July in Review

What a difference a year makes. This is one of the reason, I continue to blog after so many years is the ability to read what things were happening in the past. Last year at this time, Matt was starting a new job and I was working out my notice at the hospital. I had intended to begin working 2 contract jobs in August. Fortunately, Davie County Schools offered me a position and this year I have enjoyed a month of spending time with the kids! I also have realized that I have been free styling my month in review for the last several months so this month, I am going back.

Financial-I took a $10,000 a year pay cut with my new job, however I do not have any regrets! I will be hopefully starting a second job in the afternoons which will make up the difference. We have survived this past year but a boost of income will definitely make my life easier. Something new I am tracking is the number of days a month that we don’t spend any money. In June, I had 2 days and this month I had 7! I am going to set the goal at 10 for next month and 15 on a regular basis when school starts.

Grocery Spending-$418.17 This is actually less than last year and more than my previous two months. I am pleased with this spending as I have focused on getting food prepared ahead for the coming school year. I currently have 50 meals that just need to go in crock pot or oven and plan on another 10 to prepare the week after we get home from the beach! I do think that my grocery spending will decrease when school starts as we will be only purchasing items that we need.

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 : Kendall has a one day cheer camp and I was responsible for paying for half of her uniform ($59). August will be expensive with school fees, baseball fee and more cheer expense

Earned $155- This is a HUGE improvement! This is definitely the most money we have earned in a month for this entire year. I honestly think it is because I am trying to make as much as possible with the focus on completing at least one survey a day on Swagbucks.

Personal-
Blogging- post number 10 for the month. This is an improvement of 3 from last year but a decrease in 4 from June.

Exercise- Don’t see any this month. A regular routine will probably improve this area!

Looking ahead to August- We are planning to enjoy our beach trip which means spending but once we get back to a regular schedule and I start the second job, my goal is to stay focused and enjoy my kids!

 

Beach Menu Planning

I decided to go ahead and publish my beach menu plan a week early for several reasons. First, this will be an easy way to answer my kids questions of “what are we having for breakfast?” Second, I will be able to pull up and follow the plan no matter where I am at easily. This plan looks a lot different than my usual plans but I hate to cook and really want to enjoy the time at the beach. With a family of our size, it could literally break the bank if we attempted to eat out more than one meal a day.

Sunday is a travel day and will consist of at least two meal on the road and dinner will be left-overs from the first two meals or pasta salad.

Monday- breakfast- Eat out
lunch- Sandwich
dinner-chicken enchilada’s (just need to cook)


Tuesday- breakfast- Sausage cresant rolls
lunch- pasta salad-pre-made
dinner-pizza


Wednesday – breakfast- Eat out
lunch- Sandwich
dinner-baked ziti- just need to cook


Thursday breakfast- Jimmy Dean Croissants
lunch- hot dogs
dinner-out to eat


Friday breakfast- Eat out or pop tarts
lunch- Sandwich
dinner-Baked potatoes


Saturday breakfast- Jimmy Dean Croissants
lunch- Sandwich or left overs that need to be eaten
dinner-Out to eat

Goodwill

One of the things that we decided to do this summer as a family was a “mission trip”. We actually scheduled it back in March but will leave on Friday of this week and return the following Tuesday. I had heard that we would all need long pants or skirts for this trip. This was confirmed a couple of weeks ago. Matt said he would be able to just wear his jeans and other “work pants” that he has! Zach just finished baseball camp and decided he could easily wear baseball pants for the trip along with the same shirts he wore to camp. However, Lily Kendall and I did not have thin long pants or long skirts that I felt would be appropriate. By appropriate I mean in length or without a thick lining. After doing a little bit of research, I decided to try our Goodwill store first. My back up plans including Roses ( a local discount store sort of like Big Lots but with clothing) and heading to Winston to hit up the Thrift stores there. I knew we needed to be early to Goodwill and ask my Mom to go along to help with clothing selection. Mom ended up being an awesome assets as she is a seamstress! My secondary goal was to be able to locate items that could and will be worn a second and third time.

I am pleased and excited to say that I was able to achieve all my goals and only shopped two stores. We arrived at our Lexington Goodwill at 8:45 and spent about an hour and half shopping. I was able to purchase 1 longer dress, a pleated blue skirt and 2 coordinating tops and skirts. The dresses need to have the busted arm seams fixed which my Mom did in less than 5 minutes. Lily located 2 skirts she liked but both were extremely long. Mom volunteered to alter both of these. Kendall found 2 skirts and shirts with only one needing alternating. So for $52.84 we purchased 12 pieces of clothing that will be worn multiple times!

Lily was able to borrow 2 additional skirts from a girl at our church! Another huge savings! We also shopped at Roses, where Kendall was able to locate and purchase 2 long dresses that she definitely wants to wear again. I end up spending an addition $22 at Roses for Kendall’s dresses.

I was able to dress all 3 of us girls for four days for $75!

Best Homemade Sandwiches

One of my goals for this summer was to stock the freezer with food that would make my life much easier when the school year starts again. I started the process during my Spring Break. As things happen and change we did not use as many of these pre-cooked meals as I thought we would. In fact, when I started checking we are really good on chicken meals with about 20 remaining in the freezer. This summer, I have been slowing adding to this usually one or so items a week. So far, I have sloppy joes, taco meat, meat loaf and spaghetti sauce as meal. I have made hot pepper jelly and even cooked up some chicken to use. On Monday, I realized that my summer is fasting coming to an end, We have plans for the next several weeks that will keep us really busy. I started a list on my whiteboard of items that I can think of that I definitely wanted to add to the freezer. Today, I decided to tackle a major lunch prep, 100 homemade no crust peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aka “uncrustables”. First the numbers, $12.48 spent for bread, jelly and peanut butter this ends up being thirteen cent each. We, 3 kids and I, spent 45 minutes to assemble and place in the freezer. This is a huge win for me!

10 loaves of bread at $0.65 each.


We started by lining up the bread with an entire loaf on each side of our table. Kendall was in charge of placing 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter on the bread. Lily spread the peanut butter in the rough shape of a circle.
Zach placed 1 teaspoon of jelly on top of the peanut butter!
Sandwich made! Zach ended up helping the most with this step.
I used a glass to cut out a circle. A butter knife helped remove the crust. I will admit this appears to waste a lot of bread but the cost of buying is fifty cent each on sale so the waste is not an issue.
individually bagged and ready for the school year!

Tuesday Thoughts

I have decided that this week is officially my “staycation week” In reality it is the only week this summer that we have only swim team practice and piano. We started off the week strong, by spending six hours on Saturday and another four hours on Sunday at the pool. I really enjoy just hanging out talking with friends or simply reading a book! We ended up spending $5 for ice cream at the pool on Saturday. I also headed to Food Lion to pick up a couple of items. Spent a total of $1.45 out of pocket and received two $2 off my next shopping order coupons.

Monday, we headed to Emerald Pointe, the local water park. We decided to do things a little differently and take a slower pace this time. The kids spent a lot of time in the splash area just having fun. No spending this day as the kids all took their own money to pay for ice cream. We had a pasta salad with grilled chicken for lunch.

Monday night after coming home, I decided to make another batch of spaghetti sauce. I am enjoying using my insta pot to cook ground beef in because it has little mess and does not heat up the house. I also fixed a batch of chill using my small 3 pot crock pot. Both items cooked all night. This morning, I froze some chill for the beach and placed another 2 bags of sauce in the freezer. I ended up cooking meatball to add to the sauce for our dinner tonight.

Today, Tuesday, was a laundry day. I washed a total of 11 loads of laundry most of which was bedding. I was able to save electricity by hanging out the 10 loads of sheets and bedding. I have been slowing catching up on paperwork and trying to schedule the last few appointments for this summer.

Looking ahead, we have swim team practice Wednesday morning and Thursday night. Our county swim meet is Friday evening and Saturday morning so I need to get some food prepared for both of these events.

I have started a list of the items I want to add to our freezer stash prior to school starting. I think it is doable but may take a couple of days. Tonight, we tried a new recipe, “hot pepper jelly.” I will not be trying this myself at all!

Here is to another 2-3 days of staying at home mostly!

5 Things Friday

This is a little different this week as I am sharing 5 ways I am adding and managing my stockpile this week.

One thing that I realized during last school year especially the spring when we had multiple activities going on at the same time is that we need meals that are basically heat and eat. During my Spring break, I spent a lot of time cooking and prepping food. This summer, I have decided to try and restock and over stock our freezer with the same type of meals. A couple of weeks ago I made both taco meat and sloppy joes. This week, I have managed to add the following to our freezer stash: 1. Meatloaf muffins x 2
2. Fresh spaghetti Sauce x 4
3. Shredded Chicken Packets, (Made from chicken thighs purchased on sale several weeks ago.

I have continued to shop for sale and add to the stockpile. This week, I found chicken breast at Aldi with the price of 6lbs for $9. I came home and separated the chicken into two packets by cutting up the breast. I added a bottle of Italian dressing to each and now we are ready for grilling. I also grabbed some strawberries on sale for $1.20 a pound and froze to use in smoothies and stuff.

The fifth way, I added to our stockpile this week is probably the most satisfying for me. I was able to take a $25 gift card that Matt earned on Swagbucks and purchase a list of items that we needed. I was able to grab a total of 8 boxes of pasta, 8 cans of soup, 2 containers of mayonnaise and 1 container of Ketchup for ZERO cost!!

Why?

This week really explains why we focus on saving money and why we often have to make difficult choices.

Lily is attending a national youth conference with our church and spent today in Disney with her friends!

Zach is attending a daytime baseball camp at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem


Kendall gets to be an only child. Matt and I are spending the day at the mall with just her. She is spending her birthday money.

5 Things Friday

  1. I have been trying several new recipes this week and also attempting to use my instapot for a couple of different things. So far, the recipes have not been 50%, ranch pork chops were a no, but garlic parmesan wings were a hit. I attempted to use the instapot for potatoes and that was a no, not all the potatoes were done. I am going to try and cook a bunch of ground beef today without using the frying pan.
  2. I headed to Walmart today to try and earn some extra money with Swagbucks. Again, 50% success rate. I purchased 8 bottles of cream, this deal worked perfectly with out of pocket cost of $13.00 and 1800 Swagbucks credited within 5 minutes. I also attempted an Amour All deal that was basically free if purchased four products. Unfortunately, this deal did not work and I will be returning all the products to Walmart. I also spent a little extra time doing Shopkicks while in the store.
  3. We spent some extra time in the garden this week. Cleaning out weeds and removing some dead plants. My plan is to replant some items such as squash and green beans again next week in hopes to get even more for our bulk. We are finally starting to get some tomatoes in and they are really really good!
  4. I am staying much busier that I want to be on my summer break. This was suppose to be an slower week but I have ended up on the go most days. Next week, Lily heads to Orlando for a national youth conference, she leave early Sunday morning. Zach will be attending a baseball camp from 9 to 3 each day. The only down side is that this camp is a 45 minute drive each way. Kendall has a swim meet on Tuesday and is scheduled to get her braces on Wednesday.
  5. I am anticipating starting a second job next school year to add to our income.