Monday, January 31, 2011

And so it begins

What begins, you ask? The house buying process! We are in the very, very, very beginning phases. Our lease isn't up until September, so we're not really looking to move until late summer/early fall.

Allow me to give you a little insight and background into my thoughts and feelings on buying a home. I've announced publicly several times that I would not buy a house unless I had a 20% down payment saved up. That was our goal at least...and we're looking more at only being able to put down 10%. It would take us probably another 3 years to save up enough for 20%.

I have absolutely nothing against renting. It has allowed us to have fixed expenses over the past 4 and a half years and has allowed us to save a lot. In fact, if we were currently renting a little house with a fenced in yard and a garage we would be pretty content renting for another 3 years until we had saved up 20%. Our apartment now is nice, but it's not conducive to raising a family (if we decide to start that in the next couple years) and it's a bit more expensive than our rent was when we lived in Alabama.

So far, we're on the right track. Remember when I went crazy obsessing over trying to find a place to live in Chicago before we moved methodically and calmly looked online for a place to live in Chicago before we moved? Well, we met this really awesome realtor who showed us a few rental properties. None of them panned out, but we've been in contact with her again and she's going to be our realtor for this process. She's really great, and we both got a really good vibe from her and have heard good things about her. We've also been in touch with a mortgage broker, who ran some numbers for us and gave us a good idea of what we can afford. I had originally wanted to get pre-qualified (instead of just pre-approved) for a mortgage but since we're so early in the process she would have to be pulling our credit to extend our pre-qualification every 90 days until we closed on a house.

We've looked at a few places online and plan to go to a few open houses in the next month or so. We are very excited, but I have to say I'm really not sure how anyone affords a house, ever! We have some savings, have no debt (other than student loans), and combined we have a decent salary and it still seems like it's going to be an expensive endeavor! Wish us luck and stay tuned....I'll update as we go along!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Savings

I actually snapped a pic this week! We still managed to save 58% at Dominick's this week. That's the third week in a row we've saved between 56% and 58%. Today we spent $22.67 and saved $30.67.

3 boxes of blueberries
2 gallons of milk
1 giant thing of OJ
2 Ken's salad dressing
1 box Celestial Seasonings sleepytime tea
1 sparkling key lime water
1 bunch of cilantro
1 box frozen fish fillets
1 bag Steamfresh broccoli
2 Tombstone pizzas

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Good shopping deals pics though :(

We decided to run into Old Navy before our weekly Dominick's trip since they are having an extra 40% off of their clearance items. We got $185 worth of clothing/stuff for $56. I think my favorite deal was a halloween costume for Bailey for $0.74 (Oh I forgot, I did get a pic of this)!

Then I went next door to Bath and Body Works to check out their sale items since I received a gift card for Christmas. I got $74 worth of candles, socks, and hand sanitizer for $23, paid with the gift card, so nothing OOP.

We saved 56% at Dominick's....spending $45 and saving $55. We bought A TON of veggies, some juice, eggs, milk, tea, bread, yogurt, cereal, napkins, and Qtips (we were out).

Not too bad at all but still more than I'd like to spend in a week! Although we don't typically make trips to Old Navy every week if you subtract that from the total I feel a little better.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just what I needed!

It's amazing sometimes how things work out perfectly if you just stop trying so hard! I had been trying to skim all the flyers/deals of local grocery stores and find the best deals at each store instead of focusing on just one. After one week of forgetting the rest of the stores and concentrating on shopping at just one store, I think I have cured my grocery store blues!

We chose Dominick's to be our main grocery store, mainly because it's cleaner/nicer than the Jewel that's right around the corner from us, but also because they accept expired coupons (up to a year!) and have ecoupons on their website that you can load onto your shoppers card and sometimes stack with regular coupons.

So last weekend we went through the Dominick's flyer, gathered and loaded our coupons, and went shopping. Our cart was literally overflowing and I thought I might have a panic attack because of the amount I thought our bill was going to come to! It was a HUGE trip, so we spent a lot, but we saved a lot too and every trip won't be quite as big. We spent $98 and saved $134. I really wish I would have snapped a pic, but I didn't think I was going to blog about it so I didn't.

I also went to CVS and got three 4-packs of Starbucks Frappacino's and two 4-packs of Izze's for $5.95 plus tax and I received $10 in ECB's for my next trip!

We have another Dominick's trip planned for tomorrow. Lots of veggies are on sale so I'm not sure if our savings will be more than what we spent, but that doesn't matter as much as getting the things we need for a decent price and not having to get stressed out about trying to find the "best deal" at every store!

Friday, January 7, 2011

We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming.... tell you that I am 100% overwhelmed with life and I'm going to be taking a break from obsessive couponing and blogging about everything. If you didn't notice, there was no Menu Plan Monday post this week because I didn't even plan our meals for the week! (Luckily we had a TON of leftovers from the weekend and for the rest of the nights we were able to eat out of the freezer).

I feel like my life shouldn't be this busy....AT ALL. I'm 30, happily married, no kids, great job, great family, and great friends. I definitely wouldn't say that I'm stressed out, but somehow my life got BUSY! I miss being bored!! (but only for short amounts of time ;)
I'm going to stop trying to get "every deal" and really start shopping at only 2 stores, Dominick's and Aldi. I was on a CVS run for a while, but quite honestly I probably don't have to buy any toiletry items for another year! I think we'll be okay. Tom is going to get more involved in the planning process since we're trying to keep it simple. He says it's too "complicated" when I plan everything out...which I tend to agree as I think I have a slight control issue with couponing!

Anyways, here is when I realized how overwhelmed I was on Sunday when we got an extra paper delivered to our door and then we got the "Weekend Spanish Paper" that had coupons in it as well.

There still may be sporadic posts when I have time and don't feel obliged to blog just because I'm supposed to blog on a schedule. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy relaxing a little bit more!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recipe of the Week - Pizza Rice Casserole

I made this last week. It was SO easy and so good! I kind of improvised slightly with the ingredients and cooking time. Here is what I did.

Pizza Rice Casserole from Fix it and Forget it - 5 Ingredient Favorites

1 lb ground beef (browned with onion and garlic)
1 jar of pizza sauce (I may use 2 or 1.5 next time)
1 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella cheese (may use 1.5 next time)
Some cut up pepperoni
1 bag rice
3-4 cups of water

Mix all ingredients together in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Serve with ranch dressing on the side if you are a ranch-o-holic like me :) Oh, and of course, a salad :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Weekly Spending - Happy New Year!

This week's post will be similar to last week' that the 2 main stores we went to were Aldi and CVS. We also made a stop at Binny's Beverage Depot to get a few choice beverages for NYE. I made one other stop to Bed Bath and Beyond last Sunday to stock up on Yankee candles that were 50% off and I used a couple $10 off $25 coupons I had printed a couple months back. I got 4 large jar candles and 2 tarts for $35 (including tax). These candles are normally $25 for ONE jar candle!

Aldi: Spent $25.65

CVS: Spent $2.61 ($0.85 before tax!!) Received $7 in ECB's!

Total spent (minus Binny's): $63.31