I have been taking a break from the blog the past week or so and just been interacting a little bit on Twitter. I thought I would stop in and talk a little bit about end of life planning. One of my close relatives is […]
We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]
We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!
We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it. We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:
As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house. I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.
One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!
The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn. My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker. A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!
We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could. We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.
Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.
One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow. He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it. We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.
Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!
The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?
Whew. I am a little bit late posting our summary of week three in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge but that is because last week was a whirlwind of expensive things breaking, children being sick and massive amounts of the general craziness that comes from […]
Well dear readers, week 2 of the Uber Frugal Month Challenge went off the rails a little bit. We had a busy week with sick kids and another family member was ill so I have not done the last 4 or 5 daily tasks from […]
A few weeks ago I found the Uber Frugal Month Challenge over at the Frugalwoods and I was immediately hooked. What a great way to start out 2018! I signed my husband and I up and we have spent the last week reading through the daily emails and completing challenge items. I will admit that we already do a lot of the tasks listed in the challenge such as not eating out, keeping track of our finances and trying to be mindful of our spending but as I have said before we have had a rough couple of years for our finances and we are ready to get back on track! This challenge is perfect for that and we have already started looking at areas for us to cut the fat and to buckle down.
One of the areas we have struggled with overspending over the past year has been with our groceries. I wrote about it in my A New Beginning in Budgeting Series Part 2 and we are working this month to lower our expenses even more with a pantry clean out. Unfortunately we realized on New Year’s Day that we were out of some very basic groceries such as bananas, eggs, carrots, yogurt and paper towels so we did end up having to go to the grocery store but we only spent $66.15 for the first week of the year and that included a couple of rarely purchased basic ingredients such as butter for when we hosted our group of friends over the weekend. That is a huge improvement for us! We stuck to our list and did not buy any extras and everything we bought we have absolutely used this week. We are already out of bananas but we are delaying going to the store for as long as possible so maybe we will make it to the weekend before we do another Costco run.
We got creative with some of the meals we made and although we are not completely vegetarian we have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian/low meat meals into our dinner rotation. Our kids love meat and some days that is all they will eat but we also are huge believers in putting a wide variety of healthy foods in front of them and eating them along with them. Kids learn by watching what you are doing (even if they don’t look like it) and we always eat our vegetables with the kids. I try to serve two vegetables at dinner so that the kids have a choice. One choice is a vegetable I know they like (such as peas) and another is either a new vegetable, one they need to try or something else they like but maybe prepared differently. We have really been working with our pickiest eater on just trying new foods and so far it has worked with the eater in question at least tasting new foods. Some of them have been thoroughly enjoyed!
Now I know that many uber frugal people would maybe tell us to switch to something other than paper towels but we primarily use them for cleaning up bodily fluids of both the pet and human kind off of the floor and I just do not feel comfortable using my towels and well loved hand/face wash clothes for that. I did make an effort this week to use our repurposed baby wash clothes when washing the kids hands and faces after meals instead of reaching for a baby wipe and I am thinking of making some more cloth napkins at some point. I have sewed them in the past but we only have a few currently and that is nowhere near enough with small children in the house! I finally have my sewing machine set up but I definitely don’t have the time right now to make them. Maybe next month my goal will be to replace as many disposable items in the house with reusable ones as possible. Hmm…I will have to think about that!
One of the biggest things we got out of our first week of the UFM Challenge was exactly how much our overspending on clothing and groceries was effecting our bottom line. I hadn’t really looked at our yearly spending in a couple of years and once we broke it down it became clear that we needed to be more diligent about overspending. I am really glad we are doing this challenge and gearing up on our frugal choices!
What ways are you being frugal in the new year?
Usually this time of year I start looking over our finances for the year, project our income a year ahead and start setting some goals for the year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I am not great at following through with them but […]
When my oldest daughter turned one many years ago she was inundated with so many gifts they filled a small kiddie pool. She was the first grand kid on my side and her dad has a large family plus being the first child of our […]
I was given the opportunity this week to check out a new retirement planning tool by AceYourRetirement.org and although I was not paid for this article it does contain promotional material. I would never post about something I have not tried myself and I always give my honest opinion about any product I recommend.
One of our biggest goals over the past 10 years as a couple has been to maximize the amount we are able to put into retirement savings. It is really easy for families to get sidetracked with everyday expenses and short-term goals such as upcoming vacations or maybe the kids have extra-curricular activities that need paying for and lose sight of the bigger picture. We have been focusing on retirement and ever so slowly our small nest egg has begun to grow. I am really glad we have been focusing on retirement too because my parents did not and now they are struggling to find ways to support themselves after some medical issues popped up. I do not want to put my children through the same kind of stress so by maximizing our retirement savings I am hoping to prevent it.
The fact that 2 out of 5 households do not save for retirement is very worrying. Even small savings steps can pay off in the long run. Our family went from struggling to save 4% to get our full employee match eight years ago to reaching our goal of 10% this year and I am super proud of us. It took a lot of hard work, determination and some aggressive debt repayment but I am finally feeling a little bit more secure about our future. Some of our savings tips can be found here on the blog:
- A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer
- A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our Grocery Spending
- A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 3: Reducing our Clothing Spending
Understanding your exact retirement needs can be confusing sometimes since there are so many ideas on what is the best approach. Here are some simple tips for helping you get started with easy-to-understand resources at AceYourRetirement.org. We follow many of these steps and I found a few more great ideas when I went through the AceYourRetirement.org website. It only took a few minutes too!
5 things to consider to help you maximize your retirement savings.
- Minimize debt – but not at the expense of paying into your 401k or other retirement accounts. The less debt-load you have during your retirement, the more you’ll be able to make your retirement dollars stretch.
- Don’t rely solely on Social Security – in fact people are often recommended to wait until up to age 70 to collect Social Security to allow benefits to grow more.
- Consider whether downsizing your living quarters makes sense once children are grown and out of the house.
- Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date and talk to your spouse to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- If you’ve been divorced but not remarried you may be eligible to Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse.
- Enroll in a retirement savings plan. Even a little bit held out from each paycheck can really add up.
- Never contribute less to your 401k account than your employer matches if they offer a matching program. Save more if possible and increase your savings by 1% per year whenever possible.
This time of year can often get pretty hectic with all financial goals flying out the window. Winter clothes, Christmas presents, and so on. But this year I’m already looking ahead at next year’s goals. The retirement calculator and tool at AceYourRetirement.org was great for personalized, simple tips on how to jumpstart my retirement savings. It was so helpful to me to see a couple areas that I could adjust to help improve the financial situation of our family. Now that we have hit our goal of saving 10% we are looking to increase our retirement savings by 1% every year and try and eventually maximize our contributions. One of the ideas that AceYourRetirement.org mentioned for us was for me to start working again to maximize our Social Security benefits. I have been thinking of going back to work part-time and this has motivated me to start looking for a job! I also love that they recommend you find a hobby to earn extra income during retirement. Just because you retire doesn’t mean you can’t earn extra income!
Taking steps to take control of your retirement planning could have a positive impact in many areas of your life. Many times families save for their kids’ college and leave nothing for themselves to retire on. This puts extra pressure on the kids to support their parents later on in life, something that many young adults may not be prepared both financially and emotionally to do. More than half of people in their 40s and 50s say that feeling more confident about saving for retirement would help them feel less stressed (54%). And 46% would be happier knowing they are taking care of their family’s future. I know I feel better about our retirement path after working through the AARP website AceYourRetirement.org. You should check it out and see what easy steps they have for you!
Hello and welcome to the third installment of our A New Beginning in Budgeting Series! Our first installment was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 1: Using Quicken to Build a Buffer” and our second was “A New Beginning in Budgeting Part 2: Adjusting our […]