Sunday, March 8, 2015

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

March 1 - March 7

       Sunday:  I began the day rather well.  I was very tempted to begin my day at Panera sitting by the fire, sipping on tea, eating a pastry while working on the computer.  I resisted that temptation.  I stayed home and made pumpkin muffins, ham and eggs for breakfast and I brewed my own tea.  Then it went downhill.  I ordered Pizza Hut for lunch as a treat for Maceo as his show was closing today.  (Eating out = $29.08).  After the show (which was truly fantastic) I gave Maceo some cash ($15) so that he could go out with some friends.  Bishop and I went to dinner at Panera.  (Eating out = $18.14).  Then, as a final treat for the day, I had cookies delivered to the house (Eating out = $26.82).  Not really a great start to a week of frugality but that's ok.  It was a great day!

-As part of my effort to review all subscription services I took a look at my Netflix account.  I had both the streaming and DVD service yet we never use the DVD service.  I cancelled that portion.
- I had two Kohl's coupons that were set to expire today and one that would expire on Tuesday.  I ordered Bishop a pair of pants getting about $17 off.
-I made menus for the week.
-I began making decisions about this years gift-giving.
-I took a Pizza Hut survey to earn $10 off of an order of $20 or more.
-I did my swagbucks and bing rewards.

      Monday:  Although I did stop by McDonald's for a bit of breakfast (thinking that I had to get Bishop to pottery at an early hour but he ended up having a sore throat, so no pottery today.  Eating out = $7.62)  I feel as though the morning has been successful.  I put a roast with potatoes and veggies in the crockpot then did swagbucks and bing rewards, earning a bonus on swagbucks.  Maceo let it be known that he was really craving Pizza Inn but I resisted that temptation and set out sandwich fixings.  There were no complaints.  I did allow a trip to Walgreens for beverages (Eating out = $5) and while out I decided to go to happy hour at Sonic (Eating out = $12; ok so I did give in to the request for buffalo wings as a snack).

-I am reviewing my trash service options to see if I can get a better deal.  
-I deposited numerous checks.

      Tuesday:  I dropped Maddox off at school then went to the Panera across the street from Hobby Lobby to await the opening of that store.  I did get a bagel and beverage.  I used a $1 off a beverage coupon to reduce the price a smidge.  (Eating out = $3.85).  Wanting to make a couple of shadowboxes for Maceo utilizing mementos from two of his show I went to Hobby Lobby looking for frames.  Shadowbox frames were marked 50% off.  I used a 40% off coupon to purchase a frame for a photo that Bishop took of Grandaddy's ranch.  I had the photo enlarged to a 16x20 through Shutterfly.  I utilized a promo code that allowed me to get it for free.  I gave the same photo to my mom for Christmas.  I gave her the matted 8x10 that Bishop earned a blue ribbon on at the fair.  I failed to get her package in the mail prior to Christmas so I gave it to her while she was visiting; my procrastination saved me the price of postage.

 I also gave Christie the gifts for her and her kiddos.  All of her Christmas gifts cost me $0; they were repurposed, re-gifted items from my purging. Besides the frames I had a large 3-ring binder and page protectors for Maceo's music on my shopping list.  I had the page protectors in my hand ready to put in the cart when I got this niggling little thought that I had these items at home.  I didn't buy them and, sure enough, when I went home I found the binder and page protectors.  Also while out running errands I returned some library materials although I have to admit that one is late and will have accrued fines.  The library is such a blessing and a boon to the frugal if one can return resources in a timely fashion.  Yet another thing to work on.  I have been consistently hand- washing dishes but I have to admit that it is not because I have become highly disciplined in this area.  My dishwasher freezes up when the weather turns cold and. boy, has the weather been cold.  However, today it warmed up a bit and I have run the dishwasher twice.  I am just certain that it is using too much electricity, if not water.  This is an area that I can continue working on.  I gave Maceo $40 out of the entertainment budget and he went off to spend the day with a friend.  He returned with a dozen glazed donuts for Bishop and I - score! I know what I am having for breakfast tomorrow!

-I paid off a credit card!
-When refilling Maceo's jug of water I first emptied the stale water into the potted plants in the laundry room - herbs and geraniums that I keep forgetting are in the laundry room awaiting spring.
-I saved my egg shells from the many egg dishes I have made of late.  I intend on feeding them to the chickens or putting them around my plants when the weather warms up.  (Spring IS almost here!)
-I used leftover potatoes that I had baked while feeding all the visiting family to make hash browns to accompany the quiche I served for dinner.
-As I was reorganizing the food storage pantry I noted that my cans of evaporated milk were nearing expiration.  I am going to focus on getting these cans of milk used.  This evening I used the evaporated milk in my quiche.  It turned out well.
-I worked on some pyrography - a skill that I am hoping to master because I have some related gift ideas.

-I hand washed Bishop's scouting pants.  As my washer and dryer are not working properly I now do my laundry at a laundromat.  I am attempting to delay the inevitable trip to the laundromat by wearing clothes more than once and hand washing some clothes.

      Wednesday:  I did begin the morning having a tea at Panera (Eating out = $2.36 ) while I began filling out a scholarship nomination form.  I am nominating Bishop for a service related scholarship!  The snow really set in this afternoon.  By the time Bishop was done with his scouting event all of our afternoon obligations had been cancelled.  We hunkered down at home and, I have to say, there really is nothing better for one's efforts to be frugal and to get work done in the house then just staying home.  While I was digging deep in the pantry trying to decide what side to serve with our dinner of bbq chicken I found a can of paint that seemed to have just enough paint left in it to allow me to paint the upstairs closets.  I got one closet painted.

-I scored a newspaper at Panera.
-Bishop did color guard for the Boy Scout council's annual banquet.  The bonus is that they fed us both lunch.  Maceo had leftovers from his day out for lunch.

-I made bbq chicken in the crockpot using the remains of three different types of bbq sauce that I found in the fridge.  Does it seem ridiculous to you that I had three opened bottles of bbq sauce in my fridge?  It does to me.  I presently have four bottles of sauce in my food storage pantry that I purchased for $1 per bottle.  I would really like to perfect a homemade bbq sauce so that I would never have to purchase sauce again.  Any suggestions?
-I used a lot of odds and ends to make a pasta salad for dinner.  It was quite delicious!
-I got a free (well, I paid for shipping) customized pet identification tag through Shutterfly.  I will put it in Bishop's Easter basket.

      Thursday:  I had a lovely morning at Panera.  I know, Panera again.  Not the best thing for the budget but it truly was a lovely morning so it is very hard to regret going.  (Eating out = $8.25).  The eating out continued for both lunch and dinner.  Although I ate leftovers for lunch I took the boys to Pizza Inn.  (Eating out = $15.65).  Bishop missed his Monday morning pottery class due to a sore throat so he ended up making up that class this evening.  This took quite a chunk out of our evening and because I planned poorly I found myself heading to Panda Express at 8:30 pm for some dinner.  I ordered a family meal and all leftovers will be served tomorrow for lunch.  (Eating out = $34.32).  I cleaned off a shelf in the mudroom.  I am able to purge some items.  I have some that will be donated to the thrift store and others that I will be looking to sell.  I can't wait for the weather to warm up so that I can host my first yard sale.  Also, in my purging I found a book that I will gift to a niece and some recipes to try.  Maybe I will bake bread tomorrow!

-I made Keegan's birthday gift.  It turned out really well.  I love it!
Bishop eating his Panda Express out of a bowl of his own making!  Isn't it beautiful?

      Friday:  We did quite well  eating frugally.  We had leftover quiche for breakfast.  For lunch I rounded up all the different types of cheeses and meats in the fridge and served them with crackers.  And, finally, Bishop treated me to a mighty fine Asian-inspired dinner using only ingredients we had on hand and his culinary intuition. Yum!  Hey, guess what I did today?  I baked two loaves of bread - a loaf of white bread and one of cinnamon bread.  They were not entirely perfect but pretty darn close.  A true success!

-I finished another lecture series that I had checked out of the library.  This one was on Shakespeare's tragedies.  I am making good progress on my goal to listen to at least six of these free lectures during the year 2015.  I have listened to four - two on medieval history, one on Shakespeare's comedies and now one on Shakespeare's tragedies.
-I read an issue of Imprimis, a free publication from Hillsdale College that addresses current and political events.
-I found a can of white paint in the pantry and utilized it to paint the trim and door of the closet I have been revamping.

      Saturday:  I headed out to run errands today.  I began at Panera for a bit of tea and a bagel. (Eating out = $2.79)  I went to Hobby Lobby for some small items to complete some started projects.  I used a 40% off coupon for one item.  Also, I had a coupon for $5 at Kohl's as well as a 30% off coupon.  I went to Kohl's to get myself a new pair of tennis shoes.  I originally had no intention of purchasing anything else but after looking at the men's clearance items I opted to pick up some items for Maceo and Bishop.  Some will be given to them now and the expense will come from the clothing budget.  Other items will be saved for Christmas and the expense will be deducted from the gift budget.  It is really difficult for me to pass up such great bargains and, I guess, that's ok as long as I am within budget.

This little exercise in keeping track of my dining out expenses has proven to be interesting.  I spent $180.88 eating out this week.  Although there is definitely room for improvement I am not too upset about this amount.  Firstly, most occasions for eating out were enjoyable and overall worth it.  Although there were other occasions when I was eating out due to poor planning or due to the desire to have a bit of caffeine.  I would most definitely like to get a better handle on this sort of spending.  Secondly, I didn't spend any money from the grocery budget of $150.  So the dining out expenses can come out of the grocery budget with the additional $30.88 coming out of the entertainment budget and I am still on track with my spending.  Still, what could I save if I could curb that spending?

Christmas Jar of Change:  The previous balance was $67.30.  To that I add $8.28 for a new balance of $75.58
Home Emergency Fund:  Balance remains at $80.
52 Week Savings Plan:  I have made deposits for $51 and $4 for a new balance of $207.  I am making progress!


  1. When my hubby and I go to Panera, we bring our travel mugs and get a discount on our coffee. I believe it would count towards tea also. When you order, ask for the "travel refill" and if they can't find it, it's listed under "retail".

  2. That is invaluable information. Thank you ever so much!