• March 2019 Budget Report

    In March I had an aha moment. You see, it has been a goal of mine to one day send at least one half of our monthly income to debt. In March, I realized that we are in a position to do that during most months. Some months this may not be feasible as we have larger expenses such as car insurance and vacations. As you will see we didn’t quite make it but we are getting closer.

    Tithes $883- We are thankful that we get to give each month.

    Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.

    Duke Energy $59.92- We actively try to keep the thermostat at 66 during the day and 64 at night.

    PNGas $97.51- Another month with a higher than normal bill. I’m really looking forward to the warmer Spring weather. 

    Spectrum internet $14.99- We have the lowest package, but it works for us.

    Total Wireless cell phone $26.31- This is for one phone. We have another phone provided by my husband’s employer.

    Water & Sewer $83.44

    B’s life insurance $44.23- We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.

    Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.

    HP instant ink $10.66- I love skipping the store for ink. I would always forget until I would be completely out of ink.

    Grocery $505.92- Food for our family of five. I try to keep our grocery budget around $500. I follow the dirty dozen list and try to mostly eat organic fruit and vegetables.

    Vehicle gas $283.46- This is for one vehicle. Gas prices have increased here in NC. We also traveled to visit family this month.

    Entertainment/Eating Out $174.41- I decided to combine these categories as they went hand in hand this month. We went to an ACC basketball tournament game and Chuck E. Cheese. As if that wasn’t enough fun, my husband and I went to a concert and out for dinner.

    Blow $121.31- This is my husband’s fun money.

    Household $286.40- We were able to do some things that we had been putting off this month. My husband loves watches. He had three of his watches repaired and batteries replaced in all of his watches. I purchased printer paper, dish detergent, lotion, water balloons, laundry detergent and polyfill for our couches.

    Gifts $244.07- This includes a birthday gift for our youngest son as well as future gifts.

    Charitable giving $19.74- This number looks different each month depending on where we decide to give. Some months we give supplies to a local charity and other times we make blessing bags for the homeless.

    Debt $3286.09- This includes our regular payment of $577. Our payment has gone down from $675 because of the loan that we paid off!!! Our payoff balance is $68,977.26. I just love seeing this number decrease.

    Total $7256.46- My husband earned $6887.41 (after taxes and health insurance). We received a gift of $50 and $250 from our state tax refund. I earned $65.05 from Ibotta and doing surveys.

    Did you pay down on any debt in March? I would love to hear about it.

  • My Favorite Aldi Finds

    Each week I shop at Aldi to get the best bang for my buck! I have been shopping at Aldi for almost 10 years. Although my shopping trips have changed, the savings have not. Before you go shopping again check out some of my favorite Aldi finds. Some of these are included on my shopping list each week.

    The kids and I love pistachios! We usually eat the entire bag in one night. You will find these in my cart each week.



    Aldi has an awesome selection of fruits and vegetables. Each week their ad features some of the lowest produce prices in town.

    We love hummus. We eat on sandwiches, as a dip, and even salad dressing.

    We purchase two containers of almond milk each week for oatmeal, cereal and baking.

    Peanut butter is a staple in our home. We have PB&J at least once a week. We also love it on apples and in recipes.

    Chips and salsa are the snack that I can always count on. If I’m being honest, we occasionally have it for lunch.

    I purchase diced tomatoes every week. The 28 oz can is just perfect for our family of five.

    The possibilities are endless with pasta.

    Chips are only 89 cents everyday at Aldi! While I try to limit potato chips, they somehow find their way into the cart.

    Spices are so inexpensive at Aldi. The regular spices are only 99 cents while the organic ones are $1.99. Such a great deal!

    I love to keep cocoa powder in the house. Our oldest son recently learned how to make hot chocolate on the stove and what a treat it is. I like to have it on hand anytime we want something a little sweet.

    Gotta have sugar for the hot chocolate!

    I have found this this tissue works best for our family. It is similar to Scott but at a much lower price.

    Although our babies no longer use diapers, I wanted to include this for those that do. At $3.69 a pack, Aldi has the best everyday price on diapers. I continue to purchase the wipes just because small kids can be messy!

    These trash bags are very durable. I have yet to have a leak. I love knowing that I’m not throwing away so much money just for a name.

    Each week I purchase frozen blueberries. The kids love them in oatmeal but also eat them straight from the freezer.

    We tend to use more foil in the summer, but I like to keep it on hand for when I need it.

    I like to keep one bottle of sanitizer in the car and one in the house.

    Vinegar is a staple in our home. I use it for baking and cleaning. I keep a jug in our home at all times. This huge bottle is only $2.39 everyday at Aldi.

    I use olive oil for bread making and for hair care.

    I don’t remember eating oatmeal growing up but I certainly love it now. My husband is not a fan, but he loves granola. We use at least one container each week. The kids and I eat oatmeal almost each morning.

    This list is just a portion of what I purchase at Aldi. If you don’t already shop at Aldi, I hope that this list will encourage you to give them a try.

  • February 2019 Budget Report

    What a difference a month makes! If you remember my photo from last month, the tree in my front yard was bare. I absolutely love looking out of my window at this beauty each morning.

    February was such an exciting month! There was a dance, a bonus, a raise and we paid the most that we have ever paid towards our debt. We are so pumped up to see our debt dropping.

    Tithes $1659- We are thankful that we get to give.

    Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.

    Duke Energy $57.37- We try to keep our thermostat at 66 during the day and 64 at night.

    PNGas $88.80- Another month with a higher than normal bill.

    Spectrum Internet $14.99- We have the lowest package but it works for us.

    Total Wireless cell phone $26.31- This is for one cell phone. We have another cell phone provided by B’s employer.

    Water & Sewer $76.75

    B’s life insurance $44.23- We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.

    Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.

    HP instant ink $10.66- I love not having to make a trip to the store to pick up ink.

    Grocery $550.83- Food for our family of five.

    Vehicle Gas $189.99- This is for one car.

    Eating out $45.25- We went to lunch as a family.

    Blow $106.86- This is B’s lunch and sometimes dinner money when he works late.

    Clothes $80.37- I purchased shoes for me, a sweater for me and some Spring clothes for the kids.

    Tax Prep $11.65- My sister introduced me to FreeTaxUSA a few years ago. I love the convenience of filing our taxes at home. It is free to file federal. If you use the code FREETAXUSA10 you will save 10% on your purchase.

    Entertainment $205.22- Oh what fun! My husband and daughter went to a dance, I went to a dinner party and purchased tickets for two upcoming events.

    Household $146.35- Apparently this was the month to restock. We purchased hand soap, hair cream, laundry detergent, eucalyptus oil, toothpaste, shea butter, elderberry syrup and elderberries.

    Car maintenance $28.15- Oops. So we received a coupon from the Nissan dealership for a free oil change and tire rotation but …… we let it expire. It was very frustrating to throw away money! We can only hope that we will receive that wonderful coupon again some day.

    Gifts $277.29- This includes gifts that were given plus some for the future.

    Charitable giving $11.65

    Debt $9714.99- This includes our regular payment of $675. We also paid off another loan!!!! Our payoff balance is now $72,101.01!!!! After years and years of paying off other debts, it feels amazing to finally see the balance dropping on my husband’s student loans.

    Total $14,397.54- My husband earned $11,595.54 (after taxes and health insurance). This includes his bonus and pay raise. We received $50 as a gift. I earned $65. Our federal tax return of $2687. We are so shocked by this amount. We forgot to change our withholding and that resulted in a higher return. We much rather receive more money during the year instead of a high return. However we are very grateful to have the extra money to apply to our debt.

    Getting into debt is so very easy but getting out is hard work. This verse has been such a great reminder in the moments when I am tempted to throw in the towel. Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Wherever you are in your journey, you can do this!! I would love to know if you paid down some debt.

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  • January 2019 Budget Report

    January is symbolic of a clean slate, a new beginning. Many goals are made and broken during the month. This was no different for me. I never wrote down any goals but I did have a mental list. One of my goals was to eat out less. The cost for the five of us to eat out always leaves me feeling a little blue. When I don’t plan ahead that becomes our back up plan. At any rate, we’re not getting off this train! On to the numbers.

    Tithes $840- We are thankful that we get to give each month.

    Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.

    Duke Energy $53.38-  We actively try to keep our thermostat at 66 during the day and 64 at night.

    PNGas $86.08- Lesson learned. We left the fireplace pilot light lit after a snow storm.

    Spectrum Internet $14.99- We have the lowest package but it works great.

    Total Wireless Cell Phone $26.31- This is for one cell phone. We have another cell phone provided by B’s employer.

    Water & Sewer $62.34

    B’s Life Insurance $41.43-  We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.

    Trash pick up $44.04- This bill is paid quarterly.

    Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee, but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.

    HP Instant ink $10.66-  I love the freedom of printing without running out of ink.

    Grocery $536.17- This includes food for 2 adults and 3 kids.

    Vehicle Gas $181.89- This is for one car. So very happy with gas prices.

    Eating Out $111.11- We ate out twice as a family.

    Entertainment $8.61- B went to the movies. We went to Kaleideum for free thanks to our local library but paid $2 for the kids to try the hurricane simulator.

    Blow $64.39- This is B’s lunch and sometimes dinner money when he works late.

    Clothes $23.26- Shoes for our basketball player.

    Healthcare $83.10- This includes a payment to the dentist for sealants for our oldest son. I also purchased some Elderberry gummies for the kids.

    Household $9.26- I purchased a toilet brush and a small storage container.

    Gifts $130.61-  This includes gifts that were given plus some for the future.

    Charitable giving $37.25

    Debt $3127.36- This includes the regular payment of $675. The payment was reduced since we paid off a loan!! Our payoff is now $81,502.44!!!!

    Total $6543.24-B earned $6364.24 after taxes and healthcare. I earned $179 doing surveys.

    Did you make any goals for the new year?

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  • My Vegan Shopping Trips

    I get asked a lot about what we eat. I thought that it would be a good idea to show you what I buy for our family of five on a weekly basis.

    Food Lion $14.34
    Harris Teeter $42.29
    ($3 back from Ibotta & $.75 back from SavingStar)
    Lidl $9.26
    Aldi $48.79
    Target $5.59

    Breakfast- Pancakes, granola with yogurt, oatmeal, blueberry bread

    Lunches- Leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, salad, carrots and hummus

    Snacks- Chips/salsa, fruit, nuts, pretzels

    Dinners-

    • Friday- Veggie subs, pretzels, apples
    • Saturday- Dinner out for me, Takeout for everyone else
    • Sunday- Black bean soup, buffalo cauliflower bites, crackers, bananas
    • Monday- Fried rice, mandarins, bananas
    • Tuesday- West african stew, jasmine rice, pineapple
    • Wednesday- BBQ sweet potato pizza, ice cream, pineapple, bananas
    • Thursday- Cheesy mexican casserole, mandarins, pineapple

    Total spent this week: $120.27

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  • My Vegan Grocery Trips

    This year I decided that I would start posting my weekly grocery trips. I love seeing what other people purchase! In addition to finding deals, I also find inspiration for meals.

    Whole Foods $12.94
    ($1 back from Ibotta)








    Walmart $7.37
    ($.70 back from Ibotta)
    Harris Teeter $22.17
    ($3 back from Ibotta)
    Harris Teeter $8.15
    Aldi $47.93
    Food Lion $13.53
    (minus the detergents)

    Harris Teeter $9.15
    ($3 back from Ibotta)

    My total for this week is $123.07. This includes $1.83 for a box of Larabars that I purchased from Gabes. Some of these items such as the molasses, ice cream and pretzels will roll over into next week. I shop and plan our menu for Friday- Thursday of the following week.

    Breakfast- Pancakes, granola or oatmeal

    Lunch- Leftovers or PB&J with carrots with hummus and fruit

    Snacks- Fruit, nuts or pretzels

    Dinner- 

    Friday-Lentil soup

    Saturday-Lentil soup (no typo-I was out late so we had leftovers)

    Super bowl Sunday- Buffalo cauliflower bites, brownies, chips and salsa

    Monday- Creamy tomato pasta

    Tuesday- Lentil curry with jasmine rice

    Wednesday- White bean soup

    Thursday- BBQ black bean balls over rice with lima beans

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  • My Top 10 Ways to Save on Groceries!

    • Shop the sales and menu plan. Each week when I start planning our menu, I shop my cabinets. I like to see which meals I can create from what I already have on hand. My next step is check out the specials in my store’s ad. Based on what I find on sale, I build my menu. Shopping the sales allows me to save each week.
    • Contact your favorite companies. Companies love to know how much you enjoy their products. They will often reward you with coupons for emailing them or calling them. I keep a list of companies that I contact and their response to my compliment.
    • Sign up for the newsletter of your favorite companies. Each month I receive coupons from some of my favorite brands. These companies may or may not offer coupons in the Sunday paper. When I find a sale that I like, I use the coupon to optimize my savings. This coupon will make organic salad free this week at my local Harris Teeter.
    • Sign up for Ibotta. You do not receive the savings upfront from Ibotta as you would a coupon. This cash back app along with others such as Checkout 51 and Savingstar can still be helpful at saving on groceries. Since I joined in 2012, I have earned $534.94. If you would like to start earning, download the ibotta app and use referral code wb37q.  
    • Sign up for your store’s emails. Some stores offer special discounts to customers signed up for their emails. For instance Harris Teeter offers deals called evic specials that are cheaper than the sale price. At least twice a month they offer free items just for being signed up.
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    • Find a blog, facebook group or instagram page for the stores that you shop. Finding deals and couponing is easy to do when you let someone else do the work for you. There are blogs dedicated to specific stores that only post deals on that store. Likewise if you hashtag your favorite store, you will find deals for that store.
    • Know your store’s policy. Some stores allow you to use competitor coupons. These are coupons such as $10 off $50. These coupons are a great way to save with very little effort. Some stores such as Harris Teeter and Whole Foods offer a scan guarantee policy. If an item rings up for a different price than advertised, you get the item for free.
    • Don’t throw away those catalina coupons. Companies often offer high valued coupons so that you will try their products. If you wait for the item to go on sale you will maximize your savings. Catalina coupons are manufacturer coupons that can be used at any store that accepts them. For example: If you receive a catalina from Food Lion, you can redeem it at Walmart.
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    • Know the best price on items that you buy often. I am loyal to few brands, Scott 1000 sheet toilet paper being one of them. I much rather purchase it when I find it on sale for $5.49 for a 12 pack vs. $8.99. Having a price list even if it is a mental list will help you to save. When you purchase items at the lowest price you can save money for other groceries.
    • A deal is only a deal If it is useful. I make it a habit to only purchase items that we can use or donate. By passing on deals that are not useful to me, it eliminates wasting money. Even if an item is free after a coupon, you still have to pay tax. This can add up especially on items that you don’t need.

    So these are my top ways to save. My grocery shopping has certainly changed since I was first married. We mostly purchase organic fruits and veggies. We also limit our consumption of processed foods. So even though I no longer heavily coupon, I do love to find a good deal! I hope that you find this list helpful.

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  • December 2018 Budget Report

    December started with a bang! We had over 10 inches of snow to fall and it was stunning. The photo above is of our oldest playing in the backyard. We traveled to spend time with family and had a really great time. We wrapped up the year with snacks and the countdown at home. Each year it is becoming harder to stay up for the ball drop! Anyways here are our actual numbers for the month.

    Tithes $840-We are so thankful that we get to give each month

    Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.

    Duke Energy $60.73- We actively try to keep our temp at 66 during the day and 64 at night.

    PNGas $37.29- Our water is heated by gas.

    Spectrum Internet $14.99- We have the lowest package but it works great.

    Total Wireless Cell Phone $26.31- This is for one cell phone. We have another cell phone provided by B’s employer.

    Water & Sewer $74.90- Another month of water issues but we are still delighted to pay this bill.

    B’s Life Insurance $41.43- We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.

    Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee, but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.

    HP Instant ink $10.66- I love the freedom of printing for homeschool and couponing without running out of ink.

    Grocery $576.34- This includes food for 2 adults and 3 kids.

    Gas $240.96- I am beyond thrilled that gas is dropping! We traveled during the holidays yet the gas prices were very reasonable.

    Eating Out $63.58-  We picked up some food during our travels this month.

    Blow $176.46- This is B’s lunch and sometimes dinner money when he works late.

    Clothes $219.05- We were not winter prepared and so we had to go shopping. We got snow boots, winter gloves, jeans and some clothing for next summer.

    Gifts $382.55-  This includes gifts for a birthday, to family and Christmas.

    Charitable giving $294.15- Other giving.

    Household $69.13-  We picked up a snow shovel, salt for the walkway, printer paper and a booster seat.

    Debt $2995.76- This includes the monthly scheduled payment of $762. Our total payoff is now $84,073.77!! We are beyond excited to see these student loans dropping.

    Total $7175.29- B earned $6494.01 after taxes and health insurance. He also received a reimbursement of $372.28 for his business related travel last month. I earned $109 from doing surveys on MyPoints and Swagbucks. We also received $200 as a gift.

    So that was December. We ended the year looking ahead to the future. When we started our debt snowball years ago, 2020 was the goal year to be debt free. It’s hard to believe that we are so very close. Thank you for joining us on our journey. What are your goals for the new year?

      

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  • My Christmas Shopping Plans

     

     

     Christmas is here and I’m completely finish shopping. You see I start planning for Christmas around October. I make a list of all the people that I plan to shop for so that I don’t have any surprises. This year, I have 35 people on my list! My list includes the names of each person as well as the type of gift I would like to give them. Having a list and checking it twice helps me to stay on task. By combining sales and coupons I am able to save on shopping. I also used the money earned by completing surveys to help save this Christmas.

    I consider myself to be somewhat of a minimalist and so this drives my gift giving. I don’t ask my kids what they would like for Christmas but instead I listen to hints that they give. My boys mentioned that they would like Carolina Panthers jerseys so that will be their major gift from us. We purchased  jerseys from Kohls when they were on sale during Thanksgiving. Our daughter likes to help in the kitchen so this year she will get her own. We actually only purchase one or two gifts for each for our kids plus their stockings. By the time we exchange gifts with other family members, they have more than enough gifts.

    My in-laws give us Christmas money so that we can buy gifts for the kids from them.  I purchase one or two gifts from them and then I put the rest of the money into their accounts. Our kids are aware of the money given by their grandparents and are very grateful for it. We use their money for experience gifts. In the past our kids have taken cooking classes, played sports, and gone on the Polar express train ride. These types of experience gifts allow our kids to have memories of new activities as opposed to adding so many more things to our home.

    In the rush to find the perfect gift for each person, it can be hard to remember the true reason for the season. Jesus is the reason. As fun as it is to receive gifts it is truly more rewarding to give gifts. Each year we choose names from an angel tree and along with our children we purchase gifts for them. It has become a tradition that we look forward to each year. It is our hope that this small gesture of giving will always remind our children of the greatest gift ever given.

    Do you have any family traditions that you celebrate at Christmas?

     

  • November 2018 Budget Report

     

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    I simply cannot believe that November is already over! November was very demanding for our family. We were on the road a lot. We traveled to the east and then to the west of NC! That being said, we really enjoyed spending time with our family. We celebrated 8 years of marriage and a Thanksgiving family reunion! Here are the numbers for the month.

     

    Tithes $859- We are so thankful that we get to give each month.

    Rent $1050- Our plan is to rent until we are debt free.

    Duke Energy $69.48- It started to cool down and I’m loving it! We actively try to keep our temp at 66 during the day and 64 at night.

    PNGas $21.30- Our water is heated by gas.

    Spectrum Internet $14.99- We have the lowest package but it works great.

    Total Wireless Cell Phone $26.31- This is for one cell phone. We have another cell phone provided by B’s employer.

    Water & Sewer $82.01- After having issues with the water pump and pipes, we are glad to pay this bill.

    B’s Life Insurance $41.43- We feel very strongly about having a good term life insurance policy.

    Fee $1- Our credit union charges a monthly fee, but uses the fee to fund scholarships in NC.

    HP instant ink $10.66- I love the freedom of printing for homeschool and couponing without running out of ink.

    Grocery $599.75- This includes food for 2 adults and 3 kids.

    Gas $344.52- We traveled to Wilmington, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Raleigh, TarHeel and Asheville during the month.

    Eating Out $192.09- We ate out too much during the month. Most of this was on the road but also included our Anniversary take out dinner at home.

    Blow $133.23- This includes B’s lunch and sometimes dinner money when he works late.

    Clothes $225.11- We purchased marked down costumes after Halloween, shoes for me, and some clothes for next spring for the kids.

    Gifts $237.26- This includes gifts for Christmas, Anniversary and gifts to family.

    Charitable giving $16.67- other giving.

    Household $33.33- We purchased a towel bar and pillow protectors.

    Gap Tax $5.97- Bill we received for our old car.

    Vehicle tax & registration $80.73- Fees on our 2006 Nissan Pathfinder.

    Car maintenance $714.99- After too many hours at 3 different shops, our check engine light is off. This includes a leak in the exhaust, o2 sensor issues, oil leak, oil change and the inspection.

    Geico car insurance $230.58- We pay our car insurance twice a year. This payment is for one car. It is also includes roadside assistance.

    Debt $2941.86- This also includes the monthly scheduled payment of $762. Our total payoff is now $87,069.53!!! 

    Total $7932.27- B earned a total of $6502 after taxes, I earned a total of $232.35 for completing surveys and online studies, and we received $29.70 in a refund from our previous waste services provider. $1168.22 from car savings. Someone ran a light and hit B while he was driving our 2009 Nissan Versa at the end June. The car was totaled. Being a one car family is working out well. We have decided to put off getting another car until being a one car family does not work for us.

    So this is the good, the bad and the ugly (I’m looking at you, eating out category).  Thank you so much for reading. How did November go for you?