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Hope’s Weekly Budget – Week of October 1

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This is my budget for next week. While most are common, monthly line items, there are some unique items this week. See an explanation below.

Rent 29-Sep-17 -650
Electricity 1-Oct-17 -125
Groceries 1-Oct-17 -400
Summer Camp 1-Oct-17 -500
Auto-Gas 4-Oct-17 -35
Water/Sewer 4-Oct-17 -75
Amazon 5-Oct-17 -400
W2 Income 6-Oct-17 1732
Allowance 6-Oct-17 -80
Debt Pymt 6-Oct-17 -100
Savings 6-Oct-17 -150
Universal 7-Oct-17 -56
Gymnastics 7-Oct-17 -240
Clothing Allow 7-Oct-17 -900

Groceries – This is my monthly grocery budget, not just the week. If you have been following me long, you know it is typically $600 per month. I am 1) trying to cut back some and 2) have re-allocated some of this money to more “free” spending to allow for when we are out of town at gymnastics and grab a quick bite.
Summer Camp – Summer camp for next year for both Princess and Gymnast. I am paying monthly now to 1) lock in last year’s rates and 2) not have it come up on me at the end of the year. This is a monthly payment until the total is paid off. It will cover 6 weeks of camp.
Amazon – This is my Amazon account and is a guesstimate of the balance based on the previous month’s purchases. I use Amazon home delivery for most of our toiletry needs and a variety of other expenses. Most months this is around $100, I’ll explain why it’s more in another post.
Universal – I am taking the kids to Universal over Thanksgiving. I have been saving this amount every month towards our November trip (just to cover the cost of the park tickets.)
Gymnastics – This is the monthly charge for Gymnast training, 4 days per week.
Clothing Allowance – This is a twice yearly budget item where I provide the kids with a specific amount of money for them to purchase clothes for the coming season. The monies are not necessarily split equally, I divide it based on needs and wants. The kids have spent the month of September creating lists of needs and wants for the coming cooler season. This is our version of the “wait 30 days” before spending.

I think doing this every Friday will help keep me more accountable, and give you all a better way of guiding me in my day to day spending habits.

What do you think so far?


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?


Totaled Car but So Grateful

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As I mentioned in yesterday’s post regarding my New Debt and New Car, we have gone just at 8 weeks with one car. It has been hard, but we made it through and no one missed any commitments or activities or work!

Sea Cadet got up most mornings and took me to work, and then returned to pick me up. We were able to borrow my Grandmother’s car most evenings when Gymnast had practice, and I was able to find a steady ride Princess to youth group (when Sea Cadet is in class and I am an hour away with Gymnast.) You can see, it’s been a bit of a juggling act.

Needless to say, we were all really grateful when we unloaded our new to us car from my Uncle’s trailer Saturday morning on our way to drop Gymnast at practice. But within minutes of his drop off, that all changed…

1996 Honda Accord


Sea Cadet ran head on into a car turning left. It was his fault. The car is no longer driveable. Thankfully, both drivers (no passengers) walked away with very minor injuries, nothing broken. It could have been ALOT worse. Princess and I were right behind him when it occurred. I am so glad he didn’t have to go through what can be a very scary process alone.

His car is totaled, but we did not carry comprehensive insurance on it, so there is no replacement help. Thankfully it was paid off. (Our liability insurance will take care of the other driver’s damage and medical, thank goodness for good insurance. Thanks, USAA!)

Once again, we are back down to one car. But I am so grateful that this wreck was not worse! This will definitely have financially implications, but haven’t had time to wrap my head around them all yet. Right now, just figuring out how to get him to all his obligations as I am not quite ready to turn over my new car to him.

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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?


New Debt and a New to Us Car

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I am going to sit down this weekend and put together a post on all my existing debt, I realize it is long overdue.  Unfortunately, I did have to accrue some new debt this past weekend.  I had to buy a car.

Back Story

About two years back, I got a great deal on a used car. We put miles on that car with all the back and forth between Virginia and Georgia over the past year, almost daily trips to the gym and now about 100 miles a day between my work commute and an hour drive one way to the gym…our used car served us well.  But about 7 weeks it died.  We have been making due with one car (my son’s 1996 Honda Accord) and borrowing a car (my Grandmother’s) one time a week when three of us had to be in different places.

The Search

I’ve spent the last 7 weeks trying to get by, and trying to determine the best plan moving forward and trying to save more money thinking I might could by a used car with cash. I have learned that I HATE car shopping and I hate the game of car shopping.

The Car

I settled on a 2011 Chevy Impala with 63K miles on it for $10K out the door (including everything, no other out of pocket costs.)  My uncle found it for me, knows the previous owner and made sure it was in good shape. It has new tires, new brakes and so on. Rather than cleaning out the emergency savings I have, I financed the entire $10K at 7% interest for 3 years.  My goal is to pay it off in 2.  I have scheduled payments of $400 a month automatically to start and will go up from there. (The required monthly payment is just at $308.) My uncle delivered it to me from Virginia and I am paying him back the $178 he paid for the tow trailer rental.

Conclusion

This is not the car of my dreams. It’s not one I would have even considered. But the price is right, it came with full service records, it’s a good size for our family while being reasonable on gas for all my driving and I am assured I can get 200K miles out of it if taken care of.  I spent a lot of time figuring out the best plan.

2011 Chevy Impala

Literally within the hour of driving away with this car this past Saturday, another tragedy struck our little family. More on that tomorrow.


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!!! 😉


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