Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Frugal Steps:

  1. I used our Wahl Color Pro clippers to cut my husband’sand my son’s hair. This saved about $40.
  2. I picked up 4 work shifts, including one last Sunday.
  3. When cousins were in town last weekend, I decided to use things I had and made slow cooker sloppy joe and creamed corn instead of eating out.
  4. I bought a new Fitbit using Discover cash back.
  5. We ate leftovers three days this week.
  6. I found an online coupon to get $10 off $35 or more when I went out with friends last night.

Frugal Stumbles:

  1. It’s the end of the month,and I have a little fun money left since we are cancelling our trip to pick apples, so I took the kids out to Wendy’s.

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Frugal Step: Make A Menu

Menu2

Most of the recipes I link to can be found in my Pinterest boards. Check them out- lots of frugal dishes!

Sunday: Hunt and Peck Leftovers

Monday: Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Roasted Cauliflower

Tuesday: BLT Lettuce Wraps, Peas and Carrots

Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash with Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Thursday: Slow Cooker Black Beans and Rice topped with Cilantro, Greek Yogurt, Tomato and Cheese

Friday: I am out with friends, family hunts and pecks

Saturday: My own Slow Cooker Sloppy Joe (recipe coming this week), Slow Cooker Creamed Corn

Baking: Going to try and hone my cookie skills by decorating fall cookies

 

Feeding 5 For $100 Per Week: 3rd Week of September 2016

Kroger: $ 98.67

This week’s menu is going to feature some meat, and I have stockpiled a little bacon. Usually the kids are fine with veg fare, but our son is going through a growth spurt and is ravenously hungry and requesting lots of meat. We also have family visiting this weekend. To whit, I have an unusual four packs of bacon, beef filet, ground beef, chicken tenders, and sausage patties. Mommy may be eating a few veggie burgers for dinner on her own.

2016-09-16-19-35-31

Weekly total: $98.67

Running total: $275.42

Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Frugal Steps:

  1. We are going to the Renaissance Festival in October and I bought tickets through a local group deal site at half price. We saved $44.
  2. I picked up three shifts. I won’t lie, I am not enjoying three days a week.
  3. I bought over the counter meds at CVS and got $10 back in Extra Care Bucks.
  4. I started trying to regrow lettuce from its stump. I saw it on Pinterest, so we’ll see if it works or not.
  5. We walked home from the sitter’s one day this week.
  6. The girls and I entertained ourselves by using homemade Easy Bake Oven mixes they were given as gifts this year. We went on several walks and made crafts with things we had.

Frugal Stumbles:

  1. We’ve said no to pretty much every PTO fundraiser (and they are legion) but decided to participate in the Scholastic book fair ($8  in books for the kindergartener) and ordered pizza on Tuesday as part of a fundraiser ($40).
  2. I am working this weekend and was going to work very early Sunday so we wouldn’t need a sitter when my husband has hockey practice. I was told at 5 today that our system will be offline that day from 4 am to 1 pm, so we will have to hire a sitter for most of the afternoon.

 

Planning Ahead to Succeed: September 2016 Budget Outlook

 

MAY Budget

I know, it’s already mid-September! It’s been pretty hellacious with my grad school homework and travel, so I am finally sitting down to write this. 

How did we do with our August budget?

Thumbs-up:

  • I was able to pick up 8 shifts, which is twice what I expected at the beginning of the month.
  • We had our pricey date night for $100, and I went out with friends to dinner and one of those new breakout rooms. That was a lot of fun and I would absolutely do it again. It was about $25 per person to do it though. We also stopped for donuts at a popular local donut spot. It was my only night out, so I only spent about $45 of my personal $100 entertainment spending for August.
  • We spent $420 in child care. My mom babysat for free one day and I was able to get my friend’s teens to babysit one day when our sitter was not available. They cost the same as our sitter however.
  • We traveled to Cleveland to see my in-laws and celebrate their 50th anniversary. We stayed at their house. We used 3 tanks of gas, for a total of $120, and took a trip to a beach on Lake Erie, which was free. We spent about $90 in meals out on the way there and back.
  • Our 5 year old passed her shrimp challenge at the allergist’s office and is 100% food allergy free! That means no more Epi-pens and we don’t have to drag Benadryl around with us either.
  • I put $250 in my Roth account.
  • We haven’t had the driveway lifted yet. We are still fighting with the insurance about our roof. It was patched, and the shingles don’t match, so our roof looks like a patchwork quilt. We are hopeful it will be replaced though- our HOA won’t stand for a patchwork roof.
  • August was a five-week month for grocery purposes. We spent $504.98 in food, including the food we were responsible for bringing to the 50th anniversary party.
  • I got $10 in Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks.
  • I only bought gas for the van once to account for my regular non-vacation trips.  In fact, I am still milking that same tank, and it’s mid-September.
  • I earned about $1.50 through Google Ad Sense. Whoo hoo? I won’t see any of that until I reach the threshold though.

Thumbs-down:

  • Our 2 year old was scratched in the eye by the grandparents’ cat while on vacation. We spent the expected $160 in medical copays, but had to pay an additional $95 in urgent care, extra follow-up visits, and medications. Darn cat!
  • My Toys R Us gift card was empty, so I spent about $50 on a baby gift our of pocket.
  • The cheap sheets we got for our girls’ twin beds were already falling apart. This time we bought quality ones from Land’s End, as well as comforters, using Ebates and a coupon code. We spent $286, and these better last at least a decade, if not more. I always regret not buying quality. (The Ebates link is my referral link. If you try it for the first time, you’ll start off with $10 cash back after your first purchase. If you buy online a lot, it is worth using.)
  • Lots of clicks, but no earnings for my Amazon affiliate. I haven’t added any more affiliates yet, as I’ve not had a lot of time beyond school, work, kids, and textbook writing work.
  • We got notice from our HOA that everyone’s yearly fee will increase over the next few years to pay for repairs to the swimming pool and other common areas.

How is September looking?

  • This month changes have started at work. We are moving from business days only to 365-days coverage. I have agreed to cover some weekend days over and above the weekday shifts I take. I will generally be doing every other weekend (Saturday and Sunday), but have not agreed to cover any weekends that land on holidays. I am a contractor, so I can opt out of any weekend days I want. Right now, that is going to be Thanksgiving and Christmas, and some days next June. I have picked up 14 days in September, the most I have worked since dropping to part-time. This will help me aggressively work towards my Roth goal.
  • I already put $450 extra towards my Roth last week, and I expect the usual $250 to put towards it at the end of the month. This should put me at $3200 towards my $5500 goal by end of month. I’ll have to put $766/month towards my Roth through the end of the year to meet my goal. I have already agreed to pick up quite a few days through the end of the year.
  • I expect to fill my gas tank only once, sometime this week. That should be about $35-40.
  • I made an extra $75 by doing a study, and I will use it for groceries. I hope to come under budget for food this month. There will be $31 of food in our Amazon Subscribe and Save order. After this week using cash and using the $75 gift card at end of month, I think we may be $300 or less.
  • I anticipate $135 in office copays , $40 in medication copays, and $40 of OTC meds.
  • Vacation: the mister and I went to a Star Trek convention in Chicago last weekend. We already paid for tickets and a William Shatner photo op, but we needed to pay for hotel, travel, and food. The hotel was $442.32 and the cost included parking and meals in the hotel. We spent $80 in gas to drive there, and $200 in meals out (out with friends one night, a fancy dinner to celebrate our anniversary, and two stops at Cracker Barrel there and back. We also bought Starbucks (a rare treat) and candy for the kids. In all, we spent $757, not including tickets and photo op, which were $300. Yep, $1000 is a lot. The last time the mister and I took any kind of vacation together was 5 years ago for a weekend trip to see friends in Chicago (a much cheaper jaunt) and then 10 years ago for our honeymoon to Maui. We’ve been in baby jail a loooong time.
  • We are having three family outings this month, to the zoo and apple orchard. We’ll have to pay admission to the zoo, and will pay for what we pick at the orchard. I plan on making applesauce and freezing. Our son will probably do the Cub Scout’s Spook-o-ree too, though admission should be low.
  • We’re working on landscaping more this year, and I am budgeting for planting mums (already done) plus a couple fall decorating things (maybe some hay bales and a reusable wooden sign?). I’m looking for deals on those. Can you reuse hay bales, or do they rot? I want to keep them out through Thanksgiving. We’ll get pumpkins at the patch in October.
  • We are ignoring most PTO fundraisers, but are buying wallets-only for kindergarten and 3rd grade pictures and are doing one night of Pizza for the PTO this month. I anticipate $58 for pictures (crazy, I know!) and $45 for pizza.
  • I’m going to have very little time to spend my own fun money, but I am having dinner with a couple friends at the end of the month and we are having lunch with my dad and a cousin after apple picking. I usually pay for dad, since he is retired and on a fixed income.

What are you doing to meet your goals?

Frugal Step: Make A Menu

Menu2

Most of the recipes I link to can be found in my Pinterest boards. Check them out- lots of frugal dishes!

Monday: So much bread/meat to use up, plus swimming, scouts,and massage threapy for me last night, so we had Meat or Cheese Sandwiches,  Sliced Peaches, and Carrots

Tuesday: Mushroom Risotto

Wednesday: Veggie Infused Meatloaf, Roasted Cauliflower

Thursday: Slow Cooker Black Beans and Rice topped with Cilantro, Greek yogurt, Tomato and Cheese

Friday: English Muffin Pizzas, Salad

Saturday: Family in town-Zoo trip followed by dinner out

Sunday: Hunt and peck

Other things to try:

I am going to try and make my own London Fog Tea Latte at home. I discovered these this past weekend, and there is no way I want to spend $5 a pop for a cup of this yummy drink.

It’s September, and we are going to make a loaf of Pumpkin Gingerbread on Friday, my day off. Pumpkin gingerbread and a London Fog sounds fantastic together.

Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Sorry this is posting later than usual, but the mister and I have spent an electronics free weekend in Chicago attending a Star Trek convention. Our 10th anniversary was in May, and this weekend was to celebrate. Yep, we are geeks!

Frugal Steps:

  1. My friend Val has an almost 10 year old daughter with a winter birthday, and has been passing her daughter’s clothes on to me for years, which works perfectly for my two winter-born daughters. I passed back 6 bags of girl clothes to her this week that she will pass on to her nieces and she passed on a boatload of clothes that will fit my 5 year old, will eventually fit our 2 year old, and then will be passed back for her nieces. Sharing is caring!
  2. We ate out for most of our meals this weekend (as planned), but brought our own snacks and water for use in our room. I didn’t want to pay $4 for a bottle of water. We had to pay about $12 in tolls and I was able to empty out my overly-full change purse to cover that.
  3. We ate at a nice Italian restaurant called Carlucci Saturday night and we told the waiter it was our belated anniversary trip. He brought us a free dessert with a candle on it and took our picture for us.
  4. My mom and my sister babysat our kids for the entire weekend. They did it for free (though we insisted on giving a little money to my mother for expenses).
  5. My mother sent the kids home with ham, turkey, fruit, popcorn, chocolate almond milk, bread, cream, and leftover waffles. I doubt I will be buying much from the store tomorrow.
  6. We used Tim Horton’s gift cards to get coffee and tea when we hit the road.
  7. We didn’t buy any souvenirs or extras at the Con. We did one photo op with William Shatner, which we planned in advance.
  8. I worked 3 days last week.

Frugal Stumbles

  1. The hotel had a Starbucks,and I discovered they have London Fog Tea Lattes,made with sweetened milky Earl Grey. As a coffee hater, I haven’t been to a Starbucks in years, but I loved these. This could be dangerous!
  2. We didn’t find out until we got to the hotel that they charge for parking. That was an extra $15 after our group discount.
  3. We indulged in room service Saturday morning. That was the most expensive bowl of oatmeal I have ever had.

Feeding 5 For $100 Per Week: 1st Week of September 2016

Kroger: $113.16

It’s Labor Day weekend, so that means crap foods like hot dogs, chips, crackers, and drinks are on sale. I sent most down to the stockpile, and I’m freezing some meat for later. That will get parsed out over the next three months. I let the kids keep one bag of chips and one Kool-aid each upstairs while they had friends over all afternoon, and it was 100% gone in 6 hours. That’s why I hide things in the basement! Our menu will still be beans, eggs, and cheese this week.

2016-09-03 13.29.56

Half my stockpile looks like juice and Goldfish crackers right now. Juice has been $1 each the past few weeks. Each jug has eight 8-ounce servings in it. I fill our Rubbermaid reusable juice boxes with half water and half juice, and that makes my cost $0.06 per serving. A 100% juice box is easily $0.45 per serving even on sale. We only allow those for field trips or a special day like today.

It seems crazy to spend $16 up front for 6 reusable juice boxes, but I send two drinks every school day for my older kids. I save $0.39 every time I send a reusable box with half water and half juice from one of those $1 jugs. That savings for my two kids is $0.78 per day, $3.90 per week, and $15.60 in one month. I recouped that cost in savings in 21 days! Every time you use them after recouping your cost, you are coming out ahead. The more kids you have, the faster you recoup that cost.

2016-09-03 13.30.02

Weekly total: $113.16

Running total: $113.16

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