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Saturday, 28 January 2012

No (Low) Spend and Pantry Challenge- Week 4 Update & A New challenge


Geesh, can that title get any longer?!?!?
I know it's not the end of January, but I'm ending the January Challenge today and starting a new one (more on that in a minute)

So this is what I started my week with:

Clothing - $80
Gifts/Entertainment - $40
Misc. - $25.70
Groceries - $100

The Clothing remains the same as I'm still waiting to buy Sydney's new winter coat next weekend.  (In case you are wondering, she's got a nice warm coat, however I noticed a small tear on the side, so I figure I'd buy her new one at the end of this winter season).

Last weekend was my nephews second birthday so I used the gifts/entertainment money for his gift as well as for gas to get to Hamilton.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

No (Low) Spend and Pantry Challenge- Week 3 Update

Hey there!

So this week I started off with $215.57. I'm letting the clothing envelope get higher because Sydney needs a new winter coat and I'm waiting for a big sale for North by NorthWest in early February.

These were my categories:

Clothing - $60
Gifts/Entertainment - $20
Misc. - $35.57
Groceries - $100

Last weekend I went to No Frills and spent $120.87 and then I popped into Walmart Supercentre and grabbed 2 large blocks of cheese for a total of 9.00. So my total for groceries were $129.87!!  Yikes!  In case you are wondering, I took the extra $29.87 from Miscellaneous spending.  I either need to stop borrowing from Miscellaneous envelope, or my grocery budgeted amount needs to be increased to $125 to even things out.  My guess is that I will increase grocery to $125 come February.  I am also considering challenging myself to only shop for groceries ever two weeks and on the off weeks just get milk and other perishables.  So the first week I would spend $200 and then I would spend $50 on the second week. Any one else do that?   

What I did right this week:

1. I menu planned. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but menu planning is really working for me!! Knowing what you are going to be serving every night is a huge money/budget saver, not to mentioned headache saver!!
2. Look for Free Entertainment.   Anthony spent the weekend with Grannie for some Grannie-Anthony time. Hubby took Sydney to work out with him at the gym on Saturday and I took Haley with me "to work" with me on Saturday and Sunday.  I started my painting project at Hubby's office building and she tagged along and helped when I needed her to.  We kept ourselves busy all weekend and spent no money from entertainment envelope! the kids had no school yesterday so we toboggonned for two hours at a nearby hill. i went down the hill twice and i thought i was going to die. i don't like heights or speed.

Going into the fourth and LAST WEEK, I have another $160 to work with and adding another $125 to emergency fund for a total of $600! I can't I believe I did it!  I really did it!

Here is what my envelopes look like:

Clothing - $80
Gifts/Entertainment - $40
Misc. - $25.70
Groceries - $100

Tonight we will celebrating hubby's birthday!  (I normally don't cook on Saturday's but I'm making an exception tonight).  Not sure yet what I'm making! I will also pick up a cake from Marble Slab Creamery (I have $30 gift certificate) and inviting his mom and brother and wife for coffee/tea dessert!  I also need to pick up groceries. And tomorrow we are going to my nephew's birthday party.

Be sure to check out how others are doing with their No (low) Spend and  Pantry Challenge this week.

So, how did you do?  

Monday, 16 January 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Pantry Challenge Week 3

I have to admit we stuck to almost all of our plans last week.  We had a couple of changes of what we ate on which days.
For example, Monday was a beautiful warm day, so instead of making the breaded cutlets, I fired up the BBQ and grilled the chicken. And on Thursday, we had leftovers, so we had the perogies on Friday, and pizza on Saturday along with more leftovers through out the day.

Breakfast: Choice of cereal, bagels, Smoothies, Pancakes (in freezer)

Lunch: leftovers as available, Tuna sandwiches, Egg Sandwiches, etc


Sunday - Potatoe - Leek soup with diced Ham. I also make a home made pizza on Sundays so that we have options for lunches for the week.

Monday:  Home made Mac & Cheese, Caesar Salad

Tuesday:   Meatballs with BBQ sauce and cranberry sauce, rice and side salad

Wednesday:   Curry Chicken over rice

Thursday:   Chilli, salad

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit)

Saturday: Usually it's Cook's day off (for me) but Sunday is Hubby's birthday and since we are at my nephew's party, I will make a special dinner.  Not sure what yet, maybe an Enchilada Casserole I have in freezer.

So that's what I have planned for the week.

What are you eating this week?

For Menu Planning ideas check out Organizing Junkie's MPM.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

No (Low) Spend and Pantry Challenge- Week 2 Update

Really that button should say "I am going to spend all my money this week!  Seriously!"

So I like I said last week, I didn't expect this week to be a No Spend week and it wasn't.

We needed groceries... desperately.  I went to Costco and spend $69.43 and No Frills and spend $33.66. Total for Groceries was $103.09. I took me over my $100 limit, so I cheated and borrowed from Misc. spending envelopes.  Then I went out midweek again and spent another $15.65 which I used from miscellaneous spending again. I also bought a sample can of paint for Hubby's company for a paint project that I was bidding on.  (And by the way, my bid was actually accepted, and I'll be starting the work this weekend. Which means I will have an extra $500-600 to add to my Emergency Fund. Can I get a whoot whoot!!??!)

What I did right this week:

1. I menu planned. Knowing what you are going to be serving every night is a huge money/budget saver.
2. Look for Free Entertainment. I love to scrapbook and have been doing it for about 8 years or so. Although this is not a cheap hobby in itself, I do have a large stash of products that I can use right now and not spend any money (for awhile). My neighbor who is just starting out in scrapbooking came over last weekend and we scrapped for a few hours and had lots of fun, just chatting.  Meanwhile, Haley was at Grannie's for some Haley-Grannie time all weekend, Anthony was at the neighbours for playtime and Sydney and hubby went to the gym and worked out.  (And not so Free: Hubby took Anthony and Sydney to see The Adventures of  Tin-Tin and spend our allotted Entertainment money. They chose to go to Rainbow Theatres which are cheaper than the Cineplex Theathres.)  The remainder of the week we were busy with school, and after school activities and other important things to spend any other money (that we didn't have anyways).

So here is what our envelopes look like: 

Week 1 - $160 - $60 left in envelopes, $100 into Emergency Fund

Week 2
Clothing - $40
Gifts/Entertainment - $0
Misc. - $15.57
groceries - $0

Going into week 3 I have another $160 to work with (same categories as above!) and $475 in my Emergency Fund.

Clothing - $60
Gifts/Entertainment - $20
Misc. - $35.57
groceries - $100

This coming week, I have hubby's and my nephew's birthday next weekend. 
Hubby has said he doesn't want anything, so I might use a $30 gift certificate that we got for Christmas to the Marble Slab Creamery and splurge and get an ice cream cake for us.  For my nephew, my sister wants books and training underwear.  Easy Peasy!

So that's it for now.  

Be sure to check out how others are doing with their No (low) Spend and  Pantry Challenge this week.

How did you do this week?  Any money left?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

I'm not sure I'm ready for this...

Last night, Sydney, hubby and I attended the Grade 8 Open House at the highschool that she is considering attending.  She's choosing between two schools: a nearby Catholic Highschool and a downtown Arts & Technology focused school.  Although she has been going to a French Immersion school since Grade 1, she has decided not to continue into highschool, and hubby and I are OK with her decision.

Although I've been expecting this change since at least last June (when she finished Grade 7), I thought I still had some time.  I thought I had until at least June of this year to deal with my baby choosing the highschool that will ultimately prepared her for University/College that she will attend.

Last night, during the introduction into the school I found myself reminiscing about my own highschool experience.  I went to an all-girls Catholic Highschool that was about 100 years old at the time.  I wore a uniform (itchy wool kilt, white blouse, blue cardigan, blue socks/tights and patent leather shoes) for 5 years. There was no central air or student parking spots. Your choices for electives were Drama, Art, and music.  You could also choose from typing, shorthand and Home Economics classes.  There was a "boys school" about 2 or 3 blocks down the road, and some girls took shop class or graphing classes over there. I never did. I loved the arts, so I stuck with the arts. Although at the time I didn't think so,  my school was a very traditional school.  It was 1985 and computers were not common place yet.  I had my Texas Instrument calculator and typewriter that I bought with my own money working on a farm picking berries the previous summer.

Now, these kids can choose from Theatre arts and Arts Technology. There are photography classes, media classes, wood shop,  food and Nutrition, Business Classes, journalism, and a whole bunch more I can't even remember right now.  These kids are designing computer games and programs.  There was even an elective for Yearbook.  Back in my day, yearbook was a couple of girls that got together after school for a couple of months and worked on the yearbook; it was a club not a credited class.

After the visit to the highschool, Sydney asked if I would help her choose the classes for grade 9.  How am I supposed to advise Sydney on how to choose what classes to take, when this all so different from when I went to school? I took a look at her course selections and there are soooo many.  Mind you, for Grade 9 they are limited to "intro to" classes for which in the intermediate and senior classes they can actually take more intensive and focused courses.  One of the teachers made a good point, taking  an "intro to" class, will help the student define what you actually enjoy.  But there are so many choices and you can only choose two!  Aaackkk.

I'm very nervous about all of this.  I don't know that my own mother was as nervous about me as I am about Sydney. I'm sure she was, I just don't remember it.  When I think back, I never attended the grade 8 Open House for my highschool.  If I remember correctly, my parents were working and I was babysitting my brother and sister that night.  I didn't have a choice for which high school to attend.  My elementary school was the feeder school for the highschool I went to and besides, all my friends were going there too. So why wouldn't I? I think for my grade 9 courses, I picked all my requisites and my two electives were Drama and gym.  I hated gym and knew I needed the credit to graduate so I got it over with in the first semester.  I was so un-coordinated that I ended up in the emergency room after playing soccer in the gym one day.  Some how, I tripped and fell backward and knocked myself unconscious and had a nose bleed for a week.  And that's why I took Drama and visual arts electives for the remainder of high school.  (It's Ok you can laugh.)

Sydney loves visual arts and drama and she is very good at it.  She is also a very compassionate and caring girl and I think she will do well in this Catholic school.  We still have to visit the downtown Arts and Technology school  (which is not in a great part of town). It seems every time I drive by there are police cars in the parking lot, and not just one or two on coffee break, but a bunch of them.  Ultimately it is her decision, although we will guide her as best we can on her final decision. After all she is only 13 and making a life changing decision.

Her application and course selections have to be handed in by February 16th.  That is just a little over a month away. My head hurts just thinking about this.

Have you had to guide your child in choosing highschool and courses? What is the best advice you can give this struggling nervous mom?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Great House Project List of 2012

I think I've mentioned (a few times) that we have several large expenses coming up in the next few months, but I haven't actually said what they were.  Well, it seems that January is planning month for me.  I've worked out my budget and now I've worked my house project list for 2012.  The items on our NEED list will have to get done this year.  Top priority! And they are not fun items either. :(
I'm not sure everything on my wish list will get done (because I still want to have a life), but then again it is a "wish list".
So here it is!


1.  New pool Liner (estimate of $6,500), possibly a new salt water generator ($2,500)
2.  New Windows (master bedroom, ensuite bath, kids beddooms) estimate cost $5,000
3.  New toilets master ensuite and kids/spare bathroom
4. Declutter the entire house!!!


First Floor


1. artwork
2. coat closet doors
3. remove carpet from stairs/refinish stairs

Powder Room

1. New colour for walls (I have to sand the walls first)
2. New light fixture
3. New towel Bar
4. Change light switches/electrical panel
5. New door
6. Change hinges on cabinet doors
7. artwork/accessories

Living Room/Dining Room

1. new curtains


1. organize
2. add electrical panel in small pantry (for charging station)
3. declutter drawers/shelves
4. organize desk
5. touch up paint chips on walls/paint trim

Family Room

1. Artwork
2. New area rug
3. Organize New built-in cabinets
4. Lamps
5. figure out what to do about fireplace (gas insert is out of budget)

Laundry Room
1. Paint
2. Counter on washer/dryer
3. organization
4. Hooks for coats
5. Art


1. Artwork
2. Built-ins for Media/Rec room
3. Organize office/Scrap room area

Second Floor

Master Bedroom

1. choose new paint colour/ colour scheme
2. a bed (our matress and box spring currently sits on the floor)
3. artwork
4. sidetables (do I paint existing or look for new)
5. New comforter/duvet/bedsheets/pillows

Ensuite Bath

- other than toilet, I'm saving for a complete reno for this room in 2013

Anthony's Room

1. new paint/colour scheme
2. bookcase/shelves
3. artwork
4. curtains
5. closet door

Sydney's Room

1. new colour scheme/paint
2. New bed (do I paint existing or look for new)
3. New comforter/duvet/bedsheets/pillows
4. artwork
5. New dresser (do I paint/fix existing or look for new)
6. organize closet
7. curtains

Haley's Room

1. new colour scheme/paint
2. New bed (do I paint existing or look for new)
3. New comforter/duvet/bedsheets/pillows
4. artwork
5. New dresser (do I paint/fix existing or look for new)
6. organize closet
7. curtains
8. New Closet doors

Kids/Spare Bathroom

1. New Paint Colour
2. artwork/accesories
3. organizing
4. Frame mirror
5. Change light switches/electrical panel

So that's what I will be doing at some point this year.  I will update the links as I complete any projects.  I haven't up with a budget for each room yet, but once I do I will post it along with pictures of how the room looks like now.  So we can all oooh and aaahh as I complete projects.  I will attempt to most of the work myself on the "wish list" but I will outsource the work on the "Need list" because I have no idea how do replace windows or replace pool liners.  I will also attempt to re-use as much as I possibly can or source out from Goodwill,Habitat for Humanity or Kijiji.  That should save me a few dollars.

Do you have any projects going on this year?  Anything on your list that is not fun but needs to be done?

I'm linking up with the Nester home Goals party.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Menu Plan Monday - Pantry Challenge Week 2

Last week was hard, really hard, the kids were always hungry and I hadn't planned very well for lunches.  I found myself scrounging for food in the freezer/pantry so I could stick to my Menu Plan for the week. But I got through it and improvised where I needed to, which is what this challenge is all about.

I'm hoping this week will be easier.

Breakfast: Choice of cereal, bagels, Smoothies, Pancakes (in freezer)

Lunch: leftovers as available, Tuna sandwiches, Beef sandwiches from Sunday's roast


Sunday: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, veggie. I also make a home made pizza on Sundays so that we have options for lunches for the week.

Monday: Chicken Cutlets, Rice pilaf, salad

Tuesday: Beef Barley Soup (using leftover Beef from Sunday, I will put aside (hide) in the freezer for this meal) and will substitute Spinach for cabbage (kids don't like cabbage for some reason)

Wednesday: Beef Stew, home made rolls

Thursday: Perogies and salad

Friday: Pizza, salad (sometimes I make Panzerotti or Pizza Roll ups, depends on my mood.)

Saturday: Cook's day off (me). I'm hoping for leftovers or else we will be scrounging for food in the freezer again.

So that's what I have planned for the week. My Bread Machine will get quite the work out!

What are you eating this week?

For Menu Planning ideas check out Organizing Junkie's MPM.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

No (Low) Spend and Pantry Challenge- Week 1 Update

Well I've made it through the first week of my personal No (Low) Spend and Pantry Challenge.
Although our fridge was fully stocked on the weekend, we went through food pretty fast.  The kids have been home all week and we had a lot of snow come down this week, which meant a lot of playing in the snow, tobogganing and burning energy, which made them hungrier.  It seemed they were asking for food every couple of minutes.  I had planned for leftover for lunches, but that didn't go very far.  Hubby usually took a leftovers container for lunch everyday, so that meant I had to come up with something for the kids.  I found a container in the freezer of lasagna, a can of Alphaghetti in pantry (not sure who bought it), some other frozen leftovers and made a chicken noodle soup with leftover chicken from Mondays dinner.   Thursday was supposed to be leftovers soup and well... there weren't any! So we had breakfast for dinner.  We had lots of eggs and unopened package of bacon, so we had Egg/Bacon sandwiches for dinner. We stuck with the plan for the remainder of the dinners. All in all, I didn't plan very well for lunches but I made do. There is no pizza left over from last night today, so I have to come up with something because today is leftovers night. hmmm.... Minestrone? I have a container of ground beef and tomatoe sauce in freezer and lots of veggies in fridge and beans in pantry... yeap that sounds good to me.

What I did right this week:

1. We stayed out of stores! If you don't go into a store you are not tempted to spend right? I don't like dragging the kids to the stores so this was an easy one.

2. We opted for Free entertainment!  With the snowfall the kids spend their days frolicking in the snow.  I took the older two to the library and they picked up books and movies.  Friday night was Family Swim night at our health Club so we took the kids there (Sydney and I worked out on elliptical and treadmill for an hour while watching t.v.) Although we pay our monthly membership fee I still consider it Free because I had already budgetted for it and didn't spend any extra cash (hubby's work re-imburses us 50% of cost).

3. We stuck to our menu plan! Although I didn't plan very well for lunches, we still ate well without ordering take out or going out to eat. So that is a big bonus for us.

4. I cleaned and organized! Everything looks better when it's cleaned and organized!

5. Hubby and I are both committed to spending less this year to save for certain large expenses this year (I'll be posting my big House Project list next week). It helps when both heads of the household are on the same page.

So here is what our envelopes look like:

I started off with $160 for the week.
  • $100 - groceries 
  • $20 - Gifts/entertainment
  • $20- Clothing
  • $20 - Misc.

Because my mom paid for my groceries last week, I had an extra $100, so I've decided to move the money to Emergency Fund in addition to the initial planned $125. So I should have $600 at the end of my challenge (if all goes well).
I didn't spend any gifts/entertainment or clothing  or Misc.,  so that gets left in the vaults, errr.... envelopes. Yay. So it was a NO SPEND WEEK!!

Going into the second week I have another $160 to work with (same categories as above!) and $225 in my Emergency Fund.

I don't think going into the second week I will have the same luck.  I need groceries, to pick up a sample can of paint for a possible paying job at hubby's work, and get Anthony's haircut (I hadn't budgeted for this). I'll use the Misc money to pay for those two items and I'll be re-imbursed for the paint. Also, the kids are back in school so it will be a challenge to keep me out of stores!

How did you do this week?  What were some of the things you did right/wrong?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How to Organize your Pantry (without spending a penny)

Our kitchen has two food storage areas (pantry and a kitchen cabinet) and also corner cabinet for spices.  Generally speaking I try to keep both areas fairly organized.

Although with the hustle and bustle of Christmas, hosting three parties (my birthday & Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and having my parents stay with us for 7 days, both areas became a little  very disorganized.

Since I'm in the midst of a No Spend/Pantry Challenge going out to buy pretty organization items was out of the question, so I decided to make do with what I had.

I started with the smaller cabinet. 

FIRST STEP: Empty and wipe down the shelves and doors.

I just put all of the items on the island in front of cabinet.

Second Step: Then I went through every single item and each item had to meet certain criteria:
  1. What is the expiry date?
  2. Does it belong in this cabinet  
  3. Will we actually consume it?
(I'm happy to report that there was nothing expired, and only a few things that will end up at the food bank)

Here it is now! All cleaned and organized.
 (I even labeled the picture so my hubby you can see where I put things.)

Because I moved many things to the other pantry, I now have one empty shelf.

I'm thinking I might move everything up one shelf and use that bottom shelf as electronics recharging station/mail/miscellaneous-get-it-off-my-counter-top area.  There is an outlet in there (which is covered up) from when we had the fridge in that area in the old kitchen. 
What do you think of that idea?

Oh, and while I was at it, I cleaned and organized the bottom part of that cabinet too. 
Nothing major in there, just some casserole dishes, covered glass dishes and the kids school lunch bags.

Next came the Bigger pantry. 
 I used the same steps as above (except I didn't have to clean the wire shelves). 
I scrubbed the doors really good , and now I need to touch up the paint. 
(I added it to my House project list, which I'll share with you soon.)

And here it is all organized (with clean doors and floor)

The very top shelf holds the popcorn basket.
Hubby and the kids pop their own popcorn and add different seasonings.
(I recently realized that I have allergy to popcorn because I feel physically sick every time I have any)
Beside the popcorn basket, is candy (away from small hands) and granola bars. 
Chips go up here too. (we have none in the house right now, because I rarely buy them) 
The next two shelves are self-explanatory. :)
On the very bottom (the floor) I keep my cat food, bread maker and the kids Playdoh box.
Once this no-spend month is over, I'll be looking for a solution for the potatoe/onion container.
(you can see it on the pasta/rice shelf).  Any suggestions?

The last area that needed organizing was the spice cabinet.  And yes, I have alot of spices, because I like to make all my meals from scratch (no prepackaged/frozen dinners in this house).

I followed the same steps as for the other two areas.



The red container on the second shelf holds all the spices that comes in bags.  I put the spice bag in a Ziploc sandwich bag to keep it fresh/contain the mess.
I also made a note of the spices I'm running low on and need to pick up. The bag of chili was completely empty... it had completely spilled inside the red container (what a waste), which explains the Ziploc bags. 
I put the Sea salt in a plastic storage container because the lippy thinga-ma-jig on the box broke/disappeared.
I moved the gravy boat, extra mugs and put them in another cabinet with the rest of our dishes.

Here is a final picture of the corner spice cabinet beside the stove, all cleaned and organized.

 It feels soooo good, to have everything back in order and clean! And I know it will stay like this because I'm the only one that cooks around here!

So that's how I organized my pantry without spending a penny.  One way I could have made it even better would have been to get out my labeler and put labels everywhere, but I didn't.  And now that I wrote it, I'll probably do it soon.  So that next Christmas, my mom knows where to put things, although it would have to be in Portuguese because she can't read English and the kids can't read Portuguese, so forget that idea.  ha ha 

Have you organized your Pantry/food areas recently?
What ways have you found to be the best to keep everything organized?
And what can I do about the potatoes/onion containers?

I'm linking up with Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Book Review: The Room

Hey there,

I had a completely different post scheduled for today, but I just had to tell you about the book I just finished reading.  It was a gift from my mother-in-law this Christmas.  My neighbours were raving about it one day and I had mentioned to her that I needed to look for it at the library.  So she went and bought it for me for Christmas.  Isn't that sweet?

Anyways... the title is The Room by Emma Donahue.  I had never read anything else by this author, but I was intrigued because she lives in London, Ontario.


I started reading it at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 1st and I turned off my night light at 3:15 a.m. (cause my yawning was annoying me).  Then I tossed and turned and thought about turning on the light again, but I must of fallen asleep at some point.  I woke up at 8:15 a.m. and my first thoughts were "I must read the book!"  I managed to hold myself off until about 11:30 or so.  Then, I couldn't wait any longer.  I ended up putting it down again about 1 hour later and didn't go back to finish it until after dinner yesterday.  It was THAT good!  Thank goodness hubby didn't work yesterday and fed entertained the kids.

The storyline is about a woman and a 5 year old boy who live in a shed (dungeon) and are being held captive by crazy man.  It's written from the voice of the 5 year old boy, in a way that it's as if he is talking to you.  At certain points I felt my heart beat racing and even tears came to my eyes.  I'm not sure if the reason this book captivated me so much is because I'm the mother of a 5 year old boy.

It's not based on true facts; however, I seem to remember hearing on the news about a year ago, about a woman that was kidnapped as a teenager and had lived in a shed (or was it basement) for many years and somehow got away.

If you are looking for something good to read, this is  might be the book for you. I loved  the Room. (affilate link)

(Disclaimer:  I always recommend checking the library first, but if you have any Swagbucks points and want to order from Amazon, the book link is on the right side under "Books I've Read" and paragraph above. Thanks.)

 Now I'm on the hunt for a new book.  Any recommendations?

Monday, 2 January 2012

No (Low) Spend & Pantry Challenge for January!


This month I've decided to join in on several challenges.  Go big or go home, right?

Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily is having a No (Low) Spend Challenge.

After last month's spending sprees, I thought it would be good to go back to the basics this month (and make it easier to pay off the credit card).

My financial goal this month is to have an Emergency Fund.  I've decided to start small... $500. ($125 per week).  It's not alot, but then again Rome wasn't built in a day.

I've looked at our income and expenses for the month and we have about $160 per week in variable expenses (or $320 until next pay).  This is what our envelopes are looking like for the 2 week period.
  • Groceries - $200
  • Gifts/entertainment - $40
  • Clothing - $40
  • Misc - $40
We have two family birthdays this month (my nephew and my hubby) so I'm hoping I can make the gifts/entertainment budget work.

The kids received alot of clothes as gifts for Christmas so they don't need any clothing right now.  Plus they also received several gift cards for Old Navy that they are saving to buy summer clothes.  I however, have left the Clothing amount at $40, because Sydney needs a new winter coat (the one she is wearing won't fit next year).  I'm saving up to buy a good one at the Western Fair North by Northwest Sale in early February. I probably will not need to buy her a new winter coat for several years so I don't mind spending the extra dollars now.

Here are some things that I  have budgeted for this month (these area already accounted for)
  • Gas money for hubby's car, and my car. (part of budget sheet) 
  • Spending money for hubby.  Many of his lunch meals are re-imbursed through his work, but I don't want him using the credit card or bank card and throwing my balances off. (part of budget sheet)
  • Both of our cars, need an oil-lube of and filter this month. (not in budget sheet, maybe I'll use misc $$)
  • We need to pay for Sydney's and Haley's Seikido lesson for January - June. - Saved in ING account
  • Make $50deposit for Sydney's Grade 8 graduation trip to Quebec City. (my parents have given her the money for deposit)
  • Register all three kids up for Soccer season. (I'm hoping I can hold off until next month, if not I'll use money I've saved in ING account specifically for this purpose)
  • Register all three kids for swiming lessons (I get giddy just thinking about warm weather - swimming lessons does that to me). (saved in ING account)
Ok, now on to the other challenge ---> the Pantry Challenge at Good Cheap Eats.

The key to success with this challenge is Menu Planning (something I have not been doing for awhile).

I took a gander at our pantry, fridge and freezer and it's looking good.  I should be able to stick to $100 for the week for a a family of 5 (and a cat) for the month of January.
(disclaimer: My parents were visiting from Portugal last week.  Last Friday, my mom wanted to tag along when I went grocery shopping.  My grocery bill came out to $93 and change.  When I went to pay the cashier the money that I had set aside in my envelopes for this week, my mom "pushed" me aside and said it was her "treat". So going into the New year I have a fridge full of food and an extra $100 in my food envelope. I love my mom! If I don't use the extra $100 to stock up on sales, I will move it into the Emergency Fund. yeah i know it's technically cheating, but that's what im doin anyways)

Here is what our Menu Plan looks like for the week of January 1st - 7th.  The kids are still home from school this week, so I'll be planning for leftovers for lunch or sandwiches (if they don't want leftovers). 

1. Sunday - Lunch: Chilli  & Dinner: Broccoli- Cheddar soup, salad
2. Monday - Roast Chicken, rice, salad
3. Tuesday - Sheppard's Pie
4. Wednesday - Pasta & Homemade sauce (from freezer)
5. Thursday - Leftovers Soup (whatever meat is in fridge and veggies in crisper)or grilled cheese sandwiches
6. Friday - Pizza
7. Saturday - Cook's night off!  (probably leftovers from the week)

I'll be back on Saturday to let you know how we do for the week.  Wish me luck!

Are you doing any challenge this month to pay off the credit card save money?

I'm linking up here:

My 1/2 Dozen Daily
Good Cheap Eats
Organizing Junkie MPM

Sunday, 1 January 2012

365 days

Happy New Year!

What did you do last night?  I was in bed by 9:30 p.m. Yeap I'm a party animal!

Every year on December 31st, I say that the next year I will do "x,y,z". And then I follow it up with "and this year it's gonna be different!  I'm gonna stick to my New Year's resolutions!  Yes I will!  Mark my words".

Ha ha!

I am laughing as I type those words.  Usually my resolutions last up until Valentine's Day.  Although I have to admit that my "new diet" of eliminating processed foods lasted most of the year in 2011 (on and off) and I did end up loosing about 25-30 pounds ( I gained a few back over the holidays).  So I'm pretty happy and proud that I stuck to that goal, and I feel better for doing it.

So what's  up with making New Year's resolutions anyway?

Why is it we do this to ourselves? It's like January 1st is a magical new beginning and for the next 365 days our lives will be sooo much different than the last 365 days. We all do it.  We make all of these resolutions and then a month later when we have abandoned them, we feel so let down, like we are not good enough.  Like we are not strong enough to stick to our goals.  It's like we have to do it, because everyone else is doing them.  If you make a "resolution" and 21 days later you have somehow "failed", guess what?  Don't wait until next January 1st.  Try again, when you feel it is right for you.  That's what I did with my "diet goals" last year, and it helped me.

So for 2012 instead of making a resolution I am going to choose a word (I read about it on this blog)

My personal word for 2012 is Discipline!

I know, it's the same word that Sarah picked, but discipline is the one thing that I'm lacking in my life.

I need more discipline in my financial budget, in my diet, with my time, in my life... period!

Today I'm going to spend some time and get my 2012 budget organized, look at my pantry and menu plan for the week, and look at my schedule and see where I can schedule in exercise.  For the most part, I'm taking it one week at time.

So what does the next 365 days look like for you?  Did you make a resolution or pick a word like I did?
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