Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February in Review

Blogging: This post will make 13 for the month. This does not meet my goal but I wanted to put it in perspective. This is more than 7 of 12 months last year!  I am starting to really enjoy blogging and not worried about what I say as much!
Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: I am declaring this a success for the month. Now I just have to stay on track! The most encouraging thing is that as I read the devotions a lot of the time, it is just what I need to hear. For example, today's was that God's timetable is perfect!  During the month of February, I have needed this reminder often and again today it was just perfect.
Goal is 3 a week.

Groceries: This is an area that has seen major changes this month. First of which is I am going to a envelope system for at least part of our budget. This month I started with our Grocery Budget. The second major change is that we decided that our Dining budget need to be eliminated. If we chose to eat out the money will come from either  the Grocery budget or "Slush" fund. I currently have $100 left out of $800 for our Grocery Budget this month!
 Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

Financially:  February has been a very unsettling month in this year. Due to some law changes and things at one point we expected Matt's unemployment to end. We know that sometime during the year, this will happen and he is working on opening his own business. But to face the posssibility at this point was very scary for us. God is Good! and his timetable is perfect! We have been faced with and leaning on this priniciple alot this month. So after much debate, we are still unsure how many weeks his unemployment will last but we have a better plan to deal with out finances afte that occurs!  We did finally get Gutters on the house this month! We spent 400.00 on medical expenses including glasses for both girls and paid taxes for the year. As I mentioned in Groceries we are going to an envelope system for part of our budget. We have developed a "slush fund" this will be the place for all unplanned for aka not spent in the budget money. This fund should allow us to get extra gas if needed, buy clothing and or go out to eat if needed. Hopefully this will make some of the budgetting easier.  No official debt was paid off in February but this should change with the new budget in March. Goal: To be Debt free except for mortgage by the end of the year.

Weight- I am most disappointed in this area. At one point this month, I have lost but re-gained 4 pounds so officially for the month, I lost nothing. I have been successfull at exercising 4 x a week, water intake and food intake are the problems.

Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Andrea's Wild West Sweet Sixteen

Our friend Andrea turned sixteen yesterday. So on Saturday, we enjoyed  her wild west themed birthday party.  Haley was present as well and line danced for almost an hour but I don't have any pictures of her because she has not uploaded them yet!  There are also rumored to be pictures of me dancing but I will not confirm or deny that!

Matt built the jail for this event..doesn't it look real?

Partners in Crime

Sushi the Horse was a great guest but by the end of the night she was tired.

Izzy and Andrea

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lily the Cheerleader

Lily's first competition was on Saturday. It was the closest one to us as well. Of course she woke up really early and was ready to get on her uniform as well as hair and make up. We actually did really well on time so Matt took several pictures of her....ENJOY

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Consignment Sale Shopping

This is something that is definitely  not new for me. In fact, Haley wore only consignment sale finds for several years. However, it seems that in the last several years, I have not been able to consistently find these sales especially that offer good quality clothes.  The other issue has been driving to a particular sale, I often don't remember when the sales occur and forget to schedule the time to get to the sale before everything is gone. The good news is that this changed this weekend.

Lily had her first cheerleading competition on Saturday in Concord (lots of pictures this week). As I was searching for additional information, I discovered that there would be a consignment sale going on in an adjacent building.  Lily squad met 2 hours prior to competition time so after dropping her off, we head to the sale.  I had gone through Zach clothes so I knew he needed shirts. I decided to start with his size first. I was able to find  1 complete outfit, 4 play shirts, 2 Polo's for church or just to wear and 2 dress shirts for him.  They also had a HUGE selection of shoes. I found a pair of dress shoes and a pair of sandals for him that both appear new.  Next I headed over to Lily's size to check out what might catch my attention. Kendall found a bathing suit so she ended up with that. For Lily, we found 2 outfits, 3 shirts and a bathing suit. Saturday was 50% off day. This sale was awesome, in fact, I am planning to return next year even if the competition is not the same day. I was able to find everything and check out in less than an hour!  I am even more excited when I came home and discovered that Zach now has 10 pair of shorts and 10 shirts for the summer. I will continue to look at yard sales for cute T-shirts but even if I don't purchase anything else he has enough clothes for the summer!

My total was $63.75
Items purchased included: 2 pair of shoes, 2 bathing suits, 3 outfits, and 10 shirts, or $3.18 per piece!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Saving Money- $0.85 at CVS

Yes, this is what I purchased at CVS today for $0.85. CVS is an excellent place to start couponing because of the fact that it doesn't limit you to only purchasing the items that give you ECBs.   You can instead use the ECBs or gift cards to purchase things you need or want.  This week's ad was not all that impressive and I saw nothing to roll my ECB to. But after my last CVS trip, I was left with 9ECBs. I have been checking out things in the stockpile so I know what I need to stock up on when a good sale comes. We seem to use ALOT of shampoo and conditioner at our house, so this is usually something we need. I did notice that the VO5 was on sale for 0.77 a bottle. We needed the peanuts for dinner today. So after another short day at work, I ran to CVS to cash in some ECBs.   My subtotal was $.61 and the rest was tax.  So now instead of holding on the ECB or letting them expire. I was able to stock up on a product that is used at least daily around here.

For the record

I purchased 8 bottles of shampoo and conditioner, 1 jar of  peanuts and a pack of eye shadow applicators. I used 9 ECB and my out of pocket was $0.85, saving $11.81 or 93%.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Day In North Carolina

Yes, we finally had our first official snow fall in North Carolina last night. We woke up this morning to around an inch on the ground.  Matt took the little kids out to play before 8am because he knew it would be gone by this afternoon.  I had a really easy day at work, so I spent most of the morning at home as well as a large chuck of the afternoon.  Guess how I enjoyed this "snow day"?  I worked on the Square Foot Garden and took some pictures.  The kids have really enjoyed helping me "make" the containers out of newspaper and they really like watching things actually grow.
The small green plants are broccoli that we planted about 3 weeks ago. Today we planted Green Pepper and chilles.

This is the new addition to the square foot garden. The plan is to purchase soil this week and begin transplanting broccoli plants in a week. I hope to be able to get 2 harvest form the broccoli before the heat kills it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saving Money- While on the Go!I

We love to travel, yes as a family!  During any given year, we usually make at least 1 long distance (12 plus hour), 1 short distance (4 or so hours) as well as several day trips.  During the next 6 weeks we are going to be on 4 day trips. The first of which was yesterday but just Haley and I. As I was driving yesterday, I had some extra time to think and plan for the next couple of weeks.  Here is a list of idea to cut down on the cost of travelling. Some of the tips work great for all trips, other are specifically for day or short trips. I tried to include which ones we use for which. Do you have ideas or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!
  • Check gas prices and fill up on a plan. I saw gas at the cheapest $3.53 while grocery shopping on Thursday so I filled up. We travelled east to Raleigh and the cheapest I saw gas was $3.58.  This is not always the case so check ahead and decide which is best.  On long trips keep a watch on prices and if you have less than half of a tank and see gas for 3 or 4 cent less than other places go ahead and make the extra stop.
  • Bring Drinks for everyone! This is the biggest money saving trick we use on any trip. If we are going on a short or day trip, I bring a small cooler with 3-4 drinks for everyone. For Zach, I save water bottles and fill with juice so that he can have a fresh drink when he wants. This is even a bigger saver on long trips, I usually pack the same small cooler and then bring cases of drinks that we rotate in.  A twelve pack of soda can range from 15 to 40 cent a can. This sounds expensive but compared to the $2-3 per can you pay at convenient stores and/or hotels this is really a no brainier. I try to purchase juice boxes for longer trips and squeeze them into Zach cups as needed. In Disney, we froze several bottles of water, then refilled these at fountains in the park.
  • Bring Snacks- This is also important any time you are away from home. Currently, we have a variety of snacks in the diaper bag. For day trips, I try to also pack one meal. One of the things that Lily really enjoys is a picnic. So we have stopped at rest areas and enjoyed our sandwiches for lunch on a couple of occasions.  During the winter or even on rainy days, eating a sandwich while travelling is just as much fun as stopping and grabbing a burger at McDonalds. Just not buying the expensive food at ball games, and/or competitions saves at least $20 a day. I try to carry a small bag of snacks even while running errands because stopping for a drink or small snack can add up quick. With my kids they are hungry no matter the time of day.
  • Pack a small emergency bag including diaper wipes, feminine supplies, lotion, gum, Kleenex, band aids and a small bottle of medicine for headaches and such.  You can easily find a Walmart but save the $10 for a  treat such as donuts!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Saving Money- CVS trip

Thursday's have turned out to be the day that we end up shopping especially for groceries since we have to travel to Winston (30 minutes) most of the time for the best deals. Today we went to CVS, Harris Teeters (2 orders) and Costco. By far the best trip saving wise was CVS.

Matt noticed this morning that he was out of shaving cream. After a few minutes of thought, I decided to use the 5 ECB I earned for completing a survey on line to buy the shaving creme.  I used Southern savers to find at least one coupon.  I was pleasantly surprised when I scanned my card at the red box and got another 5 ECB for beauty club purchases. Here is what I purchased for $0.36

I used a 0.55 coupon on the edge, the gum was on sale BOGO. I ended up grabbing these at the checkout so I would not waste any of the ECBs.  So I saved 95%, have 9 ECB left for next week and earn 0.25 for using my green bag tag.

Well worth the extra 5 minutes and stop at CVS

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saving Money- Even When It is Not Convenient

Living in a small town makes it difficult to save money most of the time. Add in the fact that most weeks, we don't have alot of extra time to devote to saving money. But I have learned the hard way, sometimes saving money is not the most convenient or easy thing to do.

 Out of the 7 of us, 5 use contacts and/or glasses. I do carry vision insurance at work but coverage is very limited.  Glasses are very expensive, on average a pair has been costing with the insurance an average of $200.  We have tried places in town such as Walmart, however they refuse to place transition lens in Lily's glasses and the "$10" kids glass still cost around $100.  In addition, the customer service is awful, we have waited around 30 minutes each time we go for a fix as well as they charge for each piece that breaks on the glasses, for example nose pieces are $10 each. I also have attempted to order glasses online but this does not work out either mainly due to trying to fit the small face structure of the girls.  I have been reading about Vision Works and decided to check it out. The closest Vision Works is in Winston about 30 minutes away. I stopped in 2 weeks ago, we were able to order 2 pair of glasses for Lily including one with the transitional lens, they also "slimmed down" the lens as well, the final cost $184.00.  I was most impressed with the selection of frames we had to choice from, even staying with the lower $69.95 frames, Lily located several pair she really like in about 10 minutes.  I was able to come home and submit for a part of the cost back from my vision plan. I can only get $90 back as opposed to $150 but the real difference is after reimbursement I will have spent $95.00 for two pair of glasses as opposed to $150 for one.  Yes, using Vision Works took extra time and the cost of gas but the overall saving is well worth it.  Check out Lily's new frames below!  I was so pleased that Kendall will be receiving 2 pair of new glasses this week as well!

Another example of saving money not being easy is couponing in general. It takes time. Time to prepare and shop. An example is today, I knew that if on my way to CVS, I stopped at my parents then I would have a second set of coupons and therefore be able to purchase 2 toothpaste for free instead of one. At this point, I don't need the second tube but it was a small inconvenient for a free item.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What We Have Been Up To!

Things got really busy (read crazy) around here this week. Lily's cheer leading squad is FINALLY going to try some competitions. The first one will be at the end of the month. They decided to add an additional night of practice so now we have somewhere to go every night of the week. In addition, I ended up working last 3 nights this week and on Thursday, I was at the doctor's office and pharmacy til 6:15pm.  So here is a quick update on what things are going on around here:
-Our tax refund came in, so we had gutters installed on the house. This finally finishes the addition and is also a nice addition to the rest of the house with matching colors.
- We have re-furbished wood from our previous deck for another square foot garden box and our broccoli plants have started to grown. We only have a success rate of 50% with the seed so hopefully when transplanted they will survive.
-Lily has two new pair of glass from Vision Works and we are extremely happy with them. Kendall will also be receiving two pair later in the week.
-Haley has strep throat and a sinus infection. She has been sick for about 2 weeks  not and has already missed 3 days of school this semester.  I was really surprised by the strep throat because she has not ran a fever. Hopefully by Monday, she will be back at school, healthy and happy.
- I have schedule my surgery for March 5th.  Trust me you don't want the details but I will be out of work of a week. So this should get interesting.
-At church tomorrow, both the little girls will be playing bells and Matt is taking part in a skit. I am teaching the Beginner's Childrens Church. Matt and I spent about 2 hours today, cleaning out a room that we have now been moved to. I have lots of ideas to make this a fun, educational experience for this age group and just need to find the time to implement most of them!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Random Thought Tuesday

-Diet Coke in a can left in the freezer by mistake will explode and make a hugh mess...just in case you didn't know
- Work is so crazy this week but will be slow again next week.
-Lily's cheerleading has increased to 3 nights a week... this is going to be a long month
-I am trying a "diet" this week. I will post about it only if I have success
-We had some really good homemade food at our Super Bowl party.
-So far this week, dinner for 2 evening has been made up of left-overs. I think we will be able to squeeze one more meal only
-Cable TV is expensive but a much needed expense in our house

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thirteen Dollars at CVS

Since Thanksgiving, CVS has really had some slim pickens for sales, there have weeks that I have not even gone to CVS for the sale but instead a need.  But this week was one of the best I have seen in a long time. This is an excellent example of rolling ECBs to cut down on expenses.

This is actually 2 trips to CVS as the first store did not have enough of the deodorant for me to purchase so we headed to the CVS in Winston-Salem since we were headed that way anyway. I spent $12, saved $53.27 and ended up with 4ECBs and a total of 81% savings. These are all items that we will use infact both the Dawn and the Deodrant were on my list to purchase this week.  I started these with no ECB nor gift cards so these can be duplicated except for the mouthwash!

Transaction 1- Canbury Easter Egg 0.87 on sale, total was $0.93 and received 1 ECB.

Transaction 2- (2) bottles of Dawn Dish Detergent with Hand Renewal, used 2- 0.50 off coupons from PG 1/1, and ECB from Transaction #1.  My total was 0.02! Even better the nice cashier looks down and goes I have 0.02 that someone left, so they were entirely free!  I did include 0.02 for totals on this post just so you can't complain!

Second Store
Transaction 3- (2) Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash  clearance priced $2.74 Total was 5.85, received 6 ECB back

Transaction 4-MY FAVORITE!  (2) Irish Spring Body Washes $2.49 each, (4) sticks of Men Speed Stick,  $1.99 each (2) 24 bottle case of CVS water 2.22 each
                       Used (2) 1.00 off Body Wash
                                (2) BOGO Coupons for the Speed Stick each rang up at $3.99
                                  6 ECB from Transaction 3
                        Paid $1.32 earned 6 ECB

Transaction 5  (3) 12 packs of Pespi products 3/10.00
                         Used 6ECB from Transaction 4
                           Paid 4.68 or $1.56 each or 0.13 a can
                          Earned 4 ECB