Monday, February 27, 2012

The cash bandwagon

We operated an all cash budget this past summer for groceries and household expenses.  At the time, we had a well stocked pantry, freezer & personal care items closet.  We had several meals stocked up in our freezer, we weren't in need of disposable diapers, wipes or formula.  So, we challenged ourselves to $50 a week for all grocery/household items.  We were rather successful.

We fell off the cash bandwagon for a few months and while we still watched our spending, we didn't feel quite as disciplined as we had in the past.  If we ran out of cash at check-out, we'd swipe our debit card and be on our merry way.  For the month of February, we jumped back on the cash bandwagon.  Armed with a $280 budget for the month (cash only) we set out to purchase all grocery/household items we would need and be able to use couponing as a means to bless others.  The month for us is over, and I'm happy to report we only went over budget by $40.  Yes, we did swipe that debit card the last few days---but $280 was ambitious for us from the start.

Some things to mention:
-We did not have a well-stocked freezer (of extra meat, chicken, etc) and we had NO extra meals in our freezer
-We needed to buy disposable diapers/wipes as we had ran out of our stockpile from the summer
-We are purchasing formula now for our little guy
-We make many of our own cleaning supplies & have started to explore making some of our personal care items that we cannot get free or very cheap with sales/coupons
-When you see many (say the photo with 19 packs of razors)--it's safe to assume the items were free after coupons and many of these items are going to be donated.
-Wal-Mart is not our preferred place to shop, but since we can price match there and save ourselves trips running around town, we exercised that option a lot this month
***I should mention as well that we do cloth diaper, so our diapering costs are significantly less except for the rare times we do have to buy disposables. We make all of our own baby food. Our children are also on WIC and as such receive a small amount of milk, cheese, cereal, formula, baby food & fruit.  Those items provided through WIC are not pictured.***

Going forward...

Starting in March we are taking our budget to $300 a month.  I still think it's a challenging amount for us.  We are seeking to transition our family away from processed foods---a gradual (and more expensive) transition.  I will count the cost of extra coupons this month towards our budget (I spent about $8 for the month of February on extra coupons that provided us with items for ourselves and to donate to others).  I will continue to research how to "DIY" many of the items we make in order to cross them off our shopping lists.  We will hopefully begin to decrease the $300/month grocery/household budget as we become more and more disciplined.  But, we feel for our family at the present time, $300 is a good target to aim for.

I tried taking photos of each trip to document where our money was going, but I only managed to get a few and here arethe few that I did capture!  we ate much more than what is pictured as we had a well-stocked pantry & freezer---and since I didn't capture every trip, just imagine that most of these photos are "filler items" and we had many other ingredients already.  Also, if I earned a money reward towards my next purchase, that is noted.  The amount listed (ex, the toothpaste at .48 is what I actually paid out of pocket that day)

#1 CVS- .48 (earned $4)

#2- Dillons--$24.43, Wal-Mart (3 lotions and gum)=.42

#3-CVS (6 deodorant, 3 air freshners)=$5.38 (earned $10 towards next purchase)
     Target=free cat food, (.52 tax)---picked up for a friend
     Price Chopper/Hy-Vee=$39

#4- Hen House--(8 deodorant)=$1.64, Wal-Mart (razors, milk)=$6.76


#8-CVS (all shampoo)=$3.35 (earned $4 to use next time),
Hen House (deodorants & Yo Crunch)=.94, Hy-Vee=$21.65

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pinterest inspired....

So yeah, once a week I suppose will be the best I can do.  I want to be an all-star blogger, but honestly, I've been stepping back more and more from being "plugged" in.....and secretly, I'm really loving it.  I took a "media fast" last week and what it revealed to me was startling.  I need to unplug more.  Engage with my children & husband more.  pray more.  read stellar non-fiction books more. dig deep in God's word more. 

That being said, blogging...well, if I have a free'll find me knee deep in this book at the moment.

But, I had wanted to share these recipes....both pinterest inspired!

First: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.  I used an assortment of recipes to create our own.  Having had a terrible experience with liquid homemade dishwasher detergent, I have been thrilled with this powder recipe!  I used both lemi-shine powder and the lemonade packets (it's the citric acid)---but our rinse aid compartment is broken, so I added the lemi-shine for good measure.  But, if you need a rinse aid---try vinegar.  You'll need to mix it occassionally to break up clumps from the citric acid. We re-purposed a formula container

I used:
1 C Borax
1c Washing Soda
1/2 c salt
2 packets non-sugar Lemon Kool-aid
1/3 c lemi-shine (powder)

The second: Homemade Bodywash.  I followed this recipe off pinterest---there are many to choose from, but I chose one that did not use vegetable glycerin.  We re-purposed an old ketchup bottle :)

A few notes:
-It took about a week to thicken up and lather just like commercial bodywash.  Worked fine before, but it does thicken a bit overtime.
-If I were to make handsoap, I would probably add glycerin to help thicken it up.
-I tend to use a bit more of the homemade than I do of the commercial.  Even still, if I went through a full bottle each month (not likely) I could make 12 bottles for the price of one store-bought bottle...
-I LOVE this stuff!  Tried Irish Spring and it did not work well.  Dove worked awesome and I'm hopeful I can find a good soap to make bodywash for the kids

I never pay more than .50/bar of soap after sales and coupons...and often less than that.  We figured that one bar of soap produced around 26oz of bodywash.  24oz of Dove Bodywash is nearly $6 at Wal-Mart.....that's over a $5 savings!

Monday, February 13, 2012

LOVED "Loving the Little Years"

I know I said I would update on that whole “all cash budget” thing….and why part of our home is overrun with “hoarders material”-----but I finished my way through a book this week that I just cannot keep from sharing with every mother of young children that I know.

This book has been so thought provoking, challenging, convicting, encouraging, etc.  My husband and I have been wrestling through some parenting thoughts lately and this book articulated what I desire for our approach….and SO much more.

It’s fabulous.  I don’t gain anything from saying it.  But it is…it’s fabulous.

There are a few negative reviews on Amazon…. likely the typical “I don’t like feeling preached at” or “this book makes me feel bad about myself”

Give me a moment to jump on my "it's-my-blog-so-i-can-say-this" soapbox....ahem.  I (sometimes) hear arguments from people (or read them on reviews of books) that just really make me scratch my head.  Generally, aside from times when a book may be in obvious disharmony with the Gospel, I think if I’m feeling “guilty” after reading a book, it’s a fairly good indication that either a.) I’m being far too sensitive or b.) there’s something that I need to be a changin’.  Sure, there are a few things in this book I may not be in agreement with the author on (like how frequently they spank in their home), but overall---those are just very insignificant differences in opinion that do not impair the message of the book.  This book doesn't speak much to her struggles---and so I can totally understand why some have felt that it can feel a bit like a sermon at times....but, I didn't feel that way. 

So, do yourself a favor and give this book a chance. 

You need to be pointing them to His law as you explain yours.  God said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” so Mama says, “you may not hit one another.””

“….We are laying the foundation.  Keep an eye on the time when they will be free of your law-you want them to have learned to love God’s.”

“as you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first.  This is what it looks like and feels like to walk with God as a mother.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

keepin' up when the appeal wears off...

January was a good month.  I felt more fruitful, productive, relaxed, thankful, etc----and I really focused on enjoying my husband and wild   perfectly obedient children.  I had hit the ground running in goal setting, priority re-focusing and organizational overhaul.

And then February first was upon us---and I was delighted to have stayed on track a month....but the appeal....well, let's just say it's easy to get in a bit of a slump.  I have still been in the Word every day---but I find my mind wandering more often.  I'm still keeping a tidy home, but I find myself wanting to continually put things off.  I'm still enjoying my husband and children, but I find that somedays it requires a great deal of effort to be truly purposeful with them. 

In short, the shiny appeal of the New Year is gone---and now it's time to buck up and decide if these priorities, goals, resolutions....whatever name you put to them....if these will stick.  I'm still sticking.  Yes, it's meant jumping up and down in place a few times to work up the energy to load the dishwasher before I go to bed at night.  Yes, it's meant re-reading the same passage of scripture over and over to make up for the moments my mind is wandering.  Yes, it's meant apologizing to my kids...and sometimes my husband....when my patience wears thin.

But I'm sticking.

God is cultivating the discipline in my life to work through these bumps, to press on & to not throw my hands up in the air when the going gets tough.

So, for's the breakdown of intentional goals...

The Habit: My husband and I are getting back on the "all cash" bandwagon when it comes to groceries/household expenses  More to come---and my first week back on that wagon---

The New thing: Homemade spaghetti sauce...and possibly a new laundry detergent recipe

Organizational project(s):  Undecided.  Most likely our bedroom closets & large bookshelf.  But hopefully I can muster up the will power to take on the finished part of our attic.  It's for real a scene straight out of Hoarders.

The Books: Working my way through Loving the Little Years right now.  Not sure if another one will make it's way on the list as we are wrapping up a discipleship group this month that requires extra reading as well.

What about you?  Are you "sticking"?  Any new years goals that you're struggling with?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

a wrap-up of January

As we were all recovering the end of December/beginning of January from various illnesses, I shared about how I'm seeking to be more intentional, purposeful & fruitful in my home & other areas of life.  I identified my priorities and decided that to keep those in check, goals and plans needed to fit into one of those areas....and if it didn't, then it wasn't for me---at least right now.

We are one month in and I am so excited to be making headway in these areas!  There have certainly been growing pains---and will be many more I presume along the way.  I'm thankful for God's grace, for the discipline He is cultivating in my life & for what He is teaching me through this process.  I'm excited about what He is doing in me....and for the first time (in a long time), I don't feel trapped into comparing myself to other women in my life.  This process has been humbling, rewarding & quite refreshing!  Additionally, I feel like God's been revealing a LOT to us about His intentions for my husband and I as parents.  More to come on that when my thoughts are more organized. 

Sharing here provides such great accountability for me---and I love having a record of how God was working on our lives, goals I was accomplishing & books I was reading.

So, for January:

The habit I wanted to cultivate was being in God's word everyday, and not just when I "found time"-----I started January 3rd, and by His grace, I spent every morning for the rest of the month reading His word.  My hope is that by cultivating one habit at a time, they'll stick!  I'm hoping to finish a full read through of the Bible this year---so this habit will for sure be sticking!

The "new" thing I wanted to try-----I made homemade dishwasher detergent.  I've done this in the past and the recipe was a HUGE failure.  Thanks to Pinterest, I combined a few elements of a few different recipes and I've been using it for over a week now.  LOVE it.  Smells great....and is so much cheaper than anything else on the market. I'm still working on a few recent "kinks"  Recipe and photos to come later...

The organizational projects----the guest bathroom under sink cabinets, the linen closet that contains our large stockpile, the coupon binder & setting up a new household notebook.  Didn't get as much done in this area as I would have liked, but illnesses definitely were a set back this month. 

Books read---again, with illness in our home, I ended up reading quite a bit/finishing books.  I've also added and removed books from my book list.  My goal is to read at least 12 non-fiction books this year.
-Love times three: Joe Darger
-Five Smooth Stones: Tom Nelson (this was a re-read for a discipleship group at church)
-Rising to the Call: Os Guinness

Goals for February, our first week back on the "all cash" wagon & why you probably want to report me to Hoarders Anonymous.... coming....soon?