Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17, 2017

17/17! Kind of a fun date--an easy one to remember, anyway.

I was sincerely hoping that today would be another no-spend day--and it could have been. However, I'm drawing my own line when we have two inches of milk, no cheddar cheese, one green pepper (and no fruit) to feed UFF Son. Not sure how much the tally will be, but probably around $20 at our spendier, closer grocery store (darn it).

Baking cinnamon muffins for snacking. Very little is easier than muffins. Three minutes of mixing, and I throw them in the oven. I use whole wheat pastry flour, and add powdered milk for extra calcium.

Today is a tired kind of day. I skipped yoga to come home early and enjoy the quiet house while UFF Dad is at a meeting. We have already started our next Agatha Christie novel, and I'm looking forward to reading tonight when he gets home.

Predicted tally today: $20

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

Today I had a visit from a friend thinking about moving to my city. We spent a few hours driving around in her car, looking at different areas and talking about what makes a good neighborhood. I must say that I am exceptionally lucky in my current spot. It's central enough that it's possible to easily get around by bike, and there's a small commercial node just a few blocks away and a larger one about a mile away. It's also possible to get to urban hiking trails on foot within a half hour walk, and be fully in the forest on the edge of town. I like that it's a mixture of housing types and prices, retirees and families with young kids and working people. Most of all, I'm grateful for my neighbors, the ones who have become close friends, the ones I'd like to get to know better, and the one who is like family (and wait! the one who IS family!).

Rather than meeting my out of town friend at a coffee shop, I made coffee and whole-wheat apple spice muffins and we met at my house to plan our outing. She offered to take me out to lunch afterwards, but instead we shared some delicious split pea and ham soup with toast and butter. Frugality maintained and new friendship strengthened.

After she left, I finished knitting a baby sweater as a shower present, then made a hat to match, while UFF Dad read an Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery out loud. I'm a lucky woman.

However…frugal fail! We were invited over to one of the close friend neighbors for wine in the evening. Since these generous friends host us often, it felt necessary to take some treats. UFF Dad went out and bought a bottle of (inexpensive) wine and some good chocolate to share at our corner natural food store (can you believe we have one of these? Very, very, lucky). I think that was reasonable. However, we ended up drinking their (already opened, better) wine and leaving the bottle we brought with them, which I feel a little guilty about...

Money spent: $9 (wine and chocolate)

How about you??

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 2017

Thinking today about eating "ALL the things" and then shopping weekly.

Inspired by browsing past Frugalwoods food articles (and sadly, my increasing weight), I have a new plan. After we finish the food in the house we will put it into action.

Breakfast: Oatmeal.

Lunch: Rice, lentils and greens for UFF Dad and I, sandwich and fruit for UFF Son.

Snacks: Fruit for me, Muffins and nuts for UFF Son, ?? for UFF Dad

Dinner: A salad, raw veggies, or veggie soup; a protein, and whole wheat pasta or bread.

Dessert: yogurt (we buy a gallon container of nonfat, locally made plain yogurt and add jam or brown sugar to it)

Tonight: leftover enchilada casserole. Making muffins.

Money spent today: $0

What's your meal plan??

Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14, 2017

I'm all fired up!

I stayed up late (way too late) last night reading the archives of The Frugalwoods, and got inspired.

Really inspired.

I didn't think I had a highly specific goal to motivate Uber Frugality, like they did--moving to the woods to hike and raise their baby--and had hesitated to sit down and really think through my frugal goals. When I try to think about my ideal living situation, a big question mark always arises. I do love the woods. I also love living where I can walk everywhere. I've always wanted to travel more, to live in different places, to speak many languages, experience many things. I just don't know, and that can feel paralyzing--it's often easier to motivate all one's energy and forces towards something concrete and highly specific.

Luckily, UFF Dog woke me up early this morning asking to go out, and I wanted to PLAN more than I wanted to go back to sleep. I made a pot of French press coffee (and drank it all, so no going back to sleep now…) and sat down at the kitchen table with my trusty, coffee-stained Home notebook, the one where I make lists of groceries, chores, bills, and goals. I was surprised to find that although I don't know my ideal living situation geographically, I do know my ideal living situation temporally.

I want flexibility and freedom for the pursuit of all kinds of goals. Creative projects, family time, meaningful work, close relationships, exploring nature, social causes, practical skills, intellectual and personal  and spiritual growth. ALL of that. And the constraints of an 8-5, Monday-Friday job (despite its' many benefits and blessings) make that very difficult.

At this point, and in this phase of life (helping one son through college with another heading there soon, UFF Dad working hard at building his self-employed lifelong dream business), I think that striving for savings is concrete enough for me to get excited about embracing my inner Frugal Weirdo and taking my game up a couple of notches. In 5 years, with both boys likely through undergraduate, more will become clear (perhaps). Maybe we will move to France (UFF Dad's native country).  Maybe we will move to the woods (though I think this is not likely). Maybe we will stay right here and I will no longer be employed full-time. Maybe we'll join the Peace Corps. Who knows!

But for now, I want to employ my creativity and channel my future-oriented passion into creating options for ourselves. And to do this, UFF Dad and I need to get on the same page and synchronize our goals. Last night we planned a frugal date today--he won a $10 coffee gift card at his business networking group--so later today we will sit down and hopefully talk about all this, as well as our  rather divergent investing strategies.

My new goal is to save and invest 50% of our combined income--my gross and UFF Dad's net. Of course, I hope this will go up later, but with helping our son in college to the tune of around $11,000 per year, this will already be a stretch.

I know that UFF Dad's current goal is to have an office space (outside of our third bedroom) where he can actually bring clients. It just isn't practical to meet them in coffee shops all over town, as he has to run around a lot, racking up miles and toting things with him. It's also not practical, or professional, to bring them trekking through our (rarely pristine) family home. We've talked about various options, from his renting a solo or shared space, to building a work studio on our largish city lot.

UFF Dad is already quite frugal, and very supportive. I think that together we can do this--and he will be much more on board if we are working as a team to achieve both our goals.

Money spent today: $0

Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13, 2017

TGIF! Friday used to be "Pizza Night" for our family--for years actually, when both boys were at home. It's not a regular occurrence anymore--and isn't planned for tonight. But I may make it for my older son's farewell "Lunner" tomorrow before he heads back to college.

UFF Dad bought cheddar cheese today, so enchilada casserole is on the menu. I noticed that a sizable chunk of it is already gone. Those big kids sure do eat a lot!

Somebody turned the thermostat back up to 68 last night--and I know it wasn't UFF Dad, since he went to bed early with a cold. I took that as a sign that I'd gone as low as I could go. Turned it back to 66…we'll see if it holds!

Money spent today: $6.99 for cheddar cheese.

UFF Dad also just came home with "treats" for everyone--graham crackers, ground beef for me, UFF Mom (the lone omnivore in a family of vegetarians)--and something rattley that sounds like bulk M & Ms. When I asked him for the receipt, he said "Nope--it's my non-frugal gift!"

What do you think? Should I include it in the daily spending?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

Hello! Day 12 of the Uber Frugal Month over here. Almost halfway through the month, and doing pretty well. We're still eating well, relatively warm, clothed, entertained (thank you, library!) getting where we need to go, and enjoying each other's company. No deprivation yet. Though we did run out of cheddar cheese today. For better or for worse (cholesterol), cheddar is a major food group for my boys. Getting more will be priority #1 tomorrow.

My older son is heading back to college on Saturday, which saddens me. It's very nice having him around. Each time he comes home, I'm aware that there may be a time (there *will* be a time) when coming home becomes visiting his folks, because his home is elsewhere. I'm going to miss him a lot. Our food budget will drop dramatically, however (actually just transfer, because this year I 'm sending him $200 per month in grocery money when he's away).

The thermostat is now at 64 degrees. We have a tall, narrow, 1000 square foot home, and the thermostat is monitoring the temperature on the first floor, then heating through gas-fired radiant floor heat using an on-demand hot-water heater. It's efficient, but the heat really doesn't rise above the first floor. The third-floor attic bedroom is pretty darn cold. Last night I went to bed in a wool cap, wool socks, and wool fingerless mitts (all knitted by me)--plus pajamas. Not kidding! It was cold. I fell asleep thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her book The Long Winter, about a 5-month North Dakota winter in which the entire town almost ran out of food and fuel, and feeling ever so slightly wimpish.

Money spent: $175 (for past medical co-pays). Grateful for employer-paid health insurance.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 11 2017

And…the uber-frugal month chugs along!

I actually haven't felt much different from usual, except for a few small things.

  • I have not gone to the artists' material recycling center near my work on breaks, where I can always find some nice yarn that is an enormous bargain at a dollar or two. 
  • I have not purchased any red wine or other alcoholic beverages. 
  • I've turned the thermostat down to 65 degrees.
  • I'm making an effort to walk to work and back every day instead of asking for a ride (which was helped a lot by the icy weather, since UFF Dad preferred not to drive).
  • I've been spending more time thinking about areas to save money, but feeling less stressed about it.
Money spent today: $1.69 for Trader Joe's sunflower seeds

Dinner tonight: Rice and black bean burritos with salsa, spinach, olives, cheddar, and sunflower seeds