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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!

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.



June Interest

July 1st, 2017 at 02:59 pm

Interest for June on our savings tallied up to $90.52. A little less than last month, but there was one less day!

Upon logging into one of our bank accounts, I found out there is a new interest rate! It's higher. Moving from .95% to 1.10%, not a lot but sure is a step in the right direction.

Have your savings interest rates increased?

18% Gross To Retirement

June 30th, 2017 at 11:30 am

We save 18% of my husband's gross pay to retirement. I'm starting to wonder if it is too much. Only because I've been watching YouTube videos of people following Dave Ramsey and saving 15% gross on Baby Step 4.

Our plan is for my husband to retire from the Army with a full retirement pension. This is equal to 50% of his base income, which if calculated today would be about $3,840 per month. It will be higher as he will get promoted at least one more time before he retires. He might also be eligible for more than 50%, but not sure. If so that will make a huge difference in pay as he will have over 32 years of service.

Obviously, there is risk that something could happen that he won't get to full retirement. He is already eligible for a reserve retirement check that would pay out beginning at age 60, possibly sooner. That check would be far less.

I think part of me is wanting to adjust to 15% so I can use the other 3% (which is just under $300) towards the Big Goal. And I suppose I don't have to change anything, as more than half of our retirement is invested in our Roth IRAs. I can take those contributions out any time.

Just thoughts. How much of your gross income do you/did you save for retirement?

Money News

June 29th, 2017 at 12:41 pm

I redeemed some Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards this week. I would have like to have waited for the beginning of the month to get the discount, but I needed them to buy my daughter birthday gifts! Luckily, Swagbucks have been fruitful with a lot of good surveys and nCraves this last week. In total I redeemed 2800 SB for $28 worth of Amazon gift cards. They arrived within two days, too, so that made me happy!

My husband and I both need to get our vehicles in for repairs. My husband's is just an oil change. My van now has a check engine light on. And no it's not the gas cap. It is driving well, so I expect it is just an oxygen sensor that has failed. That usually seems to be the case for us, if the car is running properly. I have an appointment for Monday and he will stop in for an oil change on Saturday morning.

We earned just over 3100 miles on our Southwest Visa this last month. Yep, that means we charged nearly $3000! We currently have about 20K miles that we can eventually redeem for a flight. I'm planning to use them for my daughter to fly home during Christmas break. I could use some now for her one way ticket back to school in August, but the cost is minimal and December is always a more expensive month.

I wanted to write a blog post yesterday, but there were site issues. I don't think what I wrote above is what I wanted to write. I wish I could remember! I should have written it in a word document. Hopefully it comes back to me, so I can tell you all. Smile

Frugal Wins

June 25th, 2017 at 09:37 pm

I just harvested a bunch of lettuce from our garden. Maybe for the last time this season...it seems a bit on the bitter side. We will still eat it mixed with other greens or add to a smoothie. There was also one cherry tomato and a summer squash ready. I do need to do some fertilizing as the soil here is awful!

I used one of my Frito Lay coupons today at the store. The price of the chips was $3.20, so received that off my bill. I also used two other coupons, that I found in the store, for another $1.50 off products I purchased. I have moved $4.70 from the grocery budget to the BIG goal.

I probably saved more money today, as I made a list and later crossed a few items off. I would guess another $5 to $10 worth of savings by skipping some items that were not needed. I also don't think I added anything extra into the cart...oh actually I did. But both were less than $2 combined. I also had a couple times where I picked up an item I needed only to find the same thing, different brand in another aisle for less!

We have been able to keep our irrigation system from running all but one time in the last two weeks because we have received so much rain! Maybe the water bill will be a bit lower next month.

What are your frugal wins?

In other news...

We have been hearing from our daughter each afternoon. Evening for her. She left the UK yesterday and arrived in France. I know she will be in Paris tomorrow evening. She isn't saying a lot because it seems to be moments before she dives into bed. I think the trip is going well. We have seen pictures on Facebook from a teacher who is posting. I will be interested to see how much of her money she spends!

Frito Lay Coupons

June 23rd, 2017 at 05:20 pm

I received three coupons in the mail from Frito Lay after discovering something like black mold on some bite size tortilla chips. I sent pictures and explanation through some form on their website. We basically had to throw the entire bag out, so I was asking for a cash refund. The coupons work too, as that will buy us three bags of chips which will save me far more than the cash refund.

I received $3 from Pinecone and it is now sitting in my Paypal account with a little money from a small eBay sale not long ago.

I'm working on Swagbucks here and there. I have not been focused enough everyday to meet goal until this week. It has helped to join the Swagbucks Swaggernauts page on Facebook to find a few quick ways to earn. I would like to get to 2500 by this weekend so I can get an Amazon gift card and purchase a few items for my daughter's birthday at the beginning of July.

Trying to stay frugal in this next week. It felt very spendy in the days leading up to our daughter's trip. So far no meals out, and the only spending were some sports bras, which we did need.

My Baby Girl Is Off to Europe

June 21st, 2017 at 07:28 pm

By midnight eastern time, my youngest daughter will be arriving in London for her first international trip! She will be gone 14 days. I will admit I did get a little teary eyed at the airport. I'm going to miss her. I guess a good trial run for next year when she leaves for college.

I'm glad my older daughter is home this summer. With my husband away I would probably be quite lonely!

I'm not sure how much we will hear from her, but we did buy her a very small data plan which included some texts for a whopping $40 with Verizon. One teacher on the trip plans to send at least one text a day, while another teacher is posting pictures to Facebook. As long as I know she is alive each day, I will survive. Smile

And if you are curious, she is in London two days. Four nights in France. One night in Belgium. Four nights in Germany. And finally one night in Austria. I think she is hoping to use a little of the German she has learned while she is there. The theme of the trip is WWII and the Western Front.

I guess I will save on groceries a bit during these next two weeks, with one less mouth to feed.

High Summer Utilities

June 18th, 2017 at 01:26 pm

It's just that time of year. More watering of the lawn, which is very large. And the cooling of our home. Because of the high humidity and heat of the southeast, I cannot set the air conditioning too high or mold will grow.

Last month the water bill was $88 and this month it is $114. Not super happy about it, but the lawn does look better with more water on it. The good news is our neighborhood has put a ban on irrigation temporarily because one of the water pumps isn't working, thus some residents are having low water pressure. It helps those residents with better pressure if we don't irrigate. It has been one week so far and I expect that will result in a slightly lower bill next month.

The electric bill was $122.88 last month. This month it jumped to $220.90. I did compare that higher bill to last year at this time and it was $252. So I kind of feel that there is an improvement in using less electricity in areas we can control. I'm still hanging my own clothes to dry, but I know my girls are still using the dryer. And I do use the dryer for towels and jeans. Reducing the use of electricity is still on my radar. We will keep trying despite the weather!


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