Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Goals and a Menu Plan

OMG - isn't all of that vintage pyrex dreamy?  I love it so much, but I will NOT start a collection because I have spent the last several years trying to downsize our junk belongings.  I do not own this pyrex, I simply found the image on the Internet.  My collection consists of 4 pieces.  I have a tart dish with napkins in it on my countertop from a yard sale 2 years ago.  I paid either one or two dollars for it.  I also have a set of three mixing bowls that I picked up a a yard sale last summer for 5 bucks.  When I brought them home I put 3 old mixing bowls into my goodwill pile, following the 1 in, 1 out rule.  I actually use the pyrex bowl set and that makes me happier than sitting them on a shelf for worship.

Onto the rest of the post!

Menu for the week:
Sunday - homemade vegetable beef soup for lunch, homemade wontons for a snack later in the day
Monday - tuna noodle casserole - one dish meal full of veggies - son #2 will fend for himself as he is a tuna hater!
Tuesday - chicken parmesan
Wednesday - canned soup and grilled cheese - we have tons of soup that I got for almost nothing with coupons and we need to use it up!
Thursday - pancakes, fruit, bacon
Friday - order out - my husband is gone Thursday and Friday for work
Saturday - ?  I am not sure if we will be home or not!

Goals for today:
*Lesson Plans for the week - it took 2 hours!
*8 juice pouch pencil cases for Earth Day next month - this is all I can make until the rest of the pouches are dry!
*sew at least one thing beyond the pencil cases
*local taxes
*cook soup and wontons the boys loved the wontons!
*visit my mom - not home

I just don't think the rest is going to get done today.  I am just not in the mood.  LIsts help me, but sometimes I just have to let it go...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March STINKS!!!!

The poor little piggy bank is really hurting this month.  It is time to kick in a new plan!

The big bills for March were -
Semi Annual car insurance $742
Country Club - $900ish
Semi Annual  Property Taxes - $1000ish
New roof - $9500ish

Some explanation - we have one teenage driver (in May we will have 2).  We used to pay about $900 a year before son #1 started driving.  My husband needs to stop at the country club and pay in person.  We aren't sure what we owe because the kids are getting older and might need junior memberships which could add a couple hundred dollars.  We live in a small town.  I know this is probably very low for golf compared to what other readers might have to pay.  I am mailing out the property taxes on Friday.  The bill is on the desk but I am not going over there right now to see the exact amount.  The roof is not done yet.  The initial estimate was $8350.  Things keep creeping up.  We are at about $9300 right now.  I am hoping not to go over $9500, but I will not know until the job is done.  I have already paid $8000 of it and have enough in the checking account to cover the rest.  This is actually a good price in my opinion.
In the last year we have also replaced our washer, the dryer and the dishwasher.  Both vehicles are aging at the speed of light.  My husband's car has over 140k miles.  Mine is older with less than 100k, but they are starting to show their age.  We took 5k from our car replacement fund for the roof.
It is hard trying to do all of these things without going into debt.  I am not sure we can stay the debt free course but we certainly are going to try.  Several years ago we started sending $100 a pay (every other week) to a credit union savings account for annual bills which worked great for us.  We kept upping the amount and now direct $400 a pay ($200 a week) and have tagged  it as a car replacement fund.  We stopped paying annual bills from it and try to let it grow.  It became easier to just pay those annual bills as we received them and not touch the account, but this month has sucked the life out of me and the money out of our bank account!  Hopefully we can save the money to pay for a car outright, but there is never a guarantee about how long an older car will last.  Time will tell.  If we need to take out a loan it won't be the end of the world, but we will try our best to avoid it.  I keep telling myself that a few years ago I wouldn't have been able to do the roof without a loan, so we are moving in the right direction.
The new plan is to keep saving the $400 biweekly for replacement cars and to start a new account for annual bills.  Property taxes, car insurance, golf membership and homeowner's insurance total roughly 6k per year.  Starting this Friday I am going to send $120 per week to a separate account for annual bills.  I have a spreadsheet of bills for the entire year and need to go in and make the adjustments.  It will take $120 each week from the income but it will make March, June, August and September easier months.  Previously we saved little or nothing in those months and a great deal in the other months.  Not only will the pain of big bills be spread out better now, so will the joy of saving.  I will let you know how it goes!

Monday, March 3, 2014


I would just love to give a shout out to all the great bloggers out there!  I think we are always learning and moving forward, but I want you to know how much you inspire me.
I am usually terrible about updating my blog with how my challenges turned out, but I do 90% of what I set out to do because of all of you!  When I think back over some of what I have completed because of the kick in the pants and inspiration many of you have given me, I am amazed.  I would have gotten around to some of this eventually, but I am much more organized and with it because of all of you!

Some things that I can think of right off the top of my head....
1.  We finally created a will and assigned legal guardians in case of our untimely demise about 3 years ago.  My kids were both already in middle school at that time.  Who knows if I would have ever completed it otherwise.
2.  We purchased term life insurance to supplement work policies and policies that we had from childhood.
3.  I menu plan.
4.  I finally opened a Roth Ira last year.  We have been saving for retirement since our 20's but neither of us did it through a Roth.
5.  I got my couponing groove back.
6.  I bought a sewing machine about 4 years ago and taught myself to sew using youtube videos.  I just wanted to be able to make the cool stuff that I was seeing all over the Internet.
7.  I continue to sew mostly because of following Carla.  Her creations are GORGEOUS and really inspire me to continue creating.
8.  I save $$$$$ for the future because of MANY of you.  I was always a saver, I am just much better now.
9.  I am much more creative in my cooking because of CT Mom.  Wow can that woman stretch a food dollar while making a wide variety of yummy food for her family!
10.  I decluttered my house majorly about 3 years ago.  I had so much junk at the curb that people inquired about whether or not our house was for sale!  My house didn't even really look bad.  We have several walk in closets and we simply had useless stuff in every nook and cranny!  Some junk has crept back in, so this can be an ongoing process.
11.  I have redone my porch.
12.  I saved my mismatched kitchen table instead of buying a new one.
13.  We became COMPLETELY DEBT FREE including our mortgage.  Hopefully we can stay that way.
14.  I have donated money and things to a greater extent than I would have without being inspired by all of you.  I have always given, but I have stepped it up.

Some of my absolute favorite blogs/bloggers:
My Half Dozen Daily
CT Mom
Hawaii Plan
The Simple Dollar
Midlife Mom Musings
Frugal Queen
Frugal and Thankful
Nova Frugal Family - fairly new to me
The Ripples Affect - a really new blog

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dear Sam's Club, I'm Breaking Up With You

Every time I see you, you pressure me.  I don't like to be pressured.  I live 1 hr and 10 min from your closest location, so I don't get to see you often.  I live in the snow belt and my trips to see you might only be a few per year.  When I am there, I stock up.  Sometimes I drive the distance just to see you even when I don't have other commitments in the area.  I have tried to keep up my end of this long term relationship, but every time I see you, you just try to take everything you can from me.
Please don't pressure me into buying your plus membership when I am ringing up my current purchases and opening my wallet to give you my hard earned cash.  If you care about me, please accept my answer of no graciously and drop the subject.  When I try to explain that I have been done this road before and it didn't work out for me, don't tell me all the reasons that you are right and I am wrong.  When I tell you that I was made to open a credit account and was told the plus membership wouldn't auto renew, but it did anyway, please don't tell me that it won't happen again.  I fell for that a second time a few years later and it did auto bill to my account a second time.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Both times, I had to drive 1 hr and 10 minutes to your closest store to resolve the issue and have the plus membership charge removed.
The last time I saw you a few months ago, one of your young trainees tried to dupe me again.  He was very persistent.  It was obvious that he had been well trained in the area of upselling.  Poor guy, it was like he was under tremendous pressure too.  I understand the art of upselling.  I also understand the customer/retailer relationship.  I have never really caved to pressure.  It is a huge turnoff for me.  It always has been.  As a result, I let my membership lapse this month.  I enjoyed what you had to offer me.  Unfortunately, the good doesn't outweigh the bad.  Sam's Club, I am breaking up with you.  It is over for good.

The Painful Filing of Taxes and Other To Do List Items - UPDATE - ALL DONE!

The To Do list for today looks short but the few things I have to do are painful and take a great deal of time.

1.  Write lesson plans, and prepare items for the the school week.  I did end up getting these done and submitting via email this morning.  
We have a deadline of 8 am on Mondays, but this is one thing that I can't put off until the least minute.  The state of PA changed our formula sheet that the kids get for the math test with only a month to go before the tests.  It also seems as though it will contain a great deal of new content as we move toward the common core.  We were originally told that the test would be almost all of the former content as we are not to be fully transitioned to common core until next year.  It looks as though they are not holding up their end of the deal.  Imagine training your whole life for down hill skiing and making it to the Olympics for skiing...  BUT 3 weeks before the Olympics you are told you will be a figure skater and not a skier.  The whole thing is so frustrating!
2.  File our state and federal taxes via turbo tax.  I did finish this up about a half hour ago.  I need to look into what I need to do to file the local.  I can't remember what I did last year.  Last year was the first year I didn't use H & R Block.  They do a great job but $68 for turbo tax beats the heck out of $200+ for H & R Block.
3.  Cook dinner.  I did this between the lesson plans and taxes.  It was hamburger helper so it's nothing to write home about.  Quick and easy was the order of the day.
4.  Sew at least 3 items for Earth day in school.  The kids collect capri sun pouches and we make wallets, bags, pencil holders, etc.  We need about 80 items so it takes some time, but this is something that I really enjoy doing for the kids.
5.  Sew a wristlet.
6.  Cut open and wash another round of capri sun pouches.  This is my least favorite part of number 4 above.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Menu for the Week and Some Flops!

Chicken Spinach Lasagna
 This is what I made today after a friend recommended it and can I just say, YUCK?!?!?!?!?!  I hate to be so frank, but it was terrible.  I had 6 people for dinner and only one liked it.  I am not even sure if he was telling the truth, or just being polite.  My husband and kids eat almost anything but not this.  I followed the recipe exactly but we simply did not like this dish.  My friend said that she, her 2 picky kids and her husband all loved it, so I gave it a whirl.
My other flop for the day was a potholder I was making.  I didn't take a picture before I threw it in the trash.  Maybe I have just lost my groove today!  On to the menu for the week...

Sunday - Chicken Spinach Lasagna - I also threw in a 9x9 pan of regular lasagna from the freezer in case the recipe was a disaster.  I am glad I planned for that possibility.
Monday - leftover wedding soup from Friday, leftover Italian lasagna (the chicken spinach lasagna went home with the only person that claimed to like it)!
Tuesday - spicy cheeseburger soup
Wednesday - tacos
Thursday - spaghetti with meat sauce
Friday - omelets, bacon and toast
Saturday - cheesy bacon and ham chowder with corn

I need to buy 1 large tomato, lettuce, 1 cucumber, 1 jalpeno, hard taco shells, and taco sauce to complete these meals.  I will batch cook the hamburger on Monday for the next 3 days and I will make extra bacon on Friday for Saturday's soup.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Tablet or Kindle Pouch

I made 2 more tablet pouches but only one is shown.  The other was the same outside fabric with a royal blue zipper, red end tabs and royal blue print interior.  My son took off with it before I could get a picture!  These are so easy to make and the recipients really seem to appreciate and enjoy them!