Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I can’t believe that we are passed the half way point in January. The days have really flown by. I hate to wish my life away, but I do long for spring and the warmer days ahead. Until then, I am appreciating the coziness of home. We have a fire constantly going, as that is our main heat source this year. I allow myself to settle in at night, with a cup of tea and a mutually agreed upon series on a streaming service with my husband. We are finally watching The Sopranos. I asked him why we waited so long. When I looked the series start date up online, I found that it premiered the week my daughter was born. That answered my question. I wasn’t doing much of anything that wasn’t kid related until about 2010!

With January nearing the end, I am already planning a grocery store trip. The annual freezer and pantry clean out continues and things are starting to clear out. Until then, here is a list of our Frugal Friday roundup:

  1. I had to give in and go to the store for some items. My daughter’s birthday dinner was on Sunday and she requested vegan cheeseburger macaroni. I did not have Beyond Beef or vegan cheddar. I also needed some eggs and bananas. The food co-op had some organic vegetables on clearance, so I threw some of those in my cart as well. Total spent was $40. That brings our grocery bill total to January to $42.57. Not bad for a family of 4.
  2. My daughter is getting an apartment this summer. I bought her a Penzey’s gift set to get started on her own spice collection. I found a 4 year old Penzey’s giftcard with $20 on it which I applied to the total. I have a pile of giftcards that have assorted balances on them that I need to be better about using.
  3. I do not understand when my husband starts giving me in depth details about anything electrical. My understanding is that a fuse blew and could not be salvaged. He knows how to replace it, so instead of hiring an electrician, he ordered the fuse and replaced it himself.
  4. Spent yesterday cooking and baking. I have mastered a whole grain flax seed bread recipe that actually seems to work. I also made a peach galette with peaches I canned over the summer and bbq glazed salmon with a bbq sauce I canned in the summer. Those foods I took the time to preserve 6 months ago are coming in handy now. Today I will be make a batch of chicken noodle soup. I have another friend with COVID and promised to bring her some.
  5. I signed up for Imperfect Foods. I have heard people raving about it, that a membership is both a money saver and time saver. I thought I would give it a try. I don’t care of my carrots are a funny shape, as long as they are edible. Our first delivery will be on January 29, just a few days shy of the end of the pantry challenge. By then, I am going to need to give in. The timing is perfect.

That’s about it for now. Today is super cold in Wisconsin, so I plan on spending the majority of the day at home. I have a couple errands to run, including taking our foster dog to the vet. But I should be settled into my cozy home by 3:30 today. Perfect end to the week.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

  1. I received a second payment from the Bought Milk class action settlement. It wasn’t a lot, $18.90. I applied it to our Century Springs water bill for the month. Every bit counts.
  2. Continued with the pantry and freezer clean out. Some of our best dinners have happened because I get creative with what I have on hand. Chicken breast and Boursin cheese make a great combination. I did need to go to Kwik Trip for bananas and eggs. Total spent was $2.47.
  3. Did you know that pickle brine makes a pretty great chicken marinade? I had no idea until I tried it last week. I used it to make copycat Chick-fil-a sandwiches for dinner. I won’t go to Chick-fil-a for personal reasons. But, I have heard they have a great sandwich. The sandwiches turned out really good.
  4. I asked our insurance agent to rerun some quotes for us. He did, and with a new auto insurance product that he has, our car insurance went down $200 per month! Our coverage increased and our deductible went down. Seriously, call your agent.
  5. Car rides have been reduced to driving to and from work. Until this most recent wave goes down, we are sticking to home. Again. However, I am really sick of putting my life on hold to avoid getting sick. I will keep doing it because I am a textbook rule follower. But that doesn’t mean I like it.

What did you do this week to make your money go further? Are you doing the pantry challenge? Sticking close to home? Visiting your library more? Let me know if there is something I am missing.

Frugal Living, Recipes

Korean Rice Bowl

One of the nice things about working at a library is that I see nearly everything that goes in and out our doors. Yesterday, I came across a vegan cookbook that I decided to give a quick look. The book opened to a recipe for Korean Tempeh Bowls. It looked delicious, but I quickly realized that I did not have all of the ingredients to make it at home. I didn’t let that stop though, I checked out the cookbook and decided to make substitutions. The result was a really good and healthy meal. I used only what I had on hand and kept my January pantry challenge intact. I also found out at work that I am not the only one participating in this challenge. I am not sure if it is COVID, the really cold weather in Wisconsin or the New Year, but the January pantry challenge seems to be a thing!

Korean Tempeh and Rice Bowl

1.5 cups white rice

Tempeh

8 ounces tempeh

1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1.5 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp pepper flakes

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Vegetables

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 bag frozen stir fry vegetables

1 bag frozen broccoli

Toppings

sesame seeds, siracha, pepper flakes, chopped peanuts.

Directions

Cook the rice according to instructions. While rice is cooking make the marinade for the tempeh. Cut tempeh into cubes and let marinate for about 15 minutes. Once done marinating, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Remove tempeh, being sure to reserve the marinade. Put tempeh in skillet and cook until all sides are crispy, turning often. This will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Put finished tempeh on a plate. Add a little more oil to skillet and add vegetables. Stir frequently and medium heat. Once vegetable are tender, add marinade and let simmer about 4 minutes.

Serve over rice and add desired toppings.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Well, the new year is off to a great start as far as saving money. Here is the roundup of what we saved.

  1. We spent New Year’s Eve at home. Dinner was frozen pizza and salad. I watched reruns of Sex and the City. My husband and daughter played board games. I was asleep well before the clock struck 2022. I do like to wake up early on the first day of the year in order to get a jump start on things.
  2. I paid my Mint Mobile bill for the year. $165 for 12 months. Seriously, if you don’t have Mint Mobile, you are overpaying for cell phone coverage.
  3. My daughter being home for Christmas break means that our free supply of coffee is back.
  4. I have a gym membership that also offers streaming and on demand workouts. I am taking advantage of that service as well as visiting the gym. I do yoga and meditation at home. I save time and gas money, in addition to utilizing even more of the services provided by my gym.
  5. I mended three pairs of jeans instead of throwing them out and buying new. Back to my goal of not buying new clothes and getting off of the fast fashion carousel.

What did you do this first week of 2022 to save some money?

Family Life

Happy New Year

Well, here we are, entering year three of a pandemic that I believe we were told would last two weeks. I should make it a point to never listen to politicians or people in power. My family has remained COVID free, but I feel like our luck may be running out as the virus creeps closer and more and more people I know have it. Thankfully, we are all fully vaxxed, so I expect that if we get sick, it will be mild.

Like with every new year, I try to come up with a list of goals that I want to accomplish. This year, I am trying something new and skipping the lose weight and go to the gym more. I already go to the gym regularly. I have been very slowly losing weight the last year and while I wish it was more, it’s better than nothing. So, I am going to keep that status quo for now. Instead, I have some other goals that don’t involve my physical health.

  1. I am going to attempt to not buy any clothes for one year. As my daughter has pointed out many times, the textile industry is one of the main causes of global warming. The fast fashion industry has made it too easy to purchase cute clothes for cheap. But we need to ask ourselves, what is the true cost of buying that $15 sweater that won’t even last that long. I have more than enough clothing to get me through a year. I went into 2022 prepared. In December I purchased a pair of workout shoes (my old pair was literally tearing away from the sole), the summer work shoes I will need and new socks. Unless some kind of special event happens where I need a dress, I am set for one year. This challenge shouldn’t be too hard for me. I hate shopping and am so frugal that I do wear things out before replacing them.
  2. My reading goal is 135 books for the year. I keep track of my books on Goodreads. Last year’s goal was 130 books, finished 10 days ahead of schedule. Reading is my escape from the real world. It also the activity that grounds my daily routine. I read every single night before bed for at least an hour. This is a routine I have followed since second or third grade. I have always been a patron of my local library. It is no shock that I now work at a library.
  3. I am going to order our state park sticker this week so that we can start visiting the parks sooner. Wisconsin has some really beautiful state parks that we need to utilize more. Since a long distance vacation appears to be at least one more full year in the future, sticking close to home is our only choice.
  4. I am going to learn to say “No” more often to requests. I am terrible about saying no to pretty much anyone. I only hurt myself when I do that.
  5. In January, we are going to challenge ourselves again to eat from the freezer and pantry without going to the store (eggs and bananas will be the exception to that rule). By starting the year with this goal, we save money and clear out the freezer and pantry of food that was lost over the past year.
  6. This one is a big one for me. I need to stop cancelling and rescheduling appointments. I do it all the time. There is no reason for it, just procrastination and laziness. I am starting today. I have a 10:00am doctor appointment, that I considered rescheduling for absolutely no reason. I will go and then it will be done. This will be a good goal to test my saying no goal. “Can you work on Thursday?” “No, I have an appointment scheduled”. Sounds easier than it is.
  7. We need to remodel our kids bathroom. It is in DESPERATE need. I think this summer is the target date. When that happens, we will only have 1 of our kids still here. She will only be here for summers and breaks though. It was something that has been backburnered for years because it was always in use.
  8. We also need to finish replacing the moulding and doors. That has been slow going because my husband has been doing it. Target date of summer for that to be done.
  9. Replace a couple pieces of our furniture. Again, I let things wear out until the bitter end. Our couches are in serious need of replacement. My understanding is that furniture everywhere is on backorder. I am going to start looking in the summer when the inventory has hopefully been replenished.
  10. Finally, finish a couple of crafting projects that I have sitting around. I like doing them when watching TV, but forget to pick them up. Should be an easy goal.
Uncategorized

Frugal Friday

I have a lot to report since my last Frugal Friday update, months ago. I really need to be a lot better about updating my blog on a regular basis. Life just keeps getting in the way. Here is roundup of what we did this last week to save some cash.

  1. Our well water pressure tank rusted out this week. In all fairness, it was due. After researching the life span of a water pressure tank, I found that they last about 5-7 years. Ours was the original with the house, built in 1967. We kept saying, maybe we should replace that thing. Anyway, my husband checked out Youtube to see if he could replace it himself, and it turns out he could. We figure he saved us about $1,200-$2,000 doing it himself.
  2. All of our phones have officially been converted to Mint Mobile. Each phone is $140 per year. We are saving about $1,500 per year by switching.
  3. I have pretty much finished Christmas shopping. I utilized several sales and buy some get some free offers. I keep hearing that shipping and supplies will be a problem, so I got ahead of it.
  4. We are using our fireplace with the blower already to warm the house. We are almost to that time of year where the furnace is a must. It would be nice to hold off on turning it on for as long as possible.
  5. I ordered a lot of food from bobsredmill.com. If you sign up for their newsletter, you get 20% off and free shipping at $59.99. The savings on organic food was worth it.

We have had a very busy several weeks. We offered to temporarily foster a golden retriever through the rescue that I volunteer for. Well, one thing led to another, and all of a sudden, we are failures. Foster failures that is. That’s right, we decided to give that little girl a home. We are going to be a forever foster family, meaning we give her all the love and the organization pays her expenses. She has some chronic health conditions that are expensive and she needs to be diapered because of her health issues. Her life expectancy is not great, but we commit to giving her a great home for as long as possible. I fear that we are setting ourselves up for some major heartbreak in the future. But, she is going to give us that endless love that only a dog can give. I mean, look at that face. Isn’t she just a beautiful girl? Not to mention, she gives the best snuggles.

Enjoy autumn everyone! It goes by so fast.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

2021 is going by in a flash. I can’t believe we are approaching mid August. My youngest is going back to college soon. We had a wonderful summer. I haven’t been blogging, mostly because I just wanted to remain present with my family. But, with the expenses that fall brings, it’s probably time to kick start my frugal ways. Here is a list of the things we have done to save money this week.

  1. We lost power for 38 hours. Does that count? I mean, the electric bill alone should see a savings with the absolute need for air conditioning right now. Our neighbors have a generator and they let us store our perishables at their house. Thank goodness. We only lost 2 almost empty containers of ice cream, about a half cup of coffee creamer and some leftovers that were destined for the garbage, with power.
  2. We are planning to move all of our cell phones to mint mobile by the end of the month. I am embarrassed that we didn’t do this sooner. Annual savings is about $1500!
  3. I canned or froze nearly 50 pounds of peaches for winter. We have a healthy inventory of plain peaches, jam and bbq sauce now. The sauce is sublime.
  4. We are really starting to buy more and more in bulk. I am figuring out what we will use and what will keep for an extended period of time. I have had a few misses, but that is to be expected.
  5. My husband completely remodeled our half bath. He bought nearly everything from Habitat for Humanity restore. He found a Kohler sink with faucet for $15! Total cost for a full remodel was $500. We are in the process of updating our house, slowly, and one room at a time. Of course he gave up his time for the remodel, but he claims not to mind.

That’s about it for today. What did you do to save money?

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Happy Spring! I love this time of year. Everything is coming back to life, the days are longer and the excitement for fresh produce is on my mind.

After months of pounding the pavement, my son got a job! We are so incredibly proud of him. He was a recent college graduate during the worst job market in at least a decade. He continued to forge forward, not letting it get him down. It’s so weird how our kids evolve into adults so gradually, that when they have reached that huge milestone into adulthood, a first job in their chosen career, that you don’t notice how much they have changed until that moment. While I know our jobs are not ever done as a parent, I know that the hard, in the parenting trenches work, is done. I am not too humble to say that we did a fine job.

Enough of that now, on to our round up of frugal choices this week:

  1. Since life is gradually going back to normal and merchants are allowing cash again, we have gone back to paying for nearly everything in cash. I know a few places still require credit card payment only. Our vet and the place I get my oil changed at come to mind.
  2. I joined AARP. Yes, I am celebrating that milestone in the month of April. Unlike the majority of my friends who refuse to join on principle, I have no principles. If admitting my age will get me a 10% discount at Denny’s, I’m all in.
  3. Every member of my family has received at least one dose of the covid vaccine. My daughter has had both, I am scheduled to get my second on Easter. By May 1st, all of us will be considered fully vaccinated. While we will not go back to business as usual, will continue to wear masks in public and forgo restaurant dining, I know I will rest easier knowing we have done everything in our power to stay safe. For those who say we are letting fear dictate our choices, I respond with hell yes we are. If the choices are wearing a mask in public vs. possibly dying alone, I will wear the mask.
  4. Our little beagle has disc disease, so we have been doing everything we can for her. The surgical options are just a. too expensive and b. not a guarantee. Today, we are going to try acupuncture on her. It is going to be pricey, but not spinal surgery pricey. There is a lot of information out there saying that this is an effective treatment for her. Fingers crossed. We have her pain managed, but not perfectly. She needs to get back to some kind of normal life.
  5. Both of my girls had to fill out their FAFSA this year for their scholarships. Both of them received unexpected grants! That was a very nice surprise.

That’s all for your now. Happy Easter.

Books

Book Review – Winter Garden

The first time I read this Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, was about ten years ago. I had to reread it for a bookclub.

This time I listened to it. The audio version inspired me to change my stars from four to five. It tells the story of Anya aka Vera and her escape from Leningrad during the siege in WW2. Of course, there is more, but the heart of the story is her escape. To hear it told, with a Russian accent is just about more than the heart can take. Rarely, do I find myself sobbing at the end of a book. This one did it to me.

We Americans do not realize how lucky we are. We have never had to struggle for survival during war the way those in Europe have had to countless times. What happened in Russia during the war is barely glossed over in our required high school European history. This book gives an excellent education on what was lost and the suffering that went on. So many innocent live lost. Put this one on your TBR list.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

This week was not frugal. Not at all. Our sweet little beagle, Mazy, has IVDD. IVDD is a disc disorder found it dogs, but most common is short legged dogs like beagles. This diagnosis came after many trips to the vet and a lot of sleepless nights. Anyway, her bills are stacking up, and will continue to do so, as we are not ready to give up on her. Because of this, more than ever, we need to save our pennies.

  1. Freezer is nearly empty. We have nearly gone through everything in it. Creativity is key when you find a frozen bag of shredded yellow squash! Once empty, we will defrost the freezer and give it really good cleaning before filling it again.
  2. We are having our fireplace repaired and a blower will be added. It will be able to heat up to 2000 square feet. It is happening a little late in year, but next winter it will come to great use. I am hoping for a smaller heating bill.
  3. Our aerogardens and mushroom plants are going gangbusters! It is so nice to have fresh food, that you grew yourself, in the winter.
  4. My husband has started the seed for our summer garden. I can already taste the fresh eggplant.
  5. After years of buying coffee makers that break down after a year, we bought a stovetop percolator. If something breaks, replacement parts are available. The coffee isn’t bad either.
Our Mazy

That’s it for us. Please send our little Mazy your positive energy, she could use it.