Saturday, January 30, 2016

Last Weeks Frugal Accomplishments as I Move Toward Financial Fitness

As I was logging the weeks accomplishments I was thinking of the little things that save money that have become routine.  I turn off lights when a room is not in use.  I even turn off the porch light when everyone is home safe and snug.  We all wear our clothes more than once before we wash them, if possible.  We don't shower every day.  I dig out every last bit of chapstick from the tube.  I use toilet paper conservatively.  I turn off the stovetop and the oven before everything is quite done and allow the residual heat to finish things off.  I use a rubber spatula to get every little bit of cake batter, cookie dough, etc out of the bowl.  And really the list could go on and on.
I'm not overly obsessive about these things but they are routine, natural for me.  I could do more but at the moment I don't have to.  I do look at the things I do and I think about if the economy failed, if I had to live through a depression, how could I tweak what I do, how much further could I take it?  I could do more.  I could easily do more.  That is actually comforting for me.  I have developed some good habits but I could tighten my belt more if I had to.

Sunday:  I went to the bakery on the corner this morning.  I did so with purpose.  I wanted to buy a bunch of bagels and some cream cheese spread for us to have as breakfasts and snacks.  With calculation I spent $14 of the weeks $25 grocery budget.  That will leave $11 to buy a couple of staples.
As a very sweet bonus, one of the employees who has become a friend bought me a bagel and tea for breakfast.  She took her break with me.  It was a real sweet time!
Another customer left their Sunday paper at the restaurant.  I looked through it and found that they had left the coupons and sales papers.  That is a nice score!!!
Upon returning home I frosted the cake and set up the nacho bar.  I think it turned out rather nice particularly given the fact that I used only what I had on hand.  Here it is in all its glory.  OK, not all of its glory...the bean dip (aka the best bean dip in the world) isn't pictured here.  At the point this photo was taken the bean dip was still in the oven.

I am paring down my belongings so many of my miscellaneous party-type items have been donated; however, I have kept my football related party items because football is just that important in our family.  It makes setting a fun and festive food spread easy-peasy.  The Broncos and Panthers napkins were purchased years ago at Party City on clearance.  All the teams that hadn't made the Super Bowl were on clearance so I stocked up on party supplies for the teams that our family members love.  Years later I am still using them, although I will need to go shopping again soon.  The solid colored plates were purchased at a dollar store some time ago.  The store always carries the blue plates and I always keep some on hand as they are perfect for patriotic parties as well as football season.  They only carry the orange in the spring for graduation parties as one of our local high schools uses orange as one of their colors.  Two of the family teams use orange as their team colors so I stock up on those in the spring.
I did a little bit on Swagbucks.
I am still going through my paper crafting supplies.  I put nine items in my Operation Christmas Child shoebox supplies and I made another 45 gift tags.
While watching the AFC and NFC Championship games (FYI:  It will be a fabulous SuperBowl with Bishop's team taking on Maceo's team!!!!!) I rolled some of my coins  - $136.50 worth of coins to be precise.
Now, I must begin planning a SUPER Super Bowl party!!!

Monday:  I roasted a turkey that I purchased for seventy-five cents per pound.  You will see several items on the menu that will call for turkey.  I will try to use it all up in a wise fashion.
I ate bagels for breakfast.  It is an easy no-brainer breakfast.
I purchased AFC Champion and NFC Champion shirts for my Bronco loving and Panther loving boys.  Even though I purchased them online I was able to get a military discount by signing up for a new electronic program thingy.  I got $8 off the shirts and no shipping.  Cool.
I did take Bishop to Panera for lunch.  We got around very slowly today.  It proved to be quite the lazy day.  Then all of a sudden it was time for Bishop to go to pottery and he hadn't been fed so I took him out.  I am enrolled in their rewards program and I had some rewards waiting for me.  I had a free "pick 2" that Bishop used and $2 off of a broth bowl that I used.  I did pay for drinks and a ninety-nine cent pastry.  I spent $12; this will come out of our entertainment budget.  Bishop and I had wonderful conversation, I love these moments with him.  To end our time together we enjoyed free blueberry muffin samples.
I took Bishop to cash the checks he received as payment for the baklava he sold at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Bishop had a makeup lesson for pottery, then he went to scouts.  I find that these sorts of activities, although not free, are fairly thrifty.  Scouts is approximately $10 per month for dues.  We also pay a portion of all camping or activity expenses but those expenses are controllable.  I find that we get a lot of bang for our buck as we have formed great friendships and created amazing memories from this activity.  I also feel like we get a lot of bang for our buck with pottery.  The lessons run about $10 per week for one two-hour lesson per week.  He also has access to extra studio time for no additional cost.  He gets personal enjoyment from the process, learns a skill that has the potential to help him earn money in the future, earns high school credit, and he brings home beautiful, functional pieces of art.
After scouts Bishop and I ate our turkey dinner - turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries.  Super yum!  I inserted under the skin herbs that I had grown and previously dried.  It made the turkey very yummy.  The stuffing was just stove top which I had purchased on sale for $1 some time back.  The jar of gravy and the bag of cranberries were only 88 cents each on sale.  And, as mentioned above, the turkey was 75 cents per pound and will yield a lot of leftovers that will be the basis for future meals.

Maceo ate the last of the pizza rolls after rehearsal.  I haven't had a chance to inventory the freezer yet but just digging in there for the pizza rolls helped refresh my memory as to what is in there.  I have egg rolls, stir fry and bean burritos that can be easily served for lunches.  I really need to inventory the freezer!
Maceo did talk me into buying some bottled water so there is another $5 used out of our grocery budget.  That leaves $6 for groceries.  I think I will use it to buy some more cheese.  Cheese is important to us!!!

Tuesday:  I did a couple of errands in the morning.  First to Party City to check out their Super Bowl related items.  They were out of Broncos plates but I did pick up more Broncos and Panthers napkins, Panthers plates, and Super Bowl 50 cups.  I remembered to show my military id and received a discount.
I then went to Aldi to buy some cheese and for $5.15 I was able to purchase two packages of mozzarella cheese and a dozen eggs.  That leaves 85 cents in the grocery budget for the rest of the week.
Then I went to a Panera to refill my tea.  I also ate a bagel for breakfast while there but I didn't purchase it while there this time.  I took one of the bagels that I had purchased from them on Sunday and heated it in their microwave.  I figure its ok since it is their food that I just happened to purchase at an earlier time.
Next I went by the library to see if they had any books on the American Revolution that I wanted to check out for history group and to print a coupon.  Arby's sent me a coupon for a free roast beef classic sandwich if I purchase a small beverage.  That is totally worth the ten cents it costs to print out the coupon!
At home again I made pizza for lunch using ingredients that I had in my home.  I made two different types of crust.  Maceo likes a crust that we refer to as Pizza Crazy Crust which is comprised of flour, milk, egg, salt, pepper and oregano and is yummy.  Bishop prefers a yeast based crust.  I made both types.  Maceo's pizza was just pepperoni with mozzarella cheese.  Bishop and I had pepperoni, green chile, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Super good and satisfying.  I had enough yeast dough to bake up another pizza crust to use as the base of another pizza for a future lunch.

Bishop and I went to Hobby Lobby to get him some new sketchbooks while they were on sale for 40% off.  I used a 40% off coupon to buy a calligraphy pen with ink.  I also purchased feathers to try a make some quill pens with and splurged on parchment paper (for school projects) and leather bracelets (a project for Bishop).  I may have spent too much...maybe.
With hard earned cash in his pocket Bishop wanted to go to Game Stop.  He ended up not buying anything but I did renew our membership to their savings program.  It is one of those where you pay for the membership then you get a percentage off of every purchase and a subscription to their gaming magazine.  Since Herb and Bishop got a PS4 for Christmas I assume we will purchase several games during the year so I figured it would be worthwhile to have the membership.  I used points that I had earned and accrued through the program to "purchase" the membership.  No money out of pocket.
After refilling my tea at Panera we returned home to relax and to prepare for science and history groups.  Tomorrow in history group we are studying the American Revolution and what led up to.  I borrowed from the library a book that gives three different perspectives on the Boston Tea Party.  I will be reading that to the kids and despite the fact that the colonists were not getting their tea we will be having some.  I have some brick tea that we will make tea from; there is academic debate as to whether the colonists were receiving shipments of brick tea or leaves.  We will talk about this and then try to use the brick tea.  I am going to serve the tea in my blue willow tea cups.  The blue willow design didn't make its first appearance until 1790 but I figured it was close enough to period and would emphasize to the kids just how important tea was to the colonists.  I will also serve a blueberry cake with lemon glaze with the tea.  I have a cookbook from the City Tavern, our founding fathers would hang out at this tavern, and found a recipe that I had all the ingredients for.  I used blueberries that I purchased on sale in the summer and had stored in the freezer.  I used eggs from my hens and buttermilk instead of regular milk.  I think these activities will be very enriching for the kiddos and no money out of pocket for this.  My other planned activities include making quill pens and using them to write part of the Declaration of Independence or some of Washington's Rules of Civility or some quotes from Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richards Almanac.  I did spend about $19 for some feathers, ink, special paper and a calligraphy pen (in case our quill pens fail and so that Bishop and I can learn how to do calligraphy later on).  Overall, I am pleased with the activities that I have come up with and the money that I have spent.

While making a blueberry cake for the history group tea I made a second one for the family to have for breakfast.
I saved and crumbled the egg shells from my baking to give to the hens tomorrow.
I fed scraps to the hens.
For dinner I reheated the ham I prepared last week and I made homemade macaroni and cheese.  I didn't use the whole milk the recipe called for instead I used canned evaporated milk, which is also what I used when making Maceo's pizza crust.  In the form of milk all I have on hand is buttermilk, evaporated milk, and powdered milk so I have to use substitutes when preparing recipes.  I served the leftover cranberries with this meal.  If there are still cranberries left after this meal then I plan on serving them with pancakes as a syrup of sorts.

Wednesday:  The day was full with science and history groups, vocal and acting lessons, youth group, and rehearsal.  Pretty much every meal was eaten out today.  I really do just need to budget that in, just plan on that when making menus because it is the way most every Wednesday goes.  Bishop and I, and our science group, went to steak and shake for lunch.  I had a $5 off coupon that I remembered to use.  I then bought Maceo steak and shake for his dinner between vocal and acting lessons.  I again used a $5 off coupon.  Bishop had dinner at a friends church before going to youth group.  I just munched on leftovers.  These expenses, eating out, comes out of the entertainment budget.  That means that I still have nearly one dollar left to spend for groceries.  I am likely to buy hot dog buns with money.  I found hot dogs in the fridge and Maceo loves himself some hot dogs.
All the planned activities went over well for history group.  The bread that I made from the period recipe was a big hit.  It is something we will make at home for breakfast and such.  We didn't get to making the quill pens because I had so many activities planned.  We will do it next week when we cover the Declaration of Independence.  We have restructured our group just a bit and will be spending more time on the American Revolution then the book called for.  I think it is going to be great.
In between chauffeuring duties I tried to rest a little and did some puttering.  I looked through my coupons and sales papers, got the dishes caught up, and organized some of the leftovers.  I didn't get a lot done but after having a full day and hurting a bit I am satisfied with my accomplishments.
I did give some thought to what I hope to serve tomorrow for meals.  For breakfast I will make pancakes and will serve it with the leftover cranberries and the last bit of spam.  For lunch I will use the frozen Chinese food and for dinner I will make turkey enchiladas.  I need to debone the turkey tomorrow, get some cleaning done and put away the Christmas stuff (yeah, it hasn't been done yet. some years are like that...for me at least).

Thursday:  I got a late start to the day as my head was hurting but I feel as though I might actually get something accomplished today.
I made pancakes for breakfast.  I used a mix of evaporated milk and buttermilk.  I also made a topping using the cranberries with pure maple syrup added to it.  It was very good.  I was going to serve the rest of the spam with the pancakes but it eluded me (not uncommon with my refrigerator).  I did, however, find a smidge of bacon that really needed to be used so use it I did.

I served the frozen Chinese food for lunch/dinner.  I steamed some additional rice in order to stretch the meal.  The boys ate it all so I made myself one of my favorite meals for dinner.  I fried up some eggs and made some buttered toast.  I prepare the toast in a skillet.  It gets crisp and, oh, so buttery.  For dessert I had a piece of the toast with apple butter.  Yum!
I stayed close to home other than when I had to get Maceo to vocal lessons and rehearsal so I actually got something done at home.
I did a bit of swagbucks.
I did a little straightening up of the refrigerator.
I washed used baggies.
I fed the hens scraps and collected their precious gifts of eggs.
I cleaned out my baking cupboard and replenished all of my baking supplies.
I got a good portion of the Christmas decorations put away.
I made sure that the laundry room was ready for the delivery of the washer and dryer tomorrow.
I cleaned the kitchen.
And I deboned the turkey.
And I watched the Republican debate.
Other then making the allotted payment for Maceo's vocal lessons it was a no spend day.
All in all a successful day.

Friday:  I began the day by getting some housework done, the way that I should begin every day.  I then went to the bakery on the corner.  I met a friend there who treated me to breakfast.  Breakfast and good company after some diligent work...always a great way to start the day.
I was then tremendously blessed to receive a free washer and dryer.  My niece received a new washer and dryer for Christmas and I was the fortunate recipient of her old ones.  I have been going to the laundromat for well over a year so this will be a pleasant change.  I will not take them for granted!
Not only did I receive the washer and dryer at no cost but my niece and her husband delivered them, set them up, and hauled away my old ways.  So blessed!
I was further blessed to enjoy lunch out with my niece and her family.  This may not be the most frugal thing to do but worth every penny.  The company was delightful!
Thanks, Sarah and Kevin!!!
Lunch was so filling I didn't need to eat anything for dinner.
I purchased some grooming items for the dog.  She needs to be washed and desperately needs to have her nails clipped.  I now have what I need to make those things happen.
Bishop went with some friends for an evening and a day at their lake house.  What a great adventure!
Lunch was so filling that I didn't need to eat anything for dinner.
I did give money to Maceo to take his girlfriend out to dinner and a show.  He took her to see 'A Few Good Men' at our local community theatre.  His intent was to buy discounted tickets during student rush; however, a friend had two extra tickets and gave them to Maceo.  Maceo was able to see that show for free and only had to pay for dinner.
I also got to see the show for free as I volunteered to usher the show.
My sister, Roxie, ushered the show.  Together we try to usher every show at this theatre.  Afterwards we stayed up late (very!) talking, it was nice to catch up with my sister.

Saturday:  Because Roxie had spent the night I ended up having breakfast with her at Panera.  In addition to my breakfast I ordered an iced tea as a travel refill; this means that I took my own cup and paid less than full price to fill it up).
I failed with my goal to spend no more than $25 for groceries this week because I did cave in to a request by Maceo to buy some frozen pizza and another case of water.  I spent $14 for groceries today so I am 13 in the hole.  Even then, all in all, $38 is not bad for groceries for three people for a week.  That works out to be $12.76 per person for the week which would be $1.81 per person per day.  I bet I can do better.  I will have to figure out how to address the drinking water issue because that does take up quite a bit of the grocery budget.
Maceo and I had some great inexpensive entertainment.  We went to a local schools production of The Lion King Jr.  It was fantastic and only cost us $13.  We both had only eaten one meal and knew that dinner would be eaten at a late hour so I did buy concessions.  I bought two bottles of water and two candy bars for $5.  Now that I know that this school allows food in the auditorium I will be packing my own snacks in the future.
We went out to eat afterwards.  We went to Applebee's and did the appetizer build your own sampler.  We really enjoyed each others company this evening.  I did get an iced tea to go so that I could have one available first thing in the morning.
Tea is another issue that I need to address in order to get my expenses down.  I don't make it at home because I have no ice at home (my freezer is always to full) but I should really come up with a solution.
I did some swagbucks.

Menu possibilities for this upcoming week...

huevos rancheros
breakfast burritos
bagel and egg sandwiches
berry smoothies
muffins and eggs
pancakes with cranberry syrup and spam

TexMex Quiche
turkey salad sandwiches and applesauce
barbecue beef sandwiches and pineapple
ham and swiss sliders
hot dogs and chili

pinto beans, potatoes and corn bread
turkey noodle soup
turkey enchiladas
bean burritos
Stir Fried Noodles
dine out

Snacks and Sweet Treats:
buffalo oyster crackers
chocolate chip cookies
oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies

iced tea
hot chocolate

 I feel as though I was successful overall and I hope to build on that success this next week.

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