LWSL 31 Day No Spend Challenge- Day 6 & 7

I’m following along with the Living Well Spending Less 31 Day No Spend Challenge.

Day 6 was to embrace freezer cooking, which is something that I LOVE and is so helpful for our home when I actually get around to doing it. I’ll be due for another freezer cooking session later this month, so instead of writing too much here now, I’ll do a separate post on freezer cooking at a later time.

I would like to expand on Day 7 though, which is to reflect on what worked this week, what didn’t, what I’d like to do differently going forward for the next 3 weeks.

So, what worked? Well, I found out our local Stride Rite store is closing. (boo sob.) Shoes are 50% off and that was so hard to pass by because Baby Sister has extra wide feet and Stride Rite is the only store that will have a good selection for wide soled babies. (I know this because Brother had the same type of feet, and it’s quite possible I kept them in business over the past 2 years). BUT a challenge is a challenge and while all my friends went and bought cute new half-off shoes, I stayed far away. I also didn’t go to the local consignment store “Dollar Day,” which is something I’ve recently started taking advantage of to buy the kids clothing for later sizes. I also stayed away from Target, Chick-Fil-A, (except for our planned dinner out) and Starbucks. I MISS YOU, PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE. We also “saved” on dinner out one night because the after school activities got rained out, so we ate at home.

The state of our finances? Good! We spent our allotted amount on our cookout Friday night. Coming up this weekend is the wedding and a couple of school things are due but those are all budgeted for as well.

Now, on to week 2…

LWSL 31 Day No Spend Challenge-Days 4 & 5

I’m following along with the Living Well Spending Less 31 Day No Spend Challenge.

Well, there’s really not much to update here! Day 4’s challenge was to organize a meal swap and Day 5 was to make a takeout fakeout meal at home.

I did organize a muffin swap (I didn’t have enough ‘meal’ stuff to make many extras) but unfortunately everyone had to back out due to kid illnesses. I wasn’t feeling well either, so the one lady who was still coming decided (wisely) to stay home and not catch anyone else’s germs! I’d like to reschedule it later in the month.

On Day 5, we…ate a frozen pizza that we’d purchased during our grocery trip last week. No shame in my game! It was definitely cheaper than ordering pizza ($5.98 at Sams club vs. at least $15 at Papa Johns!) and it was just one of those afternoons with a cranky baby, kids who didn’t want to get homework done, etc.

By the way, is it just my kids, or others, who are off the walls after days and days of rain? Thankfully the sun is out today. I’m sending them outside as soon as they eat a snack after school!

A random thought, which I’ll expand upon in the next post, is that this challenge is definitely going to have boring days. No random trips to Target for 31 days?!

LWSL 31 Day No Spend Challenge-Days 2 & 3

I’m following along with the Living Well Spending Less 31 Day No Spend Challenge.

Day 2’s challenge was to clean out your pantry, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I try to reorganize mine about once a month…it’s not the top shelves that need so much help, but the bottom ones that Baby Sister can reach! She likes to play with the random items that are at her level and it usually keeps her busy while I’m trying to cook breakfast or dinner.

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Here’s the “before.” I also had a few things sitting on the counter:

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Why did I have 5 heads of garlic? Apparently I am a garlic hoarder.

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And, after. We are pretty good about not buying too many random things that we don’t use on a regular basis, but there were a handful of things that I’ve bought that have not been used yet:

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My plan for this month is to stretch out our meals. I guess we will be eating lots of beans. My family will be thrilled….there’s a reason those are still sitting in my pantry. Hmm, maybe garlic beans?:) (Psst-I used the salted pretzel roll mix with dinner for day 2. Check that one off!)

I didn’t inventory the freezer.

Day 3 was to plan your meals. I’m ahead of the game on this one, at least for the next couple of weeks! On the agenda:

Dinner out (sports night)

Smoked pork shoulder, hot dogs, chips, etc….potluck cookout with some friends

Leftovers

Butter pasta with peas

Spaghetti

Pizza night

Tacos with sweet potato & black bean salad

Breakfast

Smoked ribs

Out of town-wedding

Lasagna

Beans and Rice

I’ll update with our menu plan for the second half of the month as it gets closer. Spoiler alert: Garlic beans every night.

Are you taking the challenge? What are you most excited, or nervous about?

Living Well Spending Zero 31 Day Challenge-Day 1

I’m participating in the Living Well Spending Less 31 Day No Spend Challenge. I thought it would be fun to blog about it here, and while I’m going to go ahead and admit that I don’t think we’ll be able to go as hardcore in this challenge as I’d like, I do think I can follow my own set of ground rules, spend much less than usual, and maybe earn a little money while I’m at it. (Hello, random stuff in our house that’s collecting dust.)

Today’s task is to get started and lay your ground rules. So, here are mine:

  1. No social/entertainment activities that aren’t already on the calendar that will cost money. (There are actually quite a few already on the calendar. I’ll get to those in a minute.)
  2. No random purchases by me….Starbucks, Target, lunch at Chick-Fil-A….I’ll see you all in November.
  3. Put subscriptions on hold. We use Amazon subscribe and save and Honest diapers, both which auto-ship. I’ve put both on pause for the month of October. Don’t worry, little sis isn’t going diaperless for the next month! I have a few packs stockpiled and I’ll make a (necessary) Target run to bridge the rest of the month.
  4. Mindful use of what we already have and ‘just enough’ to bridge the gap. Like I just mentioned, we already have a few packs of diapers that will last into October, and I’ll buy just enough to last the rest of the month. I may even go with a cheaper diaper to squeeze those pennies a bit more, but I’m hesitant to do so because my kids have a history of sensitive skin! Likewise with toilet paper and a few other household essentials.
  5. Use up the random pantry items.
  6. Make a good effort to sell my mental list of things around the house that are collecting dust. Two most important: my wedding dress and Big Sister’s flower girl dress that she never wore.
  7. No eating out other than already designated nights. I technically shouldn’t allow this in the challenge but we have a couple of very busy afternoons a week where we are gone all through dinner…we’ve tried to eat late at home but what keeps the peace is to just run through the drive through.
  8. A word about groceries: We eat fairly cheaply for a family of 5, and we eat from home most of the time. (Not counting our busy night dinners out, as well as the kids buying lunch at school once a week, which is prepaid) I’ve also started experimenting with freezer cooking, and my next “big” freezer cooking day lies about halfway through the challenge. My plan is to keep with the other rules I’ve set for myself, and as long as I’m in our regular grocery budget, I’m ok with that. We don’t have a huge stockpile of food that we need to work through, and I believe following rule #5 will stretch our grocery budget as much as it needs to be stretched.

Earlier I mentioned social obligations, of which there are many: 2 cookouts, 2 parties, a wedding, an after school event, and bringing breakfast to a bible study I take part in a couple of times this month. The big kids school picture order forms are due in October too. In keeping with the thought that there will never be a perfect month to do a no spend challenge, we will just roll right along with those as planned. Hopefully as cheaply as possible!

Here we go!

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My Home Binder (and why I’m breaking up with Erin Condren)

At the beginning of the year, I fell in love with the Erin Condren planner. I quickly plopped down the $50 and anxiously awaited the cute package to arrive at my door. It was love at first sight! I don’t even feel guilty about spending that much money on a planner because at that time when Baby Sister was 5 months old, I needed something super cute that would motivate me to get my days back on track, especially since the late winter/early spring was a very busy time for me due to kids sports and PTO responsibilities. I have no actual problems with the EC planner itself (the monthly and weekly sections) because the flow of the calendar worked really well for me. I know a couple of people who took more advantage of the scrapbook-type accessories, and theirs are super cute, but I never felt the need to do all of that.

However, there are a couple of things I didn’t like about the EC experience:

  1. I had to pay $11 shipping and it still took 10 days to arrive. I think this is because a lot of the EC planners can be personalized, but mine was not. Consider me spoiled by Amazon but I hated waiting that long! #firstworldproblems
  2. The pouch that held the (very cute) pens was located in the back of the planner. It made a lump that I didn’t like when I was trying to write. (The horror.) The pouch was also plastic and I’m not sure it would have held up all year.
  3. The hard plastic bookmark that came with it to mark which week you were on was very difficult to move in and out. Again, I’m not sure it would have lasted all year. I finally ditched it for a cute paper clip.

Anyway, these are all very basic problems to have, but I was very hesitant to spend that much money on an EC again in 2016. I also thought it would solve all my problems by having all my papers in one place, but I still found myself writing in my planner, then on my menu plan, then in my budget notebook…you get the idea. So I set my sights to Pinterest to see what I could find. Here’s what I did:

First, I found this beauty at Target in the school supply section for 70% off. It sparkles, y’all. MY NEW PLANNER SPARKLES! (See my cute paper clip waving out from the top?)

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Then I divided it into sections using some dividers that I already had: Calendar/to-do list, home management, finances, address book. I also had this heavy duty pencil pouch from another binder, and I put it in front. I do like the Erin Condren pens, although friends tell me Sam’s Club carries colorful erasable pens. I may have to check that out.

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The front page is the weekly to do list. I like having the whole week on a page because I can easily move a task to another day, if needed, and I’m not wasting paper every day for just that day’s to-do list. I also like how this one is limited to six things because I have a tendency to just make one huge list at the beginning of the week, and then I wind up not finishing it all until the following weekend. Oops!

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Next up, is the month at a glance. LOOK AT THOSE BIG SPACES TO WRITE IN! I’m in love. (This is a huge plus for the EC planner, by the way. Nice big squares to write in.)Helpful for nights like Thursdays when we have one million things going on.

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In the next section I have a monthly meal plan sheet. Like how it’s empty so far?😛 The nights highlighted are game or practice nights, and the highlight lets me know we need to eat something easy, like a frozen pizza, or run through the drive-thru. My eventual goal is to have the whole month planned out so I can do one big shopping trip, but I’m not there yet. We go to the grocery store bi-weekly at the moment.

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In the last editable section is the monthly financial assessment. When we were paying off debt, I was SUPER encouraged by how much we were able to pay off each month and it was always a little game to see if we could squeeze a little more the following month. We have a couple of specific things we’d like to set money aside for in the next 12 months, most notably a new to us van, and I think this will be a helpful tool.

 

So, that’s it! That’s my planner in a nutshell.

How about you? Do you find that a daily planner makes your life easier?

 

Welcome!

Hello there!

I am starting this blog as a creative outlet in this life as a stay at home mom to ages 8, 5, and 1. When I quit my job, it was sincerely on a wing and a prayer. I knew it was my calling but we were nowhere near able to make it on one income at that time. Slowly but surely over the course of a few years, my husband and I paid off about $40,000 worth of debt.Our budget isn’t as tight as it was in those early days, but my husband and I definitely see ourselves as frugal and we like to get creative when it comes to stretching our dollars. When I got pregnant with my youngest child, however, all ideals of saving money or doing anything besides being in survival mode went out the window. Trying to keep up with a high maintenance baby and learn how to juggle as a family of 5 left me too exhausted for anything else. Now that I have a little more free time since the big kids are in school, I hope to return to our frugal roots. I also like to live life with a sense of humor and not take anything too seriously, and it’s my goal to infuse some of our daily life in here as well.

Welcome!