Thursday, May 31, 2012

May In Review

 This has been a very difficult month for us in many areas, but we are continually reminded that God has a plan for us, so we press on.

Blogging: This actually marks the 11th post for the month. Not quite my goal but at least the number is going up! In addition during the next month, another goal is to move this blog over on its own site and convert to Word Press or something similar.
 The Goal: 15 per month
Devotions: I am going to say a fail for this month. Things have been really busy and crazy but that is not an excuse. I would estimate that I have read a devotion 2x a week for this month. I know what I can do to improve this one!
Goal is 3 a week.

Groceries: We spent $600 on groceries this month. I had hope to significantly reduce this amount but I am happy to come in under budget for the month overall.
Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.
Financially:Hold on to your hats! According to our budget we are $200 short for the month. This represents money that was to be used in the future for Auto expenses and gifts.  So in reality we survived and had to cut no major corners to achieve it! God is Awesome and an on time God
Goal: To be Debt free except for mortgage by the end of the year. This was established prior to our learning of the significant financial changes that are occuring so I am trusting God to provide direction in this area. Currently we are focused on meeting budget each month!
Weight- UGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. I don't even want to consider what is going on.
Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month.

This is the second month that I have used real numbers in regards to Finances, the purpose to encourage ourselves as well as others!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Closet Remodel- Wordless Wednesday

We actually can now both dress in the closet if need be! Everything has a place and it all fits!
IKEA shoe rack
Very top of the shoe rack

This is the view looking in the door
To the left of the room spans 8 feet

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Faces of Abbotts- Almost Wordless Wednesday

"Say Cheese"

"No DO NOT take my picture, I am not cute."

I just love his eyelashes and the fact he looks so innocent here!

These are also pictures from Lily's Field day but they are exactly as I try to describe each kid!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lily's Field Day

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saving Money on Food

We like to eat. This is a fact!  One of the biggest areas of our budget is our groceries and we have been working steadily on reducing our dinning out expenses. I read several different site and have been absorbing any and all information  I can about reducing expenses. Some of the tips actually end up cost us more money and others just don't seem to work for us but I thought I would share a couple that seem to be working.
  1. One or more meatless meals a week.  For the last several weeks we have achieved this for at least one lunch and one family dinner. Last night, I think, we discovered the most unhealthy meatless meal around. Fried squash and zucchini with creamed spinach on chips. It was awesome, especially with the fresh produce we picked up.  I usually take my lunch and most days this is a salad, Matt and the kids are eating salad at least once a week as well.
  2. Grow your own veggies or join a produce co-op. This encourages us to use a variety of veggies but I admit I gave away the beets.  We also are trying to be very conscience and not let any of these go to waste. Even just growing a container garden with tomatoes and cucumbers is easy to start and make some great sandwiches.
  3. Stock up on soda when they are on sale. I drink approximately a 2 litter of Diet Coke at least every 2 days. However I refuse to pay more than $1.00 a bottle. So this week, the local store has  a sale of 4 for 0.99, I purchased 12. If I see these at a lower cost then I would stock up on more. We also are keeping tea made on a regular basis and kool-aid both of which are cheaper options than soda.
  4. Refill water bottles. Guest get a fresh unopened bottle but there are actually studies that show water from the fridge is purer than some of the bottle ones. I buy some for guest and pool use but at home use a cup or refill your bottle.
  5. Ground beef can be added to and stretch so that 1# is all that is needed for a meal to feel all 7 of us. Examples are meatloaf, tacos, and Salisbury steak.
Do you have any good suggestions for stretching the grocery budget/

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thrift Store Finds and Friday Night Treats

Thursday turned into a shopping day for us. Both Lily and Kendall had eye appointments in Charlotte in the afternoon, so we had planned on a trip to IKEA.  It worked out that before going to Charlotte, we spent some time in the local thrift stores (Goodwill and Salvation Army). The Salvation Army is brand new, I was really surprised at the nice furniture that they were offering. For the morning, we spent a total of $40. At Goodwill, we purchased a total of 7 clothing items, 1 shirt for Zach and the rest for Matt and I.  We had on our list for IKEA purchasing new silverware.  We really didn't need new silverware really our need was for forks. At the Salvation Army, I was able to purchase forks at 0.25 each, I bought 16 of these.  As I have mentioned many times, saving money becomes not only a choice but a way of life. Clothing, especially for adults, is expensive so the first choice for us is to check out the thrift stores before looking to purchase new items.  I am not going to even say we probably saved x by buying both the clothing and the forks this way but I do not have a doubt that we did save money.

On Friday after dinner, we started talking about going to grab a treat of ice cream. Our first instinct was to head to either the ice cream shop that is owned locally or Sonic.  The kids obviously loved this idea and finished all their dinner. As we are heading out, I mentioned that we could always go to ALDI, purchase ice cream and bring it home. At first it was a casual joking comment, but as we started talking about it, it started to make more sense. First for the same price or less that we would spend on a stop at the ice cream shop we could all pick out a different variety of ice cream. Next, this would allow us to enjoy ice cream all weekend to say the least. Finally, it would also be a shorted trip for us, which was the deciding factor.  We spent $12 at ALDI, came home with 5 different boxes of ice cream.  Saving money is slowly becoming even more of a way of life for us.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Random Tuesday Thoughts

  • My Mother's Day was fun. Matt and the little ones made me an awesome omelet for breakfast. At lunch, we grilled out with friends. Next came a long nap with the rain. We ended the day at my brothers for dinner. The kids played for hours and I ate way way too much.
  • Cheerleading is down to one night a week for the next month. Unfortunately, the practice last 2 and half hours.
  • We survived the yard sale!!!Which means our trip to IKEA on Thursday should be even more fun since I have several things in mind, I want to find!
  • Today is the last "steady " paycheck for  Matt for at least 3 years.  It is scary and exciting all at the same time.
  • We made a short and one of least expensive trips to Costco on Monday. We were able to spend less than an hour in the store. Of course we have already discovered something we forgot.
  • Our budget for the month is on track.  I am actually hopefully we will finish ahead of the plan.
  • My weight loss for the month is way off tra ck.....UGHHHHHHHHHHHH
  • At least, I am managing to pray and read a devotion 5 times a week.
  • I will soon be moving this blog to it's own website, the hold up is learning how to use Word Press.
  •  Harris Teeter is starting a Triple coupon event tomorrow and I have no plans on going at all.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yard Sale

I was doing so well, with blogging, that is.  I was posting at least every other day...but then it happened...we started planning it....the yard sale.

I have over the past couple of weeks been reading several different books, blogs and websites about budgetting and getting your finances under better control. One suggestion that was given in almost all everything I have read is to sell things that you are no longer using. Sounds easy right....

Wrong.....thankfully it only occurs at most once a year but let me tell you it took every bit of time and energy I had for a week.  Matt has pitched in as much as I did if not more during the day to gather items from out of closets, buildings and cabinets that are no longer being used, with all this preparation  things should go smoothly.....

Wait.... Lily and Matt decide that this sale is not complete without a refreshment stand. Next, I decide that the profits will go toward ice cream and candy at the pool.

Finally all the preparations are made.. I even managed to get out of work earlier than planned, all that is left to do is get the clothes out of the attic.  Opps..... I forgot that I had 8 boxes of clothes up here.

There is a car in the is too early... only 6:30...oh well let the fun begin...

We did survive the yard sale, after a trip to both Goodwill and the dump, the profits were counted and we are purchasing a second freezer with those. Ice cream money is secure for at least the month of June.

But most importantly  the junk is gone from our house for at least a couple of months until I start boxing up stuff  again......

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saving on Saturday

I have said before that either by force or by choice saving money becomesa way of life. My day on Saturday (5/5/12) is a excellent example of this.

First, because of my over zealous to plant a garden this year, I lost all my plants in the last two weeks except for 2 tomato plants.  The debate has been whether to purchase more live plants or attempt to grow most from the seeds that I have been saving for a couple of years. I decided on Friday night to go ahead and give the growing from seeds a try. I did not have seeds for Jalapeno peppers or zucchini squash, so these I ended up purchasing for $3.75 at the nursery where we pick up our produce box. Total Saving $5

I noticed that one of the neighborhoods on the main road was having a couple of yard sales this weekend since it was still fairly early, we decided to stop at a couple. I was able to purchase Lily: a pair of jeans, a jean skirt, two shirts and a sweater and Zach a sweater and outfit for $10. A conservative estimate of the Total Savings $60.

Next, we had been hanging on to an empty gas cylinder, for almost 6 months now. The reason is that I recalled last year the electric company having an event where you could fill the cylinder for $5. Matt and I both noticed that this event was taking place on Saturday. An added bonus was the free lunch that was being offered at well. We managed to time our trip at around 11:30 so all 5 of us ate for FREE! Total Savings $35

After lunch and naps, Zach and Kendall had a birthday party to attend.  We love Mexican Food around here and because it was Cinco De Mayo, I knew we would want to celebrate. So I made our favorite dip, Mexican rice and soft tacos from left over taco meat. We had all the needed ingredients so the meal that would have cost $40 was free. We did add to our celebration by heading out for Ice Cream as a special treat. Total Saving $30.

Finally, I am focused on making sure that none of our produce box gets wasted this year. So I went ahead and steamed up the broccoli, used left over rice and shredded chicken from the freezer to make a casserole for lunch on Sunday.  I also went ahead and froze half of the strawberries as well. Total savings $35, based on cost of lunch alone.

Just by making a couple of choices and spending the extra time to prepare food ahead, I was able to save $170 this weekend. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Making a Budget

Just a quick heads up in the next week or so the blog will be moving. As part of Matt's learning for his business, I will be moving this blog to its own site.  

But now, I often, at least once a month, talk about our budget. It seems I have been working and changing it for the past several years.  So today, I thought I would share with you some of the things I have learned and figured out that works for me.
  • In order to actually know where your money is going and how much you have or don't have, you must have a budget
    • personally I am becoming more and more convinced that a realistic budget should account for all "expected" regular income. I do not include in my budget, some income simply because I can't count on it. So when this extra money comes in, I have a choice to make. First; does this money need to be placed into the budget to help cover "regular" expenses?  If not then the choice is even tougher. Do I keep the money for "extras" such as meals out, upcoming expenses I forgot to budget for or should it be placed in to our second account for the "irregular bills" or finally savings?
  • Regular bills are all accounts that are due on a monthly basis, these include mortgage, car payments, electric, water, phone, cable and any and all loans and/or credit cards. I also include in this area gas and groceries. In the past, I have include a line for entertainment and dining. However at this point in our lives these are both luxury items. Therefore these items must come from unexpected/surprise income.
  • Irregular bills- After much debate and thought we recently opened an online account to use for these items.  I am already liking the idea of having separate money waiting to be used when things happen instead of finding an extra $200-$300 as things become needed. My list of irregular bills include Auto(both our cars are older and pay for), Auto Insurance, Gift (Christmas and Birthday), Clothing, Hair and Medical. Currently the Auto fund is for repairs, in the future this may turn into a saving account for a new vehicle Auto Insurance for us is due every six months. Gifts- the goal is $100. Clothing-$100 a month, Hair- $25 a month and Medical $100 a month. I will be placing money into this account as it is available, in the order of importance to me.
  • Savings- We are working toward establishing an emergency fund. The goal initially is $500. We previously had reached this amount just prior to needing  a new washer. So far we currently have $150 in this account.  After we have reached the goal, I would like to use this to help cover the irregular flow of income. This means that months that either Matt's work or my work provides an excess over the budgeted amount, we place the excess into saving for future months that are not so successful.
  • Older expenses/bills- We unfortunately have a file of bills that we have been unable to pay in the past, the majority of these are medical in nature. Each month, my goal is to use at least part of any money that is saved, found or other acquired to slow pay off these debts. Once the Emergency Saving account reaches $500, I will then split extra money between savings and tackling these debits.
Do you have suggestions?questions? thoughts?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April In Review

April has come and went.  Things seem only to stay at a high pitch non-stop pace for the entire month. So I am hoping that in May we can slow down, reset and reach goals!

Blogging: 10 for April, better than March but still not a goal!
Goal: 15 per month

Devotions: I can honestly say that with this goal I am not sure. I have spent time study and listening to Hebrews, I and II Peter but that is not the same as an individual devotion.  I can say that I have spent more time in prayer this month. So at least I am doing something right!
Goal is 3 a week.

Groceries: Failure again.  I really don't understand why this month. One explanation is that we spent $250 which accounts for our overage this month on the produce co-op. We spent 1000 on groceries. Because of the major financial changes occurring in May.  I know we will not be over budget next month in groceries.
Grocery Budget is set at $800 per month, this includes diapers, cleaning supplies, food and toiletries.

Financially: I dream/plan/pray for the month that this is steady and easy. But in the mean time, we continue to work with the circumstance that we are given. Matt learned in late April that his unemployment will end approximately 8 weeks earlier. Immediately, we made some tough decisions and cut out both my trip to Alaska and our family beach trip. Next we have formed a plan to try and keep up on a steady yet lean budget. Matt's business is officially open. With our unsteady income  in the next 6-12 months we have open a second checking and saving account to hold money for "irregular" bills. This account will be used to place money into for future bills such as Christmas, auto repairs, clothing, and insurance. Our regular savings will continue to be the place we attempt to build an emergency fund.  In regards to debt, we have 1 personal loan and 2 credit card loans to pay off. In addition to several hundreds of dollars of medical bills and a tax bill. I started to type that I am almost certain that our goal of debit free will not be met this year but then I realize My GOD is bigger! So I am going to pray, work and strive to meet this goal!
Goal: To be Debt free except for mortgage by the end of the year.

Weight- When checking the Wii, I realized that I exercised a total of 5 times in the month of March. Hopefully, I can get back on track in April.
Goal to exercise 3x a week and to be down to 150 by December by losing around 4 # a month.

You will notice that I have begun to use real numbers and am trying to be open and honest about our situation! Please say a pray or even better send us a word of Encouragment!