Category Archives: Finances

If you dangle a carrot..

One week into 2017, how’s everyone doing out there?

We’re doing well here, although this coming week will be our first FULL week back into school and work.  I can sure get used to 3 and 4 day work weeks!!!  Nice.  Very Nice!!

Any resolutions?  I didn’t really make any official proclamation of resolutions so to speak.  A few internal conversations with myself on organization and time management and healthy eating and food prep and yada yada yada, but really.  Nothing truly earth shattering.

Our Dave Ramsey train keeps plugging away.  A full year and 2 months in and I remember listening to Dave and at one point him saying that the average of people meeting financial goals through his plan took about 3 years.  That is a long time to be budget focused.  However, if you live another 40-50 years….3 years isn’t so much.  Right?  We’re definitely making headway, using our cash and are far more intentional with our spending.  A long way to go from perfect, but learning and making strides and that is something!

Tomorrow starts a 10-week “Mayor’s challenge” for the town I work in and so I joined with a few  friends.  Our team works towards points and each person needs to attend 2 of 3 workouts each week and at the end of the week the individual male and female winners are awarded $1000.  Hello there $1000 carrot.

My veggies are prepped.  Lunch is made.  Workout plan for the week is a go and now to turn  in for a good night sleep.  I am.  In it.  To win it.  Certainly going to work my tail off anyway.  And with the cold weather all weekend, we got the good cookies made and on their way out of the house via bellies, so I’d say.  I’m ready.

Stay tuned.  It’s only my 400 millionth effort at this, surely one of these will stick.  And for $1000, I am certain to have  a few good habits and results take root over the next 10 weeks!!!

Happy 2nd week of 2017!!

Do whatcha gotta do

Phew!  Just finished a glorious 7 day stretch of working.  In a couple of weeks I’ll do it again.  Because it was available and Christmas is just around the corner!!!

As we continue along on our Dave Ramsey train, one of the most common things people do when working on paying down debt is work more.  Overtime.  Promotion.  2nd job.  Odds and ends.  You do what you have to do.  While I don’t always jump on the overtime train because I do try to blance home and work, this came at a good time.  I mentioned Christmas, but we also have a marriage conference in December and a kiddo going to Europe in June, so yeah,   Getting some of that while it works for our family!  Fortunately, I do enjoy my job and OT for me means working at the hospital and while it is tough, it’s only a few hours and I go home.  Which is great!

The only unfortunate thing is for some reason I woke up at 3 a.m. today.  Tossed and turned for about an hour and threw in the towel at 4 a.m.  Got up, did my daily readings, prayed, finished The Hobbit and about 6 a.m. fell asleep in the chair for an hour.  It was still early enough to walk the dog and get most of the grocery shopping done before I went in to work, so that worked.  Now, I will just be living off the Diet Coke caffeine until bedtime—-which will probably be somewhere around 8:30!!

The blessing is that I HAVE the opportunity to work OT.  If I do what I have to do, then God does the rest.  Consistently.  Truly.  Honestly.  Every time.

Blessings!

Spring fever Saturday

Day 6 of the blog-o-thon and SATURDAY.  Not to make anyone feel bad, but oh MY word!!!!!  The weather is stunning already and it’s only 7:20 a.m.

The life of a parent:  so funny…we had all 4 kids OUT of the house last night at once, which is unheard of. However…….as life would have it…..the times overlapped a bit and by the time we had the youngest dropped off at the skate rink, the tax guy showed up an hour earlier than anticipated, as he was finishing up our youngest son made it home.  The great news is that we were still able to sit and enjoy the 2nd to last episode of Downton in peace!!  And the taxes are done.  Not to mention we had leftovers, so I didn’t have to cook.  Overall:  GREAT night and no complaints!

Alleged to creep to almost 80 degrees today and we have a bike ride on the beach planned for the afternoon!!

Stole this from a friend who was at the beach the other day!!

Stole this from a friend who was at the beach the other day!!

Until then, though…..I must pay the bills and get the grocery list ready to tackle the “must-dos” before the “fun-dos”.

Happy Saturday!!!

My Christmas gift to you: saving money, scoring deals

When my Hubs reads this he’s going to be all kinds of “you go, girl” and “preach, sister” because he LOVES when we opt for the thrift stores for some shopping time versus Kohl’s, Target and the dreaded Mall.  So far, our kids are all about it as well, although our non-shopper kid prefers eBay as his mode of picking and choosing….which is alright by me.  Not to say we don’t hit the aforementioned retailers from time to time, however, with 4 kiddos it’s really the best budget saver for us and we have had some amazing luck!  Truly.  I thought since it’s the 4th day of Christmas (depending on which tradition you go with) I’d give you 4 tips I’ve found useful in thrifting:

First, you need to get over the fact that they are previously owned and/or worn.  Once I got over the pride-factor, I realized EVERYONE gets bored with their wardrobe or grows out of it and there is some great stuff out there. Barely worn, tags on, it’s out there.  (BTW, if you’re clearing out your closet and think you might have some good stuff my size, I’ll be happy to take it off your hands.  Wink, wink!)

Second, take your time.  If you’re in a hurry it will be overwhelming and frustrating.  We only go when we’ve got nothing going on so we aren’t rushed.

Third, find some good thrift stores.  We’ve tried several and have narrowed it down to about 3 favorites with 2 others we check from time to time.

Fourth, go with a list.  For me, it helps to keep me from being overwhelmed if I’m looking for a specific item rather than getting sucked in by the pure volume of the stores.

Lastly, think of this as #5 if you want to consider this the 5th day of Christmas, online consignment.  Then you can still shop, pay FAR less and stay in your PJs.

In fact, today we checked out ThredUp for some denim jackets (which have been a non-find in the local thrift arena of late) and we checked out with 2 dresses and a denim jacket for $9.58.  Read it again.  3 items.  UNDER $10.  I know you are reading that and doing the math and saying, “Tracy, you are a big fat liar”.  Well, it IS post-Christmas and I have partaken of the goods, but liar…I am not.  Here’s the breakdown:

NY&Co Dress, Limited Dress, Gap Denim Jacket: $26.47

Minus $7.67 credit (from previously sent in items as an experiment)

Free Shipping and 35% off

Total:   $9.58

So, if you want to add some pieces to your wardrobe, are having a tough time finding a particular item or are just plain in the mood to shop on the cheap, join the thrifting arena OR check out ThredUp.    I’ve included the link for $10 off your first order below AND another coupon code good through 12/31/13 from Retailmenot if you’ve already shopped and just want some free shipping and 35%off…or maybe you can use them together, I’m not sure on that one.  So…there you go folks, enjoy and make good on that resolution to save more money in 2014.  Good luck and happy shopping!

Thred up:  http://www.thredup.com/r/KDCCV9

Retail me not:  http://www.retailmenot.com/s/thred+up?c=5087803

Grocery game

Today I received a text regarding how much I spend a week on groceries.  Always an interesting discussion, to me.  I am infinitely curious as to what people spend at the grocery store.  It’s a barometer of where we are as a family (am I blowing too much on x, y and z?), but also a GREAT way to get tips and such.

I have friends who can coupon like the TLC show (in my eyes), friends who once had a $1000 grocery budget FOR. THE. ENTIRE. SUMMER., friends who cook ahead and freeze and friends who just wing it.  It never gets old to me and so, once again, it was an interesting text conversation on groceries and I thought I’d share a few tips that help us and would LOVE to hear your tips.

  • We shop at Aldi.  We’ve comparison shopped and they are consistently lower than Publix and Walmart.  Downside:  they don’t always have everything I need on my list and they don’t take coupons since they sell their brand (aside from the surplus of various name brand items from time to time).
  • I plan our meals ahead for the week.  I don’t plan specific meals for specific days, but a menu of meals for the week.  I shop for the menu.
  • Our fruits and veggies come from Aldi and the produce store/farmer’s market.  We do have to replenish bananas mid-week (a family of monkeys, I tell you) and I buy the verrrrry ripe ones @ .29/lb and freeze them for smoothies.
  • Eating out is a rarity and a luxury.
  • It’s a dry house.  However, Aldi does have beer and wine—FYI.

Sadly, we don’t have a Costco close enough for regular grocery shopping (I hear they are the bomb diggety!), but we do have a Sam’s Club and a BJ’s.  When we get a stand alone freezer, we will stock up on meats there or possibly look into purchasing a 1/2 a cow or something like that.

We’ve tried to coupon, however, with both of us working full-time outside the house, we simply don’t have the time or energy to really work the system.

Our summer garden was awesome and we’re planning on doing a winter one as well.  (the perks of living in sunny Florida!), However, if I had a big ole garden like Mavis HERE….hooooooey…that’d be awesome!

Eating healthy is a mainstay in our house.  Not to say we don’t have junk around here, because we sure DO.  Meals however, are pretty healthy and we have a wide variety of healthy snacks for the kiddos to choose from…almonds, protein bars, popcorn, fruits, veggies, raisins, smoothies, nut butter.  We also have one who doesn’t seem to tolerate dairy well, so we’ve got almond milk in the house and some dairy free ice cream as well.

Bottom line, for our family of 6 (2 teen boys and 2 growing tween girls, a triathlete Papa and a Mama always in search of healthier choices) we average $200/week.

So, what are your tips, tricks and average spent on groceries each week.  This inquiring mind wants to know!!

Seven Quick Takes (a day late….)

A day late to the party, but the kids have hijacked the computer this week and I’ve been coughing so much I haven’t cared to be on it anyway….however…..bright and early Saturday morning and I’m feeling fine-ish and they are sleeping so it’s MINE.  ALL.  MINE.  And I’m joining in with Jen and her weekly Quick Takes…she says she might go last first…hmmmmm, that might bode well for me  😉   without further adieu….

  1. I’m working on a “Day in the Life” post.  Riveting.  I’m sure you can’t wait to see how my day shapes up compared to yours.  Funny thing is, it’s a little tedious accounting for one’s day AND trying to make it funny.  Clearly I have nothing mind-blowing to talk about if THAT’S my big project, eh?
  2. One week post-flu and I THINK (Oh, please, please, please, please let me not jinx myself here) we are relatively healthy.  Except for this nagging cough/sinus infection I’ve had all week.  I’ve been eating cough drops by the bagful and have had several nights on the couch trying to breathe/sleep/not wake Hubby all night.  I finally broke down and my doctor called me in some antibiotics and cough syrup…hence the early wake up–slept like a baby.
  3. Week 2 of my fitness Groupon and each workout KILLS.  Amazing how hard you can work in a 35 minute period doing just a few exercises and opposing muscle groups.  Super excited to see how I’ll be at the end of the 6 weeks.
  4. This week our boys had a WWF session in the backyard.  By boys I mean including Hubby.  Let me say, I HATE wrestling.  Someone always gets hurt.  It’s loud.  It’s annoying.  And yet…..so necessary.  Hubby had me read (and I probably need to REread) John Eldredge‘s book Wild at Heart and it helped me to understand and appreciate the male “need” to be a male, so I accept it a wee bit more.  Wee bit.  In the end, Dad still won (he’s still hanging on…).  Big brother still won (barely).  And the only blood drawn was on Dad’s chin by a stray long nail. boys
  5. I scored some AWESOME dishes at our church thrift store this week.  Service for 12.  TWELVE I tell you!  12 dinner dishes.  12 small dishes.  12 bowls.  A serving bowl and lid and salt and pepper shaker.  $50.  Except they weren’t.  They were half OFF…..yes, that’s right, $25.  S.C.O.R.E.  Super cute.  AND I saw some fantastic coffee cups that will complement this set from Pier One.  Now when we have company….we’ve got enough dishes!  So come on over!!!rooster
  6. I have the day off Monday to take our youngest athlete to the County wide Fitness Festival.  Little stinker made it to 4 events.  Sit and reach.  Standing long jump.  Shuttle run.  50 yard dash.  Should be great weather.  I’m sure there will be pictures to follow.  And blogging.  Especially since I have the DAY OFF!
  7. We’ve been in the refinancing dance for our house and got a sweet low-interest rate with no closing costs and no re-appraisal.  It takes a while, as you may or may not know, and yesterday we got the call from the title company….because we were late to our closing….that no one ever told us we HAD.  We jockeyed around lunches (fortunately Hubby was working from home that day!) and traffic—-because Bike Week starts this week….but…..it’s done.  We celebrated with a Friday night fire pit and marshmallows after our fish and chips dinner.  ‘Twas a good day, nice end to the week.  fire

Happy Weekend, Y’all!

7QT Return, Ta DAAA!

With my whole social network fasting apparently I have more time to blog…who knew???  So, I’m jumping back in with the tried and true at Conversion Diary with Jen and her peeps…of course, I’m not #1 like Grace, but she’s a new mom again and clearly not sleeping anyway…so go check ’em all out…

1.  Fresh into Lent, folks…Fresh.  Into.  Lent.  You know what that means, right?  All those sacrifices and desires to help more, pray more, do more, etc are FRESH and “technically” two days in we should be going strong.  Ammiright??  Riiiiight, so remember…no meat today. And if perhaps, halfway through that double with cheese you remember “ACK…it’s Friday!!!”, just start over.  We are imperfect people, God knows this.  His joy is in our TRYING to do better.  And when we screw up, dust ourselves off and try again….that’s what we can choose to do.  So, in the classic words of Dori from Finding Nemo…”just keep swimming”!

2.  What did you give up for Lent?  Perhaps you are instead focusing on praying and have some plans of monastic retreat or super fasting to add some oomph to your prayer life,  or maybe working in the soup kitchen or homeless shelter….what’s the plan, Stan?  I gave up Facebook and Twitter.  It’s quite freeing and I actually look forward to this each Lent.  Now, you might say, but “Tracy, your blog shows up on Twitter?”  Yes, it’s set that way automatic, but I am not CHECKING said Twitter account.

3.  Did you get your ashes?  We did.  I must say it was practically WW3 getting there.  A serious force of crazy, crappy, grumpy, tempers came over our household IMMEDIATELY prior to leaving.  We persevered anyway and let me say, people….GOD prevailed.  Oh yes he did defuse that 13 yo, 15 yo and 2 young ladies who readied themselves in their Mass finery only to see EVERY to the ONE was in their regular clothes (including yours truly, fresh off the JOB train in her scrubs).  Hubs took everyone home after the distribution of ashes and I stayed to wait for our 7th grader to take him home after his RE class.  We came home to fish and chips awaiting.  (AKA, fish sticks and fries)  God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.  

4.  Ash Wednesday I also went to Adoration (a weekly Lenten practice for me this year).  Unknowingly, I arrived during the church’s Mass celebration, therefore the Eucharist was not in the chapel, but in the church.  ENNYWAY….I still prayed the Rosary and intentions and fully enjoyed my quiet time.  If you have noise in your life (you don’t need to be a parent for this) you should take time to go to Adoration…shoot, even if you’re not Catholic….just go…it is AWESOME.  Peace, quiet.  Total gift.  I’d live there if I could.  Really.  Logistically though, just not going to work.

5.  Saved me some cash this week.  Went in to quit the gym, just not feeling it, and I’ve been working out at home (not this week so much…but mostly-ish) but they love me so much they comped me 2 months and lowered my monthly rate to $5.  Sheesh, alright.  I’ll come back.  $5, c’mon.  Who CAN say no to that???

6.  Along with my social fasting, weekly Adoration visit and prayer intentions….I am also trying to focus on some spiritual reading.  This week I finished C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters”…wow.  wow.  wow.  If you haven’t read it….do it.  Next up…”Visions of the Children” by Janice Connell.  And continued reading of Saint Faustina’s Diary (although that is taking YEARS.  Literally.  YEARS!!  tremendously rich reading.  small bites only)

7.  Finally, if you read yesterday’s post on our little Romeo and his Valentine’s flower promise…I’ll tell you how it went:  He made his first deposit to his math teacher (who, although killing him, has been incredibly helpful and challenging) and from then on out had “hordes” of ladies following him around for roses. He had them labeled and did have a couple extra (to which I was also a recipient….smart boy!)…but he admitted at dinner that it was an impossible task to please all the ladies on Valentine’s Day.  Not to mention expensive.  He’s a mess that one.  A sweet mess.  **For all you Bachelor fans out there….I asked him if he was prepping to do a teen Bachelor and he was unaware of the show/concept etc….PHew.  I don’t watch either, but have the gist of it from some of you…who will remain nameless for the obvi reasons.

Have a great week y’all and enjoy the weekend!!!  We won’t be shoveling snow…thank you, JESUS…but will be wearing jeans and hoodies this weekend here in Central FLA.  Brrr.  High of 50ish tomorrow.  Yikes!!  😉