Budget Friendly Easter

We celebrate Easter but it is usually in a low key kind of way. Today was no exception. This morning we started with Easter Baskets at around 6:30am.

84C83166-A3B3-44F3-892A-97512DEC11AA 6FD73009-2379-4E4A-BD8C-95089A5C0940 DAFE24D7-0D81-4246-A94F-14EBB505078FBasket and emoji toys are great things to pick up at the after Easter sales. I would wait until everything is 75% off. Candy is always a good deal at CVS with the ECB, another option is also Target. The Dollar spot at Target can be great for some small socks and stickers. Finally shop at Five Below to grab even more candy and Hot Wheels Cars if you need.

Easter outfits are always fun! Especially when you plan ahead.  Lily and Kendall’s dress were purchased at Costco in February for $16. each. I order Matt and Zach’s matching purple shirts from JCPenny on sale for $9.99 each. Amanda found her dress at Goodwill and David’s shirt was another sale purchase. My outfit was the cheapest from my closet.

5FFF4F5F-2A22-47B9-AFE3-B1F82BBBADF8We all enjoy lunch at my brother’s house and the kids spent the afternoon playing outside and hunting Easter eggs.

I planned ahead and purchased the ham at Aldi using a $5 off $30 coupon several weeks ago. We came home and enjoyed left-overs for dinner in addition to ham salad I made that will last for several weeks.

 

Monday Mania 3/26/2018

We SURVIVED!  Our busiest week of the Spring if not the year was last week. We managed to get everyone to their events and only ate out one  time as a family. I did eat out on Tuesday night but that was planned. My plan is to post some picture this week but we know how things go around here.

Kendall enjoyed her first “Battle of the Books” competition and even got a autographed book from her favorite author.

Zach was the catcher at his first baseball game of the season. Unfortunately, his team lost 10-9 so they only played one game in the tournament. Zach will be playing catcher all year!

Lily participated in the Lexington Youth Theaters “Happy Days” musical. We attended all three shows!

Matt and I both worked and managed to keep the house from falling down.

We had thought that tonight (Monday 26rh) would be the first night at home for everyone in several months but Matt was called in to work. So even with this week being much slower than last week. Everyone will not be home together until Friday night. No wonder I am tired.

Five Things Friday

  1. We have made it halfway through the month of March.  I am so excited to say that we are on track financially for the month!  We have spent $371 for groceries and $153.70 for gas.
  2. Both the vans had an oil change this week and Matt was able to change the brakes on his van.  This was one of the expenses we used our tax return for.  Even better he stayed under budget.
  3. Next week is quite possibility the busiest week of the year.  Kendall has her Battle of the Books. Zach has a preseason baseball tournament. And Lily play starts on Friday night with longer practices every night.
  4. I decided to go ahead and purchase new glasses as I am starting to have trouble seeing. I purchased from Zennni Online.  The total cost was $131. I am very anxious to try them.
  5. We purchased a trailer of mulch today. More details hopefully to follow…

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Menu Plan Monday-3/12/2018

I ended up with half a snow day today so decided to add dessert and homemade mac and cheese to the menu. Both turned out well and we (the kids and I) spent some quality time together.

Breakfast- Saturday-Cereal and left-overs , Sunday- Breakfast bowls (leftovers turned into burritos) , Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday- Baked oatmeal

Lunch- Saturday- left-overs  , Sunday- Stuffed Green Pepper soup , Monday- Pigs in a blanket. The kids are taking 2 day of sandwiches and 2 grab and go days.  I plan to eat at work a couple of times this week as they have my favorite sandwich.

Dinner – Saturday- Ground beef enchiladas , Sunday- Breakfast including gravy and fried eggs.    Monday- Chicken Nuggets, mac and cheese, pears and peanut butter cookies, Tuesday- Leftovers, Wednesday-Hamburger Helper, Thursday- Country style steak or chicken from Costco, Friday- Pork chops or pulled pork.

Prepping

My mother has always said that “in order to get to church on Sunday, you have to start on Saturday night.”   This is really the case for us and even more so when it comes to living with our crazy busy schedule right now.  Throw in the fact, that today, Sunday was also Matt and I only day off together this week and it has been really busy but productive. We did decided on Saturday night, that we would eat out for lunch today.  Instead of rushing home from church, grabbing some lunch, changing clothes and then heading to Winston, I warned everyone to wear comfortable shoes for walking to church.  We ended up eating lunch at Red Robbin. It is always a fun treat for us to eat out.

After picking up an on-line order at JCPennys and finding  a new glove for Zach at PlayItAgainSports the real preparation for the week began.  Our menu plan is already made for the week but I realized that we have fallen behind on meal preparation.  I used the instapot to cook chicken breast and threw in the Kitchen Aid mixer to shred. We ended up making 2 complete batches of Chicken Enchiladas, one for dinner and a second for March.  I also made a chicken pie for later in the week. On plan has a Shepherd’s Pie for Monday. As I started to gather up the ingredients , I discovered  5lbs of potatoes that had started to spout. These were peeled, diced and became mashed potatoes. I used some to top the Shepherd’s Pie and the rest is in the freezer to grab for some quick easy meals. In a span of about 2 hours, we made a total of four meals that need just to go in the oven.

One of the things that is a given on Sunday afternoon is the kids picking out clothes and lunches for the week. I usually check the weather and decide what type of clothing they need to pick out. The clothes are placed outside of there rooms so no changing around is done. We also decide what is going to be taken for lunch and prepare as much of it ahead of time as possible. Matt and I also made our lunches for Monday as well. This saves us so much time that I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

What’s Happening?

I was doing so well and blogging several times a week, and then 7 days of silence what happened?
The short answer is LIFE

But in order to give you an idea about what that looks like for us here is a more detailed answer.

For the next six weeks, Lily has practice for the theater Monday- Friday from 4-6 pm. The good news is that we have worked it out so that Matt drops her off and I am picking her up most evenings on my way home from work. The bad news is that means we are eating dinner at 6:30 which means that the evening does not exist for me.

Kendall stays after school on Tuesdays for Battle of the Books till 3:30 and on Wednesday for Sign Language club. Zach and Kendall both attend a kid’s program on Wednesday nights from 6 to 8pm.

Zach has just signed up for spring baseball this past week. I am assuming that we will start a practice schedule of 2 or 3 days a week very soon. In the meantime, he was asked to play on a different team than he has in the past. This team is playing “kid-pitch” baseball so this adds some interesting changes and expenses to the table.

Matt has been working extra, in fact, today was his sixth day in a row working with it also being his 7th out of 8 days as well. We fully expect this to change over the next month but are open and encouraging to continue try and gain some financial ground this year.

Next let’s talk a little about the weekends.  Friday night, Lily stayed after practice for some fun and food with her cast mates until 8pm.  Kendall attended her very first sleepover on Friday night as well. On Saturday, all three kids had a piano lesson, this is a wonderful opportunity but takes a good 3 hour chunk from our day.  Zach ended up going to a friends house for several hours as well on Saturday.

As you can tell life is back to it’s busy pace around here.

Six Things On Saturday- 2/10/2018

Yes this is the “day late and dollar short” version of 5 Things Friday. I will be the first to admit that the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and emotionally exhausting in addition to being financially straining.

Yesterday, was our first full paycheck for the month of February. The good news is that we were able to catch up from the snow week. I have a plan in place for both our tax returns and am very hopeful that this will allow us back on a slow but steady track to paying down our huge debit this year. We are working to reduce both our electric and water bills to a more normal level. Matt and I have already worked out a Menu plan for the month which means we should be able to keep the grocery bill on a lower than usual level. Another positive is that Matt has been selling vinyl decals on a very steady basis this month. This is definitely helpful as we have lots of unexpected expenses.

I am battling left-overs in our fridge.  Our super bowl party is always fun but we end up with some interesting left-overs.  This week, I made an effort to make meals of left-overs and strongly suggested that Matt and Lily eat left-overs for lunch. Today, I am repurposing left-overs, we had a bag of carrots, and a bunch of celery, several cups of rice and some pulled pork.  I did a little bit of thinking and decided to make pork fried rice.  I chopped up the pork and realized that we had over 4 cups left which is enough to make 2 full meals for us. I let Kendall help chop up the carrots and celery. I added some green peppers and onions and that became our veggies for the stir-fry. One set for dinner and a second set in the freezer for a crazy day of what is for dinner.

Zach has officially started taking piano. He has been asking for over a year but we really wanted him to wait until he was a strong reader before attempting. Kendall started teaching him this week for fun. He even practiced every day without being told. This is definitely an expense that I don’t mind adding.

I am so ready for spring, in fact I have already planned out our square foot garden and added several more containers. I am very hopefully that with a little extra work this year we will have a bumper crop.  I purchased trees a couple of years ago to start work on a landscape line. The trees came with a 2 year guarantee. I received an email yesterday that a new peach tree is being shipped this week. My mother has also been growing several pecan trees in her flower bed. So we should be able to finish the border without spending any additional money!

Our busy schedule has returned. Some days, I am honestly thinking how do we actually do this. This week, Lily has practice for her play, 4 nights and a party the 5th night. Kendall has 2 days of extra curricular activities in addition to church on Wednesday night. Matt has also doubled his hours at work for this week. Yikes, better rest up today!

Saving on Food

Food is the single most expensive item in our budget.  I have been very proud in the past several years to slowly but surely reduce our grocery budget from $800 to $475. I also will just put out there that we no longer have kids in diapers either so that helps.  Eating out is a huge expense and one that we have also reduced significantly over the past several years.   I am trying to find a happy balance between a stocked pantry and shopping sales.  This week the only real need we have is milk, cream and toilet paper but I plan to stock up on cereal and pop-tarts as well because they are on an awesome sale.

I have found two great fast food deals that I want to share with you. First is McDonalds, download the app! The deals always change. Currently, the focus is on mobile ordering. It is super easy to do. Matt and I both have the app so we were able to eat lunch for $5.47 on Tuesday. We used the $1 any sandwich and I added a large fry and $1 soda. Another great deal can be scored today, Sonic had fifty cent corn dogs all day. This is honestly even better than purchasing and frying ourselves!

Saving On Saturday 02/03/2018

I am super excited to share about my trip to Harris Teeter.  I receive the weekly email but often delete it before checking it out, however this week the 12 pack of Cokes for $1.99 caught my eye.  I also was glad that I found packs of shredded cheese for $0.99 each. I stocked up on my limit of 10 and may have convinced by Mother to purchase another 8 on her card. The other really exciting part of this trip was that they are doubling coupons up to $2 this week. This is the most I have saved!

By the numbers:
Total before VIC Card and coupons $176.18
VIC savings                                       $126.20
Coupon Savings                                $19.98
Total Savings                                    $146.18
Total spent                                        $57.30
Saving Percent                                  77%