Sunday, July 31, 2016

Monthly grocery shopping trip for August

This a long one so grab a cup of coffee and read on.

Since my husband and I only get paid monthly and pay day was this past Friday, I decided to do shopping for the month. I spent all day Saturday paying our monthly bills and developing a budget.

I also went through the sales ads for the local grocery stores. There are three that I looked at ads for: Kroger, Food Lion, and Harris Teeter. I decided to do the majority of my shopping at Aldi and make a price list based on their prices. If I can find something cheaper elsewhere, then I will buy it there.

I then made a menu for dinners for the month and wrote down breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas for the month. I discussed it with my husband and we both agree we saved the most money when we did created a boat load of frozen meals so that was our plan.

I coordinated the days I worked with a frozen crock pot meal. Days we will be busy, I also planned a frozen meal. Really, there are only a handful of days that I will actually be cooking dinners.

This morning I set off to a local coffee shop to clip a few coupons and plan my attack at the local stores. I started off at Aldi and loaded up my cart while writing down prices and sizes of items for the price list. The total spent there: $290.84. My husband had just got done with an Uber job and met up with me to take the groceries from there home. I only have a 2 dr jeep wrangler and I needed the room for the rest of the stops! Plus it was 100 degrees here in NC and I didnt want all the ice cream goodies to melt! No Dairy Queen trips for us this month!!

I then headed over to Harris Teeter for their super double sales. I stocked up on toiletries and paper goods for a total of $34.29.

Off to Kroger (one of my faves!). I decided to walk the aisles looking for additional bargains as I had my coupons with me. They had chicken breasts on sale for $1.79/lb. That is really good for the area so I stocked up! I bought three pounds of sandwich pepperoni which was not on sale and a bit pricey, but my husband will use it to make a large amount of pepperoni rolls for lunches for the month so I figured it will save us in the long run. No fast food runs!! I did splurge and buy four 6 pks of Hershey bars. They were 2 packs for $7. When we crave chocolate, he will go to the local convenient store and get us candy bars so even though it was a splurge, it will save us in the end. Total spent there: $138.18.

The last store. Food Lion. They had top round london broil on sale for $2.99/pound. We have decided to grind our own beef for burgers and such, and this price is cheaper than ground beef anyway! Total spent: $66.90.

The way I figure, the only grocery runs we will have to do for the month of August will be for milk and bread and for my husband's birthday celebration. So, for the month of August, we have spend $530.21. I only budgeted $600 but honestly there will be meals for September too so we are ahead!

Friday, July 29, 2016

July 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two car payments
Well, one is paid off!  We just got the title in the mail!

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
I am back to doing a budget. Oh I hope I can stick to it!  I think cutting out some pet items will help. I am going to keep searching for more ways to save.
3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
This has been tough for us. I am hoping to get back on track in August.
4. Turn our junk into money
We have gone through our DVDs and have sold only a few. There are a few other items I need to get posted to sell too.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
Umm...we FINALLY got the pool up and it is WONDERFUL! It is just a pool from Big Lots but I am enjoying it nonetheless. We bought some designer bricks off of craigslist and are working on a retainer wall. It will look good when we are done with it.

6. Vacation on the cheap
Well, I did have some money set aside for next summer's trip to Finland, but we did not budget well and it got spent. UGH!
7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
I have yet to start on sewing some gifts, but I am still collecting ideas.
8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
Yeah, I think I gained weight actually. I have started to work out some. I would LOVE to join a gym but there are none that do month to month so I have decided to just use the pool and youtube. 
9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
Um, yeah. I had the garage looking decent and a girl moved back in and took over the garage. ARGH!
10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
Nothing done with this goal. I actually thought about deleting this one but I decided to just keep it around for my own knowledge.
11. Learn new one new thing a month
I am sure I learned something but no clue what it was right now.
12. Put forth more time for family and friends
Family, yes, friends, not so much. I hope to change that in August.

July's grocery totals

July's totals are ready. I did better that I thought I did! Still not as good as I have done in the past but I am figuring out a budget to control spending. Anyway, here is a recap of the previous months and at the end, July.

February:Groceries=$1287.95. Eating=$51.67. Total-$1339.62
March: Groceries= $573.20 Eating out= $138.42. Total-$711.62
April: Groceries=$411.40 Eating out=$99.19. Unknown-$41.41 (All I know it went to food). Cash left-$48. So all this equals $600.
May: Groceries= $640.56 Eating out=$211.71. Total-$852.27
June: Groceries=$776.41 Eating out=$509.77 Total-$1276.18
July: Groceries=$779.57 Eating out=$381.53 Total-$1161.10
August budget - Groceries - $600. Eating out - $200. This is doable. I actually hope to spend less than what we budget. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Reducing pet care costs!

In an effort to start paying down debt, I have decided to figure out ways to curb pet care. We have many a pets and finding cheaper ways to care for them is now a must for me.

First, the hens and ducks:  They don't take much to care for. Two bags of feed a month which cost about $36 total. I am contemplating getting rid of a few ducks to lower the cost of feed. I'm still debating though as I really do like them...and they give me eggs.

The chinchillas: These are really not a major cost. I spend about $40 every 5 months or so to feed since we buy the food from Amazon in bulk.

The dogs:  This is where we can try to save the most money.

  1. They eat a specific food and I do not want to vary from that. One of the beagle boys has a sensitive belly and is doing well with the food. It is pricey though. A huge bag lasts us one month but costs us about $42. I will be on the look out for coupons and check the price at the two pet stores, plus Amazon, before I buy. 
  2. Plus we have their heartworm preventative medicine (which I am HORRIBLE about remembering). I am going to really look for a cheaper source as, if I remember correctly, I pay about $100 for three months for three dogs. I may be totally off on this though. I am going to investigate this. 
  3. The yearly check ups and shots also cost me several hundred dollars. Here is what a dog really needs each year, or three. I think I am going to ask around for the best price. 
  4. The last cost is grooming. Our oldest dog is a Poodle/Pomeranian/Pekingese/Shih Tzu mix. I used to get her groomed about every three months but recently moved to every other month for a total of $36 a visit. I had tried to groom her in the past on my own and was not really successful. I think I may try it again though. Worse case scenario is that I end up taking her to get groomed after all.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Our direction in life

I've been doing much thinking about things lately. Most of it being the direction of things in our life. We have finished one part of our lives. Tomorrow the boy turns 18. We are done raising our kiddos.


I mean, he finished high school back in December, he graduated in June, but since he was still 17, it felt like we were still raising him. This past week, it feels complete. Well, to me it does. We are done. A part of our life, the raising kiddos, is done.

So what now??

That is what I have been thinking of as of late. What now?  Just about everything I have done since high school has been about raising kids. I picked a career and shift to work so I could be available to my family. It was never a career to me, really, because family ALWAYS came first in my mind. Nursing was a job. Now that my kiddos are grown, it can be a career. (Although, I am not sure I want it to be, but alas, it will be...for the time being).

I have begun to question everything. Now that the kids are raised, do we really need to have all these birds outside?  Yes, I know, I had to have the chickens, but I never had interest in the ducks, that was the boy. He has not expressed interest in them in quite awhile now. Should we keep them?  Should they go? They are the only ones producing eggs, so actually they are worth more than the hens, so as of now they will stay.

The direction my mind has been traveling in and doing some major focusing on has been retirement. Yeah, yeah, I am still YEARS away from that, but I want to start to think about that now so that when the time comes, both the man and me will be ready. Ideally, I want to retire in my mid 50s. I have a chronic illness that at anytime could progress and leave me not enjoying life how I want to so I'd like to retire early to enjoy life to the fullest. I have been reviewing what kinds of things we want out of life. I like to do some traveling, but overall I am a homebody. The man, he would be happy if he never left the homestead. So, it has been decided that we will make our home our oasis, one that we never have to leave if we do not want to.

In order to do this, we need to get out of debt to then be able to use our money for what we want. We have toooooo much hanging over our heads, lingering like a spider's web, waiting for us to get trapped in it forever! I want to take a large broom and get rid of it!

We are in major debt reduction mode. So yes, that is what I will be focusing on for awhile. Our budget, how to make money, how to save money, etc. I reviewed our goals and it looks like I was already heading there already. So, if you have read this far, maybe you are interested in seeing how a middle aged, middle class couple with grown kids living in a middle class housing development out in the country gets out of debt, begins to simplify their life, and gets prepared for the next section of their life! Keep coming back for more updates. Oh and if you want, check our the facebook page. Our Hodgepodge Homestead  I may post there little things here and there that arent on the blog...mainly cuz I am lazy!

Monday, July 18, 2016

With summer comes laziness

I have been lax about updating this blog, and lax about everything as of late. Its summer!! We have blown the grocery budget the past two months but I am not stressing, since stressing only does harm to the body and accomplishes nothing at all.

I have been reading some great books and blogs to motivate me back to frugalness. Steve and Annette Economides books are ones that I have chosen to glean some info from. They are easy to read books and although I did not learn many new concepts, they are motivating me to tighten the reins and get back on track.  I have started making a budget binder so that I have it on paper instead of just on the computer. I need to get the man more involved in this budget business.

Speaking of the man, he recently started making some side money by becoming a driver for Uber. In his first 2 hour session, he netted about $31! He started out with one and kept getting pinged for a total of 5 drives. This morning he is already out on a drive. We have decided that this will become his spending and gas money which save the budget and gets him even more spending money that he is used to. Anything to keep him away from the money...haha. Seriously though, this will save us a decent amount to be able to put towards another bill. I am actually a little jealous! I want to be able to earn a little extra cash too!  Uber isnt for me because I do not have a 4 dr car, plus we decided it just isnt something I should do even though it seems safe enough. I guess I will just have to come up with another way.

We finally got the pool up and we have been enjoying it! With our yard sloped, it was difficult to level so we bit the bullet and paid someone to level it for was pricey, $250! We decided that it was worth it to be able to enjoy the pool. It still only cost us one year of a pool membership that we know we would never use. We decided that since the man is a homebody, we would create a home oasis for us to enjoy and the pool was a must!