Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Low Spend Wrap Up

I'm calling it a month budget-wise. I would normally wait until the 31st when we get paid to close out the month but I need to do next weeks shopping tomorrow because my sister is flying in from New York on Friday. She knows I will throw a super awesome Super Bowl party and she hasn't met Baby G yet. I'm so excited to have her here.

For groceries, we spent $525 for the month. I'm going to have a separate baby category going forward. I do consider this month a success.

For our other spending, excluding gas, we spent around $400. This does exclude Y's personal spending. We spent around $75 on eating out, $20 on gifts, and the other $305 was spent on supplies to finish the basement and other miscellaneous things like a birth certificate. We did stock up on laundry detergent, dishwasher tabs and toilet paper when we were at Menards.

Our gas budget is $500 and we only spent $275. Woohoo!

One of my goals for this month was to have $3000 in our regular savings. We have $3400 as of today but I'm still expecting one last medical bill for around $400.

Y's spending--I'm not sure if I should just give him an allowance or what. He spent $283. Thus includes beer, smokes, energy drinks, snacks for him and Lil Punk, and who knows what else. Oh, I think he also had to buy something for our water heater, too. How do you all account for your significant other's spending?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another Adventure

We had our fourth blizzard in two weeks today and it wiped out our power about three hours ago. Our generator didn't kick on right away so Y jumped it with the battery out of his pick-up. It started so we do have lights but our furnace isn't kicking on. Our generator puts out 62 hertz and the furnace needs exactly 60. We do have a small space heater that us plugged in and working due to the generator.

I talked to the lady at the electric company and she said they were stopped by the police but would be out when the snowplows go out in the morning. I talked to the dispatch at the police station and she said they didn't stop the electric company. I told her that we do have a small heater. If it gets too cold in our house, she said to call back and they would send an emergency snowplow to get us out.

Lil Punk is already in her bed but we will move her into our bed and put the heater in there. Baby G will sleep in our bed too. I guess we got a king sized bed for a reason. I don't even want to think about how much propane we're burning with the generator. We have no choice but to leave it on all night.

Scary but kind of exciting. I hope my neighbors are okay.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Confession

My husband and I are swingers and we love it! Cheap entertainment!! Haha! Just kidding! My confession isn't that good ;-)

We bought blinds for the kids' bedrooms. We went to Lowe's and they were 20% off for the ones we wanted. I used my card to get another 5% off but will pay it right away when I get the bill. They ended up being $330 for the three blinds with tax. I know they're expensive but good quality blinds are expensive. Plus I refuse to have cords because many children hang themselves or get hurt on those cords.

Baby G's room is so much warmer now. He's actually able to sleep in his crib now. Our house is only a year old but its still amazing how cold the windows can be.

We also are getting a bit low on propane. I called to find out the price and its so expensive right now, $2.55 a gallon. Apparently there is a propane shortage. Anybody else on propane? How much is it there?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January Low Spend Challenge Update

We are all at home today due to the third blizzard in two weeks. I would rather have the cold than the blizzards. However, its not my choice.

Our grocery spending is at $441.33. My goal was to keep this under $450 for the month. I did some stocking up last week because canned tomatoes, beans, soups, veggies and tomato sauce were all on sale. I also included things for the baby in this category like diapers and wipes. Honestly, that stuff is too expensive to sneak it into this category. I either need to increase my grocery budget or do a separate line item for baby. I think I will separate it. My new goal is to keep this under $500 for the month.

Another goal for the month was to keep all other spending to $300, excluding gas. We are at $283 which includes a trip to Menard's for supplies to start finishing our basement. I'm pretty happy with this category.

Gas--I budget $500 and we're at $223.22. We are way below budget here. Woohoo!

I had a goal of paying for all medical bills this month with the savings from our low spend month. We paid all of mine and I submitted them for reimbursement from our medical flex account. The gal in HR refused it and said we needed to go back to the hospital and request that they take our insurance company's in-network rate (even though they are out-of-network). I was annoyed but did it. They revised it and I owed $190 less. Cool beans! Yesterday I received the bill for Baby G so I called the hospital this morning to see if they would revise it again. She said she would look at it and let me know.

Besides paying medical bills, my goal was to increase our regular savings to $3000. I'm happy to report that it is at $3000 now and I received the medical flex this morning for $709. I'm hoping that after I pay for Baby G's medical bills, I will still be able to add another $300.

I have everything ready to file our taxes but need to wait until the end if the month. After the debacle last year with the accountant, I've decided to do them myself. I'm not sure what software to buy. Anybody have any ideas? TurboTax or TaxAct? I'm hoping for a refund of around $1500.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Misc.

This has been the most exhausting week that I can remember. I worked all week and needed to be up at 5:30 to get the kiddos out the door to be at work at 8. I have trouble functioning on 5-6 hours of sleep a night so I need to be better about managing my sleep schedule.

To top off my tiring week, I went out for a bachelorette party last night. It was so much fun to see some of my high school friends and catch up. It was a pretty low key party. I'm so happy for my friend that she is getting married again. Her first husband died in his early 30's from a massive heart attack.

The first week of daycare went okay for the baby. I go nurse him on my lunch hour which I love. He will not take a bottle well yet. It is nice having both of my kids in one daycare. Lil Punk goes to give the baby kisses a few time throughout the day.

In other news, Y has started studying for his master plumbing test. Right now he works under a master plumber but that guy hasn't been at work since July due to severe mental health issues. It is expected that this guy will retire or go on disability soon. If Y got his job, it would be a $10-15,000 pay increase. I'm not holding my breath as its a lot of what ifs.

Both Y and I are off tomorrow for the holiday. I need the extra day to sleep and clean my house.

Have a good week!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Less Service Nowadays

I feel that as a society we are losing some of the service that was taken for granted 20 years ago. I'm 34 years old so I clearly remember when some things were different.

I remember when a service station always had an attendant to pump your gas, check your oil and clean your windshield. After I bought my first car, I always went to a station that did that. I didn't look at the price of gas anywhere else because that was my place. I would pay more for that service now. Most gas stations now have pay at the pump but its not the same.

The other service I miss are the grocery store carryout boys. I would pay a couple bucks extra to have somebody bring my groceries directly to my car and load them in. It's hard to push a full cart over snow packed ground with a newborn and little girl. Every store had carryout boys when I was growing up.

These are just a couple examples and in sure there are countless others. Are there any other small services that would make your day easier that you would pay a bit extra for?

Friday, January 10, 2014

First Day Back

Today was my first day back at work. Y stayed home with the baby today. I had a great day today. I was happy to see my coworkers and spent the better part of my day catching up with them. My boss took myself and another coworker out for lunch to celebrate me being back. She has been there for 27 years and had all three of her kids when she was employed there so she understands what its like to be a working mom.

I can't help but compare going back to my job now to when I went back after Lil Punk was born. I disliked my job then. My boss was a dickhead in his late 20's who thought he knew everything. I only took 6 weeks off because I felt I couldn't take any more time off. I often got phone calls at home on my leave. I was given a talking to the first week after I got back about achieving my sales goals. It sucked. And it sucked the life out of me. I was miserable and my parenting and marriage suffered. I wish I would have looked for a new job sooner.

I'm grateful to be where I'm at now. Have you ever been in a job you hated but couldn't really see the light until you left?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Low Spend January Week 1

I did not do very well for the first week. I did have 4 no spends but the other three days were expensive. We spent $172.65 on groceries. $50 of that was Y buying food for his lunches. He brings leftovers some days but prefers to buy frozen convenience food and leave it at work. To be honest, I'm thinking he's not going to change this. Marriage is about compromise, right?

We spent $64.52 on everything else. $26 was for the baby's birth certificate. I need it to start him in daycare. I consider this a necessity. The remaining money is actually for eating out. We forgot that we told Lil Punk that we could eat at McDonalds on New Years Day. She didn't forget. We also ate out another time at Subway while we were waiting for my car to be done. It wasn't good planning on my part. I had two screaming kids and we were all starving.

I need to buy some groceries today but will likely wait until Y gets home to go out. It's still cold here and I hate taking the baby out. I have been eating nonstop. I'm still losing about 1-2 pounds a week which is where I want to be but I'm starving. I am eating 4 smaller meals a day plus several healthy snacks.

The reason I think I've been so hungry is that the baby seems to just suck it all out of me. I weighed him last night and he weighs 17 pounds. He will be 2 months next week. Lil Punk was a fat baby also but only weighed 15 pounds at 2 months. She slimmed down between 9 months to a year. I'm sure this baby will do the same when he starts crawling and walking.

In good news, after today we are supposed to have 8 days with the temperature above 0. Woohoo!!

How was your week?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Menu Plan

For this chilly day, I made taco soup with homemade dinner rolls. The dinner rolls didn't raise the way they should have. I'm wondering if it because the yeast was a little old. Can yeast expire?

I have a menu for the next two weeks. I will only need to stop for milk, cheese, and produce.

jambalaya with sausage
Baked fish, pasta salad and veg
tortellini soup
taco casserole
meatloaf with mashed potatoes and veg
eggs, hashbrowns and sausage links
sloppy joes with veg
chili
baked chicken and dumplings
Asian beef and noodles
Spaghetti
Beef pot pie

I don't have any particular order to make the meals but I have everything needed. This menu is a little heavy on beef because we are getting a quarter of beef around the end of January. Last time it was around $4 per pound. It's a little more than the grocery store but so worth it for local organic beef. I'm expecting around 100 pounds of meat.

I will do another post this week about the Low Spend January. I'm not doing very well...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Back to Work Soon

I go back to work on Friday and I'm looking forward to it. I love spending all day with my baby and cuddling with him but I'm eager to get back to my job. It will be a little over eight weeks that I've had off. It's been wonderful. I slept in with the baby, spent more time with my daughter, and just completely relaxed. I think this is the most relaxed that I've been since Y came home from Iraq.

At the same time, I'm feeling ready to go back to work. I love my job and really miss my coworkers. I like getting out of the house and having my own agenda, separate from my family.

I have a few things to take care of before I go back to work. I got the baby's birth certificate last week (for $26) and also need to get his immunization records for daycare. I still need to buy him bottles for daycare.

I'm not back in my normal work clothes yet but I did keep all of my dress pants after I had Lil Punk. Work shirts will actually be harder. I'm hoping to get by with what I have as I don't want to get too comfortable in this size.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Gardening Goal

One of my goals this year is to plant 3 perennial plants. I need to plan now so I have time to research and order them.

I already have the following for perennial fruits or vegetables:
  • asparagus--planted last year in a raised bed
  • 2 apple trees--planted last year, Sweet 16 and Honeycrisp
  • Goji berries--planted last year but I'm not sure if they will come back. If not, I will replant.
  • Honeyberries--planted last year and did very well, they are like blueberries but don't require acidic soil
  • Mulberry trees--planted 4 last summer, 3 did great but a deer got to one, we will see if it comes back
  • Strawberries--I planted these three years ago and they did great. Unfortunately, I had to transplant then when we built our house. They died and I replanted. I'm going to move them to a raised bed this year.
  • Raspberries--I planted three years ago but they are lagging. Last year I also planted black raspberries. I might need to move them to a better location. I need to research this.
I'm thinking of planting the following this year:
  • Saskatoon blueberries--these aren't actually blueberries but taste like them. They are hardy to zone 2 and don't require acidic soil
  • Red currants--I bought currant jelly last year at the farmers market and loved it. The girl who made it said she grew the berries here.
  • Cherry trees--they have tart cherry trees at a local nursery. I will research to see if I want cherry trees or cherry bushes.
  • Elderberries--this is a possibility
  • Horseradish --I love horseradish and would also like to make horseradish pickles

Any suggestions? Are you already thinking about gardening?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 2014 Challenge

I am taking part in Carla's No/Low Spend Challenge for January (posting from my phone so I can't link but link is on the side--My 1/2 Dozen Daily).

Here are my goals:

Limit grocery spending to $450 for the month
Limit all other spending to $300, not to include new windshield and tax software or gas
Increase regular savings to $3000, currently at $2034

I will keep you all posted on my progress.

Good luck to all who are joining in Carla's challenge!