Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chili Con Carne

This is a really good chili recipe that I adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe book.


1 pound ground chuck
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp red pepper sauce
1-2 cans diced tomatoes
1-2 cans red kidney beans, or black beans

Cook beef, onion and garlic in 3 quart saucepan, stirring occasionally until brown, drain.

Stir in remaining ingredients except beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Stir in beans. Heat to boiling. Simmer uncovered about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness.


Ritz Chicken Casserole

Here is an easy casserole that my family likes and we will be having this week.

Ritz Chicken

4 whole chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
8 oz. carton sour cream
1 tube Ritz crackers (I am using Club this week)
1 stick butter melted

Place cooked, cubed chicken in bottom of baking dish. Pour soup and sour cream mixed together over the chicken. Then combined crumbled crackers and melted butter. Sprinkle cracker mixture over the top of chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Menu Plan Monday 12/29

Hope you all have a healthy, happy New Year! I just started my Wii Fit, and I have a goal to lose 3 lbs. in two weeks. Not sure if this menu plan will really help, but I will watch portion size!

Hashbrown potatoes
steamed veggie

macaroni and cheese
steamed veggie


Pork Fried Rice


Ritz Chicken
steamed veggie
crescent rolls

Pork chops
pintos and rice
lettuce and onion salad

Have a great week!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kroger Deal on Life Water

If you like Life Water keep an eye out for a display at Kroger. The 20 oz. bottles of Life Water are 10 for $10 ($1 ea). I found hang tag manufacturer coupons on the bottles for $0.50. Kroger doubled those coupons, so I got them for FREE! I bought 21 bottles and paid $0.32 out of pocket! I love running across deals like that!

You can't beat 100% off!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 12/22/08

Merry Christmas!! Simple meal plans this week. Christmas Eve night is spent with my family and Christmas night with my hubby's family. Both gatherings are finger foods. Yummy and simple for everyone.

Hot dogs
Potatoes and onions

Chicken and rice
green beans

I am making:
stuffed mushrooms
Man-d00 dumplings
Homemade salsa
Homemade tortilla chips
Broccoli salad
Mandarin Orange cake

I am making
stuffed mushrooms
Man-doo dumplings
Broccoli salad


Breakfast for dinner or

Pork chops
steamed broccoli

Late in the week is subject to change. I need to inventory my pantry and freezer and see what I need to use up. Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Go to I'm and Organizing Junkie to see more menu ideas at Menu Planning Monday.

Publix 12/21

This is my first trip to Publix since November 3rd! I forgot how much you can get when Publix is having great B1G1 sales! Here is my transaction:

2 Revlon nail clippers $2.39 ea
...- 2 $2 MQ
...- 2 $2 Publix Q (overage)
4 Revlon emery boards $1.69 ea
...- 4 $2 Publix Q
...- 2 $1 MQ (0verage)
1 Sara Lee cinnamon roll $2.50
...- $1 Publix Q ($1.50)
2 Sara Lee pound cakes $2.49, $2.50
...- 2 $1 Publix Q ($1.49 & $1.50 ea)
2 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes $1.99 ea
...- 2 $1 MQ ($0.99 ea)
5 Betty Crocker potatoes $0.90, $0.89 ea
...- 5 $0.35 MQ doubled ($0.09 and $0.10 ea)
4 5 lb bags of Domino sugar $1.99 ea
...- 2 $0.40 MQ doubled ($1.19 ea)
...- 2 $0.35 MQ doubled ($1.24 ea)
2 Domino 10x sugar $0.69 ea
...- 2 $0.25 MQ doubled (0.19 ea)
2 Domino brown sugar $0.69 ea
...- 2 $0.25 MQ doubled (0.19 ea)
2 Can't Believe not Butter $1.24, $1.25 ea
...- 2 $0.50 MQ doubled ($0.24 and $0.25 ea)
1 Can't Believe not Butter spray $1.25
...- $0.50 MQ doubled ($0.25)
2 Scotch magic tape $1, $0.99 ea
...- $1 MQ ($0.49, $0.50 ea)
3 Mattel Hot Wheels $1 ea
...- 3 $1 Publix Qs (FREE)
2 Rondele cheese $2, & $1.99 ea
...- 2 $1 MQ ($1 and $0.99 ea)
4 Keebler club crackers $1.90 and $1.89 ea
...- 4 $0.50 MQ doubled ($0.90 and $0.89 ea)
4 Simply Potatoes $2 ea
...- 2 $1/2 ($1.50 ea)
2 Del Monte 50% less salt canned veggie $0.65 &0.64 ea
...- 2 $0.30 MQ doubled ($0.05 &0.04 ea
8 Del Monte canned veggie $0.65 & 0.64 ea
...- 2 $1/4 MQ (0.37 ea)
2 Pillbury cresent rolls $1.67 ea
...- 2 $0.35 MQ doubled ($0.97 ea)
2 Mt Olive pickles $1.40 & $1.39 ea
...- 2 $0.50 MQ doubled ($0.40 & $0.39 ea)
1 Pompian olive oil $3.50
...- $0.50 MQ doubled ($2.50)
1 Publix grape juice $0.01--Penny item!

Total before coupons was $85 something.

Total OOP $36.65...including tax. Pretty good.

It was nice getting back into the swing of things. I now have 40 lbs. of sugar....I think we are good for a while! :-)

Check out more Publix deals at Fiddledeedee--Publix Super Savers.

CVS 12/21

I went to CVS today after church to try to get some of the great ECB deals. Unfortunately, my CVS was already out of a lot of things but here are pictures of what I got.

This first transaction was $0.44 OOP. I got back around $20 in ECBs,

The second transaction was $1.98 OOP.
See the cute Wii mote candy dispensers--excellent stocking stuffers.

I ended up with with about $60 in ECBs (I still had some left over from Thanksgiving night). So I decided to buy a Christmas gift for me and my hubby. I got this GPS for $43.04 OOP! Yay!

I think I am done with Christmas shopping--now I just need to find time to wrap!

Kroger 12/20

I went to Kroger Saturday night to get a few deals. I have been taking a much needed break from the deal-seeking, but there were a few things I needed and I didn't want to miss. Here is what I got:

6 Cottonelle 4 roll packs $0.99 ea
...- $0.50 e-coupon
...- 4 $0.50 MQ (doubled)
...- 2 $0.25 MQ (doubled)
... got all six packs for $1.00
1 Wheat chex $2.49
...- $1.00 e-coupon
1 Corn Chex $2.49
...- $1/2 Chex cereal
1 Crispix cereal $2.40
...- $1 MQ
1 Daisy sour cream $1.39
...- $0.50 MQ (doubled)
1 Reddi Whip $2.00
...- $1 MQ
3 Goody ouchless hair bands $1.49 ea
...- 3 $2 MQ (overage!!)
...- $1 e-coupon (overage!!)
1 Duncan Heinz frosting $1.50
...- $1 MQ
1 Total toothpaste $2.50
...- $1 MQ
...- $1.50 cellfire Q

Total before coupons $34.45

Total OOP $5.34!!

The total OOP should have been lower. I should have had an e-coupon for the frosting and reddi whip, but for some reason they didn't show up. Oh well....


Monday, December 15, 2008

The Christmas Linebacker

My husband, Tom, was in charge of running the media presentation at our church this weekend during Return to Bethlehem. While visitors were waiting for their turn to walk through Bethlehem, they were entertained by live singing and videos between singers. Here is one video Tom showed that was the most popular.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Broccoli Salad

This salad is a family favorite around the holidays. We always have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Try it at your holiday gathering this year.

Broccoli Salad

1 bunch broccoli
1/2 cup white raisins
5 green onions (scallions), chopped
1/2 to 1 cup salted sunflower seeds
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup mayo
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Mix broccoli, raisins, onions, and sunflower seeds together. Make vinaigrette of mayo, vinegar, sugar. Pour over broccoli mixture. Crumble bacon over top.

You can make extra dressing if you don't feel like this is enough. Also, you can substitute craisins for the raisins.


Fresh Broccoli $0.33 at Target

Target has fresh broccoli and cauliflower on sale for $1.33/bunch. Go HERE to print a $1 off coupon to make each bunch just $0.33 ea. It is a great time to stock up for making Broccoli Salad for your Holiday gatherings or to put in the freezer for later.

Menu Plan Monday 12/15

We have had a great weekend at Return to Bethlehem. Very rewarding, but very exhausting. Here is my menu plan--done very quickly.

Roast turkey breast
mashed potatoes

BBQ pulled pork sandwiches
cheesy potatoes
steamed veggie

Spaghetti sauce

hot dogs
Rice a roni
steamed veggie

baked chicken
Spanish Rice

Canadian bacon

Chicken and rice
steamed veggie

Get more menu ideas at I'm an Organizing Junkie by checking out Menu Plan Monday.

Have a great week!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 12/8

We have a very busy week. Our church is having "Return to Bethlehem"--a walk through live nativity. The whole family is involved. I am still working on organizing costumes, plus I have a very busy week at work. That is why you see a lot of easy meals!

Chicken Fajitas

hot dogs
baked beans

Canadian Bacon

Eating out (DD's Christmas concert)

Eating out-Return to Bethlehem

Saturday--Early--Return to Bethlehem
Homemade Canadian Bacon Pizza

Sunday--Return to Bethlehem
Crockpot Pork Roast(working while at church)
Mashed potatoes
Steamed veggies

Have a great week! For more menu planning ideas go to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My $40 Shopping Trip

Actually, I didn't quite spend $40. I am continuing to try to stick to a $40/week grocery budget--inspired by Crystal at Money Saving Mom. I also need to whittle down my pantry and freezer.

I went to Kroger, Wal-mart and Aldi's. I was really disappointed in Aldi's--I had hoped to get fresh fruit there, but they were almost totally cleaned out. I don't think the weekend is the best time to shop.

I only used 5 coupons today on my trip--three $0.55 Arnold bread Qs (1/2 price sale on bread--with coupon I paid $0.85/loaf), and two Steamers coupons at Wal-mart. I was pleased to find Canadian bacon marked down at Kroger. I spent a total of $34.67. Overall, not a bad shopping trip.

To see more money saving ideas, check out Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club

Tsh, at Simple Mom, is sponsoring the Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book Club. Go HERE to read about the 2009 book list. All of the books sound great. I have always been interested in being part of a book club, but schedule conflicts make it difficult. An online club sounds like the perfect solution. Check it out and I hope you will join in on the fun!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been reading a lot lately about homemade laundry detergent. I even heard it mentioned on a recent television show. I have been considering trying to make my own laundry soap mainly because my son is suffering from atopic dermatitis and I am trying to eliminate any source of allergies. Check out Mercedes' post at Common Sense with Money and see her recipe for laundry detergent. An added benefit it that it only costs $0.01/load!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Birthday too Me!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I am taking the day off from work and have the house all to myself. Kids and hubby back to school. I think I will spend all day in my sewing room. Woo Hoo!

Menu Plan Monday 12/1

Here is my plan this week. After too much turkey and leftovers last week, I am trying to keep it simple and have a few different kinds of dishes.

Pork chops
mashed potatoes
steamed brocolli/cauliflower

Cream of Brocolli/Cauliflower Soup


mashed potatoes
steamed veggie


pork and rice
steamed veggie

Hot dogs
mac and cheese
mandarin oranges

Have a great week!

To see more menu ideas, be sure to visit I'm and Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Perfect Option

If you have read this blog for long, you know my son attends Ga Tech and is a member of the marching band. He showed me this video on YouTube today after returning home from Athens where Ga Tech won the game against the Ga Bulldogs. It is pretty funny.

Kroger 11/29

My hubby made a quick trip to Kroger this morning to grab some snack food for the Ga-Ga Tech game. I ask him to stroll through the meat department to see if there were any markdown. He got 5 fresh Perdue turkey breasts for $0.49/lb!

1 @ 5.65lb $2.77 (originally $16.89)
1 @ 5.67lb $2.78 (originally $16.95)
1 @ 5.81lb $2.83 (originally $17.37)
1 @ 6.32lb $3.10 (originally $18.10)
1 @ 6.70lb $3.28 (originally $20.03)

Total OOP $14.76 (originally $90.14)


And Congratulations Ga Tech! Ga Tech 45 Georgia 42!!

CVS Thanksgiving Night

On the way home from a family gathering Thanksgiving night, I stopped at a local CVS to take advantage of the great free after ECB items. I was starting from zero--no ECBs, so I have a large OOP. But, I got some really good deals.


1 Hershey's bar $1
... received $1 ECB
1 Aussie shampoo $2.99
...- $1 MQ
... received $2.99 ECB ($1 money maker)
1 Aussie conditioner $2.99
...- $1 MQ
... received $2.99 ECB ($1 money maker)
2 Playtex tampons $3.99 ea
...- 2 $1 MQ
...received $6 ECB (FREE)
1 Johnson lotion $5.69
...- $1 MQ
...-received $5.69 ECB ($1 money maker)
1 Shick Quattro razor $7.99
... - $2 MQ
...received $7.99 ECB
2 Colgate toothpastes $2.99 ea
...- 2 $1.50 printable MQ
... received $5.98 ECB
1 Mineral makeup $8.99
...- $3 MQ
...received $8.99 ECB
1 Eucerine redness relief facial moisturizer $7.50 (clearanced)
...- $4 MQ
1 Neutragena foaming face wash $4 (clearanced)
3 Gatorade drinks $1.49 ea
...received $4.47 ECB
1 Covergirl smoothers makeup $7.99
...- $1 MQ
...received $7.99 ECB
1 Covergirl pressed powder $5.99
...- $1 MQ
... received $5.99
1 L'Oreal lip gloss
...- $1 MQ
...received $6.99 ECB

Minus $10/$50 CVS coupon
Minus $4/$20 CVS Beauty coupon

Total OOP $51.00

Received $57.00 (approx) ECBs


1 Norelco electric razor
...Half price sale $28.99
...- $20 MQ
...- $7.99 ECB
...- $1 ECB

Total OOP $1.40

Nice. That is all the after Thanksgiving shopping I will be doing!

To see other great deals check out Money Saving Mom and Super Savings Saturday.

Also, go look at The Centsible Sawyer's CVS Superstars.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dave Ramsey $10 sale

Dave Ramsey is having a Thanksgiving Sale. All of his books and lots of CD's and DVD's are $10 each. They make great Christmas gifts. If you have read about our "get out of debt journey", you know we have done it by following God's way of dealing with money.
If you don't know our story, go HERE to read about our Financial Shape 2008.

Dave teaches the plan in a very relavant and practical manner. I highly recommend
The Total Money Makeover.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Menu Plan Monday 11/24

Well, here it is--Thanksgiving week! Yay! I am looking forward to working only Monday and Tuesday and having the rest of the week off to spend with family. I am trying to keep most days simple, since there are a lot of things to cook on Thursday. I also have to watch my son in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Hot dogs
baked beans

leftovers or

spaghetti sauce and noodles

I am making :
Stuffed Mushrooms
Cornbread Dressing
Macaroni and Cheese
Blueberry Crunch



Pork and rice
steamed veggies

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blueberry Crunch

Here is a great and easy recipe. Take it to Thanksgiving Dinner and everyone will rave over it. Don't let them know how easy it is to make.

Blueberry Crunch

Butter a 9x 13 baking dish. Spread the following in layers in this order:

1 (20 oz) can undrained, crushed pineapple
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar (optional) - we skip this
1 box yellow cake mix (dry from box)
2 sticks melted margarine or butter
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar, sprinkled over the top of the layers
(again, optional, we don't add this)

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until it tests done and is brown on the top. If the berries are still frozen when put in the baking dish, the baking time will be increased.
Last step, Enjoy!

Head over to Mommy Stays Home and check out more recipes or, better yet, post your favorite recipe on Recipe Thursday.

Also, check Money Saving Mom for lot of Thanksgiving on a Budget ideas!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free Home Heat...Interesting

Easy FREE Home Heat! - video powered by Metacafe

Making Pancakes by Candlelight

For some inexplicable reason, our power went out this evening. It was about 6:15 p.m. EST. The weather was perfectly clear and cold. My daughter was doing homework in her room, and I was at the stove cooking our dinner. Pancakes and sausage. After a brief stunned moment, I grabbed a lighter and my daughter and I found the candles and flashlights.

My pancakes and sausage continued to cook, since I have a gas stove. I managed to get enough light just in time to save the pancakes from burning. I continued cooking and the whole family ate pancakes and sausage by candlelight.

We then cleaned our kitchen by candlelight.

I needed to get a whole chicken on to cook for our dinner tomorrow night, so my hubby and I cleaned the chicken, chopped onion and celery and then got the chicken on to boil--all by candlelight.

The power finally came back on about 7:45 p.m. I am's gonna be cold tonight!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Never Thought We Would See This Again....

Here is something I didn't think we would ever see again--gas below $2/gallon. I have to say I am thankful for $1.82/gallon! What a difference it makes in our budget, considering I have a long work commute.

Menu Plan Monday 11/17/08

I need to keep this quick and simple tonight. My breakfast and lunch menus are practically the same as past weeks', so here are my dinner plans.


Chicken Stew
steamed veggie

Crockpot wings
steamed veggie

Pork chops in crock pot
steamed veggie

Grilled chicken breasts
steamed veggie

sausage or bacon

Chicken and rice
steamed veggie

I have lots of Steamers veggies and Betty crocker potatoes, so those are sides most every night. I need to keep using from my pantry.

Have a great week!

Walgreens 11/16

I went to Walmart today with my son to buy him a few clothing items. He is leaving Sunday to travel to New York with his marching band--Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Marching Band. The Tech marching band is going to be in The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We bought him some thermals, and a few other clothing items.

Be sure to look for my son while you are watching the parade Thanksgiving Morning!!
Hi Tommy!

On the way home we stopped at Walgreens. My son needed Benadryl and Blistex to take on the trip, and I stocked up on the cheese that was on sale.

Here is the transaction:

4 -- 8 0z. Deerfield Farms shredded cheddar cheese 2 for $3 ($6 total)
3 -- Blistex medex lip balm $0.99 ea
...- 2 $0.25 MQ
2 -- Benadryl 24 ct. $3.99 ea
...- 2 $1 MQ

Total OOP $16.21

Be sure to visit Money Saving Mom and check out other deals on Super Savings Saturday.

Also, go look at The Centisble Sawyer and check out Drug Store Divas for more money saving ideas.

Kroger 11/16

I went to Kroger for some regular "non-coupon" items. I found a few good deals and my e-coupons and cell-fire Qs helped a little.

1 Cottonelle $0.99
...- $0.50 MQ
...- $0.50 cellfire Q (FREE)
2 gallons milk $3.28 ea
1 lb bananas $0.58
1.66 lb pears $1.66
2 1 lb bags mini carrots $1 ea (sign said $0.79 ea)
...- went to customer service and told them about error got both FREE!)
1 bag onions $2.49
...- $1 fresh veg Kroger Q ($1.49)
1 2-pk duracell batteries $1
...- $1 Kroger
...- $0.50 e-saver Q (FREE + overage)
5 packages of markdown ground chuck
... $2.62, $2.43, $2.50, $2.82. $2.87
2 loaves Kroger bread mark down $0.59 ea
1 pkg Kroger honey ham lunch meat $3
...-$0.45 Kroger Q
1 64 oz. OJ $2.99
2 Pert Plus Dandruff shampoo $2 ea
...- $2 MQ
...-$2 Kroger Q (FREE)
2 Herbal Essence products (shampoo & conditioner) $2.49 ea
...- $2/2 MQ
...- $2/2 e-saver Q P&G
1 French's Worcestershire sauce $1.49
...- Free Worcestershire sauce Q *(FREE)
1 56 oz. Private Selection ice cream $3.33
...- Free 56 oz. PS ice cream Q (FREE)

Total OOP $36.51 44% savings. Pretty good for so much meat and produce.

This total goes over my weekly budget of $35 by $1.61. Combined that with my CVS trip this morning and I am over budget by $10.80. I may still make a trip to Walgreens for the cheese deal that Money Saving Mom posted about HERE. She has compared that price to the lowest she has found at Aldis and says it is a good time to stock up. I need cheese for making homemade macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving. Sometimes, you just have to bend the budget a bit.

So total spent this month so far for groceries and household products is $115.80. Still on track to be well below my lowest month of the year which was about $330. I have budgeted $40 for next week.

Check out Money Saving Mom and see Super Savings Saturday.

CVS 11/16

I went to CVS Sunday morning to grab a couple of deals. I had ECBs expiring this week. None of my transactions were spectacular but here they are:

Transaction 1:

4 Glade air fresheners 2/$5--$10
...- 2 B1G1 MQ
...- $3.99 ECB

Total OOO $1.43
Received $5 EBC

Transaction 2

1 Loreal Age Perfect Tinted Moisturizer $15.99
...- $1 MQ
...- $6.98 ECB
...- $5 ECB (from 1st transaction)
...- $1.69 ECB

Total OOP $1.48
Received $15.99 ECB

Transaction 3

I was really hoping to find the tearpad $5/2 coupon that I read about on MSM, but my CVS manager said she hasn't see them. I only had three MQ for Duracell, but I decided it was still a pretty good deal for batteries since we will be needing lots this time of year.

4 pks 8 ct Duracell batteries $5.99 ea
...- 3 $0.75 MQ
...- $15.99 ECB (from transaction 2)

Total OOP $6.28 (ouch!)
Received $15 ECB

Saving those for Black Friday Sales!

My total OOP for today was $9.19. This will put me over my $35/week grocery budget for this week by about $9.

Check out Money Saving Mom and see how others did on Super Savings Saturday.

Then go over to The Centisible Sawyer and check out CVS Superstars.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Super Savings Saturday 11/15

I went out Saturday night for some last minute deals. I had $26.48 left to spend out of my $35/week goal. I made three stops. Here is how I did:


I specifically went to Target to get the Scrubbing Bubbles deal. They were out of the 1 bottle starter kit that was on sale for $14.99. There were two of the 2 bottle starter kits on the shelf, so I went to scan them and they rang up for $14.99 too! Yea!!! Here is my deal:

2 Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Cleaner kits $14.99 ea
...- 2 $10.00 printable MQ
...-2 $3.00 Target Q ($3.98 for 2 kits!)
4 Muir Glen tomato paste $1.09 ea
...- 4 $1 printable MQ

Total OOP $4.34 plus tax!

Rite Aid

Okay, I know this is a weird transaction, but I am very brand loyal when it comes to ketchup. I have to have Heinz. I rarely see Heinz coupons, but Rite Aid had a sale this week so I zipped in for my ketchup.

2 Heinz ketchup $1.99 ea

Total OOP $4.10


I just had to go back to Kroger for the terrific Mega Event deals. The prices I am showing are after the Mega event deduction:

2 Land o Lakes butter $2.00
...- 2 $0.55 MQ ($1.45 ea)
6 Carnation evaporated milk $$0.50 ea
...- 3 $1/2 MQ (FREE)
1 Pam cooking spray $2
... thought I had a cell fire Q :-(
3 Viva paper towels $1.50
...- 3 $1 MQ ($0.50 ea)
3 Betty Crocker potatoes $1 ea
...- 3 $0.80 MQ ($0.20 ea)
2 Deer Park 3L water $0.50 ea
...- 1 $1/2 MQ (FREE)
2 Scotch brite sponges $0.50 ea
...- 1 $1/2 MQ (FREE)
2 Scotch Brite nail saver sponges $1.50 ea
...- 2 $1 ea ($0.50 ea)
2 Domino 5# sugar $2.00 ea
...- 2 $0.70 MQ ($1.30 ea)
2 Toaster Strudel $1.50 ea
..- 2 $1 MQ ($0.50 ea)
1 Kroger light syrup $1.00

Total OOP $17.57 75% savings.

So total OOP for the week $27.77. I went over budget by$1.29. Not too bad.

To see how more folks did this week, visit Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Habitat for Humanity Restore

My friend, Lorrie, over at Mommy Stays Home, recently posted a great article on Struggling with Contentment. In this post she shows some of her home renovations and struggles with really wanting to finish other projects, but needed to get out of debt. I suggested to her that she check and see if there are any Habitat for Humanity ReStores in her area.

The Restores carry items that were donated but not used on Habitat builds. It varies on what you can get, but my sister has had good luck with tile.

So go and see if you have a Habitat ReStore in your area. It might be worth a trip.

Financial Shape 2008

I was inspired by Crystal at Money Saving Mom to post about our financial goals and accomplishment from this year. I have to admit that the idea of actually writing this down and posting it on the internet for the whole world and our families to see was a little scary! But, I think it is really important to be authentic about what we have been through, and I hope that some of you are inspired to embark on your own debt free journey.

First, I have to give you some background so you can understand how far we have come. In 2002, my husband was working as a retail manager with a very large big box store. He was nearing 10 years with that company, and the lifestyle was brutal. My husband worked long hours, most every weekend, and all holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas were a time that he just worked harder, not a time to enjoy God's Blessings or family time. I had taken a job as a nurse-manager and received a small raise, so I suggested that my husband quit the retail job and go back to school to become a teacher. He graduated May 2005 and began his career--with a whopping $28K in student loan debt!

Well, we didn't really worry too much about that, because he went to work in a low-income school and his concentration was in a high need area (math and science), so he would qualify for student loan forgiveness if he stays at that school for five years. All good, right?

Meantime, we really hadn't adjusted our lifestyle to one income. Also, I was working crazy hard and crazy hours in my management job. As a result, we ran up credit card debt.

Then, we decided that my husband really needed to get his Master's degree to be the most successful in his career. How did we pay for that? You guessed it...more student loan debt. ($8K)

By December 2006, we had the following debts:

Credit cards $25,000
Student Loan #1 $28,000
Student Loan #2 $8,600

I was starting have nagging feelings of anxiety, but I would brush them away. Then, December 28, 2006 at about 4:40 in the afternoon, I received a panicked call from my husband. He and my daughter had been at the movies, and my daughter had a seizure. A pediatrician was in the theater and I could hear her trying to arouse my daughter while my husband talked to me on the phone. Paramedics arrive to get her to the hospital. I was trying desperately to get to them, but I work an hour away. That day, Atlanta traffic was horrible and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes. When I arrived at the hospital, my daughter was stable and about to be taken in for a CT scan. As a nurse, I had been thinking the worst the whole way there. We were about to find out if anything obvious in her brain had caused the seizure. Fortunately, we were allowed to be with her during the scan. We waited anxiously after the test, surrounded by family and church family praying. Good new--no tumor.

There is a lot more to that story...many specialist visits. After all the visits, my daughter was diagnosed with partial complex seizure disorder and she is well now and on meds.

By March 2007, the medical bills started rolling in, and I started to feel a real panic about our finances. I had been praying about what to do. I talked with Christian friends at work. I told my friends that many times I don't feel like I know when God is sending an answer to my prayers. I even said "I really wish God would just put a big billboard in front of me--Here Lisa, do this."

Not long after that, while sitting in Atlanta traffic, I noticed a billboard advertising a radio show new to Atlanta. The Dave Ramsey Show. The billboard said something about getting out of debt--I immediately tuned my radio to 640 WGST. I started listening to Dave everyday. It changed our lives! We started our Total Money Makover by April 2007, and we took Financial Peace University in the fall 2007.

I would like to say that it has been totally easy since starting our Total Money Makeover, but it hasn't. There have been a lot of sacrifices. Also, we had what Dave would call Murphy move in with us. I called it Satan, trying to derail our plans of following God's way with finances. Both my son and my husband had medical issues. My husband ended up having an emergency appendectomy one week after starting Financial Peace University. In fact, I was the only member in our family not to have a CT scan in 2007! We have a high deductible insurance plan, so we had more medical bills. We stayed on course and kept our Total Money Makeover going. We were able to cash flow all of those medical events because of the knowledge we gained from Dave Ramsey and God's way of dealing with money.

We were also able to cash flow all of my son's college tuition, books, and dorm expenses. In addition, we have had to purchase a new range, replace a dilapidated fence and repair a car.

Here is what we have paid off/cash-flowed since April 2007:

Credit cards $25,000
Medical bills $8,000 (includes braces for daughter)
College for son $15,000
Misc other: $3,000

Total paid approximately $51,000 in 18 months!

Plus, we have $3,400 in an emergency fund.

Here is the debt we have left:

Student loan #1 $24,000
Student loan #2 $8,200

Again, my husband is still working in the low-income school and should have the #1 loan forgiven May 2010. We are actually on target to pay off the small student loan by Feb, 2009.

We do have other goals beyond these, but we will write those down and I will do a post in December about all of our 2009 goals.

Hint: I really want to come home or at the very least only work part-time....

Check out Crystal's blog and see more on Financial Shape 2008.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy 75th Birthday, Jim!

Sunday evening we met up with my husband Tom's family to celebrate his dad's 75th birthday. The ladies sang Happy Birthday accompanied by a drum and tambourine. (Hey, who's that good looking guy on the right? Oh yea, it's my hubby!)

Here is my father-in-law (Birthday boy) and mother-in-law.

The chef kept us entertained and the meal was really quite good.

Here is my shy girl with a couple of her cousins.

We had a great time, even if we did blow the budget. This expense counts in the entertainment budget--I think we have had all the "entertainment" we can afford for a while!