Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Kauffman Center Tuba Christmas #Free #Homeschool #SchoolKids

I remember seeing a picture of my friend Liz and her beautifully dressed children at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at Christmastime 2014 and I was so envious of the fact that she got them all together to do something so cool and expensive. We had never been to Kauffman Center, let alone for anything CULTURAL and cool. I was afraid it would all cost too much money anyway.
Well, last summer at the pool she told me about Tuba Christmas. It's FREE. She got 10 tickets (general admission) and I was able to secure enough for my family for one of the Friday noon performances for 2015. Here are some pics from the under-an-hour performance! Then keep scrolling for the link to get your tickets for 2016. I was only able to get 6 for my household but I can sign up probably under my mom's address and details and get one more :-)

Here's how to place your order!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

I Tried to Cut My Grocery Budget in Half for a Family of 7

My grocery bill every month is usually more than our mortgage.

It's usually around $1,200, which is insane. This includes any alcohol, eating out, quick trips to Sonic for Happy Hour, toilet paper, toothpaste, bug spray, sunscreen, ANYTHING pertaining to us, our 5 kids, their friends, or the household. Keep in mind it's summer, which means extra kids at my house who I feed and snack (snack as a verb!).

As I went over the EveryDollar budget I have set up, I was seeing a trend of using too much gas (Ford E350 12-passenger van, anyone?) and spending too much on groceries. We never had anything left over at the end of the month and I also contribute quite a bit! I knew I only had control over cutting those two areas for the time being.

I had heard people on the Dave Ramsey show/podcast say they fed their family of 4 (with babies, though, NOT teens) on $200 per month. I've seen the meal plans on Pinterest. With extra kids here all the time, I call us a family of 8 food-wise, so I figured $400 per month could possibly work.

Then I laughed. Again, those people have small kids and I have TEENAGERS eating at my house ... 2 of them plus 3 more kids plus it's summer and their friends are over all the time. So I upped it to $600. That would be $300 per paycheck for two weeks of meals. Challenge accepted.

So, just for one month, July 2016, I gave it a shot. I cheated a little, so I'm going to be perfectly honest with you here! In months to come this is going to be a lot harder to pull off, especially since my husband is a foodie and I can't pull beans/rice and Ramen over on him all the time :-)

Here's how I tried to cut my $1,200 per month food bill in half to $600. SPOILER ALERT: I failed.

  • CHEAT: My husband and oldest son, age 15, were gone for 24 meals out of the 93 monthly meals. They were at a high-adventure Scout camp, so of course we paid for that in advance and that covered meals. 
Pizza at the pool
  • CHEAT: In our area, we have something called Free School Lunch. You can read about it here and find out if maybe your area has one also. I figure we homeschool and don't use any school or government services so why not? They need to keep their numbers up and are always so happy when they see my big family so they can make their quota for the day! And my kids eat free! We tried to do that as much as possible in July.
  • CHEAT: My friend Michelle came to town and brought the most healthy, awesome lunch for my family!
  • CHEAT: We were invited to eat at a family member's house one night.
  • CHEAT: We celebrated 4th of July with my aunt and she had tons of food to cover 2 meals ... yes, we brought some drinks and chips that cost money, but my kids inhaled a lot more than I spent to bring!
  • CHEAT: My aunt sent home a lot of leftovers and even a cake, so we took those things to a get-together the NEXT day, where a friend fed us smoked pork shoulder and we brought all the sides and things from the night before :-)
  • EATING OUT CHEAT: Chick-fil-A had their annual Cow Appreciation Day and we each got a free chicken sandwich or strips. I only spent $8.27 to feed 10 people there.
Otherwise, I just had my $300 in my grocery envelope. My husband wanted some beer and I had him take some cash like the good Money Warden I am. I went to Aldi for $124.51 in groceries and a full cart and paid cash. Everywhere I went for something small I paid cash. By the THIRD DAY into our paycheck I only had like $32 left. I didn't know if I could make it stretch the rest of the time ... for another 11 days!

IT WAS NOT EASY! I know this is a lot of money to some people. I totally appreciate that I am able to play around with our budget like this! I "splurged" on things like two boxes of ice cream bars for $4 and hummus for $4 and frozen meatballs for $5 and glosticks for $6 for the 4th of July, but I also got a 12-pack of Ramen my kids LOVE for $2 and I can even chop up some of the chicken I got a great deal on and some veggies and add those to the Ramen to make it into a more hearty and healthy meal.

BOTTOM LINE: When I took out things that are not necessary to our existence and put them in a category on our EveryDollar budget that was NOT groceries, we got away with spending under $800 in groceries this month (for a family of 7 with extra kids always around, but yes, we did school lunch a lot for FREE and my husband/son were gone several days). This means I did not factor in alcohol, eating out, vitamins and the expensive charcoal my husband buys.

Do you know what this really means?

That we did not do any better this month than usual (sad face).

Factor BACK into the budget the eating out, alcohol, peaches I bought in bulk, and let's not forget Petco for all the pet stuff and bearded dragon food ... yep, close to $1,200 still. I gave up the cash envelope system on the 2nd paycheck and just swiped that debit card like there was no tomorrow.

Now that I know better, I can do better.

Please come back to see how August goes! There is NO SCHOOL LUNCH in August and my entire family is thankfully together that month, so it should be interesting! I have factored in two cheap eating out nights (IKEA kids eat free Tuesday and Taco Bueno 59-cent party taco Thursday).

It would be so great if you'd sign up for an email subscription on the side of the blog for updates in your email inbox as I get posts done. It's feast or famine but I'm working on getting out a weekly newsletter with BRIEF updates from all my blogs so you can pick and choose what you'd like to read.

And, as always, I love your comments and suggestions! How do you save on your grocery bill?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dave Ramsey's Website and App ROCK MY WORLD

Okay, so I listen to Dave Ramsey's podcasts every time I walk and also at the pool. I am soaking in the info, friends. So when he talks about the EveryDollar app, I got it right away. But I don't love it on the phone because the phone is so ... teeny tiny.

Last month I went to and used my sign-in info and BAM ... huge screen full of wonderful information and percentage breakdowns of how much we are spending on what. I knew that the bulk of our money was not going to Prada bags and Jimmy Choo shoes, and instead to THE BIG THREE of a big family:


I have budgeted in Excel for many years and before that on paper. This takes it to a whole new place. Starting July 1 I logged every expense we have in our household. The first month was a learning month and it went pretty well. But it is an amazing ACCOUNTABILITY TOOL.

I like that it's customizable. I didn't want our car insurance on the INSURANCE category so I put it on transportation instead so it would give us a more accurate picture of our transportation category.

Debt pay-down ... I put in the total amount of our van payoff. After I talk to Children's Mercy Hospital about financial aid I will be able to put in the amount due for medical debt. I could not figure out how to put the $16,000 we owe on our van into DEBT and also keep it as a TRANSPORTATION cost. Also, I couldn't figure out how to add the total owed on our van at all but it would be neat to watch it go down every month. Still, it's not that imperative. I have a spreadsheet with all the interest rates and stuff and I'm sure the programmers of EveryDollar will be making improvements and additions based on feedback from people like us! There is a paid version but I'm not sure what it can do exactly yet.

Check out the percentages on this fake budget I set up:

Also crazy cool is that you can click on BABY STEPS and it shows you the steps to financial freedom. The first step is making sure you have $1,000 in an emergency fund. Okay, we have that much in a savings account but it is really earmarked for our kitchen remodel so I wouldn't count it for that.

*Programmers, please find a way to get due dates in there. Just because I can see how much I will make in a month and how much I owe in a month doesn't mean all that money comes at once. You know that, because you put Paycheck 1 and 2. But I need due dates on my bills to help figure out what expenses are paid out of which check ... maybe make it so I can click and drag items below a certain paycheck to see what I am able to pay and when? I need to know what to pay WHEN.

I 99% us this on my laptop and LOVE IT. It does so much more than my simple Excel spreadsheet could ever do to open my eyes to what we are making, what we are spending it on, and how we can pay off debt and save up for things like vacations.

Highly recommended to get your head out of the sand!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

July 11, 2016 7-11 #FreeSlurpeeDay 2016

It's finally here! The annual event my family waits for! It's 7-11 day! FREE SMALL SLURPEES ALL DAY LONG! Go back as many times as you want for free Slurpees in many different flavors! It's insane but it's worth it, especially if you are Slurpee-ing a slew of kids!
Comment here with your Slurpee fun for the day and please share this post with your friends on your Facebook page!
Here are some photos of friends and family who made it last year!

The Law Family!
The Law Family!
The Hethcoat Family!
The Hethcoat Family!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

#KrispyKreme #79Birthday $0.79 Dozen Donuts When You Buy Another!

I couldn't find anything on Krispy Kreme's 79th Birthday that was coming up FAST (July 13) so I wrote the company. This is the awesome email I got back ... did you know there is a Friends of Krispy Kreme? I would like to be their friend ... we could all use a friend who makes donuts. Except our ex-neighbor with Celiac disease, of course. Yikes! Moving on ... (see what I did there ... ex-neighbor?) ... here's the email!

Dear Ms. McLoughlin,
Thank you for your email regarding Krispy Kreme's 79th Birthday this year and the promotion that we have planned to commemorate this memorable event. We always value the opinion of our consumers and appreciate the opportunity to assist you!

On July 13th of this year, Krispy Kreme will offer a one-day-only promotion where you can purchase any one dozen of doughnuts and receive a second dozen of Original Glazed doughnuts for $0.79! You will not be required to show a coupon to receive this offer. Please check the Krispy Kreme website ( for a list of stores not participating; you may also contact your local store manager for any additional information regarding this promotional offer. We hope that you will be able to come out and celebrate this very special occasion with us!

Just in case you are not already a member, we would like to invite you to join the Friends of Krispy Kreme program. Our friends receive updates on new store openings, special promotions, information about new products and other activities. Sign up is easy, simply visit our website at select, the "Friends of Krispy Kreme" link and complete the enrollment form. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
You can reach us at 1-800-4KRISPY (1-800-457-4779), Monday - Friday from 8 am to 6pm EST. Or, you can email us again!
Best regards,

Krispy Kreme Customer Experience

Here's a fun post by me from the 76th Birthday of Krispy Kreme!

Please consider signing up for an email subscription for fun deals and to find out how our financial journey is coming along ... I always love to hear from readers!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day is Tuesday, July 12, 2016 #FreeFood

This is a post I wrote on my other blog in 2012 about doing our family's first Chick-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day, and here are some photos, both vintage and from last year!

Tuesday, July 12 is the day/night to go THIS YEAR ... can't wait to see your photos over on Facebook at the Frugalicious Family Fun page!

This year I took 8 kids plus my husband and myself and we spent $8.47 on fries only :-)

Please check out the details here first ... they stop serving this free deal at 7 p.m. and you don't get an entire free meal anymore ...
2014-07-11 15.55.23 2014-07-11 15.55.38 2014-07-11 15.56.22 2014-07-11 16.01.54 2014-07-11 16.02.02 2014-07-11 16.29.49
Bottom line is YOU GOTTA DO THIS! When we do this with our entire family it amounts to $60 in free food for dinner alone. I thought that was awesome. However, my friend Liz can always do me one better! She says you can go for ALL THREE MEALS OF THE DAY!

Are you going? So easy to toss together an outfit that resembles a cow and they usually even have helpers, like ears and tails, on their website to print out! Now for the vintage 2012 photos I promised you!
Getting ready to pull out my udder for my little calf
Grumpy calf donning ballet shoes
Eva was Karate Kow
Getting ready

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dave Ramsey Would Kick My Butt: Transportation Edition

Okay, it's true that IGNORANCE IS BLISS and KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. Knowledge is not always awesome and fun, though. Let me explain.

I have been ignorant and now that I know some stuff I feel powerful to CHANGE THINGS AROUND HERE.

Alright, so I got the EveryDollar app, which is blown up even bigger and better at I love having the app so I can log expenses as they happen. Knowledge. (I'll do a post on the app in a sec and point you toward it)

I noticed that our transportation budget was INSANITY. I moved our car insurance of $102 per month to the TRANSPORTATION category (instead of INSURANCE). Our monthly van payment (yes, Dave, I did happen to get in over my head on that one but hope to work on paying that off next year) is $400. I'm estimating our gasoline at about $300 per month for both gas-guzzling vehicles, but often it's higher, which is LOCK-ME-AWAY-NUTSO!

*Note: If you have a massive family, check out the Sprinters. Yes, they cost a lot in the beginning, but they get like double the gas mileage my E350 gets. I don't regret buying a 12-passenger van while only giving birth to 5 children; especially in the summer I have at least 6-11 kids in my van at any given time so it's been really worth it. 

Okay, so we don't buy a lot of clothes and shoes around here and I don't buy purses or get my hair cut or colored and my beauty products don't cost much and we save money a ton of other ways so I realized we needed to cut our TRANSPORTATION and FOOD budgets right out of the gate. 

Wanna know what I did?

I figured out that MPG thing my parents and math teachers tried to teach me a long time ago. MILES PER GALLON. Gas here right now is $2.04 per gallon. I get a whopping 12 miles to the gallon average. Don't judge me. That's about 17 cents per mile I drive.

Then I went to MapQuest and put in my own address as the starting point and addresses where I knew I would be going as the end point so I could get the mileage. Like I know I'll be going to my mom's, my dad's, my grandmother's and my aunt's. Do you know how much those 4 places cost me to go to in July?


That's a lot of flipping money. I mean, it may be nothing to some people but to go FOUR places and come home? It's a lot. I'm not going to cancel those things's important to see family and spend time with them. Once a month is not a huge deal. But that's only FOUR places ... FOUR days out of 31 days in July. We also go to the pool and parks and grocery stores and pick up friends and sleepovers and church and the LEGO build and potential jury duty and other things that crop up like my husband maybe driving kinda far to help a friend with something.

**My husband often rides his bike to and from work and then home for lunch and back to work so that rocks. Every bit helps and he is saving us money and getting fit!

What can I do?

  1. My husband bikes to work, like I said above.
  2. I walk errands a lot ... grocery store, library, drug store, convenience store. Hoping to extend my walking range to the bank as well :-)
  3. I can stop taking and picking up my kids from places like friends' houses. I like to be fair and take or pick up but should not be doing both.
  4. If we are talking about a sleepover, I consider a two-night sleepover in one month instead of two separate ones.
  5. This month, instead of driving my kidlet to Lawrence, KS and back ($11.56) for a sleepover NEXT week, I asked if she could stay over on a night we were already going there for a birthday party and it worked out!
  6. Keep going to the pools that are close by instead of the one that's miles up the road.
  7. I can plan my route better when I go places.
  8. I can bundle my errands.
  9. I can interview a UPS driver to find out how they save gas (fewer left turns!)
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear your suggestions please and thank you!

And please sign up for an email subscription to the blog! I won't inundate you with posts because I'm too busy saving money!
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