Thursday, March 16, 2017

Crafting a Rich Frugal Life

March 8 -  March 15
Although many frugal practices are deeply ingrained in me and done without even really thinking about them I have to admit that I have developed some habits that are decidedly not frugal.  Having been the only adult responsible for all the comings and goings of all the members of the family I have relied too much on the ability to hit a drive-thru or dine at a restaurant if I was in a time crunch or was tired.  Also, we are pretty used to being able to do many of the things that we just want to do.  If Bishop wants pottery lessons, I say yes.  If Maceo wants to temporarily live in Tulsa to work a professional theatre job, I say yes.  If Bishop wants to research a new restaurant, I say yes.  If Maceo wants to see a new independent film, I say yes.  These habits will now, out of necessity, have to change.  Fortunately, having Herb home will help with the eating out issue.  It doesn't entirely alleviate it but it does help just to have a second adult to help with household things.  I will have to do better planning to reduce the odds that we will need to run to a restaurant.  I am also trying to plan ahead in regards to entertainment.  I will have to say no frequently and that can create a real sense of deprivation so I am trying to find ways to make sure that our lives feel rich even when living frugally.
So, I guess I will be sharing my successes and failures in crafting a rich frugal life.

Wednesday:  This has been a wonderfully full day.  The boys and I were away from home most of the day.  Bishop had science group, lunch at the park with friends, pottery lessons and a trip to the mall with a friend.  Maceo performed two touring company shows, had a masterclass with the cast of Once, and had Jesus Christ Superstar rehearsals.  All of these activities enrich our lives tremendously.  They are, simultaneously, our work and our entertainment.  And, they are all free.  We were successful in planning ahead for Bishop's lunch; we packed him a lunch to take to the park between science group and pottery lessons.  Maceo and I didn't plan ahead quite as well.  I didn't realize just how little time there would be between his performances and the masterclass so we ended up going through a drive-thru.  We did, however, opt to go to Taco Bell where we could get a satisfying meal without paying too terribly much.  I do need to plan better though. 
I went to Hobby Lobby to get a couple of items.  All of the items purchased were either on sale with the exception of one that I used a forty percent off coupon on.
I also went to Aldi to pick up a couple of sale items and to stock up on some other items.  I scored two corned beefs for $2.48 per pound, a ham at $.89 per pound and five heads of cabbage for $.79 each.  I also bought more toilet paper, sugar, tomato products and cat food.
I really want to have two months worth of household and food items, excluding fresh items.  I made progress!
Meanwhile, Herb stayed home. He prepared a pork butt for dinner.  I bought this pork butt on sale for $1.48 per pound before the family came to visit.  Herb had asked me to put it in the fridge as he had hopes of preparing it pretty quickly but got delayed.  I reminded him that it was there and needed to be used soon.  He obliged!  And it was yummy.  He also made two homemade sauces for it.  He didn't, however, have any side dishes prepared so I put a couple of potatoes in the oven to bake while the pork finished and I opened a can of greens (purchased for $.69 on clearance).  It was a delicious meal.  Overall, it was a successful day.

Thursday:  I went to the library this morning to print out my property tax receipts which are needed to register the vehicle.  While there I checked out a handful of books.  I checked out one that is about growing food in flower beds - an idea that I have long loved.  I also checked out several art books hoping to find a project or two to do during "spring break."
I finally registered my Kum and Go card and used it to fill up my gas tank at a discounted rate.
Herb went to a neighboring town for an appointment at a VA clinic.  Knowing that his appointment was going to take some time and run into lunch time, I gave him permission (yes, I control the purse strings and am in charge of guarding what little funds we have) to buy himself lunch while he is out.  Instead of eating out, he returned home with some groceries.  He spent what would have given him one restaurant meal but purchased what would feed him lunch and the family dinner.  I love it.
I had cooked up some hamburger meat in the cast iron skillet and Herb used the hamburger drippings to cook his pork chops.
The weather was particularly warm today, reaching 75 degrees.  I decided to capitalize on this warm weather by doing some yard work.  Herb is wanting to do some gardening so I decided to focus on making a space for him.  I had purchased some raised bed kits and some garden soil several years ago and decided that it was time to use them as a gift for Herb.  I didn't entirely get the beds set up but I did get the area cleared.  In order to clear it I had to remove some chives.  I planted the chives in  some pots that I had on hand.  Some of the chives could not be planted so I chopped them up and, as I write this, they are in the oven dehydrating.
I am now going to finish my evening by watching some television (we only have it for another week so I'm going to enjoy it while I can) and am going to do some needlework.

Friday:  Unfortunately, we began the day hearing that the hubby's VA disability check will likely not be issued until June.  That check is only a small fraction of what we are accustomed to.  Likewise, his retirement checks, which are one-third of his salary, are delayed.  We are likely to go three months without any retirement or disability compensation.  I, kind of, figured that we would have limited funds for at least three months but it is still difficult to hear.
As for the rest of the day...
I canceled the boys upcoming dentist appointment as we don't have dental insurance anymore.  We will pick up the dental plan after finances stabilize.
Herb made a really wonderful green chile stew - "poor man's style" with hamburger meat instead of stew meat.  I ate it for two meals and Herb had it for all three meals.  Maceo and Bishop had little pizzas for brunch.  I have a really quick and cheap recipe for pizza crust - we call it pizza crazy crust.  For dinner, Bishop and I had a couple of chicken thighs that I roasted with some potatoes and carrots.  Simple and satisfying.  For a sweet treat I made little hand pies.  I made my regular biscuit dough to use as the crust and cooked them on the stovetop in the cast iron.  I usually just fill them with apple butter.  This time, however, Bishop wanted to try his hand at making some caramel and cooking some apple in it.  I used this as the filling and it was amazing.
Herb focused on getting one of the vehicles registered that means that all of the vehicles are good to go for another year.
I took care of a variety of little tasks.
One of my goals for this month is to update all of the family frames that line the hallway so I had several photos processed at Walgreens where there were offering 50% off.
I bought a frame for one of Maceo's show posters at Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon.  I really want these posters preserved so I feel compelled to do it now before I have little money coming in.
I also went to Kohl's.  I returned a shirt that I was dissatisfied with.  I used my credit from that shirt to buy some baby clothes.  I have several friends who are expecting.  I know that I will be invited to baby showers and I don't want to miss them or go empty-handed.  I purchased items that were on clearance.  Also, I used a $10 off $25 coupon.
I spent the evening enjoying the tv while I can and working on the family photos.

Saturday:  Despite the fact that it was quite cold, Herb went to the nature center for a hike.  It is a lovely, inspiring and free workout and entertainment.
I have lots of vitamins at home but, I must admit, that I am lousy about taking them routinely.  I was feeling tired and rundown today which reminded me to take those vitamins.  Even though I don't feel overly anxious I know that I am under stress and taking vitamins always helps me get through stressful times.
In order to finish one of my frames I needed one photo enlarged to a 5x7.  I ordered it online through Walgreens and remembered to activate my Swagbucks when I purchased them.
While at Walgreens picking up the photo I opted to purchase last Sunday's newspaper.  I had heard that it had three coupon inserts in it and figured that coupons might come in handy for hygiene items purchased through CVS and Walgreens.  I paid $3 for the paper but will definitely get that money back as the paper that I purchased was overstuffed - it had six inserts instead of 3!
I did some stocking up on lightbulbs.
I took Maceo to GameStop to buy a new HDMI cord; this allows him to stream things from his computer to his television.  I usually have a membership with them that gets me discounts.  This membership had expired.  They asked if I wanted to renew it for $14.  I turned it down after calculating that it would be at least three months before we would be purchasing anything else at GameStop.  We can always get it in the future when our situation changes.
I made biscuits and gravy and sausage for breakfast.  It had been ages since I had made it; I don't know why but am so glad that I did.  Satisfying, filling and frugal.
I had purchased some corned beef and cabbage.  Because it was on sale I purchased extras.  Herb made it today and it has been enjoyed by all the guys.  I had leftover green chile stew.
I gave the fat from the sausages to the dog in hopes that it will help her dry winter skin.
I made cookies for a sweet treat.  I have a really nice stockpile of chocolate chips and such.  This will definitely help keep us from feeling deprived under austere conditions.
I began inventorying my stock of hygiene and household items.  I didn't get it completed this evening but I can say definitively that I have enough shampoo, body soap and wash, lip balm and lightbulbs to last at least three months  This is a project that I hope to finish tomorrow so that I know what shopping, if any, that I need to do with coupons at CVS or Walgreens.

Sunday:  So, what did I do today to actively craft a rich frugal life?
I went to CVS and purchased the Sunday paper for the coupon inserts and bought a piece of candy for an Easter basket.  The candy was 99 cents with a 99 cent register reward.  I had a 15% percent off of a purchase that was going to expire today.  Since I didn't anticipate making it back to CVS today I used it on this small purchase.  I essentially received $1.30 off of a $3 purchase.
I cut coupons and clipped digital ones to my Walgreens card while sifting through the CVS and Walgreens sales flyers.
I inventoried our seed supply.  I have a lot of flower seeds which will be a source of entertainment and beauty.  I have some herb seeds:  mint, chamomile, ransoms, catnip, basil, oregano and stinging nettle.  I also have some vegetable seeds:  radish, green onion, carrot, swiss chard, spinach, collards, lettuce, mesclun, cucumber, pumpkin, corn, green bean, tomato, and cayenne pepper.  This is a good start.  I really hope that we can be successful in growing some of our own food.  I also have loofah seeds so that I can grow my own sponges.  I have been successful with this in the past and hope that I will be again.
I inventoried my household and hygiene supplies.  I have three months (or more) supply of the following items:  lightbulbs, laundry detergent, household cleansers (or plenty of vinegar), body wash and soap (which can be used for a variety of purposes), tooth brushes, flossing sticks, shaving cream, shampoo, feminine hygiene products, and the antibacterial soap that the boys need for their acne.
I still need to purchase another months of dish detergent, and more tooth paste, razors, toilet paper, witch hazel, trash bags, kitty litter, and cat food.  Technically, we have enough deodorant but the boys may think that what I have on stock is a little girly.  So if I can swing it I will pick up more deodorant.
Overall, we are in pretty good shape; however, I still need to inventory medications, vitamins and food.
I mended Maceo's favorite most comfy pants.  They are getting worn out but I have bought a little more time for him.
And, finally, I achieved a goal today.  One of my goals for the month was to update all of the frames in the hallway and that goal was achieved today.  Achieving this definitely makes my life richer and I consider it frugal in that I used supplies on hand to revive an area that had become a little disheveled and complete projects that had been left undone for quite some time.
Making progress.

Monday:  Today was a wonderful day but I can't say that it was particularly frugal.  I accompanied my niece on a trip to a neighboring city to take her daughter to the children's hospital for an appointment.  The company was amazing.  It was wonderful to get to have adult conversation with this amazing young woman and I loved spending time with her girls.  It was a great girl's day out.  Although I did pack snacks for myself I still spent money on lunch and dinner.  I had a really great chicken pot pie at Boston Market and it has inspired me to try making one at home.  Yum!
During the trip I did resist buying some items at the hospital gift shop that I REALLY liked.  The items were on 50% off clearance, very high quality and things that I am not likely to run into here in my hometown.  I did, however, resist temptation to spend money on something that I don't really have the money for, even if it was a good price.
Before leaving on my trip I did swing by CVS to buy the toothpaste that was for $2.99 and get $2ECB.  I was allowed to buy two of them and I did.  I used a $.99 ECB and received $4ECB.
Also, I double checked a receipt and found that we had been overcharged on an item.  The husband rectified the situation, saving us $4.

Tuesday:  I had a free bagel waiting for me at Panera which I used this morning and munched on while visiting with friends.
Maceo had a doctors appointment today.  He may have to have surgery on his pectus.  We will be determining that soon; however, we have to research the changes in our insurance prior to scheduling anything.  I wish that I had pursued this more assertively before Herb was no longer active duty. Sigh.
Maceo had forgotten to take his ADHD medication prior to his appointment so he was dragging by the time we were done with that appointment.  I took him to Sonic for a Dr. Pepper, which he finds helpful in times like this.  I used my gift card to pay for it, so zero out of pocket.  I also noted that if I save these cards and reload them I can earn free food; that is duly noted.
Maceo needed a pair of black sneakers for Jesus Christ Superstar.  I had some Kohl's cash that I opted to use towards this purchase.  We found a pair of sneakers that would be comfortable during the intense dancing of the show but will also look fashionable outside of the show.  I also allowed him to pick out a couple of items that were on deep discount.  Although I would have loved to have waited to make this purchase when I had a coupon I just couldn't wait but I did apply the Kohl's cash to the purchase.  That helped.
I returned home to find the new Kohl's coupon in the mail.  It is for 30% off.  We have a couple of other items on the "purchase list" so we will likely apply that coupon  next week on those purchases.
For lunch, I cooked ramen noodles in the leftover green chile stew broth and added some boiled eggs.  It was really yummy.  (I must admit that I did finish this off for dinner.  I'll save the beans for tomorrow).
Herb made Boston Baked Beans from scratch, dry beans and all.  It made for a hearty dinner.
I made more cookies (darn that sweet tooth).  When I make cookies with chocolate chips I do not add the full bag; I just add until it looks alright and save the rest for later.
I worked Swagbucks a bit.  I even managed to do a survey.  In total I earned 107 points today.  Not bad.  I forgot to mention earlier that when purchasing the photos from Walgreens I activated "shop and earn" and earned 34 points.
I went by CVS and scored two deodorants and four Arizona beverages (treats for Bishop) and spent a smidge over $3.  I used the $4 ECB that I had earned but I did receive a $ 2ECB.
I inventoried my gifts.  I wanted to do a version of this for the boys for St. Patrick's day.  I have picked up some items along the way, including little plastic leprechaun pots, but after assessing what I have and looking at the finances I have decided to forego the St. Pat's pots.  I will still give them the gummy snakes, as the legend states that St. Patrick rid Ireland of all snakes, and the green bottles of Sprite.  The rest will be saved for Easter baskets.  The leprechaun pots I returned to Hobby Lobby for a refund.  I used some of the refund to buy another frame for Maceo's show posters.  It is the best decision I have made all day; I feel really good about it.
I looked up my tax info on my student loan and explored the possibility of putting the loan in forebearance.  I got through most of my paperwork required to compile lists of medical and business expenses that can be deducted on our taxes.  Now, I just need to finalize those numbers and figure out charitable giving then we are good to go.
I got some cabbage fermenting so as to make sauerkraut.
I consider today to be a success!

Wednesday - I did another significant haul at the grocery store, Aldi, and I am feeling pretty good about where we are at in regards to our stock.  It is not everything I would like to have but it will definitely go a long way in helping us get through this transition.  I must admit that is is a little scary to see the bank balance go down, WAY down, and know that this was his final paycheck.
The next major step for me is to assess exactly what HAS to be paid next month and determine what account it will be paid out of.  I think thinking ahead and planning are going to be key to getting through this transition with relative ease.  I am hoping that I will be able to give each family member a small weekly allowance to spend any way that they desire in order to prevent feelings of deprivation and to make it easier for me to say no to some activities and such.
Bishop went to pottery lessons.  His instructor asked if he could stay an additional hour as they were experiencing "flow" so, of course, I allowed it.  Bishop gets extra studio time at no additional cost.
I forgot to mention earlier in the week that I gratefully accepted some pantry items from a family member that was downsizing.  I received some unopened spices, including nutmeg, and three jars of bouillon cubes.
I made some special chocolate using a dark chocolate bar and dried rose petals.  I am thinking that I will use this when decorating Keegan's birthday cake.
I started making ice cubes to use for Keegan's birthday party.  For an elegant touch,  I am making ice cubes with rose buds and violets frozen within.  The violets are from my yard.  They had sprung up just before the snow returned and they survived that snow.
Herb received a call from a local meat shop that he buys suet, tallow, etc from.  They told him that they had some products that he had been waiting for.  He had a $10 gift card that he used to make this purchase.
I am very diligent in rolling my toothpaste tubes as I go.  I usually take the tubes that everyone else is finished with and roll them and work them a bit longer..  With my present tube of toothpaste I have challenged myself to work it as long as possible.  For the last week or so I have rolled and rerolled always managing to push a little more to the top.  Tonight I take it to the next level.  Tonight I am cutting open the tube.  I once had a single mother co-worker who always cut her tubes open.  Christian has cut his open before but I had never given it a try.  I change that this evening.  I'm going to keep track of just how many times I can brush my teeth with these remnants.  I'll let you know.

Overall, more successes than failures.
I am pleased.

No comments:

Post a Comment