Tag Archives: Budgeting

Saving and Homemaking 4/29

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Planting

Last week I planted dill and basil in pots inside and the seedlings are up!  Fingers crossed they get enough sun to grow into sturdy plants.  It’s under 40 degrees F here, so no planting outside yet.  I have pea seeds ready to go.

Saving

A good week!  I found eggs on sale for .39 cents/dozen and purchased two dozen.  That same store had their deli meat on sale for 50% off, which may sound scary but both were loss-leaders to celebrate the opening of a new store location.

At another store I found a “save $4.00 when you purchase 4 items” promotion.  Did the $4.00 come off my receipt?  No, of course not.  I went to the service desk and they gave me me the 4.00 in cash.  I noticed when I signed for the refund the person on the form ahead of me had also sought a refund for the same promotion.  Must watch receipts.

DH is tracking the cost of flights to England so we will have a better idea of the price of flights if we are able to afford a trip next year.  He is using a simple notebook for this, going back to our roots when we were first married and our weekly budget was in a spiral notebook!

At the end of the week we had cash left over which we put towards upcoming birthday and Mother’s Day expenses, and also vacation this summer.

Watching

90DD and I are enthralled with the show “When Calls the Heart” on Netflix.  We are only at the beginning of the first season so don’t spoil it for us!  We are scheming to watch episodes whenever we can.  If you are a fan of Little House, Dear America/Dear Canada books, or historical fiction, you must check into it.

Cooking

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We ate at home this week, and rather frugally.  I made a quiche with the .39 cent eggs.  I had bacon in the freezer, leftover cooked mini yukon potatoes and also chives from my garden to add to it.  Today we had “make your own taco salad” for lunch, which was an opportunity to use up ingredients from when we had tacos earlier in the week.

We used the deli meat for a quick sandwich dinner on ballet night, saving the cost of a take-out meal.

Cleaning

I didn’t accomplish anything too far outside of routine cleaning.  I was too busy watching “When Calls the Heart.”  I did get some wet cloth dusting done, which I do with Dr. Bronner’s soap mixed with water and a microfiber cloth.

Reading

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“Lucky Broken Girl” by Ruth Behar, a middle–grade novel about the author’s experience as a Cuban-Jewish girl whose family flees Castro’s Cuba for New York City in the 1960s.  I am trying to read kid lit this year about kids and young adults who come from racial/gender/disability/cultural/religious backgrounds other than my own.  DD said this book should be moved to the top of my to be read list.

How was your week?  Any great grocery finds?  What are you reading and watching?

 

 

 

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Involuntary Simplicity?

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Mr. Saver Pays a Visit to the Food Truck

How would you feel about avocados being a rare seasonal treat?  Would your trip to Chipotle be complete without that glob of guac on top?  On my mind this week are thoughts about how changes in national (US) policy might affect my family.

Deportation of migrant workers, many of whom have falsified work papers (I didn’t know they were fake!), would immediately affect the prices of fresh food, most of which comes from California’s Central Valley.  Farmers hope their existing work force could be legalized, or that temporary work visas might be available to agricultural workers.  These low paying jobs are back-breaking and difficult to fill with US citizens, who can go work easier jobs for 10.00 an hour.  (For more background on this, read this article.). Crops need to be picked when they need to be picked and if labor is deported, millions of dollars of crops would be lost.

Rising fresh food prices could necessitate home gardens, canning, and buying local/seasonal.  Kind of a throwback to the ’40s  — before strawberries were available fresh year round.

The other piece of the food price puzzle is whether the government places trade restrictions and taxes on imported goods (say to pay for building a big wall), and importing fresh food like avocados and strawberries from places like Mexico quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Honestly, if the US sufficiently aggravates other countries, they may not buy goods from our farmers, who are barely hanging on as it is.  This could drive up subsidies which we pay for as taxpayers.

Changes in the cost of items can happen rapidly, as we have experienced occasionally with lettuce, citrus, and recently avocados due to things like weather and labor strikes.   What would your diet and budget look like if food prices increased?  Do you have a means to take advantage of food in season through canning or freezing?

Personally, I’m not ready to start stockpiling 5 pound cans of green beans, but it does get my mind turning about gardening and what we might grow that we will use and won’t be eaten by rabbits.  I have canned jam but never anything for food preservation; I do think this is a useful skill to have.

Do you think the scenarios above are possible?  Probable?   Canadian friends… where do you get your fresh produce from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budgets: When The Wheels Fall Off

It’s been quite the week.  We went to the grocery store EIGHT times!  The reason for the craziness has been illness.  It went something like: Kid gets a cold, Parent 1 then gets a cold; kid develops horrendous GI virus a few days later (middle of the night, of course) while Parent 1 now has painful cough.  Parent 2 then gets horrendous GI virus, but worse than Kid!

It’s been a week of buying Pedialyte, Kleenex — anywhere, any price —  and overpriced bottles of 7-Up at the check out because of fatigue.  It was too far to walk the whole store!

It’s rare for me to do laundry outside time-of-use-rates, but all bets are off this week.

noexif_IMG_4633_privateOne small victory, and I mean very small… I made rhubarb muffins from last year’s rhubarb.  I also won a really neat picnic bag and two pounds of Starbucks “limited edition” coffee during teacher appreciation week.

My other accomplishment this week was decluttering some of the English home magazines I tend to not want to let go of.  My mom is going to England soon so maybe a fresh supply will come my way.  It was a good feeling to take care of a pile while I was keeping sick people company on the couch.

I hope we are through our rough patch and next week will be easier.  I plan to come up with some mild, light dinners for the coming week to ease everyone back into eating, and our Flylady zone is the Kitchen for next week.  With a little luck, we can get our grocery shopping back to normal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality Comes Calling

I’ve been off work for the past week.  Glorious time!  A mini family vacation, lots of play-time for DD, and cleaning up the house with a drop off at Goodwill to boot!  Satisfying.  I know I am headed into a super busy April but the promise of summer break is on the horizon.

Having just that sliver of free time has given me space to do some goal setting instead of just surviving.  On my mind today:

  • Switching out of vacation mode and into “making dinner” mode.  A busy week ahead means a meal plan must be dealt with.  Not my favorite chore, but not planning is 10X worse.
  • Continuing to edit our “stuff”… being on vacation always makes me appreciate how little you need to be happy.  Pat on the back for setting a rummage sale date this summer with my  mom.
  • Flylady’s habit for April is making the bed.  Talked to DD about adopting this routine along with me.  We are pretty good about making the bed, but hopefully the diligence in this area will spill over into picking up clothes off the chair!
  • We reconcile the weekly expenses every Saturday evening.  Now is a good time to make sure we have accounted for summer expenses, especially kid expenses, and fund any categories that still need money.
Vacation living - the food comes to you!

Vacation living – the food comes to you!

What’s on your mind at the start of April?

God Breeze

If you ever followed Flylady.net, you know that a ‘God breeze’ is  like a bit of Divine inspiration.  I have been thinking about how when I am blogging I am so much more accountable with meal planning, and today I had a blog comment from a reader wondering if all was OK because it has been SO long since I wrote.

God breeze.

I need to come back to this blog, for me if no one else!

In the coming weeks, I’ll bring you up to date on what is working for us on the personal finance front, and also what balls have been dropped and need to be reassessed.

Are there topics you particularly enjoy?  Let me know.  I frequently have written about kids and money, Dave Ramsey, being debt-free, couponing, meal planning and budgeting.

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Moment… Back to School Budgeting

KIDS AND MONEYOur daughter is headed to 5th grade this year, and this summer has been a great opportunity to ratchet up her role in the back-to-school finances.

Currently our school budget category has about $ 450 in it.  We deposit $10-20.00 a week into the category whenever we have a chance.  This is an ongoing budget category because inevitably there are purchases that come up throughout the year.  This fund covers school fees (yes, public schools have them), clothes, shoes, and school supplies.

The first budgeting opportunity was giving her the responsibility of looking at the school supply lists in July and combining all supplies required into one master list (if you take French, you need additional items; if you take Spanish, something else is required, and so on).  She did that at the start of July which allowed us to go to OfficeMax and get a bunch of supplies for .25 a piece when they started early-bird sales.  We focused only on the items with deep discounts and weren’t tempted by the full-priced items.  Still time for other sales!

A word on school supplies… or maybe more than a word.  When your kid is in Kindergarten if the teacher says you need a Bic pen in blue, by God, you will cross the earth to make sure you buy a Bic pen, lest your child’s blue pen be different than another kid’s pen.  By 5th grade, that is all out the window.  If the teacher wants Pink Pearl erasers, no way am I turning my back on Office Depot brand erasers for .01 as a loss leader.  Ditto on the markers.  If it is a reasonable-quality brand, we are going to live on the edge and get the ones on sale for .25.

Also, can we talk about #2 pencils?  How many #2 pencils do you think a 10 year old could use in roughly 9 months.  Now, about 1/2 the  school day consists of non-pencil using activities like lunch, band, PE, etc.  I would love for you to put your guess in the comments.  Is it anywhere near…. wait for it…. 79 pencils?!?!?!  We should have started sharpening these babies weeks ago! (Note for parents of small kids… start hoarding Ticonderoga pencils immediately)!

Another finance area for her to get involved was to see the amount we had budgeted for school needs and make some decisions about “optional” items like a new backpack and new lunch bag.  I supported her wish for something a little more grown-up and let her look through some catalogs.  She opted to get both items new for next year, knowing that choice may require some economizing down the road. Perhaps by being on top of the school supply sales we created more wiggle room for these “optional” items.

You may want to save on back to school because you have to… funds are tight and perhaps you are working Dave Ramsey’s steps.  On the other hand, you may not need to save on school supplies, but this could be a space to teach your kids about financial decision making in an area that concerns them directly.  My husband and I always say it’s important for kids to have some “skin in the game.”  Now is the time to have money experiences when the stakes are low.  Today’s backpack or Air Jordan decision is tomorrow’s decision about credit cards and college loans.  I’ll let you know how our purchases work out.  How is the back-to-school budgeting at your house?

Side note… if you are hoping to catch information on school supply sales I recommend the blog Hip2Save.

 

 

 

 

Working and Unconscious Spending

Free-Downloads-Vector-Vintage-Stove-GraphicsFairy-redWith summer comes a break from employment for me because I work in a school.  This past year I worked more hours, and I am thinking about how that affected my behavior with our money.

All along we have been staying debt-free and working a budget, but even within that I can see an increase in ‘buying to get through the week’ kind of behavior – unconscious spending.  I can tell I haven’t been as mindful with money when I am afraid to see what the grocery spending looks like when I run a report in Quicken.  I haven’t run one in a long time, but did so tonight.  It was better than I expected, but lots of room for improvement.  When I get lax with our shopping and meal planning, it generally costs us about an additional 100.00 a month.

It’s easy to get in the mindset of picking up convenience items at the store, and saying ‘yes’ to impulse purchases, when you are so busy.  Yet, that isn’t really how I want to spend the money I go to work to earn.  What I dislike even more than the expenditure, is the unconscious part of the spending.  Unconscious spending to me means those expenditures where I say, “Looks good, I’ll pick one up.  Why not.”  Conscious spending is when I might deviate from my plan, but I do so with intention and joy (and a definite plan to use the item soon).

If any persons think some of the maxims too rigidly economical, let them inquire how the largest fortunes among us have been made.  They will find thousands and millions have been accumulated by a scrupulous attention to sums ‘infinitely more minute than sixty cents.’

-The American Frugal Housewife, 1832

Meccas for unconscious spending:  Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market  All danger zones!  I don’t belong to Costco but I suspect that it also belongs on the list.

So, I am contemplating this summer how to find that balance come fall between minding the food expenses and not running around all weekend with coupons and grocery store flyers.  Your input is welcome!