Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Month of Doing More with Less - Week 1

Day 1/July 5
Made bread today.
Starting this month off with a bang, by going shopping. :) I had the opportunity to get out to Costco, Salvation Army and Target tonight alone.  We needed milk and a few other staples since we were away for the 4th.
Costco - 4 gallons milk, pancake mix, 3 lbs. brats, 10 lbs. oats, organic corn tortilla chips, 18 ct. eggs
Target - 2 lbs. pasta, pepperoni, big Odwalla smoothie, 2 bags of gummy peaches, Tom's kids toothpaste, 26 oz. Redmond RealSalt
Salvation Army - Talbots dress, tank top, khaki shorts for our 9y.o.  It was a 1/2 off day so the total was just over $5, but from my allowance, so I'm not including that in the running total. 
Walmart - My husband made a stop for deodorant and other things he needed.

Day 2/July 6
No expenses today.
As I was folding laundry I was realizing that the kids' pjs are in sorry shape, but still functional.  I think we get full use out of most clothing in this house.  Those pjs will be hitting the garbage bin at the end of the summer, though.
I rearranged the boys' room and removed a dresser to eliminate a hazard to our youngest son and give them more floor space.   While I was at it I went through some clothes and found some that are outgrown that I was able to put in the Goodwill bag.  I also did some cleaning, sorting and organizing in our master bedroom, too.  It feels good to purge.  We may not have the best of anything, but keeping areas clean and clutter free less cluttered is its own reward.

I hope to sell the spare dresser and some other things to offset some of our curriculum costs.

Day 3/July 7
Picked up 2 baskets of produce from Bountiful Baskets which I ordered on the 2nd.  I am so pleased with what we are getting from them every other week.  This week included lots of peaches, lots of potatoes, lots of plums, several large mangoes, several bananas, 8 organic tomatoes, 2 heads of cauliflower, 3 lbs. strawberries, 2 heads of romaine, 2 bags of green beans, 2 bags of green grapes and 10-12 limes.
While I was picking up our produce it made sense to stop at the grocery store for some meat and other stuff.  I was happy to find some dairy markdowns, including some yogurt that the kids thought was a great treat after months of the homemade stuff around here.
Safeway - 8 4-pks. greek yogurt, 2 pints organic sour cream, small jar stone ground mustard, 1 box pasta, 5.7 lbs. beef roast, and 4.75 lbs. peaches.

Day 4/July 8
No shopping today.  Most of us were under the weather so we stayed in all day. We had a nice roast beef dinner which would have been quite a treat if not for all the dishes and the fact that by the time we got the dinner on the table we had one miserable screaming toddler and one screaming baby.  Real life.

Day 5/July 9
I went out alone in the evening to take a look at some flooring options for our bathroom. I've wanted to fix our bathrooms for years.  Who puts carpet in a bathroom?!  We bought a spec house and the builder used carpet by the tub and vanity in our bathroom and by the vanity in the kids' bathroom. Oh, how I wish we would have had the option to upgrade that for a couple hundred dollars at the time the house was built to have tile or something more appropriate!  Instead, this item has been put on the back-burner for years and I'm not sure it'll be happening anytime soon.

While I was out I was planning to get dinner from my allowance money, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to part with my limited allotment on food that will not be as good as I can fix at home at about 4-6 times the cost.

When I returned home we did the budget and it is pretty bleak.  A LOT of big expenses are coinciding this month and on a rather modest single income, there is really nothing to cushion the blow.  We both know the reality, but it kind of knocks the wind out of my sails each time we do our budget because I feel like it shouts out at me, "Stop dreaming, stop hoping, you'll never replace that flooring or take that trip or finish the basement or get back to funding the college fund or get nice furniture or afford a regular date night. Who are you kidding?!  You are barely scraping by!"  Most days I feel like I can stay in the moment, making frugal choices and not being consumed by the weight of it all.  But other days, not so much.

Day 6/July10
I gave 4 kids haircuts today so they'd be looking good for passport pictures.  They've never had haircuts by anyone but mom, so that seems like a frugal victory.  We met at Costco to pick up prescriptions from an allergy appointment today, get passport pictures and some basics.  I ended up taking photos at home to hopefully meet the passport photo specs but then the camera battery was dead so I couldn't transfer to the computer and edit.  I printed some from the card, hoping they would meet the requirements, but nope, I'll need to resize.  Passport photos at Costco are only $5 each, but since we need to get or renew 4 passports this summer, I was hoping to save the $20.  I'm trying to look for cheaper ways to do most everything these days, but I'll admit, it does create some additional headaches.

Costco - 4 gallons milk, 2 lbs. coffee, 9 4x6" prints
Dinner at Costco - pizza, hot dog, drinks
+5 prescriptions - Ouch!...but not part of this limited spending challenge
Safeway - Hoped to pick up more beef roasts before the sale ended, but had to get a rain check.

Day 7/July 11
Back to Costco today to get something more from the pharmacy, a spacer for an inhaler, which they didn't end up having. We also picked up more pictures that I was hoping would work for the passport situation, but that turned out being strike two on that frugal endeavor.  I might try one more time and then be ready to bite the bullet and shell out the $20 to get them completely done at Costco just to be done with the headache of it all.  I really don't like wasted trips to the store and coming home without what I was going for!
Costco - 8 prints that won't work

End of Week 1 - $172.44 spent of $375
- I haven't made a dent in our using our freezer food at all, but that's okay since I've been focusing on using the fresh produce and meat we have so it won't go to waste.
- We have been eating well and the meal plan is helping to keep me focused. From the 2 Bountiful Baskets I picked up, a majority of it is already gone.  I guess we are consuming lots more fresh produce than we used to and that is a good thing.  I'm thankful that the Bountiful Basket assortment usually seems to include a few things that keep longer, grapes and cauliflower and potatoes this time.
- Diapers for our 2 year old are in very low supply, so this week we started potty training and pulled out the stash of cloth diapers to make the disposables we have last as long as possible for outings, etc.  The cloth we have are very nice, but I've just never seemed to stick with it. Perhaps I need to make more of an effort on this front.
- I've spent more than I had hoped to by this point, but I still holding out hope of meeting the goal.  Then again, it is the season to buy school supplies, too, so it is anybody's guess whether I can pull this off.

Goals for Week 2
1.  List at least 10 items for sale.  The sooner the better.
2.  Make a written inventory of the contents of our deep freeze.
3.  Organize everything on our living room shelving unit. We have the Expedit 5 x 5 from IKEA and love it!  It is home to toddler toys, kids books, homeschool materials, scrapbooks and more so it really need a reboot before we start back to school.


Chelsea said...

i enjoy reading about your frugal adventures. i am trying to greatly decrease the amount of money i spend on groceries so your posts keep me motivated and provides great ideas about what else i can do to save more!

melissa said...

I also enjoy your blog so much, Rachel. I am really striving to cut back on our monthly grocery/household items budget. I have a pretty hefty supply of a lot of pantry items and some freezer items too. So I am hoping to finish out July without spending much more at the store. (And thanks again for recommending BB...we love it!)
Thanks for inspiring me!