Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Month of Doing More with Less - Week 2

Week 2

Day 1/July 12
My husband stopped at Costco on the way home for the needed spacer for an inhaler from the pharmacy.  Yikes!  That came to $51, with a discount.  The good, healthcare was not part of this limited spending challenge.  The bad, whether it is part of this challenge or not, that money is gone, gone, gone.  He also picked up more prints for the passport project.
Costco - 3 prints

Today we also opened up a box of home supplies and toiletries which my in-laws generously sent us from Melaleuca.  The products are very nice, but not what we could afford on a monthly basis.  We especially like the the laundry supplies, soaps and multi-purpose cleaners.  We're thankful for this gift.

Day 2/July 13

Dressing like a cow for free food?  Yes, indeed.  Thanks, Chick-Fil-A!  But before that we went to the gym, and then the grocery store.  Yes, with 5 kids.  By providential timing, we were at the grocery store where Starbucks was also offering free energy drinks.  That was very handy since I was thirsty after my workout and the kids had been tearing up the gym, too, and it was noon and we were just beginning our shopping.  I made the list and pulled out my coupons the day before, but it still took too long to navigate the store.  And they there was some mix-up in that once I had swiped my card, for an amount that seemed way too high, the cashier called me back to give me a refund for the value of the coupons I had handed over.  Except none of the manufacturer coupons had doubled, and none of the mailer coupons made it into that refund, either.  But what proof do I have to stand on?  Anyway...letting that $5 go.  Had I been there without children, I could have pulled aside and gone over the receipts right then and there, but I just couldn't manage that with the kids this time.

King Soopers -toothpaste, shampoo, leave-in conditioner, 3 tubs flushable wipes, 3 packs baby wipes, 2 jumbo packs Pull-Ups, 1 jumbo pack diapers, 4 pkgs. chicken sausage, 3 cream cheese, cilantro, radishes (my girl's request when I was making the list), 2 jalepenos, 3 dozen eggs, 4 Propel waters, 1 Sunny D, 1 bag pretzel Goldfish, 1 pkg. girl stuff
I'm growing increasingly annoyed with normal grocery stores (too many choices, more difficult to navigate with many children, needing to pay so much attention to every detail to get the lowest price, etc.) and favoring Bountiful Baskets and Costco more and more.

Day 3/July 14
No shopping today. There was victory in making a frugal lunch for the family to be consumed in the 20 minutes they were home between activities.
Day 4/July 15
We stopped by the store on the way home from church to conserve gas and time.  Ice cream cones after lunch at home sure hit the spot.  By my calculations, 6 of us could enjoy a treat of ice cream for less than 1 serving of Cold Stone.  I think I need to plan a treat each week or so since we are not going out. We are pretty open about economics here and took the time to explain the comparative value to our kids. I also put a bunch of chicken breasts in the crockpot this morning before getting out the door and served shredded BBQ sandwiches for lunch and chicken pasta salad for dinner, with enough chicken for a couple more meals in the next few days.  I need to do this more often to make meal prep more manageable while still being frugal.   For breakfast we had cold soaked oats (oatmeal, yogurt, milk, mango, raspberries, honey) which is becoming a preferred breakfast because everyone likes it, I can mix it up and stick it in the fridge the night before and there is no work in the morning. We change up the fruit based on what we have on hand.
Safeway - hamburger buns, (3) 1.75 qt. ice cream, 1 gallon ice cream

Today's sermon was from Matthew 6:19-21.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (ESV)
In discussing it later at home with my husband we are as prone to greed as folks with far more.  It is not so much the actual stuff others own but the ease with which it seems they can carry out their lives in regards to money and the experiences they can pursue. When eating out is not an option, when we have to plan how and when basic purchases can happen, when outings become exhausting because I am combining many errands to save gas, it can be discouraging.  I confess that my heart has been hardened and I have not been exercising gratitude and that I have coveted ease when I should be embracing hard work. Dear Lord, change my heart!

Day 5/July 16
It was an expensive start today as we applied for 4 new/renewed passports.  Hooray!  The postal worker didn't question the homemade passport photos.  I ended up using the State Department's sizing tool, saved each image to our computer, then put the 4 images into a collage with a random photo in the middle to get the necessary size on a 4x6" print.

To make the most of the gas used to get to the post office, we also went to the Y.  We already pay a fixed rate per month, so we are trying to get more use out of it.  Sometimes I have to chuckle at the chaotic and non-efficient state of this crazy life or I might cry.  We pulled into the parking lot and I fed our sweet babe.  In we went and she required a change just as soon as I had checked the little kids in.  I picked her up again and she spit all over me.  Then I checked another child in and took the older two to get oriented in the fitness room, still wearing my lovely spit-up shirt.  The kids and I worked out and I went to pick up the other 3.  The staff picked her up out of a swing and discovered a massive blow-out.  10 wipes, a new outfit and a diaper later, we were good to go.  But not so fast.  1 mile down the road a child remembered he had forgotten his watch at the facility.  Back we go.  With great tension in the decision I opted to leave the children in the car for 1 minute to retrieve the watch rather than unload and reload them all again which would have easily taken another 15 minutes.  With all of that behind us, it was all I could do not to find the nearest drive-through for lunch on the way home.  Leftovers from the fridge have never been so satisfying.

Bountiful Baskets ordered today - 3 baskets, 5 loaves sourdough, approx. 18 lbs. Rainier cherries.
With almost 5 full days to go, the only produce we have left are some grapes, a few nectarines, 1/2 head of romaine and some potatoes, and that was with ordering 2 baskets last time.  I'm glad we're eating lots of produce, but I wonder if ordering 3 baskets will lead to waste.  I'm using this next pick-up as a trial (and hoping there isn't too much squash included this time).

I'll need to be at the top of my game this week with dinners as we have commitments every night.

Day 6/July 17
The children and I enjoyed a lovely morning at one of our favorite regional parks with friends.  The gas getting there was an expense, but beyond that, a free outing.
I had some time out this evening with only our baby so  I did a quick erran.  We need to provide 1 ream of paper and a supply fee for each of our school age children who attend a charter school program once a week.  If they were going full-time I'm pretty sure I would be overwhelmed with the supply lists these days.
Staples - 2 reams of paper, 3 composition notebooks with cool covers for my pupils, 3 large paper cover journal books, 3 small paper cover journal books, 2 packages of tab dividers.
$22.55 (-11.98 rebate on the paper) = $10.57

Day 7/July 18
The fridge is quite bare now.

It now contains a small amount of cheese, 2 gallons milk, condiments, homemade yogurt, limited produce (onions, cilantro, radishes, limes), eggs, leftovers, cream cheese, homemade salsa. We quickly stopped at the Costco pharmacy tonight and picked up a few essentials while we were there.
Costco - 4 gallons milk, 2 lbs. sharp cheddar,
$12.89 (+$6.18 for a 32ct. Dr. Pepper from my allowance...for the sake of honesty)

Today we rehung a clothesline and put the cloth diapers out to dry.  I did go buy diapers this week, but we've been using a lot of cloth diapers, too.

Week 1 purchases - $172.44
Week 2 purchases - $165.87
Total after Week 2 = $338.31 spent of $375

This week:
- I feel a little discouraged about how much has been spent so far, but it simply takes quite a bit of food to feed a family of our size.  We could certainly live and eat on less, but I'm not sure how much lower we want to go. There is something about not having good food in the house which makes one feel deprived.  And that then backfires because then we are more susceptible to caving in and going out to eat, which has defeated the whole purpose of saving money.
- I will be trying not so shop in the coming weeks, which should be made easier by having so much fresh produce which we'll pick up on Saturday. I do anticipate another produce order at the end of the month, though.
- I haven't reached any of the goals I set last week, but photos have been taken to list some excess items we have.
- Good accomplishments have been taking and printing the passport pictures for 4 of our kids, eating at home even with very rushed dinner times and evening commitments, and getting back to using cloth diapers part of the time.

Goals for Week 3:
- List 10 items for sale.
- Defrost and inventory deep freeze.
- Organize our living room shelving unit.
- Start a gratitude journal.

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