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Cutting Out Lessons

August 21st, 2017 at 11:08 pm

We have decided to cut out flute lessons from our budget temporarily. While the decision effects the budget, it was not cut to influence the budget. We have figured out that a new flute teacher is not available on the days my daughter is available, which is only three days a week. The other four days a week all involve band practice, games or competitions. This makes her very busy this fall along with taking three AP classes (which at her school are all completed in one semester). We now have $25 a week to put back in the budget. We expect to start back up as early as December or as late as February depending on how the school classes seem to be going.

I went to the grocery store today and was able to purchase groceries for $59 for the week for my daughter and I. That seems super cheap. The meals are simple and I did find several of the things on my list on sale.

My older daughter (in college) started classes today. She already had to buy more things at the book store. A non graphing calculator to use on Calculus tests. She has a graphing one, but they are not allowed. And because she is in an 80 person class, she rented a Clicker. A Clicker is way for the professor to ask multiple choice questions and have the students respond on their Clicker and then be able to gauge how the class is doing. At least that is my understanding. As a music/graphing design major we don't expect her to be in any other classes requiring a clicker, thus the rental made the best economical sense.

I did get to see the eclipse. We are in an area where it was 96% covered. And it did not get completely dark. It was definitely a different kind of lighting and I did hear crickets chirping (apparently they think it's night). We had eclipse glasses that my mom sent. I invited two neighbors and their kids over to view using the glasses. The kids had made their own cereal box viewers, which kind of worked. I liked viewing through the glasses much better. I feel grateful to have experienced it.

Did you see the eclipse where you live?

Budget Discussion Part One

August 20th, 2017 at 01:23 pm

My husband and I did a review of our budget that we track on YNAB yesterday. This really was a first step of our discussion and making new plans. For the most part we are on the same page, we both admitted areas we probably overspend. We discussed some larger ticket items we need to save for. We also talked about retirement and whether to keep saving at the same rate, about 18%, or lower it. We decided to keep it the same for now. We agreed to come back to the budget on September 1 when my husband is paid again and tweak some things. Around this same time we expect to be getting a per diem check for his summer school travels. We will need to make a solid plan on where that money goes.

We did go out to eat for lunch yesterday. I had a $30 gift card. Our bill was just under $20, so we still have more money to use there another time.

Other spending yesterday came to about $30, which seems very low for a weekend. Today will be grocery shopping for the week.

My mom sent me two pairs of eclipse glasses in the mail that she received for free. I appreciate her mailing them because I was having trouble finding any locally. I plan to invite my two neighbors with children over to share our viewing glasses.

Pays to Shop Around

August 19th, 2017 at 02:41 pm

My husband is getting close to the point of needing to have his timing belt replaced on his Honda Ridgeline. This is based on mileage and owner's manual suggested maintenance. Our local Honda dealership quoted $1200! This seemed high to me based on around $750+ that we paid for our van a couple years ago. My husband called another dealership 30 minutes away this morning and was quoted $899. He also wants spark plugs replaced and those were quoted less as well. We haven't scheduled the maintenance yet, but once we have a free day and the cash set aside we will be getting the work done at the dealership that charges less.

Groceries are slim here at the house today. I think we are going to use a gift card I received for some pet care to try out a new restaurant for lunch. There may be a little out of pocket, but far less than without the gift card! Tonight we will eat dinner in, but we will need a couple items from the store. And then tomorrow I'll hit the commissary for the upcoming weekly food needs. Right now the grocery budget is still looking really good considering how far we are into the month.

Today my husband and I are going to sit down and discuss the budget. I'm excited to see what comes of it! What are we both willing to do in the next year to make our money work towards our goals.


Frugal Wins

August 17th, 2017 at 01:56 pm

Yesterday was a No Spend for my daughter and I. We stayed home the entire day. No driving! She worked on her homework (yes summer homework for her AP Literature class) and I did some needed file maintenance. I think it is possible today could be no spend as well. I will need to drive her to band practice, but I don't see anything we need to buy.

My husband did however go out to dinner at Noodles & Company. I think a fellow classmate invited him. He's bored, so getting out and hanging out with others once in awhile is fine. He spent $11.66. He also bought something at the commissary for $4.77. I can see his entered transactions on YNAB. Smile

In the last week, I have been running the dishwasher about every other night. On the nights that I run it, I leave the heated dry off. I then open it in the morning to do further drying. A few hours later I put it all away. This is working for now since it is summer.

The electric bill that is due in September is for $229. Last month was $240, so a little lower. The humidity is so very high right now the a/c is working a lot! Water bill was slightly higher than last month by $7. We have had a lot of rain lately so I expect the bill will definitely be lower the next month. Fewer showers here, less laundry and less watering of the lawn!

Have a great and frugal Thursday!

Paribus & Snowflakes

August 15th, 2017 at 06:46 pm

I'm trying out a new app that tracks online purchases for better prices after you make a purchase. They will refund the difference to you if they find a lower price. I thought I'd try it for a short time and see the results. I'm not usually one to give apps access to my email account, but I'm going to see how it works out and judge after that. Seems like a good way to possibly accumulate some snowflakes! The app/website is called Paribus. That link is a referral link, if you are interested in trying it.

I sold some books on eBay that my daughter decided to sell earlier this summer. Net is about $9.50. I redeemed a $1.25 Ibotta rebate for soap I purchased on Sunday, as well as $0.25 for canned cat food. And I now have enough Swagbucks to redeem for a $25 Amazon gift card. I'm using my discount for the month, so I only need to use 2200 SB. Now to accumulate more in the next two weeks so I can get another one! And finally I returned my neighbor's carpet cleaner and attempted to give her $10 to purchase more cleanser, but she refused. So I now have $10 back in my pocket! All of these snowflakes add up!

I did a small amount of spending today. I mailed a package (why does it cost so much) for $10.55 to my daughter. A few things arrived in the mail after she left and she also left a couple small items. I did include a Dunkin Donuts gift card I bought her at a discount.

The other spending was for cream cheese, mailing tape and three packages of loose leaf paper. My cost $6.67.

As a follow up to my post yesterday. I've decided to wait on the Diet Bet. I am however going to attempt losing 4% on my own in the next four weeks without the Diet Bet motivation. That would be free! I weighed in today, with my final weigh in planned for September 13.

Must Be No Spend

August 14th, 2017 at 07:44 pm

Today WILL be a no spend day. It has to be, we are out of cash, well cash that was set aside to spend for the first half of the month. I told that to my husband, too. I hope he listened!!

I earned another $3 from Pinecone. I'm transferring it to my PayPal account today. That is a snowflake that I will put towards the Big Goal.

On Saturday I remembered to move money to our new 5 month CD, paying 3% so that it was maxed out for earnings. The money I moved was from another 3% CD that had matured.

I'm looking forwarding to budgeting tomorrow's paycheck, primarily so I can fund some expenses I see coming up soon. Once my husband is back in town we are going to sit down and look at YNAB together and get a plan for goals for the next year. He does great at inputting his receipts, which is very helpful, but we haven't had a budget meeting in at least a year! Not really the best way to be working together. So we will try again.

I am back to watching my calories again because well weight gain this summer despite a lot of walking outside. I've noticed I don't drink enough water so that is very important for me to be tracking as well. I'm even considering a Diet Bet, but haven't decided yet. I might see how I'm doing in a week and decide then.

Ebay Sale & Listings

August 12th, 2017 at 02:01 am

I made a quick eBay sale yesterday. I posted three coupons to a major retailer...the type you find in every mall in America. I sold them for $4.99, which net me $3.50 after the fees and a postage stamp. Easy money!

Today, I also listed a new item that my daughter found while dusting her room. I may only net a couple dollars, but hey, easy to ship from my mailbox, so worth a try. I also relisted a couple items. I had tried Buy It Now options in the past. This time I went the auction route with a Buy It Now option included.

I found two American Eagle Silver coins (one ounce) in my desk. My husband and I each received one for our graduation years (1991 and 1989). Someone wrote next to mine that the current value was $7. I know it is worth much more than that today, closer to $19 or $20. It is one of those things I think of selling occasionally, as we don't have much sentimental attachment to them. But then again, could be worth more later, and don't take up much space.

Today was a no spend day for me. I believe my husband bought some alcohol to have this weekend (he is still away at school). And he also bought donuts for his class this morning. There had been some exercise where money was given out. (?) In the end they could keep it. They pooled it together and gave to my husband to buy donuts (it was his suggestion). The donuts were more than the cash, so another $10 out of our pocket was spent.

Cleaned Our Carpet and Other Frugal Wins

August 10th, 2017 at 03:17 pm

I borrowed a carpet cleaner from my neighbor while she is on vacation, so I could clean the carpets. An ill cat last year didn't help the condition of the carpet. She brought carpet solution she already owned to use on it, which I was not expecting. I ended up doing every area that didn't have furniture on it once I realized how dirty the carpet was. So I used much more solution that I planned when I thought I was just doing the high traffic areas. I decided to clean up the carpet cleaner really well (get the cat hair out) and give her $10 for the carpet solution I used. So thankful she let me borrow it. This was much less expensive than calling someone in and the carpets look really good!

I took the girls for their haircuts on Sunday and was surprised to learn we earned at loyalty reward of $7.01. I didn't know Great Clips did that! My younger daughter has a much shorter cut now and we go almost monthly now to get her hair cut. I'll take the reward any time they want to give it to me!

We've had so much rain this week that I turned off the sprinkler system. I expect it to be off until Sunday unless we get more rain. That will save some water on our next bill. We also will likely have less water usage now that our daughter went back to college. Less laundry, less toilet flushing/hand washing, less showers. That is until my husband returns at the end of the month.

The weather is significantly cooler today, so I know the air conditioner is running less. It isn't fall yet, and there are bound to be many more warm days, but fall feels like it is just around the corner.

I took the advice and ran the dishwasher a bit earlier in the evening last night and then opened it up a bit to air dry. Yes, a couple things were holding water, but everything was dry. I just need to remember to start it earlier and open it before bed! And I only ran it once in the last two days, since only two of us are home.

VA Payment for Books Received

August 9th, 2017 at 01:57 pm

Second post for the day!

I just noticed that we have a pending payment from the VA for my daughter's book stipend. The maximum per year is $1,000. She is taking 17 credits so the payment for this semester is $708.33. This means next semester the payment will be $291.67.

The VA will be making monthly payments to the school for the tuition portion they are covering after my daughter's scholarship. We expect the total for the semester from the VA to cover $6,465.75. I'm not sure how they break down payments yet, but I guess I will know more after the semester. I do know that after the first week of school, we should see the benefit on her billing account.

The VA will also be making housing payments directly to us. Our daughter is again in a dorm. This may be her final year. The housing portion (room and board) for the first semester is $5,828.08. The VA benefit is $1,112 per month and prorated for the exact days of the semester. The first payment will cover housing from Aug 21 to Aug 31, which will amount to $407.73. We expect this payment at the beginning of September.

The housing payment will be due in full on September 12. We will pay this with cash on hand. The amount we will receive from the VA for housing for the semester is $4,299.73. This leaves us paying $1528.35 out of pocket. The second semester out of pocket will be less as we will have a $400 credit for the housing deposit we made last fall applied to the housing bill. There will also be a $719 credit applied because she is a returning student (they give a discount). We expect spring out of pocket for housing to be just $176.20.

Before the book stipend payment I had about $325 set aside for college expenses. I expect I can add more on each pay period before the bill is due. We also will have a travel payment from the Army sometime in September for all the per diem owed us from my husband's school trip this summer.

We are all very grateful for the VA benefit assisting us in paying for college. So far no student loans! Right now, it is very possible we will need a loan for the last semester she attends as the scholarship will run out, our 529 savings will be tapped out, and her portion of the VA benefit will also be used up. That is a bill we would be looking at about two years from now. By then we will know more about any scholarships our younger daughter may receive. So many moving parts to consider!

Amex Offer: 10% Back on Cable

August 9th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I think this offer was available last year as well. American Express is offering 10% cash back on cable and satellite bills, up to $30. We have two Amex cards, only one had the offer. I added it to the card and plan to use it to pay our bill over the next several months to get the $30.

Because of the change we made with our cable subscription, our bill is prorated and much lower this month. Just $59. The offer will give us $5.90 back this month. I'll take it!

Anyone else going to take advantage of this?

What Can You Give Up?

August 8th, 2017 at 03:49 pm

Our Big Goal is on my mind a lot. I just can't wait to get there, but it is going to be a long journey to say the least. My mind keeps wandering to the items we spend our money on and wondering what we can cut back on, or eliminate all together.

I've mentioned before I did eliminate the need for disposable feminine products for myself. That is probably only a savings of $6-7 a month on average.

We did lower our cable bill by $11 a month just recently, so that will add up over time. I think we may still let it go entirely after football season. We have more channels now, and while it was fun to watch HGTV for a day or so, I'm already not interested in watching most of what is on.

It seems there was something else, too, but maybe that is it so far! There is still work to be done to eliminate more items we spend money on. I thought I'd make a brainstorm list of a few I'm thinking about:

Alcohol ($100 per month)
Paper Towels ($18 a year)
Movies (theatre and purchased) $260 YTD
Restaurant meals $1578 YTD
Chips (too much snacking!) ?
Gum $50/year ?
Ooma (home phone) $48/year
Trash & Recycling service $198
Using the Dishwasher ?

Let me explain the trash & recycling. We pay $16.50 a month for trash and recycling pick up at the curb. The trash pick up is twice per week, and the recycling is picked up twice per month. The reason I could possibly eliminate the service entirely is because about 1.25 miles from our current home is a county trash and recycling drop off site. They are open at least five days a week, maybe six. I drive by it ALL the time, so it is on my regular route to other places I go. I don't think my husband would be on board, but it's an idea to consider.

I use our dishwasher every evening. I like using it. I wonder though if some money could be saved by not using it. How much electricity and water does a dishwasher use each month? I may skip it for the next few weeks while my husband is still at school and it's just dishes for my daughter and I.

I mentioned I made hummus last week. It got rave reviews from my family members. It was very easy, too. When I make something from scratch it always tastes better because it has fewer 'extra' ingredients needed for commercial processing. It makes me think if I should be trying to make some other foods we buy from scratch. Bread is one idea, another would be pasta sauce. I'd have to think through what we buy most often that could be made at home.

Just by doing this little brain storm writing session I have seen where we can put our focus. Eating out. I feel like we don't eat out that much, and probably compared to the average american we don't, but our average is over $200 a month this year. Considering our income that isn't a big amount, but accounting for our goal, it is!

What can you give up to meet your goals?

Packed My Lunch & More

August 8th, 2017 at 12:32 am

My daughter flew back to her college town today. This momma is going to miss her! We have her fly out of a larger airport about 1.5 hours from our home to get better ticket prices with Southwest.

I packed my lunch because I knew we would be away from home over the lunch hour. I had already promised my daughter to buy her Jersey Mike's before we arrived at the airport. My other daughter asked if she should pack a lunch since she didn't want Jersey Mike's. I caved and offered to get her Subway. I spent $18.59 buying them lunch. No regrets, but we are now on no eating out freeze! At least that is my plan.

My only other expense was $4 for parking at the airport. Oh, I guess, I will eventually get a bill for using the toll road. I think that is around $8 for a round trip. And yes, there was fuel for the van, which I had filled up the day before. I only used half a tank, so maybe $20 in fuel. All those costs were still far less than buying an airline ticket to fly from the town we live in.

My husband mentioned that the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie is coming out on Blu Ray soon. From what I can tell online it's release date is August 22. I'm starting to get irritated at this habit of seeing the movie in the theatre and then buying the movie when it comes out, which yes we do watch a couple times.I know this particular movie all four of us went to see. I know we went to a matinee. I'm pretty sure we also bought popcorn and a drink. It would be far less expensive to wait until the movies come out on video. I guess it is something we need to discuss for future movies. It's a tough one because it is something they enjoy together. Dad and daughter bonding, ya know!? Again, just something we need to discuss.

Our $5 Entertainment & More Spending

August 6th, 2017 at 12:42 pm

I mentioned this is the last weekend before our college daughter returns to the university. On Friday evening, we played the Wii U as a family, games of Mario Kart, bowling, tennis and baseball. All free, and good for some laughs. While we were playing I pointed out their doll house in the corner and asked if it was time to let it go. Which prompted my older daughter to mention that she always wished we had purchased lighting for it. It is wired for it. So we decided to make a trip on Saturday to Hobby Lobby to purchase one doll house lamp. I used the 40% off coupon and paid $5.13. You should have seen them after it came on last night! So excited to see it light up the room!! And now they think they want to see it with more lights. Not sure if that is worth it or not, but it has been a project of many years in the making, so it is interesting to see it come together. Just not sure how much use it will ever get considering they are age 20 and 17!!

I purchased my sister, a kindergarten teacher, some gifts for her classroom. Tissues, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer (which the kids call hanitizer). I don't live near her, so I stocked up at Walmart.com and took advantage of free shipping after spending $35. Total after tax was $37.80. I did add two packages of ramen noodles just to reach the $35 threshold. Smile

I also purchased some gift cards at Raise.com yesterday. I bought a $10 Starbucks gift card for $9.88. Yep, not a big discount, but I wanted to buy one for my sister, so she can get herself a treat or two during the beginning days of the school year. I also bought a Dunkin Donuts gift card for my daughter to treat herself at school. It is worth $5, and I paid $4.95. Again not a big savings. But both cards were delivered within minutes to my email address for printing. The final gift card I purchased were for Chili's restaurant because that is where we were going to dinner! I purchased $50 worth for $41.56. We proceeded to spend $10.95 beyond our $50 gift cards and my husband tipped $12. The savings was $8.44. I'll take it.

I did use our Southwest credit card so will get 1% back in miles. And I used a savings portal I'm a member of to get another 1-2% back (it varied by retailer). I need to make a point to use gift cards more often and get these savings!

Do you use discounted gift cards to increase your savings?

Eat it All Progress & Spending

August 4th, 2017 at 04:40 pm

I continue to focus on eating all the food. I really hope I'm not gaining weight in the process.I mean I did make cookies the other day just to use up butter!! Smile

This morning I used up the last of the frozen strawberries, half a cup of cantaloupe, 1/3 cucumber, and lettuce that was getting close to turning. I made a green smoothie with it. I did add some fresher greens, spinach and butter lettuce, as well. Yummy! An odd mix I know, but the greens were dominate, so the fruit wasn't very prevalent from a taste standpoint.

I just made my first batch of hummus in my blender. I really need a small food processor, but the blender did work. I skipped the fresh garlic this time and used garlic powder. Tastes yummy! I will eat some of the hummus with carrots and celery for lunch.

The next item I see that needs to be used is about 1/2 a cup of milk. I may make some muffins. I just saw a recipe for doughnut muffins...which sound really tasty!

In other news, there has been a little spending in the last couple of days. I took my daughter out for lunch after she passed her driver's test! I also bought her a snack and a used book for reading on the plane ride back to school next week. This morning I picked up contact cleaner and five new workout shirts (3 for DH, and 2 for me). One of my tops was on clearance for $3! We have a couple each that needed to be replaced. I did put money in the budget for those this pay period.

I need to stop by the store to cover a couple meals this weekend while my husband is home for a visit. I have quite a few tomatoes to use up, so I think bruschetta could be tasty! We are going out for lunch or dinner as a family one last time before our daughter goes back to college. After the weekend it will just be me and my younger daughter at home, and I expect meals will be super easy and hopefully inexpensive.

Cooler Weather, Food & Amazon

August 2nd, 2017 at 11:16 am

We have been having cooler weather and much, much lower humidity here the last few days. I can tell our air conditioners are running far less. Maybe this will translate into a lower bill next month. This month was $240, which was $20 more than the month before. I really dislike such large bills like this, but this area and house seem to demand it.

I used up the hoisin sauce last night when I stir fried some vegetables for dinner. I used up the feta cheese and kalamata olives in a quinoa salad I made for lunch. Those last two items were not in my original July list. Here is what is still left from my July list:

1 c. brown rice
2-3 c. white rice
1 can tuna
1/2 bottle of Herb & Garlic marinade
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
nearly full jar of tahini

I'm going to toss the marinade. We are eating less meat right now with my husband away. And I really don't like the ingredients in it. Next up to use is the tahini. I have chickpeas, lemons, (need garlic), and olive oil to make humus!

Our Amazon Prime membership just renewed. I did consider stopping it, but my husband does use the free music and we do buy things online from them. I am using my Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards, so I would like the 2 day shipping! In the end I knew we were using it, just a good idea to be sure you are before a $99 charge renews right? Oh, and I often take advantage of their Kindle First books each month.

July Interest

August 1st, 2017 at 11:11 am

The interest earned on our savings accounts and CD's for the month of July was $94.44. As I mentioned yesterday we have one CD maturing in August, but have opened another 3% CD with the same bank that I can roll most of the money into. Very happy about that!

The lowest interest rate we are earning on our funds is 1.1% interest at FNBODirect. The highest is a 3% CD at Navy Federal Credit Union.

So thankful rates have risen a bit recently! May that trend continue so us savers can earn more.

Pay Day, New CD, More Food Used Up and Snowflakes

August 1st, 2017 at 01:47 am

It's payday officially tomorrow, but my husband's check is usually pending as a direct deposit the day before. Apparently I checked a bit too early today, as it wasn't showing up! An hour later it was, as it is suppose to be, pending for deposit. Whew!

I saw ladya70's post about the Navy Federal Credit Union CD at 3% and I quickly logged on to set one up! We have a $10K CD that is also at 3%, but it matures on August 10. I was going to be sad about losing that great rate. Instead I can roll all but the interest to this new CD which is good for 5 months. Maybe something even better will come along when that one matures!

I redeemed $10 worth of Swagbucks for an Amazon gift card. It arrived in my inbox today. I quickly logged on to claim and and used it to buy some joint supplements for our cat. I had another Amazon credit so my out of pocket cost was just over $3.

I had my first survey in a very long time from Pinecone. I completed it yesterday and received credit today. Once it is in my PayPal account, I will move it to the Big Goal.

I checked on my neighbor's dog, rabbit, bird and two beta fish while they went on a four day trip. She bought me a gift card for a new smoothie and sandwich shop that opened near us. I wasn't expecting anything as she watched our cat for an entire week! I had checked on the rabbit for two days before, but we were not yet even in my mind.

I used up the butter I mentioned yesterday by making cookies! Yummy! My daughter and I used up the leftover chicken taco meat for lunch.I cooked some quinoa today and will add some ingredients tomorrow for lunch which should use up some more ingredients. I also cut up a yellow watermelon for snacks. Tastes just like the red ones we are used to, but it sure looks like pineapple!

It's been a fantastic money day! Feeling blessed. Smile

Grocery Shopping & Using Up More Food

July 31st, 2017 at 01:57 am

I spent $74 for food at the commissary today for food for the week. I'm feeding myself and our two girls. I'm very happy with the amount spent.

I made chicken tacos for dinner with the leftover shredded chicken I had. I added some chopped jalapeno that was free from my neighbor's garden. We still have leftover meat to use up likely for tomorrow's lunch. I also added salsa to my tacos to use up the last little bit in the jar.

We all ate leftover pizza for lunch that we bought out last night for dinner. I used up the last two Wasa crackers for a snack, along with about 1/2 c of frozen grapes.

I bought some store brand spreadable butter recently since our preferred brand was not available. We did eat some of it, but now I have maybe half a cup that I need to use in baking to use it up.

I'm thinking I may also make rice pudding with almond milk. I have more almond milk than I thought, so I need to find another way to use some up.

One other item I need to use up is half a jar of Kalamata olives. My mom bought them while she was visiting and we ate some, but now I have the rest! I do have one idea to put them into a Greek Quinoa salad recipe. I have most of the items on hand, just not all of them.

Tomorrow morning I'm having a smoothie to use up some frozen strawberries, and some spinach that is getting just past it's prime.

This effort to use up all the food has been very interesting. I can tell I didn't do as good of a job as I could in the past. I've been known to freeze things and eat leftovers, but I'm more aware of the produce expiring and looking for ways to use it up before it can no longer be eaten.

Tomorrow, I'm going to attempt to make hummus in my blender! I do have an immersion blender too that would likely work as well.

Lowered The Cable Bill

July 30th, 2017 at 01:29 pm

I mentioned a couple months ago we were thinking of cutting cable altogether. We would just find things to stream online, which we do most of the time anyway. I never got around to taking the boxes in and cutting it off. An offer arrived in the mail offering a lower price for what we are currently getting with the addition of a few new channels, including ESPN. This is Spectrum, which just bought out Time Warner. We expect with our daughter at a major University we will get to see several of the football games on ESPN (although they can't show the marching band Frown ), so that was the pull. We will try it through the fall, and possibly cancel after. The lower rate is just for 12 months, at which time we will either be moving or have already cancelled.

The savings is a slim $11.59, which over the course of the year does save us $139.08. I better add this to our automatic savings so it doesn't melt, but actually gets saved!

Yesterday wasn't super frugal because my husband was home and we made a point to get out as a family. Our daughter is going back to college in just over a week. We played miniature golf $16, and went to dinner $70. But it was very enjoyable to be together and away from our devices. My husband and I did enjoy a bottle of wine ($9) on the porch last night.

I'm ready for a new frugal month! Are you?

Big Goal Progress

July 28th, 2017 at 05:33 pm

I was able to set aside an additional $500 to the Big Goal this month. I guess we have stayed somewhat frugal with our eating and outings to make that happen.

We also automatically saved $131 from my husband's paycheck. This happens every month and goes into a different bank than our main bank. I am able to add these funds to a current CD we have that is earning 2%. The interest earned on our CD accounts also adds to our Big Goal savings.

The only extra money towards the Big Goal was some eBay and Pinecone earnings. Combined those added $14.54. Not a lot but it will add to the goal.

Progress has been slow, but there is forward progress, so I celebrate that!

Frugal Updates

July 27th, 2017 at 03:58 pm

The out of pocket spending has been very minimal lately. There were at least two no spend days, maybe three this week. Driving around has been a bit limited, too, so less fuel consumed.

We made one run to the store for a treat, ice cream, yesterday. And just this morning I ordered some vitamin supplements online, spending just $20 and getting free shipping. Smile

I've used up the following from my list at the beginning of the month:

whole wheat pasta
chia seeds
poppy seed dressing
most of the hoisin sauce

Today, I finished up the cereal I found in the cupboard that the girls said they were not going to eat. I ate the last of the strawberries with spinach and the poppy seed dressing for lunch. I also had the last chicken dog in the fridge with some stir fry veggies from last night.

I turned off our sprinkler system for two days this week partly due to lots of rain. That should save a little money!

I'm starting a list of school supplies needed. I don't expect the number of items to be much, but the cost of the items will not be cheap. My daughter will go through at least four 2 inch binders this year at least based on our experience last year. I'm keeping my eyes open for a sale on them, because they are expensive!

Frugal Food Update

July 24th, 2017 at 01:25 am

From my original list I posted earlier this month these are the items I still have to use up. I do have other items in the fridge, freezer and cupboard. These are just the items I am targeting for getting used up.

1/2 pound brown rice
1/2 pounds white rice
1/2 box of unsweetened almond milk
1 can tuna
1/2 bottle of Herb & Garlic marinade
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
4oz of whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 bottle of poppy seed dressing
nearly full jar of tahini
chia seeds

I've been eating spinach and strawberry salads to use up the poppy seed dressing. So yummy! In fact, I ate that for breakfast today. Lunch was bean taco leftovers. Dinner was sandwiches and cantaloupe. For a snack this evening I ate three taco shells as nachos with diced peppers, green onion and cheese!

I know I can use up the almond milk with chia seeds to make some chia pudding. I will use some of the rice in dinner one night this week. We are having homemade pizza and I think I will use the barbecue sauce on it with chicken and onions.

I'm also wondering if I could use the lemon garlic marinade with vegetables? If I don't use it up by the end of the month, I'm tossing it. It actually has a lot of preservatives and junk in it that I don't really want to consume.

In other news, today was a no spend day for me. I'm pretty sure my husband bought groceries for himself. It was very hot and humid here today. I did turn up the air a bit upstairs so it wouldn't run quite so often. I also closed most of the blinds to keep the sun from heating the home.

Uber Frugal Month and Spending

July 22nd, 2017 at 02:26 pm

I finally feel caught up after having guests for nine days. The home is cleaner, I paid bills, I took time for myself to relax as well as spent time with a friend.

I have not made any new progress with my list of items to use up. I estimate I used up half the list. But with guests the menu changed and more food was purchased that did not necessarily correspond with what needs to be used up. I probably should make a new list of food to focus on using before the month ends. I did my final grocery shop for the month yesterday. The grocery portion was $106.91. That should cover meals for three of us the rest of the month. My husband will be home next weekend, and he will also eat a few meals with us. In fact, I may give a few food items to him to specifically eat up!

And despite UFM, I've done some recent spending. We were on our very last three rolls of toilet paper (for three bathrooms), so I was motivated to stock up. I ended up buying four packages of 36 count Scott toilet paper for $23.99 each from Boxed.com.

I became aware that Boxed was offering American Express cardholders a $25 credit when spending $75 or more. I did two transactions, one was $75, the other $80, and received $50 in credits. I purchased four packages of 36 count toilet paper, two packages of 96 count menstrual pads, two packages of 5 count Degree deodorant, a large jar of pasta sauce and a three count package of 3 subject notebooks. All for $105.

Other spending last two days included cat litter, wet cat food, a rental textbook for the fall semester, and one way airline ticket. Not all frugal, but needed.

My best frugal action yesterday was line drying my clothing, and drinking water all day. Today, I will drink water, eat leftovers from last nights dinner, and rent a Redbox movie with a free credit I have.

How is your Uber Frugal Month going? Mine has been challenging, but I'm enjoying being focused on using up food and avoiding waste.

Another Retirement Milestone

July 20th, 2017 at 11:51 am

Stock markets hit highs yesterday. As a result, our retirement accounts also hit an all time high. And that made us hit a milestone. Our retirement accounts are over $450K! Specifically adding up to $450,539.97.

At the end of last year we were at $392,814.02, so there has been some good growth this year along with our retirement contributions.

For a little perspective, and encouragement if you are just starting out, in May 2003 when I started tracking our retirement our accounts were valued at $25,742. I know we started far before that, likely in the mid 90's for me, slightly early for my husband. We were married in 1996 and we both were contributing a small amount of our small incomes before that.

Just like exercise, you never regret, putting money aside for retirement. You might regret how hard you worked or if you put to little money in for investment, but the effort you do make you never regret.

Start contributing as soon as you can, and increase along the way, such as 1% every year.

Guests Left

July 19th, 2017 at 07:41 pm

My parents left this afternoon after visiting for nine days! It was great to see them, but that was a really, really long time. I now feel like I need a vacation.

I don't think I spent too much money while they were here, as they took us out for several meals and even bought some of the groceries. We limited our trips out of town to two, which I purchased gas for. The museums and the beach were free, we also played a lot of games to keep ourselves out of the heat.

I do know some food was thrown out, but I now intend to use of the leftovers in the coming days. My meals may be a bit odd! The most frugal snack I bought was a large 2 pound bag of popcorn that cost me $1.79 at the commissary. We didn't use it all, but it made a lot of popcorn just using the pan on the stove. I had forgotten how fast and easy it is. That is a huge savings over microwave or pre popped popcorn.

I hope to have more updates soon, but for now a little rest before I get back into the routines!

Grocery Shopping & Using Up More Food

July 11th, 2017 at 02:28 pm

I spent $139 at the commissary yesterday for food. I'm not sure this will cover all the days my parents are here, but it is a good start. I was hoping to keep it to $100, but I did put some extras in my cart. I do expect these items may help stretch my initial meal plans. We have a lot of fresh food we need to make sure to use up so none of it goes to waste.

Speaking of waste, I had to throw out two things yesterday that were past their prime. One was some milk that according to the package only expired on the the 9th, but had clearly turned days before. So glad no one tried to drink it! The waste probably amounted to 1 cup of milk. The other item was some sour cream, maybe two or three tablespoons worth. I was going to use it up in our taco dip last night but it definitely wasn't worth eating any longer.

Curbing food waste is a sure way to avoid wasting money and food. I know I toss out far more than we need to, so this Uber Frugal Month is a reminder to keep up on the expiration dates, and make an effort to use up before things go bad. Part of that starts with buying only what you know you will eat before something expires.

Yesterday, I ate the abandoned pasta micro meal that was in the freezer. I added the zucchini from the night before to it, so it was very filling. This morning I ate the waffle no one else would claim. I added peanut butter to it that I scraped out of the jar with a spatula. A lot can come out of a jar when you scrape it out. Today, I will eat the leftover taco dip we had for dinner last night, along with the last of the watermelon.

Looking back at my original list of foods to use up it seems I have used up almost half of the items, with portions of others. If I can get rid of the sauces and marinades this month that will help quite a bit.

And....my neighbor just stopped by with produce from her garden. I now have a large pepper, two roma tomatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, three jalepenos, two banana peppers and four of some other kind of pepper! What a wonderful blessing. My mom and I will have to figure out how to use up all the peppers while she is visiting.

Have a frugal week! Use it up before it goes to waste!

No Spend Sunday

July 10th, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I didn't spend any money yesterday, although my husband did. He needed some groceries for his hotel room, and he bought gas for his vehicle. I will be glad when his class is over, so we can combine grocery expenses again. Just seven more weeks I believe.

I found signed up for Redbox texts and sent in a code to get a free movie. We rented Hidden Figures and watched that last night. Movie is just as good the second time!

Food is getting very slim around here. My oldest daughter was going to eat the waffle in the freezer, but realized we don't have syrup. So she refused to eat it. Ugh. I will probably eat that for breakfast tomorrow with some peanut butter.

Last night was pasta and sauteed zucchini. There is leftovers so one of use will likely have that for lunch. I actually need to get to the store before lunch as we will be out of bread before that!

I'm eating the last serving of steel cut oats this morning with some strawberries. Since we will have bread after I have been to the store, I will likely have a sandwich for lunch, unless no one claims the zucchini and pasta. Dinner will be taco dip, unfortunately this won't really use up any old food, but it will be inexpensive. I will use one of my Frito Lay coupons for a free bag to buy the Tostitos.

I'm expecting to buy lots of veggies and beans as my parents and my girls all lean to being vegetarian. The goal will be to eat all the food that I buy today.

Less Frugal Saturday

July 9th, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Saturday was less frugal because three of us went to see a matinee showing of Spiderman: Homecoming. Amount spent $17.50. It was an 11:30am showing. I made a point to say I didn't want us spending any money on food and drinks, so we ate lunch at home before leaving. I know that saved us about $10-11.

My husband used a $10 gift card to get a wash for my van. We did purchase the gift card earlier in the year, as a fundraiser for our daughter's school. But at least no money out of pocket this weekend. We really need to be washing our vehicles at home, something to discuss with my husband. Smile Do you wash your cars at home?

We had homemade pizza for dinner. I used up the turkey bacon, the remaining tomato sauce in the fridge, and the pepperoni. We did buy mozzarella cheese and more turkey crumbles. I thought I would be using the turkey crumbles up on the pizza, but my husband had used those up for breakfast and wanted more for the pizza. He also bought a 24 oz package of mozzarella when one 8 oz package would have worked, and decided we needed shredded parmesan cheese as well. So a little overspending on food, but it will all get eaten at some point. I may need to make lasagna or something to use up the cheese.

Did I mention I was going to make chia pudding? I made a double batch with the last of the almond milk. It makes for a great healthy sweet snack.

Other spending: my husband's haircut, gas for my van (don't think it needed it quite yet, but he filled it), and alcohol. I've definitely cut back on the alcohol, we are both not drinking while we are apart. But it seems to be the go to on the weekends we are together. I was able to limit the amount I had, so progress for me!

The best part of the day was listening to our youngest daughter sharing the pictures she took on her Europe trip! That was a couple of hours of very enjoyable entertainment.

My parents arrive on Tuesday, so I think we can get through today with out shopping and I will go tomorrow to stock up for while they are here. I hope to incorporate some of the items I need to use up into the meals we have. I also need to be mindful of what I buy; making sure to buy ingredients that won't get pushed to the back of the pantry.

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats for breakfast, with some of the frozen strawberries. For lunch I will likely have a sandwich with watermelon, and a very small side of the rice and lentils I had leftover. Dinner is likely pasta with a side of zucchini from the garden!

I didn't mention a couple items in the freezer we need to use up. One pasta microwaveable meal, that was bought for my girls but they don't like. A frozen homemade waffle. And several cups of frozen grapes. I do like these food challenges. Not sure the family does! Oh well. Smile

Living On A Dime

July 8th, 2017 at 12:30 pm

I've been watching some videos from the YouTube channel Living on A Dime. It was especially interesting to hear the mother, Jill, talk about living on $500 a month with two teenagers in the 1990s, after her husband left her. She had to be very frugal with her cash. Her experience reminds me a bit of what you hear about people doing during the Depression. Oh, and she was making $12,000 a year and paid off $35,000 worth of debt in five years at that same time!! Very impressive.

Yesterday, I did end up at Target to stock up on my hair mousse and feminine products for the girls. There was a cartwheel coupon that save me $2. While I was there, I bought one bag of chips, lunch meat, tomatoes, sliced cheese, two loaves of bread, and jam. My total bill for all of it was $31.45. Oh and I did buy some M&Ms and gum...two items I should have skipped and now regret buying and eating.

Yesterday, I used up a shallot, tossed the ginger that was growing mold (ick), cooked the lentils and ate them for lunch over rice, ate fried rice for dinner which used up the frozen carrots & peas and some of the frozen corn. We also ate sauteed zucchini and summer squash from the garden on the side. Yummy!!

Today I will eat the second serving of the steel cut oats. We will eat sandwiches and watermelon for lunch. Tonight we will eat homemade pizza. I did forget to buy mozzarella cheese at Target, so will stop by the store for that later. The pizza will used up the bacon, pepperoni and some turkey crumbles in the fridge. I wouldn't be making pizza if my air conditioning wasn't working, but it is! Smile

What will you do today that is frugal?

Frugal News

July 7th, 2017 at 11:30 am

This morning I'm eating my steel cut oats I made overnight in the crockpot. It usually makes enough for four breakfasts. There are no more steel cut oats in my pantry, and I have now used half of the almond milk I wanted to use up.

Yesterday, I harvested two nice size zucchinis, a summer squash, one cherry tomato and a bag full of romaine lettuce. I could have harvested more lettuce, but I will wait until I have finished what I harvested. When I'm out mowing in a bit I will fertilize all the plants again. It is very satisfying to have a garden even if small. I really may need to consider that we need to rent a smaller home with a yard, rather than an apartment next year.

The last two days were no spend days. We only left the house once and that was a trip to the library where one of my daughter's picked up two books, and I borrowed a DVD (The Help).

Tonight we are having fried rice for dinner, so I will use up most of the frozen veggies that have been in the freezer a little too long. Does anyone freeze rice? I saw that some people do that to save time.

A book we had listed on eBay sold last night. That will drop a couple dollars into our bank account. Adding it to the Big Goal, of course!

I redeemed Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card. I hoping it arrives soon as I would like to buy a food processor. I don't need high end at this point, just one that is reliable enough to do shredded cheese and make hummus (my blender doesn't do that well). I'm sure I will use it for more things, but until I'm using it regularly, I'm not spending a lot.

I joined back up with Ibotta. I stopped for awhile as it seemed to take forever to get to the pay out threshold. I do want the savings on the things I buy anyway. I don't get as many as some would as the rebates are on a lot of products I don't buy. Anyone else still using Ibotta? If you are new to this savings and want to sign up, my referral code is here.

The really good news is my lower level air conditioner is working! I didn't pay for the service call because that is a landlord responsibility. The bad news, it isn't technically fixed. The technician couldn't find a leak, or any other parts that weren't working. So added freon and said it should keep cooling for three months. So annoying! I'd be really irritated if I were the one paying for the service calls.

That is the frugal news of the day!


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