Saving on Saturday

After the struggle we had last week I am glad to say that things are definitely looking better today.

Instead of replacing the washer, we decided to have a repairman check it out to determine if it was worth the repair.   I am excited to say that he came this morning and it is a belt which will cost $20. So along with his labor we are around $100 to repair, saving us $500 if we had chosen to replace.

I feel like I am finally controlling the grocery budget.  The first thing that has made a huge difference is use “Alexa” to keep up with what items need to be on my grocery list. I have gotten in the habit of adding items as they are used up to the grocery list and then printing before going to the store. I save time and money by not purchasing items not needed!  In January we spent $230 on groceries and so far this month we have spent $171!  This is a significant reduction in our spending from last year!  I do anticipate a COSTCO trip at the end of the month but I also have a Costco list going on the Alexa so that should help as well.

My mother has been watching food prices and let me know that Aldai had  ground beef for $1.49 a pound this week.  The limit was 2-5 pound tubes. I was able to purchase 5 tubes between myself, mom and Matt today. This is the absolute lowest I have seen ground beef in several years.  I did a quick check of the freezer to determine what we needed. I was able to process 25 # today. We have taco meat, Matt’s chill and my chill. Baked beans for lunch tomorrow and 9 bags of cooked meat to use to help with a quick meal on our busy days.

Matt was able to use some wood from the building to make 2 additional Minnie Ear holders for Kendall’s wall and a shelf for Zach’s room. I will try and post pictures as soon as they both get painted.

Finally, I remember to add digital coupons and offers prior to heading to Food Lion today. My receipt says that I save $26.00 and I earned $4. in rewards!

How did you save money today?

Life Happens- Unexpected Trip

Things change very quickly, as has been proven yet again. Matt’s father passed away on Sunday January 10th. We made the very difficult decision to leave all the kids here and head to Florida to help make arrangements and for the memorial service.  This trip was total unplanned but fortunately we were able to cover the cost without causing significant hardship.  The emotional toil was significantly higher than any money spent.  Amanda was able to spend Monday- Thursday night at our house. Haley stayed Friday and Saturday night.  My mother was the bus driver and made sure that Kendall and Zach got to school every day and to piano.  A friend stepped in to make sure the kids got to church on Wednesday night. I had already written our meal plan so no additional food or groceries were needed at home, although the kids ate out several times as a sister treat.

One thing we learned very quickly was that the small town in Florida that we were heading to was hosting a dog show.  The price of a room jumped from $72 a night to $114 after our first two nights.  Total cost for hotel was $546.71

We chose to drive with both of us going. We did consider flying but would have needed to rent a car for the week so we could not justify this expense. Total spent in gas was $112.25

We did go to Disney Springs on Wednesday night for dinner. On Thursday, we used a remaining day ticket from our December trip to spend the day at Magic Kingdom. I was able to redeem point to cover the parking and several snacks. Although this increased our trip cost by $150, this was a much needed break from the stress of the week and I would not change a thing. Our photo pass from December also was active so I will share some pictures on Wednesday.

Our total cost of the trip was $1471.  We placed most of the expenses on our gas credit card that we planned to pay off this month. During our trip Amanda who has been driving our older van decided to obtain a car loan and get a new to her car.  She returned the older van which we will sell to recovery $1000. This is very unexpected but will enable us to cover the trip with little to no financial strain!

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!

Budget Busting Day Almost

I am currently enjoying my two week Christmas break. Today, I had plans to spend most of the day shopping the after Christmas sales with my Mom.

On the way to pick up Mom a deer decided to come out of a field and ended up hitting the side of the van very hard.  I watched the deer run off so last I know it is still alive. Luckily the passengers side of the van already has several dents and scratches so I was at least thankful that we can now get the whole side repaired. I contacted my insurance and I should only need to pay the $500 deductible for collision. I am estimating that the total repair will be close to $4000 based on the sounds of the door and the damage I see. I was even able to schedule a repair for in the morning at 9:20am. I was able to look at the budget and cover this expense fairly easily but it does remind me that we need to make an emergency fund a priority!

Yesterday, we had our close friends over for lunch and I fixed  Taco Soup in the crockpot. A couple of weeks ago, I dropped the lid of the crockpot and it broken off. It was definitely still useable but not ideal.  The crock pot got really hot and has been cooking foods really fast really too fast so I decided that when my soup was overcooked it needed to be replaced.  I was able to find a basic replacement for $30 and decided to use my Christmas money for this purchase.

Finally tonight I was going to try a new recipe for “Cowboy Casserole” it needed 2 lbs. of ground beef. I found a package in the freezer and decided to use the insta pot to speed things along.  It appeared to be going well until I went to release the pressure and there was none.  I opened the lid and after 40 minutes the meat was still frozen and the inside of the pot was black at varies points.  Even 2 hours later the entire pot was warm to the touch.  Another item in the trash can! I am still debating if I want to replace this or not. It is not an item that I use frequently and can only think of 2 real items that I “need” it to produce.

 

Saving By Buying Chicken

Last week something very strange and odd happened. We ran out of frozen chicken broth.  I actually used some turkey broth in the chicken and dumplings I was making. The easiest solution would have been to just add chicken broth to the grocery list. Instead I added a rotisserie chicken to the Costco list.  The total cost of the chicken was $4.99.  We ate it for dinner on Saturday night, I had left-overs on Sunday and I think at least one other person did as well.  Today (Wednesday) I pulled the rest of the meat off the bone  which was almost exactly a pound and used in our new recipe, Chicken Tetrazzini. The bones and skins went into the crockpot with 24 cups of water to make broth out of.  So instead of spending $5.00 on chicken broth, I spent $5.00 on three meals and made the chicken broth for free!

 

October in Review

October has turned out to be a very busy month.  I ended up taking on more students in Guam.  The upside is that I have met my goal of purchasing our tickets to Disney.  I am also planning to pay our entire December trip from Guam money as well!   Another change in October is that we started our “smart home” with the purchase of an electronic door lock and several “alexa” devices. So far, I am enjoying the convivence.  Another HUGE milestone is that we managed to reduce our overall debit by $500. It may sound like a small step but it is a step in the right direction.

Gardening-  We are expecting our first frost today (October 31st). So we decided to go ahead and pull out the rest of the summer garden. I managed to freeze two cups of green peepers and roasted over a dozen pimentos.  We also hung up basil to dry, started a small basil plant inside and found a few tomatoes.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $552.  This did include the huge ($450) Costco trip that I made the end of September. I am very impressed with this budget and plan to stay around $200 for the month of November.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $248.66 . This is actually less than I had anticipate. Currently any extra in the budget is going to reduce debit. I am very hopeful to totally pay off our gas credit card by the end of the year.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. Becoming easier!  I am currently trying to save the additional money needed for the Memory Maker for our Disney Trip. I think that this will become easier once we finish baseball games.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 10 for the month! Between working and baseball I am still struggling to make time for everything.

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 in September. I did manage to try 3 new recipes this month so I am very happy.

Earnings_ $30. Swagbucks are really really limiting our earning so I don’t anticipate this to improve significantly before the end of the year. Because of some internet issues this is becoming more of a time waster than anything else. I am going to stick with it to the end of the year but this is something that I may have to re-evaluate and stop until summer.

November appears to be another very different from the ordinary month. I do know that for the first time in a long time, we will be having Thanksgiving at my house and will not be joining my brother.  Change is hard and the unknown is very hard for me, I am hoping by the end of November the world will have returned to a more normal place.

Thursday Thoughts

  • Today is a remote learning day for both myself, Zach and Kendall. We are expecting serve weather from tropical storm Zeta to move through this afternoon. Zach is already enjoying watching the wind and rain bands move through. It is very different based on the fact that we are all working on school related task but at home. I will admit it takes the fun out of missing school but should make the schedule much easier to manage.
  • Following the storm today, it is suppose to turn much cooler.  With freezing temperatures on Sunday night and Monday night. We still have not turned on heat or air so I am hopefully to make it to at least Monday or Tuesday before needing to turn the heat on.  We are also going to have to harvest the remaining peppers and tomato from the garden. This is actually the longest that I can remember having items still growing.
  • November is a very expensive month for us. We have car insurance ($408.27), Microsoft renewal ($100), my web site renewal ($30) and the rest of Christmas presents.   Thankfully I have a ton of hours in Guam this month. I am hoping to cover most of our December Disney trip. A sad realization is that I receive a paycheck this Friday but will not receive another check until after Thanksgiving.
  • We survived our busiest week so far this year!!  I even have a list on the board of task to complete on Saturday.
  • Budget wise October has been a great month. We are at $250 for gas and $550 for groceries.  I am planning to hit my goal of paying of one credit card by the end of December.  We also should not use most of the grocery budget for November and December as our freezers are full. I am now looking a small holes such as soups for lunch and other convenient items. I have also restocked the paper supplies as well.

Saving On Saturday

Today we focused on using what we had.  Kendall has been spending ALOT of time in her room lately. Literally staring at the walls. She decided this week she wanted to remove a couple of shelves and make it more decorative. Here is the before picture

Matt was able to cut out the round holders for her “Minnie Ears” using a drill bit that was purchased to help place lights in the ceiling. The wood was from some plywood, he salvaged from cleaning out my Dad’s shed several years ago. The current debate is to paint the circles white or black. I will update once this is finished.

Of course we re-purposed the shelf to use in the kitchen.

Another huge saving today is by re-using a device instead of purchasing a new one. This will take a little explaining but hold on. Zach is currently using the family phone. It is a Iphone 6 plus and the battery life is bad like less than 2 hours.  When we flew to Disney in August, he used the iPad to watch movies and play games on the plane.  Braxton is going with us in December and we have been trying to work out what device both he and Zach could use for entertainment. I have been looking at just replacing Zach’s phone.  But today, I spotted Lily’s old IPad mini.  It is probably close to 10 years old.  We ended up charging it cleaning off everything that we could and loaded around 10 toddler appropriate games for Braxton to use. We are working on figuring out how we could download at least one movie for him to watch. This device is so old that Disney plus nor Amazon prime will run on it.  We are looking into an Itunes gift card that would be the easiest way and cost less than $25 vs $1000 for a new phone.

So today has been a really good saving day!