Project Catch Up with Financial Implications.

We are currently about halfway through the summer. I start back to work on August 17th with the kids all going back to school on August 29th.  We had a list of projects that we wanted to tackle this summer.  Some of the items on the list have been postpone due to financial implication and or time constraints.  We have been working hard on some of the projects, so this is a mid-summer update.

Kitchen Floor– This was our second project with the first being having the shower room floor replaced and repaired. The kitchen was last replaced in March of 2020. At that time, we chose a laminate floor that we had hoped would last 20 plus years.  This floor was not what it promised. The floor started to pull apart and pop up in different areas almost immediately.  It has gotten progressively worse to the point that we could not go barefooted in the kitchen due because it was snagging and tearing clothes and cutting feet.   We have decided to postpone having the shower room floor completed until next summer due to time and money. The kitchen floor did not give us the option. After some discussion regarding our options, we chose to remove the top layer of flooring and return to the previous floor.  The good news is that removal of the floor was fairly simple. We did need to do some minor repair work including screwing some of the floor in place to prevent gaps.  I am happy to report that we were able to complete this task last week. I have ordered a couple of rugs to cover the area that was previously a wall.  The total expense for the project is $120.

Chickens- After much debate and pleading on the kids parts, we have decided to get chickens as our next pet.  The ultimate goal is to have enough eggs that we stop buying but they will also be an additional pet. We knew up front that this would be a rather expensive project.  We are moving very close to getting the chickens which will likely be before the end of July.
Expenses so far:  Clearing of land- $1000
Purchase of chicken coop- $630
Wire for additional chicken run- $20 found next door!
Wood for additional chicken run and landscaping- $372
I will be adding to this and changing as we finish up but I am expecting around $2500

Bike Rake for Trailer- We actually broken even on this as we ended up selling both our luggage box and hitch rake for $100. The bike rake was $50 and we had to spend another $25 to update the wiring on the trailer.

My other goal for the summer is food preparation for the coming school year. This will be an ongoing project so stick around for the rest of the summer!

5 Things Friday

  1. Overwhelmed yeap that is currently how I am feeling!  Today is the last day of school for Kendall and Zach. This means that for the short run 2 weeks or so we will have less to none things happening at night so maybe I can get caught up on the things that need doing.
  2. Garden- I am amazed at how much and how well things seem to be growing.  We have baby tomatoes, squash and snap peas. We are currently harvesting Kale, radish, dill and chives.. I want to get some pictures up soon!    One of the goals for the weekend is to finish planting. Amanda brought over a 8 container garden she built several years ago, I need to fill it along with one more container I found under the house. I have planted additional squash and zucchini this week so hopefully they will grow and produce as well.
  3. Summer project list- I have started working on the list of summer projects.  First up is finding someone to clear the area of land at the back of our house. We will be getting chickens in the near future so this area needs to be cleared in order to build a coop and run.  I also need to schedule our septic tank to be pumped.  After these two items are completed, we would like to get the bathroom floor re-titled and maybe get some vinyl in the kitchen.  That is the short list.
  4. Saturday goal- Replace the greenhouse roof that was destroyed by hail last week. We are going to convert it to hard plastic in order to extend the life and reduce maintenance.
  5. Financial goal- I need to do some serious bill pay and establish the new budget for June this weekend as well.

Did I mention I am overwhelmed?

5 Things Friday

  1.  Kendall had the stomach bug last Sunday. Today Zach has a stomach bug. This thing is awful.  I am praying that it only last 24 hours so Zach and I both can enjoy Lily’s performances on Saturday and Sunday.                                                                                         Now for more positive news!
  2. I found several packs of tomato and green pepper seeds in my seed box a couple of weeks ago. I decided to use some of the containers I have been saving along with dirt that we had left to try and see if I could grow any plants from seed.  I planted 2 packs of both.  Currently, we have about 75% germination rate for the green peppers and about 25% for the tomatoes which were planted almost 2 weeks later!   The goal would be to be able to transfer these to the garden in mid April and at least half survive. If I can get even 25% to survive that will decrease my out of pocket for the garden!
  3. Gas prices have seemed to level out and have returned to just under $4 a galloon for us.  This week we have focused on having the Tahoe sit as much as possible and using the Equinox which get a minimum of 10 miles per galloon better gas mileage. It has worked so far as we have put 2 additional tanks in the Equinox this week.
  4. I stopped by the store on my way home from work today in order to purchase a couple of items that we needed because of the stomach bug.  I spent $49 which included TIde pods, 2 containers of deodorant, 4 6-packs of soda, a bag of chips and 8 packages of sausage patties. I found the sausage patties on sale for $2.39 for a package of 8 patties.
  5. Our electric bill came in this week and it is over $100 less than last month!! I am so thankful!  The next bill is typically the lowest of the year due to not needing heat or a/c for several days at a time!

 

Thursday Thoughts

  •  I was able to see our electric bill for the month of February on the app this week. $301.49.  This is definitely the highest bill in recent memory, but I am also thinking all time high as well. It is also $40 over what I budget each month to cover the electricity.
  • I made a trip to the grocery store to mainly pick up salad supplies and fruits for the kids to use for lunches next week.  I also grab to loaves of French bread at $1.00 each. My plan is to make a batch of French toast on Saturday with adding some in the freezer for quick breakfast. Total spent 21.47 which brings our monthly grocery total to $127 before Amazon. I will add in Amazon at the end of the month when it is billed.  I will need to stop at Aldi or Food Lion to pick up eggs tomorrow as we are down to 18 eggs and with plans for French toast those will be gone quickly!
  • We ended up ordering Zach an electric toothbrush this week, which was totally unplanned, but the hope is that he will use this regularly!
  • I found a single steak in our black freezer and had put on the menu to make steak fried rice today. It turned out AMAZING!   We had enough for all 6 of us (Mom provided desert) both Zach and Matt have already been back for seconds, and we still have one serving left for leftovers.
  • I have a list on the side of the whiteboard of items that I want to put on the menu in the next week or so in order for us to continue to eat out of our freezer.  I am trying to use at least one item a week that is not a preferred items in order to make things go easier.
  • I decided to go ahead and put some eggs in the insta pot so I could use those on salads next week.   I ended up making egg salad for Zach as he wants to take it for lunch tomorrow. I may have to have an egg salad sandwich for breakfast.
  • When we first went into COVID lockdown, I was able to purchase air filters for ninety-seven cent each. I purchased six or seven case. We usually change at least 2 a month. Sadly, we only have 6 filters left. I am not at all hopeful to find this type of deal again.
  • After months of turning down extra work in Guam, I have agreed to take on four more schools.  I am hopefully to maintain only working 2 nights a week, but this will be a significant boast in income that should allow us to continue to live comfortably the remainder of the year and cover some unexpected medical expenses as well as tax payment that is needed.

Random Thursday Thoughts

One of the hardest things about having kids with food allergies/intolerance is that it is so hard to figure out if it is something my child ate or is this a virus. For example, last Friday, Zach was miserable, said he just did not feel good. He ended up sleeping a lot. We talked about what he had been eating at school and could not figure out what it could be.  Come to find out it was a virus that both Matt and I dealt with this week.

As our efforts to save money and reduce our expenses continue, I have been closely monitoring our daily energy use. My discovery is that the dryer and heat are the two biggest users.  The heat is simply one of the few things that I can’t do anything more about. We currently have the temperature set at 69 during the day and 67 at night. But recently with the temperatures remaining so low for multiple days, I have agreed to raise the temperature to 70 for part of the day. This is after making sure we all are in sweats and socks, but I am simply not able to stand being so cold. The dryer is the one thing that I usually manage to keep use steady and to a minimum. I don’t usually wash our sheets or allow anyone else to wash sheets unless they can be dried outside. We have developed a routine for washing one load of laundry a day and mostly using the dryer at night.  Unfortunately, again this was not the case this past weekend nor this week after we are sick. We ended up having 10 loads of clothes on Saturday and another 4 loads yesterday.  As I check the usage, we have been over 100 Kilowatts a day for 7 of the last 10 days and 12 of the last 15 days. Needless to say, I am not looking forward to the bill that I will receive soon for the past month.

Sunday will be our anticipated “Junk Food Sunday” The kids have all picked out their favorite snack.  The thing they are most excited for is that we are going to go to Food Lion on Saturday, and each will be allowed to pick out one favorite fruit or veggie in addition to their already chosen snack.

We have not been out to eat for 2 weeks due to the generosity of friends and a scheduled meal at church this Sunday. This will definitely help in the expense department.  The girls both have to contribute to the meal, but we have all the ingredients at home so that make things much easier.

We are actually on track with our grocery spending for the second month in a row. Matt made a small trip to Costco, but I am making sure to keep a good tab on what we are using.

We are starting to see some shortages in our grocery stores like Costco did not have any kielbasa but otherwise we really have everything we need to create good meals. I am currently using the grocery budget to replace items we use or special treat items.

Finally I am looking forward to a weekend with the weather on Saturday about 60.  That too is short lived as another cold front pushes us back to 40 on Sunday and Monday.

5 Things Friday

  1.  I am focusing on reducing our spending during the first few (6) months of 2022 for several reasons. First, I want to keep everything pretty safe until Matt has a permeant new job and we can develop a new budget based on it. Second- we have three trips plan and Haley’s wedding, so I want to be able to enjoy each of these events without count pennies!  Third- We have grand plans for some house repairs to be completed so I also want to keep this as the end goal.
  2. We were able to achieve 2 No Spend days this week!  This is two more than the entire month of December.  Goal to achieve the same or better next week!
  3. We spent a total of $11.16 for groceries this week. I decided to go ahead and stock up on 2L drinks while they are on sale. We are still way under our $50 a week budget.
  4. I have made a couple of sales on Ebay this week and Matt was able to sell floormats and brake pads from our Toyoto van. These are small items but they are adding extra income/ spending money so everything is helpful.
  5. It is cold… the temperatures hit 80 last week and have been staying in the high 50’s for weeks. Today the high is 40…YUCKY.   I really dislike the cold!

Plans for 2022

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11″

This was actually the verse we picked out for our wedding!   I think this is a fitting verse for the year as I have learned and am still learning that His plans and timing is always  much better than anything I can think of.

I am going to try and be diligent in keeping up with these but also want to share that everything is not always easy or happens the way we think it should.

Financial-
This is a very difficult area for me to even begin to plan and set goals end. Currently Matt is unemployed but actively seeking a job.  We had discussed the possibility of this “season” lasting even a year. In my brain, I can say that and yet I am also hoping that it does not last that long.  I am going to work on short term- goals that we can focus on during his unemployment and long term- goals that we will focus on once he returns to full time employment.
Short-term– The main idea/plan for this is to stay out of debit. We already have several things planned and I want to be as resourceful as possible and use these to keep us on the right track.
1. Cash Envelope system
2. Groceries- $50 a week or $200 a month through May (April excluded). Returning to $650 a month in June
3. Gas – $500 a month (this may need to be increased depending on where Matt ends up working).
4. No spend days- I am trying something new. Instead of only writing down the days that we end up with no spending. I am going to write each day what we ended   up paying for each day. If the items is from a budget category like groceries or gas then that will be written.
5. Monitor and maintain Energy usage- This is something that I have just started in the last month.  I have realized that our Heating/ Air system is the biggest expense. We also need to be diligent about turning off items we don’t need.  The camper also uses alot of energy just being plugged up so we need to watch this as well.
Long Term- I would like to establish a long term savings account with $10,000 I would like to add another $100 to my ROTH as well.

Garden-
We have been able to finish the greenhouse as well as fill all the beds with new soil.  I want to be able to raise enough veggies this summer to feed not only us on a weekly basis but also refill the freezers. I did purchase a food saver that I plan to put to good use next summer.  I have already purchased most of the seeds I am planning to use I will be purchasing both tomato and pepper plants to plant. 

House-
We are on track to receive one more check from Matt’s dad estate. The current plan is to have both the kitchen and our shower room floors replaced.  We will be building ourselves a new “plastic” deck and are considering adding a covering for the camping trailer.

Travel-
We love to travel and enjoy doing so as a family! Current plans included:
1.Shopping trip (4 days) in January- this is a second practice run with the new camper.
2. Disney Trip in April
3. Haley’s wedding
4. Beach Trip in July
Depending on how these go we might consider adding in a trip to Washington DC or Williamsburg in the fall.

Lots of things to look forward to!

A Look Back at 2021 and a Peek Ahead at 2022

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with deciding how to do goals for the year, today I am going to go ahead and put some goals out there, but I will leave it open that our financial goals will likely end up changed in June when I have a better idea of what type of job and salary Matt will be receiving.  A second change from yesterday is that I am only going to do one post with both how we did and new goals for 2022.  New goals will be in italics to make things easier for me to figure out in the future.

Groceries– budget amount is $650.   I achieved this 9 of 12 months!  I will add that we have been receiving gifts of food on a monthly basis from my Mother this year as she continues to eat with us 3 or more times a week.   I am excited that we have been able to adjust and actually decrease our overall spending on groceries. we spent an average of $530 a month this year. In reality, this is probably a very realistic goal for us to continue however, I want to make a plan for the first 6 months of the year and then move back to this budget amount in June.
For January, February, March and May- Budget amount is $200 a month or $50 a week.  I will also be using any overage in the budget to cover out eating out until Matt has a permanent job.
Eating Out budget will begin when Matt has a job and will be $100 a week or $400 a month but this will not apply during vacations or travel.

One additional explanation is that in April we have a trip planned to Disney.  We are taking the camper and will be bringing a good bit of extra food to save money on this trip so I will leave the budget at $650 to help cover those expenses for April.

Auto/ Gas / Insurance. My goal is $400 a month.  We met this goal 7/12 months.  This is definitely an area that I will wait until Matt has a permanent job.  I anticipate increasing this to at least $500 a month unless his job is in town or remote most of the time. 

Cash Envelope system-   Goal met 8/12 months.  I will not be keeping this goal but do plan on continuing to use this system. I am dropping the goal based on the fact it is really difficult to monitor.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month.  I only met this goal 4/12 months.  I will definitely keep this goal for next year!

Goal # 5- Fitness– Goal is to exercise of some type at least 10 days a month.  This is a goal that I struggle with each year. It appears that 4 out of 12 months I did achieve the goal for 6 or 7 days but none for 10.    I am debating just reporting how many days this was achieved each month without a goal. 

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal-  – Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year.   GOAL MET!   I am actually going to try and do this again 2022 by using podcast.  I don’t think I will keep reporting on it but I hope to continue the practice!

Earnings Based on several major changes this year, this is just too difficult and time consuming!   We will of course continue to look for ways to make extra money, but apps are no longer worth the effort!  I will also plan to remove this from my goals.

No Spend Days– I love the concept of this! However, in reality it is very difficult to do!  The purpose is to not spend money outside of the budget and we are doing so much better in this area!   Instead of a goal this will be included along with exercise as a simple number to keep me accountable.

Exercise days-
No Spend Days- 

I will be posting again this weekend on our plans and other adventures for 2022!

Saving On Saturday or Sunday

This week I actually spent money in order to save money. I ended up with a day off work so Matt and I hit up a couple of spots that we usually don’t have time to go to.  First was the Dollar Tree. Currently most items are priced at $1. I have read several articles that indicate the standard price will be changed to $1.25 starting in January. I decided to save myself some money and do a stock up trip. I purchased items like sandwich and snack bags, deodorant and the boy’s body wash. I ended up spending $50 so I saved at least $12 on items that will be purchased and used.

Next, we stopped at the local Belk’s store. I was actually shopping for a couple of boys we chose off the angel tree at church. I did not find anything in the size that I needed that I would consider a deal, but I did manage to grab 3 dress shirts for Zach and 9 short sleeve t-shirts for Braxton for a grand total of $50.

We have several local ‘bargain” stores. We stopped at one for $6 packs of diapers and a couple of other items.

I have always shopped after Christmas for wrapping paper and for items to keep in our gift drawer.  This year I also found a bag of wrapping paper in the attic. I have been using the paper we found so that we will definitely not have to buy any more for next year either.  The kids were able to locate gifts for a white elephant gift exchange, in the gift drawer so that also saves on expenses.

Last but definitely not least is using the food we have and trying to not let any go to waste.  I made a definite effort to go ahead and package up lunch size containers for this week so that I can just grab and go.

5 Things Friday

  1. We are continuing to focus on our electric usage. There are certain things that are beyond our control such as needing to connect the camper to the house when someone is staying it in.  And the need to keep a heater in the greenhouse in order to prevent the plants from freezing and of course our usage will be greater with Christmas lights. We also have discovered ways to save electricity in small ways. Unplugging the camper even during the daylight decreases our usage and we are beginning to experiment with the temperature we must keep the greenhouse at. Turning off lights and using the dishwasher and dryer at night continue to save us.
  2. I have realized that a year can change things completely.  This year which has been our best year ever financially has also brought more changes and twist than are even imaginable. Matt is currently unemployed but yet the goal is to end the year with our only debit being the house and Tahoe payment.
  3. Our final project of the year is going re-organizing and re-arranging our master closet.   We have started making some simple changes which already make it feel much lighter and more open. We will be installing a new closet organizer on one side and continuing to sort through clothes which will finish this project. I am projecting that the entire project will end up costing less than $200.
  4. We have several count downs going on in the house right now. First up is our first “camping” experience in Asheville right before Christmas, followed by Christmas and New Year then our January trip to Mrytle Beach which will be for 4 days instead of 2 and a longer drive. Finally our Disney trip in April. It has been an entire year since we have been to Disney! Plus this will be our first real experience camping at Disney.
  5.  I am starting to look ahead at some major home improvement projects for next year. These will be expense that we will pay out of promised money.   We will likely end up spending around $20k on these so I want to make sure they will be exactly what we want and of top quality.