Sunday, February 1, 2015

Steps Toward Financial Fitness (Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments) Volume Two

      The last couple of weeks have seen me make some progress towards my goals.  I feel as though I am moving at a snails pace though.  It is so easy to lose sight of my goals.  The dailiness of life distracts me from goals.  In the moment I am likely to forget the impact of each seemingly small decision.  But I begin and if I forget and make poor choices then I begin again.  It is all I can do.
      I did begin the process of logging all outstanding debt and expenditures.  I still need to document outstanding balances on the student loans.  I paid off a credit card.  I charged a little bit on it but will pay that off by the end of February.  Unexpectedly I received a settlement of sorts and I will use it to pay off my largest credit card balance.  My intent is then to use this credit card for all grocery (and grocery ONLY) purchases.  I will then pay off the balance every two weeks.  It will allow me to separate out the grocery spending making it easier to track while still earning reward points on my credit card.
      Speaking of reward points, I took Maceo out for pizza at his favorite pizza joint, just him and I.  They have a loyalty card that I always have them swipe when we check out but I really have no understanding as to how it works.  Well, for the first time a server asked if I knew the balance of my loyalty card and if I wanted to use any of it.  I said that if there was more then $5 on it then I would like to apply it to my balance.  A moment later he announces in astonishment that I have $75 on my card.  It was a pleasant surprise.  I used it to pay for the entirety of the meal and I have more that will be saved for when things are tight and we want a treat.
      Roxie and I went to the community theatre and saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and what a treat that was!  We laughed so hard that we nearly....oh nevermind, too much information.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable production and to make things even better we ushered the show so we did not have to pay admission.  As a bonus, we ushered on opening night so we were treated to the opening night reception that followed the show which for me included two glasses of champagne and some yummy food (including fried macaroni and cheese, yum).  Then good fortune was smiling down on me as the new joint in town, Insomnia Cookies, showed up handing out free cookies and coupons for more free cookies.  Score!
     Maceo saw the same theatrical production.  He was able to get discounted tickets by going during student rush just before the show started.  Him and I watched another theatrical production at a local high school - always good yet inexpensive entertainment.  I completed another lecture that I borrowed from the library.  Bishop went to open studio and threw a couple of pots.  He can go to open studio as often as he likes and have up to twenty vessels glazed and fired as part of his class fee. I am all for him getting more for our money.  I pulled a puzzle out of the game cabinet that had not even been opened yet and have begun to assemble it.  It is a nice use of my time, again very entertaining and inexpensive.  It is also in line with my intent to use my resources to their fullest.  I have it, I should use it.  
     Also with the intent of using my resources fully while making progress in the area of preparing the house for sale I randomly pulled paint out of the closet and utilized it.  I ended up painting countertops in the kitchen.  It looks fantastic and has inspired me to finish up some other projects in the kitchen.
   And there was even more progress in the kitchen.  I inventoried and organized the freezer.  Then I began to stock the freezer with meals.  I added two bags of black-eyed peas, three bags of spaghetti sauce with meat and one without meat, one bag of beef strips, two bags of southwestern shredded beef and two of southwestern shredded chicken, one bag of bbq chicken, one bag of spicy taco meat, three bags of meatball sandwich filling, one bag of macaroni and cheese casserole, and a bag of pork belly.  The freezer is full to the brim and I have even more to add.  I need to finish cleaning the refrigerator but I know that I have at least two bags of chili to add to the freezer, I have more chicken to debone, some broth to freeze and more carcasses to make broth with.  I took rotisserie chicken to pie day, used some to feed my family and still have quite a bit leftover.  I removed some meat from the bone and used it to make chicken salad sandwiches (which Bishop went gaga over).  I will probably make more chicken salad and some chicken noodle soup.  I will also use the meat to make chicken quesadillas or chicken enchiladas.
      A couple of other successes include resisting the temptation to dine out with our service group after we gathered to assemble fishing kits.  Instead Bishop opted to make a pasta lunch accompanied by cheese bread (utilizing a loaf of french bread purchased for .60) and a salad with homemade Italian dressing.  The remainder of the dressing and another loaf of .60 bread was included with a meal that we gave a family that is experiencing trying times just now.  I bought a discounted loaf of sourdough bread that I used to make a french toast casserole and I used bread that had been tossed into the freezer to make bread crumbs.
      One day I set out to go to Barnes and Noble to purchase a book that I had eyed previously that had writing exercises in it. On my way there I got to thinking that I could probably find some exercises on the internet that wouldn't cost me a dime.  I stopped at the Panera just beside Barnes and Nobles, refilled my tea that I had purchased earlier in the day and used their wi-fi to do a search before I went in to the book store.  I found great options and decided not to spend the money on the book.  I further resisted temptation that same day when I returned home and Maceo began asking me rather insistently to order pizza.  I almost did.  It is so easy.  But I didn't.  I ended up serving the aforementioned chicken salad sandwiches, apples with fruit dip that had been pushed toward the back of the fridge and the dip and chips that my friend gave me a bit ago.  So satisfying!
      I intend on following through with this effort to prepare meals in advance and to utilize my leftovers wisely.  I presently have a pot roast in the slow cooker that we will have for dinner tomorrow evening.  I believe we will get two meals out of it so I intend on putting up the leftovers in the freezer.  I will finish going through the refrigerator and will find a way to either use each item or freeze it.  Based on what I can readily recall being in the refrigerator we will have roast, chicken noodle soup, and hamburgers or salisbury steak this week.  I think that I should also make a loaf of bread this week...or, at least, try my hand at it.
      I worked diligently at swagbucks and bing.  I presently have a free membership to Amazon prime and have been trying to order educational items that I can foresee needing so that I can take advantage of the free shipping.  I bought a Steak and Shake gift card knowing that we will likely eat there soon so that I could have the bonus of a coupon for a free shake.  I placed $40 in the home emergency fund jar.  I did my property tax assessment in a timely fashion so as to avoid any penalty.  I purchased a new shirt for myself - it was on clearance and only cost $5 that means that I only spent $8.66 of January's clothing budget leaving $91.34 for future use.  After utilizing the oven I opened the door to let it heat the kitchen.  I tried to turn off lights that weren't absolutely necessary.  I am trying to do the little things that can make a difference.
      Other then the food related goals that are listed above, my goals for this week include completing the work in kitchen (seal the painted countertops, consider trim for the countertop, put handles on two cabinets, put sash pulls on windows, clean, swap table out and get stools for table), complete painting of stairwell, put Christmas items away (they are just stashed in my room, it's awful), organize tax information, organize ledger for savings account, finish puzzle, get at least ten items purged from the living room, pay off credit card, utilize Kohl's $20 reward in a wise fashion, pay bills, find a circular saw that I can borrow, price the flooring for the bathroom, and track spending categorically.

Christmas Jar of Change:  $22.33 has been added to the previous total of $18.37 for a new total of $40.70.

Home Emergency Fund:  I made progress here.  There is $40 is the jar. (Yay!).  Another $40 will be added in February.

52 Week Savings Plan:  I added $8 to this account taking care of the 5 and 3 for this two week period.  The new balance for this account is $113.

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