Yesterday, I gave you the reason that I am updating and drastically changing the square foot garden. Today I am going to share a couple of pictures of our progress.
The best part of these three new beds is total cost was $0. The tin was salvaged serval years ago from a car shed that my brother was tearing down. The wood and screws were from the previous square foot garden beds which are about half way removed. I also re used pavers from the previous bed. I should be able to grow a total of 22 tomato plants and enough sweet potatoes to last us an entire year with just these three beds. This finally picture is just to show where we are at curently.
Lots more work and cost to follow but for the first 2 days of actually work we are at zero cost!
This list is a little different as it is the reason that we are going to undertake the mass project of re-doing our square foot garden. My goal is to use the same concept for square foot gardening just in a different way. The biggest difference will be that the garden boxes will not be on the ground instead they will be elevated.
- Prevent dogs and cats in the neighborhood from using the boxes as a rest area. Even Rugar is really sneaky in this. I am sure that is part of the reason some of the plant last summer did not survive.
- Expand the number of items that I am able to grow. My plan is to reduce each box to a width of 2 feet. This will allow me to have easy access to both side and should provide an additional 50 square feet in the garden.
- Place weed cloth under all the boxes and remove as much grass as possible. By raising the height of the beds this will prevent lots of grass from ended up in each garden bed. It feels like we have more weeds and grass in our current square foot beds than we do growing in the area around it. Because we are reusing most of the dirt, we also can remove lots of the weeds that are growing at grown level as well.
- Allow me to spend more time and energy in the garden without bending or sitting on the ground. This should be a huge benefit in year to come as the beds will be around waist height for me.
- Expand and arrange the growing season and spaces better. We hope to add a small growing tunnel in the fall. But we will be able to have several different varieties of peppers and beads without the worry of cross pollination.
February was an extremely busy month. I worked an additional 60 hours in Guam. This meant that everyone has stepped up and is doing lots of extra stuff around the house. February has brought lots of rain. But the good news is that I have finally decided a plan for the square foot garden which will increase my overall growing space, raise the beds and make it pretty. This will be an intense time consuming project but I am very excited by it.
Groceries– budget amount is $650. We have actually spent $599.71. This is not as low as I had hoped but still a full $50 under budget. I am only planning to purchase needs in March and then use the rest of the money for food in Disney.
Auto/ Gas / Insurance: . My goal is $400 a month. The price of gas has significantly (60 cents a gallon) increased over the past 2 weeks. We are also driving to work and school five days a week. total for the month is $280.69 so well under budget. Next month will bring oil changes to both vehicles. So I anticipate the amount to remain under budget but not by much!
Cash Envelope system- GOAL Met! We are continuing to use this system. I was able to pay an additional $500 on our Disney trip this month but also covered the cost of the repair of the washer. Both Matt and I got paid this past week so the envelopes are back to zero. Any money saved this month is spending money in Disney.
Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 6 for the month. See explanation from above
Goal # 5- Fitness– Goal is to exercise of some type at least 10 days a month. Nope not even close
Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year. I have been listening to a podcast every day that I drive to work. I should be able to listen to the entire session by June.!
Earnings- $25 in gift cards
No Spend Days- another fail
March is going to be a month of financial change for us. We are in the process of re-financing our mortgage to drop the interest rate again. We are also considering rolling some other debit in the re-financing so I will explain everything once it is settled. March should be fast and busy but the Disney count down is on so I am excited!!!!
We woke up to ice this morning. The weather prediction is that we will continue to have freezing rain all day. Because the state was placed under a State of Emergency, Kendall, Zach and I all have a true snow day. NO work or remote learning! I do have to work in Guam but this really gives me a chance to catch up!
- How the kids are spending most of the day…. Braxton spent last night with us because both of his parents had to work today.
- I am planning to spend part of the day cooking! This morning I made French Toast. We all enjoyed for breakfast and I quickly froze the remaining 4 slices for another easy breakfast. Because of my crazy busy work schedule this week, we have been eating out of the refrigerator. With this nasty cold wet weather, I decided to add in a pot of soup a day until at least Sunday. This is a huge benefit to being at home. First it is a hot meal that everyone usually likes! Next, it is easy storage and can be used as dinners for next week. We try to package in single serving containers to make it much easier to heat and eat! And I am definitely using all the items in my pantry and freezers.
- A no work day also let’s me continue to go through and organize both pantry and freezers. I have been determined since the first of the year to first reduce our grocery budget as it had gotten totally out of control in 2020. I also needed to figure out what food we have and what we actually need. I am continuing to use Alexa to store both my regular grocery list and my Costco list on. I will likely get to Costco this weekend.
- We were able to get our washer repaired on Monday. Total cost was $130! I am hopeful we can get at least another 10 years out of it now! I am also focusing on getting caught up on laundry. We were without a washer for 3 weeks which means lots of extra loads. We were able to keep up with our regular clothes by washing at Amanda’s, my mom’s and a friend but nothing extra. This morning, I have already washed 3 loads for Zach including his sheets and comforter. Kendall will hopefully get her sheet done today as well. My goal is to wash our sheets tomorrow as I will be working remotely.
Making the best our of a really desired snow day!
This year we significantly reduced our food for two reasons. First was COVID 19. Second I had to work for 3 hours! We had wings, weeines and chips in addition to
Our chartouse board
Kendall’s requested veggie tray!
And desert of course!
After the struggle we had last week I am glad to say that things are definitely looking better today.
Instead of replacing the washer, we decided to have a repairman check it out to determine if it was worth the repair. I am excited to say that he came this morning and it is a belt which will cost $20. So along with his labor we are around $100 to repair, saving us $500 if we had chosen to replace.
I feel like I am finally controlling the grocery budget. The first thing that has made a huge difference is use “Alexa” to keep up with what items need to be on my grocery list. I have gotten in the habit of adding items as they are used up to the grocery list and then printing before going to the store. I save time and money by not purchasing items not needed! In January we spent $230 on groceries and so far this month we have spent $171! This is a significant reduction in our spending from last year! I do anticipate a COSTCO trip at the end of the month but I also have a Costco list going on the Alexa so that should help as well.
My mother has been watching food prices and let me know that Aldai had ground beef for $1.49 a pound this week. The limit was 2-5 pound tubes. I was able to purchase 5 tubes between myself, mom and Matt today. This is the absolute lowest I have seen ground beef in several years. I did a quick check of the freezer to determine what we needed. I was able to process 25 # today. We have taco meat, Matt’s chill and my chill. Baked beans for lunch tomorrow and 9 bags of cooked meat to use to help with a quick meal on our busy days.
Matt was able to use some wood from the building to make 2 additional Minnie Ear holders for Kendall’s wall and a shelf for Zach’s room. I will try and post pictures as soon as they both get painted.
Finally, I remember to add digital coupons and offers prior to heading to Food Lion today. My receipt says that I save $26.00 and I earned $4. in rewards!
How did you save money today?
January always feels like an extremely long month for me. This year feels the same. Matt’s father died in January so he and I made the difficult trip to Florida. We stayed a week. The kids did manage to hold down the house but it was not pretty on either side. The bad news is that we increased our overall debt by $1200. The good news is that we were able to met lots of goals otherwise. I did manage to save an additional $300 but we are using this for the repair of our washer. My goal for February is to save as much as possible and keep our spending as low as possible. We do have a trip planned to Disney in April and I would like to save food money for this.
Groceries– budget amount is $650. I am excited that we were able to keep this amount to $230 for the month! We are going to try and continue to eat out of the freezer and pantry. I do have a Costco trip planned for February 19th or 20th. This will likely increase the amount of the month but I am planning to stay under goal.
Auto/ Gas / Insurance: . My goal is $400 a month. We spent $279 for the month. This amount did include gas for our trip to Florida. The excess from this budget amount will be used to cover of our trip. I am hopeful to have it completely covered by June.
Groceries– the budget amount is $650. We spent $230
Cash Envelope system- GOAL Met! This was a huge help for us in preparation for the trip. We did pull out all the cash to use on our trip.
Goal #4- Blogging- 15 post per month. This is post number 13 for the month so I am excited that I am making progress.
Goal # 5- Fitness– Goal is to exercise of some type at least 10 days a month. We did walk over 5 miles at Disney.
Goal #6 – Bible study- Goal- Read or Listen to the entire Bible in a year. I have been listening to a podcast every day that I drive to work. I should be able to listen to the entire session by June. I will switch to reading for the summer.
Earnings- $50 in gift cards and $48 on the Disney card. $100 for January is a great start.
No Spend Days- I have 3 days for January. I really hope to improve on this in February.
February is a short month so…….
I would really like to write a how we are saving on Saturday post. So far our out of pocket has been minimal but I don’t know if it is going to last.
First problem, internet. Now to be honest, internet problems for a long time. We actually received a $49 credit this past month because of recent troubles. While working at home on this week, I noticed that the internet would go out for around a minute at a time. Matt called and they sent out a tech on Friday. He ended up replacing both the modem and wireless router. The cost to us was only the time spent waiting on the tech and the lost of internet for around an hour. I am really hopeful that this will fix the problem.
Second problem… much worse of course. Matt woke up around midnight last night and then again around 2am. The temperature inside the house seemed to be dropping. We plugged in our space heater and at 6am the temperature inside the house was 59. We called the person who installed our system 14 years ago. He provided awesome service, returning the call around 8 and was here around 11. It was the thermostat. Luck for us a quick and cheap repair.
As we are trying to stay warm, we notice another problem, the washer is not spinning properly and the clothes are really wet. This is an ongoing problem, we have contacted a friend who is a repairman hoping for some advice to see if we should have repaired or replace. The washer is 12 years old and get used on a daily basis if not more than daily.
One positive that occurred today, I turned the stove on a self-cleaning cycle to add heat to the house. While it was running, Matt and I ended up giving it the best cleaning it has had in several year. I jokingly said now watch it will be so clean that it will not work properly. So far so good it works great!