ICY Thursday Thoughts

We woke up to ice this morning. The weather prediction is that we will continue to have freezing rain all day.  Because the state was placed under a State of Emergency, Kendall, Zach and I all have a true snow day. NO work or remote learning!  I do have to work in Guam but this really gives me a chance to catch up!

  • How the kids are spending most of the day…. Braxton spent last night with us because both of his parents had to work today.
  • I am planning to spend part of the day cooking!  This morning I made French Toast. We all enjoyed for breakfast and I quickly froze the remaining 4 slices for another easy breakfast.  Because of my crazy busy work schedule this week, we have been eating out of the refrigerator. With this nasty cold wet weather, I decided to add in a pot of soup a day until at least Sunday. This is a huge benefit to being at home. First it is a hot meal that everyone usually likes! Next, it is easy storage and can be used as dinners for next week. We try to package in single serving containers to make it much easier to heat and eat! And I am definitely using all the items in my pantry and freezers.
  • A no work day also let’s me continue to go through and organize both pantry and freezers. I have been determined since the first of the year to first reduce our grocery budget as it had gotten totally out of control in 2020.  I also needed to figure out what food we have and what we actually need. I am continuing to use Alexa to store both my regular grocery list and my Costco list on. I will likely get to Costco this weekend.
  • We were able to get our washer repaired on Monday.  Total cost was $130!   I am hopeful we can get at least another 10 years out of it now! I am also focusing on getting caught up on laundry. We were without a washer for 3 weeks which means lots of extra loads.  We were able to keep up with our regular clothes by washing at Amanda’s, my mom’s and a friend but nothing extra.  This morning, I have already washed 3 loads for Zach including his sheets and comforter.   Kendall will hopefully get her sheet done today as well. My goal is to wash our sheets tomorrow as I will be working remotely.

Making the best our of a really desired snow day!

What’s Up?

  • I wanted to share this in case any one wonders why my blog post are so sparse this month. The other probably more important reason to share is so that three or more years from now, I can remember why I can’t work 2 jobs.  Currently I am averaging an additional 15 hours a week in Guam. This is in addition to my regular 40 hours at Davie County Schools.  This week, I did receive several emails that Promise to  begin lighten my load over the next month or so.  The idea that they have hired 3 more therapist and when everything is said and done I will lose hopefully half my caseload shows a better picture of how busy I really.
  • Washer update- The pump is bad as well… currently waiting on the new pump to arrive, I honestly have no clue what the cost will be so…..
  • Making BIG plans for the garden this year, I am going to completely re-arrange and re-do the whole thing.  First it will be significantly taller. This should reduce the amount of dogs that decide they like it. Second it will make it much easier for me to work and maintain without bending over so  much. I am anticipating a huge expense but also hope to re-use as much as possible from the existing.
  • Our final Disney trip for at least 2 years is 50 something days away. I am currently working on saving the money to cover our food expenses. Not sure how much we will end up with especially with the washer repair a still unknown.
  • Goal of this week is no food waste, I have a plan and the refrigerator is nicely stocked. So far this month we have spent $172.74.I was planning on a trip to Costco but still not sure where to fit that in at either so I may try to make it to March before adventuring to Costco.

Saving on Saturday

After the struggle we had last week I am glad to say that things are definitely looking better today.

Instead of replacing the washer, we decided to have a repairman check it out to determine if it was worth the repair.   I am excited to say that he came this morning and it is a belt which will cost $20. So along with his labor we are around $100 to repair, saving us $500 if we had chosen to replace.

I feel like I am finally controlling the grocery budget.  The first thing that has made a huge difference is use “Alexa” to keep up with what items need to be on my grocery list. I have gotten in the habit of adding items as they are used up to the grocery list and then printing before going to the store. I save time and money by not purchasing items not needed!  In January we spent $230 on groceries and so far this month we have spent $171!  This is a significant reduction in our spending from last year!  I do anticipate a COSTCO trip at the end of the month but I also have a Costco list going on the Alexa so that should help as well.

My mother has been watching food prices and let me know that Aldai had  ground beef for $1.49 a pound this week.  The limit was 2-5 pound tubes. I was able to purchase 5 tubes between myself, mom and Matt today. This is the absolute lowest I have seen ground beef in several years.  I did a quick check of the freezer to determine what we needed. I was able to process 25 # today. We have taco meat, Matt’s chill and my chill. Baked beans for lunch tomorrow and 9 bags of cooked meat to use to help with a quick meal on our busy days.

Matt was able to use some wood from the building to make 2 additional Minnie Ear holders for Kendall’s wall and a shelf for Zach’s room. I will try and post pictures as soon as they both get painted.

Finally, I remember to add digital coupons and offers prior to heading to Food Lion today. My receipt says that I save $26.00 and I earned $4. in rewards!

How did you save money today?

What’s happening?

I would really like to write a how we are saving on Saturday post. So far our out of pocket has been minimal but I don’t know if it is going to last.

First problem, internet. Now to be honest, internet problems for a long time.  We actually received a $49 credit this past month because of recent troubles. While working at home on this week, I noticed that the internet would go out for around a minute at a time. Matt called and they sent out a tech on Friday.  He ended up replacing both the modem and wireless router.  The cost to us was only the time spent waiting on the tech and the lost of internet for around an hour.  I am really hopeful that this will fix the problem.

Second problem… much worse  of course.   Matt woke up around midnight last night and then again around 2am. The temperature inside the house seemed to be dropping. We plugged in our space heater and at 6am the temperature inside the house was 59. We called the person who installed our system 14 years ago. He provided awesome service, returning the call around 8 and was here around 11.  It was the thermostat.  Luck for us a quick and cheap repair.

As we are trying to stay warm, we notice another problem, the washer is not spinning properly and the clothes are really wet.  This is an ongoing problem, we have contacted a friend who is a repairman hoping for some advice to see if we should have repaired or replace. The washer is 12 years old and get used on a daily basis if not more than daily.

One positive that occurred today, I turned the stove on a self-cleaning cycle to add heat to the house.  While it was running, Matt and I ended up giving it the best cleaning it has had in several year. I jokingly said now watch it will be so clean that it will not work properly. So far so good it works great!

5 Things Friday

  1. Lily got her permit today! 
  2. Amanda was able to get a new to her car without any assistance or co-signer. She returned the van she has been using since she no longer needs it. We sold the van for $1000!
  3. I am exhausted, this week has been extremely busy with both my regular job and Guam. I am scheduled to work Sunday through Thursday every night for the next month.
  4. Lily and Zachary are grounded.  The reason is politics.
  5. The kids have decided to attempt to start a small business of there own, making Christmas ornaments and pot holders out of wood.  Matt and I will be assisting in the sell but first they need an inventory.

Life Happens- Unexpected Trip

Things change very quickly, as has been proven yet again. Matt’s father passed away on Sunday January 10th. We made the very difficult decision to leave all the kids here and head to Florida to help make arrangements and for the memorial service.  This trip was total unplanned but fortunately we were able to cover the cost without causing significant hardship.  The emotional toil was significantly higher than any money spent.  Amanda was able to spend Monday- Thursday night at our house. Haley stayed Friday and Saturday night.  My mother was the bus driver and made sure that Kendall and Zach got to school every day and to piano.  A friend stepped in to make sure the kids got to church on Wednesday night. I had already written our meal plan so no additional food or groceries were needed at home, although the kids ate out several times as a sister treat.

One thing we learned very quickly was that the small town in Florida that we were heading to was hosting a dog show.  The price of a room jumped from $72 a night to $114 after our first two nights.  Total cost for hotel was $546.71

We chose to drive with both of us going. We did consider flying but would have needed to rent a car for the week so we could not justify this expense. Total spent in gas was $112.25

We did go to Disney Springs on Wednesday night for dinner. On Thursday, we used a remaining day ticket from our December trip to spend the day at Magic Kingdom. I was able to redeem point to cover the parking and several snacks. Although this increased our trip cost by $150, this was a much needed break from the stress of the week and I would not change a thing. Our photo pass from December also was active so I will share some pictures on Wednesday.

Our total cost of the trip was $1471.  We placed most of the expenses on our gas credit card that we planned to pay off this month. During our trip Amanda who has been driving our older van decided to obtain a car loan and get a new to her car.  She returned the older van which we will sell to recovery $1000. This is very unexpected but will enable us to cover the trip with little to no financial strain!

5 Things Friday

  1. I have not used this format since September ??? Really maybe that is the reason I have not been hitting my blogging goal?
  2. Today both the kids and I had a remote learning day due to the weather forecast of 2- 4 inches of snow. Instead, we have had a cold rain most of the day with a change over to snow around 4pm. It has been yucky!
  3. I have made a “extra” money goal. I would like to save $500 a month in January, February and March to use as our food money in April. So far for the first week of January I have “found” or saved $203. If I can get to $475 I can purchase gift cards at Target to save an additional $25.
  4.  We are working hard at staying on track with our budget in January. So far was have spent $55 in gas and $91 in groceries.  I did place a Norwex order for more of Lily detergent so that will be an additional $70.
  5. My van is still in the shop after I hit the deer. Because they are going to repair damage from when I backed in the pole at Baptist hospital while Amanda was in the hospital. They estimate it will be fixed next week. I paid $500 from our stimulus and the insurance covered the rest of the repair.

Budget Busting Day Almost

I am currently enjoying my two week Christmas break. Today, I had plans to spend most of the day shopping the after Christmas sales with my Mom.

On the way to pick up Mom a deer decided to come out of a field and ended up hitting the side of the van very hard.  I watched the deer run off so last I know it is still alive. Luckily the passengers side of the van already has several dents and scratches so I was at least thankful that we can now get the whole side repaired. I contacted my insurance and I should only need to pay the $500 deductible for collision. I am estimating that the total repair will be close to $4000 based on the sounds of the door and the damage I see. I was even able to schedule a repair for in the morning at 9:20am. I was able to look at the budget and cover this expense fairly easily but it does remind me that we need to make an emergency fund a priority!

Yesterday, we had our close friends over for lunch and I fixed  Taco Soup in the crockpot. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped the lid of the crockpot and it broken off. It was definitely still useable but not ideal.  The crock pot got really hot and has been cooking foods really fast really too fast so I decided that when my soup was overcooked it needed to be replaced.  I was able to find a basic replacement for $30 and decided to use my Christmas money for this purchase.

Finally tonight I was going to try a new recipe for “Cowboy Casserole” it needed 2 lbs. of ground beef. I found a package in the freezer and decided to use the insta pot to speed things along.  It appeared to be going well until I went to release the pressure and there was none.  I opened the lid and after 40 minutes the meat was still frozen and the inside of the pot was black at varies points.  Even 2 hours later the entire pot was warm to the touch.  Another item in the trash can! I am still debating if I want to replace this or not. It is not an item that I use frequently and can only think of 2 real items that I “need” it to produce.

 

5 Things Friday- COVID 19 Edition

Did you ever think to yourself- why might could happen if you decided to buy a new car on Friday the 13th 2020?    I am so glad I am not the only one and I do have the definitive answer- COVID!

  1.  We decided to go ahead and trade the 2016 Honda CVR that I have been driving in for a 2017 Chevy Equinox on Friday November 13th.   We actually were going to shop on Friday night and planned to purchase on Saturday but we ended up finishing up all the paperwork and driving away in the new to us car around 9pm.
  2. I am going to share the reasons we decided to trade cars just for future reference and so I can prove to myself that we did think this through and not regret the purchase. First- neither Matt nor I really enjoyed driving the Honda CVR, it was not a car that we would have purchased. It was under powered and although the gas mileage was better than the van, not enjoyable to drive. Next- the payment was extremely high. I actually had to split the payment in half in order to make it fit our budget.  After doing the research, I realized that we could likely reduce our payment by trading even with our upside down status. Finally- Matt has been employed at his job for over a year. Which allowed us to improve both of our credit scores at the same time. By trading and placing the new Equinox in Matt’s name, we reduced my debt ratio and improved his rating with consistent payments.  We have accomplished all we set out to do. Car payment is $100 less, Equinox is a car we both enjoy driving and credit will improve in the next six months.
  3. Sunday, the kids arrived home from spending the weekend with Haley and we took them for a drive in the new car. We ended up eating outside at the Salisbury Cracker Barrel. Matt and I had skipped church that morning because he was not feeling well and we did not want to expose any one to our germs. After eating on Sunday, Zach became sick and threw up.  It was a one time thing so I did not worry about it as this can happen.
  4. Monday- Matt says he is staying home from work so I decided to take Zach to school. He does not have a fever at home or at school. I honestly thought he had a case of the “Mondays”.  I dropped him off at school and headed to work where I was schedule to see 3 kids back to back a 30 minute break and another 5 kids back to back.  I get a call from Matt that his boss suggest he go test for Covid, because he is positive and has exposed the whole office all week. I finish the third kid and as I am checking my phone to call Matt back, Zach school is calling he threw up!
  5. Matt did test positive. By Friday (today) his symptoms are very light and he is only taking medicine at night.  We suspect that Zach had food poisoning – I ate some of the spinach dip that he had on Sunday and it was bad. I threw it out after one bite and had a horrible stomach ache.  By Friday, Zach is completely better! I have had what feels like sinus stuff to me. I have not had a fever, but runny nose and wet cough.   Lily has had a sore throat but feels much better today. Kendall ended up with a headache. Everyone is currently on quarantine. We have not left the house since Monday.  We are praying for two specific things- no one else get COVID and we can have a small family Thanksgiving. We have been told that 3-4 days without symptoms can end Matt’s quarantine and if no one else has symptoms especially a fever before then. We should be safe. the health department is suppose to call  on either Thursday or Wednesday to officially release us as well.