1 Million Dollars

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First three weeks of my new grocery plan: Complete

So, as I look back over the last three weeks, I did not achieve either of my goals, either my safety goal or my reach goal.  See my previous post on my goal and why my goal is $50 or less and my plan for achieving it here: http://frugalstudents.blogspot.com/2014/07/biannual-review-time.html .

I am disappointed in myself and sort of worried that we won't make it.  We spent $92 at wegmans, $23 at trader joe's, $12 at the meat store, $11 at tops market and $28 at BJ's warehouse for a total of $166 for three weeks.  This averages out to $55.33/week.  That means I have to spend less than $45/week for three weeks to make up for this OR find a way to consistently spend less than $49/week for the rest of the year.

So what caused this higher spending?  First, I neglected to account our spending at the meat market. Also, I found a few more items that were cheaper at BJ's than wegmans's, including one that was only cheaper because of a coupon BJ's sent me.  Third, we went through our fruits and vegetables faster than I expected and we did a top off at trader joe's.  Fourth, tops had a sale on my sodas in two litters and I stocked up.  I am noticing a trend here, I stock up ALOT.

So, what is my next step?  Well, logically I won't need to spend as much at BJ's because we have stocked up but what if I find another deal?  Maybe I should leave that amount alone for now?  Given that I neglected to even think about the spending at the meat store tells me I should take a closer look, and maybe cut that down.  My goal will be to cut that by half, down to $6.  Next, because of those larger purchases I am hoping to spend less than $92 next week at wegmans.  The best goal would be $67 but I don't think is possible so I am going to try to spend less than $92 at wegmans.  Combined this should set me up to spend no more than an average of $50/week. 

This does not mean I'll break even, I'll still be over budget BUT I think that I will do better by slowly cutting down than any huge cut.  I had a hard time the last three weeks with not just saying screw it and going out to eat and that costs me more than a $16 extra dollars I spent.  There is also a chance I'll spend nothing at tops over the next few weeks because that depends on the sale and deals and sometimes those just are not there.  I am going to get used to the first $16 cut and then work my way down as needed. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making Applesauce for the First Time

This year our apple tree is dropping small apples that are ripe but a bit sour.  I don't want to waste them but the sour taste is not great.  But, I could fix the sour taste with sugar, I think.  So, I went to my favorite cooking blog, A year of Slow Cooking and looked for the applesauce recipe.  I found it here: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/09/crockpot-applesauce-recipe.html

So, as I sit here typing the slow cooker is cooking a bunch of apples into home made applesauce.   We had all the ingredients in our kitchen so we are getting an extra side dish for basically free.  Given that I want to stretch our food budget this is great!

 If it does not work, oh well, I tried.  If it does we have a whole new side dish that we can work in to our meals for extremely cheap.  You never know until you try.  So what has everyone else been trying new, to save money or otherwise?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saving money just by asking

As we were looking at our budget one thing that jumped out at us was the internet bill.  Even with the $5 savings by bundling it with our cell phone we still pay $40/month.  But verizon had discontued dryloop so even if we went down in speed we could not save money.  Or so I thought.  I mentioned this problem on the MMM forum (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/) and was told about dsl extreme.  However, the discounted rate was $24.95 for a year plus a $2.88 fee and then it jumped up to $34.95/month.  Did I want to do this, especially when it meant buying a new router?  Not really, but what other choice did I have? 

So, I turned to my husband and asked him to call verizon and let them know that we were wanting to switch to a new company because of the price, could they do anything to keep us from leaving?  And they did!  Not much, only $5/month and only for a year but where else can you save $60 for ten minutes worth of work.  That is $360/hour, I know I don't earn that much. 

Has anyone else saved money just by asking?  Who can you think to ask for a deal?  The worst anyone can say is no and if you don't ask, the answer is already no.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biannual Review Time!!!!

My husband and I are in the process of organizing our ENTIRE life, including our finances.  One way to do so is to have an fiscal review time.  Back when I was staying home we reviewed the finances monthly, but honestly I did not have time once school and our daughter came.  So we decided we would get together and review our finances twice a year, once during the summer and once during winter break.

However, after this review I don't think we are reviewing enough and we need to be more in touch than we have been.  So, bad news first, we are $400 over in spending for groceries.  Wow, that is six whole weeks of grocery spending. Thankfully we did our review before our major grocery shopping trip and because of finding this out, we made some changes.  Normally we do a major grocery trip every other week and then go to trader joe's for fruit and other items only at trader joe's the opposing week.  We also do runs to cvs and tops market when there are good deals.  Part of the problem was that there have not been many good deals from cvs so we have been spending our normal cash on non-food items like paper towels, bathroom tissue and such.  Also, I have not been spending as much time getting the gift cards from mypoints as I could because my life has been so crazy busy.  But, I need to organize myself because I can't be that crazy busy for more than six months without changing something about my life.  But we will get back to that later.  What are we doing to save that $400?

Well, we cut out all of the "fat" from our grocery budget and were about to get down to $92 for the next two weeks.  But, I think we can stretch that food to three weeks if we hit trader joe's and our new store BJ's warehouse.  Our new plan will not include a major run every two week, but every three weeks, allowing for a run to BJ's warehouse and trader joe's in the weeks between, which does mean stretching the time between trader joe's visits as well.  This should save us some time as well.  Even if we spend high at trader joe's and average at BJ's, we will average about $41/week for the next three weeks if this works.  This does mean that we are eating out of the freezer and cupboard at lot so we won't be able to keep this low of spending but we should be able to get close to my goal of $50/week for the rest of the year this way, I think.  I will be reviewing this in three weeks to see how we did and I will report back!  I am also on the looking for more meals that can be made cheaply.  We also will be relying on our very small garden.

Because of our schedules our garden is mostly dead.  We have one tomato plant holding on, two basil plants barely holding on, our apple tree and the multiple blackberry bushes.  Right now this means I can get a few basil leaves a week and a small handful of blackberries every day.  I am going to use the blackberries to stretch our budget.  Then, when the apples come in, we will do the same with those.  We are lucky to have these fruits that will really help our budget, but that is not just luck.  Part of why we chose this house was the tree and we planted the blackberries three years ago because I know I don't have a green thumb.  Blackberries are one of those plants that acts like a weed and is very hard to kill.  If you don't have much time, or are like me and kill plants, a blackberry bush can be great if you plan to live in your home for over three years.  Pre-planning when you have time can have great benefits in the future when you become busy. 

But on to the better news!  We ended under budget for miscellaneous expenses, like hair cuts, small appliances, etc which is surprising because we had to buy a new printer and I thought that would mean going over.  One of the reason I try to be strict with myself is so if issues happen I don't have a major problem.  Guess that did not work on the groceries, sigh.  Again, on to other expenses.  We are within budget for utilities but I would like to cut those down a little more so we are trying to cut down on dryer usage this summer. Everything else is pretty similar to utilities, within budget but I am still looking for more ideas to cut. 

Does anyone have ideas they have used for cutting expenses that they would like to share?  I always say "never assume you can't do better" and therefore am always on the lookout.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Updated Millionaire Plan July 2014

We have broken $20K!!!!  We now have $20,756 in retirement savings.  Wow, we are so close to our mini-goal of six month's expenses including COBRA ($21,000).  I know we will get there this month but I do wish we had broken $21K as well.  In that theme, I have decided that I feel my retirement savings is too low.  I am moving some of the money I have been putting towards general savings and debt repayment and putting it towards retirement moving our retirement savings to a round 20%.  This means saving $787.50 per month instead of $625 towards our Roth.  I know this hits my EF funding but I need to remember that in a true emergency, I could pull from the Roth IRAs because both my husband's and my Roth IRAs have been opened for over five tax years.   Hey, maybe I should see if I have any extra room in April 2015 and if I do, store my EF cash in the Roth.  What do people think of that?

So, since I am sure I will make our mini-goal of $21,000, I should mention that are next mini-goal after this one is $25,000, my entire gross annual salary and the amount I need to be able to move from target date funds to individual mutual funds.  I can't wait because often individual mutual funds have cheaper fees and I have more control, which makes the control freak part of myself happy. :P