2018 Goals–Mid-year Update

Cooking, Crafts, Debt Reduction, DIY, Finances, food, Frugal living, Garden, Money, recipes, Sewing

1. Develop alternate income streams.

I haven’t spent time working on any side hustles.  I am still working a lot of hours at my full-time job (always over 40 hour/wk) and I have a commute of 1 1/2 each way to work.

2. Learn more about Instagram, YouTube and update/optimize the blog.

I haven’t learned anything new.

3. Pay off my husband’s graduate school loans.   DONE!

Took care of this the first week of January.

4. Pay down our mortgage by $15K.

We are trying to pay at least $500/month extra towards the mortgage.  That amount won’t get us to our goal for this year, but with the unexpected expenses we have had, I am happy to pay any extra.

5. De-clutter and organize basement storage areas; sell, donate or discard items we no longer want.

I am still only working on this a box at a time.

6. Get healthier: lose weight and move more.

My husband and I joined Weight Watchers in March.  We have both lost 15lbs!

We have also gotten into meal prepping and that has really helped us stay on track.  I plan on posting more on our meal prepping.  I really like some of the meal prep videos by Amanda Cypert on YouTube.

Here is an example of one of Amanda’s videos:

7. Work in my sewing room an hour or more each week.

I am doing better at spending a few minutes each weekend in my sewing room.  I took a class with Bonnie Hunter when she came to the Gwinnett Quilt Guild in May.  That means I started another quilt!  My focus for the next month is to finish up some projects.  I had considered sending some completed tops to my friend who is a longarm quilter and paying her to quilt them–just to get them done.  But, we have another large car expense this month, so I am going to try to quilt them myself.

I purchased some Pioneer Woman placemats, and I am going to try some projects that I saw on YouTube using place mats.  Check one out here:

8. Post on this site 4 x per month.

Nope–I really do want to get better at posting.

9.Continue the Use It Up project that I started in November.

I haven’t made much of an effort to keep track of what I have been using.

10. Complete a home project from my list every month (this includes decor projects–we don’t have a lot of fixing up to do).

This month, we finally built the storage building that we have had just sitting.  It is one of the resin buildings like THIS that we had at our old house.  My husband had to build a platform for it to sit on and that took some engineering since we have a sloped yard.

We also added some elevated planters to our deck.  We wanted to have some raised beds in the yard, but haven’t figured out how to build those on our very sloped yard.

Since it is June and mid-year, it is a good time to re-evaluate goals.  I am still happy with the goals that I set.  I would like to work more on the alternate income source and I have been considering making projects to take to craft fairs in the fall.  I also really want to do more of the decluttering.

How are your 2018 goals progressing?  Is it time to re-evaluate?


2018 Goals: Week 9 of 52

Crafts, Finances, Frugal living, Home, Money, Sewing

1. Develop alternate income streams.

This week I sold my Babylock 6 needle embroidery machine (pictured).  It was sad to see it go, but it was better than it sitting unused most of the time.  I decided that what precious little time I have to be in my sewing studio, I want to work on my quilting–not embroidery.  The young lady that bought the machine has a business with her mom and it will be put to good use.  I sold the machine for $3580.00 and those funds are going into savings.

2. Learn more about Instagram, YouTube and update/optimize the blog.

I haven’t learned anything new.

3. Pay off my husband’s graduate school loans.   DONE!

Took care of this the first week of January.

4. Pay down our mortgage by $15K.

We have paid an extra $1500 total towards the principle of our mortage in 2018.  We need to step this up, but there have been some other things that we have had to spend money on unexpectedly, so I am pretty happy with where we are.

5. De-clutter and organize basement storage areas; sell, donate or discard items we no longer want.

We took one box of donations to Good Will and have started another.  We are going through and listing items to sell on local facebook pages.

6. Get healthier: lose weight and move more.

I worked with my trainer for three months and just decided not to continue.  I am happy that I have added more exercise.  I am considering going back to Weight Watchers for accountability with dieting.

7. Work in my sewing room an hour or more each week.

This just hasn’t happened.  I am still working a lot of hours and need to make this more of a priority.

8. Post on this site 4 x per month.

Since I haven’t posted until now since January….fail.

9.Continue the Use It Up project that I started in November.

I am making good progress and haven’t bought new items.

10. Complete a home project from my list every month (this includes decor projects–we don’t have a lot of fixing up to do).

No real new projects, just cleaning out areas and general housekeeping.


We had a big expense that we were not expecting.  Our daughter’s car died and was not worth repairing.  We helped her with the purchase of a used car and she is paying us back.

We did add money back into savings and have recovered from helping to buy the car.  We want to continue to build back up our savings.

How are your goals for 2018 going?

2018 Goals: Week 1 of 52

Cooking, Crafts, Debt Reduction, DIY, Finances, food, Frugal living, Home, living


1. Develop alternate income streams.

My husband sold some of his collectables this week.  The funds from these sales are going toward a trip we have planed in June to Chattanooga.

2. Learn more about Instagram, YouTube and update/optimize the blog.

I didn’t work toward learning anything new this week related to YouTube or Instagram.  My husband worked some on the appearance of the blog.

3. Pay off my husband’s graduate school loans.   DONE!

We took a huge step of faith this week and took money from our savings and paid off my husband’s graduate school loans–$15,455.00.  We still have 6 months of expenses in our emergency fund.  However, this makes me nervous, so we will work in the coming months to replenish some of what we used to pay of the loan.

4. Pay down our mortgage by $15K.

We did not pay any extra principle towards our mortgage this week.  We just paid our regular payment.  We hope to put extra towards the principle in coming weeks in addition to replenishing our savings.

5. De-clutter and organize basement storage areas; sell, donate or discard items we no longer want.

We took one box of clothing to Goodwill this week.

6. Get healthier: lose weight and move more.

I have hired a trainer.  I am investing the money towards my health and hope to lose weight and get into a exercise routine.

7. Work in my sewing room an hour or more each week.

I worked more than an hour in my sewing room this week.  I spend time organizing and cleaning, and I am cutting out projects to take on a sewing retreat later in the month.  It was such a joy to be in my sewing studio!

8. Post on this site 4 x per month.

So far, so good.  Two posts for January!

9.Continue the Use It Up project that I started in November.

I am continuing to use up products that I mentioned in my post back in November.  I will be posting an update next week.

10. Complete a home project from my list every month (this includes decor projects–we don’t have a lot of fixing up to do).

This week we reorganized my sewing room, added a new buffet to our dining room, and hung the Blessed sign above our cased opening to our kitchen/breakfast room.  I also purchased some new throw pillows for our sectional.

11. Meal plan and have weekly meal prep sessions.

We plan on doing a large grocery shopping trip early each month and then smaller fill-in trips weekly for fresh produce, eggs and milk.  This week, I shopped using the Kroger Clicklist service since I was sent an e-coupon for 10% off of our total.  We spend $245 for groceries this week out of our $450.00 budget for January.  We will try to spend $50 each week for the next three weeks and shoot to be under budget for the month. (husband edit – I put a pork roast in the crock pot today, YUM!! I even made some hummus! Lisa and I also made a quiche as well.)

12. Do Christmas shopping throughout the year; avoid the last minute rush and save money.

I found some Star Wars boxers on clearance this week and will use them as stocking stuffers next Christmas.

Not a bad start to the year!  How about you?  Did you set any goals for 2018?  How is it going?  Please share how it is going and let’s keep each other accountable!

My 2018 Goals

Debt Reduction, Finances, Frugal living, Home, living, Money, Organization, Sewing, Uncategorized

It’s that time again.  We get to start fresh with a new year and I get to start fresh with new goals.  My 2017 goals were mostly fails and I am considering that when setting my 2018 goals.  There are so many things that I would like to accomplish, but with my work schedule, I have to be realistic.  Also, I am giving myself the grace to decide if a goal was just a mistake and take it off the list at any time.

My main overarching goal is to improve my sense of well-being and happiness.  In my mind, I feel like that goal can be accomplished by three things:  paying off debt (hubby’s graduate school loan and mortgage debt), figuring out how to enjoy work (either make a change or find a more balanced work schedule), and spending more time at home.  Smaller step/goals are needed to make those three things happen.

Here are my goals for the year:

1. Develop alternate income streams. 

Sell items no longer needed and create a home-based business.

2. Learn more about Instagram, YouTube and update/optimize the blog.

3. Pay off my husband’s graduate school loans.

Tom finished his Ed Specialist degree in 2015.  We got some incorrect information that he would be able to get another loan forgiveness for working another 5 years in a Title 1 school.  We have just been paying the regular payment and we need to just wipe out this debt.

4. Pay down our mortgage by $15K.

5. De-clutter and organize basement storage areas; sell, donate or discard items we no longer want.

6. Get healthier: lose weight and move more.

7. Work in my sewing room an hour or more each week.

8. Post on this site 4 x per month.

9.Continue the Use It Up project that I started in November.

10. Complete a home project from my list every month (this includes decor projects–we don’t have a lot of fixing up to do).

11. Meal plan and have weekly meal prep sessions.

12. Do Christmas shopping throughout the year; avoid the last minute rush and save money.

What goals to you have for 2018?  I would love to hear more in the comments.  Let’s help keep each other accountable!

Happy 2018!

How to Prepare for a No Spend Challenge


Now that the holidays are over and I have some time, I wanted to give you an update on our No Spend November.  Also, I have a few tips in case you are planning on a No Spend Month for January.   January is a great time for a No Spend Month.  It’s a good idea to follow a very spendy December with a No Spend Month in January.

So, how did our November No Spend month go?  Here is a recap of how I did with the rules I set for myself:

  1.  Spend no money on clothes–Mission Accomplished!  Really this is pretty easy for me and I think most of us have plenty of clothes and can easily go a month (or much longer!) without buying anything new.
  2. Purchase no home decor or household items–Mission Accomplished!  Again, this wasn’t too difficult.
  3. Limit grocery purchases to a maximum of $25 a week—Missed the goal, but still successful!  We ended up spending $173.39 for the month or a weekly total of $43.35.  Still really good for three adults during Thanksgiving month!
  4. Spend no money on entertainment–Mission Accomplished!  This was another goal that wasn’t difficult for us.  We have plenty to keep us busy at home.
  5. Basically, freeze all spending except the minimum necessary for groceries–Mission Accomplished!  We only paid our regular bills and bought groceries.
  6. Stay out of the Dollar Tree and Ulta!  Done!  I thought this was going to be difficult, but no!

Lessons learned?

  1.  $25/week for groceries–Really hard to do.  In fact, I don’t want to ever set that low limit again unless it is out of necessity.  We really did use up so much from our pantry and freezer, so I think this was a great benefit.  However, our diets ended up not as healthy as I would like and we didn’t have much fresh produce in the last couple of weeks of the month.  If I do another No Spend Month, I will at least double my weekly amount and I will plan on spending half of that weekly amount on fresh produce.
  2.  A No Spend Month really brings attention to how much money gets spent without thinking.  How often do we stop for a coffee or soda?  When we are shopping (even for just groceries) we often impulse buy and things just end up in our carts.  We had to be more intentional with our spending and, wow, did it make a difference.  We were able to put $2500 in to our savings account at the end of November!
  3.  Staying out of stores is a necessity.  I found that my goal of staying out of the Dollar Tree and Ulta has changed my habits completely.  I would stop at the Dollar Tree often and end up spending $5-$15–for what?  The No Spend Month has broken this habit and I don’t miss it!
  4.  The No Spend Month brought attention to the fact that we have tons of things on hand that needed to be used up.  Not just food–toiletries, make-up, and cleaning supplies.  I have started a “Use it Up” project for our family and it will continue into 2018.

Tips for a No Spend Challenge

  • Determine the length of your No Spend Challenge–you may want to start with a day, a weekend or a week.  Or do you really need to do a month?
  • Decide on your goals.  What do you hope to accomplish?  Do you have a specific amount you want to save?  Do you just want to break some habits?  Do you want to clean out your cupboards and freezer?
  • Set your own rules.  Your No Spend Challenge is your own.  There is no right or wrong.  Personalize it to your goals and needs.  Look ahead to what you already have on your calendar and consider that when you make your rules.  Don’t make so many exceptions that you defeat the reason for having a No Spend Challenge, but customize the challenge to your life.
  • Take an inventory of your consumables.  Look at your fridge, freezer and pantry contents.  See how much you have on hand of personal items.  The point isn’t to go spend $500 stocking up right before you do  a no spend, but make sure you have the basics.
  • Meal plan.  This is super important.  Without a plan, it is too easy to give in and run through the drive through after a long work day.
  • Plan for Entertainment.  A No Spend Challenge tends to lead to more time at home.  What kinds of entertainment can you plan for at home?  Maybe there is a puzzle the family can work on together.  Learn a new card game and have a family game night.  Plan to rewatch a favorite movie or a new-to-you movie on Netflix.  Planning fun, free activities will make the time seem special and not feel like deprivation.

We learned a lot during our No Spend Month and it is something I will do again.  I may decide to have one No Spend week a month.

Are you inspired  to try your own No Spend Challenge?   Please leave me a comment!



No Spend November Update-Thanksgiving Week


We went shopping before Thanksgiving and used our $50 Visa gift card that I won at our recent neighborhood chili cook-off.  We spent a total of $48.88 on the items in the above picture.  I knew I would need to go back for a few items, but as it turned out, I need to get more than I thought.  I ended up going over-budget for the month by $50.

S0, instead of spending $100 out of pocket for November groceries, I have spent $150.  No too bad at all, but we still have another week left in the month.  I really do have enough on hand–just not a lot of fresh produce.  I have at least 10 dinners planned with food on hand.

We have done well with savings so far this month.  I can’t wait to wrap up next week and share our results and lessons learned.


Grocery Haul and No Spend November Update


We have had another successful No Spend November week.  I shared in my post last week, that we only spent $10.92 out of pocket of my allowable of $25/week for groceries in November.  I rolled the leftover that I didn’t spend ($14.08) to this week. So, I had $34.08 that I could spend on groceries this week.

We had a Chili Cook-off at church yesterday, and I signed up to bring a pot of chili.  I had two pounds of ground beef in the freezer.  I needed another two pounds so that I could make a double batch of chili.  I also needed beans, chipotle peppers and mushrooms for the recipe I wanted to use.  I also wanted to get my Thanksgiving turkey since they were on sale for $0.59/lb.

I went to three stores.  I had to stop in at Walmart to look for some office supplies for work (I will be reimbursed for that expense).  I remembered that I had a gift card that had a little over $3 on it.  I decided to buy a few items from my list.  I got chili beans and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I spent $1.45 out of pocket.  So, I left Walmart with $32.63 left to spend.

Next, I went to Kroger.  I definitely wanted to get my turkey and also to get a few other items on the Mega Event Sale.  I found baby bella mushrooms marked down so that helped.   I spent a total of $30.60.  Eeek!  I still needed to get ground beef and it was just too expensive at Kroger.  I only had $2.03 left to spend for the week.

Finally, I went to Aldi.  When I walked in, I remembered that I needed eggs and that they had a great deal on sweet potatoes ($0.79 for a bag).  Luckily, I found a package of hamburger patties with a $3 off sticker.  I spent a total of $5.04.  So, I went over my budget by $3.01.  Not too bad, and I will take that off of next week’s budget.  I will have $21.99 to spend next week.

My freezer and pantry is getting cleaned out and looks pretty bare.  But, I was able to plan 10 dinners.  Some nights will be leftovers, so we could potentially skip shopping next weekend and just shop right before Thanksgiving to get supplies for the holiday dinner.  I have plenty on hand for lunches and breakfasts.  During my next week’s shopping trip, I know I need to purchase potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms (for making stuffed mushrooms–expensive but a tradition), cheese, milk, butter, cranberry sauce, cornmeal mix  and ritz crackers.  If I have to, I still have a $50 Visa gift card I can use–I mentioned that in my original No Spend November post.

Here are my meal plans with food that I already have on hand:

Homemade tomato soup and cornbread

Chicken chili

Chicken barley soup and bread

Dirty rice, green beans

Chicken and rice with mushroom gravy, broccoli

Spaghetti and meatballs

Pancakes and canadian bacon

BBQ chicken, rice and green veggie

Chicken Parmigiana, spaghetti noodles and sauce

Salmon Croquettes, baked sweet potatoes, green veggie

For Thanksgiving:

Turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, stuffed mushrooms and probably either a salad or another veggie.  For dessert, I have a devils food cake and chocolate frosting.

I am finding that there is a lot of temptation right now.  While in  Walmart, I spied the new Christmas line of dishes and “purty” crockpots from The Pioneer Woman.  I also walked through Target and browsed through the Hearth and Hand Collection by Magnolia–Chip and Joanna Gaines.  If I wasn’t doing a No Spend November, I am not sure how much I might have spent–even though I truly don’t NEED anything.

I am very happy to report that we have already put $1500 in savings this month.  I hope that we will put another $1000 aside by the end of the month.

How is your November going?  How have you been saving money?



Fall Color

Frugal living, Garden, living, Money

Saturday we spent the afternoon at one of our favorite places.  Back in March, we bought two 1 year memberships to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia.  What a lovely place!  The membership is really an incredible value.  We spend $50 each on the membership.  We automatically got a free admission on each membership for a guest of our choice.  We were able to take our adult children with us on Mother’s Day.  We have visited the gardens multiple times over the year.  We have especially loved going to the Twilight Music concerts.

We are hitting the peak of fall colors here in Georgia right now.  Gibbs Gardens has a Japanese Garden section and the Japanese maples are just gorgeous.   The setting is so beautiful and you truly feel like you are in a watercolor picture.

We have really enjoyed our membership.  There is tremendous value in purchasing a membership.  We don’t need more “things” in our lives.  A membership to the gardens, or a museum or something similar is an experience and provides so much more enjoyment.


Sunday Prep

Cooking, Debt Reduction, Finances, food, Frugal living

I love Sundays.  Lately we have been going to the Saturday night service at church.  It makes Sundays very relaxing.  I really enjoy cooking, cleaning and getting ready for the work week ahead.

Today was a great day.  I worked on our meal plan, took a quick trip to two grocery stores, and prepped meals for the week ahead.  I spent a total of $10.92 out of pocket this week (partially thanks to gift cards from Publix that we got for getting our flu shots at Publix).


I was inspired by Free to Frugal, a YouTuber, to reconsider how I meal plan.   She only plans three dinners to cook each week and they eat the leftovers the other nights and have a standing pizza night on Fridays.  Brilliant!  Most of the time when I plan and cook meals, we end up with too many leftovers and I carry meals over to the next week’s meal plan.

I encourage you to check out Free to Frugal.  She got my attention when I found out she and her husband paid off their mortgage in 5 years.

Here is our meal plan for this week:


Sloppy Joes, chips and salsa

Pork chops, rice pilaf and asparagus

Chili (making to take to church Chili Cook-off on Saturday)

BBQ chicken in the crockpot, veggie, rice

Lunches will be sandwiches, chips, hummus with raw veggies, and maybe some leftovers.  I made my homemade hummus yesterday.    Breakfasts will be cereal with milk, yogurt or homemade egg mcmuffins.

Here is what I did today to prep for the week:

I made the Sloppy Joes.  I don’t follow a recipe and probably make them a little different every time.


I also cooked chicken breasts in the crock pot and then shredded the chicken for sandwiches.  I also made some chicken salad.

I boiled eggs and made egg salad for sandwiches and I cut peppers to have with hummus.  I already have snow peas and baby carrots on hand.

It looks like I will need to go back to the store to get a few items for the Chili to take to the Chili cook-off for Saturday.

Overall, our No Spend November is off to a great start.  I still have the $50 visa gift card to use for groceries if necessary, but I am going to continue to try and get creative with what we have on hand.  I may need that gift card to get supplies for Thanksgiving.

How is your November going so far?  What ways did you find to save money this week?


Use It Up

Finances, Frugal living, Home, Organization

Our Nospender–No Spend November has inspired me to take a look at the inventory of all kinds of products that we have around our home.  I want to be intentional about using up what I already have on hand instead of buying products.

Today I went in my bathroom and cabinets and got out all products related to skin care.  I have shared pictures below of what I have on hand.

Lotions: (21 items)

I found 21 different bottles of lotion.  Most of these I had forgotten that I owned.  Granted a few are hotel or sample lotions, but really?  How did I get all of these?  I am planning on putting a sample size in my purse, taking one to my desk and keeping the small “relax” lotion by my bed.  I hope to use up three of the small sizes and perhaps a couple of the larger lotions.  I hope by keeping some of the scented lotions visible, I will get in the habit of using them after I shower.

Masks: (6 items)

I have 6 sheet masks and one tube of cucumber mask.  I realized after taking the picture that the deep pore peel off mask is for men.  I guess my hubby and I will have a mask evening together!  I am sure I will use all of these in the month of November.  (there is a small bottle in this picture that should have been with skin care)


Toners/Eye Makeup removers: (9 items)

I have four toners–1 large Garnier micellar water, 1 small IT cosmetics micellar water, and Estee Lauder small toner and a larger Thayer’s witch hazel.  I have 4 small bottles of eye make-up remover. I also have a large spray bottle of Timeless HA spray.  I completely forgot that I bought that.  It will be nice to start using that spray again.   I know that I will finish the IT Cosmetics micellar water, two of the small bottles of eye make-up removers.

Face Wash: (5 items)

I have one package of cleansing cloths, a partial container of Colleen Rothchild’s Radiant Cleansing Balm (I love this stuff but it is pricey–I only buy during sales), one IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser (so nice!) and 2 Aveeno cleansers.  I am not sure if I will actually finish any of these–I like to rotate what I use.

Skin serums/Moisturizers: (15 items–one is pictured with masks)

I have 8 bottles of serums, 5 moisturizers, a bottle of Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle repair and a tube of Retin A.  I want to finish the bottle of vit C on the far left, the small open sample of moisturizer and the brown bottle of Estee lauder night repair lotion.  I am actually running really low on regular moisturizer, but I hope to be able to make do with what I have for the month of November.

Special items: (5 items)

This picture has some special items.  Paula’s Choice Resist, Nivea Serum, Bare Minerals Neck Cream, another neck tightening treatment (can you tell my neck has been something I am worried about?) and Palmer’s fade cream.  I complete forgot I owned the Bare Minerals cream and the Paula’s Choice.  I will get those back into my rotation.  I already use the Palmer’s and Nivea serum regularly.  The Tight Neck is something I only use every few weeks.

61 total items!!  And this is only one category–skin care.  This doesn’t begin to cover all of the personal care items I have–hair care and make-up.  And don’t even get me started about cleaning supplies!!!  I plan to post about those categories as well.

It will be interesting to see how much I can use up in November.