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Archive for March, 2021

2020 Spending Update - Questions answered

March 31st, 2021 at 06:19 pm

I realized I never responded to people's questions about our 2020 spending.  So I decided I would do it now.  First off Disneysteve asked how did you spend $22k on travel in a lockdown year.  Well first off when we travel I do not breakdown eating out or gifts, etc.  Traveling is everything, everything we buy to prep to uber to eating out to gifts, anything and everything that is not because we are at home.

Jan $1200 - 2 ski trips 
Feb $1915 - Hawaii, probably bought tickets in 2019
March $2637 - ski trip and booked couple of hotels
April $2353 - future hotels ( i wonder if I got this refunded)
May $2711 - weekend away was $1500 with $600 hotel, but also $1400 hotels
June $2727 - start of road trip and i can tell by activities and eating out no hotels
July $3886 - road trip and $517 deposit on January 2021 ski vrbo
August $0
September $0
October $0
November $3287 - tickets to hawaii and VRBO final payment $814
December $2025 - some ski tickets and all spending in hawaii from eating out, groceries etc

Wait I found $8861 refunded by "travel" category of alaska, expedia, etc.  So I guess we spent $13986 on Travel for the year.  That looks better than $22k, but still $14k is a lot.

We spent $15727 on groceries with a refund of $1187 = $14540 for the year for a family of 4.  This I can answer.  I did not shop sales and I semi-meal planned in the sense I looked at what I had but I did  NOT look at a price book or flyer and instead I just cooked whatever I wanted.  I do not usually buy junk food (see this month everything) but I did buy mostly organic and mostly whatever I wanted. In March 2021 we did not do our normal sushi, seafood, and steaks once or twice a month food runs.  I will buy prime steak, lobster, and sushi at least 1 a month each usually friday nights and make it at home.  Also we had two additional adults for at least 6-12 meals a month (dinner).  DH's cousin and boyfried were eating with us most weekends to help build shed and I both bought take out and cooked for 2 adults more food and more booze. She also watches our dog when we travel so we usually pay for everything. 

And yes we buy expensive cuts of meat and seafood.  We are not food wasters by a long shot.  NOTHING really goes to waste.  We also do not buy processed foods either.  BUT we buy everything not on sale and on demand. I bought anything I wanted when I wanted it.  So I would walk into a store without a plan and throw things in the cart. I will decide I want to make X, Y, or Z and just buy what I needed to make it.  I didn't waste food.  We eat everything and I buy premium stuff in smaller quantities so I didn't waste anything.  But there was NO meal planning or prepping I just wanted mushrooms great I bought it.  I wanted pork shoulder or pork chops?  $8.99/lb no problem.  Sure $30/lb no sale for sashimi = no problem.   You see the problem.  We do once a week leftover night where everyone picks leftovers that isn't enough for a meal and then we eat it.  That's how we don't waste anything.  I make fried rice from old rice. I make stews and omelets or mishmash from leftovers.  So food isn't wasted but my food wasn't cheap to begin with and i never actually looked at the price and went "oh that's a lot." I just threw it in my cart.

I think I get this from my mom.  She said a woman once told her "you know you've made it when you walk into a store and buy what you want, when you want it.  Because you no longer look at sales."  And she does.  I sort of fell into this mindset.

Jan $1705
Feb $596
March $1715
April $844
May $1659
June $1504
July $1154
Aug $1257
Sept $1265
Oct $1922
Nov $1555
Dec $557

$13048 was spent on buying crap with $3894 refunded so $9154 spent actually.  What sort of stuff?  Amazon, target, walmart, etc.  Stuff for house, stuff for kids, etc.  I will try to be better this year.

$6290 on Restaurants with $240 refunded.  The breakdown you cans ee the lockdown definitely put a crimp on our eating out.  I think I've mentioned before we used to spend I know around $1k month eating out and $1k month on groceries.  Again I just bought take out when I felt like it.  No waste but eating out for us expensive because eating out is expensive for a family of 4 at "nicer" places.  $75-$100 is not hard to hit even takeout.  After march we ate outside 2x the entire time both times in september.

Janurary $757
Feb $787
March $695
April $310
May $483
June $289
July $356
Aug $618
Sept $648
Oct $315
Nov $597
Dec $441

So that's our spending. I definitely need to tease out our spending in general. I need to probably look at mint because personal capital is having problems.

But I also think I need to average out my spending since I'm becoming more aware.  The first two months weren't great but we're improving.  We had a goal of $950 for groceries, alcohol, and cleaning.  We spent $1100 but we were over our grocery part by $20.79!  Next month dare I try for $675 thrify plan?  Let's look at 2021 bigger picture first.

Final Grocery Update and Payday and Savings

March 31st, 2021 at 05:08 pm

So I did go to the grocery store last night and I bought one last thing before the end of the month.

3/30 FM $14.90

Turkey Breast $7.11 (1.29/lb)

Pie Crust $1.79

Frozen Spinach $1.50 (4x$1.50 = $6)

= $14.90 Monthly Total $820.79!

Bringing out monthly grand total $820.79 for groceries for our family of 4 and with TONS of food in the freezer.  We spent $112.72 eating out for the month and $86.82 on cleaning stuff.  I plan on buying dog food, vitamins from costco later this week thinking Thursday or Friday for April.  I'm going to make a list because it's on sale and I have some backup under the sink but I like to have at least a 6 months supply usually.  We also spent $167.14 on alcohol.  We need to buy next month some champagne (mimosas for easter brunch) and vodka.

Today was DH's 3rd payday of March.  Very excited.  He got paid $5554.66 today and this is not part of our normal budget.  So what did I do?  Well I saved every penny of it.  I moved $5600 to our Roth/Savings Fund.  I also moved $1200 to our Sink funds, $1000 to Property taxes which we used to escrow and $6500 (check of $6488.78 escrow from JPMC) and tomorrow our mortgage is paid $3850.  

Our current balances

Checking Cap 1 $5309

EF $40k

Roth/Savings $8600 for year (on pace to save $16k, love to hit $36k for year)

Sink Funds $2400 (budgeting $720/month i'm a little short and might move more)

Property Taxes $8500 (on target and paying $5500 4/30)

BofA $6785 (earmarked for paying off Chase card below)

Chime $400 (with 2 $75 bonuses thanks for referral!) PM me if you want referral link

I owe $5700 on our chase card closing 4/6/21.  We are going away this weekend and I think we may spend $1000 on eating out for 4 days most meals.  I'm being a bit overly generous because I'd rather not feel bad for 4/3-4/6.  

Tomorrow I'll do a wrap up of spending for month and new monthly goals.  

3/30 Update on Groceries and Spending

March 30th, 2021 at 07:58 pm

Okay before I decide if I'm going out shopping tonight for a bit more groceries I am at $805.59 for groceries for the month.  That does not include cleaning supplies, toiletries, paper products, or alcohol.  So far we spent $167.14 on alcohol (1/6 keg, $22 beer, and $7 wine) for the month.  I spent $86.82 on cleaning supplies at costco like paper towels, tp, dishwasher pods, laundry, ziplocs, etc.  That means I am all in for $1059.55 for the month on "grocery" stuff.  But the actual grocery is going to be $805.59 plus I'm not sure what I am spending tonight.   I also spent $112.72 on eating out.

On March 2nd, I wrote i want to spend $800 for a family of four with $100 for alcohol and $50 for cleaning supplies. I went over budget on both those two categories, but I suspect it's because i won't buy as much beer or cleaning supplies for 2-3 more months.

I am at $805, so $5 over with a full freezer unlike end of February where i had no stockpile in pantry or freezer/fridge!  So I'm super happy.  I am debating buying tonight frozen turkey breasts with bone and salmon.  That is what I was looking for at the store. I am also going later this week to buy vitamins from costco for me and the kids since it's on sale till thursday.

So my grocery update 

3/25 Walmart $9.43 (happened to be in the area buying shoes)
Feta $2.54
Ricotta $3.42
Yogurt $3.47
= $9.43

3/25 Grocery $5.97
Rice Rolls $0.99
Italian spices $2.99
Onions $1.99 (6 lbs)

3/25 Grocery $10.94 on spices, lost receipt

3/27 Market $14.98
Salami $8.99 BOGO
Gouda $5.99
= $14.98

3/28 Safeway $3.49 Apricot preserve
3/28 FM $24.71
Ham $7.85 (.87/lb)
Ham $8.45 (.87/lb)
Beans $2.99
Carrots $3.49 (5 lb bag)
Celery 1.93 (.99/lb)

On 3/25 I stopped at walmart because I bought shoes on sale at road runner sports.  They were having a special 2x year sale and I bought 4 pairs of brooks adrenaline sneakers.  I only wear those specific line from that specific brand.  I have my exact size and I've worn them for 15 years?  I used to order them online when they went on sale and in 2019 they changed it. So at that time I bought about 6 pairs and they've finally worn out.  I know because I bought only 2019 multiple pairs and stashed them in my closet.  Any one who is a runner knows you just know exactly how your shoes wear.  These shoes in particular run $129.95 and if they go on discount and they happened to have my exact size then I would buy them.  I couldn't even wait to get to the car before I swapped out these new balance shoes i bought that were supposed to be comfortable but weren't.

So I got 2 pairs for $110 with 10% off so it was $220 for 4 shoes including taxes.  I thought a very good deal. Should last me 18-24 months.  Tomorrow I'll wrap up the month of spending. I think from now on in April I'll just track my grocery spend and spending in general but not in detail.

I've learned i can definitely live on $800/month groceries. I need to budget a teeny bit better.  I am hinking of spending another $30 tonight on salmon and turkey breasts. I also am planning on eating out dinner thursday or friday for $30 burgers.

I got a vaccine!

March 30th, 2021 at 01:41 am

DH and I got vaccines today.  Pfizer the 1st dose.  We were not eligible but we waited and we got extra doses.  The mass vaccine site this morning had 700+ unclaimed appointments today. So I was calling from 6 am to see what they would say.  I called multiple times and was told first no walk ups.  To well we have a standby list we call.  To well we have standby but we can't guarantee anything.   You just come and show up.  So then I decide that since there are so many "appointments/vaccines" what the hell? Sure it's an hour to drive there but I leave before nine and I get in line and wait.  Well turns out that when I'm in line they hand me a paper and say you are good to go.  I say great.  Can I have a second paper and make an appointment for my DH?  They say sure here's a paper. I do it and then make his appointment and then make it the same time as mine and then "reschedule" his appointment for him to make it later.

It's been happening to a lot of my friends.  Last week it seems like the supply went exponentially up and people aren't taking appointments.  So then last week my friend drove to a mass vaccine site and took her 18 year old senior daughter and when they got there they asked if she wanted it for her daughter?  She was like I don't even have her id.  They called her son at home and had him take a photo and wham they got a shot and instant appointment for an 18 year old!  She was like what?  She's the one who convinced me to stalk out getting a vaccine at these drive up mass sites.

Another friend and her husband have been randomly calling in the mornings and on friday they both got shots at the end of the day.  They had "cancellations" or something.  Basically the rollout and "waitlists" and getting people approved by phases is a load of crock.  No one i know who is "qualified" got an approval email.  Instead they just moved forward and got appointments.  Some are still in qualified "tiers" but waiting for email that has never arrived.  

So I felt guilty for a little awhile but then decided shots in arms?  Who knows?  But I'm going to say I said I wasn't qualified for it but they gave it to me anyway.  Technically we did qualify as "caregivers of a special needs child" and I qualified as an essential worker.  All my coworkers have gotten it.  But I haven't left the house so I didn't bother and figured someone else who needs it more.  Well I feel like we've hit this point where they are going to be wasting vaccines soon if they don't open up more tiers.

I found $20!

March 25th, 2021 at 09:20 pm

I found a rewards card from my job and I checked and there was $20 on there. I hate using these prepaid credit cards so I used it to pay my electric bill $20 so I wiped the card clean and don't have to worry about not using it or losing it.  I find it easiest to use them immediately and on something like a bill because trying to track prepaid VISA cards are ridiculous.

But I'm also going to try and use up all of our gift cards for restaurants and stuff this summer.  My goal is to be done with them so that if they go out of business or something we aren't out of luck!

Last year my DK1 sold 800 boxes of girl scout cookies.  She chose the American Girl experience which they gave us in the form of a gift card in lieu of the tea party.  Well turns out the store in our area shut down and we hadn't had a chance to use it. To say I'm annoyed is an understatement. I am unsure what I should do.  Should we try and sell it at a gift card reseller?  Should we divide it up (it's $140) to say $25 gift cards and give them as gifts to kids whose birthday's we go to?  

This is probably why it doesn't make sense to keep gift cards except maybe starbucks and target.  Where are those places going?

Why I should sell my house but I won't

March 24th, 2021 at 07:57 pm

So I'm not a big proponent of the "latte" factor. I don't think that lattes add up to much.  Maybe they do when you have low fixed costs, big income, and spend more than you make.  But when you live pretty reasonably, aren't a big spender but can't make ends meet, there usually is a bigger picture problem.  Most often the culprit?  The house or the car payments.  Usually those are out of line with the income.  The rule of thumb is 28% mortgage, 32% for payment, taxes, insurance, interest, 40% all debt payments.  That means maybe you bought a 20% home but then you spen 20% of your monthly or annual income on car payments.  Seriously car payments add up fast!  Those two things can suddenly make the budget tight and make it difficult to save and difficult to get ahead.

So on to LAL, what can I say?  Our mortgage is 25.8% of our gross salary. So we check that box.  Our PITI is 32% of our salary so technically we check that box as well.  We have no other debts so we are at 32% total debt.  I was smart enough to stop carrying our minivan loan in September 2020.  But here I am feeling the pinch and dreading cutting our lifestyle and trying to save.  So how is it playing out?  Where are we going wrong?

I think we are going wrong because we are used to living on our salary and just saving the rest.  What I mean is prior we would just save the maximum for 401k, employee stock purchase plan, or after tax into 401k and then live on the rest of our salary.  Then the bonus cash and stock would go to pay taxes and savings.  First time in our adult working lives we don't have a 401k. 

That simple change mentally makes it harder to see our deposit and getting to spend it like we used to.  Before I knew we already had automatic deductions take out for "savings".  I also knew we were not planning on spending our bonuses or counting on them so it was easy enough to do a sweep into our savings account.  Usually I also paid a higher percetange of our bonuses in an estimated payment to the government because they never withhold enough for our bracket.   So now I probably need to automate $1500/paycheck (too hard biweekly to calculate) straight to Roth IRA/ESA account and see if we can't live on that.  I think that extra 2x/year paycheck needs to go to savings and I need to scale back how much from 2 paychecks we put into our monthly savings.   This is going to be a learning process again.

I'm not a very good budgeter or tracker.  I prefer the save first and spend the rest. I also prefer to have it taken out and see only what we get after taxes.   

But here is where we are shaking out wrong

Income 100% 

Mortgage PITI 32% $60k/year

Savings Retirement 15%

Short term 5% - this if my flexible

Federal taxes 10.32%

SS/Medicare 6.36%

= Leftover 31.32% leftover  - this should be enough. Works out to around $56k/year

I just am not sure.  I think I need this year to see if we really can save 20% and live on 31%.  It doesn't seem that far off from our prior spending, but we have to be more mindful and scale back our traveling.  Also I believe where I am having trouble is realizing that we are going to be paying a lot less in taxes.  

So our house isn't "unaffordable" but it definitely makes me feel tight.  Our current salary is $180k/year.  Our mortgage is $3800/month and $1000/month taxes/insurance.  We should be able to manage to save that 20% or $36k/year.  Our mortgage is currently $850k at 2.875% 26 years left.  According to the 3x rule of thumb we are at 4.72x.  Thus we are over.  We are also at the highest end of what you should buy and probably why we are struggling with saving 15% to retirement and 5% to short term.

If we managed to get out PITI to 25% that would give us a little more breathing space on the living expenses and still save 20% comfortably.  When we bought the house 4 years ago we were at 3.7x and 22.8% PITI off of base salary.  We were also approved for a lot more house but bought something we felt very comfortable with. 

When I agreed to this salary reduction in August 2020 I knew we were going to struggle a little at first.  We hadn't been budget constrained in a long time probably over a decade since before kids.  Mostly because we were usually very conservative with our housing and fixed costs.   This is a short term reduction.  If it doesn't pan out for DH in 2 years he'll go get a regular job.  No we can't guarantee what he'll make but if it's closer to what he was making we'll be fine.  So I'm not selling the house.  Should I? 

Maybe.  But in this case it's for less than 2 years and if we can manage without touching savings and even saving I think we sit tight and give it ago.  Now in 2 years if he looks for a job and can't find one paying what he's currently making then we reconsider selling the house.   I don't think long term I want to be in this situation.  But short term we can make it work.  Also if he was making $180k long term we'd have to reconsider moving elsewhere.  Because to me that's not enough to make it where we are. 

Where we live rents are higher than our mortgage running around $4000/month.  With the tax break 24% on $25k interest and $10k property taxes we are looking at "renting" our house for $27k/year and "saving by princpal paydown" $21-22k".  So to correctly assess our interest it's $2500/month.  The principal paydown can't be equated to rent.  So the tax break also has to correctly be assessed to determine if renting is better than buying.  For us no?  If we were buying now?  Well probably yes because to buy our house now our mortgage would be at least another $1000/month more and our property taxes an extra $2-3k/year.  So an extra $1500/month would definitely put it on par with renting if not a better reason fo renting.

Anyway that's how things are unfolding for us.  Guess it'll be an interesting 2 years.

So I started saving but lifestyle creep happened...

March 24th, 2021 at 06:29 am

It's hard to post your numbers on even a blog.  To post the failures and successes.  Even though we hide behind our screens there is still a feeling of awkwardness.  To have a feeling of embarrassement that you are spending so much.  Well at least to me.  It's probably why I hesitate to post certain things because I know I'm ridiculous.  But it's still way more than I would ever share IRL.

So anyway I started multiple "savings" accounts in Capital One.  Thought I'd give it a whirl.  I thought I'm going to do it. I'm going to try and save this year money.  Sounds ridiculous because we should be able to save.  But the truth is I don't know if we can.  We are going to struggle.  Living "austerely" to us when we haven't been on a spending "diet" or "budget" is hard.  We've gotten used to lifestyle inflation or creep.  It hasn't happened overnight.  It hasn't been drastic.  But it's happened.  How'd it happen?  Well our income went up and so did our lifestyle.  We hadn't changed some of our basic principals LBYM or pay yourself first.  But we "paid" ourselves first, maxed our 401k, maxed our Roth IRA, College, no bonuses for living but our income just went up and with it our lifestyle.  Last year I roughly calculated we saved 50% of our income.  But we had a lot of income.  We lived on about 25% of our income and 25% of our income went to taxes.  Sounds okay right?  Well now we're cutting back to that 25% and we need to save within it.  That's another post for another day. 

Anyway here's where we are and goals for 2021.  Who knew I'd have goals again so concrete?

Roth IRA/ESA $16k goal - $3k

Property Taxes  $12k goal - $1k ($6500 coming from bank) (4./30 and 11/1 due $5500, 8/30 Home insurance $1000)

Sink Funds $10k goal - $1k

That's all I got for now.  With an extra paycheck this month I'm planning on funding the property taxes and sink funds. I also have quite a bit of extra cash in our checking accounts so I'm going to try and move it into one of these savings accounts.  

Big picture goal is to save 20% of our income.  We have currently saved 20% this year of our income.  But 2022 we won't have a 401k to contribute just a Roth IRA and 2 ESA so $16k in tax deferred accounts.  That still leaves us short of that 20% salary goal, and I'm unsure if we can even hit that.  Though we've contributed to 2020 Roth IRA and ESAs, I'm trying to get the $16k cash for january 2022.  I'm also planning on shoveling into that savings account all exra money and seeing if I can get more after directly $1k and $800/monthly into Property taxes and Sink Funds.  This will be pretty tight to be honest.

Let's see what happens.  Next year DH's salary will be $180k flat.  20% is $36k.  $16k is earmarked to be saved.  $20k is what we need to save in order to hit 20%.  I guess that's another post about why I think it'll be hard.

Oh no...costco trip

March 23rd, 2021 at 01:36 am

So I think I posted about using my rebate rewards at costco.  And the suggestion was use it but account for it.  So I did.  Today I did a huge costco shopping trip and there is a lot to unpack on my trip.  First off until today I had spent $566.86 on groceries for the month with I will say a lot of meat in my freezer.  I probably could easily have made it without buying more meat but I bought some extra stuff.  Also DH bought another 1/6 keg, last time was 1/26/21 for $105 and this time it was $137.61 for the 1/6 of Elysian Space Dust IPA.  Should put that in as well.  I am tracking but I'll do a monthly roundup

3/20 Saturday FM = $12.11
Whole Chicken $4.36 (.77/lb)
Chicken Drumsticks $3.53 (.77/lb)
Chicken thighs $4.22 (.77/lb)

3/22 Grocery FM $42.89
Mac and Cheese .50 (10x) = $5
4 lbs sugar $1.89
Iodized salt $.49
Kosher salt BOGO $3.99 (2x)
Fritos $1.87 x 2
Cheetos $1.87
Doritos $1.87
Asparaus $1.99 (clearance)
Green beans $2.19 (1.99/lb)
Zucchini $3.39 (1.29/lb)
Clementines $3.99 (3 lbs)
Potatoes Gold $2.99 (5 lbs)
Broccoli $2.40 (1.29/lb)
Avocado $3.96 ($.99/each 4x)
Roma Tomatoes $.82 (.99/lb)
Bok Choy $3.31 ($1.39/lb)

Costco Food $112.65
Milk $9.99 (2 x 1.5G)
Ham and Cheese Croissant $7.99 (prepared breakfast I couldnt resist)
Probiotic Yogurt $7.99
1/2G Heavy Cream $7.39
Beechers Cheese $11.95
Butternut Squash $5.99 ($3/lb)
Nutella (2 pack) $12.39
Bacon $14.99 (4 x 1 lb packs)
Sweet Potatoes (6.5 lbs) $9.99 (1.53/lb)
Brussel Sprouts $4.99 (2.50/lb)
Cosmic Crisp apples $8.99 ($1.63/lb)
Garlic $13.49

Costco Other stuff
Paper Towels $14.79 (bought in January and not gone but bought since I"m using my rebate)
Toilet Paper $16.49 (January purchase)
Weather Tech Matss $23.99 (unsure if I'll keep)
Dentastix 65 pack $12.99 (regular $19.99 bought 5, will last 10 months haven't seen in months)
Dishwasher Pods $9.99 (115 pods)
Wiper Blades $5.99 (bought 4 unsure if needed)
Sonicare $49.99 (bought 2 different sets unsure which head we need, will return 1)
Bully Stick $32.99 (dog treat)
Clorox2Max $9.99 (bought spare for sale)
Gallon Bags(154 bags) $11.89
Palmolive $5.99 (0.057/oz)
KS fabric softener $6.99 (bought spare since sale)
All Laundry detergent $10.69 (bought spare since sale)
=$366.62 (total spent was $479.27)
-$293.77 rebate LAL and -$93.75 DH rebate check

I definitely bought "stockpile" if you mean buying a backup of stuff. I was not quite out of toilet paper or paper towels or cleaning supplies.  But I decided it was wise since I wanted to use my rebate checks to do it. I figure that I might as well buy backup of things we use regularly and consistently when they go on sale. I do that with most things.  The dog treats might be the only excessive thing but we give the dog 1x/day and I hated that we haven't been since Christmas and it hasn't been in stock and I prefer to buy it on sale.  Also I would argue that the toothbrush heads I maybe should wait and see if it goes on sale but DH didn't tell me early enough so we're on our last toothbrush heads.  

I have never had much space to stockpile so DH and I usually don't.  He prefers I just buy when needed but it annoys me to no end since I might miss a sale.  So I try to be judicious and stockpile just one back up so that I can try to ride out to the next sale.  Right now he is running on fumes of his "coke" stockpile. I usually buy him 12 packs for 4 for $11 or something like that. I haven't seen a sale in awhile.  He's got like 3 x 12 packs left.  I'm hoping it comes up soon because otherwise he's drinking 2L.  And yes I know it's bad. And yes I know I shouldn't indulge him.  But he won't drink water and only drinks coke zero.  If you met him you'd be horrified at the skinny fat guy he is and his eating habits. 

No more escrow

March 20th, 2021 at 07:31 pm

At the beginning of March I decided I was going to try and get out of escrowing our property taxes and home insurance.  The bank (JPMC) approved.  When we got our mortgage in 2017 we were required to escrow in order to get a better rate.  We currently have a 30 year fixed (26 years in) for 2.875% on a jumbo mortgage.  I logged into chase today and see that we are getting a disburment for $6488!  That money is going to my property taxes and my home insurance is due in August 2020.  Our property taxes are $5353.56 x 2 with the first payment due April 30th, 2021 and the second November 1st, 2021.  The extra will go into savings for our home insurance which was $909.70 in August 2020.  It actually is enough to cover us for our home insurance and first half year payment.   So my thought is $1000/month needs to go into a savings account to pay our property taxes.  When I get the check in the mail I will deposit it and move the funds into the savings account in capitol one.

I'm setting up now multiple savings accounts so I can see if we can actually stick to a budget and start saving.  I am a bit nervous but it's worth trying.  In our last house we used to pay our own escrow. It wasn't hard, but we had a little bit more flexiblity with our payments.  In the beginning it was hard and we needed to really stretch.  Then again we grew into our house. 

Now the opposite has happened.  But we are still going to try and make it.

Grocery Update and Frugalness just happened

March 18th, 2021 at 09:14 pm

So I guess tracking my spendy ways on groceries has made me more frugal overall.  My costco rebates last year are as follows $347 for 2% executive membership, $293.77 for my costco CC rebate (citi), DH's $93.76 for his costco CC rebate.  $734.53 for all our spending last year mostly at costco on groceries but also some gas $844.68 for me and $633.51 for DH for gas all year.  Yeah it's hard to justify buying an e car when we spend very little on gas = $1467.19 all year including a huge road trip in the summer which was $224 for that trip alone.  Plus earlier in the year all the skiing we did so that was a lot of miles.  So we average less than $100/month.

Grocery 3/16
Bread $2
Irish Soda Brea $2.99
Cabbage $1.49
3 Bell Peppers $3.00
Corned beedf $10.47 ($2.99/lb)
Popcorn $1.99
Nestle Chocolate chips 5 bags $1.99/bag = $9.95
Strawberry 1 lb $3.00
Marshmallows $1.49
Green Bell Pepper $.79
Tomataoes Roma $1.60 (.99/lb)
Costco 3/16
Milk $9.99
sour cream $3.99
peanut butter $9.99
Crescent rolls 7.89-3.40 =$4.49 (for 5)
Walnut Shrimp $12.99-4.00=$8.99
Brussel Sprouts $4.99 (2 lbs)
Bacon $14.99 (4 lbs)
Bananas $1.69
Costco dog dentastix $19.99-7 = 12.99+tax (i think I'm putting in pet category)

3/17 couple of items
Basil $3.49
Eggplant $2.97

Monthly Running Total $554.75, $22.53 Beer, $69.48 eating out

Eating out = $69.48
Living Social $24
Mcdonalds $10.99
Froyo $4.78
Costco pizza $21.93
coffee (DH) $3.25
Boba tea & waffles $4.53

I haven't been frugal in about 5 years since DH started working in 2016 after a year off.  During that year off I was super frugal and budget conscious.  Before then I was somewhat budget conscious but not terribly.  I was more of a pay yourself first.  After 2016 I was still a pay yourself first person but our budget was extremely generous even after paying ourselves first we had a lot of play money.   So I would not call myself frugal before or after.  

But being back on a budget we've spent $1891.78 this month on groceries, eating out, vet visits, $957 on hotels and camping reservations.  I'm hoping to stay under $3500 most months. I think if we keep traveling we won't be able to do it, but I might be switching the hotel stay to points.


Grocery update

March 15th, 2021 at 07:49 pm

Stopped at Asian market for sahimi for dinner Saturday. Spent $40.64.  

Black Cod $9.77b (16.99/lb) - miso butterfish i'm making

Hamachi $6.93 (29.99/lb)

King Salmon 6.61 ($30.99/lb)

Tuna $9.04 (26.99/lb)

Curry paste $4.99 and $3.29 = $40.63, running total $450.40 for the month

Well that explains how my grocery bills have been outrageous.  I'd say at least once a month we bought sashimi and prepped it at home if not every three weeks and usually I don't show such restraint. I usually buy way more and better quality. I picked the cheaper stuff.  I usually figure it's way less than what I spend on sushi even takeout.  Takeout sushi for us runs closer to $100 out.  More when we go out.  And I usually throw in a can of Asahi or two at the store.  

I need to go to Costco and get milk and bacon (plan on buying at least 3 packages and 2 packages of milk).  I'm also thinking of buying non-persishables but I have $375 executive check and my rebate check of $300+ to spend at costco.  So maybe I'll save it.

Question - do I consider it grocery budget if I buy it using my rebate check? Or is it free because I didn't pay for it? 

Groceries 3/10 Update

March 11th, 2021 at 10:04 pm

Yesterday I went shopping, cooked for dinner and bought 2 pizzas for the kids and friends from costco.  Costco Pizza was $21.93 for 2 whole pizzas.  I froze more than a pizza but I also thought the kids would eat more.  I also grocery shopped and spent $46.43.

Anchovy Paste $2.39
Cremini Mushroom @ $4.49 lb = $4.67
Parsley $0.99
Cilantro $.50
Salted Pork $4.49
Chuck Roast 2x (BOGO) $27.41
Potatoes Gold 5 lbs $3.99
frozen pearl onions $1.99
= $46.43

So now I'm set for a bit.  Last night I made butter chicken and Beef Keema curries with jasmine rice and roti I made.  I have enough leftovers for 2 more nights probably so excited at not cooking.  Plan for chuck roast is Beef Burgandy and japanese curry.

Sunday I think DH will smoke the chicken skin on drumbsticks for the week.  I was also thinking of the costco $5.99 rotisserie chicken this week. I do need to do a costco run for lactose free milk.  And another grocery run for veggies.  I might try some can veggies at some point but I still have brussel sprouts carrots and celery and zucchini.  But I wanted to make ratatouille with the zucchini and bell peppers, I just need eggplant.


Subscription charges

March 10th, 2021 at 07:01 pm

Do you know what you spend on subscriptions either monthly or annually?  I have a lot of payments recently including our auto insurance every 6 months and annual Amazon prime.  When covid started my mom really wanted amazon prime again we'd been without for like 2 or 3 years and so I bought it and added her on.  

So we now pay 
Amazon $119 annually for prime = $10/month

Amazon Kindle Unlimited - $140 / 24 months = $5.83/month

AAA just renewed $101 - I wonder if it's worth it?

Paramount Plus $50 annually - just bought from March 3rd 2021 to March 3 2022

Spotify - $10.85/month but it includes hulu $130.20

Sirius XM - $6/month  $72/year - this my DH just signed up for and I don't know what to say

He loves music and so he's enjoying the sirius online radio along with spotify. I don't know how to curb him.  I already am not fond of amazon but I keep that for my mom.

I am a little annoyed looing at stuff, but I guess if I get kindle unlimited with the kids he can have sirius and spotify?  I got paramount but we watch tv so littel I will likely cancel it next year.

How much do you spend on monthly subscriptions.  It's annoying that we're spending $45/month on subscriptions.  What do people have?  How much does it cost?

Groceries 3/9 update

March 9th, 2021 at 07:23 pm

I shopped quite a bit and a little eating out.  Eating out easier so..

3/2 Living Social $24 (coupons for places)

3/3 Mcdonald's $10.99 - ended up with 2 free mcflurry coupons because they didn't make it shamrock and I didn't realized it we got home.

3/4 Froyo $4.78 (used $10 LS coupon)

3/4 Grocery $5.79 2 lbs of strawberries

3/4 Grocery $5.10 for 5 lbs of Sumo mandarins. They mismarked it from $3.49/lb for $1/lb so win!

3/4 FM $44.34 total
Cream Cheese $1.99 for 2 pack (2x) (made cheesecake)
Yellow onions 6.2 lb @ .39/lb $2.41
Bell pepper 2 for $3 but discounts $2.64 (no idea why)
Spices $10
Dreyers 1/2 Gallon ice cream $1.99
Avocadoes @ $3/5 = $5.94
Baby Back ribs @ $2.47/lb = $8.80
Baby back ribs $8.58
= $44.34

3/6 FM $16.96 - $9.43 (priced wrong so returned me cash) = $7.53
cream cheese $1.99 x 2 (made cheesecake to give away)
Ribs $12.98
= $7.53

3/8 Safeway $65.21
Ground Beef 93% $13.45
Ground Beef 93% $13.45
Ground Sirloin 90% $13.57
Ground Sirloin 90% $13.57
Sumo Citrus 8.05 lbs @ 1.99/lb - $16.17
= $65.21

3/8 Safeway (forgot stuff) $13.94
Hasbrowns 2x $1.99 = $3.98
Frozen Pizza $2.99 x 2
Eggos 2 $1.99 = $3.98
= $13.94

So to sum up this month so far

Groceries $363.34
Alcohol $22.53
Eating out $39.77
= $425.64 total

I am a little nervous because my $850/month budget goal is about half way used up and we are only 9 days out of 31 in the month. That means i'm only a 1/3 of the way through the month and we are halfway through our budget.

Tomorrow we are having DH's cousin for dinner and I couldn't decide between eating out and cooking.  I know I should cook but I'm thinking a meal out.  We also are getting take out thursday for lunch probably.  Let's see what happens.

OMG I'm doing a juice cleanse

March 9th, 2021 at 04:44 am

How do I get myself into these things? I agreed to do a juice cleanse from pressed juicery from Costco.  My neighbors whom I'm doing the whole 60 with and am now a little more than halfway through wanted to do this to bust through their plateau.  Couple of them started it.  But now they are doing two days of juicing.  

So the costco pressed juicery I bought was $54.99.  I started today. I am 4 bottles in and it's terrible.  All parts of the two juices I've had taste terrible. I haven't been hungry bu maybe the ginger is suppressing my appetite.  OMG.  I nearly spat out the roots with ginger.  OMG it was so gross. I can't believe I'm sucking this crap down and not eating. I don't exactly get what I'm supposed to feel.  I supposed I need to blog about this on Wednesday.  I will count this in my budget.  I was charged last month but I'm eating it now because I got it delivered last week and I'm "drinking" this now.

All these crazies I live near think it's great. I personally think if I wasn't in this collarborative weight loss thing I wouldn't do it.  But it does help accountability and weight loss.  Either which way I think my DH thinks I'm nuts.  My kids must think I'm nuts.  I think I'm nuts.  

Let's see what I feel in 36 hours...


Grocery thoughts

March 4th, 2021 at 06:38 pm

I spent on Tuesday 3/2 $9.99 for 3 lbs of Candy grapes at costco.  They are nearly gone by today.  My kids and DH ate about 1/3 Tuesday night.  Last night they had dessert from McDonald's for shamrock shakes for $10.39.  

I went to Costco to get a prescription that wasn't in for the dog so I just did little notes on my new price book. It was what I had thought.  Chicken I can probably snag for $1.99/lb at the grocery store.  Fruits and veggies non-organic were definitely cheaper.  But meat and dairy at costco were by far a better deal.  Things like stew meat for $5.49/lb is cheaper than the store.  At BOGO it's a close call but not necessarily.  $3.99/lb for regular ground beef at 12% fat is better unless like this week there is a sale for 7% fat ground beef for $3.99.  Butter was $1.99 for a 1lb at the store but 4 pounds is $6.99 at costco.  When eggs are very expensive at costco at $9.99 for 60 eggs but walmart it was $6.21 for 60 eggs.  Things like that. 

I need to do more research but i'm starting to realize the price savings on stuff like zucchini.  Organic at costco I think 4 lbs for $6.99, but $.89/lb for zucchini.  Squash is $6.99 for 2 lbs but discounted at store for $1.99/lb (regular is $3.99 so it is more).  Apples are definitely cheaper at the regular grocery where I got honeycrisp and will be getting cosmic crisp today for $1.48/lb versus $3/lb.  Of course the costco apples are organic.  

Luncheon meat at regular grocery was running around $11.99/lb but at costco between $5.49-8.69/lb.  This is the stuff you buy in the deli freshly sliced not in packages.  Fish can be cheaper at the grocery I know I can get salmon for $7.99/lb on sale but costco regularly has it for $8.99 which is cheaper than normal at the grocery.  But if I time thing right.

Strangely this entire week we've been eating leftovers.  We had leftover taco meat from Saturday, Leftover pulled pork from Sunday, leftover butternut squash soup from Tuesday.  Tuesday we had shrimp scampi for dinner I made and last night butter chicken (not new chicken but my leftover).  So then tonight we are doing beef ribs.  And we are still finishing pulled pork and butternut squash soup. 

I'm thinking of making beef bone broth pho with the beef bones.  It is usually a PIA to make pho broth at least 24 hours but we'll see if I can make it happen. Usually we just buy it because it's a lot of work.   I suspect this month we will be spending a less on groceries. I have all the chicken and ground beef I bought still and I'm thinking of buying another 3 lbs of ground beef because it's 7% fat on sale.  Then all we need is some stew meat this month, sashimi one night, fish one night (i have some frozen salmon), and maybe a rotisserie chicken from costco?

Mostly it's veggies, fruit, and eggs for the next week.

March 2021 Food Challenge

March 2nd, 2021 at 11:02 pm

I said I wanted to spend $950 for the month on groceries.  After hearing from others I guess that $950 includes $100 for alcohol and $50 for cleaning.  So that would put us at $800/month for a family of 4.  That will be between thrifty $675 and low cost is $888/month.  If it includes alcohol and cleaning stuff like laundry, dish soap, paper towels etc, it will be tight.  I do have a costco rebate check of $300 and I'll use it but I'll pretend like it doesn't exist so I can see how much we really spend.  Last month we really didn't budget for alcohol because DH bought his first 1/6 of a keg for $155.  It's lasted but I am going to assume soon enough he'll be empty I am guessing this month.  

First shopping of March and I spent $63.58 Walmart and $87.02 Kroeger and $22.54 Beer at Walmart.  We are doing this shopping at least 1x/month target or the regular grocery store.

Pepperoni $7.47 (2 lbs)
Milk $3.12
Sausage 2.93
Brussel Sprouds 2.24 x 2
Cucumbers 2.46 x 2
Broccoli 4.92 (1.48/lb)
Celery 1.28
Cantaloup 2.78
Carrots 3.54 (5 lbs)
Bag Spinach 2.98
Chicken Thighs 10.91 (1.99/lb)
Chicken breasts 9.07 (1.99 lb)
5 lbs Drumsticks 4.76
Green Bell Pepper .73
18 large eggs 1.89
= $63.38

Turkey Ham Luncheon Meat $3.99x 2 (per 1 lb)
Bread (discounted) 0.99
Hawaiian buns $2.50
Squash (discounted) $1.99 x 2 - made butternut squash curried soup this morning because it was going bad
Lime 0.50
Beef Ribs 28.33 ($5.99 lb)
Yellow Bell Pepper 1.50 x 2
Shrimp $7.24 (6.99/lb)
Green Lettuce 1.99 head
Asaparagus 3.11 (.88/lb sale)
Plums .80 (1.49/lb)
Ground Beef 80%/20% 7.47 ($2.49/lb) this is more fatty than I buy from costco so I need to price shop more
Nectarines $1.07 (1.49/lb sale)
Zucchini 2.13 (.89/lb sale)
Honeycrisp apple $3.09 (1.48/lb sale)
Green onion .50
Clementines $3.99 Sale
Peach 1.04 (1.48/lb)
Sumo Mandarins 10.58 (2.99/lb)

I am feeling very confident right now about hitting a budget of $800/month.  $150.40 spent in 1 trip but I have enough meat for 2 weeks.  Plus I still have some food from last month. I'm unsure if I can do $100 on toilet paper, paper towels, zip lock, bodywash, shampoo etc. I have a large stockpile of pretty much everything but when it hits what will it cost me?  

It would be amazing to be $675 of thrifty family of 4 according to USDA.  But I'm not sure I'm able to get that chep. I guess if I don't buy anything else but veggies and fruit the rest of the month I might be able to do it.  I figure if i spend $950 and save 10% and then work another 10% in April it would be a win.

Today I made roasted curried butternut squash soup tons of lunches  I am making Shrimp for dinner and Beef ribs are marinating tonight for Wednesday.  My thoughts are that I will have leftovers till Thursday and then Friday I'm thinking of hitting costco and buying a rotisserie chicken, berries, and beef stew meat ( for prime stew meat)

I think costco is more expensive but the quality of fruit and veggies I think are better than the normal store.  But there isn't a variety like I could buy at a normal store.  I think the meat for sure if by far superior. I have started a price book and kroegar, safeway and walmart don't come close for quality for meat. I think chicken they win but beer or pork or bacon and maybe even luncheon meat is by far cheaper at costco.  

If anyone wants to do this food challenge with me and weigh in on pricing for their local stores that would be fun.  Maybe work on decreasing by 10%.  Most people are probably better than I am to begin with.

gift card roundup

March 1st, 2021 at 09:57 pm

So I decided it was time for me to do a gift card roundup.  I have too many by accident.

Thai Restaurant $375 (bought at costco for 35% off $243.5)

Jamba Juice (gifts from my mom) - $50

CPK - $19.64

Justice - $4.14 - they shut down so a loss

Macys - it won't work online to figure out

Disney -$17.98

Local italian - $100 (bought at costco 20%)

Steakhouse - $200 (bought at costco 25% off)

Joann - unable to tell online

French Restaurant - $100 (bought 25% off at costco)

LL bean - $80.10

Cheesecake factory - $25

Panera Bread - $25.27 cents

Regal Cinemas - 2 tickets (gift from client)

AMC - $25 (gift from someone)

Fandango - $25 (gift from someone)

red robin - $25

Japanese Restaurant - $50 (also bought 25% off from costco)

This is a lot of gift cards. I can see in my future some eating out.  The real question is how to use it?  We've eaten out 3x (all three times in September 2020).  Once was shake shack, once a mexican restaurant outdoors, and once was at a beach with a takeout.  And we ate out in Hawaii.  We've done take out but actually going to a restaurant?  It's been a long.  The thai and japanese places we can probably do takeout.

I really need to burn these gift cards but when are we going to a movie again?