Thursday Thoughts

I must admit that I was wrong. I assumed that with school ending for all three kids last week, things would slow down. Nope, we are still moving at what feels like full speed ahead. I am off work today, using a sick day because all three kids have dentist appointments and our first swim meet is this afternoon. I return to work on Friday for my final day of the school year! I am exhausted and looking forward to spending some quality time at the pool this weekend!

Lily and Kendall will be attending our church camp next week. Zach decided he would prefer baseball camp instead. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and plan to spend at least part of the week, catching up on shopping. Zach and I should have some fun as well.

I am doing awesome on limiting my grocery spending for the month. So far I have spent $71.53. I do need to pick up several items at Costco so I am sure this will end up closer to $300 by the end of the month. One of my new favorite things to do is check the “clearance” sections of Food Lion. I have been able to find sausage patties and links for under $2 a package. Other finds include candy, juices and baked treats. I have also discovered that Aldi discounts baked goods on Wednesday. I am hopeful that we will be able to keep our grocery spending to a minimal by simply eating out of the pantry and shopping the sales as often as I can.

Another area that should have a huge decrease is gas. We have spent $127 so far this month. I am anticipating that with tomorrow being my last day of driving to work of the summer. I should be able to reduce the gas by one tank a week. The only problem is that we live in the middle of nowhere so any trips involve gas.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is the last day of school. This week has been a whirlwind of activities and events to mark the end. Today, Kendall has her 5th grade graduation! Zach’s awards day was on Thursday. He has maintained an A average for the year. My mother is correct in her statement that I really deserve the awards as much as we struggle each week in spelling. Zach was also voted “Future President”. I hope this means he has a charismatic personality!
  2. We are starting to harvest several items from the garden, We have several LARGE zucchini, a couple of handfuls of snap beads, a random pepper about once a week and of course dill and basil. I am really excited to see some blossoms on our cucumber plants!
  3. Kendall has decide that she wants to cheer next year. I signed her up at the booster club. They will be cheering for football and basketball. The season runs from July to February. I am excited that she wants to cheer but also know it will mean some juggling of our schedule.
  4. The kids are planning to attend several camps this summer. Lily is going both to camp and a national youth event. Zach has baseball camp, and arts discovery camp. Kendall is going to church camp and already has several other days planned around middle school chorus. We, as a family, are planning a 5 day missions trip in addition to our annual beach trip.
  5. I have four and half days of work left! 9 weeks of summer vacation is starting to sound shorter and shorter! But I am so excited!

Month in Review

May has come to a flying finish. I went in to the month knowing that it would most likely be one of our busiest as a family. May did not disappoint in this for sure. We should be finishing up baseball next week after a 2 week break. Swim team has started with a goal of attending at least three practices a week. We have birthday parties, graduation parties and end of the year activities that all seem to be keeping our calendar full.

 As you can tell from the pictures yesterday, the garden is looking awesome, we have been able to harvest some green peppers, two very small zucchini, basil, dill and of course mint. We have blossoms on the tomato plants and the corn is over knee high. 

With all the scheduled activities for the month, menu planning has been important however we have been making changes to accommodate evening when we have literally an hour or less at home to get not only homework finished but some sort of dinner. We ended up eating out Chinese once and ordered pizza once. It feels like I am going to the grocery store every other day. However, I am starting to realize that the reason for this is that I am only buying what we are out of or what things I find on manager special. I am planning to write a post this weekend about the deals I have been able to find at Food Lion.  I have been able to keep a total of grocery spending. We are currently at $325 including the $75 trip I made on Thursday of this week. I am very pleased with this amount and plan to continue to monitor and reduce the overall spending for the summer months.  

We ended up spending around $400 for gas this month. I am not keeping a running total for this because we have to have gas to work and for most of our everyday activities. After much thought and consideration, this is really not a budget item that I can control.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I made the decision this week to sell the little red car. I was pleasantly surprised that it only took two day for it to sell. This will probably mean an increase in our gas spending but it did mean a $70 decrease in insurance for the short term. Today is the last paycheck for the school year and it was less than anticipated. I am going to have to sit down this summer and redo our budget once I actually figure out what I can anticipate for my salary next year. The good news is that I have scheduled two deposit, one in June and one in July, that will serve as my paychecks for the summer.

The area that has seen the greatest improvement during the month of May is with my weight loss and exercise. I have walked a total of 8 days with one of those being in the water. I have lost 2# this month.

I was able to increase my number of post for May to 13! I am only two away from goal.

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $80. This is again going down but free money is free money.

PLANS:  9 day of work left till Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month! I want to keep the grocery budget less than $300 again. The cost of gas should also decrease significantly this summer as well due to me not going to work. We are planning to replace the tires on the old van. This money will come from profits of selling the car.  Lots of things to think about and consider during the summer! I plan to update regularly so get ready to enjoy some summer fun and gardening.  Spending should be minimal as we have already paid pool dues, all summer camps and our Wet and Wild membership is also paid.  f

April in Review

April is in the books. I honestly can say I think it flew by.  The success this month is planting the square foot garden!   We already have lots of small plants and I am very hopeful to start eating out of the garden by the end of May.

We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! I have also been really good at eating things before they have to be thrown away.  Unfortunately, I have not been keeping a running record of our grocery spending but estimate we spent around $300. I am back to good record keeping today!

Fell off the wagon with keeping up with gas spending as well.

We are struggling in the area of finances this month as well. I am hopeful for positive news soon on this front.  We increased our overall debt but also covered summer camps for all three kids. I am beginning to notice a pattern and know what needs to be done to change it…. I NEED TO STICK TO WRITING THINGS DOWN!  Some good news is that my check was $100 more than expected. Matt was able to reduce his work cost by $35 a month.  I also have a better budget in place. I NEED TO STICK TO IT!

I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. May is warmer and the pool will open soon which also gives me better opportunity for walking.

I was only able to post 9 times in the month of April.

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $100. Currently we are grabbing gift cards to Dominos which are discounted at 20%. Pizza is good!

PLANS: 6 weeks of work left for me! Bring on the Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month!  We are also planning of painting Lily’s room which should get us caught up to date on house projects!

March in Review

March was a different kind of month. I have really enjoyed the last week off for my spring break. I realized today that I would for 14 days(3 weeks) and have a long weekend at Easter. This should also work out timing wise so we can plant most of the square foot garden. This past week, I have spent a lot of time cooking and shopping!

We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! Yesterday, Saturday the 30th was a total fail as we ate out breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a find your own meal, which meant lots of starch was consumed. I did not stick to the grocery budget in any shape form or fashion, in fact I spent $1100 for groceries this month. Check out this post if you want to see my rationale.

Driving is a way of life for use but I am just trying to get a firm idea of what we are spending each month in order to budget better, $565 is the number for March.

Unfortunately, we did not reduce our overall debt in the month of March.  I did keep track of spending. We ended up with 6 days of NO spending for the month. This appears to be a really low number to me. I would like to track April and hopefully will achieve at least 50% or 15 days of no spending for the month.

I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. I did have a doctor’s visit this past week and have lost 2 pounds in 3 months but am `5 pounds heavier than I was a year ago.  I am hopefully with the warmer weather and longer days to start walking on a more regular basis. The goal for April will be once a week or a total of 5 times during the month.

This is post number 15 for the month!  After two years, I have finally met this goal. Now to continue with the success!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month but are at our lowest point of $80 for the month. We have used this entire amount for working on things outside. The good news is that this means we have not spent anything on the square foot garden so we are eating free food at this point.

PLANS: One of the downfalls of my new job is that in both April and May my paycheck will be reduced by $500. I am going to track our spending very closely for now to try and maintain some balance. We will have 2 or more Baseball games a week but this should be less than $10 each week.  I plan to keep grocery shopping to a minimal of less than $100 as well. The countdown to summer is on; 12 weeks till I have an 8 week vacation!

Grocery Spending

First a look at the numbers:
March Grocery spending prior to my Spring break  $304.20
Grocery Spending this week (Spring break  $754.25
Total Grocery Spending for March $1058.45
Total Grocery Spending for February $175

Budget for Groceries $450 each month

 

One of the reasons that I continue to update and blog is that it proves accountability for me of some form. In addition, it allows me to glance back that years past and give a better perspective.
March 2018 Spending $726.27          March 2016 Spending $200

Now, let me explain at least part of the spending.  I am enjoying a week long break from my job so I wanted to make sure I got lots of things in place to help the next 9-11 weeks go smoothly.  We are entering a “busy” season for us, baseball 2-3 nights a week and then swimming for everyone starts in early May. My goal this week was to prepare ahead as many meals as possible which in the long run will save both time and money. I am actually ahead for the most part with this goal, I have already gotten 13 meals in the freezer with plans for at least 7 more before the week ends. So that is a total of 20 evening meals in addition to the 5 for this week.  Just looking at that number I am averaging $42.33 a meal to feed 6 people.  I also purchased 30 lunchables for the kids to take to school so that also reduces the amount.

Another  way to look at my March spending is that I had $275 left in my grocery budget for February.  I also purchased enough food that I don’t plan to spend much of my April budget for groceries either so if I leave $100 in the grocery budget for April then I am back to my monthly average of $450.

After looking at the numbers, overall I am very pleased with both the amount of spending and the amount of food that I have prepped ahead of time. I did way over spend this month but if I can control spending for the next couple of month I will definitely be back on track!

Saving at CVS

My goal for today at CVS was to buy hair spray and hair gel that we are running dangerously low on.  I did manage to accomplish that goal but also racked up an awesome trip for saving as well.

I spent a total of eighty-nine cents and saved #33.13 or 97%.  I included tax in my spending and also saving percentage so it does not get much better than this. Fifty-two cent was the sales tax.  CVS sent a bunch of coupons via the mail last week, which is not unusual but it included coupons for free items which is unusual. The face mask and nuts were both free items. The toothpaste was a money maker using a $2.00 manufactures coupon and getting $2ECBs.  I also had a coupon for eighty-eighty cent off a candy bar. The full size Hershey bars were on sale for eighty-eight each and the Reese eggs were 2 for $1. Other CVS coupons included $4 off $20 and 25% off regular priced items.

CVS was definitely worth the trip this week!

Random Tuesday Thoughts

  • We have spent more money on “unexpected medical cost ” in the past month than in the past 2 years. Matt had an infection under his crown, $17 prescription and $129 dentist bill, Lily had strep throat, $40 co pay and $5 prescription and Kendall has a virus that has kept her out of school for the past 2 days $40 co pay.
  • I am becoming more and more frustrated this month as I am tracking every dollar we are spending. We currently have spent $267 in the past 8 days. There is only one day in that time period that has been a no spending day.  $99 of that is gas and $40 for a copay. The rest of the list is wants not needs.  I am planning to continue until the last week of the month. I am really surprised at the amount of money we are spending and how fast it is leaving my accounts.
  • I spent some time this weekend and have planned out most of the square foot garden. We are going to try something different this year, planting/starting most of it from seeds instead of buying plants. I have been collecting seeds at fifty cent a pack over the past several month and will also be using seeds that I have stored for the past couple of years. I am going to over sow the area as well and may have to weed out some plants but this still appears to be cheaper option than purchasing the plants. I do need to buy probably 4-5 bags of soil to add to some of the beds but I have decided against buying the expensive $18 a bag and plan to use gift cards from Swagbucks to purchase at Lowes.
  • We have started 2 separate grocery list, one for Costco and one for Aldi/Walmart. I think that I have finally gotten everyone on board with the no grocery shopping until the end of the month. We ended up using French fries last night for the breakfast casserole because we were out of both hash browns and tater tots.
  • Hopefully Matt will get the buffet/ bar finished this weekend, we have had a delay in progress due to the weather and another delay due to items not being ready at Lowes.

Saving on Saturday 2/9/2019

I have often said in the past that saving money and living on less is a lifestyle choice.  I will also be the first to admit, it is not a fun or easy choice. I wanted to highlight some of the better choices that I made this week.

Gardening– The weather earlier this week was beautiful, highs in the 70’s for several days in a row.  We took one afternoon and spent about 2 hours trimming the rose bushes and removing weeds from the garden and flower beds.  I am really excited to have extra time this summer to spend working and caring for the garden.  After some thought, Matt and I have agreed to use our Swagbucks for both plants and supplies that we need to eliminate the initial cost. I estimate that prior to planting, first of May, we should have around $150 in gift cards to use for this project. I am hopeful that this will cover not only the cost of the plants but also some fertilizer and additional dirt.  I did purchase 2 packs of seeds at Walmart this weekend. We found for fifty cent each. I used Shopkicks  ($2 card earned in the store) to cover this purchase. No upfront expenses make any and all food we manage to raise FREE!

Groceries–  This is probably my greatest struggle.  This week we have focused on eating up and not letting any of the leftovers from junk food Sunday  go to waste.  One evening this week was a left-over meal. Additional, we have been using these items for lunches.  I enjoyed one day of a huge salad that included broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and tomatoes from the veggie tray. We added taco dip to our dinner of chicken enchiladas and spinach dip (creamed spinach) to our Salisbury steak meal.  I made egg salad with the remaining devil eggs which both Zach and Kendall took for lunch.

I also have found some new crock pot recipes that I want to try over the next couple of week to add to our list of quick and good meals. This particular website even provides a grocery list but I want to try each recipe using what we already have before spending additional money.  If these turn out to be repeats, they will be a summer project to stock the freezer while I am out of work during the summer.

I purchased a grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid on sale for 60% off today. Our family does not particular enjoy roast, we purchased a whole cow last year with probably 20 different roast. My plan is to use the new attachment to turn the roast into hamburger which we used on a regular basis.

CVS- I have slowly been stock up on a variety of items from the weekly sales. I have managed to make a weekly trip the last several weeks. My saving percentages have been around 75% for each week. I have needed to restock on toothpaste, shampoo and body wash up front before moving on to laundry detergent and paper products. I am limiting myself to spending $10 or less per week at CVS.

No Spend Fail

When I posted goals in January, I was going to work very very hard at achieving them. I was honest and thought that they were attainable. But what I failed to take into account is that January is the LONGEST month of the year. seriously 5 full weeks.

The good news
I have been able to keep a record of our spending in gas. It is averaging around $93 a week.  This will give me a realistic amount to work in the budget.
I found out that my insurance paid more than expected on Zach’s brace. This was a huge expected win. I actually only owe 2 or months instead of 3. In addition each month is approximately $10 than I anticipated
I have been able to keep up with my devotions at three times a week!

NOW  the fail
Both Matt and I have apple phones that are 2.5 years old. They were both paid for in August. Over the past several weeks, things have gone from annoying like no siri, a delay when receiving message to problematic. When I receive a text is take a minute including a white screen before I can read it. In addition my gps was acting strange and finally my phone lost a work message.  We did some research and decided to take advantage of Verizon’s BOGO apple phone sale. We ended up spending about 3 hours at the Verizon store. We both got new phones and I got an apple watch.  As much as I use my phone and we both need it for work, it is an expense that is justified in the end.

I also had intended to spend $60 or less on groceries this month. So far I have spent $75 however I am planning a trip to Costco on Saturday. A full week early but a trip that is need to restock several major items include garbage bags, toilet paper and paper towel. I have managed to only buy items we are out of this month so at least that is a start.