November in Review

I have been debating even writing this post for several days.  November was a month that was busy, frightening and unforgettable but I also want to stay true to myself and have documented some of the reasons that things happen. First we decided to take a trip to Michigan to visit over Thanksgiving.  I am a planner and two weeks is never enough time to plan a 7 day trip. But this Amanda was sick and the two weeks turned into 3 days. I spent 5 solid days at the hospital with her and ended up eating several meals just to make the days go faster. I don’t regret spending the time at the hospital and would do it again if needed but it made the month really short.  I don’t even think I have actual numbers this month but best guess has to work for now.

Financial- I did fairly well for our trip expenses and I still plan to write a blog post about that.  I did end up spending money on more new clothes and shoes. The good news is that we paid all our bills and we have no real needs. 


Grocery budget $500- I did end up staying under this amount I am positive.  However I am going to guess that I spent around $200 this month on groceries. I am going to plan a HUGE grocery trip at the end of December but the goal is to stay well under $100 prior to that. 


Gas-  Our trip to Michigan cost us 7 tanks of gas for around $250. I have absolutely no idea what else was spent in gas for the month except $15 on parking for the hospital. 


Kid/Summer expenses: Kendall gymnastics $60 was the only required spending for the month but I am thinking I also paid $20 on a fieldtrip.
Earned $100- I have gift cards left for Christmas and we used $70 for trip expenses .
Personal-
Blogging-5 for the month. I had many things to think about an little time to blog this month. 
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.

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.

Homemade=less expensive and healthy

I don’t think there should be any doubt that eating a meal at home is way less expensive than eating out. For example, tonight I made oyster stew for four of us for dinner. Total cost $4 including ketchup and crackers so approximately $1 each.

But have you thought about homemade being healthy as well?  Matt worked in the restaurant industry for several years and he shared with me one time how a new “organic” restaurant was making there own vegetable stock from the throw away parts of salad ingredients.  Now if you know my family, we are not exactly the vegetarian type but it got me thinking and I did some research.  I learned that basically chicken broth and beef broth are both water with flavor/fat.  So I decided to make my own and save  the $6.95 it cost at Walmart.  The homemade version contains way less salt and no preservatives!

Last night we enjoyed T-bone steaks from our freezer for dinner.  After we finished eating, I simply tossed the remaining bones and fat in several crockpots. I fill with water and turn on low for 12 to 15 hours. No cost really.  This morning I turned the pots off and tonight I packaged up the beef broth in Ziploc bags which I was paid to take out of Walmart. Any time a recipe calls for beef broth or a beef bullion cube I use our beef  broth. It has no extra preservatives, no extra salt and usually increased the taste of most foods.

I did clean out one of the small crockpots and started a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce. I used up all the tomatoes that we picked last week ahead of the freezing temperatures, green peppers also from the garden. I have dried oregano, frozen basil and parsley leaves that also ended up in the pot. I have this cooking all night and will use the immersion blender in the morning to make the sauce smooth. Again really no cost for us and it contains no preservatives or ingredients I can’t pronounce.

After a really expensive spending week, I am so glad to save some money and keep us on a good financial track.

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!

5 Things Friday

  1. This is the first night we have been home this week with no practice or events. I think this should occur at least 2 more times during the month of October 2018.
  2. My job in Guam is “suppose” to be starting in the next 2 weeks.   I also have received notice that I need to “reapply” for licensure by the end of October. I am so reluctant to even think about this but am leaving an open mind. I do have a call schedule to speak with someone on Tuesday and I am very hopeful that I can get an idea of the scope of the time commitment including when it will start on this call.
  3. My favorite sale of the year is the Food Lion “quarter back” sale. Last week, I even took my mother shopping. We ended up shopping two different Food Lion stores and realized that each store has different prices and sales. The stores are less than a 10 minute drive apart. My favorite deal of the week was free yogurt. The Food Lion brand yogurt was on sale at 4 for $1. Each still qualified for $0.25 back so free yogurt. I still have approximately $40 in my grocery budget remaining but may honestly skip shopping the rest of the month.
  4. Gas and other auto related expenses are continuing to be above the budget amount. My initial plan was that all “mileage expense” money would be “fun money” may have to be rethought.
  5. We are celebrating Amanda’s birthday this weekend!

September in Review

Whew… we made it.  September was another busy month with lots of money being spent.  You can read about out budget reset here.    To be quite honest, I am glad to have all the spending and buying hopefully behind us.  I actually paid bills twice this month as we move to paying most bills with my paycheck, we are paying a month ahead so it is much easier and quicker. My goal for both October and November is to have more days of no spending than spending days.  We still have not settled on a final budget as I have not started my second job via Skype yet.  At this point, I am even becoming doubtful if this is going to materialize. If I do not being this job it will me a reduction in our budget as I will need to cover our two remaining credit cards from regular bill money. I will definitely keep you posted. But now here is what our month looks like.

Financial- We have moved toward a cash envelope system with most of the budget. We are continuing to use our Costco credit card for the HUGE rewards (total of 8%) in the form of cash back but otherwise we have no plans to acquire any more debit.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $500 for September and $440 of our October budget. Because I was paid on Friday, we went ahead and shopped at Costco for the month in addition to I have been stocking up at Food Lion during their quarter back sale. I do not anticipate spending more than $60 in October and it is in cash so when it is gone, I am done!
Gas- We are currently around $75 over for the month. I was initially very unsure about the exact cost with both Matt and I traveling at least 30 minutes to work each way. I did increase our gas budget to $400 for the month of October. I may have to continue to monitor and adjust this as time progress. The good news is that I will be earning mileage which should cover at least part of this expense.
Kid/Summer expenses :Lily is participating in youth theater and including tickets for the show so far we have spent $200. Remaining cost include several items for her costume and at least one silent auction item. Zach is playing baseball- $90 sign up fee, $25 on new uniform and around $5 a week for game entry fees.
Earned $75- We are continuing to use this money in different ways. This month it was to purchase items for my building including a light. We are planning to put at least $50 a month for the next three months toward Christmas gifts. Every little bit helps!

Personal-
Blogging-10 for the month.  I have been sick for the past week and we have been incredible busy over the past two weeks but I am going to hopefully stay above this number in the future.
Exercise- 3 total days for the month. I am going to again blame my cold on part of this but I know I can and need to do much better in this area!

Favorite Sale of the Year

I am so excited but I almost missed it. Food Lion, our local grocery store, is having my favorite sale of the year. The quarter back sale! Basically for every “store brand” item you buy you receive a quarter back for your next order/ trip.   I usually watch for this sale and plan ahead making sure I stock up on things like ketchup and mustard.  Opps missed that whole sale announcement.  I went to the store last night to purchase a few groceries needed to make baked ziti.  As I am walking around the store, I see the sale sign and know I need to take advantage of it. I quickly  start thing and start exchanging items in my cart for store brands in addition to trying to find the best deals.    I grabbed muffin mix, pasta mix, rice mixes and some breakfast items that we always need!  Matt was excited to see hot sauce (6 bottles).   I also found some items on clearance that increased my total but overall I am so excited. My overall goal was to purchase the needed items with “quarter back”,

By the numbers:
Original items on the list   $25.45
Summer clearance Items (skewers)  $ 2.79
Total Spent  $54.90
Total Saved $30.18
Saving Percentage is 54.97%

Food Lion is the only local grocery store and to save 55% on store brand items is AWESOME!

We are using the cash method for groceries this month which makes it a bit more difficulty for me to make another trip because I want to keep my cash. I will likely wait and monitor sale and make only one trip a week for the rest of the month!

Monday Menu Plan

We have added several kid activities this week and anticipate that I will begin skype in Guam some time this month. We are adjusting our plans and hopefully will find a new normal very quickly. I have discovered that I simply do not have the time to fix eggs in the morning. I also do not like cereal and a eggo waffles is not enough food. Matt and I cooked up breakfast burrito stuff and egg muffins to make our morning much easier.

Breakfast- Saturday-Biscuits (choice of toppings), Sunday-Men’s breakfast and gravy biscuits. Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday- Choice of pop-tarts, breakfast burrito bowl, egg muffins, cereal, toast. eggos or grits.
Lunch- left-overs Sunday- Gregg’s Restaurant with friends . Kids have lunch packed including lunchables, uncrustables and wraps. My goal is to only eat out on Friday this week: salad, humus , pimento cheese and crackers . I was successful with only eating out last week on Friday.
Dinner – Saturday-steaks and sweet potatoes, Sunday- left-over or breakfast food prep , Monday-Rice Creola, Tuesday- cheese quesadilla and Mexican rice , Wednesday-Bagel bites , Thursday- Pork fried rice and egg rolls  Friday-cowboy beans and corn bread.

5 Things Friday 8/17/2018

  1. The past week has really flown by. I was able to accomplish almost everything on my list for this second vacation week! Including hair cuts for all of us and a nail trim for Rugar!
  2. Starting Monday, both Matt and I will be working full time. This will be the first time in our marriage (13 years) that we will both be working full-time.
  3. One of the main things I am concerned about is cooking and groceries. We will all continue to take lunches as well as eat the majority if not all of our meals at home. I have spent a considerable amount of time and money on groceries this week. I have visited Costco twice, Food Lion three times and Walmart and Harris Teeter. I have spent a total of $467 just this week. I will probably end close to $500 as I am going to stop at Food Lion for more Diet Cokes over the next several day. I am able to purchase 10 2L of Diet Coke for $9.52 until Tuesday.  After doing most of the cooking on Monday, I have continued to add simple things by cooking double most of the week.
  4. We finally got around to weeding and watering the garden today. I discovered that my lettuce had self seeded and I have a bunch of small plants. I am going to leave and see if any grow larger enough to eat. We also harvested several watermelon and two full buckets of green peppers. I am hopefully that we will continue to harvest tomatoes, pimentos and peppers for at least another month. I was also very excited to see that my sweet potatoes are starting to grow. They can stay in the ground until the first frost which is around the end of October.
  5. I was also able to complete a picture collage using pictures from our Disney 2015 trip. I have only had the collage picture for 4 months!

Did I mention how excited I am to start at Davie County Schools on Monday?

Inexpensive/no Cost Staycation

We like to travel and it the past we have travelled ALOT!  Some of our travel was based on competition cheerleading and some on Matt’s family being in Michigan. In 2017, we spent 10 days in Michigan, 8 days at Myrtle Beach and 10 days in Disney World. We also travelled to Raleigh for a competition as well. This year has been a much slower year. I am actually enjoying a 5 day staycation this week. The rehab department at the hospital is closed for the Fourth of July, I don’t normally work on Thursday. In addition,  I was lucky enough to find someone to cover Friday of this week to make it a nice long break.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was the Fourth of July.  I started the day by washing and hanging Kendall and Zach’s bedding on the clothes line. We LOVE the smell of sunshine and sheets and energy-wise we saved about four hours of time in the dryer.  I  received some cucumbers and tomatoes at work on Tuesday. Matt started bread before heading to work. For lunch, we enjoyed BLT sandwich’s instead of eating out. Matt worked until 1:30 but as soon as he made it home we loaded up and headed to the pool.  We always take a cooler and the kids have their own spending money earned thru chores if they chose to purchase ice cream at the pool. To celebrate we had a cook out with friends. We provided the hamburger meat, slaw and chill. Everything came out of the refrigerator. To end the day, we headed out to enjoy our town’s free fireworks display.  Total spent $0

Today, both Matt and I have appointments.  I washed and hung out to dry a total of 5 loads of bedding before lunch. This saved us at least 5 additional hours of dryer use. I have spent some time getting together a grocery list with coupons for Harris Teeter.  After much consideration, I decided to make egg rolls and fried rice for lunch , again vs a trip out. Matt will be making Sloppy Joes for dinner so we should be save with the no eating out again today.  We are currently out of spray sunscreen as the last bottle purchased did not work. I am waiting on gift cards from Swagbucks before heading out to return and purchase more.  We are planning to head to swim team practice tonight so no additional spending there.  Total spending today should be only out of the grocery budget.

Friday, the plan is to head to Wet and Wild to spend the day. Zach is bringing a friend. We have season passes and our pasta salad for lunch is already made. We have already used our passes enough to cover the cost. Matt and Lily will be heading back  on Sunday with the youth group so again a no spend day.

My goal is to not eat out the entire staycation which will also save a ton on expenses!   I am actually excited to be able to enjoy some extra time with the kids without spending money.

What is your favorite thing to do on a “staycation”?