Saving on Groceries

I have shared before that our largest expense besides our mortgage is groceries. Yes, groceries are even higher than our car payment. Included in the grocery budget is all the cleaning products and paper products that we use in the house. On a positive note, I have been able to reduce our grocery budget over the past several years. When I started tracking our grocery budget I was spending around $800 a month. I will say that this included diapers for many years. Last year we spent $620 a month on groceries. This year, the grocery budget has varied significantly from $1100 to $175. I did an average of the 5 month and that put us at $540 a month. My goal for the year is $500 a month. I think this is doable as we continue to eat off the cow purchased last year which should reduce the budget as well.

In the month of June so far, I have spent $90.30! I am super excited about this! I am planning to have the lowest spending month ever for groceries. My goal for the summer is to keep spending below $200 for June and July.

Now on to the fun stuff, how am I planning to keep this goal reachable. First, we continue to earn at least $50 to $100 a month in gift cards from Swagbucks. I am using this earning for Walmart gift cards, to purchase toilet paper, sunscreen and all the other fun stuff that we need to keep the house running. I also received my Costco reward this month. I purchased laundry detergent, dishwashing tabs and such with it. A second way, is by using Norwex products for cleaning. I purchased the window cloth and a dusting system several years ago. Yes, the cost was upfront but after a year of use then I am saving money simply by using them. One of my new favorite ways of saving is looking through clearance section at Food Lion. I have been able to grab breakfast sausage, pastries, candy, juice and much more. This is all food that I know we will eat and usually priced fifty cent or less. I have also been going to Aldi on Wednesday afternoon, this is typically when they reduce bread and pastries. Finally, I am trying specifically to use what is in the garden, freezers and pantry. I even made a list of the items that we have in addition to several ideas of ways to use these items. In addition to the list of items we have, I started a stockpile list, these items I am going to watch for a good sale and build up our supply. I am eager to save as much money as possible this summer while enjoy a more relaxed pace!

Thursday Thoughts

I must admit that I was wrong. I assumed that with school ending for all three kids last week, things would slow down. Nope, we are still moving at what feels like full speed ahead. I am off work today, using a sick day because all three kids have dentist appointments and our first swim meet is this afternoon. I return to work on Friday for my final day of the school year! I am exhausted and looking forward to spending some quality time at the pool this weekend!

Lily and Kendall will be attending our church camp next week. Zach decided he would prefer baseball camp instead. I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and plan to spend at least part of the week, catching up on shopping. Zach and I should have some fun as well.

I am doing awesome on limiting my grocery spending for the month. So far I have spent $71.53. I do need to pick up several items at Costco so I am sure this will end up closer to $300 by the end of the month. One of my new favorite things to do is check the “clearance” sections of Food Lion. I have been able to find sausage patties and links for under $2 a package. Other finds include candy, juices and baked treats. I have also discovered that Aldi discounts baked goods on Wednesday. I am hopeful that we will be able to keep our grocery spending to a minimal by simply eating out of the pantry and shopping the sales as often as I can.

Another area that should have a huge decrease is gas. We have spent $127 so far this month. I am anticipating that with tomorrow being my last day of driving to work of the summer. I should be able to reduce the gas by one tank a week. The only problem is that we live in the middle of nowhere so any trips involve gas.

Monday Musings

The end of school is fast approaching. Lily finishes up 8th grade this week with End of Grade test on Wednesday and Thursday. Zach and Kendall have two weeks left. They also have testing this week with the following week being a lot of celebrating and other activities. I have 3 weeks left. My weeks will be full of meeting and paperwork. But I am counting days can’t wait to start my summer break.

I am usually pretty good at looking at the schedule and determining just how busy we will be. However, I underestimated the last couple of weeks. We are staying supper busy with end of school activities and swim team practice. I am hoping to make it through the next 2 weeks without breaking the budget grabbing food on the run. But I am beginning to wonder how we will get it all done.

My grocery goal for the summer is to keep the grocery bill as low as possible for at least the months of June and July. I know that August will be a huge shopping trip as we stock up for the beginning of the school year. So far for the month of May we have spent $215 which includes lots of sodas to get us through the summer. We are running low on lots of quick and convenient meals but I am trying to stretch them at least the last two weeks of the school year.

My square foot garden is growing the best that I have ever seen, I am very hopeful that we will be able to not only use it for lots of food this summer but also that we can restock the freezer with yummy veggies for the winter.

I checked the freezer yesterday and estimate that we have about six month of beef left. I need to seriously start to work on a plan to use what we have but also to pay for another cow. This one has lasted about 18 months so that is a great way to stretch our budget!

We should not be spending any money on clothing for the next two months so that will make things a little bit easier as well.

5 Things Friday

1. Summer is officially here in North Carolina for two very distinct reasons. First, I caved and turned on our central air on Wednesday this week. The house temperature at 6 pm was 83* so you really can’t blame me. The second reason is that our community pool opens this weekend and swim team practice will start next week!

2. The square foot garden is doing really well so far. I am excited to be harvesting lettuce several times a week. I also will soon be able to enjoy green peppers and jalapeño pepper. I notice this morning that we have our first zucchini squash is showing.

3. I have 5 weeks of working left before I get to enjoy a long summer break.

4. We are managing to stay well under budget for groceries this month as so far we have spent $12. I am planning to purchase some 2-Liter sodas for our Mother’s Day celebration.

5. We only have 3 baseball game left this season. Zach is still LOVING baseball. He has moved to the first of the batting order and is planning to attend a baseball camp at a local university to improve his skills this summer. 

April in Review

April is in the books. I honestly can say I think it flew by.  The success this month is planting the square foot garden!   We already have lots of small plants and I am very hopeful to start eating out of the garden by the end of May.

We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! I have also been really good at eating things before they have to be thrown away.  Unfortunately, I have not been keeping a running record of our grocery spending but estimate we spent around $300. I am back to good record keeping today!

Fell off the wagon with keeping up with gas spending as well.

We are struggling in the area of finances this month as well. I am hopeful for positive news soon on this front.  We increased our overall debt but also covered summer camps for all three kids. I am beginning to notice a pattern and know what needs to be done to change it…. I NEED TO STICK TO WRITING THINGS DOWN!  Some good news is that my check was $100 more than expected. Matt was able to reduce his work cost by $35 a month.  I also have a better budget in place. I NEED TO STICK TO IT!

I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. May is warmer and the pool will open soon which also gives me better opportunity for walking.

I was only able to post 9 times in the month of April.

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $100. Currently we are grabbing gift cards to Dominos which are discounted at 20%. Pizza is good!

PLANS: 6 weeks of work left for me! Bring on the Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month!  We are also planning of painting Lily’s room which should get us caught up to date on house projects!

5 Things Friday

  1. I used a sick day today. After visiting 2 doctors, I have a stye that is infected and has likely caused a eye infection as well. Or a sinus infection caused the stye. It is a classic case of which came first. I know that my head hurts, my eye is very swollen and red. And I am having trouble seeing.  It is truly as much fun as it sounds.
  2. This weekend is going to be very busy. Kendall is participating in All County Chorus with practice Friday night and Saturday. Her performance is Saturday night. Zach has baseball practice on Saturday. Lily and I will be participating in and in charge of a fundraising lunch at church on Sunday. I am praying this infection does not slow me down too much.
  3. I was able to grab razors this week at CVS for 90% off. The best information was when I talked to the manager who was telling me about couponers that come in an usually clear the shelves for most deals. They decided that 90% was not good enough so he ended up putting a lot of items back out. These folks must have watched too many extreme couponing shows!
  4. The weather is really crazy around here. We had a beautiful snowfall that did not stick 2 weeks ago. Today the temperature is 63 with rain. The good news is that I have not had my heat or air on in almost two weeks. I am hopeful we can go at least 6 weeks (mid May) before needing to turn the air on. The bad news is that our grass is out of control. We need to mow but can’t catch a dry day that we don’t have a baseball game.
  5. I have achieved success with growing things from seeds. I currently have 8 watermelon plants and 6 tomato plants that we started from seeds. I am hopefully depending on the weather to plant most of the garden next week. We currently have pepper plants, broccoli and cabbage growing successfully.

5 Things Friday

  1. A tree root was the cause of our electrical problems on Monday.  It took until around 11pm at night to fix the problems so the kids, dog and I spent the night at Mom’s.
  2. The weather this week in North Carolina is beyond crazy. Snow for several hours on Tuesday, highs near 80 on Thursday and a day long rain event on Friday.
  3. We were able to get our first mile walk in as a family this week!
  4. I am going to be spending on grocery this weekend in order to stock up but I have to keep spending to less than $50.
  5. I had high hopes of turning off the heat this week for the spring that that lasted less than 12 hours.

March in Review

March was a different kind of month. I have really enjoyed the last week off for my spring break. I realized today that I would for 14 days(3 weeks) and have a long weekend at Easter. This should also work out timing wise so we can plant most of the square foot garden. This past week, I have spent a lot of time cooking and shopping!

We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! Yesterday, Saturday the 30th was a total fail as we ate out breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a find your own meal, which meant lots of starch was consumed. I did not stick to the grocery budget in any shape form or fashion, in fact I spent $1100 for groceries this month. Check out this post if you want to see my rationale.

Driving is a way of life for use but I am just trying to get a firm idea of what we are spending each month in order to budget better, $565 is the number for March.

Unfortunately, we did not reduce our overall debt in the month of March.  I did keep track of spending. We ended up with 6 days of NO spending for the month. This appears to be a really low number to me. I would like to track April and hopefully will achieve at least 50% or 15 days of no spending for the month.

I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. I did have a doctor’s visit this past week and have lost 2 pounds in 3 months but am `5 pounds heavier than I was a year ago.  I am hopefully with the warmer weather and longer days to start walking on a more regular basis. The goal for April will be once a week or a total of 5 times during the month.

This is post number 15 for the month!  After two years, I have finally met this goal. Now to continue with the success!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month but are at our lowest point of $80 for the month. We have used this entire amount for working on things outside. The good news is that this means we have not spent anything on the square foot garden so we are eating free food at this point.

PLANS: One of the downfalls of my new job is that in both April and May my paycheck will be reduced by $500. I am going to track our spending very closely for now to try and maintain some balance. We will have 2 or more Baseball games a week but this should be less than $10 each week.  I plan to keep grocery shopping to a minimal of less than $100 as well. The countdown to summer is on; 12 weeks till I have an 8 week vacation!

Saving on Saturday 3/23/2019

One of the ways that we attempt to cut out grocery budget is with the purchase of an entire cow. We purchased 890# of meat approximately one year ago.  This works well for us especially since we have the freezer space for all this meat and some to spare. We have been enjoying beef several times a week but it has become really clear that we as a family do not like roast.  I have tried several different versions and ways to make the roast with different taste and it still does not end up being all that great, with lots of left-overs. However, we like ground beef and eat it a hundred different ways with no complaint. Now here is how we are saving money today. I purchased last month on Amazon on a 60% off sale a grinder that attaches to my Kitchen Aid Mixer.

Last night, I set 3 roast out to unthaw and today, I cut the bones out of each of them and then ground them up with the grinder. I will admit it was a little bit of work to get this accomplished but less than 2 hours for the entire process.  After grinding the hunks of roast into ground beef, I fried it up and tossed in the crockpot with taco seasoning and water.  The remaining bones and meat that was attached I placed in a second crock pot  and made beef broth that I will bag and freeze tomorrow.

I was able to take 3 meals that we would eat and not enjoy and turn into at least 7 meals that will be quick and easy to prep and at least 16 cups of beef broth. I am definitely calling this a win  in the saving department!

Saving on Saturday- DIY cabinet

I have mentioned several times that we have been working in our dinning room to add a bar seating area and new cabinets. We were finally able to finish it this weekend!

I want to be really honest and say that one of the reasons we decided to build it ourselves was the fact, I wanted the drawer to be huge and functional.  I am going to share all the picture soon but today, I want to focus on the cost and savings  of this upgrade. Which it turned out perfect!

So now on to the savings-

Recycle/ Reused-paint from several years ago when we actually replaced all the cabinets.            – door pulls that we salvaged from the cabinets we replaced.
– at least one set of hinges from the old kitchen cabinets.

Gift Cards-
Each month Swagbucks offers the first gift card earned at a 12% or $3 discount. We also used 2 $10 Visa gift cards earned from Swagbucks to pay for items. 

Doing It Ourselves- 
I did mention that I wanted both the drawer and cabinet to be a specific size as one of the reasons we chose to do this improvement ourselves, it is also a cost saving measure as a cabinet alone is between $75 and $200 depending on the size and things you want included.

Now the cost-
Wood and Framing material from Lowes after gift cards- $64.54
Bar/Counter-top from IKEA -$138.35
Four Chairs from IKEA-$80

TOTAL cost- $282.89

This is a total win in my book as except for the flooring, the kitchen/dining room area finally looks and feels complete. I have lots of storage and can keep things neat and organized!