Saturday, December 31, 2011

December and Year in Review

Blogging: .November has 15 post including this one. For the year 132 post, 30 less than last year and an average of 11 per month. My plan is to continue blogging next year so this goal will stay the same. 
Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: Thanks to my sister in law for a sample but awesome Devotional book. I have met this goal for the first time this year! I am going to continue with this goal. With the plan to be success each week and not have to think about it so much!
Goal is 3 a week.

Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: See previous post.

Our Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

Financially:  See previous post.

Weight- This one is going to require serious work and commitment to. I have a goal in my head to be at 150 by next December. So I have written it make it more real maybe!
Goal to exercise 3x a week.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Budget-Year in Review and Goals

I have had a goal all year of keeping our grocery budget $800 or less, in addition in the last several months I have add to that of getting our "baby" Emergency Fund" at $500. At the beginning of the year last year, I had in mind that we would be out of debt except for our mortgage by this point. I will say up front that I did not met these goals completely but I feel like I have made substantial progress. I want to take an good look at the goals from last year as well as establish new one in the area of finance for next year. Look for the final year in review post on Saturday.

Grocery budget-Goal was $800 or less a month. Our average spending per month was $821! Matt and I both have decided that was a success. I am not going to increase this budget at all for 2012. When I look at the numbers that is $26 a week per person, or around $1.10 per person per meal. Of course I will be so happy to come in under this number but I also want to be realistic.

Emergency Fund- We actually met this goal approximately 2 weeks ago, followed by us having to spend $450 of it on a new dryer when ours stopped working. I have found that the best way for us to accomplish this goal is to move $10 a check to the account and then if we "find" more money push it in the account as well. Our goal for 2012 will be to re-establish this fund and increase it to $1000 by June and maintain it at this amount for the rest of the year.

Outstanding debt- This is the area in which we have made the least amount of progress. In one sense, we have been really great, we have not acquired any new debt this year. This includes unpaid medical bills. My goal was to be complete out of debt so this is a failure. My goal will be the same for 2012. The importance of this goal is more pressing as our income will be reduced in June of 2012.

Where did our money go in 2011:
Disney Trip
Vacation at the Beach for a week
New windows for the entire house.
2 New Televisions for our bedroom
Car and Van maintenance.
Taxes paid for 2010 and 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saving Money- Taking Advantage of Tax Savings

It is the end of the year.. well almost with 3 days left in 2011 I wanted to share a couple of things that you can do to decrease your tax liability.
This is the one that we are taking advantage of, a tax credit for the year when you purchase energy saving items for your home. Check out the list here Energy savers. We have already purchased 4 windows and plan to purchase the additional ones we need to finish the house on Saturday. According to everything I am reading we will get a credit of 10% of the purchase price. We should be closed to the $200. This credit is non-refundable but will be taken off our tax liability.
Next is a simple one- make a donation of money to a charity. We have been doing so all year. I heard a statistic that 40% of all charitable contributions are made in December.
Third- This is another simple thing, donate clothing,toys or household goods that you don't need or have replaced.  If you chose to donate make a list, by doing so you can claim the most value for your items. I have a box of clothing that is marked yard sale, instead I may go ahead and make the donation to simply empty out the close.
Fourth- If you have any outstanding medical bill, the more you pay in one year the more chance you could use this on your taxes. My understanding is that you can only count medical expense you pay out that are more than 17% of your income.
Finally- Make an extra mortgage payment this month or simply pay your January payment in December. This will increase the amount of interest you pay out for the year.

Do you have any other tips?

Monday, December 26, 2011

A "Drama" Free Christmas

To be honest up front, on Friday (23rd), I was thinking that this year,it really felt like Christmas was getting shorten. With December 25th occurring on a Sunday, there was no extra days off and it just didn't seem like it was so close to Christmas. However, as of today (26th) I have really enjoyed my holiday. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I am already planning by BIG decorating for next year! I really wanted to share the highlights. 

Christmas Eve, of course the kids woke up early but I managed to relax in bed till after 7am.  I sent the kids outside to play for an hour followed by cookie making, naps and then it was off to Pawpaw's and Granny's. We really enjoyed spending time with everyone and stay until after 8pm, playing cards and laughing.

Christmas Day we were up bright and early of course. The little ones played with gifts from Santa Claus, we ate an awesome Breakfast casserole and then the kids played with the one unwrapped gift from us till Amanda made it home from work around 7:30am. Everyone got lots of cool toys and electronics. Haley really likes her class ring. Zach will spend hours playing his "drum kit" and the little girls changed their doll clothes at least 3 times prior to church. Church was nice and I even got to hear all the sermon. Last minute plans with the Pierce made the day complete and lots of fun! One surprising fact is that the kids did not watch any television at all on Christmas Day. They played with new toys and friends! I didn't even realize it  until today.

Today, we have slept in again. Matt, myself and the little ones went to Belk's, Ollie's and Walmart. We decided to splurge on new bath towels, wash clothes and a complete new bedding set for our bed. I LOVE it. I will be posting pictures of it this week. Our room is starting to look like adults live in it and it finally feels complete!

No family fights, no sick kids, and no car emergencies make this a really peaceful and relaxing Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Family Pictures

The Highlights so to speak!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lily's Winter Party

I was able to spend all morning in Lily's classroom today. It was nice to meet her friends and watch how she interacted with peers and teachers. I was surprised to learn from her teacher that even in our small area, the teachers are really placed under pressure not to "celebrate" Christmas. In the past the entire month of December would be a time to talk and learn about all things Christmas. But I could not find one single "Christmas" item in the hallway or on her classroom walls. Lily's teacher went on to explain they are given two parties a year and today was one of them.  She arranged the classroom into 6 stations and each group spent about 15 minutes in each area. I was helping with the Reindeer cookies. I may add to these pictures later, another parent promised to send me better ones, since I only had my phone today.

Reading Center

Christmas Bingo-Lily won 3 times

Reindeer Cookies- eaten on the spot

Stocking with picture

Reindeer bag with reindeer food

Gingerbread house-Lily ate all the candy off by the time I got home from work

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kendall's Gold Medal Ceremony

A disclaimer up front, with all the Christmas and year end events happening the past 2 weeks I have lots of pictures that I want to post. So I am scheduling them 12 hours apart. This will be the first with I know at least 2 more going up!

Kendall has been taking gymnastics once a week for 3 or 4 month now. This allows her to participate in a group with neither her parents nor her sisters around. She loves it! On Saturday the 18th they presented a show. You arrived 10 minutes prior to the schedule time, they did a dance, showed off all their skills and got a gold medal. The best part 30 minutes later you are finished! Now to the pictures

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Random Sunday Thoughts

Well it has been awhile at least a month since I post a list of the things going on around here. I do have several post of pictures coming up but they have to get on the computer first.

Upcoming Events
  • Tuesday- Lily's "Winter Party" at school, I get to go and help make Reindeer cookies. My plan is to spend all morning in her classroom, I am thinking that I am more excited about this than she is. Also on Wednesday,  Lily gets to wear her pj to school. I have also heard that Santa will be calling to check in this night as well
  • Thursday- Our Annual family torture called "Family Pictures"  I love pictures but the stress of getting all of us there and dressed and happy is becoming too much. Maybe this will be the last year I force the torture but probably not.
  • Work is really strange, I am working at the Nursing home on Monday. But plan to spend any extra time at home between Christmas and New Year's just to say I was here.
  • Our Christmas present to each other (new TV) for the bedroom is finally schedule to arrive on Wednesday. I ordered it Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving and after 3 phone calls and about 3 hours on the phone with Best Buy. I am hoping it will arrive on schedule but of course when I went to check the status, Best Buy site is down.
Past Events/Other Random Items
  • Both the little Girls have sang at church last Sunday night and this morning as well. Kendall was so proud that you could see her singing all the words. We have been privileged to the practices for the past month.
  • Lily has Flat Stanly for the entire month of December. She has enjoy getting her picture made with him several time. I hope we can at least do one picture/entry a week. She will get to share the journal with her class the first week of January.
  • As of today, the bathroom in our room has a new coat of paint on the walls and ceilings. It also has a television. I am planning to post pictures as soon as the molding goes up. I didn't think it would be such a dramatic change but it is. We now have white ceiling and sand (tan) walls. This room now looks complete!
  • Matt and I have been looking heavily at our budget, I am hoping to have our goal of 500 in Emergency Fund by the end of the year.
  • Along the same lines, we are again taking stock of food and trying to prepare in that area. Since August, when Angel Food stopped, we have been trying to clean out the freezers to get a good idea of what items when have as well as what we need. Today we made a list of 18 different meals/main meats with no repeats. I still love Angel Food and miss it but I did not realize the amount of food we had stored and we just kept getting  more. I now am questioning if this type of bulk food purchases are a good option for our family.
  • A huge success in the area of budgeting for us. NO eating out this weekend! In fact, I have cooked 5 meals this week. We did have soup on Saturday for lunch. We already know that we will be eating out on Thursday but the hope/plan is that will be the only meal out till January as well.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saving Money- A look at the Numbers!

I have made multiple shopping trips since Thursday. The main reason why is that our local grocery store has a stock up deal on Diet Cokes and paper products. I discovered these by accident on Thursday and since it seems we pass a Food Lion almost anywhere we go, I am trying to stock up.  Diet Coke 2 liters are on sale for 0.88 each when you buy four. This is the cheapest I have seen them since September and I have gone through my stockpile and actually have been paying around $1.25 each for the past couple of weeks.
So let's look at these numbers. Standard price for a 2L is $1.25, so far I have purchased 16 at a savings of 0.37 each for 5.92

While picking up a third round of drinks on Friday, I discovered that Hefty paper products are on sale BOGO free, with a coupon on display for 1.00 off 2. So far I have picked up around 300 paper plates, 60 paper bowls and 50 cups. I did send a set home with  my mother to  use at Christmas. I figured out that by using these products instead of the dishwasher twice a day, I am saving at minimum $1.00 a day by reducing our use of  the dishwasher by half. I should have easily enough products to last a month so that is a savings of $30.

Finally, I made a trip out to CVS today because of the information I found on-line, I hoped to get a coupon for 3 12-packs of Diet Coke for $8.00. I was excited to get this coupon. I combined sales and coupons today in order to purchase 9 12-packs of Diet Coke and 4 bags of candy for $25.00. In my calculations, I see the candy as all free because I would not normally purchase it.  My per can cost then is 0.24.  I go through roughly one 12 pack of drinks a week at work. We do have a machine that sells cans for 0.65 each. So by stocking up today I saved 0.42 a can or $4.92 a week. A grand total of $44.98.

Today, I place a whole chicken in the crock pot with several cups of water.  After it cooking all night, I was able to freeze 7 cups of chicken broth. A can of chicken broth is typically 14-15oz or just shy of 2 cups. I saw today that a stock up price on broth was $2.00 for the container, so by freezing the broth I had today I saved at least $6.00. I also was able to shred the cooked chicken that can be used for soups or pies instead of cans.  I should add here that this chicken from Angel Food so I am not sure of the cost.  I figure a good estimate of the savings is $5.00.

My final savings by planning ahead today is $94.00 off our normal grocery bill.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Be Still

Quiet, rest... these are the things I find myself desiring more often these days.

 I realized early this year that I was not going to be able to "do" all the things I usually do in regards to decorating for Christmas. Or I should say that if I did then I would not be able to enjoy the important things like making memories with the little kids and enjoying the wonder and awe. So in an effort to scale back, I only put up my snow village and a Christmas tree.  I don't regret that decision even when Lily asked last week, when we were going to get our yard stuff out.  Of course, we have been super busy, in fact I am fairly certain that each night since the beginning of December has had an activity or something that needed to get done. I know I have not sat down and an entire evening at home in that long.  Things are starting to slow this week, Haley will be at her fathers and we only have one commitment on Saturday that should last less than an hour. My sister in law, who regularly reads this blog, understood that I was having a difficult time keeping up with my devotions; she sent me a small devotional book to help. It has been awesome! I can actually say that I am in week two of daily devotions. On Monday, God gave me a huge reminder that I need to stop and enjoy the season, more importantly enjoy the reason for the season. These words are such a strong pull to me, they keep coming to my head and I am trying to when they do find a way to stop, be still and listen/enjoy.

Isaiah 30:15-"Your salvation requires you to turn back to me  and stop your silly efforts to save  yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me—
                        The very thing you've been unwilling to do." The Message

Isaiah 30:15 "For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel:

"In returning and rest you shall be saved;

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

But you would not, "   KJV

I hope they speak to  you as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Paid to Use Harris Teeter Express Lane

One of the reasons that I like Harris Teeter as a whole is that they are really focused on customer service. I have had only one bad experience with them, and the good one make up the difference. I have said in the past and will say again, "if " they would ever get "Express Lane Order" straight it would be a great thing.  I knew we would be in Winston on Thursday so I took about an hour on Wednesday night to assemble and place our order to be picked up on Thursday.  A big advantage this week was that they waiving the $4.95 fee.  After hitting all our stops in record time, we headed to Harris Teeter. I knew that we were mostly likely going to have a wait when there was a car in front of us, using the Express Lane. We ended up waiting around 20 minutes to get our order after the car in front of us finished. I am still not sure what happened to our order to start with but that seem to take longer than usual as well. Next, after bring the groceries to the car, I realized he had not subtracted my coupons from the previous trip.  When planning this trip, my estimate was that we would end up paying around $10 and I have 15 in coupons to use for the next order. But something even better happened, they ended up charging $23.83 on our debit card, handing us back $25.02 and I have $15 in coupons for the next order. I do know that we received $5 for waiting the 20 minute but as for the rest of the math, I still have not figured it out.  We ended up being paid to take groceries home!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


With Birthday Cotton Candy Crown

Done with the pictures already!
Watching Tiana

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lily's Birthday Celebrated


Birthday's are a big deal around here even if we get to celebrate one at least every other month! This year instead of a big or small party we decided to take Lily, the whole family and her best friend to see Disney on Ice. Our biggest tradition is that the celebrator gets to pick the dinner restaurant. So Lily chose Olive Garden. We were meet at the restaurant by our friends the Pierces. Then of course the plans changed and Nancy, the mom, went to Disney on Ice  with us while Haley went home with Andrea and of course to youth group. The pictures above are from the restaurant and I will post more from Disney on Ice     Just for the record, I was able to get awesome seats at a discounted rate simply by ordering in a group of 8!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

OH the Things You Hear

I decided this year to scale back on my Christmas decorations. But one of the few items that we brought down from the attic was the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Scene. This was a gift from several years ago that I absolute love and the kids have been playing with for several days now. However this gift comes with one problem....things that are said that you should really never hear at Christmas.

"Take Baby Jesus out of your mouth."
"No Baby Jesus can not slide down the stable roof"
"Why are you putting Baby Jesus in time out?"
"A camel does not say woof, but that is okay just this year"
"Please share the donkeys with your sisters, you don't need both the Baby and the donkeys."
"Leave Baby Jesus alone and go watch TV while I get dressed."
"Why is the cow sitting on top of the stable?"
"Yes, I realize that the cow plays music out of it's butt when you sit it there."
"No, I won't make Zach give you the baby Jesus because you are a girl" or the alternative is "Zach give baby Jesus back to your sister, she was playing with it first."

I really wish I could put a disclaimer here saying at least one of the above has not been said this year but instead I will add that after repeating the above statements at least 6 times, I am beginning to wonder if this was such a good idea!

This morning as I went in our bathroom, I had to add these

"Please don't give Baby Jesus a bath in toliet."
"Why oh WHY are all these people in the bathroom with me?"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November in Review

Blogging: .November has 14 post including this one. Matt would say this was a success because not a single one of these was a picture post. Opps need to fix that soon!
 Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: Slowly but surely, I would guess 1x a week still working toward the goal. With all the stuff going on this month, I really had lost sight of doing a regular devotion. My plan is to start a year long devotional book in January so that might keep me on track better. In the mean time I need to just read something!
Goal is 3 a week.

Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: We ended up spending $755 on groceries this month, so under the goal. I am also pleased to say that our eating out has decreased as well. In order to cut our budget for December I am going to reduce the budget for December to $400.
Our Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

Financially: November has been the best month so far to date. We currently have $300 in our emergency fund. I was able to purchase ALL of our Christmas gifts this month. We also ordered 3 new windows for the house.  December will be a small month due to my decrease in income that I am expecting but we hope to at least achieve the half way mark of our emergency fund. As for the car fund, we have not been able to save in this area but are using the money to maintain the cars that we currently own. Goals in this area: Emergency fund of $1000, car fund equal to a payment of $300 each month and by January- debt free except for mortgage.

Goal to exercise 3x a week.

I was actually excited to write this review, until I realized that I had only hit my goal in about half of the categories. But at least I am honest and hopefully this will help keep me on track in December. My current plan is to write a month in review as well as a year in review where I establish new goals or keep working on the problems with these!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CVS-Awesome Trip

So if you have been catching up on reading the blog lately you will remember from yesterday that I really spent more than I planned at CVS on Thursday. I was not to upset because I knew that I would use the ECB in the next couple of weeks to make some really good deals. Today I took my first trip, I was also able to grab a couple of rain checks that I cashed in today. Overall I spent $3.36 and saved $90 for a 96% saving, even better all the items are thing we use regularly.  I did split my transaction up into 2 just to make it easier for me to use the ECB.
       Transaction 1
4 bags of Combos on sale 1.50 each received a $2 off 4 bags at the red coupon machine
Revita Lens contact solution 8.99 (8.99 in ECB back)
1 Poster board $1.19
1 Breath Right Strip 12 count (raincheck from Thanksgiving)
1 LA Looks hair gel (Raincheck from Thanksgiving)

USE $22.89 in ECB and $2 off coupon above
Total out of pocket 0.29 (tax was $1.10)

   Transaction 2
2 Packs Pampers Cruisers $9.50 each (2.00 off 2 coupon)
1 Tide with Bleach $5.94 (2.00 coupon)
2 Panatene Shampoo/Conditioners $3.94 (1.00 off 2 coupon)
1 Nyquil liquid and tablet pack $9.99 (3.00 off coupon from red box last week)

Used Coupons above plus   33.45 in ECB from Above and Thanksgiving
Total out of pocket $3.07, In addition I received a $10 gift card for spending 30 in P&G products and will also get a free pack of diapers for buying  6 next time I scanned my card.

I still have approximately $20 in ECB and will do the P&G gift card again this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday Shopping

I actually started my shopping on Thanksgiving morning. After getting all the good things in the Crockpots, I headed out to CVS where I met a couple of friends. I was super pleased with my first transaction which I ended up paying $1.69 for, next was a flop in my eyes because I paid around $35 for it even rolling ECBs. I think what happened is that I was missing 5 ECB from  my first transaction that were out of stock and I added several "free" items that I originally didn't plan to purchase. I ended up with my final purchase using rain checks to purchase Diet Cokes.  Overall I spent $40 and came home with over $40 in ECB. Matt and I went to a different CVS in Winston on Friday and used Amanda's card to grab the "freebies" that were left. I ended up buying 2 boxes of eye patches and some children's medicine with the ECB I earned. With Amanda's card I spent $20 for everything I purchased and got lots of rainchecks to use in the next several weeks.  I am most excited to go to CVS tomorrow because I will be using the ECB and plan to spend nothing out of pocket except for tax. I will try and get a picture and details together ASAP. I also went to Walgreens on Thursday morning with a friend. The register was printing free movies so I grabbed 3 to watch. I was able to do okay at Walgreens. I did realize that several of the items that I got are "nutrients supplements" I usually do buy this type of stuff so it will go in the donation bin.  I was able between the drugstores able to definitely restock out toothbrush and toothpaste box as well as deodorant. After this week at CVS I should have enough shampoo, conditioner and diaper to last several months.

Friday morning,  Matt and I headed out around 2:30am to shop, we called this our date, as it was the longest that we both have been away from the kids at one time ever. We returned home around 11:30.  I have heard the horror stories but honestly it was not bad at all. We did stand in line at Belk's for about 5 minutes. I wanted to purchase boots and did but I will be returning this week because they are too narrow. I did grab several bras and Zach a Christmas sweater.  After checking out at Belks we headed to Walmart, with a quick stop at McDonalds for breakfast.  We purchased several Christmas presents there but missed one of the major items we were looking for. So after discovering out mistake we took at second trip to a different Walmart and found several more gifts.  The rest of the day was Lowes, Best buy, Starbucks, Costco, Krispy Kreme and home. I have also purchased several items online including 2 TVs and the one portable DVD that we couldn't find at either of the Walmarts. The longest line that we waited in was at Krispy Kreme.  The reason I think it was so easy on us was that we were shopping at the off time, hitting stores after the initial opening but still early enough to grab most of the deals.

As for shopping, I am finished except for a couple of additional items for my nieces. I hope to purchase these locally. I would post more details but my girls like to read so I am not giving away the surprises! Stay tuned for Christmas pictures~

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saving Time and Money with Crockpot or How I cook..

I LOVE my Crockpot in fact I love it so much that I multiplied it last summer as my birthday gift.  I purchased a combo of 3 small crockpots!  Using a crockpot saves energy! I also find that it is a great way to get meal prepared especially for a crowd and have everything hot at the same time. My favorite site for Crockpot recipes is A Year of Slow Cooking. I actually started following this site the same year that she cooked something different in Crockpots each day for 365. I have used probably 10 recipes from this site and never been disappointed.

For Thanksgiving this year, I was asked to bring vegetables and a desert to my parents for lunch. Matt and I both like turkey so we chose to cook a Turkey breast as well.  I am a recipe follower so this site  is awesome. I used both the turkey breast and cream style corn recipes . The turkey was  honestly one of the best tasting and moist turkey I have ever eaten. I started it about 7am and we ended up eating it around 6pm. I used my large Crockpot for this. In the sectional, I prepared corn, pintos and sweet potatoes. I did have to soak the pintos overnight. While all these items were cooking I was able to go to both CVS and Walgreens. We still arrived at my parents with plenty of time prior to lunch.  No trouble cleaning up is also an advantage, after lunch we came home plugged back up the sectional and turn them on warm. At 6ish we simply dished up the food for a second meal. I did empty the pots after dinner.  We enjoyed a second round of leftovers this evening for dinner. My plan is to make a turkey pie. So we have really stretch our meals this weekend. Both the large one and the sectional all fit in the dishwasher

Using the crockpot makes roast, soups and appetizers easy as well. I can use find most ingredients in my pantry. The biggest advantage I see to using the crock pot is that I can start a meal and it is ready at dinner time even if we have been extremely busy all day. This usually saves us from grabbing something out to eat or using alot of "quick pasta meals".  An example is this Sunday, we will be cooking Baked Potatoes for us while at church, easily $30 saved in one meal which pays for the Crockpots each time I use them.

Do you have a favorite recipe to share?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Much to be Thankful for..

This will be my last blog post on the things I am thankful for this year...although it really shouldn't be because I need to have a grateful heart all year long. I do have plans for several more post on this extended weekend. But to stick to the topic here is the extended list of things ( I have been posting each Friday in Novmeber so in total this will make 24, don't forget to catch up !)
1. Being at home for this Thanksgiving. Matt and I have been together now for 8 years, in each of the previous years except 2009, we have travel to Michigian to celebrate with his side of the family. I LOVE each and every one of those folks but it is hard to travel with small kids. So I am thankful for cooking my own dinner in my own house this Thanksgiving
2. Having time to enjoy my husband. Matt and I plan to spend a good portion of the day tommorow shopping together. Haley is baby-sitting, with pay so she is also thankful for this chance to earn some extra money. One of the benefit of traveling together is the extended time in the car in which we talk and get caught up with each other. So instead we are going to each shopping and maybe even a meal out alone during this busy season.
3. Friends that have the same interest as I do. I really enjoyed meeting both Sandy and Dana at CVS this morning and rushing through the store grabbing the deals we wanted to share!
4. Crock-pots. They are a huge time and money saver. (More details on this soon)
5. My children growing up as friends, the older girls are starting to become mature friends. I am happy to see them want to spend time together and not always fighting over clothes. I LOVE watching the younger ones play! Yes I enjoy having 5 kids!
6. God's blessing in my life. Several years ago Matt and I attended a small group that used the book "A Blessed Life." We have struggled to live in this manner and in all honest are really enjoyed this blessed life!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saving Money- Something you think about

Saving money is not just something you do or in my case something you want and try to do it truly is a way of thinking about things.  I actually had started this post several days ago and just did not get enough of my thoughts down on paper.  Saving money for us means we think about things in a different way.

 First, especially when buying grocery type items this means that we have to make two important decisions; a) is the item on sale/ do we have a coupon ? b) how much or how little of this do we really need today. A great example of this is Matt when to Aldi to pick up flour and other items that we did purchase at Costco. All the kids LOVE Poptarts and would eat them every morning for breakfast if we let me. We only saw Strawberry Poptarts at Costco so we didn't get them even tho we have been out for several weeks.  The Aldi brand Poptarts were $1.83, Matt remembered that I had been able to purchase Poptarts for 1.50 or less with coupons in the past so he only purchased one box.  The same items apply when I do shop sales, when I find the lowest price I have seen or just a really good deal on an item then I usually buy the limit or the number of coupons I have. An example, Sugar  a good price is $2.00 or less so last time I found this price I used all 3 coupons I had, and I have 1 bag still in the pantry.

Next before making any purchase even if it is going out to eat we have to decide why we are considering going out. Today, we had decided that we would go out to lunch after church with friends. Our friends decided not to eat out so we decided to come home and eat out of the fridge.  The purpose of going out to eat was to enjoy time with friends not to eat out. We ended up saving at least $30 by not going out to eat today.

Finally, keeping a list of things that will need to be purchased in the future and buying things on sale or with rewards reduces spending and increases saving. I have been able to use diaper rewards to purchase several puzzle and other items that I use as gifts.

In other posts I have talked about some other ways we save money, but in reality deciding that we wanted to save money and then using that as one of the things we base decisions on has really helped in our lives.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another 7 Days to be Thankful

1. God's protection in the storms of this week. Zach and I were home alone on Wednesday night and it was scary for a little bit.
2. God's protection in the storms of life.
3. Whirlpool tubs and jets
4. Krispy Kreme way any Dunkin Donut could begin to compete!
5. Candles
6. A weekend with few plans
7. Blog- a place to write and remember

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I love Costco. I know that some items can be found cheaper by using coupons but honestly I still love going to Costco.  The main reason for this is that I like being able to buy in a quantity that will last our family of seven for around a month and not have 3-4 boxes of each item. I really like being able to come home and "stock" our shelves with the food, knowing I want have to go out again for at least a week.

I am careful when we go to Costco, if we are only buying things we need then I plan that trip around lunch and if we need ALOT then I usually try to take a good list.  My pantry has started to look a little bare lately.  I have been shopping the sales and using coupons but things like snacks and crackers are still disappearing. Initially my plan was to go shopping at Costco last week but between work and quizzing it just did not happen.  Today with the severe weather causing a delay in school today which resulted in me working later than plan, we decided to bite the bullet  and just go to Costco after school. Haley stayed at home and did some of her chores in the quiet.   Matt, myself and the 3 smaller kids were on an adventure. During my hair appointment, Matt took our master list and we tried to make sure we included things we needed but also didn't forget anything.  The plan was to eat dinner as well. Matt and the kids LOVE the hot dogs and you can't beat the price. I , however, am not a pizza or hot dog fan but tonight I actually ate and really enjoyed it. I decided to purchase a whole rotisserie chicken. I simply got a fork and knife from the food side and enjoyed the juicy chicken while the kids ate hot dogs and pizza.  Even with purchasing the entire chicken, which will be at least enough for my lunch tomorrow if not that in addition to chicken salad, we spent less than $10 on dinner.  The rest of our trip was expensive around $400 but we were able to purchase the meat for at least 18 meals and other foods for both breakfast and lunch. We came home and separated out most of the meats as well as the cheese. Everything is put away and after looking at my grocery budget for the month I am still right on track with $550  spent so far. I hope that today's trip will keep up in good supply until Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saving Money with little Time

One of the biggest challenges that comes with using coupons and shopping the deals is finding the time to do all this in a real world time frame. I don't have 2 plus hours a day to spend on the Internet looking up deals or hand matching coupons and ads. I also live in a very small town with only Food Lion and Walmart as far as grocery stores go.  But I do LOVE a good bargain so I thought I would share some of the ideas/thoughts/secrets I have figured out over the past year for finding time to coupon.

1. You don't have to be at the store first thing when the ad starts to get the good deals. The one exception for this rule is probably Black Friday. So since in the case of CVS, I am not going to the store prior to church on Sunday, I have discovered that the store restocks on Thursday am. So I usually try to hit the store after the restocking if I really really really want a certain deal. Rain checks are awesome so most of the time if the store doesn't have a deal, I simply get a rain check. Usually in 2-3 weeks the deal is back in place and I can use both the rain check and the expired coupon.  I ended up at CVS last night at 8:15pm after the kids were all in bed. I was pleasantly surprised that they had everything in stock.

2. Combined trips with other activities whenever possible. For example, last Thursday I was at a workshop in Winston. So I decided to use the express Lane at Harris Teeter for groceries as well as a quick trip into the CVS in the same parking lot after my class had finished.

3. Spending 5 minutes on Sundays to sort and file coupons saves hours when I am matching up the coupons with sale items.

4. Decide on what you are going to buy prior to going to the store. Stick to the plan.  I could never just take my binder to the store and shop.  On average I spend about 30 minutes a week planning shopping trips. But this allows me to spend less than 30 minutes in the store at a time.

5. Set a goal for where you are going to spend the money you are saving. This way you know that  you are making progress.

Finally, if you miss a sale or need to buy an item. So what?  The world will not end nor will your couponing license be revoked.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

7 Days of Thankfulness

I ended up working till after 7pm last night and with Bible Quizzing in Raleigh today, (Saturday), I missed posting the list of things I am thankful for on Friday but here they are a day late...

1. Freedom- Thank you to the Veterans who are have fought and are stilling Fighting for mine!
2. My Job- yes it is taking alot of time and I constantly complain but God has provided me with 2 awesome jobs that are allowing our Family to get back on track and also start to enjoy some things.
3. Computer/Internet- It is so easy and fun to find about anything in the world now with the use of a computer.
4. My parents who even today love and support me in ways that I could not have imagined when I was a child.
5. My car- God provided it last September and it is awesome.  I actually think it is the nicest car I have ever owned and it works so well.
6. Friends who will listen and pray whenever I need them.
7. The Bible.

Hopefully I will get another post up tommorow but .... who knows with this crazy life?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What is a Stockpile?

This is a question I have often wondered myself. I do know that I think most of the stockpiles that you see on TV are just over the top. I was reading over some blogs this morning and found a guest post over at Couponing To Disney in which a very nice list was given about what amount of food they felt should be kept on hand in order to have a month supply of food. I changed most of it a bit to be more of what I thought was realistic.  I am planning to use this list to actually make my shopping list. Meaning when I go for a huge stock up trip, I will take a look at this list and see what needs to be added to make me feel comfortable with the items on hand.  I will also use it for a guide of buying things, so if I find an awesome deal of toilet paper but already have the amount noted then unless it is free, I don't need it.  I am share in hopes it will help someone else.

Dry goods
2 5lb bags of flour
2 10lb bags of sugar
1 boxes of baking soda
1 can of baking powder
1 canister of salt
2 boxes of baking mix (like Bisquick)
2 boxes of Pancake/waffle mix

Canned Goods
20 cans of assorted fruit
15 cans of soup (including cooking soups)
5 jars of spaghetti sauce
2 jars of peanut butter
2 jars of jelly

5 cans of tuna

Freezer goods
2 packs of Hot dogs 
1 pack (20) Hamburgers
10 lbs of chicken breasts cut in various ways
4 packs of bacon
5 lbs of hamburger
2-4 packages of lunch meat

3 2lb bricks of cheese and at least 1 pack of American slices
15-20 bags of a variety of frozen vegetables.

Pork chops
3 bags of tortillas
2 canisters of bread crumbs- I have been saving all old/odd slices of bread and we process these so I don't plan on every buying this.

Pantry goods
12 boxes of cereal
5 lbs of rice

30 packs of instant  oatmeal
2 jugs of syrup
1 jar of vegetable oil
1 jar of olive oil
2 cans of Pam spray
4 boxes of crackers
4-6 boxes of Pop tarts

Personal care- In this section, I already have more than what is listed in my stockpile so I use this as a guide of where I need to start actively looking for more of an items instead of grabbing only things on the “best deals list”. But Free means I get it no matter what!
 2 sticks of each persons deodorant
2 tubes of toothpaste
2 bags of feminine pads
6 bottles of shampoo and conditioner
2 bottles of Hair spray
6 bottles of body wash

Cleaning supplies- In this section, I rarely have this much on hand unopened. This is considered the only get it if it is free when we have this much of a supply
2 bottles of hand soap
2 bottles of dishwashing liquid
2 boxes of dishwasher tablets
3 bottles of laundry soap
1 box of dryer sheets
2 cans of scrubbing bubbles
3 tubs of cleaning wipes- I only buy the Kirkland brand so if they are on sale then I grab extra otherwise I buy when we start the last bag.
120 rolls of toilet paper
10 rolls of paper towels
1 bottle of pine sol
1 boxes of garbage bags

Snacks-   I don’t think this is a necessary list, I prefer to keep some fruits on hand for the kids to eat and we usually stock up at Costco at least once every couple of months. This is the exact list I found on line. I left incase you do feel snacks are necessary. With that beginning said, I will add that we like to keep a candy and chip stash in our bedroom.
2 boxes of popcorn bags
6 bags of tortilla chips
2 jars of salsa
5 bags of jerky
35 fruit leathers
2 bags of cookies

Pet supplies
1 20lb bags of cat food
2  jugs of cat liter

5 boxes of Ziploc sandwich bags
5 boxes of Ziploc freezer bags
20 batteries of each size

Staples - This final list is things that I personally don't freeze so I buy in bulk if I can and rarely find on sale so I usually purchase at Costco. If  I do find a sale then I stock up with what I can use in a couple of month time or before the expiration date
2-4 gallons of Milk- we are not big Milk drinkers so a gallon last around a week
4-6 gallons of Apple Juice-a months supply
7 dozen eggs- these usually last 2 months purchased from Costco
2 loaves of bread.
5lb of potatoes
3lbs of onions
4-8oz containers of Sour Cream
2 8oz containers of Cream cheese
4 boxes of butter
1 large tub of Margarine.

Do you have any suggestions I should add or take away?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful-November 4th

Once again this year I am going to try an post an item each day I am thankful for but I will only be posting these once a week so that I can keep up and all that stuff.
November 1st- I am thankful for my husband, who supports me and loves me even when I know I am not being loveable
November 2nd- My church family.
November 3rd- My children, I know I could cheat and list each one for a day but I love each one the same. They teach me patience and more about love than even imaginable.
November 4th- A job that I am secure in..

Next week will be a bit longer and harder to come up with but at least I can add to my posting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

October in Review

Blogging: I have dropped some in October with only 11 post. Just kinda of a average month. I am super late in getting this review up so hopefully things improve in November.
                                              Goal: 15 per month
Devotions: Slowly but surely, I would guess 2x a week still working toward the goal.
                                              Goal is 3 a week.

Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: My initial plan for the month was to spend $500 or less. We actually ended up on the high end of this at $715. We are continuing to eat from the freezer and did a lot of cleaning in the month of October. My plan for November to buy on sale unless we are out of the items and need something.  Which is basically what I did in October.
                                   Our Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

: We continue to take baby steps in this area. I have been consistently placing $10 each paycheck in saving so our emergency fund is growing. We also spent $700 on medical bills and began purchasing Christmas presents in the month of October not bad. In our biggest achievement, we now know the exact amount of our debt that needs to be paid off. It is a huge number for us but it will be reached   
                                 Goals in this area: Emergency fund of $1000, car fund equal to a payment of $300 each month and by January- debt free except for mortgage.

Weight-I have been exercising 1x a week this month. Better than June- September.
                          Goal to exercise 3x a week.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

How I Spent My Halloween

I was actually able to make it home early from work today! So we headed to Sonic and used some of our slush fund to buy the 0.50 corn dogs that were on special, we even took drinks for the kids. Amanda decided she would like to join us tonight; so Matt stayed home to answer the door. We ventured out to 2 Trunk or Treat and Paw Paws & Granny's of course. The first Trunk or Treat was at a church and it was AWESOME! The second at the local Fire Station.  We actually spent about 2 hours out, we hit the neighbors on both sides when we returned  home.  I actually can say it was fun! 
Here are the kids....

More Pictures to follow on Wednesday hopefully!