November in Review

Grocery budget Total spent $1187.86 . Yes, you read that correctly. This is most likely the highest amount spend on groceries that does not involve a purchase of a cow EVER. I do want to point out a couple of factors. We have had 5 weekends in November. I did not go to Costco at all during the months of September and October which ended up with two trips this month. Otherwise, I can say that I have my stock pile replenished and plan to limit spending in December to needs only.
Gas– I was successful with keeping track of our gas spending during the month of November. Total expense is $471.71. In other successful news, I set the budget at $500 so we at least stayed below that amount.
Kid/Summer expenses: Lily’s play was the first week of November, I spent around $150 on tickets for all of us.
Earned $100 – This is all in the form of Domino’s gift cards. This is actually one of the higher amounts of earning strictly from Swagbucks this year.
Personal
Blogging-10 for the month. This is probably an average for the year so that is great for me.
Exercise– none no excuse, none.

Financially- We are starting to reach steady ground. Matt and I both are working a full time job and a part time job. We did not add any debit this month and I have purchased the majority of Christmas presents. All of our bill are paid and I spent an enormous amount on groceries. I am very pleased with this month and hope to continue on the positive side. I will share our budget next month. I am still making a couple of changes and tweets to it.

Saving and Shopping

We all know that I enjoy shopping and I REALLY enjoy saving money. To be honest I have done my fair share of Black Friday shopping especially when my kids were smaller and it was really a chance to get out in public without three little people attached. Things changes as we all know. I have no desire to go out and fight a crowd tonight or tomorrow. But I wanted to grab some of the best deals of the year so I did both online shopping and in store shopping on Wednesday. We ended up spending most of yesterday afternoon shopping. Crowds were light to no existence and the deals were awesome. So I thought I would share most of them with you!

  • Zach used his money to order a X Box One from Costco online for $213 shipped. I used my Costco membership in addition to my Costco credit card (which I paid off immediately online). I ended up earning at least $9 back in cash for this purchase.
  • Lily wanted to use her money to buy Air Pods. We had anticipated grabbing the Black Friday deal online at 10pm, Wednesday night. However we failed. I had actually put the Air Pods in my cart around 9:30 but the price did not change when I went to check out at 10:01 and by 10:02 they were all sold out online. I quickly flipped over to Staples where she was able to purchase them for $8 more. I ended up going through Swagbucks for this purchase and earned $4.02 back.
  • Lily is going to a semi formal dance next weekend. At Kohls she found a dress for $38. I purchased several books for $2.50 and t-shirts for Kendall at $10 each.
  • Hobby Lobby is always so much fun just to walk through. I did find some baseball ornaments that I will turn into a curtain for Zach for $4.
  • Our last stop of the evening was Shoe Carnival. I was so excited to learn that their boots were already on sale for $19.99 a pair. I was beyond the moon to find a selection of wide calf boots that actually fit me. I purchased 2 pair of boots for $42. Today, I received a $10 reward certificate in my email which is good until February!
  • We ate at Olive Garden and brought home 6 prepared meals to use this weekend in addition to enough left-overs and soup for three additional meals. A total of 3 meals for $80 is a huge bargain in my book!
  • My only stop today, Thanksgiving was at CVS. I purchased several gifts and grabbed anything that was free and we use. I spent a total of $30.23 saved $76.14 or 72%. I also left the store with over 20 ECB to be used during the month of December.

I am excited to shop and save but not in a crazy exhausted ugly people way!

Tuesday Thoughts/Catch Up

We survived the busiest six weeks that I can remember. During the month of October, all three kids were involved in one additional activity besides piano and church. This weekend, Lily had three performances of her play. I can honestly say that I was super excited and luck to have yesterday off from work just to catch up.

Income update- The really good news on this front is not only is Matt working a job that actually pays well but we both have part time jobs. This is a source of stress. We had a couple of different discussions regarding how we could or if we should even attempt this. We are at a point where the kids are pretty self sufficient so that allows us to have the ability to add not one but two part time jobs. I am working in Guam via teletherapy as an Occupational Therapist. This was a job that I initially applied for in February 2017. I have decided to limit by availability to Sunday night for a full 8 hours and Wednesday night to around 3 hours. Because of the 15 hour time difference this schedule works well. I will admit that the first week was a challenge but I also feel that once I get in the swing of things, I should be able to maintain a low level of stress. This job will continue until the end of May. At that time, we will again evaluate and decide if I want to attempt this for a second school year. Matt is working 10 hours a week as the marketing manger for the Humane Society of Davie County. We are currently unsure how long this job will last but God has a plan and a purpose so we need to simply obey. My plan is to use the extra money in November and December to get us on track. I will share an updated budget in December.

I took a day from work last Friday to catch up on grocery shopping. I was able to go to Costco, Aldi and Food Lion and restock our pantry. So far for the month of November, I have spent $750 on groceries. I would bet this number will end up closer to $800 but I am definitely ok with that. I will run numbers at the end of the year but I have a feeling that I need to increase our grocery budget instead of decrease this year.

We are currently driving a car that gets better gas mileage than either of the vans. This is a family decision that I don’t feel free to discuss but it should reduce our gas spending at least as long as we continue to drive it.

To close out our busy season, we had a family movie night on Monday. We watched Toy Story 4. It was much better than I anticipated, in fact it is my second favorite Disney movie now!

October in Review

One of the reason that I continue to block is the ability to go back and see what previous years and months have looked like. It appears that October tends to be a busy month for us! This October was no different. The good news is that I have been able to pick up some extra income. It will be a small amount but I am hoping just the right amount to help us tackle our debit and stop it from growing. I am going to continue to work on the budget and plan to share the new budget starting in January. Our biggest challenge right now is a leaky in the shower. We have replaced and repaired several items but have not had any luck with actually stopping the leak.

Grocery budget Total spent $207.54 . I am super excited for this amount. We have been making small trips to the grocery store and attempting to use what we have in the freezer this month. I do anticipate that November will be much more expense with $600 being realistic at this point.
Gas– We have taken over the payments and driving of Amanda’s Honda CVR. This change has occurred for the last week. The hope is that by me driving it to work, we can reduce the overall gas budget. I have the current gas budget set at $500 but hope to see a reduction in our gas spending which will allow us to pay off more debit. My goal for November is to keep a record of the money spent
Kid/Summer expenses: We have attended at least 3 different ball games a week during the month of October. I am very proud to say that we have not spent more than $10 a week. We have finished the baseball season and the last football game is schedule for Saturday. Lily’s play is next weekend so we should not have any kid related expenses in November.
Earned $75- This is a significant decrease from last year but has been about the same for this year.
Personal-
Blogging-8 for the month. I will admit that this has been a struggle but my goal is to make this goal at least for November and December as we have no travelling planned.
Exercise- My knee is finally at the point that I feel comfortable starting to walk on the treadmill again!

Saving on Sunday and More

Yes, that is me with my head bobbing above the water. October has definitely been a huge month of change for us. Matt started a new job which added an additional 20 hours to his work schedule in addition to a significant pay increase. I also have finally after 18 months added a second job. The hours will vary greatly for me but at this point I am guess an additional 5 -10 hours a month. This may increase in January but I am very grateful for the slow start as crazy needs to slow to a slightly less than crazy before any more significant changes. This week, we made a personal decision to add a car payment to our budget. This may or may not be a long term budget item but we are able to cover the payment amount in addition to slowly reduce our debit and get a good control over our finances. We have seen in many different ways that God’s hand and timing are perfect. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is God’s will so we are going to praise him even when we are not sure the how or whys.

One thing that has not changed this month is that we are continuing to find ways to save money! I want to include a detailed list so that next year and 3 years and 10 years when I look back, I am able to see that all the little saving did add up.

  • Running the dishwasher and dryer at night. We are making a conscience effort to reduce our electricity use. By running this at night we add a little bit of heat to the house on the cool evenings and prevent heat from staying in the house on the not so cool evenings.
  • Not turning on the air conditioner. This sounds simple, especially in October, but the temperature today inside was 81*, We did turn off the heat on Wednesday of this week but I refused to flip the switch and turn back on the air. Instead we opened the windows and turned on a couple of ceiling fans. The weather is actually suppose to start to get cooler with a high on this Friday only in the 50’s.
  • Hanging sheets out to dry. Yes, it was not convenient and the weather said it was suppose to rain but I got up and got them on the line.
  • Shopping for items we need and on clearance. So far this month, I have spent $203 in groceries. Which including stocking up on soda and items for Braxton’s birthday party. I always check on clearance items and have been able to grab both hugs/kool aid drinks and Gatorades on sale for $0.25 each.
  • Combining sales and coupons. I scan my card each time I go in Food Lion. In the past, I have been able to grab pasta at fifty cent a box. Today, I got 24 waters for $0.99 and 3 packs of brown gravy mix for a total of $0.77 which is less than the price of two. Neither one of these items were needed but I will definitely use them both.
  • Meal prep. It is so much easier to prepare lunches ahead of time. Four out of the five of us need to pack a lunch each day before leaving the house by 7:20am. We save a minimum of $10 a day by packing lunches instead of buying. We are also able to stay on track by planning dinner meals a week ahead of time. This week, I even used the instapot to brown the ground beef ahead of time so that I can get dinner on the table even after attending a workshop all day.
  • Call and asking for help. We are continuing to struggle with stopping a leak in our master bath room. Matt has replaced the entire floor and subfloor and is trying to replace the shower faucet. Yesterday, he was able to contact a manufacturer and receive a replacement part he needed for free. He has been asking for advice and suggestion through out this process and we are saving money just by completing it ourselves.
  • Using items on hand instead of immediately purchasing a replacement. Braxton does not like and will not eat meat baby food but Rugar, our dog will. Instead of buying dog food we are using the baby food that would otherwise go in the trash.

Tuesday Thoughts

We are starting to see an end to our busy fall season, ok so not an end but a slowing down of after school activities. In three weekends, Lily will perform in the show Elf. Zach’s last scheduled baseball game is next Tuesday night. I do anticipate one or two night of a tournament the first few weeks of November. Kendall has her homecoming and last football game, she will cheer at this Saturday. I think that basketball season starts the first of December.

We dug up over 20 pounds of sweet potatoes on Saturday from our square foot garden. We also pulled several pimentos, jalapenos and green peppers. This is a sad time of year because I do not like the cold weather.

On a bright note with the cooler weather, our electric bill for the month was down by $60!

Grocery shopping this month has consisted of two categories, items we are out of and need for a specific reason and items of clearance. Our total spending for the month is $176. This amount includes 10 cases of drinks! I don’t anticipate a lot more spending during the next week and half. I do have a stock up trip planned for Costco the first week of November.

I have begun anticipating and counting the days until my first day off of work in three months!! However, this may occur sooner because today, Kendall stayed home from school. If she is unable to return to school tomorrow then I will be staying at home as well to take her to the doctor.

Everyone in the house is anticipating this Friday. Matt should receive his first paycheck from his new job and a paycheck from the Humane Society. I have spent several hours working out details but we should be set on a good course starting this Friday! I do anticipate a budget redo starting in January. I wanted to give us a couple of months to adjust and make plans before making any major changes. I am planning to going back to a more cash based system with use of envelopes and our Capital one account in order to keep a better track of our spending

Tuesday Thoughts

I am so excited that I get to spent 3 complete evenings at home this week! We have no football game(cheerleading) or cheer practice this week and only one baseball game. I am planning to get some extra cleaning done around the house as the things has gotten dirty and overlooked during the past couple of weeks.

We are hopefully that we have finally fixed the leaky shower problem. Matt re-caulked the shower pan on Saturday and I am planning to start using it again today. We have already purchased the tile to finish this project but need to find several hours in which we can spending working on it. We may be able to spend some time on the project on Saturday but that depends heavily on the weather as well.

North Carolina is finally experiencing some cooler temperatures. I finally turned off the air on October 3rd. This is very late for us as we usually can get a good week or so with no air in September. I am hopefully that we can at least keep the air and heat off for most of the month of October but we it can depend heavily on when the first freeze of the year is.

Matt loves his new job. The first week was a challenge especially with our crazy busy schedule. I am hopefully that we will be able to get into a good routine that will allow him to work his second job at least 3 evening a week so that we can have some time to work on projects around here on the weekends.

I have spent a total of $47 on groceries so far this month! I am super excited about this and hope to continue this streak for most of the month. I am making a Costco list and am holding out hope that the quarter back sale will appear at Food Lion soon!

5 Things Friday

  1. This October has been the hottest on record. The last three days we have had temperatures in the mid 90’s. However that is suppose to change tonight. The temperatures are suppose to be dropping until lunch tomorrow. The predicated high tomorrow is 68*
  2. The square foot garden is still producing. This week we have harvested pimentos, green peppers and a single tomato. We are still getting sweet potato flowers so they are still all in the ground. I anticipate digging these up next weekend or maybe even two weeks out depending on our crazy busy schedule.
  3. Matt starts his new job next Tuesday! This will bring in a huge booster in income but a significant decrease in time to complete task at home.
  4. Matt has made our shower functional!!!!! He still needs to replace tile but the overall out of pocket cost of the project is less than $30. I am going to wait until it is completely finished and then post pictures and a number break down.
  5. Next week will be one of our busiest to date. We have multiple events and commitments Monday- Friday night.

September in Review

Financial- We are doing ok. Matt has accepted a new position which should come with an significant increase in income! We have spent several hours talking about priorities and goals. I will hope to have a finalized new budget by the end of October. I do think that this may be a temporary budget for November and December with a more established budget starting in January. We did manage to have to have 7 no spend day in September which is the same as July.

Grocery Spending-$550.31 This does include our $120 Costco membership. We needed things like toilet paper, laundry detergent, fabric softener and dishwasher tabs along with food for lunches!

Earned $155- We continue to use Swagbucks on a regular basis but this amount continues to decrease and becomes increasingly hard to reach even $1 a day. I did receive a $100 gift card for applying for a personal loan. All the money this money has been used to work on our bathroom floor. I will have details and pictures once it is fixed.

Personal-
Blogging- post number 8 for the month. Returning to work full-time has been rough along with all the kids activities.

Exercise- 0. After my knee injury, I am finally walking without pain and will try to start adding in some steady exercise.

Looking ahead to October- Maintain spending and adjust the budget according to the income level we are at. Continue to control spending and debit. I know that this month will truly be a month of adjustments so I just want to maintain even ground and make a plan that works for our family.

Saving on Sunday

We have definitely started one of the busy season of our lives. We have a minimum of three ball games a week in addition to scheduled practices and other events. During the month of September, I have two established goals first keep grocery spending to a minimum and second eliminate going out to eat. Today, I want to share how we are able to accomplish both of these goals.

I have a snack bag that I carry in my van all the time. I periodically refill it with snacks, typically you will find granola/fruit bar, rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and packs of applesauce in it. I have a huge purse and simply throw the snack bag in my purse before heading into a ballgame. If we have packs of chips, I let each of the kids add a bag of chips to my purse as well. This eliminates the need/ desire to purchase snacks at the game. Snack usually cost around $1 each for five people that is $5 a game or $15 a week that we are saving by bring in our own snacks.

The second way we save is by bring our drinks. The child that is participating in the game always needs a Gatorade or a water bottle. Each game I see at least one if not three parent buying a drink from the concession stand because they “forget” to bring one. I usually also pack a water per person or can of soda in our small cooler. I have never seen a sign at a school event that says “no outside food or drinks” so I usually just carry the cooler or I can always send the kids back to the car to grab a drink. At competition events, I will bring at least a water bottle in my bag and we do go back to the car to snack and even eat. Most Gatorades are $2 each. I can buy a 6 pack not on sale for less than $4 so I am saving a minimum of $4 a week. This does not include the $1 water for the rest of us or at least $12 a week.

Finally, we always plan ahead for the games. We always try to eat prior to the games. At worse, we have planned a portable meal such as hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets or burritos. This way, we can eat in the car prior to the game starting or even during the game. Now I do want to say that my whole family REALLY like ball game food. I have not seen nachos or chill cheese fries that don’t look delicious and usually smell even better. However, if we chose to eat even at one game at week, we spend at least $20 a week or $80 a month. Eighty dollars will buy us a nice meal even better than ball game food. One way we enjoy the ball game food is that if we all have eaten dinner prior to the game we can share an order of nachos for $3 or even a couple orders of fries. This way we are still saving at least $15 a week!