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Grocery shopping success

February 11th, 2011 at 07:47 am

Yesterday I posted about how I was nervous about being blindsided by the cost at the register. The suggestions I got were wonderful (THANK YOU!) and I went around the store writing the approximate prices next to the items on my list, then added them all up when I was done. If I picked anything extra up I put it on the list with a price. That sure kept me from putting too much in the cart! At the end, my total was $130 and everything rang up at $127! Pretty darn close and I felt great about knowing that I stuck to the budget but got everything I needed. Huge sigh of relief there! And it was so easy that I think I am going to start doing the same thing at Target and Costco too! That way I can put things back easily if I see I am going over.

Also, while I was at Target I signed up for there Red Card that saves you 5% every time you shop. But NOT the credit card.....they offer the exact same thing in a DEBIT card! All you need is a drivers license and a voided check to get started and they hook it right to your checking account with a pin number. Took less than 5 minutes to get started and saved my $4 last night. I hate coupons so this is a great way to save that I don't even have to think about.

Headed to Costco and Sam's sometime today to finish the great stock up, but then I don't think I need to do any shopping for at least 2 weeks, with the exception of bread and milk thanks to menu planning and shopping with a list. Whew!

Tonight is date night with the hubby. We have a little childcare co-op going with 2 other couples where we rotate which couple watches all 5 kids on Friday night and the other 2 couples get to have a date. So for every time you watch 5 kids, you get two Friday night dates. Have been doing it since November and it makes going out on a date actually affordable since we don't have to spend $50 on a sitter. Plus, DH and I are getting a chance to reconnect and that has been wonderful and definitely necessary.

Birthday Party Planning woes

August 1st, 2007 at 09:40 am

My son, Caleb, turns 3 on Labor Day Weekend and we have decided to throw him a little party with his friends. After the last two years with all of the family there turned into nightmares, we will be limiting it to his little friends ONLY. Here is the rub....I have NO IDEA what to do. There is a local Children's museum that sounds fun, but it is a pretty big expense ($170) and if not many kids show up, I am still out that full amount. Of course, last year I spent at least twice that to throw the huge family party (food, goody bags, beverages, ice, etc) so this might actually be a cost savings in the end.

I know we could do cake and ice cream in the backyard, but I am afraid that his grandparents would want to show up and I WILL NOT go through that again (long story). Some how it is August already and I have to get the invites out in the next few days. Argh! I am going to have to figure this out quick!

Anyone have any other ideas? I have never done this before and am feeling a little lost...

Forever and then some

July 31st, 2007 at 02:57 pm

It has been a LOOOOOOOONG time since I felt like posting on here, but I am going to try and be a little more frequent. I have fallen off the debt bandwagon a wee bit but am in the process of getting back on. Don't get me wrong, we never quit paying down debt like we have planned, we just haven't been as diligent about not charging the debt back up. I updated the amount of debt paid off on the left if you want to take a look.

Looks like my fiscal year end bonus will be given out 8/11 but that will go to pay down the credit card debt that we charged back up in the past few months. This bonus was never figured into the debt paydown plan as it was intended to be used as part of the YNAB buffer....guess that is going to be delayed a while longer.

Our biggest problem right now seems to be getting a handle on cash flow. We have enough to meet all of our commitments, just not WHEN we need to meet them. I have dreams of developing a full month's buffer needed for YNAB, but that just isn't happening. I find myself dipping into and then replenishing our savings several times during the month. How do I get away from that? It is very nerve wracking and drives me crazy.

On the personal front, I have broken my Mt Dew free streak. I had gone almost 1.5 years without a Mt Dew, but one day I decided I could have just one. Well, several weeks later, I am having at least one per day and hiding the fact from my DH. Shameful and unhealthy addictive behavior, but at this point I don't care.

More about my other failures later....

"Vote early, vote often!" and other tales

May 18th, 2007 at 01:25 pm

I don't know how many of you saw it, but there was a blog contest out from 5/1 to 5/15 having to do with "Confessions of a...". There were several entries and everyone can now vote on their favorite 3. Go check out the blog section of the forums and vote! There were some great entries!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

As of right now, my DH should be in New Zealand. He left yesterday afternoon and got there....tomorrow. He skipped Friday entirely. They are 17 hours ahead so it is already tomorrow morning. Can't quite wrap my head around it but what can I do. That means that for the next 2.5 weeks I am entirely on my own. I am not really "scared" just a littler nervous. I know it will be life as usual, but if something goes wrong, I will be the only one to deal with it. On the other hand, once I clean something it should stay that way for more than a few minutes. Smile

Right after work this afternoon we are headed to my parents house, about 2 hours away. Mom and I will be spending most of the weekend geocaching while Bumpa gets to play with Caleb. They are going to have a blast. Caleb is already talking about riding the Gator and Unky's 4-wheeler. He has a blast running around in the woods and chasing the dogs. We will be able to take him to the camp fire at the geocaching event on Friday night so that should be a good time. He will get to try his first Smore...mmmmmm can't wait!

Money wise, this weekend should be fairly low spend. Gas will be the only BIG expense. Put $65 worth in my car this morning and I am sure I will have to do the same before the end of the day tomorrow.

The past week has been a roller coaster for the budget. Scott needed quite a bit of stuff for his trip to NZ...power converter, travel size stuff, new pants, etc. That set us back a bit. Then I also had to buy a belated Mother's Day gift for my mom. I know she will love it, and I wanted to give her more, but I cringe just thinking about the money. Maybe that is a sign that I am healing my spend-thrift ways.

Back to normal

May 10th, 2007 at 09:35 am

Unfortunately, our total cash available was down to less than $100 before getting refilled this morning. We "borrowed" $1200 from ourselves in the form of OD transfers. OUCH! But, we are almost back to normal. We will have less to live on for the rest of the month than we are used to, but it will be a good challenge.

Took Ruby the Vizsla to the vet yesterday. Everything checked out just fine, but we are now out $150. Two shots and the heartworm test were most of it, but at least we know she is as healthy as she can be. The vet always remarks on how gorgeous her skin and coat are, but never asks what we are feeding her. That's OK, since most vets would flip out if they knew we were feeding her a RAW diet anyway.

Had to leave work early yesterday because Caleb had the WORST tummy pains. He vomited once at daycare, but didn't get sick again the rest of the night. However, every 15 minutes or so his little tummy would cramp up and he would be writhing in pain. There was nothing I could do and I felt horrible. I just held him until he felt better each time, then he was off an running again. He finally collapsed on the couch at 6:30 PM and didn't wake up until 6:00 AM. Woke up feeling fine this morning. At this point I am chalking it up to a weird bug and praying it isn't a food allergy (DH has bad food allergies and we have been very nervous about DS developing them).

I seem to have tweaked my back. I either pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve on my left side that is generally a dull ache until I reach for something the wrong way, then it is a horrible shooting pain. Getting out of bed was the biggest challenge of my day. Will be taking some Advil and hope I can make it to my chiropractor appointment this afternoon.

Confessions of a Compulsive Shopper

May 3rd, 2007 at 09:57 am

Hi, my name is Sara, and I am a compulsive shopper. Worse, I am married to another compulsive shopper. As a result, we are $33,000 in debt in about 9 years. The first step in many recovery programs is first admitting you have a problem and Saving Advice has been very helpful to me for this reason. After all, confession is good for the soul.

After years of research and reading, I have reached some conclusions. First, compulsive shopping isn't something that is obvious at first and there are varying degrees. Like almost everything, we fall into different categories:

The "I deserve it" shopper: this shopper feels entitled to anything and everything. May stem from childhood or simply be narcissistic.

The "I NEED it" shopper: this shopper feels they have been denied and can't go on without the latest gadget or life will be greatly improved, just by buying something.

The "But it's on sale" shopper: this shopper has good intentions, but you can't spend money to save money. Doesn't work that way. Buying something you may not use just because it is on sale it counter-productive

The "I work hard and earn plenty of money" shopper: this shopper is in denial and probably doesn't know what their bank balance is. After all, that is what overdraft protection is for, right?

The "I have to have this because everyone else does" shopper: the classic keeping-up-with-the-Joneses syndrome. Trends may come and go, but you will still have the debt.

The "If I buy this, I will feel better about myself" shopper: possibly the most sad, this shopper is trying to fill an emptiness with "stuff". In the end, it doesn't work, and you are left with the credit card debt.

Each of these shoppers has the same thing in common: an internal dialog telling them it is OK to spend money they don't have. That little voice in the back of your head isn't the same voice that controls your bank account and that is a very dangerous thing.

Now, I have never made an impulse purchase that was "big", thus I was able to deny that I was part of the problem. (DH managed to impulse buy a CAR, but we won't go into that) If there is a big purchase to make, I research it to death and know all my options before even shopping for the item. No, the "little" impulses are my downfall. I'm thirsty...go buy a water. I had a bad day....stop at the scrapbook store. I need some time alone....wander around Target putting stuff in the cart. Pretty soon, I have spent hundreds of dollars, a little at a time. In the end, the purchases made it hard to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month, so I just pay the minimum and promise to do better next month. But I never did, and look where it got me.

I have learned to combat these impulses in a couple of ways:

** Always shop with a list and never deviate.
** Know EXACTLY how much money you can spend.
** Carry a calculator, if you need to, to add the things up that are in your cart.
** Give yourself an allowance, separate from your household budget, for those "impulse" purchases you "need". You can't be cured in a day, but you can give yourself limits.

Remember, you are the only one in control of your life and your future. Choose to be responsible with your money and set goals for yourself. If you give yourself boundaries, stick with them. And, finally, find a supportive outlet so that you don't have to do it alone.

(BTW, for those of you wondering...I fall into all of the shopper categories that I described above, it just depends on the day) Smile

Long time gone

May 1st, 2007 at 03:12 pm

Man, it has been forever since I had a chance to post. Last week was just INSANELY busy at work. I had very little time to even think straight, much less fill you in on anything. Then, the weekend was gorgeous so we spent most of it cleaning, working outside and spending time as a family.

Today I am suffering from the weekend spending hangover. Spent WAY too much money and I feel like I lost all my control. The worst part....I am the one who spent all the money. There were trips to Target, grocery store and the craft store that together totaled over $200. My available flexible cash for 2 weeks was $50. See the problem? I am going to have to take another loan from the savings account to cover the expenses. Makes me want to cry. I am going to look at my purchases tonight and make the decision on whether any of it can be returned. The groceries were something that we needed, but most of the craft store purchases were wants, not needs. All of the stuff from Target was household stuff that we needed, but we could have probably gone without for a while.

Well, last weekend my OAMC session went fabulously. We put together 17 meals EACH so that should take us most of the way through the month without having to grocery shop, besides bread, milk and eggs. We spent about 6.5 hours between the shopping and the assembly, which is pretty good for that many meals, I think. Last time I did it alone it took me almost twice that.

We have been eating a lot of PB&J for lunches and have managed to only eat out a handful of times in April. I am going to try to do a better analysis tonight when I import all the final April numbers into YNAB.

I scheduled a big transfer from our credit union to ING this morning. This will affectively move our entire freedom/EF account to the higher interest bearing ING account. If it is just going to sit there until we need it, might as well be earing a better interest rate that 0.75%. I will still be keeping track of it via the old spreadsheet method, but now it is just in a different place. Here is the best news though....I have paid back all of the money that we had borrowed from the freedom account in the form of overdraft protection. We were over $800 short, and I have managed to pay it back in about 3 months. However, we are still $1500 short in the long term savings account, but now I will shift my attention to paying that account back.

That is the long and the short of it. We are still hanging in there, but just barely. The debt is going down, but our daily expenses are not. Have to get them under control or we are doomed to repeat how we got here.

Taxes are in the mail!

April 16th, 2007 at 03:35 pm

Forgot to mention that I put our federal tax payment ($1499) in the mail on Saturday. We got $1155 back from the state, so we only had to kick in an extra $344. Tried to carve it our of the monthly budget but ended up having to take it out of the EF instead. Oh well, at least it didn't have to go onto the credit card.

We are going to have to sit down with my parents (when they get back from vacation) to do some advance tax planning for next year. Scott got a BIG raise that is going to hurt our tax position. We increased his withholding which really took a chunk out of our monthly available income but I don't know what we are going to do if we need to pay a bunch in next year. Don't want to pay estimates if I can avoid them.

Weekend update & wage increase

April 16th, 2007 at 11:02 am

Another weekend has come and gone and I don't have a lot to show for it. My parents were in town for a few days, which was very nice, but not exactly relaxing. Since they were keeping the boy occupied, I was able to get a little bit of stuff taken care of around the house, though. Paperwork/filing had been taking over my dining room and I was finally able to get things put away/sorted. I am down to one small pile of stuff, but that is mostly catalogs so I should be able to go through it quickly. A little bit of laundry and keeping up with the dishes and that was about all I accomplished.

The weather finally started turn a little warmer this weekend so I did get my front planting bed cleaned up a bit. Still have a few bushes to prune, but it can wait a few days.

I did miserable with the menu planning this weekend. We ended up eating out most meals, but my parents insisted on paying as payment for them staying at our house. I SHOULD have put something in the crock pot for dinner last night, but I didn't get to it. Then all of a sudden it was 7:00 and I had nothing for dinner. We did have a small gift card to a restaurant in the area ($10) so we decided to use that. Still spent money eating out, but we tried to minimize the damage.

The good news that I have is that our wage increases came through for my company. I got a 3.7% raise which is above the company average (yeah!) of 3%. It works out to about $100 extra per month so I am going to put the "extra" money toward my buffer/debt payment rather than increasing spending like I have in the past. We will see how things work out. The wage increase is affective as of our next paycheck on the 27th so I will know better how much more money I am working with in my budget then.

Still haven't sold anything from half.com. Will probably keep them posted, but they are going to be in my way very soon. The idea of the rummage sale is still tickling the back of my brain but I am going to hold off making a decision for a few weeks. May ask my neighbor if she is interested in having one together. Of course, I may just wind up taking everything to Goodwill out of frustration before then. Will have to wait and see.

Depressed

April 11th, 2007 at 09:01 am

I made a big mistake. I looked at the amount we are paying off each month as a percentage, just because I was curious. Currently we are paying 2.4% off each month. Ugh. At least all of our interest rates are low and we are paying the bills on time.

Today I am feeling really low. I am fat, in debt up to my eyeballs, and it is snowing in April. Add to that the fact that my house is a disaster and my back is killing me and you have an idea of my mood. My DH is gone turkey hunting for the weekend so we have canceled his birthday party. My parents are coming into town tonight for a few days, so as long as they watch the munchkin I have a chance of getting some cleaning done. My filing is so far behind that I have papers overflowing our bedroom, dining room AND kitchen. Where is this paperless society we were supposed to have by now?

Pulled a bunch of books together last night that I want to put on Half.com, but I was exhausted once I got DS into bed. I have about 30 books of various authors and conditions that I am going to try to sell. If they don't sell, I think I am going to try to put them up on craigslist. Would have just donated them in the past and not bothered with the donation form, but am trying to make a any extra income that I can come up with.

Splurges, Food & Allergies

April 10th, 2007 at 10:09 am

Well, even though I couldn't find the coupon for dinner last night, we still went out to eat for DH's birthday. Since he got to drink free beer and I only got soda, the final bill with tip came to $25. Not too bad, but should be less. It was strange how eating at the restaurant felt like a treat, whereas not too long ago it was an everyday thing.

Tonight DH is going to my parents to go turkey hunting for the next few days. Hopefully he will decide to stay at the house to eat most meals and avoid eating out, but I am not holding my breath. I know the peanut and I will be eating at home for sure. This month so far we have spent about $150 total for food (dining out and groceries) but it should be a lot less as we aren't even half way through the month yet!

Menu planning seems to be helping with the total overall cost of food, but not as much as I expected it to. I am planning on doing a OAMC (Once a month cooking) session with a friend later this month, so hopefully that will help with next months food budget. I am vowing not to do any grocery shopping (except milk and bread) until the OAMC trip. We should have enough in the freezer and pantry to last us until then if we get a little creative.

Did I mention that my DH has a terrible allergy to corn? Doesn't sound like a big deal until I mention "high fructose corn syrup". That one ingredient seems to be in EVERYTHING. As a result, we have to buy mostly high end things like cereal and peanut butter that are made with actual sugar instead of corn sweetener. That definitely doesn't help the food budget at all. We have to be very careful label watchers because they keep changing recipes of products. I end up making all my own marinades, sauces, side dishes, etc. which can be cheaper except for the fact that I tend to have more "staple" ingredients to buy that way. When I have to restock the pantry it hurts!

ETA: We recently found out that DH is also allergic to Nutrasweet and Splenda too. So he is avoiding all sugar free products as well. What fun.

Birthdays and Weekend Spending

April 9th, 2007 at 02:11 pm

Today is DH's birthday. He turns 32 and we were originally planning a small, informal party for next weekend but he has decided he doesn't want one now. At least that will help with the cash flow issues. He had lunch with his parents this afternoon as they were passing through town and his gift from them was $50. So now he has a little spending money of his own that he can use for his turkey hunting trip this week so that will help the budget as well.

The weekend went pretty well, spending wise. Dinner on Friday night was McD's drive thru on the way to my parents but then they provided the food for the rest of the weekend. We did pick up about $15 worth of beer, but that was it. Of course, there was about $50 of gas that we wouldn't have spent otherwise, but I did plan for it.

The only boo-boo came in the form of easter bunny shopping for DS. Since he is only 2.5 I have never done the basket thing before. So I went to Target and picked up a bunch of stuff for the basket and the egg hunt. Ended up spending about $40 total. OUCH! I will definitely have to do better next year. And he is not getting anything else for quite a while. May have to see what toys that he doesn't play with that I can sell to make up for it. Shouldn't be a budget killer but could definitely hurt it quite a bit.

Want to hear something funny? A few weeks ago we got one of those valupak kind of coupon flyers in the mail so I went through and clipped the coupons that I thought we could use. One of them was for a place here in town called the Nitty Gritty which bills itself as "the birthday place". Basically you get to drink all you want on your birthday and you get a souvenir mug to go along with it. The coupon was for a buy one, get one hamburger deal, so since it is DH's birthday and we had this coupon I thought it would be a good idea to splurge a little. Problem is that I CAN'T FIND THE COUPON! Dang! Of course I didn't file them away like I should have and now they seem to have disappeared. Don't know if we will still go or not. I don't have anything else planned for dinner and DH was looking forward to it. I feel really bad....will have to create better system for handling coupons in the future.

Sad Situation

April 9th, 2007 at 07:32 am

While at my parent's house this weekend, we found out that our neighbor's 20 YO son, Neal, really screwed his life up but good on Saturday morning. Apparently, he was in a minor accident but decided to flee the scene at a high rate of speed. Less than 5 minutes later he ran a stop sign and got into another accident, but this time he killed the driver of the other car. The man he killed was a pillar of his community and is being mourned by thousands of kids that he coached, mentored and taught.

Neal was ejected from his vehicle and taken to a local hospital. While at the hospital they discovered that he was not only drunk, but also high on cocaine. There is little doubt that he is going to spend the next 6-20 years in prison. I feel so bad for everyone involved in this horrible situation. It just makes me sick.