Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grocery Shopping

I just got home from doing a very large shopping trip at Aldi's.  We were out of alot of items.  We had pretty much the bare minimum and were running out of things to prepare! :-)  I spent over $100!! Eek!
I have so much food in the car, I really dont want to unload it all.   Luckily it's cold outside, so it's sitting out there until I get the motivation to go out and unload. 

I have learned a couple of things from this trip.  One is that it is expensive to host parties for the holidays!  One is a brunch and an early dinner.  The other is hors d'oeuvres, finger foods, and then breakfast the next morning.  The other thing I learned is that juice is expensive!  We will have a 2 year old running around the house on Christmas Eve, so I had to get her some Apple Juice.  I also got some cranberry juice & OJ (fake OJ, by the way) for an "adult drink" that I love with peach schnapps for the New Years Eve company.  Oh, and I got sparkling red grape juice for Christmas Eve for our early dinner meal.  My step-father is a recovering alcoholic, so I thought it'd be nice to have some sparkling juice with dinner.

On top of all the juices I bought, I bought 20+ lbs worth of ham, 2+ lbs of shrimp, fruits and veggies, among many, many other things.  Now, I have to start planning out the menu for each occasion.  I really should try to keep it simple, but it's not looking as that will happen.

And the food in the car...I am thinking that with the juices, I will leave them in the garage to remain nice and chilled and keep the fridge free of clutter.  I will put the "party food" in a plastic tote so Todd is not tempted to eat any of it before the get-togethers!  And the freezer food I bought will be put in a bag and marked "DO NOT EAT" until it is time for them to thaw. 


To save money, Todd and I took the local bus in Florida to the airport our last day in Ft. Lauderdale.  By doing so, we saved over $20, and we met a handful of incredible people.  I am not the type of person who is outgoing and can talk to anyone.  If I don’t know someone, I clam up and mind my own business – and I want them to mind their own business.  Todd, on the other hand, will talk to anybody.

While we were on the bus, we talked to several different people.  We got their life stories, and they got ours.  It was a blast talking to several different people at different times on our “bus tour.” 

One gentleman came down to visit his father over 5 years ago, and ended up staying in Florida.  He talked about how he hates living paycheck to paycheck, but he loves it down there in Florida.  It is VERY expensive there.  Restaurants are over-priced, heck, even the WalMart was overpriced compared to Ohio!  A 2-litre of pop was over $2 there. 

Another gentleman we met had his car in the shop, which is why he was riding the bus.  He pays $1700/month in rent for his apartment on the beach.  Todd and I looked at each other with large eyes.  We pay 1/6th of that for our MORTGAGE.  But the gentleman insisted that it was a good price for an apartment on the beach.

Another woman (with no teeth, mind you,) was talking about how she works with the homeless.  She was telling us stories about the people she works with.  It was quite inspiring.

Each of these people, I would never have said “hello” to if passing on the street.  To be honest, I judged them a little too harshly upon first glance.  I think that if Todd and I were to live in Ft. Lauderdale, we’d be friends with each and every one of these people.  They were so nice, so generous, and just left a smile on my face.  When each of them got off of the bus, they would wave to us and wish us well on our “journey” back home.

The world is made up of some truly incredible people…if only we would take the initiative and time to let them tell their story.  Oh, and in my case, if only I can do better not to judge.  I judged them before I even knew them without even realizing it.

Four Seasons

While we were in Florida last week, it was a little different.  You couldn’t really tell that Christmas was coming.  Everything was green and bright, flowers blooming, palm trees waving in the wind.  The temperatures were in the 70’s.  Comfortable, but not too hot.  It was mentioned in a conversation how there really are no seasons in Florida.  That is one thing I would definitely miss if we were to ever move to Florida.

I enjoy all of the seasons.  I love the snow for the Holidays, the new bulbs emerging from the ground in April, the beautiful green leaves and the heat in the Summer, and then the fall colors in October and November. 

I don’t like being cold, but I like being outside and seeing all of the “white stuff” on the ground.  I especially used to love skiing.  I would love to do it again; however, it’s a bit out of our price range right now.

I also don’t like being too hot.  So, can you tell I’m REALLY easy to please? J  I think that’s why I need all four seasons.  I get a little bit of everything every year, and I love it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Weekend...

This weekend is going to be a busy weekend for me. I didn’t realize that we have only 2 more weeks until Christmas.  There are a few small gifts I have to find for my dad and niece (correction : I just found my father’s gift online for less than I would have paid for it at the store, and it’s even nicer than I could have possibly imagined!) Also, since being back from vacation, we have cleared out most of our fridge/ freezer, so I have to go stock up.  We are having company over Christmas Eve as well as New Years Eve, so I’d like to pick up everything I need for both of those parties.  Since being home (only a few days now,) the house has become a complete DISASTER ZONE!  I have a pile of mail that I weeded through, but need to take care of some things.  I have my own laundry from vacation I need to do, unpack my bag, and just general house-cleaning. 
So, the agenda for Saturday (if I can make it) :

  • Tractor Supply (piggy food, inquire about getting chicks) 
  • Dollar Store (gift bag for MIL’s birthday on Monday, dog chew sticks, laundry detergent.)
  • Staples (a nice pen set for my father) 
  • Ollie’s (gift for my 2 year old niece (probably books) and possibly some food items)
  • Gordon Food Service (meatballs for parties, shredded cheese)
  • Adli’s
  • Shop ‘n Save (our local market – they have fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for $1.99/lb and Clementine oranges on sale this week!)

On top of that, I’d like to:
  • Read the rest of a book I started before vacation
  • Find all gifts hidden around house for Christmas
  • Decorate Christmas Tree
  • Watch a couple of movies from the library
  • Wrap gifts and put under tree
  • Cook up some homemade brownies (recipe from Rachel Boreing's blog - they are Todd's favorite.)

I am tired just thinking about it.  We will see what gets done and what does not. Generally, when I go out grocery shopping, I’m exhausted after 3 or 4 stores.  This will be a rough one.  I may need a nap…or two!

What Would You Do? Budget Advice Needed

 I am a planner, that’s just what I do. With the payoff of Todd’s vehicle coming closer and closer, we have $7500 left to pay off our last debt in 2011.  I am planning to have that paid off no later than June 2011.  After that, it will take approximately 3 months to get our 3 month emergency fund in place ($6,000.) 

I know what the next baby step is, and that would be 15% into retirement accounts.  Todd and I both contribute 5% of our income to our 401K at work (we should have cut that back to “0” while we were paying off debts, but we didnt.)  The other 10%, I’d like to invest in a Roth IRA.  That would be $500/month with one of Dave Ramsey’s ELP’s (Endorsed Local Providers.)

My question is about what we should do AFTER that.
The budget I’ve been doing is not what Dave Ramsey recommends.  We have several bills that we have chosen to make “yearly” or “half-year” payments on.  For instance, our property tax and home owner’s insurance.  When I had the Akron house, they had an escrow account and it was always changing.  A lot of times, I had a hard time getting quotes from insurance companies before they changed my rates and took money from escrow.  It was just a pain.  So, because we have 40% equity in our home, we were not required to have an escrow account.  What does this mean?  We pay property taxes on both properties (we own our residence, and the house next door) in January and July of every year.  We get a discount for paying our car insurance and homeowner’s insurance as a lump-sum once or twice a year.  We also save a monthly fee by regulating our propane usage ourselves and calling them when we want the tank filled instead of having them come out once a month to “top off” the tank (saves us $10/month!)  In other words, I try not to have many revolving payments every month.  I don’t like them.

That being said, I don’t save the money out of every paycheck for those revolving payments.  When something is due, I put a hold on our debt snowball and pay what is due (which is why December is a rough month for us.)

When we are debt free (but the house,) have the 3 month emergency fund in place, and the automatic debit for the Roth IRA every month, we will have approximately $1250 a month extra.  The thing is, this really isn’t just “extra money.”  It is earmarked for:
  • Property Taxes
  • Home Owner’s Insurance
  • Terminex
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Repair / New Car Fund
  • Propane
  • Home Improvement
  • Animals
  • Vacations
  • Trash PickUp (they bill us quarterly)
  • Doctor / Dentist / Medications / Deductibles
  • Gifts

You get the point.  When all is said and done, we’d have an extra $300/month to pay toward the house.  With the extra money, though, I’d like to continue to contribute money to get that emergency fund fully funded to 6 months expenses ($12,000).

Oh my goodness, I’m rambling.
Should I lump the money we have left over every month into a savings account that will cover all of these expenses throughout the year or have separate savings accounts set up for each and every item on the list?  If I lump everything together, I have a feeling we could pay down more on the house every month instead of putting money into accounts for something that wont be invoiced for another 10 months.

Eating What We Have

Since the end of last month, Todd and I have been trying to eat what we have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards.  Before we went on our weekend getaway, we had literally nothing in our fridge but condiments.  Todd went out shopping with his mother that Monday and we were on our way home together (him from his mom’s house, me from work.)  The question was: What’s for dinner?  He had a coupon for $1.00 off a pizza.  I had been fretting about paying off his vehicle, and didn’t want to pay $8 for a pizza.  I was thinking long and hard about what we had in the fridge and cupboards, and I brought it up
By being a little creative, we’ve saved a bit of money on groceries.  Right now, we still have chicken drumsticks in the freezer (can easily make 1-2 more meals,) canned vegetables, and fish fillets.  We will definitely have to go grocery shopping this week, and it will most likely be a big one, but the two weeks we’ve been scrimping are helping us to get his car paid off that much quicker.
that we could have loaded baked potatoes with chili on them.  He was fine with that.  That saved us $8 ordering a pizza.

Then, the next day, we were stumped again.  What could we possibly make?  We had nothing in the fridge, a can of spinach in the cupboard, some ground beef, some diced tomatoes and some homemade tomato sauce.  So… he made two homemade pizzas.  One of them was an alfredo (he made the alfredo sauce himself with what we had,) with spinach and diced tomatoes, and the other was a sausage pizza with sausage, tomato sauce and cheese.  Todd found a recipe to make ordinary ground beef taste like sausage with a few ingredients that we had in the spice cabinet.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

More Photos of Vacatioin

 Pathway to the ocean.
 Waterway by the hotel.

 The "Broadwalk."  No, I didnt spell it wrong.

 People sailing.

 Cool trees in a park at "Young Circle."

Sunset on airplane ride home (12/06/2010)

Pictures of Hotel Room

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Woress Wednesday: Vacation Edition

Saturday, December 4th 6:30 AM
Todd woke me up so we can go to the beach and watch the sun rise.  This is what we captured.

Brunch / Food

Well, it’s official, my mom, her husband and my niece will be at our house on Christmas Eve for brunch. Also, a friend from work and her husband will be spending the night at our house on New Years Eve.  So I will need to make 2 different brunches, two weeks in a row.

Do you have any irresistible brunch recipes you could share with me? Suggestions?
I would like to make a skillet-type breakfast bake, sweet rolls, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns and a coffee cake (possibly blueberry.)  I will have OJ, milk, and apple juice.  Maybe I should also have some fresh fruit.

Because on both days, our company will be there for an extended period of time, I will also have to make other dishes for snacks and for lunch/dinner.  I am thinking shrimp cocktail, steaks, baked potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls and possibly one or two items in the crockpot.  And you know me…there HAS to be a dessert or two (or 5!)

**Update, my co-worker and her husband, who are coming over for New Years Eve suggested snack-type items to eat throughout the countdown.  I’m perfectly fine with that!  So, I am thinking: fondue (with bread, apples, celery, carrots,) fruit platter, veggie platter, sweedish meatballs (equal parts ketchup & grape jelly,) chips and dip, ranch coated oyster crackers, and maybe a lasagna. 

Can you tell I have OCD?  I tend to go a little over-board, but I cant wait to have people over!  Needless to say, I think I’m going to have to increase the December Grocery Budget.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Article: Secret Spending

I found this article on and it completely blew my mind.  It actually made me angry.

Secret spending?  Are you kidding me?  “I deserve it.”  Bull!  You DON’T deserve it.  Why?  Because you are lying to your loved one.  You are deceiving them.  A line in the movie Little Black Book states, “Omission is betrayal.”  I completely agree with this. 

And all of the items these people are “secretly spending” on are expensive items!  If I want Jimmy Choo’s (I never would because I’m not big into names or expensive items in general,) I would save my allowance of $25/week for months to buy them.  Not “secretly” buy them without Todd knowing.  One woman has to buy groceries on her mother’s credit card and pay her back to feed their kids because she overspent on their credit card and her husband gets mad.

I think these people have a problem.  Every single last one of them has a problem with impulse buying.  Really…how many pairs of shoes does one person need?

I will admit, I made a STUPID purchase myself this year and that was for the business.  I wish I wouldn’t have, but I cant return the items.  I have admitted it to Todd and begged for his forgiveness. 

If  Todd or I were to do this regularly, I would guarantee our marriage would be pretty rocky (again.)  If you cant be on the same page as your spouse, how could it possibly last for the long-haul? 


I don’t know if I could ever retire.  On Thanksgiving break, I had Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday off from work.  Todd and I were together Thursday and Friday, and then he had to go to work on Saturday and Sunday.  By Saturday, I was bored out of my mind!!  There is only so much I can do online, only so long I can play with the animals, and straighten up the house.  OK, I’m sure I could have done a better job cleaning up the house, but that wasn’t happening.  TV was boring. I didn’t even cook (I know…what a lazy bum!)  To be honest, I didn’t even get dressed Friday, Saturday or Sunday (TMI!)  When I went out to feed Squiggy and Lana, I went out in my robe.

I like to think that I could retire and find things to do, but it wasn’t happening Thanksgiving weekend!  I don’t really have any hobbies.  My animals are my “fun time,” and sometimes, even they get on my nerves.  I probably should have listed some of my gift items on Etsy, but didn’t.  Oh well.

Then I start to think that this doesn’t only effect when I “retire,” but if I choose to stay home with children in the future.  Could I have a schedule and get everything done within the day?  Would I actually clean the bathroom floor, or scrub the kitchen sink?  I despise cleaning (but love coming home to a clean home.)  Would I go absolutely crazy if I stayed around the house 7 days a week?  If it’s anything like Thanksgiving, I may need to reconsider my future plans!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Links Worth Reading (in my opinion)

I love finances.  I love reading about other people's finances as well.  I found a couple of links that I enjoyed reading and I was thinking others may as well.  So here goes:

MillionDollarJourney writes about paying off his mortgage in 3 years (I'm so jealous!)
Our mortgage is $10,000 less than one year's salary for the both of us. When calculated, I show that we'd have to pay $1600/month to pay off our current mortgage in 3 years.  That's not going to happen.  I'd be happy with paying it off in 5-7 years.  If we were to pay just $150/month extra on the mortgage, it'd be paid off in 10 years (we got a 15 year mortgage a few months ago at 3.85% interest.) 

Donna Freedman at Surviving and Thriving asked if you could survive off of one income.  I know many readers already do, but we dont.  Right now, I feel we COULD survive off of one income, but we'd have to cut back even more than we already have and it'd be tight.  Once we get these last two debts paid off and have a nice emergency fund in place, I think we'd be golden, but until then, we will both work.

Do you have any links you can recommend?  I'd love to read them! :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We Are So Odd...

I really think we have a strange relationship at times.  Well...all the time, but it is very prevalant at times. 

We were driving in the car on Thanksgiving and having a really good conversation.  I have been wanting to talk to Todd about something that he has put the kai-bosh (spelling?) on in the past.

There was a break in the conversation and so I took it as my opportunity to talk to him about it.

I said, "Honey, I really want chicks."
He looked at me with his eyes huge and in shock.
I said, "I just want a couple of them, and we can keep them in the side yard."
He put his hand over his heart, started breathing again and explained his shock.
He said, "I thought you were having another one of your quasi bi-sexual fantasies again."

He thought I wanted a woman!  No.
Just two (or three,) fuzzy little chicks.
After his heart stopped racing (and I stopped laughing at his comment,) we talked about it, and it looks like I'm going to be getting a couple of chicks in the Spring! :-)

Ha! And he said he refused to live on a farm.  Well... he seems to go along with it all.  Really...I dont want a farm.  I love my Squiggy piggy, puppy and 4 cats.  But no goats, cows, horses are in our future.  OK...I wouldnt mind having a cow for milk, but it's not going to happen!  We dont have enough room!  I love our mini-farm and garden.  I cant wait to put in our order for 2-3 chicks at Tractor Supply in the Spring. :-)

**Side note: I just remembered something else I'd like for our mini-farm.  I would like bees for honey!  Todd HATES bees, but we'll see how many years it will take to talk him into letting me have our own bees.