Friday, July 26, 2013

Grocery shopping and menus, July 14-20

It's been an extra busy month here for my design work, so I'm quite late in getting this post together. I'll keep it simple, but hopefully it'll still be of interest to at least some of you. :) Joe did  most of the shopping for us this week, which was a big help to me. The total ended up being more than I shoot to spend in a week, but since we were under budget last week it'll even out. Nice to stock up a bit on the cheese and peanut butter when we get a chance, and produce at these fabulous summertime prices is hard to pass up!

What we bought
Target shopping trip
This was my first time stacking manufacturer coupons, store coupons (including mobile coupons) AND the new "Cartwheel" program deals. When these are also combined with sales, it makes for some pretty amazing deals. Fun stuff! I'm tickled that the free wifi in Target stores allows me to use my ipod to take advantage of these mobile coupons - no smart phone needed! Sorry there's no picture here...I was going to take one, but we were out most of the afternoon and I had to take care of a tired baby as soon as we got home.
  • Earthbound Farms organic carrots, 1 lb - 1.09 - used $1/1 mobile coupon
  • Sandwich bread, 1 loaf - 1.41 - used $1/1 mobile coupon and 5% off cartwheel
  • Canola oil - 3.29 - used $1/1 mobile coupon
  • Gala apples, 1.08 lb (3 apples) at 1.39/lb - used $1/1 mobile coupon and 5% off cartwheel
  • Van's gluten-free frozen waffles - on sale for 2.50 - used 3.00 man. coupon (0.50 moneymaker!)
  • Frozen raspberries, 1 lb - 2.79 - used $1/1 mobile coupon and 20% off cartwheel
  • Hand soap - 0.89 - used 0.50 Target coupon and 5% off cartwheel
  • Paper towels, 1 roll - 0.99 - used 0.50 Target coupon (and apparently something mobile applied, too, since the receipt says they worked out to be free. Yay!)
  • Kashi cold cereal - 3 boxes on sale for 2.66 each - used two $2/1 and one $1/1 man. coupons, $1/2 Target coupon, and 10% off cartwheel
  • Fresh strawberries, 1 lb - 1.79 - free with purchase of 3 boxes of Kashi (store promo deal), so if I'm figuring this right, we paid $1.68 for three boxes of supposedly-healthier cold cereal AND a pound of strawberries. Can't beat that! :D
  • TOTAL - $5.85 - saved 19.79 with coupons and the 5% off for using our Target debit card, more if you count sales!

Hy-vee shopping trip
  • Frozen veggies, 1 lb bags - 8 bags at 0.77 each (sale)
  • Cheese blocks, 8 oz. - 3 at 3/$5 (store coupon)
  • Cranberry honey nut trail mix, half a pound - 3.05 - a birthday splurge for me :)
  • Gourmet olives, a little over half a pound - 6.23 - a treat for Joe :)
  • TOTAL - $20.44 - saved some with the sales.

  WEEKLY TOTAL - $26.29 - saved $19.79 with coupons (more with sales)

What We Ate
  • Sunday: Fried chicken salad (a quickie to throw together, since Joe had to work that evening)
  • Monday: Potato and bacon soup (with the bacon Joe just finished smoking!), garlic breadsticks and cinnamon breadsticks, veggies
  • Tuesday: Tuna sandwiches, veggies
  • Wednesday: Baked chicken, wild rice, lima beans (seasons with barbeque sauce - turned out great!), veggies
  • Thursday: Tried a new recipe for a country fritata. Turned out okay, but not a keeper. Also had a green salad.
  • Friday: Joe went out and fetched Subway so I wouldn't have to cook on my birthday - awww! <3
  • Saturday: We enjoyed a tasty meal at a local place, Cozy Cafe - another birthday treat. Yay for Groupon deals! :) We were still full at suppertime so just had popcorn.
  • Breakfasts: Peaches, homemade banana bread (from the freezer), homemade yogurt (yum!), cold cereal with goat milk

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Getting out of debt can take less time than you would think...

Abi has been posting lately about our grocery shopping excursions and our weekly menus. Her diligence with couponing and looking for deals has saved us an incredible amount of money in the 2 1/2 years we've been married. Without that work, I don't think we'd be doing as well as we are in getting out of the debts I'd accumulated in the years before we knew each other.

July is almost over and the last paycheck has been accounted for, so it's not likely that we'll be making any more payments this month. However, I found the binder that has all of the spreadsheets I'd saved since I started tracking our debts in December 2009. Several spreadsheets are, unfortunately, missing, and it wasn't until 2011 that I thought of keeping track of what our debt total was on the anniversary of the beginning of this journey. However, I do have the first spreadsheet, and it blows me away to look at it.

I graduated college in May 2008, which means I had until November 2008 before the grace period on my student loans was due. So by the time I started tracking the numbers, I'd already been regularly paying on my student loans for about a year. Here's how it all broke down:

I had six distinct loans through American Education Services. These are classified as student loans, but a good portion of the money had been borrowed to pay off a credit card I'd maxed out twice. I'd also borrowed $10,000-$12,500 through this group to cover living expenses while I was going through my internship. These six loans together totaled $74,441.55 and had a total monthly payment of $498.94. I've been able to pay each of these loans individually, which has been a huge help.

I'd been able to obtain some Stafford loans through school, serviced by Great Lakes. It was split into two payable loans, one at $2,907.55 with a monthly payment of $50.00 and the other at $21,331.20 with a monthly payment of $258.09. The total there was $24,238.75 with a monthly payment of $308.09.

Then I had two credit cards I was paying off (Wells Fargo: $2,157.61 @ $62.00/month; Bank of America: $6,429.36 @ $150.00/month), totaling $8,586.97 with a total monthly payment of $212.

I also traded in my car in May 2009 and took out a loan to cover the rest, which was $9,199.56 in December with a payment of $215 (this was before I'd heard anything about Dave Ramsey).

And I had a personal loan valued at $8,960.96 with a payment of $297.53. I honestly have no idea why I had this, which is rather distressing.

So, all in all, on December 22nd, 2009, I had a debt total of $125,427.79 with a total minimum monthly payment of $1,531.56. Yikes! Praise the Lord I was in a great job with a good salary. I was also sharing a cheap (for Rochester, MN) apartment and splitting the costs of rent and utilities.

By February 15th, 2010, I'd already made some fairly impressive strides. I'd completely knocked out the Wells Fargo credit card and paid off almost $2,500.00 of the lower Stafford loan. I finished off that Stafford loan by April 9th, 2010, and by then had already paid off $8,492.43 (that's just 3 1/2 months!).

Fast forward to today. We owe my sister-in-law, Susanna, $11,250.00. She had loaned us $10,000 at 5% for 5 years when Abi and I got married to pay off the car and make a big payment on some of the other debt. Rather than deal with monthly payments to her, she let us make the total $12,500.00 with a payment of $500.00/year for 5 years. That has freed us up to make bigger payments on the rest of what we owe. In addition to that loan, my Stafford loan is down to $6,852.67, made possible through a program at work where I was awarded $5,000. And I only have two loans left through American Education Services, totaling $18,946.52. Not making allowance for what we owe Susanna, our monthly payments are now $441.58.

This boils down to having paid off $88,378.60 in just over 3 1/2 years. We've managed to pay off $11,610.06 this year alone, and are on track to make our total payoff this year almost $20,000.00 (Abi says we should really pinch our pennies and get that up to $25,000.00).

Even if I don't receive an award from work this year (though I'm most definitely hoping I will get something through work), we should have all of the student loans paid off by the end of 2014 at the latest. Depending on Abi's income and the potential award through work, we could even possibly have Susanna paid off by then. It's exciting to think about!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grocery shopping and menus, July 7-13

It's been an extra busy month here for my design work, so I'm quite late in getting this post together. I'll keep it simple, but hopefully it'll still be of interest to at least some of you. :) Joe did  most of the shopping for us this week, which was a big help to me. The total ended up being more than I shoot to spend in a week, but since we were under budget last week it'll even out. Nice to stock up a bit on the cheese and peanut butter when we get a chance, and produce at these fabulous summertime prices is hard to pass up!

What we bought
Fareway shopping trip
  • Shredded cheese, 8-oz bags - got 8 bags at 1.50 each (sale)
  • Pork and beans (regular sized cans) - got 3 cans at 0.50 each - used 0.50/3 store coupon
  • TOTAL - $13.00 - saved 0.50 with coupon, quite a bit more with sales (not sure what regular prices are)

Hy-vee shopping trip
  • Jiffy peanut butter - got 4 jars at 1.48 each (sale)
  • Ocean Spray cranberry lemonade - on sale for 1.99 - used $1/1 man. coupon
  • Barilla pasta - got 4 boxes at $1/box (sale) - used two $1/2 coupons (but I think one didn't scan right, as it's not showing on the receipt - you have to watch closely sometimes!)
  • Colgate toothpaste - got 2 at 2.00 each - used a $2/2 coupon and also earned 0.05/gal gas at Hyvee's station
  • Yellow peaches - 2.23 lb at 0.99/lb - 2.21
  • White peaches - 1.68 lb at 0.99/lb - 1.68
  • Red grapes - 2.36 lb at 0.99/lb - 2.34
  • TOTAL - $18.48 - saved $4.00 with coupons, more with sales, plus we'll get a little back with the gas deal

Hy-vee shopping trip #2 (since the first Hyvee was out of TP)

  • Charmin toilet paper, 12 double roll pack - on sale for 4.88 - used a $3/1 man. coupon
  • TOTAL - $2.17 with tax - saved $3.00 with coupon, not a bad price for TP!

Aldi shopping trip

  • Seedless grapes - 1.98
  • Strawberries, 1 pound - 0.99
  • Canteloupe - 1.19
  • Bananas - 1.58 lb at 0.44/lb - 0.70
  • Grape tomatoes, 1 pound - two boxes at 1.49
  • Tortilla chips - 2 bags at 1.19
  • TOTAL - $10.22

 Aldi shopping trip #2 (later in the week, with a new round of sales)

  • Artisan baby lettuce, 4 small heads - 1.49
  • Grape tomatoes, 1 pound - 3 boxes at 0.79
  • Multi-colored bell peppers, 3-pack - 1.49
  • Cucumbers - 6 at 0.25 (these were huge, and SO yummy, I wish we'd gotten more!)
  • Canola oil - 2.69
  • TOTAL - $10.52

Gifts from my family 
Their generosity is such a blessing to us!
  • 8 quarts raw goat milk - I used half of this to make yogurt
  • 1 dozen eggs

 WEEKLY TOTAL - $54.39 - saved $7.50 with coupons (more if you count sales)

What We Ate
  • Sunday: Visiting my family.
  • Monday: Mediterranean quinoa (my favorite way to fix it - so good!), canteloupe, sourdough garlic toast
  • Tuesday: Pepperoni spaghetti pie, garlic/cheese toast, green salad
  • Wednesday: Fish sticks, fried rice, tomato/cucumber salad, strawberry shortcake (yum!).
  • Thursday: Tortilla wraps with leftover rice and gravy from the freezer, canteloupe, toasted tortillas with sugar and cinnamon. My sisters came to visit this day, so I fixed spaghetti with sauce/ground beef and fresh veggies for a quickie supper.
  • Friday: Bean/beef/tortilla casserole, green salad. My sister was still visiting so she made us cheese and tomato sandwiches on leftover homemade buns for supper.
  • Saturday: Joe made his amazing chili, cornbread in a cast iron pan (the best!), and veggies for lunch - my parents and sister joined us. For supper I made a quick Dutch Baby/Finnish Pancake and we also had some grapes.
  • Breakfasts: Peaches, cinnamon/raisin English muffins (from the freezer), homemade yogurt (yum!)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Grocery shopping and menus, June 30-July 6

This week was much less eventful in the area of shopping and cooking - and much busier for me, thus my delay in getting a summary posted. I'll keep this brief, and will hopefully be back in a few days with a post about this week.

What we bought
Fareway shopping trip
  • Honey-wheat pita pocket bread (10 ct) - marked down to 0.99
  • Red delicious apples, 4.05 lb at $0.88/lb - 3.56
  • Kraft Miracle Whip, 30 oz - 2 jars at 2.49 each - used $1/1 man. coupons and $1/1 store coupons
  • Reynolds foil baking cups - 2 at 0.99 - used $1/1 man. coupons, so FREE!
  • Pork and beans - 4 cans at 0.29 each (sale)
  • TOTAL - $7.79 - saved $5.00 with coupons (more with sales and markdowns)

Hy-vee shopping trip
  • Honey Nut Cheerios - 4 boxes at 4/$9 - used $4/4 store coupon and two $1/2 man. coupons
  • TOTAL - $3.00 - saved $6.00 with coupons

Paul's Grains shopping trip
My family generously gives us some of the items they raise on their farm, as well as letting us in on discount prices for items they purchase in bulk. This is a huge help to our budget, and definitely helps us afford to eat much more healthy than we could otherwise! We made a trip out to the farm this week, so I went "shopping" while there and got the following items:
  • Whole wheat flour, 5 pounds - free, since they grow and grind it there
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, 5 pounds - 3.65
  • Quinoa, 3 pounds - 6.75
  • "Spike" seasoning blend, 1/2 pound - 3.00
  • "Real Salt", 2 pounds - 4.32
  • Raw goat milk, 4 quarts - free
  • Free-range eggs, 1 doz. - free
  • TOTAL - $17.72

WEEKLY TOTAL - $28.51 - saved $11.00 with coupons (more, if you count sales, markdowns, and gifts)

What We Ate
Since we were visiting with my family from Thursday through Sunday, I got half the week off from menu planning. Yay! Here's what we ate here before the trip:
  • Sunday: Taco salad (quick and easy, since church was in the morning and Joe had to work the evening shift)
  • Monday: Fish fillets baked with creamy sauce, whole grain noodles, green salad
  • Tuesday: Whole wheat biscuits from scratch, gravy with fresh rosemary and ground pork, tomato/cucumber salad
  • Wednesday: "Date" lunch at Village Inn - fun, but we weren't terribly impressed even with the free pie and probably won't go back.
  • Breakfasts: Apples and peanut butter, bananas, raisin English muffins (from the freezer)