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!!!

Saving On Saturday

This week I feel like I am really saving on Saturday. I used up the pork chops from Recipe Challenge #29 to make up a container of pork fried rice. I added some corn and rice and it will make an awesome quick meal one day this week.

After all the cleaning out that has gone on around here the past several weeks, we discovered we actually needed several different clothing items so today we ventured out to find what we needed. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover several awesome deal. First was Rue 21, Lily and Kendall each got a $5 shirt, Lily found some swim suit bottoms for $8.49 but by far the best deal was $1 each for two pair of swim suit bottoms to fit me! I am shocked but seriously if I can wear twice I am making money on them! Next was the Shoe Dept., we purchased 4 pair of sandals for the girls at $9.99 each!! Our final shopping stop was OLD NAVY. I purchased 22 items of clothing! My receipt says I save $136.49 and spent 126.36 including tax! Nothing I purchased was over $8. I did have $30 in super cash and received an additional $30 in super cash to use in July.

Matt and I celebrated our anniversary by stopping at Outback for lunch. This was a splurge! While waiting, I saw that the local strawberry had a special for 2 gallons for $20. This works out to $1.25 which is an good deal in this area! I purchased four gallons and have spent most of the afternoon flash freezing for future use. I did cut up smaller pieces to use in Baked Oatmeal. We will probably uses these strawberries for the next year so I am very excited!

5 Things Friday

  1. My garden has survived. I am very surprised and excited to see that the majority of my plants have decided to grow this week. I did lose about half my cucumbers and have replaced 6 green pepper plants but my tomatoes are looking awesome!
  2. Today is the last business day of May which means I received my final paycheck of the school year. I have an account set up that I do receive a check at the end of June and July. I was able to pay monthly bills for June and get a good picture of our debit and spending.
  3. Disney World announced several changes that are going to affect our upcoming trips. We did learn that we will most likely be required to wear mask in August. This is the change that I am most unhappy about. I am going to remain optimistic that lower attendance and the chance to enjoy more variety will still make our trip special and unique. We are also currently hearing that both the Halloween party and the Christmas party may be cancelled. I am again trying to remain optimistic as this is the whole reason for the two short trips!
  4. Today, all the kids unofficially finish up the school year. I am still working until June 15th. The sad part is next Monday and Tuesday are definitely the busiest two days of the last several months for me.
  5. Our plans for a yard sale have been postponed due to the weather. I am really doubtful at this point that we have a yard sale until the fall. I don’t do well in the heat and I am afraid that once the rain stops the heat and humility will be unbearable.

Tuesday Money Thoughts

We are approaching the end of May! Typically, this is a stressful time of year around our house. We are trying to coordinate multiple activities and plans for the summer. This year it is not quite as stressful but lots of changes on the horizon as well. I wanted to share some financial information with you both past present and future.

Let me start by saying that we are on the most financial stable ground that we have been on in many years.

Matt is currently employed full-time and really enjoying his job. I am actually employed full-time and working a second job as well. We have been very blessed as COVID-19 had only a small financial impact on our jobs. My second job in Guam was closed entirely for the 3 weeks in March and first half of April. I have been able to resume on a limited basis for May and will have very limited work in June. I do receive reduced pay in April and May. The school system pays on a ten month system, therefore in the months of April and May a double portion of insurance is taken to cover the summer months. I am very fortunate to have a bank that is set up for state school system employees. I have a set amount automatically deducted during the 10 months I receive a regular check and it is place in a summer savings account. In June and July, on the same day as my regular checks the amount equal to my regular pay is moved over to my checking account. This makes budgeting so much easier and I really feel like I get twelve months of pay. We have always lived on a budget. The difference these days is that we have enough income to cover our expenses. We set our budget in January and each month I can arrange money and use as we see needed. We have currently paid off several of our debits and continue to make larger than the minimum payments on all of our credit cards. We are not totally out of debit but we feel like we can enjoy life and still work our way out of debit. We are not going to live rice and beans but we are definitely no overspending.

We did receive a government stimulus check. We had already begun a much needed home repair of replacing our kitchen and dinning room floor at the time that things closed. Our intention was to use the money from my Guam job to cover this expense. We decided to use the stimulus money to cover this expense instead and we also chose to redo our master bathroom. I am happy to say that both projects are complete and they are awesome!

My initial plan in January was to reduce our panty and freezers until June. I wanted to use up alot of stuff and then spend the summer re-stocking them, However this changed as we started to see shortages and limits placed on lots of items especially meat. In March, we doubled our grocery budget spending $1025. In April we spent $922 which included $180 in chicken. In May we have spent $542 which includes around $250 in meat purchased locally. I am being very deliberate in our grocery purchases. I want to maintain a stockpile but also continue to use the stockpile. My goal for the summer months of June and July is to reduce the grocery spending to less than $250 each month and save at least $250 for future purchase. However I am realistic and know that I may exceed this depending on food prices and our specific needs. For example, on my shopping trip today, I found Suddenly Salads on sale for $1 a box. I decided to go ahead and purchase 20 boxes as this is one of our summer favorites. This price is also $1.35 less than the lowest price I have seen lately. On a really bright note, I have already stocked our freezer with lots of convenient easy to prepare meals for the fall. My plan/goal is continue to prepare double batches of items we really like so that in the fall we can simply throw food in the crockpot or oven and enjoy a quick good meal. Our pantry is also nicely stocked. The garden should start producing in the next 3 weeks so I want to be able to use and not lose any food.

We are not planning a summer vacation, instead we have 3 trips planned to Disney World! This was a choice that the kids all made around Christmas last year. We will be attending both the Christmas and Halloween Parties in addition to a long two week trip over Spring Break next year! Currently, our trip in August for the Halloween party is completely paid for! We are hoping to use points and vouchers to cover the flights for our December Trip and anticipate paying it off in October!

I have been selling items on Ebay and we are also anticipating a large yard sale in the next several weeks depending on the weather. All proceeds go to Disney trips!

Monday Menu Plan

I was very surprised last night when Zach told me, “Mom you need to get the board up! I don’t know what my life looks like. ” The board he was referring to is our white board that includes our menu plan for the week and the schedule for the week. I was waiting because today (Monday) is Memorial Day. We are all enjoying a day off of work and school. We have several things happening this week including piano, swim team sign up and hair cuts. You will notice we are switching to a more summer oriented menu as well.

Breakfast– Saturday- Bagels from a local shop. Sunday- Hash brown casserole, bacon, eggs and biscuits. Monday- sausage and left-overs, Tuesday,  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday-choice of breakfast muffins, eggs, sausage, pancakes,  cereal or grits. I may add a baked oatmeal to the mix depending on what is happening.

Lunch-  Saturday-Left-over pizza Sunday-Chips and salsa or left-over breakfast. Monday- left-overs. The kids will have school delivered lunches, Matt has 2 days of chicken sandwiches and 2 days of hamburgers I am going to return to eating at least one salad a week and also continue with some left-overs on other days.

Dinner-  Saturday- Pizza bites Sunday- KFC, Monday- hamburgers on pretzel buns. Tuesday-Burritos. Zach is in charge Wednesday- Million Dollar Spaghetti pie. Lily will make two one for the freezer. Thursday-Chicken Sandwiches and French Fries. Friday- Pepper Steak in crock potand egg rolls, Kendall is in charge.

Recipe Challenge 30,31 and 32

I am finding it easier to simply write a weekly post with the new recipes that we are trying and the fact that I often or most of the time forget to take a picture means that one post is a decent length instead of three small paragraphs.

#30- Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese- I found this so have no clue where it came from. I decided to make this Sunday evening after working in our bathroom. It was very quick and simple to throw in the pot. Everyone but Kendall ate it. But to be honest, I like the blue box kind much better and it is just as quick and simple. Going to stick with it for awhile.

#31- Cheesy Crockpot Cowboy Casserole- This is again out of a file of recipes that I have accumulated over the years. I put this together on Wednesday. This has the typical casserole look that several folks commented on. All of us ate this and no one complained but it was just not special enough to try again.

#32- Homemade Jiffy Corn Muffins I grabbed this recipe from one of my favorite couponing site Southern Savers. The reason is that I had purchased 3 4 pound bags of corn meal at twenty-five cent each and needed something to use them in. WOW! this was a total shocker and the only recipe this week that I will be repeating. I made a batch of six muffins and Lily ate two. We think that this recipe is actually better than Jiffy mix! I can’t wait to make it again!

Official Count of Recipe Challenge
Repeating 15
Maybe 7
No 10

Recipe Challenge 28 and 29

So it was bond to happen, we tried two new recipes this week and neither one will be happening again. I am only disappointed because both of these appeared to have real promise and they are both ones that I have recently found online. The good news is that this week I am going to look through a bunch that I have already printed to find something new to try.

Pioneer Woman Pot Pie- Lily was actually in charge of this recipe. I already have a recipe that I use on a regular basis but thought why not give this one a try. Lily did an awesome job of making it and following the directions but it just was not as good as the one I normally fix.

Crock pot Ranch pork chops and potatoes- I found this one on Facebook so no link sorry. Kendall and I worked on this recipe together. Our first disappointment was that it was suppose to cook in 3 hours in the crockpot but it needed at least six to cook both the pork chop and the potatoes. We all ended up grabbing something out of the fridge for dinner and have individually tried it as left-overs. It just did not provide the flavor I was hoping for. It was not bad but we all added extra ranch to give it more flavor.

The official count for the year is Repeating 14, Maybe 7 and No 8.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Kendall is finally almost done with cleaning out her room. She was able to reduce the amount of clothing down to the point of everything fitting in her closet!!! This allowed her to move a huge dresser out of her room! Lily decided to take the larger dresser and was able to empty out not only her smaller dresser but also a bigger standing shelf. Lily does want to replace the shelf with a mirror and three shelves but we shall see. I moved the standing shelf to my room and laid it on it side under my jewelry box. This is currently a place to keep all of Braxton’s toys, clothes and diapers! Finally Zach did not want to be outdone so he exchanged 3 small dressers for one from Lily’s room. I am pleased with the extra space that everyone was able to find and we have moved at least five garbage bags of clothing to the building for a future yard sale or something.

I have been able to sell between ebay and Facebook market place 4 American girl dolls and a ton (50) build a bear outfits. We used this money to cover our tickets to the Disney Halloween party in August.

Our August Disney trip is completely paid for including air fare. The only item left to purchase is a gift card to cover food on the trip. Matt receives 3 paychecks in July so we plan to use the extra check to purchase a gift card to use on the trip! Next, we are going to work on paying for our December trip! At this point, we will have the plane tickets covered between credit card miles and airline vouchers.

I will be working in Guam through the end of June due to the school closure. My goal is to take the entire month of July off of work and resume both Davie County and Guam in August! I am so ready for a normal schedule!

I am focusing on controlling the grocery budget this month to under $550. So far we have been way over budget each month!

Matt and I have decided to tackle our master bedroom sink area. We are going to repaint the walls, change out the cabinet and sink for a double sink vanity! I am hoping we are able to complete this project in two weekends but it may take a little longer.

I am starting to quickly lose hope in our garden this year. The weather has not cooperated at all. We should be having warm spring/summer like days but for the past 2 weeks the temperatures have been stuck in the 60’s. I have covered everything I could on the couple of nights of freezing but things are just not growing well. In addition, we are having to water every other day. We have had little to no rain since mid April. I was so hopeful for the garden especially using all the seed packets but now if we harvest one each from our vegetables that will be the break even point!