One of the largest expenses that we have each and every month is groceries. I spent a lot of time trying to control these numbers. If you will recall I had a HUGE grocery budget overage in the month of March ($726). I was planning to attempt to keep the April budget to less than $100. But to be honest that is already not possible and we are in the middle of April. What I can say is that I have been able to stock up on lots of canned items and grab some quick and easy breakfasts for us as well. Harris Teeter has been having some huge sales in the past couple of weeks, for example, I grabbed 15 cases (12 packs) of soda for $1.99 today. This alone is a saving of $50. Cereal, grits, oatmeal and yogurt round out the list of items that I purchased today as well. My plan for the rest of April is to only purchase things we are completely and totally out of that we can not survive without milk and eggs being the biggest things that I can thing of. Otherwise to be honest I am going to avoid all grocery shopping. I am going to allow for one exception “Suddenly Salad” Pasta that usually go on sale for approximately $1 a box. I need/ plan to purchase 25 of these to use once a week this summer as a quick easy and delicious meal.
I received the news today that we will also be purchasing a cow in the next month. This cow currently weighs 1400 pounds. This meat should last approximately 2 years. I am super excited about this meat.
The other food related good news is that within a month we should be able to start harvesting items from the garden. I am excited this year because all the plants should be purchased with gift cards earned from Swagbucks. This means that the entire garden is a profit not matter how little we may harvest.
Yes we are day three of April before we could put together a meal plan, but better late than never. You will notice a huge trend in this weeks menu…LEFTOVERS! Not exciting but a necessary part of our food lives. I spent a huge amount of money in the month of March on food so the focus for the entire month of April will be to keep grocery spending at a minimum. By menu planning for the entire month at one time, I was able to determine that other than fresh fruit and veggies, we have no needs right now. I hope this translates into very little spending in the next several months. This week will involve a little bit more effort than normal as the kids are out of school and Matt is at home until Friday.
Breakfast- Saturday-Gravy and biscuits , Sunday- Church provided. , Monday Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday- Choice of cereal, eggs or left-overs, Thursday- Pancakes or waffles depending on the mood.
Lunch- Saturday- left-overs , Sunday- Dinner with my Family , Monday- Ham salad sandwiches, Tuesday-Friday Leftovers!
Dinner – Saturday- Leftovers , Sunday- Left-overs Monday- Grilled chicken breast with left over sides , Tuesday- Chicken nuggets and French fries(kids choice) , Wednesday-Rice Kreole , Thursday- Beef and Broccoli, Friday- pulled pork.
We celebrate Easter but it is usually in a low key kind of way. Today was no exception. This morning we started with Easter Baskets at around 6:30am.
Basket and emoji toys are great things to pick up at the after Easter sales. I would wait until everything is 75% off. Candy is always a good deal at CVS with the ECB, another option is also Target. The Dollar spot at Target can be great for some small socks and stickers. Finally shop at Five Below to grab even more candy and Hot Wheels Cars if you need.
Easter outfits are always fun! Especially when you plan ahead. Lily and Kendall’s dress were purchased at Costco in February for $16. each. I order Matt and Zach’s matching purple shirts from JCPenny on sale for $9.99 each. Amanda found her dress at Goodwill and David’s shirt was another sale purchase. My outfit was the cheapest from my closet.
We all enjoy lunch at my brother’s house and the kids spent the afternoon playing outside and hunting Easter eggs.
I planned ahead and purchased the ham at Aldi using a $5 off $30 coupon several weeks ago. We came home and enjoyed left-overs for dinner in addition to ham salad I made that will last for several weeks.
I am giving a huge sigh of relief as I type this. March was a long and busy month but I honestly don’t feel like I was overwhelmed by it. The best news of all is that we are ending the month on a good financial note. I still have to pay for pool dues for the year but other than that yearly expense, we are on track. We did not make major gains this month but we did not have major loss either. Personally I have spent several days this month working in the yard and even managed a walk one day. Spring appears to have finally arrived as well. The weather shows highs around 70 for much of the week. We did turn off the heat on Thursday, so my fingers are crossed for an entire month without heat or air.
Financial- We are attempting to use a cash only method for the first six month of the year in order to get us some better financial balance.
- Total paid to credit card debit $2096 total reduction in credit card debit approximately $200. Amanda purchased a new washer and dryer that she is paying for and has already covered over half of it. It is very difficult to get a good read on the actually numbers but we are basically at the same level of debit as we were in January. Slow and steady progress is the best method and unlike last year, in which we started increasing our debit in March and never looked back.
- Grocery budget $475- Total spent $726.27. Yikes, I did spend extra to purchase ground beef and had several trips to stock up on good deals. I have already discussed with Matt that we will be on a purchase only if we are out grocery budget for April. I am allowing my self 2 exceptions, chicken breast from Zaycon at the end of the money if we have enough remaining out of the very small $100 budget and purchasing Suddenly Salad if they go on sale for $1 or less a box.
- Gas budget- $280- Spent $261. This is really impressive since this was a 5 week month.
- Kid/Summer expenses : uggh lets just say Lily had a 3 night play that was $9 a ticket and Zach started Baseball along with several field trips and the purchase of year books for Zach and Kendall. I really don’t feel like finding a number but it was all covered.
- Earned $100- this is indeed a much lower amount than any of the previous months I have tracked but it is still extra money and I hope to see this number double in April.
- Blogging- 11 for the month. Super busy this month. I initially set the goal for 20 but 15 may be more realistic.
- Exercise- 4 total days for the month. a goal of 15 but not sure if that is realistic or not.
I mentioned yesterday that we had purchased a trailer of mulch. The cost of the mulch was $15. I was totally amazed at the amount of mulch that we received. Here is a picture of the trailer AFTER I worked on spread for a couple of hours on Friday night.
This was a picture of the mulch uncovered about half way through Saturday.
I have never purchased mulch this way before. I am used to purchasing by the bag at Lowes. I would have been able to purchase approximately 7 bags at Lowes during the best sale which is $2 a bag. This was ALOT of mulch. We were able to apply mulch to all 3 flower bed around the house in addition to the two areas in front of the building and the new area I started in front of the kids play house.
Finally I decided to add mulch around the square foot garden and mulch in the area directly beside several of the beds. I have been doing some research and the mulch should help maintain the temperature better, hold water and prevent weeds.
I will admit defeat, I was unable to use the entire trailer of mulch, left approximately a fourth of the mulch for someone else. It did take a lot of effort or more accurately plain old hard work but we saved over $200 in mulch.
Find out the day that your local supermarket reduces the meat and that is when you shop.
I can honestly say, I have heard of this way to saved money but did not believe it was true until this week. I had planned to shop at Food Lion this weekend due to Lunchables being on sale for $1 each. These are quick and easy lunches that my kids consider a special treat. In the past, I have been able to stock up on these just prior to school starting but that was not the case this year. My mother was with us and helped to find some of the deals. I was able to purchase over one hundred dollars worth of meat for $66. This is a 40% savings on meat!
I grabbed several packets of thin steaks for Fajitas, a pack of steaks, several pack (ok 6 packs of chicken nuggets with cheese, meatballs and both chicken and pork bites. These are not the typically way we would eat these items but I am super excited that we have a chance to try some new and different things without breaking the bank.
This meat deal could have not come at a better time for us as we will be purchasing a whole cow in the next 2 months in addition to 80# of chicken from Zaycon. But in the meantime we still need meat and the kids insist that they have meat at least 2 of the 3 meals
What good deals have you found lately? Leave a comment to prove you read!
My mother has always said that “in order to get to church on Sunday, you have to start on Saturday night.” This is really the case for us and even more so when it comes to living with our crazy busy schedule right now. Throw in the fact, that today, Sunday was also Matt and I only day off together this week and it has been really busy but productive. We did decided on Saturday night, that we would eat out for lunch today. Instead of rushing home from church, grabbing some lunch, changing clothes and then heading to Winston, I warned everyone to wear comfortable shoes for walking to church. We ended up eating lunch at Red Robbin. It is always a fun treat for us to eat out.
After picking up an on-line order at JCPennys and finding a new glove for Zach at PlayItAgainSports the real preparation for the week began. Our menu plan is already made for the week but I realized that we have fallen behind on meal preparation. I used the instapot to cook chicken breast and threw in the Kitchen Aid mixer to shred. We ended up making 2 complete batches of Chicken Enchiladas, one for dinner and a second for March. I also made a chicken pie for later in the week. On plan has a Shepherd’s Pie for Monday. As I started to gather up the ingredients , I discovered 5lbs of potatoes that had started to spout. These were peeled, diced and became mashed potatoes. I used some to top the Shepherd’s Pie and the rest is in the freezer to grab for some quick easy meals. In a span of about 2 hours, we made a total of four meals that need just to go in the oven.
One of the things that is a given on Sunday afternoon is the kids picking out clothes and lunches for the week. I usually check the weather and decide what type of clothing they need to pick out. The clothes are placed outside of there rooms so no changing around is done. We also decide what is going to be taken for lunch and prepare as much of it ahead of time as possible. Matt and I also made our lunches for Monday as well. This saves us so much time that I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
We received our income tax return today. I was very determined to use it in the most efficient way possible. In order to accomplish this I have spend the better part of the morning, looking at budgets and trying to put together some plans and strategies. One of my main concerns and areas of focus was “known” expenses. These are expenses such as yearbooks, pool dues, brakes, and oil changes that I know are coming at some point. These are also where I feel like I really don’t plan enough. I have tried to come up first of all a list of these expenses and more importantly a plan to pay them. My overall goal is to be able to set a budget and any money saved from that budget can be used to help cover kids expenses, or reduce our debit. Currently it is more like a move money to cover this expense but opps now I need to cover this expenses. I am overall really pleased with where I think we stand as far as a budget goes.
The tax return will be used to cover the deposit on our beach vacation in August. The rest of this will be paid from my “extra” check in June. We will also replace the windshield in my van, replace the brakes on Matt’s van and get an oil change for his van. The rest of it and our state return will be used to help fill some gaps that I have identified in our budget.
The weather for the last few days has been cloudy but with temperatures in the low 70s. We have turned off the heat and opened a couple of windows. Both our electric and water bill have decreased in February but an extra week without heating and air goes a long way. Matt has also been able to stop a leak in the hall bathroom and did some minor repairs on the dryer. We are very hopeful that these small changes will bring both bills down to a lower level.
A huge surprise or change that we expect in March is a reduction of our cable television bill. With Septrum our bill that we just received jumped $35. We have made no changes to our service. Matt called and it was a “your promotional period has ended” increase. We are currently researching options and will honestly give Septrum one last chance to match our current price. If not then we are cancelling our landline and switching to HULU live. This change will save us around $40 a month. I know that the first two months saving will be used to purchase one additional box for our televisions.
The thing I am most excited about is my plan to purchase mulch and all plants for the Square Foot Garden this year with earning from Swagbucks. In the past, I have used the grocery budget for these purchases but this way the pressure is off to “harvest ” enough to cover the expenses!
CVS and I have a love/hate relationship. It remains one of the stores that I always monitor sales at but it is also one that I can honestly walk into and walk out if I don’t get the coupon that I am looking for from the red machine. After leaving last Thursday without purchasing anything, Lily and I ventured back today. Lily did end up buying herself some make up but this does not count in my spending. I only supply the coupons that I have available.
Not a bad purchase for $4.85. I ended up doing a total of 3 transactions. Two of these transactions show 100% savings, which means I only paid tax on the purchases. The final receipt shows a saving of 73%, which is really above my goal of 70% each time. My overall saving was at 80%. I used a combination of paper coupons and those from the red machine. Back to loving CVS for the month of February.
Yes this is the “day late and dollar short” version of 5 Things Friday. I will be the first to admit that the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and emotionally exhausting in addition to being financially straining.
Yesterday, was our first full paycheck for the month of February. The good news is that we were able to catch up from the snow week. I have a plan in place for both our tax returns and am very hopeful that this will allow us back on a slow but steady track to paying down our huge debit this year. We are working to reduce both our electric and water bills to a more normal level. Matt and I have already worked out a Menu plan for the month which means we should be able to keep the grocery bill on a lower than usual level. Another positive is that Matt has been selling vinyl decals on a very steady basis this month. This is definitely helpful as we have lots of unexpected expenses.
I am battling left-overs in our fridge. Our super bowl party is always fun but we end up with some interesting left-overs. This week, I made an effort to make meals of left-overs and strongly suggested that Matt and Lily eat left-overs for lunch. Today, I am repurposing left-overs, we had a bag of carrots, and a bunch of celery, several cups of rice and some pulled pork. I did a little bit of thinking and decided to make pork fried rice. I chopped up the pork and realized that we had over 4 cups left which is enough to make 2 full meals for us. I let Kendall help chop up the carrots and celery. I added some green peppers and onions and that became our veggies for the stir-fry. One set for dinner and a second set in the freezer for a crazy day of what is for dinner.
Zach has officially started taking piano. He has been asking for over a year but we really wanted him to wait until he was a strong reader before attempting. Kendall started teaching him this week for fun. He even practiced every day without being told. This is definitely an expense that I don’t mind adding.
I am so ready for spring, in fact I have already planned out our square foot garden and added several more containers. I am very hopefully that with a little extra work this year we will have a bumper crop. I purchased trees a couple of years ago to start work on a landscape line. The trees came with a 2 year guarantee. I received an email yesterday that a new peach tree is being shipped this week. My mother has also been growing several pecan trees in her flower bed. So we should be able to finish the border without spending any additional money!
Our busy schedule has returned. Some days, I am honestly thinking how do we actually do this. This week, Lily has practice for her play, 4 nights and a party the 5th night. Kendall has 2 days of extra curricular activities in addition to church on Wednesday night. Matt has also doubled his hours at work for this week. Yikes, better rest up today!