Category : Dollars and Cents Toggle

July Frugal and Money Making Update-Wk 2

I’m a little more on the ball this week with my July frugal and Money Making Update so you’re getting this the first half of the week instead of when I’m nearly a week behind. It was an interesting week, and at first I didn’t think I did much, but the more I thought about it I realized that I was doing things that were frugal without realizing it! This encourages me to take more time to think outside of the box and find other ways that are not so conventional to save money.

July Frugal and Money Making Update

July Frugal Update

  • We were able to have the a/c off for one day last week which was a nice surprise. I actually got cold at one point because we still had the fans going and since it was raining all day it had stayed quite cool outside.
  • I didn’t use the dishwasher all week. The plan is for this to become a regular thing, only using it when we have a lot of company. Though the dishwasher was new when we moved in, it doesn’t clean very well, takes FOREVER to run, and I have to pre-clean everything that goes in without the guarantee it won’t need to be cleaned again when it comes out. Now that all the dishes are caught up, I’m having a much easier time staying on top of them. I’m using the dishwasher as a drying rack!
  • I borrowed my in-laws carpet cleaner and used solution leftover from when we clean the carpets of our house in Omaha to put it on the market. The dining room needed attention before I had two parties and house guests so I was thankful to be able to get that cleaned.
  • I picked up some closeout and manager markdown items at the grocery store to add to our pantry. I’ve already used some of the milk and a bag of the mixed organic berries!
  • For one of the parties I used a free jar of cheese dip for a snack that I got with an e-coupon.
  • The girls played in the water outside on one of our hot days with the neighbor boy. I used the well water by the garden instead of the city water, so we only had to pay the little electricity to run the pump.
  • I dehydrated some basil from our CSA box. This was timely, because I was running low on dried basil.
  • We got more free mulch for our garden and the yard from the city.
  • We’ve started harvesting yellow squash, zucchini, and we picked and shared our first tomato of the season!

Some Not so Frugal Moments

  • We rented a Redbox movie using a $1 off coupon (Yea!) but we forgot to return it for several days (Boo). I love Redbox but we don’t have one nearby making it sometime hard to get it returned in a timely manor.
  • I had a load of laundry I didn’t get out on the line quick enough and I had to rewash it.
  • I didn’t make a very good grocery list and didn’t write down the estimated price. This lead to me ending up spending FAR more then I planned. Some of that was the closeout items and markdowns I talked about, which I didn’t mentally plan on finding.

Financial Goals

Not much to say here. I spent most of the week cleaning and prepping for the parties.

Blessings

I wanted to share with you some things that are helping us save money, but are nothing we are doing ourselves. They are God using others to bless and encourage us and in someways save us money as well.

  • I was fortunate to have a large enough party that as the host I got $100 in free product, which blew my mind! And since we don’t use paper diapers (which is what mom’s at our church are given when they have a new baby) the women’s ministry at church gave me money to spend at my party which allowed me to get some organizing items to help our house run smoother! We are, after all, going to be a family of 6 soon enough and I can use all the help I can get staying organized!
  • My in-laws invited us to dinner twice last week! This allowed me to shift those meals to different days and stretch our food budget further.
  • My friend brought me cookies as a thank you for hosting the party for her business. Boy did I need them that day! Sweets don’t get very much of our budget so this was a wonderful treat!

 

That’s it for this week’s July Frugal and Money Making Update. What have you done lately to save or make money to help your bottom line?

 

I’m linking this to Homestead Barn Hop and Homemade Monday!

July Frugal and Money making Update-Wk 1

July Frugal and Money Making Update

So I know that we’re almost through the second week of July but I really wanted to give you an update for week one to help keep myself accountable. If you want to keep up with my progress throughout the week you can like me on Facebook. I’m combining both my July frugal and money making updates for this week. I may or may not do it next week we’ll see. My computer is going out after serving me faithfully for three years. Considering when my husband bought it for me for mother’s day he was happy to get a year out of it (it was a cheap model) we are both happy that it lasted this long, however I find it ironic that the month I’m trying to cinch the belt tighter and bring in a little extra money (which requires me to have a computer) is the month that my computer bites the dust. I am so thankful I have a husband who does IT for a living and can diagnose the problem for “free” so we can know what our next step is. For now, if I speak sweetly to it and keep the cord just so it is working. Aaaannyway, moving on to the July Frugal and Money Making Update for week one.

Frugal Update

  •  We went the first 6 days in July without running the A/C! It got a little warm towards the end of the day, but we would just remind ourselves that it would be just a couple of hours until we could open the windows again. We might have made it Sunday as well, but we forgot to close the windows before Church and when we got home our thermostat was maxed out at 90 degrees! Yuck. So the A/C went on. We’ve been keeping it up around 78-80 degrees during the day, and 76 degrees at night. The ceiling fans are a HUGE help as well as the box fan we brought in from the garage.
  • The dryer has remained unused and all the laundry has been hung outside or on the rack inside.
  • I’ve been working to keep lights off and at least three days last week the entertainment center was unplugged.
  • I’ve been taking pails of dish rinsing water and water from dirty cups out to the garden and watering some of the sagging plants.
  • I bought a target gift card with my Dillon’s plus card and got fuel points for it. I knew I would be shopping at Target later in the week so I planned ahead.
  • Joel only ate out for lunch once during the work week, We did eat out on Saturday when we met up with an old friend of mine, but we had purchased a gift card last month for the restaurant during Dillon’s 4x the fuel points so it didn’t come out of this month’s budget.
  • When I shopped at Aldi I tried to buy everything we would need from there for the whole month so I would only make one trip and thus save on gas.

Money Making Goals

  •  I have posted the dryer on Craigslist with no bites. I’m thinking I might take new pictures and reduce the price. As much as we want to make some on it, ultimately we want it out of our garage.
  • I made a list of things leftover from the garage sale that would be worth selling on Craigslist or ebay.
  • I started the process of opening an Etsy shop.  I haven’t taken any pictures or posted anything yet. That will have to wait until at least next Tuesday once I’m past both the parties I’m hosting in the next few days.
  • I checked into swagbucks, Jingit, and mypoints emails everyday last week to add to each tally.
  • I also entered a few giveaways. I’ll see if I end up winning anything. Since I started entering giveaways last November I’ve won a “Cars 2” Lego Duplo set, a lipstick, and a blueray copy of “Return to Nim’s Island. I gave the girls the legos for Christmas and the Blueray made for a great family movie night!

That’s it for last week that I can think of.

 

What have you been doing this week to save or make money for you and your family?

 

I’m linking this to Homestead Barn Hop!

Making Money in July

On top of being extra frugal next month, I’m going to try and make money in July as well. My money making juices had run dry for the last several months but they are back in full force and ready to go! Most of these things aren’t quick, big money makers, but they will help and every little bit adds up. Some of the money/gift cards that I earn I’ll be setting aside for Christmas gifts. I have one in particular I really want to get for my husband for Christmas (which will remain unmentioned just in case he reads this) but it’s going to take a focused effort to be able to pull it off by Christmas.

Making Money in July:

Sell on Craigslist.

Making Money in July

Our dryer that we need to sell.

We have our old dryer that we need to get rid of. Our washer went out and we ended up buying a newer set and now have an extra dryer in our garage. Since it didn’t sell at our garage sale it’s going on craigslist. I also have a few other items left over from the garage sale that I think I’ll throw up and see what happens.

Swagbucks, Jingit, and Mypoints oh my!

I want to spend time everyday checking in and a crewing the bucks/change/points that I can. Everything adds up!

Sign up for blog giveaways.

This may not directly be money, but it does equal money I don’t have to spend on gifts. Which can be a BIG help around Christmas and birthdays. I can also resell anything I may win that doesn’t end up working as a gift for anyone in the near future.

Create an Etsy shop.

This is going to happen, I’m just not sure I will get to it this month. It depends how quickly I need to start harvesting the produce from our garden. I have been collecting vintage kitchenware and dishes at garage sales and rummage sales for very cheap and am going to start selling them on Etsy to make some extra income. Pray this is successful, because the money would be a big help and I love finding vintage stuff and an Etsy store would give me a reason to buy it and help it find a good home.

I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other ways to add to our bottom line throughout the month, but these are what came from my quick brainstorming.

What are some things you are doing to bring in some extra money?

 

I am linking this to Homestead Barn Hop!

 

July Frugal Goals

July Frugal Goals

Mark downs are one of the many ways I plan to keep within my grocery budget this month.

I feel like over the past few months our budget has got away from us. With me going through morning sickness my first trimester and then vacation (which we did rather well on monetarily speaking but it’s still an extra expense) I have been less then proactive with being frugal and doing things like avoiding eating out like the plague. When a meal at a fast food joint for one person costs the same as a meal for all five of us at home, it becomes much harder to justify eating out. And now that I’m feeling better I need to get my rear in gear and work on ways to avoid the excuse of eating out because of time or tiredness.

But watching our food budget carefully this coming month isn’t the only thing I plan on doing. Here is my working list of things I want to try this next month to whittle away at our bottom line.

July Frugal Goals:

Keep the lights off as much as possible.

Close the shades at the appropriate time to maximize our air conditioning.

Keep the a/c at 78 during the day and 76 at night.

We’ve just purchased and installed two new ceiling fans for the bedrooms and we already have one in the dining rm/living rm area so that has already made it easier to keep the temp cooler. Who knows, if this works out well I may turn it higher!

No dryer all month.

I want to line dry all  our laundry this month.

Unplug the tv when not in use.

We don’t watch much tv right now, so it makes sense to start unplugging it, along with the other devices that go with it, when we’re not using it. I also plan to turn off my laptop at night and unplug it as well.

Take time to look through online coupons and use what I can.

I’ve got out of the habit of printing coupons out since the printer we bought at a g-sale doesn’t print correctly. We only paid $5 for it, so we’re not out much, but I still don’t have one and the only way I can do it is if I go over to my in-laws and print them off their. I’m going to try and do that this month though.

Write down the price I think I will pay for each grocery item when making a shopping list.

I find that when I have a rough idea of what I plan to spend at the store I tend to scrutinized each item on my list a little more and subtract the items that are wants and not needs. Our current grocery budget is $400 and the past few months I have gone over and we’ve eaten out quite a bit as well.

Make a menu plan that I’l stick to.

I’m really pretty good about making menus. I usually do it in two week increments since it seems life changes too much for me to plan a whole month. This also allows me to shop sales a bit better. I do have a bad habit of putting meals in the schedule that I or my family don’t really care for but do it anyway because they are cheap meals  and then avoid that meal like the plague. I recognize that we need to suck it up and eat the meal, but I will not be putting them in the schedule multiple times in the month. Once is good enough for me.

Eat from our garden.

I’m hoping our garden will start producing so we can include some of it’s produce and save us some money at the store.

Make my own bread.

This is a hard one since I have said this every month for several months now. But I have decided this IS the month it’s going to happen!

 

I hope to find other ways this month to save money as I go along. I do have a couple of obstacles this month that may challenge my July frugal goals and my budget. First I am hosting a 31 handbag part in July and will need to provide snacks and drinks for that. Second, my family will be in town for several days and so I will be feeding them as well. We also have the fair next month and though there are lots of free things to do there, I would like to spend a little money on the kids since we didn’t spend any money on vacation doing extra fun stuff (we stuck to the swimming pools and canoeing which were free.) Oh, ya and the 4th of July! My goal is to still keep within our grocery budget even with the extras coming up. I will have to keep a watchful eye for deals and mark downs! It seems like a crazy month to try and be super frugal, but on the other hand, I think it maybe the only thing that keeps us from completely blowing the budget out of the water!

 

Do you have any ideas or ways you are cutting expenses this summer you can send my way? I can use all the help I can get!

 

I’m linking this to Homestead Barn Hop!

Food Budgets According to the USDA and Our Actual Food Budget

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So I was visiting a blog the other day and she had a link to the USDA’s 2012 chart that shows, on average, what a person by age group/gender would eat at home per week and month (this does not include eating out). They have four categories: Thrift plan, Low cost plan, Moderate cost plan, and Liberal plan. Apparently they need to add a fifth category for my family-Dirt Poor Plan.

I worked out the numbers per individual for my family to get our numbers from their chart since my girls don’t fall exactly into their pre-calculated family chart. Lucy is only 9 months, but I put her in at one year since she is quickly increasing the amount of food she is eating. Below is the results.

Thrifty Plan

Lucy-$92.20

Sammie: $100.70

Emma: $104.90

Joel: $181.30

Me: $161.00

Total Monthly Budget: $640.10

Low Cost Plan

Lucy: $123.50

Sammie: $127.30

Emma: $132.70

Joel: $234.20

Me: $203.30

Total Monthly Budget: $821

Moderate Cost Plan

Lucy: $140.40

Sammie: $154.30

Emma: $163.80

Joel: $292.30

Me: $250.80

Total Monthly Budget: $1001.60

Liberal Plan

Lucy: $170.20

Sammie: $188.10

Emma: $198.90

Joel: $359.70

Me: $320.70

Total Monthly Budget: $1237.60!

 

I worked up the thrift plan first since I knew that would be the category we would be closest too, and I was still floored by how much they allotted for our family. Let me tell you, if we had $640 to spend on groceries every month we would be eating like kings and queens!

According to the USDA’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) We should be spending $793 a month, $500 of which we should be spending out of our budget and $293 from SNAP. We don’t receive any benefits from the government, though I’m sure we more then qualify, but the money we would receive from SNAP if we were on the program would pay for almost three quarters of our entire budget for the month (which includes food, personal, and household items like toilet paper and pull-ups)!

Just this month we decided to up our budget from $350 to $400. This was hard for me at first because before we lived with my parents our budget for three was $250, which equals $83.33 per person a month. You would think I could manage at $350 a month or $87.50 per person (not including Lucy), however, Lucy is starting to eat more so I need to start account for her. There are some other factors as well that have added to the need to increase our budget. First, the price of food has gone way up since we were last feeding only our family. We moved in with my parents in 2010 and the price of food has gone increased dramatically since then. Second, we are eating a lot more whole and organic foods and lets face it, it costs more to eat healthy. And Third, we moved to a state that taxes food purchases. Nebraska doesn’t charge taxes on food. Seven percent of our grocery budget isn’t going towards food here in Kansas. So out of the $350 we have budgeted, only $325.50 is going towards food. That’s two days, or six meals for four that is going towards taxes! Trying to make sure we have enough food for the month has been stressing me out big time. Add to that, the fact that I haven’t even begun to be able to stock up my pantry, and you’ve got one stressed mama!

So now our budget will look like this $400- $28 (7% taxes)= $372

Lucy: $20

Everyone Else: $88 (I’m just figuring the same for everyone, since I make one meal for everyone)

That’s $2.84 per person/per day

Or $0.95 per meal.

No that does’t account for snack, which we do have occasionally. We don’t always spend $0.95 per person/ per meal though. Like when we have oatmeal for breakfast. I look at these numbers and wonder how in the world we manage to do it, but somehow God always makes it happen.

We don’t eat out as a family more then two or three times a month which most of the time comes out of this budget as we, so pretty much all of our family eating comes out of this budget. Joel eats lunch in town once or twice a week when he is there over the lunch hour for meetings and doesn’t have a place to warm food up. That doesn’t come out of this budget. We are still trying to work on cutting that down further.

If our family ate according to the USDA’s “Thrifty Plan” we would have no problem eating 100% organic and whole foods. We would be eating the smoothies for breakfast that I would LOVE to do, but can’t because all that organic fruits and berries would break our budget BIG TIME. For now we will do what we can, and add new food items as we get stocked up on what we use all the time now so we aren’t buy everything every month.

What do you think of the USDA’s chart? Where does your family fit in? What do you do to keep food costs down?

 

I’m linking this to The Homestead Barn Hop.

Gift Giving for Kids

Gift giving for kids

With the girls being so young, it can be difficult giving gifts from them in a way that allows them to feel included, not pulling out my hair, and keeping in budget. I decided I would pick up things on clearance throughout the year and then the girls can “shop” from my “gift store” for birthday and Christmas gifts. This way I can wait as close as possible to say, Christmas, for them to “shop” giving them less time to spill the beans.

Recently I was reading “The Tightwad Gazette II” by Amy Dacyczyn. In it was a tip from a reader who did something similar only she took it a step further. She would allow her kids to do special chores to earn “Mommy Money”. Right before Christmas her kids could cash in their “Mommy Money” and shop at her “Store” on at a time. She would pick up items at yard sales, often for a quarter.

I can see myself doing this for many years, at least until my children have learned to be thrifty and plan ahead!

 

What ways do you involve your kids in the gift giving process while still staying on budget?

 

I’m linking this to:           The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

New Kellogg’s Rebate-$10 Toy Cash Voucher!

Kellogg’s has a new rebate offer which doesn’t end until December 31, 2010. Collect 5 Toy Cash tokens from select boxes of Kellogg’s, Keebler and cheez-its, download and fill out the rebate form here and Voila! Only one rebate per house is allowed.

You can go here for a list of products you can find the tokens on.

 Also you can go here to print off some great cereal coupons!