1 Piece at A Time

My American Dream. (Some assembly required.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Budget Blown

Last week we went $136.53 over our budget. Yikes! We had to buy some office supplies ($43.72) and then we splurged on a chicken dinner at Brook's Barbecue ($27.30). Another big expense came when we had to mail our Christmas guests' packages to Florida--they'd bought each other more than they could carry home on the plane, so they boxed everything up and left it for us to ship: $32.92. Also, I spent $25 on a savings bond for my nieces' birthday.

This month, including this week, we've spent $601.97. We've still got the rest of this week and the weekend to go, and we've going to visit my family, which means we'll have to buy gas, etc.

It looks like we'll end up spending the whole $700 we have left after paying all of our bills.

The one bright note, our snow tires came in $125 under what I'd budgeted. We can at least put that toward savings.

We're not beaten! There's always next month. But it is amazing how easy it is to spend so much money every month.

I'd like to know how much my readers spend. Please do share your budgets. You will either feel better about your own budgeting wizardry or we can snivel guiltily together!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


My sister put this quotation in a cookbook she made for me one Christmas:

The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the one who is naked; the shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.

--St. Basil the Great

Donate the shoes you do not wear to Soles4Souls

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Not Even Close

Boy, did we blow our budget last week! On Friday, we were already up to $99.59, and I had a menu planned for the weekend that didn't involve having to spend any money on food, but Pancake and I were like sharks Friday night and ate the rest of the home-made Chinese and the chicken for chicken sandwiches. Then, because we were busy doing work on our hall walls all weekend, we broke down and got Chinese take-out on Saturday and pizza on Sunday. So now we have to find a way to cut $52.59 from the next two weeks. Actually, we went over the first week, too, by $13.46. So we really need to try and live on $133.95 for the next two weeks. Yikes! That might be difficult.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh! So Close!: $100 A Week Update

It's only Friday and we've spent $99.59 this week. We've still got today, Saturday and Sunday to go. Where did we overspend so far? I upgraded our NetFlix account which cost $8.42. Plus I bought yarn for my next afghan project (Joann.com had a huge sale, so I'm not feeling guilty about that) and while I was on the site, I bought my niece's birthday present. Joann's total: $45.09. Our food expenses have been really low this week, but we did go get slices of pizza on Tuesday and then again yesterday. And we've been to the coffee shop every day this week.

Weekend Plan:

We have leftover "Chicken Breasts Supreme" from which we can make sandwiches tonight, with oven-roasted potatoes, and leftover baked beans. Food for tonight: Free.

Saturday I have everything to make Vegetable Barley Soup and Beer Bread.

Sunday can be fend-for-yourself night, which means cleaning out the fridge. (There will be leftover soup and there's leftover homemade Chinese food from Tuesday.)

As for my weekend projects, I'm still working on the hall and have all my supplies.

We might go a few bucks over the budget, but I think we can do it!

Note: Other than joining me at the coffee shop and pizza parlor and eating what I bring home from the grocery store, Pancake has not spent anything this week.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sweet Tooth + Free Cereal = Delicious

Before my in-laws left for their winter home, Pancake's mom gave me a box of Kashi GoLean, which neither of us seemed to be interested in eating. I didn't want to throw it out, and I didn't want to eat it, so I kept trying to come up with something to do with it other than use it as packing material. Viola! Yesterday, stricken by my sweet tooth, I decided to grind the cereal in my blender and make a graham cracker-style crust for banana cream pie. I'm happy to report that it was a success. Here's how I made it:

1 1/4 cups Kashi GoLean (ground in blender)
1/3 cup melter butter
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter and honey in small saucepan. Add honey butter to cereal crumbs, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg. Press into 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sore Throat Gargle

Since it's that time of year, I thought I'd post a sore-throat home remedy:

3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup of water
pinch of cayenne pepper
And while you're down for the count, why not treat yourself to a foot spa:

Heat small amount of petroleum jelly in microwave for a few seconds (you can add a drop of esstetial oil to this if you'd like) and rub into feet. Apply socks. Drape heating pad over feet. Relax.

Monday, January 08, 2007

$100 A Week Challenge: Week 1

Sunday ended the first week of our $100 a week challenge. So how did we do? We overspent by $13.46, but we can always make it up in the next three weeks. How much did the challenge change our lives? Actually, quite a lot and not at all. Remember, I wanted to be able to live well and still do the things we enjoy doing (that cost money), so the real challenge was saving money in places where we wouldn't feel it. We still went to our favorite coffee shop every afternoon to work, we had pizza out one night, and we spent $30 on home repair supplies so we could start working on our hallway.

So how did we do it?

1) We borrowed movies from the library rather than rent from the video store
2) I made many yummy meals using ingredients I had in the pantry and freezer
3) I bought all of the personal and household products that we needed from Family Dollar
4) When we did eat out (pizza), we only spent $5
5) I used a $15 coupon to buy cigarettes
6) I returned our cans and bottles and used the money at the grocery store

Normally, we spend about $700 a month, or an average of $175 a week. We could easily have spent that $61.54 by eating out one more time, renting a video every night, not sticking to the grocery list when I shopped, or going to a theater to see a movie.