Tag Archives: money

End of August Budget Wrap Up, Stocking up, and Going out to Eat

September 4, 2013

August turned out to be very different from other months. I started out the month with a surplus of money because of all the produce we are getting out of the garden and I ended the month in a deficit because of Poison Ivy.

At the beginning of the month a friend and I were talking about being pregnant and how sick we get. We agreed to bring food to each other during the first three months of being pregnant instead of after the baby was born. That got me thinking…that’s what I should do with my surplus grocery money! Stock up for whenever I’m pregnant again – and use all the self control in the world to not use up the frozen meals until then.

I made large batches of cream of…soups for pot pie, refried beans, and baked beans and then canned and froze them. I made large batches of muffins  and biscuits (frozen individually). I used most of our strawberries and blueberries and made and froze MANY jars of jam. I made enchilada casseroles and froze them. I made more loaves of bread than I could count and froze them. I also froze coleslaw and lots of beans (chickpeas, black, and pinto) for future cooking. I tried to make enough to last 3 months as I am typically sick from month 2 through month 5 of pregnancy.

There was more to do but I used all of my extra money and I was exhausted…oh yeah, and my kids were begging me to start school! 🙂

Then, three weeks ago, I got poison ivy 😦 My husband is a pediatric nurse so we have TONS of free samples of many drugs…even with all of those, we still had to spend over $100 on meds for me! That money has to come from somewhere so we used grocery money for the poison ivy meds and for the second half of August, we started eating from the freezer.

So now I’m not prepared to get pregnant 😉 but it is quite the blessing to know that even though I have half of the grocery money I’m used to having, we will still be able to eat well. I’m glad we were able to use the surplus grocery money in a wise way and were able to see how wise it was soon – it helps to encourage us to continue to be wise 🙂

As far as debt goes, we are still in it :\ We pay all of our bills and pay for groceries and gas from one of my husband’s part time jobs. It is steady work, even though it is only 20hrs/week, typically.

His other business is more sporadic as far as work and pay. Some weeks he is incredibly busy and others, we see him more (this is how we like to think about it, rather than $$ vs no $$). So from this job, after tithe & offering, we hold back 10% to put back into his business and 5% for going out to eat. The rest goes into paying off debt.

Some may think 5% for going out to eat is crazy but setting goals are useless unless you are going to reach said goals. You have to make a budget that YOU can KEEP! We used to go out to eat once a week and would take the whole family (7 people)! If we decided ‘no going out to eat until we pay off debt’, which is what some would say should be done, we would ‘break’ that promise to ourselves eventually and once you fall down once, it’s hard to pick back up where you were…just ask dieters how much they want to get back to their diet after they ‘caved’ and ate that gallon of ice cream.

So we budgeted 5% of the 2nd income to go towards ‘out to eat’. Because we are in the budget mind frame, however, we have been really good about finding other ways to save money when going out to eat.

  1. Go alone! We used to go out to eat with the kids (all 5 of them) but that gets expensive really quickly and there are some girls in our church that love to spend time with the kids (and do it for free!) and the kids love them so the kids don’t mind that we’re eating out without them. I’ll also make a less healthy supper (I hate that that makes things special but…) and a dessert so they get a ‘special’ meal just like us.
  2. Use gift cards! When we first started trying to get out of debt, it was February and we still had some Christmas gift cards. I earn gift cards periodically from Swagbucks as well. The other week, my husband won a gift card from one of his photographs. We don’t always have gift cards but we try to save them for our ‘date nights’.
  3. Limit going out to eat to once a month. This was not the plan to begin with but it is what we have ended up doing. Then again, this is what works for us. If you can go longer, great. If you need to go out 3 times every two months, I understand. But I challenge you to NOT go out every week.
  4. ‘Splurge’ WITHIN your budget! Sounds like an impossibility but hear me out. Because we are only going out to eat once a month, not taking the kids, and using gift cards, we have ‘left over’ money for going out to eat. So on those hard days, when my husband would normally call me from work and tell me to ‘get the kids up from a nap – we’re going out to eat’…instead, when the kids go to bed, he’ll go to Dairy Queen…or grab a pizza…or bring home something else, equally as bad for us. I know, I know, I wish these foods did not taste good. And yes, they do give me a tummy ache after. But this post is about sticking to your budget, not eating healthy 😉

The dilemma: This month is the month to buy NC State Fair tickets at a discount. We LOVE the fair! We typically go two days each year. We have already not gone on a family vacation this year because of debt…were we going to have to forgo our beloved Fair because of debt too? 😦 Then I saw it. We had a good amount of ‘date night money’ left in the budget…and I have $15 in swagbucks…and my husband just got a coupon for $10 off…and we have a little bit of a gift card left…so our next date night will be free. We have enough to go to one day of the fair! 🙂 So happy! So thankful!

Yes, we are still in debt. But, we are staying within budget. My husband hates following ‘gurus’ so I don’t know what Dave Ramsey or Clark Howard would say. I am frustrated because, well, who wants to be in debt? But at the same time, I’m proud of us for staying within the budget for 7 months now and I am just praying that we will be out of debt soon…and never.go.back.

Anyone else created a budget, stuck to it, and actually got out of debt?! I know it is possible but with our incredibly high interest, it seems impossible at times :\


Bug update, Corn, and Harvest Monday

May 26, 2013

I mentioned that the bugs on the snaps have slowed down but wondered if it was from the cool weather and rain. Once it got hot again, I would only find one or two bugs/day. The snap plants seem to have gotten over the shock of being transplanted. Yay! However, the interesting news is that when they were transplanted, there was a row that was established and a row that was just popping out of the ground…the newer row has surpassed the established row, which, for a week or so, looked like they were just hanging on for dear life.

during (snaps in center are established…just to the right they are just starting to pop through the mulch…just trust me on this 🙂 )

I mentioned previously that I made a homemade fertilizer (chicken poop & water – stir 2-3x/day for a week). Tonight, I went to take pictures of the beans so you could see the vast difference between the two rows (one was YELLOW and one was green) but…both were green! I guess the fertilizer worked!

May 25 13 - 0271(Plants on L were the established plants when transplanted. Plants on R were just popping out of the ground. You can see the plants on R have top growth that is uneaten & plants on L are slightly more yellow and have more bug bites. Lettuce is growing at bottom of photo. Carrots are growing between plants on R.)

I am thankful I stuck to the organic route of picking the bugs off, using chicken manure, and being patient while the plants got over the shock of transplanting and became healthier. I definitely see the temptation to just spray them with something though – it is disheartening to go through the planting process to end up having all of your plants being eaten by bugs.

Instead of focusing on the bugs, though, we should be focusing on getting the plants healthy so the bugs will not attack them. I mentioned before about how nature works: predators go after the weakest…the straggler, the old animal or the baby animal…bugs are the same! They go after the weak plants. If your plants are being attacked by bugs, figure out how to make them stronger! (most times it has to do with the soil)

It’s interesting to see the difference between the plants that had to be transplanted because of the weed cloth and those that did not. The snap beans that did not have to be transplanted are starting to get some blooms on them already while those that were transplanted are focusing all of their energy on getting stronger and getting over the bug attacks.

May 25 13 - 0228(from R to L. row of snaps, another (less healthy) row of snaps…next, at the top of the photo – can you see how those two (shorter) rows of snaps are MUCH bigger and healthier? Those are the ones that were not transplanted)

It is getting warmer, which means the bugs are coming out more and more. The kale is starting to get eaten (another example: kale is a winter veggie so when it gets warmer, it gets weaker, and the bugs attack…they never ate my kale during the winter or the cool spring).

I went ahead and harvested a grocery bag full of kale, a grocery bag full of lettuce, transplanted what I could, and threw the rest to the chickens. The kale is getting over the shock of being transplanted beautifully. Not so much with the lettuce :\

kale2 lettuce2I am linking with Harvest Monday at Daphne’s Dandelions today. She is such an inspiration as to how she feeds her families and neighbors from her garden! Also linking to Simple Lives Thursday. Any day I am able to harvest from the garden instead of drive to the store is a good, simple day!

April Budget Update and Changes

May 1, 2013

A budget update is so boring…I didn’t even want to write about it. But it helps keep me focused and may be a reminder to you all to start a budget! 🙂

In 2012, we spent $150/week ($600/month) on groceries for our family of seven. We also went out  to eat 2-4x month. I tried to pair that down this year to $112/week ($450/month). This is just not happening for two reasons:

  1. We now go out to eat once a month (it seems to always be someone’s birthday) so I am cooking at home more.
  2. My husband has been juicing since February and that adds about $20 to our grocery bill each week.

I have been spending, pretty consistently, $125/week ($500/month) so far this year so this week, when we had our monthly budget meeting, I decided to change our grocery budget to something more realistic.

I could feel like this is a loss (not making my $112/week goal) but I choose to see it as a win because I am saving $100/month compared to 2012 numbers with growing children with growing appetites.

Things I am NOT buying:

Every once in a while, I am not buying kale, broccoli, spinach, and lettuce, because this is what we have been growing in our winter garden. Hopefully, this summer, I will be able to reduce our grocery bill even more as we have potatoes, peas, carrots, beans, and blueberries growing and hopefully we will continue to produce more vegetables as well.

What are you doing to get out of debt/save money? Send any creative ideas my way 😀