October in Review

October has turned out to be a very busy month.  I ended up taking on more students in Guam.  The upside is that I have met my goal of purchasing our tickets to Disney.  I am also planning to pay our entire December trip from Guam money as well!   Another change in October is that we started our “smart home” with the purchase of an electronic door lock and several “alexa” devices. So far, I am enjoying the convivence.  Another HUGE milestone is that we managed to reduce our overall debit by $500. It may sound like a small step but it is a step in the right direction.

Gardening-  We are expecting our first frost today (October 31st). So we decided to go ahead and pull out the rest of the summer garden. I managed to freeze two cups of green peepers and roasted over a dozen pimentos.  We also hung up basil to dry, started a small basil plant inside and found a few tomatoes.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $552.  This did include the huge ($450) Costco trip that I made the end of September. I am very impressed with this budget and plan to stay around $200 for the month of November.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $248.66 . This is actually less than I had anticipate. Currently any extra in the budget is going to reduce debit. I am very hopeful to totally pay off our gas credit card by the end of the year.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. Becoming easier!  I am currently trying to save the additional money needed for the Memory Maker for our Disney Trip. I think that this will become easier once we finish baseball games.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 10 for the month! Between working and baseball I am still struggling to make time for everything.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. ummm no comment

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have met this goal in September. I did manage to try 3 new recipes this month so I am very happy.

Earnings_ $30. Swagbucks are really really limiting our earning so I don’t anticipate this to improve significantly before the end of the year. Because of some internet issues this is becoming more of a time waster than anything else. I am going to stick with it to the end of the year but this is something that I may have to re-evaluate and stop until summer.

November appears to be another very different from the ordinary month. I do know that for the first time in a long time, we will be having Thanksgiving at my house and will not be joining my brother.  Change is hard and the unknown is very hard for me, I am hoping by the end of November the world will have returned to a more normal place.

September in Review

September was interesting to say the least. I did make one huge adjustment this month. We are now using budgets more strictly and I have being very diligent about extra money. My goal is to save the $896 for our remaining Disney tickets in December from extra money or from saving money. This means that I also much cover any overages.  So far we have $200 toward our goal.

Gardening- We ended up digging up the sweet potatoes this week and probably have around 25 pounds which should last us through the winter. We are still getting a few tomatoes and green peppers. Pimentos are still producing strongly. I am planning to start some lettuce and celery to see if we can supplement some food for the winter.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $501.  I did also make a huge grocery trip to Costco this week but will move that $450 out of the October budget.  We are completely stocked up and I anticipate both November and December being lower spend months in order to bring down our yearly total and monthly average

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $642.18  We had to replace the windshield in the van a second time this year, which pushed out monthly total way up.  I am going to anticipate around $300 for gas in the month of October.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible!. This is a struggle but has become even more important as we attempt to save ticket money.  We managed 6 no spend days this month. I am going to plan on 10 next month as our needs should be much less!

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 15 for the month! This is thanks to Disney pictures!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. ummm no comment

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have met this goal! I am very happy and plan to just focus on what we know for October.

Earnings_ $50. Swagbucks are really really limiting our earning so I don’t anticipate this to improve significantly before the end of the year.

October is a long month with no real breaks. I am ready so bring it on!

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!

July in Review

July was a different sort of month. We definitely enjoyed our week at the beach and I even decided to skip blogging the entire week. We ended our trip early and arrived home late Friday night because of weather. Zach really enjoyed baseball camp this past week but it also was very stress with all the driving involved. On the other hand, we have been making some tough decision about school placement for both Zach and Kendall. I had a HUGE issue with American Airlines regarding our December tickets. This consumed 10 hours of my time and energy. Finally we had $1150 stolen from Disney gift cards and I am still waiting on a response. August will be a month of change and excitement. I will be returning to work full time, all the kids will be in school of some form and we have our first Disney Trip scheduled for the last week.

Gardening- We have been able to enjoy a couple of cucumbers, squash and zucchini. Tomatoes are ripening. I have been able to make lots of different dishes and have frozen around 10 “jars’ of spaghetti sauce so far. The kids LOVE this fresh sauce and prefer would honestly eat several times a week if allowed. I also made one cup servings of tomato sauce for use in recipes. We harvest enough peppers to use in a double batch of sauce but now to eat. The pepper plants appear to be blooming so I am hopeful. I don’t expect that we will be harvesting much more besides our sweet potatoes but we have been blessed with enough to enough this summer.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The total for the month is $584.33. This is a significant decrease from each of the other months. The freezers are full and I have even stockpiled toilet paper and filters for our heating and air system. My goal for the month of August is to limit groceries to $275 or more. Depending on how this goes will determine the grocery budget for the remainder of the year.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $512.02 the total for the month. Definitely the most expensive month this year but this total includes tags and taxes on the van and an oil change for both the Honda and van. We drove the van to the beach and I have been driving approximately 145 miles a day this past week to get Zach back and forth from camp. I am really not sure where this will land next month as I return to work.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Limited success. During the month of July, I have been working on our budget and hope to share this in the next couple of days.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 12 for the month! I am very pleased with this number especially given all the problems and time consuming things that happened this month.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk 8days this month! This is also a improvement over last month. In a even bigger gain, I managed 10,000 steps for three day which is the first time in 11 months I have been able to do this!

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

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We have tried 44 new recipes this year! I know I will not finish this goal before school starts but with 6 recipes remaining even one new recipe a month will make this achievable.

Earnings_ $60. This is a small improvement so we will continue to hope for the best. We will be enjoying free Starbucks at Disney!

August will be a month of change and uncertainty. I am planning to share our new budget. My overall goal for August is to maintain peace and calm through faith no matter what happens.

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!

May In Review

May was another different sort of month. It definitely did not fly by but was not as slow as March or April. I am still working from home. I was able to get an additional 17 hours from my Guam job so that was extremely nice. We decided to go ahead and tackle one more home improvement in the month of May, our sink room. I am glad it is finished and LOVE the results.

The square foot garden is actually growing! I was getting really discouraged in the middle of the month. The weather was just not cooperating at all but finally in the last two weeks we are starting to harvest some small items and even the cucumbers that I had written off have returned to life. We did have to spray with bug killer today so hopefully we will not lose alot to these pesky insects. We continue to get a ton of lettuce and a finally a batch of snap peas that made it inside instead of Kendall eating them all!

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- I was doing so well but decided to purchase 4 gallons of strawberries yesterday and a trip to Aldi put us at $607.45 for the month. I keep telling myself that spending will decrease soon. We have almost 2 completely full freezers! I have added an additional 3 meals this week along with some simple breakfast ideas! I think at this point, unless we are set with meat. Going to make a realistic grocery budget for next month…. stay under $550!

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- $284.40 is the total for the month which does include taxes and tags on the CRV. The CRV was filled 3 times and the van twice. I do actually expect our driving to go up this month as I finish up work and start to enjoy the summer. We also will be returning to church and going to the pool. The goal for June keep the gas budget down to $300 with the extra going to pay off debit!

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! No spend days are 3 this month YIKES! I knew going in to May that spending would increase. But still the goal for June is to have at least 5 no spending days. I am going to change a couple of rules. First, we save change all year to spend at the pool so this does not count as spending! Second an purchases for clothing, hair or piano that come out of a budget envelope does not count as spending as these are “spent” each payday when it is placed in the envelope. I am also planning to switch at least half of my grocery spending to cash as well.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 17 for the month! At least this is staying on track!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. yea I did walk 3 times this month but only 3 times. This is something that I definitely need to improve on.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Not there at all!

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Still way ahead of this one! I have blogged on 32 new recipes but I have 3 more to post this week!

Earnings_ $75 in gift cards. Slow and steady.

June is an exciting time of the year! I finish up work, the kids finish up school and we enjoy the summer. I am extremely grateful that we have the pool open this year. I am hopeful that by the end of the summer, our lives will return to normal with a crazy busy schedule! Our first Disney trip is planned for the end of August, my goals for June and July are to save save and find more ways to save!!!

April in Review

April was not as long as March. I think we are finally settling down into a manageable routine. Matt worked from home the first two weeks of April but has returned to working at his office full time. I am working full-time at home. I am planning to continue through the month of May. I may need to return to work during our school work days in June but I will wait to see what is decided between now and then. School building have officially been closed for the year in both North Carolina and Guam. Lily will not have to take final exams but otherwise she is still completing her charter school. I am getting some limited work in Guam, a lot of IEP for the next couple of weeks. I am hopefully to complete 10 hours of work for April and another 10 for May before the school year ends. We did receive our government stimulus money this month. It was used to pay for the floor in the kitchen and dinning room which I originally budget with Guam money. The rest was applied to debit but every little bit helps!

The garden has taken up a considerable amount of time this month. We are very hopeful that it will produce some inexpensive veggies most of the summer. I have planted the majority of item from seeds this year. Seeds were purchased at twenty-five cent or less a pack. I made a trip to a local nursey and purchased both pepper and tomato plants spending $11 total. So far we are harvesting “volunteer lettuce” each week. I still have some cherry tomatoes to transfer and I am planning to plant green beans every two weeks so that we can get a more continual and plentiful harvest. I still need to purchase and plant sweet potatoes but I am going to assume that will be the last of expenses this year. We have already built an additional strawberry box so I will have to end up buying dirt to fill it this fall.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- We have exceed it again this month but $190 worth of chicken breast makes this a no brainer. But on the bright side it is still less than we spent last month! Currently we have spent $922 which also includes a stock up on Diet cokes. I think we should also note that April is a 5 week month which threw me off as well. I am hearing lots of reports of increase pricing for groceries and a possible meat shortage as well. I am planning to stock up on beef and maybe pork next week. I expect the grocery budget for May may be high as well for that reason. The good news is that we should be able to dramatically cut our grocery spending during the summer because of stocking up now. I will continue to watch prices and re-stock items as needed. I actually have started a price list on my phone to begin checking items as I am out picking up other things during the next several weeks.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- We spent $$450 this month in gas! This does include the windshield purchase. We decided to wait until May for the taxes and tags on the car.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! No spend days are 9 this month. This is better than March but still not my goal of 15. I am not sure what the goal will be for May. Spending will increase as we travel to the pool and as restrictions are lifted. May 10 days of no spending….. or should I just count the days?

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 18 for the month! Which is an increase of 1 for the month! Go Covid-19!

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I have met this goal this month. The kids are really good at reminding us that we all need the fresh air and exercise. We actually walked 12 days this month! I should be able to continue this especially if the pool opens in May.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week – Getting better but still not achieved.

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  For the first time ever we are ahead of a goal. We have tried 22 new recipes so far this year. We need to try 30 more. I am actually thinking we can meet and exceed this goal. The one down side is that only a handful will be used again.

Earnings_ $75 in gift cards. I did complete one large payout on Swagbucks. Matt completed another survey outside of Swagbucks and should receive another $50 gift card in a few days for Amazon. I will be surprised if this amount increase in May as people are overwhelming the system.

Except for the grocery budget, we did extremely well in the month of April. We are blessed and continue to thank God for his provisions!

March in Review

Lily made the state that March was the longest three years of her life. I am going to agree with her. I am hopefully that things are going to settle down into a sort of quiet different way of life. I know that I will be working from home the entire month of April except for possibly one day this week. Matt will also be working from home for most of the month as well. I am going to guess that my salary from Guam will not occur this month as well. I also want to try and decrease our overall spending. Without leaving home on most days we should be able to hit at least 15 No spend days for the month of April.

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- The actual number is $1025! This did include two rather large trips to Costco and some extra purchases in preparation of staying at home. In more positive news, I was able to find and save $250 for a large meat purchase in the near or not so near future. I will also be using a little as possible from this budget to purchase some additional plants for the garden.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- We spent $219 As you can probably guess this is the budget item that I was able to save money for the meat purchase with. Unfortunately in the month of April I will not be able to accomplish this. The large crack in the windshield of the van has expanded and must be replaced. The repair is scheduled for April 9th. We will also need to renew the tags on the car which includes paying for an inspection and taxes. I am hopeful that we can keep all of these expenses under $500 for the month.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! I am also going to include the number of no spend days under this goal. For the month of March that is 4. Yikes! But I will say that some of this spending was in anticipation of not spending in April.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 17 for the month! I am going to plan for the same in April! I will definitely say that the Recipe Challenge is going a long way in making this happen.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I can say that for the last week I met this goal. I actually think I have close to 7 days of exercise this month! This is a huge improvement from January and February but is also directly related to being at home and the weather.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week – A fail. Definitely need to up my game in this area. 

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  We actually have tried 7 new recipes this month. I will plan to post on the one tonight either tomorrow or Thursday! I am actually thinking that todays may be a repeat.

Earnings_ $145 in gift cards including a $50 that Matt was able to get outside of Swagbucks. I will be honest and say this will be very low in April. We can already tell a difference in Swagbucks in the last week. My goal for this month is to earn $50 in Lowes cards to purchase plants.

We actually did really well in March when you look solo on the numbers. I am hopefully to keep it going in April. We should not have a lot of extra activities so we should be able to focus on yard and garden work with some catching up on rest as well.

February In Review

I feel like I have been sick the entire month of February. The first week was cold/cough, the second week was a sinus infection, third week was the stomach bug that I fortunately only had a mild version when compared to the kids. This week I am starting with a cold/cough again and Matt has pink eye.  I did make the decision earlier in the month to begin on Elderberry gummies. This week I have added in Vitamin C and D. I am so tired of being sick and to get this stuff kicked to the curb.   

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- This was a close one at $584 for the month. This is way over budget but I really tired to buy things we needed. I am hopefully to significantly reduce the amount for March and work on a pantry/ freezer clean out in order to prepare for the purchase of a cow. 

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- We spent $293 Which included the unexpected trip to West Virginia. I am excited because the extra in the budget went straight to reducing our credit card debit!  I don’t anticipate spending more in March! These are huge gains for use! 

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success! It has been nice having money set aside for all the little expenses like hair and nails. I was even able to get a manicure and pedicure during February.  

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. 0nly 9 post  for the month. This is mainly due to how sick and horrible I have been feeling in the month of February. 

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. This was a horrible fail but my watch did tell me that I walked over 50 miles in February which is an average of 1.67 miles a day. 

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week – A fail. Definitely need to up my game in this area. 

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  I tried three new recipes in the month of February but none were a roaring success or even good enough for a repeat.

Earnings_ $60 in gift cards and $15ECB from a survey.

In March, Lily has her play and practice for the play every day until then. All three kids have a piano recital and Zach’s baseball schedule should begin.  I am also going to increase my hours at my second job in Guam until I can get caught up with all the paperwork. My goal is to spend an additional two hours a night on paperwork and other activities until I get things caught up and under control.  Wish us luck!

January In Review

I don’t ever remember the month of January feeling so long….I honestly think someone stuck an extra six weeks in it. The good news is that it is over and we actually stay the course fairly well for the month. We were able to stick to our budget and made some really fun plans for this year. I plan to share those soon as well. As you can tell I have lots of plans!

Goal #1 Grocery Budget of $550- This was a close one at $552.98 for the month. I am going to call this one a success. I want to try and keep things on a even level more this year instead of huge month and really low months. We are headed to Costco for our monthly trip today and we also need to grab a couple more things for our Super Bowl party.

Goal #2 – Record and keep up with gas/ auto purchase- We spent $455 on auto related things including gas, oil change and wiper blades.

Goal #3-Use a cash envelope system for everything possible. Success!

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. 13 for the month. I do have another recipe to report on but just did not get it posted. This post should have also been in January so I am very close to success.

Goal # 5- Fitness- Goal is to walk 3 times a week. I managed to walk once a week except for the week I was sick. It is a start.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week – A fail

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.- This has been successful with keeping up with it so far. But the result are not so successful.
Tator Tot Casserole and Taco Tator Tots and Chicken Burrito Soup
I did try another breakfast casserole and will get a post up about it soon.