Our Debt Repayment Progress & Savings Goals #36

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Life has a way of angling off in ways you never considered.  Sometimes Murphy comes and settles down for a nice long visit.  Right now, Murphy is a house guest, so our savings goals have changed a bit.

First things first, as a reminder, my  husband applied for a grant that will pay half of the balance on his student loans, but we won’t know until sometime in March if he will receive the grant or not.  Until we receive notice, we’ve only been making the minimum payments required.

Here’s the report for this month:

Husband’s student loan #1:  $11,907.61              -107.18

Husband’s student loan #2: $16,324.19                -65.01

Total:  $28,231.80                                                     -172.19
A few notes:

The Negative:

We’ve been hit with $1,500 in unexpected expenses (for new tires & dental fees for three of us) as well as $3,300 for Bookworm to have his jaw widened and braces put on.  Obviously, we have to save for these expenses (no more putting it on credit card for us!), so our emergency savings goal will have to take a backseat for a while.

The Positive:

There’s not much positive right now, but I’m feeling confident that we can handle our unexpected expenses.  At least we will know soon about the grant so we can make a plan of attack.

Emergency Fund

One of my financial goals for 2015 is to save 3 months of living expenses, so I’m going to be tracking that in these monthly reports.  I won’t give exact numbers, but I will tell you each month how many days or months’ worth of living expenses we have.  Right now, we have 9.9 days of living expenses saved.

Unexpected Expenses

We’re saving slowly for our unexpected expenses.

Right now, we have 46.8% saved for our unexpected expenses:

$488 in our medical fund saved for the $1,000 in dental expenses.

We have $212.33 saved for the $500 tires.

We have $162.22 saved for Bookworm’s braces, which is only 4.9% of what we need .  (The orthodontist has separated his treatment into phases.  Phase 1 is widening his jaw.  We need to have $240 for a down payment before work can begin.  Then, we can pay the rest up front or pay $71 a month in interest free payments for 12 months.  We haven’t decided which way we want to go.)

Replacement Car Account

Another goal is to save $3,000 in our replacement car fund.  Right now, we have nothing saved as we’re first trying to save for the unexpected expenses and build up our emergency fund.

When we became Gazelle Intense on October 20, 2011, our balance was $57,966.01.  Since then, we have paid down 51.29% of our debt, or $29,734.21.

Our Homeschool Week Review – February 26, 2015

We’ve had busy days for the last few weeks, so this week, it was nice to enjoy a slower pace.  The girls’ speech lessons were cancelled because it’s rodeo week and the schools are closed for rodeo.  We won’t go to the rodeo, but we were glad not to have to drive to speech two days this week.

Sunday

On Sunday, Bookworm finished up some of his work from the week before that he hadn’t been able to finish because we were too busy last week.

???????????????????????????????Then, the kids and I did an experiment.  We bought a bunch of daisies and then put food dye in three different canning jars.  We put a bunch of the flowers in each jar and took guesses as to what would happen.  (I was surprised by just how slowly the flowers absorbed the dyes; three days later, they were only speckled with the dye.)

Monday

My husband stayed home to watch the girls, and Bookworm and I went to observe a homeschooling co-op.  We really liked it.  The co-op meets one day a week and offers both educational and extracurricular activities.  Some of the activities include science class, Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, art, and English literature.  Bookworm sat in on a felting class and made a felted soap bar.

We’ll likely sign up for the co-op in the fall.

???????????????????????????????In the afternoon, we all worked together to plant an apricot tree in our backyard.  I’m hoping that it will produce apricots this year, but even if it doesn’t, it was a good lesson for the kids, and they had fun helping.

Some book work was done today, but not much.

Tuesday

This was a busy book work day.  The girls and I managed to do their math, Sonlight reading, phonics, and religion.  I was excited to hear PB & J Girl read her first sentence independently in a Bob book.

When I first started homeschooling, I wondered how in the world I would teach them to read, but thanks to The Logic of English, Foundations Level A, both girls are learning to read.  Yeah!

Bookworm read A Wrinkle in Time for classic book club this month, which also happened to be a book to study for his homeschool work, so today he took a test over the book.  He had to use 10 words from the book in sentences, write character descriptions and analysis for 8 characters, and write an essay.  This test took up a lot of his time, but he did great on it.

We also started reading aloud a new book we’re reviewing, which I can’t wait to write about soon.  He’s loving it.

Wednesday

We started the day with Mass.  When I went to Catholic school, I went to Mass twice a week.  When Bookworm went to Catholic school, he only went to Mass every other week.  Now, we try to go to Mass once during the weekdays, which I figure is a minimum most Catholic schools require.  (Bookworm’s old school was hopefully the exception.)

Once home, the girls and I got their reading done, and then I helped Bookworm with another program we’re reviewing, this one studying Greek to understand English vocabulary better.  We had lunch, spent some time outdoors enjoying the weather, and got back to work.

Since Bookworm is almost done with second quarter and is preparing for quarterly exams, I had to work with him quite a bit.  When he was working independently, I finished working with the girls.

???????????????????????????????In the late afternoon, Cuddle Bug found a Christmas craft at the end of a Christmas book.  I set the girls to work taking out the pieces while I worked with Bookworm.  Imagine my surprise when I came back and found them working together to set it up.  They did a great job and were very proud of themselves.

Bookworm moved into a new Math-U-See book today, so he was excited about that.

This week was definitely a week to buckle down and get things done, which felt great after several busy weeks in a row.

I shared this post at Home to 4 Kiddos, Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Stuffed Green Bell Pepper Soup Recipe

???????????????????????????????I stumbled upon this recipe on Food.com and had fun tinkering with it to make a recipe suitable to our budget and our food intolerances.

The final product was so good, I had to share!

Stuffed Green Bell Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups homemade chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced finely
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions

-In a large stock pot, place the ground beef and 1/2 cup brown rice.  Saute together for 10 to 15 minutes until the beef is browned.

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-Drain fat.

-Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.

-Cover with a lid and turn down the heat so the soup is simmering.

-Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until the rice is soft.

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This meal serves 8.

How I Feed My Family of 5 for $6,500 a Year–Week 7 (February 13 – 19, 2015)

???????????????????????????????This 4-week grocery cycle is especially difficult because we had to pay $110 out of our $500 for a pork share that we’ll be receiving in March.  

This year, I’m aiming to spend $6,500 total for food for my family.  That amount includes groceries only, NOT toiletries.  We rarely eat out, so the food I buy to prepare at home is what we eat.

Since my husband is paid bi-monthly, the goal is to spend no more than $500 every 4 weeks.  (I don’t calculate the amount spent on a monthly basis but on an every 4 week cycle.)

We try to eat organic veggies and fruit as much as possible, and we try to buy meat that is grass-fed and organic.  We have multiple food intolerances, with the biggies being gluten, corn, and dairy.

Here’s what we bought from February 13th to 19th:

Sprout’s – $18.61

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We’ve been out of dried fruit for quite some time, so I was excited to see that dried apricots were on sale for $2.99 a pound.  (PB & J Girl loves these!)  I also bought a little bit of raisins for the kids to have when I make bread pudding or rice pudding for breakfast.)

POW WOW – $10

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We got a nice assortment from POW WOW.  We’ll use many of the tomatoes to make Roasted Tomato Soup to put in the freezer for future meals, and we’ll probably freeze some of the green peppers, too.

Walmart – $2.68

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I don’t usually shop at Walmart, but this past Christmas, we ordered a present online, and it didn’t come on time.  As compensation, Walmart sent us a $10 gift card, which I used this week for this purchase.

Costco – $14.99

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I really tried to avoid making another purchase this week, but we couldn’t have meat on Wednesday or Friday for religious reasons, so I needed tuna.  (My husband was starting to balk at endless vegetable soup on no meat days.)

Sprout’s – $7.52

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TOTAL this week: $53.80
TOTAL for this 4 week cycle so far: $489.75
Remaining for this 4 week cycle: $11.25

Remaining from the 1st 4 week cycle: $8.65

A Recap of This Series:

Week One $241.72

Week Two $185.88

Week Three $59.80

Week Four $28.95

TOTAL for Cycle One: $516.35 (My mom stayed with us for a week, so we raised the grocery budget to $525 to compensate.)

Week Five $378.48

Week Six $57.47

Freezer Cooking Plan for March 1, 2015

???????????????????????????????This Thursday will mark the end of my second four week cycle of grocery shopping.  In that time, I’ve come to realize that I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at the beginning of the new four week period, and then I spend less than $50 each week for the next three weeks.

So, I decided to make that pattern work to my advantage and have a big freezer cooking session.  I thought I’d share with you the recipes I’m planning to make.  Next week, I’ll try to have a comprehensive post with the recipes, directions, and ingredients like I did previously.

I’m going to create a mix of meals–those that I need to cook on my freezer cooking day and those that I will just dump in a baggie and put in the freezer.  (Those will go in my slow cooker on the day we plan to eat them.)

Here’s the plan:

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup x3

GF DF Pumpkin Muffins x2

Egg Quiche Muffins x2

Crockpot Tomato Turkey Veggie Soup x4

Roasted Tomato Soup x2

Stuffed Pepper Soup x2 (recipe to come later this week)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili x2

Whole 30 Meatloaf x2

Taco Soup x2 (we’re only using black beans instead of the other beans, and we’re not using corn)

Garden Veggie Soup x2

Spaghetti Bolognese x3

Cabbage Veggie Soup x2

Chicken Apple Sausage & Kale Soup x2

That will give us 25 meals in the freezer.  I’m hoping to make these in less than 4 hours, but we’ll see.

What is your favorite once a month cooking meal?  Share in the comments.