Friday, November 15, 2019

Frugal Friday

This is the "my parents are in town" edition. We've been having a lovely time. Here are a few frugal wins:

Saving on things we buy:

  • Used a discounted gift card to buy my mom an iced tea while we were running errands
  • Used a grocery store reward towards items we needed for dinners



Earning money:

  • Sold an item on eBay. It was only worth $5, but it's out of the house, & I used a recycled Amazon mailing envelope to ship it. Double win.
  • Because of my parents flight cancellation, they both earned a $150 flight credit for future travel. I used miles for their original flights, so this was a win. My parents are planning to take our kids to Disneyland, so I told them to keep the credits for that trip. 


Avoiding spending:

  • I took my mom out for her birthday, but we thought about Ubering there & back, but my husband graciously drove us & then picked us up again.
  • I made dinner there first night, and we had a big taco feast with guacamole, empanadas, & ground beef tacos. Yum!
  • My parents flight was cancelled, & they were put on another airline. Their revised flight came in to SFO. We considered having them take an Uber (it's a 90 minute drive in traffic to pick them up, and we weren't sure we could make it happen). We realized M had the electric car, and could therefore carpool. My parents waited a bit at the airport, but we saved the cost of an Uber (likely around $75)
  • Packed a lunch for our flight to Hawaii 
  • Brought our own wine & snacks for our trip

What about you? Any frugal wins this week?

Friday, November 8, 2019

Frugal Friday

It was a pretty typical week for us. It's an extra paycheck month, so I was able to put a large chunk into each of the kids college funds & also make a mortgage payment. I love those months. It feels good, particularly after all of our large expenses.

Saving on things we buy

  • I found ground beef chubs (1 lb) marked down to $.25 at the grocery store. I bought 4 lbs, and also showed another shopper the great deal. I wanted to clear the shelf, but held myself back. :-)
  • I used $5 in grocery store rewards to buy things we needed for dinner, paying just $.99 for four pounds of ground beef + pepperoni. 
  • Used 110,000 United miles to book flights for four to Whistler for the boys February ski trip. We're very excited! I've been saving my United miles for years, so it was great to have a fun way to use them. I was out of pocket about $300 after using the miles (taxes & fees, plus I had to buy about $100 of miles to round up to the full ticket price). I saved about $3,000 by using miles & was able to book while I still have Gold United status, to get premium economy for free. 
  • I stocked up on nearly a year's worth of gift cards for a restaurant the boys like to go to when I travel. It's inexpensive, and there are days when M just can't get dinner together and handle kid pickups & homework. As a result, we ended up with 5 meal vouchers that we can use between now & April.


Earning money

  • I didn't earn any money, but I did sell an item for my sister on eBay, and sent her the money right away.


Avoiding spending

  • I didn't plan well, and was starving when I was grocery shopping over the weekend. I was very tempted to use Starbucks credit to buy a salad. Instead, I came home & cobbled together a lunch out of various fridge leftovers. My carnitas/feta/egg combo was totally fine, although not what I was craving.

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

November Goals

I have a bunch of family planning to do in November, so I need to get going on my goals. I also need to focus more on relaxing (minimal news consumption, more meditating & journaling, reducing evening electronics.)

Here are my October goals:

1) Financial

  • Stick to the budget
  • Finalize tax update
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Make $300 in side hustle
  • Sell five items
  • Use up 5 freezer items
  • Use up 5 irregular pantry/fridge
  • Revise our 2020 budget
2) Family - spend more time together
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening
  • Two dates with M
  • Continue with Sam's plan at school/with doctors.
  • Deep clean the entire house
  • Finish door project & budget/plan for trim
  • Finalize February ski week plans
  • Get the boys passports
  • Get Sam's paperwork for major school trip finished
  • Finish at least 1/2 of my Christmas shopping/planning
  • Figure out plan for boys for Thanksgiving break
3) Fitness/health - lose 4 lbs
  • Run 8 times
  • Track calories (1400/day) & eat 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day
  • Work out 30 times
  • Meditate 10 times
4) Personal/creative
  • Do two social things
  • Volunteer a minimum of 1x
  • Journal 15 times
  • Read one non-fiction book
What about you? What are your goals for November?

Monday, November 4, 2019

October goal recap

The month is over, and a lot happened. Here's how I did on my October goals.

1) Financial:


  • Stick to the budget. - This was a super expensive month, with many yearly expenses coming due. We paid 1/2 of our property tax for our primary residence, as well as property tax & yearly  homeowners for our vacation house. We also bought Sam a new bike (hope to be reimbursed by the drivers insurance for at least some of the cost). The new bike doesn't fit on our bike rack, so we had to also get a new bike rack. We are going to Hawaii unexpectedly (M's work won a trip, and I was able to find inexpensive flights, so we'll go in a few weeks). Suffice it to say, we were not at our budget. 
  • Come up with a way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. Nothing here. 
  • Make $100 in side hustle - I made $460. Woohoo! 
  • Sell five items: I actually sold four (3 for me, one for my sister). 
  • Use up 5 freezer items from our house - yes!
    • 2 bags of burger patties
    • 1 package of spicy sausage
    • 1 bag of grilled chicken
    • 1 container of pizza dough
  • Use up 5 irregular pantry/fridge items - yes
    • Pistachios for nut butter
    • Sunflower seeds (on salads)
    • Finished 2 1/2 empty juice jugs
    • Used a small sunflower butter container in protein balls
    • Finished a container of tomato soup (gifted), that had been in the pantry for a while
  • Build plan for moving to part time - nope. I was promoted, and my agreement was to give it a bit of time after the promotion before I decide what I want next. The promotion gives me a ton of flexibility should I decide I want to switch companies, or if I want to have another "major career" job. At this point, that seems unlikely, but I now have a lot of options. 
2) Family - spend more time together as a family
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids - I can't swear that we made this happen as a family, but for most of September & October, I was getting out for nightly walks with one kid at a time, which was awesome. Now it's too dark. 
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening. - The current news & politics is really unhealthy for me to read before bed, and I've had a few late nights with work. I always regret that, because I can't sleep. 
  • Have two date nights with M - Yes! We had one earlier in October, and one unexpected date on Halloween. 
  • Continue with Sam's plan, meet with school, attend various appointments. - Yes, this happened & we continue to work with his school & doctor on his plan. 
  • Deep clean the entire house. - No We are still waiting for three remaining doors. 
  • Finish door project, and budget/plan for trim. - Oh, what a saga. It's been six months & we are still waiting for three doors. Lowes has been an absolute disaster to work with. 
3) Fitness/health - lose 4 lbs.
  • Run 6 times - I didn't run at all
  • Track calories (1400/day) & 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day - Yes to the fruit & veggies, but my calories were 1591/day, which is why I made no progress in October. 
  • Work out 30 times - YES! I did 31 workouts!
  • Meditate 10 times - 0 meditations. My app subscription had a problem, and it took me some time to sort it out. I'm back & ready for November.

4) Personal/creative.
  • Do two social things - I drove with friends to Yosemite, which was quite fun & lots of good chit chat. I also joined a workout group, which is pretty social. 
  • Volunteer - Still no good options that have worked with my schedule
  • Journal 15 times - I journaled 7 times. 
  • Read a non-fiction book - nope



All in all, it was a month with two business trips & a lot of chaos (perf season at work, my promotion, Sam getting hit by a car)... I'm not surprised to see the sea of red. :-) Lots of areas of improvement for November. What about you? How did you do with your October goals?

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Menu planning, & other Sunday things

Today is a day where I had the opportunity to sleep in, but sadly have been up since 3, as my back was hurting. I struggle with my lower back really hurting me when I sleep at night. My body needs more sleep, so hopefully I will get a chance to nap and get to bed early tonight.

I got a few chores done around the house yesterday, went for a run (so hard, after time off) & took the kids to a soccer game. They tied the best team in our league, unexpectedly, so it was a great game to watch.

I'm also doing menu planning, as my parents arrive on Friday. Here's what's on our menu for the upcoming week or so:

  • Friday - we had fridge leftovers. It was thrilling ;-)
  • Saturday - M made steak & brussel sprouts. We bought a pack at Costco, and the kids ate so much steak that M & I had to share one. Wow. Guess they are really teens now!
  • Sunday - I'm making pizza. We have a cauliflower crust for the adults, and Nick made pizza dough for the boys.
  • Monday - it was supposed to be leftover steak, but that ship has sailed. ;-) We will be having sausages/hot dogs with soup. The boys will have a carb of some kind with that. 
  • Tuesday - leftover pizza
  • Wednesday - spaghetti (zoodles) & meatballs
  • Thursday - oven baked chicken & cauliflower rice
  • Friday - my parents arrive, so we will have tacos, guacamole, empanadas & chips
  • Saturday - my mom & I are going to dinner to celebrate her birthday. M will make grilled chicken & serve it with gnocchi I bought at Costco last week.
  • Sunday - M will make kebabs & rice
I have a ton of paperwork/planning kind of chores for today. Here's what's in store:

  1. Work out
  2. Yoga. I'm hoping it will help my back
  3. Plan Thanksgiving menu
  4. Clean house
  5. Laundry
  6. Take Sam to soccer game
  7. Have boys review all homework
  8. Find Sam's health form for field trip
  9. Review work calendar, make updates
  10. Email nanny with schedule for the week
  11. Draft plan of ski week trip
  12. Call & book hotel for January work trip
  13. Finalize Hawaii trip plan
  14. Clean the spare room for my parents visit
  15. Wrap gifts & make a card for my mom
That's it for us. What about you? What's on your agenda for today?

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Frugal Friday, on Saturday

It was a very busy week, with finalizing performance reviews at work, and many, many meetings. Last week I had more than 35 hours of meetings. Getting actual work done was shoe horned in between, and personally, I'm terrible at context switching like that. My work is hard enough that I need time to think, process & reflect, which isn't possible in the 30 minutes available between meetings. This week appears to be a lighter week, hurrah.

As a result, I'm behind. Here are a few frugal wins we had.


Saving on things we buy

  • I was able to use drug store rewards to pick up a few things we needed to bring to a kid soccer party
  • I used Walgreens rewards that were about to expire to buy two body washes. 


Earning money

  • I sold a necklace on eBay & a few items on ThredUp
  • I was promoted at work, which meant a 6.3% raise, additional qualifications for a bigger bonus, and additional stock in upcoming months/years. This was a big career milestone, so it was nice to be recognized for the effort.


Avoiding spending

  • M replaced the brakes on one of our vehicles. We saved a few thousand dollars after factoring in the parts

In splurge news, both of the kids had Halloween parties to attend, so M & I were left to our own devices on Halloween for the first time in 15+ years. We sat at a restaurant, had martinis & shared a couple of entrees & laughed. It was fabulous. Work is crazy & stressful for both of us, so taking the time out is so important. The place we went is never cheap, but is close & high quality, so we mostly end up there.

We also are at a turning point with our nanny. She needs more hours, & our needs are so very sporadic due to ever changing kids sports & activities schedules. I completely understand her need for more consistent hours (and, more than double what we need), but she will likely find a new job soon. It will be fine most weeks, as our hours are very limited now. But, when I'm traveling, things will get really hair. I need to give more thought to that.

And with that, I'm off to try & get in a run. I haven't run in a month & I've missed it! Hope you all have a fabulous Saturday!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Menu planning & other boring things

Sam is largely recovered from the accident. I'm still. . . struggling. We have heard from the witnesses how close it was, and I'm having a hard time moving on & have been super emotional. I went to bed at 7:30 last night & slept until 6, so I also have needed more rest & recovery. My plan is to take it easy this weekend, & hope to be feeling better next week.

Doing mundane things like planning the menu, cleaning the fridge & taking the boys to soccer is useful. It's distracting, but not stressful. Nick's team had a good game this morning, with a 4-2 win. The field was wet, so there was a lot of slipping & sliding.

We had some food waste while I was out of town (drat, I try to ensure everything is ready for the freezer), but nothing big. I really need to prep & cook some meals for the week, and make a Costco list, so here goes:

Friday - M & I had a cauliflower riced "Stuffing" from Trader Joes that was really good, but needed some doctoring to spice it up. We served that with grilled chicken (freezer). The  kids had leftover pizza. I couldn't handle meal prep on Thursday, and Sam got to choose the meal. Deliver pizza is not cheap, but the kids are enjoying the leftovers.
Saturday -tomato soup & breaded chicken w/caprese salad
Sunday - salmon & grilled chicken sausages, w/brussels sprouts
Monday - carnitas (freezer)
Tuesday - leftover salmon & grilled chicken sausages
Wednesday - leftover carnitas
Thursday - eat up remaining leftovers, or backup meal of spaghetti & meatballs/zoodles
Friday -  homemade pizza

That's it on our side. What are you making for dinner this week? Looking for inspiration!

Friday, October 25, 2019

So very grateful

I was at Yosemite yesterday at a work event when I got a text from M that Sam had been hit by a car on his way to school. A driver ran a red light & hit him in the crosswalk, while he was on his bike. Luckily, the driver hit on the front of his bike, & he fell & has bumps & scrapes. It was inches/seconds away from him being under the truck.

I have a lot of other feelings/emotions, particularly about how the driver behaved (attempted to leave the scene, repeatedly screamed at Sam, called him (and the other witnesses) a liar, tried to get Sam to talk to her insurance company to admit fault, etc), but instead I will focus on the witness who spent 90 minutes of his morning with Sam, shielding him from this person, getting a hold of my husband, calling the police, and being Sam's advocate. He also followed up yesterday to check on him. Super, super grateful that we had someone to help us out.

All of the feelings. So incredibly grateful that Sam is okay. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

It definitely feels like fall

It's much chillier during the day, and in the evening, and you actually need a jacket to be out in the evenings. Although I love the spring & slightly warmer weather, this is nice too.

What are we up to this weekend? Well, quite a bit on the list, as usual. We had contractors in our house working on a door installation, so there's a lot of cleaning up to do, after that.


  1. Take the boys to two soccer games
  2. Vacuum
  3. Dust
  4. Clean bathrooms
  5. Clean kitchen
  6. Make menu
  7. Plan for next week - work
  8. Plan for next week - nanny
  9. Carpools for next week
  10. Pack for work trip
  11. Pick up the house (boys)
  12. Pay property taxes
  13. Pay insurance
  14. Work on audit (a story for another day, but the IRS changed the tax law on mortgage deduction limits after we filed our taxes, and while we filled out the correct information with Turbo Tax, the software wasn't updated yet with the correct info. We found out when the IRS notified us. We need to refile both state & federal taxes, as well as pay $$$$$. It was a very special treat when we found out about this "surprise."
  15. Decide on dinner. Nick will likely be at a sleepover, & is a very picky eater. I will likely either make something fun with Sam (chicken pad thai), or order takeout, depending on the rest of the day. Sam & I had a very rough day (story for another time) yesterday, so this would be fun.
It's going to be a super full day. What about you? What's happening this weekend?

Friday, October 18, 2019

Frugal Friday

It was a relatively quiet & standard frugal week. No major wins on our side.

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $1 rebate at the grocery store
  • Used Rite Aid rewards to pick up some personal care items we needed - saved about $9. I also earned another $2 in rewards for the purchase.
  • Bought $100 Netflix gift card, which generated a $20 Rite Aid reward. Netflix is definitely a splurge, but we don't have cable & it's our streaming option. We decided to keep this for the year, and will apply the gift card to our account, thus avoiding getting billed. So, saving 20% off the subscription cost.
  • Made my own coleslaw mix, using two large cabbages I bought at the produce stand for $5
  • Chased Lowe's for compensation/discount on our ongoing door fiasco. I'm in touch with a supervisor, so we'll see where we end up. 


Earning money

  • Earned a final $3 on my online consumer focus group.


Avoiding spending

  • I cooked two big meals on Sunday, to give us this option in order to reduce desire to eat out. Because we had a few crazy/late nights, this helped a lot. 

How did you do? Any big wins to share?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Menu plan Monday


It's Monday, and that means planning our menu so we don't end up eating out, eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (okay, maybe just me), or getting takeout. Here's what we have planned this week:


Friday - boys had pizza, we had burgers (freezer) & coleslaw
Saturday - date night!
Sunday  - egg roll in a bowl
Monday - chicken curry (make ahead on Sunday) over cauliflower rice
Tuesday - leftover egg roll in a bowl
Wednesday - leftover curry
Thursday - Finish off the leftovers, or zoodles & meatballs if we run out
Friday - TBD, but something easy as we have an appointment for the boys after school

That's it for us. What's your plan this week? Anyone trying new recipes? I'm updating my curry recipe to try & make it more low carb friendly - swapping potatoes for cauliflower. I'll report back.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

And, it's Saturday

I was supposed to be on a girls trip this weekend, but due to a variety of work dramas, that just didn't happen. I'm very disappointed, because spending time with my sister & friend is always awesome. But, I'm determined to make the most of the weekend anyway.

Here's what's on the agenda:


  • Work. I actually have some work to do this weekend, & got a bunch of it done this morning, which is a relief. 
  • Work out. My plan is to go for a walk at soccer warm ups.
  • Soccer. We have three games. They are back to back, with Sam playing in the 1st & 3rd & Nick playing in the 1st & 2nd. They are both playing for their own teams, plus one age group up. I need to sort out a lunch plan, because we will be at the field from 10 am to 3:30 or so. 
  • Date night! M & I are actually have a date. It serendipitously worked out so well, and we definitely need the time together. I'm really looking forward to it.
  • Menu plan
  • Grocery shopping. M will likely do this while I am at soccer
  • House cleaning. Split between today & tomorrow.
I think that's it for us. What about you? What do you hope to get done today? 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Frugal Friday

It was a tiring week, with the jet lag. But, there were a few frugal wins along the way. Here's what we've been up to this week.

Saving on things we buy

  • I bought $300 of Uber credit at our local grocery store, earning $60 in store credits. I use Uber for mostly work trips to the airport (each trip is around $50/per segment) & get reimbursed for work.
  • Emailed the grocery store (above) because $30 of the credits didn't correctly apply. Got that fixed & applied back to my card. Honestly, you have to be so on top of these things. I did provide feedback that a 50% success rate on the promotion wasn't exactly inspiring, and they apologized. Hopefully they'll fix whatever is broken for future promos.


Earning money

  • Sold an item on eBay
  • Completed another task in my consumer focus group. I can cash out every $15. I have earned a total of $45 (cashed out) & another $3 towards the next cash out.


Avoiding purchasing/spending

  • We got home from soccer at 8 pm on Saturday night & were very tempted to stop at In & Out. Luckily, I'd done all of the dinner prep ahead, so we came home & quickly got food on the table for everyone 
  • Nick & I walked to the produce stand to get groceries vs driving, saving on wear & tear on the car or gas purchase
  • Ate all planned meals at home, no dining out. 
In frugal fails, I did have to toss some pizza of unknown origin from the fridge, as my husband tends to forget to use all of the leftovers when I'm traveling. I hate food waste, but I'm sure we'll all survive just fine.

What about you? What frugal wins did you have this week?