April is in the books. I honestly can say I think it flew by. The success this month is planting the square foot garden! We already have lots of small plants and I am very hopeful to start eating out of the garden by the end of May.
We were able to stick to our menu planning for the majority of the month! I have also been really good at eating things before they have to be thrown away. Unfortunately, I have not been keeping a running record of our grocery spending but estimate we spent around $300. I am back to good record keeping today!
Fell off the wagon with keeping up with gas spending as well.
We are struggling in the area of finances this month as well. I am hopeful for positive news soon on this front. We increased our overall debt but also covered summer camps for all three kids. I am beginning to notice a pattern and know what needs to be done to change it…. I NEED TO STICK TO WRITING THINGS DOWN! Some good news is that my check was $100 more than expected. Matt was able to reduce his work cost by $35 a month. I also have a better budget in place. I NEED TO STICK TO IT!
I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month. May is warmer and the pool will open soon which also gives me better opportunity for walking.
I was only able to post 9 times in the month of April.
We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $100. Currently we are grabbing gift cards to Dominos which are discounted at 20%. Pizza is good!
PLANS: 6 weeks of work left for me! Bring on the Summer! I am going to focus on using our money wisely this month! We are also planning of painting Lily’s room which should get us caught up to date on house projects!
Where we started at:
Beginning frame work…
First painting …
Next came doors and a top
And my Favorite part….
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.
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!
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?
This been a very different week, Amanda had an emergency C-section on Tuesday night and I did not work on Wednesday. Tropical Storm Michael came through on Thursday, we lost power around 8:30pm and I did not work on Friday. I have always said it is the small things that add up, and this week is the proof. Here are the ways I know we saved money this week:
- Using the McDonald’s app. I ate lunch on Wednesday and we all had breakfast on Friday. We saved at least $5 with each use.
- Ate lunch at Costco on Friday. 3 slices of pizza, 2 hot dogs and 3 drinks for $11. At least a savings of $10.
- Grilled Hamburgers and ate a huge salad out of the fridge for dinner on Friday. By eating at home and using things we were afraid that would spoil we saved at least $35.
- Used my Target debit card to save 5% on baby items.
- Purchased new “winter jackets” for both Matt and I at Costco for $19.99 each. I am estimating a saving of $50 each or $100.
- Purchased Kendall’s Christmas dress for $18.99. I am going to estimate a saving of $25 but probably more.
- Purchased a set of new tires at Costco saving $70.
- Washed and hung out to dry all the sheets and comforters today. Saving at least 8 hours of dryer time. Estimate of $2-4 on electricity.
- Repurposed some hooks and a basket in the laundry room to hold lunch boxes. Saving $14.95 on the purchase of a crate for this purpose.
- Built shelfs out of materials we already have for my she- shed. Estimate a minimum of $50 savings. I plan to share more on this soon!
Disclaimer– This is a hard post for me to write. I have actually been avoiding it for several days. It is not hard because of regret, I stand by our decision but it is hard because it is not the conventical choice and it requires that I admit how far in debit we really are.
History– With my recent job change, I needed to decided what to do with my retirement. For the past 10 years, it was mandated that I place 2% of my earnings in a retirement account. The best news is that the hospital matched this 2%. In addition because of my length of employment, I was fully vested. I was given a choice of simply leaving things alone with a small percentage based fee every quarter. 2nd option was rolling the monies into my “new” retirement system or similar, or 3rd, take a partial or full withdrawal facing the penalties.
Choice made– After much thought, prayer and comparison, we chose to take a full withdrawal from my retirement. The penalties include 10% Federal tax, 5% state tax and 15% early withdrawal penalty. My logic for this decision is that I am not losing any money that I placed in the account. My employer match covered all the penalties and still contributed to my final pay out. Matt’s logic was a little different as although this was a HUGE boast to our budget, in retirement it was not enough to cover a full year, really a small drop in the bucket.
How we spent– I really wanted to use this money in a way that would affect us in a positive way. I did not want this to become a decision that even a year down the road, I looked back on and regretted. I spent HOURS planning and working and re-working the numbers. First, my new job is awesome but I will actually be bring home around $400 a month less than previously. I did set up a summer savings account which will “pay” out the two months that I don’t receive a pay check. I will receive 12 paychecks a year which allows budgeting to be much easier. We loosely based on decisions on the “Dave Ramsey 7 Baby steps”
First we established an Emergency Fund of $1000 dollars. Next we paid off all outstanding medical bills. Matt will not be covered by my new insurance so we decided to also set aside some money to off-set any medical cost we will incur. We also will all a line to our budget on a regular basis for medical cost. Our next step was to pay off credit card debit. We have been able to reduce our debit by half. We do have two remaining debit that we will continue to pay at with the goal of payoff within 2 years. We have also used some of the funds to fix/ repair/replace items around the house and with our vehicles. Several of these are large purchases such as a car and both a new push lawn mower and a riding lawn mower.
The Result: We did a total budget reset on September 1st. I am excited to begin “fresh” we were able to start with a cushion for both groceries and gas. My pay schedule is once a month at the end of the month. This is exciting for me as we are leaving on last month salary and using a more cash system. I plan to share the budget in detail very soon! But for now… the clean start is working and feels awesome!
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.