Yes, that is me with my head bobbing above the water. October has definitely been a huge month of change for us. Matt started a new job which added an additional 20 hours to his work schedule in addition to a significant pay increase. I also have finally after 18 months added a second job. The hours will vary greatly for me but at this point I am guess an additional 5 -10 hours a month. This may increase in January but I am very grateful for the slow start as crazy needs to slow to a slightly less than crazy before any more significant changes. This week, we made a personal decision to add a car payment to our budget. This may or may not be a long term budget item but we are able to cover the payment amount in addition to slowly reduce our debit and get a good control over our finances. We have seen in many different ways that God’s hand and timing are perfect. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is God’s will so we are going to praise him even when we are not sure the how or whys.
One thing that has not changed this month is that we are continuing to find ways to save money! I want to include a detailed list so that next year and 3 years and 10 years when I look back, I am able to see that all the little saving did add up.
- Running the dishwasher and dryer at night. We are making a conscience effort to reduce our electricity use. By running this at night we add a little bit of heat to the house on the cool evenings and prevent heat from staying in the house on the not so cool evenings.
- Not turning on the air conditioner. This sounds simple, especially in October, but the temperature today inside was 81*, We did turn off the heat on Wednesday of this week but I refused to flip the switch and turn back on the air. Instead we opened the windows and turned on a couple of ceiling fans. The weather is actually suppose to start to get cooler with a high on this Friday only in the 50’s.
- Hanging sheets out to dry. Yes, it was not convenient and the weather said it was suppose to rain but I got up and got them on the line.
- Shopping for items we need and on clearance. So far this month, I have spent $203 in groceries. Which including stocking up on soda and items for Braxton’s birthday party. I always check on clearance items and have been able to grab both hugs/kool aid drinks and Gatorades on sale for $0.25 each.
- Combining sales and coupons. I scan my card each time I go in Food Lion. In the past, I have been able to grab pasta at fifty cent a box. Today, I got 24 waters for $0.99 and 3 packs of brown gravy mix for a total of $0.77 which is less than the price of two. Neither one of these items were needed but I will definitely use them both.
- Meal prep. It is so much easier to prepare lunches ahead of time. Four out of the five of us need to pack a lunch each day before leaving the house by 7:20am. We save a minimum of $10 a day by packing lunches instead of buying. We are also able to stay on track by planning dinner meals a week ahead of time. This week, I even used the instapot to brown the ground beef ahead of time so that I can get dinner on the table even after attending a workshop all day.
- Call and asking for help. We are continuing to struggle with stopping a leak in our master bath room. Matt has replaced the entire floor and subfloor and is trying to replace the shower faucet. Yesterday, he was able to contact a manufacturer and receive a replacement part he needed for free. He has been asking for advice and suggestion through out this process and we are saving money just by completing it ourselves.
- Using items on hand instead of immediately purchasing a replacement. Braxton does not like and will not eat meat baby food but Rugar, our dog will. Instead of buying dog food we are using the baby food that would otherwise go in the trash.
I am so excited that I get to spent 3 complete evenings at home this week! We have no football game(cheerleading) or cheer practice this week and only one baseball game. I am planning to get some extra cleaning done around the house as the things has gotten dirty and overlooked during the past couple of weeks.
We are hopefully that we have finally fixed the leaky shower problem. Matt re-caulked the shower pan on Saturday and I am planning to start using it again today. We have already purchased the tile to finish this project but need to find several hours in which we can spending working on it. We may be able to spend some time on the project on Saturday but that depends heavily on the weather as well.
North Carolina is finally experiencing some cooler temperatures. I finally turned off the air on October 3rd. This is very late for us as we usually can get a good week or so with no air in September. I am hopefully that we can at least keep the air and heat off for most of the month of October but we it can depend heavily on when the first freeze of the year is.
Matt loves his new job. The first week was a challenge especially with our crazy busy schedule. I am hopefully that we will be able to get into a good routine that will allow him to work his second job at least 3 evening a week so that we can have some time to work on projects around here on the weekends.
I have spent a total of $47 on groceries so far this month! I am super excited about this and hope to continue this streak for most of the month. I am making a Costco list and am holding out hope that the quarter back sale will appear at Food Lion soon!
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)!