Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Weekly spending roundup (10/17/16-10/23/16)

Join me on my weekly (mostly) look back at our expenses. It was an expensive week, as we celebrated our wedding anniversary, and were traveling for a soccer tournament. The next few weeks contain more of the same & will include Christmas purchases, so we need to continue with our frugal efforts wherever possible.

  • Monday - 10/17
    • $32- Halloween costume/supplies 
    • $21.15 - Amazon car stuff (no idea, order from M) 
  • Tuesday - 10/18 - No spend day
  • Wednesday - 10/19 - No spend day
  • Thursday - 10/20
    • $107.66 - Prime membership renewal
  • Friday - 10/21
    • $95 - School was closed, camp for the kids
    • $31.05 - toiletry stock up + anniversary card at Rite Aid. Used $16 of coupons, so ended up with a pretty good deal
  • Saturday - 10/22
    • $7.99 - ziplock baggies
    • $7.66 - produce stand (lavosh bread, 3 large cucumbers, 3.5 lbs mini cucumbers, 3 bunches of radishes, one squash)
    • $125.09 - Costco, groceries
    • $98.99 - beer/wine at Costco. Stocking up for the family coming to town
    • $140.28 - dinner out for 4 to celebrate our anniversary
  • Sunday - 10/23
    • $13.95 - allowance + small reward for the kids
    • $15.11 - antifreeze
    • $27.80 - gas (long car trip for a soccer tournament)
Total spent for the week = $723.73. How did you do with your spending this week? 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Menu plan & a crazy soccer day

We survived our trip to Fresno for a soccer game today (we lost, 2-3, but it was a great battle!) & M still has Sam at another game. He dropped me off on our way, so I could get dinner ready, throw together a menu, and get sorted out for the week.

Menu Plan:
Saturday - out, for our anniversary dinner
Sunday - Costco pizza (freezer), as we will be getting back super late from soccer
Monday - clam chowder & salad
Tuesday -  Fish & rice
Wednesday - my parents are arriving. Maybe chicken pesto pasta + goat cheese crostini
Thursday - out to dinner to celebrate my mom's birthday. Sam has been very interested in taking my parents to an Indonesian restaurant near us. We'll see how everyone likes that. ;-)
Friday -  we will be on our weekend getaway, so somewhere out
Saturday - same as Friday
Sunday - ? Maybe chicken rice pilaf or risotto

Oh, and I got up at 5:30 (on a Sunday, no less) to pack a lunch to take, so we wouldn't have to buy anything while we were traveling. Unfortunately, we were out of ice (someone forgot to close the freezer the last 1/2" or so). All of the food was fine, but the ice trays (in the front) were liquid. Which means, we had enough cold water to survived the game, but it was 85 in Fresno & the boys were dying for cold drinks after their game. I used my Starbucks gift card (2x in a weekend!) & treated them to passion iced tea, water, a chocolate chip cookie & a bathroom stop. Zero out of pocket.

I'm also feeling super neighborly after my weekend. I picked persimmons & gave away 6 batches to grateful neighbors. One traded me for 6 gorgeous apples from their yard. I also biked to a friend's house to drop off another batch of persimmons. Persimmons are fabulous, but once they ripen, we have 250-300+ at a time. And, if I don't get to them, the squirrels will. The squirrels knock them onto the pathways, where they splatter & make a giant sticky mess. Giving them away before the squirrels get to them is good for everyone. Well, except for the squirrels. :-) Trading or just giving away your produce is the best high. I love it!

I also picked our recently ripened oranges & dropped off a huge batch at another friend's house, and made amazing fruit smoothies using freshly ripened oranges off of our tree. If only the cost of living wasn't so high, and my family didn't live so far away. . . California definitely has its pluses. :-)

If the squirrels leave me any avocados this year, it will be epic.

In other fun news, my mom & dad are checking a bag on their way home (it's free with their credit card) & taking all of my unused toiletries back to a disabled aunt that I have. I've been trying to figure out how to use it up before we move, and this is a perfect solution. My mom will help my aunt (it's her sister) & then donate the rest to the homeless shelter where they volunteer. I feel SO GOOD about this. I've felt really wasteful for the things I've bought & can't use, and it's so nice to know that it will go to people who can use it.

And, that's it for us! Super excited for our weekend away. Much less excited about the work week ahead. ;-) More details about our fun weekend & how we blend splurge & frugal coming up!

Tell me one great thing about your weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A few frugal things, and splurges too

This is a collection of things that have happened over the past couple of weeks.

  • Sold books the kids are done with - $10 on FB group
  • Made pinto beans for taco meat (from dry - never repeating that again. Such a process ;-))
  • Fed the kids an early lunch to avoid eating out after soccer last weekend
  • Bought 2x$.49 containers of tomatoes. Probably 10 in total. It was so cheap that I had to! Next up - making some sort of fresh tomato sauce with them.
  • Received $2K credit for getting downgraded from flights (used free upgrades) on our way back from Hawaii. Paid $1700 total for the flights, and still getting to fly 1st class on the way there. Flights are now "free", as we can spend the $2K on future flights. ;-) Covered in more detail in a separate post. 
  • Made M an anniversary present vs. buying something. He loved it! I did spend $6 on a card that I really liked, but I'll still call that a win.
  • Picking persimmons in our yard & offering them to a neighbor, who wants to trade for apples. Win/win!
I did treat myself yesterday, in celebration of hitting the two milestones. I went to Starbucks & had a venti passion tea & a breakfast sandwich. I had enough points to cover the sandwich, and used a gift card (gift from Christmas) to cover the tea. Splurges! That said, I used to go to Starbucks all the time, and it never felt like a treat. Now that I never go, it definitely feels like a fun reward.

Also, M bought me cupcakes as my anniversary present. Yum. The famous Sprinkles cupcakes were delicious & thoughtful, but too big, even for a sweet eater like myself. 

We kept our anniversary (today!) very casual, and we are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate with the boys. It will be expensive, but we will bring our own bottle of wine, in a nod to frugality. Next weekend we will celebrate with a little weekend getaway. Can't wait!

And with that, I'm off to get my day started - a hike with the boys, an early lunch, laundry, soccer, persimmon picking, and house cleaning. It's a glam life here. ;-) 

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Friday, October 21, 2016

A few milestones achieved, and TGIF

So very happy it's Friday. I've had more lupus related aches & pains this week, and I'm looking forward to working from home today. The boys don't have school, so I'm taking them to a sports camp. Hopefully it will wear them out. ;-)

We have a long, soccer filled weekend (shocking ;-)), and it's our 11th anniversary on Saturday! We're going to dinner with the boys, and then next weekend will have our two night getaway. Can't wait.

Do you ever feel like you aren't making any progress, and then you step back to actually measure the results & you realize you're doing better than you thought? It's very much a marathon, and I want to see quick progress that isn't happening. ;-) But, I AM actually making progress, despite how it can feel. Now, on to the milestones.

Milestone One:

I've had a goal of paying $100,000 off of our mortgage on our vacation house, & achieved that goal yesterday. Woohoo! This has been a long slog to pay off that much, of course. It wasn't in one shot, sadly. :-) We don't actually aggressively pay this off (it's at a 3.5% interest rate), but I still like to see the balance go down. We've owned the house for seven years, as context. Remaining on the loan is $232,004. My next goal is to get below $200,000. I like having these smaller milestones along the way. See above with the marathon. ;-)

Milestone Two:

I've achieved my savings goal for leaving my job! I am pretty shocked that I achieved this well before January, when I'm expecting a large cash bonus. This is great news, as I can divert my bonus towards maxing my 401K (already the plan), saving for 2016 taxes owed, and then either make additional payments towards our mortgage, or save additional cash. I flip back & forth between the latter two. I currently have around 5 years of expenses saved (my part of the household expenses - my budgeting assumes M will continue to pay the expenses his paycheck covers), so I'm leaning towards continuing the mortgage pay down. As far as my work plans, I'm trying to decide between leaving in January or March. Right now, it looks like staying until March will yield and extra $20K, so probably worth it. The dates are also dependent upon our relocation plans (more on that in another post), so I'll adjust as we go along.

HAPPY FRIDAY! So happy with both of these milestones. And, for you, what's a milestone that you've recently achieved? Brag so we can all celebrate with you. :-) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I've learned in 5 years of blogging

Yesterday was my 5 year anniversary of this blog. I truly can't believe it. Writing this blog gives me a great outlet for discussing my finances, my goals & getting feedback from others.

I've learned so much over the past five years, and enjoy nothing more than finding a new blogger & reading their journey end to end. There are so many amazing stories out there, and I love reading the tips & tricks everyone else uses for frugal fun, cost savings, meal planning, etc.

So, what have I learned exactly?

  1. I've realized that my current job/career is costing me a lot, even though it pays well. This has been part of a larger realization that earning a bunch of money isn't the end goal in my life. It's enjoyment, having enough money to take care of my family, but not working so hard I don't get to enjoy it. This has been a *journey* rather than a wake up & understand it moment. ;-) More details on this in the future, but this is something I've wrestled with for quite some time now.
  2. I previously thought I was reasonably frugal & I definitely wasn't! What an eye opener once I started tracking my spending. 
  3. I'm highly motivated by goals, tracking & measuring progress. My favorite time of the year is the end of December/beginning of January. I get so excited to track my progress for the year & set new goals!
  4. I still love to travel -  our budget has always reflected this.
  5. We've grown our net worth from $680K (October, 2011) to $2.35M (today). This has been the result of many changes, but the highlights would be: paying off all debt (minus the mortgages). We didn't have much to start with, but had taken a loan from our 401K to refinance into a smaller mortgage. It's also due to many, many smaller changes. Additional principle payments, reducing our expenses, and focusing on the big picture. It's also fair to say that our income has grown pretty drastically in the past few years. But, with that has come much higher housing expenses. 
  6. During the five years, I've had quite a journey with my health. I started running, fell in love with running, started doing distance events (half marathons), & then found out I had lupus. I'm still adjusting to life with a lot less energy. I weigh 6 pounds more than I did 5 years ago.
  7. The kids are growing up too quickly. Looking back on the pictures, I can't believe how fast it's gone. I really need to do a better job of stopping to enjoy along the way. 
And, perhaps most importantly for myself. . . I want so much less. Well, actually a want a lot. I want time to relax & enjoy my life, time with my boys, my husband & my friends & family. But, my desire for material items has dropped tremendously. It used to be a hardship & a sacrifice not to shop on the weekend & treat myself to a new top or a pedicure, or drinks out with friends. Now I look at all of those decisions as opportunities to reduce the time I need to stay at my employer. We still have a lot of fun, spend plenty of money on splurges, but it no longer feels like a sacrifice to cut back our spending. 

I can't wait to see what the next five years hold! Thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekly spending wrap up - 10/10-10/16

Tracking my spending helps me understand where our money goes, and generally keeps us aware of things we can do differently going forward. (Not that we always take our own advice ;-)). M & I don't always share the same financial philosophy, but we are striving towards marital harmony, people! It was an expensive week as we start to add in things like Christmas gifts. Here's what we spent last week:

Monday - 10/10 - No spend day
Tuesday - 10/11 No spend day
Wednesday - 10/12 No spend day
Thursday - 10/13:

  • $465 for the nanny (last two weeks worth of childcare)
  • $34.61 - dinner out at Sweet Tomatoes, after a crazy late work day. 
  • $21 - gift for a kids birthday party
  • $54.29 - car wash stuff & flossers from Amazon
  • $369.99 - suitcases for M & Nick
  • $89.99 - an iPod for Sam (Christmas gift)

Friday - 10/14 No spend day
Saturday - 10/15:

  • $130.95 - groceries at Costco
  • $2.39 - salsa at Lucky
  • $8.95 - produce stand. Included 3 giant cucumbers, a bag of mini peppers, wheat lavosh bread, and 3 lbs of mini cucumbers.
  • $76.82 - some sort of fancy whiskey
  • $30.40 - Halloween costume for Nick + our contribution to the Halloween class party goodie bags

Sunday - 10/16

  • $54.70 gas
  • $23.27 - lunch for M & Sam. We were at Nick's soccer game in an absolute downpour. I think the two of them just wanted somewhere warm & dry to wait it out. ;-) 
  • $113.88 - back to Costco for other things we needed. M made the 2nd trip. ;-)
  • $50 - Nike gift card. I earned $8 of Rite Aid credit, and we typically buy the boys shoes at the Nike outlet after Christmas in Oregon. No tax!
  • $5.99 - new windshield wipers from Costco
Total spent = $1532.23. That's it for us. How did you do with your weekly spending? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Menu plan Sunday

I  made an amazing (and, complicated) Persian dish last night & it turned out very well. It's one of M's favorites & given my track record with Persian recipes in the past, I'm very pleased. ;-) I'll definitely be checking out her site for more recipes. Yum! Also, if you end up making, you must serve it with a yogurt/cucumber/dill sauce. The recipe didn't mention it, but you need the contrast for the main course.

Anyway, we are entering into the week with some leftovers, so here's what's on the menu:

Sunday - individual naan pizzas
Monday - leftover lubia polo (recipe from yesterday)
Tuesday - chicken risotto (leftover)
Wednesday - needs to be something quick, as I have parent meeting at the school. I think we'll still have leftover lubia polo. I cut the recipe in half & it made a TON!
Thursday - tacos (meat & spicy beans from the freezer) with chips & guacamole
Friday - chicken with stuffing

Other than that, it's a normal day of chores, soccer (in the rain) & getting things done before the week begins again. Any good recipes to recommend? I'm in a bit of a rut.