Saturday, July 26, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments: The Deliberate Spending Plan in Action Volume 3

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Still no progress.

*Christmas Jar of Change:  $5.47 will be added to the previous balance of $94.34 for a total of $99.81.  (Yay - I am so close to triple digits!).

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-The bad news is my dryer broke, the good news is that it forced me to follow through with my plan to line dry my clothing.  Overall, it is not too bad.  I am beginning to figure out ways to make it work for me and my family which means that even when the dryer is replaced I might still do some line drying.

-More bad news, I totally blew it where impulsive spending on dining out is concerned.  Good news, the meals that I did make utilized items from my freezer, my fridge and my pantry.  I made a quiche using pie crust and bacon from the freezer.  I have a pot of beans cooking right now using more of the bacon.  Using a new recipe, I made a citrusy pork roast that was really quite yummy over rice and I used more pork to make egg rolls; this used a pork roast and egg roll wrappers from the freezer.  And I made a truly fantastic spaghetti sauce using ground beef, veggies, and herbs found in that deep abyss known as my freezer.  

-My favorite frugal measure taken during the week was to make my own detergent for the dishwasher.  One of my goals was not to buy things during the month of July that I could make my own version of.  I ran out of dishwasher detergent and was soooo tempted to make a run to the store but instead opted to try my hand at making some.  I found this recipe, had every ingredient except for the citric acid on hand and whipped up my own version.  When running the dishwasher I used 1 Tablespoon of the detergent and added a bit of lemon juice.  I was very pleased with the results.  It cleaned better then the detergent that I had been purchasing.

-I did such a lousy job tracking my spending this week that I am hesitant to even try to list them.  I may try posting it tomorrow, we'll see...

*Some goals for the week:

-Cut and dry herbs.

-I have a lot of citrus that needs to be used up soon.  If we don't get it eaten I need to juice them and then I hope to dehydrate the peels, grind them up and use them either as Vitamin C powder or try it in the dishwasher detergent.

-Make some laundry detergent.

-Make a concerted effort to use up some of the fruit that is sitting in the freezer.  I see smoothies and strawberry ice cream in our future.  I also want to try making marscapone and serving it with the fruit in crepes.

-I have lost my mental map regarding my Christmas gift giving.  I want to do an assessment this week in order to get myself back on track.  (Christmas is only 5 months away!)

-Cash my ebates checks and apply it toward Christmas gifts.

-Cancel the car insurance on the vehicle we just sold.

I really hope that I am not boring you all to tears but logging my accomplishments and goals is really beneficial to me.  It helps me feel accountable and, thus, stay (or get) focused (again).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments: The Deliberate Spending Plan in Action Volume 2

*52 Week Savings Plan:  When, oh when will I make progress in this area?  Not at this point in time.  Shucks!

*Christmas Jar of Change:  $2.76 will be added to the previous total of $91.58 for a new total of $94.34.

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-I applied my $20 in Amazon gift cards that I earned through Swagbucks and Bing Rewards to my purchase of educational supplies.

-I continued working my Swagbucks and Bing accounts.  Let's see if I can earn more rewards.

-I submitted the necessary information for a rebate.  The $10 rebate will be used to purchase Christmas gifts.

-I kept track of my spending as part of the Deliberate Spending Plan; however, I am not sure that I was as deliberate as I had hoped to be.

Sunday (07/13):  Impulsively I purchased a tea at Sonic for $1.61.  When Maceo returned from his mission trip I treated him to a drink from Dillons costing $3.09 and pizza from Papa Murphey's for a whopping $42.89.  Ugh.  (I spent a total of $47.59 that I will take from the grocery budget.  I have now spent $164.64 on groceries).

Monday (07/14):  An unexpected expense, I had to pick up a prescription for Maceo costing me $3.47.  Another $22.07 was spent at Dillons today for groceries.  I purchased a sanctioned iced tea today during Maceo's vocal lesson at Pickleman's for $1.93.  I also purchased a plethora of books that are needed for educational purposes.  I applied $20 in gift cards towards the purchase and paid $105.24 out of pocket exceeding my alloted amount by $5.24.  (Grocery spending = $186.71; Educational spending = $105.24)

Tuesday (07/15):  Today I purchased tickets for two different shows at the community theatre for $28 (this leaves another $12 available for entertainment purposes beyond what was set aside for the fair, etc).  I filled up the gas tank for $38.69 leaving $111.31 in the budget for gasoline.  Another impulsive purchase costing me $3.58 was made at Panera.  (I will take this out of the grocery budget which makes the total spent on grocery spending $190.29).

Wednesday (07/16):  I feel like I really blew it today.  Last night Bishop was invited to join some friends on a grand adventure today.  It involved field trips to a koi farm and a bird hatchery.  Field trip fees were a total of $8.50 and he needed additional funds for lunch.  I gave him another $11.00.  (The field trip fees are educational expenses and the lunch money comes from the grocery budget).  Because the adventure was planned at the last minute and I had an outing of my own planned for the next day it was easy to just pull out the cashola rather then plan meals etc., so... I swung by McDonald's in the morning to get breakfast for Bishop before meeting up with the friends.  This cost $8.04.  I left $29 cash for Christian and Maceo to take care of meals while I am off adventuring.  As a belated birthday gift I treated my sister to a blueberry scone at Panera, spending $6.96 in the process.  Roxie and I had a great day adventuring.  We went hiking and then to the Creation Experience.  Both of the activities cost $0 (yay!) but I stopped to look in the bookstore of Creation Experience and $27 later came out with some more educational-related items.   Roxie and I then proceeded to Branson where she had a gift card for a hotel room.  We ate dinner at the Farmhouse Restaurant where I spent $21.51.  This was an expense that I had allowed for in my budgeting.  I also made a Christmas-related purchase at an antique store in the amount of $26.55.  (Grocery spending = $245.29; Educational expenses = $148.74; Christmas expenses = $26.55, leaving $23.45 available)

Thursday (07/17):  While still in Branson I spent another $16.31 on dining out at Cakes n Cremes.  Again, this expense was allowable.  Also, the girls night out got scheduled for the same time period as this adventure so I will not be spending money on it.  I feel ok about the large dining out bills.  We stopped at an Amish store and I spent $21.90 on groceries.  On fair-related expenses I spent $7.09 at Hobby Lobby (and, yes, I used a 40% off coupon).  Then, again because of poor planning and me being exhausted after my adventure I spent $2.53 at Sonic on a tea and fed the boys Subway costing me $15.71.  (Grocery expenses = $282.90)

Friday (07/18):  And here is the day in which I officially blew it.  I had a rather enjoyable breakfast with Bishop at Panera but it was impulsive and cost me $13.93.  And talk about impulsive...after running into friends while taking in a show at the community theatre we went out to dinner at Picklemans where I dropped $36.38.  None of it sanctioned.  All of it impulsive.  Ugh.   I had to make a run to Walmart  and spent a total of $179.52.  $23 of that was for headphones for Maceo; not budgeted for and not absolutely necessary so maybe I should have refused to get them at this moment but I so dislike going to Walmart that I really don't want to make another trip in the future if I can help it.  About $50 was spent on groceries and the remainder, $106.52, was for fair-related expenses.  Bishop is entering 12 different food items in the fair so I had to buy quite a bit of groceries for his baking.  I probably overestimated how much flour, etc. I needed to have on hand so I am sure that there will be much leftover for family use.  Other then milk and produce I am hoping not to hit the grocery store again during the month of June.  (Grocery spending = $405.66; Fair-related expenses = $178.34)

Saturday (07/19):  $0 spent.  Yup, that's right, $0 spent today. Yay!!!

I definitely had successes and failures this week.  It is such a struggle for me but I will continue to persevere!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments: The Deliberate Spending Plan in Action Volume 1

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Still no progress here.  The balance remains at $0.  (Continued Ugh!)

*Christmas Jar of Change:  $4.01 will be added to the previous balance of $91.58 making a new grand total of $95.59.  (Cool!)

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

-I redeemed Bing rewards for another $10.  I now have $20 in Amazon gift cards.  I will apply this towards my educational-related purchases that I will be making soon.

-I attempted to implement my Deliberate Spending Plan.  Here is a look at it in action:

Sunday (07/06):  $0 spent.  I had a pleasant little surprise today.  After dropping Maceo off at the church for his mission trip some friends invited me out to lunch.  Despite my established goals I accepted, deciding that time spent with these friends was worth fudging on the goal a bit.  However, I got a bit of a surprise, they insisted on treating me allowing me to maintain my goal.

Monday (07/07):  Bishop is hoping to bake a cake to enter in the fair so I bought him a special cake pan for $24.79.  A couple of triumph's include getting my library books returned on time (doesn't always happens so accumulating no fines is indeed a triumph); all ingredients for all the meals came from my pantry, garden and, most importantly, freezer (making space for that quarter of a cow, yay!); and was really aware of utility usage.

Tuesday (07/08):  I had a load of laundry that needed to dry but it was storming so I ran the dryer despite my best intentions.  Bishop and I were asked to work at the food pantry today and, although we pack our lunch, it is tradition to stop at Sonic on the way there to get beverages to last throughout the day so I did spend $4.41 that was not originally budgeted for.  After working the food pantry I took Christian and Bishop out for bulgolgi and spent $45.65.  Upon returning home I made us a little dessert using frozen fruit that I found in that freezer I am cleaning.  So, I was not 100% successful in sticking with the plan but was within the realm of acceptable.

Wednesday (07/09):  I completely operated within the parameters of my Deliberate Spending Plan today.  It was challenging but I DID IT!  I spent $45.65 at Hobby Lobby but only for sanctioned house related projects.  Independence Day items were discounted by 66%.  I initially placed three items in my cart that I could envision using for Bishop's Eagle Scout Court of Honor - the court of honor that I imagine will happen at some point in the future.  I went all around the store with those items in my cart but, in the end, put them back on the shelf before checking out.  (Yay me!)  Also, I was very tempted to go to the grocery store.  My excuse was that I needed fresh hamburger buns but I knew that I really wanted to see what else was there.  Although I haven't even come close to using all of my grocery budget I know that I must resist these sorts of temptations.  I need to be deliberate.  Today I was.  (Yay me, again!)  We made hamburgers/bisonburgers with meat found in the freezer served on buns given to us after a scout event,  The side dishes served were sauteed squash and sliced cucumbers, both given to us by a generous gardener.  A final success for the day - I line dried my laundry today.  (Yay me!)

Thursday (07/10):  Christian and I bought his new tennis shoes today; the ones that weren't to be in the original budget but when his old shoes collapsed I was forced to get.  However, I think that we did a fine job shopping.  I had a 15% off coupon for Kohl's and $10 Kohl's cash so to Kohl's we went and managed to get a pair of Fila's with memory foam (sounds comfy!) for $36.57.  Although we did really well on the shoe purchase I just could not control my impulse to purchase some carry-out.  I spent $16.98 at a deli.  I will take this amount out of the grocery budget.  On the plus side, the portions were so large that we ate the food for both lunch and dinner.  Also coming out of the grocery budget is $4.41 spent at a bakery/coffee shop when I took my niece out for a treat and a conversation about homeschooling (she is considering it for her kiddos - exciting!).  A small success was resisting the urge to go to Incredible Pizza when I knew a bunch of friends were hanging out there.  Instead I stayed home and made some progress on my house-related projects.  (Grocery spending to date = $21.39).

Friday (07/11):  I ate a bagel while I did some paper work at a local bakery and I bought a loaf of bread  for lunch and dinner.  I spent $4.98 and will take this from the grocery budget.  I spent another $58.59 at Hobby Lobby for one of my house-related projects.  I also made a trip to WalMart where I spent a total of $74.68- $55.18 was for groceries and $19.50 was fair related.  (Grocery spending = $81.55; House-related projects = $104.24 which is $4.24 over the budgeted amount; Fair-related expenses =  $44.29)

Saturday (07/12):  Today I spent another $19.55 Hobby Lobby in order to complete one of my house-related projects.  This means that I have spent a total of $23.79 over the budgeted amount for this category.  I hope to spend less on yard related projects in order to stay reasonably close to the overall budget.  I bought another $25.44 worth of groceries of which $5.00 comes from the grocery budget and the remainder is for the fair.  Although I had intended to take Christian and Bishop out only once while Maceo was gone I couldn't resist the impulse to take them one more time.  I took them to the Aviary for some yummy crepes and spent  $30.50.  This will be taken from the grocery budget.  (Grocery spending = $117.05; House-related projects = 123.79; Fair-related expenses = $64.73).

There is definitely room for improvement but I am not doing too bad.  I will keep working at this!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

Today I will be sharing the bit of progress that I have made and share how I am attempting to reduce the financial hemorrhaging.

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Ugh...still no progress here.  The balance remains at $0. (That makes me want to cry a little bit).

*Christmas Jar of Change:  I am adding $1.75 to my previous balance of $89.83 for a new grand total of $91.58.  I am almost to triple digits.  I am so excited!

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:

The Victorian Ladies Drill Team - I may be joining them next year!

-On Independence Day I attended a neighborhood parade and listened to a fantastic band play in the park.  It was exceptionally entertaining and didn't cost me a thing!

-We were invited to two different friends Independence Day celebrations we were asked to bring side dishes to both.  In situations such as this I tend to decide what I want to take and then go shopping for whatever I need.  This time I made myself choose from what I had in the house.  In the food storage pantry I had two bags of sea salt and vinegar kettle chips (YUM) that I had purchased on sale, sitting on my counter for the last two weeks was a watermelon, and I had on hand all the ingredients for snickerdoodles.  So these are the items that I took to the parties and they were all thoroughly enjoyed.  I came home with no leftovers.  Well, none of my own leftovers that is.  My friends did send me home with leftover steak and pasta salad.  SCORE!  (Thanks guys!)

-We purchased our family fireworks on July 5 getting them at a discount.  (Although I must confess that I budgeted $40 for them and spent $46).

-Redeemed Swagbucks and Bing Rewards for a total of $10 in gift cards for Amazon.  I will either use these for Christmas presents or to defray the cost of educational supplies.

-My most important frugal accomplishment this past week was to establish a Deliberate Spending Plan.  I am truly fascinated with the idea of a spending fast/freeze and am truly inspired by my niece, Sarah, who did a 31 day spending fast in January and is now attempting a 60 day spending freeze; however, I know that such an endeavor for me at this present time would not be feasible but I do need to get the finances under control.  What's a girl to do?  I decided that I needed to set some very deliberate boundaries around my spending for the month of July. Here are my basic guidelines:

-spend less then $150 on gasoline (including that which is needed for the lawn mower).  We typically budget $250 for fuel.

-spending on fireworks is permitted but will try not to exceed $40 (Note: spent $46).

-clothing purchases will be suspended with the exception of the footwear that I know Maceo will need for his theatre camp.  (Note:  This was the original plan, however, I now know that I will exceed this by another pair of shoes.  I knew Christian would need new tennis shoes soon but, apparently, "soon" is now.  His shoes are presently being held together with duct tape.  A game of kickball on Independence Day was more then his shoes could handle.  However,  I have $10 in Kohl's cash and a 20% off coupon that I will utilize).

-the fair is this month and there will be expenses related to getting Bishop's fair entries completed.  I did not set a limit on this and will just be as conscientious of my spending as possible.  I did set a limit for spending at the fair itself.  The limit is $60 and will be a challenging goal to attain as fair rides and food are not cheap.

-Bishop will also participate in another Academic Fair this month and will be able to purchase whatever he needs for that presentation.  I am not sure that we will have to purchase anything but a display board though (I hope).

-money (whatever it takes) can be spent on GRE study materials for Christian (Note:  Christian found a friend who has just taken the GRE who was willing to loan him her study materials.  $0 will be spent! SCORE!)

-be deliberate about utility usage.  I do not have a specific amount that I am wanting to reduce our bill by but want to be very conscientious of our usage - keep a/c off when possible, turn off lights when not in use and I am going to try to air dry my laundry for the rest of the month!

-I intend on reducing my grocery budget by 50% for the month of July.  I will largely rely on whatever is stocked in my freezer and pantries for my meal preparation.  Because I will be getting a quarter of a cow next month and need to make room in the freezer for that I am highly motivated to get the stuff currently in the freezer used up, menus will be created accordingly. (This should be fun!)  Also, I have set a goal to try not to buy items that I can make.  For example, I will run out of laundry detergent during the month and, rather then buying more, I will use the supplies that I have on hand to make some.  The same could apply to tortillas, hamburger buns, etc.  (This should be an adventure!)

-I REALLY struggle with my spending when it comes to eating out and other entertainment.  I will really focus on controlling this spending during the month of July.  I give myself permission to go out for iced tea only while traveling to a friends house on July 4 (Note: I did NOT do this! Yay me!) and while waiting for Maceo to complete his vocal lessons,   I will dine out with Christian and Bishop only one time while Maceo is on his mission trip; we like to try new restaurants and types of food while the pickiest eater is not accompanying us.  (Last year we did Lebanese food and walked to a favorite Italian restaurant of mine that they had never had).  Already on the calendar were a girl's night out with friends and a day out with my sister, these have been budgeted for accordingly.  In addition to the above, I have given us permission to spend another $40 on entertainment.  This may seem like a lot of money being spent on dining out and entertainment but if I can accomplish this goal it will be a significant accomplishment for me.  My spending in this area is typically VERY impulsive; I am trying to curb that and become more deliberate and controlled in this area.

-I also give myself permission to spend no more then $40 on ongoing yard projects, $100 on finishing house-related projects that I have started, $100 on home education-related expenses, and $50 on Christmas expenses.  I am also allowed to spend money on getting an oil change and to buy a disc of photos of Maceo's theatrical productions for this last year.

-And, finally, I will take this opportunity to review all my current expenses and see what can be eliminated or reduced (i.e. insurance and Netflix).

Was that too much information?  It may have been but I now have it all in writing and out there for the world to see and hope that that encourages me to stay on track!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

And the winner is...

Congratulations to my Maceo for winning a Franny!
(Think "Oscars" but on a community theatre level)!
Maceo was recognized for his contribution to the theatre throughout this last season, for his hard work and for his growth as a performer!
He was thrilled!
I was proud!

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments

Oh my goodness, can it really be so?  Apparently my last entry regarding my frugal accomplishments was on February 17.   I have my excuses all having to do with getting overwhelmed with life.  First I injured my back, then I had to play catch up, then I had to make an unexpected trip to New Mexico for my mother-in-laws funeral, then I had to turn around and return to New Mexico for my grandfathers funeral, then my husband came from Korea for a visit which brings us to this present day.  I feel as if we are hemorrhaging money and, even worse, I feel as though I have lost my focus.  It is time to regroup.  It is time to bring my vision back in to focus and get back to work.
So here I go...

*52 Week Savings Plan:  Unfortunately this account has been entirely depleted.  When I made the first trip to New Mexico I had to leave Maceo at home because he was performing in a show.  While I was gone he utilized the funds in this account to buy himself food, etc.  Although I am sad that there is no money in this account I am thrilled that there was money readily available during this time.  I must resume setting money aside.

*Christmas Jar of Change:  The change, meanwhile, has just been piling up waiting to be counted.  I have saved $38.29 in change.  The previous balance was $51.54.  The grand total is now $89.83.  Making progress!

*Favorite Frugal Accomplishments:
I wish I had a slew of frugal accomplishments to list here but, alas, I have so very few but I will find encouragement in what I have done.

-Maceo's vocal instructor, whom we appreciate so very much, celebrated his birthday and we wanted to recognize that special day but, due to the aforementioned hemorrhaging,  I was reluctant to spend much money.  I opted to give him a jar of blackberry jam that I had previously canned and filled a vintage jelly jar with fresh cut herbs from my garden.  The total amount spent was $0 and was accepted with an appreciative inhalation of the scent of fresh mint and a big smile!

-We resisted the urge to turn on the air conditioning.  We went through most of the month of June with the a/c turned off!  I can't wait to see the bill! (I don't think that I have ever said that before)!

- I began this little project in the yard.  I paid for the mulch but every other element has been free.  I transplanted the plants from another bed (they desperately needed divided).  The reclaimed bricks were found alongside the railroad tracks while walking the dog.  I have carted them home one grocery bag full at a time.  The edging is simply woven branches that were clipped from my overgrown tree line.

So, there you have it.  It is not much but I will consider it a start (again)!