Thursday, March 31, 2011

Month End Money Recap: When It Rains It Pours

Oh how I wish life were simple. In ideal worlds emergencies don't happen and we have all the money needed to pay for everything. Unfortunately this month we didn't. We haven't charged anything but still it's been a very heavy month for us putting out over $2000 in unexpected expenses and then this evening our fridge broke so I have no idea how much that will be.

Fortunately the Lord is good and He will provide but I'll just preface my list of goals with the fact that some months are harder than others and life often doesn't go as planned no matter how much we coupon!

1. Organization. This is the one goal that's going very, very well. Because of the moms of multiples sale this month I cleared out my entire basement and sorted just about every toy. I have 3 buckets left that will be finished before my next sale in a little over a week but I am quite pleased with the progress I made this past month. At least in the organizational department :)

2. Decorating. This is not going as I hoped. Mostly due to the unexpected expenses - I can't justify even a small amount of money being spent decorating when so many other things are going on. I'm guessing April will be out too for the same reason. Here's hoping I can do something before the year ends!

3. Spending less and saving more. Yea, not so much in March.

4. Do a little more deal hunting. I did a little bit. I'm still doing well with Swagbucks - which is something I highly recommend. Just a bit of searching goes a long way! Referrals help quite a bit so once you've signed up make sure to tell your friends so they can sign up under you :) The above link is my referral - just FYI. By doing deals through Swagbucks I not only earned Swagbucks but I got a number of good deals that translate to a lot of savings overall. However, in the month of April I'm already planning on shopping at a few different stores to take advantage of some deals they have as well as some gas rewards - finding every way to stretch my grocery budget and stock my pantry.

5. Monthly meal planning. Yes! I did it in March again though I'm wondering if part of the reason I went over budget on groceries in March was because I didn't buy all I needed for meals at the beginning of the month. That does seem to help me quite a bit because what's left is for produce, milk and really good deals rather than stuff for dinner.

How are you doing? Are you keeping your goals now that we're 1/4 of the way through the year? How's your budget? Even the worst budget can be turned around with baby steps.

Being good stewards of our money takes work but has a much better pay off than credit cards. I'm learning the hard way so I'm spending a lot of my time teaching my children how to put God first with their money and then to save as well so that they can live on less.

Here's hoping and praying that April won't cost nearly what March did!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kellogg's Deal At Harris Teeter: FREE Milk!!

I don't think there could be a better time to stock up on cereal and milk - two things my family goes through FAST! We go through around 6 gallons of milk a week - sometimes even 7. And cereal we can go through just as quickly - a box in a morning if we all eat the same kind (not that anyone ever does because that would mean all of us agreeing on something and well, that doesn't happen very often).

It's usually hard coming off Super Doubles week but this certainly makes up for it! After 3 trips today - here's what I picked up:

Here's what I did:

My first time through I did my regular grocery shopping picking up what I needed along with 4 boxes of Kellogg's cereal:

Kellogg's cereal: Pops, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Rice Krispies
- regular price: $3.29 to $3.98/each
- sale price: $1.99
- used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from RP 3/6
- final price per box: $1.50/each
- BUT I earned a printed Catalina for a free gallon of milk on my next purchase

After my first transaction I went and bought 4 more boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk - I used 2 more coupons and my free milk and for 4 boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk I paid just $6.24!! PLUS I earned a coupon for another free gallon of milk.

And if all of that weren't enough I can get a $10 pre-paid Mastercard back after I purchase 10 boxes of Rice Krispies (other cereals also qualify but none of the rest are kinds we eat except Crispix which wasn't on sale this week) - the way my mind thinks I would have just bought all Rice Krispies today but my kids would NOT have been thrilled with that decision and since we were (literally) completely out of cereal I had to get a variety :)

For the link to the printable rebate go HERE - even better - you can do this rebate up to 5 times!! I see a lot of Rice Krispies in my future... Of course, I could save them for Easter and make some really cool Rice Krispy treats :) Mmmm...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Month's End

This is a harder week to meal plan. Since the month ends on Thursday and I haven't yet built April's menu it's harder to come up with a whole plan for this week but I'm giving it a try based on what meat I have left in the freezer. Fortunately it's not as bad as it could be since Saturday night is actually date night and the kids will have their meal provided for them so I only have to come up with something for Friday - sweet!

Sunday: Easy Pleasing Meatloaf with rice and broccoli

Monday: Easy Baked Manicotti

Tuesday: Updated Shepherd's Pie

Wednesday: Alea's One Pot Chicken Dinner

Thursday: Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole (this will be using my FREE Philadelphia Original Cooking Creme - yum!)

Friday: Chicken Spaghetti

Saturday: Date Night!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Harris Teeter Super Doubles: Felt Like Bare Bones

I very much love Harris Teeter and I certainly love Super Doubles (when Harris Teeter doubles coupons up to $1.99 rather than their normal $0.99) but I hate when I go on the 2nd day of a one-week sale and the store already feels completely cleaned out - ditto for the 2nd Harris Teeter by me. So sad. Teaches me to not go first thing in the morning the day the sale starts - I just wasn't ready and thought going today would be good enough. Apparantly not.

Fortunately, I didn't lose out completely - I was able to pick up some things in 2 seperate trips (I was trying my 2nd Harris Teeter for the free Philadelphia Cooking Creme but no, they were out too - boo) - here's what I got:

Total Spent: $63.53
Total Saved: $90.61

My free items:

Philadelphia Cooking Creme (yes, I managed to get 1 but I wanted 2 more...)
- regular price: $2.99
- sale price: $2.99
- used $1.50/1 coupon from S 3/6
- final price: FREE

Dannon Kids Yogurt
- regular price: $2.99
- sale price: 2/$4.00
- used $1.00/1 coupon from S 2/27
- final price: FREE

My other best deals:

Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables (would have prefered brocolli but I was happy to actually find green beans at store #2)
- regular price: $2.65/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used $1.00/3 coupon from RP 3/6
- final price: $0.66/each

Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner (who doesn't love buying that?!)
- regular price: $2.99/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used 2 $1.00/2 coupons from S 3/6
- final price: $0.49/each

Kahiki Egg Rolls and Chicken Nuggets
- regular price: $4.25/each
- sale price: buy 1 get 1 free
- used $1.00/1 printable
- final price: $0.12/each

Kraft Cheese with Philadelphia Cream Cheese
- regular price: $3.59
- sale price: $2.00/each
- used $1.00/2 printable
- final price: $1.00/each

Printables can be found through Southern Savers along with more coupon match-ups. If you are looking to shop at Harris Teeter I would get out there in a hurry before there's really nothing left!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Is It Really Time To Meal Plan Again?

You can tell when I've had a hard and busy week when I only post my meal plans on Monday :) I had every intention of posting in between but my week was so busy preparing for this past weekends multiples consignment sale and then running the consignment sale and then being exhausted because of the consignment sale. Notice a theme?

The good news? I sold quite a bit of stuff and I am thrilled to have it out of my house! What's left is already tagged for the next sale in a few weeks.

As always to get myself back into the swing of things it's best to meal plan. Somehow that and couponing make me feel more organized.

You'll notice a bunch of repeats from last week - my husband felt sorry for me a few times and took me out to dinner instead of cooking :) So sweet! I know, I know the budget didn't love it but sometimes frugal goes out the window. Yes, it does happen.

Monday: Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday: Italian Sausage Pasta

Wednesday: Turkey Tettrazini (Pampered Chef Recipe)

Thursday: Wahoo! Chili

Friday: Pork Chops with Salad, Veggies and Potatoes

Saturday: Taco Night since I will be out at a women's church event

Sunday: Easy Baked Manicotti (this just sounds too good to pass up this week!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Planning Monday: A Busy Week Ahead

I know I've repeated myself saying that menu planning is important but on weeks like the one I'm looking forward to, make it even more so. This week is going to be nothing short of non-stop activity and I'm already feeling the stress, so to have meals figured out in advance takes a little of the stress and strain off of my shoulders day-to-day.

I know I haven't done an organizational post but the truth is I've been too busy organizing to do a post! Right now my family room doesn't look like I'm any more organized, with buckets and toys everywhere but I really am making progress. I have thrown out lots of broken toys and sorted into bags numerous like items to sell this weekend at the moms of multiples yard sale. Hopefully I won't come home with much :)

I just haven't had time to take pictures and do any posts but hopefully soon when individual places are more organized and put back together as opposed to the "big sort" I'm under going right now. This is probably the 3rd time I've done this and it does (fortunately) get easier each time but I'm praying that now that the girls are 4 and quite capable of helping with the cleaning that this will be my LAST time!!

My meal plan for this crazy week:

Monday: Weeknight Lasagna Toss

Tuesday: Easy Chicekn Enchiladas - I'm excited to try these - through Kraft First Taste I was able to get a free sample of the new Philadelphia Cooking Creme and I've been anxious to try these enchiladas ever since I saw a video for it on Swagbucks - hoping they come out great!

Wednesday: Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Thursday: Sweet and Sour Chicken - didn't get to this last week

Friday: Fast food: set-up night for the multiples yard sale

Saturday: Wahoo! Chili (I figure if I make a favorite of my husband's he'll be happy to help me with meal prep when I'm utterly exhausted from working all day)

Sunday: Mexican Shepherd's Pie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Deadly Ties Book Review

Yes, in the midst of all my crazy life I have been able to find some time to read some Christian fiction books which are my absolute favorite books to read - better yet if they are mystery/suspense books. So, of course, I was very excited when the book I got to review this time was right up my alley :)

This was an author I'd never read before but am excited to read more from her because I really enjoyed her books. I received Deadly Ties free to review from Waterbrook Multonmah Press Blogging for Books but I ordered the first book in the series for myself so that I could read the books in order. Very, very good.

I did find a short trailer for the book on YouTube - a tad cheesy but fun :)

My review of the book:

I really enjoyed Vicki Hinze’s book Deadly Ties. Deadly Ties is the second book in the Crossroads Crisis Center novels. Since I had not read the first book in the series, Forget Me Not, I went ahead and ordered it and read it first. All I can say is I’m surprised I had not read this author sooner. Her books are everything I enjoy about reading fiction – suspense, mystery and a little bit of romance.

The suspense in both books was very well done. Forget Me Not focused on Kelly Walker and Ben Brandt while book 2 focused on Lisa Harper and Mark Taylor. Both stories were interwoven well and I would recommend reading Forget Me Not first, however, if you don’t you won’t be lost in Deadly Ties at all.

Vicki Hinze did an excellent job of keeping me reading and wanting to know what happened next and how the characters got out of their situations. I enjoyed the characters and found them to be real people reacting to real situations. Both Lisa and Mark were strong characters which I enjoyed. While Lisa often found herself in distress she was resourceful and brave rather than a coward and I liked that about her.

I loved how the author wove together the past and the present. At first I wasn’t sure how she was going to tie the same criminal organization that threatened Lisa to Kelly Walker’s case from the previous book but the writing was believable and tied together very well.

Vicki is truly a gifted author and knows how to write modern Christian fiction suspense. From the very first page of the first book I was hooked and Vicki did not let me down through all of book 1 or book 2. I am very much looking forward to the next book in the spring of 2012 and will be buying it as soon as it comes out! I highly recommend Vicki Hinze and her books – a must-read!

The book can be purchased from Amazon: HERE

And be sure to check out more about this author at her website: Vicki Hinze

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Catching Up And Getting Ahead

Last week was an extremely busy week. Every day seemed overwhelming and I'm honestly just glad it's over.

It wasn't all bad. After all I got to do a lot of shopping :)

Here was my first haul (the girls are anxiously awaiting their new pajamas - I think I have created "pajama" monsters - they were even sleeping with their PJ's! Heck I think they are happier about new pajamas than new toys! - so they had to be in the picture just so they could get their hands on their new PJ's :) )

This is just the clothes - I usually pick up a small toy for the kids which is something they look forward to.

My total spent this time around was somewhere around $175 - I spent $15 on items for the kids school so $160 was for me. Of course, I did earn $84 merchandise credit for working 14 hours but I think I did pretty well. I went a long way towards outfitting Kaitlyn for summmer with a number of outfits for just $7! And, of course, the pajamas which were all about $3.00 each - I picked up a total of 9 pairs so that each girl got 3 new sets and believe me they know which pairs are theirs and they tell me about it every day :) On half-price day I picked up 3 coordinating outfits for the girls for under $10 total - good deals!

And now back to "regular" life - at least for 2 weeks until the moms of multiples sale on the 19th. I need to be even more ready for that sale and I have 2 weeks to tag everything. Great.

As for organizing - I've gotten some done - little things here and there - Kaitlyn organized her dresser and cleaned up her room quite well - this week I have to tackle the triplets room. They seem excited about it so hopefully that will go well.

In order to be ahead of the week I'm posting my meal plan early :) Having a meal plan ready is the best way I can feel on top of my day and week - it means I have the ingredients in hand and I know when I have to start making dinner and what will be on the table - when I don't have a meal plan I have no idea what to make and I'm missing ingredients to make any meal that I would hope to have. So, to repeat myself - meal plans are great :)

Sunday: Layered Enchilada Bake

Monday: Angel Chicken

Tuesday: Burger 'N Fries Pot Pie

Wednesday: Cheesy Chicken & Salsa Skillet

Thursday: Creamy Baked Ziti

Friday: Gram's Chicken Pot Pie Updated

Saturday: Sweet and Sour Chicken