Sunday, February 24, 2008

Family shopping trips, and more....

We planned to go to Costco on Saturday, with the intent of using the coupons sent in the mail. I knew we'd walk ouf of the store spending a minimum of $100, but figured the money spent would save us money in the long run. We stuck to the items we had coupons for, and bought the essentials-milk, eggs, and bread. $202 later, I'm wondering what the heck we spent money on. Dishwasher tabs, plenty of fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee, creamer, orange juice, frozen meals for crazy nights, dog treats/supplies, and of course, two case of frappachinos as a treat. I wonder how the heck we manage, but at the same time, we've been eating home every night, and hubby does bring lunch to work at least four out of five days a week. In the end, the money we spent is nothing compared to how much we'd spend eating out. Even if we just got two small frappachinos once as a treat, we'd spend $7, and the $13 for a case (plus the savings from the coupon), more than makes up for it.

On the way home, I brought up to hubby how I had decided not to go to the Moms Night Out. I couldn't rationalize spending $20 when we just spent $202 on groceries to eat home. Hubby was kind of upset-he really thought I needed a night off. I told him I'd take the boys out tomorrow so he could work on the work he brought home. He thought that was a fair compromise. At home, I ate a small meal, as so I wouldn't be starving when I went out, and hoped I'd be satisfied with ordering an appetizer and not an entree. Before I met up with the group, I took out $40 from the ATM-I only planned on spending $20, but wanted to make sure I had emergency cash on hand.
At the restaurant, I decided I wanted something boozey, but I didn't want to shell out $7+ for a long island iced tea. I was pleased to see a Black and Tan beer for $3.50-score! I ordered a $7 appetizer, and figured $10.50 plus tip wasn't too bad for a night out. Th group decided to leave the restaurant and check out a bar/lounge nearby. As it was only 8:30p.m., and I had just called hubby to find out the boys were asleep, I wasn't quite ready to go home. I decided to go along, with the intent of maybe having one drink, but not going too crazy and blowing my budget. As it turned out, where we went was a classy low key joint, where even though I was wearing jeans and a fancy top and leather loafers, I felt comfortable. I ordered one cosmo, and considering th $7, I was happy with the size of the drink, since the atmopshere was nice, and I was able to enjoy some good conversation. It would be nice to go there with some other moms I know, or even hubby if he was willing to check it out.

There's more I want to post about my Grocery Game shopping done today, but parenthood is calling. I'll update again later.

Friday, February 22, 2008

decisions, decisions

we've been doing great eating at home. each night we either have leftovers, pull something together, or take advantage of a free meal (the parenting workshop at the preschool provides dinner for the parents). now while i'm so used to making dinner at home, i have an opportunity to eat out. moms night outs are rare, and i found a local group hosting one tomorrow. i know hubby could handle the kids, but part of me feels guilty for wanting to eat out while he eats home once again. at the same time he showed me a take out box from a mexican place today. boy, i really wish it was me who had gotten a break and was able to eat out. i don't mean to sound bitter, i just would like an opportunity to go out-but wonder how much it would set us back.
this brings me to another aspect of going out-the cost. mind you, we just got part of our tax refund, and i'm scared out of my mind. i knw i have things to pay off, which i fully intend to do. there's just other things i was hoping to do-reestablish our emergency fund, get our wills situated, and maybe, just maybe, have some fun money. i don't know how to figure this out. i wish i had suze orman on speed dial.
i know if i go out tomorrow, i can keep the bill under $20. now its just having a talk w/ the hubby to see what kind of fun money he'd want for himself-maybe that's how i'll figure this out. to be continued....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The urge to eat out

Today was like any other day, except we had playgroup in the morning and a doctors appointment 4 1/2 hours later. I was determined not to eat out, and decided that we'd go home in between errands to save myself from spending more than necessary. On one hand it was a bad call-the boys missed their nap, and I never had a chance to eat lunch. We left home for the drs, with Hubby along for the ride. I was dreading the aftermath of the dr. visit, for I was sure I'd hear the inevitable, "Where do you want to eat?" Luckily, a phone call from work distracted him, and I got on the freeway and made a good 10 minute headway home before that question arose. Needless to say, we were surrounded by fast food joints, and while I love my share of Taco Bell and McDonalds, I was not in the mood for junk food. I was in the mood for a sit down restaurant, but since the boys hadn't taken an afternoon nap, I was reluctant to go out with them. I felt that if we went out, I really wanted to enjoy myself, and couldn't see that happening with two cranky children and one peaceful infant. We made it home, Hubby fed himself first-why that happened is beyond me, but eventually the kdis got fed. I made a huge crock of potato cheese soup w/ shrimp and corn, and while it wasn't as good as Marie Callendars, not having the $9 tag for soup and a meal was very nice. As I sat eating my soup, I thought, one more meal down, and that brings us closer to a new month. And the biggest thought of all-I survived temptation!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An interesting article about unexpected windfalls specifically Dave's Thoughts on the Stimulus Tax Rebate.
something I've been thinking about, also in regards to how best allocate our tax refund

Saturday, February 16, 2008

resisting temptation

I must say, resisting the temptation to eat out is a daily battle, but its one I seem to be winning. The key for me is taking it day by day. For Valentines Day, life was so hectic at home, I really wanted to give in and just order Chinese for us; but, the steak I had taken out that morning was defrosted, I knew we had salad and potatos to use up, and I had a box of brownie mix that was calling my name. I was frazzled making dinner, but it turned out good (despite having to be reheated in the microwave). I think dinner cost me about $5 to make, and that's oodles of savings when going out for a steak dinner would run $40, plus the cost of a baby sitter.

Last night was also a challenge. I had agreed to make a meal for a family, since the mom just had back surgery, and had two young children at home. It would have been so easy for me to call for pizza, not only for them, but for us as well. I used my resources at home, and not only made them a home cooked meal, but doubled the recipe so there was enough for the 4 of us to eat too. It really felt good to come home from dropping off a meal to find dinner waiting for us too.

This weekend will be a challenge I'm sure, sicne Dh has an extra day off that will give us an opportunity to go out and spend money before we even have it. I'm just going to take it one hour at a time if I have to, breaking it down that way seems to help.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

planning ahead

i need guidance in how to best snowball extra funds that are coming our way soon. i don't want to end up in the hole again money wise, and being prepared would really help.

in other news, we got our yearly mortgage summary. i was thrilled to see that our payment is dropping by a whopping $80 a month-that's money i want to apply to other places (hence the need to understan snowballing). we also received a $198 bonus check for overpayment, but that money is already eaten up by a whopping electric bill i had wondered how we were going to pay.

hubby has started to work on the taxes, so far we're looking good for a hefty refund, but according to h&r block, mystery shopping is hurting more than helping, since we have to pay taxes on the money. hubby doesn't get that it really did help-w/o that extra money our oop expenses would have been higher to pay off our medical/dental bills that accrued over the past year. i may need to rethink how often i do it, or at least set money aside to pay for those additional taxes.

i decided to alter how often the boys go to preschool. with the place raising rates, and me not having a ton of success in finding part-time work that works for me, i think we'd be better off reallocating those funds. i need to crunch those numbers, and find the best arrangement. at the same time, i also need to find additional activities for me and the kids-i don't mind staying at home, but boredom is rampent, and constantly having 3 young kids in a house would make any sane momma go nutso. i'm hoping to broaden my base of free/low cost activities, and maybe join a few more playgroup/mom and me activities to help ease the boredom while keeping a lid on the cost. that's a goal i'll be working on in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

up and down and back up again

I knew it would be a hard sell to go to the zoo and not spend any money. In a preemptive strike, i loaded our car with snacks, juice boxes, and even a couple of ice cold drinks for the adults. no sooner do we get on the road do I hear, "I'm tired, I need mt. dew." Gimme a break, we just left. I said fine, if you need it so bad, hit up the 7-11 before we get inside the park, I'm not paying $3 for a damn soda. We hit up a gas station, I run inside (knowing full well that if he goes in, the $1 drink will morph into a $3 drink + chocolate bar). I find the smallest fountain drink that we can share-$1-I can handle that, what I can't handle is the .50 fee to use my debit card since I'm not buying $3 worth of crap. So the $1 32 oz mt dew, is now $1.50. Of course, I'm spitting bulletts when I get inside, and my guy seems shocked that it cost that much for that little drink-uh, I did get you what you want, so please don't act suprised that it's more than you thought, or even hint that maybe I shouldn' have given in, I really don't want to hear it". I really need to work better on saying no in the first place, or sticking to my plan better.

The zoo was great, the boys chowed down on all the snacks I brought. The only downside I saw was that I should hav brought more fruit, but considering that we were hitting up the grocery store after the zoo for that purpose, I was okay w/them just having granola bars, popcorn, and sweet pop tarts.

Costco was also a success-give or take. We only walked out of there with milk and apples, but I was rather disappointed in the high cost of fruit w/ the lack of variety. I know we're eating a lot a home, but trying to stretch a dollar into providing multiple servings, and not having rotten fruit pile up, is proving to be quite a challenge. Someone told me about a fruit/veggie co-op in town, and I think I'm going to look into that-we need to up our healthy fruit/veggie supply, but still keep our cost down. I also can't wait for the farmer's markets to start back up-and with th better prices to match too. We did indulge and have lunch at Costco, but considering we only one slice of pizza each, and the boys just shared one hot dog, lunch was much more affordable than having it at the zoo or Mc Donalds.

Dinner was almost a flop, but I saved it-found a curry simmer sauce I had purchased at Trader Joes, and just put that w/ sliced chicken breasts and long grain wild rice. It was a cheap meal, and satisfied my desire for something ethnic. Now if I can only have the same success the rest of the week, my good mood shall continue.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

back on track

getting sick really puts a cramp in life, especially when you're used to never getting ill. while the fog of physical illness is continuing to lift, i still find myself somewhat struggling with emotional bagage. i'm beginning to wonder how much is brought on by financial insecurities vs just not being "happy". i've been determined for a long time to overhaul how we spend our money and make wiser choices. however, i'm finding myself beating myself up for things that were already done, wishing that we had done things differently, knowing that we had overcome financial struggles before, but always seem to work our way back into some sort of situation again. i guess i'm trying to figure out if each situation is exactly the same, vs just being in a different place with a new problem, vs a problem that already existed before. not sure if that makes sense.

goals for today: have a good time at the zoo, bring plenty of snacks for the family, grocery shop at costco, maybe have lunch at costco if we're still hungry and use up the snacks that we had brought with us.