Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Results and February's Goal

So not sure if I listed our January's goal or not I think I may have been distracted ;) So here we go....

January's Goal: Find a extra $200 to put in our savings account. (Found money being money either from selling items or squeezed from other categories).

Results: $302 extra!

Also added up all the coupons we used this month:
Coupons used: $47!

{Happy dance!}

February's Goal: Cut our grocery budget from $500 to $250 for the month of February.

I figure since the first week of February's groceries were covered by January's pay thanks to the way our paychecks fell leaving only 3 weeks to cover we should be able to do it. Gonna be tight but that is the point of a challenge ;)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Attempting to satisfy pregnancy cravings without breaking the bank.

One thing I have learned through 8 pregnancies is that I LOVE FAST FOOD when knocked up! On a normal basis I can take or leave fast food no problem. Actually I usually like to cook and eat at home most of the time, but when pregnant that goes out the window. I want fried foods, cheese, and tons of butter! So in a attempt to satisfy my cravings and still leave some money in the grocery budget for the other people in the household I decided to try and make my own fast food.

First off we have fried Mozzarella balls. I want fried cheese BAD! So I attempted to make them myself. It really was pretty simple. Chunk up some mozzarella, dip it in flour, coat with egg, then into the bread crumbs, back to the egg, re-coat in more bread crumbs and then freeze for at least 20 min. Once frozen deep fry in vegetable oil till they turn golden brown. In a attempt to be more frugal I used one egg and equal parts water, homemade bread crumbs, and drained on a kitchen towel instead of a paper towel. Those little golden gems turned out wonderfully, and no I didn't share! Next up is my craving for Pizza Hut's Cheese Sticks. I have tried every recipe out there to try and recreate these Cheese Sticks and nothing came close. I finally stumbled on the perfect cheese sticks the other day. I make up several batches of this homemade bread each week. I got the idea of cutting the bread in half lengthwise, melting some butter, mixing in some garlic salt and brushing over the bread (OK maybe dumping the butter on is a more accurate term!). Then top with some shredded mozzarella and bake till the cheese is golden. I served it with some spaghetti sauce and I was in heaven. Seriously I could eat this every single night for dinner no problem!

Going to War.

Okay not really but that is how I feel when I am getting my grocery stuff together. It has come to be quite the pile of stuff! I thought I would break down my process for anyone who is interested.

First I go through our pantry and freezer to see what we have on hand. Next I make a list of meals that I can make with those ingredients or by only adding one or two items. Then I go through my recipe binder or cookbooks to decide on the rest of the meals. My rule of thumb on this front is I only pick a recipe if I am already buying one of the items or only have to get 2-3 new items for the recipe. Take this week for example I found a recipe I wanted to try and the only thing I was missing was cabbage so I put cabbage on my list, then I found another recipe that used cabbage and I only needed 2 more items to make the second recipe so I added that one as well.

Next step for me is to go through my WIC folder and pull out the checks I need to use this week, marking off any items on my grocery list that I am getting through WIC. Making a second list on the right hand side of the page for the WIC items.

Third step is to go through my coupon binder and pull out any coupons for items listed on the left hand side of my list. I have no brand loyalty I will buy any brand if it is cheaper. I then make a list on the bottom half of the right hand side of all my coupons that I will be looking to use that day, making sure to list amounts and sizes.

Here is a picture of my grocery prep procedure:

And here we have a picture of this weeks grocery list:I bring my coupon binder, my WIC folder, and my list with me every time I go to the store. I then hit up the coupon shelf at the beginning of the store and grab 5-6 of the free coupon inserts. By the time I get to my cart and get situated I feel like a Olympic event is about to start, lol. I also bring my calculator with me and keep a running total of my grocery bill as I go through the store. I know I probably look like a crazy lady but I would rather have a running total and be prepared when I get to the checkout than get a nasty shock when they start ringing items up. I would rather decide while going down the isle if I can afford that second box of pasta than have to put it back while at the register because I don't have enough money to buy it. And there you have my war strategy!

Meal Plan/Grocery Breakdown Jan 30th-Feb 5th

Even though the majority of this weeks groceries are going to be for February since we have not received February's pay yet we will be counting this in the January Budget. This week our budget is running a little tight since it makes 5 weeks worth of groceries so we have tightened our belt and cut out all junk food and non necessary items. I wish this type of grocery shopping was sustainable but my husband is going to want his sodas back :)

I also had a first at the grocery store today, I actually got something for FREE! I know many people have said over and over again how combining coupons with sales can get you items for free but I have never been that lucky. The lowest I had ever got down to was $0.10 for a item, which I am not complaining about! Today I needed Soy Sauce so I went to the store with my $1 off coupon only to find they were having a sale. The 10oz soy sauces were marked at $0.89 each. I double checked my coupon to make sure it didn't have a minimum amount of ounces and since it didn't I snapped that sucker up. I was standing there smiling to myself when I realized I had another coupon in my binder (which I always take with me now cause you never know when you are going to find a deal!). So I got 20oz of Soy Sauce and actually MADE $0.22! My husband things I am crazy for being so excited but I mean come on I was going to buy it anyways and they paid me to take it out of the store :D

Meal Plan:
Breakfast (served with milk):
*Egg Biscuits

Lunch (served with Fruit and milk):
*Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches
*Tuna Sandwiches
*Grilled Ham/Turkey Sandwiches

*Tilapia with homemade Tarter Sauce and Salad
*Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Salad
*Chicken Fajitas with Fried rice
*Pizza Rolls
*Jazzy Ramen
*Mexican Bow tie pasta
*Chicken tortilla soup

Grocery Breakdown:





Fruit and Veg:


Total with Surcharge: $62.67
Total Coupons Used: $6.40
Total out of pocket:$56.27

Saturday, January 22, 2011


This was my first month getting back into the world of couponing and I have to say I am having more and more success as the month goes on. I have long heard that you have to coupon for months before you start to see the massive success so often shared by others and I am finding that to be true. You need time to build up your coupon stockpile but once you have a fair amount it gets a lot easier to save money. By watching for sales and stocking up using your coupons you can save a fortune.

The first step in couponing is to save up and organize your coupons. In the past I was forever getting irritated because I would bring only the coupons I was planning on using and would then get to the store to find a great deal that I had a coupon for but the coupons were at home! *growl* My solution was to carry all my coupons with me to the store, but I needed a way to organize them and keep them all together. And here it is....a coupon holder with a pretty laminated fabric on the outside. It fits perfectly in my purse and keeps everything together. The front pouch is great for storing my calculator, ID, and money. So I don't even need my purse if I don't want it :)

Total Coupons used in January: $40

Bargin Shopping and the Twins!

Everyone knows that twins are expensive, after all you need 2 of everything at the same time. Our newest growth spurt has led to the need of 2 new convertible car seats, preferably for as little cash as possible. While browsing this weeks Target flyer I found they had their Costco Convertible car seats marked down to $37 each! I was sold right there! But wait it didn't stop there on the same page there were toddler cups buy two get one free, I was SO there!

Being the ever frugal mama I first made a stop at the NEX to get a price comparison after all even if the car seats were marked for the same price they would have been cheaper at the NEX since we don't pay sales tax at base stores. I browsed through the baby isle (after first checking the prices over in the Health and Beauty isle, after all I am always after a deal) and about had a heart attack at the prices of their convertible car seats! $189 for ONE! So off to Target I went. Sure enough there were the car seats for $37 I threw 2 in my cart and was off to find the toddler cups! Final breakdown I saved $39.97 off of the normal prices at Target and $294 by not buying the cheapest car seat at the NEX :)

Meal Plan and Grocery Breakdown Jan 22nd

Last weeks Meal plan was sort of hit or miss thanks to having company. There were several nights when my husband and his company were not here to eat so many things lasted longer as leftovers than normal so you will be seeing some repeats from last week as we get things used.

Breakfast ( Served with fruit and milk):
*French Toast Sticks
*Cinnamon Rolls
*Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits

Lunch (all served with fruit and milk):
*Tuna Sandwiches
*Turkey Sandwiches
*Ham Sandwiches
*Frozen Pizza

*Honey Rosemary Chicken with broccoli
*Chicken and Egg Drop Soup
*Jalapeno Burgers and Fries (plain burgers for the little ones)
*Fried Shrimp, Spinach salad, and baked potatoes
*Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies
*Nacho chips

Grocery Receipt Breakdown




Milk (Twins Soy Milk):


Junk food:

Total before Coupons with surcharge: $141.53
Total coupons: $19.74
Total out of pocket: $121.79

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cleaning out the Closets!

With a upcoming overseas move we are in the process of cleaning out all of our closets and selling anything that can be sold. In the past I would have simply donated all the junk and gotten on with my life. Now that I am determined to pay off our debt and save up a large chunk of money for our move selling it all is the way to go. So far this month we have made $130 with another $45 in stuff that needs to be mailed off as soon as I can get it all in the correct sized boxes and to the post office. In the past I wouldn't have bothered just because it is a pain in the rear to go through it all and get it all to the post is still a pain but man am I having fun watching the total go up and up. Granted the total is going up slooowly usually $5 at a time but as you can see it IS going up.

So far we have listed items on ebay and craigslist with a good amount of success. We have also listed our baby clothes the twins have outgrown on a website I am a member of devoted to mom's of many young siblings as well as on facebook. Not the normal places you would think of to sell things but it is working. Also for all of my books, old VHS tapes (really who has any of these anymore?!), and DVD Box sets that we no longer want we have sold them to different websites that buy these type of things from you. No listing items and waiting to see if it sells just type in the IBC code and you know right away if they want it and how much they are willing to pay for it. Some of the sites for this type of service that I like a lot are: and both of which are simple to use and pay you via paypal when they receive your box!

My goal was to make a extra $200 this month for our snowball and it looks like we may just make it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

1 Year of Swagbucks

I am a huge fan of swagbucks! The program is super simple to use and really adds up quickly. You simply install their search bar and use it every time you do a Internet search, for every couple of searches you earn swagbucks. Once you have a certain amount saved up you can trade them in for prizes. Since it has been 1 year since I signed up for the program I decided to go back and check and see how much I have earned. I was pretty surprised I have earned $55 in Amazon gift cards! The best part is that I didn't have to do ANYTHING different than I normally would just use their toolbar! Today I traded in a few $5 gift cards I had saved up from the last few months and "bought" myself a few new books for my Kindle! I am a pretty happy person today :)

If you have not already checked out Swagbucks you should definitely Click here to give it a shot!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Meal Plan for week of January 16th

I tend to meal plan from Sunday to Saturday since I grocery shop on Saturdays so here is this coming weeks meal plan and grocery breakdown :)

*Scrambled Eggs

*Homemade Breakfast Burritos

*Sandwiches (Turkey, Ham, or PB&J)

*BBQ Brisket and Pasta Salad
*Baked Shell Casserole
*Teriyaki Chicken and Rice
*Honey Rosemary Chicken with Broccoli
*Chicken, Rice and Egg Drop Soup

Grocery Breakdown:





Snacks/Junk Food:


Total (with Surcharge): $135.61
Coupons: $10.40
Total out of pocket: $125.21
**Fruit/Skim milk/etc. Covered by WIC**

Dinner costs were high this week because of having a extra mouth to feed due to having company staying with us. My goal was to have enough leftover from dinners to cover lunches as well. We shall see!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mini Blog Vacation

I am going to be taking a week off of blogging to spend time with my mother who is visiting. So far we have been to a Luau and are now off to the do some more sightseeing. I will be back in a week hopefully with lots more savings ideas! :D

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Today's Haul

I spent today's nap time going from store to store to get the best deals based on our local flyers. Here is today's haul:
Here is the breakdown....


$1 bread (white or wheat) I bought 9 loafs today to add to the 5 loafs I bought at the beginning of the sale. Making my haul 14 loafs at about $15 with tax. That is a savings of about $18. We go through about 1 loaf every 2 days so while I would like for this stockpile to last a while it should get us through till next month :) The nice lady at the checkout was a little in shock that I was buying so much bread. I explained that I will keep it in our freezer till it is needed, even then I think she thought I was nuts, lol!


24 double rolls of Charmin for $10 each. I bought 2 packs (48 rolls) for $20. That is $0.42 per roll while the next cheapest brand is $0.50 per roll. That gives me a savings of $4.00 total. Not huge but we are now set on Toilet paper for the rest of the month....maybe for Feb as well not totally sure how much TP we go through in a month.

VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner 2/$1.25. I bought 8 bottles for a total of $5. They are normally $0.75 each so I saved $2.00. Four bottles of shampoo and conditioner should last my kiddlets at least 6 months, so we are set there for a while.

Total Savings: $24

Not bad for a hour of my life....will be interesting to see what is on sale next week ;)

1/5 Meal Plan


*Left over pizza

*String Cheese

*Smokey Black Beans and Rice soup
*Homemade bread

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1/4 Meal plan

Today was the first day back at school and for me has been a draining day. My plan was to bake some more bread today but I am just soooo tired, hopefully I can get it mixed up and in the fridge before bed so that I can bake it up in the morning...gotta love refigerator doughs!

*Confetti Pancakes
***Thank you hubby for getting the kids fed this morning so I could sleep in a little***

* Turkey Sandwiches
*Banana's dipped in Peanut butter

*String cheese
*Whole wheat bread

*Homemade pizza (with carrots snuck in the sauce, shhh don't tell!)

Meal Plan Monday 1/3/11

You know I often wonder when people post their budgets what they are actually eating for that amount of money so I thought it would be interesting to keep a log here :) (OK maybe it is only interesting to me so feel free to skip this post if I am boring you, lol). So here is today's meal plan....

*Confetti pancakes

*Sandwiches (peanut butter, or Turkey)

*Apples with Peanut butter

*Fried chicken on Romaine with homemade Blue cheese dressing
*Homemade bread

You know what I see?? We go through a lot of milk in a day. I need to go through and cut out milk from one meal a day I think. The kids don't need that much milk and it sure would help the budget!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Staying motivated.

You know how when you have a large goal it is so easy to get discouraged or fall off the wagon. There is just so much time and effort needed to get there and it is so easy to slip after a while. I think most of us know this is especially true with things like weight loss and money. To help keep my husband and I a motivated to save, save, save we have put up a motivational chart. The chart is lined and with each $200 we put into savings we color another line in. We taped it to our fridge and I have to admit it sounds silly but it really is motivating, I really want to color in those lines! Man I sound like my 6 year old now ;)
You can get your own right here!

My first ever endeavor into shopping by flyers!

Well today was my first ever endeavor into shopping based of flyer sales. I have to admit I was a little nervous that I would get in there and get sucked into the dreaded consumer trap of "I have to have this unrelated item NOW" mentality, after all isn't that why they do the flyers to start with? To get you in the store so you buy more STUFF! For my first attempt I thought I would go small Target is having a bread sale this week and since that is the only thing on my list I figured it would be pretty easy to check out. Plus all my kiddos and my hubby were down for naps so who was going to miss me if I slipped out for a few minutes ;) I managed to walk directly to the bread section averting my eyes from all the pretty sparkly things I passed on my way to the very back center of the store. Once there low and behold there were signs for $1 bread I was in the right section and had read the flyer correctly....only one problem....there was no bread on the shelves! Ok I take that back there were 3 loafs on one of the 5 shelves, plus 2 more shoved in the wrong place making my haul 5 loafs of bread. Not quite the number I was looking for BUT the sale does run through the end of the week so I have a few more days to go back and grab some more.

Total paid out (with my impulse chocolate bar purchase, I broke after all!) was $6.48 with tax.....price at the commissary before surcharge would have been $11.70 so in all I saved $5.22. Not exactly big bucks but it does all add up especially if I can get 5 more loafs and save $6.47 (without the dreaded candy bar, lol!). That would give me a months bread for $10.46 instead of $23.40. {Insert me doing a happy dance here!}

Paying for Resolutions 1 and 2....

So as I stated in my last post I have several resolutions going right now. My first two have to do with $$$ so I figured I would group them together for this post, after all I need to save some money to be able to pay for those resolutions so they might as well be together.

So first things first if I want to be able to save $10,000 and pay off $4,900 in debt all by June on $25,000 a year take home pay with soon to be 5 children as a stay at home mom I am going to need to be creative to say the least! So I thought I would catalog my endeavors so that I am better able to see if they are successful or not.

First item of business is the grocery budget, after all isn't that where most of us could probably cut? My budget for this month is $400 for 6 method of attack? Well that would be coupons and cheap from scratch cooking :) Here is this weeks breakdown...

Meat: $11.29
Breakfast: $17.64
Lunch & Snacks: $ 22.62
Dairy Items: $30.76
Vegetables: $4.65
Dinner: $6.45
Fruit: $12.17
Cleaning and Paper Products: $16.34

Surcharge: $6.07
Total: $127.99
Coupons: -$8.05
Total out of pocket: $119.94

Total came out a little higher than I would have liked but Dairy should be less next week when the next months WIC comes in to play.

The next method of attack is trying to find great deals in the local flyers...this week I found some good deals in the NEX flyer and in the Target flyer. This weeks attempts at finding great deals:

*$1 Market Pantry Bread (Commissary bread is $2.36 per loaf)

*Palmolive 3/$3
*VO5 Shampoo and Conditioner 2/$1.75
*Pepsi Family 3/$10 (commissary cases are $4.64 each)
*Charmin, 24 double rolls $10 (Commissaries cheapest is 9 rolls/4.99)

I will let you all know how this goes I am thinking there will be some bumps in the road while trying to find and get these deals.

Next thing I am looking for is to increase my coupon usage. So first things first is to find more coupons. I have several websites that I like to use and have gotten some great coupons for things I use quite a bit so that helps a bunch.
Coupon websites:

Next place I looked was in the Sunday paper...honestly don't think it was worth the $2. I did find some coupons but not enough to cover the cost of the paper, the flyers were nice but I could get them online for free. Don't think the paper will be happening next week! Live and learn ;)

New Year New Resolutions!

So it seems everyone makes New Years resolutions and I thought I would follow the masses and give it a shot myself. I am not usually a New Years resolution type of person but with some major goals in place for this year this seems like the right time of the year to rededicate myself to fulfilling them. Since we will be moving to Japan in 6mths I think I will make my resolutions for 6mths at a time to make everything simpler to understand.

So here it goes!

*Save up $10,000 for our PCS and COT leave coming up in June
*Pay off our van ($4,900) by June
*Clean out all closets and get them organized
*Sell anything removed from closets and add to our snowball.

Obviously each of these resolutions will have several steps involved to complete them and will be the subject of several posts in the future. I am hoping that by keeping myself accountable here I will be able to keep my momentum going and fulfill these pretty lofty goals :)

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