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Off track!

How do we get so off track?

 

I am not in my best financial spot right now, so I have not posted on my blog lately.  It seems rather hypocritical to give financial advice to single moms when I can’t even seem to follow it myself.

 

Sometimes it seems like I cannot concentrate on more than one goal at a time.  I have been on the diet and fitness wagon and my financial goals have gone by the wayside.

 

How bad is it, you ask?  Well, I am not in debt, so not that bad.  However my emergency fund is virtually gone, sent to pay for our summer vacation.  Initially I had a savings plan in place for the vacation, but that is the part of my budget that got spent.

 

So, back to square one for me.  At least I don’t have to pay off debt while getting my financial feet back under me. I do still have to pay off a couple thousand before our vacation, and I have to rebuild my emergency fund.

 

The next little while might be more of an update than advice, but maybe that will be beneficial for others too. 

 

See you in the funny papers.

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Monday: Grilled Greek Chicken Burgers, couscous, veggies and dip
Tuesday: Pizza
Wednesday: Broccoli and Spinach Enchiladas
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Salad Bar

This week I am trying to be healthier.I spent over a hundred dollars at the grocery store, as I purged all of the unhealthy snack food from the house and replaced it with healthier alternatives.

Snacks: Popcorn, veggies, crispy minis, fruit, sugarfree jello

Happy Single Mother’s Day!

 

Mother’s Day as a single mom is a whole different ball of wax.  I watch those jewelry commercials and year for diamonds from a husband who is thankful I gave birth to his children.  I see those sentimental commercials with a huge family celebrating Mom, all in their Sunday best.  I know my Mother’s Day is going to be entirely different.

 

First of all, any fabulous diamonds I might get, I would be paying for and picking out.  With my single mom budget, we’ll scratch the diamond necklace off the list this year.  I would be horrified to spend that kind of money on myself.

 

I did give DD12 and DD7 $20 and turned them loose in the mall for a couple of hours yesterday.  I think it is important to allow a little splurge on your behalf.  If I didn’t I would feel left out and depressed.  Other single moms I know don’t expect a gift, but, darn it, I like presents!

 

As for the enormous family celebration, my family lives 18 hours away and the girls are my only family up her, so we chose to go on a picnic and a hike today.  It is a way to get away from it all and celebrate being together without spending a million dollars or standing in line at a restaurant.

 

What are your Mother’s Day traditions? How do you keep from being brainwashed into feeling left out by the mass media?

Saturday: Ham/pineapple/pepper kabobs, rice, asparagus
Sunday:  Chili
Monday: Leftover chili
Tuesday: Sandwiches (going to cheap night at the movies)
Wednesday: Ham, scalloped potatoes, brocolli
Thursday: Salad bar ( all veg in the fridge, chicken, boiled egg, etc.) build your own
Friday: Dinner out

Snacks and lunches:  Salad, veggies, fruit, sandwiches, pretzels, yogurt

Time for a change

I am kind of chubby.  Not absolutely huge, not morbidly obese, but chubby enough that it effects my health and stamina.  I am a good 30-40 pounds overweight.  (20 according to one particularly generous chart.)

 

I am finally trying to do something about it.  I was thinking about the armor that fat provides recently.  You don’t have to worry quite as much about another relationship with the wrong man when you are heavy, since you are somewhat less likely to find one (at least that has been true for me.) You don’t have to worry about guys hitting on you all the time, and in fact can become quite oblivious to the ones that do. 

 

Lately though, I have been really working on my appearance.  I have begun walking and I am surprised at how quickly I have been able to embrace my inner athlete.  I am contemplating buying a bike quite soon. I am tracking my kilometers throughout the week.  This week I have walked 33.6 kilometers.  Two months ago I would not even have dreamed such a thing was possible.

 

I am not sure how the weight loss is going, since my scale broke a year ago and I never purchased a new one.  My clothes feel just a little bit looser and my body feels stronger and tighter. (It also feels kind of achy but in a good way.)

 

The reason I started this little regimen was our upcoming trip to Disney.  I could not even contemplate a week-long trek through the amusement parks if I couldn’t even walk around the block without aching all over.

 

One problem for me has been making the time.  That is probably a single mom’s anthem.  This is the first year that my kids have been old enough for me to slip out for a walk while they are still sleeping.  I am getting up super-early one morning a week for a walk, I am walking twice on the weekends and I am walking during the two nights that they both have activities. Poof, there is my five days a week!

 

I feel a lot less stressed and far more energetic.  I really don’t understand how working your body more gives you more energy, but here I am – living proof.  At work people think I am on constant caffeine high – but nope – only a healthy body high.

 

See if you can work in just an hour a week – you may be pleasantly surprised with the effects!

(* indicates food from the pantry and freezer)

Sunday: (just me) Salad,* grilled chicken, garlic bread*
Monday:*Spaghettios for the kids, carrot sticks
Sandwich in the car for me (activity night)
Tuesday: Lasagna,* garlic bread*
Wednesday: Taco Salad with grilled chicken
Thursday:  Chicken fingers*, Fries*, veggies
(Sandwich in the car for me)
Friday:  Dinner out

Lunches and snacks:  Leftovers, pretzels, popcorn, veggies, fruit, sandwiches

After a question from a friend, I realized that I post a weekly menu on my Blog but I never talked about why I plan so obsessively. It saves time, money and reduces stress. Here are a few reasons:

 

Enough cannot be said about advance preparation.  For our family that means FOOD!  Our biggest expense that we can control is food.  On weeks that I am unprepared, we spend 3 times the usual amount going out and grabbing crappy stuff from McDonald’s and the like because we are starving and short on time.

 

Every weekend I plan my menu for the week.  It isn’t engraved in stone, since life happens, but this baseline schedule makes life a lot easier.  I have all the ingredients for everything I want to make.  So there are no rush trips to the store. Most of it is prepared in advance on the weekend and simply requires heating up so DD12 can have dinner almost ready when I get home, leaving the evening for things that are fun.

 

On Saturday I go through my fridge and pantry and I see what I have on hand.  I base my menu around what I already have so that I need less at the store.  The things I have are generally all items that I purchased on sale, as inexpensively as possible. Then I make a grocery list of the items I need for the meals I have planned.  It is usually not a huge list, since I have based the menu around items on hand.

 

Next I go through the flyers of the three local grocery stores that tend to have the best deals.  I make a list of loss leaders that I plan to purchase in bulk for my stockpile. Sometimes the menu changes based on what is on sale that week.

 

I do my shopping early Sunday morning and try to beat the rush.  When I get home, as I put things away I pre-pack the snack foods for the kids’ lunches.  For example, pretzels are doled out in single serving containers and stored on the “lunch shelf” in the pantry.  This makes packing lunches quick and easy during the morning scurry on a school day.  Then I have a weekend cookathon.  I might make a roast with veggies, a soup and lasagna one week.  That will provide 4-5 dinners and stuff for lunches.  I always have things like frozen pizza on hand for those nights that the menu just doesn’t work out for various reasons.

 

The roast is sliced and put away. It will be used for a dinner along with the veggies and for sandwiches.  A few things are packed into “TV dinners” and put in the freezer for my workday lunches. The lasagna is cut in half – one half is in the fridge for a weeknight dinner and the other half goes in the freezer.  Soup is in the fridge for another weeknight dinner.  Once a week we have a leftover buffet and finish things off.

 

Before I put away the fruits and veggies for the week I clean them and prepare them (slice up the carrots and peppers, etc.) I put some of the veggies in single serving containers for lunch boxes.  I make pudding in small containers for lunch boxes.

 

As you can see this is nearly half a day’s work, but it makes for a no hassle week.  Dinner is ready almost instantly every night and that is priceless!