Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Momentus Day: It's Been A Year

Last year this very day I stood over  my garbage can and cut up my credit cards.  My safety net was gone, or so I thought.  I never looked back and am happy to report that I have not used that credit card since that day (uh, kind of hard to use it all chopped up!). We have not added any new debt to that card, but unfortunately we will have to take on more debt starting November 1st.  We have added $5780 from the sewer going in in our neighborhood this summer.  That won't be around long, as we anticipated this and have about half saved.  So, technically, while it's new debt, we didn't create it by our crappy choices with money:).

Here's what we've done the past year:

Total Starting Debt: $65,708.23
Total Paid OFF in One Year:$ 11,611.31
Total Remaining: $54,096.92
Debt Free Date: December 2015

We fully anticipate to not take that long to pay it all off.  If you look at our snowball, you'll see that our car being paid off is the tipping point for us.  We really start picking up steam as we'll have more to throw at it.  I'd really like to reflect more on this past year, but I need to get my tired trick-or-treating kiddos in bed!

October Grocery Totals

This was definitely the craziest month for shopping I've had since starting this a year ago (literally, this is the day in 2009 we started to pay down debt!).

And now for the totals:

Total Spent On Food:$339.26
Manufacturer's Coupons Used: $777.50
Store Savings: $996.27
Can you believe the numbers?!  With all the incredible deals at Albertsons, I was able to stock up (I mean really stock up) on a lot of items that I'm not normally able to (such as paper towels and toilet paper).  I also freezer cooked enough meals for the entire month.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What To Do With All Those Green Tomatoes

We wound up with 23 tomato plants this year, and I think we grew more green tomatoes than red!  Here's some of them:
 (Don't know why I had a lime in there!)

And here's what we did with them:
Before the oven...
Cooling on the rack.
  Yes, that's right, we made green tomato cake!  It may sound a little weird, but it's wonderful.  For sure the best use of green tomatoes we could find.  Green tomato relish wasn't going to cut it for us since I'm not a huge fan of vinegar/pickled things, and once we made it would anyone want that as a gift?  Now I have three big cakes and 3 little cakes in the freezer awaiting after school snack time.

Here's links to the recipes we used:
Paula Deen's Green Tomato Cake Green Tomato Cake

We eliminated the raisins in both cakes, reduced the nutmeg, added a few shakes of ground cloves and added more walnuts in both.  On the Paula Deen cake, we baked in a regular cake pan, and eliminated the brown butter frosting.  We made a basic powdered sugar icing instead.  These would be great topped with a cream cheese frosting.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baby Taggie

I just wanted to share a little gift I made for two gals at our church that just had babies.  I love making hand-made stuff for friends!  I used this tutorial from Joy's Hope.  Lots of fun little things to learn from her blog and we share a similar family story: babies lost at full term.  You'll also be encouraged in your faith-definitely worth a look. 

If you want to make a gift special, just make it!  So here's what I made:
I love to use tulle and ribbon to wrap a gift.  It's an inexpensive, cute way to give a gift. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recent Shopping Trip

So, here's what I got last night:

My total came to $14.68, and I got a $5 off my next order coupon.  We were low on cereal and milk, so this was a good trip (I stopped at two stores and had a total of 6 transactions) to stock up on some real needs.  I also wasn't planning on getting the pop, but the deal was good: buy 4 Sierra Mist, get one Pepsi product free.  My total for all five came to $2.35 (or $.47 each)

I got:
  • two boxes of penne pasta
  • three boxes tissue
  • Febreeze Air freshener starter
  • creamer (2)
  • nabisco crunch sticks
  • olive oil
  • best life buttery spread (2)
  • 5 two liters of pop
  • dove shampoo (2)
  • dove body wash
  • milk (3)
  • cookie mix
  • cheerios (6)
  • cinnamon toast crunch (2)
  • yoplait yo-plus four pack (2)
So worth the time getting organized with my coupons!  Also, it was sure fun to catch up with a friend from high school who I ran into at the store and meet some new fellow couponers.  A huge thanks to Dana and Joelle for giving me a stash of coupons!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And That Will Be $5780

I'm a little sad to report that we're going to have to take on a new bit-o-debt for a few months.  We haven't added any debt since we started paying it off in November 2009 and consistently pay down on it every month.  But, today marked the end of the sewer project in our neighborhood and with that the bill is due on November 1st.  We had planned to pay the entire bill off, but we only have about half saved.  With that said, we will pay it off this spring when we get our tax return and then we'll continue on our happy way.  I'll be giving you a debt pay down annual total soon!

And now for the best part of all this, because there really is one!  I've waited since the start of the sewer project (April) to put on my roller blades and coast on the freshly paved street.  Today was my day, baby! What a blast!  The kids were all over the place with skateboards bikes, scooters.  It felt so good to be out on a pot hole/dirt/rock/bulldozer-free street!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Off To Greenbluff

Every fall we go to Greenbluff (we went to Harvest House), and while it's not usually easy on the pocketbook, we were ready for this year's visit!  We prepped the kids about what we were doing and what we weren't.  Since it was a day off for everyone, we took advantage of it and here's what we did:
 We told Jay to karate chop but he looks more like a robot to me:)

Seth and Kate at the, uh, rear end of the caterpillar.  It was a little creepy!

And then our camera battery died!  Still fun, although we didn't buy any pumpkins there, we did get a gallon of cider and a dozen pumpkin doughnuts for about $12 for both.  On our way home we stopped at Yoke's and took advantage of the $.15/lb pumpkins (today only) and let everyone pick one out.  That came to $9 for five pumpkins.  When you add in the $20 for four of the kids to go through the hay maze/play area it came to $41 for the outing.  Not too bad for a family of seven and great memories! 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Save $10 On Scholastic Book Orders

As I was looking through my kids' Scholastic book orders from school, I noticed on the back page that you have the opportunity to buy five book certificates good for five items (each is worth up to $4).  The regular price is $20 for these, but you pay $10.  This makes getting books even cheaper or I'm thinking these would make great stocking stuffers!  These look like they have to be used in conjunction with a Scholastic flyer and don't expire until July 6th, 2011.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What We're Eating

When people hear about our low grocery bill, they often ask what we're eating, and I feel like I don't always give a clear answer since it changes from month to month.  So I thought I'd let you know what our dinners will be for the next few days or so:

Spaghetti Soup
French Dip Sandwiches
Vegetarian Lasagana
Farmer's Casserole
Buttermilk Herb Chicken (marinated & grilled)
Potato Soup
Enchilada Bake
Ham and Sweet Potato Pie
Chicken Caesar Casserole
BBQ Chicken Pizza
Southwestern Corn Chowder
Chicken Pot Pie
Refrigerated Bran Oatmeal Muffins (which we already ate through 4 dozen muffins in 2 days!  New recipe for us and I think they liked it!)

All of the recipes are freezer meals, some are doubled, and I'm still in the process of making some of them (between taking care of my five and the other four I watch, time is limited).  Most of the recipes are from Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals cookbook (there's a link at the bottom if you want to check it out).  A great cookbook if you're interested in keeping your meals lower in fat but full of flavor.

So there you have it!  With each of these meals we usually have a fresh fruit and a veggie (we're eating from the garden right now).  If you're interested in any of the recipes, let me know and I'll send some your way.  Oh, and wouldn't you just love to be in that picture?  It looks like a fine place to be!

image credit: photoxpress/jonryan

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Does October Matter Financially?

I read a fascinating article on how what we do now, in October, influences our financial matters for the next few months.  Have you planned for Christmas?  We have put aside $400 for our five children and other little gifts at work, etc.  We give our children three gifts each and a really fun stocking.

I look at it this way: I will not be dragged down in our race to become debt free by lack of planning on my part.  If I'm able to add that element of competition I always seem to do better with my goals because I hate to lose!  We've been losers with our money too long, and winning with it for the past 11 months is a habit I'll keep.  How's your Christmas fund coming along?  Do you save throughout the year or take a chunk and set it aside when you have it?