Back To School Sale from Yasukochi Family Farms CSA!

Two things I love: Fresh produce and deals! Thanks to  Yasukochi Family Farms we are able to get both through September 10th.

Now through 9/10/2022 you can score 4 Regular boxes for $108, or 4 Jumbo boxes for $152.

I get a Regular sized box each week, and it’s good for a family of 4 or smaller. A Jumbo-sized Box is perfect for larger families or for families that are vegetarians or vegans.

Here are pictures of a box we received earlier this year.

This is the type of variety that comes in the boxes each week! Each week the box is stuffed full with the freshest. in season fruits and veggies! And don’t forget there are add-ons too! Berries, local honey, olive oil, farm-fresh eggs, and more!

I’m partnering with Yasukochi Family Farms this month to bring you all of the best deals and freshest produce! I’ll be posting pics on my socials as well.

 

8/23/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgYesterday was pretty busy, I didn’t get around to posting our meal plan for the week. We went to the beach and had in-home therapy.

I hit the grocery store last night but I forgot bagels, so I’ll be going back this morning.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time.

Dinner: I’ve got a couple casseroles/freezer meals this week, and other than that we’re eating easy and quick stuff so I can spend time playing, coloring, building legos, and swimming, which is the plan for the week.

  • Monday: Pancakes and fruit

  • Tuesday: Chef Salad (It was popular last week!)

  • Wednesday:  Frittata, toast, fruit

  • Thursday:  Baked pasta, roasted veggies

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Bean, rice, and cheese bowls

6 Small Ways to Trim Your Out of Pocket

With my work year coming to an end, I need to trim my budget. It looks like my monthly income is about to be cut in half. I applied for a summer school job, but I haven’t heard back one way or another, so I’m guessing I didn’t get the job and I need to prepare for that.

There are fun activities that the kids want to do this summer, and they all cost money, so I need to trim a bit more so we have the opportunity to have some fun.

Here are a few ways that you (and I) can save some money and free up room in our budget this summer.

Start by looking over your family budget. Is there anything you can dump? Streaming services you no longer use, monthly subscriptions that no longer serve you? For us, we are dumping Netflix next month. We no longer use it enough to justify the $20/month. Feel like you are overpaying for your cellphone or other services, look into switching carriers or plans. If you don’t have a family budget, here is an easy way to put one together.

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without. This is an oldie, but a goodie. And by this statement, I mean that use what you have on hand. Eat the food in your kitchen (meal planning can help with that), wear the clothes you’ve got, and repair them as needed. Don’t forget that there are groups like Buy Nothing, where you can share and receive goods and services from those in your neighborhood. It’s hard to not want to keep up with the Joneses, especially in our society where it seems like everything is based on presentation and showing off what you’ve got on social media.

Take advantage of programs in your community. There are so many free and low-cost programs meant to help families during this time of unprecedented inflation, low wages, and other social issues that contribute to financial instability. Here in San Diego County, there are resources for free food and free clothing. 

If you have someone in your family who requires electricity for their medical devices or if you are low income, check out your local power companies website to learn about discounts you may be eligible for. This post has details and more tips.

If you are looking for some free summer fun for the kids, there are events like Kids night out, and summer reading programs.  And in California, there will be free breakfasts and lunches for kids under 18 throughout the summer through schools and local parks and rec. As soon as I have more details on those, it will be a separate post.

My final tip- Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. There are so many programs and resources out there to help. Even if you feel like there are people and families out there who “have it worse”, you deserve help. This isn’t a “who has it worse” situation. Everyone deserves to live a good life. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way.

Talk Back- If you have tips or tricks to help with lowering your Out of Pocket, I’d love to hear it!

 

Starting off 2022: It’s Budget Time!

Soo, the potato is crazy in the photo, but it made me laugh, so I included it.

As I mentioned in this post, we’ve got 7 posts coming through the end of the year to help you start 2022 off on a good foot.

I’ve talked a lot about budgeting before and not much has changed except that the cost of stuff keeps going up. Inflation is a bitch, y’all. And with wages not keeping up with the inflation, we’ve got to do what we can. We need to control the factors that we have to ability to control.

Setting up a budget takes time. You can do it all at once, but be prepared to spend a few hours working on it.

You’ll need:

Access to your bank account or bank statements for three months.

A Google Sheet page, or an Excel Spreadsheet

List of your monthly financial obligations. Here are just a few of those:

  • Mortgage/Rent (Our Mortgage payment includes impounds for our Homeowners insurance and property taxes)
  • Gas/Electric*
  • Gift Fund
  • Transfer to Savings
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Hulu
  • Car payment
  • Kids 529
  • Netflix
  • YMCA
  • Internet
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Student Loan Payments
  • Water Bill*
  • Groceries*
  • Fun Money (stuff to do with kiddos/girls nights in/date nights)*
  • Gasoline*

Of all of these categories, the only ones that have any difference per month are the ones I indicated with an asterisk (*). For Gas/Electric and the water bill, I averaged the cost over three months and used that amount for the budget.

The categories I included above are what is in my budget, you may have other items that my family does not. Some of the expenses such as Health Insurance and retirement savings come out of paychecks, so for our family, they are not included in our budget. You may wish to add them to your budget if you pay them directly.

Cash for some Budget Line Items: For items such as groceries, fun money, and gasoline I visit the ATM each week and take out cash. I paperclip the money for each budget line item together and keep them separate in my wallet. When the money is gone, no more spending.

Doing cash for those line items really helps me take a hard look at shopping for groceries (this is when cash back appscouponing, and price per unit knowledge all come in handy), and making sure that I am getting the best deal on gas (I have the GasBuddy app, it’s very useful). Any unspent money gets rolled over to the next week.

If you are discovering that you have too many bills and not enough money (and hey, it happens), trim where you can ( this article has some helpful suggestions), and if that’s still not enough, here are some Southern CA/San Diego based resources to help you.

Please do not be embarrassed to seek help. Resources are available to help you. If in the future you are able to give back, please do, but in the meantime, accept the help that is offered.

Next up, we’ll be talking about ways to save money on groceries and beyond. The beyond is going to be how to get toothpaste and health and beauty items for free (or really cheap) without turning into the stereotypical crazy coupon lady. Because clipping coupons out of ten plus newspapers each week is sooooo 2008. Seriously. I love to save money, but I don’t clip Sunday papers these days.

San Diego Summer Fun on a Budget

681517ea18b6760354438c6a7f6190f1.jpgIt’s time for kids to finish up school, and be let loose on the world.

Now that places are reopening at 100% capacity, there are a lot more options for summer adventures.

Free Music Lessons from Staump Music School.

Kids Bowl Free all Summer!

$1.00 Movies all Summer with Regal Cinemas

Free Summer School Lunches (Gotta keep them fed this summer). Lots of locations have events or activities nearby, so you can have fun and have a free lunch!

The splash ground at Santee Lakes is GREAT! It’s only $2.00 per kid (on weekdays, $3.00 on weekends) to play and if you park outside the Santee Lakes, you don’t have to pay to park! Take a picnic and it’s a great frugal outing! We go at least once a week in the summer and it’s always
a GREAT time!

If you are looking to beat the heat and need something free, check out the Waterfront Park downtown. They have a great splash pad area for kids, a really fun playground, and a big grassy area for picnics. Only downside- no shade trees.

Balboa Park still offers Free Tuesdays at various museums in the park. Another free activity in Balboa Park is the Botanical Garden and Lily Pond. Right next door is the Spanish Art Village, which is fun to explore as well. Pack some snacks and make a day of it.

San Diego County has great parks, as do most of the cities in San Diego County! Our favorite parks include Big Rock Park in Santee, Kennedy Park in El Cajon, La Mesita/Junior Seau Park in La Mesa, Harry Griffin Park in La Mesa (great for little kids).

I also find lots of local events and free fun stuff by checking the “Events You May Like” section on Facebook Events.

A Practical Guide to Setting A Budget (Part Three)

The first two parts (Part One, Part Two) of this series talked about the essentials of how to budget. This third part is for those of you who are having a difficult time making the ends meet to get your needs met.

I’m talking about when cutting cable and going cash only for groceries isn’t enough. When you need help. When there isn’t much (or anything) to eat. When the power might be shut off. When there isn’t money to put gas in your car to get to work or job interviews.

This is the most important thing to remember: It is ok to ask for help. It is ok to seek out services and take advantage of programs. Do not worry about what others will think- This pandemic and all of the fallout that has happened has affected so many of us. So many hardworking families and individuals need a hand up right now. 

A lot of the services and programs listed below are specifically for San Diego County. If you live outside San Diego County, I recommend that you call 211 anywhere in the US. They can help you find resources- all judgment free!

So when I talk about needs being met, I mean:

  • Shelter (Rent/mortgage assistance/utilities)
  • Food (Healthy food for you/your family and pets)
  • Comfort (Clothing, healthcare, medication)

Shelter:

  • If you have a mortgage, contact your lender for a forbearance. You may have to provide them with proof that you are unable to pay.
  • If you are a renter in San Diego, here is the County Rental Assistance site.
  • If you require assistance with your utilities, SDG&E has many programs and assistance available.
  • For your water/sewer bills, you will need to contact them directly. There are so many water municipalities in San Diego County.

Food: Food insecurity is a cause near and dear to my heart, so I have all kinds of resources to share!

Many food banks give out pet food as well- don’t forget to mention your furry friends when you complete your intake paperwork (which is oftentimes to find out demographic information to obtain additional funding from the government or private grants). Some do not require any paperwork at all.

Comfort: Being housed and fed is important, in addition to this I’ve added the comfort category. This includes clean, well fitting clothes, access to health care, and prescription medicines.

  • There are many resources for no and low cost clothing (besides thrift stores, which have become increasingly higher in cost in the past year). Naomi’s Closet, Closet on 54th, Charity’s Closet at Sonrise Church, Sharia’s Closet are all San Diego resources. I’ve been told that some Salvation Army churches offer free clothing vouchers to be redeemed at their thrift shops. Don’t forget your local Buy Nothing Group too! So many of your local neighbors are cleaning out their clothes and purging while they are stuck at home, you’d be surprised what your neighbors are will to share with you.
  • If you are in need of healthcare, there are several options. Medicaid/Medi-cal may be available for some. If you have had a “life event” (job separation, birth of a child, death of a spouse, marriage, etc.) you can look for health insurance in your state’s Health Insurance Exchange. Here is a link to California’s Exchange. There are frequently lower rates or discounts for those with certain income limits.
  • If you or family members take prescription medicines, look into discount programs like Singlecare (which you can access via the Fetch Rewards App and earn cashback/points), or GoodRX. Some pharmacies have their own discount programs too. Make sure to ask the pharmacy staff. Another option is to ask your doctor for medication samples when you are visiting them. Many doctors have medication samples in their offices, and most doctors are willing to help you when you tell them you need assistance with medication costs.

 

 

 

A Practical Guide to Setting A Budget (Part Two)

In our last post, I talked about the basics of starting a budget (you can read it here).

We ended with… What happens if you spend more money than you bring home? Don’t feel bad, It happens more than you would think. Living in a credit-based world, it’s easy to swipe, swipe, swipe your card and have it seem like it’s not real money.

How do you stop spending willy nilly and start saving money?

First of all, I went through our family budget line by line looking for ways to cut down on costs. This will take a little work, but it’s worth the savings. Here are a few ways that you may be able to save.

  • Cell Phones- I called and negotiated a new contract, and they were able to give us a small discount ($15/month).
  • Auto/Home Insurance- Called our insurance carrier (it’s the same for both). We went through both policies, and were able to adjust our annual mileage to lower mileage, and adjust a few things with our homeowner’s insurance to save some money too. (About $50/year)
  • Gas & Electric (power company)-Because of the big kids’ diagnosis, we were able to qualify for a discount. SDG&E (Our utility provider) offers several discounts. You can learn more about our experience and how we saved money here.  We also take part in OhmConnect, and that saves us money and gives us cashback. You can learn more about OhmConnect here. We save about a thousand dollars a year between the programs SDG&E offers and using Ohmconnect.
  • Internet- We ended up changing internet providers to save money. I know that not everyone has this ability, but it’s worth a call to see if you can get a better deal. We don’t have cable or a home phone, so there are no bundling deals that can save our family money. ($5/month)
  • Cable- We don’t have it, but if you are thinking of cutting the cable, it’s not all static and bunny ears like in the old days. Between Apple TV (ours is really old and it works great), Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and over the air TV, we aren’t suffering. (No savings for us, but maybe some for you?)

Secondly, I take cash out for Groceries ($100/week), gas ($60/week), and fun money (funds for the kids and I to do something fun during the week- usually a snack or treat at the zoo, admission to a museum, or renting a Redbox movie. $40/week). When the money’s gone, it’s gone. For our budget/spending- this has been the game-changer. Due to quarantine/lockdown the only fun we could have was ordering take out or expensive trips to the craft supply store/Amazon to keep us entertained. Now that we have parameters for spending money, I am taking a harder look at groceries and meal planning and low-cost to no-cost ways to have fun with the kiddos.

In addition to that, I didn’t set up Apple Pay on my phone. I don’t have a credit card attached to the app store on my phone. I don’t have any credit cards set up on my Amazon Account, or my Target App, or any of the purchasing apps on my phone. If I want to buy something I have to either go to a store or sit down at my computer and enter my credit card/debit card information. Taking that extra step to purchase stuff really helps me think about what I am buying and how much I am spending.

And I’m always looking for ways to make a little extra money. Side Hustles are a real way to make money. You can invest as little or as much time as you want.

You can still have fun and live on a budget. Don’t feel like having takeout? Spend some of your fun money on a couple steaks and have a BBQ at home one week. Rent a movie on Amazon Prime, and add some dollar movie candy to your grocery list (or hit up Dollar Tree). Close the curtains/ blinds and throw some pillows and blankets on the living room floor. We call that “Movie theatre night” and the kids love it.

Living during a global pandemic you have to think outside of the box.

My next (and last) post about setting a practical budget will be ready tomorrow and it’s going to be a little more serious. What to do/where to turn when you need help with the basics: Food, Shelter, and Comfort. And what you should cut out if you are struggling. For those who are struggling right now, this is written with you in my mind and heart.

A Practical Guide to Setting A Budget (Part One)

I’ve written about budgeting before, but now more than ever so many of us need to set up a budget that works. One that is easy to stick to. There are so many ways of doing a budget, so many styles- cash envelopes, bucket/different accounts, multiple debit cards for various budget items… It can be tricky. I’m going to be breaking down the household budget, and how it can be done, how to shave money off your household expenses, and save money without suffering or feeling like you are doomed to a life of instant ramen and tap water.

Recently I re-did the household budget after noticing that spending was…Outta Control. Here are a few things that helped me:

Track all of your outgoing expenses for three months. I made a list of all the bills, expenditures, etc., and went through the banking transactions online. Then I averaged them. Using the average for each, I plugged each one into a Google Sheets page.

Some of the categories I had are:

  • Mortgage (This includes impounds for our Homeowners insurance and property taxes)
  • Gas/Electric*
  • Gift Fund
  • Transfer to Savings
  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Hulu
  • Car payment
  • Kids 529
  • Netflix
  • YMCA
  • Internet
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Student Loan Payments
  • Water Bill*
  • Groceries*
  • Fun Money (stuff to do with kiddos/girls nights in/date nights)*
  • Gasoline*

Of all of these categories, the only ones that have any difference per month are the ones I indicated with an asterisk (*). For Gas/Electric and the water bill, I averaged the cost over three months and used that amount for the budget.

The categories I included above are what is in my budget, you may have other items that my family does not. Some of the expenses such as Health Insurance and retirement savings come out of paychecks, so for our family, they are not included in our budget. You may wish to add them to your budget if you pay them directly.

Cash for some Budget Line Items: For items such as groceries, fun money, and gasoline I visit the ATM each week and take out cash. I paperclip the money for each budget line item together, and keep them separate in my wallet. When the money is gone, no more spending.

Doing cash for those line items really helps me take a hard look at shopping for groceries (this is when cash back apps, couponing, and price per unit knowledge all come in handy), and making sure that I am getting the best deal on gas (I have the gasbuddy app, it’s very useful). Any unspent money gets rolled over to the next week.

Making the ends meet: It’s important when you are adding up all expenses that once you add them up, subtract that amount from the money you bring in (wages, side hustles, selling plasma, whatever). If you are spending more than you  and you should be left with some money leftover. If you come to a negative number… Bruh, we gotta talk.

For example (and this is just an example):

  • Total income (including side hustles): $5000
  • Total household budget per month: $4500
  • Total amount leftover: $500 This leftover amount can be kept in your main account for unforeseen expenses, or move it to savings, or pay down extra on reoccurring debts (like car payment, student loans, or credit cards).

Uh, so if your number comes back negative, like this example:

  • Total income (including side hustles): $4500
  • Total household budget per month: $4600
  • Total amount leftover: -$100

Yeah. Bad times, my friends. That means you need to cut $100 from your budget. My next post about budgeting will go over what and how you can cut from your budget without feeling like you are suffering or living hand to mouth. I promise nothing crazy or nothing that I would not do myself if needed. And you can expect that post tomorrow.

Not all all related to setting a budget, but when I was searching for Budget stock photos, this photo of fruit salad was tagged “budget”. And I love fruit salad, so I had to include it. 

Faith Chapel’s Meet The Need is Drive Through Today 4/5/2020

I’ve posted about Meet The Need at Faith Chapel before– It’s a great way to pick up some groceries if times are tough for you. Usually, there is a little fellowship and the chance to pick up second-hand household goods and clothing (and they usually have diapers too- you just have to ask). Paster Josiah and his helpers aren’t letting the current crisis stop them from helping those in need!

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This Sunday Meet The Need drive-thru. In an effort to abide by the safety health ordinances within San Diego County due to the COVID-19 crisis, they are changing how they serve the community but certainly will not stop serving it. They will be providing a ready to eat meal & groceries this Sunday from 1:00pm-3:00pm.

The food will be distributed through your car window, so no need to leave your car, at the flagpole, outside the main sanctuary in the upper parking lot. They’ll be taking above and beyond precautions for health safety and social distancing.

No need to sign up in advance- all sign ups will be done on site!

March is National Craft Month! Free Crafts & Crafting Deals!

MyBluprint.comI learned today that March is Craft Month, which is awesome because I am always down for a good craft!

If you are looking for craft supplies on a budget, here are my top five tips:

  1. Thrift Stores are a great place to start scouring for craft supplies. Frequently thrift stores bundle up craft supplies.
  2. Sign up for rewards programs at your local craft stores and/or download their apps. Both Michaels and Joann Fabric & Crafts have apps with coupons to save you more!
  3. Dollar Tree has great craft supplies. Our favorites are their wooden boxes, craft kits, pom-poms, chenille stems, and hot glue sticks!
  4. Craft supply swaps are a great way to trade supplies. I host once a year or so, right before school lets out. Everyone brings their excess/unwanted craft supplies and it’s a free for all swap. Leftovers are donated to a local school or scout troop.
  5. If you have liquid/wet supplies (like ink pads, glue, paint, etc), make sure to check them before plotting out a project. Nothing is worse than sitting down to do a project to discover that your glue/paint/whatever is all dried out. BUMMER!

If you’ve got kiddos, check out the free week of crafts at Michaels, starting today.

AllFreeKidsCrafts Spring Crafts eBook is now available for download here. I found 3 new crafts for the kids to do today- they are going stir crazy because it’s raining here.

I know some of my readers love their wine, and if you are one of them, FaveCrafts has something just for you! Their latest free eBook, 25 Cool Things to Do with Old Wine Bottles is available here.

If you are looking for something different, perhaps learning a new skill or skills, check out Blueprint!

Blueprint has all kinds of online classes, videos, and articles that you can access with an unlimited membership, or you can take a singular class online. They also have a great selection of free articles and patterns here. Whether you want to learn about sewing, cooking, quilting, embroidery, art- Blueprint has classes for everyone!

In celebration of National Craft Month! Get ANY Blueprint class for just $10 with coupon code “CREATE10”!