Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week! I dropped my youngest off at college last weekend. No matter how many times I do that, it never gets easier. I miss her so much when she is gone. I don’t like to let her see me sad when I leave, so I have a tendency to save those tears until I am safely in the car.

We had a wonderful time together though. We went to the city her school is in a day early. We stayed in a hotel (a first in a year). I found it to be safe, as no one was really around and we just went from our car to our room. We were able to visit my parents for dinner for the first time in a year. We spent the day shopping, having lunch, talking and laughing. It was such a nice way to spend our weekend together.

I certainly did not save a lot of money because of this, but pennies were saved elsewhere:

  1. We are going through the freezer vegetables from our summer garden and the canned goods. I made a delicious zucchini bread using apple butter I made with local apples.
  2. We had some milk way passed it’s peak. Eric used it in two loaves of bread and a batch of yogurt.
  3. We managed to shave $90 off of our energy bill this month. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that our dryer belt broke and we are still waiting for the part. All laundry is being air dried right now.
  4. I remembered to take my daughter off our auto insurance, which in turn takes her off our umbrella policy, saving us about $200. Remembering to review insurance is always an easy to save money.
  5. Utilized several rewards dollars again this week from Walgreens, Kohl’s and our local food co-op.

I am so excited that I write this as we enter the month of February. Proper spring weather is still several weeks, if not a couple months away. But, I look forward to being able to be outside again, so my son can start coming home again. During COVID, he hasn’t been home. Since we live in a cold climate, we are required to be indoors most of the time. Making it tough to have the family dinners we are so used to having together.

What did you do this week to save money?

Books

Book Review – The Pull of the Stars

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue might be the most appropriate book for 2020-21. Set in Dublin, during, wait for it, the Spanish flu. A book that mirrors the life we are living now. More than once the characters were told”wear your mask” or “stay home”. The same rules apply today.

This book focuses on three women working in the maternity ward of a hospital in Dublin Ireland. The patients are both in labor and have the flu. In three short days, those working in the ward lose patients and save patients. No happy ending to be found here. But so good and so relevant to the world we are living in.

My favorite part though, was the prescription of whiskey for all the women. Honestly, if I would have been given a shot while in labor, it might have been easier to get through. I highly suggest putting this one on your TBR list.

Books

Book Review – Untamed

One of the first books that I read in 2021 was Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This book felt like the perfect to companion to the resolutions we should be making. Being true to ourselves, investing in our marriages and family, doing what we love for a living and accepting our flaws. It is a must read for any woman who has questioned their decisions, faith, marriage, sexuality, family, career and all other things pertaining to life.

This book has a quote in it that has stuck with me since I read it. “Maybe Eve was never meant to be our warning. Maybe she was meant to be our model. Own your wanting.” Is that not the perfect quote for every single woman who questions their own needs and wants?

Glennon Doyle is a flawed woman who came into her own in her 40’s. A decade when we women believe that those in their 20’s and 30’s have so much more to offer. What a wonderful surprise to start the new year.

Family Life

Sunday Coziness

It snowed A LOT in my neck of the woods in the last 24 hours. During days like this, I stay home. I hate driving in snow and ice and I really hate being cold. We started the day with a big breakfast. I thought my husband earned it after snow blowing the driveway. I also baked a lovely loaf of zucchini bread and made a batch of tortellini soup for dinner.

The most important part of my day though was that I watched the movie Dig on Netflix. Watch it. For some reason, movies that take place in 1930’s England on old British estates are just better than everything else out there. Make sure to add watching Dig on to your To Do list.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I can’t believe that this is the last Friday in January. 2021 seems to be flying by even faster than 2020. Today I will be taking my youngest back to school to resume her freshman year of college. My oldest is searching for a job since graduation and my middle child has already started her second semester. Before you know it, summer will be here and my nest will be 2/3 full, yet again. We were able to keep things pretty frugal this week.

  1. I did not have to go to the grocery store for anything this week. We have a major food stockpile, acquired when we feared the worst during the pandemic. Getting through our stockpile instead of grocery shopping is not an option. But, we are no longer panic buying either.
  2. When cleaning out drawers, I found several unused giftcards! What a nice surprise. McDonalds (which I will only use for ice cream), Penzey’s and Applebee’s cards were all found with a balance.
  3. Much to my husband’s horror (he’s in IT security), I sign up for all the frequent shopper programs out there for free stuff. I used some Pottery Barn cash back for a set of beautiful pillow shams for our bed.
  4. I signed up for a one month free trial of audible (again). A Promised Land by Barack Obama needed to be read to me by the author. My Obama crush is real.
  5. This final one…..I don’t know if comes from being frugal. Or the fact that my husband is one of the most stubborn and focused human beings I know. My daughter’s car got stuck in snow and it seemed that it would likely be there until spring. It was that bad. I was ready to call a tow truck and pay to have the car removed. After 2 hours, several flattened boxes, tools I didn’t know existed and sheer will power, that car was moved. He absolutely would not pay to have it towed. He is paying the price this morning though, as every muscle in his body hurts.

So that’s it for this week. My lists just are not what they used to be since we can’t go anywhere. I always love the research it takes to find entertainment and such for free. I have hope those days will return and before you know it, I will be eating a delicious dinner in a restaurant again.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

What a week this was! To say I am happy, ecstatic and relieved would be an understatement. There is an adult in the White House again and while things will not improve over night, I no longer fear a 2:00 am twitter temper tantrum is going to bring on WW3. To top it off, my parents are getting vaccinated today. I feel like I won the lottery. It will still be a long time for me, but the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to shine brighter with each passing day.

It’s been awhile since I did a Frugal Friday, but thought today would be a good day to go through what we have done to save some cash.

  1. I have 2 pair of jeans that had some holes in them. In the past, I am ashamed to say, I would just toss them. I actually repaired them with patches and my trusty iron. I never trusted my repair skills enough to try to fix clothing that I would wear in public. But, the patches are barely noticeable and I save 2 pair of pants.
  2. I have a wholesale membership with Doterra and I have a friend with a wholesale membership with Shaklee. We have started to trade goods. With Doterra I get a lot of free product. She likes certain oils, so I swap with her for cleaning products. So far it has been a serious win win. I know Doterra is expensive, but I buy the vitamins and probiotics which I have found to be higher quality than those you find at the drugstore. The oils are fun, but not the motivation for the membership. I get a few “free” oils every month and I just don’t need them.
  3. With the exception of my daughter’s birthday this month, we have eaten every single meal at home. No takeout of any kind. Sometimes I feel bad because I know those restaurants need us. But, during this pandemic, I have come to prefer my own cooking. When we can actually go to a restaurant, I will be up for restaurant food again.
  4. I bought the ingredients for homemade face moisturizer. I am going to give it a try. Stay tuned for a review.
  5. I have been using the library more than ever. I use Hoopla and Libby, provided to me by the library, for audiobooks. We have been checking out movies, books and a hotspot on a weekly basis. According to the final 2020 receipt, we had saved over $12,000. I think that number is higher when you take into account extras, for say the movies. If we were to go to the theatre we would also buy snacks. We probably would have eaten out first and possible went out for drinks after. I also check out cookbooks first, before buying one that I have my eye on. More than a couple have been eliminated from my to buy list.

What did you do to start the year off frugally?

Household

It’s Almost Over

Four years ago today, I was packing up my car for a cross country journey that would take me to Washington D.C. My friend, daughter and daughter’s friends felt that we needed to make our voices heard as our beloved country handed off the presidency to a madman. We needed to march and chant and make sure that the powers that be, knew that while Trump won, he won be dividing Americans. We would not be silenced. I am so proud that we took that trip. The memories I made with my daughter, teaching her that as Americans we had the right to march, to protest and to be mad as hell, will be with me always.

The trip was so much fun. I knew that people were planning on attending. But, I had no idea that the interstate from Wisconsin to Maryland would be full of cars, filled with women, wearing their pink hats in solidarity. For that weekend, strangers from all over were friends and determined to make their voices heard. It was breathtaking. I still get goosebumps when I think about how many people there were on that highway. When we got to the march though, the volume of people was unimaginable. Just taking the subway to D.C. from Maryland was the equivalent of cramming sardines into a very small tin. The message was clear, half of America was not happy. We showed up to make our voices heard.

Once we got to D.C., we listened to the countless women, speak. They told their stories. Alicia Keyes performed Girl On Fire, Scarlett Johansson gave an inspiring speech and then we marched. We marched to the White House, hundreds of thousands of us, through the streets of D.C. We laughed, we chanted and we sang. It also became clear that what started out as a Women’s March had evolved into so much more. There were gay couples there marching for their right to marry. There were environmentalists marching for our planet. There were even nuns and Amish there, marching for peace. It was inspiring.

All that being said, I am sooooooo happy I don’t have to do it again. Tomorrow, Joe Biden will be inaugurated and what has felt like a four year nightmare, can start to come to a conclusion. The last four years have been terrifying as Trump unravels so many protections that came before him. Depressing as we have seen families and friends and torn apart by him. His form governing is to whine via twitter and has taken name calling and humiliating those who work for him into an art form. He is a national disgrace and I am so glad it’s almost over.

I took the day off of work tomorrow to watch the inauguration, drink mimosas and thank God that 4 years of hell are coming to an end. It is almost over.

Family Life

Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

I am currently writing my latest blog post from the comfort of my bedroom. Alone. In isolation. On New Year’s Eve at 3:00 pm, the dumpster fire that was 2020 decided to give me one final blow. The dreaded “you have been exposed” phone call. It felt like a punch to the gut. We actually had plans! At home, but we were going to get sushi, watch Scarface and ring in the new year. Together. I started to cry, gathered what I needed and headed to my bedroom. What a fitting way to say good bye to a shit year.

Mind you, I am taking precautions for the love of my family, but I am exceedingly careful and do not believe that I have COVID. As a textbook rule follower, not isolating after such a phone call was just not an option. So, I sit and read. I have journaled. I some how managed to get 10,000 steps in yesterday, in my bedroom. I did some yoga and meditation. My bathroom closet has never been cleaner and all my drawers are organized. I watched a shit ton of really bad movies and enjoyed some of the British mysteries I love. I found that the 85 year old woman from the library who has been begging me to watch Silent Witness for the last 3 years was not lying! It’s great television. Not to mention a much younger and very handsome Mr. Bates (Downton Abbey) makes an appearance. I am officially hooked.

All of this time alone has also had me thinking about all I want to accomplish in 2021. I started 2020 with so many plans, most that had to be back burnered. I found myself just letting things go because, well COVID. We all had an excuse to set stuff aside. But, maybe it is time to take a second look at what I had planned. Or better yet, make a new list that fits my needs for what is bound to be another unpredictable year.

  1. Spend less time on my phone, FB, Instagram. Technology in general. I have actually made progress with the less FB. The algorithm that has been set for me gives me a really boring feed. I don’t feel compelled to check it often, because it’s the same stuff. I do like Instagram because of the pictures though. I follow a lot of homesteading sites and the photos of people’s farms, home projects and animals have me hooked.
  2. Limit some toxic relationships. There are a couple people in my life who are not great for me. That is not to say that they are not great people, they are. I just find that it is ok to say “this is not working and not everyone needs to spend time together.” I know that sounds harsh, but life is simply too short.
  3. I need to walk the dogs more. A lot more. We have golden retrievers and golden retrievers need a lot of exercise to stay sane and normal. Every time they eat a non food item, which is surprisingly often, I have to remind myself whose fault that is. Ours. A bored dog is a curious dog. More walks. They also need to be socialized a lot more. When the world returns to normal, we are going to have a lot of anti social dogs who have not seen other people or been alone for any amount of time. Again, through no fault of their own.
  4. Expand my canning from water to pressure. I would like to can green beans that are not pickled. Summer 2021 will be my next step in preserving our bounty.
  5. Continue with my daily walks and expand that to walks in my local park. We have a gorgeous park with trails that seem to go on forever. In the fall it feels like a walk through a Disney forest. I will not take the dogs there. Too many scents and they go in opposite directions.
  6. I want to have a summer party to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation, son’s college graduation and life returning to normal. I am so very optimistic that come summer, we can at the very least have a small gathering to celebrate some milestones that were set aside.
  7. Date night is back on the goals list. We started out strong and then let it fizzle. I realized that we can have date night at home. Just unplug, get some take out and watch a movie or do a puzzle. This absolutely has to be a weekly thing.

I think that is about it, for now. I am going to allow myself to just take the next several months as they come. I do see a light at the end of tunnel and do believe that 2021 will be so much better. What are your goals for this new year.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

  1. I roasted a chicken on Saturday. I turned the bones into chicken stock and was able to get two dishes out of the chicken, which in turn became leftovers for lunch. I made chicken noodle soup and white chicken chili. I even sent some home with my son for lunch later in the week.
  2. I turned some overripe bananas into banana cake. I try to make a nice dessert on Sundays when we have family dinner night. I got the recipe from the cookbook Scandikitchen: Fika and Hygge. I know, the whole hygge thing is really gimmicky. But, I like the desserts, candles and cozy pictures. Again, we had way too much leftover cake, so my son was able to take some home.
  3. I went through the refrigerator on Saturday and threw all the vegetables that were looking funky into a crockpot and made vegetable stock. Our CSA keeps sending odd looking Asian root vegetables. I am an adventurous eater. But sometimes, you just have to accept that no matter how you try, that particular vegetable will not work in stir fry.
  4. Went to a local treasure, Holy Hill, on Saturday to hike with my daughter. The price of admission is free and view is spectacular. Free entertainment exists, you just have to look for it.
  5. We had a little plumbing issue. My husband knows how to fix just about anything and was able to replace the leaking pipes himself. When you are able DIY, it’s the way to go in order to save money.

Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

The weeks are going by so fast! Halloween is in a week. My son turns 23 in two weeks. My youngest comes home from college in 5 weeks for winter break. I can’t believe how fast it’s going.

I am already thinking about Thanksgiving. It will just be immediate family this year. I am thinking that a turkey breast will be the best route. We do not need a 20 pound turkey for four people. Not to mention, we do not have the freezer space. I do love the smell of Thanksgiving though. There is nothing else like it. I am going to spend the next few weeks putting my menu together. Knowing that my nest will be full for a few short hours. Masks will be required though.

Now on to our money saving wins for the week.

  1. We took advantage of another free library program presented on zoom. In the spirit of Halloween, the presentation was on paranormal events in the Milwaukee area. I have always heard that the Pfister Hotel has a ghost, I wanted to find out for sure. The answer is, nobody really knows.
  2. I have been taking advantage of grocery delivery. I just don’t feel comfortable going out and about again. I did for awhile. But, I live in Wisconsin and we are pretty much ground zero for this virus right now. Home and work are the only places I will go. On to the point of the grocery delivery. I use Whole Foods for delivery. I know, normally uber expensive. But, with my Prime membership, delivery is free and I buy sale and 365 brand. With the purchase of a 365 frozen pizza for $2.00, you get a $3.00 credit for a Prime video purchase. We plan on using that apply toward the Borat sequel tomorrow night. Any movie that puts Rudy Giuliani in a bad light is something I can get behind. I don’t even need a discount code. I compared Instacart and Whole Foods delivery and Whole Foods was about $10 less for the same food.
  3. I made a huge batch of apple butter in the crockpot. It made the house smell amazing. I might have eaten some of the apples before blending them into apple butter for a tasty afternoon snack.
  4. With my 21 year old daughter living at home, she has taken over some of the cooking. She is a vegetarian and choses meals that are plant based, saving us money. Honestly, she is proving to be a pretty good cook. I have been picking up vegan cookbooks for her at the library and she uses them to meal plan. We are both off of work on Thursday. On my day off, she does the cooking because it’s her day off. It allows me to catch up on other things without worrying about meal planning.
  5. We had our water pump recharged and will have our furnace checked next week. Maintaining these items by having them checked annually will save you money. We have lived in our house 20 years and the water pump is still going strong because we have it recharged every 18 months. We have our septic pumped every 6 months. It costs $165, but beats the cost of $25,000 to have it replaced without proper maintenance.

That’s it for us. What have you done this week to save money?