Sunday, February 15, 2015

Steps Toward Financial Fitness (Lasts Weeks Frugal Accomplishments) Volume Four

I started out the week abysmally.  The only food consumed on Sunday was purchased out - Steak and Shake and Sonic.  But I did experience victory on Monday.  Not a single meal was eaten out.  It's not that there wasn't any temptation.  Oh, there was temptation.  There was temptation when Maceo kept sending texts about really wanting some Papa John's.  There was temptation when my errands took longer then I anticipated and am standing in the Walgreen's checkout line behind the coupon ladies thinking about Maceo being hungry and wanting pizza...I could just step out of line for a moment and get Maceo a frozen pizza.  But I didn't...I didn't order pizza or buy a frozen one or hit a drive through.  Every meal came out of my kitchen.
I made breakfast burritos prior to Bishop and I heading out to pottery class.
Then I spent time cleaning out the refrigerator.  After a week eating virtually every meal out I was just certain that I had a lot of mush and mold in the fridge.  I am not proud of the amount that was wasted (a rotisserie chicken carcass, a couple of servings of lasagna, a bit of lettuce, two mini souffles, some ground beef that I was going to make meatballs or hamburgers or salisbury steaks with and a couple of rather stinky mystery items from when Herb was home - that's embarrassing) but I did get to the fridge before most everything went bad.  I was surprised to find my bags of meatball sandwich filling and a batch of chili sitting in the refrigerator instead of in the freezer.  So I put three bags of meatball sandwich filling and one bag of chili in the freezer along with a bag of leftover chicken cacciatore.  I used the leftover pizza ingredients for Maceo's lunch, Bishop used leftover pork fajitas from Chili's to make nachos for his lunch, and leftover roast chicken was turned into chicken salad sandwiches for Bishop and I for dinner.  While getting the tortillas out I scrounged around in the bread drawer assessing what I had.  I noticed hoagie rolls that were on the verge of turning so I determined to serve meatball sandwiches for Wednesday's lunch.  The chicken broth I had made was still good and I still have a load of potatoes that need to be used so potato soup went on the menu.
When I ran low on food items in my canisters and pantry I went shopping in my own long-term food storage pantry.  I refilled my sugar, flour, and brown sugar canisters and topped off spices jars.  I am really going to focus on using my long-term food storage.  If we have to move I have no intention of packing up all of my foodstuffs.  I will move my food-grade buckets of grains and beans but definitely no canned goods will be hauled.  I ran out of vanilla extract and went shopping in my food pantry.  I found no vanilla extract but did find almond extract.  I have substituted the almond extract for vanilla in my cookie and coffee cake recipes.  It imparted a slightly different flavor but it was good!
Saturday evening I began to feel a little run down, like my body might be fighting something.  I began taking my vitamins - Vitamin C, garlic and multivitamin.  I really need to be taking them daily regardless of whether I am feeling down or not.  I have a slew of vitamins and by not taking them I run the risk of allowing them to expire thus wasting their beneficial properties and my money.  I am determining to utilize my resources well.  I am determining to take my vitamins routinely.
I own chickens.  (By the way, I can feed them scraps which makes me feel somewhat better about the waste from the refrigerator).  Because I own chickens I also own a slew of egg cartons but I really don't need all that I have (and if I have to move I am not moving them.  In fact, the chickens won't be able to move with me either).  Last week I took some to history group to be available for medieval-esque weapon making.  Bishop used them to make a mace.  This week we are touching on Africa in our history group.  We are going to play African games, including Mancala.  And each kid will get to make their own Mancala board using those egg cartons.  I think it is going to go over well with the kiddos and it gets some more items out of my house.

Also, I came up with what I think is a really cool idea that will enable me to purge and utilize items in my house while simultaneously completing some projects with the boys that I have long wanted to do.  I am going to schedule projects and invite friends to join if they so desire (all for the sake of accountability), set out all the materials and then just have at it.  The projects I have in mind are relatively open-ended and utilize items that I have on hand in abundance... encaustic, stepping stones, artist trading cards, fusing plastic, making automata, gelatin printing, making boomerangs.  These are all things that we could do that wouldn't require me buying a thing yet we would have a blast exploring these techniques and skills while hanging out with friends and, if a good group turns out, I could really get rid of quite a bit of stuff.  Good idea, huh?
Thursday proved to be a bit of a crazy day.  Bishop and I have nature study group that usually runs 4-5 hours and I needed to take Maceo to get some jazz pants for an upcoming audition before he went to his 4 1/2 hour rehearsal for My Son Pinocchio.  I planned really well for lunch.  I made ham sliders for my family and my nature study guests, my guests brought chips and we munched the rainforest fruits that we had on hand for exploration of products of the tropical rainforest.  That success was quickly followed by a fail, a failure to plan well.  Everything seemed quite rushed for the remainder of the day and feeling time crunched between shopping for jazz pants and getting Maceo to rehearsal  I opted to run by Little Caesars for Maceo's dinner.  Eating out = $11.84.  Then, continuing to feel the pressure, I took Bishop to Panda Express.  We bought a family meal which has provided ample leftovers; despite Bishop having some for breakfast yesterday there is still some in the fridge.  Eating out = $38.41.
I also ended up eating out on Friday but I can't really consider it a fail.  I had the wonderful and rare opportunity to have lunch with a niece who was rescuing me from sitting in the automotive repair shops waiting room.  Thanks, Sarah!  Eating out = $11.71.
  Another $21.20 was spent on minor eating out expenditures and iced tea.  And then a not so minor eating out expense was spent on donuts.  Yes, I finally went to Hurt's donuts and those glazed donuts are the best and I lost all self-control.  Eating out = $29.

I ended the week on a good note.
I did begin my Saturday at Panera and while there I convinced myself that I should buy heart shaped cookies for the boys considering it was Valentine's Day.  I even went to the counter to order only to find that they were out of those particular cookies.  I tried to convince myself to get a different treat for them  Then I corrected my thinking.  I have so much at home in my pantry.  I need to go home a prepare Valentine's treats for them instead of buying something.  I went home and prepared a little breakfast - I set out the rest of the donuts, made french toast for those who didn't want donuts, made bacon and eggs and sweetened some frozen strawberries with sugar.  It was a delightful breakfast.
I did order heart shaped pizzas for lunch.  That is a tradition that we chose to uphold.  Eating out = $12.  However, we only ate one of those pizzas and will have the second one tomorrow for dinner.
Maceo went out to dinner with some friends, their treat.  Bishop and I had leftovers for dinner - ham sliders and potato soup.  It was really satisfying.  For dessert I offered up some chocolate covered pretzel rods using what I had in the pantry.

While I was sorting through my sweets stockpile I found an inordinate amount of candy melts.  All sorts.  Odds and ends from a variety of previous holidays and celebrations.  I also found an insane amount of sprinkles.  I decided to make some pretzel rods for Shrove Tuesday and I saved the green and red candy melts for St. Patrick's Day and Independence Day.  I think I need to assess all the foodstuffs that I have at my fingertips.
So, this week I spent $124.16 eating out.  This is a significant improvement over last week (about a $90 difference) but there is still room for improvement.  I need to keep fighting the good fight.

I continue to try to do the little things.  I have been washing baggies and recycling bags, like bread bags.  I have been working bing rewards and swagbucks.  I took Maceo out on the town, just the two of us.  I paid for our meal using a loyalty card.  It paid for our meal in full and I still have about $14 on the card.  I did the appropriate maintenance on my vehicle.  I also washed it during happy hour - half price, baby!  Although I was able to resist frozen pizza at Walgreens I wasn't able to resist vitamins on clearance.  I purchased two bottles of garlic capsules that were on clearance for $1.89 each but they were also on a buy one get one free sale.  (Score!).  I got two packages of joint health capsules for $6.49 each  that were regularly priced at $25 each.  I also got a large container of fish oil capsules for $5.49 that was originally priced at $22.  I did a good job taking my vitamins this week and I am going to keep it up.  Even then there is still so much more to do.

Christmas Jar of Change:  The previous balance was $50.18.  I will add to that $9.84 for a new total of $60.02.
Home Emergency Fund:  I now have $60 in this fund.  I really want to get another $20 in there before the month is up.
52 Week Savings Plan:  I deposited $26 and $13 into this account.  When added to the previous balance of $113 I now have a balance of $152.

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