Happy Valentine's Day! Best Valentine's gifts ever...tasty dinner at home with no cards/gifts and no expectations...and focusing on our love by committing to make good financial decisions and never let money struggles become an issue that can negatively affect our marriage. We have reached the half way point in our challenge, and though we haven't struggled much up to this point, I am still very intimidated by the next two weeks. I feel like I did when I reached the half way point of the Honolulu Marathon..."Hey, this has been easy so far. We haven't stopped once, let's take a break to go to the bathroom...." BUT then, you just can't get back into the same groove as before, and of course the second 13 miles is way harder because you are tired from running the first 13 miles. I hope that is not how this goes. Another thing is also similar, however....my determination to finish strong. I know we can do this.
Anyway, here is a daily log of week two:
Wednesday, February 8th:
Lunch: kids had hot dogs and canned pineapple, I had last night’s left over chicken and curry
Dinner: tacos, using the lettuce and tomatoes up before they start to get yucky…but they still look good
Today, Jocelyn and I made her school valentines out of stuff we already had around the house (thanks pinterest). I did some laundry, and all three kids napped at the same time, so I got some really good bible time in. I spent some time in prayer about about the kids, and our marriage, and this whole challenge thing. I felt renewed in spirit, and self control..and also, I think, in the fact that this was a good idea. Jocelyn has been earning quarters every day that she eats all her lunch, takes a nap, eats all her dinner, AND keeps the baby jail picked up. So far this month she has earned 3 quarters (she’s not perfect). But, she has been asking questions about why we can’t go certain places or buy certain things this month, and she totally gets what we are going for. I told her that we can spend a little money here and a little money there, and end up with a bunch of little things we don’t really need…or we cannot spend any money for a while, and save up to get some great things that we actually need…like a car and a house. She told me that she wants to save her quarters to help buy a new house!!! I told her that mommy and daddy would take care of the house, and that she could spend her quarters on herself, but that it is more rewarding to get something bigger and more meaningful by being patient. She seemed to understand, and that made me happy. Anyway, we didn’t spend any money today, so the cash envelope balance is still $47. We will need milk tomorrow, though.
Thursday, February 9th:
Breakfast: Sam-poptart Jocelyn-pancakes, and cereal for mom and dad
Lunch: PB&J and mandarin oranges for the kids, Tuna sandwiches for mom and dad
Dinner: Grilled pork steaks, corn and rice
Today was TOUGH. We ran out of milk this morning, so I knew we needed to get some. It is over $6 at the mini mart near our house, so I went to the commissary to get it for $4.70 instead. I walked there with my friends Stephanie and Kristen. It was a 5 mile round trip, and we took my three kids and Kristen’s twin boys who are Sam’s age. The kids were all great the whole time. We walked past McDonalds, and the “Any Size Soft Drink for $1.00!” sign tempted me big time. Number one, I was saving at least a $1 on gas by walking to the commissary, and I am saving $1.50 by buying milk at the commissary instead of the mini mart. The whole time we were at the NEX/commissary, I was justifying that giant $1 Dr. Pepper I was going to get on the way home, BUT it didn’t happen…even if I had tried, Steph and Kristen would have stopped me. I am SO glad they were in the commissary with me, too! Strawberries were on sale for $2.99 a basket, and they are usually like $5.99 a basket. Blueberries were $2, usually $4.99. Juice was $2. Fruit snacks were $1. And there were a bunch of other deals begging me to justify them…but I walked out with ONLY what I went in for, two gallons of milk. We spent $10 on Milk… Cash in Envelope: $37 (it’s only the 9th, and we are half way through our cash-yikes-but we shouldn’t need more milk until at least the 15th, and that $20 for dinner with the homeport ladies was a big unexpected/unplanned chunk…so $37 should easily last us to March 1st)
Friday, February 10th:
Breakfast: FUNNEL CAKES!!!
Lunch: Spaghetti-os and the last of the corn dog muffins Brad took leftovers from last night
Dinner: Home Port - Kalua pulled pork and rice, broccoli, salad and fruit
We walked to the mini mart today to get a red box movie, because I got an email with a code for a free rental. That was the highlight of my day (besides the funnel cakes for breakfast, of course). I fell down the stairs with Carolyn this morning…she is a-ok, but I hurt all over and I think I broke my finger. I am not going to the doctor or anything, but it got me thinking about non-military people who attempt a no-spend challenge. If I break something, or need urgent care, we can still go the whole month without spending. For most people, it wouldn’t work that way, and that sucks. These kinds of things remind me of how thankful I am for the benefits and opportunities that are available to us as a military family. We really are SO blessed. Cash in envelope: $37
Saturday, February 11th:
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner: Grilled BBQ pork ribs, pasta roni and green beans
We bought a bag of fun size kit kats before our challenge started, and we put it in the freezer for when we were craving a little something sweet. Well, it’s only day eleven and those suckers have been long gone for a while now. Last night for bible study I was rummaging through the pantry trying to come up with something for a desert…I grabbed a box of jell-o instant banana pudding, a packet of dream whip, and stuff to make pie crust. 20 minutes later I had two dozen banana mousse mini tartlets. I was pretty proud of my contribution because we usually like to stop at Anna Miller’s and pay $15.99 for a fresh strawberry pie (yum). Anyway, tonight we were itching for something chocolate, but I used the last of the chocolate chips to make cookies last week. THEN, I found the ‘CandiQuick’ wanna-be baker’s chocolate that I bought for like a buck after Christmas just because I figured I could use it for something eventually (just another example of how we buy things all the time with no specific intended purpose—just because it was on sale). Well, I am glad that we had it. I was also glad that we had half a bag of pecan halves left over from holiday pie baking. Then, I remembered the jar of caramel that has been in the fridge for like a year from when I made caramel apple mini tartlets for Easter! Score. Behold:
I also made Brad some chocolate walnut clusters with the extra chocolate:
Yeah, so I made Brad take our red box movie (that we rented yesterday using a promotional code for a free rental – BREAKROOM- try it) back to the mini mart because I didn’t trust myself to not buy a candy bar and scarf the evidence on the way home. But, instead we made our own yumminess at home, and it only took about 10 minutes! Envelope cash: $137 (we sold my old mattress today, and we put the $100 in the envelope, but don’t plan on touching it this month-we’ll see how that goes)
Sunday, February 12th:
Lunch: Tuna sandwiches and macaroni and cheese
Dinner: Chicken Katsu, rice and corn
We are starting to run low on some things that I thought would last the whole month. I have been buying an extra loaf of bread every time I grocery shopped since November, and had six loaves frozen at the end of January. Somehow, we are down to only one, and it is only day 12. We were eating lunch out of the house so often, that we maybe went through a loaf a week. But now we are eating sandwiches so much more often that we go through bread super fast. We are also running low on juice, but thankfully I have two frozen apple juices in the freezer. We always half the juice with water, but we are still going through it faster than normal because we have been taking it easy on the milk. I am starting to get a little worried about that $37 lasting the whole month, but if we run out of certain things, we will just have to be more creative.:) I cut Brad's hair again tonight. I hope to get better at it so that he will let me continue to do it, and save us that $20-$30 a month. Cash envelope balance: $137
Monday, February 13th:
Breakfast: Cereal again :)
Lunch: PB&Js for me and the kids, and Brad took leftover Katsu and rice to work
Dinner: Pork loin, PastaRoni, and steamed bell peppers
The kids and I had a great day today (see previous blog). We made Valentines for Jocelyn's preschool class for tomorrow, we painted, we went to the pool, and we did some other free stuff. It just felt good to know that I don't have to spend money to keep them entertained. Jocelyn has been asking if we can go to the movies, or if we can go to Panda Express, and other stuff like that. I love that this lesson for myself and Brad is also a lesson for her. It's also eye opening to see what kind of kid we are raising when we tell her no for a month straight. So far she has been very understanding..."Oh yeah, that's right. We aren't spending any money. I forgot, Mom." <3 Anyway, a big expense is coming up this week because Brad has to go to a going away luncheon for a friend he works with. He is getting the same deal as me...$20 out of the cash envelope. Phew, we are going to be cutting it extremely close! As of now, cash envelope balance: $137
Tuesday, February 14th:
Breakfast: Pop tarts/cereal/oatmeal
Lunch: Burger King and Charley's!!!!
Dinner: A roast leg of lamb for Brad (which was supposed to be enough for dinner and his lunch tomorrow - 1.5 pounds - but he ate all of it tonight)...and cheeseburgers for me and the kids...and corn.
Okay, before you flip out about the lunch description...check these babies out:
I told Brad that I would bring lunch to him at work today because we didn't have left overs from last night for him to take, I didn't wake up early enough to prepare something for him to take, and he couldn't get out of work to come home for lunch. I surprised him with a chicken philly cheesesteak meal from Charley's, and he was like, "What? You caved?" Insert sly smile, "NOPE!" I have had these two "free combo meal" cards for a while, and was planning on using them half way through our challenge, kind of like a "hump day" deal, even though technically the half way point is tomorrow (Thanks a lot, leap year). It was a nice treat for the kids, too. We chose a #7 from Burger King for our free meal...the 9 piece chicken fries. However, there were 15 chicken fries in there! Bonus. Anyway, We are doing well so far, I just hope the next two weeks go by as fast as the last two did. We are running out of things that we usually stay stocked up on, and my baking urges have been depleting our butter supply faster than I anticipated. The main thing here, is that we haven't spent any money on eating out, toys, clothing, gas, luxuries, or entertainment, and we haven't felt the urge to. If we have to spend a little bit to get more bread, or juice, or q-tips, it shouldn't be that big of a deal...except that we are super competitive and we want to "win" our challenge. After Brad takes $20 out of the envelope for his going away luncheon on Thursday, we will be down to $17, and probably be needing milk and eggs that same day. I foresee us breaking into the $100 from the sale of our mattress, which would still not be spending any of our February pay checks...but would be going beyond our original plan. Staying positive...thinking of ways to be creative. Cash in envelope: $137