Sunday, August 30, 2009


I just finished doing the numbers for the month of August, and I don't know if it was the lack of sleep or stress or what, but I truly had no idea where we stood until I finished. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I'd calculated that we'd come down by more than $600! What's more, that's the best month we've had since March! Our total debt actually went up a little bit in April, but we've done progressively better each month since.

May $134
June $365
July $594
and August $635

I don't know what's going going to happen over the next few months, as many things are up in the air. Mike is currently trying to sell his truck, which may or may not net us some extra money if and when a sale goes through and we find a replacement... Spencer's getting his braces next month... There are furloughs coming... There are birthdays, holidays, and baby showers... Halloween costumes and baseball cleats... Time will tell how it all shakes out, but for now I am mightily trying to convince myself to remain cautiously optimistic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grocery Game, Take Two

Last weekend we did a big, stocking-up trip. Today we just bought some necessities and some too-good-to-pass-up deals. We spent $51.99 and saved $69.91 ($12 in coupons, and the rest in sale & store card savings). We saved more than we spent! Last time we saved 47%, and this time it went up to 57%. We got a great deal on rechargable batteries - something that's been on our list forever - at CVS, and got another $8 back for next time.

I'm a happy girl.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Date Night & The Grocery Game

First, Mike and I went on a date on Saturday... a real live date, just the two of us. It's something we do twice, maybe three times a year, so it is hugely monumental when it happens. We went to the movies to see (500) Days of Summer (a movie that I give two very enthusiastic thumbs up by the way) while the kids played with their grandparents. We ate candy, drank gigantic sodas, and just generally enjoyed a care-free hour and a half. It was guilt-free too, as we paid for the whole thing with survey money! Ideally we should have "play" money built into our budget, but we don't. All our left over money (if we have any) goes towards necessities: new shoes for the kids, birthday presents, car repairs, etc etc. When it's at all possible though, the extra money I bring in is just that - extra- and I am so thankful for it. Sometimes you need a movie - or a pizza or a Jamba Juice - to stay sane. And you just can't put a price on sanity.

Yesterday, we did our big, multi-store grocery shopping trip. We just joined The Grocery Game again, and WOW! We will do better as the weeks go on and we build up more of a coupon base, but our first foray was not bad, not bad at all....

Much of what we got will last a month, some things (such as milk and eggs) will need to be replenished in a week or two. Keep in mind that we are a family of six! We spent $269, and saved $45 in coupons. Total savings with coupons and sales - $239, plus $9 ECBs to spend at CVS on our next trip. It always strikes me as sort of funny the things that make me happy as an adult, but I am so excited to see how well we do next time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Answered Prayers

Every so often I allow myself a minor freak-out about money. Truth be told, every so often I allow myself a minor freak-out about a lot of things, but money is a common theme.

Last week I had one such freak-out. I was stressed that our paycheck was once again spent before it even hit our checking account, I was stressed that we were coming up short, I was stressed that we have Paxton's birthday coming up and don't have the money for his present, as well as a week-long camping trip that we are committed to but really can't afford. I was stressed knowing that our budget is so tight, and that if we're truly going to pay this debt off, it will only continue to be tight until we've done so. So last week my prayer was for.. well.. money. Just enough to meet our needs so we wouldn't have to rely on a credit card to get through the week. Just enough to ease some of the anxiety. I didn't know where it would come from, but I knew that if I truly trusted that God would provide. And did he ever!

Yesterday the unemployent money - which Mike submitted for a month ago - landed in his account, and it was twice as much as we were hoping for, and more than enough to lift our current burden. AND, on a totally unexpected front, he was able to fix a part in his truck himself, and subsequently canceled the order he'd placed for a replacement. This morning we were refunded the $135 he'd spent.

God answers prayers.

Monday, August 3, 2009


We have a CVS right by our house. Living in Phoenix, we have most stores right by our house, but there's a CVS literally 18 seconds away, one block down. We often use CVS to fill our prescriptions, and we'll run there to pick up more Halloween candy or the diapers that we forgot on our regular grocery shopping list. Which is why I have no idea why I didn't know about their reward program until now. If you are like I was, and ignorant as to all that CVS has to offer, allow me to share: CVS has an awesome awards program for their card members!!

Every week in their sales flyer (which I previously ignored, since they weren't on our regular shopping list) they feature several sale items that will earn you ECBs (extra cash back) Some of these allow you to essentially get the item for free - for example last week they had lots of back-to-school items on sale for .99, with .99 ECB. So you pay the .99 now, and get another .99 back to spend next time! These ECBs print like coupons right on the bottom of your receipt. The next time you shop there, you can spend them like cash and earn even more. The idea is to keep rolling them into the next trip, and by taking advantage of the sales and the ECBs, you can shop there for many of your household and grocery items, and literally pay almost nothing out of pocket.

We tried it out for the first time on Saturday. We got 3 boxes of Kashi cereal (on sale 3/$10 with $3 ECB), and 3 12 packs of Coke - which we would have bought for camping anyway (on sale 4/$13 with $5 ECB) 2 good deals, and $8 to spend on our next trip! Cool!! AND, if you combine manufacturers coupons and in-store coupons with the ECB deals, you can save even more, to the point that they're essentially paying YOU to shop there!

Love it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Total debt: DOWN by $594!