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!