Monday, January 31, 2011

VS Winner!

Somewhere between here
and this post, I was stopped by a number of things. First I was making Macaroni & Cheese (box kind!) when the mail lady came. I took the puppy out to get the mail, came in and started looking through it. Opened a few bills, realized the noodles were still cooking. I drained them (soggy, bleh) and got out the milk when I saw this mess:

I love how the kids do their chores! Please excuse the obviously dirty bottom of my refrigerator door. It made me thankful for this little gift:

*Sigh* Here we go! And the winner is................................................
Comment #2 which would be tfamily!!!!Message me and let me know how you'd like it! Stay tuned, folks. More spills, licks and budgeting to come!

Friday, January 28, 2011

This One's For The Girls

Iiiiit's Friday!!!!!

I love today. It's a beautiful 68 degrees. I got 10 hours of sleep (but would totally take 10 more). Had coffee with some girlfriends early this morning. Konnor's on the mend. Bought a present for a baby shower. Gosh. It feels like Christmas!

Before I get to the good stuff, I am friends with Papa John's on Facebook. I know. I'm pretty darn special. Yesterday they posted that if you sign up for their Papa's Points program online by February 5, you will get a free 3 topping large pizza should the Super Bowl go into overtime. Free pizza? Yes please!

And now for the giveaway. Today's is a $10 Angels Reward to Victoria's Secret. You can use it online, or in store. Just in time for Valentine's Day! To enter, leave a comment about a quality you love the most about yourself. Show yourself some love! I can't wait to read them!!

I'll input & randomize for the winner on Monday at noon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ugh To The Flu Bug!

My house is still under it's nasty spell. Although now it's a bit more like an intense cold. I myself and nearing the finish line, but Konnor is about 2 days behind me. Poor baby.

If I could post a mobile picture you could see how pathetic he is.

But for some reason I haven't mastered that yet.

So until tomorrow- don't forget your free Pei Wei, keep budgeting and get ready for a giveaway!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh Pei Wei, How I Love Thee...

Let me count the ways. I love your Mongolian Beef. I love your Brown Rice. I love the extra Mongolian Sauce on the side. I love your Orange Slices on the drink bar. I love your Chopstick Grips for kids.


I love Pei Wei.

Today and tomorrow only (Jan 26th & 27th) you can go into any Pei Wei location and get a card to try the Korean BBQ Beef valid Jan 31-Feb 6th. All you do is walk in the door and collect.

Sounds like the 31st is going to be a great day. I'll announce the winner of my next giveaway, I'll get to try something hopefully yummy, it's the last day of the month...yes. A good day indeed.

Now I don't usually stray from my all time favorite. But I will if it's free! What's better than a free meal at one of my favorite restaurants? NOTHING!!!!

Go to their website to find the location nearest you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Old Navy Clearance

So I love Old Navy. This morning I got an e-mail with a code for 25% off Clearance. That can add many clothes you've been wanting to your closet! If you spend $50 you get free shipping. You don't need a code for that one. Go spend your clothing budget dollars!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

And The Winner Is.....

Comment Number 2, Jon. Yep, my husband. He told me to redo it, but then that would ruin the integrity of the draw. It wouldn't be truly random.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every comment. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me and all my readers.

Today I feel like a brick is living inside my head, so tomorrow, hopefully we'll be up and running with more budgeting ideas. I gave you my beans and rice budget, and am hopefully going to put up my meat and potatoes meal plan.

Be looking next Friday for my next giveaway!!! I love giving away stuff.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thanks A Latte!

Sometimes, when I'm blogging, thoughts come pouring out of my fingers at the speed of light. Other times...not so much. When I'm stuck, I'd like to type something witty, or charming, or gay, or whimsical...but that's just not me. My mind is blank. I have to admit that is one reason I love blogging so much. When a lot is on my mind I can type it. When nothing's on my mind, I don't type. Or when nothing's on my mind, I type that nothing is on my mind.

Like right now.

I would like to say, though, thank you for making this so much fun. I love all my comments from tfamily (one of my oldest friends), and I have enjoyed learning that Jon (my hubby) was a secret follower. I made him follow me publicly. If it's secret, it's kind of like stalking...

But I have enjoyed hearing feedback from friends, I have gotten some great questions that have given me something to post and I have gotten some great recipes. So this is my 'Thank You' card to you. Or I could give away a $10 Starbuck's gift card. I think I like that idea better. That's enough for at least 2 tall Lattes! If you like an Americano (my fave) then you could get 4 and a half.

To enter to win the gift card, just leave a comment about what you're most thankful for so far this year. The phone calls don't count on this one, sorry. I'll draw a winner on Monday at Noon (CST). I can't wait to hear your answers!

Thanks a 'latte' for making this so much fun!

Friday, January 21, 2011

$20 At Aldi

So I walked out of Aldi yesterday with my bank account $20 lighter. Earlier I posted about what my $20 bought at Reasor's, so I thought I would share what it bought at Aldi!

1 Fresh Pineapple
1- 3# Bag Gala Apples
2- 8oz Blocks of Cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 Box Graham Crackers
1 Box Saltine Crackers
1 Box Snack Crackers
1 Bunch Celery
1- 2# Bag of Carrots
1 Bag Corn Chips
8oz Ranch Veggie Dip
8oz Light Sour Cream
1 Can Chili Beans
1 Bag of Wavy Chips
1qt Half & Half

That is a lot of stuff! No, this is not a normal grocery haul for us. I was buying for a baby shower also.

Their produce prices are great. The bag of apples cost $1.29 which is $.43 a pound. Sometimes, as with all places, the produce can be iffy. But what I got yesterday was perfect. Their cans are reasonably priced as well. It beats Wal-Mart hands down. Their chip and cracker prices are comparable to Wal-Mart and so is the quality. But overall, worth the trip if it's near you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

*Nerd Alert* The Cost of Homemade Bread

Maybe it's because of this sweet little thing
That rope looking thing in her hand is her blankie. She's had it since she was a baby and this is pretty much all that's left. We don't travel without it.

The stuffed animal she's holding is Gracias. She's had her for nearly 3 years. Her daddy got it for her when she was almost 3 and sick. She's sick today.

Nothing makes the house smell yummier than baking bread! And she loves my bread.

Here comes the nerdiness. Don't say I didn't warn you. I want to know if it's cheaper to make my own bread. I love the fact that I know exactly what is in my bread. There are no weird chemicals or additives. Just the ingredients from my pantry. It makes me smile.

The first ingredient to a 1 pound loaf is water, which I consider free. Yes it's not, but 5/8 cup per loaf is not enough to register unless I make like 100 a month.
Next I add the applesauce. The recipe calls for oil, but I prefer to not use oil if I can help it. The applesauce costs $1.98 for a 46 oz jar. A tablespoon is 1/2 an ounce and for this loaf I use 1/2 a tablespoon. The cost is $.01 per loaf for applesauce.
Next up is brown sugar. 1 pound box = 9 loaves (1/4 cup each). That adds up to $.11 per loaf.
And then we have salt. I paid $.42 for the large container of iodized salt. 1/2 tsp doesn't even register as a penny in the calculations.
Flour is next! I used All-Purpose. Yes, I know it says bread flour, but this was in my pantry. Usually I use half all-purpose and half whole wheat. Still delish! A 5lb bag has 20 cups of flour. This recipe take 1.5 cups. It cost $1.90 for the bag, so that's $.14 for the loaf.

 Wowza for the oatmeal! There are 3 cups per pound of oatmeal. This recipe calls for a half cup, so that means $.07 per loaf.
And my last ingredient is yeast. The large jar is under $4 but I prefer to round up to a whole number. Each jar has 16 packets, this takes half a packet. Per loaf cost is $.13.
Close the lid on my trusty $10 garage sale bread maker, and 3 hours later my house smells like heaven on earth. But how much was the ingredient total? A whole $.46 per loaf. Of course, there is electricity used, but I haven't seen a raise in my bill yet!

I told you I'm a total number nerd.

Be forewarned, though. Making your own bread means you eat a lot more bread. It's yummy and comforting and tastes way better in the mornings that store bought toast. I personally love super thin slices for everything, so our bread can last quite a while. Usually though, only about 3 days tops. Maybe we'll eat less when homemade bread is old news in our house. We aren't there yet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Shopping with all three of my kittens in tow can sometimes feel like I'm taking toothpicks to my eyes. I'm not being dramatic. If it weren't for my wonderful husband, I'd never get any shopping done at the mall. Here he is with our kittens. He took them on their bikes while he ran. Such a good daddy.

Over the past few years, online shopping has become more and more enjoyable. If I'm on the company's e-mail list, then I get discount codes in my inbox. Sometimes free shipping offers on top of the discount code. Add that to a sale, and my budget dollars are going to go so far!

I have discovered a wonderful site called RetailMeNot. When I'm shopping online, and close to checking out, I'll head over to this website in another tab. When you get there, you simply enter the website you're shopping at and it will bring up any coupon or discount codes that other users add to their database. To the left it will tell you how often it has worked for others.

Before Christmas, I wanted to get something at an online store for women with the initials VS. I hopped over to RetailMeNot to see if there were any current codes I could use and I hit gold! I got 2 pair of underwear and a perfume set for free. Nearly $70 of merchandise for free! So after shipping and tax I paid $24.

Gymboree does a lot of one time use coupons. People sometimes post their codes on RetailMeNot and it's first come first serve. I haven't ever gotten to use one, but that doesn't mean you won't. So before you check out online, head over there and see if you can stretch your dollars farther.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cheap Meals

Taking the long weekend off left me with a lot of time. Well, not really, because with children the time is constantly filled with something. But it felt like I had a lot of time!

So since I posted a couple of weeks ago about how our small grocery budget, I've been trying to research and come up with a similar menu to what we had 6 years ago. Food has gotten more expensive and so has my palette, so it was hard to think about what we actually ate. No fresh vegetables, a lot of processed or canned foods and lots of rice and beans. That diet is not for everyone. But I thought I would give it to you anyways. You do what you've got to do to make it through!

So here it goes. Keep in mind, this is bare bones budget meals, but a half step above ramen noodles every night. We had rice & beans at least 2 nights a week.

Meal list:
Macaroni & Cheese w/ vegetable (3 boxes for $1, Frozen broccoli 2lb bag $2)
Fried Egg Sandwich (Loaf of bread from $ Tree $1, Dozen eggs $1)
Rice and Beans (Bag of Black Beans $1, Bag of Rice $1)
Chili (Pound of Meat $2, Can Chili Beans $.60, Can Crushed Tomatoes $1, Onion $1)
Spaghetti (Box of 8 servings $1, Sauce $1, Frozen Green Beans $1)
Soup and Grilled Cheese (Can Soup $.50, Cheese $2)
Bean Burrito (Can Pinto Beans $.60, Tortilla $1)

Now we arrange the meals into 14 evenings of meals:
Night 1- Mac & Cheese     Night 8- Bean Burrito
Night 2- Rice & Beans       Night 9- Mac & Cheese
Night 3- Fried Egg Sand    Night 10- Rice & Beans
Night 4- Chili                    Night 11- Fried Egg Sand
Night 5- Spaghetti             Night 12- Spaghetti
Night 6- Rice & Beans      Night 13- Soup & Gr Cheese
Night 7- Soup & Gr Chs    Night 14- Rice & Beans

Next we make our grocery list according to our 2 lists above. You may need to go to different places. Because Wal Mart is raising the prices on their canned foods, Dollar Tree becomes the best place to buy a large can of crushed tomatoes, tortillas and even bread. Also keep in mind a dried bag of beans and rice lasts my family of 5(equal to 3 adults) for 4 dinners.

$.66 2 boxes of mac & cheese
$.75 Margarine                         
$2.00 Milk                               
$1.00 Bag of black beans            
$1.00 Bag of rice                
$.99  Dozen eggs                       
$1.00 Loaf of bread                  
$2.00 Pound of meat                 
$1.00 Can crushed tomatoes      
$1.00 Onion                             
$.60 Chili beans                        
$1.00 Box of pasta                    
$1.00 Can of spaghetti sauce      
$1.00 Bag of frozen green beans 
$2.00 Bag of frozen broccoli       
$1.00 2 cans condensed soup      
$2.00 Cheese                             
$.60 Can pinto beans                 

Total                                 $20.60

That leaves a little less than $5 for anything else you want for those of you that don't pay tax on food. For us here in OK, about 10% goes to tax leaving about $2 leftover. But that, my friends, is how it is done. Repeat the 14 days for nearly an entire month of eating on $50 for 2 people. If you would like, throw in a couple of nights of Ramen noodles. $1.98 for 12 at Wal-Mart!

What's your cheap go to meal? I need to expand!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oatmeal Bread Recipe

I totally forgot to post the recipe I've used. I've been tweaking it here and there trying to figure out what I like best. It's still a work in progress in my kitchen, but hopefully I'll have my masterpiece soon! In the meantime, give the original a spin by clicking on the above link, or following it below.

Thank you!

recipe difficulty 1/5 Difficulty:   1 (1=easiest :: hardest=5)
Serves/Makes:   2 lb loaf

1 1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1 cup oats
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine in order given. Set machine to "basic" setting.

16.4 Pounds of Oatmeal

Most containers of oatmeal that you buy from the store are about 2.6 pounds. I happen to have one mamajama of a bag. For your enjoyment:

My Grampsy bought this for me in Kalona, IA. Kalona is a cute city full of Amish stores, cheese factories, Amish bakeries, antiques and so much more. It's a great place to spend a day or two.

The little grocery store where Gramps bought me this is full great buys for the normal person. They do not take coupons, but you'll still walk out of there with a ton of groceries for a small amount of money. This massive bag of oatmeal cost a whopping $6.89. He also got me 5 pounds of natural peanut butter (peanuts only) for $12. Yep, that's amazing.

What am I going to do with 16 pounds of oatmeal? Well, over time it will get eaten. I've made about 4 loaves of Oatmeal Bread (a little deceiving since there's only 1 cup of oatmeal but still yummy), meatloaf, oatmeal for breakfast about 2 times a week (one day even for lunch) and...we're in a bit of a rut.

So if you have any recipes that call for oatmeal, send them my way!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Clothing On A Budget

Because I have 3 kiddos, the majority of the clothing bought in our house is for them.
This is during Christmas at my parent's house last month.
Yes, he's too old for this and he knows it.
He wanted you to see his 'control car'. I hope you enjoyed it as much as he does. I was talking about....

Clothes. I love good quality clothes. Clothes that will last for more than one child. Like, say, Isabella and Liana. That is until Liana catches up to Isabella and has to have a wardrobe all her own. I think that will happen next winter.

Where do you find quality clothes for a budget price? My answer would be sales! Almost every store at the mall has latched onto 'Semi-Annual' sales. That's great for us, the consumer. The sale price is usually phenomenal, but you can be a savvy consumer and save even more. Take full advantage of the sales by adding coupons to the sale price.

I had my parents buy me a coat from Express for Christmas. They were running their Express cash promotion, which gave me $25 to spend later(you buy $50 and use the $25 certificate, you pay $25 cash). I knew my grandparents were giving me money for Christmas, so I figured I'd use some of it for that. I always find stuff I love at Express. When I was there using my Express cash, I noticed that it said not for use on clearance items. Well, their marked down items were considered clearance. Boo. But I asked an associate what I could not buy, and she told me if I had one full price item, then I could get anything else. I could've gotten a $6 lip balm, but I went for a cute pair of navy flats that I'd been wanting.

Ask an associate! Sometimes they look at you like you're crazy, sometimes they don't have extra sales going on, but it doesn't hurt to ask! The first time you feel like a dork, but you get over that when you realize you're being smart with your money.

If you have favorite stores, join their e-clubs and rewards programs. Some stores will send you coupons to your inbox, mailbox and by text. Maybe they give you a gift certificate on your birthday or child's birthday. Alot of the the reward programs count the dollars you spend as points towards a gift certificate for the store. You get rewarded for the money you would already spend there.

Go do a little research on your favorite stores. Find out what they have to offer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Balance The Budgeting

Stingy. It's an ugly word.I know that you, nor I, nor anyone we would ever know anywhere in the world would ever fall prey to this word. No. Never. I know no one like that.

If we aren't careful, after we start budgeting, that ugly little word can pop into our lives leaving us as a shadow of our former selves.

According to Merriam-Webster,  'Definition of STINGY. 1: not generous or liberal : sparing or scant in using, giving, or spending'.

We want to be sparing or scant in spending, we call that wisdom. But what we don't want, is to become sparing or scant in giving. I'm certain you've heard the many scriptures on giving and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and ruuuuuunning over. Right now, I am not talking about the spiritual aspect of giving. I am talking about the mental aspect of it.

Sometimes without us knowing, we can start eliminating the giving out of our life through justification. 'This month we can barely pay the electric so I won't be giving to my church' or maybe 'I can barely afford groceries, let alone a present for a baby shower'. These have run through my head at times. Over the course of 10 years of budgeting, I have been on both ends of the spectrum, ranging from giving everything to giving nothing monetarily. I think my mom was relieved when I quit giving away all the furniture that was given to me. But it was a gift that I could do what I chose with.

It's a balancing act that we have to learn. An art, to be able to give when we feel like we have to cling to every penny that we come in contact with. One way to avoid this nasty shift, is to give. Yep, you read me right. Give! Give of your time to a local food bank or nonprofit organization. Organize a week's worth of food for a new mom that's coming home from the hospital. Make a double batch of a meal that is inexpensive but tasty for the friend who's going through a difficult time. Be the ear that listens to the one that needs to talk.

Giving is not only money. In fact, the most important giving is not money. It is of yourself.

So budget with balance. If you have a little extra that you can give, then do. But never budget the giving out of your life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When A Good Deal Is Not A Good Deal

Sometimes living on a budget can make you do crazy things. Like going to Sam's Club and buying a 5 pound bag of fresh broccoli that goes bad before you use it all. Or stocking up on coconut milk because you just know the kids will love it and buying it in bulk on sale with coupons gets you each carton for $1.50. Then it sits in the pantry for 4 months and counting because the kids don't actually like the taste so you have to force them to add it in cereal which you only eat on the weekends so it lasts forever.

I hope that never happens to you.

But in all seriousness, when you live on a budget and see a good or great deal, the first instinct is to run out and immediately stock up. Especially if you have coupons. But if it's not something that is tried and proven a winner in your house, then you just wasted your money.
That's a $6 + tax waste sitting in my pantry. And we're left with that only because we've been making the kids drink more of it. I don't blame them, it's not really my cup of tea either.

The point is, plan your meals and know what you use for toiletries. Buy what you need. If you see something is a great deal, first ask yourself if it's something you've used before. If the answer is no, don't load up until you've tried it.

Buying things that never get used is a complete waste of your budgeted dollars. And we can't have that!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I Love A Good Deal

My kids love Special K. I love Special K. I like to eat it when I have a sweet tooth but am trying to be good. Of course I think having 3 bowls might counteract any intention of saving on calories while satisfying a craving...

So this week at Walgreen's, Special K is on sale 2/$5. When you buy 2 boxes you get a $2 Register Reward (RR) to use on a future purchase. That means you can turn right around and do another transaction using it. So if you wanted to use it to buy more Special K, then you just take all 4 boxes to the cashier and tell them you have 2 transactions. To make it an even better deal, though, go here and sign up, then print out your buy 1 box get one free. You can print it twice by pushing the back button. So here's what the deal would look like:

Transaction 1
2 Boxes of Special K $5
- $2.50 free box coupon
= $2.50 + tax
Receive a $2 RR

Transaction 2
2 Boxes of Special K $5
- $2.50 free box coupon
- $2 RR
= $.50 + tax

You won't get a RR on the next transaction if you pay with the RR from the first. 4 boxes for $3 + tax is a great price. If you have a $2 RR from a previous transaction then use it to pay only $1 plus tax. Around here we eat cereal on the weekends only, so 4 boxes last us quite a while. Unless I get a sweet tooth.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Yellow Bananas

One day Liana was shrieking with excitement to Isabella that we had yellow bananas. It was one of the funniest things I've seen in quite a while, and I thought to myself 'Only my kids would get excited about yellow bananas'.

Let me explain. We have a local grocery store named Reasor's that I simply love, for so many reasons. The workers are friendly, helpful and have great attitudes. The produce is better quality than a lot of chain grocery stores. They play uplifting Christian music. They have a bargain basket full of dented cans that can be quite a great deal  (sometimes they aren't so it helps to know the prices). Finally, because they sell these babies:

This entire bag is less than a dollar! A penny less to be exact.
In my opinion, these are yellow. Sure, they may have a few brown marks on the outside, but most are perfectly fine on the inside.

This bag of bananas will last us for a full week. Lunches, snacks, dessert; this 'original fast food' (as stated on the bag) can fill each of these with ease. And if we have some left over at the end of the week (by then pretty brown on the outside) I make banana bread.

And just because it makes me smile every time I add a photo:
Jon and Liana on a date right before Christmas. Makes my heart happy.

The moral of the story...I will not cave to buying green bananas! Even though I nearly bought green bananas just because I felt a little bad. I stood firm, though. There are good deals to be found even in the produce section.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Hidden Budget Buster...Presents

Oh the birthday party. Every kid wants to be invited; every kid wants to have a great present. Most parents don't have gifts stock piled for such occasions.

Today is one of those impromtu birthday present days. The first thought when you're having to buy a present is 'Stop by Target or Walmart'. While both are wonderful places to get great toys, unless they're on sale you won't get a bargain. So I skipped the first instinct, and went with a store that I had visited earlier in the week, Bed Bath & Beyond. I love this store. Plus they happen to have some major toy clearances going on. I try to keep it to $10 or less for friends' birthdays.

This is what we bought.

Regularly priced at $19.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond, we got it for $10.40 after tax by using a 20% off mailed coupon.

Look at the cool things you can do! Isabella was super excited about this present.

For $10 so was I.

Make a list of birthdays that you know for sure are coming up and go hit the stores for their toy clearances! Make yourself familiar with their coupon policy. I happened to ask the cashier if they took their expired coupons to which she replied 'Yes, if they are from the mail.' What?! Jackpot!!! Plus at BB&B, you can have one 20% coupon per item.

Go stock up! Where is your jackpot toy savings usually found?

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Follower

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to brilliantevents, my FIRST FOLLOWER! Pretty cool. 

Happy Friday!!!

What a wonderful morning. Sometimes you just feel like you've accomplished everything, and it isn't even 9 am. That's how my morning's going. Plus I'm drinking coffee. Extra bonus!

To start 2011 off right, you have 30 days to try and win an Ipad, MacBook Air, Ipod Nano and other great prizes by clicking on this link:


Last time they did this promotion it required less referrals, but you also only had 2 days to do it. So good luck! I'm trying for it!

The main thing on my mind since my last post, has been eating on a budget. I was talking with one of my dear friends yesterday about when Jon, I and our oldest were eating on $50 a month.I mentioned how in 7 years the price of food has gone up quite a bit. Thinking about it made me think what a challenge that would be to try and figure out if it can still be done.

I love a good challenge.

But this one will take some research on my part, as I am out of practice. While I research, here are some tips to maximize your grocery buying.

1. Plan your menu! It's easier to stay on budget when you plan what you're going to have.

2. Plan meals with like ingredients for the week. For example, if I'm going to have tacos I'll buy the 20 pack of tortillas. They won't all get eaten in one dinner, possibly not even 2, but I'll plan to have quesadillas the same week. I will only have to buy tortillas once that week.

3. Utilize your fresh veggies!!! Don't let them go to waste. If you're going to make salad, then plan to also do something with lettuce that week. Or add it to your sandwiches. Not only are veggies great fillers, but they're healthy. And nothing burns me more than having to throw out food.

4. Plan a leftover day. Let the troops know ahead of time so that the complaining can finish before that night begins. I don't particularly enjoy leftovers, but I don't like to waste.

5. Mix up the menu with herbs. They're cheap and can totally change the flavor of whatever you're cooking.

What are some meals that you cook inexpensively?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Budgeting on Inconsistent Income

It's that time of year where we trim the fat off our waist and our budgets!!!  In the interest of full disclosure, I love numbers. I'm a number nerd. Totally and completely, without reservation, I love when it's time to go over the monthly budget and pay bills. It makes me extremely happy.

I know, different. But what can I say, I love it!

This past June, Jon and I embarked on a new journey. The journey of self-employment. The first few months were not too pretty. It takes a little while to get used to not having consistent income. As a woman, I love security. If you are not the same, that's just fine! We are all different. But I, am a security lover.

We are Dave Ramsey followers. 100% of his budgeting, and we used his budgeting tools when we had regular income. Now we are using his tools for irregular income. Because we had been budgeting for over 10 years, you would think it would be easy. It wasn't.

One of the first things we do is get all the bills. I like to keep mine all clipped together like this.
Then we list all the bills on paper that are necessary. Don't forget to make sure you add groceries and gas like a bill. You do need to eat.

Unless you want to fast.

Put the bills in order on paper

Next, we list how much the bill is each month. If we aren't sure, we give a rough estimate based on last month's bill amount.

Last we add non-necessities. Clothing (because kids do grow!), spending money, haircuts, etc. are all something we can live without for a month.

Then we go down the list as money comes in. Some months we make it all the way through the list, some months we don't. Like I said, self-employment is not easy in the beginning! But we totally and completely believe in what we're doing, so we do what we have to do to get through. That is our motto.

We are making the most of it, and sticking to our budget. You can do it too! What are some of the things that help you live off inconsistent income?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Free Movie Tickets?!

I was at Wal-Mart last night and tried blogging from my mobile.

It didn't work.

So here I am bright and early to tell you about the great deal I saw. When you purchase 2 specially marked boxes of General Mills Cereals, you get a free movie ticket.  These boxes were $3.28 a piece, so buying 2 makes your ticket $6.56.

I don't know about your theaters, but around here that's a great bargain. Especially if you're going to be going out for a movie anyways. It's like getting the ticket for a discount, and getting 2 boxes of cereal on top of that! It's a win-win situation.

Unless you don't like their cereals.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Let's play the 'How Many Meals Can We Get From $20' game. I went to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon to pick up a few staples after getting home from Iowa. I walked out with $20 less in my bank account. Because I have the intention of staying within my budget for groceries, I'm going to see how long we can eat off this.

Here's what my bags held:

18 Eggs
1/2 Gallon Almond Milk
Iceberg Lettuce
4 Roma Tomatoes
8# Bag of Potatoes
16 oz. Light Sour Cream
1 Ranch Seasoning Packet
1 Bag of Bananas (more to come on these in another post)
Loaf of Double Fiber Bread
3 oz. Grilled Chicken (from the salad bar)

We bought a quarter cow this past year, so beef is not going to be on my grocery list. I realize that does make this not as replicable, but it gives you the general idea.

#1-Saturday night's dinner was 'Chicken Cobb Salad'. It was pretty fantastic. I used the lettuce, tomato, croutons, eggs & chicken from the store. I had cheese in my freezer that I pulled out, and used leftover bacon from breakfast cut into small pieces. For the dressing, I put the ranch seasoning into the sour cream.

My oldest won't eat any other ranch. Kind of strange.

#2-Sunday dinner was Roast! Yum. My whole house smelled like my grandma's, and that was fantastic.

I stuck it in the crockpot frozen at 9:30am. 7 hours later it was falling apart AH-MAZ-ING. I baked 4 potatoes, made gravy from the broth and pulled out the leftover salad. Night #2 in the books.

#3-Monday's dinner was Open Faced Roast Beef Sandwiches. Again, YUM! I shredded the leftover roast and warmed it and the gravy in my cast iron skillet. I boiled 3 potatoes cut into cubes, drained them and added the leftover baked potato creating 'smashed potatoes'.

I love adding rosemary and garlic to those babies.

Toasted 4 pieces of bread, topped it with the potatoes, then beef and gravy. Added broccoli from my freezer and night 3 is done.

I don't know how much longer I can stretch this, though. Iceberg lettuce only satisfies me so long.

Tonight I may make Upscale Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. My Grampsy cans ham and sends it to me in a care package. I add a secret ingredient to make the dish totally delish!

Or tacos. Or taco salad. I'm in the mood for Mexican.

If I can use my $20 for a family of 5 for 3 nights and counting, maybe you can too! Or maybe you can do even better!

What's your money saving grocery tricks? How do you stretch your groceries? Do tell, because I love to get new ideas!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Three Little Kittens Project

So I took the day off yesterday, though I had millions of topics swimming in my head, to bounce my project idea off my hubby.

This would be us at an Elton John concert.

I won the tickets.

10 years of marriage...

Anywho. He is my best sounding board.

I had an idea for a project that I kind of perfected yesterday with his help. I've decided to call it 'Three Little Kittens'. Here are my 3 kittens

They like to be goofy.

But the break down is simple, I'd like to collect mittens and gloves to donate to children in need. Not used, but new. They don't last long, so used isn't really the best. Believe me, I've tried passing gloves down with my girls.

I'll be collecting them all year long, and my kittens and I will be making a tree out of chicken wire throughout the year. Set by set, we'll build the tree. Then at Thanksgiving we'll give the gloves and mittens to children in need! I'm toying with the idea of having the children give back by helping their teacher with a task...perfection takes time.

If you'd like to help, that would be amazing. Winter gear is getting ready to be super cheap, making the cost pretty minimal. Shoot me a message and I'll tell you where to mail them. May your new year be filled with blessings!!!

Thank you Wikipedia for this first verse:

Three little kittens, they lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear
That we have lost our mittens.

What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie.
Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.
You shall have no pie.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Get Your Tank On!!!!

I LOVE a fresh, new, clean and crisp white tank top. There is nothing like it. I am always on the hunt for a great tank top. I live in tank tops! Perhaps I am a bit picky when it comes to tank tops. There are specifics to what I want.

I want a tank top that is long. I have two Old Navy tank tops that barely cover my flat belly. I don't even wear them when it's enlarged from Christmas eating! Needless to say, they are not my favorite.

I have 3 tank tops that I bought from TJ Maxx. The white one is thin, the black one has stretch lace that is now looking raggedy after less than 6 months, and the other is maroon that is the same as the black one- size and all, but fits about 2 sizes smaller. Weird how that happens. Those are not my favorites.

My favorites may have found me over our Christmas vacation. My sister (ever trendy and fabulous) told me about a great deal in Wet Seal. Let me be clear...13 years ago in high school when I was about 15 pounds lighter and 3 kids less I didn't go to that store. Their clothes seemed entirely too small cut for my not so small body. It was with much hesitation that I even considered going. But I'm drawn to a new tank top like a fly to honey.

So I went with my brother (whose taste I nearly completely trust because he is fashionable himself) and his wife of a year and a half. I'm not too sure how to describe her fashion, she always credits my brother, but she always looks great. Back to Wet Seal.

I'M IN LOVE!!!!! These tank tops don't feel too thin. These tank tops aren't too short. These tank tops are just right.

The best part? They were 5 for $20!!!! At $4 a piece, even if they only hold up as long as my TJ Maxx tank tops, I've saved crazy money. Go get some!

A quick note, though. Wet Seal's return policy is only in store credit or exchange, so make sure you either try it on, or have many other things in mind you would exchange for.