Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cash Envelope Wallet

As part of our new years resolutions we decided to go to cash only for our variable spending (Groceries, eating out, gas, household expenses, etc). We decided to go with the Dave Ramsey envelope system...but....I hate paper envelopes. They tear, they get lost, they don't hold coins...I could go on and on. So I hit up pinterest for ideas on cloth envelopes. I found this envelope wallet pattern and was sold.

 I found some scraps from my second daughters quilt and got started. I did have to order some zippers and elastic, so the whole thing cost me $9 total with shipping.

Front cover
 Inside cover with slots for cards and a pocket for a checkbook or notepad.
 The 6 zippered "envelopes"
 The back cover with slot for checkbook or notepad.
I am so excited for our next paycheck so I can fill all my envelopes up!

New Years Resolution #1 ~Complete~

Our first personal New Years Resolution has been completed :D

Our 6th child arrived healthy and quite unexpectedly on the 21st. Weighing in at 8lbs 4oz she is a little plump bundle of joy.

We are working on our second personal resolution to breastfeed for 1 year. We are 1 week in and going strong.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Parmesan, Veggie, and Chicken Pasta

This is my all time favorite dinner. Seriously I could eat this every day of the week if I was allowed. Unfortunately my husband is not a fan at all. He likes red meat, sauces, and potatoes. Luckily last night I made taco's with ground beef  (that *I* hate) and there are plenty of leftovers  for him to eat tonight.

Parmesan, Veggie, and Chicken Pasta

1 box pasta, cooked (I used ruffle pasta tonight. I try and get something fun and new for the kids to keep it interesting)
2 zucchini, sliced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 lb cooked chicken, shredded
Parmesan Cheese, the good stuff (I splurge and get the $2.69 for 5oz refrigerated parmesan cheese)

Saute the zucchini and bell pepper till softened. Add in your cooked chicken and cooked pasta. Serve in a bowl with a healthy sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

So simple and so good!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Motivation to continue our journey

You know when you have been working towards something for years and years it is easy to get distracted and lose your momentum.  So how do you stay motivated to complete long term goals?

I personally have several tricks that I have used over the years. Reading frugal blogs (I have a pinterest board dedicated to my favorite blogs if you would like to have a look), taking advantage of frugal forums such as and frugal village to hear about tips and tricks other use, and issuing myself monthly challenges.

Those are all well and good...but do you know what motivates me the most? Hearing stories of hardworking families who are struggling financially. Honestly it scares to the crap out of me and motivates me like nothing else. Hearing about families losing their houses, going into bankruptcy, needing assistance to provide just seems to be everywhere these days.  All I can think is "There but for the grace of God go I". 

We have a solid plan in place for the rest of the year which would max out our savings and put us in a more secure financial situation.  I however have been playing around with the idea of taking some of our tax return and using it for some "fun", you know something totally frivolous and just because we want it. I can't bring myself to do it though. In the end my panic of not being able to provide for my children out weighs my need for more "fun" stuff.

I do however think that it is important to live our lives and find enjoyment within our budget through out the year. So I am going to try and find some new budget friendly fun options for our family this year.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Take out pizza at home....

As I mentioned in my last post I am obsessed with two things this pregnancy.....chocolate and salami. Luckily I have not gotten around to combining the two yet...give me time never know.

One of the things I love at the moment is Domino's Tuscan Salami and Roasted Veggie Pizza. Yum! The price however....not so much. The price of the pizza itself isn't bad, $7.99. But then you have to add in the sprite, cause I need a drink, and the tip of $5....then there are the other people in the house to consider. If my husband is home I have to get him a separate pizza, $14 or more.

Today is the 15th of January and we have spent $196 on domino's take out so far this month!  This is one of those situations when I have a love hate relationship with my budget software. I don't REALLY want to know how much money I have wasted on take out!

However now that I know I can't not do something. Enter pinterest! I searched for knock off recipes and then tweaked it to my current slacker personality...

3 Pre-cooked personal pan pizza crusts: $2.69
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese: $0.94
3/4ths a lb of salami: $5.99
Banana peppers: $0.49
Garlic Parmesan Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk $0.71
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise $0.18
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese $0.53
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend $0.05
  • 1/4tsp garlic powder $0.02
To assemble top your crusts with the garlic Parmesan sauce, sliced salami, and banana peppers, and shredded mozzarella. Bake according to the instructions on the crusts.

Total for three personal pan pizzas:  $11.60 or $3.86 per pizza

The results? Not quite the same as Dominos but it did hit some of the same bells and whistles and was good. I will be making it again for sure.

Chocolate Granola bars!

I am 38 weeks pregnant and seriously obsessed with chocolate at the moment. Actually it alternates between chocolate and salami, but that is another post ;)

In an effort to be a frugal chocoholic I of course hit up pinterest for new recipes....and hit the motherload of ideas. Seriously there are a ton of chocolate recipes on there, not all however are very frugal.

This one for Chocolate Granola Bars stood out to me as an option and I was willing to give it a try.

Okay they are SERIOUSLY good! Just the right level of crunchy to sweet....I could seriously eat that entire pan if my kids would let me!

I don't have a cost breakdown per bar at this time. There are some pricy ingredients in there (honey, peanut butter, chocolate chips) but they are in such small portions that I am sure they don't break the bank....and are probably a lot healthier for you than chocolate cake ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade fruit snacks!

My kids LOVE fruit snacks....actually I take that kids are obsessed with fruit snacks.  They can go through one of those boxes of snacks in about 10min. Since they are far from frugal and I am not overly thrilled with the ingredients (Carnuba wax? Seriously?) I very very rarely buy them. So when I found a recipe for homemade fruit snacks I decided to give them a try. I bought some of these silicone ice trays  a few months ago thinking they would be great for the kids to use for ice...not so much.... so they have just been hanging out in my cabinet. I figured even though they would be a little big they would work well for this project.

Strawberry Jello $0.99
Flavor free Jello $2.24

Total for 30 large fruit snacks: $3.23

Totally not frugal BUT they were fun for the kids to make, I got "cool mom" points, and there was built in portion control. Works for me!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2013 Goals

It is that time of the year again when we sit down and think about all the things we want to accomplish in the new year. I have been doing a lot of thinking on the subject and come up with my list for 2013.

*Have a healthy baby!
*Breastfeed for a year
*Lose 100lbs....that includes the weight I am carrying right this second from the baby and the pregnancy.
*Less "screen time" This includes less time online (sorry, I know you all will miss me, lol!).

*Fill our Emergency Fund up to 6mths of expenses (Est completion March 1st)
*Set up a months income as a buffer in our checking account. This allows us to use our budgeting software, You Need A Budget, more effectively. (Est completion March 1st)
*Fully fund my Roth account (Est completion December)
*Equal amount saved in my husband's TSP acct (Est. Completion December)
~~That is a grand total of $21,900 into savings this year~~

I would love to hear about your goals for 2013 :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Net Worth Tracking

It is that time of the year again when we calculate out our net worth and see how we did throughout the prior year.

I am always shocked at the totals, in a good way!

A little back story to get us started this year. Way back in 2008 my husband and I decided we were determined to pay off all our debt and live a debt free life from that point forward. It took us a while to get there but we became debt free in February 2011. I actually started this blog to document and encourage myself in our debt free journey so you can follow along on the journey just by starting at the beginning of this blog. I will warn you though that there were lots of blunders and not so great ideas along the way!  

When we became debt free it was AMAZING to know we don't have to worry about debt hanging over our heads any longer. As of February 2011 we started paying ourselves instead of the banks, which caused this amazing thing to happen....our net worth started to go UP and UP and UP. I love that the banks now pay US interest on our money instead of the other way around.

We decided to follow the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps on our journey. We can not say enough good things about Dave Ramsey and his approach to living debt free.

Okay ready for the Net Worth totals?

Since February 2011 to now (January 2013) our net worth has increased to 1.5 years of income divided among 2 different retirement accounts, our emergency fund,  and our down payment for a house savings account. All in 2yrs of savings.

Have I mentioned how amazing living debt free is? It is so easy to get bogged down with the daily "stuff" associated with living on a budget. It isn't easy to make the sacrifices that need to be made, to prioritize between wants and needs, and make the hard decisions. It does however pay off BIG TIME in the long run. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday!!!

It is hard for me to believe but my twins turn 3 today! Where has the time gone?!

Today has been a busy day in our house to say the least. On top of the twins birthday today was also my weekly dr's appt, and my oldest daughters piano lesson. It doesn't sound like a lot but when you are at full term it is a lot!

Because we will be walking in the door from piano lessons right at dinner time I needed to have dinner made before we even left the house. Enter my crockpot! I altered a soup recipe to work in my crockpot (and to use dried beans) and threw it in during nap time.

Keilbasa and Bean Soup

1 lb Keilbasa, chunked
1 small onion, chopped (I used some frozen pre-chopped onions from my freezer)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups black beans (I used dried beans pre-cooked before adding them to the soup)
2 cups "bean water" (the water from the beans cooking above)
2 cups diced tomatoes (also from my freezer)
1 cup beef broth (I used beef broth granules, shhh! Don't tell that it isn't homemade!)
1 tsp dried basil

Just add all the ingredients to your crockpot and cook on low till warmed through. Done!

I pared the soup with my homemade Yummy Dutch Oven Bread.

Follow that up with two homemade chocolate birthday cakes and you have quite the meal. All done with zero effort at dinner time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Freezer Ingredients!

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know two things about me:

1. I like to change recipes
2. I am in love with my freezer

So it is kind of obvious that I have some tricks up my sleeve with freezer ingredients to make my life easier.

You know how when you go to Costco there are these HUGE packages of vegetables available? I take advantage of them to prepare ingredients for my freezer. With just a bit of work you save yourself so much time and energy.

Some of my favorite options:

*Bell peppers cut into strips. Just wash, cut, and add to a gallon bag to freeze.
*Carrots cut into medallions. Peel the carrots, wash, chop, and add to a gallon bag to freeze.
*Onions, chopped. I peel and course chop these, then throw in my food processor and pulse. Lay on a baking sheet to freeze then add to a gallon bag.
*Broccoli, chopped. Wash, chop, and add to gallon bag.
*Zucchini, cut into medallions. Wash, chop, and add to gallon bag.

When it is time to cook you already have your veggies all washed, chopped and ready to go. It doesn't get any easier than that!

Tonight's dinner is a prime example of using freezer ingredients. I have a recipe for a grilled chicken and veggie stir fry pasta dish. In an effort to make my life easier I altered the recipe and took major advantage of my freezer ingredients.

Here is my version.

Chicken and veggie stir fry pasta 

1 bag frozen broccoli
1/2 bag frozen bell pepper strips
A handful of frozen carrot medallions
1 lb frozen cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1 bottle stir fry sauce

~ Add all the above ingredients to your crockpot and cook on high for 3 hours till your ingredients are thawed and your veggies are cooked through.
~At dinner time cook a pound of spaghetti and toss with the chicken and veggies.

DONE! Took me all of 2min to pull my ingredients out of my freezer and throw in my crockpot....I then took advantage of the time saved to take a much needed nap. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Redoing a bedroom on a budget: Room #2

Our second bedroom change up was to move our twins (who turn 3 on Monday) into the room with their older sister (who is 6). I forgot to take a before picture of this room so you get halfway pics...

The room was already a pale purple with purple curtains, a set of bunk beds, and a dresser. So in the interest of sticking to the budget we went with what we already had in place. We cleaned the carpet, scrubbed the walls, and pulled out any furniture that no longer fit in the room with the addition of a free standing twin bed.

Here is the finished product....we didn't go all out because 3yr olds are not the easiest on decorations. The tiny butterflies on the wall decals were ripped down only a day later so I am glad I didn't invest any more money in decorative touches then I did.

Cost breakdown:
Twin bed: $115
Hanging pom poms (not pictured): $14.94
Cubbies: $19.99
Wall decals: $10.21

Total Cost:  $160.14

Not to bad considering it is a room for 3 kiddlets :)

Redoing a bedroom on a budget: Room #1


With the birth of our 6th child coming very soon (24 days to go!) we are doing some major room change ups over here. One of the room changes was to turn our back bedroom in to a bedroom for our oldest daughter.

We started with a pretty blank canvas and not a ton of money so it was time to get creative. As you can see the room was pretty bare.....

 My daughter and I talked about it and decided we wanted to go with a sage and pink color scheme...which worked out perfectly as we were able to reuse items we already owned. (Mom might have suggested that color scheme with that fact in mind ;) ).

We had a lot of fun working on the room and my daughter is over the moon with having her own room for a bit.

Here is the finished product....

For an entire room redo we managed to keep the costs pretty well under control.

Paint: $16
Art work: Reused from another room
Curtains: Reused from another room
Furniture: $115 for the bed. The mattress and the rest of the furniture was from another room
Wall decals: $25.99
Hanging Pom Poms (not pictured) $14.94
Wall cubbies: $19.99

Total for the entire room: $191.92

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