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Archive for December, 2017

$230 Left

December 11th, 2017 at 01:22 pm

We are doing really well this pay period with spending. Out of about $1000 budgeted for our variable expenses this pay period we still have $230 left.

We did get pizza takeout on Friday night for $15.10. We rented a digital movie from Amazon the weekend before last for $4.27. Personal care has only consisted of two haircuts and about $20 in personal care products. Household goods spending is under $20, buying paper towels, all purpose spray, an adapter for my car charger and a few other items I can't remember. Really good deals on all of those.

Most of spending was on groceries and extras for holiday baking, fuel, and allowances for the girls. I have been buying more organic ingredients and making things from scratch like soups. I think these are expanding my grocery bill some. Does anyone here use Better than Bouillon? I use pre made stock or broth for my soups. Yes, I know you can make it but that isn't the direction I want to go. Traditional bouillon is very salty, and I understand this product has less salt.

It remains to be seen if we spend much more before Friday, but I think the leftover cash will likely go in the clothing budget which currently only has $80. My oldest daughter says she is in need of winter shirts. She swears she only has three! I guess when they are away at college we just don't shop that much! We won't need all that money, but I will put it there to be prepared. I could also use a new pair of casual dress shoes. I expect there to be some good sales in the coming weeks after Christmas.

No Spend Saturday!

December 10th, 2017 at 01:41 pm

Wow! We spent nothing yesterday. It was a rainy cold dreary day. We stayed inside the entire day. It ended up being very restorative. We didn't have anything we HAD to do.

I know many people probably spent their Saturday shopping, possibly for the holidays. However, my Christmas shopping is basically done! I do have to return two items to Kohl's that I ordered online. They sent me socks in the wrong colors! What's up with that? These are socks I plan to put in my daughter's stockings (a tradition). So those will go back to the store and I will look for something else. And then I am done!

I did make Double Chocolate Mint cookie dough. It needed to chill overnight, so I hope today to roll dough and bake them. That was fun and festive to accomplish. Baking is one of the things I look forward to at Christmas. I had all the ingredients on hand as I planned ahead and purchased what I needed in November.

We watched the Army Navy football game on television in the afternoon. It was a tough game for those players as Philly was getting snow. Army did beat Navy 14 to 13. Very exciting!!

We ate fried rice for dinner. We put shrimp in it, so it was quite filling and satisfying on a cold dreary evening. Then it was time to settle down again and watch a couple episodes of The Crown on Netflix.

My planning in November paid off with a day of relaxation! I'm expecting many more as the month of December progresses. I'd like to spend some of the downtime in the coming weeks really getting a clear picture about our financial goals in 2018. There are a lot of changes next year we need to navigate.

How was your Saturday?

Things I Don't Buy at Christmas

December 9th, 2017 at 02:16 pm

I watch a fair number of YouTube videos. There are several out there right now for which the them is what they do not buy at Christmas. I thought I'd throw my take on it. Join in if you want!

I do not buy ribbons, bows and gift tags.
I still have gallon size ziplock bag of bows that I bought easily ten years ago that we reuse for gifts here at our home. Gifts that are not for us, are usually being stuffed in a car or a box, thus do not hold up well with bows and ribbon. I'm currently using up some blank address labels and free gift tags stickers. I simply write the name and stick it to the back of the gift. When I run out of free options, I will simply write directly on the package. Old cards you receive can be turned into a gift tag. I've even used cards stock I have on hand.

I do not buy live Christmas trees I have two artificial Christmas trees. One is from when I was a child, bought in the mid 1980s. And the second one was bought at the end of season at Target about three years ago. I paid $20. I expect at some point we will downsize and pass one of the trees to someone else to use, but I have enjoyed having two trees while living in larger homes. The trees are our main decorations.

I do not buy holiday music or movies We own Polar Express and about 6 discs of music. We have owned those for years, but as things have gone digital and streaming is available online we simply use free options for our listening and viewing needs.

I do not buy new gift bags. Years ago when my girls were in elementary school I bought some classic red and green gift bags through a fundraiser. I use these gift bags, along with others we have received gifts in over and over. I tend to keep the ones that are just red and green, so they all coordinate. And when I buy gift wrap, I choose ones that can be for kids or adults and stay with the red and green theme. I probably only buy four rolls of gift wrap every three years. I did use up one roll this year, so I expect to hit the clearance sales and pick up one or two. I also limit the amount of tissue paper I use by taping the top of the gift bag. No tissue needed!

I do not buy Christmas themed items This one is a bit all encompassing. I don't buy Christmas jewelry, special outfits, napkins, tableware or plastic storage containers.

For the most part you can probably tell, we just reuse what we have purchased in the past. The stockings for the girls are the only ones they have ever owned. Picking a classic style helped, not feel the need to replace something that was dated.

A few other places where our Christmas spending is limited, is we only buy two new ornaments a year. These are for our girls. I usually buy those ones at World Market for $2.50 each. Or I find some on clearance the year before. I currently only send three Christmas cards. One to my parents, one to my mother in law and one to my oldest daughter at college. Next year I will send four since my youngest will be at college. I did run out of cards this year, so that is another item I will buy on clearance at the end of the season.

Tell me what you don't buy during the holiday season.

A Simple Gift

December 8th, 2017 at 03:55 pm

Not sure if I mentioned this yet on the blog, but I bought a neighbor and friend an amaryllis bulb for Christmas. I planted it in a pot with soil about mid November, with the plan to give it to her December 1.

The bulb shot up like crazy, so I had to give it to her early (November 27) because I didn't want her to miss the flowering! The most important part!!

I can't tell you how excited she was to receive it! I mean I even told her the pot was found in my garage...spent very little on the bulb ($6). I knew she would like it as she loves plants and is quite an outdoorsy person.

The gift has even given me joy, because she keeps sending me pictures of it as it has grown and started to bloom. I have to say this is one of the very best gifts I have ever given, simply because of the joy and appreciation my friend has for it. And even better it cost me so very little!

Here's the flower today. Sorry it is sideways...not sure how that can be correcedt. May try it later. But you get the idea!



What is a simple gift that you have given that has brought much joy to the recipient?

Eating It All

December 7th, 2017 at 02:15 pm

I'm making a point in the next week to use up some of the food items we have that need to be used up.

In the freezer I have about 1 cup of frozen blueberries, one serving of sweet potato fries, 1/4 cup of diced onion, and diced butternut squash (three cups).

In the pantry, there is a box of pasta with at least one serving in it. Raw popcorn, enough to make one batch for a snack. I also see we have a lot of pretzels! I think we are burnt out on those...need a way to season or change the taste. Oh, just remembered I have 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels that I could drizzle over some of them. I don't want to sweeten all of them. Too much sugar this time of year.

In the fridge, there's several inches of ginger that I need to use. I think I will make a ginger tea with that. I also have heavy cream, and almond milk to use up. Heavy cream can go in coffee. The almond milk need to be used up making steel cut oats in the crockpot.

This morning I used up three slices of bread from the freezer. I toasted them and used up almost all of the apricot jam.

I think we are keeping up with most of the fresh produce, so that is good! I think I need to get moving in the kitchen this morning to get some of these things ready for eating!

Spending is high this time of year. Look at what you have that can fill in for snacks or make a meal. You might save some cash at the grocery store!

Netflix Increasing & Be Kind

December 5th, 2017 at 09:27 pm

I had an email this morning that our Netflix subscription amount is changing from $11.99 per month to $13.99 a month. Sounds like their will be more programs and the ability to download for later watching as benefits. Never a fan of price increases, but we will stick with Netflix for now.

Purchased my daughter some vitamins on Amazon today. I used the Discover cash back for a credit of $2.38. Final cost was $12.36. I think I will send that cash back amount to our Big Goal. I should add in the coupon savings from Sunday, too.

I had to take a mental health break today. I had some stress and anxiety pop up on me this morning. I'm feeling better already. To help, I called my mom, went for a two mile walk, ate a good lunch, and then took an epson salt bath. Later I added some relaxing oils to my diffuser while I listed to some very nice relaxing YouTube music. I also got up and got busy in the kitchen making some muffins and hummus (not to eat together!).

I share because this time of year can be stressful for various reasons. It is okay to take a time out and take care of ourselves. And it doesn't have to cost anything! And be kind to those you meet as you don't know what their current struggles may be.

Combined Trips & More

December 5th, 2017 at 02:28 am

I combined three errands together to save time and gas money. First I dropped off a large box of donations at Goodwill. I stopped by Walmart and picked up lotion that my daughter said I could give as a stocking stuffer. And then a quick trip to the military pharmacy to pick up a prescription. These were all within a mile of each other but about 15 minutes from my home, so it made sense to combine the errands for one outing.

The only fail is, I wish I knew I needed a lemon for the dinner we had tonight. I could have picked it up at Walmart, instead I had to run to the grocery store just before I started cooking. We had this Lemon Garlic Asparagus Pasta from the Budget Bytes site. Yes, we still have fresh asparagus in our area! It was really good, the only thing we did different was add parmesan cheese on top after serving. I will be serving it again, it was that enjoyable to us.

My Amazon gift card ordered from Swagbucks arrived so I ordered the final gift I needed to purchase. It was no cost to me after the gift card!

I received $3 from Pinecone. I'm transferring it to my PayPal account. Another snowflake to go to the Big Goal.

Still no charge from JC Penney for the pillow! I wonder how long it could take?! That was $10.69, so if it doesn't show up on by the 15th I think I'll add that as a snowflake to the Big Goal too.

Coupon & Rebate Savings

December 3rd, 2017 at 09:14 pm

I took advantage of the Target gift card deal. 10% off online and another 5% cash back using my Discover card. I bought the maximum of $300. I checked and in the last year I have spent around $700 at Target. These gift cards will get used.

At the commissary today I redeem a physical coupon I found in the store for $0.50. I also used their rewards card to get another $2.40 off our bill. When I came home I redeemed rebates worth $2.75. Savings from those sources was $5.65. And theoretically, I'm saving 30% shopping at the commissary in the first place.

Strange!

December 2nd, 2017 at 02:50 pm

I'm paying off the credit cards charges this morning. I pay them twice per month when my husband is paid. I was also reconciling the card with our largest balance (Southwest Visa). I noticed that a charge I recorded wasn't showing up on the card. I found the receipt and it shows I did pay for it with that card. So a pillow that we purchased at JC Penney with a coupon last weekend for $10.69 doesn't show up at all?! I had another transaction at that same store (different register) on the same day and it is showing up. So right now, it's like we have a free pillow! I'm sure it is possible that it will show up eventually.

I redeemed Swagbucks yesterday for a $25 Amazon gift card. Once it arrives I'm purchasing the final gift for my daughter. These Amazon gift cards have been very helpful in keeping our spending under our $600 budget.

November Interest Earned

December 1st, 2017 at 04:48 pm

I totaled up the amount of interest earned on a money market account, a savings account and three CDs for the month of November. The amount earned was $84.77.

One account earns 1.15%
One CD matures at the end of the year and is earning 3%.
Two others are 2% and mature in April and June 2018.

If you hear of good CD rates at the end of the month, I'd will be interested to hear! Although, I'm just now remembering I may be able to roll that money in the 3% CD into one of the other ones. I will check that.