Monday, July 28, 2014

Change in Plans

One of my life goals has been to have a farm. Nothing big, but something where I can have animals, my own garden and a place for my kids to play. I have been pushing it off and pushing it off over the years. We pushed it off to have kids (used the money for infertility treatments). We pushed it off due to job loss. We pushed it off because the plan was for me to go back to school and get my dream job of teaching.

This past week I went on a trip to see my sister. My mom, my girls and I piled into a car and drove the 11-12 hours to Iowa from Texas. During that time I was able to reflect and talk with my mom. I came to the conclusion that I really don't want to push off the dream of home ownership anymore.

In order for me to go back to school, I would be using the money that would equal a really good down-payment on a house. I would be pushing off home ownership for another 5-8 more years. I do not want to do that.

I am happy being a stay at home mom and as long as my husband makes enough for me to do so, I want to do it. I was going to get a part time job (in the evening and some hours on the weekend), to pay for me going back to school. To go back and get my Master's, or even the classes to get certified, I would be paying about $10-12k. That would go a long way to us getting a house.

So after some reflection and discussion with my husband, I have decided that I will not return to school at this time. I will get the part time job I intended, but I will use all of that money to build up a savings for a down-payment on a little property of our own.

We were also thinking of buying a house her in our neighborhood, then after a few years we would move out to the country. After doing some more reflection, we knew in our hearts that if we moved into a house, we would not move again until the girls graduated from High School. I do not want to wait that long.

It has been decided that we will go ahead and move out to the country and skip the "house in the suburbs". My youngest will start school in three years. Our goal is to save up every dime we can (while paying off debt), during this time. Then either before she starts Kindergarten or at the latest when she starts first grade, we will move into the country.

We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but I feel this change of plans will benefit our WHOLE family. Eventually, if I want to return to school (after we get our house), I can do so. For now I want to do this. My mom said that she felt it was a good choice too.

So here we go...a new journey. One I feel really good about.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Leftovers - How to like them...

As you probably know by now, I HATE leftovers. In my search for saving every penny I can, I have tried to find ways to learn to love them. I have started by doing leftover redo's. I will turn pulled pork into pulled pork enchiladas. I will turn left over chicken into chicken noodle soup. But what about things like meatloaf or my pasta bakes?

Next week I am going out of town and leaving my hubby to fend for himself. I have decided to try something new with the meals I cook this week. I made mini-meatloaves this week. Instead of having them for leftovers, I decided to wrap each one really well and freeze them. That way hubby will be able to take one out and let it defrost in the fridge over night. I also had a bunch of roasted red potatoes, so I divided them up into freezer bags. This way hubby has a side to go with his meatloaf. All he has to do is heat up a can of veggies and he has a complete meal.

For the rest of the week, I plan to do the same thing. I will be making orange glazed pork chops and rice. I will take one pork chop (wrap it in plastic wrap). I will also take a baggie with some cooked rice. These two things I will put in an individual freezer bag. All he will have to do is take it out the night before and defrost in the fridge. When he gets home the next night he can just throw it in the microwave.

That is two meals out of the way. Two more to go...Monday he will do leftovers from Sunday night. Tuesday he will do meatloaf. Wednesday he will do pork chops. Thursday we will get home around dinner time. I think I will get a freezer crock pot meal together for him to throw in, in the morning. That way we all get a good fresh meal when we get home!

With all of these plans for the freezer, I have to get going on my freezer fund. I cannot wait until I have a bigger freezer to do a lot of freezer meals. I would love to have my freezer chest dedicated to raw foods. Then my freezer connected to my fridge will have freezer crock pot meals, leftovers I have frozen, or other prepped foods. I cannot wait!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Making Progress - Weight Loss

One of my goals is to become physically fit. To lose this weight in a way that is sustainable and doesn't kill me in the process. Some say to go whole hog and give up everything "bad", workout as much as you can, in general give up on a happy life. Or that is how I see it.

I know, after several failed attempts at losing weight, that I am not one to be able to live a life with no carbs or soda's. I just cannot do it. If you tell me that I cannot have something, I become obsessed with it.

When I left my job in accounting to become a stay at home mom, I wanted to finally conquer this weight issue. A little history.

I have fought my weight my whole life. I was always the heavier one, filling out in the girly bits at a rather young age. I have a picture of me in 4th grade, where I had to wear a training bra. By the time I was in 8th grade, I started to pack on a few pounds. Once I had my first boyfriend, I set off on the diet roller coaster. I would skip breakfast. Have Cheetos and a Coke for lunch. Dinner would be what my mom would cook, but then I would give most of it to my neighbor when he would come visit.

The Cheetos diet didn't last long, but because I was active the weight stayed relatively normal. This changed when I moved in with my father in my senior year of high-school. There was a lot of stress during this time. Combine that along with horrible eating habits learned from my dad, I gained 50 pounds in a matter of months. When I graduated from high-school, I weighed 190.

Over the years since, I have weighed about the same. Occasionally blooming up to 250. But I never went above that. That is until this past year. After I had my second child, I managed to get down to 200. I still had weight to lose, but I was comfortable and felt sexy. Then I stopped breastfeeding, my husband lost his job (twice) and I ended up working a desk job for 10-12 hours a day. Needless to say, my weight skyrocketed to 278.

When I quit my job, my main focus was to develop a routine with the girls and find my new normal. I was not really concerned with jumping into a weight-loss routine. One thing I knew for sure was that I could not follow a strict plan. I am a very stubborn person. If you tell me I cannot have something, I will go out of my way to get it. I know, huge personality fault.

So once I found my new normal with the girls, I decided I needed to do something about my diet. One this was to reduce the amount of eating out. This was easy, because being on a limited budget we could not eat out. I found ways to add more fruit and vegetables into my diet. I accomplished this by ordering Bountiful Baskets and planning my menu around the items I received.

Another thing that has helped, is my goal to get my two year old to find of love of fruits and vegetable. She has been a meat eater since she started eating solids. After a year and a half with hubby, she rarely ate veggies or fruit. In my quest to develop her pallet, I found myself eating more veggies and fruit.

I have not given up soda, but I have cut down. I used to get a large coke on the way to work in the morning. This would be followed up with a 20 oz coke at lunch. More often than not I would have a can of coke with dinner. All this Coke, started to accelerate my insulin resistance (a symptom of PCOS) into full blown diabetes. I was constantly feeling like I was going to pass out and had horrible headaches. I knew something had to change. I have since switched to drinking water and sparkling water. I love carbonation and sparkling water gives me that. I still have a can of coke a day, but no longer do I have it all day long.

With cutting back on portions, adding fruit and veggies. Reducing a lot of my soda intake. I have managed to lose 10 pounds in the past month. The first month I was able to maintain my weight after gaining about a pound or two a week for a year. Once I found my footing, the weight has seemed to melt off. I do not feel deprived. I do not feel like I am dieting. I am doing what is right for me.

I have a LONG way to go, but I will stick to it. One day I will be back to that Happy place.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

First Ever Costco Run

I was always against going to the big warehouse stores, as I believed you could always do better using coupons and shopping sales at the regular stores. I still believe you can do wonderfully that way. However, I decided to give the warehouse stores a try. I do know that bigger isn't always a better deal, so I tried to keep that in mind on my first Costco run.

I am a firm believer in stocking up, whether it is toilet paper or frozen and canned foods. There are weeks where you might be tighter on money. Having a stockpile will make sure you can still have healthy meals on the table. Over the past few months, my stockpile has dwindled. We have had a lot of extra expenses and I have had to go with the bare minimum in shopping.

My goal for Costco, is to get most of my meat and dried goods. I am currently saving up for a freezer chest, so that I can stockpile more frozen goods. Costco also seems to be a pretty good place to get things like pull-ups. I was thinking of getting the dog and cat food there, but I do not like the idea of buying 100 bags. So for that I will continue to go to Walmart or the pet store.

I plan to go to Costco twice a month. I will split my stockpiling list in half, so I will get half the first trip and the other half of the list on the second trip. Here is how I intend to split up the lists:

Trip One:
Chicken - breast, thighs, whole
Pasta - wide variety. I got a package this time that had three different kinds.
Canned tomato products - (paste, diced, sauce)
Milk - I got three half gallons this time. We usually go through a gallon and a half a week, so we will probably have to get milk for the second week.

Trip Two:
Beef - ground, sirloin, roast
Pork - huge pork loin to cut up half into chops and use the other for a roast.
Rice - I love rice, so I will buy a nice sized bag.
Frozen Veggies - I found that my youngest prefers frozen veggies (peas, green beans, mixed)

Each trip will be filled in with other items that I need to replace from my stockpile.

I will continue to get my Bountiful Baskets every week. My hope is that I can go to Costco for meat and dairy. Then I will use my Bountiful Basket to plan my weekly meals. I want to try to get my grocery shopping down to twice a month. My goals for the month are $400 a month on food. I have a budget of $100 a month for Bountiful baskets and two Costco visits of $150 each.

In addition to my food purchases, I will continue to buy my detergents and household items at Target, Walgreen's and CVS. With coupons and buyer programs, you cannot beat the prices. For the household items, I have a budget of $125 a month. This includes pull-ups, cleaners, dog/cat food, etc.

This month I will save up all of my receipts. At the end of the month I will do a blog post sharing all the items I purchased, how much I spent and what meals I was able to make for my family. If it works out, I will do this every month. I hope that it will help me to stay on budget and to be accountable.

If you have any tricks of the trade, please share them with me in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day One of No Thrills July

June was a very expensive month, with car repairs, A/C problems, a birthday, anniversary and an unexpected expense that put us over the edge. To bounce back, we have decided to have a No Frills July.

What does a No Frills July consist of? We will be sticking to a very strict budget. We will not be doing any things for entertainment that costs us money. We will not eat out at all, not even a quick trip to Mc Donald's. We will not purchase clothes or toys or magazines. The only things we will buy is food to cook at home, gas for the cars and pay the bills. Every left over penny will go directly into savings, to rebuild our emergency fund.

I will be taking the girls to see my sister later this month, so that will be a little expense that is beyond our normal budget. But I will be doing a blog post on how we will/did do it without spending too much.

Of course there is part of me that wishes I had gone to see the new Transformers movie this past weekend. But in reality, I can wait it out and it will either still be in the theater in August (cheap theater anyone.) I can always wait for it to come out on DVD or Netflix. I am not going to die without seeing my beloved Markie Mark. Well maybe, but I will have to risk it.

Leftovers will become my friend and I will work hard to re-invent them. I will eat the food I have hiding in the back of my pantry and freezer. The grocery budget will be a strict $100 a week, including household supplies.

This month will serve as a reboot for a budget that got out of control. It will be hard, but I hope by coming on here and sharing my daily trials and tribulations, I can make it.

Today's task: Create detailed budget for the month.