Pantry challenge – week 6

Ooops. An entire week went by and I didn’t record anything. I’ve also slipped up in the spending realm.

Not that I’ve over spent.

Oddly enough, both the kids summer community ed classes were canceled at the last minute so I requested the money be refunded to my card, which left us with a surplus. Then, I looked up how to fix the headlight in my car and discovered that it was super simple and saved me $50.

What do I do with this savings?

This is why we never have money, all the extra is twiddled away. I’ve purchased more in groceries than I budgeted for. We found a great deal on craigslist for a dishwasher and microwave so we went and picked them up. The husband needed a new tractor part, so we made a payment on that.

I need to work on finding a good balance between spontaneous spending and budgeting. A way to have extra but not overspend.

Anyone else have this trouble?

Pantry challenge – week 5

In May we spent $185.89 on groceries. We spent $110.62 on farm supply out of our standard budget. These line items are much lower than previous months – wahoo! The husband sold a piece of farm equipment, so he had income to install more fencing for our goats/sheep and fix my tiller. Another win. Money for the farm gets tracked in the business account only.

Because of my tax refund and careful planning, we were able to catch up on the electric, make payments on a few medical bills, and make the last payment on debt 2 of 5. We even managed to give each family member a paycheck.

Not quite a zero spending month, but I actually felt better about our money than I have in quite some time. I am currently working through this months planning so that I can keep on top of everything even better than last month.

Monday: Salad

Tuesday: At the grocery I felt the desperate need for cheese, tortillas, more lunch meat and chips. While rearranging my basement pantry I found a few jars of salsa. So for dinner we had tacos! So very good.

Wednesday: Tacos again by request. Used the leftover meat and some rice found in the fridge.

We had our budget summit meeting. The general verdict of the panel (husband and kids) is that the pantry challenge is going well. But that pizza, ice cream, and ramen were missed. We discussed where the money was going and the kids were nervous about seeing $2.62 left in our pre-spending budget at the end. I explained zero dollar budgeting (every dollar gets spent on paper first before you spend it for real). Then adjusted a few line items based on reminders from the husband. In the end $0 remains. I am so relieved that my new take home pay still fits into our budget so well.

Thursday: Fend for yourself leftovers. I had some meat and cheese. Our microwave died last night. I’m bummed that I cannot easily melt the cheese on my tortillas or chips. We spent the evening in the garden. The kids are in the Junior Master Gardener program so we went to the community garden first to finish planting, then home to plant our gourd rows.

Gardening is about trying new things, hoping, dreaming. This year we are planting in new areas for our gourds. The husband loves the idea of building our own pumpkin patch that people can come to in the fall.

Friday: Pizza and ice cream

Saturday: Company over, the husband’s mom came and we had her birthday celebration. Hot dogs and hamburger macaroni, dq cake, salad, bread for dinner. Then crackers, meat, and cheese for supper.

Pantry Challenge – Week 4

We went to Ruby’s Pantry in Isanti this past Saturday. We came home with 2 laundry baskets worth of groceries. It was out of this that we made Monday dinner for my parents who are in town from Missouri.

Monday Dinner: Chicken breasts, garlic mashed potatoes, and asparagus (I need to remember to visit the patch more often I lost 2 stalks to seed already.)

Tuesday Dinner: On the fly: kids had after school and 2 hours of ballet. So we grabbed chips and cheese. Then once we were home again I think the kids grabbed sandwiches or doughnuts.

Wednesday Dinner: leftovers. There is a stink in my kitchen that I cannot figure out. I pulled everything out of the fridge and had everyone pick what they wanted to eat. I made a soup out of leftover broth, homemade tomato sauce, and rice. Super yummy. Hubby had leftover sloppy joes.

I had to run to the store because girl child’s class was having a summer birthday celebration and she needed to bring something. I grabbed her Laffy Taffy and at the husband’s request picked up lunch meat and cheese for sandwiches. While browsing the deli section I came to a realization. My children have never had bologna. Why? Because my husband does not like it. Saving grocery money was my priority so I purchased Oscar Meyer brand bologna, cotto salami, white turkey, and chopped ham. Yup, I feed my kids junk sometimes, simply because it is cheaper per ounce. My family will eat just as much or more of the slightly better and more expensive brands or types.

Thursday Dinner: Not sure what they ate. I worked late and ran to junior master gardeners, then rearranged chicks all evening. I had an freeze pop before bed.

Friday Dinner: DQ ice cream (end of school year tradition) and pizza

Saturday morning girl child and I went to Matthew 25 put on by Spirit River. Not as much good stuff as I would have liked. A lot of fruit that had to be processed immediately. I always hope for tons of tomatoes and other vegetables. Instead of yogurt there were brats.

Saturday Dinner: Brats + zucchini fritters

Sunday Dinner: Sorry, don’t really recall. We built a fire and slept outside in the tent. Gorgeous evening.

Monday Dinner: Salad

Sunday and Monday I processed through quite a bit of fruit. Made a small batch of strawberry jam, blackberry jam, froze some strawberries and cherries. Made raspberry and strawberry lemonade ice cubes, and mango ice cubes. Cut up melon, zucchini. Made lemon and orange juice. Banana and zucchini muffins. Raspberry/lemon cupcakes. Super summer stockpile!

Pantry Challenge – Week 3

Monday dinner: BBQ pork on rye bread.

I acknowledge that our meals are not always the most balanced, but this is only dinner, and often other meals fill in our dietary requirements, plus I do not always list everything we are eating.

We had a family meeting this past weekend to discuss how paychecks work and how we were going to handle the lower paychecks I am receiving. We talked about hourly versus salaried positions. We talked about the daily life of a mortgage and bills.

The kids voted for staying hourly, and they said they wanted to make $10 per hour, or if it is salaried they wanted $100 per month. I had to tell them this amount was not something I could honor. Husband said if we switched them to $10 per hour we would need to charge them room and board. I have read of people doing this, slowly giving their kids more power over money, and showing them how to manage it more completely.

Most of this discussion stemmed from the kids wanting a more regular paycheck.

Yes, we give the kids paychecks, not an allowance. They have chores they have to do just because they are part of the family. But then we have what we call working days. On these days the kids are paid for how many hours they work. It is generally weekend cleaning or farm and garden work. We keep track of hours worked and try to pay them once per month, however lately we have misplaced time sheets and put of paying for months, and some months they get more than one paycheck.

It was an interesting discussion, and I like the idea of slowly giving over more money for them to manage. Occasionally with his paycheck boy child will buy us all dinner and girl child will buy an item of clothing she needs. He is naturally better with his money, but I think she is learning. I need to remember to get the money to them in smaller bills so that they are more able to easily assign savings, giving, and spending.

So in this time of transition, while we rework our budget and fix our debts, we will keep their paychecks small and hopefully, slowly, we will all be better at managing our money.

Tuesday dinner: Quinoa and asparagus (from the wild patch in the neighbor’s field)

Went to the grocery so the kids could pick up some snacks with their paychecks, and I bought the essentials: peanut butter, coffee, and popping corn.

Wednesday: potatoes and taco seasoned meat

Thursday: Rice and bbq pork

Friday: Foccacia and maranara

Saturday: Salad and egg sandwiches

Sunday: Popcorn and frozen strawberries

Pantry Challenge – Week 2

Monday dinner: leftover roast chicken, random grabs – Monday evening we have ballet, so often we grab something to munch on our way out the door, I provided the roast chicken, but everything else was up for grabs.

Monday was hard. I spoke with Turbo Tax and Bank of America. Found out I really do owe $1000 to the IRS for money that was juggled during our Home Affordable refinance in 2013. I didn’t notice the line item on my 1098 in 2014. So frustrating, first I get a credit card paid off, and now I have another debt to add. And after much discussion with the kids we decided we are not taking the summer ballet class. I spoke with the ballet director and had to say no to summer ballet, no to boy child helping in hip-hop class this summer, and no to helping the set and design for the mini-ballet event this month. I have a very hard time saying no. Especially when I really want to stay involved in ballet and the usual involved moms are also not helping.

Tuesday dinner: Tomato soup, potato salad, pickles, chicken cookies

Wednesday dinner: Breakfast links, farro grain, and asparagus

Thursday dinner: Pork roast and garlic bread (made by the husband while I was at meetings)

Friday dinner: Whole wheat focaccia, bacon, and red sauce

Saturday dinner: Corn bread and bbq chicken

Sunday dinner: Baked fish and onion buns

2 weeks complete and we have not needed any groceries. I think I will need to pick up a few staples this week. What do I consider to be a staple? Peanut butter, flour, coffee.

 

Pantry challenge – week 1

Well we survived the first week of no spending. We did need to buy shoes for the hubby and the boy child. I also picked up some split peas to make soup from the leftover ham in the fridge. So not completely spend-free, but much better than other months.

Almost immediately after making the decision to not shop I felt an urge to go shopping. The thoughts in my head were about what I wished I could buy, even if it wasn’t a need. I wanted to go buy more pasta. I wanted to pick up fruit bushes. I wanted to buy bleach. Then there is the problem of 9 & 11 year old kids. We had gotten into the habit of grabbing snacks at the Dollar General or buying fresh fruit or vegetables at the grocery or string cheese for lunches. We have plenty of food in the house, but not the “right” food for our silly desires.

Monday dinner: pasta and asparagus
Tuesday dinner: split pea soup
Wednesday dinner: fiesta pasta
Thursday dinner: sloppy Joes on garlic bread
Friday dinner: pizza
Saturday dinner: roast chicken
Sunday dinner: chili made by boy child, Jelly roll made by girl child

I’m really uncertain if this is the actual dinner list, funny how fast it leaves my brain.

Here’s on to another week.

Goal: I need to plan better so that I know what I plan to cook each night and can pull items out of the freezer or pantry.

 

Budget Cuts

Exciting development for us – we have finally reached the threshold of not qualifying for assistance. The wonderful dreaded point where suddenly we are on our own financially. No medical assistance for the kids. No help through the hospitals to pay for medical bills. A boost in income that leads to a downfall in income.

After much frustration through the new¬† health systems, we discovered that the kids were officially no longer covered by MA beginning March 1st. I was able to get them enrolled in my works insurance as of March 15th. As is lovely in health care they were able to bill us for the full month even though they wouldn’t extend coverage for the full month, and they billed me 2 months in advance. To catch up I am spreading out those 2 months bills through my next 4 paychecks. This is in addition to the amount withdrawn for actual monthly bills.

Enter the ultimate in budget rearrangement.

For the next 3 months we are hoping to avoid all grocery and farm purchases. If you see this and panic for us, you need not worry. We have 2 full chest freezers, and rows of canned goods. Beyond that, we have access to free food distributions (Matthew 25) and I also know about Ruby’s Pantry. But ultimately we shouldn’t need either of these.

Food and farm budget line items are not the only ones being slashed. We are cutting everything we can cut. No more gym membership. No more emergency coffee or candy purchases. No clothes. I will pay everything that must be paid, but it might be smaller amounts when I can manage it.

I am hoping that by receiving these ultra tight checks we will be able to fix our budget problems in the long term. I have watched our food and farm budgets blow up in recent years and I want them under control.

So who wants to join me in a pantry challenge!