Thrifty Thursday

I have plans for tomorrow to share some things that we are spending money on this week but first I wanted to share some ways that we are saving money this week.

First up shopping at Dollar Tree.  I have discovered that for the boys and Lily, I can purchase body wash for $1 a bottle. This bottle last around 2 weeks so $2 for a month is much cheaper than $4 a bottle at most other places. I also buy conditioner just to change things up.  This trip I was able to grab sandwich bags and snack bags for $1. I am not anti-plastic but it does bother me to spend 5 or more cent on a bag that ends up in the trash after one use. I found fold top sandwich bags as less than a penny each so I am good with tossing each day. I did also purchase sandwich bags with a zip top to use for other things.   Snack bags will be used for freezing small serving such as 1/2 cups.

Ordering vitamins and supplements via Amazon. Both Lily and Kendall are on a daily iron supplement. I ended up saving 50% simply by ordering it on scribe and save on Amazon plus this allows me to order and forget about it!

I purchased a good bit of extra fruits and vegetables last week. Things have been slightly more hectic than I anticipated so we have not used up as much. Today, I made a new crockpot meal with sweet peppers. I also cut up and froze two bags of peppers and onions to be used in spaghetti sauce when our tomatoes start to come in.  3 cups of chopped celery was frozen. I discovered that I have purchased 3 bags of onions recently. So Kendall and I chopped up two bags to freeze. We ended up freezing 7 cups of diced onions. This way it will not go bad and they will be super convenient to use as well.

I was also able to use 5 small containers of vegetables that were sent to us from the school lunch program.  This cleared up space in our freezer and also made an awesome pork fried rice meal.

Sheets were washed and hung on the line to dry in order to save electricity.

We have eaten all dinners at home this week which is a huge savings.  I have eaten a couple of lunches out and one breakfast but these are much less expensive than even one dinner meal.

What have you been doing to save money?

Grocery Shopping

As you are all probably aware our single biggest expense beside our mortgage has always been our grocery budget.  I think this is one of the reason that I am fascinated by grocery shopping especially reading about other people’s trips.  I have been keeping up with a grocery budget for 10 years now. When the kids were smaller our budget included diapers and 7 people which was around $850 a month. We have been able to significantly reduce our budget to $550. Last year during the pandemic, we spent an average of $631 a month for groceries. This included restocking most of our pantry and freezers in addition to everyone eating at home for 2-3 months solid. We did receive school lunches but by September even the kids were tired of the food.  This year with some focused effort we have spent an average of $383 a month for the first six months of the year. I decided to do some research and a “thrifty” budget for 5 people (kids over 10) is $822!  This makes me feel so much better! In addition, I can say that we are full our pantry and freezers both. This year I have been using Alexa to keep a running list of items we are out of. I have focused on purchasing these items and then sales.  IT WORKS!

I do want to share what my stock up trip to Costco looked like this week.  I spent $298.70 on Thursday at Costco.   This did include a 6 month supply of Tide Pods. They were on sale for 18 cent a load so instead of grabbing a single box I grabbed 2.  This was $40.  I also purchased AAA batteries which should last the reminder of the year but added $16 to my total. I grabbed 2 additional bottles of Pantene Shampoo that were not on my list which was another $15. Other sale items included 4 bags of chips/popcorn, and 2 boxes of chips for our beach trip.  I also grabbed a Rotisserie Chicken for dinner and croissants to use for sandwich for another $10.   The rest was spent on items I had on my list such as dish washer tabs and butter.

My goal for the rest of the summer is to keep spending to a minimum so that we can use any additional grocery budget to cover the purchase of our new stove!

Saving on Saturday

I knew that I needed to add something to the front of the square foot garden to complete it. I still had some empty space before it starting to go down the bank.  After watching an episode of “Homestead Rescue” Matt and I decided that we wanted to add to our strawberry beds.

The cost of lumber is currently sky rocketing and I did not want to spend alot on this project.  I also know that strawberries grow well on the ground just not our ground. After much thought and consideration, I decided I wanted to make a strawberry hill.

Of course this involved a trip to Lowes, where I purchased a cedar fence for $27.

I also purchased top soil and garden soil to round out the mix.  Total spent at Lowes was $100. I had previously purchased another roll of landscape paper for $10.  This is the result without strawberries.

I will be moving some strawberry plants in the next several weeks. The goal plant/move 5 or 6 plants which should spread over the summer and fall and hopefully in a year cover the whole area.  Check back for a strawberry plant picture!

 

Total spent on the project $110!   I hope this means the square foot garden is complete!

5 Things Friday

  1. I have survived my last full week of work for the school year.  I have 2 more partial work week before summer starts.  Next week is 3 day due to testing for Lily and Memorial day. The following week I only work on Monday and Tuesday.
  2. Zach had 3 baseball games this week.. I love baseball but am glad to see the season coming to an end with our final game next week.
  3. The tomato in the square foot garden are taller than the boxes. We already have a couple of small tomatoes so I am VERY excited!
  4. May has turned out to be one of the most expensive months for us.  This week our string of problems continues with our oven stopped.  We have ordered a new one but it may be mid to late June before it arrives.
  5. The rest of our square foot garden is slow to start this year. I am sure the wierd weather and lack of rain are affecting it. I am hopeful to be able to harvest cucumbers before the end of June.

Saving on Saturday

This week let’s talk about our single biggest expenses food.  Yes we spend more on food than our mortgage some months. I have really been focusing on reducing this expense this year. Last year we averaged  of $631.51 a month. We have been under budget ever single month so far this year.  I thought I would share so of the ways I am making this work.

One of the things that has been going in my favor is that last year, I was able to completely stock our pantry and freezers. I have been very deliberate about keeping a running list of items we are low on or in need of. The Alexa and it’s app make this so easy for me. At least once a month, if not every 2 weeks, I am heading to a grocery store to pick up these items.   This week I had a total of 9 items on my list. I also picked up bread and bagels and lots of vegetables. Total spent $53. Our total for the month is currently at $164.  I am not planning a trip to Costco this month so I should be able to keep things very low. I am trying to only buy things on the list and greatly reduced items that I know we can use within the next month.

We spent several hours a couple of months ago cleaning out and organizing our freezers in the building. I discovered that we had an abundance of pork items.  This freezer is currently very full so I don’t need to any any items to it even very heavily discounted things.  I know I paid less for most items even last year than what they are currently.  Not buying meat is one of the huge ways that I have been able to reduce our spending. My plan is to use what meat we have for the remainder of the year with the idea we may buy a cow next spring. Next up on the agenda is to clean out our house freezers. We have lots of items that have gotten lost in these freezers. This week it took 3 people to find a pack of hot dogs. But they were found and are on the meal plan for the week.

We have high hopes and plans for our garden this year!  We had a huge expense when we update the garden beds. In total including dirt we spent around $1500.  Our goal is to grown and eat enough to even our the expense. I had purchased several packets of seed and attempted to grow cucumbers, squash, zucchini, snap peas and green beads from these packets.  So far the results are still out. I have somethings growing but not as well as I had hoped. The past two years, I have purchased tomatoes from a local greenhouse. This year I purchased a flat 36 plants for $30 compared to Lowes and what I have paid it the past this is a HUGE savings.  I also have started  8 pepper plants in the garden. I usually buy most of my plants from Lowes. The average price is $3.50 a pot which for I get one pepper or tomato plant and maybe 4 squash or cucumber plants.  Today we headed to the local farmer’s market where I spent $3.75 on on 10 cucumber plants. (Mine are not near as green or as big). We also spent $3.00 at the local nursery for 2 watermelon and 2 cantaloupe plants. These are half the price of a single plant at Lowes.

We also purchased 2 tomatoes, a squash and a zucchini from the farmer’s market. We spent $5.00 to feed all 5 of us lunch of tomato sandwiches and saluted zucchini and squash.

After a year of eating school lunches, everyone is burn out and decided to return to packing our own.   Matt and I still have a lunch allowance but I am finding that I prefer to eat from home most days and use the money for dinners or ball games. I stocked up (10 boxes) of Suddenly Pasta salad last summer at $1 a box. I checked the current price and  $2.35 is shocking.  We made 2 boxes of pasta salad, added 3 cups of shredded chicken along with the remainder of a cucumber and tomatoes from lunch. For around $3 we have enough for 10 lunch meals.

This week I was also able to find reduced prices on broccoli, blueberries and cucumbers at Aldi. So I made a pot of broccoli soup for dinner. Looking for discounts is the best way to save money but you have to use the food or it is still over spending.

Did you save money this week?

 

Sunday Thoughts

  • We have 22 days of school left. 20 for the kids. I have an additional 2 workdays (Monday June 7th and Tuesday June 8th).
  • Today is Mother’s Day.  My gift was being woken up at 12 am with Zach throwing up.  Lily started getting sick at 2am. I have been up and down with them most of the day. Hopefully no one else will get this lovely bug.
  • On Thursday, Kendall had seizure like activity and was rushed to the Emergency Room. We currently have no answers and lot of questions. She has an appointment on May 19th.
  • I am trying something new and some different recipes this week. I made 2 casseroles that just need to be cooked. I will make a third one on Tuesday so each day will be heat and eat.  I am hopeful that we can add these into the rotation as we are getting bored again of the same food. I am also trying to use up things in my freezers to make room for summer produce.
  •  We have purchased a batting cage for Zach.  The old swing set was taken down and we are currently waiting on rubber mulch to begin installing the cage. He is continuing t make improvements with his skills and really enjoying the game.
  • Matt and I added grids to the garden beds today. We currently have lots of things growing. I am also planning another planting at the end of May to extend the growing session.
  • I decided just this week that I will continue to work in Guam on Sunday nights all during the summer. This will allow me to keep some contacts and also supply the extra money needed for the outside projects we have been working on.

Saving On Saturday

There is nothing mind blowing or extremely different in this post. But I wanted to share just to remind myself and anyone else who reads that simple things make a difference in the long run.

Today, we spent around 2 hours clean, organizing and making a list of the items that are in our outside freezers.   I am pleasantly surprised to find that we have over 60 meals currently available in our freezers.  We now have an accurate list and even should be able to find the items that are needed to make our meals.

Plus check out how nice it actually looks!

The challenge is a little bit different for me than it has been in the past. I can honestly say that our freezer is full stocked.  I would normally decide to do a clean out the freezer challenge and use everything up but the summer is fast approaching. This summer I should have some additional money and time to actually stock the freezer with lots of easy to prepare meals for the coming school year. So I think that my first challenge is to make double meals.. Meaning if I can make double of something and freeze why not this way I can simple just heat and eat.  I also want to focus on keeping the grocery budget way under control.  But also take advantage of deals if they appear!   So for now we will continue to eat out of the freezer and try to keep it full stocked at the same time!

Financial Update

This is actually a very positive and happy post to make for me. As most already know, interest rates for mortgages are at a historically low right now.  We are receiving multiple offers each week to refinance our current mortgage.  After some prayers, we decided to check into doing a simple refinancing of our mortgage.  We actually did a refinance seven years ago and lowered our rate from 9.99% to 3.85%.  I was amazed to learn that we would qualify for an even lower rate, 2.75% to be exact.

We decided that since we have a sizable amount of equity in the house (over100k) that we could also look at paying off credit card debit.  We did not see any disadvantage to this as in significantly reduces the interest rate as well as allows us to free up over $1000 a month. Our van was scheduled to be paid off in July but we decided to go ahead and pay it off as well. In total we decided to use about $25,000 in the equity. This allows us to completely pay off our credit cards and the van.

We actually received the proceeds today and we are debit free except for the mortgage and the car we purchased in November.  We decided against paying it off as well in order to help establish and build Matt’s credit.  It would also have changed the interest rate on the mortgage.

In order to reduce the length of our mortgage from 15 years to 8 years, which is the length that was originally left we will be paying an extra principal payment a month. Our goal is also to pay an extra card payment each month to reduce the length of that payment as well. Finally we are working to establish an emergency fund of 3 months.

We have been working toward this point for several years and it feels good to finally be at a stable place financially.

SAVING ON SATURDAY-

This week we are again focusing on re-doing our square foot garden.  I am so excited that we have been able to save all of the dirt that has been ordered and put in our previous beds. We also have 2 large tomato beds, a sweet potato bed and 2 strawberry beds that have cost us absolutely nothing.  Our demolish phase is complete and next week we hope to build out all of our new boxes and get place and the garden part completed. This will allow us to plant the first few weeks of May!

 

Zach wanted his picture with all his hard work. He has even been working after school.

Monday Menu Planning

After a full month of left-over soup, find it and take-out, I am back on track with meal planning. I have the additional goal of keeping our groceries as low as possible for the month with any and all extra money going to our Disney trip in April. Another huge positive is that I am actually working less hours in Guam so I have a tiny bit more time to cook and such. On Sunday, Matt and I tackled breakfast muffins for the week. The goal was to make something quick and easy since we don’t have bagels this week. The kids were gone all weekend to Haley so Matt and I splurged alot and enjoyed not cooking or washing dishes.

Breakfast– Saturday-Biscuit King   Sunday- Biscuit King  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, oatmeal, cereal or grits, breakfast burritos, or omelets. New  breakfast muffins included sausage and potato muffins and veggie scrambles.

Lunch-  Saturday–Burger King   Sunday- Time Square Pizza.    I assembled 6 salads on Sunday. The kids will eat left-overs and Matt also has 2 hamburger sliders to enjoy.

Dinner-  Saturday-  Mexican    Sunday-left-over or muffins . Monday-Steaks and Baked Sweet Potato  Tuesday-Baked Ziti that was found in the freezer.  Wednesday-Corn Dogs and FF.    Thursday- Hamburger Helper    Friday- Steak fataji  or Steak fried rice depending on my mood.