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Track Your Spending Challenge

Track your spending challenge

Ever wonder where all your money goes? You get paid one day and it’s gone a few days later. You paid some bills and grab something to eat and ran to Target…. where did it go??

Does this sound familiar to you? It sounds familiar to me and my family. We get paid one day and then poof it’s gone but you don’t know where it all went. What I failed to realize that those cups of Dunkin coffee and donuts or stops at Burger King all add up! Do you know what you spend your money on?

Yes, it is easy to say oh this is only a $1 or $2 so what’s the big deal. Well after 5 of those its only $1 adds up to $5 which enough to buy milk and bread for the week in my house. The coffee I love to grab with a bagel and donut on Saturday mornings… $8! If I bought coffee, bagels and cream cheese at the grocery store and brought them with me the break down would be about $2 for my breakfast. (I totally don’t need the donut and its an impulse buy every single week lol) I could use that other $6 towards groceries, gas or savings.

For one month, I am taking a little notebook that I bought a while ago (yes we have a collection of those that I wasted money on) and tracking where my spending goes every day. This will help me see, on paper, where the money goes and where I can cut back on spending.

I am breaking it down into 5 categories:

Household/Groceries (g)

House Bills (b)

Transportation/Gas (t)

Misc Spending (m)

Saving (s)

In my notebook, I will record day by day what I spend money on and use my codes to keep the categories straight. This way at the end of the week and month, I can easily track where the money is spent. At the end of the money, I will be putting this into a spreadsheet on my computer so that I can lay out my budget plans for next month. My goal is to add more into our savings for incidentals and vacations.

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Check out my facebook page which will be updated on Sundays with my tracking numbers and watch where I am spening my money: Kaella Facebook Page

Are you ready to start tracking your spending and see where your money goes?

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Plant Seeds to Save Earth and Money

25 Poppasome Tokens of Appreciation

Its Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than by starting a garden! An added bonus to starting a garden is the money you save by growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruits.

For most of my life, I have loved flowers and gardens but was plagued with a black thumb. Any living plant I tried to grow, failed and died pretty quickly. Either, I forgot to water or I over watered and killed the plants.Even with the consistent failing at growing plants, I kept on trying over and over again.

Through much perseverance, I have turned my black thumb into a green thumb. Last year, I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, Bok choy, beans and squash. Also, I planted so many beautiful flowers. The cucumbers, some of the peppers, bok choy and squash were bought and planted as seedling plants. The tomatoes, rest of the peppers, lettuce and beans were started as seeds.

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Starting the plants as seeds was a first time thing for me and I didn’t realize how fast and how many of seedlings grow from these tiny seeds. I ended up with SOOOOOO many tomato and pepper plants that we couldn’t keep up with all of them. Danyella was in her glory to be able to go pick and eat her tomatoes whenever she wanted all summer long.

I did have some failures like my bok choy and squash. I didn’t know that squash needed some help with their fruition in order to grow. Plus, I didn’t know that bok choy would bolt so quickly and I couldn’t keep up with it.

This year, thanks to Target, Walmart and the Dollar store, I have expanded my list of plants which I am starting all from seeds. At Walmart and Target, I found herbs in little tins that come with the seeds and starter pellets. The great thing about these kits is that the herbs can continue to grow indoors in these tins, all year-long. Now, I can cook with fresh herbs like Thyme, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano and Sage!

I bought seeds like tomato, snap peas, and beans plus the seed starting trays at the dollar store. These are great because you only need them for a short period of time. I bought the seed starter pellets for $4 at Walmart and have lots of seedlings already started. I have leftover seeds from last year and need to buy a few more types of seeds for this year.

Instead of buying tons of trays, I am recycling egg cartons, milk containers and things to start my seeds or make into pots. This not only saves me money but saves the Earth from more trash to be collected in a trash dump.

My challenge this year is going to be to make my garden grow all in pots. I am fearful of planting a garden in the yard because we share it with the unruly neighbors whose kids don’t have any respect for other people’s property. Living on the second floor, I have lots of outdoor steps leading up to our door to utilize with pots. I plan on using every space possible to grow my garden and save money this summer with our fresh veggies and trying a strawberry plant for the first time this year!

Total for seeds, pellets and eventually soil for my pots will still cost less than going to the store and buying these fruits and veggies at the store.

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Are you ready to start a garden today?

 

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Cutting the Cable Wire

Cut the Cable out

For the past year and half my family has lived without cable which to some people seems crazy but for our family it was an unnecessary added bill. When I was looking at ways to cut costs in our budget, the cable bill just killed me because we paid over $130 for internet and cable. We didn’t watch a 1/4 of the channels! Oh and our Internet was at the slowest speed so we went through constant buffering and delays.

We live in a day and age where you can’t live without internet. I need internet for blogging and business and Danyella’s homeschooling is half done through an online program. Plus, we stream Netflix and Hulu to fulfill our desire to watch something on TV. Which before we cut the cable, we were mainly streaming our shows on an app instead of watching live tv.

Paying over $130 for cable we barely watch and Internet that moved at snail speed just was not ok for me and for our budget. So me being me, I set out and did research with LOTS of notes. I looked at how much it costs for different scenarios to keep our internet and streaming services.

Since our area is limited (due to a stupid 15 year or some outrageous number contract with a specific company) to only one cable and internet company, our options were meek but doable. To go with just the internet package from our cable company, they offer 4 plans starting with the craptastic $45 Plan that is recommended for less than 3 devices in the home. Then, there are 2 middle plans for $55 and $70. Last is the Queen of the plans at $90 a month for the ultimate gaming experience. We don’t need the gaming experience so we went with the $55 plan that is good for 5 devices at once which is about right between streaming, laptops and phones going at once.

How am I watching stuff on my tv without cable? I had previously purchased an Amazon Firestick for the living room tv Danyella’s room plus our bedroom had a roku smart tv so we have streaming devices. ($35 each for the sticks and the tv was $120 at Walmart) In the long run, this was an investment well worth the month. Total out-of-pocket so far is $55 a month and $210 lifetime

Now onto our streaming apps! Netflix is a must have in our lives because I have an obsession with watching Orange is the New Black and Danyella watches Fuller House. When I say obsession… the day either of those shows come out, we get up at 3am and binge ALL DAY until we have watched all the episodes at once. Only breaks are for potty and food. Cost of our obsession is $14 a month to watch on 4 screens (sometimes we are all watching something different and take up 3 screens). An added perk that I only recently discovered is you can download movies onto your tablet or phone for free and watch them without using internet for 2 weeks. New out-of-pocket expenses: monthly $69 lifetime $120

Hulu has become our new way to watch live tv because a little over a year without watching my live sports was killing me slowly. I needed to watch my Eagles on Sundays plus there were some tv shows that I wanted to watch live and not see all the spoilers on Facebook thanks to my friends. Hulu recently came out with a live streaming package with DVR and completely revamped their app which I love! We get all the major channels like ABC, CBS and NBC plus food network, kids channels and a bunch more we don’t watch but sometimes I’ll record movies to watch later. This was worth every penny to watch the recent Superbowl (Fly Eagles Fly) and the Winter Olympics. Oh and I needed to watch the new episodes of Grey’s live before Facebook told me what happened. Only downfall of the live streaming channels is that they don’t stream any of the Hallmark channels (sometimes a girl needs a little girly romance movie binge). The new Hulu live streaming service is $40 per month. The Latest totals: Monthly $109 Lifetime $210

With eliminating our cable, upgrading our internet and using streaming apps our new total a month is $109! This saves us $36 a month which is 2 weeks worth of gas for my car or more than half of my grocery shopping budget a week!! With the Hulu live streaming we can always pause our subscription if the $40 isn’t in our budget one month or we want to use that money towards something else. Saving $36 and upgrading to a better internet package makes the changes feel worth it because we aren’t wasting money or getting frustrated with the internet.

How many of you have cut the cable cord in your homes?

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Utilizing Rain Checks for Grocery Shopping

bake bread (1)

Yesterday, for the first time, I went to customer service at my local grocery store and asked for a rain check. I have never done this and didn’t even know it was still a thing some stores do until someone talked about it in my couponing group. Rain checks are still a thing so how and when do I ask or use them?

Typically in my shopping adventures, if the store is out of something on sale then I won’t worry about it. This week was a different story because I went to Shoprite twice for my Creamate French Vanilla creamer and they were out. The creamer was on sale for $1.66 so I wanted to stock up on it because I go through creamer now that I am back to drinking coffee everyday.

 

With my coffee, I am a creature of habit either French Vanilla or Pumpkin Spice (I could drink it all year long if they would make and sell it) or Peppermint Mocha (only in December before Christmas). If I wanted to drink coffee that tasted like Cookies and Cream or some other gross flavor (sorry if I offended anyone) , then I would have gone home with creamer. I just couldn’t do it.

 

After I was done checking out, I put on my big girl panties and went to customer service to ask for my rain check. For some reason, doing stuff like this makes me nervous and shy. So I stumbled over my words when I asked for a rain check and the girl needed to know exactly what I wanted it for. I didn’t realize she needed the exact flavor… whoops.

Eventually, I was able to find my big girl words and walked away with my rain check for my french vanilla creamer! A little more success for my shopping trip!

After some research, I found out that my local grocery stores will issue rain checks. As far as I know, Walmart and Target do not issue rain checks for any of their grocery products. I will now be using this knowledge to help in my future shopping trips to save money and you should too!

If you or your family have products that you love and they are out of stock when they are on sale, then I encourage you to ask for a rain check because it can help save you so much money especially if you end up getting a coupon for that product in the future! Double win!

This week’s trip was small because we are moving over the next 2 weeks and I don’t want to stock up on to much and have to move even more stuff. I spent $30.73 and saved $87! My only complaint is that my $2 digital coupon for diapers didn’t come off so I will be going to customer service this week to get it fixed. Diapers are expensive as it is so saving an extra $2 is helpful (it is enough to purchase my creamer with my rain check!). Instead of paying $3 for my diapers, I spent $5…

My free items this week were the detergent bottles, scent booster, stain fighter packs, bananas. Halos  were $2 (I bought a bag of these earlier in the week as well), Raisin Bran Crunch $.50, Kellogs and Frosted Flakes were $3 for both, pasta $1.50, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream (not my fav chunky monkey sadly) $1.50, bacon $2, ground beef (3 pounds) for $6 and the water was 3 cases for $6.

I definitely missed stocking up on some stuff but still grabbed great deals. I plan on splitting the ground meat into 1 pound bags to freeze and use in the future for pasta meals. We plan on packing our kitchen over the next couple of days so we will be eating lots of easy stuff like cereal so thankfully the cereal was a great deal. Even though we won’t go through 3 cases of water before we move, I couldn’t pass up this deal because at Walmart you buy a case for over $3 a case for their brand.

Have you used rain checks? How was your shopping trip this week?

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Couponing Terms with Printable List

8 foolproof ways to

As I have been researching and participating in groups on couponing, I found myself lost because I couldn’t understand the terms these couponers were using. OOP was the most common. Then there is stacking and catalina and frees. What in the heck are these people saying? I didn’t quite realize that couponing came with its own language which the 4 years of Spanish in High School will not help me here!

I decided to start a list and make it printable for all of my fellow newbie couponers to understand what other people are saying. I printed this list out so when I am reading an article or scanning through Facebook groups, I can look up the term without needing to google it. I hope this list will help you! If there is a term that I am missing please feel free to leave it in the comment so I can edit the printable list. Click here for the PDF free printable:  Couponing Terms to Know

For this week’s big savings: I was really proud of myself to watch what the extreme couponers in my area were doing and following suit, on a smaller scale. Our local grocery store had Arm & Hammer laundry detergent 3 for $1.77 each, a digital $3 off 3 coupon and a manufacture $3 off 3 coupon which made these FREE! Plus Schick razors were on sale for $5.99 with a $1 off digital coupon and $4 off manufacture coupon which made them $.99! Plus, Huggies diapers on sale for $6.99 with $2 digital coupon and $2 manufacture coupon which made them $2.99! There are a ton of other deals that I scored and wish I would have taken a picture but I will from now on. In total I spent $20.06 and saved over $75 between sale items, digital and manufacture coupons! Oh and I can shave my legs again now that I can see them after I had the baby so double score for me!!

Keep an eye out for next week’s DIY Coupon Binder to get us started with organizing all of these coupons!

couponing

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Do Coupons Really Matter?

Is Couponing Worth It_

For more years than I want to admit, I have been couponing on and off…. though more off then on because I would either forget it was Sunday to buy the papers, I was too lazy to cut the coupons before I went shopping or I would just forget the coupons at home when I was already in the grocery store. Also, I was doubtful that I was really saving any money because I would have to purchase 2 or 3 of a product just to get the $1 off. Well this past week taught me the lesson that I need to learn to be frugal and that there are good coupons and deals if I just pay attention!

 

So we all know of the extreme couponers that have a format to how they coupon and purchase like $200 worth of groceries for $20 (maybe a little extreme but not really if you watch the shows and documentaries). In my mind, those extreme couponers were a little crazy and had too much time on their hands which I didn’t have. Now, I do have the time on my hands and the financial need to cut down on our spending costs so I better start paying attention to what they are doing and copying their money-saving ways.

My lesson from last week is this…. Shoprite (our local go to grocery store for good deals) had Arm & Hammer laundry detergent on sale for $1.99 plus there was a coupon out in the world for a $1 off the detergent which means you can buy the detergent for just $.99! Well that $1 savings could go towards the fresh fruit and veggies that my family devours in a day or less.

Lately, at my go to couponing place, I could have easily purchased 10 bottles for $1 each BUT I only had 1 coupon for regular detergent and 1 coupon for the sensitive skin (Danyella and the new baby). So I ordered (yes I order my groceries which will be a future post) 1 bottle of regular scented detergent and 1 bottle of the sensitive skin detergent and used my coupons. After putting the groceries away, I was kicking myself in the ass about the detergent situation so I waddled my ass around Shoprite to get more of the detergent without the coupons. (insert crying face emoji here haha) I mean with how much our dog sheds, I needed as much detergent as I could get at that price!

 

Lesson learned because we go through detergent so often with a furry puppy. The next place I  have been looking for coupons has been coupons.com because I can easily print of the coupons and why would I need to go over their limit of only printing the coupon 1 time when I don’t usually stock up on things. (BIG MISTAKE AND LESSON LEARNED FOR A FUTURE POST COMING SOON!)

 

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Next lesson on coupons I learned…. I may never become one of those extreme couponers but this morning I got out of bed early (a rarity just ask my boyfriend husband) and went to Wawa to purchase 2 Sunday papers to get those coupons. (“Christina” has found us a hook up to get a set of 10 papers to split and save us the trip and money!)

As I am cutting the coupons from 2 different papers (don’t know why I decided to try 2 different papers but something told me to do it), I find out that not all papers have the same damn coupons! The one paper had more coupons than the other but the other paper had a rebate coupon that doesn’t expire until March of next year. Shit now do I buy 2 of each of those papers? Yes, I do buy the one paper for “Christina” and I and she gets us the hook up for the other paper so we can use all the savings we can get!

This is a bit overwhelming and a little exciting at the same time. I am trying to find other ways to save money before this baby gets here and we have to add baby stuff to the grocery list. Since this is going to be an ongoing challenge for me, I am starting a series on couponing and saving on Sundays. If you have any tips or stories of your own please feel free to comment below.

*Check out how to make your own coupon binder: Create your own Coupon Binder

* Need help learning couponing terms: Couponing Terms with Printable List

**Since, writing this post last year, I have been finding better ways to save with coupons and I can’t wait to share my post this weekend on using these coupons to stockpile so be on the look out!