One of the largest expenses that we have each and every month is groceries. I spent a lot of time trying to control these numbers. If you will recall I had a HUGE grocery budget overage in the month of March ($726). I was planning to attempt to keep the April budget to less than $100. But to be honest that is already not possible and we are in the middle of April. What I can say is that I have been able to stock up on lots of canned items and grab some quick and easy breakfasts for us as well. Harris Teeter has been having some huge sales in the past couple of weeks, for example, I grabbed 15 cases (12 packs) of soda for $1.99 today. This alone is a saving of $50. Cereal, grits, oatmeal and yogurt round out the list of items that I purchased today as well. My plan for the rest of April is to only purchase things we are completely and totally out of that we can not survive without milk and eggs being the biggest things that I can thing of. Otherwise to be honest I am going to avoid all grocery shopping. I am going to allow for one exception “Suddenly Salad” Pasta that usually go on sale for approximately $1 a box. I need/ plan to purchase 25 of these to use once a week this summer as a quick easy and delicious meal.
I received the news today that we will also be purchasing a cow in the next month. This cow currently weighs 1400 pounds. This meat should last approximately 2 years. I am super excited about this meat.
The other food related good news is that within a month we should be able to start harvesting items from the garden. I am excited this year because all the plants should be purchased with gift cards earned from Swagbucks. This means that the entire garden is a profit not matter how little we may harvest.
Yes we are day three of April before we could put together a meal plan, but better late than never. You will notice a huge trend in this weeks menu…LEFTOVERS! Not exciting but a necessary part of our food lives. I spent a huge amount of money in the month of March on food so the focus for the entire month of April will be to keep grocery spending at a minimum. By menu planning for the entire month at one time, I was able to determine that other than fresh fruit and veggies, we have no needs right now. I hope this translates into very little spending in the next several months. This week will involve a little bit more effort than normal as the kids are out of school and Matt is at home until Friday.
Breakfast- Saturday-Gravy and biscuits , Sunday- Church provided. , Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday- Pancakes or waffles depending on the mood.
Lunch- Saturday- left-overs , Sunday- Dinner with my Family , Monday- Ham salad sandwiches, Tuesday-Friday Leftovers!
Dinner – Saturday- Leftovers , Sunday- Left-overs Monday- Grilled chicken breast with left over sides , Tuesday- Chicken nuggets and French fries(kids choice) , Wednesday-Rice Kreole , Thursday- Beef and Broccoli, Friday- pulled pork.
We celebrate Easter but it is usually in a low key kind of way. Today was no exception. This morning we started with Easter Baskets at around 6:30am.
Basket and emoji toys are great things to pick up at the after Easter sales. I would wait until everything is 75% off. Candy is always a good deal at CVS with the ECB, another option is also Target. The Dollar spot at Target can be great for some small socks and stickers. Finally shop at Five Below to grab even more candy and Hot Wheels Cars if you need.
Easter outfits are always fun! Especially when you plan ahead. Lily and Kendall’s dress were purchased at Costco in February for $16. each. I order Matt and Zach’s matching purple shirts from JCPenny on sale for $9.99 each. Amanda found her dress at Goodwill and David’s shirt was another sale purchase. My outfit was the cheapest from my closet.
We all enjoy lunch at my brother’s house and the kids spent the afternoon playing outside and hunting Easter eggs.
I planned ahead and purchased the ham at Aldi using a $5 off $30 coupon several weeks ago. We came home and enjoyed left-overs for dinner in addition to ham salad I made that will last for several weeks.
I am giving a huge sigh of relief as I type this. March was a long and busy month but I honestly don’t feel like I was overwhelmed by it. The best news of all is that we are ending the month on a good financial note. I still have to pay for pool dues for the year but other than that yearly expense, we are on track. We did not make major gains this month but we did not have major loss either. Personally I have spent several days this month working in the yard and even managed a walk one day. Spring appears to have finally arrived as well. The weather shows highs around 70 for much of the week. We did turn off the heat on Thursday, so my fingers are crossed for an entire month without heat or air.
Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance.
- Total paid to credit card debit $2096 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $200. Amanda purchased a new washer and dryer that she is paying for and has already covered over half of it. It is very difficult to get a good read on the actually numbers but we are basically at the same level of debit as we were in January. Slow and steady progress is the best method and unlike last year, in which we started increasing our debit in March and never looked back.
- Grocery budget $475- Total spent $726.27. Yikes, I did spend extra to purchase ground beef and had several trips to stock up on good deals. I have already discussed with Matt that we will be on a purchase only if we are out grocery budget for April. I am allowing my self 2 exceptions, chicken breast from Zaycon at the end of the money if we have enough remaining out of the very small $100 budget and purchasing Suddenly Salad if they go on sale for $1 or less a box.
- Gas budget- $280- Spent $261. This is really impressive since this was a 5 week month.
- Kid/Summer expenses : uggh lets just say Lily had a 3 night play that was $9 a ticket and Zach started Baseball along with several field trips and the purchase of year books for Zach and Kendall. I really don’t feel like finding a number but it was all covered.
- Earned $100- this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money and I hope to see this number double in April.
- Blogging- 11 for the month. Super busy this month. I initially set the goal for 20 but 15 may be more realistic.
- Exercise- 4 total days for the month. a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not.
I mentioned yesterday that we had purchased a trailer of mulch. The cost of the mulch was $15. I was totally amazed at the amount of mulch that we received. Here is a picture of the trailer AFTER I worked on spread for a couple of hours on Friday night.
This was a picture of the mulch uncovered about half way through Saturday.
I have never purchased mulch this way before. I am used to purchasing by the bag at Lowes. I would have been able to purchase approximately 7 bags at Lowes during the best sale which is $2 a bag. This was ALOT of mulch. We were able to apply mulch to all 3 flower bed around the house in addition to the two areas in front of the building and the new area I started in front of the kids play house.
Finally I decided to add mulch around the square foot garden and mulch in the area directly beside several of the beds. I have been doing some research and the mulch should help maintain the temperature better, hold water and prevent weeds.
I will admit defeat, I was unable to use the entire trailer of mulch, left approximately a fourth of the mulch for someone else. It did take a lot of effort or more accurately plain old hard work but we saved over $200 in mulch.
I ended up with half a snow day today so decided to add dessert and homemade mac and cheese to the menu. Both turned out well and we (the kids and I) spent some quality time together.
Breakfast- Saturday-Cereal and left-overs , Sunday- Breakfast bowls (leftovers turned into burritos) , Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday- Baked oatmeal
Lunch- Saturday- left-overs , Sunday- Stuffed Green Pepper soup , Monday- Pigs in a blanket. The kids are taking 2 day of sandwiches and 2 grab and go days. I plan to eat at work a couple of times this week as they have my favorite sandwich.
Dinner – Saturday- Ground beef enchiladas , Sunday- Breakfast including gravy and fried eggs. Monday- Chicken Nuggets, mac and cheese, pears and peanut butter cookies, Tuesday- Leftovers, Wednesday-Hamburger Helper, Thursday- Country style steak or chicken from Costco, Friday- Pork chops or pulled pork.
Find out the day that your local supermarket reduces the meat and that is when you shop.
I can honestly say, I have heard of this way to saved money but did not believe it was true until this week. I had planned to shop at Food Lion this weekend due to Lunchables being on sale for $1 each. These are quick and easy lunches that my kids consider a special treat. In the past, I have been able to stock up on these just prior to school starting but that was not the case this year. My mother was with us and helped to find some of the deals. I was able to purchase over one hundred dollars worth of meat for $66. This is a 40% savings on meat!
I grabbed several packets of thin steaks for Fajitas, a pack of steaks, several pack (ok 6 packs of chicken nuggets with cheese, meatballs and both chicken and pork bites. These are not the typically way we would eat these items but I am super excited that we have a chance to try some new and different things without breaking the bank.
This meat deal could have not come at a better time for us as we will be purchasing a whole cow in the next 2 months in addition to 80# of chicken from Zaycon. But in the meantime we still need meat and the kids insist that they have meat at least 2 of the 3 meals
What good deals have you found lately? Leave a comment to prove you read!
I did not want to write this post. In fact, I am writing it 4 days late because I have been avoiding putting the words to the paper. February was a hard month both emotional and financially on me. Actually I think that says it way to nicely. FEBRUARY SUCKED.
Financial- We have been hit with several unplanned financial expenses including a new tail light for my van, nails in at least 3 tires and kid’s expenses were really high for the month.
- Total paid to credit card debit $981. We also added to our credit card debit by $381
- Grocery budget $450- Total spent $466 I had planned to spend only $300 but…
- Gas budget- $280- Spent $205, This was managed by only paying cash for gas and moving money other places.
- Kid/Summer expenses : $200, Zach was registered for Baseball, purchased new bat, glove and pants. Lily need silent auction item for LYT
- Earned $125- this is indeed a much lower amount but this is the expectation until at least March.
Personal- I fail, just do not want to even discuss it any more.
We received our income tax return today. I was very determined to use it in the most efficient way possible. In order to accomplish this I have spend the better part of the morning, looking at budgets and trying to put together some plans and strategies. One of my main concerns and areas of focus was “known” expenses. These are expenses such as yearbooks, pool dues, brakes, and oil changes that I know are coming at some point. These are also where I feel like I really don’t plan enough. I have tried to come up first of all a list of these expenses and more importantly a plan to pay them. My overall goal is to be able to set a budget and any money saved from that budget can be used to help cover kids expenses, or reduce our debit. Currently it is more like a move money to cover this expense but opps now I need to cover this expenses. I am overall really pleased with where I think we stand as far as a budget goes.
The tax return will be used to cover the deposit on our beach vacation in August. The rest of this will be paid from my “extra” check in June. We will also replace the windshield in my van, replace the brakes on Matt’s van and get an oil change for his van. The rest of it and our state return will be used to help fill some gaps that I have identified in our budget.
The weather for the last few days has been cloudy but with temperatures in the low 70s. We have turned off the heat and opened a couple of windows. Both our electric and water bill have decreased in February but an extra week without heating and air goes a long way. Matt has also been able to stop a leak in the hall bathroom and did some minor repairs on the dryer. We are very hopeful that these small changes will bring both bills down to a lower level.
A huge surprise or change that we expect in March is a reduction of our cable television bill. With Septrum our bill that we just received jumped $35. We have made no changes to our service. Matt called and it was a “your promotional period has ended” increase. We are currently researching options and will honestly give Septrum one last chance to match our current price. If not then we are cancelling our landline and switching to HULU live. This change will save us around $40 a month. I know that the first two months saving will be used to purchase one additional box for our televisions.
The thing I am most excited about is my plan to purchase mulch and all plants for the Square Foot Garden this year with earning from Swagbucks. In the past, I have used the grocery budget for these purchases but this way the pressure is off to “harvest ” enough to cover the expenses!