Thrifty Thursday

I have plans for tomorrow to share some things that we are spending money on this week but first I wanted to share some ways that we are saving money this week.

First up shopping at Dollar Tree.  I have discovered that for the boys and Lily, I can purchase body wash for $1 a bottle. This bottle last around 2 weeks so $2 for a month is much cheaper than $4 a bottle at most other places. I also buy conditioner just to change things up.  This trip I was able to grab sandwich bags and snack bags for $1. I am not anti-plastic but it does bother me to spend 5 or more cent on a bag that ends up in the trash after one use. I found fold top sandwich bags as less than a penny each so I am good with tossing each day. I did also purchase sandwich bags with a zip top to use for other things.   Snack bags will be used for freezing small serving such as 1/2 cups.

Ordering vitamins and supplements via Amazon. Both Lily and Kendall are on a daily iron supplement. I ended up saving 50% simply by ordering it on scribe and save on Amazon plus this allows me to order and forget about it!

I purchased a good bit of extra fruits and vegetables last week. Things have been slightly more hectic than I anticipated so we have not used up as much. Today, I made a new crockpot meal with sweet peppers. I also cut up and froze two bags of peppers and onions to be used in spaghetti sauce when our tomatoes start to come in.  3 cups of chopped celery was frozen. I discovered that I have purchased 3 bags of onions recently. So Kendall and I chopped up two bags to freeze. We ended up freezing 7 cups of diced onions. This way it will not go bad and they will be super convenient to use as well.

I was also able to use 5 small containers of vegetables that were sent to us from the school lunch program.  This cleared up space in our freezer and also made an awesome pork fried rice meal.

Sheets were washed and hung on the line to dry in order to save electricity.

We have eaten all dinners at home this week which is a huge savings.  I have eaten a couple of lunches out and one breakfast but these are much less expensive than even one dinner meal.

What have you been doing to save money?

Monday Menu Post and Summer Cooking

My first full week of summer vacation and week #3 of no oven. We have not received any confirmation of when our new stove will arrive but it was scheduled for this Wednesday. I honestly have not hope of this happening but….   I am definitely a cook for the weather, in the winter and fall I like “soup Sunday” and lots of warm comfort food. However in the summer, sandwich and salads please. This summer as with most summers we have a swim meet on 4-5 Tuesday evenings. I like to take lots of food with us because the kids swim hard and get hungry. The only down side is the prep time. This  morning (Monday) Lily, Kendall and I spent about an hour cutting up watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers and tomatoes.  We made a pasta salad for lunches and for dinner tomorrow which will also help make things easier in the morning. Things to remember as you look at the menu- NO oven, fully stocked freezers and pantry( I am refusing to go to a store this week). Zach is at baseball camp and we have a swim meet!

Breakfast– Saturday-breakfast croissants  Sunday-Cracker Barrel  – Breakfast bowls minus the gravy. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, pop-tarts, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, or omelets. Pretty much you find it and make it! Lily is making shakes for breakfast.

Lunch-  Saturday–Left-overs   Sunday- Way Back Jacks  I assembled a pasta salad. We have lots of salad and sandwich stuff, I made Matt several burgers while I was grilling hot dogs. We have several items left from school lunches and you always have left-overs.

Dinner-  Saturday-  Girls Chinese, Boy-hot dogs at the ball game.  Sunday-Left-overs   Monday-Hot Dogs and fried green beans   Tuesday-Pasta salad or sandwiches  Wednesday- Pork fried rice(from freezer combined with school frozen veggies)  Thursday- left-overs unless I get motivated Friday-Soft tacos.

Grocery Shopping

As you are all probably aware our single biggest expense beside our mortgage has always been our grocery budget.  I think this is one of the reason that I am fascinated by grocery shopping especially reading about other people’s trips.  I have been keeping up with a grocery budget for 10 years now. When the kids were smaller our budget included diapers and 7 people which was around $850 a month. We have been able to significantly reduce our budget to $550. Last year during the pandemic, we spent an average of $631 a month for groceries. This included restocking most of our pantry and freezers in addition to everyone eating at home for 2-3 months solid. We did receive school lunches but by September even the kids were tired of the food.  This year with some focused effort we have spent an average of $383 a month for the first six months of the year. I decided to do some research and a “thrifty” budget for 5 people (kids over 10) is $822!  This makes me feel so much better! In addition, I can say that we are full our pantry and freezers both. This year I have been using Alexa to keep a running list of items we are out of. I have focused on purchasing these items and then sales.  IT WORKS!

I do want to share what my stock up trip to Costco looked like this week.  I spent $298.70 on Thursday at Costco.   This did include a 6 month supply of Tide Pods. They were on sale for 18 cent a load so instead of grabbing a single box I grabbed 2.  This was $40.  I also purchased AAA batteries which should last the reminder of the year but added $16 to my total. I grabbed 2 additional bottles of Pantene Shampoo that were not on my list which was another $15. Other sale items included 4 bags of chips/popcorn, and 2 boxes of chips for our beach trip.  I also grabbed a Rotisserie Chicken for dinner and croissants to use for sandwich for another $10.   The rest was spent on items I had on my list such as dish washer tabs and butter.

My goal for the rest of the summer is to keep spending to a minimum so that we can use any additional grocery budget to cover the purchase of our new stove!

5 Things Friday

  1. Today was Zach and Kendall’s last day of school for the year. Lily actually has class until June 9th officially.  We no longer have elementary age children!
  2. I have 2 work days left before summer vacation from my regular school system.  This included 6 meetings so I am not looking forward to these days at all.  I also will start back serving kids in Guam on Sunday evening this week.  I will be working 2-3 hours per week so hopefully this is the right balance.
  3. We have survived the first full week of no oven. It appears that we have another 2 plus weeks before we can expect delivery.
  4. I am going to break down tomorrow and buy a couple of zucchini  and squash plants.  The ones I planted did sprout but don’t appear to be doing much else. The leaves are a strange yellow color. My mother said they got too much water but I am thinking it is probably the seeds themselves.
  5. I already have a busy week schedule with a dentist and eye appointment on Wednesday!   I really can’t wait for my break to begin!

5 Things Friday

  1. Guam’s school year officially ends on Monday (Sunday for me) this means that I will be only working on Sunday night from now until the beginning of August!
    1. A sweet Guam mother sent a care package that I received on Thursday!  It included all items exclusively available in Guam. I cried!  Everything is beyond delicious.  I really needed this boost!
    2. I will have worked at least 40 hours in Guam in the month of May!  This is after sharing the majority of my caseload with others!
  2. We were able to go 45 days without heat or air. We caved yesterday May 20th and turned on the air condition.
  3. Unfortunately we discovered a water leak last weekend. The leak was in the line to one of our ice makers so that was a $5 fix.  It had been leaking on our HVAC duct work which had to be replaced. I have not received a bill for this yet.
  4. Gas prices have risen significantly over the past several week plus we need to get the oil changed in the van. Our gas budget is going to be higher than previous month but still under the budget.
  5. Grocery prices continue to rise much more than I can ever remember. We have a fully stocked pantry and freezers so I am currently focusing on re-stocking only items that we are absolutely out of in addition to more “convivence” items just to make the weeks go easier with less eating out!

Friday- Catch up

I think that April has been one of the busiest months that I have had in a long long time. Today April 23rd is the first night of the month that I have not had a need for a place to go!

Honesty is always the best policy so I am going to admit right now that this is also the first blog post that I have written the entire month.   I did make a decision that I am going to post 5-7 pictures a day for the time we were in Disney. I also need to make a birthday post for Matt, update on the square foot garden and of course talk about Zach and his baseball as well. I am  very hopeful to get all these pictures post in the next week.

We have decided to turn the playhouse that is no longer in use into a greenhouse for next year. My goal is to re-use and re-purpose as much as possible but also provide a watering system and organized way to use the space.  I have already gotten plants started in the new square foot garden. I am looking forward to lots of fresh vegetables this year!

Financially we are still on the right track. Our gas budget is getting close for the month but his does include taxes and tags on the car in addition to the gas for our Disney trip. Grocery so far are really low but we have a Costco trip planned for tomorrow.

Now to enjoy some quiet time.

5 Things Friday- COVID 19 Edition

Did you ever think to yourself- why might could happen if you decided to buy a new car on Friday the 13th 2020?    I am so glad I am not the only one and I do have the definitive answer- COVID!

  1.  We decided to go ahead and trade the 2016 Honda CVR that I have been driving in for a 2019 Chevy Equinox on Friday November 13th.   We actually were going to shop on Friday night and planned to purchase on Saturday but we ended up finishing up all the paperwork and driving away in the new to us car around 9pm.
  2. I am going to share the reasons we decided to trade cars just for future reference and so I can prove to myself that we did think this through and not regret the purchase. First- neither Matt nor I really enjoyed driving the Honda CVR, it was not a car that we would have purchased. It was under powered and although the gas mileage was better than the van, not enjoyable to drive. Next- the payment was extremely high. I actually had to split the payment in half in order to make it fit our budget.  After doing the research, I realized that we could likely reduce our payment by trading even with our upside down status. Finally- Matt has been employed at his job for over a year. Which allowed us to improve both of our credit scores at the same time. By trading and placing the new Equinox in Matt’s name, we reduced my debt ratio and improved his rating with consistent payments.  We have accomplished all we set out to do. Car payment is $100 less, Equinox is a car we both enjoy driving and credit will improve in the next six months.
  3. Sunday, the kids arrived home from spending the weekend with Haley and we took them for a drive in the new car. We ended up eating outside at the Salisbury Cracker Barrel. Matt and I had skipped church that morning because he was not feeling well and we did not want to expose any one to our germs. After eating on Sunday, Zach became sick and threw up.  It was a one time thing so I did not worry about it as this can happen.
  4. Monday- Matt says he is staying home from work so I decided to take Zach to school. He does not have a fever at home or at school. I honestly thought he had a case of the “Mondays”.  I dropped him off at school and headed to work where I was schedule to see 3 kids back to back a 30 minute break and another 5 kids back to back.  I get a call from Matt that his boss suggest he go test for Covid, because he is positive and has exposed the whole office all week. I finish the third kid and as I am checking my phone to call Matt back, Zach school is calling he threw up!
  5. Matt did test positive. By Friday (today) his symptoms are very light and he is only taking medicine at night.  We suspect that Zach had food poisoning – I ate some of the spinach dip that he had on Sunday and it was bad. I threw it out after one bite and had a horrible stomach ache.  By Friday, Zach is completely better! I have had what feels like sinus stuff to me. I have not had a fever, but runny nose and wet cough.   Lily has had a sore throat but feels much better today. Kendall ended up with a headache. Everyone is currently on quarantine. We have not left the house since Monday.  We are praying for two specific things- no one else get COVID and we can have a small family Thanksgiving. We have been told that 3-4 days without symptoms can end Matt’s quarantine and if no one else has symptoms especially a fever before then. We should be safe. the health department is suppose to call  on either Thursday or Wednesday to officially release us as well.

August in Review

August really went out with a bang…. 4 day trip to Disney! It was awesome and hopefully I can share some pictures this week.

Gardening- 1 watermelon from the garden and I thought we were pretty much done with extreme heat and lack of rain for the two weeks of August but I ended up with fresh salsa, a cup of green peppers frozen, along with several salads made from cucumbers. I even have another pot of spaghetti sauce going! I will probably let the sweet potatoes go until the end of September. The goal this month is to clean up and preserve anything that is left.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $250. I was able to continue to fill some small holes in the pantry but am just buying things as we need them. I do need to restock on quick easy lunches during September as the kids will likely be home 2-3 days a week the entire month. I am going to anticipate another low month but if that changes then we are still ok.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $174.65 the total for the month. Another low month on gas. The price has been all over the place but I have been driving to and from work for the last three weeks so gas around $200 a month should be the normal until the end of the year. I am most excited that this should allow us to pay off the gas credit car which has a set of tires on it as well!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. We are getting better at this. I am going to continue working on this. One issue I am having is that Aldi, one of the stores I shop almost weekly is only excepting exact change or debit cards. This makes it harder for me to remember to keep extra change on my at all time.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 14 for the month! I am actually proud of this goal especially going back to work on both of my jobs. I hope to continue in September.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. Did not come close but did manage a 7 mile day at Disney!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  I only need 2 more recipes to mark this goal off of my list.

Earnings_ $65. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. This covered our breakfast at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and even some cold drinks at the airport.

Things are slowly returning back to normal. We survived and enjoyed August so now to settle in to a new school year and continue to focus on enjoying each moment!

June in Review

June is definitely my favorite month of the year! The weather is hot and we get to spend lots of time in the pool because Summer break begins. Things are slowly starting to return to more normal. The pool is open, we are attending church and baseball is happening. We also look at our budget and make any adjustments or changes that are needed. This year that was a very positive thing as we were able to move money from braces to other areas. After the kids summer camp was cancelled and I was able to score free for now airline tickets for our Disney trips, we decided to spend a week in July at the beach! After some research, we were even able to get a condo on the oceanfront for a week for $1900! I am so looking forward to some beach time!

Gardening- continues to be a challenge this month. The weather is simply not cooperating. We have been able to harvest lots of snap peas, one cucumber , a batch of green beans, strawberries, squash and zucchini. Currently we are eating just about everything we are harvesting. Squash bugs have attacked and we have lost several plants. I am hopefully for the tomatoes to start this week, I have picked two but both were rotten. Cucumbers are blooming so we continue to hope! The kids are most excited because they spotted 2 growing watermelons when mowing yesterday.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $640.36. After looking back, I realized that I have not been able to maintain this budget at all this year. I have been over every single month. My grocery average is $722 a month YIKES! I am not going to increase the budget yet but this will be something I closely monitor for the rest of the year. We have been purchasing alot of meat and prior to COVID, we had decreased our stockpile significantly. Currently I am comfortable with our stockpile and don’t have any gapping holes. I am thinking that our expenses may decrease in this area and if so that will help me to determine exactly where we need to be in this area. For July, I do not plan to actually spend any time in the grocery stores except to grab things we need for our beach trip. I most likely will do a huge trip the last week of July in preparation for returning to school in August.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $186.13 the total for the month. This is the lowest spending on gas in a very very very long time. The price of gas is starting to rise and we are planning to travel this month. One of the benefits of having a significant decrease in our gas budget during the three of the last 6 months is that we are able to pay off debit. We are currently using a credit card for all gas purchases. Any additional money have been used to reduce the balance of this card. I am projecting that by the end of the year we should have this card completely paid off and will be transferring any excess after groceries to reduce another card. In July, I need to put tags on the van. I expect we should still be under $500 budget for the month of July.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! This may become a little more difficulty in the next 2-4 months as the Untied States is currently experiencing a cash shortage. I do have several options so we may do a hybrid system. No spend days are 5 this month YAY! My goal for July is 5 days as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 15 for the month! I am becoming more consistent!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 7 days this month! It is not the goal but a significant improvement over last month!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Not there at all!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 40 new recipes this year! I am planning to finish out the remaining 12 over the summer but time will tell.

Earnings_ $30. This is probably the lowest earning month in a long long time. The economy is not great and I suspect this may be the beginning of the end for swagbucks. Matt did not even earn a single card this month so at least we should double this amount next month! But free money is free money!

July appears to be a busy but fun month. We have swim team, baseball, our beach trip and baseball camp! Because of COVID-19. I will be returning to work the second week of August so July is really our last summer I plan to enjoy!

Friday Update

  1. The Garden- Because of our strange weather here, the garden has been all over the place. We are still finding 5-10 ripe strawberries a day. We seem to be on the last of our snap peas but have been able to enjoy on a very regular basis. This week, we are enjoying zucchini and squash. It appears that my cucumber plants are actually alive! They have started to produce blooms and I am hopeful for some in a couple of weeks. We have tomatoes growing and I am really excited that it appears that all the plants have survived and are starting to produce. I was able to purchase a peach tree that if lives will finish up the eatable border in the back yard.
  2. The weather- CRAZY! For the first time ever in June, we turned off the air conditioning for 4 days this past week. Our average high is 85 but we had 3 days in the 60’s. Unfortunately the humidity got us on the the four day and it is back to the air.
  3. Food- I am very excited and pleased that our school lunch deliveries have improved significantly for the summer. I am thankful for any and all food but this past week, we received lots of raw fruits and vegetables that the kids love. Breakfast food switched from donuts to cereal and pop tarts. My kids are big breakfast eaters so a single donut or muffin is a snack but a bowl of cereal will last several hours. I am now very comfortable with our food storage. My plan for the summer is to continue to replace what we use and what I can find on sale but I am no longer afraid of running out even if I stopped shopping completely.
  4. Summer Break- I am officially on summer break until August 10th! The weather has limited my ability to enjoy but I have been able to read 4 additional books this week.
  5. Budget- We are continuing to save money on gas! I am going to do a budget rearranging in July due to the changes in health care cost. I am most excited to see our debt numbers decrease! I am planning a post this week with lots of details!