Sunday, February 27, 2011

February = Bust

I've run the final numbers, and once I finish paying bills tomorrow, and spend no other money, I will be $142 OVER my February budget. I will be transferring money from savings. I had hoped that with it being a "short" month, I might be able to actually come under budget.

However, the gas bill, the life insurance I didn't budget for, the nail in the tire and the fact that with the skyrocketing gas prices, we decided to go ahead and fill up our cars yesterday instead of waiting until March 1, all combined to just blow the budget out of the water.

The highlights (and lowlights) are like this:

Power: $11 under
Natural Gas: $94 over
Groceries: $20 over
Clothing: $46 under
Entertainment: $22 under
Gasoline: $56 over
Misc: $154 over

Obviously, I have some work to do.

It's the little things....

When I first started trying to get out of debt (which, was a good year before I started talking about it online), I was faced with the very sobering reality that my out-go was higher than my income. So, I had to start figuring out how to cut that down. Reducing the grocery bill through coupons and sales was a no-brainer and has helped immensely. Combining errands so that I'm not using huge amounts of gas was an easy way to trim some costs. Cutting back on meals out was another very helpful strategy.

At times it seems that "the world" has conspired against me to make this as hard as possible. Corruption among Public Officials and several seasons of drought conditions combined to create horrendously high sewer and water bills. Record setting 100 degree days in a row made for outrageous electricity bills in the summer. And extreme cold (for Alabama) made for budget busting natural gas bills this winter. And now, gas prices are skyrocketing due to instability in the Middle East. There's not a whole lot I can do personally about those situations.

However, I can do smaller things to take some of the sting out of those -

1. Recycling - Our city provides a large tub for recyclables. You just put it out at the curb once a week and truck comes by and picks up the contents, leaves the tub. Since I have started recycling we have reduced our household garbage output by at least two bags a week. The last time I bought garbage bags, they were on "sale" for $5.49 for a box of 40, I had a coupon for .75 off which made them average out to almost 12 cents a bag. ..12 x 2 x52 = $12.48. That's not a massive amount of savings over the course of the year, but it is SOME savings, for no additional work, and it is earth friendly too.

2. Water - We've had drought conditions on and off for the last five years. Come summer, I'm begging for rain for my gardens. I do try to capture some of the rain in buckets when we actually get it for later use in the garden. This year, I think I am going to finally get a rain barrel. My landlord (my Dad) also took pity on me and installed water saver toilets in both bathrooms. Since then, our water/sewer bill dropped by 1/3. I also make absolutely sure that laundry and dishwasher loads are full before running.

3. Power and Natural Gas - Extreme temps make the central air and heat work HARD during the winter and summer months. We've gotten in the habit of keeping the heat set a bit lower than normal in winter and the air a bit higher in the summer. The only way to pull this off is to dress appropriately during those times. Layers in the winter and shorts and tank tops in the summer. We also make good use of our ceiling fans. I have also switched the light bulbs in our house to CFLs, but I still make sure lights are turned out in rooms that aren't being used!

4. Leftovers - Princess Penelope isn't very fond of leftovers. She's a picky eater as it is, and there are really only a few meals that she will eat "leftover". This isn't a huge deal because I tend to divide most large recipes in half during assembly and freeze one half. But there is often a serving or two left of what I serve. This is no big deal because I tend to just eat it for lunch the next day. I don't mind eating the same thing a meal or two in a row. Much better than throwing that stuff in the garbage!

5. Draft dodgers - The house we live in was built in 1957 and has single paned windows with aluminum frames. Can you say air leaks everywhere? I have combated part of the problem by putting thermal curtains on the windows, and using "draft dodgers" along the sills (since they are hidden by the curtains, it doesn't look as weird as it sounds). I can definitely tell a difference.

These are some of the things we are doing to cut costs in small ways without putting forth a ton of additional effort. What are some of the things that you do?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday at Publix

After 10 days without stepping foot in the store, I finally made a trip this morning:

So, here is what I got:

6 Coffee-Mate Creamers
3 Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits
3 bags Gorton's Fish
3 Kiwi
1 Jose Ole Tacquitos
1 Red Onion
1 Jalepeno Pepper
1 Bunch Cilantro
2 Skintimate Shave Gel
1 Classico Alfredo Sauce
2 Pedigree Dentastix
1 4lb bag Publix Dog Treats
1 Can Publix Pineapple

Spent: $28.90 including tax and saved $37.53, or 56%

This is definitely not a full week's worth of groceries, but it is what we needed to supplement what we already have in the house. And Thing 1 and Thing 2 are definitely giddy as I finally have picked up more "cookies" for them!

How was your shopping week?

Ten Days

Ten day. That's how long its been since I went to the grocery store. Again, the cupboards are showing it. So, toay is the day. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get excited about any of the deals I see in the Publix ads this week. I know some of the problem is that the computer that has the printer attached to it is not linking up to the internet, so I am missing some really fantastic printables which would make some of the deals better.

Another part of it I think is frugal fatigue. The two months since Christmas have seen extreme belt tightening due to the oversized natural gas bills and some other things I didn't really plan for. All in all, it seem like very little progress with a whole lot of sacrifice. And yes, I'm whining.

So, I'm making my grocery list right now because I have to go to the store in just a bit. I think I will just do a trip to Aldi because, as I said, Publix just doesn't seem to have a single thing we need on sale, and I think I'll do better overall at Aldi. On the other hand, I have some specific items I need to get to make some pineapple and kiwi salsa, and if Aldi doesn't have those in stock, I'll have to go to Publix anyway! At that point, I wll probably be more than irritated with myself! Maybe one last look through the publix ad....

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Siren Song of Spring....

In Alabama, we like to think that when the daffodils start opening their golden trumpets, spring is on the way. Last night, we were reminded, rather rudely, that daffodils don't herald spring down South, tornado sirens do. I went to bed at a reasonable time, and around 11:30, we were awakened by the sirens. I flipped on the tv, checked the radar and we went to our safe place. A massive squall line was cutting its way through the state, with tornados likely. Fortunately, I don't think any ever developed, but goodness, that storm was loud!

After it all settled down and we went back to bed, it was after 2 a.m., before I finally got back to sleep. That did not make for a happy 6 a.m. wake-up or a long day traveling back and forth to Montgomery for work. I had planned on doing some grocery shopping this evening, but by the time I got back to town, that was no longer an option! I had a huge list of things to accomplish this evening, but for the most part, I'm just too worn out so I'm vegging out a bit and waiting for Princess Penelope to get home from her evening out with friends. I will have to seriously get busy tomorrow.... as this weekend appears to be far too short to get all done that needs to be done!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daffodils and stuff....

When I got out of the car this afternoon, I notice that I had daffodils blooming.... I intended to get back outside and snap a picture or two but by the time I changed clothes it was already dusk. I am amazed that it is still February, but Spring is seeming to want to make an early appearance. I can deal with that. I also have to keep myself in check and remember that the average last frost date for my zone is April 15! The temptation to get plants in the ground is overwhelming!

I know I have been somewhat MIA this week, but we'v had a lot going on! Princess Penelope is hunting for a part time job -- gasoline and cute shoes don't grow on trees, you know, and she wants more of that stuff than my budget has room for! I'm also starting up a small side business and have had meetings Monday and Wednesday evenings, and even at lunch today. Will have to be careful about those lunch meetings as restaurant food is not really in the budget.

Today I came home to find that Thing 2 had decided that the Yellow Pages might be a tasty snack or an interesting chew toy. (A book had been delivered yesterday and I had just brought it inside and put it down still in the bag --- BIG MISTAKE as Thing 2 seems to understand that yummy munchies are often in plastic bags) ---- little pieces of yellow paper EVERYWHERE!!!!

I'm on the road for work but I have a busy weekend ahead --- must clean out my home office to properly get my side business going, clean the house spotlessly in anticipation of my IT guy from work coming by to get some stuff fixed on our computer, lots of yard work and grocery shopping!

I think I need to make a big huge list!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Swamped and MIA

This has been a crazy week --- Between after work meetings Monday and tonight, and helping Princess Penelope with a project, supervising her job hunt.... I haven't had time to think, much less blog. I've done zero grocery shopping and the fridge is starting to show the effects and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are down to their last two treats.

I've also got three birthdays to shop for and at least one party to go to this weekend! I'm tired, I'm worn out and I'm just a tad bit grouchy.... but I did just want to pop in and say "Hi!".

Hopefully I'll be back to my regularly scheduled ramblings soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A New Skill.....

Last month, a group of us had our first Supper Club get together --- it was a fun night, everyone contributed something to the meal and we just all had ball. One of the members brought her specialty --- homemade bread. Wow. I was in heaven. Absolute heaven. I told the very talented baker how much I had always wanted to try and bake bread, but my few attempts had been less than stellar. She said that it was really easy, and she would love to show me sometime.

Today was sometime. She sent me a text this morning that said she was planning on baking bread this afternoon and would I like to come over and learn? Well, she didn't have to ask me twice! I went over there this afternoon and she walked me through, step by step, both of us making it at the same time. She answered all of my questions and we had a great time. When we were done, we each had a loaf to go with dinner and I had learned something new! Her loaf was gorgeously perfect. Mine did kind of look like a baseball bat once it baked up, but that's okay, because it was the most delicious baseball bat I'd ever had!

But as for the bread going with dinner part.... well, I kind of skipped dinner and just enjoyed the bread!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Good Night

Right now, I hear giggles, laughs and a lot carrying on coming from the next room. Princess Penelope has a bunch of friends over and they are watching movies, chowing down on every snack in the house and generally being completely noisy, obnoxious and any other numerous adjectives.

Life is pretty dang good on this Saturday night.

I Think I Can

I have spent a large amount of time in the last 24 hours crunching numbers. I have come to the conclusion that I think I can do this! I might actually get through this month with $5 to spare! Of course that is all contingent on things such as making sure I stay within the grocery budget for the month of February (I only have $35 to last the month! Hoping that gas prices don't skyrocket and that Princess Penelope and I can get through the remainder of February on $30 in gas -- which should be completely do-able considering my office is a 7 minute commute if I hit every single light and her school is pretty much the same. That even factors in picking up another 50 pound bag of dog food for Thing 1 and Thing 2.

I think I have a bit of light at the end of the tunnel though. These recent warm days have meant that the heat is not running constantly, which translates to a much lower gas bill and probably power bill in March. The winter has been brutal and both January and February well exceeded my estimated costs of natural gas. That has definitely meant struggling to slash other budget areas to cover the overage in the utilities category.

But for now, I think I can do this.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It Would Have Been Fun

Several of my co-workers organized a bowling night tonight. Let me tell you, I am TERRIBLE at bowling. I mean I am a 40-years-old-but-still-suck-with-bumpers type of bad bowler. But I always have a ton of fun being lousy at it. So, when they first mentioned it, I was completely game. But then I crunched the numbers.

Can't do it. Things are just way too tight right now. Am I bummed? Absolutely. Do I know I made the right decision. Again, absolutely. It's just not nearly as fun being good as being bad.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The bills are always there

Today my power bill hit my inbox. Although we have gas heat, the fan and motor still have to run to circulate the heat. Given the extreme cold (for Alabama) that we've had the past month and the fact that I'd already received the budget busting natural gas bill, I sort of cringed and opened the bill with only one eye open. And it was.... $10 less than last month! Woo hoo! Granted, that's not like a HUGE savings, but it is some savings.

This month has been a struggle. It is very tempting to raid what savings I do have just to give us a bit of breathing room. But I really, really, really want to tough it out. It is very difficult to try and figure out why certain budget categories seem to be hurting so much this month --- especially when its a short month.

Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down with the budget spreadsheet and the adding machine (I can run estimations much faster on the adding machine --- go figure) and figure out where I really stand. Hopefully its a bit better than I think it is!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Bit Better Than I Thought

Last night, looking at the Publix ad, I just wasn't excited about the ad. However, given that today's penny item was the Greenwise TP, I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and go to the store. It ended up a little better than I thought:

I spent $21.72, including tax, and "saved" $22.23. Not a bad trip all in all.

This is what I bought:

1 Ronzoni Ziti
1 Ronzoni Lasagna Noodles
1 Bertolli Creamy Alfredo Sauce
2 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Crusts
2 Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 Kotex U
1 Wishbone Salad Dressing
1 Mt. Olive Sweet Pickle Relish
1 Kraft Velveeta Shells and Cheese
1 Kraft Sharp Cheddar Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese
1 Armour Italian Meatballs
3 packs Ramen Noodles
1 Tombstone Pizza
1 Publix Greenwise Toilet Paper (Penny Item! Woo hoo!)

Not what we'd call a well balanced shopping trip, but a good one to fill in some of the gaps in the pantry. And Princess Penelope will definitely be happy to see the italian influence in upcoming meals.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not the most stellar week for sales....

So I'm pouring over the Publix ad for the sale that starts tomorrow. And there's NOTHING in it that I'm excited about. I will often try and do a "mini" trip to Publix on Wednesdays because that's when they do the mystery penny item. Usually, I will just run in after work and pick up my favorite sale items and the penny item and then do a larger trip on the weekend when I have more time and I'm not quite so worn out.

But I'm looking at the ad and really nothing is falling into the "stuff we need" category. Maybe I'm just tired this evening, or maybe nothing is really all tht great this week. Whatever it is, its going to have to be a darn good penny item tomorrow to get me into the store!

Maybe I'll just put the grocery shopping off until the weekend....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines, Schmalentines

Being single for QUITE a long time makes me just kind of go "ugh" when it comes to Valentine's Day. Normally, the single thing doesn't bother me a bit. But after a solid month of Jewelry Store ad assaults,  by the time V day hits...well, I'm pretty over it.

I had more fun with it when Princess Penelope was younger... making all those valentines for school (or picking out just the right Powerpuff Girls cards), attaching Charms Blow Pops, making goodies for the class party. That was kind of that Penelope is older, well, there are no more marathon glittter and Charms Blow Pop sessions. Sigh.

So, basically other than picking up Penelope some sort of Valentine and new rawhide chews for Thing 1 and Thing 2, I kind of try to ignore the day in general. Today, that was just not possible...

Everywhere I looked at work someone was wearing red or pink, someone else was taking flowers from their sweetie to their desk, even the breakroom got into the spirit with pink tablecloths and heart shaped balloons. Ignoring it just didn't seem possible. Not to mention someone decided to really fight dirty and put heaping plates of sugar cookies, cupcakes, conversation hearts and chocolate on the table. Despite my resolve to ignore the day, I succumbed..... and now I feel sick.

But hey, a day that centers around undgodly amounts of chocolate and sugar cookies with thick fluffy icing and sprinkles can't really be ALL bad.....right?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trying to figure out the "Misc"

Back in January I started a budget. So far, it is working pretty well. Granted, I'm over a bit in certain categories, but under in others so it is starting to balance out. One thing I didn't take into account was my quarterly life insurance payments. I guess those go under "Misc." at least for now, but I think I need to do some re-working for March to save for those a month at a time so that my "Misc." category isn't going "OMG".

I think I also need to separate out a car maintenance/repair category. Oil changes need to be done, some pricey standard maintenance will be due in the next six months and there's always the unexpected like a screw stuck in the tire.

There's also the "gift issues" -- Family birthdays and such. Coming up, I have my sister this month, and also my best friend's, my nephew in April and my other nephew in May --- not to mention that nephew's graduation in May, also. Followed up by my brother's birthday in June, Father's Day and then my Mom's birthday in July and on the same exact day, Princess Penelope's birthday.

Those are all things that I need to factor in a bit better because they happen every single year. And I still need to plan for things that won't happen every year but that are looming large in the next year: ACT fees and college application fees.

I don't think "Misc." is going to cover it -- better planning is definitely in order.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A lazy Saturday? I don't think so!

When I woke up this morning and it was 25 degrees outside, my first thought was "The weatherman LIED." Fortunately it soon warmed up to a nice 50 something degrees. Not sure what it is about warmer weather, but it makes me much more productive!

While it was still chilly out, I did some laundry, sorted through mail, paid some bills, had a "discussion" with my cell phone provider and did some general straightening. When it warmed up just a bit, I headed out into the yard. I chopped massive roots from a tree we'd had to take down. Trimmed some branches that were brushing up against the gutters, cut back the Confederate Jasmine on the deck rails, as it was going wild. Cleaned and freshened up the market umbrella, hauled a ton of "yard debris" to the curb. Cleared off and reorganized the potting bench and generally just did yard maintenance. It was a fabulous day and I'm wiped out.

When I came in and put my feet up, Princess Penelope's first sentence was "What's for dinner?" Oh, jeez, now I have to think about cooking??? The temptation to run out for pizza was H-U-G-E! That sounded so much easier than actually doing real cooking. But, takeout pizza is just not what's best for my budget. So I went to the kitchen to see what inspired me. I took a less than half full jar of alfredo sauce (stretched with a bit of butter, milk and cheese), some breaded chicken breast and some pasta and threw together a pretty decent version of crispy chicken alfredo.

I avoided spending the money on takeout. I avoided the buyers remorse from the pizza. I made sure the last of that jar was used up. And I spent a day doing work I've been tempted to pay someone to do.

I think today is a "win" for goals progress. Cool.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring Fever, in February

I think I have mentioned that I am SO over winter? Well, this weekend will give me a hint of the spring to come. Tomorrow should hit the upper 50s and Sunday the low 60s. I am so flippin' excited! I have absolutely NOTHING planned for the weekend, so I think my weekend will consist of coffee and the newspaper, followed by a bit of laundry, a bit of cleaning and then..... YARD WORK!

Yes, I am one of THOSE people that actually like yard work! Granted, raking leaves, weeding and cutting grass aren't my favorite things in the whole world, but digging in the dirt, shaping up the flower beds and starting prep work for the spring.... well that just kind of rocks my world. My yard is in sad shape right now, as it has been just too cold to do a whole lot of winter yard maintenance so I'm very anxious to get it started on the clearing out part of it. Then when spring is finally sprung, I can get down to the fun stuff.

I also have several projects on tap for spring, including painting my porch, sanding down and then restaining my dining room furniture and installing a rain barrel. Since that's some of the "fun" stuff --- AND I have to wait until the temperatures are more consistently warm for all of that, I need to get a jump on the not quite as fun stuff.... and after a miserably cold winter.... I just can't wait!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The winter storm that wasn't.....

This has been a weird winter. Alabama is just NOT supposed to have snow on the ground six times in a winter. Quite honestly, I'm sick of this winter thing.

So yesterday the forecasters were once again predicting a winter weather event.... enough that my boss had me reschedule my planned travel for today and to make everyone ransack the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs. Got home yesterday just as the first flakes were falling. And it snowed. And snowed.

I woke up this morning to a glistening world of white everywhere except the roads. Woo hoo! No snow day! No stuck in the house when I have a jillion things to do at work! No "OMG! A snowflake! Let me drive my car into a ditch!" No getting further behind because of snow days and leave work early so everyone actually makes it home days! No massive weather event. Woo hoo!

Come on SPRING! Come on daffodils and forsythia and azaleas and crocus and hyacinth! Bring me spring and flip flops and tank tops and lazy evenings sitting on the porch. Winter, please go back where you belong. You've worn out your welcome here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Just a quick little trip to Publix

So the new Publix ad came out today. This week doesn't look particularly exciting to me, and for the most part we are well stocked today was just a quick dash in after a long day on the road.

So, here's what I bought:
2 Ben & Jerry's pints --- BOGO made them $2.08 each
2 Crystal Light -- BOGO - $2 each
1 Publix Diet Lemon Lime Soft Drink -- today's penny item
1 12 pack double roll  Angel Soft  -- $5

I didn't have much in the way of coupons... .50 for the tp, which doubled, and the penny item coupon. That's it.

Grand total -- $13.29 spent (including tax), saved $11.89.

Obviously, the Ben & Jerry's wasn't a "need", but Chunky Monkey is my absolute favorite ice cream ever and Princess Penelope simply adores Creme Brulee --- so a small splurge doesn't hurt, right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cable Woes

I'm a dork... I admit it.... but I love the Style Network!

We went for almost 10 years without cable, but in November 2009, I finally bit the bullet and we got cable. Probably not the smartest financial decision, but I was tired of our previous phone and internet provider (constantly went out and would have to wait DAYS for a service call), so I contacted the cable company and bundled the services for just about $15 more than I was already paying for just the phone and internet. And I had a happy teenager.

So tonight, I clicked over to the Style Network and the screen said "Not Authorized".... huh? I've had that channel since we got cable! And outside of college football season when I'm an ESPN addict, it is the main channel I watch. So, I called up the cable company, and lo and behold, I've been getting channels I wasn't supposed to get. And those channels were going to cost me $35 more per month. Needless to say, I kind of felt like I'd received a "bait and switch" especially after already paying an increase after the first year expired.

Obviously, I was a bit frustrated... but I stayed calm, talked it out with the customer service person, explained the situation and my current budget, and she worked with me. I dropped the land line since the only time its used is when charities I've never heard of call me, and she added in some promotions (which they normally don't do when you're dropping a service) and we got my bill down to about $20 less than I'm currently paying. Bye, bye landline.... but I can keep my Style and ESPN addictions.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Freezer cooking --- even a mini session makes a huge difference!

Have you ever tried freezer cooking? I started doing it a bit last summer and I have totally become a convert. While I totally and completely envy those that can pull off a full month's worth of meals in a single day or weekend, I'm just not that organized or ambitious. What does work for me is a freezer cooking mini session.

This weekend I kept it simple --- just did the meat prep for about 10 different dinners. And its just so easy! I browned up a ton of ground beef with diced onions and shredded zucchini (sneaky veggie insert). I took about half of that and added Mexican seasonings to have prepped meat for tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or Penelope's favorite Nacho Bake. Then I divided all of the meat into meal sized portions and bagged it up and popped it in the freezer.

Start to finish, that took me one hour and fifteen minutes -- including clean up! Because I could chop the onions and shred the zucchini all at once, brown the beef all at once, season the meat all at once, and do just one cleanup, it saved massive amounts of time for the month to come!

While I had everything browning, I also threw together 2 dozen muffins and a pan of cheesecake bars. So I've got some breakfasts and desserts covered too!

I'd love to hear if you made anything great this weekend!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A bit of freezer cooking

Today, I'm going to do a little bit of freezer cooking. Not the super-ambitious-make-a-full-month's-worth-of-meals-in-a-single-day type of freezer cooking. Rather a much abbreviated version. Basically, I'm cooking up a bunch of ground beef, onions, and zucchini. (Princess Penelope is the worlds worst veggie eater, therefore, I shred the zucchini and brown it in with the ground beef and she has no clue whatsoever).Half of it will have taco seasoning added to it. I will then divide it up into meal sized portions and freeze it for quick half started meals for busy workdays.

I think I'm also going to do a batch of cinnamon streusel muffins and some cheesecake bars. Those are the fun parts! Lest you think we will subsist on ground beef and desserts, I do have some other stuff already in the freezer.

I also think I'll scour through the posts on  Life As Mom to see what everyone else is doing and maybe I can find another idea or two. (Sorry, I have not figure out how to add a link within my post yet, but she's hosting a whole freezer cooking weekend, so you migh want to check that one out)

Happy Cooking!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Restocked, but well over budget.

I'm starting to think that the grocery budget I have set for us is just not "do-able". I finally restocked the fridge, freezer and pantry, but I spent over HALF of my monthly budget doing so. (Uh, hello? It is only February 5!!!!!) Granted, I don't think we will eat all of this in the next two weeks, but I know I will need to purchase addtional items throughout the month.

I had the most success at Publix today where I spent $40.31 for $94.66 worth of groceries. The biggest portion of that was dairy products: shredded and block cheese, yogurt, sour cream, coffee creamer (definitely necessary since I kicked my starbucks habit) and stuff to make quick lunches at home. And I must confess, some snacky stuff for Princess Penelope and her friends to scarf down during the Super Bowl.

Next stop was Aldi, which is, fortunately, right across the street from Publix! There I picked up meat, milk, eggs, (more) cheese, buns, zucchini, onions, lettuce, grape tomatoes, pasta, tortillas, baking mixes, mixed fruit sack, cream cheese and a couple of pizzas. Grand total there: $45.85.

All told, that means that I only have $73.84 left in my February grocery budget. I think I may have been too ambitious, but I'm going to try and stick it out and see if I can make it work at least in a short month!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The cupboards are bare....

I had planned on grocery shopping after work on Wednesday, however, at the end of a very long work day, that just didn't happen. Thursday, schools and work let out early due to a wintry "mix" that turned the roads to major slush. Once home, we weren't going anywhere! Today, well.... I just didn't feel like it after work. It is Friday and I just didn't want to spend my evening in the grocery. So tomorrow, first thing, I'm off to the store.

I've sorted my coupons, made my list, so I'm ready to go. One problem, my list exceeds the budget. Publix is having a good sale on several things we need, hence the coupons. And after Publix, I'll scoot into Aldi for the things we need that aren't on sale.

I've made up a menu plan, and I'm planning on doing some freezer cooking this weekend. Because quite frankly, I'm tired of coming home brain dead and still having to try and figure out what to put on the table.

I'm seriously stressing over the budget. Honestly, I think I've set it too low. I'm going to do my best to stick to it though, at least through this month. Then I'll re-evaluate. For now....wish me luck!!!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

But we're not halfway there....

I am a child of the 80's. Spent my highschool days listening to Duran Duran, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper, with some Modern English and Psychedelic Furs thrown in there. The soundtrack to my youth makes me happy.

So, last year, for the big 4-0, my family wanted to throw me a big party. Um.... no. When you're turning 40 and you're single... the last thing you want to do is be put on display.

Enter Princess Penelope and her brilliant ideas. Bon Jovi was on tour with The Circle and they were playing in Penelope suggested that instead of throwing me a party, why doesn't everyone chip in to get me tickets and a hotel room in Atlanta for the concert. I've always wanted to see Bon Jovi and never had. Yes, my child is brilliant! And yes, she got to go with me! We had the BEST time! Hands down, the best live show I've ever seen. The PERFECT present.

My whole point in all of this is.... today Bon Jovi announced their upcoming tour dates. Yes, they are playing in Atlanta again....yes, I want to go....but, we aren't THERE yet, we aren't even halfway there yet. So, no, I won't be going. sigh.

February is not going as planned....

After yesterday's lunchtime fail, I made it a point to go home for lunch today for a fabulous lunch of leftovers from last night's dinner. As I walk out to my car, I notice that the left rear tire was kind of low. Closer inspection revealed a screw stuck in the tire. Joy.

Fortunately, the place I get my car worked on is actually between my house and my office, so I scooted by there as quick as I could get there. Fortunately they were able to plug the tire. But that was $16 I wasn't planning on spending this week.

Ugh. February's budget hemorrage needs to stop NOW.

Winter...I've just about had enough.

A nice surprise in my inbox this morning. NOT. My Alagasco gas bill, which was my total budget buster last month, arrived. This time instead of $87 over budget, I'm $93 over budget. We wear fleece pullovers, scarves and other layers in the house. Our house is NOT super warm and toasty. The temperature is turned down when we are away from the house during the day. However, Mother Nature has blasted us with some ridiculously cold weather this year.

I mean, come ON, this is Alabama! If we have to endure ridiculously hot weather and humidity in July, can't we catch a break in January? Griping won't fix it though, so I guess it is back to some serious number crunching.

I need more coffee.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stress is a (budget) killer.

On most work days, unless I'm traveling, I run back home for a quick lunch and to let Thing 1 and Thing 2 out. Generally my lunch consists of whatever was leftover from the previous night's dinner or something else equally quick.

Today, that plan didn't quite work out. I was completely swamped at the office, trying to get a report submitted that was about to make me want to bang my head against the wall. I looked up and it was an hour past my regular lunch time, I was starving, stressed out, and needed to be sure that report was submitted by its deadline. So, I grab my jacket and purse and instead of running home for my regular lunch, I ran through the drive-thru at Wendy's a block away. $5.98 later I was consuming a bacon cheeseburger, fries and coke.

Quite honestly, the "quick trip" through the drive through only saved me 15 minutes. And I got the report in and hour and a half before deadline! I should have just stuck to the normal plan. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Squeezing That Grocery Budget

Previously, I had my grocery budget at $200 per month for two people and two pups. I was consistently going over that budget because I just didn't pay enough attention. When I cleaned out the pantry and fridge at the beginning of January, I threw away a FULL bag full of stuff that had expired. I was so busy stuffing my pantry with the "good" deals I had to have to justify the $200+ grocery budget, but I wasn't USING what I was buying. A full trash bag? That's just insane.

So, I cut back the grocery budget to $160. And I still went over that budget --- but at least I stayed below the previous $200! However, cutting back the budget made me actually have to get creative and try some new recipes based on what I of those was a major fail but the rest had pretty good results.

Today, I came home from work at lunch time and had some soup that has just been sitting there in the pantry, but that I never was really "in the mood"  to actually eat. The pickins were slim enough that I ate the soup for lunch... and even if I wasn't "in the mood" for it, it was perfectly fine for a quick lunch. Maybe not having a jillion choices in front of us will lead to less waste and a better budget.