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Posts from the ‘Couponing’ Category

Operation Get My Life Together: The Debt Snowball

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my envelopes and my cash flow system to help us get out of debt.  I want to stipulate that, as of now, I DO NOT add my house into this snowball debt.  Let’s be real, folks….its kind of like me being fat…the fat did not accumulate in a day and it will not be gone in a day.  I want to set attainable goals to keep me motivated and that is what I’m going to do.  Will we, eventually (prayerfully) get out house paid off quicker…yes…but my main goal is to get this other debt gone and be on a cash only plan for purchases in the future.

I stumbled on this wonderful website for DEBT SNOWBALL – ing.  This is good for those visual people, like my husband! There is also another cool site on Debt Reduction that is really good, as well.  Both of these sites are free and easy to use.

The debt snowball is listing all your debt from SMALLEST to LARGEST. Again, I’m excluding my house for now.

For us, that would be:

  • van
  • student loan
  • equity

We owe the lowest amount on our van (I’m not even looking at interest rates).  My monthly payment on my van is $240, but only $220 goes towards the principle. The rest goes towards interest.

For the MONTH OF SEPTEMBER only, this is what we have to throw down on this debt.

Mthly pymt:  240

Kids bills:  110

2 Travel checks:  282

OT: 300

Extra check:  125

Leftover from August envelopes:   453

Zero out extra:  645

This is a total of $240 regular payment + $1615 that is added directly to the principle.

If we were to continue ONLY paying the $240 a month, we would have 3 years before this is paid off.  With doing a ZERO BASED BUDGET, we will have this debt PAID OFF by December of 2017. Anything extra that comes in..we put in our debt envelope.  We just continue building it up to pay this off.

Now, starting in January 2018, we will ROLL that $240 van payment that we no longer, technically have, and we will add it to our next debt…my student loan.  Let’s look at the projected monthly amount we can throw at that bill in January.

Mthly payment:  183

Kids bills: 150 (yes it went up only because we were not having our daughter pay anything for a month because of her financial issues)

Extra check:  125

Zero out extra:  645 (this should always remain the same)

Old Van payment  240

I cannot calculate his OT or his travel check because these may not come through this month.  With ONLY those few things….we can pay the $183 regular payment and then add on an EXTRA $1,160 to our principle.  If I just pay the minimum amount, I will pay this bill of January 1, 2031.  By adding on this EXTRA, I can have it paid off by by the end of next year….maybe sooner if I added in that OT, travel and anything extra we might get.

After this is paid off, we have our equity loan.  We have our regular payment of $115, but then we add the kids bills, extra check, zero out extra, old van payment, and old student loan payment.  We will pay $1458 per month.

Then we move onto the house…..

Seriously…………..this is doable.  I’m excited.  Big Daddy is excited.  We have been painfully disciplined and we do not spend if our envelopes are empty.  We have not used our debit card and we do not own a credit card.

Please if you have any questions, let me know.  I’m happy to answer them.

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Operation “Get My Life Together”: Zero Based Budget

The other night, Big Daddy and I sat down and had a chat.  I told him how I was feeling and that I was tired of serving two masters….God and money.  I felt like we were drowning in debt and I am tired of it.  I’m tired of worrying and feeling like I’m being controlled by it.  I have no freedom when I am in debt.

We CHOOSE to be done.

When I researched a zero based budget….I thought that the concept was insane.  After further looking into it, I began to see the positives of it and it forced me to take a long hard look at our money and where it goes.  Then, I left fear seep in….the fear of embarrassment, of feeling like I’m upside down in our finances (have more debt/bills then paycheck), and then it felt like an elephant sat squarely on my chest and I kept hearing “there is no hope…you are trapped…just keep on keepin’ on…you are not hurting anyone.”

The great thing is that I CAPTURED that thought and I REMEMBERED Truth!  When I have Jesus….and I do….there is ALWAYS hope.  Did He “ordain” my stupidity?  I don’t think so.  Did He “allow” my stupidity?  Yep and now we are reaping what we have sown. Natural consequences to our stupidity.

Its a NEW day.  Its a NEW dawn.  Its time to let HIM take control over my finances.  I know that it is time because Big Daddy is on board!  Stay tuned to our journey of becoming debt free!

Organizational Tip: Let’s Talk Pinterest

Pinterest.  I do not necessarily enjoy it.  It is overwhelming.  I do not spend hours upon hours scouring the pinterest boards.  I only follow my family, cause I feel like I have too. To me, it is a stressor.

BUT.

I have realized that I can actually use this to my advantage.  I tried this about a year ago, maybe and it was just too much.  Too many colors, options, ideas, thoughts…..my mind could not handle anymore information.

I have come up with a plan.

And I love it when a plan comes together.

We shall try this again.

This time, I shall SUCCEED.

There are 52 weeks in a year.  Yes?  Yes.  I created a DIFFERENT board that started at Week 1 and ended on Week 26.  That is 1/2 the year.  I thought I might have to stab myself in the eye with a used q-tip if I had to come up with the entire year, but 1/2 the year is doable for me.

Week 1 Menu – Week 27 Menu (same board and same menu)

Week 2 Menu – Week 28 Menu

Catch my drift….all in all I have 26 boards and it covers all 52 weeks.

Now, there are 7 days in a week.  I cook on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (unless we are at church), Friday, Saturday.  I do not cook Sundays.  I went ahead and marked Thursdays as pizza night, as this is tradition, so I cook mark that off.  To help with my sanity, I allotted Fridays as EITHER hamburgers/dogs/fries night or taco night.  I altered those days, so have the year was hamburgers and half the year was tacos…..are you still with me?

Next, I chose Saturdays as soup days (my obsession is real and I am a soup whore, if you please).  I cook 2 soups for my crew cause 1 just is not enough (also we eat leftovers for lunch until it is gone…hence saving us money).

I went through the soup recipes that I had.  I reached out on fb (you can click on the FB button on the right of this page to follow me there) and from there, I compiled a list of 52 soups.  They are all different, cause I like to try new things.  I have made nearly all of them of though cause I’m always making soup.  As I picked 2 soups, I would drop them into my already made board of Week 1 Menu and Week 27 Menu…I continued on till all 26 weeks were covered.

In short, we have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday accounted for.  All I had left was Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  The existing boards I had left, with recipes was Chinese, Pork, Steak, Mexican.  I divided those out. So I had “X” amount of each to fill up my weeks.  My last big feat was to have equal amounts of Italian dishes and Beef dishes.  By the time I got done, all 26 boards had main dishes for the nights of the week that I cook.  After I got my main dishes done, I added in my side dishes.

With these boards, I will transfer over to my blog and I will comprise a detailed grocery list of what I need for my Week 1 menu.  What I will also do, is get my freezer aluminum pans, double the recipes and freeze the second one.  So by the time week 27 comes around, I will A) know what I am cooking thanks to my pinterest board and B) I will have already cooked it.  It is a win win.

There are no two recipes or weeks alike.  I have done all different stuff.  I will post my honest opinion on whether it was good or not.  I do, however, tweak most of my recipes.  I add too or take away from, so I will notate that as well.

No, I am not bored.

Yes, I do find the time.

No, my children are not neglected during this.

Yes, I truly enjoy doing things like this.

Feel free to look at my boards (again you can find my pinterest boards if you click on the icon in the right side bar and you can follow me on any social media) and use them.  My hope and pray is that this works out.

I can always take a picture of my grocery list, online, and send it to Big Daddy and he can pick up my groceries on the way home….I’m telling ya….WIN WIN.

Moving on to Pinterest

I have completely run out of things to organize in my house, for now.  It is a weird feeling knowing that I purged SO much and I have organized SO much and I have donated SO much.  I almost feel guilty because we spent SO much money on things that I have thrown away or given away.  We have not been very wise with our money, lately, but that game is over.

We have been very good at our zero based budget and we are knocking out loan #1.  It is so exciting to see the money we thought we did not have (being wasteful) and FINDING it again and then making great use of it.  I love love love seeing the time being knocked off the back end of our loan.  We are on a roll. We are saving, putting towards our sinking fund, putting it towards our debt, and things we have never allotted money for because we thought we did not have it.

With that being said, back to the reason for this post.  I’m going to be organizing my pinterest board.  Adding stuff, subtracting stuff, and posting my thoughts on the recipes that I have saved.  It will still have a board for encouragement and things that make me happy.  I’m also going to look at stuff for saving money while making small home improvements, etc.

You can click on the link at the right to go straight to my pinterest board.  You are welcome to follow or do whatever it is that people do on there 🙂  I’m really excited.

Youtube……

I started a Youtube Channel (sort of). It documents Hunter and where he was when he moved in with us to after his diagnosis with OMS (Opsoclonus Myoclonus Syndrome). I did this for his doctor because it was taking FOREVER to do via email. You are welcome to view those videos…maybe if I get brave, I can do more videos on other things…we shall see. Feel free to share 

If there is anything you want to see from me….just give me a holler and I will see what I can do.  I’m still playing around with it.

Thanks!

 

Operation “Get Life Together”

Operation “Get Life Together” is underway.  Here is a bit of what all has been going on the last week or two…..

  • Scheduled:  Dental appointment!  This is HUGE because I do not like the dentist, but my teeth do not like me.  It is what it is.  I have had a toothache for a while and because I CHOSE not to do anything about it (excuses:  time, money, don’t want too, doesn’t hurt that bad, blah blah blah), I now have 2 choices…1) get it pulled (insurance pays) or 2) have a root canal (insurance DOES NOT pay).  I also have to have a wisdom tooth out and some cavities to be filled.  As good as I am brushing, my mouth has always been full of cavities (maybe its genes maybe it is lots o candy).  Anyhow, I have my appointment made for my extraction or root canal.  I got them cleaned.  I also have 2 other appointments I need to make and then I will be caught up with my mouth!  Yay me!  And because I’m awesome, I went ahead and scheduled 5 of my 7 kids an appointment for their teeth to be cleaned.  Yes, I’m a rockstar, I know.
  • Scheduled:  Mammogram!  Girls…take care of your boobies!!!!!!!!!!!!  Breast Cancer is curable if it is caught early!  Now that I’ve said that, I will say that it has been 5 years since I had my last one (practice what you preach, I know).  It was also scheduled for today….which I had to cancel because I didn’t want to take the 3 little boys to this appointment and I had no one else to watch them.  I did reschedule for the week after next. I will be keeping that one!
  • Scheduled:  Papsmear!  Girls…..take care of your girly bits!!!!!!!!!  Is it fun?  Heck no.  Is it necessary?  YES!  I did go, but to my chagrin, I was late and I had started my period.  Good times were had by all.  The nurse and doctor sat down with me and we discussed life, my body, what the problems were, etc.  We have a game plan and I have a new appointment on the 25th of August.  I will be getting my bloodwork done (haven’t done that in about 3 years), I will be doing a urine test, an ultrasound on my insides, a hysteroscopy (they scrape the inside of your uterus) and a papsmear.  Getting it all done in one day (I may throw in a tattoo for good measures cause it is right across the street).  Once all of this is done and the results come in, I will be getting a hysterectomy, a bladder sling, and my girl parts fixed.  I am stoked.
  • Scheduled:  Hunter’s OMS follow up appointment and his Pediatric Opthamology appointment.
  • Need to schedule:  eyeballs for all.
  • I have begun working on our ZERO based budget plan and will do a follow up of that when Big Daddy and I sit down and write it all out.
  • We have discussed our debt and how we are getting out of it.  We are on the same page.
  • I have *not* been to the gym yet.
  • I have a goal of getting back into the swing of going to church on Wednesday nights.
  • I have begun a “for me” project…more to come on that.
  • I rocked the freezer meals.  I went and bought our groceries back around a month ago and we still have a good month left of freezer meals….it will last us almost 2 mths!  We have only had to go to the grocery one time (for lunch items and some breakfast stuff).  I spent about $550 on that July trip and we are still going strong.
  • Get my freezer meal ideas on paper
  • Cleaned my room!
  • Organized the laundry room
  • Organized/cleaned the garage
  • Made my purse emergency kit
  • Made my van emergency kit

I’m rocking it all out.  If you would like any info on organization, cleaning, the kits I’ve made, meal planning, etc….drop me a comment below.  I’m considering doing a video on some of these things to help with those who are visual, like me LOL

Enough is Enough

Tonight, I had this overwhelming feeling of being suffocated by debt.  I hate that feeling. I hate the fact that I am a slave to money.  That is not how it is supposed to be.  When we moved into this house, about 10 years ago…we had no debt (other than our previous house).  We do not do the whole credit card thing (learned our lesson from that), we didn’t have new furniture…if we did, we paid cash for it.  Our cars were paid for, no student loans…nothing.

Now…..shazaam……we have a van payment, a student loan, an equity loan, another type of loan, a house loan, medical bills, bills from where things have broken and they have to be fixed.  It could be worse.  I know that, but I feel like, right now, this is worse because I know better.  I know what Jesus teaches us and instead of walking that narrow path that He chose for us….we saw the bright shiny-ness of the wider road and we took it.  Now, we are standing on the little strip of dirt between the wide road and the narrow road.  I equate it, in my mind, as those little pieces of dirt between the different lanes of the interstate.  Where it is posted no U turn.  That is where we are standing.  The wide road is so shiny and it is filled with new vehicles, coach bags, sports obligations, vacations, and movies.  The narrow road is not so shiny, but it is being protected, from the elements, by these beautiful weeping willow trees.  It is filled with discipline, being trusted with little, tithing, paying cash, not serving two masters.

I am over it.  I am ready to walk on that narrow road…not sure if Big Daddy is, but I also know he is tired of it too.  This is scary.  It is a hard road.  We’ve walked on that road.  We’ve made sacrifices.  We succeeded.  We can and we will, in the Name of Jesus, succeed again.  It is time to hand over this endeavor and because we are so weak…..we need to lean on Him because He is SO strong.  He is our Strong Tower.

Another issue that we have given lip service too is our health/weight.  We are fat.  We are fat people.  We are not fluffy.  We are not round around the edges.  We are not jolly.  We are fat.  Straight up.  Our health sucks.  We get winded walking up the steps to the bedroom.  Big Daddy can’t hardly walk because of pain.  We have purposed, for years, that the next year will be the year.  It is the magical year we get fit.  We give it a week…we only lose 4 lbs of pee weight and we are done.  We want a double quarter pounder super sized with a coke the size of my face and a side of a double decker death by chocolate cake.

I am over it.  Done.  Just done.  I do not want to give the illusion that we eat crap all the time.  Frankly, I do not buy sweets (now there are other people in my house that do, then eat it all in one sitting). I do drink coke.  I am going to try and cut that down to 1 a day.  We only drink water.  I cook with tons of veggies.  We do not eat much bread or pasta.  We are fruit eaters…..we do not do things badly BUT we are completely inactive and we do not blink if we want to eat out…we eat out. So, we are affecting our health and our finances by poor choices along those wide roads.

I will be documenting our journey of getting out of debt and getting this fat off of us.  You are welcome to follow along.  You can subscribe to my blog >>>>>>>>in this side bar>>>>.  You can also follow me on any social media platform (also on that side bar).  If you have suggestions, by all means, give them too me.  Suggestions on stay at home jobs, how to make some extra money on the side, healthy recipes, or exercises.  Anything.  I am open.

Here’s to having my belly full of ENOUGH.

Onward and upward.

Once a Month Cooking Menu

Recipes will follow but for now, this is what is on tap for me to cook for this month (actually a month and a half because we have some stuff already put in the freezer).

This list will be for Breakfast, some Lunches, Dinners and sides that will go from July 10-August 31.  For lunch…we eat leftovers regularly, so I’m not going to break the bank buying stuff to make some gourmet lunches when my kids will happily gnaw on what is left in the fridge.

I WILL NOT cook on Sundays, so that takes out 7 days.  Also, on Thursdays (with the exception of July 31 which is Daniel’s 13th bday and I will cook whatever he wants) is ALWAYS pizza night…so that is 7 days worth of Thursdays.  The other date to note is August 24th, which is Jude’s 11th bday . I can already tell you that he wants Ethiopian food.

BREAKFAST

Pancakes (made from scratch, not from bisquick….we are all about saving money)

French Bread

Zucchini Muffins

Banana Muffins

Carrot Muffins

Granola Bars

Granola

Fruit bars

McMuffins

Omelet Cups

Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast burritos

Lunch

Meat and Cheese sandwiches (turkey, ham, roast beef, bologna, fried bologna….provolone, American, swiss, cheddar)

Burritos

Quesadillas

Supper

Homemade Pizza x 7

Spinach, Ricotta and beef Enchiladas on a bed of rice

Chicken & Broccoli, Scalloped Potatoes, Green bean casserole

Beef Stroganoff

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican, Ricotta, and Spinach Lasagna

Baked Pasta, Garlic Bread, Salad

Burgers/Hotdogs/Fries x 5

Tacos, Refried Beans, Rice x 3

Chicken stuffed cheese/spinach wrapped in bacon, Roasted Potatoes Sweet peas

Pork Chops, Hashbrown Casserole, Corn, Lima Beans

Chicken Cordon Bleu, Cream Corn, Baked Potato

Cheeseburger Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet peas

Chicken Alfredo, salad, bread

Round Steak with Mushroom Sauce, Broccoli and Bacon, Mashed Potatoes

Philly Cheesesteaks, Homemade fries

Greek Marinated Chicken, Fried Zucchini, Rice

Pork Roast with Feta and Mushrooms, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet peas

Baked Chicken, Cream Corn, Cauliflower and Broccoli Au Gratin

Beef and Broccoli, Fried Cauliflower rice

Garlic Cheddar Chicken, Mac and cheese, Roasted potatoes, sweet peas

Tater Tot Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Corn

Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Lima Beans, Asparagus/Feta

Ethiopian

Spaghetti, French Bread, Salad

Lasagna, Garlic Knots, Salad x 2

Breakfast (Sausage and egg casserole, bacon, biscuits, pancakes)

Soups x 7:

  • Stuffed Pepper Soup and Chili
  • Vegetable Beef and Cheeseburger
  • Chicken Noodle and Tomato
  • Tortellini and Zuppa Toscana
  • Broccoli and Potato
  • Enchilada and Beef Stew
  • Chili and Chicken Noodle
  • xtra chili

Roast/Potatoes, Asparagus and feta, Green Beans, Mac and cheese x 2

 

***Recipes to come***

 

 

 

 

Coupon Class

Interested in saving money?

Do you like free things?

Want free movie tickets or incentives to go on vacations?

Brandi Johnson (coupon guru of Murray) is offering a Coupon Class for our family. It will be $20 per person and childcare will be provided, if needed.

Here are some examples of our (and my) savings:

8 boxes of name brand cereal for 4 cents.
6 movie tickets + fun cash for the theatre
$600+ worth of groceries for $200.

Here are some of Brandi J’s savings:
Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger:

Total Shelf price = $247.24
After sales, coupons and incentives OOP = $20.82
92% Savings and an average of $.24 per item!

Here’s what I got:

6 Betty Crocker potatoes
2 Boxes of Gorton’s Fish Filets
2 BC Warm Delights
2 BC Cookie mixes
7 Bags of Chex Mix
4 boxes Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
4 Boxes Nature’s Valley Granola Bars
4 Bags Nature’s Valley Nut Clusters
4 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats
2 Loaves of bread
1 24 ct. Kroger Brand American cheese
5 lb. roll of Ground Beef
1 large bags of Kroger brand french fries
2 Cans Hunt’s Spaghetti sauce
6 boxes of Hamburger Helper
1 box Oreo Cakesters
1 Bologna
2 Lunchables
2 Boxes of Go-gurt
1 doz. eggs
15 Pk of Bounty papertowels
6 king size starbursts
4 king size skittles
2 small boxes of Keebler Club Crackers
3 bottles of Dawn dish detergent
2 Bags of Wonka Gummies
1 Lint roller
1 Travel wipes
4 packs of Stay Free pads
2 bags of Starburst jelly beans
2 Oral B toothbrushes
1 Crest toothpaste

If you are interested (the class will be held the third week of August and a specific date will be announced when she gets home from vacation), please call leave me a message here, on fb or email at bart.brandi@mchsi.com. Please pass the word along! We need all the help we can get, we are traveling (the first time) in October!!!!!!!!!

Store Incentive Program Information

CVS:  http://www.cvs.com

CVS Extra Care Card:

CVS has a loyalty card called an Extra Care Card that you use every time you shop there.  There are some sale items that will only scan at the sale price if you use your card. You also earn 2% back on all your purchases. CVS Extra Care cards are FREE and limited to one per person. You can pick one up the next time you are in a CVS or you can sign up for one online and have it mailed to you. If you get one at the store make sure to register it online. CVS occasionally sends emails with printable coupons for card-holders.

Extra Care Bucks -ECBs:

Extra Care Bucks, aka ECBs, are like CVS money or instant rebates. When you buy an item advertised as earning extra bucks you will pay for the item and then the ECBs will print at the bottom of your receipt. You cut these off and keep them like cash. Then the next time you buy something at CVS you can use your ECBs to pay for it.

Example:
In the ad: Buy Chips at $4 and receive $2 ECBS.
Buy Chips – pay $4
Receive $2 ECBs on receipt
Next visit – Buy Diapers $8.99
give the cashier your $2 ECBs
Now pay $6.99
The best way to maximize your ECBs is to “roll” them. Buy something that earns ECBs then use those ECBs to buy something else that earns ECBs. This way you make an initial cash purchase and then use CVS money for all future purchases. Now, don’t waste ECBs! You cannot use a $10 ecb on an $8 purchase and keep the $2. Your purchase must be equal to or greater than (before tax) the ECB amount. You will not get cash back and your ECBs will not be carried over. ECBs can be used on anything in the store except the usual exclusions (Prescriptions, tobacco, stamps, etc.).  I generally have several different transactions at one time.  I use my ECB’s at that time, unless I don’t have time to do multiple transactions.  It takes a bit, but in the end, I’m saving money and getting things for free.

Quarterly ECBs:

In addition to the weekly ECBs that you earn for buying advertised products, you earn quarterly ECBs. CVS gives 2% back on all your purchases! So, every 3 months you will get an ECB for 2% of what you spent at CVS that quarter. If you spend $100 in one quarter then you will get a $2 ECB. Occasionally CVS issues Triple ECB coupons. You scan it once and it will triple your quarterly earnings from that point until the quarter is over. So, once you scan it you will start earning 6% back on all your purchases. The triple ECB coupon is not for the Weekly ECBs that you earn.

Weekly Deals:

Every week CVS puts out a circular with deals that are good for one week. There are regular sale items and there are ECB deals. ECB deals usually are the ones you want to look at for saving money. Though there are some good non-ECB deals too! With ECB deals you have the opportunity to maximize your savings! For one deal you can use a manufacturer’s coupon, a CVS coupon AND earn ECBs!

Example:
Deal in Ad: Buy Colgate Toothpaste at $2.99 and earn $2 ecbs
You have a $1 off Colgate Toothpaste coupon that you got when you scanned your CVS card
You also have a $1 off Colgate Toothpaste coupon that you printed off the Internet.
So, buy Colgate Toothpaste at $2.99
use $1 CVS coupon
use $1 Manu. coupon
Pay 99¢
Earn $2 ecbs…a $1.01 profit!

Monthly Deals:

Each month CVS puts out an Extra Value Book with ECB deals that are good all month long. Some of these deals are featured in the weekly ads. Make sure to pay attention to the limits. If it is limit one in the monthly ad and is featured in the weekly ad at limit one that means it is limit one for the whole month. You don’t get to buy it when it is in the weekly ad and then buy it again later in the month. You will only get ECBs for the first one you purchase.

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