Goldstar Makes It Possible

The $80 Challenge With a 4 Year Old

One of the biggest challenges during last week watching Charlie, the 4 year old, was maintaining a strict budget of $80 while also entertaining someone that was particularly hard to please. The family may have left us a big house, lots of animals (4 of which I apparently killed!!)*, and a car, but they weren't so great at leaving us with cleaning supplies (like dish washing detergent) or groceries (s'mores for the win?!). All of these *extras* had to be procured on the cash we were left with.

When we started that first weekend watching Charlie, I was on top of the budget!  I was thinking … "I'm going to make this money go farther than it's suppose to!" And thus I spent an hour or so googling coupons for legoland and the movie theatre. (Not something most parents have the time to do I'm sure!) It turns out Goldstar was offering Legoland tickets for $9 (or $9.50) a person … MUCH cheaper than $15 a person. The price was still expensive though, so I kept searching until I found Extrabux! I'm not advocating either Goldstar or ExtraBux unless you want to save money on something Goldstar has available, BUT clicking through ExtraBux allowed me to save 40% off the Legoland ticket cost! Heck yeah! :) Granted you don't get that money back for a few months, but I will more than happily wait that few months just to get money back.

So then it was time to look for a movie ticket deal. I found that if Justin and I signed up with we could get money back in the form of a free movie ticket that could be used later. (i.e. We buy our tickets by President's Day, and we receive a movie ticket at the end of the promotion period to be used by May.) It sounded like a fun excuse to return to the theatre! I'm not sure Justin ever got the ticket, but it would have been fun if it had worked out.

Of course there was also eating out and groceries that unfortunately put us over our budget challenge, but for those of you that like saving money, can I share a secret with you? Before purchasing anything online, see if there is a cashback site that you can go through. It makes all the difference! Not only can you get 1, 2, or 3 percent back by using your credit card, BUT you can get an additional percent off by going through a website like ExtraBux, MyPoints, Ebates, or even Fat Wallet (to name a few). You can find the best site to go through by comparing them with I totally recommend it. :)

*Don't worry. They were fish. I was really saving the family money in the long run. ;) (I do not advocate the killing of fish to save money, but when those fish are sick and you are terrible at keeping fish alive … sometimes it happens.)
** The ExtraBux link is a referral link. You get $5 and I get $5 when you join through my link! Win, win! :)

February Finance Update

Now let's look at my finances…

For the Win:
  • Most of the times Justin and I ate out, we had some way of recouping the cost. For instance I used GapNSnap to earn $20 by snapping 300 gaps at grocery stores once a week to compensate for eating out. Another way we recouped the cost was by Justin working late from home. (He gets one meal compensated up to $15 for working late.) Finally, we used Moe's loyalty program to get a plate of nachos to share for free last night. We were able to get other chores accomplished as well as eat on the run for free.
  • We got our tax refund back! Yay! That went to paying down debt.
  • I made extra money this month by taking on a 4 year old for a week! This put our savings account at about half where I want it to be which will be good enough until after we get back from Europe.
  • We turned off our heat while we were gone from the house a week ago hopefully saving us money on gas.
  • I received lots of free samples this month! (I get to host another giveaway soon! Yay!)
For the Lose:
  • We bought way more groceries than we needed to this month including some groceries that I simply refuse to eat. (i.e. I only like homemade salad dressing with vinegar and olive oil. Do not attempt to feed me store bought dressing. ick.)
  • Justin paid for 3d tickets to see The Lego Movie, and instead we went into the wrong theatre and saw it as a normal movie. Loss of money, but I would have never advocated seeing 3d anyway. 
  • The winter snow break caused me to lose hours this month and will continue to cause a loss of hours for the rest of the school year. :(
Here's where we stand:
  • Vacation goal will be reached by April '14. (YAY!) We are at half of our emergency goal which currently will be reached by September, but I expect that date to get pushed back… And our debt payoff goal has moved up to February '15. Yay! (Remember, we're trying to move that up to some time in October '14.)
  • Our debt is down by 4% from our highest amount owed in January
  • Our assets are down 18% from the highest amount in January, but our account is back up to where it was in August before spending tons fixing my car, buying Europe plane tickets, aso…
  • According to Mint, Justin and I have saved more than half of our income from this month (wherein income includes tax refund and extra money making things I've been doing).

Debt down by 4% (Why is it shown in green?!)

Assets down by 18% (But up from August catastrophes!)

Net income. We saved 50% of what we earned.


3 cheers for sticking to and surpassing our budget goals for this month! I don't know if it will ever happen again, so I plan on celebrating while I can! :)

(Did I mention I got new clothes and a camera lens this month?)

How are your budgeting goals panning out for this month. With only one more day left, it's time to start thinking about budgeting goals for March!

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