I am so excited to share this. Amanda and three little kids are camping and rafting down the Dan River this weekend. I am getting some pictures and it looks like a lot of fun. I have been putting off some much needed spring cleaning tasks for several months and this house is starting to look like a hoarder lives here. I am going to go ahead and admit that the plastic totes from our yard sale were still sitting empty in the living room. That makes this weekend a perfect time to get some cleaning and organizing done. I decide to tackle the closet in the living room on Thursday. I was pleasantly surprise at how good it looked afterwards. Did you ever read the book “If you give a Mouse a Cookie?” This is exactly how my life works. If you clean out the Living room closet and takes something to the Linen closet, you realize how bad it is and you must clean it. I was actually able to make a huge difference in the Linen closet using storage bags and rearranging plastic containers. I ended up moving a plastic drawer set from my shower room closet. Did you guess? Next up was the closet in the shower room. This is actually a closet that I see daily, so it was one of the cleanest and neatest but I did a little bit of straightening. I decided to move the vacuum into this closet to make it easier to get to out for the kids this summer. I opened the “extra closet” in the dining room to get the vacuum and here is where the real work and savings began.
I, first, should explain that this closet is the access to the garden tub in our master bedroom, and it is also the original front door to the house. I have always “envisioned” this as an extra storage space. After Matt finished working, I shared my idea with him. The biggest challenge was that we really did not have any money to put toward this project. I am happy to say, we salvaged some wood and nails from my parents house/building last year and it worked awesome for this project.
Next we removed an organizer from the laundry room, to allow for more space. Relocated a shelving unit to the corner and add more storage for our food supply. Matt and I both spent several hours and ideas but finally were able to re-use the wood from the laundry organizer and some screws that we claimed from my dad’s building.
I am super excited that we actually finished all this! No food is left sitting in the floor and we also moved the plastic totes. Total time spent was around 12 hours on Saturday. Total out of pocket $0 (ZERO)!
Did you hear that sigh of relief? Do you have a clue what it means for us?
- This is the month, that we hopefully final get our feet back on solid ground. In addition, we are actively seeking ways to increase our overall income as well. My prayers is that by the end of June, we will have significantly increased our income and can adjust our budget accordingly.
- The square foot garden should been to produce. We currently are able to harvest lettuce, basil and cilantro. I hope to add at least cucumber and squash to the mix by the end of the month.
- Matt and I will have some “alone” time this month. For dinner tonight, we used a gift card and enjoy a large meal at Applebee’s. Total spent was $11! Amanda has taken all the kids with her camping this weekend. All three kids are planning to attend our church camp which be for the entire third week of June. Currently, I have scheduled myself an additional 10 hours the week they are gone to camp. This weekend, my plans are to finish up some spring cleaning and relax.
- School ends for Lily next Wednesday. Zach and Kendall will both finish on Friday. This summer will be a definite change as Matt will be working one or more days. We get to start using our “Wet and Wild” pass for the summer. I am hoping to go twice in the month of June alone.
- I am finally feeling caught up. I still have several things I would like to accomplish around the house but they are all things that are simple items that will just keep things moving smoothly.
Thanks for sticking with us!
Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance. We have had several large expenses this month but we continue to focus on the small gains.
- Total paid to credit card debit $1483 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $612.We are final down to a level that is less than we ended with in December of last year. We have experienced a boast in income which we hope to increase and continue in the summer.
- Grocery budget $475- Total spent $531.77. Yikes, It happened again and this does not include our cow purchase. The good news is that I have already made a menu plan for the month and plan to stick to $100. We will be receiving our cow sometime this month but I really don’t expect this to add to our cost at all. I am going to limit spending to what we are out of and Suddenly Salads if they go on sale.
- Gas budget- $280- Spent $230. Gas prices are starting to increase in our area so I seriously doubt we come in under budget for the next couple of months.
- Kid/Summer expenses :Swim team and Baseball games.
- Earned $88-this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money. We have decided to use this “extra money” for gardening and other yard supplies.
- Blogging- 9 for the month. Super busy this month. The blog was technically down for over a week. Hoping to get back in the swing of things.
- Exercise- 2 total days for the month. a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not. This weather SUCKS! I am looking forward to the summer and time in the pool.
Today was officially a snow day in NC, that definitely helped with the saving as our cheerleading competition was cancelled which at minimum saved us $30 in admission.
I mentioned that I am participating in a low spend challenge, I have budgeted $100 for groceries this month. I did spend $14 on Monday at CVS and my plan was to hold on to the rest until it was a need. The need and some wants found me on Thursday, I went to our local Aldi to grab some plastic wrap and realized that they will be closing next week for 6-8 weeks of construction. We decided to go ahead and grab some items that will be needed before March. We spent a total of $42. The need that came about today is for labelling tape, so another $5 on Amazon. My totals are now at $61 for the month which leaves an $39 for any need that may arise.
The second challenge is Eat from your pantry. This is actually a very easy and doable challenge as we have a pantry full in addition to several full freezers. We have actually have two full weekends at home, thanks to the snow, therefore I have been trying to stock up on some prepared foods that we really like and can use during the hectic weeks ahead. Last week in my menu plan, I share how we started this process. This weekend, I have already made a huge pot of chicken stew, which we ate for two meal before freezing the remainder for a quick dinner. This morning, Matt made a triple batch of pancakes and the plan is to make French toast in the morning. This should definitely help with breakfast in the next couple of weeks. I am planning to share our menu plan, once we decide on it for next week.
We have started working on making our now dinning room more functional. I am determined not to let this project take over either time wise or financially this year, so small steps. We mover our smallest refrigerator to the outside building, which allowed us to re-position the black refrigerator, removed the cabinets that we hung last year, and placed a shelf back over the black refrigerator for storage. During the process we had to paint the wall. I am proud to say that this was all completed without spending anything. Before sending the cabinets to the dump, we removed the hinges and handles which are going to be reused for the custom buffet I want to complete. I was able to earn a $50 gift card to Lowes last month and Matt grab a $25 one this month. These should allow us to place new electrically and build a “tower” for the internet and cable that comes into the house in this area. The current goal is to have this completed by the end of January with zero out of pocket. In an effort to make goals that are achievable this year, I am going to wait till then to look ahead at the next step.
I have not had time over the past several days to go back and review the goals I had set for 2016. I know that I did not meet any of the goals on a consistent basis. I am sad but realistically I know that goals are just that something to aspire to achieve. I am often remained of our wedding verse Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Our goals and God’s plans are not always the same and it is my firm belief that his plans are always much better in the end than my goals. None of the goals that I established were bad but that were just not achievable for 2016. I will share that 2016 was the hardest and leanest year of our marriage on a financial level. I have been able to look back and identify some of the problems so that should help the coming year. With all that written out, I am officially closing the door on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017. I am still unsure if I am going to make goals for 2017 as I really get discouraged when I have to write “failed” each month but I also like the accountability that it provides. So for now, I am going to share on what I have been up to and how that affects my plans/goals for 2017.
Christmas 2015 made it very evident that we need to come up with some major changes in our kitchen in order for us to host our family and friend in an enjoyable environment. In January, we started the kitchen remodel which included the old kitchen and living room which was being used as a playroom. We spent 5 month removing a walk and reworking most of the area. We stop due to money and energy. This past weekend we have started working again. We used our “dining room’ on Christmas Day and it worked well but I still wanted to make some changes. First we moved our smallest refrigerator to the building and pulled down the cabinets from around the second one. We are planning to build a custom buffet over the next couple of months for housing all the electronic/internet cable connect and also providing some additional storage space. I will try to share pictures as things start to progress.
We purchased a cow in December and are expecting to pick up the meat this week. I was able to clean out our chest freezer so that the meat will be easy to deal with upfront.
We are going to work diligently this year to regain our financial ground, two years ago we were debit free except for our mortgage, I want to get closer to that point again. One of the bright spots in the area of finances in December has been our “extra earnings” via swagbucks and MPlaces. We have cashed out for over $300 in gift cards during December. I am reading in several different places that January is typically a slow earning month so I am going to celebrate December success but also remember that small steps are still progress. I have decided to participate in several challenges in January in order to hopefully jump start our year. The first is a pantry challenge, we are planning to limit our grocery spending to less than $100 for the month. I have been doing some cleaning over the past couple of day and this should not be a problem. The second challenge goes along with the first and is a no spend month. We will be attending two cheer competition this month but otherwise no unnecessary spending. Who else is hoping to achieve good things in 2017?