week, both Kendall and Zach have field days at school which last half a day. Zach has a field trip on Thursday. I am basically take off 2 days of work. But I do realize how quickly they grow up.

Monday Update

So I think it is pretty obvious that I will not meet my blogging goal for the month. I do have a legit reason for it this month, so I wanted to make sure that I have it recorded.  We ended up having to move things from Go Daddy due to price and this web site disappeared for approximately a week. That is as technical as I understand. I am very happy that it has all been saved including the huge amount of pictures that I post each year.  The good news is for now we have three years until we have to deal with the same thing again.

I am over grocery budget again. So far this month I have spent $436 in addition to purchasing our cow. We will still have to pay the processing fee in May but this is a years supply or more of beef.

On a positive note, we have been able to reduce our total debit this month. I am so excited about this small accomplishment. I do anticipate that the next 3-4 weeks will be very expensive as we have several summer expenses that are due. These include pool membership, swim team, church camp and baseball camp.  We also have our car insurance due in the month of May. Yikes

My plan/goal is to get some baseball pictures posted in addition to some other special ones over the last week.