Monday, January 31, 2011

Monthly Spending Recap - January


Below is where my money went this month:

Mortgage = $880.79
Car Payment = $350.00
Long Term Saving and Investment (not including my 401K contributions) = $325.00
Utilities (heat, electric, sewer, water) = $245.79
Gasoline = $205.82 
Phones/Cable/Internet = $178.56

Medical Expenses (appointments, medicines, etc.) = $162.73
Pet Expenses = $67.78
Trash/Recycling = $57.00
AAA Dues (2011) = $54.00 
Groceries = $34.69
Misc. = $18.82 
Entertainment = $11.75 
Gifts = $2.72
 
TOTAL SPENT = $2,595.45
 
Reflection:  I have mixed feelings about this month's spending report.  On one hand, there is really nothing that could be considered a splurge or unnecessary purchase.  But on the other hand, it is a lot of money considering that nothing was a splurge or unnecessary purchase!  On the bright side, next month my utilities will be lower (due to my going on budget billing).  Also, next month the pet and the gasoline categories should be lower.  And the AAA category will be gone (but likely replaced by my yearly yard fertilizer bill).  Also, I am happy to say I will be paying off the last of my medical bills in March... and I am just hoping I don't incur any new expenses at my April appointment! 

$50 GROCERY CHALLENGE UPDATE: I spent $34.69 in January on food!

If you are following along on my $50 a month grocery challenge, here are the stats for January: I started the month with $50 cash.  I spent $34.69 cash out of pocket.  I now have $38.31 left ($15.31 in cash and $23 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards).I'm very satisfied with the results.

What I didn't spend in January I will carry over into February, which will give me a nice reserve. I am thankful for this reserve because I already know of at least two times in the next two months when I need to go out to dinner, and that will certainly impact my budget. 

I believe I bought a good assortment of food, a lot of it was even healthy.  I got lucky this month with some great Rite Aid deals, too (like the 30 boxes of nearly free cereal).  Below is all the food I bought this month.  I am including restaurant food that I paid for, either directly or with a coupon; I am not including restaurant meals that others bought me.  

• whole rotisserie chicken
• 1 lb bacon
• 2 tins of sardines
• 1 pound of hamburger meat
• 1 dozen eggs
• 5 lbs potatoes
• 1.85 lbs bananas
• 2 lbs pears
• 1 lb broccoli
• 2 lbs Roma tomatoes
• 2 heads lettuce
• 1 can green beans
• 1 can tomato paste
• 1 can of sliced mushrooms
• 1 32 oz. jug of apple juice
• 2 gallons of skim milk
• 8 oz. mozzarella cheese
• 1 container of sour cream
• 1 big jar of Mayo
• 1 can cream of celery soup
• 2 cans of tomato soup
• 30 boxes of Special K cereal (I kept 12, and donated 18)
• 2 bags of pretzels 
• 1 can of almonds
• 1 package flour tortillas
• 1 jar Italian seasoning
1 Hormel meal
• 1 box of mac and cheese
• 1 jar of Ketchup
• 5 Cadbury Cream Eggs (I love these things!)
• 1 container of Edy's chocolate PB chunk ice cream  
• spicy chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A (free with coupon)
• Jamocha shake from Arby's (free with coupon)
• Coldstone Creamery ice cream (free with coupon)


How much did you spend on food this month?  Do you want to join me in February for another $50 (per person) grocery challenge?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Groceries for $0.05 out of pocket!

I went to Rite Aid today to buy a few groceries as I have some UPS Rewards that will be expiring soon.  I paid $0.05 out of pocket and used $10 in UPS Rewards.  Here's what I bought:

* gallon of skim milk
* apple juice
* 1 Cadbury Egg (I love these things!)
* 1 container of Edy's chocolate PB chunk ice cream (This was a special splurge since I knew I wouldn't be paying for it!)
* 2 tins of sardines

So if you are following along on my $50 a month grocery challenge, here are the stats: I started the month with $50 cash.  I now have $38.31 left to spend ($15.31 in cash and $23 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards). What I don't spend in January I will carry over into February.  Tomorrow I will write up a post with everything I have bought this month!

How much have you spent on food this month?

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While i was out I also filled up my gas tank.  It was $50.67.  Gas was $3.12 a gallon today. 

Stylish Blogger Award

I want to thank Tina at the Tightwad Mom's Frugal Forum blog for awarding me a Stylish Blogger Award!  Tina was one of the first visitors to my blog when I started it and her blog is one of my favorites, so to be given this award by her is a true honor!  Kind kudos, like this one, make the blogging so very worthwhile to me!  And now, it is time for me to pass along the honor to other deserving bloggers.

Here are the rules to the award:
     1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
     2. Share 7 things about yourself
     3. Award 15 other bloggers
     4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

Okay here are seven (+) things about me:
  1. I love animals - I have two adopted Greyhounds and two cats.
  2. I am allergic to onions.
  3. I am not married.
  4. I love the beach, especially the North Carolina Crystal Coast region, and not surprisingly seafood is my favorite genre of food.
  5. My name is Denise (not "Budget Confidential - haha)... and I live in Ohio. 
  6. I enjoy gardening.
  7. I am currently working on a "brand" that has been inspired by reading the many frugal blogs, like the 15 below... and I hope to launch it sometime this year so STAY TUNED! 
Now, for fifteen FABULOUS blog (in no particular order):














How do you choose a favorite child?  Or even 15 favorite children?  I love these fifteen blogs for different reasons - some entertain me, some inspire me, some educate me, but most do all three.  And of course, I am sure I am omitting some excellent blogs in the process (sorry!). 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Been a busy week....

It has been a busy week, and my blogging has taken a back seat.  That of course means that I now have several expenses to try to make sense of of report here.  Once of these days I will learn that it is easier to just do things as they come up, rather than to put things off! 

Anyway, here is where my money has disappeared to in the last week....

$2.61 spent at Rite Aid, where I got a great deal on Christmas cards and got 5 packs at 90% off.\

$54.52 went to Verizon for my cell phone bill.

$3.15 was spent at Walmart on cat litter.

$12.00 was spent on gas, which is currently $3.15 a gallon.  (I need to go out tomorrow and fill up the tank.)

$79.00 went to pay my electric bill (which is not on budget billing).

Lots of money spent on very boring things.  

What have I been eating this week? (1/23-1/29)

While I am taking part in my $50 a month spent on food grocery challenge, I will be documenting what I eat each week.  Some people have expressed concerns that I can't possible eat enough on just $50 a month.  I hope this type of documentation puts their fears to rest. 

January 23
Breakfast/Lunch - tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwich
Dinner - dinner out with family - I had stuffed shells, salad, and rolls

January 24
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover stuffed shells, roll, apple sauce
Dinner - pear/OJ/banana smoothie, toast with PB

January 25
Breakfast - roll (not nutritious, but it tasted good)
Lunch  - my cousin gave me her leftover spaghetti from Sunday's dinner... it was my lunch today, roll, applesauce
Dinner - shrimp cake (crab cake but with shrimp instead of crab), salad, potato, milk

January 26
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover shrimp cake, salad, potato
Dinner - PB&J, pear/OJ/banana smoothie, popcorn

January 27
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - chicken wrap with lettuce and tomato
Dinner - mushroom pasta, salad, apple sauce, milk.

January 28
Breakfast - cereal with milk, Cadbury Egg
Lunch - Scrod a la Foley, redskin potatoes, salad, rolls, cookies
Dinner - popcorn (My lunch was provided after a funeral.  It was plentiful and filled me up.  hence the dinner of only popcorn.)

January 29
Breakfast - toast
Lunch - clam chowder, OJ
Dinner - curry noodles, salad, apple sauce, milk

Monday, January 24, 2011

What have I been eating? 1/16/11 - 1/22/11

While I am taking part in my $50 a month spent on food grocery challenge, I will be documenting what I eat each week.  Some people have expressed concerns that I can't possible eat enough on just $50 a month.  I hope this type of documentation puts their fears to rest. 

January 16
Breakfast - toast with PB and bananas, fruit juice
Lunch - leftover tuna noodle casserole, milk
Dinner - whitefish, potato, salad, milk

January 17
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover fish, salad
Dinner - rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, milk

January 18
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch  - chipotle chicken wrap with lettuce and tomato
Dinner - chicken/rice/broccoli casserole, applesauce, milk

January 19
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover chicken/rice/broccoli casserole, salad
Dinner - tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwich, milk

January 20
Breakfast - Atkins bar (got for free in the mail)
Lunch - leftover chicken/rice/broccoli casserole, salad
Dinner - mac and cheese, salad, milk

January 21
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - chipotle chicken wrap with lettuce and tomato
Dinner -baked sweet potato, salad, milk

January 22
Breakfast/Lunch - eggs, fried tomato, toast, OJ
Dinner - banana/pear/OJ smoothie, shrimp cocktail

Recent Grocery Spending - Update on my $50 a Month Challenge

I haven't been doing much blogging lately.  Sorry about that!  I have been spending too much time reading other people's blogs and just haven't felt motivated to maintain my own.  Do any of you bloggers out there go through those slumps?  How do you get past them? 

Anyway, I did a little grocery shopping over the weekend.  My first stop was to Aldi.  I spent $9.62 and bought:

• head of lettuce
• 1 pound of tomatoes 
• 2 cans of tomato soup
• big jar of Mayo
• 1 can of sliced mushrooms
• 1 pound of hamburger meat
• 1 box of mac and cheese

I also spend $0.18 out of pocket at Rite Aid (my total was $8.17 and I used $8 in UPS Rewards... oh, and they gave me a new UPS Reward back at the end!!).  I bought:

• 1 jar of Ketchup
• 1 dozen eggs
• 1 container of sour cream
• 3 Cadbury Eggs

So if you are following along on my $50 a month grocery challenge, here are the stats: I started the month with $50 cash.  I now have $48.36 left to spend ($15.36 in cash and $33 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards). What I don't spend in January I will carry over into February.  Sometime at the end of the month I will write up a post with everything I have bought this month!

I am taking part in the clean out your pantry challenge and so if I do any more shopping this month it will simply be to use some of the UPS Rewards before they expire ($13 expire on 2/5, the rest on 2/21).  This is also linked on the Grocery Cart Challenge

  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.

I thought this was going to be a waste-free week.  All was going great.  Then... last night I decided to make a grilled cheese sandwich to have with some tomato soup I wanted to use up and... the bread was moldy!  :(  So I ended up wasting several slices of bread.

How did you do?  Shoot me a comment and let me know. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hmmmmm....... (also, Rite Aid paid me again)

I just saw where my internet/cable bill was deducted from my checking account.  It was $95.36.  So why the "hmm....."?  Back in December I got a postcard from AT&T saying services were going to be going up in January... $5 for each.  Plus I know my special $5 a month discount will be expiring soon (hopefully I can get that renewed).  So, I was fully expecting a $10-$15 jump in my bill.

There are a few possibilities for why this didn't happen:
a.) AT&T realized they were pissing off too many people and changed their mind (6% likely... they like their money)
b.) I somehow misread the statement (44% likely)
c.) The change will hit my next bill in February (50% likely)

Your thoughts?

Stay tuned!

************************************

In more exciting money spending news, my love affair with with Rite Aid just keeps getting stronger and stronger.  Last night I stopped on my way home from work and spent $5.29 on lipstick.  This put me over the $100 I needed to spend on specialty items (which is why I bought that particular brand) and so Rite Aid gave me my $20 UPS Reward.  Since most of the items that counted towards the $100 were food items, I will be adding that $20 to my grocery budget.  

So if you are following along on my $50 a month grocery challenge, here are the stats: I started the month with $50 cash.  I now have $65.15 left to spend ($25.15 in cash and $40 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards). What I don't spend in January I will carry over into February.  Sometime at the end of the month I will write up a post with everything I have bought this month and the breakdown of how I am actually coming out ahead! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gas... how high will it go?

Gas, after being "down" to $3.02, shot back up to $3.15 here in Ohio.  Of course, I missed the $3.02 window and ended up paying $3.15 a gallon - or a total of $47.87 - to fill my tank.  There is talk about it hitting $4.00 a gallon by summer.  Do you believe that will happen?

There is not a lot I can do to cut my gas expenses down.  I live a half hour from my job but what I pay in gas and wear and tear on the car I more than make up for in property tax savings.  Also, property values are much more affordable where I live vs. where I work.  

I have looked into public transportation... aka, "the bus."  I am not opposed to this at all.  Rather, I would enjoy that option occasionally as it would give me time to relax on my way to and from work.  However, for me to take the bus would require riding on two separate bus services (two different counties).  This drives up the cost to where is it cheaper to just buy gas and drive myself.  Also, because the two counties do not coordinate their services well, the entire process, with transfers, would take well over two hours ONE WAY.  Sigh.... 

I wish Ohio would step up their game with public transportation.  I am just thankful it is not something I have to rely on, because life as I know it would be very different.  Do you have good public transportation where you live?

***********************************

In other spending news... I paid my $22.00 sewer bill today.  Isn't this literally "money down the drain?"  Hehehehe!   :) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

You gotta love Rite Aid....



Most of this spending is actually from Friday night, but it was such a busy weekend around here I am just now getting around to reporting it. 

I bought two packages of Dixie Ultra paper plates at Rite Aid.  I had a $3 off coupon, and was out of paper plates (which I use mainly just for parties and cook-outs) so it seemed like a good deal.  I spent $5.46.

Also I bought $12.48 worth of food (well, technically a lot more than that if you could coupons), but only paid $1.48 out of pocket and the other $11 was paid with Rite Aid UPS Rewards.  Oh, and for my efforts Rite Aid gave me $9 more UPS!  Here’s what I bought:

• 8 more boxes of Special K cereal – using their BOGO sale and my BOGO coupons (thanks to some good friends who printed them for me) my cost ended up only being $1.20, and they gave me 8 UPS
• 2 bags of pretzels – they were BOGO, plus an UPS, and I will use these for a gathering at my house in March or April
• can of almonds
• gallon of skim milk
• a Cadbury Cream Egg – I love these things!!!

On the way home from work tonight I will be picking up a $4.99 rotisserie chicken at Giant Eagle.   

So if you are following along on my $50 a month grocery challenge, here are the stats: I started the month with $50 cash.  I now have (after I buy the chicken) $45.15 left to spend ($25.15 in cash and $20 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards). 

As an aside, I am less that $5 away from Rite Aid’s “buy $100/get $20 UPS” promotion, so I am going to make sure I hit that this week so I can add another $20 to my grocery budget!  

I am taking part in the clean out the Pantry Challenge... most of what I bought was to use as a money-maker and/or plan for upcoming gatherings at my house.
(Linked to the Grocery Cart Challenge.)


Sunday, January 16, 2011

What have I been eating this (last) week?

While I am taking part in my $50 a month spent on food grocery challenge, I will be documenting what I eat each week.  Some people have expressed concerns that I can't possible eat enough on just $50 a month.  I hope this type of documentation puts their fears to rest. 

This week, most of my food is coming from food that I already had in the house.  Next week you will start to see more items from my recent shopping trips making their way into my meals.  Assume that I drank water with my meals unless I specify otherwise.

January 9
Breakfast - eggs, bacon, and fried tomatoes, fruit juice
Lunch - toast and peanut butter, orange
Dinner - Lasagna Soup, salad, milk

January 10
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover Lasagna Soup, orange
Dinner -turkey quesadilla with turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes; milk

January 11
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch  - ham and bean soup, orange
Dinner - beef stroganoff, salad, Pepsi

January 12
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover beef stoganoff, orange
Dinner - eggs, bacon, and fried tomatoes, fruit juice

January 13
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover beef stroganoff, orange
Dinner - went to my parents and had tuna noodle casserole and applesauce (and got leftovers to bring home!)

January 14
Breakfast - cereal with milk
Lunch - leftover lasagna soup, orange
Dinner - salmon with dill sauce, baked tomatoes, sweet potato, milk

January 15
Breakfast - toast with peanut butter and banana
Lunch and dinner - was at a friends house and we had veggies, pizza, pumpkin crisp, chocolate, chips, and popcorn

Friday, January 14, 2011

Food Waste Friday

Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.

Here goes...
• 3 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese that I completely forgot I had.  I found them hiding in the back of my cheese drawer in the fridge. 
• 2 pieces of Swiss Cheese (similar story as the Laughing Cow cheese).


How did you do?  Shoot me a comment and let me know. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spending

I haven't been too good about updating my spending here on my blog.  Sorry!  I have just been tired the past couple days.  Anyway, below is the damage from the past couple days:

I spent $1.49 at Rite Aid on a Hormel meal.  I paid $0.49 in cash, and a dollar in UPS Rewards.  And they gave me a new UP Reward so the meal only cost me $0.49 (this is the amount I will report in my monthly recap, as it is the only out of pocket expense I had).  If you are following my $50 a month grocery challenge, you may be interested to know that for January I have $53.62 left to spend ($31.62 in cash and $22.00 in Rite Aid UPS Rewards).

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In other spending news...  I have spent:

$38.63 at Petsmart on dog food, cat food, and dog treats.  
$3.40 at Walmart ($2.00 on cat litter and $1.40 on oil for my snow blower)
$8.03 (after coupons and rebates) at Rite Aid on blink tears, 2 packs of Finish dish washing tabs, 2 rolls of paper towels, and 2 bottles of Excedrin
$158.73 towards two medical bills
$4.00 on another medical bill - the dentist... I actually paid $108.00 but my insurance reimbursed me for $104.00 of it.
$57.00 for my trash and recycling (this is a quarterly expense)
$24.00 for two 2011 dog licenses
$54.00 for my 2011 AAA dues
$350.00 towards my car loan - I put a little extra on this month, and hope to keep doing that in the future.
$9.23 on gas for my snow blower

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1.11.11

This blog post has nothing to do with budgets or frugality or saving money... I just wanted to remind everyone that today is 1.11.11!  And I started writing this at 1:11pm.  Enjoy the day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bills, bills, bills... and more cereal!

Today I paid several bills.  $24.00 to renew my two dogs' licenses.  $100.00 towards a medical bill.  $4.00 to my dentist (Actually, I paid them $108.00, but my insurance reimbursed me for $104.00 of it).  And $57.00 for my trash/recycling for the quarter.  

I also spent $0.30 today and got four more boxes of Special K at Rite Aid as I was able to print two more coupons.  I had to go to two stores because the first store only had two boxes left.  The first store charged me the overage but the second one didn't.  So, all in all I paid $0.30, got four boxes of cereal, and $4.00 more in UPS Rewards!  Rite Aid paid me $3.70 to buy from them! (FYI - I am donating over half of the cereal I am receiving.)

If you are keeping track of my $50.00 a month grocery challenge, I have now spent $17.89 and I have $54.11 left to spend ($32.11 cash plus $22.00 UPS Rewards that must be spent at Rite Aid).  Yes, that's right... the total has actually increased for the month thanks to the UPS Rewards! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rite Aid paid me $16.80 today!

Rite Aid paid me $16.80 today to take all of this off their hands (minus the cat).  Here's how...

Rite Aid is currently offering a BOGO sale on Special K cereal.  So, they are two for $4.79.  I had a bunch of the Special K BOGO coupons (nine, to be exact).  The Special K coupon is only good for up to $4.49 so the consumer has to pay the difference - in this Rite Aid scenario it comes to $0.30. This seemed like a good deal so I decided I would use four of my BOGO coupons and get eight boxes of Special K, which should last me for at least six months.

Here is where it gets interesting....

I went to Store #1 and bought four boxes of cereal (using two coupons) and paid $0.60 (they did not have enough for me to buy more so i knew I would have to go to another store).  But, to my surprise, I got $4.00 in UPS Rewards!  Suddenly this deal became a money maker!  It was then that I decided that I would be using ALL of my coupons and I would donate the extra boxes of cereal to the local food bank.

I decided to split the rest of my purchases up over three more stores in order to avoid clearing the shelves at any one particular store (this is only good etiquette, I think).  I have easily a dozen Rite Aids within five miles of my house so this really wasn't difficult to do.

I went to Store #2 and bought six boxes (using three coupons) and the price was FREE, plus $6.00 in UPS Rewards.  This particular store did not charge me the overage between the coupon and the actual price.  

At Store #3 I bought four boxes (using two coupons) and again the price was FREE (I was getting lucky!), plus $4.00 in UPS Rewards. 

Finally, I bought four boxes at Store #4 (using two coupons) and was charged $0.60 - which upon more investigation is how I believe the deal is supposed to work (but I am not complaining about the free boxes from Stores #2 and #3).  Plus I received $4.00 in UPS Rewards.

So, at the end of the day I paid $1.20, I received $18.00 in UPS Rewards, and I got 18 boxes of cereal!  I will keep eight boxes and donate the other ten to the local food bank.  I will also be submitting this data to Jeffrey at The Penny Experiment so it can be added to his total (this is an awesome cause... check it out if you have a chance).

And how does this impact my $50 a month for food challenge?  Well, including the $1.20 I spent today, I now have spent $17.59 and I have $50.41 left to spend ($32.41 cash plus $18.00 UPS Rewards that must be spent at Rite Aid).  Yes, that's right... I am now actually ahead for the month! 

Have you gotten any good deals this week?

Sunday Shopping

I went to Rite Aid this morning and spent $2.91 on two packages of Stayfree liners and a fleece blanket.  This is how I did it.  I bought the liners, which were on sale for $2.50 each plus $2.00 UPS rewards when you bought two.  Then I used a BOGO coupon and ended up paying $2.80 for both packages and receiving $2.00 in UPS rewards.  I then used the UPS rewards to buy the fleece blanket and had to pay an additional $0.11 out of pocket.  I needed to buy fleece for some presents I am making my friends for their birthdays this year and the blanket was much cheaper than buying a yard or two of fleece at the fabric store!  For my budgeting tracking purposes, I will break this down to $2.80 spent on personal items and $0.11 spent on gifts.  

This was not my only experience with Rite Aid today.  Stay tuned... I have a very exciting post I will be releasing later tonight!

Also, I spent $50.89 on gas (and a car wash today.  Since gas is $0.30 less a gallon when you buy a car wash, the car wash only ended up costing me an additional $2.25 or so.  Gas is $3.12 a gallon here (before discounts) right now. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What have I been eating this week?

While I am taking part in my $50 a month spent on food grocery challenge, I will be documenting what I eat each week.  Some people have expressed concerns that I can't possible eat enough on just $50 a month.  I hope this type of documentation puts their fears to rest. 

This week, most of my food is coming from food that I already had in the house.  Next week you will start to see more items from my recent shopping trips making their way into my meals.  Assume that i drank water with my meals unless I specify otherwise.

January 1
Breakfast - leftover snacks from my New Year's Eve party (carrots, chocolate, and other goodies)
Lunch and Dinner - Chinese Buffet and hot tea - a friend took me out to eat!; also, I had part of a free Jr. Jamocha Shake from Arby's (I had coupons)

January 2
Breakfast - eggs, pancakes, toast, fried tomatoes
Lunch - ham and bean soup (I made a big batch of this the week before so my freezer is full of it)
Dinner - leftovers from Christmas that needed finished up, milk

January 3
Breakfast - banana with peanut butter
Lunch  - ham and bean soup
Dinner - mushroom flavored pasta with shrimp, mushrooms, and garlic; salad; milk

January 4
Breakfast - banana with peanut butter
Lunch - leftover mushroom/shrimp pasta from the night before; salad
Dinner -turkey quesadilla with turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes; milk

January 5
Breakfast - banana with peanut butter
Lunch - ham and bean soup; orange
Dinner - mac and cheese; salad; milk; leftover Jamocha Shake

January 6
Breakfast - banana with peanut butter
Lunch - leftover mac and cheese; salad
Dinner - egg white omelet with leftover shrimp and mushrooms mixed in; toast with guava jelly, fruit juice

January 7
Breakfast - toast with peanut butter; half a tomato (needed to use this or it was going to go bad)
Lunch - chipotle turkey wrap with lettuce and tomatoes; orange 
Dinner - loaded baked potatoe with bacon bits, cheese, broccoli, and sour cream; milk

January 8
Breakfast - free spicy chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A
Lunch - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (using leftover jelly from the breakfast biscuit); half a Pepsi
Dinner - catfish; broccoli; potato; "Pepsi float" made with ice cream and the rest of my Pepsi from lunch



I spent $1.30, and also got a free breakfast!

I spent $1.30 today.  What did I get?  I went to ACE and bought five GE Energy Smart CFL light bulbs.  They had them on sale for 5 for $5 and I was able to print four $1/1 coupons from two computers.  So, I got all five light bulbs for only $1.30 (the cost of one bulb plus tax).  These are expensive so I am pleased with this great deal.

I also stopped at Chick-Fil-A and got a FREE spicy chicken biscuit for breakfast.  I signed up for this special promotion back in December and today was my assigned day to go try this out.  It was very good, but also very spicy!  They gave me extra jelly so I used that to make a PB&J sandwich for lunch today.

Speaking of food, I am planning to post a list of what I have been eating this week later on tonight. So if you are following my progress in my $50 a month grocery challenge, stay tuned! 

I went through my freezer tonight and organized everything.  Wow... I sure do have a lot of things in there.  If I can't eat on $50 a month for the next three months with all that food (not to mention the things I have in my pantry)  there is something seriously wrong with me!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fame at last! Well, maybe not....

It's the little things that make a small-time blogger like me happy.  Today I found one of my blog posts was quoted by a well-known website!  Jill Cataldo wrote about TLC  picking up "Extreme Couponing" for 12 more episodes and she quoted my recent review of the show in her post! 

Jill Cataldo is the founder of Super-Couponing® workshops and author of the nationally-syndicated newspaper column and video series "Super-Couponing Tips," which is enjoyed by over 20 million people each week.

Also, if you are interested, you can read why Jill was not featured in the program by clicking here.  it is a fascinating story.

I bit the bullet.... (budget billing)

For years I have resisted the advice of others to go on budget billing for my gas and electric.  Why?  I liked the control the actual billing gave me.  It allowed me to see if the changes I was making were positively or negatively impacting my heat/energy usage.  Also, I felt it helped me better monitor the bills to be sure that I was being charged accurately for my usage.  

That all changed today.  I finally signed up for budget billing for both my gas and my electric.  Why the sudden change, you ask?  Well, simply put, I decided I have come to a point in my life where I would like the convenience of knowing exactly what my bills will be each month.  Knowing this will help me better plan for my long term saving goals. 

So, starting next month I will be spending $51 for gas and $79 for electricity every month.  I have been told this is low (2100 square foot house in Ohio) but I still will be doing my best to get these numbers down for 2012! 

Do you budget bill?  If so, are you happy with your numbers? 

Food Waste Friday

Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.

Here goes...
• Nothing!  Nada!  Zip!

I had a good week.  I even used up a head of lettuce, which as you may know is rare in my house.  I did have half a tomato with my breakfast today to prevent it from going in the trash but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

How did you do?  Shoot me a comment and let me know. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My first grocery shopping trip of my $50 a month grocery challenge!

Guess where I went?  Yep... Aldi!  Where else would I go for the bulk of my shopping when I have a tight budget to adhere to, right?  As many of you are aware, I have challenged myself to spending no more than $50 for food per month for the next three months.  

Here is what I bought today:
• 5 lbs potatoes
• 1.85 lbs bananas
• 2 lbs pears
• 1 lb broccoli
• 1 lb Roma tomatoes
• 1 head lettuce
• 1 lb bacon
• 8 oz. mozzarella cheese
• 1 can green beans
• 1 can cream of celery soup
• 1 can tomato paste
• 1 package flour tortillas
• 1 jar Italian seasoning

I spent $16.39.  That leaves $33.61 yet to spend for the month. 

BOGO Special K Coupon

If you haven't printed the BOGO Special K coupon yet, head over to their Facebook page and print yours, today.  You can print it twice per computer. 

Rumor has it that Rite Aid will be running a BOGO sale on Special K next week.  So, combining these two offers you can receive four boxes of cereal for nearly free (the coupon only reimburses up to $4.49, so there might be a slight overage you have to pay). 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gasoline

I just spent $25.01 on gas.  It is "down" (ha!) to $3.05 a gallon now here in Ohio.  How much is gas where you live? 

Phone bill... it's lower!

My home phone bill was $28.68 this month.  As you may recall, I took some steps last month to reduce my phone bill slightly.  I am very happy for this slight savings, especially considering I got word that AT&T will be raising U-Verse and internet rates (grrrr.....).  

I know that from a financial perspective keeping the home phone is silly and a waste of money.  I just can't bring myself to give it up, though.  It is too convenient. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

$50 a Month Grocery Budget - Update

HS @ Our Debt Blog left me a comment on my post where I announced that I would have a $50 a month grocery budget for the next three months.  To summarize, I think HS thinks I might be a tad crazy... or unhealthy... or both!  :) 

While many of us know that it isn't that hard to have a $50 grocery budget for a person - especially with a decent stockpile, a few coupons, a local Aldi store, and a lot of dedication to the cause - others may think my goal seems impossible. That is completely understandable.  And depending on a person's dietary needs, it may well be.  But in my situation there is no reason why I can't be successful.

Therefore, I have decided I will list what I have been eating every week (or so!).  I hope to show others that a.) I am eating fairly healthy foods, and b.) that it is possible to eat well without spending a lot of money. 

Mortgage and Other Bills

I just mailed two bills - $25.98 for water and $58.73 towards a medical bill.  
 
Also, I have the following three reoccurring payments that were deducted from my checking account today:
 
Mortgage Payment = $880.79
When I built my house I put 30% down and got a really low interest rate, so I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly payments.  My payment includes my property taxes, but not insurance as I pay that separately through my insurance company.  I do try to pay a little extra towards my payments when I can.

Money Market Contribution = $125
I have a higher interest money market account through my stock broker.  Basically, I use this account as my 'long term emergency only' savings account.  Periodically I will also use it if I want to purchase a stock or other investment.  I contribute $125 monthly to this account.  It is automatically deducted so I can't "forget" to do it and go shopping instead.  :)

IRA Contribution = $200
I contribute $200 monthly to my IRA account, which is automatically deducted.