Friday, December 27, 2013

My 2013 Goals-How Did I Do?

 So I thought since it is almost the end of the year I should probably review what my goals for 2013 were.  Here is how I did...

Goals for 2013
I had a whole post wrote out with a long list of goals I hoped to accomplish in 2013.  Honestly, though with my husband getting a new job, that will require a long commute and is for less money, our #1 goal is to continue to live within our means.  - I think we did so so with this. Over the summer we ran up alittle credit card debt but we managed to get it paid off.  So I guess we did ok.

Our #2 goal is to purchase with cash a new to us fuel efficient car.  Hopefully this will happen by mid summer.  We hope to be able to do this by saving, saving, saving!! - We bought a used Pruis in April that we financed.  It has saved us a ton of money in gas.  We are currently working to pay this off as quickly as possible.

Which leads to our #3 goal.....

# 3 - track our spending.  We have gotten lax at this and I know there is some seepage that we need to plug up - I was not so great at this.  I need to do better.

#4- save on groceries.  I plan to do this by meal planning which will include snacks,  cooking ahead as much as I can, using coupons and playing the drug store game and creating a price book. -I didn't even start this.....

#5 - I would like to try one new recipe I have pinned on Pinterest each week. -
I actually did pretty well with this and did post several new recipes.  I tried more then I posted about though.

#6 -  Continue to sell our unwanted items and my craft projects.  Once the car is purchased I hope to transfer this money to a Christmas fund. - I sold $785 in our used\unwanted items this year.  I also sold several craft items. I haven't tallied the totals for those yet but will soon.

#7- Take a good look at our bills and see what it is we can really cut and do 
without. - We cut our land line and our cable saving us $96 a month.  We also got rid of our old car and my hubby's van he used for his side business.  This saved us $80 in insurance costs 

#8 -  Set small monthly goals in order to achieve these yearly goals! - I think I did ok with this.

All in all I think it was an ok year.  I think I did really well in decluttering and making money from that.  I hope to continue that this year.

Now on to figuring out 2014 goals :)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Still Around.....

Just a quick post to let you all know I am still here. I am reading everyone's post when I can but life is just busy right now. 

Last week I participated in my first vendor/craft fair. Here is a picture of my set up. 

It was fun but I didn't sell a whole lot. It was a small one so I think that is why. I have had several orders from my personal Facebook page. I am doing another show this weekend which will be much bigger. Hopefully I will do better at it.

Anyway I hope to be back to regular posting after school lets out for Christmas break :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Random Sunday Blog Post

I haven't posted much lately. I didn't purposely intend to take a break from blogging but life just seems to have gotten in the way.

My husband broke our laptop trying to "fix" it, which is what I used to type blog post. I am not crazy about typing things out on the iPad.  But I am thankful to have one :)

I have been flying by the seat of my pants with dinner plans this month. It is kinda stressful. I really like having a plan. Today I am going to plan at least a weeks worth of dinners and also start on Decembers meal plan. Hopefully we will be able to use up some of these leftovers. I've been lucky this month and been offered a lot of free food. I try to never turn down food that is offered us especially if it is just going to be thrown away. 

We had our Family Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. Other then the fact Kid #2 decided not to attend ( that is a whole other blog post for a different day) it was a wonderful day. Everyone brought something and we had a great time with visiting.

Have I told you all how much I just love being a Nana? My grandson is 5 months old and so cute. Kid # 1 and my daughter inlaw are struggling some. It is really hard not to want to bail them out. I help some if they ask but sometimes being in your 20's I believe is for being poor and figuring it out. I can tell you though they really could take some frugal lessons from me lol. 

I mentioned in a Friday post here a few weeks ago that we paid off our credit card debt we accorded over the summer. Woohoo! It is so freeing to be out from under that. Next up is to really begin attacking the car debt. My plan originally was to pay it off in 16 months. It is maybe possible to still accomplish that but I am not sure. I need to sit down and run the numbers.

I only have to work 2 days this week and I am looking forward to the break. I really need to sit down and make a plan for my days off. There are many things I am hoping to accomplish. The main two are to get some toys listed for sale on Facebook and to get my Christmas gifts made. We will see :)

Speaking of Christmas anyone done with their shopping yet? I am over halfway there and plan to be finished by December 1.

Friday, November 22, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. We sold our old car and cancelled the insurance on it. 

2. I picked up an extra 2 1/2 hours at work this week.

3. Paid an extra $200 towards are car payment.

4. Sold another scarf this week, made $12.

5. Repurposed many leftovers into new meals for dinner.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Please Think Of Us

As most of you know I live in Central Illinois. 

Today we had several Tornados hit not only my town, but also several neighboring towns, although my home and my family are ok. 

The worst hit was Washington ,Illinois, flatting many many homes.

Please think of these communities or pray for them or whatever it is your beliefs are as these people and families now have to figure out how to pick up the pieces and put their homes back together.

Sometimes Mother Nature is just not nice :(

Saturday, November 16, 2013

So What Have I Been Up To???

It has been a busy few weeks. I am trying to prepare for the holiday season. For the most part I have been making these, nonstop :)

The animal print fleece boa scarves are new this year. I love them :) of course I am still making the solid color ones.

These are popular in school colors. I have sold several of these.

I also do sports themed ones. Here are some Chicago Bears ones. I am from Illinois ya know ;)

These are all for sale. If anyone is interested in some you can leave a comment with your email and I will get back to you :) I will gladly ship to you :)

Solid colors are $10 each plus shipping

Any scarf with a print ( animal, sports etc) is $12 each plus shipping :)

Ps: the animal print ones give you a sneak peak of my bathroom remodel I am just about done with. Post about it soon, I hope!

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Sold a scarf and made $12

2. Turned our turkey carcass from our "Family Thanksgiving" into homemade turkey and noodles

3.  Ate our leftovers

4. Froze the leftovers that were not going to be eaten soon

5. Paid off the last of our credit card debt!!!!! Woohoo!

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Saved my buttermilk. See last post :)

2. Sold an item and made $65.

3. Ordered a couple items from Amazon and got free shipping with my month long free trial of Amazon Prime :)

4. Hubby took in our aluminum cans to the recycle center which earned us $34.50

5. Did some testing for work earning me an extra hour in half pay :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013


This is a picture of how I save our buttermilk and keep it from spoiling before we can use it up. We frequently use buttermilk to make homemade ranch dressing and sometimes buscuits and pancakes. But we don't always use it up fast enough. 

I think I found this tip on Pinterest and have used it successfully for awhile now. I freeze the buttermilk in ice cube trays and once frozen transfer the cubes to a ziplock bag, which I store in the freezer. When I need buttermilk I take out the number of cubes I will use and let them defrost in a bowl. Each cube is 2 tablespoons of buttermilk.

Friday, November 1, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

I guess I took alittle bloggy break without even meaning too :(

1. Found a great sale online for fleece fabric thanks to my friend Tonia! Bought enough that will hopefully last me most of the holiday season. 

2. We ate our leftovers and used up little bits off food here and there

3. Bought Kid #5 a Christmas present using my Amazon gift codes I earned from Swagbucks. Paid $2.92 out of pocket :) 

4. Donated a good size bag of Kid #5's outgrown clothes to the school I work at. There are several children there who will benefit from them.

5. Cleaned and switched our ceiling fans to the winter settings to help save on heating costs 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


We have a lot of soup in the colder months. It helps warm us up, is filling, cheap to make and feeds us many meals. Oh soups also help use up those little food bits that no one is probably gonna eat. So that saves us money also. 

This week we had stuffed green pepper soup, recipe found here   So far we have gotten 1 family dinner and 1 family lunch out of the pot. There is enough left to give my hubby 3 lunches for work. Not to bad for 1 pot of soup.

Friday, October 18, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Made a big pot of soup using leftover rice that I had stuck in the freezer so it would not go bad

2. Stayed out of the stores. No shopping of any kind for me this week

3. Kept the heat off! So far so good but it is suppose to get colder over the weekend so we will see.

4. I used my ads to ad match at Walmart. Kroger had a good price for Maxwell House coffee but I didn't need to go to Kroger so I used my ad at Walmart. Easy peasy :)

5. I discovered a cheaper alternative for an organizing project I am working on just by shopping around.


I really get the whole TGIF saying now that I work outside my house 5 days a week. I am such a homebody that even working only 15 hours a week makes me miss having days where I can just stay home. So I really look forward to the weekends for this now, being able to stay home. Although this weekend will be busy, so I don't know how much I will actually be here lol :)

What are your plans for the weekend?

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about, planning and writing about our food. I believe this is one of the easiest ways to save money out of the budget. 

When I know what we have in our cabinets, refrigerator, and freezers, it makes it easier to create a plan. When I have plan it makes it easier to know what I need to be shopping for.

I do actually hate grocery shopping.That is one of the best things about having a plan that makes my life easier. If I know what I have and what I need to buy, I can spend less time in the act of buying :) 

Just some thought I had today. 

Rain Rain Go Away

I am not doing well with keeping up with my posting :( Hopefully I can remedy that in the next day or two! 

Woohoo it is Thursday! I am looking forward to the weekend.  I want to go through Kid #5's toys and see if there is anything I can get rid of and sell.  The Christmas shopping season I a almost upon us and I think I can sell a few things.

We have physical therapy today so that means an afternoon of driving and sitting. I need to make myself a iPad sleeve so that I feel more comfortable taking it places with me. Then I can get alittle work done while I am sitting and waiting.  Maybe I can get to that this weekend also :)

Well I am off to get ready for work. Hope you all have a great day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

To Do List

I am behind in getting things done and in my posting. I hope to get both caught up today.

On my to-do list today is

1. Make my hubby some lunches for the week

2. Make meat loaf for dinner.

3. Make stuffed green pepper soup to eat as a meal later this week

4. Laundry

5. If it is warm enough today work on staining a couple of Christmas presents I need to get finished.

6. Make some sort of snacks for us to eat this week
7. Get a package ready for mail

This is probably a good enough list for today. I'll be back later to post about my progress and a few other things :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Present For My Nephew

My nephew turned 6 this week. Tomorrow is his birthday party. I wanted to make him something special. I also wanted it to be a frugal project and use up somethings I already had.  I decided to make him a felt car mat. I scoured Pinterest looking at all the different ideas there are to make them. I ended up using fabric glue and making the layout up as I went along.

Here is what I spent a few hours everyday this week working on and all day today finishing it up. I love how it turned out :)

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Saturday, October 12, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. I bought some materials for a present for my nephew and an order. Used coupons and only spent around $11 for both.

2. I sold a couple of items and made $8 for my Christmas fund

3. Ate our leftovers and repurposed a few into different meals.

4. Combined my driving so I didn't waste gas

5. Did a few organizing projects but used baskets, hooks etc that I already had

I Am Behind!

I am behind in my posts :( 

I am working on a time consuming project for my nephews birthday present, which I hope to have complete today . 

It is a frugal project costing me less the $10 to make so that is a plus :)

I'll be back later to catch up on my posting. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I just realized I missed posting last night :( 

Yesterday was a pretty uneventful day.

I was suppose to sell something but that fell threw :(

I did make a stop at Kroger. I bought toilet paper, 3lbs of hamburger which was on sale and sour cream.  I spent $14.78 which brings my total for the month to $211.42. Not quite as good as last months budget but still under my $250 goal.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Good Day

I had a pretty good day today. 

We had 2 extra people for dinner tonight and I still managed to stick to the menu plan.

I sold a couple small items and made $8.

I worked on my nephews birthday present.
I did a little bit of cleaning.

Pretty good day :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Manic Monday

Everyone is in an uproar at work over visits from the Heath inspectors. I guess we have a new inspector and some of the schools have been sited for things they have never even heard of. My specific school has yet to be inspected but I wish he would come soon just so we could move on and I would not have to hear about it. It is not making my work all that enjoyable.

I made a run to JoAnn Fabrics tonight to get some felt for a project I am making my nephew for his birthday. I also needed some material for a scarf order I have. I had a 50 % off one regular priced item coupon and a 20% entire order one also. Total spent was $11.33. I'll post pictures of both when I am done.

Nothing to exciting happening at home. We had chili and corn bread for dinner. I had a small amount of  taco soup left so I added it to the chili, it seemed like a good way to use it up.

Not to bad for a Monday I guess...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Slow Sunday

Today we just hung around the house. I did some laundry. I hung some of it on our drying racks but I also used the dryer. I did wash it all in cold water and used my homemade laundry soap. 

My hubby made some from scratch breakfast pockets to eat on his drive to work this week.

He also made some pumpkin ice cream and coffee ice cream in our ice cream maker.

I ran the dishwasher and have continued to use my homemade dishwasher soap. I have about used it all up though, which is good because I don't really like it :(

I also have worked today on cleaning up our downstairs spaces, family room, storage room and my mom cave. I hope to have a couple boxes to take to Goodwill by Wednesday. 

We had BBQ spare ribs, baked potatoes and spinach salad for dinner. I made the BBQ sauce.

All in all it was a nice slow day, but we got a lot accomplished. I love Sundays like that!

October Menu Plan

The one major thing that helped me cut my grocery budget in September was having a meal plan in place. When I first started meal planning I did it for just a week or two at a time and worked my way up. Now I find it easier to just plan the whole month at a time and do most of the shopping at the beginning of the month. As long as I have all the ingredients for my meals it doesn't always matter what day we have them on. My meal planning is flexible, which is nice if something comes up.

Here are our dinners for October:

1. BLT's, ( using free Tomatoes from my Mom, cut up fresh veggies ( brought home from work) and ranch dressing ( I make homemade)

2. Chicken Cacciatore( crock pot freezer meal), spaghetti noodles

3. Chicken patties, buns ( had in freezer), cut up veggies ( leftover from work)

4. Snack night

5. Dinner Out ( going to see Kid #5 for Homecoming)

6. Spare ribs (freezer), baked potatoes, green beans ( pantry)

7. Chili ( hamburger from freezer, home canned tomato juice from my sister, onion from pantry), corn bread ( eggs free from my sisters chickens, everything else from my pantry)

8. Chili dogs ( everything for this is leftover or from freezer), oven fries

9. Pork tacos ( pork roast from freezer ) tortillas - this is a new recipe from Pinterest

10. Breakfast Casserole ( eggs from sister, everything else from freezer and pantry)

11. Snack night

12. Leftovers

13. Meatloaf ( hamburger from freezer, everything else pantry), mashed potatoes, corn

14.  Stuffed Green Pepper Soup ( hamburger from freezer, everything else from pantry except green pepper, bought those)

15. Quasidillias ( cheese from freezer), refried beans ( pantry), salsa, sour cream 

16. Fiesta Lime Chicken, ( crockpot freezer meal) rice, broccoli and cheese ( pantry and freezer)

17. French Toast ( bread freezer, eggs free) sausage links ( freezer), syrup ( homemade)

18. Snack night

19. Leftovers

20. Whole roasted chicken ( freezer), roasted potatoes, green beans ( pantry)

21. Pizza soup ( all items are pantry and freezer items)

22. Skillet meal ( haven't decided which one)

23. Brown Sugar Honey Chicken ( crockpot freezer meal ) rice and broccoli ( pantry, freezer)

24. Tacos ( hamburger freezer)

25. Snack night

26. Leftovers

27. Chicken n Noodles ( leftover chicken, noodles homemade by my husband)

28. Leftover pizza soup, busciuts

29. Undecided skillet meal

30. Eggs ( free from sister) bacon, toast ( bread in freezer)

31. Spaghetti n meatballs ( pantry and freezer except noodles)

I tried to give everyone and idea on if I already had something on hand or not. I try to make meals using up thing I already have. Tomorrow I will tally the numbers and let you know how much I spent :)

Today I also sold a small item out of my garage earning $5. In my world every little bit counts!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Homecoming Flowers

Today is Kid # 4's homecoming dance. I started making Kid #3's flowers for her several years ago. She always wanted something different, not your usual corsage. So it seems I am carrying on this tradition with Kid #4, even though he is a boy. Luckily his girlfriend liked the idea too :)

I posted a couple of times that I only spent $3.92 on a few supplies to make the flowers. I bought one roll of tulle and then the white rose for the boutineer. I used a 40% off mobile coupon at Hobby Lobby for the roll of tulle and then the rose was on sale 50% off.

Anyway, here they are. I love how the turned out :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Made Kid # 4's homecoming flowers, spent $3.92 on supplies.

2. Ate our leftovers

3. Bought 2 Christmas presents. Had a great coupon and spent less then $5 on both.

4. Sold some items and made $20

5. Found a unopened gift we never used to repurpose to someone else who will love it!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I sold a few things and other random stuff....

The hardest part about writing everyday is coming up with good titles lol :)

I sold a small grocery bag of Kid # 5's outgrown clothes today, making $15. That brings my total for the week to $20 so far. I have a meeting set up tomorrow to sell two more items. Hopefully that works out.

I am setting aside this cash I am making selling items to add to our Christmas fund. Once we have finished paying for our gifts, I will then start adding it to the school tuition fund. If that should already be funded then ( I am setting aside my pay to do this with) I will have to reevaluate what is next on our list.

We did not end up following the menu plan this evening. We had a lot of leftovers in the frig so I declared it a leftover night. We emptied two containers and so far have not wasted any food.

I had some leftover garbanzo bean salad that we had at work last week and no one ate. I ran it through the food processor tonight with some sun dried tomatoes I picked up at Costco and turned it into Hummus. I love Hummus! We will have some of this tomorrow night for snack night.

The picture above is my new bag drying rack I picked up at a yard sale for a $1. Yes I know it is a baby bottle drying rack but I have no babies and I needed something to dry zip locks on. Works like a charm and folds up to store when not in use.

Well time to get back to homecoming flower making. Hope everyone had a good day :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Little of This, A Little of That

Today I listed a few more things on my local Facebook sites to sell. I have two items pending. Hopefully they both will sell by Friday.

We had Chicken Cacciatore for dinner. It was a crock pot freezer meal I had made up before school started. I really love having these crock pot meals made ahead of time. When I use up the last of them I plan to make some more.

Tonight I am working on Homecoming flowers for Saturday. I always made Kid # 3's. This time I am working on Kid #4's. The supplies cost me $3.92. I used a 40% mobile coupon at Hobby Lobby. I'll post some pictures when I get them finished.

I also cut a couple scarves. I am way behind in my orders and need to get these done ASAP.

Today I brought home some leftover sliced bananas from work. I plan to put these in the freezer ( need to get that done before bed) and use them in smoothies and banana bread. Yeah for free/cheap food!

Yesterday I got a fabulous deal on a by one get one deal at Target. This is the deal here. Yeah for cheap Christmas presents :)

I had to run to Kohl's this afternoon to pay my bill ( which I almost forgot about, bad me!). I had a 30% off coupon so while I was there I decided to check out the flip flops. I had heard that they were marked down to about $4 a pair and mine were all falling apart. I usually wear them for a few years at a time. Anyway, I got 3 pairs for a little over $9. I used my coupon and Kohl's charge and the paid the charge bill before I left the store. 

My day was good. How about yours?

Monday, September 30, 2013

31 Days Series....

So every year for a number of years now The Nester has hosted a blog link party for the whole month of October. The idea is that you pick one topic to write about everyday for the whole month. 

This year I have decided to join in. Since my blog is primarily about my frugal adventures saving my family money and trying to become debt free, that is what I will be writing about. Nothing real fancy or new but it will be a challenge for me to write everyday.

I have also decided that I will continue with the low- no spend challenge like I did last month along with Carla. I hope to cut our grocery budget again by $150 which I will set aside for purchasing Christmas gifts with. I also hope to be able to put all of my pay checks in my "mom account" to use for Christmas gifts and then to begin saving for our half of Kid #3's community college tuition which will be due again in January. Any other savings that we may accomplish will go towards debt reduction.

So there is what my October blogging will be about in a nutshell. Hope you all follow along :)

Day 1: October Menu
Day 6: Slow Sunday
Day 7: Manic Monday
Day 8: Good Day
Day 9: Ugh!
Day 10: I Am Behind
Day 13: To Do List

Saturday, September 28, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Found Kid # 5 items for her Halloween costume at Goodwill for $3.24.

2. Made a pot I'd soup and used up all the little odds and ends out of the frig.

3. Combined errands to save on gas.

4. Did not go grocery shopping :)

5. Watch the premier of Grey's Anatomy for free using our digital antenna now that we are a cable free household!

Friday, September 27, 2013

September Challenge Update -The End

So you all know I have joined with Carla for a no-low spend challenge for the month of September. Today starts a new month for us pay check wise. All of the first of the month bills come from this pay check. So I thought I would call it good and tally the numbers.

My first goal was to save $600 cash to take a weekend trip with my hubby and Kid #5 to Michigan for my BFF's wedding. I completed this by using my work pay checks and selling some stuff on Facebook.  We drove the Pruis to save on gas. We spent two nights in a hotel but made sure they included breakfast with the price of the room. We ate dinner Friday night with my BFF and her soon to be hubby. We ate dinner Saturday night at the reception, which was beautiful by the way. We came home Sunday afternoon. So all together we bought 3 lunches and that was it for meals. Anyway we only spent half the money I saved!!!! So I still have $300 sitting in my "mom account". I will decide how best to use that money at a later date.

Next up was to increase our ER Fund to $1200. I planned to do this by shaving $150 off our grocery budget. Not only did I accomplish this but I only spent $200 for the entire month of September.  Woohoo go me! We even fed one to two extra people a few days a week for almost the whole month.

If you are wondering how could she have possibly done that? Well I made a menu plan by first shopping my house. I also planned for the whole month and for the most part used meat that I already had.  I have a deep freeze that I use when I purchase meat on sale. I also have a pretty large pantry but I do not really have a large stockpile in it. The biggest thing was having a plan!

I am planning to continue this low-no spend challenge for the month of October. I'll update with my plan for the month in a day or two :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Saved up enough cash for our weekend trip!

2. Did did not turn on the air even though we had 2 pretty hot days

3. Organized a few spaces in my home using some baskets and items I already had

4. Stuck to the menu plan even with extra people to feed.

5. Did not go grocery shopping. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September No/Low Spend Challege Week #2

Well I am little late with update, it has been a crazy week around here.  We still are having relatives stay with us on and off each week.  Which makes life kind of hectic.

If you have missed this, I am participating in Carla's, September No-Low Spend Challenge.

Anyway, on to my challenge, if you missed my plan for the month you can find it here.  You can find my first weeks update here. 

My first goal was to pay cash for our weekend trip, which is actually this weekend.  My goal was to save $600 cash for this trip.  I have deposited both of my paychecks into my "mom" account and also transferred the savings from having our cable shut off.  This goal is now complete.  Go me!!

Next up is the grocery budget.  I am hoping to bump out ER fund up to $1200 and use our grocery budget to do it with.  Plus any other extra saving we can manage.  Our normal grocery budget is $400 a month. I planned out our menu for the whole month of September which you can find here.  This has helped so much even with feeding extra people all month!  Right now I have spent $191.19. I have a few items I need to pick up but so far so good.  The monthly menu plan has sure helped!  I have had some reimbursement for some Dr bills we have had so our saving is sitting at $1074.44 right now.  So hopefully by the end of the month I will reach this goal too :)

I can not stress enough how much having a plan has helped!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

I have now used the homemade dishwasher soap that I mentioned here about 15 times or so.

I found several recipes on Pinterest.  Basically this is the recipe most used was this:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Kosher salt ( or any kind of salt really)

I mixed then all together and use 1 Tablespoon per load.  I also use Lemi Shine because we have hard water.  Some of the recipes called for unsweetened lemonaide packets.  I didn't use that since I already use Lemi Shine.

My thoughts on the homemade dishwasher soap is it works ok. The main thing is to be sure and mix it well each use.  I will continue to use what I have then I will decide after that whether I will go back to buying dishwasher soap.  Normally I buy the Walmart Great Value brand powder which I love and works great.  It also last me along time.  So I will have to think on this some more as I continue to use up what I have made.

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. We found an exterior door to replace the broken one on our outbuilding at the Habitat Resell Store for $20! Woohoo!

2. Ate at home and stuck to our budget

3. I stretched the gas in my car 19 days before I had to fill it up again :)

4. Turned off the air now that it has finally gotten cooler

5. Used the leftovers from our chicken fajitas to make BBQ chicken sandwiches.  They were super good too :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Stuck to the menu :)

2. Combined alot of driving to stretch my gas even further

3. Continued to use my homemade dishwasher soap, laundry soap and started a new batch of orange cleaner with the peels from our free bag of cuties.

4. Accepted all free food offered to us!  This week we recieved 3 loaves of bread, 3 packages of hamburger buns, a box of powdered doughnuts, bag of apples and cuties, bunch of bananas and a watermelon.

5. Ate our leftovers

Friday, September 6, 2013

September No/Low Spend Challenge Week -1

So far so good!  I have finished most of my grocery shopping for the month I believe.  I have spent $184.06 so far.  I took $200 out in cash to start off with and still have about $15 left.  I may have to get milk and some produce towards the end of the month.  We will see.

We also happen to be feeding 1 to 2 extra people most days this week.  My husbands Aunt and cousin have been staying with us off and on.  My husbands Uncle is in the hospital here in our city.  They live 45 minutes away so it is easier for them to just stay with us.  The cousin went back to his home yesterday but the Aunt is still here and my Mother in law is coming this weekend.  ( My Mother in law and the Aunt are sisters) 

So the fact that my menu is still working is just awesome!

I moved my first pay check into my "mom" savings account and I will receive another on September 15.  That will cover most of our mini vacation.

I will have to purchase gas at some point over the weekend.  I figure since I have not had to buy gas for my car in two weeks.  I am doing good in this area too :)

So that is my update for the week.  All seems to be going well!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Menu For September

As part of my goals for September's Low/No Spend Challenge I made a menu for the whole month in hopes that it will help us cut our grocery bill.  My goal is to cut our budget by $150.  This would help us to increase our ER fund.

I have planned dinners before for a month at a time and wrote about my process here.

I only plan dinners and side dishes.  My husband takes leftovers for his lunches at work.  We always have sandwich items and easy breakfast items.  I also always have pantry items such as flour, sugar, oatmeal etc.... Also every Friday we have "snack night and usually make appetizer type items to eat.

Here is my list

1. Grilled chicken, brown rice and salad
2. Hamburgers, buns, chips and coleslaw
3. Meatball subs, ( crock pot freezer item) buns, chips and  cut up veggies
4. Balsamic chicken -( crock pot freezer item), rice, salad
5. French toast, sausage links, eggs
6. Snack Night

7. Hot dogs, buns, pork n beans, cut up veggies
8. Spare ribs, BBQ sauce, baked potato, green beans
9. Fajitas
10. Hash brown pork skillet ( new pinterest recipe)
11. BBQ chicken sandwiches, buns, chips
12. Crispy Chicken Wraps ( new pinterest recipe)
13. Snack night

14. Pepperoni Tortellini Pasta Salad
15. Sausage, potato, mushroom, onion, green pepper foil packs
16. Taco Salad
17. Lasagna Skillet meal, green beans, salad
18. Teriyaki Chicken and Rice ( crock pot freezer items also new pinterest recipe)
19. Leftovers
20. Vacation to Michigan

21. Vacation to Michigan
22. Vacation to Michigan
23. Pork Loin, salad, mashed potatoes
24. Sub Sandwiches, chips, cut up veggies
25. Chicken Alfredo, noodles, Salad ( crock pot freezer item)
26. Goulash, green beans
27. Kid # 5 and I will be out of town, will leave things for hubby

28. Kid # 5 and I out of town, will leave things for hubby
29. Fish, rice, salad

So there is my menu in a nutshell.  I am hoping to only spend $250 on groceries for the month.  So far, I have spent $100.  So that leaves me $150 to go.  My biggest shopping trip will be Aldi.  I have my list all ready and have estimated I will spend about $100 there. 

Wish me luck :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Septembers Plan = No/Low Spend Challenge

I am planning in joining Carla on her September no/low Spend Challenge

My main goal this month is to pay cash for a weekend trip we will be taking to Michigan for my best friends wedding.

We will need to pay for two nights in a hotel, meals, gas and any extra activities we do. 

Luckily we have clothes already to wear to the wedding.

I plan to take sandwich items, drinks and sacks with us and hopefully stay at a hotel that offers breakfast.  I think we will get away with only having to eat out one meal per day this way.

I am planning to allot $600 total for this trip.  We are taking Kid # 5 with us so we will do something extra and fun for her since she spent most of her summer in a cast.  This is a mini vacation for us with her.

My first pay check was approximately $250 and I should receive another one before the trip for around the same amount.  Which would bring us to about $500. 

September is our first month with no cable/land line which is saving us about $95 a month.  I will allot that amount for September toward the mini vacation fund also and that will put us pretty close to the goal.

My next goal is to increase our ER fund which is sitting at $974.44.  I am hoping to bump this up to $1200 by the end of the month.

I am going to try to shave $150 off our $400 grocery budget to put towards the ER fund goal.  This might be a lofty goal to try to accomplish but I am gonna try.  I have planned out our menu for the whole month of September.  I will post the menu in another post. 

I then hope to make at least $75 in selling items around the house or some of my crafts to make up the rest of the difference. 

I think this will be good for the month.  Any other savings that we may accomplish will go towards debt repayment.

Here's to a us all having a good month and accomplishing our goals!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Found a good sale on hamburger and chicken. Bought several pounds which should last us awhile.

2. Made a menu plan for the entire month of September :)

3. Had a leftover night so no food went to waste 

4. Made use of the clothesline and my 3 drying racks so the dryer was not used at all

5. Combined a lot of driving to save on gas and to keep us out of the hot car in this crazy heat

Friday, August 23, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. I was out of dishwasher soap but had all ingredients to try making my own. I made a small test batch. Recipe and my thoughts on it to come soon :)

2. Started to organize all our paper work. This will save me time and money when a bill comes due 

3. Packed Kid # 5 a lunch 2x this week. This saves us $1.90 every time.

4. Ad matched a few items at Walmart. 

5. Cooked dinner each night even though I was tired

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What a week....

This is the first week of school here for everyone.

I started back to work also.  You would know that it has also been quite hot here this week too.  It is nice to be back but it also is taking some adjustment for all.

It seems that the financial hits just keep coming and coming.........

Our homeowners insurance sent us a letter telling us we have until November 11 to do some major repairs to our "large shed" on our property or we will  be cancelled.  The other option is tearing it down.  We use this "large shed" for storage so tearing it down is not an option and would not be a cheaper option really either.  I have never heard of insurance doing this.  We got no warning just a letter in the mail.  We are shopping around for new insurance.  Some of the repairs are not all that expensive and we plan to do but some of them are very expensive and just not in our budget right now. The funny thing is this building is old and really does not look that bad.  It needs a few repairs but the demands the insurance is making are ridiculous for an outbuilding on someones property.

Kid # 3 had a dentist appointment this week.  She needs to have her wisdom teeth pulled :(  This is not covered 100% by our dental insurance.  But is something that will need to be done since she had braces.  We are gonna have to figure out how to work that into the budget.

Thankfully I am back to work now!  My paycheck is going to come in handy!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Searl House Happenings August 11-17

What a busy week we have had. 

Kid # 5 started physical therapy for her knee this week.  She is going twice a week now.  The Dr says this should last about 12 weeks.  She has a knee brace instead of a cast and no longer has to walk with her crutches which is nice.

On Monday I had a Dr appointment to get a physical and TB test for work.  I went back on Wednesday to have the TB test read and get blood work done since I am now 40 :)

Wednesday I also drop off my paper work for my "new" job since I am officially hired as a cook in the school district this year.

Thursday I had 4 hours worth of meetings for work.  All the cooks in the district have a new boss this year.  It is a big deal to alot of the cooks who have been here along time.  Not so much to me.  She seems nice and I love the lady I will be working with.

Friday I met with the other lady I will be working with and we cleaned up our kitchen to get it ready for the first day of school on Monday.  That was an all day job!  Lots of cleaning and putting stuff away and computer work.  I really think I will like my job though and I look forward to the extra money.

Today I am taking my dog to a new groomer.  The one we have used the last few years closed up shop.  Hopefully I like this one as well and her prices are comparable :)

I am also trying to get some last minute cleaning and organizing done before school starts.  Hopefully I will get alot accomplished.  This summer went by much to quickly!

Have a great Saturday everyone!

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Enjoyed the nice weather we are having and did not turn on the air conditioning

2. Ate at home even though going out to dinner sounded nice

3. Went to a free concert in the park.

4. Combined driving to save on gas

5. Came in under budget for the two weeks of groceries :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Murphy Comes To Visit When You Least Expect It

Which is why an emergency fund is so important. 

Today it was our washer.  The pump on it went bad. 

We know a repairman.  Even still it cost $180 to have it fixed.  Parts can be expensive, but it was still cheaper then buying a new washer.

Thankfully we have an ER fund so we could pay cash for having it fixed.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Food Waste

I realized when I was looking through my pictures that I didn't post my food waste from last week.  So I am just going to combine it with this weeks.

So keep in mind when you are looking this is two weeks worth.  I really wish I had no pictures to post but that is not the case :(

1/4 of a very large container of sour cream

A few strawberries

Half of a loaf of bread 

Hopefully next week will be better :(

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Made Kid # 4 a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting completely from scratch for his birthday.

2. I made an apple crisp from free apples we picked at my sisters.

3. Only had the air on one day this week

4. We had pizza pasta bake of dinner one night this week. Used up all the little veggie scraps in the frig. Froze the rest of the pizza sauce to use in pizza soup.

5. Made these meatballs with ground beef I got for $1.77 a pound. There are 28 of them. I flash froze them and then placed them in a ziplock to use as needed for future dinners.

Ugh! Not Where I Was Hoping To Be!

This summer has not been easy on the budget.  We have spent way to much money with no plan on how to pay for anything!

Here is where we stand now....with approximate numbers.

The bad.....

American Express- $1250.00 - before summer we had no credit card debt.  I would love to say this is due to some big emergency but it is not.  It has been alot of eating out and buying things we don't need.

ER Fund - $1100 - I really like to have $2000 in this fund.  Again at the beginning of summer we did.  More mindless spending.  My hubby bought me an ipad for my 40th birthday with no real plan or savings on how to pay for it.  So it came out of the ER fund :(

Car repayment started at 16,000- we have paid $1650 towards the car since May.  Which leaves us at a balance of alittle less then 14,500.  We are $1350 short of what I was hoping to have been able to pay by now.

The Good....

We have paid Kid # 3's community college tuition in cash.  So that is a plus in our favor.

I have also made over $600 since April decluttering my house and selling our unwanted items.  That is also a plus!

I have paid cash to sign Kid # 5 up for school and only need to buy 2 boxes of Kleenex and some disinfecting wipes for her supplies. 

I also will not owe anything to sign Kid # 4 up for school.  His Dad and I split that cost and his Dad owes me money for some other expenses so we will just call it even.

How are we gonna get out of this mess.....

I finally bit the bullet and called and had our land line and cable disconnected.  This will save us $95 a month.

Next up we will be getting rid of one of our cars.  We own 4, two we both drive, 1 is a van used for my hubby's side business.  The other is old and we don't need it.  I will be putting a for sale sign in it this week.  I don't expect to get alot from it but mainly it just needs to go.  That will also lower our car insurance.

We will be reevaluating out car insurance to make sure we are getting the best bang for our buck.  I think we might be over paying.  We will see....

I will also be going back to work and getting a pay check again at the end of this month.   That will be nice!

August is an extra pay check month so I plan to pay at least half of the amount owed on the American Express card with the extra money from the extra pay check.  The rest of the money from the extra pay check will have to go towards some back to school expenses for Kid # 5.

I am going to cut our grocery budget to $300 a month.  There is only 3 of us eating here for the most part now.  I think with careful planning this is doable.  In order to do this I will need to go back to planning menus, which I should have been doing all along anyway! I also need to make a better effort to get back to using coupons.  I use to have a nice stockpile but have gotten away from couponing when my stockpile grew large.  We have now used that up.  I don't plan to have a large stockpile again necessarily but some extra bottles of shampoo, deodorant, tampons etc would be nice.

The biggest thing we are going to do is sit down together and work out a budget.  Paying our bills is not really the problem, it is how we spend the money that is left.  We never have a plan and we never work together on this.  We need to do better or we will never accomplish any of the goals we have.

Something I know that will be coming up....

My hubby is going back to school for his Masters, we have 2 books left to purchase for that.

Kid # 5's piano lessons will be starting again in September.  We will need to work those back in the budget.

I will need to finish our Christmas shopping and pay cash for that.  I would say we are about half done.

My car is going to need some routine work done on it since it has rolled over 100,000.  That is gonna be pricey.  We will need to save cash for that.

In January Kid # 3's tuition for the spring semester will be due again.  We will need to plan for that also.

Good list of things to talk about and plan for I think.  So lets see if we can get all this under control and make some head way.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fiesta Lime Chicken

I am way behind in posting about my Pinterest recipes we have been eating.  Tonight I made this chicken.  It was awesome!  The recipe can be found here

I used cilantro that I grew myself in a pot off my deck. 

I also had a tomato, cucumber, mozzarella salad with balsamic vinegar as the dressing. The cucumber and tomatoes I got free from my Mom and sisters gardens :) 

Great summer meal!

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. I walked to several places this week instead of driving. Saved some gas and got some exercise in the process.

2. I made some buns, banana bread and bbq sauce.  All things we needed for dinners and I had all the ingredients to make instead of buying at the store.

3.  I was offered some free food my Kid # 1's sister in law.  I never turn down free food unless it is something we really won't eat.

4.  I went through my "school box".  I will only need to purchase, tissues, and disinfected wipes to start the kids in school!

5. I took this dress that was Kid # 3's and stained and turned it into this skirt for Kid # 5 :)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baby Gift

My cousin had a baby boy recently and I wanted to take her a gift. 

I didn't have much money to spend. I did have some leftover fabric from making my Grandson a few things.

I made a large blanket, a burp cloth and a reversible bib

Here is some pictures of both sides of the bib.

All the items were well received. I think I will be making more in the future when baby gifts are needed :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Budget? What Budget?

Summer is killing my budget. I think we have over spent in every area of our budget :(

I haven't been home much and with Kid # 5's injury we have just been doing whatever to keep her entertained.

Hopefully once school is started and I am back to work, we can get a grip on this. In the mean time, I am trying to be more mindful of our spending!

How is everyone else doing this summer?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Food Waste

I still have a few pictures to show unfortunately :( 

I had one half of a bagel go bad before it was eaten.

I had to dump out half of this bottle of pineapple juice that we did not end up using up before it went bad.

Those were the only two things this week, but still more the I hoped for. Oh we'll maybe next week :)

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Took some fresh produce that was offered to us by my Mom and Sister.

2. Went to the "free" children's movie in my home town with Kid # 5.  Remembered our popcorn bucket we had bought the week before so that we got it filled again at a discounted rate.  Shared a soda and spent around $10 for the movie. 

3. Made a baby gift for my cousin who just had a baby boy. I used items I already had.

4. We are having very mild weather for the end of July so off went the air conditioning.  Woohoo for cheap gas and power!

5. Combined my driving so I didn't waste gas

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Food Waste Friday

Well I thought I would have no picture to post for Food Waste Friday. Most of our leftovers were eaten this week and what wasn't I moved to the freezer to use at a later time. Then I went to make some toast from the English muffin bread I made last week. Yeah not gonna happen, this is what it looked like....

Big fail on our part eating that up :(. It was really good too, not sure why we didn't finish it.
I am linking up at The Frugal Girl

Friday, July 19, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Bought a few things at Lowe's to do a few projects.  2 are Christmas presents.  Used a $10 off $50 coupon.

2.  Made my Christmas lists, wrote down everything I have already purchased so I would not forget about them. 

3. Took Kid #4 and 5 to the free movie in my home town. We did buy popcorn and drinks but still only spent $15 for the 3 of us.  Still pretty good considering the cost of going to the movies.

4. Kept the air conditioner set 78-79 even though it is hot outside.  It is still cooler in here!

5. I had some leftover zucchini, black bean, rice skillet meal in the refrigerator.  I didn't see us finishing it up so I froze it for use later in a soup.  That is now 4 freezer meals I have in the deep freeze for use during the school year.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Few Recipes This Week July 7-13

I posted a picture on Friday of the English Muffin Bread I made here.   I found the recipe on Pinterest but here is the link to the original blog it was posted on, One Good Thing by Jillee . It was very good and I will for sure be making it again.

There are several Farmers Markets around us.  Yesterday I went to a fairly new one near my house and bought some blueberries.  Today Kid # 5 and I went to the bigger one along the river front here.  I also bought some blueberries there.  When we came home I decided to make a cobbler with some of them.  I used this recipe. 

Here is how it turned out, hubby ate some before I could get a photo :)

Last night we had this Tortellini and Pepperoni Pasta Salad.  It was awesome! 

Edit* - forgot to mention, I used dried tortellini from Aldi.  I cooked two packages, rinsed in cold water and then went from there.  I also used canned diced tomatoes ( also from Aldi) because that was what I had on hand.  I did use some fresh basil but I didn't have enough so I added some dried basil too. 
I recently tried this, cocktail drink recipe also.  It was not to bad :)