As you may remember, about a week ago I started my savings plan. The plan was to save .50 every day in my can for 30 days. After the 30 days is up, I will deposit the funds into my Savings account. I have been sticking to the plan very well. I have actually been putting in more than .50 every day. I just empty out my change pocket in my wallet and dump whatever I have in there, which is always more than .50. This is simple and is not affecting my budget nor my fun. I am actually getting a little thrill out of watching my money pile up. I did splurge on one of those self counting banks. It was only $5.99 at Marshalls. You put the change in the slot and it tells you the denomination of the coin and then adds that amount to your running tally. Pretty awesome!
Tonight, I will deposit the amount that I saved by using coupons:
$10.00 BJ's membership coupon
$ 1.50 K-cups
$ 2.00 Scooby Fruit snacks
$ 2.00 Hershey Syrup
$ 1.50 Coffee Mate Creamer
$ 1.00 Cinnamon Butter
.55 Almond Breeze almond milk
I "liked" 5dollardinners.com on Facebook a while ago and thought the recipes they posted on FB sounded pretty damn tasty but I had not made any of them before this week. I also had not really surfed their site. Over the weekend I got an email from them with this weeks menu plan. I clicked on the link and was like, oh hell yeah, this will work for me and my family! All of the recipes on this week's plan sounded scrumptious and pretty much worked with my diet. (I made a few changes here and there to accommodate my needs). I decided to go with 4 of the 6 recipes that were suggested. I had many of the ingredients in my cabinets already, so I was off to a good start. Buying the ingredients I was missing plus whatever other items we needed for breakfasts, lunches and snacks, I spent $140.00 - That is a significant savings for me. I very rarely come away from the register dropping less that $250.00. And we are pretty much set for about 2 weeks with what I bought, I will have to buy milk and some produce over the next week, but I get produce pretty cheap from a small local store. These recipes were absolutely delicious and filling. My grocery bill may have been drastically cheaper but there was no skimping on flavor and no one was left feeling hungry.
I made the following:
Creamy Avocado Pasta
Slow Cooker Maple Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie French Toast
Everyone in the family LOVED everything that I made. My son was licking the bowl the night I served the Creamy Avocado Pasta. He had the whole bowl over his face :p
We had left overs two nights and London Broil was one sale BOGO this week so we will have that the other day.
I also discovered mint.com. This is a great site to help you get your finances together. I entered all of my bank accounts, credit cards accounts, 401k, etc and it automatically pulled up all of my account balances. All of my banking transactions come up as well. It dumps all of your transactions into buckets ie. Automobile expenses, Food, Home, Television, etc. Some of them were a little off so I just went in and corrected them, for instance it told me that I spent $70.00 at coffee shops. What now?? When I located those charges it was talking about I found the charges were actually for groceries. For some reason it pulls this one grocery store up as a coffee shop, haha! I actually only spent $2.53 at a coffee shop this month. I knew that I spent a lot on groceries, but when I saw exactly how much, I felt a little sick to my stomach. I spend approximately $500.00 +/- a month - just on groceries. That is disgusting! I'm not talking dining out, take out, delivery or anything. This is just food that I buy to cook for my family. Disturbing.
As I mentioned in a previous post, paying down my credit card debt is one of my current goals. My original plan was to pay more than the minimum payment. I decided how much extra I can apply toward my debt and was planning to sort of spread that money out over the credit cards each month, focusing on paying my highest debt first. A woman that I work with was telling me about the debt snowball method. This is when you pay down your credit card with the highest interest rate first by paying as much as you can on it while still paying your minimum payment on your other cards. Once the card with the highest interest rate is paid in full, take the amount that you were paying on that card and pay your next highest interest card with that money and pay the minimum payment on your other cards, so on and so on until all your credit card debt is paid off. When she was telling me, I thought it made sense and I was going to look into it more. Before I had a chance to look into it more I stumbled upon mint.com. There is a goal section, and one of them is "Pay off my credit card debt". It automatically grabs all of your credit card info - account names, balances, minimum payment. You just plug in your interest rate and how much total you can pay toward eliminating your debt each month. That's it! mint.com will then prioritize your accounts so that you are doing the "snowball method". This was exactly what my co-worker was talking about and I understood her but actually SEEING how quickly I can pay off my cards was exciting! My card with the highest interest rate has an approximate balance of about $430. My minimum payment is only $11.00. If I pay $142.00 a month to this credit card, it will be paid in full by February. This is $131.00 more than I am used to paying on my credit cards...but this is money that I spend elsewhere and typically have nothing to show for it or on groceries (that I will no longer be doing). If I follow through, I will be debt free by February 2013. Not bad at all, definitely a hell of a lot better than the projected payoff date of 2037 if I paid just my minimum payments. When I get my tax refund back, I will use a chunk of it to pay down my debt faster.
Doing all of this and "sacrificing" this extra cash every month will improve my credit score dramatically and we will be well on our way to buying our first home :)