Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Turn

While going through the laundry I always pull out any sock of my husband's that has a hole in it and then I cut off the toe. I cut the toe off so that he won't wear it again and because I use old socks for rags. Why is it that I don't want my husband wearing holey socks and yet this is in my sock drawer?

I wore it the other day too. It's because I value my husband's comfort significantly more than I value mine. Recently I committed to finding little ways to take better care of myself. This sock (and sadly there is a matching one with virtually the exact same damage) is one little way I can take care of me. I'm not going to go out and buy new socks I will just have one less pair for now. The toes have been cut off of this mangled set. They are officially out of rotation and I will never rush into another chiropractor appointment hoping that he does not notice the enormous sock hole at my heel (yep, I wore it out of the house). I'm still frugal, becoming more so all the time but this kind of thing is important. I think it's my turn to matter. I'm worth it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Other Not too Terribly Interesting of News

I picked the first ripe tomato from my garden today. It was terribly ugly so I sliced it up for it's debut photo. I was given three different types of tomato plant. This particular individual is a black krim heirloom tomato. I will say this of the ugly little fellar, I don't like eating plain tomatoes; love them on sandwiches, burgers, in sauces, but just plain, no thanks! I took a bite out of this particular tomato and I was thrilled at the results. Factors such as it being a fruit freshly picked from the garden and that I grew it myself might play in but it was the sweetest most delicious tomato I've ever tasted. I'm so happy with my backyard produce this year; the first year I've ever tried gardening!

My new work pants still don't fit (I have not bought an alternate pair; I have been getting by pretty well) but I ate very healthily today so I'm on the right track. Haha! This little conundrum has opened my eyes to a sad fact, at least at my little spot on the planet the majority of woman wear their pants MUCH too tight. My over awareness in trying to fit into tiny pants has caused me to notice the vast majority of people bulging out of theirs. They must all be so uncomfortable and I dare say most of them probably didn't purchase way too small of pants in hopes of fitting into them months down the road. They just dress this way. I feel awful for them all. It is my opinion that people shouldn't have to go through life like sausages squeezed into their clothing, popping out at the seams. Who ever knew it was so common? There are life lesson's to be learned from every frugal moment, this is for sure!

Another frugal fact I discovered today: I am much more of a stickler when it comes to wasting a thing than I had ever realized. It drives me crazy when my mother in law uses like 1 tbl. of dish soap to wash her hands or when we're out and she grabs 10 ketchup packets and throws 8 of them in the trash without ever using them. But today I needed to make room in my fridge for my huge grocery shopping trip and I was forced to accomplish a task that I hadn't really realized I was putting off. There were several almost empty chocolate syrup, mustard, and ketchup bottles in the fridge that I could NOT rinse out for recycle because there was a little but left in them. You know, that little bit that doesn't really squeeze out? Today I tipped them all upside down and let the itty bits of their contents drain into much fuller bottles. It's amazing how much extra room one might have in their refrigerator if they remove the 5 almost empty bottles of condiments hanging around in there.

Grocery Adventures

We took some change out of my son's piggy bank this morning so that he could buy himself a donut and a penny pony ride at the store today. Then we were off, coupons in hand. I used my entire coupon haul from the catalina machine (thanks Sluggy; I couldn't remember what that thing was called) but boy was it a brain drainer. I had to purchase $10 worth of produce, $5 worth of cheese, $75 worth of groceries (just to name a few) in order to get such and such a deal from the different coupons. The store is doing a 10 items for $10, get the 11th item free special this week. I felt like I was doing an intricate jig saw puzzle as we zigged and zagged up and down grocery aisles trying to meet the criteria for each coupon. I mega tip my hat to extreme couponers. I do NOT know how they do it. I really hate grocery shopping.

Our cart was fuller than any shopping cart I can remember checking out with in years. I picked up $117.91 worth of groceries for $74.13. I saved $43.78 today; $13.50 worth of coupons from the newspaper last week and the catalina haul and $30.28 from items being on sale. My cart consisted of tons of food, cat litter, laundry detergent, some wipes for the diaper bag (at hubby's request), this Sunday's newspaper and our Free ice cream since we had over $75 worth of groceries. We ended the adventure with the penny pony ride. Little Abe holds his penny in his hand the entire time we're grocery shopping just waiting for that pony ride after check out. Whoo, I call that another mission accomplished!

I'm hoping for 3 no spend days in a row now. I think I'm going to have to pick up one or two things here and there though. Ah, fingers crossed.

Average daily spending for August: $18.56
(above average factors in 3 no spend days)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Go Ahead and SNSL

I keep seeing a pouch similar to this one at the stores I work in. I think it's supposed to be funny but I can't conjure up in my little mind one single reason a person would desire to own such an item. Every time I've strolled past the thing lately it's caused me to get quite angry. I don't get it. I also don't understand the YOLO thing so I guess I'm just so far removed from "the times" that I'm incapable of "getting it." But seriously?!?! Why? Are there really people who think this is a good way to live? Live it up folks! Have all the fun you can squeak in during a day. We can think about the future when it arrives. For now just waste everything you've been given, earned, worked for; for that matter spend now and pay the bills later too. Spend now and pay the mortgage later too. Spend now and take care of any financial responsibilities in your life later. Everything will work out just fine. Sigh.

I think what makes me most mad about this is that I VERY foolishly "spent now" for many years as a young adult and I don't have money to save now. Why would this be encouraged? It's destructive.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Messiness of Me

 This is pretty much exactly what my life feels like right now.

Two sleepy owls stuck beside memories of journeys past
Living among-st a decapitated bobble head and shattered monkey,
A broken giraffe,
Nail clippers and chapstick no one can ever find,
My grandparent's matchstick shoe that left a scar on my forehead from when I was only three,
A squirrel treasure (still intact),
An envelope of film negatives from almost 20 years ago...
Yep, almost exactly like that!

And not even because of any sort of tragedy or grim event. Just because sometimes life gets overwhelming and messy from having had too many balls in the air all at once for far too long, too many things on the to-do list that never got do'd; just too much in ones head and not enough adults to share that much with.

This is NOT a staged photograph. We absolutely have an odd little cubby in our dining room wall with all kinds of things Abe has broke or that we've snatched from his little fingers and stashed on that ledge. I neither added nor removed anything for this blog post. Isn't it lovely though!?!?

Average daily spending for August: $18.37

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When Life Gives you Lemons Make Lemonade (or, um, green tomatoes)

A stalk broke on one of the tomato plants and I about cried. It was holding one of the biggest tomatoes, there are only two others that are bigger and riper than the fallen solider.
At first I was just sad and wondering if there was a way to save him and then I thought of fried green tomatoes. Confession numero uno: I've never battered and fried anything before. Confession number two: I've never eaten or tried or even seen in person a fried green tomato. But I still went for it.

Tonight for dinner me and the kiddo ate fried green tomatoes for the very first time. Needless to say I am so proud of myself. Seeing as I have zero experience in this arena I think I did grand. I made sandwiches out of the little green beauties: biscuit, egg, tomato slice and miracle whip.

Average daily spending for August: $17.64

On a more personal note, because yes it does get more personal than ones dinner choices, I've been having a rough time with the money lately. It's mostly dealing with one of the family members (not little Abe) spending a bit more thoughtlessly as of late and my trying to pay the bills on time and still budget money for food and gasoline and... it gets draining. I have noticed, and I think it's only natural, that when he's out spending like we did in the "old days" I want to be able to spend more too, buy new clothes, go out for a nice dinner or two, buy a few or A LOT of Starbucks beverages (I never buy starbucks coffee anymore), order some fancy chocolates; the list goes on. But I can't because I'm the responsible one. We don't have the money to spend on that stuff, not right now anyway. Sigh. This too shall pass. He's progressively gotten better and better and a bump in the road is a bump in the road but that is where I am at... I guess I should stick with the title and try and figure out how to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons?

*I won't publish any negative comments about him. I'm a blogger. I blog mostly about spending less money. This frustration I'm feeling is the sort of thing that I feel needs to be said here (at least every now and again) but I won't publish negative comments about my husband; not that anyone would try and be mean but I know that you've all got my back. (funny comments... maybe)
As a matter of fact yes, I did just go outside, pick some rose hips from the rose bush, and put them in my son's smoothie this morning.

Happy face.

I love eating from the yard!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hit the Jackpot (no I don't play the lottery)

Absolutely the itty bittyest things get me excited. The coupon machine at the grocery store spit out all these babies today. They are all good ones too. I don't usually hit the jack pot on the coupon machine at the grocery store (in case an explanation is needed there is a separate printer next to the receipt printer at the grocery store that prints out store promotions or even manufacturer promotions). I got:
save $1.50 on $10 of produce (any brand)
$3 off tidy cat litter (which I use)
save $1 on $5 purchase of cheese (any brand)
save $1.50 on frozen chicken or fish (any brand)
save $2 on cereal (any brand)
FREE ice cream on a $75 basket
save $1.50 on 3 ice creams

Pretty sure I'll be spending $75 on groceries at some point in the near future of which will include some produce, cat litter (if it's on sale), cheese, fish sticks, cereal, and free ice cream. I totally hit the jackpot!

Semi related the plain old factory farm eggs at the grocery store are now all the way up to $1.99 a dozen. I think it's safe to say that my egg lady isn't keeping up with inflation charging $2 a dozen for her free range GMO free farm fresh eggs. Geesh, food is truly skyrocketing in price.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Help Make a Dream Come True

I've asked for money once before during my 3 and a half years writing this blog. It was when I did the first $12 a day annual fund raiser. I can't resist posting this request because I follow this particular family on facebook and they are such a brilliant light in this world.
I went to youth group with this amazing woman of God. She went on a mission trip to Haiti several years ago and ended up falling in love with a man there. She now lives in Haiti and has been married to her wonderful husband for 3 years. They have a young son (I don't think he's a year old yet). They've started a school in a desolate area. They feed the kids there. It all just amazes me. Those beautiful children are being helped so much by these people.

My friend's Haitian husband has never gotten a visa to the US for financial reasons. My friend will be bringing their ADORABLE son home to the US for a visit fairly soon (it will be Benson's first time in the US) and she would LOVE for her husband to come along (it would also be his first time in the US) but as of right now they can't afford the visa. I'm just putting this out there for anyone who feels so inclined to donate a few dollars to this family. Oddly enough I had planned for my next $12 a day annual fundraiser to be for this family because I admire them so much but seeing as there is a need now I'm just going ahead with the request.

I've linked to their fundraiser beneath the two photos. If you're interested in donating you can just click on one of the photos.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This is a Long One But I've Got a Few Things to Say

I spent a few hours this morning at a relatives house helping them write a budget. They've really been struggling to pay the bills. I went out on a limb and offered to help them go over numbers. They've never operated with a budget before. They don't know where their money goes each month, or each week even. They don't have a check book registrar that they balance. They don't have any sort of computer software that they plug numbers into. As I found out this morning they don't even know "about" how much the electric bill, or the phone bill, or this or that bill is each month.

I'm NOT judging them. I'm fully aware that more people than not operate this exact same way. You get paid. You spend the money. You hope to pay the bills along the way. Period. I almost expect people to operate that way. It's so common. I was impressed that they jumped at my offer to help them draw up a budget and get their bills caught up. On the plus side they don't have any debt, a small student loan but otherwise they're in SOOOO much better shape than my husband and I have ever been. On that note I want to say that it probably helps a lot of people out to not have very good credit or even bad credit early in life. If you can't get a credit card it's considerably more easy to stay out of debt. I commend them for that! Oh, I could only wish...

I started with the number one goal in budgeting: spend every single penny on paper before the month begins. All of your money should have a goal; all of your dollars should have a name before you ever see them. I actually went over there knowing "how" I was going to help; I was going to give them basic budgeting principles and draw up a budget with them. Can I tell you, for the past few days, as I've been getting ready to go over there I've been second guessing myself, thinking," surely they must know all these things. surely I can be of no help by just telling them about budgeting. Hm, I wonder if there's something else that I'm not thinking of that they're really expecting me to help with." Not like asking for money. I knew that wasn't the case at all. But I was still trying to figure out some other thing that might be more knowledgeable than "simply" how to budget.

I had drawn up an outline before hand. They were so scared going into this "meeting." They had hit that hopeless point in the financial journey where there are so many shut off notices and late fees and past due letters that they didn't know if they could ever get out of it. I knew they were in better shape than they did simply because they have no debt (okay, I'm not counting their mortgage in that debtless declaration either).
I sat down with them and had them start filling in the blanks:
Projected monthly income for August
Mortgage payment
Phone bill
Electric bill

They sat there so impressed with my outline. Okay, there was fear on their faces too, like "oh my word, is there going to be a giant negative number at the end of this page?" We filled in the numbers and I kind of had to giggle when I told them, "see, you're really not as bad off as you thought." We got all their bills caught up by October. Nothing will be shut off (well except the internet and cable that were already disconnected... shoot and the garbage service (also already shut off)). We budgeted in a decent amount to grocery money, yes they are living on a set grocery budget now. I think they were both a tiny bit excited about the challenge of budgeting the groceries on considerably less money than they are used to for this month. After we were done they both seemed, I don't know, empowered. Like they're now in control of their money for the first time in their lives. We budgeted in back to school expenses for the kids, a hair cut for one of them, birthday presents for relatives. I tried to get every single expense out of them that they could think of.

We also drew up a weekly budget for the rest of August. "Now this is WHEN you're going to spend your money and $355 from 'this' check needs to be saved for your mortgage payment during 'that' week." They were thoroughly impressed. I'm going to go back at the end of the month to budget out each week in September with them and revise the September monthly budget that we drew up depending on how they do this month. I don't anticipate going back again after that. In truth I'm really impressed with them for accepting my help. They made me laugh when they said they really needed to pay me for my financial services. All I did was tell them how to budget. hehe :-) They seemed like an enormous weight had been lifted from them when I left there today. I'm very proud of them!

The whole ordeal got me thinking though, how many people lose their houses because they just don't ever budget their money? For real! How many people go about it the normal way: get paid, spend money, maybe pay the bills?!?! You can only get so far in the negative and then there's this enormous monster living on top of you and one day everything just caves. You lose the house. We call the monster poverty. But for real, how often is the monster just foolishness; just poor planning (or no planning)? We are living in a crazy world! Even look at the government of my country. All these wealthy beyond belief bureaucrats truly believe they can just spend any amount of "government" money, who cares if it's not actually there to spend and "one day it'll all balance out." IT DOESN'T"T WORK THAT WAY PEOPLE!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Mission Acomplished

Sometimes it really is just the little things in life that make it so sweet!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sweet Dreams

I just cooked up a batch of blueberry syrup. Oh my goodness! I want to go to sleep this very minute so that we can have our extravagant blueberry breakfast asap. I plan to thoroughly clean the kitchen this evening so it shall be all cozy and ready for pancakes tomorrow. I think I might even set an alarm so that I can get up before the babe (Abe). I haven't set an alarm for anything since before he was born (that'd be almost 3 years now). I think I love food way too much...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blueberry Bliss

I could have had a no spend day yesterday if I hadn't spent $20 on blueberries. A friend and I took the kiddos to a blueberry field and picked about 15 pounds of berries each. The little ones probably ate a pound each.

At one point little Abe picked a completely unripe berry, popped it in his mouth, after which you can only imagine the expression on his face. He proclaimed loudly, "these berries are gross!" Then he started picking berries off of the bush as fast as he possibly could and chucking them every which way with all of his might. It was hilarious but I quickly explained to him that we wouldn't want someone coming in our yard and chucking our strawberries all over the place and he most certainly needed to stop throwing someone else's blueberries that they'd worked very hard to grow because they wouldn't like it anymore than we would.

All in all it was a great time and we have thee most beautiful and enormous berries filling our fridge and freezer right now. I'm sensing all homemade blueberry pancakes, with blueberry syrup, with freshly whipped cream on top in the very near future. Oh, Yum!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunny Monday Morning

So far today I've been to the chiropractor, watered the backyard produce, got some laundry in, done a lesson with my son (we're working on colors, shapes, and letters and counting), and we went grocery shopping. There's chili on the stove. I should be able to get cornbread in the oven before I leave for work.

My grocery trip was pretty darn successful for a Monday morning. I hoped to spend $50 and ended up spending $52.25. I recouped yesterday's newspaper cost using $2.55 in coupons from the paper. Almost everything I purchased was on sale so I saved $24.78 on the entire bill. I'm pretty sure I can pull off three no spends in a row Tuesday-Thursday. I picked up enough stuff for 5 dinners and we're set on lunches and breakfasts and snacks, I think.

I'm off to work as soon as my son goes down for his nap. Pretty good day thus far! Hope you all are having a great one as well.

Average daily spending for August: $19.50

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July Numbers Are In

The below list is a simple summary of all our cash outflow for July minus my husband's spending (which includes his lunches and any spending strictly for himself; ie going to lunch with a friend, picking up beer for band practice, ect). Each of these categories has several things inside of them. For example home expenses includes the mortgage payment (and escrow), and equity line. Vehicle expenses includes the car payment, gasoline, and car insurance.

Home expenses $1108.95
Vehicle expenses $595.89
Utilities $379.97
Credit card payments $564.22
All spending $554.33

Average daily spending for July: $17.88

That makes August my fourth lowest spending month of the year.

January $15.66 a day
February $20.27 a day
March $17.01 a day
April $19.99 a day
May $20.55 a day
June $17.05 a day
July $17.88 a day

I'm happy to have come in under $18 a day for July. I didn't beat out June but with the pattern I'm developing I should have been pretty close to $20 a day in July. Yikes, what's that say for August? I'm not doing so well with the no spend days this year (I'm at 50 if I can squeak one out today) but maybe I can try and keep August spending down by packing in the no spends. That really does affect my spending for the better. 

Average daily spending for 2014: $18.24

I really didn't know where my daily average would end up this year. I hadn't included spending for my son in my daily average before this year. I'm starting to think that if I end 2014 under an $18 a day average I will have done really well. I was hoping for $15 a day but it's looking farther and farther off the radar. I might just revise my goal to $17 a day for the year. That sounds like a decent challenge.

Strawberry Advice?

My strawberry container garden has done great this year! Right now it has two different shoots hanging over the edges of the pot with about 6 or 7 small plants starting off of them. I know that if the plants were on the ground most of the new plants would root right there but seeing as they are hanging over the edge of a pot and seeing as I don't want them planted in the ground I'm wondering what's the best way to go about planting them?

The longer I'm leaving the shoots the more plants they are creating. I imagine I'll have to cut the shoots off eventually before winter arrives but do I place each little plant in a cup of water to grow roots? Do strawberry plants do that? I'd love to start a second container garden in back next year with the new plants and maybe give some away to friends too. I'm not sure what's the best way to go about keeping these new little beauties alive though.

Any strawberry plant experts out there?

Oh, I'm also wondering about wintering. I know that since they aren't in the ground they won't last the winter (and we're supposed to have another bitterly cold winter here this year). I saw online to put the pot in the garage next to an interior wall but we have a rickety detached garage and other than wind it will be the same temp in there as outside. Does anyone know, will putting them in the pantry in the basement be too warm for them to winter?

Friday, August 1, 2014

I Feel Like a Super Hero

Because I have tomatoes growing in my backyard;
Because I haven't purchased one single diaper for all of 2014 (my son is 29 months old);
Because I grind up all of our food scraps (fruit and veggie) and throw them into the "compost" pile;
Because even though 2014 seems to be flying by, little Abe and I have had some pretty great adventures so far this year;
Because I'm not a champ with money but I try really, really hard to be fiscally responsible;
And because I made lemon meringue pie! (I didn't make it again. I'm still talking about that same pie.)

Yep. I'm a super hero.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Meet Baptdo

The lovely town I live in is celebrating a festival this week. I'm not a fan of crowded streets, sensory overload, and people, people, people everywhere. I took the kiddo for a drive downtown the other day mostly to get out of the house. It was crazy packed down there; just too much for me. I hadn't intended to get out of the car but when we drove by the beach and saw that no one was there we couldn't resist stopping.

I was dressed practically in PJs (lounging around the house clothes) and my kiddo was the messiest I've ever seen him out of the house with a few spots of food on his shirt (I've never let him leave the house in a dirty shirt before) and smudges on his face. We were a sight! It was rather cold out, especially by the water, and especially considering that it's July. But the wonderful cold spell is what was keeping all the tourists away. There were about 3 other small groups of people there; an older couple sitting in chairs watching the waves, a younger couple walking the shoreline cuddled together under a blanket, and a small family playing in the sand. Yep, that's just about no one for a beach that was recently voted by Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the "best secret beaches on earth." Secret, HA! It's always packed!!! Maybe I should just thank Travel and Leisure magazine for that.

We live quite close to this lovely "secret" beach (adjacent the 5th largest lake in the world). We walk down to the general vicinity often but don't necessarily "go to the beach" a lot. I think my little guy has gone to the beach about 5 times in his life. Our little excursion the other night despite the chill in the air was awesome. We walked the shoreline and did get our toes quite wet (despite my telling little Abe that the water was just too cold). We chased seagulls, which he's never done before. We collected seagull feathers and honestly I was in awe of how many different colored and patterned feathers you can collect from black and white birds. We spotted an odd amount of lady bugs and honey bees at the shoreline (I'm still pondering why that was). I was also stunned as to how much trash was lying around on the beach. We sang silly songs while we walked, jogged, and ran (I swear my life is turning into a musical. We sing silly songs all day long about everything imaginable). If nothing else I can proudly say "my kid thinks I'm hysterical." We took a long, exhausting, some tears involved bathroom pit stop and the little guy did not pee his pants. Honestly, between you and I, I should have just let him pee in the lake. Gah, how has this world become so civilized and so cold hearted all at the same time? Tell me, how? Oh, we also stomped sand castles and jumped in (and filled in) holes people had dug. Normally I would NEVER demolish a sand castle. In fact I've always been the person walking in a group who would strongly encourage others NOT to stomp a sand castle. But I've also never taken an evening stroll before on a cold beach with my 2 year old son. Stomping sand castles is really fun!

Towards the end of our adventure when we both smelled of the Lake, had sand blown gently between the little hairs on our heads so that our scalps were a bit like sandpaper, our feet were cold and pruney, I dare say our hands were filthy from collecting feathers and picking up itty bitty shells, we noticed something green buried in the sand. It was a small toy army man. My son doesn't have any green toy army men yet. I say "yet" because they do seem a staple in every young boy's toy collection. He was pretty impressed with the really insignificant find. We rescued him from the sand and seeing as there was no one else on the beach at the time (and I think the toy is worth less than a penny) I told him he could take the little man home with us. I'm still amazed at the things a two year can find joy in.

He's been playing with the army man since we rescued him. He even named him. In fact its the very first toy he's ever given a name to. He has toys with names but none he's specifically named himself. The little green beach army man is now affectionately called Baptdo. I don't know how long Baptdo will last (he's very small and very cheap) but I do know that he's brought joy to both me and my son. My son, because it's a cool new toy that we rescued from the enormous beach and he's enjoying playing with it. Me, because Baptdo represents the basics of beauty in simplicity and a great evening that the two of us had together. That night after we arrived home between his bath and him being tucked in for bed my son thanked me at least 6 times for a fun time at the beach. There are truly SOOOOO many wonderful things that money cannot buy!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The zipper on the "new" pants did not break!
(I feel I should note that you have to read the last post to understand the above comment)
I will be eating a salad for dinner tonight and drinking lots of water.

Average daily spending for July: $18.65

Today's Friendly Weight Loss Tip

Buy a new pair of workpants on sale a size too small (or maybe 2 sizes) because it will encourage you to shed some pounds.

Three months later when you still haven't lost the weight but your current pair of pants for work are shot (completely and totally... yes, I own one pair of work pants... I'm very frugal) squeeze and I really mean SQUEEZE into the "new" pair of pants that are way too small.

My guess is you won't have as much of an appetite for awhile and you might not use your pockets for a bit. Gah! This is going to be an interesting day. Who wants to take bets on whether or not I bust the zipper today?