- I used a sick day today. After visiting 2 doctors, I have a stye that is infected and has likely caused a eye infection as well. Or a sinus infection caused the stye. It is a classic case of which came first. I know that my head hurts, my eye is very swollen and red. And I am having trouble seeing. It is truly as much fun as it sounds.
- This weekend is going to be very busy. Kendall is participating in All County Chorus with practice Friday night and Saturday. Her performance is Saturday night. Zach has baseball practice on Saturday. Lily and I will be participating in and in charge of a fundraising lunch at church on Sunday. I am praying this infection does not slow me down too much.
- I was able to grab razors this week at CVS for 90% off. The best information was when I talked to the manager who was telling me about couponers that come in an usually clear the shelves for most deals. They decided that 90% was not good enough so he ended up putting a lot of items back out. These folks must have watched too many extreme couponing shows!
- The weather is really crazy around here. We had a beautiful snowfall that did not stick 2 weeks ago. Today the temperature is 63 with rain. The good news is that I have not had my heat or air on in almost two weeks. I am hopeful we can go at least 6 weeks (mid May) before needing to turn the air on. The bad news is that our grass is out of control. We need to mow but can’t catch a dry day that we don’t have a baseball game.
- I have achieved success with growing things from seeds. I currently have 8 watermelon plants and 6 tomato plants that we started from seeds. I am hopefully depending on the weather to plant most of the garden next week. We currently have pepper plants, broccoli and cabbage growing successfully.
Saturday was a gorgeous spring day in North Carolina. The temperature was in the low 70s and no rain! I took advantage of this great weather and the “Spring Black Friday Sale” at Lowes to get the Square Foot Garden up to date. We purchased 20 bags of garden soil at $2 saving $2.29 a bag for a total of $45, 2 green pepper plants,1 basil plant and a container of zucchini for $2.50 each saving a total of $5.12 and 7 small containers of annuals(flowers) saving sixty cent each for a total of $3.00. The total saving for our two trips to Lowes was $53.10! The garden beds are now full of dirt and we have started planting some of the vegetables. I was able to plant the green pepper and jalapeno plants that were purchased way ahead of time. I have been successful at spouting both watermelon and pear tomato seeds. These will have to wait until the last chance of frost before planting outside. I am super excited about what we are planning to grow in the garden this year and the money we are going to save in the process.
I also shopped at CVS on Saturday. I had a raincheck for 2L Diet Cokes which I combined with ECB I already had to purchase 16 of the 2 L at sixty-seven cent each. We were out of razors at my house so I purchased multiple razors spending a total of $20 and saving $18.39. My total savings at CVS was $46.13.
On Sunday, Harris Teeter decided to run a “Super Double Coupons Event”. This means that they doubled all coupons up to $2.00. For me the bigger deal was the fact that they had a great sale of several items that we use and are easy to store including paper plates, Gatorades, Flour, cream cheese and gold fish. Mom and I were able to find most items on my list except for the shampoo. I spent $76.51 and saved $84.74 or 53%.
In all just this weekend shopping the sales, I saved $184!
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!
- 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.
Planning ahead is a way to always save money. If I know that I have a plan, I am less likely to decide and make random choices. I am definitely planning ahead for the Spring. I can not begin to explain how much I am looking forward to warm days. First, it gets me so much closer to the end of the school year and my summer off with lots of fun filled activities. Next, I am also looking forward to my week of Spring Break at the end of March. Let’s talk about what my plans are starting to look like.
Both Kendall and Zach will be in school during my Spring break which means I should have some extra time to doing not only shopping for food but also some extra time for meal preparation as well. We are currently eating out of the pantry and freezer in order to make more room for prepared meals. I will be make a huge trip to Costco during my week off to purchase items to make at least 30 meals to place in the freezer. This should provide us with enough “prepared” meal to make the months of April and May pass smoothly even with all the end of year activities, baseball and chorus. My current plans include:
· 2 baked ziti- One for an evening meal and one for the freezer.
· 5lbs of taco meat in the crockpot for our Mexican meals
· A pot of sloppy joes. We have been enjoying at least one meal of sloppy joes a month.
· 2 chicken pies and 2 chicken pot pies
· 3 meals of chicken enchiladas- one for an evening meal and the other two for the freezers. · 6 bags of chicken breast ready to grill.
· I am also hoping to try out some more of the freezer meals I have been finding online.
A more long range goal is to plan and prepare ahead at least 60 meals during the summer to use for the school year!
Moving to the garden. I am so excited to have the extra time to devote to the garden this year. Last year was a bust overall but I am wondering if most of the issue is the amount of time and energy that was put in the garden. To reduce the overall expense of the garden, I am planning to use gift cards earned through Swagbucks to pay for most of improvements in addition to all of the plants that I want to use. My goal is to have at least $100 to spend on the purchase of plants during the first week of May. I have purchased both cucumber and squash seeds and will be starting these during my Spring break. I will need to purchase one additional bag of dirt to use for starting these plants. I have already purchased one bag of organic fertilizer and will be purchasing at least 5 more to spread in the garden. Between the dirt and fertilizer I am hoping to spend less than $50. My overall goal is to also fund as much of these purchases with gift cards as well. I will also need to spend several hours if no more in the garden spreading the fertilizer and replacing some of the strings that separate all the squares as well. Prior to moving forward with these plans I also need to make a master plan for planting for the year.
My other goals/ plans during Spring break include an appointment to get my hair colored and a trip to the nail salon for a pedicure and manicure.
I don’t think there should be any doubt that eating a meal at home is way less expensive than eating out. For example, tonight I made oyster stew for four of us for dinner. Total cost $4 including ketchup and crackers so approximately $1 each.
But have you thought about homemade being healthy as well? Matt worked in the restaurant industry for several years and he shared with me one time how a new “organic” restaurant was making there own vegetable stock from the throw away parts of salad ingredients. Now if you know my family, we are not exactly the vegetarian type but it got me thinking and I did some research. I learned that basically chicken broth and beef broth are both water with flavor/fat. So I decided to make my own and save the $6.95 it cost at Walmart. The homemade version contains way less salt and no preservatives!
Last night we enjoyed T-bone steaks from our freezer for dinner. After we finished eating, I simply tossed the remaining bones and fat in several crockpots. I fill with water and turn on low for 12 to 15 hours. No cost really. This morning I turned the pots off and tonight I packaged up the beef broth in Ziploc bags which I was paid to take out of Walmart. Any time a recipe calls for beef broth or a beef bullion cube I use our beef broth. It has no extra preservatives, no extra salt and usually increased the taste of most foods.
I did clean out one of the small crockpots and started a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce. I used up all the tomatoes that we picked last week ahead of the freezing temperatures, green peppers also from the garden. I have dried oregano, frozen basil and parsley leaves that also ended up in the pot. I have this cooking all night and will use the immersion blender in the morning to make the sauce smooth. Again really no cost for us and it contains no preservatives or ingredients I can’t pronounce.
After a really expensive spending week, I am so glad to save some money and keep us on a good financial track.
I mentioned last week that our weather had definitely turned colder. We actually had some frost on the windshield on Thursday morning. we have a frost warning tonight. This is a sure sign that we are at the end of our summer growing season. Friday evening we spent about an hour, digging sweet potatoes and collecting any thing that is usable.
This year is probably the worst in terms of effort vs productions. Watermelons were plentiful, in fact we found 3 more when pulling up vines. I know that at least one of these is ready to eat! The other two I placed outside and will see if they finish ripening off the vines. We did find some sweet potatoes, probably around 10 pounds which is the least amount ever. We were so disappointed but we did not spend any money so we should not complain. I also harvested another gallon bucket of green peppers. We have enjoyed these all summer and I think we have enough to make it all winter in the freezer. Matt was able to locate two small pimentos and made another batch of pimento cheese this evening. I am planning to plant 2 of these plants again next year as this has become our favorite homemade spread. I also harvested a half gallon of green tomatoes, I am not sure if this will be usable but it does not hurt to try. The greatest producer of the year is lettuce. I started a head from some lettuce we purchased back in May. It became hot and grew so quickly that it self seeded. It started producing again in late August and we have been enjoying lettuce ever sense. It is a cold weather plant so I may be able to enjoy another month or so of lettuce. I am anxious to see if it will self seed again, but we are also continuing to harvest so it is hard to find a balance.
Our peach tree and one of the blueberry vines that we planted have also failed to survive the summer. I need to contact the company as they will send out replacements for the first two years.
I LOVE the warm weather and summer, so this is definitely a sad time of year for me.
- Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was! The house temperature was 78. Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
- We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
- I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding. We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
- I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
- Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days. I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
- I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
- Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!
- The past week has really flown by. I was able to accomplish almost everything on my list for this second vacation week! Including hair cuts for all of us and a nail trim for Rugar!
- Starting Monday, both Matt and I will be working full time. This will be the first time in our marriage (13 years) that we will both be working full-time.
- One of the main things I am concerned about is cooking and groceries. We will all continue to take lunches as well as eat the majority if not all of our meals at home. I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on groceries this week. I have visited Costco twice, Food Lion three times and Walmart and Harris Teeter. I have spent a total of $467 just this week. I will probably end close to $500 as I am going to stop at Food Lion for more Diet Cokes over the next several day. I am able to purchase 10 2L of Diet Coke for $9.52 until Tuesday. After doing most of the cooking on Monday, I have continued to add simple things by cooking double most of the week.
- We finally got around to weeding and watering the garden today. I discovered that my lettuce had self seeded and I have a bunch of small plants. I am going to leave and see if any grow larger enough to eat. We also harvested several watermelon and two full buckets of green peppers. I am hopefully that we will continue to harvest tomatoes, pimentos and peppers for at least another month. I was also very excited to see that my sweet potatoes are starting to grow. They can stay in the ground until the first frost which is around the end of October.
- I was also able to complete a picture collage using pictures from our Disney 2015 trip. I have only had the collage picture for 4 months!
Did I mention how excited I am to start at Davie County Schools on Monday?
We were out pulling weeds and watering this afternoon. Zach’s quote “This is a lot of work for food.”