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!

 

Traveling on a Budget

Our family tends to travel a lot. Some of this travel is by choice and some is by necessity. Most of our travels are planned well in advance which allows us plenty of time to save. However this was not the case for our Thanksgiving trip to Michigan. We decided that this was an important trip on November 3rd, two week before we needed to travel. Here are the ways we used to save money on this short notice trip.

1. I spent around 4 hours or more trying to find a hotel on priceline and the other “cheap hotel sites”. I had two huge things working against me, first we were two weeks away from the trip and the second was this is a holiday weekend. I finally decided to call the hotel we usually stay at. I was able to get a room for all five of us and the dog and breakfast for less than $100 a night which is our good price. After having success calling the first hotel, I called the second with the same results. The average price per night was $100! Tip#1- Call the hotel direct and ask for pricing.

2. Gift Cards- We continue to attempt to use Swagbucks on a regular basis. Each month the first gift card is discounted to 2200 or $22 for a $25 card. Starbucks is always a favorite so we try and keep around $50 loaded to it at all times. I also took advantage of some promotions, and this helped our budget a great deal. We had around $150 in gift cards for this trip and even managed to combine with sales to stretch it a bit further. My suggestion is to purchase gift cards ahead of time an keep a stash for trips and other surprises.

3. Pack a Cooler- The average price of a soda is between $1.50 and $2.00. Just by packing drinks and water, we saved at least $100. I also packed sandwich items and frozen burritos in our cooler. We were able to eat breakfast in the hotels and then ate one meal from the cooler or even left-overs so we ended up eating an average of one meal a day out while traveling. Even if we would have eaten fast food for each meal we saved at least $40 a day by bring a cooler.

4. Pack snacks- We like to eat while driving and crunchy snacks help keep you awake. I have a snack bag that stays in each vehicle but for a trip we ended up making individual size bags of chips and popcorn. This worked well and was much easier than trying to carry large bags and eat from them.

5. Check gas prices and make a plan. We discovered that it was cheaper to buy gas ahead of time then waiting to fill when we had to.

Tuesday Thoughts

  • We will be heading to Michigan over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I spent most of Saturday attempting to find hotels that were reasonably priced. I am very happy to say that I was able to locate and book two hotels both including pools and breakfast for around $100 a night including the pet fee!
  • Our plan for meals includes free breakfast, lunch in the room. on the go including pasta, mac and cheese, burritos and sandwiches. We will plan to purchase one meal a day and hope to cover at least 2 of these 7 meals with gift cards.  Definitely need to step up my swag game.
  • The house is finally getting cleaned!  I arrived home from work yesterday and we were able to spend a couple of hours cleaning floors and rearranging furniture.  I have even made a list of extra cleaning I would like to accomplish in the next week.
  • My goal is to be able to set up my snow village this weekend (Veteran’s Day). I am becoming excited and I love the anticipation of this.
  • I am tired, bone weary tired. I am not sure if this is related to the time change, the fact that I am home 3 night in a row and should be for another 2, stress or a combination of all three. But I seriously could go to sleep at 8pm tonight.
  • With our trip coming up, I want to reduce and leave very little in our refrigerators in the house.  We actually ended up eating left overs for 3 full meals this past weekend. I can see a little at the end of the tunnel but also hear some grumbling as we are out of pop tarts, instant oatmeal, shredded cheese and soon grits. I have no intention of replacing these items, Wish me luck!
  • I still LOVE my new job but it has become a lot more work than initially. I have been attending at least one meeting a week but it is still by far much less work and stress than the hospital.
  • Braxton is one month old, he is awesome and growing daily! I LOVE being a grandmother or baba, much easier than I could have imagined.

Saving on Saturday

Check out this doors….

They are the exact color to match the original brown wood paneling in my kitchen. Matt thankful painted that years ago.  These doors have remained as the one thing that was untouched until today.

I have been thinking about and wanting to paint not only the doors but also the door frame around my kitchen pantry for several months.  I discovered a half gallon of gray paint that remained from the new cabinets we installed several years ago.  Today, I finally decided I had the time to tackle this project.

Matt was great about helping remove the doors from the pantry and even helped paint the door frame.  We did hit a small hiccup, when I realized that these doors were not wood but an old plastic. I was so afraid that the paint would not stick and cover them nicely.  I had already resolved myself to spending at least some money on a couple of cans of plastic spray paint and started to paint the frame. After the doors were removed the area felt much more open.    I actually like this area a lot better without the doors, but I definitely need something to cover the pantry?   Then it hit me, we have a storage area in our shower room that I had a shower rod and curtain covering. Or should I say it was suppose to cover but we never pull the shower curtain closed because it is too much work. Perfect solution, Matt moved the shower rod and curtain in to the kitchen pantry door way!

I absolute LOVE the way this turned out!  Total out of pocket ZERO!

Thursday Thoughts

  • Fall has officially arrived in North Carolina. Monday, the kids wore shorts and t-shirts to school. That afternoon, I heard complaints of how hot it was!  The house temperature was 78.  Today, the kids both are wearing long pants and long sleeves. The house temperature is currently and I am hopefully to avoid the heat til at least Saturday.
  • We will have to dig up sweet potatoes and grab the last of viable veggies from the garden as we are predicted to get our first frost Sunday night.
  • I planted some lettuce bottoms in May and after we ate some they ended up self seeding.  We have really been enjoying this lettuce during September and October. I walked out this afternoon and grabbed enough lettuce for 6 salads! This is probably the third full meal we have gotten and I grab usually a salad a week for my lunch.
  • I am coming to the realization that my job in Guam may never come about. I have already received notice that I need to renew my Guam license by Oct 26th for next year. I have yet to use this license so I am thinking that I will not renew and mark it up to a learning experience. The biggest issue is that I will need to re-do our budget in December and eliminate the need for that income.
  • Dinner this week has been a challenge, as I have had after school meetings 4 out of 5 days.  I am hoping to get a better/easier plan for next Monday and Tuesday. I also have a meeting on Monday evening so we may be ordering pizza after all.
  • I have spent my grocery budget for the month so I am forced to say No to a really good sale at Harris Teeter.
  • Going to end on a positive note, we currently are 1/3 of the way to have our Christmas completely paid for via Swagbucks. I am hopefully that by December we can purchase all large items using this free money!

Sheila’s She-Shed

This adventurer started shortly after my father’s past away unexpectedly.  In the last few years of his life, my dad acquired several building and filled them up.   After his death, we realized that no one had been in the 4 buildings nor realized how full they really were. We decided to empty out as many as we could. It took almost an entire year but we were able to move everything that my mother wanted to keep in one building, including items from under the house and attic as well. It was decided that my brother would inherit one building and I would inherit the second. My brother lives across the street from my mother so he moved his building first.  In September, I paid to have the building moved from my mother’s house to my house.

This could be considered a huge expense but in my opinion it was well worth the money. The company charged $350 and I came home to a perfectly level building and empty building.

The first “free” project was to build steps into the building. We used material from the deck steps that we just replaced. They are not pretty but very functional.

Next we used 2 old door hinges to cut two small opening in the front to allow for air to circulate in the building. Screen was again salvaged from cleaning of the building at my father’s. Inside the building we discovered several pieces of lumber that had been placed up high for storage. There was also an old rake handle and a multiple nails and screws.  We did end up purchasing a fast track storage system at Lowe’s using gift cards from Swagbucks.  The candy canes are hanging on an old broom handle that we found after the shed arrived to my house. My father used it to hold the door open with. The chairs above the candy canes are on the rake head that was previously used to hold shovels.

Beach umbrellas, pool noodles and surf boards are placed on shelves that were already in place in the building.

The caddy in the corner was purchased at Aldi for $4.99 and everything on the back wall is connected to hang from nails and screws that were already in place when the building arrived.

Yesterday, we used the wood found in the building to add this 10 foot very sturdy shelf with storage above and below the shelf. The top shelf was already in place when the shed arrived and had been installed by my father for storage.

Total spent on my new “she shed” including cost of moving is less than $400. I have gained a TON of storage and organizing space! Can you tell how excited I am to finally show off the results?