Simplifying My Routine

The changes in our life have caused me to reevaluate a number of things. One area of our finances that has been the hardest to deal with is our food budget. I have tried so many methods to try and save money but it seems I am spending hours trying to squeeze every little penny that three days a week are centered on shopping. I find it too time consuming with little return.

To start with, I reassessed our meal plan. I pared it down from a two week rotation to one week. This will cut down on the number of ingredients I have to have on hand. It makes the shopping cost more predictable and easier to stay on budget. I am shopping Aldi first for the bulk of what I need. The remaining items will be bought where they are cheapest. I am not shopping tons of loss leaders to stock up any longer. Most of our stores place small limits on the number of items you can buy at the super low cost so it doesn’t make sense to make a special trip for a handful of items. Using this new method, the time I spend dragging kids around shopping has gone from six hours a week to about two every other week.  Broken down even further it is only an hour on one day and an hour another day and that includes driving time.

(Day: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner/Snack)

Sunday: Breakfast Bread/ Fried Rice/ Spaghetti/ Rice Cakes with Spread

Monday: Grits/ Leftovers/ Baked Potatoes/ Trail Mix

Tuesday: Toast and Fruit/ Tuna Casserole/ Beans and Rice/ Yogurt

Wednesday: Oatmeal/ Ramen and Veg/ Potato Soup/ Cereal Bar

Thursday: Smoothie/ Potato Salad/ Chicken and Rice or Noodles/ Popcorn or Chips

Friday: Hashbrowns/ Sandwiches/ Veggie Soup/ Special Treat

Saturday: Cereal/ Sausage and Rice/ Stew/ Sweet Snack

There are side veggies or fruit added to most meals. There are fresh fruits and veggies at child level so they are always able to get that if they fill hungry between meals. I don’t limit them on the fresh produce.



A Week of Setbacks

The week we got back from camping started a terrible week for us. To start with, our alpha guinea pig boar was acting strange. He is normally very aggressive and active, not in a bad way but in a top dog sort of way. I woke up and he was lethargic, breathing shallow and making cry noises. His brother made the same cry noises prior to us finding he had bladder stones. I called the vet immediately. He had no openings and recommended another vet. That vet had an opening but was an hour away. The hubby came home from work to watch the boys while I drove the piggy to the vet.

It didn’t have a positive outcome. He had cancer and pneumonia. There could be no treating him that would give him any quality of life. The expense was covered by our pet fund so the expense wasn’t a consideration. We decided the kindest thing to do was to end his suffering and put him down.

Emotionally it was so hard. The past few years we have had several animals (including a 17 year old cat) have to be put down due to illnesses and disease. That comes with having senior pets I suppose. We plan their medical checkups and special diets just like we plan for ours. At this point we have agreed that when our last guinea pig passes we are taking at least a year to recover emotionally from all the loss.

The next set back came when the wiring in our 18 month old dishwasher melted. It’s no longer safe to operate so we are back to washing dishes by hand. Normally that is not an issue but our sink faucet bolts have seized and will no longer turn side to side and so is stuck dead center over the divider of the two compartments of the sink. The house sinking fund is pretty thin so we won’t replace the dishwasher. We bought a new faucet and had the plumber come out to cut out the old one and install the new one. While he was here we had to pay to bring the shut off valves up to code. Cost us twice what I thought it would when I thought it would be a simple swap out. The house fund is now at zero.

Lastly, another adult child has moved back home. Normally not a problem but she brings a significant other with her. The person they were staying with decided they could no longer crash with her and she told them they had ten minutes to get their crap out of her apartment. I’m glad they are some place safe and out of a stressful situation but we had to cancel a day of plans to rearrange the house to give them room. We are now a household of seven.

I’ll take a few days to process the events then I will move forward with rebuilding our sinking funds and adjusting our budgets. The adult children and the friend will all need to sign new household rules and agreements so that there are clearly defined responsibilities and expectations on all sides.

We Rented an RV

Our family has never had a vacation. The hubs and I didn’t even have a honeymoon. We have been thinking about a short get away for several years but with finances and special needs to consider it seemed more of a hassle than a reward. A family member suggested renting an RV.

Why an RV? The noise of people walking down the hall keeps me up all night as I am an extremely light sleeper. We also have several food allergies that prevent us from eating out the majority of the time. Having a kitchen and fridge solves that problem. We have looked at extended stay hotels and house rentals but the cost was more than I was comfortable with.

With that in mind we begin to look into renting an RV. Since we also needed to stay close to home, we opted to rent a fifth wheel that is permanently set up in a campground a few minutes from home. The cost was less than a regular hotel room. It was close enough to run home and check on our pets. We also agreed before we left that if it was too much for either of our little guys we would just check out early and head home.

There were a few hiccups. First, when we arrived the place was ice cold as we had temps below freezing. We tried to warm the place up but after a half hour of no warm air from the furnace we called the front desk. In minutes they came out and discovered the gas canisters were empty. New ones were installed within twenty minutes the place was cozy.

The second thing we discovered was no hot water. Again we called the front desk and the handyman was there quickly. He figured out that when the gas ran out that the pilot light on the water tank went out as well and needed to be relit. That was an easy fix and we soon had hot water.

The place advertised free television but the reception was terrible. That didn’t bother any of us. We had planned for no television and had brought games to play as a family. There was also so much to do outside the rental. The campground had a bouncy pad, bike rentals and free mini golf. There is also a swimming pool but it was way too cold to enjoy.

The boys enjoyed everything at the park. We even took a few side trips to explore parts of our area we had never been to. It was such a pleasant experience that we started to see it is possible to travel by renting an RV or by hopping campground to campground.

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