Assigning Value To Our Days, Frugal Friday: Ushering in February

A few of the daffodils have bloomed...I think Perennials are well worth the money and should be the bulk of any gardeners purchase until the landscape is established.

January 30:  Made biscuits from scratch today.  A can runs $1.59 on sale.  Frozen are $2.99 for a dozen and they are closer to my homemade version.  I'll call my savings $2.59 for my batch.  I've split it between today's meal and tomorrow's.

I had leftovers of dinner today.  I decided that was sufficient for supper tonight, no need to make an extra meal when I wasn't feeling up to par.

I had a bit of leftover cooked cabbage.  I set it aside to go into tomorrow's dinner of Chicken Stirfry.

Although we typically do not wash laundry on Shabat, I discovered the cat used Blossom's bed as a litter box.  In getting the bed into the washer, I got some of the mess on my clothes.  So we did two loads of laundry today.  All were hung outdoors in the wonderful warm sunshine.

I told you I'd do this so...I gave myself an acrylic gel manicure.  I used the bought on sale kit and the bought on clearance polish. Savings $45.00.

January 31:  Put away pet food bowls before we left for church this morning.

We stopped to drop off trash, pick up mail and dropped a book off at the library drop box.

John has this way of being really subtle about my meal plans.  If he doesn't want what I'm preparing he'll say, "I was thinking we'd go by 'X' and pick up some..."  Uh huh.  Today I looked at him and said "Well...if you do that then I can contribute $5 which is all I've got in my purse.  What can you put towards the meal?"  My subtle message was "Not if it's coming from our checking account."  He told me what he was willing to contribute from his wallet and we went to pick up what he wanted.  I added fresh fruit, bread and drink to go along with the meal which we brought home.  I also went right ahead and put a good portion of the meat up in the freezer. I told him we'd get less next time, which would lower the costs considerably.

That meal he didn't really want today will, thankfully, keep quite well in the fridge and we'll have it either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Clipped coupons and looked through sales papers.  I'm not quite ready to determine the stock up portions just yet, but I knew which of the basic items we needed to buy: Milk and bread and eggs and fruit and lettuce, the perennials of the grocery budget.

Weather warmed up considerably.  The pets do not need the extra calories to stay warm when it's this mild.  I didn't feed them this evening since they had their daily portion this morning.

Total savings for January: $6,254.52 a substantial sum and not a bad start to the year.  I'm not counting on having those sorts of savings all year long but I'd love it if I could, lol!  Actually, my 'savings' will pay for insurance this year...there is that.

February 1:  We did a big day today, at John's request and given the added things that have come up for this week, it is a good thing.  We went out today and did an early grocery shop.  I spent $115 and with the $30 I'd spent last week on dog food, I am still under by $100.  I'll count that not as savings but towards the bulk beef purchase I hope to make this month.

We had another dinner out...that's an awfully lot for us of late and Mama wants to take us out for our birthday later this week...We bought today's meal from the checking account, but it wasn't pricey, just about $5 a piece.  I augmented our sandwich and water meal with a clementine from the bag we purchased at Aldi and we shared a candy bar John bought yesterday.

Went to my doctor's appointment.

We drove from the doctor's down to John's work place to pick up the paycheck.  I hadn't done bills yet, but I did bring along the checkbook.  Before we make our deposit, before we pay any bill or get cash for allowances and groceries, we pay our tithes.  The money I spent on groceries this morning?  John gave me cash from his Christmas money, a loan of sorts.  After we made out tithe checks, we headed to the bank to do our business there.

We paid our property taxes and bought car tags.  Those funds were in our account already, in a sub account.  As of this pay period I will begin to save money for next year's expenses.

Stopped at the bank in that town to put items in our safety deposit box.

John filled up my car with gasoline before we headed home.

John and I were mutually agreed on what we wanted for our birthdays.  I ordered both from Walmart and they will be shipped to the house.  I used the balance on my PayPal account to cover half the cost.  I went through Swagbucks Shop and Earn and will be credited 3 points every dollar spent for the full amount before taxes and shipping.

Bought four boxes of whole wheat spaghetti today.  I have priced it at various places and the least expensive I'd seen to date was $1a box at Walmart.  At Aldi today, we found it for $.99, a very small but saved amount, $0.04.

February 2:  Poor John...My alarm didn't go off this morning.  Fortunately he had eggs and bread at hand and cooked his own breakfast.  I was up in time to pack the lunch I prepped last night, but if I'd continued to sleep in this morning, he'd have found all the items together and packed them himself.

Made Swagbucks goal for the first time in three days.  Some days are just harder than others for reasons unknown to me.  Glad it went well this morning!

Tucked away $7...I have this idea of something I'd very much like to do so I am saving all my $1 bills towards it.

Sat down this morning after Bible study and prayer(!), and paid bills.

Called a doctor's office whose claim is being denied as he's not covered under my particular policy.   My appeal to pay went unremarked entirely.  So...bill due what to do?  I told the clerk the situation and she offered me a 50% reduction if I'd sent out a check today.  It was by no means the largest bill I've had and the other bills for the office we paid the full amounts due.  It was a courtesy on their part and appreciated on mine.  I had the funds set aside in my medical payment fund.  I saved $68.

Went into town today.  I used the last of the grocery money to purchase stamps and pay for the goods bought at CVS today.  I will write a credit to the meat fund for the stamps, but technically CVS was grocery and from grocery budget it shall come.

I had $4 in ECBs that were expiring this week and wanted to use them.  What on earth is the point of free money if you toss it in the trash?!  So I spent my ECBs today.  I really thought hard about what I meant to purchase and I think I did well enough.  Not perfectly but well enough.  I earned $1.75 in ECBs to spend between now and March.  My total out of pocket including taxes was $12.39 with a total savings of 62% or $18.91.  My favorite purchase of the day?  The candy bar that earned me $0.75 ECB and ended up costing me a mere $0.24,,,That price took me back to my teen years, lol.  I also got a free toothpaste using a sale/manufacturer's coupon/store coupon combination.  I think I have enough toothpaste for a year now so will only watch for sales to replace what we use.

I stopped for a fish sandwich today.  My doctor urged me to be sure and eat my fish,  so while I was out I got myself some fish.  I paid for my sandwich out of my allowance.

I priced flat rate boxes and envelopes today at the post office.  I'd made up my mind I wanted to send the grandchildren something for Valentine's Day but golly gee whillikers!  Postage is too high to send them treats or anything more than a card...especially when I've a birthday package to mail off already. it shall be.  Handmade cards at that.  Best get busy with my craft supplies.

As I've been reading through my vintage magazines I've been culling them again.  Some are just tattered and delicate.  Well I can't bring myself to throw them away but I've a friend or two who will enjoy them and have less of an investment in them, so I'll gift them to those girls and let them determine the magazines fate after they have enjoyed them.  I'll keep the best of my collection to continue to read annually.  I scanned the ads and such that I wanted to use as copy on the blog, so I'll have that.

Made myself a single cup of coffee when I came in from town.

Feb. 3:  Today I made Chicken Fried Rice.  It was super tasty and I think what made it was the use of the broccoli stalks instead of adding peas or other vegetables.  I liked using the last of the broccoliI'd purchased and having zero waste for that foodstuff.  I priced Enchiladas at my favorite place and they are $8.99 for three.  I made 9, or $27 worth.  My cost to make was one can of enchilada sauce ($.79), half a block of cheese ($.89) and 9 tortillas from a package of 20 ($.79). So for less than 10% of ordering at the Mexican restaurant I have food for two meals (with leftovers) for us.  Savings $25

Not so happy to discover that my sour cream molded.  The expire date was Feb 16, 2016.  No clue why it went off but it did.  That was waste but nothing to do with me!

I made two pans of chicken enchiladas.  I put both in the freezer for now.

John picked up mail on his way in this morning.

Fed the pets.  Went out to put away food pans and found ants crawling all over them.  The weather was super warm and it took just a few minutes for the ants to go to work.  Waste of a sorts, yes.  The truth is once that food is tossed into the yard not only do the birds peck at it but the dogs go out and eat it all up to keep the birds from having it.

I set my grocery budget in late December for the year.  I was just a little over it last month and not by much.  Then I read a post on another blog (I think it was A Working Pantry) and she mentioned a government table that laid out food costs.  The following figures are for Thrifty, Low Cost, Moderate and Liberal diets.  I would say that we are Moderate in our choices.  My budgeted amount is $230 less than what they suggest is moderate spending!  That's a Savings!  Now multiply that by 12 and you've got a huge amount of savings of $2,760 annually.
 Thrifty                Low Cost        Moderate      Liberal
$367.00               $473.60           $589.70        $711.80

Feb. 4:  John prepared our taxes last night.  He used Tax Act to file an itemized deduction. It cost us $29.98.  In years past, when we filed itemized deductions we paid a professional to do them.  It cost us $169 to have our taxes prepared and  file an electronic claim through that service.  I gathered numbers and John entered them into the computer.  WE filed them electronically.  Savings: $129.02

Wanna know how we lost $2,000 this week?  Let's revisit the whole government subsidized health care policy.  I have said and will say I am grateful, despite the difficulty we had in finding this cost in our budget, that I had it last year (and yes, I have it this year at a still higher cost...).  However, the last month of John's work year, he was scheduled to work both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This amped up our income by a bit more than we'd estimated we might earn.  Despite doing an itemized tax form, despite having $xx,xxx.00 in medical and charitable giving, despite squeezing our budget to cover the $xxxx cost of medical insurance subsidized by the government, we were FINED for earning more than we'd estimated we might.  Yes, really.  All those medical expenses we paid out of pocket, all our giving over the year didn't budge our tax refund even one penny but two holiday pay periods and we got reamed.  savings loss: $2,000.

All that said, let me tell you what we felt overall:  We were genuinely and honestly and still in awe that God took our fishes and loaves income and stretched it to cover all those added expenses this past year and our net worth  just slightly less than we started the year with last year.  Yes, I am perturbed at what I think is blatantly unfair treatment at the hands of our government but I will say that I am so grateful we look to God as the source!

John filed Mama's taxes today,  saving her hundreds as well.

Mama treated us to lunch for our birthdays. We ate late and were so full that opted for a lighter supper than usual.  Knowing we were going out for lunch today we ate a lighter breakfast as well.

Hung sheets and towels on the line to dry.  Though we normally use the dryer for underthings, today with everything on the line, I wasn't about to turn on the dryer for two sets of undies.  I hung them on the drying rack instead.

Even though we were heading off to eat in Mama's car, we made our trip count: took off trash, dropped off mail at the post office, picked up our incoming mail at our box here at home.

February 5:  I presented John with a handmade birthday card this morning, as I found none with the sentiment I wished to express.  I made the card yesterday, as well as another for my eldest daughter whose birthday is next week.  No savings in John's as I found nothing suitable but for Amie's I'll count it as $4.

I'd planned to make Valentines for the grandchildren but realized that I'd really waited too late to put together anything pretty.  I recalled the local dollar store had Valentines for just $1.  I had John with me today so didn't get him one yet, but I did buy ten cards for the grands.  I posted the four North Dakota grands cards in with their Mama's package saving myself postage on those.  I used that savings elsewhere though to send individual mails to the three Kingsland grands.  They are of an age where a letter for each is an exciting thing.

I had to pay a portion of rent this month at the booth, sigh.  I'm giving this until September but I think I've seen the writing on the wall where this is concerned.  I do enjoy it but it's really a way to waste a bit of money I could use elsewhere...Unless things pick up between now and then I'll have to close out at end of August.Lost $15.

Came home and made lunch for us (John's favorite burgers, fries, baked beans) and prepped dinner for tomorrow.

I mixed up a single layer cake and made into cupcakes. I got 11 cupcakes from the batter.  I made chocolate buttercream to frost 8 and the last three I smeared thickly with lemon curd as a topping.  That is our birthday cake for our birthdays.  I like that it's already portion controlled.

Ran a full load of dishes in the dishwasher.

Total for February: $998.72 and you could knock me over with a feather because I'd never have believed I'd have even 1% of that to show for this week's savings!


Wendi said...

That just stinks that you were fined! As my grandfather,Pop, always said "a working man just can't get ahead." I'm not sure that is a completely true statement, but it does feel that way at times.

I always knew staying home and watching pennies was helpful, but when you do the math on all of the savings it is jaw dropping!

Lana said...

I have seen that chart on the grocery expenses lately, too. Since I typically spent $200 a month on groceries we are saving $389 a month. That is crazy since we eat quite well. This week I brought home a haul of great deals from Publix in the middle of the kitchen renovation with out giving any thought to where I was going to put them. The non perishables ended up staying in the car for 3 days.

We ate out for most of for our meals for 7 days. We spent right at $100. I was amazed that we could eat well by thinking ahead for so little. Savings on the kitchen renovation are laminate pieces that were leftover were saved to do the half bath counter. We had our 'vintage' Jenn Air removed and reinstalled by a repairman. $25 for new burner pans and it looks fine with the new. Savings of $4000. Hubby replaced the downdraft fan with a part from a stove we bought for $25 for parts while it was out of the cabinets. Possible savings of $200-300. We are reusing our Moen faucet set and disposer for a savings of $450. Hubby is doing the sink plumbing himself. I estimate a savings of $200 plus by not having a plumber do it. All that to say I breathed a big sigh of relief that I picked the right colors and that it is all looking great. We still have a good bit of work to do to be back to normal but we did eat cereal at home this morning, YAY!

Last year I put balloons and confetti in the grandchildren's Valentines but I have not come up with something like that to do for this year. Maybe two dollars for a Dollar Tree trip. They do like that. I have to get to Dollar General and get cards today and figure out a treat for my parents. Hubby and I just do cards. We usually go to the lake house for Valentines week but with the kitchen mess we are going to skip that this year.

Lately I am finding it easier to get qualified for surveys late in the afternoon on Swagbucks and can most of the time meet my goal that way.

I opened a Daisy sour cream on Christmas Eve that was still all sealed and within the date to find the top all green. It made me wonder if yours was Daisy, too.

Have a good weekend, all!

Lana said...

And another big kitchen redo savings is that hubby did the demolition last weekend and saved us $500.

christine said...

I enjoy reading your blog and find lots of good ideas and inspirations.You may already know this, but I'll share in case it will benefit someone. Our electricity was out for four days and I lost most of what was in my freezer. I had a large box of dry milk in the freezer. I find that putting it in the freezer helps it not become rancid in the heat and humidity we seem to have in the South. I thought it would be fine since dry milk will keep at room temperatures. Well, I was going to use some and discovered not only was it molded but also had bugs in it. Yuck!! So when I bought more today, I emptied it into glass jars to put in the freezer. I hope this will prevent any future problems. I had not thought to do this before. I hate to waste food and hope this will prevent any future problems.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm wondering if you'd underestimated your income, would you have been fined then too? It really doesn't seem fair! And I would agree, it's a good thing we have God who watches out for us and supplies all our needs .... and many wants. 😉

I looked up the chart and see it is for an older couple. To be honest, it seems on the low side to me, for a government table. I've seen charts that allowed a lot more and that was back when the kids were home. Being able to stay way under the amount stated is a great thing, so congrats! 🤓

You did an amazing job of saving. Keep up the good work. Pam

Vickie's Ktchen and Garden said...

Happy Birthday to both of you! \There is nothing like homemade biscuits...I need to make some ahead of time. I bet you'll miss your it seasonal you think?

Have a great week!


susie @ persimmon moon cottage said...

You inspire me with how well you do with keeping everything so well within budget. Last month and this month I have made monthly menu plans and have done pretty well at keeping to them. I find that cooking plenty one time and eating make-overs from that meal at least two more times to be a big savings in time and money. It works best for food that freezes well. We generally don't like eating the same or similar meals more than once a week.

When I read about the sour cream that was moldy when you opened it, I wondered if you called and notified the manufacturer. There is a toll free phone number on most products, and I don't hesitate to call. I have called various manufacturers when there was a problem with the product. Everything from truly bad tasting potato chips, dairy products that were moldy or had some other problem, even a meal replacement shake that was spoiled tasting. In the cases of all of those items, there was nothing that I had done wrong in the storage of them. When I phoned the manufacturers they have always gone out of their way to be polite and helpful. They take your phone number and address and in my case they have mailed me coupons that more than made up for the money I spent for the problem product.

One time, more than 30 years ago, I baked a cake manufactured by a well known company. It came out flat as a pancake. I was counting on that cake for a get together that I was supposed to take it to. I was so aggravated that I called the manufacturer just to vent. At that time, I had no idea that they would reimburse me for what it cost. Imagine my embarrassment when the customer service representative took the manufacturer code number that was stamped on the bottom of the box, she paused a moment, and politely told me that cake mix was 3 years old. Well, obviously, that product fail was my fault. The date was not discernible from the code, or I would never ever have called to complain. Pillsbury generously still sent me coupons to replace that cake mix and some other coupons for other products. That polite customer service experience has served them well for these past 30 plus years. If I buy cake mix, icing, or any other product that is one they make, I still will choose that brand every time.

Your daffodils are beautiful! Spring is just around the corner.

Angela said...

Oooh our daffodils in NW GA are not blooming yet- this girl can't wait! I had to laugh at your tactics in keeping John from eating out out of the checking account. He sounds so like my husband. Ken always thinks I can come up with money which is a compliment in that he says "But you always do such a good job managing the funds." Happy Birthday to you and to John! I wish I could find enchilada sauce for .79- our best price is Walmart for $1.38 (Kroger is $1.59!). But homemade is still bunches cheaper.I am so sorry about your taxes! That happened to us last year- we owed a net of just over $2000. and yes they charged us a penalty for underpaying! Fingers crossed this year- we increased our with-holdings last year and I have been squirreling away a little as I can. We haven't done ours yet as I am waiting on one statement which NEVER comes until Feb 15- so annoying! You are off to a wonderful start for your savings!

PatsyL said...

I'm sorry to hear about your being fined for making more money than you estimated. I live in Maryland, and I won't pretend to know anything about how things work in Georgia, but I can't believe a couple of days of overtime would cost you so much. It's probably better to estimate high or at least go into the system and update your estimate when necessary. Did you get the form 1095-A from the government to use to file your taxes?
I'm personally pleased with the ACA. My insurance prior to the ACA was getting very expensive. I don't get a subsidy, but the rates are still cheaper than buying insurance outside the exchange. I've always had health insurance through my job, but when I retired at 59 I had no insurance. The ACA was there for me, and I'm thankful for it. I would find living without health insurance too stressful. I'm just not lucky that way.
I enjoy your blog very much. I feel like I know you, even though we've never met.

Kathy said...

Happy belated Birthday! Hope you had a wonderful day!
So sorry about the fine; it surely doesn't seem fair, does it.
Awesome about the savings!
I checked out the food plan chart...Wow! I could be spending $1000/month on food for the 4 of us on the moderate plan. Even under the thrifty plan, I could be spending 167/week since I have 2 teens. Now, I don't feel so bad about my $130ish/week shopping.
Love the picture of your flowers. I love daffodils.
Hope you have a good week.

Erika, "The Make Do Homemaker" said...

Checked out the food cost table. I always thought my 150.00 a week grocery budget for a family of four with two growing kids was so high, but that puts us actually right on the thrifty plan with the government and I have an autistic son that will only eat a bunch of processed foods an live in one of the highest cost of living areas in the country. Wow. Made me feel a bit better about my normal budget anyway *laugh*.

Mable Hastings said...

Years ago I read that if you store your sour cream or yogurt upside down, it will last much, much longer. Something about it shutting out germs better. Well, I started doing that and since then I have never had either of those two products develop mold or any weird color. One time it was six weeks after the sell-by date and the sour cream was still perfect when I peeled back the plastic under the lid. The only warning---once you have opened the container, don't put it upside down unless it is on a plate because sometimes things get watery and leak out. (Actually makes the yogurt more like Greek yogurt in consistency...) But you don't have to put the plate under the container until you've actually opened the container. Hope this helps.

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