Budget Thursday

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Even though I haven’t kept up with blogging, I have definitely kept up with the budget.  It hasn’t been the prettiest, but we are doing pretty well.  My June budget is ready to go!  I will do a full June budget overview tomorrow, but for now I want to tell you how I keep things from busting my budget!

We all have expenses that are irregular.  You know the ones: car tags, taxes, vet bills, co-pays, etc.  These are ones that are hard to budget for because they don’t come up very often.  We had one today: vet bill.  No biggie, just vaccinations and getting heartworm medicine for Bandit.  Here is how I managed to take the dogs to the vet without worrying about the budget:

Every month the dogs have two line items.  One is cash that I pull out each month.  They get $50 a month that goes into their joint envelope.  Sometimes this money doesn’t get spent in a month.  If it doesn’t get spent, it rolls over to the next month.  They currently have $26 in their envelope right now, and the next $50 will get added on June 14th.  This cash is for food, dog biscuits, and any other things I would buy at a pet store.  It almost always goes to food, as we do not buy many extras for the dogs.  Very rarely do I have to refill both dogs’ food in one month.  Usually it is just one or the other.

The next line item is another $50, but this money gets transferred into their joint Capital One 360 savings account.  This money also rolls over (and earns a very tiny bit of interest).  This savings account is for vet bills, medication, vaccinations, etc.  Today when I took the dogs to the vet, they had $297 in their savings account.  Both dogs needed vaccinations (Bandit needed 1 and Rose needed 2).  I also got Bandit a 6 month supply of heartworm prevention medication.  (Rose inherited some from my sister, so she didn’t need a refill).  The total came to $122.00.  I was able to use our debit card to pay for it, and then as soon as I got home, I transferred $122 from their savings account to our checking account.  We only end up using this account about every 6 months for these same types of expenses.  By the time we use it again (in 6 months) we will have almost $500 in there.  We have been lucky that we have not had any recent emergencies or anything major with either dog lately.  We have in the past, but we have always had enough money in their savings account to cover it.

How do you save for those irregular expenses?

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What to eat Wednesday

So Meal Plan Monday doesn’t work during the summer.  I like to go grocery shopping during the week, and have landed on Thursdays as my day to go.  Because of that, I now meal plan on Wednesdays.  Today was the best meal planning session I have had in a while:

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Spent my time outside in the beautiful weather while Miss C played in the wading pool.  I think we have a little fish on our hands!  She loved playing in and around the pool.  (That is definitely a trait she gets from her daddy, as I am not a fan of water or swimming at all.)

Anyways, one of the big changes in the past few weeks is my food intake.  I have really been trying to focus on buying ingredients at the store and eating healthier.  I know that I will not be perfect (especially with the Reese’s in my pantry calling my name), but I know that whatever changes I make will be positive.  I have been blessed with a high metabolism and have never had to worry about what I eat.  Unfortunately that has lead me to have very bad eating habits.  I am trying to change those habits, not for my size, but instead for my health.  Because of these changes, I am very aware of planning everything, not just dinners.  I now plan breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and two snacks a day.  I would give myself a C at this point for how it is going.  The first week was fabulous!  This past week has not been going as well.

Without further ado, here is my menu for the week:

Thursday, May 28:
Breakfast: Banana pancakes, eggs, fruit
Lunch: Chicken enchiladas with avacado cream sauce
Dinner: Chicken salad sandwiches, salad
Snacks: 1) toast with peanut butter and bananas, 2) yogurt with cinnamon, granola, flax seeds

Friday, May 29:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, fruit
Lunch: Chicken stir fry with quinoa
Dinner: Creamy corn fettuccine with grilled shrimp, salad
Snacks: 1) fresh fruit, nuts, 2) granola, raw veggies

Saturday, May 30:
Breakfast: Eggs with spinach and cheese, toast with jelly
Lunch: Mac and cheese and hot dogs for the family, big salad for me
Dinner: Tacos
Snacks: 1) yogurt, 2) fresh fruit, nuts

Sunday, May 31:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Cheese quesadillas
Dinner: Grilled meat and veggie packets
Snacks: 1) raw veggies, 2) toast with PB and bananas

Monday, June 1:
Breakfast: Homemade waffles, fresh fruit
Lunch: Grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin, quinoa, salad
Dinner: Leftovers
Snacks: 1) fresh fruit, yogurt, 2) raw veggies

Tuesday, June 2 (My birthday!):
Breakfast: cereal (I love cereal, but I am trying to cut back on it because of the sugar content)
Lunch: Out!  Mexican for this girl!
Dinner: Grilled BBQ pork chops, salad, homemade rolls
Snack: 1) nuts, fresh fruit, 2) cheese and crackers

Wednesday, June 3:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken parmesan meatballs, pasta, homemade tomato sauce, salad
Dinner: Creamy chicken and asparagus pasta
Snacks: 1) fresh fruit, nuts, 2) raw veggies

If I find out that some of these lunches make a lot of food, then we will scrap dinner plans and just have leftovers.  Right now Hubs works 2-10 in the evenings, so it is just Miss C and I for dinner.  I try to make a good, somewhat big meal for lunch, so Hubs gets a homemade meal each day.  This also usually gives us leftovers for the evening.

What are you having this week?

Sweet Summer

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I can’t believe it has been over 2 months since I last blogged.  It wasn’t on purpose, but the last quarter of school was a tough one.  The class I had this year had its ups and downs.  I would come home from work absolutely exhausted.  Near the end, there was a lot of other stress with things out of my control.  (Possibility of losing good teachers due to budget cuts.)  In the past two months not much has changed around here.

I am now on summer break and am bound and determined to make this summer a productive one!  I have already gotten a lot done around the house, and have been doing my best to stay on top of regular chores (laundry, picking up, etc.)  I have so many things I want to get done, and I have made mini to-do lists to help keep me on top of everything.

One of the biggest things that has happened in the past two months is that we have paid off our first student loan!  We are now snowballing our payment to the next student loan, which should be killed this fall!  We haven’t been able to put all of our extra money into our debt snowball, but it’s for good reason.  My car is currently 13 years old.  Besides regular maintenance and upkeep, we have never really had to put too much money into it.  Unfortunately we are getting close to the end with it.  My catalytic converter has caused my check engine to go on twice.  It hasn’t caused any problems yet, and the people at Midas said not to worry about it until I start to notice “symptoms”.  I haven’t yet, so no biggie at this point.

I did take my car in for a routine oil change and tire rotation today.  They said I would need new tires soon.  The tires they quoted were almost $500 (for all 4).  That is getting to the point of too much money to put into this car.  We have known for a while that I was going to need a replacement car sooner rather than later.  Once we paid off Hubs’ car, we have been putting $450 aside each month for a down payment on a vehicle for me.  I am hoping to nurse my car through the summer, but would definitely need something new before fall/winter.  We live in an area that typically gets snow and ice in the colder months.  I would not want to risk bald tires come winter.  I hate the thought of taking on new debt, but I do think it’s time for a new (to me) vehicle soon.  My car is a compact car, and I am starting to get to the point of not feeling safe driving around with Miss C in it.  It is very uncomfortable for even the three of us to sit in.  We need something bigger.  If we can hold off until the end of August to buy a vehicle, we will have around $4,000 for a down payment.  With that down payment, we should be able to keep our payment very similar to what we are putting aside each month.  Again, I hate adding new debt, but I do feel some pressure to have a decent car since I am hauling around the munchkin in it quite often.  I guess we will just wait and see when the time comes.

Now that I am done with my school year, I hope to get back to blogging on a regular basis.

Image courtesy of samarttiw at freedigitalphotos.net