Saving on Saturday!

I have some fun savings to report this week. Mom, myself, Kendall and Zach headed out yesterday morning to check out some yard sales. I was able to purchase a snow village accessory for $3.

This awesome float for $3
This plastic pot was fifty cent.

Unfortunately, I did not realize that the airplane plant that I had planned to move to the pot was actually 2 plants. I was able to recover a plain black pot from my building and will leave it outside until it turns cold or I can find a matching or different pot to place in before coming inside.

This morning before it got so hot, we spent the morning outside making some updates and weeding. Total spent today was ZERO!

First we added this small platform under the rain barrel to allow us to fill the watering cans without someone having to hold it level. The wood was left from the platform we built this spring.

Finally, because the rain barrel wash out is developing deep holes in the garden, we headed under the house to pull out the remainder of this black pipe that was purchased probably 7 years ago and never used. We decided to go ahead and place it in front of the flower beds as the telephone poles are 30 years old and starting to rot away.

The mud should wash away in a couple of weeks. We also found a basket that I am going to hang in a closet to hold potatoes and several trash cans that we repurposed to hold toys!

I am excited to use items we already had to make needed improvements!

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!

Saving on Saturday

Kindle Unlimited– I first saw this particular offer in May, 2 Free Months of Kindle Unlimited. I LOVE to read but usually don’t really have time to read more than a blog on the internet. Since I started working in the school system, I have decided to use the summer to catch up on reading real books. I waited until the week before finishing school to activate this deal. My original plan was to read at least one book a week. The plan should end in September so the timing was perfect. So far, I have read 10 books in two weeks. This free subscription has saved me at least $20. I currently have another 10 books downloaded to read! I am really good at keeping up with cancellation so I don’t think I will have any cost involved in this!.

Staying home/ keeping track of spending. I managed to have 2 total no spend days this past week. I am avoiding shopping in stores especially with the new mask requirement in my state! By not even window shopping, I am able to not spend any money. For example, total grocery spending was $4.21 for the week! We have finally restocked our pantry and freezers. My plan is to use what we have on-hand for the next 3-4 weeks and then do one big trip in August before returning to work. I am continuing to watch sales and buying items we need or want at the best price. For example this week, I ordered a basketball goal from Walmart for $95. I have been looking for a goal for the kids since march and this goal is actually only $15 more than what I have found at yard sales and on Facebook. The best thing is that the goal will be delivered!

Using or storing as much fresh fruit and veggies as possible. We are receiving a summer food delivery from our school district. This provides 6 breakfast and six lunches per child each week. This is really alot of food and the majority of it has been fresh! This week, I have made homemade apple/pear sauce, cooked and froze spinach, made a packet for squash casserole! I am very pleased to be able to continue to use this food or store for future use.

Meatless meal and left-overs. Don’t get me wrong we are meat eaters but with all the fresh items we have sometimes change is good. Several lunches this week have been sautéed veggies. Saturday, I made sautéed zucchini, a batch of green beans, creamed spinach. and pulled out potato salad, cucumber and onion salad for lunch. For dinner, baked sweet potatoes so two out of three meals were meatless. Sunday, the plan is left-overs for one meal and to reheat the egg rolls from school meals for another meal. That means that both days this weekend have been out of the fridge with basically no cost!

How have you been saving money?

Saving on Saturday

I finally feel like I have a couple of ways we saved to share this week!
1. We turned off the air conditioning for 4 days. Saving approximately $20 for the week. Our electric bill came for this week and the only difference is use of the air conditioning. It jumped $80 from last month. I am going to use that figure of $20 a week as what it cost to run our air conditioning.
2. Buying conditioner and body wash at the Dollar Tree. The girls were out of conditioner (which neither Matt nor I use). So I made a stop at a Dollar Tree. I was able to purchase 3 bottles of conditioner for $3 as opposed to $3.99 a bottle anywhere else. I also picked up Zach and Matt a bottle each of body wash. Again saving at least $3 each on these purchases. On a side note, I usually buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash at CVS when I can purchase for less than $1. We have used all of our stockpile so instead of spending even $2, the Dollar Tree is a great option.
3. Ate at home for all except one meal this week. We have gotten into a habit of grabbing breakfast out on Saturday mornings. We keep the cost low at around $15 but this week, I made a plan for Saturday breakfast and saved that money. I also have been very focused on using up left-overs instead of cooking anything. We received lunches and breakfast from the school in addition to a few items from the garden. It is important that we use these items instead of letting them go to waste. I am excited to say that this week, we have eaten at home and eaten out of the refrigerator.
4. Order glass for Lily from Zenni. I was able to get a pair of glasses with transitional lens for $108. Lily has a stronger prescription and most places will not make her glasses for this reason so to be able to order for around $100 is a huge money saver. In comparison, I also purchased glasses for Zach this week as well. I used a BOGO deal at vision works and spent $410 for two pair of glasses or $205 each. This puts me at saving at least $100 on Lily’s glasses.
5. Purchased for $1 a 30 day supply of contacts for Kendall. We are going to try these out. My vision insurance starts again on July 1st and I will be able to order more regular contact for her but these should help us bridge the gap of what I can order and a true year’s supply.
6. Moved both Lily and Kendall’s braces payment from our regular account to my Medflex account, which renews on July 1st. This money is tax free! We saved $267 a month by moving these payments.
7. Purchased polo shirts for Matt at Costco for $9.99 for 2 shirts. We purchased a total of 6 shirts for a savings of at least $50 even finding items on sale.

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!

5 Things Friday

  1. Next week should be the most normal week since March. Monday is my last day of work for the school year!!!!!! The kids have swim practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Piano is scheduled for Wednesday. Zach has baseball games on Tuesday and Friday. And finally on Tuesday, Kendall finishes her oral surgery! Never thought a crazy busy week would cause this much excitement!
  2. The square foot garden is awesome! We are currently harvesting zucchini and snap peas. I have small tomatoes and green peppers! The cucumbers are flowering finally so I am so thankful and excited!
  3. The school system benefits reset in July of each year. Because of the ability to place even more in my flex spending account this year which is pre-tax. I was able to move our braces payments from the regular account back to the medical flex account which gives us an extra $267 a month. I will need to use at least $100 of this each month for other medical expenses but it is still a huge savings.
  4. This past weekend, we decided to have a yard sale. We have been slowly cleaning out different parts of the house during COVID-19 so I was anxious to finally get rid of the excess. I am very pleased that we made a profit of over $200! Even better is I had a lady come and purchase all the remaining clothes at the end of the day. This was huge and saved us a trip to Goodwill.
  5. I was very excited to find Suddenly Salad marked at $1 during my last trip to Walmart Express. I was able to stock up ! We will have these at least once a week for most of the summer! I am also excited to try several new salad recipes that I found on line! I have decided to try and complete the 52 recipe challenge over the summer! I am afraid that once we go back to school, we need to stick to easy and recipes we are comfortable with!

Saving On Saturday

This week I feel like I am really saving on Saturday. I used up the pork chops from Recipe Challenge #29 to make up a container of pork fried rice. I added some corn and rice and it will make an awesome quick meal one day this week.

After all the cleaning out that has gone on around here the past several weeks, we discovered we actually needed several different clothing items so today we ventured out to find what we needed. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover several awesome deal. First was Rue 21, Lily and Kendall each got a $5 shirt, Lily found some swim suit bottoms for $8.49 but by far the best deal was $1 each for two pair of swim suit bottoms to fit me! I am shocked but seriously if I can wear twice I am making money on them! Next was the Shoe Dept., we purchased 4 pair of sandals for the girls at $9.99 each!! Our final shopping stop was OLD NAVY. I purchased 22 items of clothing! My receipt says I save $136.49 and spent 126.36 including tax! Nothing I purchased was over $8. I did have $30 in super cash and received an additional $30 in super cash to use in July.

Matt and I celebrated our anniversary by stopping at Outback for lunch. This was a splurge! While waiting, I saw that the local strawberry had a special for 2 gallons for $20. This works out to $1.25 which is an good deal in this area! I purchased four gallons and have spent most of the afternoon flash freezing for future use. I did cut up smaller pieces to use in Baked Oatmeal. We will probably uses these strawberries for the next year so I am very excited!

5 Things Friday

  1. My garden has survived. I am very surprised and excited to see that the majority of my plants have decided to grow this week. I did lose about half my cucumbers and have replaced 6 green pepper plants but my tomatoes are looking awesome!
  2. Today is the last business day of May which means I received my final paycheck of the school year. I have an account set up that I do receive a check at the end of June and July. I was able to pay monthly bills for June and get a good picture of our debit and spending.
  3. Disney World announced several changes that are going to affect our upcoming trips. We did learn that we will most likely be required to wear mask in August. This is the change that I am most unhappy about. I am going to remain optimistic that lower attendance and the chance to enjoy more variety will still make our trip special and unique. We are also currently hearing that both the Halloween party and the Christmas party may be cancelled. I am again trying to remain optimistic as this is the whole reason for the two short trips!
  4. Today, all the kids unofficially finish up the school year. I am still working until June 15th. The sad part is next Monday and Tuesday are definitely the busiest two days of the last several months for me.
  5. Our plans for a yard sale have been postponed due to the weather. I am really doubtful at this point that we have a yard sale until the fall. I don’t do well in the heat and I am afraid that once the rain stops the heat and humility will be unbearable.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Kendall is finally almost done with cleaning out her room. She was able to reduce the amount of clothing down to the point of everything fitting in her closet!!! This allowed her to move a huge dresser out of her room! Lily decided to take the larger dresser and was able to empty out not only her smaller dresser but also a bigger standing shelf. Lily does want to replace the shelf with a mirror and three shelves but we shall see. I moved the standing shelf to my room and laid it on it side under my jewelry box. This is currently a place to keep all of Braxton’s toys, clothes and diapers! Finally Zach did not want to be outdone so he exchanged 3 small dressers for one from Lily’s room. I am pleased with the extra space that everyone was able to find and we have moved at least five garbage bags of clothing to the building for a future yard sale or something.

I have been able to sell between ebay and Facebook market place 4 American girl dolls and a ton (50) build a bear outfits. We used this money to cover our tickets to the Disney Halloween party in August.

Our August Disney trip is completely paid for including air fare. The only item left to purchase is a gift card to cover food on the trip. Matt receives 3 paychecks in July so we plan to use the extra check to purchase a gift card to use on the trip! Next, we are going to work on paying for our December trip! At this point, we will have the plane tickets covered between credit card miles and airline vouchers.

I will be working in Guam through the end of June due to the school closure. My goal is to take the entire month of July off of work and resume both Davie County and Guam in August! I am so ready for a normal schedule!

I am focusing on controlling the grocery budget this month to under $550. So far we have been way over budget each month!

Matt and I have decided to tackle our master bedroom sink area. We are going to repaint the walls, change out the cabinet and sink for a double sink vanity! I am hoping we are able to complete this project in two weekends but it may take a little longer.

I am starting to quickly lose hope in our garden this year. The weather has not cooperated at all. We should be having warm spring/summer like days but for the past 2 weeks the temperatures have been stuck in the 60’s. I have covered everything I could on the couple of nights of freezing but things are just not growing well. In addition, we are having to water every other day. We have had little to no rain since mid April. I was so hopeful for the garden especially using all the seed packets but now if we harvest one each from our vegetables that will be the break even point!

Menu Planning Monday

I know that I always do better with a goal and a plan. I am counting down the weeks until my summer vacation begins (6) so in the process I want to get a jump start on what the summer may bring. I realized last year that I needed to use some of my free time to stock the freezers with quick and easy to complete meals for the fall. I need to start planning for fall 2020. We will go from over six months of limited to no extra activities to three kids in three spots/ activities along with my return to full time work. The goal is to get the stocking done before the summer starts! This week, we should be making a large beef purchase and I will be working full steam ahead on cooking. The good news is that I only have one night scheduled in Guam this week and I gain an hour a day simply by working at home. You will notice that we did well this week with only one meal of eating out!

Breakfast– I was able to get a jump start this week by making Sausage muffins on Sunday! I need to make up some baked oatmeal bags and continue to add choices such as French toast and waffles to the freezer when ever possible. Saturday- bacon and eggs . Sunday- Sausage muffins.  Monday, Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes,  cereal or grits. –Still have not gotten around to a baked oatmeal but really do need to make one this week.

Lunch-   Saturday- pizza and ham and cheese sliders. Sunday- Gregg’s (local restaurant) .The kids will have school delivered lunches, Matt has 2 days of chicken sandwiches and 2 days of chill that he made on Saturday. I am going to return to eating at least one salad a week and also continue with some left-overs on other days.

Dinner-  Saturday- Left-overs Sunday- chicken nuggets Monday-Hamburgers and French fries (hamburgers are in the freezer) Tuesday-Taco Tuesday (the plan is to make a crock pot full of taco meat and freeze the left-overs to use in the summer and fall. Wednesday- Sloppy joes and tator tots ( Again made in the crock-pot with the left overs frozen for use later). Thursday-Spinach Ravioli (Lily’s in charge) Friday- BBQ chicken pizza. Zach is in charge.

I will also be cooking and freezing one pound bags of cooked ground beef to use in meals. Next weekend, I plan to make 5 dinner packs of Salisbury steak and several pans of meatballs to freeze. This should use up the 40-50# of ground beef I am planning to purchase. I will also need to purchase several packs of Italian sausage as I would like to get at least one baked ziti in the freezer. Hope you will stay around for the ride and please share if you have a great recipe that you think we would enjoy especially if it can be doubled!