January in Review

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!

 

No Spend Fail

When I posted goals in January, I was going to work very very hard at achieving them. I was honest and thought that they were attainable. But what I failed to take into account is that January is the LONGEST month of the year. seriously 5 full weeks.

The good news
I have been able to keep a record of our spending in gas. It is averaging around $93 a week.  This will give me a realistic amount to work in the budget.
I found out that my insurance paid more than expected on Zach’s brace. This was a huge expected win. I actually only owe 2 or months instead of 3. In addition each month is approximately $10 than I anticipated
I have been able to keep up with my devotions at three times a week!

NOW  the fail
Both Matt and I have apple phones that are 2.5 years old. They were both paid for in August. Over the past several weeks, things have gone from annoying like no siri, a delay when receiving message to problematic. When I receive a text is take a minute including a white screen before I can read it. In addition my gps was acting strange and finally my phone lost a work message.  We did some research and decided to take advantage of Verizon’s BOGO apple phone sale. We ended up spending about 3 hours at the Verizon store. We both got new phones and I got an apple watch.  As much as I use my phone and we both need it for work, it is an expense that is justified in the end.

I also had intended to spend $60 or less on groceries this month. So far I have spent $75 however I am planning a trip to Costco on Saturday. A full week early but a trip that is need to restock several major items include garbage bags, toilet paper and paper towel. I have managed to only buy items we are out of this month so at least that is a start.

Menu Plan Monday-01/21/2019

I am working on eating out of our freezers and pantry this month. So far I have spent $65.35 in groceries, 10 days remaining and my only additional spending should be for eggs and bread. My goal is to end at $70.  We are beginning to come to the end of some of our preferred foods so things are going to be really interesting over the last two weeks of the month in addition to the face, we are predicted to have winter weather either once or twice this week depending on what you believe.  You will probably notice that we ate out twice on Sunday. Sunday lunch was a choice with friends.  Sunday night- was Chinese for $22 because we ended up at the Verizon store for several hours and did not come home after church until 8:30pm. At  least we can feed all of us for $22.

Breakfast- Saturday– Eggs or clean out the left-overs in the fridge day. I think* the girls both ate French toast.  Sunday-Sausage eggs and grits . Monday- Breakfast bowls complete with hashbrowns and gravy from Saturday evening.  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles.  Wednesday- baked oatmeal of some form. 

Lunch–Saturday-Chill cheese fries Sunday-Coaches Restaurant . Monday– Milk shakes for the kids and chips and salsa for me .  Tuesday– salad for me, Kendall and Zach had Cowboy beans, Lily a salad, Wednesday-Soup for me, chicken nuggets for Zach and Lily, Kendall-vegetables to dip, Thursday– leftovers for me, Zach has chicken nuggets and Kendall a roll up. Friday- I eat out, Zach, Lily and Kendall have soup.

Dinner – Saturday-Gravy Biscuits  Sunday– Chinese  Monday-Stuffed green peppers (I did manage to use the left-over rice from Chinese in them) Tuesday– Taco pasta   Wednesday– Sloppy Joes Thursday– Chicken enchiladas . Friday – Spaghetti and meatballs.

Eating from the Pantry

January is always a favorite month of mine because everyone is trying to save money and I can find lots of place to read for eating out of the pantry and freezer.  This year I have joined in.   Today, I am going to share some of the history of the whys and hows of this challenge in addition to what this is actually looking like at our house.

Let me give you a little background first. I dislike shopping most of the time. A trip to Costco is fun but otherwise I prefer not to go to the grocery store.  I live a busy life so I actually have to plan most of my shopping trips these days. Unfortunately, during the months of November and December, my life was a whirlwind. In fact, I do not have an accurate amount for my grocery spending in either of these months. Looking even a little bit further back and I spent $700 in October and $500 in September. So I have a variety of foods and had stocked up on lots of items so January is a good time for us to try and not spend and use up the items we have on hand. A huge plus for us is that we purchased an entire cow last April and still have a freezer of meat to pull out of.

So now the good news, as of today, I have spent $65.35 in groceries for the month. I am also at the point that I don’t anticipate going shopping again this month unless it is to purchase butter which I am down to my last 3 sticks of. Otherwise we are eating from what we have.

Next up the challenge and the reality of what our pantry and freezers currently look like.

The biggest challenge for the next two weeks is providing/finding snacks for the kids to take to school each day. One of the reasons I like to shop at Costco is the ability to purchase a large size of snack foods and not have to open 17 boxes each week.  After starting the pantry challenge I realized I had not purchased snack foods since October. Currently, we are REALLY REALLY low!  In fact, I just raided the snack bag in the van to provide enough of a variety of snacks to get us through the next 10 days of school. I am also planning to offer to pop some popcorn tomorrow as well.

We are also starting to run low on our preferred lunch foods such as soups, ravioli and chicken nuggets. Kendall really enjoys a ham and cheese wrap but we are limited to exactly one for the next two weeks.  I actually found 2 more packages of lunch meat in the freezer so if I can convince the kids to eat regular bread, sandwiches are not a problem.

Another noticeable area that we are running low on is breakfast foods. We have cereal but no pop-tarts. We also have some waffles left and some oatmeal. Currently in the refrigerator is one package of bacon and one package of sausage. We have around 2 dozen eggs left. I did buy a package of frozen biscuits today but they will only last a couple of weeks.

Other “changes” include the ability to see open areas in the pantry in the laundry room which holds extra condiments and cans. We also are able to close both freezers easily. Finally I have less than one half of a shelf of food in the laundry room.

As you can tell this has not been nearly as emptying as it could have been but I am also making a list for our shopping in February. I know that we will likely spend at least $300 but I hope to keep it less than $400.

Saving Money

Things have returned to normal around here. At least as normal as they will ever get!

I am  very happy to report that we have been sticking to our grocery budget so far and I can even see a difference in our pantry.  I also noticed this week, we are starting to run out of the preferred snacks and lunch for the kids. I have started a list on the refrigerator in order to determine if we need a Costco trip for February and unfortunately the answer half way through January is yes! My goal is to keep the list going for another two weeks and try to stretch things as far as I can.  So far, I have spent a total of $48.57 cent on groceries with a goal of $60 or less for the month. 

One of my favorite website to read these days is http://theprudenthomemaker.com/ each week she list all the ways she has saved money and then encourages others to provide their list as well.  Most weeks we do the same things so I will definitely not make a list each week but maybe once a month or so would be fun.  Here are the ways we have been saving money lately.

  • Stopped at CVS this morning for free toothpaste. The CVS app has a $1 off any toothpaste coupon. I bought Crest, which was on sale for $3.00 used the coupon and $2ECB. Paid tax of fourteen cent and earn 2 ECB back.
  • Used water from the kids water bottles to water all the plants
  • Purchased 2 dinner plates at the local Chinese restaurant and brought them home to eat. Total of $23 to feed all 5 of us plus a left-over meal for someone for lunch.
  • Used Nail polish already purchased to paint my nails on Sunday night instead of getting a manicure once a month or more.
  • Menu planning and prepping the crock pot at night. We have eaten out only twice since Christmas. Once we used a gift card and the Chinese from above.
  • Made pizza dough in the bread maker instead of ordering pizza for lunch on Saturday.
  • Used gift cards earned from Swagbucks to purchase a Roku Stick and picture frame that I wanted.
  • Stocking up on items on sale such as shampoo and toothpaste instead of buying when we are in need.
  • Repurposing left-overs like tonight used rice from Saturday evening and from Chinese instead of making a new batch. This way, we have less food waste. Saturday night, I made a batch of rice and then gave everyone a choice of pulled pork, pepper steak or beef and broccoli that were left-overs.
  • Adding layers of clothing, instead of turning up the heat in the house. The temperature is currently set at 69 but we all have been cold. I ended up adding a sweatshirt and socks to stay warm.

Are any of these new or different to you?

Monday Menu Planning 01/07/2019

I have mentioned that my plan for 2019 is to get back on a budget with spending and to reduce my overall grocery budget. I really do have a stockpile and my goal is to go through and use ALOT of it up during the months of January and February. Another way to reduce expenses is for us to not eat out. This is a hard one!

Breakfast- Saturday– Toast and Eggs  Sunday-Sausage cresant casserole . Monday- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday– Choice of any available left-overs, oatmeal, poptarts, grits, cereal, toast or eggos waffles. I had purchased a couple of boxes of Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheerios, this have been a huge hit so far and probably will only last until Wednesday.
LunchSaturday-Chic-A-Filet (My mother treated Lily and I) Zach and Kendall had school so that took grilled cheese sandwiches. Sunday-Baked Potato bar. Monday– Salad for me, soup for Kendall and Zach, Lily and Matt had burritos. Tuesday– Ham salad for me, Kendall and Zach had grilled Cheese sandwiches, Lily a salad, Wednesday-Soup for me, chicken nuggets for Zach and Lily, Kendall-vegetables to dip, Thursday– leftovers for me, Zach has chicken nuggets and Kendall a roll up. Friday- I eat out, Zach, Lily and Kendall have soup.
DinnerSaturday-Leftovers, Sunday– Turkey Cheddar Soup- used a soup pack mix and added in our left-over turkey , Monday-Hamburger Helper  Tuesday– soft tacos . Wednesday– Salisbury Steak with left over stuffing and carrots, Thursday– Chicken fried Rice .  Friday -Grilled Chicken if the weather permits.

2019- A Look Ahead

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.

Personally-
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.

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!