Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tidbits of our lives

I had meant to post yesterday, but got sidetracked. Seems that happens every other day-such is life. On with my tidbits.

Wednesday went smoothly-no money was spent except for the $12 at Costco on groceries-yep, $12. Wow! Due to pictures taking longer than expected, the boys and I had lunch at preschol before meeting up with friends at the park. After a short trip to Costco, we went home, and the boys played outside while I vacuumed out the car.

Today started out slow, but ended on a high note. My moods have been all over the place, not sure if its related to weaning (not intending to, but it is slowly happening), or just the fact that I have more than enough time to think about what I'm doing with my life. R encourages me to relax, not overanalyze situations, that the economy stinks for many professions-heck I've heard about more layoffs from people who do IT work in this area, I don't even want to think about how dismal the social work profession is right now. Sigh. I told R I'm just glad he has the job he does, otherwise we'd really be up a creek right now.

I'm pondering getting my license for social work-there's no shortage of hiring for LCSW's, and while the prospect of going back to school isn't thrilling, having that notch on my belt could help us if we see more cuts w/ R's paycheck. I don't want to overdo it w/ backup plans, but I want to make sure all our bases are covered. Nothing's decided yet, I still need to reseach and see what I need to do. In the meantime, I'll continue subbing and picking up whatever mystery/merchandising jobs come my way.

The last tidbit is some exciting news. The H&R Block mystery shop I had applied for was approved, so now we'll get our taxes paid for via a mystery shop-and its a company that is great to work for! Yay! We were planning on going there anyways, since they find so many deductions beyond what I was able to find on my own, it really made the minimal cost worth it, but now its covered! I told R, even if this shop doesn't pan out, 1. I learn not to work for the company again, and 2. we were doing it w/ H&R Block in the first place, so its not like we're spending money somewhere that we weren't planning on spending it. We should come out ahead, even though we get almost our full check. We have a ton of deductions, donations, childcare, R's work clothes and other work related expenses, which helps. Adding to my excitement, I've been slowly going over our documents, and collecting my receipts and formed a nice database to store all my shop information. The system I had was very rough, but someone on a local messageboard had some great tips, and that helped out. I've been getting paid regularly, shops from December are all in (including the Santa pictures, oil change, and restaurants), and now Jan is starting to trickle in (gas station, postal, coffe, and retail). It really helps to have the database to back it up-so when tax time comes, I'll have a clear picture of the income, along with all my deductions (supplies, mileage, and phone).

Yeah, a lot is going on, nothing really that's glamourous, but heck, it is what it is, and that's our life.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Child's play

You never know when a photo opportunity will strike. I was watching the boys play at preschool yesterday, and had a chance to capture some candid playtime moments. These were some of my favorites.

Midweek pause

Typically Wed is our playgroup morning, and I'm used to the chaos that is our lives. Trying to get out the door, snack bag in hand, diaper bag becoming a less frequent attendee (except for the diapers and a thing of wipes left in the car), and off we go. Today is a different day. Picture day at preschool.

M's class is having cap and gown pics through Lifetouch-the same company that's been around since I was getting my class pictures done. While I don't think pre-k graduation pics are necessary, I do like how they're taking the shots first, w/o a commitment to purchase. So I signed the paper, and I'll see how they turn out. I had planned on letting the younger boys take individual pictures since spring pics are also being done this morning, but at the last minute I decided to do one picture with all three boys. How it'll turn out is anyone's guess. Considering right now that Sears and Penney's keep sending me mail (w/ a sitting fee of $0 for the first person, $9.99 per additional person), and there's no fee to have the pictures taken, it didn't hurt to have them done at preschool.

Now, I did have one mommy moment-my boys were no longer wearing coordinating shirts-ack!! I never thought I'd be one of those moms-ya know, the ones that just say the shirt is clean, you have no rips in your jeans, just smile and say cheese, but it happened. I'm one of those! Funny enough, now I think it'll turn out just as cute, if not cuter, since M is wearing a shirt that shows off his blue eyes, G is wearing a shirt that shows his love for water, and E, well E's shirt is all about balls, which is something he's fasinated by right now.

After pictures, we'll head to storytime to meet up with friends, then off to play at McD's. I found some change doing laundry, so the boys may have lunch while we're out. I'll probably eat beforehand, or wait until we get home. We also have grocery shopping to do-out of eggs and milk. Where do they go? I feel I need a cow and a few chicken for all we go through all month!

Have a great one everyone :-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I need to get back to

When I do decide to shop again, I have inspiration:
Queen of Fifty Cents
The Thrifty Chicks
While others are anti yard sale, Goodwill, Salavation Army, etc I am not. I love the thrill of looking, and the sheer fun of finding things we can use at home. That's how I found some of the boys toys, a ton of their clothes, and household items (photo albums and scrapbook items too!). My newest hunt, patio and outdoor stuff for the kids. Looking now vs later is better, since items tend to come in droves during the offseason, but disappear quickly if appear at all, during the appropriate season.

Yesterday we found a new consignment store in F town-one that had name brand clothes, along with the usual designer duds. Apparently business is booming-people are bringing in their cast offs for cash-I don't mind looking, last week I saw Seven for all Mankind jean which retail for $200-for $48, and Abercromie jeans which retail for $80+ for $14. The kids section-gymboree, gap, children's place anyone? All the cutesy dresses and cute boy clothes (button up shirts, cute overalls, plenty of jeans) I could see, ranging from newborn to size 12 for kids (and then more for juniors). and this was at the resale boutique in K town-one that is so nice, you'd think it was selling its own version of clothes too. Now I'm not one to spend $48 on jeans regardless, but $14? I can't even get a brand new pair for that at Old Navy or Target. Not to mention kid clothes-my boys are set until they're in size 6-7, but that's because I've found stuff on freecycle, as well as received hand me downs from friends. However, if my boys needed stuff, this is the way I'd go first, you never know what kind of cute things you will find :-)
Happy shopping everyone!

weekend plans

This weekend was mellow. Yesterday we went to V town bright and early at 8am, while R studied at the library. The boys and I went to an awesome park w/ ducks and trails, it was freezing cold for us-about 56 I think, but we were bundled up and were outside for over an hour. I took some great shots of the boys playing, and E chilling in his stroller. We wandered over to Target, window shopped, and then went back to the college. By then G had fallen asleep, but M was wound up-and E wanted out of his car seat. I keep a soccer ball in the truck, and it got a good workout. M and I had an impromtu soccer game, E was in my arms most the time. Needless to say, I felt like I got a great workout and the best part-M kept saying how much fun he was having. We came home for lunch when R was done with homework, then headed out for two mystery shops and shoes for R.

Why were we looking for shoes, while we're on the no spend challenge? Well, R had one pair of sneakers, and they tore-at the seam, on the front of the shoe, so it had a wide gaping hole-visible and no way to repair it, it was done. After 6 months of wear, he's worn those shoes out. He didn't complain about the wear, but the hole-well, I saw it and knew if he stepped in a puddle his foot would be soaked. The only other pair of shoes he owns is a pair of dress loafers-not what he can wear all day out in the field-especially when he has to shoot at the range, do home visits, and basically be on his feet a lot during the day. We tried looking for shoes for R while out in F town, but the store we went to last time was now out of business. We tried some other places, even looked at the adjoining shopping area, but saw more vacant storefronts than stores, and those still in business were just for women. Payless was not an option-those shoes are poor quality, and considering how much R is on his feet, he really needed something durable and appropriate for work. Other stores don't carry his size, so we were left without a place to go. Instead, we returned home since it was time for dinner, and we decided to make a go of it today.

Before hitting the mall, we hit up the grocery store in town. Bough fresh produce, tortillas, yogurt, and coffee. Spent under $20 for the week-since we have a ton of meat still frozen, and are still well stocked with pantry items. When we ventured to the mall, R went one way to look at shoes, and I kept the kids busy at the insanely packed playarea, and then wandered around. We were at the mall for at least an hour and a half, and the kids were happy. I didn't spend any money on snacks or drinks, and met up with R when he was done. He found a pair of shoes at Foot Locker, and used the coupon from the Entertainment book. We used the cash we had in the bank to buy his shoes. We came home for dinner, and I made a delish chicken curry w/ coconut rice. Nowhere near as tasty as the thai food R and I used to enjoy in the Bay Area, but I loved it, and R and the kids devoured it. G even asked to have it for lunch tomorrow. We all curled up to watch the Academy Awards-and I think the boys got a kick out of all the movie and song and dance tributes. Nice end to a mellow weekend.

Now its off to bed before the start of a busy week :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009


My dad applied for a great job 6 months ago. The company flew him out once (not sure if it was twice), all expenses paid, multiple conference calls, had him and girlfriend thinking about how they could pack and move their stuff 1300 miles, quickly and inexpensively. Everything went great, and then the ccompany chose another person. My dad was devestated. He finally found a job a couple of months later, for 1/4 of what he was making before, no clue how it compared to the possible income boost from the other place. And then came the news this past week.

The company that didn't hire my dad, laid off 3,000 people this week. Including the person who had interviewed my dad. Come to think of it now, my dad is relieved he didn't pack up and move so far away.

You never know when the rug will be pulled out from under you. Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say. That's my new mantra.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reality check

Some days are much harder than others, and then there's days like today. Needless to day, it's 11:13 p.m. now, and yes, I am cracking open a glass of wine.

I thought I could deal with a sweatpant day. Nope. I tried on jeans at various stores. Nope. Leaving it to going online and finding a free shipping code sounds much more appealing.
Had a look at the credit card bills. Pleased that there are no new additions to the bills. Sucks to still look at the balances. Leaving to watch Dave Ramsey's Plasty Award Show, much more appealing, I know we're making headway.

Beaten down about not working in the field of my dreams-then wondering, what really do I want to do? Deciding that it really doesn't matter when I hear M talk about all the fun he had at the firehouse on a fieldtrip w/ his friends. Feeling content when E snuggles into me so much closer-before he doesn't anymore.

Reading about other's conflicted situations about job/living arrangements, and thinking wow-I can't relate to that-I'm responsible for little people, can't just think soley about myself (not that I haven't thought about my needs, but not like it was pre-marriage/kids). Then as I make my second ham casserole, realize, wow, I can cook and make something out of nothing. Couldn't do that 5 years ago, it would have stayed in the freezer for all eternity or gotten thrown out after spoiling in the fridge.

Hearing about my brother's sucky girlfriend who's happy w/ 11 hours a week at a minimum wage job (please, oh please, don't wind up pregnant), and him griping about money (who boasts about working two jobs, yet didn't lend a dime to help our father retain legal counsel). I'm done w/ siblings who whine about petty stuff. Leave it to my sister to call and discuss her and her boyfriend's trip down here in another month or so, to put me in better spirits. I'm sure we'll find a free way of enjoying our company.


Such is the life of a mom. Groceries come before post office. Diapers come before shoes (on that is, we always have enough money for shoes). And mom's jeans and socks-well, they're still on the need to buy list. Something tells me when I have three jeans, and all have made their way to the laundry pile, and while two loads have gotten washed, dried, and put away (of kids clothes and towels, I might add) and I'm left wearing comfy sweats, this does not bode well for a mom who is trying to juggle everything. Sigh. My morning coffee has not registered, but once it does, I'm on the hunt for some clothes (w/ a gift card, I might add).

Before I forget, I'm still doing the no spend challenge. After playgroup yesterday, we hit up Costco yesterday for fruit, milk, eggs, and bread (which we go through like crazy), spent under $20 for the week. It's mindblowing that we've made it 18 days through this challenge, its changed my outlook on what we have coming in, what gets used, and what is really a need vs a want.

I really need more coffee, I'm tired, and can't focus on what I really want to write today.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shopping at Walmart?

Not one of my faves, but 5 dollar dinner's blog post about Walmart may change my mind. Participate in this contest and you too may be a winner :)

what to do

So much I want to do, yet never know how quite to make it all work. I want my house to look like some magazine spread, yet it always appears like a mack truck, filled with toys, clothes, assorted mail, hits it.
I want to have a space for myself. One that's not overun by boys toys. Or big boy toys. Sigh.
I want to put flowers in a vase-to make a space more girly.
I want to get caught up on printing pictures. I take an awful lot, but get sidetracked printing them.
This is my mind at 4am, when the kids are asleep and I watch reality tv.
Now to think about what I can accomplish this week....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mid weekend review

This weekend has been low key and stress free. Yesterday was a wonderful Valentine's Day. I woke up with the boys, and R slept until 7:15. We had breakfast, and R took the boys on a walk around the neighborhood. After he returned, the boys spent the morning playing with their scooters out front. After preparing for our car trip, we hit the road for my mystery shop. We had a nice ride there, the boys loved seeing the farmland, I personally loved the lack of fast food and gas station signs we always see when we head the opposite direction. While on the road, I saw signs for a couple of museums, and one for a wildlife refuge. I'm going to research those, and see if its worth going and find out about admission fees. After completing the shop, we decided to head to V town. R left his lunch bag at work, and we were debating what to do for lunch. The boys ended up falling asleep, and when we arrive in V town, R and I decided that we would rather go home for lunch than spend $15 at McD's or a similar place for lunch. It was a hard decision to make, it would have been easier to have lunch out, but as we hit the freeway home, I told R that stopping for lunch there would have been about laziness, and not about a treat for ourselves. We have a ton of food at home, and I'm determined to keep the no spend challenge. He was on board, and was impressed with how long we've lasted on this challenge. It never occured to him how long we really have been on this challenge-he's purely doing it one day at a time, because that's what he can handle.

We came home and brought out the leftovers (pasta) from the night before. I also made egg burritos, since there weren't enough leftovers to go around. The kids were happy, and I was happy too-we avoided temptation again!

R stayed home with the older boys to watch a movie, while I walked to the library with E. The walk was peaceful and serene-While on my stroll, I realized that I miss walking around our neighborhood-I used to do it more often, but had gotten away from it. Not sure if it was because we're busier than we used to be, or that the weather has been hit and miss, but I miss it.

I found many books at the library for our family. I have been reading to the boys, but wanted to branch out of my comfort zone. I found a couple of Valentines themed books, perfect for bedtime. I also found a huge section of early reader books, which suprised me in part because our library is so small. I had been debating on whether I should purchase books for M, but seeing how many were there, well, I'm going to fully utilize that resource. and save the money for our other expenses.

When I returned home, I told R I want to start walking more, and he was all for it. I think as the weather improves, I'll head out more. I realized we didn't have anything set out for dinner, so I defrosted some chicken in the microwave-I had a recipe in mind, and it was easy to get started. Because I made a double batch (for lunch today), it was a bit later than normal when we ate, but dinner was delicious. We had a nice bottle of wine, and I think as a result (plus the driving from earlier in the day) I fell asleep while putting the kids to bed. R enjoyed the cake I made, and saved some for me. Not quite the romantic evening we had envisioned, but both of us were just appreciative we had each other, when there's so much sadness and heartache in the world.

Today is shaping up to be a mellow day. The weather looks like its going to downpour any minute, and I'm debating on whether we want to head into town to let the kids run off some energy at the local mall. I have returns to make in town (that can always wait for another day), and gift cards available for food. Not sure what we'll do; we may just call it a restful day at home and go out tomorrow. We'll play it by ear. Hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Yay, we've made it through the second week in February. It's had its moments of ups and downs, but overall, I really can't complain. Here are some of the highlights:

R took the car to the dealership, and the outcome was we need new brakes. Its no longer under warrenty, so R called our repair shop and learned their price is $180, $75 cheaper than the dealership. It will take a few days for them to acquire the parts, but we'll bring the car by once they have them.

I worked two days this week (so that's the car repair money!) plus other side jobs. I was asked to do a heavily bonused job ($50) this weekend which is an hour away for 15 min of work. I did it last month, and even though it didn't go as planned, I still was paid within a realistic time frame. We saw new sights along the way, and it was an inexpensive road trip. R was more than happy to do it again, so that'll be our day trip for tomorrow. I'm attempting to pick up more work on the way, since its an area work often gets bonused. We'll see what develops.

We went to Costco last night and walked out with under $30 in groceries. We left all our usual treats there, and saw that everything in the coupon book we have been getting cheaper, or altogether doing without those items. Pretty shocking to both of us as we used to use a lot of those coupons. The only one I'm holding onto is laundry soap, but even then it'll wait until next month. It's not a need in the next couple of weeks and chances are it may go on sale cheaper somewhere else.

Finally, yesterday R and I had a long discussion about our finances. He is upset with how we've gotten ourselves in this mess, but doesn't necessarily realize how all the steps we've taken have made an impact. I told him he would see it more over time, when we get our bills next month, as we're less stressed, he'll see the positive changes we've made. Its just hard since R needs encouragment now, and I don't always think I have the right answers. Until then, I'll continue one step at a time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Small victories

Yesterday was a busy day. The boys and I went to playgroup for our annual Valentines Day party. I made enchiladas in the crockpot from items I had in the pantry, and utilized the crockpot so I wasn't tied to the stove. The boys brougt their handmade (no cost) valentines and the lollipops I bought on clearance (.25). I thought it turned out really cute, and plan to do the same thing for preschool tomorrow. The only difference is that I'm baking muffins and treats, all from items I already have on hand, nothing bought just for Valentines Day.

When we came home, I was pleased to find a note from Directv, informing us that we have Showtime (approx 8 channels) free for a year, as a token for being members for so long. Considering that we don't go to the movies, don't use Netflix, and rely on the library for entertainment, this is a welcome treat. I'm looking forward to recording some movies for date and family nights.

R has the day off, and I picked up work for the day. He's taking the van in to the dealership-we heard something squeaking and want to get it looked at before something happens. While I hope nothing is wrong, we have cash to fix the problem, and won't rely on credit. Fixing the car is a need, since we only have one family vehicle. I want to mention that our garage door broke last weekend and while R is going to get estimates to have it fixed properly, its not a need so we'll wait until payday next month to put money aside for the repair. Until then, I'll park in front. This is where I know we're changing our ways. Last month I would have told R to go ahead and fix it, but I'm determined to stick to the no spend challenge. Today marks the halfway point for the month, and we're still going strong. I'm contemplating how I can continue this once the month is over. I want to plan ahead and buy things I know we'll need, but walk the line of using discretionary funds for random purchases. I think this is the only way we will finally pay off our debt- alá Dave Ramsey.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New challenge

So I've been away from blogging (just a wee bit), since my new obsession is Facebook-yeah, that sucked me in. Come to find a whole group of moms that I used to know in a moms group-msot with slightly older kids (maybe 1 or 2 years difference) than my own. They had disappeared from the group right when I reentered it (back when grad school was ending), and I wondered what happened to them. Mostly since I looked to them for inspiration on how to handle parenthood and my sense of self while my children grew older. Come to find, some decided to start all over-having baby #3! Seems like I was just ahead of the curve on that one, but oh well, I wanted to get through the diapers and no sleep at once, not revisit it years from now. Others went back to school, and some did both. Some are now active in their community-in causes other than playgroups and arts and crafts. I'm going to use this as a launch pad to help figure out what I want to do next, as well as give me some ideas on how to continue my no spend challenge (which is still hanging on-no credit card use or disposable income spent here!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Recharging ourselves

Last night was a splurge-of sorts. We used gift money from R's mom to pay for a sitter so we could go out. Funny thing is, it was to have a mystery shopped dinner out (and the pay covered the cost of the sitter, and the meal was reimbursable). I paid cash (as was part of the requirement for the shop), but it worked out as my credit cards are in a drawer at home. The night out was great, and the report took a short time to fill out once we came home. It was definitely worth it, and R has already told me to go ahead and sign up for other dinners. I don't know if that will necessarily happen (downturn in availability of assignments), but at least I know he's open to trying new things.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Week in review

This week went by fast. We paid our bills for the month, and now have to budget closely to make sure our cash lasts for the rest of the month. I hope to make an additional payment to our savings account (which was a line item on our budget-forced savings!) at the end of the month. At a quick glance, I think we'll manage, both with food and entertainment.

The one thing I've noticed is that we're never able to keep enough fruit in the house. It seems like we plowed through all the apples and bananas bought earlier this week. In my mind though, that's okay. What it cost for fruit is much cheaper than processed snacks or fast food trips. We have plans to hit Costco this afternoon for fruit (and let the kids munch on samples) and the mall to let the kids run around. While McD's is closer, I don't want to be surrounded by the temptation of fast food right now. Also, after reviewing the local parenting magazine, I see the library is having a movie afternoon, showing Charlotte's Web, so that's an option too. We'll see how the kids behave, what we're up for, and go from there.

Overall, I'm proud of how both R and I made it through this week, not spending discretionary funds on things that weren't needed. It feels nice to have money in our pockets, even better to know that we've made it last this long. I'm not worried about whether or not we'll spend what we have, R's credit cards are gone, and the thought of using mine actually sickens me. I feel much better using cash, since when its gone, its really gone, and the fact that we've made it through one week of the no spend challenge, well, I am excited to see what the weekend holds.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Where I'm at

This week is flying by, I'm finding that planning ahead of things to do, places to go is keeping me on track. Yesterday was a busy day, and that was without spending discretionary funds. We were at the right place at the right time, and had a free tour of the firehouse. M and G kept comparing what they saw to Fireman Sam, and were in awe with the trucks and bright lights. It was the highlight of the day. The evening was chaotic, but I think the boys were overtired. Nothing soothed them like curling up and falling asleep in the living room.
Dishes and the mess greeted me this morning. but at least we were all well rested.
I learned my friend who has two boys is expecting a baby girl. This is the same frend that R has told me if she had a girl it would make him think more of adding to our brood. This is after his indecisiveness on having one more baby-since he has yet to make a v appointment, but has told some people we're done, but then flip flops a day or two later.
Meanwhile, I'm happy where we're at-and at the same time I understand why we have two Nov babies-there's something about the time of year, or something about the age of E and G that now makes life managable,and thinks why not-life is already busy but its getting easier to go places, so why not add one more? I'm doing my best to live in the moment, but its sometimes a challenge. Its easier when we're busy-out of sight, out of mind, but its the few quiet moments that I wonder what it would be like to have one more. I should mention that when R and I met I told him I wanted four children, but as time has gone on that number has fluctuated. Part of me is relieved how we let nature take its course thus far, I couldn't imagine not having our three-but planning, ugh, its stressful. Maybe we'll let nature take its course again, I don't like the stress of planning this.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I can already see how the no spend challenge is going to affect life at home. I'll actually use stuff that I've stockpiled, put aside for a rainy day. I'm not a hoarder by any means, but I do love my discounted grocery, craft, and beauty items. I love perusing the aisles of a few different shops, combining coupons with sales, trying to get the best deal possible. We eventually use everything I buy, just some get used sooner than later. I try to keep things organized, but as those close to me know, that area can always use improvement. So I'm going to continue using what we have at home, consolidate what we have, and find new homes for things we don't love or need. I am also following Fly Lady, she's a great source of inspiration. I'm not following everything to the letter, but at the same time, I'm starting where I'm at and taking baby steps.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

No spend challenge Day 2

Yesterday was a struggle-I was tempted to buy birthday presents at Target that were 75% off, cheaper than the last time I was there (and bought the same things). However, I didn't buy them. I placed them back on the shelf, wondering if I was going to manage with the gifts I have in my gift closet. My rationale, it's not a necessary expense, and I didn't have any Target gift cards in hand to use, so I did the wise thing (although it was tempting), and walked away. Two days down, 26 to go. Lets hope today is easier.

I had wanted to go to the library for a long time, and finally had my chance yesterday. I saw a beautiful new library, children have their own wing of it, it's phenomenal! I plan on taking the older boys there and taking advantage of the yoga storytime again, maybe next month. In town I hit up the library too, and checked out a few new books. I hope that'll keep me going when I have the itch to spend on new books.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You know you're a die hard couponer when

you willingly take three young children out for an afternoon the day of the Superbowl, load them in a grocery shopping cart, and say, let's find some deals. Make your way with $50 of meat, cereal, and soda, to realize, wait a minute, I left my wallet at home. Yeah, the wallet that contains cash and debit cards. All I had on me is the one credit card that is no longer good, but I'm carrying around as a reminder of what changes I want to make in the upcoming year. Proceed to pay for a dozen bagels with a few bucks that were scrounged from the bottom of my purse (the boys ate a few already in store-it kept them quiet, thankfully), and made our way back home. All while waiting 10 minutes in the express line, with figity children, and a whine for a spinning lollipop.
Drive 24 minutes home, retrieve wallet, and proceed to the store again. This time, with husband in tow. He understood why I went back after I bought $200 of groceries for under $80. That includes six tri-tips averaging $8.50 each (two meals from each one), six boxes of Cheerios (1.54 each after sale and coupon, plus a $1.50 off pampers coupon on each box, score!), 10 8-packs of diet dr. pepper and mt. dew ($1 each, breaking down to .12 per can, cheaper than anywhere else), 6 bags of toasted wheat thins (.69 cents after sale and peelie coupon), two free pizzas (5.99 each), 2 bottles of apple juice ( .99 after sale and coupon), 2 2lb-bag of shrimps for ($4.99/lb after sale and coupon, multiple meals here), 2 dozen more bagels ($3 per dozen-cheaper than Costco and freezes well for meals and snacks) mayo ($2 for Best Foods after sale and coupon, orginally $4.49 each, yikes!) and $20 off for spending $100 ($10 off each order of $50). Yeah, it was a good trip.

Stopped off at the local supermarket for fresh chicken breasts and thighs at .58 cents a lb in a 10 lb bag, which at $5.80 I bought two, divided the packages, and now have a nice stockpile of meat in our freezer.

I know stocking up like this may lead to one major pitfall-having to miss deals that ramp up in the middle or end of the month. However, I'm determined that by stretching our dollars now, and eating at home, if and when deals come, I should still be able to get those deals too. However, shopping like in the past has also shown me how we only go out weekly for perishables (milk, eggs, fruit/veggies) the rest of the week, if not biweekly, depending on sales and what items we already have at home. This brings me to my next thought.

I came across MomAdvice's No Spend Challenge (off of $5 Dinners, one of my new favorite resources) and am going to participate in the challenge. I don't know if I posted this already, but R cut up his credit cards, and we're repaying our debt hardcore. We're also adding to our savings, one dollar at a time.

Its a scary financial world out there, and things are looking bleaker by the minute. Latest we heard is anyone with less than 11 years in the department is facing layoffs, and R has 13 years on the books. Adding to it, there's also word that if the paycuts work out, that it could last as long as 7 years, not 18 months like originally thought. My line of work has also taken a hit, the county is doing furlough days, paycuts, and froze hiring new staff. Non-profits are getting hit hard too, some even closing their doors to communities. Needless to say, changing our mindset now is better than being caught offguard in a few months, or even a year from now. So that being said, I'm excited to see how we do in February, one day at a time.