5 Things Friday

  1. Zach starts his fall baseball season tomorrow with a pre-season tournament. This is a new team for him and lots of opportunity for growth.
  2. My personal saving challenge for the month is to save/find $369 to add one day to each of the kids tickets for December. So far I have $146 toward this goal.
  3. I am exhausted. I managed to work both of my jobs this week and I am starting to feel it. I am trying to keep my schedule a little bit flexible for Guam until getting a baseball schedule which means that I have schedule only 2 kids most night starting at 9pm.
  4. Zach and Kendall will start in person school next week on Monday and Tuesday. This will be an adventure for all. I am hopefully it will be easier to adjust than anticipated.
  5. The garden is continuing to produce just enough. We are harvesting basil, tomatoes, pimentos and peppers. I am excited to see more pepper flowers so maybe we can actually freeze some this year!

Saving on Saturday

    • We spent around 3 hours outside today working in both our flower beds and our garden!  The saving part comes in that we did not pay someone to come and do this. A second way we are saving is that by cleaning up the garden we are able to extend the growing season and continue to save on our grocery bill.  I had to take pictures just so that I could remember the differences.

Before

  • Mom and I made a trip to the Dollar Tree today. I was able to purchase new items for my sign for a total of $5.  I am so happy with the way they turned out!
  • Zach wanted Taco Bell for his birthday.  I decide to download the app in order to save time and headache for me placing such a large order. It actually worked the way it was suppose to and we have already earned two extra tacos for Free!
  • We had decided several month ago to have a much less than usual Christmas this year in order to be able to afford our trips to Disney.  I have started working on purchasing gift for the kids and I have decided that I am going to limit it to 3 gifts from Matt and I. The little ones at home will also get a Santa Claus gift but that is all!   Now to stick to this!

August in Review

August really went out with a bang…. 4 day trip to Disney! It was awesome and hopefully I can share some pictures this week.

Gardening- 1 watermelon from the garden and I thought we were pretty much done with extreme heat and lack of rain for the two weeks of August but I ended up with fresh salsa, a cup of green peppers frozen, along with several salads made from cucumbers. I even have another pot of spaghetti sauce going! I will probably let the sweet potatoes go until the end of September. The goal this month is to clean up and preserve anything that is left.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $250. I was able to continue to fill some small holes in the pantry but am just buying things as we need them. I do need to restock on quick easy lunches during September as the kids will likely be home 2-3 days a week the entire month. I am going to anticipate another low month but if that changes then we are still ok.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $174.65 the total for the month. Another low month on gas. The price has been all over the place but I have been driving to and from work for the last three weeks so gas around $200 a month should be the normal until the end of the year. I am most excited that this should allow us to pay off the gas credit car which has a set of tires on it as well!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. We are getting better at this. I am going to continue working on this. One issue I am having is that Aldi, one of the stores I shop almost weekly is only excepting exact change or debit cards. This makes it harder for me to remember to keep extra change on my at all time.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 14 for the month! I am actually proud of this goal especially going back to work on both of my jobs. I hope to continue in September.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. Did not come close but did manage a 7 mile day at Disney!

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  I only need 2 more recipes to mark this goal off of my list.

Earnings_ $65. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. This covered our breakfast at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and even some cold drinks at the airport.

Things are slowly returning back to normal. We survived and enjoyed August so now to settle in to a new school year and continue to focus on enjoying each moment!

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is a happy and sad day. I return to work full time onsite starting Monday. I worked from home from March 13th until June 15th. Since June 15th, I have been on summer break. I am definitely ready for a normal routine to began but I really like my 5 minute commute from the dinning room to the office. I also have enjoyed not being dressed prior to work each day! The kids and I have stay busy this summer but all good things must come to an end.
  2. I have debated how much information to share during our COVID-19 but decided that hopefully ten years from now I will want to remember what we decided and how we coupe.
  3. School is going to look alot different this year especially to start with. Lily officially starts on August 17th with her online charter school NCVA. This will be her last year in high school as the plan is for dual enrollment starting next fall. Kendall and Zach both will attend an orientation day on August 17th. The rest of the week they will not have much work. Starting August 24th, they will complete 3 weeks of total remote learning. Then September 14th, they will begin attending school Monday and Tuesdays each week. This may or may not change depending on any decisions made by our state governor. Because I will be working onsite 5 days a week in my school system, the current plan is for Matt work from home 2.5 days a week until the kid return full-time to school.
  4. Our garden is dying. We are still getting a few tomato each day but otherwise I need to spend a good couple of hours out getting rid of anything dead. We had a garden of just enough this year. I am pleased with the extra tomatoes but everything else has just been enough to eat.
  5. I was saving money for our August Disney trip via gift cards. I had been storing the gift card numbers and combining so I would only need to carry one card. Unfortunately, the day after vacation July 27th, someone access my account, changed by password and moved $1140 to another gift card they have. I have spent several hours on the phone and multiple email later, it does not appear we will be able to recover that money. We are blessed that with some budget changes and cut backs we should still enjoy our trip but it just sucks!

$20 Food Lion Trip

I am very very happy with my current stockpile. I estimate we have approximately 200 meals ready to use for the first half of the school year. I am very hopefully that I will have some time during Christmas break and a good couple of snow days to replenish our stock. I did make a trip to the local meat shop on Monday. I spent $129 and purchased chicken wings, pork butts and beef. The freezers are full! I did leave additional money in our grocery budget this month in order to purchase some items as we run out or if we find a awesome sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a flyer from Food Lion with coupons to use on store brand items this weekend. A better surprise was the fact that 2L Diet Cokes were on sale for $0.99 each. I decided to challenge myself and see what I could purchase for $20 using the coupons that they sent.

I purchased: 10 2 L of Diet Coke, using the sell price plus the $3 off $10 coupons these were $0.69 each.
2 six packs of plastic bottles of peach flavored drink, the original price was $1.99 each, using $1 Food Lion coupon, each bottle is twenty-five cent each!
2 pack of sausage patties that had been reduced to $1.74 each
4 packs of Hazelnut M&Ms that were reduced to $0.48 each
Pack of Frozen broccoli- original price $1.20 with $0.35 off coupon making it ninety-four cent. I use this in several casserole recipes and it is one of the few vegetables everyone will eat.
Jar of Alfredo sauce originally $1.49 with coupon for $0.45 off making it $1.04
2 boxes of elbow macaroni, original price $0.79 each with coupon for $.50 off two makes each box fifty-four cent.

I spent a total of $19.46!!!!!

Budget Update

I have been monitoring and working on developing a budget the last couple of weeks. We have had several changes to our expenses and I wanted to start the school year with a solid foundation. I honestly don’t remember and could not find the last time I actually shared a budget. So I am going to do that today.

In the area of income, Matt continues to work full-time and I will start next week back at my school system. I am beginning today some additional work in Guam.

I do not budget my earnings from Guam. The first reason for that is that it can vary greatly from $40 to $1500 a month. After our tithe, we have been using the extra money for home improvements, fun money and travelling specifically Disney trips. This will continue for the remaining months of this year. I anticipate that even our April Disney trip should be completely paid off in December. This gives up a good six months to determine our next priority for the extra money.

Now for the actual budget :

Monthly Expenses Total
Hair100
Gas 500
Offering520
Piano120
Clothing100
Credit Card payments 745
Chores/ House cleaning350
Car Payment436.42
Spending180
AAA/Insurance78
Groceries550
Gifts100
Summer140
Saving25
Mortgage  990.96
Water34
Electric260
Internet147.46
Van Payment 344.03
Verizon343.03
Adobe/Computer 32.09

July in Review

July was a different sort of month. We definitely enjoyed our week at the beach and I even decided to skip blogging the entire week. We ended our trip early and arrived home late Friday night because of weather. Zach really enjoyed baseball camp this past week but it also was very stress with all the driving involved. On the other hand, we have been making some tough decision about school placement for both Zach and Kendall. I had a HUGE issue with American Airlines regarding our December tickets. This consumed 10 hours of my time and energy. Finally we had $1150 stolen from Disney gift cards and I am still waiting on a response. August will be a month of change and excitement. I will be returning to work full time, all the kids will be in school of some form and we have our first Disney Trip scheduled for the last week.

Gardening- We have been able to enjoy a couple of cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Tomatoes are ripening. I have been able to make lots of different dishes and have frozen around 10 “jars’ of spaghetti sauce so far. The kids LOVE this fresh sauce and prefer would honestly eat several times a week if allowed. I also made one cup servings of tomato sauce for use in recipes. We harvest enough peppers to use in a double batch of sauce but now to eat. The pepper plants appear to be blooming so I am hopeful. I don’t expect that we will be harvesting much more besides our sweet potatoes but we have been blessed with enough to enough this summer.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $584.33. This is a significant decrease from each of the other months. The freezers are full and I have even stockpiled toilet paper and filters for our heating and air system. My goal for the month of August is to limit groceries to $275 or more. Depending on how this goes will determine the grocery budget for the remainder of the year.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $512.02 the total for the month. Definitely the most expensive month this year but this total includes tags and taxes on the van and an oil change for both the Honda and van. We drove the van to the beach and I have been driving approximately 145 miles a day this past week to get Zach back and forth from camp. I am really not sure where this will land next month as I return to work.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Limited success. During the month of July, I have been working on our budget and hope to share this in the next couple of days.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 12 for the month! I am very pleased with this number especially given all the problems and time consuming things that happened this month.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 8days this month! This is also a improvement over last month. In a even bigger gain, I managed 10,000 steps for three day which is the first time in 11 months I have been able to do this!

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 44 new recipes this year! I know I will not finish this goal before school starts but with 6 recipes remaining even one new recipe a month will make this achievable.

Earnings_ $60. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. We will be enjoying free Starbucks at Disney!

August will be a month of change and uncertainty. I am planning to share our new budget. My overall goal for August is to maintain peace and calm through faith no matter what happens.

Saving on Saturday

I really had not planned to take the entire week off while I was at the beach but it just so happened that way. We enjoyed lots of beach time, shopping time and pool time. I am glad to be home.

My square foot garden is producing but at a significantly slower rate than I anticipated. Our Tomatoes are starting to come in and we have lots! I used 12 pounds of tomatoes the last week we were home to make homemade pasta sauce. The kids LOVE this and request it! I have been using restaurant to go containers that we have been collect to place the sauce in and store. This makes it super easy to find and one container equals one jar of sauce. Today, we head to the garden and harvest around another 12 pounds of tomatoes. I used 8lbs along with a couple of green peppers I found to make another crockpot full of pasta sauce. We also went ahead and stewed the remaining 4 pounds. I packaged these in 1/2 cup containers. I used these for Mexican rice. Other plans this week include tomato basil biscuits, stuffed green peppers, tomato pie and tomato sandwiches. My goal will be to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible and attempted to hold off on another container of pasta sauce until next weekend.

I purchased Disney Gift cards from Target and combined to one card that we will be using on our first Disney Trip in August. I am able to save $5 for each hundred using my Target card so is an easy extra $50 just during this trip.

While reading several other blogs and in order to have a complete stockpile. I have begun to look at items other than food that we can store easily. I was able to find air filters for our heating and air system at $0.96 each at Home Depot. In order to get free shipping, I purchased 12 packs of 4.

In the area of food, I will be making a Costco trip this week and hope to be able to grab both paper towel and toilet paper at some point during the week. Zach is attending a baseball camp in Winston so I am not opposed to stopping at Costco several times this week. I also need to make a list and head to Aldi to grab so canned biscuits, pie crust and cream cheese that is significantly cheaper to purchase here.

My final area of saving my not appear to be one at first. One of the things we like to do is shop the outlets while we are at the beach. This year, Matt and I specifically talked about items we needed. We purchased new shoes for everyone and even an additional pair for both Matt and myself. We ended up spending around $30 for each pair of shoes so this is truly a huge savings. I also purchased Zach so shorts and Braxton several outfits to use my Old navy cash. The best find was probably 40oz metal water bottles for $10 each. We will definitely be using these at Disney!

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!

Saving on Saturday

Kindle Unlimited– I first saw this particular offer in May, 2 Free Months of Kindle Unlimited. I LOVE to read but usually don’t really have time to read more than a blog on the internet. Since I started working in the school system, I have decided to use the summer to catch up on reading real books. I waited until the week before finishing school to activate this deal. My original plan was to read at least one book a week. The plan should end in September so the timing was perfect. So far, I have read 10 books in two weeks. This free subscription has saved me at least $20. I currently have another 10 books downloaded to read! I am really good at keeping up with cancellation so I don’t think I will have any cost involved in this!.

Staying home/ keeping track of spending. I managed to have 2 total no spend days this past week. I am avoiding shopping in stores especially with the new mask requirement in my state! By not even window shopping, I am able to not spend any money. For example, total grocery spending was $4.21 for the week! We have finally restocked our pantry and freezers. My plan is to use what we have on-hand for the next 3-4 weeks and then do one big trip in August before returning to work. I am continuing to watch sales and buying items we need or want at the best price. For example this week, I ordered a basketball goal from Walmart for $95. I have been looking for a goal for the kids since march and this goal is actually only $15 more than what I have found at yard sales and on Facebook. The best thing is that the goal will be delivered!

Using or storing as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible. We are receiving a summer food delivery from our school district. This provides 6 breakfast and six lunches per child each week. This is really alot of food and the majority of it has been fresh! This week, I have made homemade apple/pear sauce, cooked and froze spinach, made a packet for squash casserole! I am very pleased to be able to continue to use this food or store for future use.

Meatless meal and left-overs. Don’t get me wrong we are meat eaters but with all the fresh items we have sometimes change is good. Several lunches this week have been sautéed veggies. Saturday, I made sautéed zucchini, a batch of green beans, creamed spinach. and pulled out potato salad, cucumber and onion salad for lunch. For dinner, baked sweet potatoes so two out of three meals were meatless. Sunday, the plan is left-overs for one meal and to reheat the egg rolls from school meals for another meal. That means that both days this weekend have been out of the fridge with basically no cost!

How have you been saving money?