Friday, August 29, 2014

7 months?!


I fell off the blogging bandwagon hard core.

Last 7 months as a recap:

Tax season came and went.

Spenny completed Kindergarten.

We had a fun summer--Tball, Blast ball, Icub games, ice cream, birthdays, weddings, etc.

School has started again.

Spencer is a 1st grader. FIRST GRADE! He has now lost 4 teeth and is 4 feet tall. He is reading well, is a math WHIZ (seriously, he does multiplication already!) and is such a happy, fun, boy. He's really into playing his video games, reading the Fly Guy books and learning how to do things around the house--taking Lola out, doing dishes, fixing his breakfast and purple breads. He enjoys hiking and playing at the park and is REALLY into Pokemon.

Emerson started pre-school. He is 40 inches tall, wants to do everything his brother does, is very independent, smart and hilarious. He loves music, dancing, painting, play dough and cutting "poopons" with Mommy. He loves to help with everything--fixing dinner, setting the table, putting laundry away. He likes to read books and tells stories. He really loves ice cream and cheese. Sidewalk chalk is a huge hit and we like to play Hop Scotch as a family.

I decided to stop wishing I would have went to law school and to do something about it. I enrolled in the Paralegal Certificate program at DMACC. I'm only taking one class at a time so it will pretty much take forever to get done, but I'll get there. I've had one class so far and I think it's going to be a fun, interesting class...Legal Research and Writing I. I get to spend time at the Drake Law Library and write papers and learn legal things that will help me at work as well. Oh, and work is paying for it too.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Tax Season has begun...and Recap for Spending Strike

Tax season is here.

That means longer hours for J which translates into longer hours for all of us really. So far, so good. Only one sick kid and they are pretty much better already (fingers crossed it continues!) and playing video games and being silly so hopefully we're in the clear!

I got lazy on tracking, if you couldn't tell. I did end up splurging and getting us Chinese food one day about a week ago. It was soooo worth it and honestly, it was about $18 and fed both J and I for 2 meals each, so really it wasn't that bad when you break it down. In total, we only ate out 3 times in January. I don't even know how that compares to last January (I tried to compare to our January 13 statement but the bank doesn't store them and I didn't want to know bad enough to track it further than that.)

I do know, however, that this month, we spent around $570 at Target/Fareway/Walmart/Hyvee. That includes dog food, cat food, groceries, pull ups and the like. I know one of the trips to Walmart, we needed dog food, litter and Monster. That alone added up to almost $50 for that trip.

Now on to the GOOD part.

I made it from each payday to the next with money in my account. Like a decent amount of money. I was able to pay for the renewal on my tags. I was able to pay for a week of daycare ($292 that normally comes out of J's account) AND leave money in savings. We got a hair cut (Emerson) and bought a book. We bought EXTRA groceries when they were on sale (93% ground beef for $3/lb instead of $5, Boneless Skinless Chicken breasts for $2/lb instead of $3) to put in the freezer. I made a trip to Aldi's and picked up a bunch of canned goods. I bought 10 boxes of pasta when it was on sale at HyVee 10/$10 (with Fuel Saver points!). I paid some extra on our energy bill. I caught up our cell phone bill since we had gone over on our data around the same time Christmas came. I paid an older medical bill. While I may not have as much in savings to prove that we really did save the money, we were able to feel it in other ways.

Honestly, I'm ready to do it again. Our pantry is in decent shape and our freezer has a decent amount of meat. I've been batch cooking and meal planning to help prevent the last minute eating out. We've re-watching what we own instead of buying new movies on Amazon. We're catching up on different series that we stopped watching a while back (Breaking Bad, Dexter, Big Love). J is teaching me to play EDH. We're organizing things little by little.

Other impacts we've seen is that our budget billing went down for our energy (which I didn't realize until after I paid the bill hence the extra) because we've been conserving here and there--running the dryer less, space heater in the boys' room, running the dishwasher/oven/etc while we are home to keep the temp up instead of running the furnace, turning lights off when not in the room...ya know, common sense type stuff that we're not very good at executing.  Granted, I know this isn't just from January, but I'm guessing that by us working on this for the last few months, it will have had an impact on us when it was so cold earlier.

As far as totals go, I am going to post an estimate, since there is no real way to know since I for one, changed my mind set, and two, got tired of keeping track when I avoided something.

Days 20-31
Spent: $20 eating out
Money saved: $50-100 (mostly avoiding eating out, or at least getting cheaper options, avoided a couple of cute shirts I saw on clearance etc)
Total Spent: $95  And remember, $40+ of that was my snow boots, which are really more of a necessity.
Total saved: around $400

Not too bad for a month.

My goal is to save close to this in February as well to be able to put towards some savings. More on our savings goals later.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Spending Strike 15-19 and a new obsession

Yeah yeah...I know. I should be doing this daily since but sometimes life just gets in the way. I did start to blog on Thursday night during a slow moment but it got busy and that was that.

Wednesday I went from work to the hospital to meet a dear friend's little baby girl. Macy is  for ADORABLE and slept the whole time, hardly made any noise until she thought it was time to eat. I left the hospital at 7 and since J and the kids had already eaten, I thought long and hard about stopping at a fast food place on the way home ($5). I called my mom and that distracted myself enough that I got home, at some pancakes that J had made and then was good to go.

Thursday was TOUGH. Someone had FRENCH FRIES ($3 for an order). They smelled SO good I couldn't get  my mind off of them and I knew that my soup wasn't going to cut it. I ended up avoiding it, however, and had a slim fast that I had stashed in the fridge last week and made it through. On the way to my car in the ramp I got invited to the Jason Aldean concert and was thisclose to saying YES!!! but decided that it just wasn't the night for it. I came home and ate something (I think it was a salad but I honestly don't remember) watched some TV with J and went to bed.

Friday was my early day so I had to be at work at 7 am. This was after coming home late from the night before (left work late then the roads were terrible due to our surprise blizzard/snow squall). I got up earlier than normal to make sure I could make it to work on time. While I skipped the Thai order ($10) I did have a piece of pizza (using my gift card!). After work, J went to hang out with some friends up in Ames so the kids and I hung out. We had to go to Target to get some essentials (Speaking of...I use the CartWheel ap and the RedCard--I was not one that was hacked oddly enough since I shop there all the time--and actually save myself quite a bit of money. I make my list of things that we need and then search for the things on the cartwheel. Sometimes it's only 5% off an item, but then you get another 5% with the RedCard which adds up. Since I've started using the Cartwheel I've saved over $50 and I'm not exactly sure on the RedCard because it doesn't show up on my receipt anymore but I would guess that it's somewhere around $20. Every little bit adds up, for sure!)  While I was there, I had to REALLY talk myself out of a couple sweaters. They were on the 70% off rack and in colors I don't have. One was a nice purple color (which even looks good on me!) for $6 and then other was a sweatshirt cardigan thing that would look super cute with some leggings or even jeans ($6). I even went so far as to see if they were on the cartwheel, hoping it would make them less than $5 each, but no such luck. I ended up walking away from them and calling it good. We then ran to Fareway and grabbed a roast. I was only asked about 3 times if we could stop for fast food and I'm not going to lie, I was tempted, but I told the kids they could pick out something and we ended up with lunchables for dinner. ($15 saved!). I did, however, cave when J called to say that he was going with his friends to Village Inn to play cards after the store closed. I demanded asked him to bring me home a piece of pie ($3) because I really needed a pick me up of sorts and that usually fits the bill.

Yesterday I didn't even leave the house. We had lunch plans but those fell through, which ended up being ok because I was exhausted and ended up taking a nap when the company would have been here. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, frozen pizza for lunch and then for dinner, Pepsi Roast. Since I had these ideas all on the menu it wasn't a big deal and easy to stick to. I even went so far as to declutter part of the kitchen and make the menu/grocery list for next week. J spent the afternoon organizing his cards and ended up getting rid of a bunch of them that aren't of any value and he doesn't need/want/use anymore. I listed some things on the local swap site and have a couple "bites" of people who are interested so we'll see if anything pans out.

Here's the totals:
Money Spent: $3
Money Saved: $45
Total Spent: $75
Total Saved: $326.50

I've also been addicted to reading a blog that I came across, A Slob Comes Clean  and I'm starting to implement some of her ideas. One of them is making sure the dishes are done every night. Another is the 5 minute pick up. I also make myself do something...anything...before I can read it. So far I've cleaned off my dryer, returned trash cans/recycle bins where they belong, went through the boys' overflow clothes bin and sorted into donate, handmedowns, put up for next year etc. As I've been putting away Christmas decorations, I've been organizing the storage room a bit. Each time I go to a different room/floor, I take something that belongs there so it's not out of place. Small changes that may or may not seem to make a different now, but hopefully become a habit and make a difference in the long run.

With all that being said, I am going to do what I originally logged on here to do and that it to look up my sewing machine manual so I can get the bobbin/thread like it's supposed to be to sew up the Lola bed per E's request.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I know, I know. It's been a few days.
But I have several excuses, none of which really count for anything much but life's been busy. And when I'm not busy, I'm lazy. 

So, in the interest of getting the totals up to speed:

Thursday had quite a few challenges...first off, I work 10:30-7. I SO wanted to order Jimmy Johns($10) when a group was putting in an order. It would have been SO worth it to have thinny chips. I swear. I even considered asking someone to add just the chips onto their order, however I stayed strong (barely). Then at right around 3:41 in the afternoon, I had a WICKED craving for chips. Every Thursday between 3:30 and 4 pm, like clockwork, I crave chips. I don't know if it's because I think that a salty snack will tide me over better until dinner, eating my lunch later than normal makes me crave salt rather that sweet or if my sodium, for some reason, dips inexplicably and insanely low for no reason and I have to eat something NOW but I want chips. So much that when I said, Hey Jaime! (my cube mate and dear friend) It's 3:41! Guess what I want more than anything in the world! She was able to reply with CHIPS! I was to the point of even digging up change in my flower pot change holder. I got up to go to the printer and lo and behold, on the "tables up front" there were two big bags of chips, left over from our food day the day before. I grabbed a plate from my desk (only used to carry my soup bowl back) and had a nice serving. It was pretty much perfect, curbed the craving and money spent! Oh, and not buttery fingers like when I had a half a bag of popcorn last week  (Saved $1). After that, I got through the rest of the day at work and on my next challenge. I am usually too starving to fix anything at home when I get off on Friday and the rest of the family has eaten much earlier, so I usually hit up a drive through or stop at Casey's to grab a slice ($4) to eat on the way home. This week tho, I knew that I was going to Target to stop and pick up some filler groceries (Emerson is having a growth spurt, I swear, he eats more than I do sometimes) and some other essentials. I did see a massive 70% off sign in the women's section. I allowed myself to wander over there (with a basket full of juice, yogurt, apples and bananas mind you) and looked at the items. I found several cardigans (which I wear year round, especially the Target ones) and even picked one up to deeply consider it. However, I decided it didn't REALLY need a new one with sequins/rhinestones/fleather so walked away. I did take a quick swing at the 70% off hanging clothes to see if they had any camis for $2.70 but they didn't so I walked away. (Saved $7.50 on the sweater). Full disclosure, I did end up buying a Twix bar. (less than $1) however you know what they say about was gross...the caramel was dry and off tasting. I ended up tossing  after a bite from each stick.

Money Spent: $1
Money Saved: $21.50
Total Spent: $65
Total Saved: $211.50

Friday came and went. I really really wanted a snack from the vending machine ($1) however I avoided it. I also asked J what he wanted for dinner and his answer was Tacos. (Honestly, anytime you ask him what he wants for dinner, it's pretty much the only answer you'll get).  I got off work at 3:30 and asked J if he wanted me to swing by the store, if we should go together or if he wanted to go. All we needed was ground beef, lettuce and some seasoning, etc so could be a quick trip ($15) but a reason to get out of the house. He replied back to me and said "If we don't have the stuff, let's eat something else...that's the point, right?" Hard to argue with that one when you are both suffering working on this together. We ended up eating things we had at home so no money spent. 

Money Spent: $0
Money Saved: $16
Total Spent: $65
Total Saved: $226.50

Saturday I got up, cleaned the kitchen, started some laundry, took some Christmas stuff down, etc. I did some grocery shopping fixed dinner and sold some jeans on the local garage sale site. (Made $8!!!). I didn't stray too far off my list shopping either, only picking up some bacon at Fareway while getting the hamburger they had on sale. 

Money Spent: $0
Money Saved: $0
Total Spent: $65
Total Saved: $226.50

Sunday we got up and did some things around the house. J walked the dog, we ate lunch and worked on Spencer's Star Student poster. We then went to the Iowa Energy game (tickets were free through work) and only spent $7 (popcorn and a soda to share). It helped that I had dinner all ready to cook so it would only take me a few minutes to get dinner done when we got home. 

Money Spent: $7
Money Saved: $15+ on snacks at the game
Total Spent: $72
Total Saved: $241.50

Yesterday was date night. Yesterday was a terrible day at work. Terrible enough that it normally would have translated to Old Chicago and beers ($40) however since I had planned ahead, we had Tacos (I put them into the menu so it wasn't impulse spending this time (planning ahead and still getting what you want is a success in my it was nice to have tacos on a night that the kids wouldn't fight over being told to eat them when they have suddenly decided they no longer like hamburger or cheese or whatever ingredient they have decided is gross. 

Money Spent: $0
Money Saved: $40
Total spent; $72
Total Saved: $281.50

Today was pretty standard. Outside of the fact that EVERYONE ordered Jimmy Johns (I seriously saw 5 different people with it) I survived. It helped that there was leftover catering in the break room. Dinner was planned so it was mostly just throwing it together and done. I'm calling the totals the same today as yesterday.

$281.50 saved since the beginning of the month on eating out and impulse purchases. That's like saving $20/day. I'm excited and yet a little depressed. What if we had been saving that $20/day for the last several years? Where would that have left us? $7300/year. If you take that over 5 years, that's over $36K. That's some serious debt we could have gone.

Now we're going to work on budgeting our savings. Immediately we will be addressing some debt and starting an emergency fund, but also a vacation fund and maybe even putting some away for me to get my paralegal degree and maybe be able to make some extra income from that.

Thanks for bearing with me if you're at the end of the post!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

7, 8 shut the gate...

Yesterday was a standard run of the mill day. I did eat lunch out but out was on a gift card. I did spend 75 cents on a soda, but that was in my change cup so didn't count ;).

Today was a struggle. J had plans with a friend (spending some but it's out of his cash stash and will likely be less than $20). Whenever he is gone for dinner it makes me want to pick up dinner ($15ish). I overcame it though and we had leftovers.  

I've started noticing changes in the way I I overheard a co-worker say something about going to the mall and spending $100 on some jeans and make up. This same co-worker was telling me the other day that they were broke. As in barely making it from paycheck to paycheck broke. I thought to myself just think if that $100 had been applied to bills, savings, fixing up the house...granted, I would never spend that on make up but I do love myself some good deals so I get the "need" to spend but the fact that I am recognizing the fact that I'm overspending. The fact that I was able to transfer $100 in to my savings today and not be nervous with coming close to the limit next pay day. The fact that I don't have stuff to spend money on things just to have things. I'm slowly unsubscribing from the different sale I really need 25+ emails a day advertising things I don't need?

Since I'm lazy I'm doing totals together :

Money spent: $0
Money saved: $15
Total spent: $64
Total saved: $190

Monday, January 6, 2014


Ok, I didn't fall off the bandwagon, just was busy :)

Saturday we mostly stayed at him, baked some cookies, got some stuff done around the house...laundry, dishes, getting rid of junk, freezer organization, getting stuff ready to post on the Facebook sites etc.

We did spend some money, but it was on my snow boots, which we discussed as a necessity. They were on sale though so at least I saved some. I figure the savings on the other things made them pay for themselves. I did, however, avoid all the Christmas clearance and bulk candy.

Money spent: $46
Money saved:  $5-10 (I usually buy candy and have a terrible time with Christmas clearance)
Total spent: $63
Total saved: $120 (rounding)

Sunday J and Spencer went to Ames but before they left we had lunch together (normally E and I will grab Jimmy John's for $10 and J and Spenny hit a drive through for close to the same.) Emerson and I went and got his hair cut (preplanned) and then bought groceries to finish up the week's menu. We stayed on task with the only extra spending being a pack of gum ($1). I had Christians clearance items in my cart but realized I would never use the things they were and put back the items (5-6 various things, $10 worth).

Money spent: $1
Money saved: $30
Total spent: $64
Total saved: $150

Today it was freezing. Went to work, had soup for lunch, no vending snacks or soda. No real temptation because I left my card at my desk and had no change.  I did see some frames at the card store and stopped to look but then quickly walked away without even checking prices. Dinner made at home tonight(scalloped taters and sausage) instead of take out ($25 saved, when it's this cold we get Chinese and eat at home).

Money spent: $0
Money saved $25
Total spent: $64
Total saved: $175.

I'm feeling pretty good about this. Even with including my boots in spending, were still doing a lot better we would have. While I'm bummed that I won't be able to put this all in savings, I'm happy that we're at least getting a chunk saved up.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Day 3

Spending Strike day three was a little more difficult for several reasons:
1. Pay Day. Always seems to be more temptations when there is the most amount of money available in your account.
2. Thai Day. There's a group of us that always orders Thai on Fridays which sets me back around $10 after delivery fee and tip.
3. It was COLD again. Which means I wanted more warm beverages from the sky walk coffee joint I usually go to.  ($3.50)
4. Friday nights we always get some sort of take out on the way home. It might be from a fast food company. It might be pizza or chicken. Sometimes it's Chinese. (If we're all eating at home, anywhere from $15-30, depending on where we order from).
5. We watch a new movie while eating our takeout ($10-15)
6. To add yet ANOTHER challenge to our plate, J's mom took the kids unexpectedly. Whenever we don't have the kids we take that time to go out to eat and maybe even have a couple beers, usually at Old Chicago ($35-40 including drinks and tips).

We successfully avoided almost all of the above.

Due to a minor mis-communication, I ended up ordering Casey's pizza ($12). (We were discussing frozen pizza over the phone--what to get, what kind, from where--and he ended up saying something about Caseys. I thought he meant ORDER Casey's pizza but what he said was that Casey's has frozen pizza...whoops...although I'm sure with gas station prices I only paid another $5 more than I would have).  I also ended up making a quick run to HyVee because it's close and I had a coupon for Kraft Mac N Cheese that was expiring soon and we were out of juice which we would both want in the morning. While I was there I also picked up some Capri Suns (Spencer takes them to lunch) and some ice cream ($3) that should last us another week or so.

(PS: We didn't end up getting any movies, we just watched a few episodes of Breaking Bad and hung out and spent time with each other. I even turned my phone off for a portion of the evening so it really was just facebook/instagram/pinterest...just us).

I also had to get gas and J bought E some snow boots but we consider those necessities are are not counting them towards our total. I usually only need gas about once every 2 weeks or so and I didn't NEED it need it yet (I still had just under 1/4 tank) but with the arctic temps ahead, I decided to get it when it was only 25 degrees instead of -40 windchill like they are predicting for Monday when I would have NEEDED it.

With all this being said, yesterday's totals:

Money Spent: $15
Money Saved: $43.50
Total Spent: $18
Total Saved: $108ish

$108 dollars in 3 days folks. Even with spending some on Pizza and Ice cream, I still call this a win.