Thursday Thoughts

  • Today is a remote learning day for both myself, Zach and Kendall. We are expecting serve weather from tropical storm Zeta to move through this afternoon. Zach is already enjoying watching the wind and rain bands move through. It is very different based on the fact that we are all working on school related task but at home. I will admit it takes the fun out of missing school but should make the schedule much easier to manage.
  • Following the storm today, it is suppose to turn much cooler.  With freezing temperatures on Sunday night and Monday night. We still have not turned on heat or air so I am hopefully to make it to at least Monday or Tuesday before needing to turn the heat on.  We are also going to have to harvest the remaining peppers and tomato from the garden. This is actually the longest that I can remember having items still growing.
  • November is a very expensive month for us. We have car insurance ($408.27), Microsoft renewal ($100), my web site renewal ($30) and the rest of Christmas presents.   Thankfully I have a ton of hours in Guam this month. I am hoping to cover most of our December Disney trip. A sad realization is that I receive a paycheck this Friday but will not receive another check until after Thanksgiving.
  • We survived our busiest week so far this year!!  I even have a list on the board of task to complete on Saturday.
  • Budget wise October has been a great month. We are at $250 for gas and $550 for groceries.  I am planning to hit my goal of paying of one credit card by the end of December.  We also should not use most of the grocery budget for November and December as our freezers are full. I am now looking a small holes such as soups for lunch and other convenient items. I have also restocked the paper supplies as well.

Saving on Saturday

The front of our house needed some work. We have not changed anything since we built the living room addition prior to Lily’s birth so 15 to 16 years ago. Here is where we started.

Last weekend, when the kids were in Durham we decided to purchase a new light, replace the hardware for both the storm door and paint.  We spent around $300  total for everything, in comparison it would be around $2000 to replace the door and the side lights.   I am really LOVING the difference!

 

5 Things Friday

  1. I am full and over the top full in Guam.  I am currently serving 15 schools in Guam and attempting to attend all OT related IEP meetings. What this means is 10-12 hours a week currently.  I have been told that i should be able to reduce my hours by January. I am waiting to decide if this is something I want to do or just continue at the rate I am at.  Currently, I am able to handle most of it but my leisure time and blog posting will be very limited for the next month.
  2. Lily, Kendall and Zach are spending the weekend in Durham with Haley. This is the first time in YEARS that Matt and i have had a free weekend.  Last night we went on a date to Applebee’s  Today we are going to attempt to update the front door.
  3. We are definitively in Fall.  My goal is to go without heat until November 1st.  Our October electric bill was significantly higher than usual due to the summer heat lasting well in September. So far so good as the house is currently sitting at 70 and the outside temperature is 47.
  4. I did a fair amount of shopping on Amazon prime day. Since we are updating our front door including a new keyless entry, we decided to go ahead and start moving toward a smart home. I purchased several echo dots which came with a couple of smart plugs and smart light bulbs and  2 echo flexs (one in my office and one in the kitchen). So far we are enjoying the novelty of them. I also purchased several Christmas gifts and cheap ear buds.
  5. Our December trip will include Braxton, Haley, her boyfriend David and his kids!  We are currently at 60 days!

May In Review

May was another different sort of month. It definitely did not fly by but was not as slow as March or April. I am still working from home. I was able to get an additional 17 hours from my Guam job so that was extremely nice. We decided to go ahead and tackle one more home improvement in the month of May, our sink room. I am glad it is finished and LOVE the results.

The square foot garden is actually growing! I was getting really discouraged in the middle of the month. The weather was just not cooperating at all but finally in the last two weeks we are starting to harvest some small items and even the cucumbers that I had written off have returned to life. We did have to spray with bug killer today so hopefully we will not lose alot to these pesky insects. We continue to get a ton of lettuce and a finally a batch of snap peas that made it inside instead of Kendall eating them all!

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- I was doing so well but decided to purchase 4 gallons of strawberries yesterday and a trip to Aldi put us at $607.45 for the month. I keep telling myself that spending will decrease soon. We have almost 2 completely full freezers! I have added an additional 3 meals this week along with some simple breakfast ideas! I think at this point, unless we are set with meat. Going to make a realistic grocery budget for next month…. stay under $550!

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $284.40 is the total for the month which does include taxes and tags on the CRV. The CRV was filled 3 times and the van twice. I do actually expect our driving to go up this month as I finish up work and start to enjoy the summer. We also will be returning to church and going to the pool. The goal for June keep the gas budget down to $300 with the extra going to pay off debit!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! No spend days are 3 this month YIKES! I knew going in to May that spending would increase. But still the goal for June is to have at least 5 no spending days. I am going to change a couple of rules. First, we save change all year to spend at the pool so this does not count as spending! Second an purchases for clothing, hair or piano that come out of a budget envelope does not count as spending as these are “spent” each payday when it is placed in the envelope. I am also planning to switch at least half of my grocery spending to cash as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 17 for the month! At least this is staying on track!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. yea I did walk 3 times this month but only 3 times. This is something that I definitely need to improve on.

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Still way ahead of this one! I have blogged on 32 new recipes but I have 3 more to post this week!

Earnings_ $75 in gift cards. Slow and steady.

June is an exciting time of the year! I finish up work, the kids finish up school and we enjoy the summer. I am extremely grateful that we have the pool open this year. I am hopeful that by the end of the summer, our lives will return to normal with a crazy busy schedule! Our first Disney trip is planned for the end of August, my goals for June and July are to save save and find more ways to save!!!

Tuesday Money Thoughts

We are approaching the end of May! Typically, this is a stressful time of year around our house. We are trying to coordinate multiple activities and plans for the summer. This year it is not quite as stressful but lots of changes on the horizon as well. I wanted to share some financial information with you both past present and future.

Let me start by saying that we are on the most financial stable ground that we have been on in many years.

Matt is currently employed full-time and really enjoying his job. I am actually employed full-time and working a second job as well. We have been very blessed as COVID-19 had only a small financial impact on our jobs. My second job in Guam was closed entirely for the 3 weeks in March and first half of April. I have been able to resume on a limited basis for May and will have very limited work in June. I do receive reduced pay in April and May. The school system pays on a ten month system, therefore in the months of April and May a double portion of insurance is taken to cover the summer months. I am very fortunate to have a bank that is set up for state school system employees. I have a set amount automatically deducted during the 10 months I receive a regular check and it is place in a summer savings account. In June and July, on the same day as my regular checks the amount equal to my regular pay is moved over to my checking account. This makes budgeting so much easier and I really feel like I get twelve months of pay. We have always lived on a budget. The difference these days is that we have enough income to cover our expenses. We set our budget in January and each month I can arrange money and use as we see needed. We have currently paid off several of our debits and continue to make larger than the minimum payments on all of our credit cards. We are not totally out of debit but we feel like we can enjoy life and still work our way out of debit. We are not going to live rice and beans but we are definitely no overspending.

We did receive a government stimulus check. We had already begun a much needed home repair of replacing our kitchen and dinning room floor at the time that things closed. Our intention was to use the money from my Guam job to cover this expense. We decided to use the stimulus money to cover this expense instead and we also chose to redo our master bathroom. I am happy to say that both projects are complete and they are awesome!

My initial plan in January was to reduce our panty and freezers until June. I wanted to use up alot of stuff and then spend the summer re-stocking them, However this changed as we started to see shortages and limits placed on lots of items especially meat. In March, we doubled our grocery budget spending $1025. In April we spent $922 which included $180 in chicken. In May we have spent $542 which includes around $250 in meat purchased locally. I am being very deliberate in our grocery purchases. I want to maintain a stockpile but also continue to use the stockpile. My goal for the summer months of June and July is to reduce the grocery spending to less than $250 each month and save at least $250 for future purchase. However I am realistic and know that I may exceed this depending on food prices and our specific needs. For example, on my shopping trip today, I found Suddenly Salads on sale for $1 a box. I decided to go ahead and purchase 20 boxes as this is one of our summer favorites. This price is also $1.35 less than the lowest price I have seen lately. On a really bright note, I have already stocked our freezer with lots of convenient easy to prepare meals for the fall. My plan/goal is continue to prepare double batches of items we really like so that in the fall we can simply throw food in the crockpot or oven and enjoy a quick good meal. Our pantry is also nicely stocked. The garden should start producing in the next 3 weeks so I want to be able to use and not lose any food.

We are not planning a summer vacation, instead we have 3 trips planned to Disney World! This was a choice that the kids all made around Christmas last year. We will be attending both the Christmas and Halloween Parties in addition to a long two week trip over Spring Break next year! Currently, our trip in August for the Halloween party is completely paid for! We are hoping to use points and vouchers to cover the flights for our December Trip and anticipate paying it off in October!

I have been selling items on Ebay and we are also anticipating a large yard sale in the next several weeks depending on the weather. All proceeds go to Disney trips!

5 Things Friday

  • I think we are all starting to get use to everyone being in the house everyday. Matt and I both are currently working from home. Matt is going in to his office on Tuesday but I should be home through the middle of May! Zach and Kendall are working each morning on school work and Lily is continuing with her online classes. Lily is actually struggling a bit more than I expected because she is used to being home alone and not working around other people all day long.
  • We are actually eating out more than normal for us as we try to support local business. Matt went to lunch on his office day on Tuesday. I actually went into my office on Thursday and stop by our favorite Greek restaurant bring home a late lunch for everyone. Friday, we ordered from the local pizza shop and Matt and I splurged on ice cream to end our date night.
  • On our date night Matt and I ended up at Lowes. I purchased both mulch and paving stones to help work out in the yard tomorrow. My goal is to get most of the not plant work done this weekend and we will start planting in probably a week or so. I am planning to share pictures tomorrow after the work is done.
  • Family walks are a fun way for everyone to get out of the house and get some exercise. We actually walked 3 evenings this week.
  • The weather is still doing crazy swings from 80s to low 30s in just a matter of days. I am really fighting the urge to plant outside and have been bringing in our growing cucumbers and squash in on a daily basis.

Tuesday Thoughts

Technically I am enjoying the final two days of my spring break. I am very thankful to say that I have been able to catch up on the majority of things that I have fallen behind on during the month of February due to illness. We have to finish installing a couple of pieces of trim work and the kitchen/dinning room will be completed. This was a major goal prior to the summer. I am planning to get outside this morning and get some planting accomplished including starting several things outside and I also plan to start some seed trays inside as well. Tomorrow, Wednesday is actually a pay day for Matt. I am going to plan to spend the morning, working on our budget and paying bills. I also need to get a trip to Costco to purchase several things accomplished. I am hoping that Wednesday afternoon is much less crowded than a Saturday but I can not be sure.

The governor announced yesterday that schools in North Carolina will remain closed until May 15th. I am not sure what this will look like for us. Because I work in a different school district than the kids attend, things are getting a little hairy. I will admit that I have been a little snotty about things and really did not want to return to work. But in reality, I am very fortunate to be able to continue to work. The kids are currently able to all three complete school work via the internet. They will all three have a week of Spring Break during April which will cause a bit of complication. I will have Friday and Monday of that week off as well. We are just going to have to set the expectation that they complete their school work and remain civil to each other while Matt and I work. A huge plus is that currently our school district is providing a lunch meal delivery service. The kids will be able to have a lunch provided daily without the need to cook for the entire time they are out of school. I may be able to work from home on certain days but this is so new and different that no one is sure.

On the financial front, with both Matt and I continuing to work we will not see much impact. I will loose at least a month of my income from Guam as school are closed there as well. I am hopeful that once schools reopen there I will be able to schedule and make up for missed time. I have started looking at refinancing our mortgage to get a better interest rate. Otherwise, the only huge expense for us during the next several months is purchasing meat. I am going to start placing money in saving but wait until prices return to a more normal level before attempting to make a huge purchase.

I have been able to enjoy Braxton for serval days during this break. By allowing him to stay with us, his mother is saving the cost of daycare. I am hopeful to be a lot more helpful this summer in this area.

  1. I am changing the way that I am storing left-overs. I am planning to start storing individual meals instead of putting all into one big container. I have several reasons for this. First, it will make heating up lunch either at work or home much easier for me. Second, it should also make heating up a meal much easier for the kids as well. I am hoping that it will also encourage everyone to grab and use up the items in the fridge.
  2. My plan for today is to spend a significant amount of time outside. The temperature is suppose to be close to 80 today. I need to get some massive weeding done in both the flower beds and also in the square foot garden. My next goal is to determine what seeds I can go ahead and start inside so that I can have a jump start on my gardening for the year. I am not sure how this will all work with school schedule changes due to the cornovirsus but I at least have a plan.
  3. I have 3 new recipes that I am planning to try this weekend. If I am able to get all three done, I will at least be caught up on my new recipe challenge.
  4. This weekend we need to finish the trim work in the hall, install thresholds and adjust one custom cabinet to fit the new floor. I have order new curtains for the pantry and will need to make alternation for them fit.
  5. I am very hopeful that I will have less stress over the next month once it is decide how schools will proceed from here. I don’t mind working and I don’t mind being at home but I strongly dislike the uncertainty.