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.

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.

Recap of 2020/ Goals for 2021

I usually get this post completed in December and I usually look forward to reviewing and writing it.  Well like everything else in 2020, that did not happen. But I am going to take the time to recap the year and my goals and also include what we will be working toward for the next year.

Groceries– 2020 goal was $550 a month. I was able to achieve this goal four times this year, January, August, September and October. We have spent a total of $7578.12 on groceries or an average of $631.51 a month. After review and consideration I am going to increase the budget amount to $650. I will review that all household cleaning products and paper products are included in this amount. For January to kick start the year, I am going to complete a pantry challenge and plan to spend $100 or less for the month.

Auto/ Gas / Insurance: We did separate out our insurance and AAA membership from this budget. I transfer $99 a month to cover our car insurance and AAA membership. AAA is paid on a yearly basis and car insurance is every 6 months.  I am proud of myself for being more careful with keeping up with car expenses 2020.  We have had several unexpected expenses such as 2 replacement windshields in addition to a $500 deductible for repair of the passenger side of the van.  We are using our part of our stimulus money to cover the van deductible but both windshield replacements were included my records.  For 2020 we spent an average of $318 a month in auto expenses. My goal for 2021 will be $400 a month with any excess to be applied to debit.

Cash Envelope system- GOAL Met!   I do plan to keep using this system as I can see the benefit of it.  For the months of January-March an “extra” money will go toward our Disney trip in April to cover the food expenses.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is more of an accountability goal for me. I met it this year 5 of 12 months. I am not going to change this goal as I can do it when I have time and focus.

Goal # 5- FitnessGoal is to walk 3 times a week.  I struggle with this goal. But I know the accountability is important so  I am going to change the goal to Exercise of some type at least 10 days a month.  This should allow some flexibility and also encourage me just to move.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Again this is truly an area that I struggle with.  I am going to try and listen to a podcast on my way to work each day. So I am going to change this goal to Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year. 

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Currently on #59 GOAL MET!

Earnings- This has decreased significantly over the past several years. In 2014 I could earn $200 a month on a regular basis. In 2020 we struggled to earn $50 a month. I leave this at the bottom just to help me remember every bit helps.

No Spend Days- I am going to add this section each month in order to see if I can get a good rhythm going to saving money by not entering the store!

December in Review

I spent a good chuck of time yesterday, paying bills, looking at the budget and see where we are and how we move forward. I want to share this December in Review post separately so that it makes it easier for me to comply the information. December was a busy month with a 5 day trip to Disney.  I have been using the last week to catch up and stock up for the months ahead.

Gardening-   We killed the last basil plant. I do have big plants for the garden in the spring including redoing all of the beds.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $683.  This does include my stock up trip for soda. Definitely some changes coming next year.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $176.50 .  I ended up filing two insurance claims for damage on the van. The deer caused the door to need immediate repair but the insurance only wanted to cover half because of the damage when I hit the pole. I filed a separate claim for the pole damage in 2018 and now all repairs will be covered for $500 deductible.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. This is finally starting to work and make sense to me.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 10 for the month!  Working both jobs and life make mean I need to reduce this goal for next year.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week.  We walked at least 5 miles a day at Disney does that count?

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes! Actually downloaded a pod cast to start listening to on my way to work.

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Currently on #59

Earnings_ $30.   Extra money is extra money!

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.

September in Review

September was interesting to say the least. I did make one huge adjustment this month. We are now using budgets more strictly and I have being very diligent about extra money. My goal is to save the $896 for our remaining Disney tickets in December from extra money or from saving money. This means that I also much cover any overages.  So far we have $200 toward our goal.

Gardening- We ended up digging up the sweet potatoes this week and probably have around 25 pounds which should last us through the winter. We are still getting a few tomatoes and green peppers. Pimentos are still producing strongly. I am planning to start some lettuce and celery to see if we can supplement some food for the winter.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $501.  I did also make a huge grocery trip to Costco this week but will move that $450 out of the October budget.  We are completely stocked up and I anticipate both November and December being lower spend months in order to bring down our yearly total and monthly average

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $642.18  We had to replace the windshield in the van a second time this year, which pushed out monthly total way up.  I am going to anticipate around $300 for gas in the month of October.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. This is a struggle but has become even more important as we attempt to save ticket money.  We managed 6 no spend days this month. I am going to plan on 10 next month as our needs should be much less!

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 15 for the month! This is thanks to Disney pictures!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. ummm no comment

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have met this goal! I am very happy and plan to just focus on what we know for October.

Earnings_ $50. Swagbucks are really really limiting our earning so I don’t anticipate this to improve significantly before the end of the year.

October is a long month with no real breaks. I am ready so bring it on!

June in Review

June is definitely my favorite month of the year! The weather is hot and we get to spend lots of time in the pool because Summer break begins. Things are slowly starting to return to more normal. The pool is open, we are attending church and baseball is happening. We also look at our budget and make any adjustments or changes that are needed. This year that was a very positive thing as we were able to move money from braces to other areas. After the kids summer camp was cancelled and I was able to score free for now airline tickets for our Disney trips, we decided to spend a week in July at the beach! After some research, we were even able to get a condo on the oceanfront for a week for $1900! I am so looking forward to some beach time!

Gardening- continues to be a challenge this month. The weather is simply not cooperating. We have been able to harvest lots of snap peas, one cucumber , a batch of green beans, strawberries, squash and zucchini. Currently we are eating just about everything we are harvesting. Squash bugs have attacked and we have lost several plants. I am hopefully for the tomatoes to start this week, I have picked two but both were rotten. Cucumbers are blooming so we continue to hope! The kids are most excited because they spotted 2 growing watermelons when mowing yesterday.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $640.36. After looking back, I realized that I have not been able to maintain this budget at all this year. I have been over every single month. My grocery average is $722 a month YIKES! I am not going to increase the budget yet but this will be something I closely monitor for the rest of the year. We have been purchasing alot of meat and prior to COVID, we had decreased our stockpile significantly. Currently I am comfortable with our stockpile and don’t have any gapping holes. I am thinking that our expenses may decrease in this area and if so that will help me to determine exactly where we need to be in this area. For July, I do not plan to actually spend any time in the grocery stores except to grab things we need for our beach trip. I most likely will do a huge trip the last week of July in preparation for returning to school in August.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $186.13 the total for the month. This is the lowest spending on gas in a very very very long time. The price of gas is starting to rise and we are planning to travel this month. One of the benefits of having a significant decrease in our gas budget during the three of the last 6 months is that we are able to pay off debit. We are currently using a credit card for all gas purchases. Any additional money have been used to reduce the balance of this card. I am projecting that by the end of the year we should have this card completely paid off and will be transferring any excess after groceries to reduce another card. In July, I need to put tags on the van. I expect we should still be under $500 budget for the month of July.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! This may become a little more difficulty in the next 2-4 months as the Untied States is currently experiencing a cash shortage. I do have several options so we may do a hybrid system. No spend days are 5 this month YAY! My goal for July is 5 days as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 15 for the month! I am becoming more consistent!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 7 days this month! It is not the goal but a significant improvement over last month!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Not there at all!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 40 new recipes this year! I am planning to finish out the remaining 12 over the summer but time will tell.

Earnings_ $30. This is probably the lowest earning month in a long long time. The economy is not great and I suspect this may be the beginning of the end for swagbucks. Matt did not even earn a single card this month so at least we should double this amount next month! But free money is free money!

July appears to be a busy but fun month. We have swim team, baseball, our beach trip and baseball camp! Because of COVID-19. I will be returning to work the second week of August so July is really our last summer I plan to enjoy!

Tuesday Money Thoughts

We are approaching the end of May! Typically, this is a stressful time of year around our house. We are trying to coordinate multiple activities and plans for the summer. This year it is not quite as stressful but lots of changes on the horizon as well. I wanted to share some financial information with you both past present and future.

Let me start by saying that we are on the most financial stable ground that we have been on in many years.

Matt is currently employed full-time and really enjoying his job. I am actually employed full-time and working a second job as well. We have been very blessed as COVID-19 had only a small financial impact on our jobs. My second job in Guam was closed entirely for the 3 weeks in March and first half of April. I have been able to resume on a limited basis for May and will have very limited work in June. I do receive reduced pay in April and May. The school system pays on a ten month system, therefore in the months of April and May a double portion of insurance is taken to cover the summer months. I am very fortunate to have a bank that is set up for state school system employees. I have a set amount automatically deducted during the 10 months I receive a regular check and it is place in a summer savings account. In June and July, on the same day as my regular checks the amount equal to my regular pay is moved over to my checking account. This makes budgeting so much easier and I really feel like I get twelve months of pay. We have always lived on a budget. The difference these days is that we have enough income to cover our expenses. We set our budget in January and each month I can arrange money and use as we see needed. We have currently paid off several of our debits and continue to make larger than the minimum payments on all of our credit cards. We are not totally out of debit but we feel like we can enjoy life and still work our way out of debit. We are not going to live rice and beans but we are definitely no overspending.

We did receive a government stimulus check. We had already begun a much needed home repair of replacing our kitchen and dinning room floor at the time that things closed. Our intention was to use the money from my Guam job to cover this expense. We decided to use the stimulus money to cover this expense instead and we also chose to redo our master bathroom. I am happy to say that both projects are complete and they are awesome!

My initial plan in January was to reduce our panty and freezers until June. I wanted to use up alot of stuff and then spend the summer re-stocking them, However this changed as we started to see shortages and limits placed on lots of items especially meat. In March, we doubled our grocery budget spending $1025. In April we spent $922 which included $180 in chicken. In May we have spent $542 which includes around $250 in meat purchased locally. I am being very deliberate in our grocery purchases. I want to maintain a stockpile but also continue to use the stockpile. My goal for the summer months of June and July is to reduce the grocery spending to less than $250 each month and save at least $250 for future purchase. However I am realistic and know that I may exceed this depending on food prices and our specific needs. For example, on my shopping trip today, I found Suddenly Salads on sale for $1 a box. I decided to go ahead and purchase 20 boxes as this is one of our summer favorites. This price is also $1.35 less than the lowest price I have seen lately. On a really bright note, I have already stocked our freezer with lots of convenient easy to prepare meals for the fall. My plan/goal is continue to prepare double batches of items we really like so that in the fall we can simply throw food in the crockpot or oven and enjoy a quick good meal. Our pantry is also nicely stocked. The garden should start producing in the next 3 weeks so I want to be able to use and not lose any food.

We are not planning a summer vacation, instead we have 3 trips planned to Disney World! This was a choice that the kids all made around Christmas last year. We will be attending both the Christmas and Halloween Parties in addition to a long two week trip over Spring Break next year! Currently, our trip in August for the Halloween party is completely paid for! We are hoping to use points and vouchers to cover the flights for our December Trip and anticipate paying it off in October!

I have been selling items on Ebay and we are also anticipating a large yard sale in the next several weeks depending on the weather. All proceeds go to Disney trips!

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Kendall is finally almost done with cleaning out her room. She was able to reduce the amount of clothing down to the point of everything fitting in her closet!!! This allowed her to move a huge dresser out of her room! Lily decided to take the larger dresser and was able to empty out not only her smaller dresser but also a bigger standing shelf. Lily does want to replace the shelf with a mirror and three shelves but we shall see. I moved the standing shelf to my room and laid it on it side under my jewelry box. This is currently a place to keep all of Braxton’s toys, clothes and diapers! Finally Zach did not want to be outdone so he exchanged 3 small dressers for one from Lily’s room. I am pleased with the extra space that everyone was able to find and we have moved at least five garbage bags of clothing to the building for a future yard sale or something.

I have been able to sell between ebay and Facebook market place 4 American girl dolls and a ton (50) build a bear outfits. We used this money to cover our tickets to the Disney Halloween party in August.

Our August Disney trip is completely paid for including air fare. The only item left to purchase is a gift card to cover food on the trip. Matt receives 3 paychecks in July so we plan to use the extra check to purchase a gift card to use on the trip! Next, we are going to work on paying for our December trip! At this point, we will have the plane tickets covered between credit card miles and airline vouchers.

I will be working in Guam through the end of June due to the school closure. My goal is to take the entire month of July off of work and resume both Davie County and Guam in August! I am so ready for a normal schedule!

I am focusing on controlling the grocery budget this month to under $550. So far we have been way over budget each month!

Matt and I have decided to tackle our master bedroom sink area. We are going to repaint the walls, change out the cabinet and sink for a double sink vanity! I am hoping we are able to complete this project in two weekends but it may take a little longer.

I am starting to quickly lose hope in our garden this year. The weather has not cooperated at all. We should be having warm spring/summer like days but for the past 2 weeks the temperatures have been stuck in the 60’s. I have covered everything I could on the couple of nights of freezing but things are just not growing well. In addition, we are having to water every other day. We have had little to no rain since mid April. I was so hopeful for the garden especially using all the seed packets but now if we harvest one each from our vegetables that will be the break even point!