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No Spend Week Check-In: Days 3 & 4

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Wednesday was Day #3 of our No Spend Week Challenge.

Day #3 (Wednesday) Notes:

I used the last of the bread for toast at breakfast. BUT, a small miracle occurred when I recalled that the local grocer had recently sent out coupons. There were two coupons, in particular, that were totally FREE items – no purchase necessary! One for bread and one for a Dole Salad Kit! Score!

I was going to try to make it all the way until Friday without purchasing anything at all (I still had all $13 in my wallet), but then I was thwarted when, about 1pm, I got a phone call from the kids’ school. Both kiddos had fevers and were being sent home. On my way to pick them up, I swung by the grocery store. I used my free coupons to get bread and a salad kit. In addition, I picked up a couple fresh fruits that were on sale, but I also had to spend some of the money on children’s Tylenol and I got some juice, since I thought the vitamin C wold be good for the kids. I had to be extra cautious (and had to make decisions: putting back a bag of apples in favor of a less expensive fruit option), but I ended up spending $13.08!! I was pretty pumped to have spent exactly what I had left for the week (the 8 pennies came from my wallet).

I don’t know what sickness is ailing the kids, but there’s no puke (*fingers crossed*) and they both slept well all night (thank Jesus!), so I’m hoping I won’t need any additional illness-related items. They’re staying home today (Thursday, Day #4 of the No Spend Week). Fingers crossed they’ll be well enough to go back on Friday and, also, that I manage to get some work done from home today.

Wednesday’s Meals:

Breakfast:  Smoothie (now running low on frozen berries), half a piece of toast (uneaten from one of my kids’ breakfasts)

Lunch:  Chicken and cheese bagel sandwich (chicken was the last of the leftovers, repurposed in a different way; cheese from fridge, half a bagel from a bag I’d had in the freezer); tortilla chips on side.

Dinner:  Chicken tenders with frozen mixed veggies (from freezer) and homemade rolls on side.

 

Day #4 (Thursday) Notes:

Today (Thursday), will be different than originally planned given that now all 3 of us girls are going to be home. It makes work tough, but will likely make our food situation easier because I can utilize the oven/microwave to have food for lunch that would be impractical to make for the kids’ lunches.

Thursday Meals:

Breakfast: Bagel and cream cheese

Lunch (planned): Leftovers from dinner Wednesday night.

Dinner (planned): Orange chicken (Costco package in freezer) with jasmine rice (from bag in pantry) and fresh broccoli (just purchased).

 

Jury is still out on whether additional expenses are necessary for illness-related medication. We literally have no money at this point, which really sucks. We have credit available, but the whole goal of this month was to STOP spending on credit. My tentative plan is a “wait and see” approach with the kids. It’s still early here in Tucson and so far, the kids seem okay. If by about 9-ish they’re not doing well I’ll go ahead and schedule a doctor’s appointment and take them to be seen. I get paid tomorrow (Friday), so if any purchases need to be made I’m planning to pay with my debit card, but to have it run like “credit.”  That way the charge is “pending” for a couple days and by the time it officially goes through I’ll have money in the bank. I know this is a totally sad and ridiculous way to go about life – having to play games to delay payment until pay day. I know. We’ve got a lot of work to do still. But at least we’re making every effort to right the ship we’re on and to stop taking on additional debt!

Wish me luck with both the money situation and the kids’ illness situation. OF COURSE, hubby is scheduled to be out of town the next 4 days (Thurs – Sun) so I’m single-parenting it over here with the sick kids. Normally it’d be no big deal, but I have a HUGE work deadline next week (I have to submit a dossier for my promotion & tenure committee, so it’s kind of a big deal – directly affecting my ability to promote). I’m pretty stressed about potentially NOT being able to work the next 4 days while the kids are sick and hubs is gone. Times like these, I sure wish we had family around that I could call for help/backup!

How are your No Spend Weeks going? Any unexpected expenses come up? How have you handled the situation?


Day #2: No Spend Week Diary

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Today is Day #2 of our No Spend Week challenge. So far, so good. We’re out of milk now, but have managed to not go by the grocery store yet. I’m trying to hold off until at least Wednesday to spend our $13 on milk and fresh produce. I do have some almond milk (that’s what I use for my coffee), and the kids will use it with cereal when in a pinch, though it’s not their favorite. We’re soldiering on for now. 🙂

Day #2  Notes:

I made PB&J sandwiches for the girls’ lunches; only 2 slices of bread left after today’s sandwiches.

Fresh fruit and vegetable supply count:   nectarines, 4 strawberries, couple chopped pieces of celery (for dipping in PB as snack tomorrow), half spinach bunch, couple of carrots. Supplies are definitely dwindling!

My meals:

Breakfast:  Coffee (meant to make another smoothie since we still have frozen fruit, but ran out of time getting to work!

Lunch:  Chicken & green beans (Sunday leftovers) with white rice. Getting pretty old by now, the 3rd day in-a-row. Still have more chicken to eat up (that was a big chicken!), but the green beans are now gone.

Dinner (cooking now):  Pork roast (from freezer) with carrots cooked in crockpot (win!); canned corn on the side from pantry. I’m mad at myself for forgetting to pull dough out of the freezer before leaving for work. I’d intended to have rolls on the side but by the time I get home, dinner will be ready (thank you, crockpot!) and we won’t have time to let the dough rise. I’ll have to remember to do that for later this week, because I’d been looking forward to some yummy, doughy goodness! (I love breads and cheeses, what can I say?) 😉

 

I still have plenty of ideas for dinners we can make from foods we’ve got on-hand. Our freezer still includes a lot of meat (different cuts of beef, boneless chicken breasts) and bagged stuff that’s easy to throw in the oven (from Costco we have packages of Orange Chicken, Fish Sticks, and Coconut Butterflied Shrimp). Lots of possibilities for the rest of the week! Other than being bored with my chicken-and-rice leftovers, we’re doing good! I’m confident we’ll make it through the week no problem!

 

Whats on the menu at your house tonight? If you’re participating in the No Spend Week challenge, what types of meals have you planned out from food in your pantry and fridge/freezer?


No Spend Week Diary – Day 1

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Today marks Day #1 of our No Spend Week challenge (see here for why we’re doing an unplanned No Spend Week). I wanted to give a bit of baseline for where we’re at and what we have planned in terms of meals. I started by taking a good inventory of our fridge/freezer and pantry. We have plenty of meat, lots of boxed/jarred/canned goods, and a little bit of fresh produce, milk, etc. I came up with a whole list of possible meal ideas based around foods that we already have! I’m more excited about some than others, but I’m confident we’ll have plenty of food to get us through the week, especially if I get a little creative in the kitchen. 🙂

It’s still early in the day here in Tucson (we’re currently on Pacific time zone), but I brought my lunch with me to work today so I know breakfast and lunch and I’ve already got dinner planned as well.

Day #1 Notes:

I used the last of milk for girls’ with breakfast. <yikes! That will have to be replaced likely tomorrow or Wednesday, coming out of my $13 cash that I’ve still got in my wallet!

Husband ate the last of our homemade Instant Pot yogurt and an apple as his breakfast. No more yogurt is going to be a bummer, and it’s not likely to be something we replace mid-week. I’m going to save the $13 for milk and fresh fruits & veggies, as needed.

Fresh fruit and vegetable supply count:  2 nectarines, 10-12 strawberries, half a celery stock, half spinach bunch, plenty of carrots

 

My meals:

Protein smoothie with frozen fruit, protein powder, & spinach

Chicken & green beans (Sunday leftovers) with white rice <I made a big batch of white rice so I can use it throughout the week. Saves time and money!

Chicken (Sunday leftovers) with cooked pasta and jarred pasta sauce from pantry. < this is one of my favorite ways to “make over” a previous meal! I’ll take leftover cooked protein (usually either chicken or ground beef) and add some type of pasta sauce (e.g., Alfredo or creamy sun-dried tomato with chicken; usually a marinara/tomato-based sauce with beef). I boil up some noodles since we always have plenty of boxes of noodles on hand. BAM! A leftover/made-over meal in 15 minutes or less! Not too shabby for a manic Monday night! 😉

 

For those of you joining along, tell me whats on the menu at your house today! What are some meals you’ve got planned for the week? I did a big rotisserie chicken over the weekend, so we’ll likely be having it a couple of different ways in the coming days as we try to eat it up and conserve our money!!!


No Spend Week

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Hi friends! I hope everyone’s weekends are going well!

Imagine my excitement (hint: sarcasm) when I logged into my email and got this lovely little notification.

(it reads: Account Alert: Balance Below $25)

Low balance!?

What the heck???

Apparently, I had a couple auto-payments go through that I’d forgotten about and/or at different amounts than I’d expected (e.g., Navient has raised my monthly payments < more fun phone calls have ensued; I’ll write about it soon).

I get paid on Friday – thank goodness! This is a 3-paycheck month, Wahoo!!!! – but I’m on operation SPEND ZERO DOLLARS until then.

I’ve decided to officially make this a No Spend Week, even though it wasn’t planned or expected. And even though we don’t have a ton of food on hand already. I do have some stuff from my mid-week produce trip last week. And we still have a fair amount of meat in our freezer. But I’m going to have to get creative to make it all work. It’s not going to be easy – not like I’d just freshly grocery shopped and have a fridge and pantry overflowing with food or anything.

My one caveat is that I have $13 in my wallet. I’m planning to spend it this week on milk and produce at some point, but I’m going to try to see how long we can last without it.

It’s funny because Jordan from Fun, Cheap, or Free (check her blog out here) has been doing a whole series of blog posts about what she’s called “Shelftember.” The idea is that for the month of September, she’s challenged readers to shop their own pantries instead of going to the grocery store. Her challenge is for people to only spend $25/week on groceries (with the expectation that the bulk of food will come from one’s own home – freezer, pantry, garden, etc.). I haven’t participated in the event thus far, but it’s kind of ironic that I’ve been seeing her videos and posts all month and now here we are doing an impromptu No Spend Week in which I’ll be forced into “shelf-cooking” (cooking foods straight from one’s pantry shelves).

Wish me luck! I’m going to try to check in daily (fingers crossed < don’t hold me to it if I miss a day) to give a little re-cap of what we’ve eaten and how we’ve gotten by! With any luck, we’ll make it to Friday (pay day) making do with the food we’ve got. I may have to get creative, but I think it can be done!

 

Wish me luck! Or better yet, join me! Want to do a little No Spend Week challenge??? Tons of fun!!! 😉


One Last No-Spend Update

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Today marks the last day of June and I’ve got some positive results to report! I’ve managed to do really well (surprisingly well) with our no-spend week and a half! I say “surprisingly well” because it actually wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be! I attribute this to having a freezer full of food to eat (including some already prepared meals in addition to many frozen meats). Using “rollover meals” (where you cook the meat once, then repurpose leftovers into different meals) helped keep us from being bored with leftovers, too.

We did have to run to the grocery store for some milk (which I, personally, could have gone without but the toddlers’ need as part of their daily diet), but aside from that, no money was spent at the grocery store.

The much more difficult task, for me, was in finding things to do with the girls to keep us occupied. When we stay home for more than a day or two the girls start getting restless and acting out. But I think we did a good job of finding fun free things to do in that regard, too! In addition to the things I mentioned in my last no spend post, we also went to the book store (our used book store sent us a free $10 coupon for the girls’ birthday, so we used our credit and didn’t pay anything out-of-pocket), and also met a friend at a free splash pad. I almost spent money on that because there is a nicer, newer splash pad close to our house. It’s free for children under 3, but it costs $7 for adults. But then I remembered about the free splash pad and decided it was worth the drive. It’s about 30 minutes from my house (as opposed to 15), so I suppose there’s a gasoline and time-investment, but I had a full tank and time available so I decided it was worth the trek to save myself the entry fee. I’d still like to check out the new one by my house (we’ve never been, but I’ve heard great things), but that can wait for a new month.

Why did I institute a no-spend week??? Well….because I was over budget across several categories. Sigh.

I was going to try to get the budget update post up today, but time has gotten away from me so it won’t be up until Friday.

Hope to see you then!


No Spend Week

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I’ve got a couple big deadlines right now with work that have been eating up my time, so this will have to be a quick update.

Remember how on the toddler birthday post I mentioned that we went over our grocery budget and I had instituted a no-spend week for the last week (really about week and a half) of the month? I wanted to give an update on how its been going.

So far, it hasn’t been too bad. We had a lot of leftover food from the birthday party so I’ve been eating a hot dog every day for lunch (luckily, there are about a million different ways to dress up a hot dog, so it actually hasn’t been too boring). We also have a couple chicken sausages still left that I’m planning to chop up and put into a pasta dish for dinner tonight (they need to get eaten!)

I also had a big pork butt roast in the freezer that I’ve been making into different meals. The first night we had it as a roast (with carrots and potatoes I already had on hand as sides). Then I shredded all the remaining pork and split it into two halves. Half of the remains are destined for pulled BBQ pork sandwiches (we have some hamburger buns in the freezer we can use), and the other half were made into carnitas tacos (I make homemade tortillas).

Perhaps the hardest part has been trying to figure out what to do with the girls all day. It’s so hot that its not safe to be outside playing for more than 5 minutes and I often used “grocery shopping” as a crutch for a thing we could do to fill our time. I don’t want to spend a bunch of money for the children’s museum or other paid events. Instead, we’ve gone to the play area at the mall, story time at the library, and to play at the children’s area at my new gym. We’ve also gone to the pool once (we have a community pool that’s free for us), and had one play date with friends. You may be wondering what’s with all the activities for the toddlers…..I’ve had them for about 2 weeks solid now (no daycare). That’s a whole other story for a whole other post so I won’t got into that here. Hopefully it’s not like this for long, but that’s the current state of affairs.

I’ve got to run but I’d wanted to give this little update.

 

Is anyone else on a no-spend week (or month)? Any tips on how you get by?