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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!

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.

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?

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.

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!

Use All The Food

July 6th, 2017 at 12:36 pm

I'm the one that usually eats the leftovers. Occasionally one daughter will eat leftover and pasta. So use all the food that Frugalwoods referenced yesterday feels overwhelming. But I know in January I did make a point to use up things we had in our pantry. In fact, I don't think my pantry and fridge have not been as full since then.

So the goal is to use all the food. Or at least be using the stuff we have at the back of the fridge and pantry. Here are the items I have noticed should be used up this month:

1/2 c red lentils
3 inches of fresh ginger
3/4 jar of Hoisin sauce
1 pound brown rice
2 pounds white rice
1 c steel cut oats
1 box of unsweetened almond milk
8 oz Kerrygold butter unsalted
1 can tuna
2 fresh bananas
1 pound frozen strawberries
1/2 bottle of Herb & Garlic marinade
1/2 bottle of barbecue sauce
1/2 c frozen corn
1/2 c frozen peas and carrots
3 potatoes
4oz of whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 bottle of poppy seed dressing
four strips of turkey bacon
nearly full jar of tahini
chia seeds

We have two other pastas in the cupboard, but I know these will get eaten, so not too worried if they are around by months end or not.

I do plan to make a batch of steel cut oats in the crockpot tonight for the next few days of breakfast. I usually like to use apples in it, but those bananas are looking like they would make a good topping, or the strawberries!

I already used the three potatoes to make a batch of potato soup. I expect to eat that for lunch the next couple of days. Maybe with a tuna sandwich on the side. The peas and carrots will get put into fried rice that I already planned to make for dinner tonight.

I do not have any meat on hand now, but I'm going to check the ads for a good price. If I find some, I will use the marinade and barbecue sauce (separately) to season some meat for the crockpot.

I also could probably buy some spinach and have strawberry spinach salad with the poppy seed dressing. Not sure, but I may be the only one that would eat it. Although my parents might when they visit next week.

Since I started this post, I already used the Kerrygold butter to make a batch of butter cookie dough. It's in the freezer to bake when our air conditioning is working again (hopefully today), or when the weather is just cooler in general.

The chia seeds were bought to make a chia pudding that actually is quite tasty. It does use almond milk, so I expect to make that with any leftover that doesn't get used making the oats.

The tahini is definitely prime for using to make hummus. I've only tried it once years ago. I'm kind of interested in trying again. As we do like hummus and this could save some money making fresh batches. I bought the tahini originally for use in some new recipe I tried. Anyone make their own hummus?

I'm definitely going to need to buy a few things in order to use some of these items up. But I hope to come back at the end of the month and report that I have used all these items up! Or most of them...the tahini make take some time to use.

Four Days of Meals

July 5th, 2017 at 07:26 pm

My daughter and I did have refried bean tacos for dinner last night, after I purchased a can for $0.54, regularly $1.09 but I used a $0.55 coupon. There is enough for two more tacos which I'm having for lunch!

Today is our youngest daughter's birthday (she made it home safe from Europe), so I was up early to make her favorite spice cake in the oven (remember no A/C on the level with our kitchen) so I didn't want to heat the house up in the middle of the day. Tonight we will have spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and corn on the cob. These were requested by her.

Thursday night we will have fried rice. I'm making sure to use up the frozen corn, peas and carrots. I also have plenty of green onion to add.

I made potato soup yesterday so that will likely be eaten on Friday, although it may also become lunch this week. If we eat all the soup, we may just eat grilled cheese and watermelon.

On Saturday, I will probably turn the oven on and make homemade pizza. I have the sauce, the items to make the dough, as well as some meats. I may just need to buy the cheese.

When I was at the store I did pick up a few other items and paid $13.24.
1 dozen eggs
1/2 gallon of milk
celery
1 lb of carrots
three ears corn on the cob
pretzel sticks
refried beans
large watermelon

Birthday cake, watermelon and pretzel sticks should help tide us over between meals. I expect this will get us through Friday, maybe part of Saturday before we go to the store again. Saturday's shopping list will have to include groceries to feed my parents while they are here, so I expect it could be a bit inflated.

My next post will be about the things we need to use up in the month of July, which what the Uber Frugal Month post is about today on the Frugalwoods blog.

Frugal July Thoughts

July 4th, 2017 at 04:33 pm

I currently have our lower level air conditioner off, as it is not cooling properly. Why force it to run overtime at more expense if we don't need to? The landlord did call for service which is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. We are definitely in a heat wave so I don't think this can be a long term solution given the humidity we are currently experiencing.

The lack of air conditioning on this level, where our kitchen is, did force me to cook chicken in the crockpot yesterday. Today we are eating out of the fridge and cupboards. The oven will not be turned on. I suppose that will save some energy too. I wonder if I could go nearly oven free for July?

We went grocery shopping on Friday and spent about $65. It did include my daughter's birthday cake (she arrives home tonight and her birthday is tomorrow) mix and frosting and her preferred meal of pasta. I think my other daughter and I can have bean tacos tonight if I make a run to the store for the refried beans. We have everything else, so that would cost me less than $1. I'd like to get through at least Thursday or possibly Friday (shopping on Saturday) with what we have on hand. Oh, just remembered I have everything on hand for fried rice, too! And I have three potatoes I could make into soup. I think I can make it! We do have salad greens in the garden. But I might pick up three ears of corn on the cob to accompany the pasta. That should be just another dollar. I'll post a food plan tomorrow.

Not sure what my husband's plan is for food. He is traveling back to his school location today. The commissary there may not still be open by the time he arrives. Thus I can imagine he will pick up some fast food. He only plans to be there 2.5 days before he comes back this coming weekend. He wants to see our daughter soon after her trip to hear all about it! I'm hoping he picks something from the commissary rather than going out for every meal before he returns.

Another reason it may be hard to have a frugal July that I don't think I mentioned is that my parents are coming for an eight day visit. That means more food and possibly gas and admission for some outings. I will do a search for free activities. I can currently think of just one. And it will be so hot outside, I'm thinking we need indoor activities! But I did have one frugal idea concerning their visit. I can use some small travel shampoo/conditioner containers and fill them for myself to use while they are here and they can have access to my nearly full bottles. Normally, I would go buy another set and then use it up later.

I printed off a coupon for my contact solution. I did just buy some, but winced as the price has gone up. The coupon will reduce the next purchase by $1.50. I need to make an effort to look for a coupon to print every time I need to make this purchase.

I also need to make July the month that we cancel cable. i'm just being lazy about going into the store to drop off the digital adapters. I need to remember this should save us at least $30 a month.

My van did not end up needing repair at this time. They charged us over $100 for the diagnosis, testing and clearing the check engine light that was on. Our bill did include the 20% discount we asked for. It wasn't the same as getting the full 10% on the truck we should have, I do wish we would have argued this, but it is done.

Finally, I scored two pairs of socks and a greeting card at Kohl's for $0.70 yesterday. I had a $10 reward and a $1.34 Kohl's cash that I applied to bring my original bill of $12.84 to just $0.70. They don't charge tax on the reward portion, so that did reduce the tax as well.

More frugal thoughts later! Happy Independence Day!

Free Cat Food & More

July 3rd, 2017 at 01:49 pm

On Friday, I stopped by PetSmart to pick up a free bag of cat food with a coupon that had been mailed to me. I could pick any brand as long as it wasn't more than 3.5 pounds. The one I picked would have been $10.99 normally in the store. But it was completely free.

The last time I bought dry cat food was in December when our other cat was ill. It was a large bag and it is taking awhile for my other cat to eat through it! We also supplement with wet cat food now as well. But we will use this new bag when I run out of the other that is already open.

Today we have my van in for service. We noticed we didn't get their 10% military discount on Saturday service for my husband's truck. We inquired and their solution is to give us 20% off today's service. We'll see if that works out in our favor depending on the cost of the repair.

Our outing yesterday did allow us to visit a museum for free as a Blue Star family. The admission would have cost us the three of us $28. It was a beautiful art museum and grounds. I was especially intrigued with one artist who used old items and added glass. For example one was an old wood desk, but the drawers had been made out of glass, a frosty type. There was also a wagon, a chair and an umbrella.

We did take our own water and lunch to eat in the car on our road trip. We did stop to eat ice cream near the beach to tide us over. We also found free parking twice in the little beach town, once while we bought our ice cream and another time while we walked the beach for about 30 minutes. The only other expense besides fuel was the purchase of three or four waters/sodas. Each time we stop to use the restroom, my husband feels obligated to buy something. It's hard to harp on him for it, but I do personally feel it isn't an obligation. I'll guess that cost us another $6-8.

Oh and I overhead a couple speaking with the cashier at CVS yesterday about a $100 bill. This is what the couple said that the cashier agreed with. "If you break it, it's gone." Obviously I don't know these people, so I don't know exactly what they meant. It seems like an odd way to look at money. Once you have $85 in smaller bills for example, you should just consider the money gone? You can't save $20 bills? Every purchase we make with or without cash should be considered right? It doesn't matter what size bill we paid it with. Just my thoughts. What do you think about it?

Not A Frugal Month

July 2nd, 2017 at 01:04 pm

I just don't see this being a frugal month for us. We are trying to enjoy the time with our college daughter home and my husband is traveling home most weekends from his school. Thus there is fuel for cars, and money spent on some activities. We do embrace free as much as we can. In fact today, we may go visit an art museum that we can get in for free (Blue Star Museum participant). We do have to drive to get to it however.

We spent $352 on my husband's truck yesterday. He needed brakes badly. Can't say no to maintenance that is important for safety. He also got an oil change. He later picked up new windshield wipers at AutoZone (not the most frugal store to purchase from in my opinion) as he was overdue for those as well.

My van is being repaired tomorrow as I have a check engine light on. I'm expecting it to be an oxygen sensor. I checked my blog and it was over $300 for that repair last time.

Yes, all this money being spent is a good reason to watch the budget in other areas. And I will. I expect the grocery budget would be the best one to focus on.

I am going to follow along with UFM though here and on the Frugalwoods blog. As I know it will be inspirational. I may be able to do a Ultra Frugal Month in August or September.



Interest, Tuition Funding & More

February 1st, 2017 at 01:51 pm

We earned $79.08 in interest during the month of January. I hope to see that bump up a little now that more ($15K) of our money is invested at 2%.

I withdrew $4,750 from our daughter's Educational Savings account. That money will be used to cover most of her housing costs for the semester. She has $4839 left in her account. This is in a interest bearing account, so she is earning a little money on it each month.

Since it is officially payday today, I can say that I initially allocated $814 towards tuition. But I also didn't fund all of our usual everyday spending categories in YNAB specifically clothing and entertainment. That means I have another $100 to add to the tuition pot, and finally I decided that the electric bill (that really big one of $315) can actually be paid on our next paycheck on February 15. With those funds, funds saved from last few paychecks, the money from the ESA, and our tax refund, I am now only short $205.31!!

But as I'm writing this I'm also realizing that the books I bought my daughter for school have been allocated to that tuition category in YNAB. They were charged to my American Express card which I currently have 0% interest offer on. Therefore, I don't need to pay that off this pay period. That gives us another $153. Now I'm only short $48!!

I did realize that with my husband's travel reimbursement we might make a little money. It depends on how much he spends on food over what the per diem is. I think he will submit his request for reimbursement on Friday, and it should get paid within a week, maybe in time to pay the tuition bill! This would be a little less out of our savings that we would need to pay back.

I'm feeling much better about this huge tuition bill! I think I can likely shave $48 off our spending with some careful planning over the next 10 days.

I took our younger daughter back to Walmart yesterday to get more school supplies. ANOTHER binder, a 3 subject notebook, and dividers were required. We also bought a 4 pack of AAA batteries and a package of glue sticks to donate to two teachers. That was another $22. Why are office supplies so expensive? The 3 subject notebook was $4.24! The teacher did say they could use three regular notebooks, but my daughter did prefer the combined version for the easy of carrying around. I'm not going to make her sacrifice for a couple dollars.

School Supplies & More

January 30th, 2017 at 09:58 pm

Today's big spending was on a binder for school. The cost of it was $7.21 with tax at Walmart. It wasn't the cheapest option. She chose one that she know will hold up for the semester. She is a bit hard on them!

My daughter's new debit card for her checking account arrived today. We have now activated it. She also deposited her two checks received at Christmas into her new account, using our mobile app. We also ordered checks. Luckily they just send 40 at a time now. I wonder how long it may take for her to use those up! The checks are free through our bank.

I ate leftover fried rice with tofu for lunch. I think I cooked the tofu just fine. I did use turmeric to color it, so it did remind me of having eggs in it. My daughter decided she didn't like the different texture of tofu with the rice though. Lucky for her we are just having pasta and broccoli for dinner which she does like.

We did go to the store last night and picked up several items, primarily cereal and milk. And two snacks. I think there was something else too. We spent about $14.

Oh, and I had to buy fuel for my van! I was literally on empty when we went to the grocery store. I only filled it up halfway primarily because the pump was VERY slow. I spent $20.02.

Isn't it hard to believe January is about over?

Refund Arrives Wednesday

January 28th, 2017 at 04:55 pm

Our tax refund is scheduled to arrive in our bank account on Wednesday, February 1. I submitted them on Sunday, January 22. That is a pretty fast turn around! That $1497 refund is going straight to pay the tuition bill, which has been my plan all along.

I forgot to mention that I redeemed our Discover Rewards and had them deposited in our bank account this week. A whopping $3.37. I seem to earn the least amount of rewards from this card. We don't use it much, so I think I'm going to close it in my desire to keep things a bit simpler.

We are going to a matinee movie today. We are going to see Moana, which our daughter is interested in. We will pay $6 per person for admission. Afterwards we may stop for a quick dinner as our celebration of the first semester ending. It may just be Subway. I do have coupons there that expire tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will probably have fried rice for dinner. With tofu, which I have not made in years. Any advice for using it with fried rice? Do I just drain, cube it and add in?

Used The Rice

January 28th, 2017 at 03:18 am

I used up the arborio rice this evening when I made mushroom risotto. I also used up the white cooking wine. Bonus!

I stopped at Walmart, after finally dropping off library books, and picked up the fresh parmesan cheese for the risotto. That was my only spending today. My husband picked up his usual Friday alcohol, although he did buy one less bottle. So that helped save another $10.

It's not particularly frugal but we may go out to dinner tomorrow night. Our daughter finished her first semester of her junior year this week, and it feels like our first free weekend where she has zero homework. We want to get out and celebrate!! I'm guessing she will chose something simple so it won't get too out of hand with the spending.

Payday is on Wednesday. We have $254. I'd be thrilled with at least half of that to apply towards tuition due February 12.

$20 Snowflake

January 26th, 2017 at 10:41 pm

I was surprised today to see a $20 credit on our credit card from Ooma. I thought I was going to get that last month, but when I didn't see it I figured the referral didn't pan out. But it did! That snowflake is going towards tuition.

I spent $6 on a soda, two avocados and chicken broth. I was going to make a mushroom risotto tonight, until I realized I didn't buy the parmesan cheese for it! To avoid another trip to the store today, I decided to just make fish and stuffed portobello mushrooms for dinner. And of course, we still have a lot of salad to eat as well.

I did some more sewing today, just because it made me happy. I'm focusing on feeling good rather than feeling bad. Part of that means doing things I like and avoiding the news and Facebook that make me feel bad. I've seen far too many people thinking their point of view is the only way to think, which leads me to see them as uncaring and unkind. That isn't how I want to think!! So avoidance is best at this point. I think all people have the ability to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, accepting and patient. And I'm going to focus on that as much as I can in the coming weeks and months.

Rising Stock Market Plus More

January 26th, 2017 at 12:40 am

The stock market is up today! The Dow Jones Industrial Average even closed above 20K points for the first time ever. I checked out retirement accounts and today alone our balances rose $3,318! And we are up $12,981 since the beginning of January.

I am able to see my husband's LES (pay stub) for next week's pay. The change for withholding was made, but they don't seem to be showing the 1% increase to his TSP. This means his check was slightly inflated. It shows online that the payment is processing, so I guess I didn't meet the deadline to make that change for this month. Oh well, it will all work out.

I input my husband's net pay into YNAB. I figured out that I can add at least $815 from that check to apply towards tuition. I may pay our high electric bill AFTER the 15th of February, so I can apply the cash I set aside for it to tuition. Again, I'm trying to avoid taking any cash from savings, so it really is about cash flow and adjusting when I make some payments.

I spent $7.32 today on two things at Walmart and postage to mail two packages. I'm watching my fuel tank to see if I can't wait until Tuesday to fill up. That may be pushing it, but I will try.

Dinner was breakfast foods. I made pancakes for our daughter and I. My husband came home later than usual, so he made himself some eggs. Tomorrow we will finally use up the arborio rice when I make a mushroom risotto.

Soup, Sewing & Southwest

January 25th, 2017 at 02:30 am

I ate soup two times today. That one is now gone. I have two other kinds in the freezer, which we will likely eat later this week. It feels like we are doing pretty good with the food overall.

I did my sewing today. I made two keychains and four little tissue covers. I put links to the instructions I used, if you are interested. I've made the key chains before. The tissue covers were new for me to sew, but they are super easy!

I heard from Southwest Airlines that they will refund the Early Bird fee I paid. This was for a flight that they cancelled when my daughter was trying to get back to school. That is $15 back in my pocket. I also read that Southwest Rapids Rewards program is changing a policy about transferring hotel loyalty rewards to their program AND allowing it to count for the Companion Pass. They have extended the grace period so they can count until March 31, 2017. We have started using our Southwest card again and are hoping to rack up enough qualifying points to make this possible. We have Marriott Rewards that could make this happen much easier. Now that I know the deadline, I may consider moving some of the rewards to help make this happen. Here is the post on Southwest's website.

I was tempted to run out for a couple things today, but decided they could wait. I will need to go to the post office tomorrow or Thursday to mail the gifts. I will pick up those few items at that time, thus saving some gas and time!

Although, I'm remembering I did spend some money today. I ordered an item for my daughter for her birthday in March. She gave the hint last week, and the item could run out...maybe. I decided since I had money in the birthday account to just get it done!

I also opened up a Youth Checking account for our youngest daughter today. I had to put in a $25 minimum deposit. I figure my daughter can write me a check to pay me back as a good way to start understanding check writing. I think she probably already knows, just hasn't actually done it herself.


Soup from the Freezer

January 24th, 2017 at 02:46 am

I thawed soup from the freezer for dinner tonight. I may have thawed a bit too much, but I will eat it for lunch the next few days. Tomorrow night we will have pasta with salad. Actually, I might have soup with salad, and just make the pasta for DH and my daughter.

My sister and mother's birthday's are fast approaching. My sister and I have an agreement not to exchange these last couple years. However, I'm thinking I may sew them each something. I noticed one of the lanyards I made for my sister was looking quite worn last time I saw her. I feel pretty confident I have fabric on hand that will work. Cost will simply be mailing the package, less than $3 each is my guess.

I sold some Box Tops on eBay! My net profit is $11.37. Actually a bit less, since I did put a stamp on the envelope. I'm also redeeming 300 points with Pinecone. That $3 should arrive in my PayPal account tomorrow. And finally, I have enough SB to redeem for a $5 Amazon gift card. I may just keep accumulating and go for a $25 Paypal cash, it depends if I find something on Amazon I need. Smile

Our tax returns were accepted. I'm going to log in tomorrow to see if the IRS indicates a date to except our refund. I know the site currently indicates 21 days or less.



Taxes Filed & More

January 23rd, 2017 at 03:25 am

I went ahead and filed our taxes. All of our tax forms arrived. We take the standard deduction, since we no longer own a home. This was probably one of the easiest tax filing years ever, honestly. We are getting a $1497 refund. All of which will go towards the tuition bill due February 12. And as I said in my last post, I did adjust withholding to avoid the big refund next year.

We went grocery shopping today. I honestly didn't use any coupons at the commissary, however I spent $102, which did include several wants. Overall, this is a very decent grocery bill for us. I did inquire about the items that we paid for last week, but were left behind. I had my receipt and they had recorded the items I left. I was simply told to go get the items and they would sack them up. It was almost too simple! At least $10+ worth of stuff was not lost.

The week after next my husband will be gone for about four or five days. I'm going to consider skipping my regular grocery shop and see if I can't get my daughter and I through that week without buying much at all. If I can do that I just might be able to save the $83 left in the grocery budget.

My husband was going to get a haircut today as he primarily needed his neck trimmed. He did mention that we should buy a new trimmer as we have been without one for awhile. He even pointed out the trimmer might cost the same amount as one haircut! Well, the one we bought was $24, and his haircut is usually $13. So one more trim and we will have made the purchase worthwhile. We also talked about cutting his hair at home. We did try that at one time, and I now can't remember why we didn't keep it up!

We have $323 left in our Everyday Expenses category for the rest of the month, just nine days. I feel pretty good that we can keep more than half, maybe even $200 of this money to send in towards tuition.

We were notified by my daughter's flute teacher that she needs to take the next four weeks off from teaching as she has a gig at the community playhouse. We do have the option of another teacher, but my daughter who has been packing in two AP courses in one semester (finals are this week, exam in May) just would like a break. This is going to save me $100! More money I can apply to tuition!!


Taxes, Tuition & More

January 21st, 2017 at 02:49 pm

I was looking for our interest statement on Navy Federal Credit Union's website yesterday. I couldn't find it, or last years. Turns out they mail it to you, and it arrived in our mailbox yesterday afternoon. My husband's W2 was also available on the MyPay website, so that meant I could start working on our taxes! I am still waiting for one more interest form, but I do know the amount. It looks like we will get a $1497 refund. We couldn't quite claim the full American Opportunity tax credit, but we were very close, having spent $3813 in qualified expenses out of pocket in 2016. I do prefer to have a smaller refund, but I think I deliberately did this last year, knowing the refund could be used towards tuition in February.

Tuition and housing bill was forwarded to me by my daughter last night. The total is $10,426, which includes $4662 for room and board. The rest is tuition, fees and books after her scholarship of $7250. She is taking 17 credit hours this semester, so that inflates the bill a bit. And remember she is an non resident student. I'll write more about tuition and paying the bill in another post.

Yesterday, I bought a few groceries and some junk food. I spent about $15 on six items. Three will be used for meals, but we also bought ice cream, cookies and a diet coke! Ugh. That isn't frugal in the least, and definitely not healthy. And it was all my idea to stop because I suggested ice cream to my daughter.

We are going to the matinee of Hidden Figures today. The admission will be $16.50 for the three of us. I expect my husband will get something at the concession stand. I have $40 allocated in our entertainment budget, anything we don't spend I'm putting towards that tuition bill! Every dollar counts.

Tonight we will have fried rice for dinner. I have peas to add, since I bought those for the tuna casserole I made a couple nights ago. Today we will probably just have leftover pizza, pasta and salad for lunch. There is a lot of salad to use up!

I might write more about this later, but there was discussion of annual credit card spending on the forums. Our annual credit card spending for 2016 was $49,384. I'm not sure I have ever looked at the annual amount before. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. It's good as it is less than half of our gross income. And we didn't pay any interest to use those cards for spending. I'm guessing it is slightly inflated, because it includes my daughter's Europe trip.

Have you started your taxes? Do you know what your annual credit card spending is? What are you having for dinner?


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