Friday, September 30, 2011

September in Review

BLOGGING: I had 17 post in September, including this one! I am so excited that I have met a goal! Now to just keep it up for the next three months! Maybe this month I just had more to write about? I think I just made more time. Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: I am getting better, averaging 2 a week, same as last month but at least it is improving from one a week! Goal is 3 a week.

Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: This month we spent almost $1100 in groceries. I do have serious plans for this number to do down. Matt and I spent an entire Saturday cooking some freezer meal. So this should help reduce this significantly in October. We also need to eat alot out of the freezer in order to really be able to justify a large meat expense in November/December which is my plan. My plan is to reduce the budget to $500 or less for the month of October. If I go below this amount it will be set aside for meat in November. Our Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

: September was a hard month in this area for us. We had several unexpected expenses but the good news is that we were able to stay caught up on bills for the month. In addition, we paid off 2 small medical bills from earlier in the year! A huge step for us! I had a 3rd paycheck for the month which was a great help. I am going to try something different in the area of savings. I am planning to place $10 a check into savings. This way we are working on our Emergency fund, baby steps. We did spend over $300 in car repairs this month which would replace our car payment. 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.
-I exercised 4 days this month. Not much but a start.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Hits-Update

A quick update, I have schedule oral surgery for Oct 21st to have the 2 abscessed teeth removed. Our overall cost is around $320. I will of course have another $100 in meds but still way under what I had thought. Zach also has an appointment scheduled with a Pediatric Cardiologist for Oct 19th. The more research and questions we have asked the more this appointment makes sense. In addition to these two appointment, all the kid will get flu shots and both the little girls have an appointment for their eyes. Sounds like October will be spend in medical offices.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I still Love CVS

My first patient on Tuesday morning cancelled so I decided to make a quick trip to CVS on my way to work. The main reason for this trip was to use a rain check for 2 L Diet Cokes for 0.79. I also planned to get a couple of free items and some cheap toothpaste because my stockpile was down to one tube. But I found an awesome deal, the Crest Complete toothpaste is changing packaging and some were marked down to $1.95! So for $6.11 I was able to purchase 5 2L of Diet Coke, 6 tubes of toothpaste, 2 8 ct bottles of Excedrin and 1 thermcare wrap. Total saved 34.02 or 82%

So last night I was given 3 more coupons for the toothpaste and decided to use them. today I spent 5.66 and saved 15.77 or 74%. I also received an additional 4 ECB back to use on my next purchase.

CVS is still my favorite store!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Freezer Cooking

One of the things that we realized last week with staying so busy in the evenings was that we seem to eat out more just because it is easier. Last week we ended eating out Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So after a little of discussion we decided to try and get some food prepared in advance for the upcoming weeks. Matt and I have spent most of the day in the kitchen. We did make a trip to Aldi to pick up some hamburger and ended up buying up canned fruit and other things. We have actually accomplished alot today. We have agreed to make October an eat out of the pantry and freezer month. We will of course have to purchase juice, milk, eggs and bread but these will only be purchased when we have ran out. Along with this plan is to really dig in the freezer and try to clean it out so that we can purchase meat in bulk. I hope that Harris Teeter does not have any special event for the month of October. So here is a list of what we cooked, actually a good start to the month for eating food that is convenient.

3 packages of Taco Rice- this makes excellent taco, burrito, nachos and stuffed green peppers.
4 packs of cooked chicken- I can use these for soup, chicken pies or other recipes.
2 cans of chicken broth
1 Baked Ziti- this is actually lunch for tomorrow that we will share with friends
4 packs of Salisbury Steaks- basically you make and add the gravy to make a much better meal than a frozen meal.
1 pack of cooked grounded beef to be used for Sloppy Joes.
2 packs of Chicken Fried Rice- Haley's favorite food. This is a good quick meal of chinese.
1 Cheeseburger Pie- It has to be heated for a quick meal this week.
Matt also cooked an awesome breakfast, I cooked Banana Muffins, we had a take and bake Pizza for lunch.

So just above is roughly 16 meals. We also have several packs of pork chops, hot dogs, hamburgers and at least 2 meals of steaks. We should be able to make it through the month with ease!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The "Hits" of September

I can honestly say that September has been a difficult month on us so far in all aspects of the word. It seems we are getting same hits from all sides. So I thought I would share a few of the highlights here with one request...if you read these...please pray for us.
1. Our dryer was on it's death bed. It was taking 2-3 hours per load, the final straw was the HORRIFIC sound that gave me a headache. But it has been replaced with a new to us dryer that works get so far. Cost $150
2. 2 flat tires within 3 days of each other. First was one on the car which Matt was able to get repaired at Walmart for $10 and the second on the van which cost $45 to purchase a new one from Costco. We have learned that the car is in need of tire in the next month or so so that should be another $500. I am praying that we can at least wait until Mid to late October for these.
3. Oral surgery is on the horizon for me . I was informed at the dentist that 2 of my teeth are abscessed and infected, with one actually draining in my sinus cavity. I have an appointment with the oral surgeon on Tuesday. The initial cost is $200 and then I will get an estimate at that appointment. I honest don't have a clue what the final cost or where we will get the money for this expense at.
4. The closing of Angel Food Ministries. This alone does not sound like a big deal but when we really started looking at our budget, we have been heavily using Angel Food as our source of meat for the last 2 years. I have started a price point list for meat and hope to be able to maintain our grocery budget at its current level but to be honest I am not sure this will be possible.
5. The exhaust system on the van messed up. We needed up having it towed and fixed in one day. But I can not describe the stress this added to our life this one day. Cost of the repair was $170
6. Zach had his 2 year old check up this month and despite the fact he has gained weight and it on the growth chart, the doctor is still really concerned. To add to our concern is the possibility of a heart murmur. The doctor told Matt that it sounds like a "mild one." This is one concern that I am giving over to God. I mention it here just so that I can have a record but I have peace and really think the doctor needs his hearing checked.

Add to this hit list that school is back in and we are all trying to adjust to the new schedule and that I am adding more hours at work then it all equals A LOT OF STRESS!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why I strongly dislike Walmart


Several month ago, I had a rain check. So I went into the customer service desk and ask if they would except it. I knew this would be a process so I even allowed an extra half hour for this. After checking with multiple people the answer YES..we will except it and No you can keep it, it is not a coupon. So I have happily used several different rain checks multiple times with little to no problem until Saturday night. A friend called on Saturday to let me know that you could get FREE body wash as Dollar General. Of course, I checked it out and they were out of stock. No big deal, I was going to Walmart anyway to get Diet Coke with my 0.69 rain check. They priced matched the body wash on my word but the rain check was a different story. After speaking with 3 separate managers and asking (politely) to see the policy in writing 3 times and being shown a policy totally unrelated to rain checks, they agree to give me the price on the rain check but in the process, they did take my rain check to use as part of their coupon count. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR, luckily the cashier was so nice and she didn't mind the wait so at least that was pleasant. But after all was said and done...

I spent $3.97 for 5 2L Diet Cokes, and 2 bottles of Nivea Body wash. I am really pleased but can they just decide something and let me enjoy couponing?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

His Timing not mine

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and Wait for the Lord.

You know that I don't like to wait for stuff, or should I say I don't mind waiting for stuff as long as I know there is a plan on the when and the how. But it seems that God is saying to me time and time again..Wait for me... my timing is perfect..wait for me...I have a plan and a purpose for your life. This week and even today, I am seeing proof that his timing is perfect and I need to Wait. Today, we arrived home just as God intented and because of that a blessing was provided not only to us but someone who has a greater need. More importantly than the blessing itself, Haley was able to see that it is better to give than receive. My heart has memorized and clings to Jeremiah 29:11 and 12
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and
pray to me, and I will listen to you.

But for some strange reason, I still think he needs me to write out that plan and not wait, so I am still learning. Over the past 18 months, I can honestly say that I am praising him for his plan, but that doesn't make the process any easier. I KNOW his has a plan ..... I am trying to wait....trying not to worry... trying to praise him but alone I am not able. I need Him! That is the answer. Now that I have written it maybe I can remeber...

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Great Clothes Swap

That is what Matt and I managed to do today in little over 2 hours. The temperature has taken a giant nose dive from 88 to 58 as highs. I knew that we needed to go through all the little kids clothes and decided what needed to be purchased for this season, in fact it was on my to do list in the next 2 or 3 weeks. However with the temperature change even if only for a couple of days and the fact Lily had to try on 3 shirts this morning, it became more important.
I am actually really blessed after all is said and done. Between clearance and awesome yard sale finds that I always store and gifts/hand me downs from several friends we actually have a very short "needs" list. Zach is currently wearing 18 month shirts and pants, I did find a couple of 24 month outfits that will also fit just fine. My plan is to buy 24 months for him. He needs pjs, socks, a new winter coat and a couple of shirts. Kendall, currently wears size 3T, I know she will move into 4Ts before the winter is finished but I also know we have enough of those that she should not need anything besides pajamas for this winter. Lily she is currently in a size 6 shirt which may be a 5 depending on sleeve length and size 5-6 pants with adjustable waist. If it does not have an adjustable waist, she can't wear it. Lily needs pjs, socks and a 4-5 long sleeves shirts.

I am so glad to have this behind me. It is more of a headache than anything else so to say I am finished makes this weekend half as stressful for me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I Bought for $1

I made a quick trip to CVS today. The only thing that is slight different is that I used both my CVS card and Amanda's with one transaction each. I purchased 4 boxes of Crackerfuls, 2 packs of gum and a bottle of Baby Bubble Wash. I used (2) Free Crackerful CVS coupon that printed from the machine, a $2 off Johnson Baby items that printed from the red machine and 6 ECB. Total spent $1.01, total saved $25.50 or 96%, 1 ECB printed for the 4th use of my green bag tag!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Good, the Bad , the Crazy Week in Review

I knew that this past week would be busy as normal and so when I thought about posting for this week, I came up with this list format. Hope you enjoy...

The Good

-Lily has had a blue or purple light/dot all week, so she got a prize. I had lunch with Lily on Thursday and Matt meet briefly with her teacher Thursday night. Lily is very well-behavior and is exceeding in reading and writing! We don't have a good reading level on her yet but at the end of first grade, all students should be reading on a Level I, currently Lily has passed Level E with plans to test at Level F this week.
- I got to have a meeting with my supervisor at work this week, so I am feeling alot more at ease about my position and there is a chance that by the end of the year, I may only be working 1 job which still will keep us on track financially.
-After a somewhat rough start to the Bible Quizzing year, Haley has joined a team from the church in Greensboro. We had our first competition on Saturday. Haley did awesome and is currently 6 out of 27 quizzers. This also was an awesome event for me. I came home not exhausted and I really enjoyed interacting with the quizzers.
- We are still gathering peppers from our Square Foot Garden
-I was able to make several good trips to CVS this week, including today (Sunday) where I spent $10 and saved $36 or 78%. I was also able to bring home 3ECB which is only 1 less than what I started with. I hopefully will be able to do the same transactions on Amanda's card later on in the week. One of the big sale item is Diet Coke cans!
-Kendall and Zach are both enjoying "preschool" at least once a week!
-God has supplied all our needs. See the bad to understand more.


- Haley is currently grounded from the computer and the phone.
-On Wednesday night our dryer developed a sound that could give anyone a headache and it sound like it could stop at any moment, add to this it was taking 2 hours or more per load. We knew we needed to buy a replacement. Matt was able to locate and purchase a dryer for $150. After bringing it home it is much better than we expected. It is a higher end "digtal" dryer that is quiet and dries even a full load of towels in an hour. This was a huge answer to prayer so that we can hopefully purchase the new windows and start our debt snowball next month.
- On Saturday, about an hour prior to leaving for Greensboro, we discovered a flat tire on my car. Thankfully, my parents came over and help Matt with the little ones so he could get the tire fixed and back on the car.
- We discovered late Friday night that "Angel Food Ministries" will not be disturbing food in September. This is one of the main ways we have been purchasing meat over the past year. We are both shocked that after 17 years that have stopped. Our prayer is that they will be able to reorganize and begin again before the end of the year but we have no information to go on so at this point it is very doubtful.

The Crazy Hairstyle

Haley is entering the Crazy Hairstyle contest at Youth tonight and she really wanted to win and to have it posted here! This leaves a smile on my face after a long week!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Priates and Princess

Wednesday night was the beginning of "Kids Club" at church. We are excited because Kendall is old enough for the preschool group this year. The kick-off night include a magic show with "Captain Jim". Zach was able to go and actually sat through the entire show and enjoyed it. Here are a couple of pictures of the "Pirate and Princess".
Lily is always ready to pose for a picture
This is a picture to give you an idea of the size of the boat. Matt spent last Saturday working on it. It is HUGE!
Zach's shirt says "Dude" and he was so excited to be able to wear a patch!

After the show minus a patch and with a pacifer.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-Dedication at our new church Building

The Mime team performed one song at the regular worship service, Haley is in the middle.
Our friend Pastor Pete Brokopp, a missionary who currently is working to bring clean drinking water and food to Burkina Faso Africa. Pete is often know for his zest and honesty.

The Mime team performing, Haley is on the end to the right.

Lily and her BFF Izzy, during the welcome breakfast.

Matt really enjoyed face painting.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Saving Money

Since my last post with long and about our budget, I thought I would share 5 ideas that we are using to reduce our expenses.
1. Re-use paper, in the past 18 months, I have used less than 1 pack (500) sheet of new paper. Instead, I asked our church staff to save the mess ups and other papers that they no longer need. We use the second side. The girls LOVE to color, draw and write. This way they can be as creative and practice as much as they like and I don't sweat it.
2. Plastic containers instead of sandwich/zipper bags. I try to use this simply because they don't cost anything to use the second or fifth time. We stick them in the dishwasher and then under the cabinet.
3. Brown bag lunch- This is the hardest for me but after looking at the cost of lunch ($5) a day vs taking left-overs or a salad ($3 for a week) then I just figure out ways to take other things instead of sandwiches for myself, Haley and Lily. I also bring my own drinks. I average 4 can drinks a day and at a savings of $.20 each that is $.80. I am very lucky that we have a small fridge in our office that holds 9 drinks.
4. Re-use grocery bags instead of buying liners for the diaper pail, small trash cans. We also use these bags to hold and throw away cat litter as well.
5. Creative cooking- We save money by purchasing Angel Food, I also purchased a produce box this summer. The one downside to both of these is that you often get things you are not used to eating. So that is where creative cooking comes in handy. An example, in our Angel Food box this month were 2 bags of frozen spinach. I have never cooked with spinach and didn't remember liking the taste. So I used it in a cassrole tonight for dinner. It ended up not being so bad, in fact I am taking some for lunch tommorow as well. We also make a focused efforted on eating left-overs. So we may use as lunch or last week we combined different items and ended up cleaning out the fridge just prior to Zach's party.

Leave a comment with your best money saving idea!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


One of the biggest focus of the past couple of months for both Matt and myself has been our budget. I can say that as long as I can remember,I knew what a budget was and usually had a budget either in my head or written on paper. Only one problem, I have always in the past viewed a budget as a guide. I plan to spend my money this way but if something else pops up or if I over spend in this area then I just juggle things. As you can probably imagine,this has lead to alot of difficulty. Over the past several month, I have really taken to heart Dave Ramsey statement "Every dollar has a name and a place." We have made adjustments to out grocery budget based on the actual amount we have been spending. And I have been really trying to keep an accurate record of where are money is going. Things are starting to come easier and make more sense and in September the plan is that we will actual have enough money to do a major home improvement and still meet all the requirements we have. Another awesome change is that Matt and I are talking not only about the budget but actual spending. So this week, I realized that we need to focus and adjust our gas budget. This has actually been an ongoing thing. Originally I budgeted $400 a month, for the past 2 months I have changed this amount to $100 a week. I have begun to notice that most weeks both of the autos need gas so I tend to go over this $100. Matt and I talked about it made a change to monitor this. Yesterday, both the car and the van needed gas. We were driving the car so we ended up filling it up, which only left $42 for use in the van. We put that amount in last night and I hope to see that we could stick to the $100 a week if we adjust our thinking just a little bit. My thought is we alternate completing filling one car one week and the the second the next. This way we should be able to stick to the $100 budget.

In other exciting budget related news- I realized last night and verified today that I actually was below budget last month for groceries because I had included a $50 gas card from Walmart in my amounts! Watching each dollar is actually helping!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Coupons- A Day in the Life of

One of the many things that I seem to have been behind in recently is organizing and managing my coupons. So I decided that I would spend today getting myself better organized and throwing away coupons that were expired and/or loading all the diaper coupons and a couple of others in a package to my niece in Alaska. One of the things that I didn't count on was that Matt was needed at church to work on a backdrop for the kid's program at church on Wednesday so I had the three little kids to help me! I am excited to say that not only did I get through all the coupon blessing coupons from church the last 3 weeks as well as all the printed coupons I have been snagging this week but I also have cleared out my storage case of expired insert through June of this year! I was also able to include the little ones in the process. Lily practiced her cutting by cutting out printables. Kendall and Zach were in charge of trash. I probably spent about 4 hours total today with coupons. I also plan out trips to CVS, Walgreens and Walmart. In addition, I made a trip to Walgreens and Walmart.

I had not planned on Walgreens but a friend called to let me know about a couple of great deals and after researching I spent around $12 on 12lbs of sugar, 4 medium size bags of M&Ms, a box of tampons and 4 large Tic Tacs.

In addition, I had an easy and 50% saving trip to Walmart. Matt and I ventured out after the little ones were in bed. I priced matched a raincheck for 0.69 Diet Cokes and used coupons for Orange Juice, free dishwasher tabs, Limeade and Lemonade, juice boxes as well as purchasing spreadable cream cheese. The cashier tonight was awesome and even explained to me how they had to "honor" competitor coupons. So I was able to get 2 free packs of gum using coupons from the Red box at CVS. This is probably one of the best trips I have even had to Walmart. My only disappointment was that they were out of the single serving bottles of Lemonade.

Tomorrow, we plan to make a trip to Costco. This will be a massive trip to stock up on supplies for lunches and other essentials that we are going to run short on in the next month. Hopefully, after this and the trips I made today. We can cut back on grocery shopping unless it is free or a really really good deal!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Zach is 2!

Zach started to blow out the candles as soon as the cake was set in front of him. He walked around all day saying "My cake." I guess he just wanted to taste it!

We ended up refurbishing this motorcycle and he LOVES it! In fact, Kendall loves it too and she is learning to steer it!
The cake was "Rocket" from Little Einsteins. Matt is becoming an awesome cake maker/decorator!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August In Review

Day late but hey at least I am trying here! Interesting pictures and Birthday info to follow tommorow!

BLOGGING: I had 11 post in August which is the same for July so I am pleased that I have stayed the course! Hopefully I will hit my goal at least once this year! Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: I am getting better, averaging 2 a week. Goal is 3 a week.

Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: My initial goal for this area was to cut the general budget in half and stay at around $400, however I forgot that school supplies would be included in this area this month. Another major dent in this area was all the supplies for Zach's birthday dinner. I am very pleased to report that we are at $816.00 for the month! I count this as a succes. Our Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

: August was an another odd month. Honestly, Matt and I are still working to figure out however to achieve our goals. I can say that we actually came out even for the month which is great. Debt reduction is a major focus for us and that means now that our budget seems to be working. I am going to take a look at where we can trim even $5 to go toward medical debts taht will assist us in the overall goals. As I was typing I did realize a major accomplishment in this area, Amanda's college was paid in cash and we caught all taxes up to date for the year. 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.

- A huge wake up call was my mid year wellness check at work. I know I have got to get back on track with walking or something and these 6 pounds I gained since February have got to go. Now for a plan for this to happen!