A Look Back at 2021 and a Peek Ahead at 2022

I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with deciding how to do goals for the year, today I am going to go ahead and put some goals out there, but I will leave it open that our financial goals will likely end up changed in June when I have a better idea of what type of job and salary Matt will be receiving.  A second change from yesterday is that I am only going to do one post with both how we did and new goals for 2022.  New goals will be in italics to make things easier for me to figure out in the future.

Groceries– budget amount is $650.   I achieved this 9 of 12 months!  I will add that we have been receiving gifts of food on a monthly basis from my Mother this year as she continues to eat with us 3 or more times a week.   I am excited that we have been able to adjust and actually decrease our overall spending on groceries. we spent an average of $530 a month this year. In reality, this is probably a very realistic goal for us to continue however, I want to make a plan for the first 6 months of the year and then move back to this budget amount in June.
For January, February, March and May- Budget amount is $200 a month or $50 a week.  I will also be using any overage in the budget to cover out eating out until Matt has a permanent job.
Eating Out budget will begin when Matt has a job and will be $100 a week or $400 a month but this will not apply during vacations or travel.

One additional explanation is that in April we have a trip planned to Disney.  We are taking the camper and will be bringing a good bit of extra food to save money on this trip so I will leave the budget at $650 to help cover those expenses for April.

Auto/ Gas / Insurance. My goal is $400 a month.  We met this goal 7/12 months.  This is definitely an area that I will wait until Matt has a permanent job.  I anticipate increasing this to at least $500 a month unless his job is in town or remote most of the time. 

Cash Envelope system-   Goal met 8/12 months.  I will not be keeping this goal but do plan on continuing to use this system. I am dropping the goal based on the fact it is really difficult to monitor.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month.  I only met this goal 4/12 months.  I will definitely keep this goal for next year!

Goal # 5- Fitness– Goal is to exercise of some type at least 10 days a month.  This is a goal that I struggle with each year. It appears that 4 out of 12 months I did achieve the goal for 6 or 7 days but none for 10.    I am debating just reporting how many days this was achieved each month without a goal. 

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal-  – Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year.   GOAL MET!   I am actually going to try and do this again 2022 by using podcast.  I don’t think I will keep reporting on it but I hope to continue the practice!

Earnings Based on several major changes this year, this is just too difficult and time consuming!   We will of course continue to look for ways to make extra money, but apps are no longer worth the effort!  I will also plan to remove this from my goals.

No Spend Days– I love the concept of this! However, in reality it is very difficult to do!  The purpose is to not spend money outside of the budget and we are doing so much better in this area!   Instead of a goal this will be included along with exercise as a simple number to keep me accountable.

Exercise days-
No Spend Days- 

I will be posting again this weekend on our plans and other adventures for 2022!

December in Review

I have actually been spending some time already getting this post ready at least in my head. My plan/ goal is to share this post and a Year in Review post today and tomorrow and then a sort of plan blog post for Saturday or Sunday.  December has been a busy but fun filled month!  We all really enjoyed camping and seeing Biltmore! Christmas was drama free and I am ready for 2022 to be less sick and more fun!

Groceries– budget amount is $650.   $849.16 This is over for the month, but I am not too upset. I do have a plan for next year and it includes an overall reduction in grocery spending!

Auto/ Gas / Insurance. My goal is $400 a month. $401.00 MET!  The most exciting part of this is that it includes out trip to Asheville and towing the trailer!

Cash Envelope system-   We are definitely doing much better with this!  I am planning to keep this just for accountability.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month.  Goal Met! This is post number 14 and with plans for 2 more I should be good for the month.

Goal # 5- Fitness– Goal is to exercise of some type at least 10 days a month.  Nope Naa yea we need to rethink and start this one.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal-  Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year. Need to find something to get started on this.

Earnings– No extra earrings this month!

No Spend Days– Did not keep up with this as it just was too difficulty.  I am not sure what happened other than life!  I am planning to keep this goal but with some additional guidance for next year.

December was a fun month. I am super excited that we are ending the month and the year with ZERO credit card debit!  We also are half way to our first emergency goal of $1000.  I will go ahead and state that I am really unsure about making a budget right now due to Matt still being unemployed. Once he returns to work. I am sure things will change again and we will see more direct progress toward saving goals.

Recap of 2020/ Goals for 2021

I usually get this post completed in December and I usually look forward to reviewing and writing it.  Well like everything else in 2020, that did not happen. But I am going to take the time to recap the year and my goals and also include what we will be working toward for the next year.

Groceries– 2020 goal was $550 a month. I was able to achieve this goal four times this year, January, August, September and October. We have spent a total of $7578.12 on groceries or an average of $631.51 a month. After review and consideration I am going to increase the budget amount to $650. I will review that all household cleaning products and paper products are included in this amount. For January to kick start the year, I am going to complete a pantry challenge and plan to spend $100 or less for the month.

Auto/ Gas / Insurance: We did separate out our insurance and AAA membership from this budget. I transfer $99 a month to cover our car insurance and AAA membership. AAA is paid on a yearly basis and car insurance is every 6 months.  I am proud of myself for being more careful with keeping up with car expenses 2020.  We have had several unexpected expenses such as 2 replacement windshields in addition to a $500 deductible for repair of the passenger side of the van.  We are using our part of our stimulus money to cover the van deductible but both windshield replacements were included my records.  For 2020 we spent an average of $318 a month in auto expenses. My goal for 2021 will be $400 a month with any excess to be applied to debit.

Cash Envelope system- GOAL Met!   I do plan to keep using this system as I can see the benefit of it.  For the months of January-March an “extra” money will go toward our Disney trip in April to cover the food expenses.

Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is more of an accountability goal for me. I met it this year 5 of 12 months. I am not going to change this goal as I can do it when I have time and focus.

Goal # 5- FitnessGoal is to walk 3 times a week.  I struggle with this goal. But I know the accountability is important so  I am going to change the goal to Exercise of some type at least 10 days a month.  This should allow some flexibility and also encourage me just to move.

Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- 3x a week –Again this is truly an area that I struggle with.  I am going to try and listen to a podcast on my way to work each day. So I am going to change this goal to Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year. 

Goal #7-Attempt at least 52 new recipes this year.-  Currently on #59 GOAL MET!

Earnings- This has decreased significantly over the past several years. In 2014 I could earn $200 a month on a regular basis. In 2020 we struggled to earn $50 a month. I leave this at the bottom just to help me remember every bit helps.

No Spend Days- I am going to add this section each month in order to see if I can get a good rhythm going to saving money by not entering the store!

Year in Review

I am actually really impressed with myself for writing this on New Year’s Eve. This is almost a week sooner than 2018. 2019 was a much less stressful year in all the areas of my life. As I was looking back on the goals I established it does not look like I made progress but overall I feel really positive as we head into the next year.

Financial- Our debit is not below 20,000 however both Matt and I have significantly increased our income this year. In fact, Matt received a raise today that we were not expecting until mid January. I plan to share our budget tomorrow along with the goals of the year. I feel comfortable financially which is the first time I have said this in our entire marriage. In fact it may be the first time in my entire lifetime.
We spent an average of $506.76 a month in groceries this year. This is over an $100 a month deduction from last year but $75 more a month than what I wanted to budget. The kids are all growing and eating real portions now. The budget for 2020 is $550 a month which includes the purchase of more meat as we don’t have any hamburger meat or steaks.
Gas is a huge expense for us. We currently are averaging $ 465 a month but this is only over the 7 months that I managed to keep track. The good news is that we only spent $284.49 in December.

Blogging- I have been averaging 10 post a month. I was able to hit the goal of 15 in the month of March and came close in June with 14. This month, this is post number 12.

Weight/ health- This is huge dud. I injured my knee in August. I stopped everything except working. This week I have managed to walk outside 2 days so I am going to establish the goal of 3 days a week for this year.

Bible study- As a family, we were successful in reading Luke during the month of December. I need to find an individual devotional book and start a good habit for the next year.

2018 Review

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!


2017 End of Year Financial Update

One of the reasons that I continue to blog after 7 years is that I enjoy having a record of our lives. I decided to go back and read what we were doing last year at this time and it is amazing how similar my years are starting to look. I am also able to see where we are financial and make plans that should work.

This year has brought about many life and financial changes for us. The biggest change is that Matt is working a part time job. Our goal is to return to a stable financial ground and then begin to complete some of our “wish” list. I spent several hours between last night and today looking and gathering data  in order to get a good picture of where we are and how to achieve our overall goal for 2018. I am planning to continue the monthly review post as this make finding things much simpler. I have decided on two big changes that will occur. First, we are returning to cash for both gas and groceries. I am talking the actual cash that you carry. I will plan to transfer money to cover any Costco trips on the day the trips are made as well. It has become very easy to just bring out a card but that is not how I want to live so to stop takes a drastic action. The second is more of a mind set change, we are budgeting all money except for extra earnings. These extra earnings from apps will be used for eating out. We enjoying eating out and this is basically fun money that the whole family can enjoy. Other small changes in amount will also help us gain a more stable financial ground.

As you read you will see I like the idea of January being a time to reset our budget. Now on to the numbers…

  • We increased our overall debt this year by $6500. Our current minimal credit card payment is $989.69 a month.  The plan for at least the first six months is to keep this minimal payment the same each month, which should get us started in the right direction in order to reduce it by $10,000 this year. We will focus on paying extra on the small cards as we earn or save it.
  • Extra earning in our budget is money earned from apps. I know that this amount may decrease this year due to several of the apps are no longer paying out. I have said all along every little bit helps and it adds up quickly. In 2017, we earned an additional $2,315.  In 2017, this money was designated to help pay on our Disney trip. This year, we will use the extra money as a “slush fund” it will cover unexpected expenses or treats including eating out and gifts.
  • Groceries- I am amazed by these numbers in a good way. We did not include the cost of purchasing a cow but we also are eating more food as the kids grow. In 2017, we spent a total of $5,578 on food or an average of $464 a month. These amount include anything we use in the house such as toothpaste and laundry detergent as well.  I set the January grocery budget at $160 due to our December stock up. Otherwise, the grocery budget will be reduced to $475 a month!
  • Gas- We are going to change the way we budget for this as well. We will begin budgeting $70 a week strictly for gas, this will actually decrease the monthly budget by $20 but should be easier to maintain especially for 5 week months. Along with this change, I am changing the “insurance category” to  included taxes, tag and repairs. This will increase $20 a month to $92.
  • In the past, we have had a “pool” fund however this is changing to “Summer fund” which will include the pool along with summer camps and swim team expenses. My goal for this fund is $2000. . We will plan to place $100 a month into this fund with an additional $400 from each of my “extra” paychecks going into it as well. This first year is budgeted a little differently as the money will need to be available sooner, so we will use our income tax return to fund at least $1000 this first year.

I am actually excited to start with our new budget and see if I can save even more!


Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I have not had time over the past several days to go back and review the goals I had set for 2016.  I know that I did not meet any of the goals on a consistent basis. I am sad but realistically I know that goals are just that something to aspire to achieve. I am often remained of our wedding verse Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   Our goals and God’s plans are not always the same and it is my firm belief that his plans are always much better in the end than my goals. None of the goals that I established were bad but that were just not achievable for 2016.  I will share that 2016 was the hardest and leanest year of our marriage on a financial level. I have been able to look back and identify some of the problems so that should help the coming year.  With all that written out, I am officially closing the door on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017.  I am still unsure if I am going to make goals for 2017 as I really get discouraged when I have to write “failed” each month but I also like the accountability that it provides. So for now, I am going to share on what I have been up to and how that affects my plans/goals for 2017.

Christmas 2015 made it very evident that we need to come up with some major changes in our kitchen in order for us to host our family and friend in an enjoyable environment. In January, we started the kitchen remodel which included the old kitchen and living room which was being used as a playroom. We spent 5 month removing a walk and reworking most of the area. We stop due to money and energy. This past weekend we have started working again. We used our “dining room’ on Christmas Day and it worked well but I still wanted to make some changes.  First we moved our smallest refrigerator to the building and pulled down the cabinets from around the second one. We are planning to build a custom buffet over the next couple of months for housing all the electronic/internet cable connect and also providing some additional storage space. I will try to share pictures as things start to progress.

We purchased a cow in December and are expecting to pick up the meat this week. I was able to clean out our chest freezer so that the meat will be easy to deal with upfront.

We are going to work diligently this year to regain our financial ground, two years ago we were debit free except for our mortgage, I want to get closer to that point again. One of the bright spots in the area of finances in December has been our “extra earnings” via swagbucks and MPlaces.  We have cashed out for over $300 in gift cards during December.  I am reading in several different places that January is typically a slow earning month so I am going to celebrate December success but also remember that small steps are still progress. I have decided to participate in several challenges in January in order to hopefully jump start our year. The first is a pantry challenge, we are planning to limit our grocery spending to less than $100 for the month. I have been doing some cleaning over the past couple of day and this should not be a problem. The second challenge goes along with the first and is a no spend month. We will be attending two cheer competition this month but otherwise no unnecessary spending.   Who else is hoping to achieve good things in 2017?


New Year Eve- Reflections

I like list type post but really never have enough to make a complete list so therefore I like to make list of random things… not changing now!

  1. Matt and I both will be working this holiday. Tonight, Matt is currently at the Greensboro coliseum working. I am on call tomorrow for inpatient and already have a couple to go in and see. I am actually thankful for this. Sounds strange, I know but I used most of my vacation time up with the shingles and this has turned out to be a very slow week at work. Actually I have only worked 20 hours so far. I don’t have enough time to cover the difference so by working even 3 hours tomorrow it will start us in a much better financial position.
  2. I received my final paycheck of the year today. This ended up being the third of the month so I was able to catch up on some things. I spent several hours working on a budget for next year and thinking about realistic expectations for 2016.
  3. After much thought, I will not be posting an year end update for the goals I set. The main reason is that we could never have expected the huge financial changes that have occurred this year including re-financing our mortgage to a lower interest rate and reducing the expected pay off year. We also purchased a van which added an additional month payment that we have not had in several years . Overall this has been an excellent year for us financially as I finally feel we have achieved a steady income level and are no longer struggling to just stay afloat. I will be sharing my 2016 goals hopefully tomorrow which include lots of financial stuff.
  4. Our Disney vacation was AWESOME! Honestly one of the best trips ever! It was so much fun that we stared talking about our next trip on our “date night” Being the “adults” we decided that in order to really plan date for our next trip we need to complete pay off our credit card debit. This amount is currently sitting at 15,656. The majority of this is interest free and will remain so until November 2016. Once this amount is paid off, we will officially set dates for the next Disney trip.
  5. I do want to share about the progress or lack of progress that I have made on my personal goals this year.
    Blogging- Post 15 per month- I achieved this goal 11 of 12 months. I will now be expanding to post 20 a month.
    Weight Loss- This continues to be a HUGE challenge. I met this goal 2 of 12 months. I will maintain the same goal and expect progress this year.
    Spiritual- Spend at least 5 days a week, reading and studying The Bible. I was able to achieve this 3 of 12 months so again I am going to focus on this as the new year begins.


Year In Review

As promised here is where I stand for the year on each of the goals I set.  I am also going to include an update goal for 2015. My current plan is  to add to these and put some numbers with them at the end of the week. One quick recap, just after establishing these goals. we decided to take a last minute trip to Michigan which cause everything to start at a much slower pace than I had planned.

Long Term Goals: These were last addressed in July.

1.  $2000 to repair our septic system- I have no clue of the cost for this but this is a save range. I will be counting our Emergency Fund in this amount for the time being because if it cost less than anything left will stay in this fund. No progress.  The new and improved goal for 2015 will remain the same with the exception of planned saving on a monthly basis. However it will not cover the entire amount so I will need to “find” extra money along the way..
 2.  $1000  to replace the floor in our Living room.  Goal Met.

I will be adding several long term (meaning year long goals to this).

Monthly goals

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month Met 8 of 12 months with only this month exceeding the goal. This will continue as it at least keeps me accountable.

Weight: Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 175 by December 2014.  This goal was met 7/12 for 2014 but I have not reached my overall goal of 175.  I am going to change this goal just a bit for 2015. New goal is Met and maintain weight of 175. This goal will be considered met each month that weight loss is achieved and once this weight is achieved, each month maintained is considered achieved.  We have decided to cancel our YMCA membership due to the significant increase in amount and decease in our use over the previous year. Instead, we are in the process of purchasing a treadmill to use at home. I am honestly thinking that by having the equipment at home, I will be using it more often.

Spiritual-  After eliminating this goal for 2014, I am going to add it back. I want to spend time reading and or studying the Bible at least 5 days a week for the year. Matt and I have signed up for a college class on the Old Testament, which should spur me on to make steady progress.

Financial Goals:

1.  Pay off all debit by July 2015, except for mortgage.   This goal was achieved 10 of 12 months. I plan to continue this goal but will be providing specific numbers to go along with this. Slight changes may including total payoff in September of 2015 instead of July.

2. Emergency Fund to $2000.  I was able to achieve this goal only 4 of 12 months. I hope to make significant improvements in this year as indicated above with a planned saving each month.

. 3. Groceries: Spend $600 a month . Achieved 10 of 12 months.  Our overall average is $650 for the year. I am going to continue this goal for 2015.

4. Gas: Spend $400 a month with any remaining to be move to Auto fund for repairs.  Goal achieved 7 of 7 months that I tracked, however I currently do not have any money in the Auto Fund.   The current plan is to continue this goal as is.  We are currently purchasing a new to us van to replace my car so I am unsure if this will affect our overall gas use and may increase in June 2015 if needed.


Overall this has been a good year for the goals I established and I hope to continue improvements in 2015.What goals are you establishing?

December/Year in Review

Here is a look at where we are in December, in addition to how I did for the year. I will be posting new goals soon hopefully!

Financial goals I am excited because we maintained our budget this month. Even with extra spending for tires!  Overall, we made progress this year but many of these will remain on the 2014 goal list!

  • Pay off Lawn mower by March 2014, so no interest is charged. Made the triple payment! 7/9 months goal met!
  • Pay off all outstanding debt except the mortgage by June–  Obviously this goal was not met.
  • Emergency fund to $2000  No progress again. 4/12 months goal met. This will become a major goal in 2014. However, I plan to reduce the goal each month but increase the final goal.
  • Maintain a budget using a form of the envelope system -This is working for us! I continue to make adjustments as to where the amounts are kept and how but overall I am counting this as goal met and will be discontinuing it!
  • Groceries: Spend $600 or less a month  $460 spent for the month in groceries! Overall 10/12 for the year.
  • Gas- Goal Met!! 100% for the time period that I tracked this 7 months! I will leave this for accountability with any remaining to be placed in the Auto fund!

Blogging:  Goal: 15 per month:  This is post number 15 for the month with at least one additional post planned!  5/12 for the year. Definitely staying a goal!

Devotions: Goal is 5 a week   Goal Met! 100% for the year!

Weight: Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month   This has been the hardest goal for me. I only achieved it 1 out of 12 months!  Much thinking to do regarding this…

Progress is occurring but it seems that I am taking 2 steps forward and one step back. I am going to continue with a monthly update of goals so that I can stay accountable!  My plan is to publish new goal in the next post!