Thursday, June 30, 2016

Meals revisited

So we have been doing the Emeals trial. It's going well enough except for a few things.......

1. The kids are kinda picky so it's pretty much a sure thing that someone won't like the Emeal dinner of the day. Tonight we had mushroom meatball soup which I admit I wasn't a fan of myself and neither were two of the kids. And spinach salad with peaches on the side. My older daughter had a hummus quesadilla (she hates cheese) so I made her that. My son tasted each item and was not a fan so he grabbed some yogurt instead. My husband liked it... but honestly he will eat pretty much everything I make, haha so there is that.

2. Some of the meals this week have had a lot of prep time involved. And to be honest this is just a lazy thing in me where I am not into the amount of prep at this time. I did look at the 30 min meals to see if they would work better but didn't see any offered on the current menu that would work better than the low carb choices. I did add in one kids meal of sloppy joes to try this week.
There really wasn't a great choice coming up for July 4th. So I opted to make homemade potato salad and grill up some hot dogs. And I'm going to make one of the coleslaw recipes on the E-meals plan that I printed out.

3. Bry wondered if the price maybe isn't great to take on while we are getting out of debt, which I think he does have a point about. And the fact that I have to end up offering something that one or more of the kids will eat on top of the meal... well that's kinda a downer and adds more cook time for me and we have to weigh the cost of that into the mix.

4. Some of the items for the meals I can't find at my local grocery store and then I end up having to make one or more trips to another store to find them.

5. Probably one of the biggest issues for me is that many of the meals involve the oven, and using the oven during the summer here is something I really need to avoid when it's over 100 degrees everyday.  It would be nice if they had a meal plan that didn't rely on oven use for those of us who prefer grilling or even stove top meals.

We talked it over with the kids tonight and discussed just having simple meals and a weekly meal schedule instead of the E-meals and using any extra grocery budget money for our debt snowball instead. And keeping snacks simple

Maybe something like this:

Breakfast options: Pancakes, Eggs, Yogurt and granola, cereal, Peanut butter toast, English muffins

Lunch options: Nachos, Lunch meat sandwiches (when the budget allows), Quesidallas, Loaded baked potatoes, Pasta Fazol, cheese and crackers with fruit on the side.

Sunday: Spagetti with garlic bread (I try to do low carb so I'm not sure if I would eat this - but one day a week probably won't be to bad).

Monday: Hot dogs and homemade potato salad

Tuesday: Tacos (I learned how to make flank steak from E-meals so I bet I could make some carne asada for tacos) with homemade guacomole.

Wednesday: Sloppy Joes, corn on the cob and potato salad

Thursday: Order in Pizza

Friday: BLT's and fresh fruit
Saturday: Breakfast for dinner

Our older daughter isn't much of a fan of eating the same kind of meal each week... but at the same time... she is really picky so pleasing her is hard but not impossible. She does like all the meals on this list minus anything with cheese or eggs, so it is doable.

I really tend to get hung up on side dishes. I will admit that the Emeals is giving good side dish choices, the green beans with brown butter and almonds I liked a lot.
I am not sure what's going to happen but I know I need a set strict list to follow. I like that about Emeals, the detailed list to stick with.

So I guess we shall see how the next week goes and go from there.

~Have a blessed night~

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grocery budget savings - Emeals

I don't know about you but one of my least favorite things has become meal planning. I lack inspiration to put a full meal together and at times when I meal plan it ends up with meals I end up not making, wasting of food or a freezer full of chicken breasts and not much to go with it as far as sides and so one more night of grilled bbq chicken anyone?

I had heard Dave Ramsey talk about Emeals. I sort of let it go in one ear and out the other as I didn't think I would pay for anyone to plan my meals ... but today as I sat down to meal plan and literally didn't get past writing out the days of the week of on a sheet of paper..... I decided to investigate Emeals and give it a go.  This isn't a plug for Emeals and I'm not getting any type of compensation for talking about it, but I know others have to be struggling with meal planning so thought it worth a mention just in case someone found themselves sitting like me staring at a page of paper trying to find some inspiration for meals.

I signed up for the free trial today, which gives me 14 days of free access and then I will be charged $30 for 3 months (there are other plans and also promo codes to lower the price). I also downloaded the app which gives a bit of a neat spin as you can pick and choose the meals you want to make from the meal plans which can be nice if you have foods you or one of your kids simply won't eat at all.
I haven't found that aspect on the desk top version but maybe it's there and I just haven't seen it yet.
I don't see a way to print the recipes or meal plans from the app, again maybe I just haven't stumbled upon that as of yet. But I was able to print from the desk top version which suits the paper preference in me. I do like the way the app lets you use it as a shopping check list. Love that both the app and desk top version show you what foods you need from the store you choose (I picked Walmart as the food is cheaper and also offers me savings catcher discount which helps too).
For 7 days of meals for my family of 6 it has it at about $127 for one meal plan and $103 for the other week. Wow! To me that seemed really great. Not to mention left overs for lunches for the following days. I ended up making adjustments and leaving out the pork dishes from the app and choosing other dishes and it brought my total for 7 meals to $97.72 (though may be a tad more if I need some of the listed staples.) I may look at SAMs Club for the meat prices and some of the veggies since I can freeze the meat to use the following week.
The desk top lay out on this is pretty nice and simple. I love the shopping list broken down by grocery store aisle as well as a box to the right that has the necessary staples. It's nice and simple which is pleasing to the eye.

I looked at a few other meal planning companies. One of them had you important your own recipes. That seemed like a lot of work since what I'm lacking is meal idea inspiration. I know I could search online for them but right now.... I just really wanted something easy to help me make meals that taste good and don't require me to think about creating them or finding the recipes.

I went with the low carb plan. I may try others but I liked the offering of the recipes and the sides are nice and simple, nothing crazy. I am not a fan of crazy hard to make sides requiring a ton of time on my part.
Some examples of a couple of the meals are One pan roasted chicken and vegetables, Shredded Pork Tacos, Pineapple -Tomato Roasted Grouper, Greek Chicken Kabobs with Herb Yogurt Sauce.

I usually shop for two weeks at a time but I'm going to try shopping for one week this time to keep fresh ingredients fresh and go from there. I will also still hit SAMs for our snacks, milk, yogurt, and fruit.

I'm really hoping this will make our budget stretch longer and also make meal time less of a drag since it's been a real challenge for me lately.
I do wish that there was more nutrition info on the recipes verses just net carbs... and for someone on a strict diet who needs to know more information... I could see this presenting a problem.

~Have a blessed day~

Monday, June 20, 2016

Citi snowball

So Discover is all done. Yay! 
The final payment cleared and we cancelled my account. They asked if they could make me any special offers to keep me as a customer. I thanked them for the offer but said no thank you, please close my account effective immediately. 

The debt snowball is taking money you were paying on a prior debt which you paid off and moving that payment amount to the next debt in line to be paid off. 

I put the citi payment snowball in the left side bar (view desk top version not the mobile version to see it). We are able to move the amount we had used to pay off Discover which was $1052 per month. To that, we are also able to add in 49.08 per month we freed up from replacing life insurance which was a whole life policy that had a term rider attached to it. We replaced this with a 30 year term policy that includes living benefits. And we also are adding in an extra $40 per pay period (taking $20 from the grocery budget and $20 from the family spending money) .

I may be working extra in July for a couple days and if I do that we will speed this up faster. Here's hoping! 
God willing we will knock this one out fast and keep the momentum going strong! 

I was listening to Dave Ramsey the other day (I listen to his podcast daily as well as Chris Brown and soon Chris Hogan), to keep me motivated to get this debt out of here. He asks people that are doing their debt free scream what changed for them to make them want to do this.... I was thinking about it.... why do I want to do this? I think it's for a few reasons.... I'm sick and tired of sending out so much of Bry's hard earned money to pay credit card bills and I'm mad about it mad that we spent foolishly in the past.... and I want Bry to be able to rest easy and know that I totally changed the way I spend and view money...... and I want to change our family tree so our kids will not live in debt like we have and so they will be so money smart that it will just be amazing! And I want to give give give and be able to do that knowing that it's not taking money from our food money to be able to help others. That will be amazing! 

~Have a blessed day~ 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bye bye discover card

Today we did it! We paid off the Discover in full baby! Whoo Hoo. I know it's not a huge amount in the grand scheme of our debt pay off plan... but it really speeds up our payment plan quite a bit.

We cancelled the whole life on myself and received $6753.00 from that. We used $4733.60 to pay off the entire balance on the Discover card. We put $1000 into our baby step 1 emergency fund. So the balance on that is $2000 now. And we also set aside $1000 to put toward orthodontist work for one of our kids.

And now it's gazelle focus on our Citi bank card and the balance on that one is $5,164.00

I'm projecting the payments on this to have us paying it off hopefully by 10/14/16.

Wish us luck!

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Feeling Gazelle intense ....

Today was kinda a not so great budget day. You know one of those days when you sit to do your budget and it's not all fleshing out the way you had hoped it would. A few reasons for this were some expenses that popped up that were not originally accounted for in the initial budget... and then you have to take the money from other categories to cover them.... And so this chopped our usual grocery budget down a bit and also our spending money as well, as those are really the only fluid categories we have at this point. Man I can't wait until we get that changed.... We need sinking funds for other areas of our lives...and clothes categories and spending categories and so on.

I had planned on having my hair done ($90 with tip) but since I didn't have all the cash I needed saved up I would have had to take that from another place and didn't feel comfortable doing that. So I opted to cancel my appointment and hold off. Our 12 year old wanted to go by some shirts - she doensn't need them just wanted them. And it's just not in the budget right now... so we are going to go through her closet and see what she has. She may have forgotten what she has in there and find some hidden treasures she's been overlooking. Christmas is also going to have to be really intentional and really trim this year as well. Going to have to foster a feeling of abundance without a lot under the tree this year. Last year was IPads and this year... well let's say there are not going to be any IPads or amazing gifts.... but we know it's about Jesus and not about the stuff anyway. Just sometimes I know we parents feel some guilt is all.... But keep trying to remind ourselves that once we are debt free it will feel like nothing else for all of us in the house... and that is worth keeping committed to.

I've been thinking about looking for some more part time work... it's hard because there are a lot of times I can't work if Bry's not home and we are not comfortable leaving the kids for long stretches. Bry was seriously also considering some part time work.... For Bry he's got a lot of balls in the air right now with his testing for other areas of his job and it would be great for him to be able to stay focused on that stuff right now. So I don't really want him to go this route as it would mean he can't do the testing options for his current job for promotion, and if he does promote that would be a huge jump in pay and also a nice jump in retirement pay long term... so lots falls into decision making here.
We do feel like we have a decent size shovel with $1052 going toward paying off debt. But I guess sometimes you just want to see that needle move faster.

I also have to be honest and say that I feel that a good bit of this credit card debt falls squarely on me. And that makes me feel guilt.... I want to be a help to my husband not a burden and by digging us into debt I have been a burden....
I think my worst mistaken was doing a balance transfer of a USAA card I had to a 0 interest with discover.... but then charging up the USAA card again... (hangs head in shame) WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING!!! But yeah I did that.... With two cards actually which makes me feel twice as angry at me..... 0 interest for me is not a fix.... I hear people call into Dave's show asking about transferring balances  all the time and I think man.... I wish I hadn't of done it.... What a mess I've made.

The next payday is on June 24th. I like to do them in advance just to make sure I get the basics covered and then tweak as needed the day or two before the payday when we have our budget meeting... So that one had me lacking $101 to pay bills... I was kinda freaking out trying to figure out where to get that money from... So I ended up paying a few of the smaller bills (Nextflix and Hulu) from this paycheck instead and then altering the grocery budget and the family spending money next time to cover the difference. God willing I will be creative and do a great job with meals the next two weeks and have some stuff prepared and be able to do a smart grocery trip that pay period.

Good luck to all working Dave's Steps! May God bless!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tapping into the Emergency fund - van troubles

We had our Van at the Dodge dealership and after 5 days of them saying it started for them fine (which we can't believe because it continually was harder and harder for us to get our van to start) they sent us home saying their computer didn't show anything needed fixing. Alrighty then....I elevated it with customer care but we didn't feel confident with Dodge having hands on it again (and it is a dodge van) so we didn't give them another crack at it.

So here we were with a Van still giving us trouble starting until all of a sudden it wouldn't start at all. We had to have it towed and this time took it to a Hyundai dealership that we had had a good experience with on Bry's car (Hyundai). They had it about two weeks. They gave me a loaner the entire time for no charge and they really made sure they were not sending us home with an "oh well, too bad, nothing we can do for you" attitude. They replace the battery, fought the fight for us with the Dodge Dealership that had to flash the car, replaced the battery, which was killed because of wiring issues from - the culprit - the junction box, that stinker!

We had to take $577 (some of that was for an issue with Bry's car: $130.86) from our baby step one Emergency fund which was $1,036. On this van we had previously (before starting Dave) purchased the extended warranty. Without the warranty the bill for just my van would have been $1,471.78.... which wouldn't be an issue if we had a fully funded emergency fund or were at a point where we can do a car repair sinking fund... we are not there yet but we will be someday. And this is a great reminder for us of why we need to kick this debt out for good! And not get into debt again!

Bry had received a payment from AFLAC for an injury he received (for now until we have a fully funded emergency fund we are not canceling AFLAC because of the career Bry has). So that was a check for about $515. We used some of that to cover the replacement of the ER fund and then some of my work check. We were only able to pay $317 on the Discover bill this pay period instead of the
usual $526 that I've been trying to pay bi-weekly for Discover.

Next pay day is next week. And the hope is to pay $526 on Discover.

I may be working a few extra days at my job in July (right now it's 4 hours weekly that I work) over a 2 day period and our plan is to dump all of the payment toward the Discover bill.

As of today the discover balance is at $5,270.60

I think that's about all there is to update for now.
~Be blessed~