Monday, September 30, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Last day of September already!  How did that happen?  I don't know about you, but for me this month has zoomed by the fastest.  Sunday was a little slower paced.  I was a wee bit tired from a very busy week and an even busier Saturday so I watched TV, played with Jack and did some planning and writing.  It was a very nice day to relax and yet do enough to still feel that my day was productive.

Last year I had gone through all of my leftover Christmas cards and stickers determining I have plenty for this year to send out.  I also have enough stamps left too.  I updated my Christmas card list and printed out all of my mailing labels using a sheet of labels I already had on hand.  I also have plenty of paper to print out my annual letter on so I am all set for sending out cards this year.

Via Google Hangouts the girls and I did some holiday planning, particularly meals and goodies we want to make.  We are all going to work on a wish list of small inexpensive items we'd be happy to receive this year so we have some gift ideas to exchange with each other.

I have plenty of stuff on hand to choose from

I printed out some day planner pages I found online to start putting together my 2020 planner.  I thoroughly enjoy doing that and have a really nice start on it.  I am using items I already have on hand this year to make my planner.  It is going to be so nice.

Monday was a big day for me as I was finally able to finish up the project that has been looming over my head all month.  I started this project on Labor Day weekend and although I originally thought I'd get it all done that weekend (Ha!) my goal after that was to have it wrapped up by the end of this month.  I made it with a week to spare!  Details are coming tomorrow!

One of my co-workers has a husband who is a food broker.  He brought in three coolers filled with frozen meat for all of us to divide up and take home  I came home Tuesday evening with a grocery bag full of frozen chicken breasts, burger patties, ground turkey, sausages and some cheese.  What a wonderful blessing to have that to add to our freezer.  It topped it off perfectly!

One of the candles I made using up some leftover wax and a birthday candle

Wednesday evening I pulled the A/C units out of the upstairs bedrooms and put them away.  We won't need them again until next summer in July.  We usually install them on the weekend of the 4th of July holiday and then pull them out on Labor Day.  I left them a little bit longer this time as we had a couple more warm days after Labor Day.  It doesn't look like we'll be having any more of those this year however.

I crocheted a little bit and Stella helped me

Early Thursday morning my youngest left on a school trip to northern Idaho leaving me all alone for three days!  I had a jillion things swirling around in my head of what I could do while she was gone.  I didn't do any of them.  LOL

When I got home from work Friday afternoon I tidied up the chicken coop and then picked a nice bucket full of pears from our tree.  So nice of the squirrels to leave us some this year.  Then I spent a quiet Saturday in my pajamas relaxing and watching movies.

I worked more overtime last week and I also talked to my boss about getting a raise.  Never hurts to ask.  Sure would be nice if I got one though.  Keep your fingers crossed.

I used up a leftover pork chop and the remains of a bag of frozen peas and made my daughter a batch of pork fried rice.  She was craving some fried rice and I was happy to make some for her.  She doesn't always do Keto and I'm completely fine with it, but I have to say she is doing really well with what she is eating.

Investment cooking = I put a pork roast in my largest slow cooker and cooked it all day.  I shredded it all so I can have half the roast to make into pulled pork for sandwiches by adding some BBQ sauce and the rest will be cooked with a can of green enchilada sauce and a chopped onion to make pork verde.  I put the shredded meat into freezer bags until I'm ready to make the verde and pulled pork.  I'll be able to have several quick meals in the coming months as well as some to share with my college kid.

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - vacuumed floor, scrubbed toilet, cleaned mirrors.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor, dusted shelving.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & spot mopped the floor, cleaned the sink, under the kitchen sink, tidied up the junk drawer.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  Cleaned mirrors.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - one load of laundry, vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & entry, mopped living room entry floor.  Swept front porch & garage.

How was your thrifty week?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Wrapping Up A Thrifty September

After a very busy and productive August I began this month with $7 in my checking account a little more than that in my wallet and three quarters of a tank of gas in my car.  Not complaining about that one bit!  Anytime you have a little jingle left in your pocket and fuel in your car it's a win in my book.

On pay day I paid all of our monthly expenses well ahead of their due dates and decided since I still had so much fuel left in the car I'd use my gas money to top off the truck this time.  The truck still had over a quarter tank of gas so I decided to use the rest of my gas money and top up the car as well.  Two vehicles with full tanks is always a good feeling.

I added money to my retirement and savings accounts as planned too.  In addition to the payment I made in August I made another payment to my PayPal account meaning I'd made two payments on my carpet purchase before the first payment was even due.  Yay!

Once all was said I even had enough money left in my checking account to make another PayPal payment.  Mid month when I got paid again I was able to pay the mortgage well ahead of schedule and add to my savings and retirement accounts.  Then I made a third payment to PayPal.  That carpet will be paid off in no time.

Each week I checked the grocery ads and made my shopping list based off of what was on sale.  I downloaded digital coupons as well as other offers that either gave me extra rewards points or $$ OFF on certain purchases.  I also redeemed some of my rewards points to use toward a planned meat purchase that gave me $7 OFF.  I was able to purchase quite a bit of food, especially items to stock our freezer, without spending too much.

The only clothing items I purchased was a three pack of black dress socks for myself to wear to work.  I did stop into a couple of thrift stores and purchased a new bowl for the kitties and a cat door which I plan to install very soon.  I used two $10 OFF coupons and made two trips to the feed store to stock up on chicken feed, bunny food and supplies and dry cat food for winter.  I put those purchases on my credit card and will pay that amount off when the bill comes due.

I redeemed credit card points that I'd been saving up for over a year and received a $100 Home Depot gift card as well as a $25 Bath & Body Works gift card.  I used the Home Depot card to stock up on paint as they were having a special $10 per gallon rebate.  I then went online and requested my rebate so I'll be receiving another gift card from Home Depot in the mail, probably next month.

I have been working on our home improvement projects as time has allowed now that school is back in session.  I was able to purchase and install all three doors we needed upstairs and received a $50 instant rebate in the process if I opened a Home Depot account.  While I really didn't want to open a Home Depot account I was hard pressed to turn down $50.  As soon as the bill arrived I took it into the store and paid it off before it was due and no interest accrued.

The best news of all however, was to get a letter in the mail from the hospital last week letting me know they had decided to write off the patient portion due of my youngest daughter's emergency room visit last spring.  It was a huge load off of my mind and shoulders and once that load was lifted I realized just how much it had been weighing on me these past few months.  Not having to come up with an extra $2800 to pay that off meant all that extra overtime pay I've accrued so far could be used elsewhere.  Wow!  What a huge blessing for our little family.

This month was not only a good one for us financially, even with the start of the school year and one kid off to college, but a very productive one as well.   Our home is well supplied for winter and we are on our way to getting things buttoned up around here in preparation of chillier weather.  I'm eager to see what all we can accomplish now in October!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My Grocery Budget 2019 - September Update

You may have noticed I did not post a grocery update for August.  I was so stinking busy with home improvement projects that I totally let this slide.  Not the best move on my part as I really do not know how much was spent on groceries last month and that is not a comfortable feeling.  Nonetheless I endeavored to do better this month and I made sure to track my spending.  I feel really good about that!

My focus the last two months has been to refill the freezer I cleaned out in July.  While I really love a spiffy clean deep freezer I don't love it empty, especially with winter approaching so I got busy and picked up quite a bit of meat on sale and markdown.  I also used my rewards points at Albertson's to knock an additional $7 OFF one of those shopping trips.  Yay!

My nonfood purchases consisted of a case of toilet paper and a four pack of tissues on sale.  I picked up some canned cat food too.  I stocked up on dry cat food for the winter and used a $10 OFF coupon for that purchase.  I haven't spent much on non food items this year so I didn't mind going over my $25 a month budget this time.  Total spent $47.45.

Here is the food I bought this month: 

$258.71 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $2.87 per person per day!



I am super excited about how much I was able to get for so little.  And now, we are heading into winter well stocked and well supplied.  Huge load off of my shoulders!

A very full freezer!  Yay!

What super buys did you come across at the stores this month?  Have you started stocking up for winter yet?

This budget month runs from September 1 through September 30

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Only 3 Months To Get Ready For Christmas

It blows my mind that Christmas is only three months away already!  This year has really flown by and I have to say it has really been an amazing year so far.  With so much going on this year we've accomplished quite a bit and had some expenses to go along with all of that.  My youngest made the high school dance team, which is costly, but extremely important to her.  My oldest is now away at college and we all know how expensive that can be.  We also acquired some unexpected medical bills last spring along with the usual expected ones so it has been an expensive year for us so far.

We had a family meeting earlier in the year to discuss all of the financial challenges we faced and we all three agreed that we'd prefer experiences over gifts this year for Christmas.  As the year progressed and our financial challenges grew we were really glad we had made this decision.  It took a lot of pressure off of all of us.  We've had some wonderful experiences so to us it has totally been worth it.

This year I have been really blessed that my boss has allowed me to work as much overtime as I want.  It has really helped me to stay on track and get things paid.  Last Friday we were extremely blessed to receive the news from the hospital that they were writing off the balance due from my youngest daughter's emergency room visit last spring.  I cannot tell you the relief that I felt when I read the letter that came in the mail that day.  I am so incredibly grateful for this good fortune.  This is truly my Christmas present this year!

I have to admit, I didn't want to apply for assistance with the hospital.  I fully expect to pay my bills and take care of things.  I work hard every day to do exactly that, but I decided to set aside my pride and fill out the paperwork, print out my tax return and copy my bank statements as well as my pay stubs and send it all in.  I don't like having to do that at all, it really bothers me, but now I am really glad I did it.

Since receiving this news the girls and I are really feeling some relief.  Not having a huge hospital bill looming anymore is incredible.  We all feel like we might be able to have a little more Christmas now.  Nothing over the top, just a few gifts exchanged among the three of us.  I have to say it does feel nice to think that there will be a few presents under the tree this year.

We have three months to plan and prepare and it will be exciting to me to see how the girls come up with their gifts.  They are pretty creative and can do a lot with a teeny tiny budget.  I'm going to get creative too and see what I can come up with for my girls.  And the kitties.  And the chickens too.

Yay!  Christmas is coming!!  I am so excited!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Running Errands

About twice a year I do what I consider a really big shop.  Usually in the spring and in the fall.  I guess in the fall I'm all about stocking the house for winter and in the spring I'm all about replenishing the things we used.  This past Saturday was my big fall run so I thought I'd share how I go about planning and preparing for "my big day".  I have other errand days during the year as well and I plan for those the same way so this method works for me no matter how big or small my list is.  Which brings me to the most important part.  The List!

Draft A Plan & Make A List

I spent about two weeks preparing and planning for this particular errand run.  First I took an inventory of what we had on hand and was able to determine what we still needed and some things I felt it would be nice to have.  I checked ads and sales at various stores and did a little research, even downloaded some coupons, but for the most part I know what stores carry the items I wanted to buy at the best price.

I drafted a list of all the things I needed and it went through a lot of changes and tweaks until I was sure I had it all down.  Then I re-wrote my list grouping all of these items by the store I planned to purchase those items from.  Once that was completed I apparently felt the need to doodle.

On the back of my list I mapped out the order of the stores as I planned to shop.  I took into consideration their location, what time each store opened and figured out the most efficient way to map out my route without back tracking or wasting time and fuel.

Check The Weather & Get Prepared

That morning I got up fairly early, grabbed a cup of coffee and got dressed.  I put on comfy clothes dressing in layers.  It was chilly that morning, but the weather was slated to be warmer and sunny.  I always check the weather forecast the day before so I know what to wear and what to expect for driving.  Another reason to check the weather is to also determine if I need to pack a cooler and ice in the trunk of my car for cold or frozen foods.

I fixed myself a Keto Coffee for the road and packed myself a snack for when I got hungry.  I didn't want to waste time or money stopping to eat so I made sure I had good with me.  I also like to take water along too for when I get thirsty.

Set A Time Limit And Get Going...  Alone

I am much more efficient operating alone then with "helpers".  I don't get distracted and can focus on the task at hand.  I usually set out when the rest of the household is sleeping so no one really notices that I'm gone anyway.  They just get to wake up in time to help me unload the car!

Finding this bread at Fred Meyer on markdown meant
I didn't need to make a stop at Franz Bakery on Saturday morning

My goal this time was to not make this an all day thing.  Once noon hits both the stores and the roads are busy and it just seems to take longer.  I wanted to make sure I was done and home before noon.  This time, because of the size, I did this run over two days.  I actually ended up with two separate routes.

On the way home Friday night I stopped at Fred Meyer, went next door to Home Depot and then hit Dollar Tree after that.  It saved me a lot of time especially as these three stores were not in route with the rest of stops I needed to make and would require some back tracking.  Saturday morning I did the second route and was able to complete all my stops and shopping getting home with 30 minutes to spare.  An hour later I had everything unloaded and put away.

Other Things I Do 
  • I make sure I have enough fuel in the car and that the trunk is empty.
  • I double check my list and review my plan before leaving the driveway.
  • I mark things off the list as I get them and check off each store I have been too.
  • I make sure I've allotted plenty of time to run my errands with a little extra space, just in case.  I also keep tabs on what time it is as I'm going along.
  • I take time to eat my snack, drink and take a potty break when I need to.  It is easy to want to push those things off to save time, but it is important to take care of yourself as part of the process.
  • I have a budgeted amount of money as well as some extra $$ in case I run into a bargain on something we might need or could use more of.
  • I dress for success.  I want to look nice, feel good and make sure I'm comfortable.  My errands require a lot of walking, bending, lifting and crawling in and out of a vehicle.
  • I park far away from the entrance of each store.  This allows me to open up the trunk and all the car doors if I need to without being in anyone's way.  I can also take my time loading and rearranging things if I need to.
  • I seek out and park in the shade whenever possible so I'm not heating up my car unnecessarily.
  • I always put my shopping carts away in the cart corral and toss out any trash I accumulate along the way into a trash bin rather than waiting until I get home.

By having a plan and executing it like this I'm able to get a lot done in a fairly short amount of time without wasting money or fuel in the process.  I'm always trying to get the most value out of the money I spend and this helps me do exactly that.  I hope this helps or inspires you for the next time you have to run errands on a larger scale or even the usual ones each week.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

After a fun filled day with my girls at homecoming the day before I was back to work Sunday morning with a few chores, a load of laundry and working on the upstairs hallway project that, quite frankly, seems to be a never ending task.  I'm determined to get the job done though, so I persevere.

I also spent about an hour doing some investment cooking later in the afternoon.  I am planning to do small sessions each week to build up the freezer in our kitchen and make the weekday meals run a a bit smoother.

Monday I went home after work and painted trim.  I think I may be getting tired of painting trim.  Actually, I'm pretty sure about it.  LOL


Tuesday morning I stopped at Albertsons after dropping my daughter off at school.  I've never grocery shopped quite that early, but it was nice to pop in for a few grocery items that were on sale and save myself the task of doing it after work.  Since I drive past this store pretty much every morning I may be doing this more often.

Wednesday I checked all the grocery ads, made a list of sales items to pick up and downloaded some digital coupons to my Fred Meyer store rewards card.  I'm on a mission to get our pantry filled now so I was hunting for bargains.

Fred Meyer

Friday I ran errands after work stopping at Fred Meyer and Home Depot.  Then I went to Dollar Tree and picked up a few items on my list before heading home to put things away and cool my heels for a little bit.  Then off to pick up the girl from school at 8:30 from a special dance team practice they had.

I got home with a trunk load!

Saturday morning I was up with the chickens getting ready to start my day.  I ran errands for nearly three hours and made huge progress stocking up for winter.  I stopped at several stores and was able to find pretty much everything I needed at prices I was willing to pay.  Now our freezer is full and so is our pantry which makes me very happy!

I worked some more overtime last week.  The overtime pay has seriously been a nice boon to our household this summer.  I've been able to use some of that money this month to stock the shelves around here and make an extra payment on my carpet.

I washed out several Ziploc bags to reuse.

Some goodies from Dollar Tree

I made two batches of foaming hand soap solution (1 cup warm water & 1 Tbs B&BW shower gel) and filled up two of our dispensers.  Now all of our dispensers are outfitted for fall with Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte scented soap.

Investment cooking = homemade refried beans that I made into freezer burritos for my college student.  She was very happy to hear about this!

Homemade refried  beans

Some of the 15 Minute Chores I accomplished to keep my home in order:

Laundry Room & Half Bathroom - cleaned laundry room door, vacuumed & mopped floors, scrubbed toilet, washed rug.  Daily swish & swipe.

Dining Room - vacuumed floor, cleaned wainscoting & baseboard heater.

Kitchen -  vacuumed & spot mopped the floor, cleaned the microwave.

Bedrooms & Main Bathroom - vacuumed & dusted.  Scrubbed sink, tub & toilet in the bathroom.  Daily swish & swipe.

Other - two loads of laundry, vacuumed & dusted living room, hallway & entry.  Swept front porch & garage.

Jack is doing great and his neck is healing nicely

He's a wee bit of a mama's boy

How was your thrifty week?

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