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!

Saving on Saturday



I was able to find a couple of hours today to search out some awesome sale items, I want to share with you. My first stop was at Dollar General. I specifically chose this store to buy Hot Wheels cars that were on sale for Buy one Get one free. The selection at this store was really limited so I only ended up purchasing 10 cars with several of those being duplicate. I will send the duplicates to church to use. I was so excited to discovery that they were taking an additional 30% off items already on clearance. Summer items are at 90%. So I was able to grab 10 packets of seed for ONE cent each. I did get some cold weather plants such as lettuce and spinach that I hope to plant in February. My favorite find of the day were these signs that I paid SIX cent each for.

Look for them in the snow village soon!

Clothing was at 70% off so I found Matt a swim suit for $1.13 and Braxton an outfit for sixty-three cent. I decided I need to check out at least one more Dollar General before heading home. The second store had a much better selection of Hot Wheels cars so I grabbed one more but less of anything else. I did purchase one Christmas present for $1.34 for the older girls.

My final stop was at Food Lion to grab some carrots and potatoes. I did grab 8 2liter Dr. Peppers because they were $0.69 each. These are a huge treat for the kids and I will plan to take a coupe to our Thanksgiving dinner. I also grabbed a couple of Boston butts roast that we can use for pulled pork. The BEST deal of the day was on cupcake mix which were in the clearance section at the back of the store. The boxes of vanilla cupcake mix were marked down to twenty cent each. The shelf also had coupons for $1.00 off 2 boxes. I grabbed 20 boxes and used 5 coupons so that I was paid $1.00 to carry the boxes out of the store! Better than free!

Did you find any deals let me know in the comment section!

Aldi Shopping Trip

I am really trying to control and maintain our grocery budget to under $100 for the month of September. In theory and on paper it may sound like a fairly simple thing to accomplish for several reasons. First we have almost 90 dinner meals prepped and in the freezer. Second, we have a nicely stocked pantry and enough additional food for another month at least. And third, my mother is always really generous when she comes for dinner and brings desert. But the reality is that we are a full time family of five eating 3 meals a day with some days becoming a family of 7 or 8. Things seem to go pretty quickly in this house. This week, we are out of bread! I had already planned to stop one day this week to pick up buns for the sloppy joes that we have planned on Friday. But I also need to buy some sandwich bread and bagels as well. I ended up with some extra alone time on Wednesday as the kids and Matt were all involved in church activities. I decided to stop by Aldi. I am really pleased that I managed to limit my spending to $8.07 which included 3 dozen eggs, graham crackers, peanut butter bars and vanilla wafers in addition to bagels, buns and bread! Total grocery spending for the month $29.72

I did spend a few minutes walking around the store and realized that prices are starting to creep up! English muffins that I regularly purchased this summer for $0.95 were $1.25, the peanut butter bars that were $0.85 are not $0.92! Even my $0.65 loaf of bread was up to $0.85! Yikes I have got to keep a watch on prices because at some point we will need to increase our budget.

Saving on Saturday

No spend days equals savings. This idea sounds very simple and is actually foul proof. If you don’t spend any money on a given day then of course you are saving money. However, when putting this into practice it actually becomes much harder than you think. I am a very black and white person so when my understanding of No spend days is exactly that no spending what so ever even from budgeted amounts. The one exception I make is using med flex money. I don’t count this as spending because I never see this money and don’t budget for it either. During the school year there are many things that can count as spending, ball games, school activities/fees and piano. All these activities are planned but still count as spending. Gas is a big culprit during any season of the year.

I started tracking my no spend days in June. I was very shocked to see my total as 2! I was even more shocked to realize that both of these days occurred while school was in session. In July, I was able to achieve a total of seven days of no spending. Again, I was shocked to learn that one of those no spend day was on our missions trip. So far during the month of August, we have managed 3 no spend day with today counting as the third. The first no spend was on Saturday August 3rd, just prior to our beach trip and the second day was during our beach trip. Given all this information, what is the one thing that makes a no spend day work? Planning is the simple answer. The good news is that heading into the school year, I have been focused on preparing ahead aka planning. I have enough meals that grocery shopping should not need to happen but maybe twice a month to grab milk, cheese, bread and vegetables. I don’t anticipate having lots of extra time so that eliminates online shopping and any shopping really. Yesterday, I took the van for an oil change so that eliminates that expense for at least a couple of month. We have also replaced the brakes this summer and replaced tires on the older van. I am hopeful that gas will be our only vehicle expense. The kids and I all had hair appointments yesterday which means we are good for at least 2 months in that area. I may end up getting another pedicure but only one more should be sufficient. The one expense that I know is coming is school fees including signing up for Baseball, and Youth Theater.

Now to the planning part, my goal for August was 10 no spend days. I had originally stated that when school started I would shoot for 15 no spend days. I am no sure that 15 is realistic but I will wait until the end of August to decided if it is reachable.

Saving while Shopping

I mentioned last week that one of the things we enjoyed doing on our vacation was shopping the outlets. Today, I am going to hopefully share some of the deals we got and several pictures as well. I did debate about sharing because you will not be able to replicate the deals but it does give you an idea of what good prices for items are.

On Sunday, we left early, before 7:30am after eating at our favorite local breakfast place.



The goal was to be at the Tanger Outlets before lunch. South Carolina has a tax free weekend usually the first weekend of August. We planned to take advantage of this sale. We were successful! Some of the deals that we were able to combine with the tax free weekend included $8 shorts (for me) at Old Navy. Children’s clothes priced at $2, $4, $6 and $8 at Old Navy. We purchased mostly clothes for Braxton with this deal but Kendall grabbed a shirt for $2.49 and Lily found 8 pair of “cool socks” for $8. We shopped at RUE 21 where we found $5 shirts, each of the girls was able to find 2 shirts that are appropriate for school and out with me!

One of Lily’s new shirt! This was taken prior to our 2nd shopping day!

I will say that Lily probably found the best deal at H &M. She purchased a bikini both pieces included for $11!

We also purchased a couple of shirts and an outfit for Braxton’s birthday at the Disney Outlet store.

On Wednesday, we decided to venture to the second Tanger Outlets.

The biggest store that we wanted to visit was the Nike Store. One of the things that I have learned about this store is that the back wall is all clearance shoes. It has everything from kids to men’s shoe. There is usually a sign on this wall that indicates an additional percentage off. On this particular day it was 20%. Lily, Kendall and I were able to locate shoes that we liked all from this wall. At the register, I was encouraged to sign up for the Nike app which would give me an additional 10% off. I purchased 3 pair of Nike shoes for $85! If you shop at all you realize that this is a good price for even one pair of shoes. We shopped at the Simply Southern store where I purchased t-shirt dresses for the girls for $5. I also purchased several Christmas presents! Mom and I also headed to the Lane Byrant store where we shopped the clearance rack. I was able to combine $20 in birthday cash from the credit card and a school discount. I actually think my Mom did better. She found 5 tops on the clearance rack and opened a credit card account for an additional 20% off. She ended up paying $10.17 for all 5 pieces. To complete the transaction she used cash to pay off the credit card.

We finished the day at Chick A Filet, where the kids traded the books from their meal in for ice cream cones!

Thursday Thoughts

I have been very slack on my posting this month. In fact, this is the 5th post and today is the 15th of the month. I do have a legit reason or a couple of legit reasons for this slackness. I am going to share these with you. Of course, the first reason was vacation. We spent a lovely week at the beach. We really enjoyed time as a family. And to be quiet honest, I just did not feel like posting. I do have a couple more post to share about our beach trip and will hope to get at least one of these up this week. We arrived home on Sunday and actually got ahead of the game by unpacking completely Sunday night.

The second reason that I have not posted a lot this month is that I have been focused on stocking the freezer with breakfast and dinners to use as I start back to work next week. I am so excited to say that I am finished with this task. I currently have 75 dinners and 50 breakfasts pre-made and in the freezer. I wanted to share a little bit about this process with you. But first the reason this has been such a focus for me this week is simple LIFE. All three of the little kids will be involved in an extra curricular activity this fall. This means that not only do we have at least one activity every evening we have two activities most evening and an occasional evening where all three kids need to be somewhere different. Kendall will have a football game to cheer at every Saturday during the months of September and October. My goal is to keep Sundays as a day of rest and day to get things organized for the week.

When we arrived home on Sunday, we found peppers, pimentos, cucumbers and tomatoes ripe in the garden. Matt was able to roast 2 batches of pimentos to use to make pimento cheese during the fall and winter. I started a batch of pasta sauce in the crockpot and with the help of Zach made 10 omelet bags. We use omelet bags for breakfast, simply add the bag contents in a cup with 2 eggs and microwave for 2 minutes. Each omelet bag contains sausage, onions and pepper. Prior to leaving on vacation, I made 20 breakfast burritos to use the eggs, milk and sausage in the refrigerator.

Monday after spending several hours/days researching and book marking recipes during our vacation, I checked in the freezers and pantry and made a list of items that needed to be purchased in order to complete different meals. I added to this list pop tarts, instant oatmeal and cereal to use as well. I made 3 batch of pizza dough and froze along with the toppings (cheeseburger and chicken) for these. The pasta sauce was used to make dinner and two additional containers were placed in the freezer.

Tuesday was a shopping day. Mom and I headed to the local Food Lion and to Walmart with my long list. I am very proud to say that by using coupons, gift cards and sticking to my list, I spending $70 total. I did add two packs of chicken thighs to the crockpot to cook while shopping. For dinner, I unthawed a package of chicken livers and added sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

Wednesday morning, I made a double batch of French toast using bread we found on sale. I added another batch of omelet bags to the freezer as well. I used the chicken thighs to place a chicken divan in the freezer. I decided to go ahead and make chicken broth with the skin and bones as several of my recipes called for it. After our dinner of chicken and dumplings, I made two bags of slow cooker lasagna. My mom and the kids helped with bagging up the dried basil that has been hanging in my building for several weeks.

Today has been another hectic day of cooking. First I cut and hung 15 stalks of basil in the building to begin the drying process. My goal is to not only preserve the basil but allow new plant growth on the existing plants. I also assembled the chicken casserole that we ate for dinner. All the kids were recruited to help with cooking and carrying things to the freezers today. Zach is awesome at browning/ cooking sausage and meats. I assembled 2 baked ziti, 5 bags of Salisbury steak and 2 packs of hamburger patties. I also bagged and froze an additional 10 cups of chicken stock. My plan is to eat one set of the hamburgers for dinner tomorrow and the other will be a meal later in the school year.

Now that all the cooking is finished, I plan to enjoy the last few days of summer with trips to the pool and Wet and wild. I may even finish my 4 book of the summer.

5 Things Friday-Vacation

Vacation is a special time for my family. So today, I thought i would share 5 things that make our vacation special and unique to us.

  1. The beach specifically a beach in South Carolina is where you will find us on vacation during the summer . We typically spend 4-6 hours a day on the beach! Over the years, we have gained a collection of toys, boards, chairs and umbrellas that we bring each year to help occupy our time. I also enjoy sitting on a balcony listening to the waves during meals and at night. In fact, I am sitting outside now!
  2. Eating out. As a large family, one way we reduce our expenses is by eating at home. We typically eat out once or twice a month. On vacation, we typically eat out once a day. We also enjoy ice cream or donuts as dessert each day.
  3. Paper products- No one especially me wants to spend time washing dishes on vacation. We bring paper plates and utensils to use and throw away for the meals we do eat in.
  4. Shopping- We live in a rural area which requires a minimum of a 10 minute drive to get to the closest store. We enjoy outlets bargain stores and even specialty stores while on vacation!
  5. Family game nights. Typically we play a game 4 or more of the nights we are on vacation. Our current favorites are Uno,Rook, Heads up, Yahtzee and Apples to Apples. The kids also enjoy time on their electronics without having to earn via chores like the rest of the year. Electronics are not missed or used during meals or games.

Goodwill

One of the things that we decided to do this summer as a family was a “mission trip”. We actually scheduled it back in March but will leave on Friday of this week and return the following Tuesday. I had heard that we would all need long pants or skirts for this trip. This was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. Matt said he would be able to just wear his jeans and other “work pants” that he has! Zach just finished baseball camp and decided he could easily wear baseball pants for the trip along with the same shirts he wore to camp. However, Lily Kendall and I did not have thin long pants or long skirts that I felt would be appropriate. By appropriate I mean in length or without a thick lining. After doing a little bit of research, I decided to try our Goodwill store first. My back up plans including Roses ( a local discount store sort of like Big Lots but with clothing) and heading to Winston to hit up the Thrift stores there. I knew we needed to be early to Goodwill and ask my Mom to go along to help with clothing selection. Mom ended up being an awesome assets as she is a seamstress! My secondary goal was to be able to locate items that could and will be worn a second and third time.

I am pleased and excited to say that I was able to achieve all my goals and only shopped two stores. We arrived at our Lexington Goodwill at 8:45 and spent about an hour and half shopping. I was able to purchase 1 longer dress, a pleated blue skirt and 2 coordinating tops and skirts. The dresses need to have the busted arm seams fixed which my Mom did in less than 5 minutes. Lily located 2 skirts she liked but both were extremely long. Mom volunteered to alter both of these. Kendall found 2 skirts and shirts with only one needing alternating. So for $52.84 we purchased 12 pieces of clothing that will be worn multiple times!

Lily was able to borrow 2 additional skirts from a girl at our church! Another huge savings! We also shopped at Roses, where Kendall was able to locate and purchase 2 long dresses that she definitely wants to wear again. I end up spending an addition $22 at Roses for Kendall’s dresses.

I was able to dress all 3 of us girls for four days for $75!

June in Review

I am almost in disbelief that the month of June is finished! I really have enjoyed the first two weeks of my summer vacation but it is going way to fast! In fact, we declared yesterday a chill day and I actually slept for about two hours which made a huge difference in my mood!

The garden is producing at a steady rate. We are on the verge of getting tomatoes and cucumbers! I am hoping to harvest enough tomatoes to make at least 12 batches of spaghetti sauce but will be happy to enjoy several sandwiches a week! The cucumber plants are blooming with several small cucumbers but nothing to great. We have two watermelons that are growing already! Unfortunately, we lost all but 2 of our corn plants. I have decided that corn growing is just not for me! We also lost both of our zucchini plants but were able to harvest several zucchinis first. I currently have enough in the freezer for zucchini something once a month for a year. I did discover zucchini hushpuppies which are a huge hit around here. Matt has been able to harvest enough jalapenos to make a batch for him to snack on. We are getting a steady supply of green peppers! I have only been able to freeze on batch but we are using them in a lot of things! I am trying my hand at drying basil this year in hopes to keep the plants alive and producing until the tomatoes come in. My plan is to plant pumpkins this month but need to check the almanac first!

My increase of free time has included lots of clearance shopping! I have been able to stock our freezer with both chicken and pork this month. I spent a total of $302 this month in groceries which is less than usual but more than I had anticipated. We have started to use items in our freezer and pantry and I have started a “stockpile” list. My goal is to keep spending low but also to maintain and improve the stockpile. I have realized that during the school year it is very hard to shop the sales and so I am hopeful to make huge gains in this area as well. I also am planning to attempt to cook ahead one item a week. For example, last week I made a huge batch of taco meat and froze enough for 8 additional meals. This week the goal is to make 10 pounds of sloppy joe mix.

We ended up spending $311 for gas this month. This is a decrease from previous months and I anticipate this to decrease even more for the month of July.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I did sit down and figure out my new salary. I also am actively pursuing several additional job opportunities to increase our income. This is always a hard decision and one that requires lots of prayer. Join me in praying that we follow God’s will in our financial life even if it is not easy!

I have been able to exercise at least twice a week this month. I actually increase my walking to two miles this week. This has not translated to the scale but I do notice a difference in the way some of my clothes are fitting which is always a nice thing,

This is post number 14 for the month! I am surprised at how difficult it is to reach 15 post in a month!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $75. I also have enough sitting in my account for another $25 gift card but am waiting so I can get it without a delay. My plan for this first gift card is Lowes to buy filters and plywood.

PLANS:┬áJuly will be a busy month. Zach has 2 weeks of camp to attend. Lily will be at an International Youth Conference for a week. We will all be involved in our church Vacation Bible School the third week of the month. Followed by our family missions trip to Clarkston Ga. Spending should be minimal as everything but the mission’s trip is prepaid!