Money Worries

For a while I’ve been trying to find different ways to make extra money to help get us back on track financially. Many people call this a side hustle. Unfortunately, this may be even more important. We’ve recently found out that my husband’s company is going to be “restructuring” and that the employees will need to re-interview for their positions. Many positions are being cut. This is happening so that the company can make a run at keeping pace/dethrowning another competitor. So, the needing to bring in extra money right now to pay down debt, fix our vehicles and put money in the savings is more important right now then ever.

I’ve tried a few side hustles that might help us make some extra money. I’ll be detailing how these are going and what else I try to do to make a little extra money in preparation for ‘the purge’ at my husband’s work.

The first side hustle I did was sell berries. In our yard we have black raspberries. I picked these and since we had more than we could use I grabbed my trusty cooler, bought a few packages of containers ($1 for 4 containers at the dollar store) and then made a sign out of used cardboard with sharpie and some white paint I had hanging around. I sold 7 tubs, the tubs were small, so, I was only selling them for $3. My total take from this was $21 after the $3 I spent on the containers I made a total of $18. Now, this doesn’t seem like a lot but I only put in the time picking the berries and setting up my cooler and sign. Since picking the berries was something I was going to do anyways, it really didn’t add anything extra to my day and was something my son though was a lot of fun. Plus, it will also be something I can do next year and hopefully people having seen my cooler out this year will stop next year too.

The second side hustle I’m trying is flipping items. The first items that I’m trying this with are two really nice chairs and a baby swing. These are items that I found at my local transfer station (dump). They have a location where people can drop items that are no longer wanted but are too nice to throw in the dump. I picked these items up. The baby swing, I wiped down and washed the cover. I’ve already listed it on line for $40 or best offer.

I first started listing just on Facebook marketplace and then realized I was really limiting myself for a customer base. So, I listed them on Craigslist and a site called Letgo. I’m hoping I’ll get some bites because this could possibly be a nice side hustle for me. If I get these items for free, do minor repairs/clean up on them I can potentially make a little bit of extra cash without putting any money out. Which would be very ideal.

I haven’t listed the chairs yet because I may reupholster the seats of them. They are stained with something I can’t get off and there is a small rip. So, I think I’ll try to do it for the first time. I feel that I should try to get practice on this type of stuff. If I’m going to try this as a side hustle I have to be willing to take risks with it and put myself into it for real.

What have you done for a side hustle to bring in extra?

Thanks for Stopping by!

Cooking at Home

First- Happy Father’s day to all the Fathers out there.

This Father’s day, after letting the munchkins wake Dad up nice and early with the gifts they got him, I’m putting together a food plan. My menu this week will be for 3 weeks. I know, 3 WEEKS! It’s a real challenge and I did struggle to make sure I didn’t repeat recipes more than once.

I’m going to try and have home cooked meals everyday. Now, granted we’ll have one left over night every week, but still it’s home cooked because I made it before.

So, my menu board looks pretty crowded but every night has been accounted for. I’m doing this because we’re making a big frugal push. Unfortunately, we had a few set backs (isn’t that always the way) and were a bit short last month. Last month was rough, we had to inspect/register and pay the insurance for both cars. Of course the manifold in one of the cars was cracked, meaning we had an $800 bill for one car. So, in addition to that we had medical bills from when I got hurt a few months ago. Then we had to come up with extra on our fuel bill because we used more than anticipated and went over the amount on the budget plan. So, all and all- May sucked financially!

And unfortunately, because it we were so short we had to dip into our savings a bit and put some of it on a card and it carried over into June. Which means we’re going to be super tight for a while- likely until August. But that just means we’ll have opportunities to see how frugal we can be.

This could be a time when we could get down and defeated. But to stay on track we have to stay positive. So, we’re going to use this as an opportunity to be extra frugal for 3 weeks. We’ll stock up on the essentials and everything we need today. Then put our cards away for 3 weeks (with the exception of gas- cause ya know cars need it to move and we need cars to get to work/daycare).

So, for the next three weeks we’ll be doing things that are free. Trying to clean out the house (and maybe sell some stuff) and just generally find free ways to have fun as a family.

Thanks for stopping by and Keep it Positive!

Pantry Cooking

The last two weeks were almost a success. I made all but 2 of the dishes I had planned. Those were the more ambitious dishes that took a lot more prep work to get ready. We also had yesterday as a “cheat” day. We went out to lunch and splurged on some additional veggies so we could try making sushi at home for the first time.

However, despite these little things we were able to do 2 weeks of meals with only one “touch” up shopping trip. So, I’m pretty excited. I put in another small shopping trip for the hubby today on his way home for more milk, eggs, cheese and a few other kid essentials. After this trip the next two weeks should be done with pantry cooking.

Pantry cooking is using up everything in your pantry or freezer before doing another big shopping trip. So, this morning I went “shopping” in my freezer. I was blown away with what I found. I had forgotten I had a fully made ready to cook meatloaf, a whole chicken and 2 frozen pizza crusts. So, armed with my freezer finds I made up a two week dinner plan.

With this plan, I’m hoping I’ll only have to do one large shopping in the month of March. If I can pull this off, we’ll have only spent $500ish on food. This will include the smaller shopping trips and the items from yesterday. This would be about a $400 savings from what we did last month.

Once March is done, I’ll let you know how it went and if we met our goal of only $500 on food and pantry items. What do you do to make sure your shopping bill stays low?

Reviewing your Budget

When you’re trying to pay off debt reviewing your budget should always be your first action. Trim down to just paying your bills, buying food and essentials like diapers/toilet paper, etc. No more video games, diners out and other extras that doesn’t help the family.

When we did this we got one heck of an eye opener. We realized that we had set the amount we were going to spend on food and grocery items (including diapers, etc) at $400. Yea….. about that… when we reviewed everything at the end of the first month. We realized how far off we were. The diapers for both boys, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, and other essentials (like dish soap) were over $200-$300 a month alone. We realized in addition to that we were spending well over what we thought on actual food. So, the $400 that we budgeted was blown way over the top at about $950! WHAT!? How could we be so far off??

Well, I looked through the credit cards and found one of the culprits. With Hubby working at a store, it is way too easy to ask him to pick things up. Now, some things are necessity, like Little Bean’s milk or the oh crap we need more diapers. But other items like dinner because I didn’t feel like cooking, are not.

So, this month I’m making a challenge for us. I planned out 17 meals (for those that are counting that’s 2.5 weeks) and planned on doing left overs at least 3 -4 times, which brings us to 3 full weeks of meals. My goal is to only have Hubby do a few small pick ups for fresh fruit, milk and if needed diapers during these weeks.

To do this, I went completely thru the house to see what items we needed, make sure to check on the shampoo/toothpaste situation too. That is stuff you don’t want to run out of :). I then went to my new favorite store, Aldi and did a huge shopping trip. They are so cheap that I got almost all the food items for $142. THREE WEEKS of food for $142!!! That is insane. Thank you to my awesome friend (you know who you are) that turned me onto Aldi!

This didn’t include any of our paper products, diapers or wipes, but still that is darn cheap. We won’t be eating just pasta either, I bought chicken, two corned beefs, a TON of fruit and veggies, all the snacks we can eat and a bunch of dairy products. It took two carts to get us out of the store.

Now, in order to make sure that we stick to the menu I’m going to prep multiple meals today. Having dinner ready is my biggest challenge. I can’t usually cook after I pick the boys up from daycare because Peanut wants to eat as soon as we get home. And I am not nursing him while cooking, a- that is weird (to me) and b- I’m not putting him in a position where something (like grease) could get on him. So, I like to have meals ready to either put right in the oven or even better the air fryer (love this, see my next post about it) or already finished in the crock pot.

I scoured Pinterest and found some (hopefully) simple, yet delicious meals with only a few ingredients each. So, March – here I come!

Crazy Mom Brain

Today Facebook sent me a ‘memory’, which is a picture that I posted a few years ago. It made me nostalgic thinking about my first son when he was only a few months old. Then in that weird way that my brain works, I started thinking about how different things have been and saving money this time around, which then led my brain to ……my boobs.

Ok, so there were a few more thoughts in between those two trains of thought but it was basically a weird line that most parents will understand once I explain a little bit more.

With my first son we had to buy a LOT of formula. He was a big eater and LOVED his food. I had low production and couldn’t produce enough milk to keep up with him and we were buying 1 large tub of formula about once a week. When you add that up, that’s more expensive than diapers. So, fast forward to today with my second little guy and I’m producing almost enough to feed him completely. We’ve had to supplement a little bit but since he’s been home we’ve only bought 4 containers of formula. One of which was a small trial to test out a different type. So, really we’ve bought 3, with one of them going to daycare to be on the safe side to make sure he has enough to eat when I’m not around.

This got me to thinking how much did we really spend on formula and how much are my boobs saving me this time around. Well, we use Enfamil Gentlease, which sells for about $25-$30 depending on which tub you get. I’ll use the low end of $25 per tub. We’ll say we bought 4 tubs per month, one per week. 4 tubs x 12 months = 48 tubs in a year. 48 * $25= $1,200. $1,200 on just formula and that’s if the formula was $25, since I think it may have been a little bit more, $1,200 is on the low end.

By the same math, at this point with my first son we had spent over $300 on formula already. With my second son, we’ve only bought the 3 containers plus the small trial. So, we’ve spent $25*3+15 (the cost of the small one) =$90. That’s a difference of $210 over two months.

Which brings me to the topic of boobs. These wonderful magical globes of giving. They produce the highest quality food that your baby needs. And it’s completely FREE. I know that some people don’t want to breast feed for one reason or another and that is 100% your choice. I am a firm believer in being true to yourself and doing what feels right to you (within the law of course). However, if you’re looking for ways to cut your budget after you little one is born I would strongly recommend breast feeding, it’s a money saver and, even better it’s a great bonding time with your baby.

My New Hobby

I stumbled across making wind chimes and other items out of empty wine bottles. To make them the glass bottles have to be cut.

I got bottles from friends and family to try cutting them. At first, I was VERY unsuccessful. I was using the string method to try and cut it. Every one I cut had imperfections and shattered. I couldn’t get a smooth or even cut.

I had $20 in my Ibotta account. So, I found a glass cutter on Amazon and used the money to from Ibotta to buy it. The glass cutter is an etcher that makes a groove in the glass. Once it’s heated it will make a perfect cut. I was able to cut the glass!

With cutting the glass I was able to make a couple of really cool items. The first was a candle holder for Bean’s teacher. She was leaving the daycare this week and I wanted to make her a good-bye gift. The second is a wind chime I made for my mom.

The candle holder I decorated with little stickies and used a ceramic planter pot bottom. It came out wonderfully and gave off a beautiful green glow. I wasn’t sure of his teachers home decor but I couldn’t go wrong with earthy brilliance of this piece.

The wind chime is a bright blue glass (thank you Relax wine). I used some pretty glass and metal beads as the center piece. In daylight this piece is gorgeous.

I’m thinking of trying to get them into a local crafting store. I’m hoping to do a test in the store before I make a lot of them. I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks for stopping by!

Getting Organized

One of my soft goals for this year was to start getting more organized. I figured I’d start with something small and that can be done quickly because I had only a few minutes while the boys were occupied.

I decided to organize my tupperware drawer. It was so unorganized at the beginning that I couldn’t put anymore dishes in it. I realized I was going to have a problem when I cleaned out my refrigerator because the tupperware drawer was over flowing and I had another 10 tubs to fit back in.

Little Bean helping open the Tupperware drawer

So, I sorted it and recycled the tops and other items that no longer had matches. I organized it by type and container size. I was able to fit everything in nicely and with room to spare.

Organized drawer

Which means this month I have made every goal I set for myself. We’ve worked out a budget, I’ve paid one of off Hubby’s student loans and I’ve organized my one drawer for the month. On top of all those, I’ve also gotten into a new hobby, which I’m super excited about and I’ll do a post about later. Overall, I’m feeling pretty good about my New Year’s resolutions and how the month has gone. The only way to make this month even better is to have Peanut start sleeping at night.

Mini-Goals

Hard Goals

Weight Loss:

two woman doing exercise
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

My weight loss goal will start once I’m sleeping (ish). Since I’m up with Peanut every few hours because he’s an eater, my plan is to start once he’s down to eating once a night :

First 2 wks: Use eliptical 1x wk & Yoga 1xwk

Next 2 wks: Eliptical 2x wk & yoga 1x wk

Wks 4-5: Eliptical 2x/wk & Yoga 1xwk

Wks 5-6: Eliptical 1xwk, Yoga 1x wk & work out video w/ weights 1xwk

** at wk 6 review & re-evaluate & set next 6 wk plan

Finances:

This year we are going to work to pay down our debt and to add a little to our savings. We’ve decided to use the snowball method. So, we’ll start with the smallest loan and go from there.

Monthly: In order to keep our finances straight, we’ve come up with a budget and will be updating this on a monthly basis. Every month we’ll be reviewing our spending for the following month and trying to find ways to reduce or change our habits.

January Progress: The smallest loan we have right now is one of Hubby’s student loans. It’s about $800. I have a year-end bonus from work that I’ll be using to pay this off. So, goal 1: payoff smallest loan.

February Progress: The next smallest loan we have is the last of my student loans. It’s about $3,400. I’m not sure exactly how much my bonus will be. So, the goal is to put the rest of my bonus on it and then put the normal payment plus the money I’d pay on Hubby’s loan. I’m also hoping that by doing surveys online and maybe a few other things (I’ll post about them later) that I’ll be able to get it under $3,000.

Now that we have no other bonuses coming in things will go a little slower. So, basically for the rest of the year we’re going to be putting our extra on it plus whatever extra we can make. I’m hoping in that by August we’ll have the loan under $2,000. So, I’ll be providing periodic updates on this to keep track of our progress.

Soft Goals:

Being more organized: This one I’m going to try to do by starting with just a few things and then in 2 months from now re-evaluate.

Menus: Every week I’ll be creating menus for the upcoming week and making sure that we have everything we need for them. Then prepping the meals for the coming week(s) on Saturday or Sunday. By pre-cooking the meals or having them crock-pot ready, it will save me time at night after I pick the boys up from daycare. This should also help us save money. With me prepping our meals we won’t need to have Hubby pick things up because I’ll have everything already. It will also stop us from eating out.

Organization: Every month pick one area of the house to organize. Each of these will be small places. Like under the kitchen sink or one drawer- like the junk drawer. By choosing one area I’m hoping that it will not be overwhelming and keep me going.

Well, this post means I’ve completed my very first New Year’s resolution because I’ve laid out my mini-goals for the first few months. Woohoo!! Go me! Have you laid out your goals yet?

New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year in addition to reflection is a time for making plans and charting a new course for changes in your life. Whether the goals are big or small, it seems that everyone has at least one.

However, most of them get left by the wayside by the end of January, if not sooner. I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else. In the past I’ve set goals of losing weight, getting into shape, being a better house keeper and paying off debt.

This year I’m going to keep it very simple. I’m going to have two solid goals that don’t have time limits or set time goals. I’m going to lose at least 5 pounds this year and get back on track financially.

Goal 1- Weight Loss: Well, at this point in my life I’m not in shape and I’m 20 pounds over my goal weight. I won’t be setting a pound goal this year. Since I just had the baby and I’m still the time of no sleep trying to set up an exercise schedule is out of the question. Any free/spare time I have will be spent sleeping, at least for the next few months. So, my goal related to weight loss is by the end of the year have started to work out. I want to start slow with cardio by walking on my elliptical and doing 1-2 yoga workouts a week. Then work up to adding in weight training.

Goal 2- Finances: This past year we’ve gotten off track with our finances, which I discussed here. So, the goal for this year is to get back on track and start the long process of paying off our debt. In order to keep us on track, I’m going to document our progress here and discuss what we’re doing to cut expenses and finding ways to supplement our income.

Those are my hard goals about me and the house. I also have a soft goals of sorting and getting rid of stuff out of my house and to find ways to become more organized. The Hubby and I, in addition to the finances, have also set a resolution of making sure we take care of our relationship. Relationships take work and love to keep them healthy and we haven’t been together for 17 years to let it get messed up now.

With my goals made I’m going to set up a timeline for everything, so, my goals are clearly set out with small, mini-goals along the way. I believe that is one of the pitfalls of making resolutions. People set large generic resolutions and then get lost in getting to that resolution. By setting out small detailed milestones I will have check points to keep me going to the end.

Once I have my detailed goals set out, I’ll be posting a full schedule/check point list here. Then I’ll use the blog to keep myself on track with regular updates.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll keep checking up on me.

Looking back at 2018

The New Year is a time for reflection and setting goals for the end of the year.

happy new year decorative plate
Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

This year has had some ups and downs for us. Our family grew and at the end of the year we welcomed our second son. He is an absolute wonder and we are so excited he is finally here. However, we did stumble financially this year.

We had a major setback and had to buy a new car (used, but new to us) because one of our vehicles was not going pass inspection and we would need to have spent thousands to make it pass inspection. So, we made the decision to purchase a new one. Even though I work from home we needed to have two vehicles because Hubby’s schedule is not a standard schedule and he cannot do daycare pickup and drop off. I thought about trying to go down to one car for a while, but being pregnant and having to walk over 3 miles twice a day, in all weather and up a hill that is about a 45 degree angle, was not feasible for me.

We did our homework and found a good vehicle for us and spoke to our bank of choice before ever going to the dealership. I recommend doing your research on where to finance before going to the dealership because it will save you money in the long run. The dealership we bought the car at tried multiple times in less than honest ways to get us to leave the bank we wanted and to finance the whole amount. However, we already financial plan for the vehicle set. We knew what we were going to do for a down payment and that we were not having someone else service our loan because I had already gotten approved with a low interest rate. If we had left our bank and financed with a lender of the dealerships choice, we would have had a higher payment because we financed more money and likely would have had a higher interest rate. So, by paying more in interest over the life of the loan on a higher amount, we would have been paying more out of pocket.

However, I digress. After trying to be smart about having to make a huge and unexpected purchase, we fell off the financial smart wagon. We made large purchases at ToysR’us when they went out of business. We justified it by saying it was stuff we needed for the boys. We also kept buying toys at other stores we went to because it’s for Little Bean. So, basically we just kept spending and got in over our heads.

Over the last six weeks that we’ve been on leave, we’ve also spent quite a bit. We went all out for Christmas and splurged on ourselves on Black Friday. We’ve wanted a robot cleaner for a while. It is incredibly difficult to keep our floors clean with the two dogs and Little Bean I’d have to sweep 3-4 times per day to keep all the floors clean. That’s obviously something I don’t have time to do. So, we saw that multiple stores on Black Friday were having sales on these. We looked into all of them and found one that we wanted. It is a Shark Ion that was originally $499.00 at Khol’s. However, it was on sale and I had some Kohl’s cash from buying Hubby work shirts. So, after the sale, the promotional codes and my Kohl’s cash we paid only $194.00. The Hubby and I made a decision to purchase this for each other for Christmas. So, it was another larger purchase that wasn’t necessary (however, I wouldn’t return it if I could- I love this thing).

So, to get back on track we’ve used a free document from Google Docs to set up a budget and make a plan to pay down all of our debt. We’ve decided to use the snowball method. For those that aren’t familiar with this term, this method is when you start with the smallest debt and pay as much extra as you can to pay it off. Once it’s paid off, the money you were paying on the now paid off debt is applied to the next smallest loan.

By using that method this year my goal is to get back on track financially and make some real progress on reducing our debt. We’re hoping to pay to be able to pay off all of our debt in 7-8 years. It’s a lofty goal to do it in under 10 years but I think we’re up for the challenge. I’m going to be giving bi-weekly updates on how the paying down of the debt is going.