Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Month End Money Recap

I had a feeling June would go quickly and be crazy. After all, when you're not at home all month things are definitely different. I feel all over the place with budget though we have kept things really simple here in Florida and not done anything extravagent - we've kept expenses relatively low but still having us in two different places means a very difficult month so I am letting it go and we will start over next month.

But for fun:

1. Spend $100 or less on groceries per week. Ummm, I don't honestly know. For the first time this year I don't know! And I hate it. I'm a numbers girl and it's killing me but for this month I have to let it go.

2. Pay down debt and not acrue new debt. This we did. We haven't charged anything. That's a plus considering we've traveled, Kirk's flown on a plane, paid some medical expenses and we've had our air fixed and still no credit card. Thank you God!!

3. Budget, budget, budget. Did it for the summer but haven't seen the numbers since I've been in FL. I will be glad to get back on track next week!

4. Make a price point book. Okay, this is taking me forever. Seems simple enough but yet I'm not getting it done! Maybe over the summer :)

5. Get rid of stuff. Kirk is actually working on this by getting rid of a few larger items while I'm gone along with a dead tree in the backyard. Does that even count? I don't know but we're all sad about losing our huge willow tree.

6. Organize. Not home, can't do it - should be doing it here in FL but haven't. July should be better. Should be...

7. Make extra money. See #5 - getting rid of stuff this way means extra money from Craigslit - about $145 thus far.

8. Still buying good kids clothes. I did purchase some things on sale from Gymboree for school/Fall - in cash.

Here's hoping July is more organized!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Streeeeeeeeeetching My Budget At CVS

It's been a while since I posted about CVS - mostly because I don't get the deals until late on Saturday and by then it's too late for anyone to get that week's deal. I have found (quite often) that CVS is out of the best deals in the middle of the week and by returning on Saturday they have re-stocked and I can pick up what I need. In the past few weeks I have been able to pick up free body wash, free razors, eye contact solution for $1.00 and 2 bottles of sunscreen for $12 while earning $10 back in ECB's - CVS is truly a great place to shop to stretch your budget.

This week diapers were on sale so I had to stock up. Notice the photo on the left - that was a gift we received when the triplets were just three months old - each box contained close to 200 diapers - all 4 boxes probably lasted us 6 weeks. At the time we were going through about 21 diapers a day (7 changes a day per girl). Today I am feeling the love of having only one toddler in diapers and it's awesome!

But still diapers need to be purchased so when CVS has a sale I head right out. Using my extra care bucks from last week along with a $3.00 off Huggies coupon from meant my $19.99 box of diapers cost me just $5.00 and earned me $10 back in extra care bucks.

I made 2 trips to CVS this week:

Trip #1

Purchased large box of Huggies Diapers and Colgate Toothpaste (found out while I was there that I also had a $4.00 off $20.00 coupon and since the diapers were a penny shy of $20.00 I bought the toothpaste to go over so I had no coupon for it):

I spent: $5.32 ($3.98 was my purchase - the rest was tax)
And saved: $22.90
And earned: $12.00 in Extra Care Bucks

Trip #2

Purchased 3 12 packs of Coke and swim diapers - both were on my needs list and while I didn't earn any extra care bucks back using what I had was a great way to stretch my budget for the month and get some much needed items. For the swim diapers I used a printable $1.50 off coupon from and matched it with a CVS coupon for $2.00 off for a total of $3.50 off the $8.49 price.

I spent: $5.89 ($4.49 was my actual purchase)
And saved: $21.57
And earned: $0 in ECB's - I figured I'd rather get the soda almost free and shell out less money next time to start earning my ECB's again.

Printed on the bottom of my receipt is my year-to-date savings and it says $562.27 as of 6/19 (a little more now) and my total spring and summer spending is: $163.74 - can you see the savings?! I know my wallet can :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

All You Grocery Challenge Week 1 Meal Plan

A while back I signed up for the All You Grocery Challenge and now it has begun. Can't say it's great timing for me since I am away from home but I will still be staying within the guidelines of spending only $25 a week per person and cooking healthier meals. For my family that's $175/week which is basically $75 more than I normally spend so the spending less will be easy - it's the healthier cooking I have to work on!

My plan for the first 2 weeks is to spend as little as possible and make meals for my family and my parents - most of them will be meals that I have memorized from home using meat my parents bought so at least I don't have to pay for that :)

Once I get back home, I plan to make some new and healthier meals - I have lots of ideas that I'm excited to try. Kirk is open to new ideas - my parents aren't as much - just adding challenges to the challenge!

Our meal plan for this week:

Monday - Veal Cutlets with Spaghetti (dad made - it was yummy and my cost was $0)

Tuesday - Chicken BBQ Wraps - chicken's already made - recipe is from the Kraft Cheese bag :) It looked good so I'm going to try it!

Wednesday - Mini-Meatloaves - have to make it for mom and dad!

Thursday - Shepherd's Pie - see above :)

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Open because I may be going to dinner with my SIL for a girl's night out!

For more information on the All You Grocery Challenge check out Moneywise Moms and while the challenge is closed you can follow along at the All You Grocery Challenge Blog

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gotta Love Kellogg's

Do you like Kellogg's cereal? What about Poptarts?

Well, I hope you like one of them because Kellogg's can get you a long way towards free movie tickets and cheap cereal with the right coupon match-ups :)

Currently you can go to Kellogg's and print out a number of good coupons.

And be sure when you buy your Kellogg's cereal that you are checking those boxes for codes - between now and next year you can earn free movie tickets to Toy Story 3 or another Disney or Touchstone movie. Go HERE for details but our family has already earned 4 free movie tickets just by buying Kellogg's products and since today I was able to buy 6 boxes of Kellogg's cereal for just $0.80 a box the pay off is pretty good. I will say you will have to check the boxes carefully and look for the movie code boxes - I'm finding less these days.

Just one more way I can make couponing work for our family and finding products that can do double duty is the biggest plus there is!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Planning While On Vacation

Meal planning at home is hard enough but meal planning while away from home is even harder. I am staying with my parents for a month so the kids can see Grandma and Grandpa more and swim in their pool. But of course this also means my parents are going from feeding 2 people to feeding 8 (without Kirk) so it's only fair that I help out in any way I can with the meals.

The good news is that I'm not starting from scratch. My mom cooks so she has meat and other items in the freezer so my first stop is to raid her fridge and cabinets and see what I can come up with.

Last week I made everyone Chicken Parmigan with what my mom had in the house. This week I have to come up with more than just one recipe.

Here's my "stab" at it:

Monday - Cheddar Ham Soup - this we've had a few times before and I LOVE it so when I found out my mom had frozen ham bits I knew I had to make it even though it's really hot outside :)

Tuesday - Roast with leftover mashed potatoes

Wednesday - Easy Bake Pasta - like it says: easy :)

Thursday - Grandpa's Fried Rice - a night off for me and some yummy food!

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - To Be Determined based on sales at Publix for this coming week.

I know I haven't posted a whole lot lately but that's kind of what happens on vacation :) I'll be working on posting more as I find the deals.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tips For Traveling Cheap

We just survived 15 hours in the van as a family of 7 as we traveled down the coast. Wow! Amazingly each trip gets easier - partly because the girls get older and partly because we get all our stops down to a science. Or maybe I'm just crazy and make us hurry up :)

Last year I had a number of gift cards to cut down on our traveling expenses. This year I did not but I still found ways to travel cheap and conveniently.

The best ways for us to travel cheap:

1. Budget. Yep, the yucky "B" word. It's so much easier to overspend when you're not paying attention to what you're spending. Simple as that. Since we had cash set aside for the whole trip the less we spent on traveling down the more we had to spend while we're here. And I'd much rather spend money having fun on vacation then on McDonald's food traveling.

2. Plan ahead. Similar to budgeting but applies to everything not just money. By planning our snacks and food in advance it meant that we didn't find ourselves hungry and then spend money on snacks at a convenience store or pay extra money at meals.

3. Use coupons. Of course. Though this time I didn't have coupons for what I bought so much as using my Staples rebates check for picking up some useful trip items there :) Since the ebate check can only be used at Staples I thought creatively picking up snacks (yes, snacks - they sell a huge bucket of animal crackers which the kids just loved) - mostly though I picked up items for the kids entertainment:

For under $20 I put together bags for each kids including crayons, coloring book, stickers and blank construction paper for coloring or stickers. They had a great time with these and by using the bags we didn't lose any crayons. Plus, I knew who had used which stickers!

4. Bring our own meals and snacks from home. Instead of buying breakfast I made it. I spent some time on Friday baking muffins for Saturday's breakfast. The kids LOVE blueberry muffins and since I had picked up muffin mix for basically free at Giant a month or so ago it cost me nothing but 2 eggs to comply. So, for about $0.50 I made breakfast. I also put some LIFE cereal in a bag (a box I paid $0.50 for) along with bananas so in total breakfast for 5 kids was less than $2.00 though I did splurge on milk and buy them their own bottle from the store for $1.00 each. Like their activities I put their breakfast and snacks in bags:

- for their snack bags I gathered up snacks from around the house then labeled a larger bag and filled them with the snacks. At any time I could offer the kids their choice of snacks and I have to say it worked really well.

- we also brought cold cuts for lunch and we only purchased one meal for under $30.

Since we have no control over gas we cut our costs in food and it helps a whole lot. If you have tips I'd love to hear them as we'll be heading home in a few weeks and I'd love to travel even cheaper!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Month End Money Recap

Actually it's more like 2 months worth since I never did recap April :) Not that I even remember April any longer. I will say I know my numbers are off for May because I missed a few grocery charges. I got behind and it didn't happen.

Here's where I am halfway through the year:

1. Spend $100 or less on groceries each week. I hit this every month and generally squeak a few dollars over.

For May:

I spent: $415.66
And saved: $489.80
Savings 54%

That does include the large trip to BJ's so it's not so bad. Only problem is that I didn't record $26.49 in my total (but it does include the $30 I spent yesterday so I guess it evens out since I was going to include that in June). The only reason I didn't add in the other $26 is because it's actually a total of a large number of small charges and I have no idea what the savings was so to be fair I just left it out. I have a feeling I'm missing some CVS purchases too but I just didn't record as well this month as I had intended. I'm guessing June will be bad too since I won't be home but I will try.

2. Pay down debt and not acrue new debt. We did use the credit cards some but paid them off, however, after reading Randy Alcorn's book I have decided to not even do this just so I don't get myself into trouble. We have also done some balance transfering so we can pay debt down faster so I'm excited about that.

3. Budget, budget, budget. This I did. Not really a month to month but I planned out the whole summer so that we know what money we have for what. The harder part will be sticking to it but I did budget every penny.

4. Make a price point book. I did start but didn't finish. I found a great resource at Southern Savers for it though if you want to check that out HERE - of course this is what the Grocery Game does for you by telling you what is a good sale so I guess my motivation is just a tad lacking :)

5. Get rid of stuff. I did - at least another 100 things - I'd say 150 for the past 2 months. Just yesterday I organized my entire closet and filled a box of about 50 pieces of clothing that I don't need anymore. I think this puts my yearly total at around 320 things I've gotten rid of. Maybe more - I've really been getting stuff out and I'm excited about that :)

6. Organize. I didn't do a lot other than my closet yesterday and I won't have much time to do more in June since I won't be here. I will however have all the kids clothes organized before I go so when I get back I can sell their winter stuff and start preparing for the fall yard sales. I also hope to go through even more toys and other items to get rid of.

7. Make extra money. This month I didn't do so well at this :) I did get a number of rebate checks in the mail which I think totaled $20 and was about the overage I spent in grocery money. When I get back from FL I will be returning to my summer babysitting job so I guess that takes care of that, however, I still want to challenge myself by selling more of what I have around the house. Kirk has promised to get rid of some things while I'm gone in June so that will have to be the June extra money I guess.

8. Still buying good kids clothes. I only bought a few things this month just because they were necessities but paid cash and the few things I bought were from Gap so I guess that counts! I won't be buying any clothes in June unless it's a sale I can't pass up. I will begin buying fall clothes in July. I know, I can't believe it either - it finally got warm enough here to put away all the winter clothes and I'm already thinking about buying for next season! But that's the only way to get good deals and get ahead is to plan.

That's basically May - like I said I don't remember April. My brain is getting old...