What We Did to Save Money This Week 4/25

From the children's book "Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin"

From the children’s book “Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Ben Franklin”

I am turbo-charging my savings mode right now because we would really like to go to England next year.  Traveling out of the United States is expensive for a family, so planning and saving ahead is very necessary.

This week:

  • I had an opportunity to work extra hours at work.  I was grateful I already had a meal plan and groceries purchased so I could say yes.   Wonderful to earn extra money AND come home to something to make a meal out of.
  • Mr. Saver researched our medical plan and found that we could also get preventative dental care as part of our existing plan.  We are charged a nominal amount for each service provided (cleaning, oral evaluation, etc).  There is a quality dental provider walking distance from our house.  We will be able to save up to $ 750.00 a year… money we are currently paying out of pocket by paying without insurance.  This mini plan does not cover big ticket dental problems, but then again, we aren’t paying anything extra for it!
  • You know me.. I have been charging our phones, doing dishes, and washing clothes using  Time of Use rate for electricity.
  • CVS sent me a coupon for 5.00 off a 15.00 purchase.  I am studying how I can use that to purchase water and soda for a big family reunion this summer (both are on sale starting Sunday).  I already budgeted money to pay for reunion expenses, but money unspent is money I can reallocate elsewhere!
  • Speaking of coupons, my hair salon is running a Mother’s Day promotion — buy a large gift card, get an additional $20.00 gift card.  I budget haircut money out of every check, so I already had money to pay for the gift card, and now have an additional $20!
  • Today is “lock in day” at our house.  Our daughter requested a day to not go anywhere – just family time at home.  Saves lots of money and lets us recharge after a busy week.  We are planning some baking, puzzles, and Simpsons Monopoly.

Overall, a pretty good week and a gold star to Mr. Saver for digging deeper into our medical insurance and looking for a new dentist that takes this type of insurance.

American Girl Warehouse Sale-Wilmot 2015

A reader left a comment yesterday asking about the dates for the American Girl Wilmot Warehouse sale. It will be held June 11-13, 2015, from 10:00-8:00 pm.

You can read about our experience at the first day of the sale in 2013 here

You can read about our experience on day two of the sale in 2014 here

Directions can be found on the Mattel Outlet Website.  I’m happy to answer any questions!

noexif_IMG_4667_private

Debt Free Anniversary – 4 years

Debt Free

Four years ago our daughter was in kindergarten and I took a part-time bakery job to get a little more income rolling in (my take on Dave Ramsey’s ‘get a job delivering pizzas’).  We were watching our grocery expenses (beans and rice, as Dave says) and throwing everything we had at the mortgage which was ticking down into the $20-30,000 range.

We got to the point where we were looking at our emergency fund and savings and said to ourselves: “What return are we getting on the savings vs. what is the interest costing us on our mortgage?”  When we were below $20,000, we decided to take a chunk of savings and pay our mortgage off (of course we left enough to cover home ownership-type emergency expenses).

Getting it actually paid off was interesting!  We had to call the mortgage company and get a final payoff amount. We had a limited number of hours to get a cashier’s check from the local bank and get the whole thing sent via express service to the mortgage company.  They wanted every last dime of interest, you can be sure!  Our local banking staff were excited for us, and they waived the fees for the cashier’s check.

The next day we went right back to rebuilding our savings, and we haven’t paid interest ever since!  Staying out of debt has had a huge effect on our family’s financial future.  Our accomplishment is something we share readily with our daughter, and we hope it will be an experience she can look back on when she makes her own financial decisions for college and beyond.  We will celebrate as a family today with breakfast out (we are off work and school by chance today), a special dinner, and family time.

This post also appeared on:

brokeGIRLrich

 

 

Menu Plan Monday (on Sunday) Apr 19/15

Nesbitts

Monday – Garlic Mushroom and Zucchini Shrimp with Pasta

Tuesday – Chili – I will try to make enough for two meals

Wednesday – Ballet!  Make your own sandwich night with a variety of options

Thursday – Jamie Oliver’s Curry (I make mine vegetarian with chickpea and cauliflower)

Friday – Veggie Burgers, Falling Rock Cafe-style (on a pretzel bun with sweet onion and a mustard-mayo sauce).  Must serve with chips and a pickle!

More menu inspirations at orgjunkie.com

 

Back in the Saddle at CVS

I like to save 77%!

I like to save 77%!

When I switched jobs in October, one thing that fell by the wayside was reading the CVS & Walgreens ads on Sunday.  My favorite place to check the CVS ad is at the iheartcvs website.  Granted, I made more money in my new job than I lost by missing deals at CVS, but with summer on the horizon and the end to paychecks until September, it’s time to get back in the habit again.

I won’t go to CVS just to get a 2 litre of soda for .69 cents, but some weeks the forces of nature and marketing come together to have several deals worth a trip.  I look for things that we can use within a few months; I can’t deal with stockpiling toothpaste under my bed.  Recent finds were things like:

  • Easter M&Ms, 75% off (1.05/bag for the big bag) PLUS I had a coupon for $1.00 off two bags of M&M/Mars products, so that makes two full size bags at about .50 each
  • Kleenex – 1.34 each plus CVS coupon for $1.00 off two = .84 ea
  • Listerine deal last week, 2/10.00, plus 5.00 back, plus stacked CVS and Manufacturer coupons brought a very low price.

CVS now has an app for Apple users.  You can view your offers on the app instead of on those L-O-N-G sheets of coupons that print at the scanning machine.  I also like being able to have the cashier scan my card from the iPhone rather than searching for my house keyring.  Now through August when you download the CVS app you get $ 3.00 in ExtraBucks.  Nice!

Do you partake of CVS or Walgreen’s deals?  Walgreens drives me nuts because things are never in stock and their coupon policies are never completely clear to me.

 

Menu Plan Monday 4-13/15

IMG_3759_fotorLast week was super busy but now we’re back to normal and I am on a little bit of a mental high.  I found out after some tests that I was able to improve my bone density and Vitamin D levels, which had been low.  PLUS, about 43 days left of school till Summer Break.  Happy all around.

Monday – Pizza Lasagna, an improvised recipe with curly pasta, Trader Joes marinara, leftover pepperoni , and mozzarella baked in a casserole.

TuesdayTurkey and Zucchini Burgers from the wonderful Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi.  I have made these before and they are also yummy the next day.  Serve with rice or naan.

Wednesday – Ballet night so its Chicken Quesadillas and home-made salsa using this amazing and easy recipe originating from Pioneer Woman.  Note: Rotel is spicy.  Tread carefully.

Millet Muffins from "Super Natural Every Day"

Millet Muffins from “Super Natural Every Day”

Thursday – Eggs, millet muffins, and fruit.   Millet sounds like something that would crack your fillings, doesn’t it?  Not at all!  While you are checking Jerusalem out of the library, request Super Natural Every Day too.

Friday – Mom’s night off.

Weekend – It’s gardening season for my husband, so on weekends we are tending to eat at home.  If anyone has any great weekend-friendly (not too much fussing) recipes, feel free to comment or leave your linked recipe URL below.

More meal ideas at orgjunkie.com

 

Trying to Stay A Step Ahead of Murphy

One change we have made to our budget process in the last 6 months is to add a line in the spreadsheet for “Large Appliance/Home Repair.”  Our intention with this savings category is to surprise “Murphy” by being financially prepared when something breaks.

Can you beat Murphy all the time?  No, but we did have a recent victory!  Our dishwasher was becoming unreliable and reluctant to turn on.  It was inconvenient, but not a crisis because we had built up funds for such an occurrence by saving $25.00-$50.00 a week when we could.  We were able to pay in full for a new dishwasher and we still have several hundred dollars available. Now that we withdrew money from that budget line, we will put attention on replenishing it.

We also keep a spreadsheet listing our major appliances, the date purchased, and the date the warranty expires.  The spreadsheet helps us be aware of any items that may be coming due for replacement.  If your conventional water heater is 12 years old, you’re easy pickings for Murphy!  When you have been a homeowner for a while it is so easy to think that you just replaced something, only to find that it’s 10 years old.  Knowing a replacement is on the horizon gives us time to watch for sales or begin researching options.

 
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, & A Disease Called Debt