5 Things Friday

  1. The weather has finally turned cooler this week. I turned off the air on Monday. The temperatures are going to take another cooler turn with highs on Sunday expected to be 63.
  2. Square foot garden- I pulled up 8 basil plants and hung in the building to start drying. I also bagged the ones that had been hanging since last fall.  I am not sure if we will use but for right now I want to save as much as possible. I am still getting a few tomato a week from the garden which is highly unusual for this late in September. Pimentos and peppers of several varieties are still growing. But by far the most exciting news of all is that we have sweet potato flowers!  I am going to leave these in the ground at least another couple of weeks before pulling up in hopes of even more flowers.
  3. Honesty disclaimer- I really debated sharing this so that is my reason for trying to hide it in number 3.  A coworker who I work in the same room with on a daily basis has tested positive for Covid-19. She texted me early this morning to let me know. I have been tested and will likely have results between Sunday and Tuesday. In the mean time, I have been advised to quarantine. The fear and stigma associated with this along with unreliable information is 100 times worse than even waiting to get my results. An example, when I spoke to my supervisor this morning, she stated that I did not need to get tested and did not need to quarantine. I chose to go ahead and get tested because of my Humira dose is due. By this afternoon, the story had changed to my co-worker could chose to get tested or just quarantine for 10 days while continuing to work remotely. But on the bright side, I will not be spending any money this weekend as I am stuck at home.
  4. My second job in Guam is starting to pick up. My goal is to work around 35 hours a week. So far I have been successful on scheduling around Zach’s baseball games.
  5. Lily will start Driver’s Education in 2 weeks!

5 Things Friday

  1. Zach starts his fall baseball season tomorrow with a pre-season tournament. This is a new team for him and lots of opportunity for growth.
  2. My personal saving challenge for the month is to save/find $369 to add one day to each of the kids tickets for December. So far I have $146 toward this goal.
  3. I am exhausted. I managed to work both of my jobs this week and I am starting to feel it. I am trying to keep my schedule a little bit flexible for Guam until getting a baseball schedule which means that I have schedule only 2 kids most night starting at 9pm.
  4. Zach and Kendall will start in person school next week on Monday and Tuesday. This will be an adventure for all. I am hopefully it will be easier to adjust than anticipated.
  5. The garden is continuing to produce just enough. We are harvesting basil, tomatoes, pimentos and peppers. I am excited to see more pepper flowers so maybe we can actually freeze some this year!

Saving on Saturday

    • We spent around 3 hours outside today working in both our flower beds and our garden!  The saving part comes in that we did not pay someone to come and do this. A second way we are saving is that by cleaning up the garden we are able to extend the growing season and continue to save on our grocery bill.  I had to take pictures just so that I could remember the differences.

Before

  • Mom and I made a trip to the Dollar Tree today. I was able to purchase new items for my sign for a total of $5.  I am so happy with the way they turned out!
  • Zach wanted Taco Bell for his birthday.  I decide to download the app in order to save time and headache for me placing such a large order. It actually worked the way it was suppose to and we have already earned two extra tacos for Free!
  • We had decided several month ago to have a much less than usual Christmas this year in order to be able to afford our trips to Disney.  I have started working on purchasing gift for the kids and I have decided that I am going to limit it to 3 gifts from Matt and I. The little ones at home will also get a Santa Claus gift but that is all!   Now to stick to this!

August in Review

August really went out with a bang…. 4 day trip to Disney! It was awesome and hopefully I can share some pictures this week.

Gardening- 1 watermelon from the garden and I thought we were pretty much done with extreme heat and lack of rain for the two weeks of August but I ended up with fresh salsa, a cup of green peppers frozen, along with several salads made from cucumbers. I even have another pot of spaghetti sauce going! I will probably let the sweet potatoes go until the end of September. The goal this month is to clean up and preserve anything that is left.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $250. I was able to continue to fill some small holes in the pantry but am just buying things as we need them. I do need to restock on quick easy lunches during September as the kids will likely be home 2-3 days a week the entire month. I am going to anticipate another low month but if that changes then we are still ok.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $174.65 the total for the month. Another low month on gas. The price has been all over the place but I have been driving to and from work for the last three weeks so gas around $200 a month should be the normal until the end of the year. I am most excited that this should allow us to pay off the gas credit car which has a set of tires on it as well!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. We are getting better at this. I am going to continue working on this. One issue I am having is that Aldi, one of the stores I shop almost weekly is only excepting exact change or debit cards. This makes it harder for me to remember to keep extra change on my at all time.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 14 for the month! I am actually proud of this goal especially going back to work on both of my jobs. I hope to continue in September.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. Did not come close but did manage a 7 mile day at Disney!

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Yikes!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  I only need 2 more recipes to mark this goal off of my list.

Earnings_ $65. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. This covered our breakfast at Magic Kingdom on Saturday and even some cold drinks at the airport.

Things are slowly returning back to normal. We survived and enjoyed August so now to settle in to a new school year and continue to focus on enjoying each moment!

$20 Food Lion Trip

I am very very happy with my current stockpile. I estimate we have approximately 200 meals ready to use for the first half of the school year. I am very hopefully that I will have some time during Christmas break and a good couple of snow days to replenish our stock. I did make a trip to the local meat shop on Monday. I spent $129 and purchased chicken wings, pork butts and beef. The freezers are full! I did leave additional money in our grocery budget this month in order to purchase some items as we run out or if we find a awesome sale.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a flyer from Food Lion with coupons to use on store brand items this weekend. A better surprise was the fact that 2L Diet Cokes were on sale for $0.99 each. I decided to challenge myself and see what I could purchase for $20 using the coupons that they sent.

I purchased: 10 2 L of Diet Coke, using the sell price plus the $3 off $10 coupons these were $0.69 each.
2 six packs of plastic bottles of peach flavored drink, the original price was $1.99 each, using $1 Food Lion coupon, each bottle is twenty-five cent each!
2 pack of sausage patties that had been reduced to $1.74 each
4 packs of Hazelnut M&Ms that were reduced to $0.48 each
Pack of Frozen broccoli- original price $1.20 with $0.35 off coupon making it ninety-four cent. I use this in several casserole recipes and it is one of the few vegetables everyone will eat.
Jar of Alfredo sauce originally $1.49 with coupon for $0.45 off making it $1.04
2 boxes of elbow macaroni, original price $0.79 each with coupon for $.50 off two makes each box fifty-four cent.

I spent a total of $19.46!!!!!

Saving on Saturday

I really had not planned to take the entire week off while I was at the beach but it just so happened that way. We enjoyed lots of beach time, shopping time and pool time. I am glad to be home.

My square foot garden is producing but at a significantly slower rate than I anticipated. Our Tomatoes are starting to come in and we have lots! I used 12 pounds of tomatoes the last week we were home to make homemade pasta sauce. The kids LOVE this and request it! I have been using restaurant to go containers that we have been collect to place the sauce in and store. This makes it super easy to find and one container equals one jar of sauce. Today, we head to the garden and harvest around another 12 pounds of tomatoes. I used 8lbs along with a couple of green peppers I found to make another crockpot full of pasta sauce. We also went ahead and stewed the remaining 4 pounds. I packaged these in 1/2 cup containers. I used these for Mexican rice. Other plans this week include tomato basil biscuits, stuffed green peppers, tomato pie and tomato sandwiches. My goal will be to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible and attempted to hold off on another container of pasta sauce until next weekend.

I purchased Disney Gift cards from Target and combined to one card that we will be using on our first Disney Trip in August. I am able to save $5 for each hundred using my Target card so is an easy extra $50 just during this trip.

While reading several other blogs and in order to have a complete stockpile. I have begun to look at items other than food that we can store easily. I was able to find air filters for our heating and air system at $0.96 each at Home Depot. In order to get free shipping, I purchased 12 packs of 4.

In the area of food, I will be making a Costco trip this week and hope to be able to grab both paper towel and toilet paper at some point during the week. Zach is attending a baseball camp in Winston so I am not opposed to stopping at Costco several times this week. I also need to make a list and head to Aldi to grab so canned biscuits, pie crust and cream cheese that is significantly cheaper to purchase here.

My final area of saving my not appear to be one at first. One of the things we like to do is shop the outlets while we are at the beach. This year, Matt and I specifically talked about items we needed. We purchased new shoes for everyone and even an additional pair for both Matt and myself. We ended up spending around $30 for each pair of shoes so this is truly a huge savings. I also purchased Zach so shorts and Braxton several outfits to use my Old navy cash. The best find was probably 40oz metal water bottles for $10 each. We will definitely be using these at Disney!

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.