Saturday, March 12, 2016

Getting Back on Track on this Journey to Financial Fitness

March 3 - March 12
The beginning of 2016 has been mind reeling.  I have been in ten different states and the District of Columbia in less than two months time.  Although some financially sound choices have been made I still feel as though the train to financial fitness has been derailed.  Ok, maybe not derailed but at least diverted.  May and June will be crazy money-bleeding months so in order to prevent total derailment I need to focus.  I had some definite inspiration from Christian while I was visiting with him in D.C.  This boy is frugal to the core.  He steadily ate through what was in his pantry and fridge.  He knew what little was left and we built a couple of meals around it.  He didn't, however, fail to offer up a nice bit of hospitality.  He found a box of apricot Jello on deep discount, bought it and had it ready as a sweet offering when we arrived.  That sweet treat meant so much to me - he was thinking of how to be inviting while remaining true to himself, his budget, his goals.  When I went to D.C. with Christian initially to get him established I purchased him toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. in quantities that would last him quite awhile so that he wouldn't have to lug it home from the grocery store on foot.  When I returned to load up his apartment I found that he still had most of it.  He used it so frugally that more then a year later most of it was loaded up and brought home for my use.  When he removed pictures from the wall he diligently removed each nail and put it into a container for future use.  I could give more examples as thriftiness is in his very nature and thoroughly permeates his life.  It is inspirational.
So here goes, how can I be more like Christian?  What can I do to keep the financial fitness train from derailing this year?  Is there any possible way to move toward financial fitness while getting through a year that is going to cost quite a bit?
Let me give it a shot...

Thursday:  Yesterday I roasted a chicken that I had purchased for about sixty five cents per pound.  Today I put the remains in a pot for some chicken noodle soup to serve as dinner.  I included in the pot a load of little carrots that I was gifted; they were leftovers from the cast party.  I also included some dried herbs that I grew in my garden last summer.  I also removed some of the meat from the carcass that I envision using in chicken quesadillas.
I used up the last of the buttermilk and some eggs from my hens to make some pancakes for brunch.  I used the last of the polska kielbasa  as protein.
I washed ziploc baggies for reuse.
I went "shopping" in my pantry for flour to refill my canister.
Our family saves any aluminum can that enters this house, one day we will recycle them.  Today I was walking through a parking lot, walked past a couple of cans and decided to pick them up,  Why not?  It's free money.
We went to a free show at a local high school - a poetry reading and a theatrical production of an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
After the show one of the boys try to talk me in to buying pizza and the other tries to get me to stop for a malt.  I successfully resist.
I serve the pizza-hungry boy leftover meatball sandwiches and the malt-hungry boy cookies.
I paid bills using an online service.

Friday:  Again I am totally out of rhythm and just winging it so I failed to plan meals, the boys got hungry and I ordered pizza.  In my defense, I did have a coupon for a free large pizza so I only paid for one additional pizza.
I am trying to get back on the sorting, purging, organizing track.  I am even doing some restyling, freshening things up a bit.  I added a little shelf to the laundry room.  It was an unfinished shelf but I changed that with a bit of white spray paint that I found in my supplies.  There is still so much to do.
Christian is now in South Korea and I have been communicating with him quite frequently using a free program - Kakao Talk.
I signed up for two ushering gigs that will allow me to see two theatrical productions for free.

Saturday:  I had a free tea waiting for me at Panera.  I walked down, enjoyed a sip, did some prep work for science group and browsed the web looking for some inspiration.
I brought some tea home with me from Panera and nursed it all day.  Not only is that a good use of my resources but I am considering the idea that maybe, just maybe, I should cut back a bit on my tea consumption.  This is a decent starting point.
I reviewed my subscription services and have identified two that I will be eliminating immediately and a couple more that I will be thinking about getting rid of.
The day has been very pleasant weather-wise so I turned the heater off for the day.
While at Panera I did buy half a dozen bagels.  Bishop had one for breakfast with peanut butter.  For lunch I made sandwiches using ham and white cheddar that I had on hand.  I also used chive and onion cream cheese spread that I had on hand from previous bagel purchases that really needed to be used.

I washed baggies.
I fed the hens scraps and eggshells.
I did some "shopping" in my own pantry for kitty litter.  Having a well-stocked pantry is essential for the smooth running of a household and keeps me out of the store where temptation lies.
Other then going to Panera and retrieving Maceo from his friends house I stayed home which always saves money.  I did finally relent to Maceo's incessant requests to go to the store by giving him some money to walk to the store and buy a couple of Monsters.
I revived my laundry room by cleaning, rearranging, removing some items and "shopping" around the house to complete it.  It feels like a fresh new space and cost me nothing.

For dinner I served pork chops with gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  I had purchased the thin cut pork chops on sale for $1.85 per  pound.  I paid $4.75 for the package and it turns out that there are 8 pork chops in that package - four for tonight, four for tomorrow.
When making the mashed potatoes I almost used the last of the milk then I remembered to check the pantry for evaporated milk.  I had one can left.  I used it make the mashed potatoes and left the milk for drinking purposes.

Sunday:  I walked down to the corner bakery intent on having a bagel and a cup of tea to start my day.  I did, in fact, have both while working on my blog but I didn't spend a dime.  I was surprised and pleased to be treated to breakfast by a friend and I got a good deal of work done, as well.
I served leftovers for lunch - chicken noodle soup and sandwiches.
And, as I was determined not to put the soup back in the fridge, I had soup for dinner along with some oyster crackers that I brought home from Steak and Shake one time.  At Steak and Shake I always order chili mac and it always comes with oyster crackers that I never eat with the chili mac so I brought them home.  And they were yummy with my soup.  Bishop opted for ramen with eggs added as maceo's audition ran long and he got hungry while we were gone.  Maceo had sandwiches again.  The meals seem redundant but I am keeping it simple while I try to get back on track and I most definitely limiting waste.

Monday:  I am working on cleaning and revitalizing all the rooms in my house, one by one, and my hope is to largely rejuvenate each area by "shopping" around my house rather than spending money.  That being said, I did spend a little bit of money today.  I have a coat tree that stands by the front door and is heavily used; however, I temporarily moved it and found that the room feels "cleaner" without it.  I have been looking for a solution.  Yesterday, while working on the back hall (a.k.a. the mudroom, as I affectionately refer to that small space) I got to thinking that I might be able to put up some hooks and hang coats back there.  I don't know if it will work as it is kind of out of the way but I think it is worth a shot.  So, I went by Hobby Lobby today and found five metal hooks that I liked that were on sale at 50% off.  While there I used a 40% off coupon to buy a frame for Maceo's Aladdin Jr. show poster.  I spent money but was diligent in my attempt to spend it wisely.  I hope to shop around the house to finish off that space.
When purchasing the metal hooks the clerk asked if I wanted them wrapped in paper prior to bagging.  I hesitated, not sure that they needed to be wrapped then agreed.  Later I was thinking that I made the right choice as that paper will be saved and used as wrapping paper in the future.
I went by Walgreens to buy a case of water and more screws and nails to hang things around the house as I work on restyling.  While there I found some candy on clearance that I will put in the boys Easter baskets and some highly discounted slippers that will go in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Bishop and I joined a group of friends on a free field trip.  We were given a tour of our public safety building - this is where our 911 dispatchers are housed and the home of our emergency management.  Presently, this is the most advanced building in the nation for such services.  It can withstand an F5 tornado, has kevlar reinforced walls, and over a million dollars worth of technology.  It was super cool.  We consider this entertainment and education and it was free.

Tuesday:  I walked to and from the bakery on the corner this morning.  The temperature was just right and the breeze brought the scent of flowering trees.  It was delightful.
I spent twice as much as I intended at the bakery - meaning I spent a bit of $4 instead of a bit over $2.  I also spent more time then I had anticipated.  It was all worth it.  I spent a couple of hours in absolutely riveting conversation.  So $2 per hour for a little caffeine, a most delicious scone, and a strong sense of community I think it is well worth it.
As I am sorting, purging and such I am setting some items aside for future gift giving.  I am actually finding gift giving inspiration in my stuff.  For instance, I have a "This Book Belongs To:" rubber stamp that has just been floating around, I almost donated it to the thrift store then I thought that I might use it.  Then I thought that I might make a set of. book plates to give as gifts which is a good idea but it is not my favorite stamp for such a project.  Then I went back to the idea of just donating it and finally I settled on gifting the rubber stamp to a niece along with a book.  She can personalize her book herself.  (I still like the book plate idea for future reference).
Also, as I am sorting and purging I am setting aside books that I intend on taking to a homeschool consignment shop.
I have also resumed saving my change.  I may continue to use this money for gift giving.  I may decide to use this money for an epic road trip.  Beginning balance is $41.04.
Bishop went to open studio at the pottery studio.  This is a perk of his pottery lessons.  For no additional cost he is allowed unlimited open studio time.  He can make and fire up to ten pieces each session of lessons.  Most importantly this allows him to sharpen his skills; however, it is also the best use of our money.
I used a toothpick to get the last of the chapstick out of the container.
One of the bagels had not been stored properly, it had become hard.  I chose to make it in to breadcrumbs along with the heel from a loaf of bread and some stale crackers.
I had bananas in the freezer and chose to make banana bread.  I served it to the boys as a snack and I had it for dinner.
To make the banana bread I used eggs gifted to me by my hens.  I saved the eggshells to feed to those same hens tomorrow.
Also, I saved the banana peels to feed to my roses tomorrow.
In addition to the banana bread I had boiled eggs for dinner.  While boiling those eggs I boiled some extras, some of which will be used in a tuna salad for tomorrow's lunch.
I finished restyling the mudroom and am quite pleased with the results.  The only purchase I made were the metal hooks that I spent $22 on.  I went "shopping" in the house to create the rest.
I put my lovely dishes on display.

While "shopping" for the mudroom redo I found another item for the laundry room so I tweaked that room just a smidge.

Wednesday:  I took the boys to Chili's for a free appetizer that we had earned.  Appetizers and basketball makes for a pleasant afternoon.
I assessed my canning supplies as I anticipate the need to do some canning soon.  Spring has sprung.  The crocuses and daffodils are blooming so I know that the forsythia, violets and red bud will be blooming soon.  The mulberry tree will also be producing soon.  I hope to make forsythia jellyviolet jellyredbud blossom jelly, and mulberry jam.  I might try making this mulberry syrup and this mulberry apple jam and this mulberry chutney..  I love floral jellies and I think they will make superb gifts.
Bishop and I went got a movie from Redbox and enjoyed it with some brownies that I had in the pantry.

Thursday:  I must admit that I totally blew it today when it came to spending money on food.  Without proper planning I always resort to eating out.  Ugh.
I did, however, score a free educational experience for the boys and I.  We learned of and attended a Civics in Action program at Ted Cruz's local campaign headquarters.

Friday:  I had a free bagel waiting for me at Panera which I enjoyed while getting my calendar in order.
I made ham and egg grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.
I also managed to get a dinner on the table despite my poor planning.  Christian sent home some pasta shells with me when we packed up his apartment.  I used them this evening to make an Italian stuffed shell dish.  I stuffed them with seasoned ground beef that had cream and parmesan cheeses mixed in.  The cream cheese was just a smidge found in the fridge.  I made a sauce from canned tomato products that I had in my food storage pantry.  (It got a 5 out of 5 from the boys). I served green beans with it that I had in my long term storage.  In addition I made cheesy garlic toast.  I used a variety of cheeses with minced garlic mixed into it.  The cheeses were those leftover from our lunch sandwiches.
I remembered to get chicken out of the freezer for tomorrow's dinner.
I washed baggies.
I also went "shopping" in my pantry for brown sugar so that I could make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - a little sweet treat.
I worked swagbucks.
I guess I am ready for spring because I have been doing research on morel hunting (this and this).  And because spring seems to be coming early for us I will also be looking for young plantain and dandelion leaves.  I am also researching purple deadnettle and henbit.  In the past I have used wild edibles to supplement our diet - frugal and nutritious.  I intend on resuming that practice and expanding my knowledge.

Saturday:  I walked around the neighborhood today and found that the purple dead nettles are beginning to make their appearance.  I think I will put this recipe for a spring pesto on my menu for next week.  I also noticed that some small, young, tender dandelion greens have become available so sauteed greens might make an appearance on the menu as well and I want to get a batch of this this dandelion vinegar started.
I made french toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast.  I used powdered milk for the making of the french toast and put the remainder of the egg, milk, cinnamon mixture in the fridge in order to make french toast for breakfast tomorrow as well.
I fed the egg shells to the hens.  If I use eggs that were laid by my hens I dry and crush them and feed them to the hens.  If I use other eggs then I dry and crush them and put them in the garden.
I washed baggies.
I cut up a whole chicken and fried most of it for dinner.  I will put the remainder in the fridge to be used tomorrow for another meal yet to be determined.  With the fried chicken I served baked potatoes and leftover green beans.
Now off for an evening of entertainment/education that will not involve me reaching into my pocket for cash.  Let's see..will it be watching college basketball championship tournaments? or trying to get a seat at a political rally taking place in our town this evening?   Hmmm....

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