Monday, February 28, 2011

Money Monday

I've been changing the way my family I shop. I could say it is because of the economy, college, teen driver, rising gas prices any of these reasons would be a good one. The real reason is that after looking at our spending last year, I was shocked. I do most of the shopping so I can't blame anyone else for my habits. I was motivated to make changes, the first was The Project. Then we looked at what we actually spent and up dated our budget. The only reason I wouldn't be able to stay with the guidelines of this budget is mindlessness. That's what I'm working on changing now. It started with fewer trips to Stuff Mart, making lists, grocery shopping once a week and couponing. My goal is to keep us with in our budget, not get 300 toothbrushes for $1.00; I want to work up to coming in under budget.

I just started coupon 3 weeks ago, in the 3 shopping trips this month I got an extra $60 worth of groceries from my coupons. I'm not calling it saving because I'm not to the point where I'm under budget, yet. This is coupon central; I got 2 Sunday news papers, I was given some more coupon inserts, and printed some from the internet. I spent about 3 hours over the month printing, clipping, sorting, and organizing.

I'm using a 3 ring binder with currency protectors to store the coupons. I ordered these from Amazon; they were cheaper than "coupon" organizing pages. I use coupons for items that we use, not buy something just because I have a coupon. I make the grocery list and then find coupons for things I'm going to buy. I also make a list of things that I would like to get if the budget allows. These are the things I can stock up, but until I'm under budget, stocking up only goes as far as the money allows. Yes, I do take the binder with me to the store.

I discovered some bonuses to shopping weekly rather than bi-monthly like I had been doing. We aren't wasting as much food especially fresh food or being completely out of items as often. I also don't seem to be forgetting as many things due in part to a shorter shopping list. This is a work in progress and I'm sure it will evolve as I learn more.

What are your tips and techniques for saving money?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fave Five

Happy Friday! That means it's time for Friday Fave Five! I really enjoy this blog post because it makes me see the good things that happened this week. Not the cold, gray, rainy days or the list of things that hasn't been done. Hop over to Living to Tell the Story for all the details. I'm also joining the Blog Hop at Home Sanctuary for Company Girl Coffee. So grab a cup of (insert favorite beverage here) and let's visit! Don't forget to leave a comment so I can come visit you too!

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#1 Semi-Homemade Chicken and Dumplings. Yesterday was cold and rainy (yuck!). It was a perfect night for comfort food. The chicken simmered most of the afternoon making the house smell wonderful. Bean even helped me with the dumplings!

#2 Quilting. On Thursday nights a few ladies get together to quilt. Some nights we even get some quilting done between the stories, laughing, and encouraging each other.

#3, 4 and 5 Color. The walls are (mostly) painted! The living room finally feels like we live here!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011




The painter will be back on Saturday to finish up!
After 4 1/2 years we are finally moving into our living room!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Yikes! It’s Friday

I've had a very busy week; volunteering at school, orthodontist, basketball practice, haircuts, karate, pep band. Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it! That's a mom's life; I wouldn't trade it for anything! Now it's Friday and that means Fave Five hosted by Suzanne at Living to Tell the Story and Company Girl Coffee hosted by Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary. This week it's a Blog Hop! Hope I get the hop part to work.

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Without further rambling here are my favorite things for the past week.

#1 My kids are involved in the same activity! Punkin is the assistant coach for Bean's basketball team, with an eight year age difference, opportunities for them to be in the same activity is limited. Go Cheetahs!

#2 Punkin defended Bean when someone was picking on him. Apparently she is allowed to pick on him but anyone else that picks on Baby Brother BEWARE! Be still my Mommy heart!

#3 Bean was awarded a certificate at school for modeling good listening skills and participating in class. I got to be there when he got his certificate.

#4 Sunshine!

#5 We have finally picked a paint color for our living room!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Project

The Project was going very well until Sunday. Punkin (formerly Sweet Pea, she requested a new nickname) and I went to Stuff Mart. We forgot to make a return and purchase the allergy medicine. Honey said he would take my return and get the medicine for me. We made two trips to Stuff Mart in one day. The goal is to average one trip a week, so we are still on target. I could take advantage of the loop hole, because I didn't go two times in one day, but I'm going to count it. The point of blogging about it is accountability.

Making lists, lots of lists, is helping to cut down our trips to the store. I'm putting things on the list when we open the back-up stock of an item. That way I have some time to get the item before we run out. That also gives me time to look around the house to see if we have something that will work. I was able to cross a few things off the list and before I had to make a trip to Stuff Mart. I went to the grocery store and crossed more items off the list. By the time we did go on Sunday I had one item and a return. The main reason we were going was to get Valentine's gifts for Punkin's friends. Since we were going already we added a few things to the list that we would get there anyway, sweatpants for Bean and allergy medicine, which I forgot. I think Honey needed an excuse to make a trip to the store and I gave it to him. The Stuff Mart list is blank, maybe I won't have to go until March!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday's Fave Five/ Company Girl Coffee

Happy Friday! Today I am participating in two Friday blogs. The first is Friday Fave Five hosted by Suzanne at Living to Tell the Story. The idea is to look back over the past week and pick your five favorite things. The second is Company Girl Coffee hosted by Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary. It is an opportunity to meet with other Company Girls and catch up. This is my first coffee so it's a bit more of an introduction for me. For more details just click on the blog titles and visit Suzanne and Rachel Anne. Thank you both for hosting!

This week has just flown by! I'm having a hard time believing it's actually Friday! The weather has been better this week. (#1) The kids went to school 5 days in a row this week. It was pretty quiet here.

(#2) I had 2 "coffee calls" with friends this week. The first was with a friend who used to live a mile away so we would get together for coffee often. Even when we couldn't get together we'd call each other and ask "got time for coffee?" It stuck! Now that she lives a little further away we still have our coffee calls. The next was with a friend I have known since kindergarten or maybe even longer. She provided the winter scene photo for yesterday's post.

The "Project" (#3) is going very well! I haven't been to Stuff Mart since mid-January! Pretty amazing! What am I doing with all the time I'm not at Stuff Mart? (#4) Couponing! I've taken up serious couponing. My previous attempts at using coupons consisted of cutting them out, leaving them at home and finding them under a pile of other papers after they have expired. However, with coupons in hand I cut 12% off my grocery trip this week.

Today is date day! (#5) Honey is off work and we are going to go do something without having to pay a sitter or having Sweet Pea call every 5 minutes asking when we are coming home!

Don't forget to visit Suzanne and Rachel Anne! Have a wonder weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

Just like every where else it's snowy and cold and snowy here. Did I mention cold? I'm tired of it! I would really like to hibernate, snuggle up in my cave and just not go out. With two kids and Honey that's not possible. But I can do the next best thing curl up in my chair, with a blanket, a cup of (insert hot beverage here) and a book (sigh). Katrina at Callapidder Days hosts a fall and spring reading challenge, they are a lot of fun. (I wonder if book sales go up after Katrina starts her challenge?). I know I've found several books to add to my list. I'm looking to Katrina for inspiration for my own "Spring Can't Get Here Soon Enough" reading list. The picture was taken by my very long time friend Monica. It's beautiful!

I trudged through finally just finished American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld. I wouldn't say I disliked the book but, well it wasn't my favorite. I'm going to leave it at that. Now I'm ready to pick some new books, hopefully I'll enjoy my next selections. In no particular order here they are.

Finished A Vintage Affair: A Novel by Isabel Wolff

Lady in Waiting: A Novel by Susan Meissner For a good review check out what Suzanne at Living to Tell the Story has to say about this book.

Finished The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart This is a book about a mom who unplugs her family,it's Non-Fiction, in our house totally fiction!

Finished The Face: A Novel by Dean Koontz

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford

I'm excited to get started on my list. Maybe the weather will cooperate enough to keep my kids in school so I can do some reading. With them trapped stuck spending quality time at home with me it's hard to complete a thought let alone get into a book.

Leave me a comment and tell me what you're reading or how you're surviving until spring. I love comments. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January Wrap Up

Here it is February 1st and time for my first Stuff Mart wrap up. The month started with the kids saying "What do you mean we aren't going to Stuff Mart?" to "Mom, you didn't go to Stuff Mart did you?" No Sweet Pea, I went to the grocery store. I spent less on my fruit, vegetables and milk; and saved time, 15 minutes not an hour!

I did learn a couple of things (so far) from my project. First, I like being resourceful! I wanted a pocket protector for my purse (it's an organizational geek thing) to keep the pens separate from my phone. The solution was a nylon pouch from a reusable shopping bag and a safety pin. The cost – zero dollars!

Our next on the spot solution was to take pocket folders, fold them backwards and 3-hole punch the open edge. Instant pocket dividers for a 3-ring binder! Again zero dollars!

Along with being creative with what we have, we have also been "shopping" our house. The list of things we didn't buy because we had it or something similar that met our need is pretty long. The most dramatic is a jacket. I told Honey I wanted a fleece liner like he has for work, the one I had in mind is about $50. Honey was getting ready to tackle the ice and found and extra liner in the guest closet! That's real savings not spaving! (Spaving: spending money to save money. An example is buying 4 of something to get one free when you only need one.) I got that from Not Buying It, My Year Without Spending by Judith Levine.

I went to Stuff Mart (drum roll please) THREE times this month! Even though I wasn't at Stuff Mart every other day, they are still open! They will survive without me and me without them. I spent A LOT less than last years' monthly average. That makes Honey happy. I won't know until the end of the year if my project pays off, we have back to school and Christmas to get through. I'm already seeing some benefits and expect to see many more in the upcoming months.