February was a great month, I feel like we have actually figured out our busy schedules and I have begun to enjoy some of the extra time I have in the evenings. Swagbucks was a much better earner this month that I expected. In total we earned $135! We also cashed in and used $4 in Walmart gift cards from Shopkicks.
We did much better sticking to a meal plan for the month. I also have reduced our grocery bill to $175 for the month!
We continue with a huge gas expense and ended up with putting brakes on the red car.
Unfortunately, we did not reduce our overall debt in the month of February but I am planning to write down each dollar spent in March to determine where the extra money is going.
I have continued with completing either Bible study or reading at least 3 times a week!
I did not use the treadmill this month, but I am really surprised at how much walking I actually do each day.
Blogging: I have posted 11 times this month. This is a small increase from January but does not still meet my goal of 15 a month.
PLANS: I have a week of Spring Break at the end of March. The kids will all still have regular school hours so I am planning to get ahead of lots of cooking, get a pedicure and hair color as well. I will also need to make a large grocery trip.
This January has turned into a quite expensive month. I did some reading of old post and realize that I usually have a successful clean out the pantry month and stay way below spending in grocery spending. This was not the case for this January. I did clean out the pantry for all but the last week. After some debate, it was physically less demanding and stressful for me to do a huge grocery shopping trip to Costco in January instead of trying to squeeze it into February. I also ended buying food for junk food Sunday as well. Total spend in Groceries $800 YIKES!
I was able to keep a running total on our gas usage for the month. We are spending $93 a week to fill all three vehicles, for January that meant $465. I know that both vans need oil changes in the month of February so I expect this amount to be closer to $600 next month.
Given the numbers above, I am not at all surprised that our overall debt increased by $481. YIKES! One of the other unexpected expenses for the month of January was the purchase of new phones and an apple watch for myself. Feel free to check out the details here
Personally, I have been able to complete a devotional 3 times a week. This is a huge increase from zero!
I did use the treadmill several time this month. I also realize that I am walking quite a bit for work. I am averaging 2.5 miles just at work. I am going to set a goal for walking at least 3 miles a day for February.
Blogging: I have posted only 9 times this month. No real reason other than I am tired. Guess it is time to start doing instead of thinking.
PLANS: A couple of plans for February include not increasing our overall debit, staying under $200 for groceries and increasing both devotional time and treadmill time!
We have talked about 2018, now on to what I hope to accomplish in 2019.
I like the idea of choosing a word for the year. I am not sure how to keep this in focus but I am going to work on that. May learn a new verse each month or find something each month to share? Mainly, I just want to remind myself that I always have a choice as to what I focus on. My word for 2019 is “JOY”. I am going to choice joy no matter what is happening and I want to find joy in the little things of life.
Financially- The overall goal is to reduce our debt. I would like to reduce our personal debit to less than $20,000 or by $6,000. This is a very lofty goal but any reduction is a significant improvement so I want a goal that seems almost impossible. One of the biggest changes I want to make this year is the way I spend money. We are now paying our bills essentially a month ahead of time. This means that I actually paid all bills due in January on December 31st. By continuing in this manner, I will be able to move unspent money into another place and keep much better records. I also plan to use cash method for keeping up with most of the items except for gas. Finally, I want to use our second checking account as a slush fund/sinking fund account. Any extra money such as mileage checks or money earned from apps will go into that account. I can use it for extra such as meals out or other wants as they arise. For example, I eat out with my co-workers on Fridays, this will be where the money comes from. Today, I ordered a late Christmas gift for Matt’s father and the money came out of the account. This will allow me to not overspend in addition to keeping track of what extra we do have to spend. I am not planning to set a gas budget for the year as there is little to no way to control this when we go over. We simply can’t stop driving. I am going to track our spending for gas to achieve a better understanding of what we are spending. Grocery budget is $400 a month. This will be a reduction from last year even without including our cow purchase but again we have to have a goal.
Blogging- I am going to set the goal at 15 a month. I enjoy writing and I want to spend time doing it more often this year.
Weight- I need to lose at least 30lbs. I like to keep track of days exercised as it again gives me something to improve.
Bible Study- This is a area that I definitely need to make changes in. I am going to be realistic and set a goal of 3 times a week. If and when I have meet this goal for a month I can always increase.
Now let’s talk about specific goals for January- I have already paid our bills including some extra Christmas cost. I don’t have a saving goal this month because I honestly don’t have a way. Baby steps!
No spending outside of the Slush fund.
Groceries at $60 or less
Keep up with gas spending for the entire month.
Walk at least 10 times this month, before I can start this I need to get my snow village put away so I can set up the treadmill.
It was the worst of times and the best of times. 2018 was definitely a hard year for us on all aspects, personally, emotionally and financially. Yet, I am totally at peace and looking forward to 2019.
2018 was a year of change, Matt began a full time position and I switch from working at the hospital for 12 years to working in Davie County schools. These were both huge positive changes but they required a lot of faith!
I have been planning a recap of the year just to have it in one place for several days and finally sat down tonight to pull number. First I must admit that I have no idea what our grocery or gas spending was during the month of December. I just did not keep up. For the sake of having a number, I am going to say we spent $300 in groceries.
We did purchase a whole cow in 2018 and should have enough meat to use this entire year. The average amount for grocery spending was $617 a month or $7400 for the year. I am shocked at how low this number really. That is around $125 a month of each of us including all household items for cleaning and laundry.
Auto expenses are another huge expenses for us. Looking back we spent an average of $250 a month prior to August on gas. With our job changes in August, I honestly can’t give an average. I am going to work diligently in January to find out this number! Extra expenses including purchasing of the red car, a new windshield for the silver van and new tires for the silver van.
Our financial gain for the year was reducing our debit by half. The majority of this reduction came from my retirement but I am convinced that slow and steady will win the race and we will be able to stay on this same course. One really bright spot was the fact that we earned an average of $110 a month via Swagbucks and other free apps.
I did not meet my blogging goal, one single time in 2018 and gained weight so both of these goals will be placed back on the list of 2019.
As you can see 2018 was rough and I am positive 2019 will be much better if the only thing that changes is my attitude. My goal is to get up plans for 2019 in the next couple of days!
I have been debating even writing this post for several days. November was a month that was busy, frightening and unforgettable but I also want to stay true to myself and have documented some of the reasons that things happen. First we decided to take a trip to Michigan to visit over Thanksgiving. I am a planner and two weeks is never enough time to plan a 7 day trip. But this Amanda was sick and the two weeks turned into 3 days. I spent 5 solid days at the hospital with her and ended up eating several meals just to make the days go faster. I don’t regret spending the time at the hospital and would do it again if needed but it made the month really short. I don’t even think I have actual numbers this month but best guess has to work for now.
Financial- I did fairly well for our trip expenses and I still plan to write a blog post about that. I did end up spending money on more new clothes and shoes. The good news is that we paid all our bills and we have no real needs.
Grocery budget $500- I did end up staying under this amount I am positive. However I am going to guess that I spent around $200 this month on groceries. I am going to plan a HUGE grocery trip at the end of December but the goal is to stay well under $100 prior to that.
Gas- Our trip to Michigan cost us 7 tanks of gas for around $250. I have absolutely no idea what else was spent in gas for the month except $15 on parking for the hospital.
Kid/Summer expenses: Kendall gymnastics $60 was the only required spending for the month but I am thinking I also paid $20 on a fieldtrip.
Earned $100- I have gift cards left for Christmas and we used $70 for trip expenses .
Blogging-5 for the month. I had many things to think about an little time to blog this month.
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.
It is one thing to anticipate spending after planning and knowing exactly where you wanted to spend money but quite another for bunch of small “fixes” becoming a very expensive month. In October, we ended up with some MAJOR automotive cost. First we need the oil changed on both vans. Next the silver van needed four new tires and finally the silver van needed a new battery. UGH, we made the choice to leave our emergency fund intact at around $600 and place the new tires on a credit card. Frustrating but not a total budget disaster. The good news is that I anticipate paying off this prior to the beginning of the year!
Financial- Yikes, did you read above. In addition, I have purchased new clothes and shoes for most of us. I am hopefully that we can stop spending and enjoys frugal months prior to Christmas without really noticing a change.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $700. Yes, that puts us over for the second month in a row. I have pulled out $100 in cash to use for groceries this month. We are stocked up and I really want to eat what we have. The good news is because of losing power in October, we moved everything from the house freezers to the ones in the building. I was able to really organize and we have a great system for pulling up and knowing what food we are going to use. I have already pulled the food we need for the month of November minus Thanksgiving so we are only buying needs and good sales.
Gas- We are currently around $200 over for the month. This does include gas for the generator we ran but about 24 hours as well. I have not figured out exactly how much we are spending but get a better idea in November.
Kid/Summer expenses: We ended up spending another $100 for Lily for theater this month. We spent around $25 on baseball games including some food. Kendall choose to begin gymnastics this month which cost $100 for the first month.
Earned $175- This is a huge improvement from the last year. We have used most of this to purchase Christmas gifts. I also paid for clothing with this money this month.
Blogging-12 for the month. I will admit that this has been a struggle but my goal is to make this goal at least for November and December as we have no travelling planned.
Exercise- Zero… no explanation.
Whew… we made it. September was another busy month with lots of money being spent. You can read about out budget reset here. To be quite honest, I am glad to have all the spending and buying hopefully behind us. I actually paid bills twice this month as we move to paying most bills with my paycheck, we are paying a month ahead so it is much easier and quicker. My goal for both October and November is to have more days of no spending than spending days. We still have not settled on a final budget as I have not started my second job via Skype yet. At this point, I am even becoming doubtful if this is going to materialize. If I do not being this job it will me a reduction in our budget as I will need to cover our two remaining credit cards from regular bill money. I will definitely keep you posted. But now here is what our month looks like.
Financial- We have moved toward a cash envelope system with most of the budget. We are continuing to use our Costco credit card for the HUGE rewards (total of 8%) in the form of cash back but otherwise we have no plans to acquire any more debit.
Grocery budget $500- Total spent $500 for September and $440 of our October budget. Because I was paid on Friday, we went ahead and shopped at Costco for the month in addition to I have been stocking up at Food Lion during their quarter back sale. I do not anticipate spending more than $60 in October and it is in cash so when it is gone, I am done!
Gas- We are currently around $75 over for the month. I was initially very unsure about the exact cost with both Matt and I traveling at least 30 minutes to work each way. I did increase our gas budget to $400 for the month of October. I may have to continue to monitor and adjust this as time progress. The good news is that I will be earning mileage which should cover at least part of this expense.
Kid/Summer expenses :Lily is participating in youth theater and including tickets for the show so far we have spent $200. Remaining cost include several items for her costume and at least one silent auction item. Zach is playing baseball- $90 sign up fee, $25 on new uniform and around $5 a week for game entry fees.
Earned $75- We are continuing to use this money in different ways. This month it was to purchase items for my building including a light. We are planning to put at least $50 a month for the next three months toward Christmas gifts. Every little bit helps!
Blogging-10 for the month. I have been sick for the past week and we have been incredible busy over the past two weeks but I am going to hopefully stay above this number in the future.
Exercise- 3 total days for the month. I am going to again blame my cold on part of this but I know I can and need to do much better in this area!
As promised, here is our reset budget that started September 1st. The current plan/ goal is to stick with this budget until next July. This represents a combination of both Matt and I regular salary in addition to my extra money earned via Tiny Eye. I will share some additional information if you are interested after the budget
The last four lines American Express, 5/3 Card, Kids/pool and Auto are all based on my expected income from Tiny Eye. I still do not have a start date nor a steady schedule so these are very fluid at the moment. I hope once things settle ( By December) I can post more realistic numbers.
The following categories are cash: Groceries, Gifts, Gas, Piano, Clothing/Hair and Chores.
Currently any “extra money” is being held in our main checking account. In the near future any extra cash will be place either for fun or in the kids/ pool account.
Medical- $83 a month until April of this is being paid for Zach’s braces. The remaining is for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. I was able to stock up on most medication and doctor’s visits prior to changing jobs so I anticipate keeping this fund at the same level but allowing it to grow after April.
Gas- We are closely monitoring this category for the next several months as I am not sure about traveling and how much we will actually spend. I may need to increase by $50 a month just from observation so far in September.
Chore- I have checked local prices and this is most likely less than I would be paying for house cleaning every other week. Money that is not being used will either roll into fun money or may stay in the main account depending on our needs.
Clothing/Hair- this may seem high at first glance but with 5 heads of hair it is probably a little low. This is again a category I will be closely monitoring.
Gifts- 5 children for both Birthday and Christmas. This will also include gifts for parties or other occasions as well.
Thoughts or Questions?
August was stressful, both financially and personally. We weathered a lot of changes. Even with the knowledge that all the changes would eventually be for the better, it was stressful and frustrating. One of my greatest frustrations has been trying to reset/ restart our budget in September. To be honest, this process is not complete so I am very reluctant to share all the details. If things occur as I have been promised by next weekend, I will share our new budget in addition to the changes we have been able to make.
Financial- August was a month of wait and see. All the bills have been paid for the month and we did reduce our overall debit by $200. Alot of planning and preparing and re-thinking has occurred with our budget this month. One of the biggest changes is starting in September we are going to be using a modified cash envelope system.
Grocery budget $475- Total spent $550. I spent ALOT of time and money on preparing food ahead of time the week prior to starting my new job. I am fully stocked on most items and need only to buy a few things hopefully over the next 3 months. My plan is to raise the grocery budget to $500 and use a 3 month rotation of cash. In other words I will carry any money left in the budget for 3 months before adding to saving or paying on debit. There will be no borrowing for the next month because if the cash is gone, find another idea.
Kid/Summer expenses : We spent our week at the beach with a full day of shopping. I also paid school fees, ($14) and baseball sign up ($90). Lily will start youth theater in September and I expect around $200.
Earned $60- Much lower than other month but we were out of town for a full 7 days with no extra earning potential.
Blogging-12for the month. A definite improvement that should continue over the next several months.
Exercise- 8 total days for the month. Small improvements are key in this area. I hope to continue this trend but this is heavily dependent on the number of additional hours I pick up with my skype therapy.
We survived the biggest changes that have occurred in our lives, outside of having kids. I am happy with August. We are beginning September with a clean slate and new beginnings that have us set up for success. I am so optimistic and can’t wait to share!
So July did bring some much better news for us financially. Matt started his new job in July! We will not see a huge benefit with this until at least September but it is a huge first step.
Financial- July was not as good as June, We increased our overall debit by $459. I am hoping to see a significant change in this in August. We have some outside of the box plans that I will share as they occur.
Grocery budget $475- Total spent $580.23. Yikes. This is another month over budget. I may need to increase this amount again in the coming months when things settle down.
Gas budget- $280- Spent $291. I am going to increase the budget to $300 a month starting in August. We purchased a small car to use for my home health job so I am hopeful that this will keep our expenses close to $300 each month.
Kid/Summer expenses : No extra expenses for July. However both Baseball and LYT will be due in August
Earned $115- This is also a slight improvement over the month of July. Shopkicks has been the difference this month. Extra money is always a bonus!
Blogging- 7 for the month. This should definitely increase with my new job!
Exercise- 5 total days for the month. Small improvements are key in this area.
I am going to be really honest and say that August appears to be another tight month until we are able to adjust to our new incomes. I will only be paid for 2 weeks in August and Matt will be short of pay for our week of vacation.