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Archive for August, 2017

Grocery success & other money stuff

August 9th, 2017 at 03:46 pm

We're over halfway through the week and I'm now confident we won't need to buy any more groceries, so I put the $139 surplus toward our shared spending deficit! Unfortunately we had two expenses this week -- a $48 train ticket for NT's UK trip and a $70 rental license renewal fee for our duplex -- so it was pretty much a wash. Oh well; those expenses would've come anyway, so without our scrimping on groceries we'd have gone even further into the hole.

AS did have two freelance checks come in, so our deficit is down from $3200 to about $2400.

Of course, here comes vacation, so the deficit will go up again! The good news is, we shouldn't need to use the next weekly grocery budget ($170) at all, so all or most of that will go toward offsetting vacation spending.

AS gets in from her work trip this afternoon, and we head out to Va. on Saturday. She's had quite the summer; this will be her third trip (fourth, if you consider she went to both NYC and Va. during the first one).

I'm not planning many expensive activities, but I know food and gas expenses will pile up. We'll be able to cook a bit at our family's homes, and I'm sure family will buy some of our meals, but I know it'll add up.

And then, after vacation, shopping for school supplies and clothes for the kids! Still, I'm feeling good about us not splurging on things that aren't planned. We're doing well at reining it in and it's helping the deficit not go out of control.

$30.83!

August 4th, 2017 at 09:58 pm

Our goal was $38 for groceries this week. We bought everything on the list and it appears we got away with spending even less: $30.83! That means we have $139.17 left in the grocery budget for the week.

I'm not sure if I'll count it toward the shared spending deficit just yet. What if we run out of something that we need to replace? But I'm going to try my darnedest to head off that possibility.

We're looking at a moderately uneventful weekend, so I'm hoping to just relax, stick to the meal plan, maybe work on one of my novels, and not spend much. Sunday I'm planning to go to a brunchtime show out at a nearby , which I think is free but I'll feel obligated to buy something. Maybe just a snack and beverage. We'll see. I've still got a big ($138) personal spending deficit from buying tickets to a different music show (plus parking and a beverage), so I'd love to put at least some of this week's $40 allowance to seeing that go down a bit!

This week's grocery spending goal: $38

August 3rd, 2017 at 04:04 am

I made a menu plan and ran it by NT to try and eat all the veggies we got and buy only minimal staples to supplement them. Our goal for this week is a little more than last week's $23, but still astonishingly small for us! If we swing it, we could have $132 to put toward our shared spending deficit.

Here's the proposed shopping list:
2x garlic $2
onions $2
fruit $6
ginger $1
bread $4
5 boxes of pasta $5
baked beans $3
soymilk $4
margarine $4
parmesan $4


Meal plan (starts Friday because tomorrow our neighbors are treating us to dinner out):
Friday: roasted potatoes, zucchini, pepper & veggie sausage w/pasta or rice
Saturday lunch: hot dogs & beans & cukes w/ranch sauce
Saturday dinner: creamy kale pasta
Sunday lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches w/veggies & chips
Sunday dinner: spaghetti w/red sauce & breaded eggplant (cukes/celery for kids)
Monday: parsley breadcrumb pasta & veggies
Tuesday: BBQ mock duck, corn, potatoes, zucchini & pepper
Wednesday (neighbors cook)
Thursday: sandwiches/leftovers/etc.

It's a little more roughed out than usual. For instance I'm not sure how I'll cook all the veggies Tuesday. Separately or together? Stovetop or oven? I'll figure it out when I get closer to it.

We'll probably do the shopping Friday evening, so I should know then how close we got to staying within budget!

One more new meal!

August 3rd, 2017 at 01:52 am

Tonight we had the new black eyed peas recipe, with rice, vinegar-sugar cucumbers, pickled beets, pickled jalapenos, red cabbage slaw, and buttery green beans. We have a ton of leftovers but should be able to eat it all for lunches before anything goes bad.

It was all right, nothing to write home about. It was a nice mild accompaniment to all the spicy and sour sides though, so I really enjoyed it all together. That's 36 meals tried, 14 to go!

Assuming we eat all these leftovers, we made it through ALL our veggies except 2 cucumbers, a couple stalks of celery and a bit of garlic. Now we've got a whole batch of new veggies from the CSA, so I'm sitting down to make out a meal plan to use 'em all with minimal grocery shopping!

More new meals and eat-it-all progress

August 2nd, 2017 at 04:31 pm

We tried the vegetable soup last night. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, just used what veggies and fresh herbs we had, but it turned out pretty great. It's vegetable soup, not something anyone in the house would be excited to do very often, but it tasted good and served its purpose of getting rid of a bunch of veggies. I cooked some macaroni to drop into the soup. The kids weren't crazy about it but managed to finish so they could have sweet treats. Smile So that's 35 meals tried, 15 to go!

Last night I prepped some various pickly things for tonight's dinner: I pickled some beets in malt vinegar, salt and sugar; marinated all but 3 of our cucumbers in white vinegar, salt and sugar, and sliced up 3 jalapenos and put those in apple cider vinegar with salt and sugar. This will go with black eyed peas, white rice, green beans and red cabbage slaw. We're having the neighbors up and possibly another friend over so hopefully we can eat down this food. If not I'm determined to finish it as leftovers! We do have two big containers of the veggie soup from last night too, but some of this will keep into next week so I should be able to eat it for lunches.

Anyway, once I cook tonight's green beans the only old veggies left in our fridge will be 3.5 cucumbers and about 5 stalks of celery. Those are things I can get the kids to snack on.

But today after work I pick up our next CSA box, so we start over again! However, this time I don't ALSO have the remains of two parties, so using up this batch will be a walk in the park, more like what we're used to with CSA season.

We'll have to spend a bit more on groceries this week than last. We almost got away with spending just $9.05 on groceries! But a recurring razorblade order went through for $16.38, taking us to $25.43. A tiny bit more than the $23 I was hoping for, but not bad at all! I get to put $118.37 of grocery money toward the shared spending deficit. It's a drop in the bucket, but I'm proud of us for pulling it off. This coming week we're starting with $170, so maybe we'll be able to put a similar amount toward shared spending.

A couple unexpected shared-spending things came up: The girls are going away for their first non-daycare sleepover tomorrow, so I need to get them sleeping bags. And I need to buy note cards to write some notes for my alma mater. So the grocery push didn't reduce the deficit much, but at least it's holding a bigger deficit at bay. Some kind of progress anyway!

August 2017 debt payments

August 2nd, 2017 at 04:17 pm

All our mortgage payments hit:
US: $701 to principal
UK1: $181
UK2: $39
UK3: $40

All told that's $961 paid toward debt for August.

I looked at next month's mortgage payment and it doesn't seem to be going up, even though our homeowner insurance went up by over $50 per month. Maybe they'll do another escrow shortage thing the next time they assess it. I'm not going to ask them about it anymore, because I'm pretty sure if they assess now, they'll stretch our current shortage over another 12 months plus add on to it. Let's get this shortage made up (should be over in December) and see what the next one looks like.

Current household debt now stands at:
US Mortgage $394,671
Loan from friends (duplex) $9,000
UK Mortgage 1 $34,299
UK Mortgage 2 $7,230
UK Mortgage 3 $7,614

TOTAL DEBT $452,814