Saturday, March 25, 2017
Frugal Friday: A New Savings Season
Saturday: We'd planned to go and had to cancel several times, but there was no stopping us today! We went off to visit Katie and family. Of course, Gramma was excited to see Taylor who is very much a toddler GIRL now and hardly a baby anymore. Just look at the picture her Mama took early last week:
I had a bag of things to take with me to Katie. I keep a shopping bag ready for her and Bess both. (I do boxes for Amie and Virginia). In that bag went things I'd decided to no longer use here or which I knew she'd like and bought especially for her and her family. This time I brought along the rugs I'd had in the kitchen but didn't like with the new flooring. Katie said she had just the spot for them.
I packed supper to be eaten on the drive home. This included sandwiches, fruit, water and chocolate. It was a lovely ride home, because we were filled up to the top with happy after our nice visit.
Before we left home we turned off the ceiling fans and lowered the heat.
Sunday: We'd been in prayer about an area of giving and while in church today, I knew just the amount we were meant to give. John knew it, too. I didn't see how we could manage the amount, but do you know, when you pray you get all the answers? I was given the idea of a way to cut back on something in our budget and boom! There was that amount we were impressed to give.
I'm not sharing the above to impress anyone with our ability to give. What I am trying to impress you with is the way God knows your economy better than you do! He knows just where you can trim your budget and how you can manage those things that don't seem at all possible. I look at how He's managed our income to cover insurance for me and all those hefty bills that came in, as well, as full evidence of what He can do.
I owed over $150,000 when I walked out of that hospital in 2015 and I had no clue how we'd even begin to manage to pay the parts that we owed (30% AFTER deductibles which were high deductibles). I hadn't even begun the months of labs and doctor visits that followed either. But look at us today! Every bill that came in was paid. At one point we took out a personal loan and managed to repay it while paying for other bills that came in. Our savings remained intact. Somehow bills got reduced, doctors begged us to pay monthly amounts and take cash discounts, the insurance company worked with some providers to change coding so bills were covered in full, dear souls gave us a small amount that just covered a small bill that came due...It was crazy! It was wonderful! Just yesterday we reminded ourselves of this and shook our heads, smiling. So why am I surprised He'd figure out how we could do just what He impressed us to do? I am grateful for the ideas, the inspiration that come my way every day to stretch what we have and put it to good use.
We stopped at Home Depot today to pick up a few items. John had a list. I spent $2.96 on 3 feet of a decorator's chain to repair the straps on a purse I don't want to give up. Those straps have looked tattered and shredded but the bag was just fine. I'll be happy to be able to use the bag once again.
We picked up another ten landscape blocks. I signed up for email receipts.
We got another package of those furniture gliders, a small set this time, so we could put them under the old washstand in our room that is in a tight space. Now it just glides out of that tight spot and I no longer have to worry I'll crack one of those old legs pulling and tugging on it.
We put some of the gliders under our bedframe supports and legs. This does not allow us to move the bed freely as I'd hoped, but it does redistribute the weight of the legs and supports so they don't dig deep into the new carpeting, so there is that.
I started lasagna this morning and meant to leave it in a low oven all morning long while we were gone but John threw my plans off just a little with that trip to Home Depot. Fortunately, he let me know that was in the plans before we left home! I figure we'd have a sandwich when we got home and then we'd have lasagna for an early supper. John decided we needed a snack before we got home so when he picked up the Sunday paper he bought a snack box of food that we shared.
I portioned lasagna for the freezer: one family sized container, one two large servings container and one single serve container. I figure there are at least 5 servings in the family sized (more if you add more side dishes) and we could stretch to three servings on the two serving container. So that's between 6 and 9 more servings from that pan of lasagna.
Made John's work lunch for tomorrow.
Monday: Stripped bed and washed a full load of laundry this morning. I added in towels, dishtowels, a couple of pieces of clothing, etc.
I noted that the nail polish on the INSIDE of the laundry cup has held up nicely. I was curious about how well that might do. I am pretty sure I know WHY detergent companies make those marks so hard to read, but I make it a point to mark on the outside of each cup where that first mark is (we seldom need to use more detergent than the first mark since nothing of ours is heavily soiled). This particular company has an opaque cup...So a mark got put on the inside, too, where we could clearly see where that first level mark was. I used red nail polish and I was a bit iffy about it. I've found permanent marker can wear off with repeated use but nail polish seems to be pretty tough stuff.
Hung sheets and towels out to dry. I 'tested' for pollen on the porch railing and there was none that I could wipe up. I figured it was safe to hang the towels and sheets out to dry. The smelled awesome when I came home this afternoon and took them off the line.
Washed a full load of dishes in the dishwasher. I let them air dry while I was gone.
Best way I know to curb spending? Figure up the checkbook (or at least look long and hard at the balance) before leaving home. Worked really well today. I offered to take Mama any place she'd mentioned but said I'd be staying in the car out of temptation and impulse spending reach.
My turn to buy lunch today. I had a limited amount of cash on me...I was so tempted to put this purchase on the debit card. Well I bit the bullet and coughed up the allowance and had enough to pay for our meal and tip. Even more incentive now to stay home and mind my business!
Mama suggested we get our usual ice cream. It was her day to pay for that. We'd both read the ad that Dairy Queen had a free ice cream cone offer today but we'd thought it was for children. No, it was a fundraiser for a child based charity. We'd already ordered a coffee drink and declined the free cones but were given coupons for a bogo on Blizzards (flavored ice cream cups).
Mama gave me an old milk pitcher that belonged to one of my great grandmothers. I'll have to ask which one next time I see her. It looked like it was blue and brown but the more I looked at it the more convinced I was that it was just mighty dirty. I brought it home and worked gently over the surface with hot soapy water. Sure enough the jug is blue all over and brown is not part of the color at all.
Mama also gave me several of those blue glass insulators from old telegraph and electric poles.
Came home and felt overwhelmed at all the little things I saw needing to be done. I felt really tired though I'd done little today. I knew it was a sign of how much I needed to rehydrate. I sat down and drank a bottle of water. I felt far more energy after that and soon accomplished all my tasks.
Checked emails and discovered two $5 off coupons from Home Depot in my inbox. One for signing up for the garden center news and one for signing up for email receipts. I will be purchasing mulch, landscape blocks, a few bedding plants and potting soil soon and these coupons will certainly come in handy.
Worked on Swagbucks this morning before 7am. I didn't make goal but I figure even a few points add up eventually.
Tuesday: Awake early this morning. I've determined that part of the problem with these early morning awakenings is that I am cold. I am going to put a blanket on my side of the bed to pull over me in the early morning. Maybe I'll get a little extra sleep.
Up early enough to watch sunrise from my chair in the kitchen.
Used potatoes leftover from our St. Patrick's Day meal to make hash browns this morning for John's after work breakfast.
Worked in the yard for an hour. I raked leaves and loaded the wagon about seven or eight times. I got about half done with the work that I have to tend to. Free exercise. Yay.
Pulled frozen foods from the freezer for our dinner. I heated it in the oven.
Refilled water bottles for the fridge. Dropped one of the larger ones on my foot. John made me an ice pack. It's swollen but not bruised at the moment. I'll sit with it up most of the afternoon.
Cleared out the trash cupboard. I won't paint it today, nor did I get to the real cleaning part, but I did get it cleared and straightened and swept out and I moved all the cleaning supplies into the cabinet. I hung command hooks so I could hang some of the cleaning tools on them. I told John if we'd buy a smaller waste basket and put under the kitchen sink, we could move the vacuum into that closet, too and just call it a proper cleaning closet. I don't know that he's necessarily on board with that idea, but it's been on my mind for years now.
Katie gifted me a big nice avocado Saturday. It was perfectly ripe today, so I made up a quick guacamole. It isn't exactly authentic because I had no lime juice or cilantro but it is good.
Wednesday: I kept dozing off yesterday afternoon and evening and slept hard last night. I even slept late this morning. I don't know exactly why except possibly I'm just overtired from all my activity of the past week or so. I decided it was a good idea to give into it today, so nothing more than light household chores for me.
My foot is fine. Bruised but fine. The immediate application of ice yesterday did a good job of keeping that from bruising badly.
I called to change my hair appointment which was set for next Friday. I wanted to change it to next Thursday instead. I'm so glad I called because there was no record of my appointment. I was in the customer base but not on the appointment schedule. When I said the stylist's name, I was told "Oh she's no longer with us." Now here's where I've routinely had bad luck and I'm sincere in this. I love the way this girl cut my hair. It's not the first time I've found and liked a stylist a lot and the next thing I knew I had no stylist. But what really bothered me was that this salon is higher on the scale for cost of services. I pay a pretty penny to go there. Could they not have called and offered me another appointment? I don't care for being cancelled and not knowing. What if I'd just shown up next Friday as scheduled?! That bothers me more than losing my stylist. It seems unprofessional to treat a customer in that manner.
John asked what I was going to do and I told him honestly I'm just not sure. I went to this higher priced place at his insistence, but I always felt a little worried over the extra cost. Now I've no stylist and no clue where to go to get my hair done. I'll have to think over this one but do something soon because I am due a haircut and with a short style it's absolutely necessary that it is done in a certain time frame.
I was reminded of two important lessons today. Number one was something I've been frustrated with over and over again. I don't use my microwave often for much more than reheating foods now and then. I could, honestly, easily live without one and I don't believe I'll bother to replace it when this one dies. However, I have used it to cook grits. Every single time I make grits in the microwave, despite using a big deep 4 cup measuring cup, they boil over and make a mess. This is a high powered microwave and it still takes 8 minutes to cook grits. This morning as I attempted to do two things at once, I kept a close eye on the microwave and cut it off each time they came up to a boil. I still cooked them over and it made a huge mess. As usual. Ugh. I finally grasped the idea that this isn't an efficient way to cook grits, at least not for me. I poured them into a pan and cooked them on the stovetop. Without any further messes. Done. From now on I cook grits on the stovetop.
My second lesson today came when I set dinner on the table. I made taco salad because I hadn't taken anything out to thaw the night before. I could cook my ground beef from frozen to make the salad. I put our salads in big separate bowls. I dished up the taco meat (nearly 1 pound of cooked meat) and set it on the table. One of the reasons I often serve from the stove is that I control portions better. When we'd eaten our salad there was enough meat left in the bowl to make something else from. John took the bowl, crumbled chips into it and ate it. I am sure he was hungry or he'd never have eaten it, but it was a good reminder to me that if we put out almost a pound of meat we'll usually eat almost a pound of meat, too, although we'd typically share a half pound which is plenty. I'll be serving plates in the kitchen from now on and putting away any that should be leftovers before we eat our meal.
Set the AC to 75. In the warmer days of winter we've had it down as low as 73, because it got unpleasantly warm in the house at times, especially on sunny days. I'm inching it up for our more usual summer setting.
Thursday: I pulled my homemade tortillas from the freezer last night and thawed them. I used some this morning to make breakfast burritos for our breakfast. They held up very well with the freezing and thawing process. John likes these very well and has asked me to make more. I think I will do this while he's gone as it is a time consuming process and now that I know they freeze well I can make them ahead.
I felt much better today than I did yesterday. I really am thinking I had a small virus run through me. I felt tired and unambitious and working required more than the usual effort. By bedtime last night I was feeling so much more like myself. I slept soundly again last night.
We had a day out. We both went through a sort of funk of mind for some unknown reason but John said yesterday that we needed a day out. I asked what we could possibly do since we'd had our Home Depot trip for the pay period. I thought I was being funny, lol. We decided to go to a nearby antiques mall. We seem to head that way a couple of times a year. John had specific items he wanted. I just had a desire to find treasures.
Well John found what he was looking for: antique hand held saws. These were bought more as a nod to his dad who had loads of them but they 'disappeared' before John claimed his tools. He is happy to have something that looks like what his dad had.
I found another Tole Tray and am trying to decided how to display them since I've gathered a small collection of them. I also found three paper flour and corn meal sacks, the sort you'd get at a mill with old printed labels on them, as well as a TOMATO packing label print. I mean to frame the paper sacks. These and the TOMATO label print will go at the back door entry shelf, a nod to my 'farmhouse' style. I think I'm going to add my fresh eggs sign there as well.
My other treasures were a tin tea caddy and three vintage women's magazines from 1943 for just $5 each. I couldn't buy those magazines that inexpensively online! I was pretty pleased with my treasure. The tray, tea caddy and TOMATO packing label were all half price from a booth going out of business.
John bought us lunch from his allowance. Mama insisted on repaying the tip amount to me last week at the end of our visit. I used that and the buy one get one coupon for an ice cream to supply dessert for us. It was a nice day out.
When we came home we walked a portion of the property line we hadn't been able to walk in the past. There's an old stone wall there that divides my property from the land next to us. I wanted to show it to John. While we were nosing around we found a big old gallon jar half buried. The lip was broken but we dug it out and brought it up to the house anyway. I could make a nice terrarium from it, I think.
I pulled sandwiches from the freezer to heat for supper.
We got the electric bill. It had dropped nearly $40.
I got the credit card bill notice. I was teasing Bess about my company sending me electronic notices so that I actually had time to recover from shock when the paper bill arrived. Well this one is a doozy. Even knowing that we have every single penny that was spent on that card last month, it was still a shocker. It wasn't all frivolous (only a few minor things were) but it does remind me that such days are behind me for a good few months. Time to buckle down hard once more and make do.
Accepted the offer of a new piece of clothing that didn't fit someone else.
note: I didn't get Friday's savings put up but will add them to next week's post...