Tag: Finances

Things We Are Teaching Our Kids about Budgeting

September 12, 2017

Hey Everyone,

People seem to have kids, be having kids, or thinking about having kids. It must be something in the water for people to have that kind of activity. I have two of my own.

Growing up my dad would get paid at the beginning of the month and then would expect to be able to go shopping at that time and that the food would last us the entire month. That would be $300 to last 5 people (2 adults, 3 growing kids) and 1 black Labrador. More often than not it didn’t. We would run out of food about a week into the month and live off of nothing but Top Ramen, pasta (in any way you can possibly think of- dry; with butter; salt and pepper; etc), or just dry cereal. Sometimes it would last two weeks in. I’m so glad that my siblings and I were able to get food at the school, otherwise, it would have gotten even worse.  During the summers, and breaks were the hardest for us.

If you were to hear this, many people would think that we didn’t have money, were poor, or were just down on our luck. The truth is, my dad actually got enough money to support us decently for the entire month and not have to worry about anything. The problem was that my dad didn’t know how to manage his money. Or make wise money decisions.

This is sad that some kids have to go through this. As a way to counteract this with my own kids, Husband and I implemented a way for the kids to earn money, and have the freedom to choose how to spend it, within reason.

chore Chart Since it’s the beginning of the school year I bought 2 different chore chart notations. (To the left is for my oldest). This is a tester model to see if this system is a right fit for my kids. On the left side is the weekly dates. Across the top are 5 repeating expectations for my oldest with monetary values:

Homework- 2 cents

Quiet Time- 3 Cents

Pick Up Toys- 1 Cent

Eye Patching- 2 cents

All 4- 2 cent incentive

So far it is having mixed results for the effectiveness. My oldest is in Kindergarten so he doesn’t come home with homework. So there are two workbook pages that he CAN work on if he wants. Quiet time is during the times that I’m working. I cannot be on the phones at home and have someone hear, “Mommy, can you come wipe my butt? I pooped”. They need to be quiet. Picking up toys is so easy and basic. And eye patching, oh man. With my son’s eye problems, he hates wearing his eye patch, for every day that he wears one for the full 6 hours, he gets some money. As you can see the ones that are consistently being not done are the homework and toys.

At the end of the day, I will put a sticker in the correct spot to show that he accomplished the task and then on Friday I will pay him accordingly. I will give him pennies for each task completed and any incentive that was earned, and also make a separate pile for the money that was missed out on so he can see what not doing something does for him. Once I’ve finished divvying out the pennies we will count and exchange for Nickels and Dimes. Quarters are needed for laundry money so he won’t be getting any of those, unfortunately. But he’s still learning about how to exchange money.

Incentives

On Friday’s I get a weekly report from his teacher about his behavior and anything special that happened so he will get 10 cents for every “Dojo” point he gets during the week as an incentive to listen to his teacher. Also, if he does anything “extra” that is paid out on that day, right after it happens, i.e. putting away dishes, matching socks, taking out the bathroom trash.

Friday is the only day that he can “buy” something. The reason for this is because we needed to limit when he would be able to utilize his money. And make conscious decisions about it, right when he gets it, instead of changing his mind. Plus, if he wants to buy something on Wednesday night, he will have a couple days to think it over if he really wants it or not. He could buy a piece of candy for 50 cents, a soda for $1.00, an hour playing on my iPad for $5.00, and if he saves enough money ($10) he can pay to have a bowling night. Bowling night is something that the boys decided they wanted if they were to save a lot of money.

Also, we are teaching consequences and that some bad or negative choices come at a price. If my oldest son is being mean to his brother then he has to pay a 5 cent fine, pay 10 cents for every “Dojo” point taken away by his teacher, 50 cents for losing his temper/throws a temper tantrum. There are other things that he can do to pay a fine, but he is a good kid.

First Buy

This proud guy has saved $4.50 and decided that he wanted a soda so he with his own $1 money he walked with Husband down to the gas station and bought his own. You can tell he is so proud of himself.

The reason why I’m doing this is that I want my kids to be money smart and learn to make financial decisions, learn the value of $1. I know that next year because things will be different, we will need to change the chores, and also change the values. Next year he won’t get paid for picking up his toys, while his younger brother won’t be paid 1 cent for going on the potty (I am not a fan of potty training).

Being financially smart on this journey is imperative because there is no need to go into debt for a vacation. Start being smart with your money now, so that it will be easier when we cross that finish line together!!

See you on the other side!!

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Let’s Prep. . .Crockpot meals

Let’s Prep. . .Crockpot meals

September 10, 2017

Hey, Everyone,

It’s the middle of September. I cannot believe it. The goal yesterday was to make some crockpot meals. I’m jumping on that train. I’ve heard that it helps save money in the long run (if the freezer doesn’t break, power doesn’t go out, or kids randomly leave the freezer door open). I hope none of those events transpire. To work up to this main event I had been slowly eating all the junky freezer food in the freezer, and not replacing it so there was enough space to store these wonderful freezer meals.

It’s the middle of September. I cannot believe it. The goal yesterday was to make some crockpot meals. I’m jumping on that train. I’ve heard that it helps save money in the long run (if the freezer doesn’t break, power doesn’t go out, or kids randomly leave the freezer door open). I hope none of those events transpire. To work up to this main event I had been slowly eating all the junky freezer food in the freezer, and not replacing it so there was enough space to store these wonderful freezer meals.

Since I do not have a large freezer. It is a standard size freezer that doesn’t hold a lot of food in general. I froze the meals flat so that there was enough room for the many meals that I want to make, that is a combination of yesterdays meals and future meals. I used Pinterest and went through this site to print out the crockpot meals (with recipes) that fit our food guidelines and also sounded delicious.

In the end, we did the last recipe section labeled 6 Make Ahead Freezer Meals in 50 minutes because I was excited about the time aspect of the recipes, and it seemed like the most affordable food combination than the others.

We also do not have a large crockpot and I ended up not needing to halve the recipes like I was afraid might have been needed. We have a 4-quart size slow cooker because it was on sale last year at Wal-Mart for $10. I had never worked with a slow cooker before and I gotta say that I sometimes wish that I got a bigger one that could hold a small chicken or turkey, but hindsight is 20/20. I’m content with what we have.

us-money-billsI made this food this week because it’s a paid weekend and am going to try and keep it up by doing it again almost every two weeks from now to coincide with my pay schedule. And then I’m going to plan out the FOE food schedule so all that needs to be done is to take out a meal the night before, and put it in the crockpot in the morning. Will save some money because then even if I’m too busy to make the meal myself, all my amazing husband has to do is follow the directions on the bag and be done with it until dinner time. Otherwise, we will not be financially diligent with our money with all the eating out we would most likely be doing.

These freezer meals are supposed to be good for 3 months, and if everything works out like I want, that will be perfect timing. And if I keep adding to the freezer on pay weeks, they won’t get depleted as fast and can save money all year long. Because yesterday was the first time and I kept having to go back and forth between the food and the recipes, it took much longer than 50 minutes to prepare everything. Plus, in the middle of the food preparation by youngest son had finished his nap and being the sneaky little boy that he is decided to sit next to my feet and when I went to check the next food item I tripped over him and almost stabbed myself with the knife I was working on. Yup, that adventure happened. No one was hurt, but we both scared each other.

I am a little OCD when it comes to being financially knowledgeable about how much we are going to budget for food. In the original post, she says that she only spent $59.69, for her food, but 1) it was made in 2014, and 2) I don’t know where they live. Two things that change the price of everything dramatically. So I went to Bing and for every item needed I typed in something like, “Average cost of onions” and it would give me the response of, “Onions vary by season, usually costing less than $2.00 per pound. Since onions are plants, the growing season determines the availability of the item. Seasonal problems can affect the price. Onions vary by season, usually costing less than $2.00 per pound.” So in the spreadsheet that I made, I would put in the average cost, or since I’m going to Wal-Mart for the items if I could look up a price (like a bottle of spices) I would add it to the spreadsheet, always rounding up to the nearest $1 (I.e. if something cost $2.14 I would put it as $3.00, it is an easy way to keep a simple total, because no one likes doing complicated math at the store, and so that if I reach my budget limit with my rounding up total, then I know that when I check out I will be under my budget).

So, on my spreadsheet, it came out to be $84 for the cost of all the food and items needed to do this freezer meal planning. I printed out the spreadsheet and on the back, I kept a running total of everything I put in the cart. (Because not everyone can read my writing I added it to the spreadsheet as well). My rounding up total ended up being $68. Walking out of the store it was $60.22. That is only $0.89 difference from the original post!!!

Frrezer meals 1

Freezer meals 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

My family is not meat centric, so we do not need to have meat as a primary focus for our meals, and so when we had the meatloaf, instead of making a traditional 9″x5″ pan we are going to put them in small pans 2.5″x8″ and that should be good enough for a meal, plus sides. And because I made them this way, there was enough for 4 meals instead of the 2 the recipes called for. In the end here are the price breakdowns for these meals included in the spreadsheet. Freezer meal plan– Spreadsheet.

Honey Sesame Chicken (x2)- $6.11 for the meal itself and $1.52 per person

Turkey, White Bean, Kale Soup (x2)- $4.85 for the meal and $1.21 per person

Brown Sugar Meatloaf (x4)- $5.81 for the meal $1.45 per person.

Because yesterday was the first time and I kept having to go back and forth between the food and the recipes, it took much longer than 50 minutes to prepare everything. Plus, in the middle of the food preparation by youngest son had finished his nap and being the sneaky little boy that he is decided to sit next to my feet and when I went to check the next food item I tripped over him and almost stabbed myself with the knife I was using. Yup, that adventure happened. No one was hurt, but we both scared each other.

burn-out

Have any of you had experience with freezer meals? How did they turn out? Do you still do them?

See you on the other side!

 

3 Financial Focuses for 4th Quarter of 2017

3 Financial Focuses for 4th Quarter of 2017

September 7, 2017

Hey Everyone,

It’s coming upon the last quarter of 2017 so this is the time of the year we need to be more financially focused to end the year strong and start 2018 even more financially stable.

Here are 3 financial goals that my husband and I are focusing in the 4th quarter of 2017:

  1. Financial Diligence
    1. What I mean by financial diligence is sticking to the budget. I found a great free budgeting document that allows me to use Excel, and see any adjusted amounts. At first, it was a little time consuming to re-name everything because I did it individually for each page and then, my husband seeing my frustration was like, “What the f**** are you doing? You can just copy and paste the name into the cell you want because those don’t have any formulas.” He then proceeded to take over and finished what I had been slaving over for an hour in 2 minutes. I still say I did most of the work, it still got done.
    2. With all the extra money I will be working during the Federal Open Enrollment (FOE) we cannot just spend the money earned unwisely. We need to be focusing specifically putting that extra money on paying rent ahead. The goal is to pay 4 months of rent ahead in 2018 (January- April), so that during January- April when we get the GI Bill and Tax return we can put it towards the rest of the 2018 rent. That may sound confusing, but my husband is losing his GI Bill in May of 2018, so it will no longer be paying for housing or the last semester of his schooling. We really need to be financially diligent so that when we lose 1/3 of our income it won’t be as much of a blow because we have that covered. Wish us luck on that we will need it for sure.
  2. Work, Work, Work
    1. October 15- December 7 is OEP. That is the time of the year that my job hours jump from 40 hours a week up to about 100 hours. That is some hard earned money for sure. The great thing about my job is that we DO NOT HAVE to take any extra over time (OT) that we don’t want to take, outside of the 6-10 hours mandatory. We even have the freedom to spread out the OT to whenever we want to take it. That is fantastic because I still have my training scheduled on my calendar that is not to be missed.
    2. I am actually limiting myself to about 70.5 hours a week so that I don’t get burned out, can spend some time with my family, and still make some very good money. By the end, I will be totally exhausted and want to sleep for a week, but there are only 2 more years (’17/’18) where I absolutely need to push myself to my limits. I probably still will push myself year after year, so that we get closer to our financial goals.
    3. My husband’s goal is to go to college and get good grades. So far he has a 4.0 GPA, part of the honor society, Dean’s list and even does some tutoring for those struggling in his classes. We really want him to finish school, so to help financially he put in his application at Wal-Mart as a part time courtesy clerk (a.k.a cart pusher) on the weekends. It shouldn’t interfere with his studies. That will help us financially put aside some money for 2018.
  3. Forward Dreaming
    1. We cannot be planning and pushing ourselves to this extreme without some dreams of the future. During this post, it should have given you an idea of what some of our financial dreams are for the future.
      1. End of 2017- 4 months of rent paid for 2018
      2. 2018- Finish College
      3. 2019- Pay off 25,000 in debt and save 8,000 for Dopey Challenge Adventure in January 2020
      4. 2020- Pay off 35,000 in debt
      5. 2025- 30% Down payment on a house

This is going to be one turbulent adventure for sure, glad you came along for the ride.

See you on the other side!

What’s to Eat?

August 29, 2017

Hey Everyone,

Yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of my wedding, such a short amount of time and so much has happened to us that I am very grateful that we’ve made it. Congratulations to us!!

Some of you were wondering what we exactly eat. Here’s a list:

Food List

This is just a basic clean eating food list found on the internet that I’ve edited to not include those things that I know for sure we don’t get/eat. This list does not include those things that we just refuse to live without. Down below I have included a more inclusive list of all the things that we will eat.

Grocery-List2

One basic consistency is that we do not eat anything biblically unclean. This is a personal choice that we have decided to abide by if you eat those things, I do not care or think of you in a different way. That is your personal decision and I have nothing against your choices.

Also, we eat donuts occasionally. With that in mind, I mainly stick to the clean eating list and eat three adequately sized meals throughout the day. Since I have to make my own meals with limited time, with a limited budget, I don’t always get the option of eating what I plan on making in the size I plan on having it. My eyes always seem to be bigger than my stomach.

With that in mind, it seems that with the way we eat we only seem to spend around $150 on pay weekends, then $50 on non-pay weekends during the hot months of the year, while in winter the budget is $200 for pay weekends, and $75 for non-pay weekends. For a monthly food budget (not including going out to eat) of around $400 ($550 during winter). We live in Reno, NV so in comparison to some major cities our food is pretty cheap and affordable depending on what we purchase.

Because we are on a limited income we maybe go out to a nicer place to eat maybe once every 6 months. With my husband and I hardly ever going to a nicer place like Red Robin, we really know how to eat. Just my order would consist of:

  •  Bruschetta Chicken
    • 630 cal
      • 260 cals from fat
    • 29g total Fat
      • 8g saturated fat
      • 0g trans fat
    • 125mg Cholesterol
    • 1480mg Sodium
    • 46g Carbohydrates
    • 3g Fibre
    • 5g Sugar
    • 42g Protein
  • Sweet Potato Fries
    • 570 cal
      • 270 cals from fat
    • 29g total Fat
      • 5g saturated fat
      • 0g trans fat
    • 0mg Cholesterol
    • 810mg Sodium
    • 70g Carbohydrates
    • 9g Fibre
    • 24g Sugar
    • 6g Protein
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup- Bowl
    • 380 cal
      • 180 cals from fat
    • 19g total Fat
      • 8g saturated fat
      • 0g trans fat
    • 55mg Cholesterol
    • 1520mg Sodium
    • 31g Carbohydrates
    • 4g Fibre
    • 4g Sugar
    • 22g Protein
  • Total for everything- We eat everything that we order. This meal blows my whole day out of food control because I love eating too much. Especially when I don’t have to cook the food.
    • 1580 cal
      • 710 cals from fat
    • 77g total Fat
      • 21g saturated fat
      • 0g trans fat
    • 180mg Cholesterol
    • 3810mg Sodium
    • 147g Carbohydrates
    • 16g Fibre
    • 33g Sugar
    • 70g Protein

When you go out to eat, do you tend to order more food than you typically eat on a daily basis? Where do you usually go? I would love to hear from you, or even hear some advice on what I should order when I go.

See you on the other side!