We all know that I enjoy shopping and I REALLY enjoy saving money. To be honest I have done my fair share of Black Friday shopping especially when my kids were smaller and it was really a chance to get out in public without three little people attached. Things changes as we all know. I have no desire to go out and fight a crowd tonight or tomorrow. But I wanted to grab some of the best deals of the year so I did both online shopping and in store shopping on Wednesday. We ended up spending most of yesterday afternoon shopping. Crowds were light to no existence and the deals were awesome. So I thought I would share most of them with you!
Zach used his money to order a X Box One from Costco online for $213 shipped. I used my Costco membership in addition to my Costco credit card (which I paid off immediately online). I ended up earning at least $9 back in cash for this purchase.
Lily wanted to use her money to buy Air Pods. We had anticipated grabbing the Black Friday deal online at 10pm, Wednesday night. However we failed. I had actually put the Air Pods in my cart around 9:30 but the price did not change when I went to check out at 10:01 and by 10:02 they were all sold out online. I quickly flipped over to Staples where she was able to purchase them for $8 more. I ended up going through Swagbucks for this purchase and earned $4.02 back.
Lily is going to a semi formal dance next weekend. At Kohls she found a dress for $38. I purchased several books for $2.50 and t-shirts for Kendall at $10 each.
Hobby Lobby is always so much fun just to walk through. I did find some baseball ornaments that I will turn into a curtain for Zach for $4.
Our last stop of the evening was Shoe Carnival. I was so excited to learn that their boots were already on sale for $19.99 a pair. I was beyond the moon to find a selection of wide calf boots that actually fit me. I purchased 2 pair of boots for $42. Today, I received a $10 reward certificate in my email which is good until February!
We ate at Olive Garden and brought home 6 prepared meals to use this weekend in addition to enough left-overs and soup for three additional meals. A total of 3 meals for $80 is a huge bargain in my book!
My only stop today, Thanksgiving was at CVS. I purchased several gifts and grabbed anything that was free and we use. I spent a total of $30.23 saved $76.14 or 72%. I also left the store with over 20 ECB to be used during the month of December.
I am excited to shop and save but not in a crazy exhausted ugly people way!
We survived the busiest six weeks that I can remember. During the month of October, all three kids were involved in one additional activity besides piano and church. This weekend, Lily had three performances of her play. I can honestly say that I was super excited and luck to have yesterday off from work just to catch up.
Income update- The really good news on this front is not only is Matt working a job that actually pays well but we both have part time jobs. This is a source of stress. We had a couple of different discussions regarding how we could or if we should even attempt this. We are at a point where the kids are pretty self sufficient so that allows us to have the ability to add not one but two part time jobs. I am working in Guam via teletherapy as an Occupational Therapist. This was a job that I initially applied for in February 2017. I have decided to limit by availability to Sunday night for a full 8 hours and Wednesday night to around 3 hours. Because of the 15 hour time difference this schedule works well. I will admit that the first week was a challenge but I also feel that once I get in the swing of things, I should be able to maintain a low level of stress. This job will continue until the end of May. At that time, we will again evaluate and decide if I want to attempt this for a second school year. Matt is working 10 hours a week as the marketing manger for the Humane Society of Davie County. We are currently unsure how long this job will last but God has a plan and a purpose so we need to simply obey. My plan is to use the extra money in November and December to get us on track. I will share an updated budget in December.
I took a day from work last Friday to catch up on grocery shopping. I was able to go to Costco, Aldi and Food Lion and restock our pantry. So far for the month of November, I have spent $750 on groceries. I would bet this number will end up closer to $800 but I am definitely ok with that. I will run numbers at the end of the year but I have a feeling that I need to increase our grocery budget instead of decrease this year.
We are currently driving a car that gets better gas mileage than either of the vans. This is a family decision that I don’t feel free to discuss but it should reduce our gas spending at least as long as we continue to drive it.
To close out our busy season, we had a family movie night on Monday. We watched Toy Story 4. It was much better than I anticipated, in fact it is my second favorite Disney movie now!
I was able to find a couple of hours today to search out some awesome sale items, I want to share with you. My first stop was at Dollar General. I specifically chose this store to buy Hot Wheels cars that were on sale for Buy one Get one free. The selection at this store was really limited so I only ended up purchasing 10 cars with several of those being duplicate. I will send the duplicates to church to use. I was so excited to discovery that they were taking an additional 30% off items already on clearance. Summer items are at 90%. So I was able to grab 10 packets of seed for ONE cent each. I did get some cold weather plants such as lettuce and spinach that I hope to plant in February. My favorite find of the day were these signs that I paid SIX cent each for.
Clothing was at 70% off so I found Matt a swim suit for $1.13 and Braxton an outfit for sixty-three cent. I decided I need to check out at least one more Dollar General before heading home. The second store had a much better selection of Hot Wheels cars so I grabbed one more but less of anything else. I did purchase one Christmas present for $1.34 for the older girls.
My final stop was at Food Lion to grab some carrots and potatoes. I did grab 8 2liter Dr. Peppers because they were $0.69 each. These are a huge treat for the kids and I will plan to take a coupe to our Thanksgiving dinner. I also grabbed a couple of Boston butts roast that we can use for pulled pork. The BEST deal of the day was on cupcake mix which were in the clearance section at the back of the store. The boxes of vanilla cupcake mix were marked down to twenty cent each. The shelf also had coupons for $1.00 off 2 boxes. I grabbed 20 boxes and used 5 coupons so that I was paid $1.00 to carry the boxes out of the store! Better than free!
Did you find any deals let me know in the comment section!
Our single largest expense besides our mortgage is groceries. Typically, the majority of our groceries are food. In order to reduce our overall spending, I always must focus on reducing the amount of money we spend on food. The only real problem with this is that as the kids grow, they eat more food!
One of the ways that I have found to reduce our grocery budget is to make sure we don’t waste any food. I typically do not make a menu plan for the weekend. First this makes my life a little less stressful and second it also allows us to focus on using up left-overs. Today, I feel like I have been really successful at this task. Typically on Saturday mornings, I try to make a bigger breakfast but not this morning. Zach finished a pancake and piece of sausage left-over from Cracker Barrel and I finished the baked oatmeal from last week. Lunch today was pizza left-overs for the kids, I ate the turkey, dressing and green beans plate left-over again from Cracker Barrel, Matt ate some left-over pulled pork. For dinner it was twice baked potatoes! We had crockpot baked potatoes one day last week and I filled the pot up so we had plenty of left-overs. I even froze 8 additional potatoes that can be used in the future either for a lunch or dinner. We are currently out of cheddar cheese so instead of running out to the store, I shredded a block of Colby jack and used in the potatoes instead. The final way, I saved money on food today is a little bit unusual. I signed up to bring a desert tomorrow for our church dinner. I planned to make a peanut butter pound cake. When I pulled out the recipe, I needed two additional sticks of butter. Instead of rushing to the store, I searched the internet and found a slightly different recipe that used more peanut butter and less butter. Another huge win in the food department!
I have not been couponing as much as I would like and really have not been able to find many deals at CVS lately. However, Lily had a personal hygiene need. I had 3 ECB from several weeks ago, I scanned my CVS card and received an additional 3 ECB. I was able to purchase 2 bags of product which should last about 2 months for a total out of pocket of twenty-one cent! Another huge win!
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.
We have definitely started one of the busy season of our lives. We have a minimum of three ball games a week in addition to scheduled practices and other events. During the month of September, I have two established goals first keep grocery spending to a minimum and second eliminate going out to eat. Today, I want to share how we are able to accomplish both of these goals.
I have a snack bag that I carry in my van all the time. I periodically refill it with snacks, typically you will find granola/fruit bar, rice krispy treats, fruit snacks and packs of applesauce in it. I have a huge purse and simply throw the snack bag in my purse before heading into a ballgame. If we have packs of chips, I let each of the kids add a bag of chips to my purse as well. This eliminates the need/ desire to purchase snacks at the game. Snack usually cost around $1 each for five people that is $5 a game or $15 a week that we are saving by bring in our own snacks.
The second way we save is by bring our drinks. The child that is participating in the game always needs a Gatorade or a water bottle. Each game I see at least one if not three parent buying a drink from the concession stand because they “forget” to bring one. I usually also pack a water per person or can of soda in our small cooler. I have never seen a sign at a school event that says “no outside food or drinks” so I usually just carry the cooler or I can always send the kids back to the car to grab a drink. At competition events, I will bring at least a water bottle in my bag and we do go back to the car to snack and even eat. Most Gatorades are $2 each. I can buy a 6 pack not on sale for less than $4 so I am saving a minimum of $4 a week. This does not include the $1 water for the rest of us or at least $12 a week.
Finally, we always plan ahead for the games. We always try to eat prior to the games. At worse, we have planned a portable meal such as hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets or burritos. This way, we can eat in the car prior to the game starting or even during the game. Now I do want to say that my whole family REALLY like ball game food. I have not seen nachos or chill cheese fries that don’t look delicious and usually smell even better. However, if we chose to eat even at one game at week, we spend at least $20 a week or $80 a month. Eighty dollars will buy us a nice meal even better than ball game food. One way we enjoy the ball game food is that if we all have eaten dinner prior to the game we can share an order of nachos for $3 or even a couple orders of fries. This way we are still saving at least $15 a week!
We are doing well with sticking to our weekly menu plan and I have been really focus on keeping out grocery spending as low as possible for the next couple of months. One of the things that I am focusing on is to use things in the freezer and pantry before going out to buy things. I noticed last week that I had two remaining packs of chicken thighs in the freezer. I found these on sale for $0.95 cent a pound in June. Read about the other deals I scored that day as well. Each of the packets had been reduced to $2.10. This weekend, I knew I needed to add some lunch items and also wanted to give some variety to our weekend. The OT at work shared an awesome recipe for Basil Lemon Chicken Salad and I decided I definitely wanted to make some this weekend. So yesterday (Friday) I went down and pull out the two packs of chicken. I was feeling lazy so I threw both packs in the crockpot added some salt and pepper and turned it on low for 12 hours. I did wake up last night at least once and think…”that smells good”. After the ballgame, we were hungry. Matt, Kendall and I made a chicken and tzatziki sauce wraps. Zach decided plan chicken and ranch would be better for him. For dinner, I made the Lemon Basil Chicken salad which was a huge hit. Matt is not a fan of chicken salad and is really not a fan of chicken thighs but he even said how good it was! We have been able to eat both meals today from those chicken thighs and I have made a huge container of regular chicken salad that will probably provide at least 7 lunches! I threw the skin and bones back in the crockpot and was able to get 20 cups of chicken stock in the freezer as well! I count the chicken stock as totally free! So that is a total of 13 meals for $5.20 or forty cent each for the meat portion which is always the most expensive part! I will definitely call that a win!
I am really trying to control and maintain our grocery budget to under $100 for the month of September. In theory and on paper it may sound like a fairly simple thing to accomplish for several reasons. First we have almost 90 dinner meals prepped and in the freezer. Second, we have a nicely stocked pantry and enough additional food for another month at least. And third, my mother is always really generous when she comes for dinner and brings desert. But the reality is that we are a full time family of five eating 3 meals a day with some days becoming a family of 7 or 8. Things seem to go pretty quickly in this house. This week, we are out of bread! I had already planned to stop one day this week to pick up buns for the sloppy joes that we have planned on Friday. But I also need to buy some sandwich bread and bagels as well. I ended up with some extra alone time on Wednesday as the kids and Matt were all involved in church activities. I decided to stop by Aldi. I am really pleased that I managed to limit my spending to $8.07 which included 3 dozen eggs, graham crackers, peanut butter bars and vanilla wafers in addition to bagels, buns and bread! Total grocery spending for the month $29.72
I did spend a few minutes walking around the store and realized that prices are starting to creep up! English muffins that I regularly purchased this summer for $0.95 were $1.25, the peanut butter bars that were $0.85 are not $0.92! Even my $0.65 loaf of bread was up to $0.85! Yikes I have got to keep a watch on prices because at some point we will need to increase our budget.
Today, I am going to list a couple of the ways we have been saving money over the past week.
Hung out 8 loads of sheets and bedding to line dry on Monday (Labor Day) Packed lunch all week. Planned ahead with dinners and stuck to the plan even after some very long days. Including using left-overs for one full meal this week. Re-using water bottles at least once while at home. Keeping the temperature at 74 during the day and 72 at night even if that meant someone was hot. Used a gift card from Swagbucks to pick up “needed” items from Walmart. Purchased lunchables on a one day sale at Food Lion for forty nine cent each. The regular price is $2.49 each. Reduced the amount of Diet Coke and replacing with water on a daily basis. Saving energy by running the dishwasher, washer and dryer at night without adding heat to the house.
School has started back in full force this week. This includes ALOT of extra expenses this month. So I thought I would share some of the ways we are managing to save money any where possible.
Not eating out! Of course this makes sense because we all know how much we can save by simply eating at home but have you put actual numbers to the saving. As a family, we enjoying eating out! In fact, one of the highlights of vacation is eating out once a day! After returning home from vacation, we are back on track to reduce our eating out. In fact, we manage to eat entirely at home for 12 days. Friday night, we decided to celebrate the end of summer by enjoying a treat, sushi, cost of this treat is $70! This is not an outrageous bill for our family. Our lowest cost for all 5 to eat is around $40 and some meal can cost $100. By chose not to eat out once a week we can save $70 a week or $280 a month.
Bringing lunch- this is a huge money saver for us. The kids would each pay $2.85 a day for school lunch or $28.50 a week for both to eat at school. Matt and I both regularly take our lunch which saves an average of $10 each a day.
Turning off and/or down the air conditioning in the house. I recently read an article that said in order to save money you should place your thermostat at 78* when you are home and 85* during your absence. We could not do that. But this summer, we have raised the temperature to 74* during the day and 72* at night. Last weekend, we managed to cut off the air for 24 hours! We have needed to run the ceiling fans on a couple of occasion especially if we are cooking to keep the temperature bearable.
Saving fuel by not running the air in our vans. I am able to drive to work most morning with the moon roof open in the van which means approximately 35 miles of driving each day without air.
Running the washer and dryer at night and in the evening in order to not add additional heat in the house.