Five Things Friday

  1. We have enjoyed two entirely free meal out this week. On Thursday, we used the gift card that was earned and planned for Halloween combined with IHOP customer appreciation to feed our entire family for the cost of the tip! Friday night is always a hetic night with piano. Matt used another gift card earned via Swagbucks to pick up three large pizzas! We have already enjoyed one pizza and left-overs will be for lunch on Saturday and Sunday!
  2. Kendall is growing. I realized this week that she had only 2 pair of pants that were actually long enough for her. We decided to go to Old Navy to try and find her some pants. We actually found what they call “Ballerina” style pants that fit both length and her waist. We grabbed 4 pair along with 2 pair of boots for her. Lily ended up with a sweater, Zach and Braxton have matching Christmas shirts, I got a dress and Braxton has several new church outfits to wear. Total spent $225!
  3. I knew that I was going to be way over budget this month for Groceries. In fact I am at $882 for the month with a goal of staying under $950. I was a bit concerned until I read this :
    “According to the USDA monthly report for October 2019, the average couple spends $617 per month on groceries alone.
    A family of four with young kids on the Moderate-Cost plan spends $894.40 a month on groceries. Families with older kids spend $1067.50. ”
    Matt and I both are working and make it work with an additional 20 or more hours of paid work each week. Our budget is really enjoying the boast and I am very comfortable with setting and achieving budget related goals for the next year. I am planning to share our new updated budget toward the end of December after a second month (December) to tweak it. I also am anticipating that I will have to only purchase one Christmas present in the month of December along with a birthday present for my mother!
  4. The car that we are driving has significantly reduced our gas spending. Currently, we have spend $268.23 in gas. Because we will be at home more next week, I would guess that we will stay under $300 in gas this month. I can not honestly tell you the last time this happened!
  5. I am anticipating a three day work week next week. Sunday night in Guam. Monday and Tuesday at Davie County. Followed by a four day total vacation! I am excited not only for the break but to finish out our budget for November really strong.

How I Spent my Saturday

The kids and I spent most of yesterday working on my snow village. This is a photo heavy post if you ever wondered.

I had already done some preparation work and cleared a spot in my bedroom and go the ladder ready.

But then Lily and I decided that we would display the snow village downstairs in the living room this year! This way it would all be close together with a small shelf of houses one side of the television and the ladder on the other side!

The biggest job is to get all the houses arranged and cords hidden.

Finally we added the people and the trees!

This is a shelf that just sort of happened but it turned out awesome!

The Disney shelf. Lily hand painted the present boxes out of Styrofoam so they would hold my six cent Welcome signs!

The tacky house shelf!

These are not real snow village houses but they fit in perfectly!
The Ice skating scene has it’s own shelf and actually looks empty

The kids think that the farm shelf if way too full!

Both Main Street and the housing development look totally different this year!

Which is your favorite? Leave me a comment!

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!

Saving on Saturday

I was really hoping to find some awesome after Christmas sale this year. I usually buy items for the gift drawer in addition to some new Christmas décor.   I will admit that I am disappointed, in fact the best sale I found were at Lowes and Harris Teeter.  We headed to Lowes the day after Christmas basically to have something to do. I was surprised to learn that all Christmas was at 75% off and even more surprised at how little was left out. I did find and purchase my favorite item.

It was the display so I was offered an additional 10% discount. I had to wait patiently for around 10 minutes to claim it but ended up paying $20 for this awesome light! Even better, I used a Lowes gift card earned from Swagbucks really it was a nice freebie!

My other find was a jingle bell wreath holder for $1.50 at Harris Teeter. I did buy some gift tags, a couple of table cloths and platters but that was it for sales.  I may try to go to Dollar General and Walmart again next Saturday (5th) to see if they have better deals I can not resist.

Shutterfly Success

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Shutterfly. I LOVE pictures and I LOVE products made out of pictures. Shipping cost is the problem with Shutterfly. I should not have to paid $7.99 shipping  for a book that cost me $15.99 to make.  I knew I wanted to get a couple of books made, a couple of calendars and of course some prints made from our family photo session last week.  So off to Shutterfly I go. I am so excited and pleased that I was able to get free shipping! The code is SHIP49.  I also had a “free” book code from Coke rewards that I had stored on the account.  Their current sale of half off books also made this a much better deal.  I was able to purchase a total of 3 books, 8×8 size, and 2 11×14 prints and 1 8×10 print for a total including shipping of $53! Two of the books were of this handsome guy!And the third was a book of the best pictures of our family session. Including this one

I am hopeful to be able to get a couple of calendars made in the next couple of weeks!

Wordless (almost) Wednesday- Snow Village

I am planning to upload each picture individually so that you can enlarge if you like. This will be a picture heavy post!

The beginning!

Started on November 12th the night Amanda went to the hospital. Stayed this way until November 27th.

All the house are on the ladder. This is usually the longest step for me as I work to make it fit and look like a real scene.

Finally I add the people and trees

The next scene is directly across from the ladder.

Finally this year we added the “Mickey Shelf”

What happened?

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and changes that I could had no way to prepare and plan for.

First, Matt’s stepmother, fell and broke her hip.  After some discussion and thought, we decided that we needed to travel to Michigan over Thanksgiving. In fact, we are currently in a hotel in Claire Michigan. My goal is to get a post over the next day or so that gives some ideas on ways to save on last minute traveling.

Next, Amanda, my oldest daughter, has spent 5 days in Cardiac ICU and 5 days in an regular hospital room. She developed a complication from pregnancy that caused her heart to fail, which in turned caused several blood clots in both lungs and one in her heart. The first days of this episode, were the most scary thing I have ever experienced.  I stayed with her for almost a solid week. We are all thankful and blessed that she is home, and expected to make  a full recovery.  The recovery will be slow but still is expected to be full. It was a tough decision for us to leave her and come to Michigan but it was the right one for us. Amanda was very supportive of this.

Luckily, I have purchased most of our Christmas gift, and did not plan to spend much time shopping over Thanksgiving.  We had a menu plan in place and Matt was able to stick to it and keep things functioning at home, while I focused on Amanda.  This trip although short planned and much debated, has given me some time to sit, relax and catch up on some sleep, which I would not have completed at home.

This is the short explanation of the last couple of weeks.  I am praising God for walking beside me and carrying me!

October in Review

It is one thing to anticipate spending after planning and knowing exactly where you wanted to spend money but quite another for bunch of small “fixes” becoming a very expensive month. In October, we ended up with some MAJOR automotive cost. First we need the oil changed on both vans. Next the silver van needed four new tires and finally the silver van needed a new battery. UGH, we made the choice to leave our emergency fund intact at around $600 and place the new tires on a credit card. Frustrating but not a total budget disaster. The good news is that I anticipate paying off this prior to the beginning of the year!

Financial- Yikes, did you read above. In addition, I have purchased new clothes and shoes for most of us. I am hopefully that we can stop spending and enjoys frugal months prior to Christmas without really noticing a change.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $700. Yes, that puts us over for the second month in a row. I have pulled out $100 in cash to use for groceries this month. We are stocked up and I really want to eat what we have. The good news is because of losing power in October, we moved everything from the house freezers to the ones in the building. I was able to really organize and we have a great system for pulling up and knowing what food we are going to use. I have already pulled the food we need for the month of November minus Thanksgiving so we are only buying needs and good sales.
Gas- We are currently around $200 over for the month. This does include gas for the generator we ran but about 24 hours as well. I have not figured out exactly how much we are spending but get a better idea in November.
Kid/Summer expenses: We ended up spending another $100 for Lily for theater this month. We spent around $25 on baseball games including some food. Kendall choose to begin gymnastics this month which cost $100 for the first month.
Earned $175- This is a huge improvement from the last year. We have used most of this to purchase Christmas gifts. I also paid for clothing with this money this month.
Personal-
Blogging-12 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- Zero… no explanation.