State of the Blog, August 2016

Happy Fall! Kinda. We’ve moved out of August 2016 and into September, but, as usual, it’s still hot and steamy in Raleigh.

For this month, we review how things are working with the blog and our newsletter, how some of our ongoing projects are progressing, and how our daughter has strayed a bit from her smart spending lessons.

Blog Stuff

Last month I decided I’d try to write 3 posts a week again instead of two and see how it goes.

I’m torn. On the one hand, I’m struggling to keep up. I had hoped to repurpose old content for one post a week, but reworking the old posts to my satisfaction takes as much time as writing new ones. (When I look at some of them…) I’ve also tweaked my newsletter format with a little more unique content instead of just an RSS Feed.

Between writing, editing, graphics and promoting, I’m feeling overwhelmed.

On the other hand, thanks to more posts and some shout outs over at Dream Beyond Debt, Finance Superhero, and Financially Savvy Saturday, I’m seeing a 20% growth in blog traffic. My Twitter followers increased by almost 50% this month, and I’m seeing more engagement from Facebook and Pinterest. I don’t want to slow down when I think I’m gaining ground.

For now, I plan to keep posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Little Bit will be back in school on the 12th, which means fewer interruptions and distractions, at least during the week. I’ll reevaluate again at the end of the month.

Ongoing Projects

The price book project continues. Much like last month, I find that I’m not making so many entries. The act of entering numbers is making me more aware of what I’m buying and for how much. If nothing else I’ve confirmed that I paid way too much for those feminine hygiene products at KMart that convinced me to start…I just bought the same amount at Walmart for half the price!

Shaking up the grocery routine a few months ago paid off. We’ve spent within $20 of our grocery target for the last 2 months, a real improvement. We tried to extend the time between trips a little and used Aldi and Walmart more. We’ve also been buying more produce at the nearby produce stand. I don’t think it’s cheaper, but we buy in smaller quantities so we aren’t spending as much. I’m stopping by and only picking up what I want to cook that day.

Our paper reduction project moves a little slower. I have a lot fewer receipts floating on my desk now that I have a designated place to put them. I also photographed and recycled all of Little Bit’s school work this month, but then Jon argued we should keep at least a few pieces for reference. (Which is why we have the photos…..)  Jon still tends to let little piles of mail gather around his chair, though. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot more back yard fires in the last 2 weeks, and the junk mail usually manages to provide a little fuel.

I’ve struggled with my goal of less mindless internet time, too. I’m not great at putting down the phone in the evening, but I’m getting better. I’ve tried to either knit, read or go outside in the evenings, and those all help. And while I’ve increased my exercise lately, I’m no where near the 9000 step average goal I set for myself in January.

Little Bit Update

Little Bit Plays in the Mud

Little Bit plays in the Mud at one of our local parks. Much more fun than the playground!

Little Bit is on track-out from her year-round school, and our plan has mostly been another track out staycation. We’ve been working on staying busy and entertained on a budget, so I looked back at some of the track out ideas I came up with last fall, and some of them were still valid.

We’re leaning way further toward outdoor activities in the summer, though. Last fall, I think we went to the park once. Last week, we went 3 times. We also have been hitting the pool while it’s still open, enjoying the fire pit we built last spring, and letting Little Bit do her painting and play dough modeling on the porch. We’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors than we have the rest of the summer, and I think all 3 of us have enjoyed it.

I’ve volunteered at Little Bit’s school this summer, working at the school store once a week. Little Bit didn’t go to the store at all until I volunteered. Now she spends at least $1 a week on scented erasers and pencil toppers (at least when she’s in school.) It seems silly to me, even if the store proceeds got towards iPads for the school. I have to keep reminding myself she gets an allowance to learn how to handle money and make her own choices.

Hopefully she’ll remember her old allowance lessons soon enough and save for better stuff. She’s taken over my old Game Boy DS and has started talking about wanting a 3DS or WiiU of her own. I’ve told her if she can save two-thirds of the money for the system she wants, her dad and I will kick in the last third and 2 games.

I’m not sure she wants it bad enough to save enough, but I’m willing to give her a chance. Maybe the desire for cooler games will counteract the call of strawberry-scented erasers.

Best Buys and Other Stuff

Jon donates blood at our local hospital a few times a year. He feels good about giving, and they tend to give him some pretty nice rewards. Last Christmas, we scored three tickets to the Nutcracker. Last week, he donated and got a free appetizer voucher at Outback.  (He also got discount tickets to a water park. Unfortunately, it’s so close to the end of the season that we won’t be able to use them.) For now, he says the appetizer will be part of our 10th wedding anniversary celebration.

Evidently, Jon’s plans for our anniversary celebration also includes tickets to Das Rheingold. I’m REALLY hoping it’s this version:

or even this version:

Alas, I suspect not. Jon’s talked about wanting to see Wagnerian Opera for years. I guess I did make him watch Mamma Mia! a few years ago.

After Jon found LED lightbulbs for $1 at Dollar Tree, I looked a little more carefully at their offerings. That’s good, because we’ve been spending a lot recently on bandaids as a thumb-sucking preventative. Score! 20 bandaids of just the right size for $1. I also decided I’d at least try their mouthwash (why not?) and a pack of gel pens. I’m never sure which things are and aren’t a good deal aside from the obvious (plastic forks and toys, no; greeting cards and mylar balloons, yep) so I’ll be performing a series of dollar store experiments.

Jon also found some half price mini fluorescents at Lowe’s to replace the burnt out ones on our dining room light fixture. He’s so proud of himself…he spent $10 instead of $20 and reduced the energy usage from 125 watts to $35.

Please feel free to comment or contact us anytime, to let us know if you have topics you’d like us to cover, thoughts on our blog, or just to say hi!

How did your August go?


16 thoughts on “State of the Blog, August 2016

  1. Sounds like you are on to something with the 3 day a week schedule. Congrats on the traffic increase. What is is that school store or holiday sales sell such cheap and meaningless things? I’m all for fundraising, but there’s got to be a better way than pawning off junk. Here’s to a great September!
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…College Countdown ModeMy Profile

    • I love the school thing that essentially gets the parents to donate money to the PTA in lieu of having fundraisers. But mine won’t, so I’ll keep running the store once a week. The kids do like it, the person in charge has a real feel for what they’ll love, but I hope it loses its appeal for Little Bit soon.

  2. That’s big traffic growth but it definitely takes work! I am working now and have no idea how I will do more than one post a week and still manage things at home and school. But we’ll just take it a week at a time. I think readers understand that our lives change too. Enjoy the next few weeks of summer (still!) Wow is it still warm up here in NY.
    Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions recently posted…Your Playbook for Tough Times…Or Anytime!My Profile

    • Yes, the growth is nice! It’s good to see that we’ve picked up a bit (we’re still small potatoes in the blog world). I love feeling like I’m connecting and helping others.

  3. You’ve done a great job growing the blog! It’s so impressive to see how consistent effort can pay off for you. I appreciate all the information you’ve put forward.

  4. We always love to test things out from the dollar store. Sometimes they can be a great buy. We just bought a bottle of generic Ms. Dash. If it’s decent, we will add that to the list. We also get all the kids toothbrushes there. They chew them up like crazy, so we have to swap them out every couple weeks either way.
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Cherries, Cherries and More CherriesMy Profile

    • yeah, I think that will be the place for toothpaste and toothbrushes…we don’t need any right now, but I was impressed by the selection.

  5. Great job on the traffic growth! Every post now gets that much more viewership which is awesome! If you can keep up a three a week schedule, that will be fantastic but I can’t imagine the work. I’m having trouble keeping up with twice a week!

    Looking forward to more updates!

  6. I don’t know how I missed your post about the price book. I always thought it would be very useful but I don’t have the patience for the project of putting one together. I a few figures off the top of my head, like when eggs are 99 cents at Aldi, I buy 5 or 6 cartons.

    If you can manage three posts a week, power to you. With two people writing (even with Mr Groovy doing the heavy lifting) we’re lucky if we manage two. Keep up the great work. I enjoy your posts and I’ve picked up many good tips from you.
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Are You Ignoring the Key Gauges on Your Financial Dashboard?My Profile

    • I am so happy when I see those $99 cent specials for eggs, or $1.99 for milk.

      I’ve noticed most of the three posts a week either have multiple writers or do a recurring Friday post like Link Love on Gai Shan Life or 5 Ways I’ve Saved Money This Week on Medium Sized Family. I think if I can come up with something that would be useful on a recurring basis, it will be easier to keep 3 going. I know State of the Blog is often one of the easiest posts I write each month because the format is largely the same.

  7. Congrats on the traffic increase! I don’t think I would be able to increase my posting schedule given that it’s so hard for me to keep up with the 2x a week posting schedule I set out for myself. It’s inspirational that you’re able to keep a 3x a week posting schedule even with everything else that’s going on in your life, keep up the great work!
    Finance Solver recently posted…Understand How to Buy Just as Much as How to SaveMy Profile

    • Thank you. There are times when even 2 times a week is a struggle, but usually either Jon or I can come up with something. 3 is a stretch, but sometimes it’s good to stretch.

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