Friday, August 17, 2018

Frugal Friday

My parents were in town this week, so it was a unique schedule. Combining that with the first week of school meant a lot of chaos! :-) We did save money in a few ways:

  • I continued to price check our flights, and ended up saving $62 on our flights to Hawaii in November. The money gets added to our Alaska Airlines account, which means it can be used for future travel.
  • I called to drop our car off of our insurance (we gifted one of our cars to my parents, and my dad drove it back with him). The cost of our insurance was still crazy high, so I filled out an updated mileage form, and also noticed they had the wrong drivers assigned to each car. (This matters as I have a slightly better driving record than my husband). After the adjustments, we saved over $800 all told on our car insurance.
  • Between myself & my parents, made all dinners at home. (My parents took the kids to In & Out one day.) 
  • Repurposed most of our school supplies from last year, and have a small list of things that we need to purchase.
  • Filled out a matching gift for our school donations. This doesn't save me any money, but doubles the impact of our donation.
How about you? Any frugal wins for the week? 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Frugal Friday/Saturday

I survived a truly terrible week at work. Can't get into the details for legal reasons, but it was awful. But, it's done & I do expect next week to be a moderate improvement. Here are some of the frugal things we did last week:

  1. No meals out, with one exception. I did buy myself lunch at Starbucks yesterday (using a gift card). I was tempted to order delivery last night, but made myself an egg & called it a day. ;)
  2. Drove electric car all week, with free charging at work.
  3. Sam had oral surgery yesterday, and is still quite swollen. He asked to go to the fancy ice cream shop last night. Rather than doing that, we swung by the store & picked up ice cream, for 1/2 the price. Plus, he'll have more ice cream for today.
  4. Carpooled with another mom to summer camp & soccer practice all week, saving time & money.
  5. We picked M up at the airport last Sunday, vs having him take an Uber.
That's all I can drum up. I'm exhausted from the week, but did have yesterday off to take care of Sam. I did end up helping a coworker here & there, but otherwise, read a book while Sam napped, & then figured out soft food options he could eat. He's so sweet when he's tired. I miss the little boy Sam, now that he's almost 13. :-) 

As for the weekend ahead, here's what's on the agenda:

  1. We have a soccer game today, and one tomorrow
  2. I need to go to Costco & the produce stand
  3. We'll be cleaning the entire house, deeper than usual. My family is arriving on Sunday.
  4. I need to work out, 2x.
  5. We need to get the pool in shape, as everyone will be swimming next week.
  6. I want to continue my meditation. I LOVE it. The meditation is really the only thing that kept me going last week, during all of the crazy. I'm using a guided meditation app (HeadSpace) & can't recommend it enough - especially if you've never tried meditation before.
  7. I need to return a couple of purchases that didn't work out.
  8. Prep the air mattress & wash sheets we ordered.
  9. Menu plan
  10. Figure out schedule for next week
  11. Get the kids to do a practice bike ride to middle school
  12. Check the school supplies to see what we need
And, for the menu plan, here's what I have in mind:

Saturday - Spaghetti & meatballs
Sunday - Naan pizzas
Monday - my parents are cooking. Lasagna. Yum!
Tuesday - my parents are cooking again. Chicken enchiladas!
Wednesday - Leftover lasagna
Thursday - Leftover enchiladas
Friday - We will likely due delivery and/or take my mom out as a thank you for cooking, helping with the kids, and she always insists on deep cleaning the house. She is a gift!

That's it for us. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Menu plan Sunday

It's been a nice weekend. Yesterday we had friends over for lunch & to swim. The kids swam, the moms caught up. It was lovely. We did chores, & then had dinner delivered. A real luxury, but, even with a discount & free delivery, I thought it was really overpriced. Trader Joes does a nice splurge frozen dinner option, with samosas, spring rolls, etc. Next time, we'll just do that.

Today we ran errands (Costco, the product stand, Target & the library) & I'll finish getting everything sorted for the week ahead. I'm enjoying one of the last weekends before soccer season begins again. :-)

One of my chores is the menu plan for the week, so here's what we're planning:

  • Friday - we had tacos
  • Saturday - delivery 
  • Sunday -I'll combine the delivery with a few Trader Joes options to stretch it out
  • Monday - leftover tacos
  • Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs with homemade tomato sauce
  • Wednesday - mushroom ravioli + caprese 
  • Thursday - leftover spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - clean out the fridge, or homemade naan pizzas
I might try to make cookies with elderly bananas today. I've already made muffins, so I'm hoping to try something new. I'll report back if I find any tasty recipes. What about you? What are you serving this week? 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Frugal Friday

I'd like to recount a list of super frugal things we did this week, but it was just a pretty standard list. Here's what we did this week:

  1. Sold the boys Legos for $50 on our local Facebook swap. Should have sold them for more, because I had 9 people try to buy them within 15 minutes. 
  2. Made all dinners at home. (Adults eat weekday breakfasts & lunches at work for free. Kids ate all meals "at home" or packed in their lunch boxes). Avoided any eating out.
  3. I received a ~$80 work reimbursement for a couple of expenses I had in mid-June. Applied that directly to our vacation house mortgage. 
  4. Made homemade hummus for a party we had. 
  5. Picked a few things off of our plants (but, the squirrels have once again ravished most everything.) And, we discovered we have a lime tree on the corner of our property. So excited about that! They are not quite ripe yet, but hopefully soon. I sense margaritas in our future. ;-) 

Here are a few frugal things I hope to accomplish this week:
  1. Avoid eating out, with one exception. I have a coupon for Doordash that would make a delivery meal quite cheap, and promised the kids we could order pizza if they accomplished all of their chores this weekend.
  2. Sell a table
  3. Make another homemade hummus variety (cilantro jalapeno from Trader Joes, which is my all time favorite)
  4. Clean out the fridge & freezer, making a list of what we need to use up
  5. Keep our weekly shopping to $60 this week. We bought a lot going into August, so this should be doable.

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August Goals

August is here! I can't believe how quickly the summer is going, and the kids are going back to school in just a few weeks. Wow! Lightning round of summer fun ahead! You'll see some goals carry over, as I didn't get everything done in July. As usual. ;-)


  • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. We will have guests for a few days, which may push the spending a bit higher than normal, so this will require some planning & effort. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage.
  • Rough out our 2019 budget, 2019 vacation plans, & income projections - this is critical as I try to narrow down work options

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
  • Have a date night with my husband
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend
  • Take the kids to Great America before the passes expire

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Run 12 times, complete 1/2 marathon training plan
  • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. 
  • Successfully complete my relay
  • Work from home 2 days
  • Work on my my "homework" from my coach
  • Start working on options for a revised, part-time role. Investigate options, reach out to my network


  • Make one new recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Again - Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it

What about you? What goals do you have for August? 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July Goals Check In

The month is over (well, we have a few hours left, so make the most of it! :-)), so I'll check in on the goals I set, and the progress I made this month.


  • Keep dining out to $150   $300 - Yes, we were at $180. 
  • Devote an extra $150 of our grocery budget to dining out, as the kids will be out of town, and we are much more likely to have a few extra date nights. - We ended up mostly eating at home, but still managed to go over our grocery bill. Drat. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I've found a hummus recipe for a spicy hummus that we really like from Trader Joes. Haven't tried it yet, but excited to see if we can replace another store bought item with a homemade alternative. I already make plain hummus at home. 
  • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - Crushed it! Made $405. I sold: a sofa, a portable a/c unit, the boys legos & some clothes the kids have grown out of. 
  • Stay on budget for our adult weekend - Yes, done! This was helped by the fact that all of our food & beverages (minus gratuity) was comp'd. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - Yes. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - Multiple date nights, and a long weekend together. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Yes, this month we were talking about insurance. 
  • Survive road trip with the kids, on the way home from our vacation - Oh, my. We survived, but due to a wildfire, the trip was ~6 hours longer than expected, which was pretty miserable. The kids, however, were fabulous. 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - With my half marathon training & relay training, I only finished 15/21 workouts. 
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - closer to 4 servings. 
  • Lose 3 pounds - No, and I've gained back a couple of pounds I lost earlier in the year. Now that the vacations are over, it's time to kick it into high gear!
  • Start training plan for half marathon, and run at least 8 times - Finishing the month with 7 runs. Almost! So happy I'm making progress. 
  • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. A friend had to drop out last minute, as she's taking her daughter to college, so I'm adding an extra leg & need to be really well trained. - Likewise, almost. Finished the month with 3 pace walks. 
  • Work from home 2 days - Done!
  • Fill one of my open roles - Yes, I closed two open roles!
  • Set a new end date, and have "the" conversation with my manager :-) - We had the conversation! More details here. The short story is that I'm planning now on a sabbatical & going part time, if we can find a role that's a good fit. . 


  • Make one new recipe - I haven't tried a new recipe this month, but do have a new hummus recipe lined up. 
  • Spend time with a friend - Yes! Had a friend over for a barbecue. 
  • Volunteer at least 1x - No, I haven't found any options that fit my schedule. 
  • Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it - Ordered it, but didn't pick it up. Must renew order. 

All in all, I'm reasonably happy with our progress for the month. We were on vacation at various intervals, so it wasn't my most consistent month. What about you? How did you do for your July goals? Any big wins?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Budget Sunday

We had a lovely time last night having friends over to swim & then hosted a barbecue. It was great, but I should have planned a few things better. We had way too much food (one person had a last minute conflict), & M asked for last minute drink additions. Because I had to buy at the local grocery store, they were more than twice what I'd pay if I'd planned ahead. C'est la vie. :-) It was a great afternoon/evening.

I'm feeling a bit tired today, so will wait until I've woken up a bit more before deciding on my workout, but here's what I have planned for the rest of the day:

  1. Run (or yoga). The good news is that it's much cooler today, so I can run in the afternoon, time permitting.
  2. Return a shirt I bought to wear to a party (but didn't) to the Gap. 
  3. Sort out Nick's bike pooling to school stuff. It's the first year his group will be biking to/from the middle school, so we are working out safest routes, and the route determines who else will join up.
  4. Call my parents
  5. Make chicken curry
  6. Sort our carpool schedule for next week's camp
  7. Clean the grout in our shower
  8. Make a tomato sauce from leftover tomato from last night + tomatoes I froze right before we left on vacation
  9. And, budget stuff. So much budget stuff!
    1. Recap where we are with our budget for 2018, with the year over 50% complete. Make adjustment as needed
    2. Start thinking about 2019 travel plans, as that will impact our budget
    3. Likewise, start thinking about 2019 house plans, as that will be the biggest budget buster
    4. Getting a firm budget in place will be critical if I take a sabbatical, and/or go to part time, so I really need to get this kicked off.
  10. List one item on eBay. I haven't done eBay in a while, but have something to sell this week. 

What about you? What's on your agenda for today? Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cloudy Saturday

I'm so happy that the weather is a bit cooler today. We haven't needed to run our air conditioning, and we're approaching the break even between solar production & energy consumption, which is fabulous. We installed solar primarily because we knew we wanted to install air conditioning, and the cost of power here is incredible.

As always, we are happy it's the weekend. :-) Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish today:

  1. Make a menu
  2. Go to Costco, the produce stand, & the grocery store
  3. Work out
  4. Take Nick for a practice ride to his middle school. There is no bus service, we are 3 miles away, and it's on busy road. There are bike lanes, but he doesn't have much experience road biking
  5. Return overdue books to the library
  6. Sell our train table
  7. Clean the house
  8. We are having friends over at 4:00 for a barbecue & were supposed to swim. But, probably too cloudy for that today. 
Here's our menu for the week ahead:
  • Friday - I made naan bread pizzas. Adults had pesto & fresh mozzarella, kids had red sauce, cheddar & meatballs
  • Saturday - M is grilling burgers & corn, I'll make a nectarine/mozzarella/basil salad that tastes like summer. For dessert, I'm thinking of ice cream or perhaps strawberry shortcake
  • Sunday - Chicken curry
  • Monday - The plan was for leftover pizzas, but the troops ate too many, so I may have to whip up more
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - leftover curry
  • Thursday - any remaining leftover items, or tacos
  • Friday - TBD
That's it for us today. What are you up to? What's on your menu this week?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Frugal Friday

I'm so happy it's Friday! I was expecting this week to a bit more relaxed than the last few weeks, but it was still pretty crazy. Here are a few frugal things we accomplished.

  • Ate all meals at work (free) or at home. Packed lunches for the kids. This required a real combination of items last night, but we made it work.
  • Sold our portable air conditioning unit for $230 on my work swap site. Now that we have an a/c unit installed, it was good to get this out of the house.
  • The boys are attending soccer camp this week, and it's a lot of soccer & quite hot. They wanted Gatorade to add to their water bottles, so we bought the powdered kind. Much, much, much cheaper, & allows you to control the ratio of Gatorade. I paid with the last of a gift card + loose changes from my purse.
  • Charged our electric car for free at work.
  • We also sold our sofa over the weekend ($75).
  • Applied the $305 (sofa + a/c unit) directly to our vacation house mortgage.

That's it from our side. Slow & steady progress! How about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Monday, July 23, 2018

2018 Goal Check In

With the year 1/2 way done, I thought I'd check in & see how I'm doing on my 2018 goals. You might remember that my big goals this year are to run a half marathon, quit my job/find something flexible, & lose 20 lbs. I'm definitely making progress on the first two. The last one remains quite a struggle for me. :-)

1) Financial:
  • Build/follow a 2018 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2018 "post-job budget", after. - we have a budget, & we're roughly sticking to it. We've added a few line items (air conditioning, etc) hat have increased our overall budget, but generally on track. 
  • Save another $125K before I quit - I'm at $61K. We've done about $30K of home projects, and owed more in taxes than expected for the sale of our Seattle house. Both impacted our savings quite a bit. 
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - I get this about every other month. 
  • Model out a 3, 5 & 10 year financial plan - I've thought about this, but haven't made much progress. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. - This is happening!
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - I am doing this reasonably well, but not perfectly. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - we are averaging one per month. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. 
    • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan, & run a half marathon. - I'm on my second week of a training plan, so this is coming together!
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm behind on this one. 
    • Get back to more actively tracking my calories, at least until I start to see a consistent weight drop - I do this regularly. 
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio - on track, with 5,880 minutes. 
    • Complete 100 strength workouts. - on track, with 63 workouts. 
    • Complete 75 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. - definitely behind. I'm at 27. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress (until I leave) - It's still hard, but I've made some big strides here. Knowing the end is in sight has been really helpful for my perspective. 
    • Determine an end date for my job. Tentatively scheduled for end of June. And then, quit my job. Really. Do. This. - I have had the conversation with my manager, and now we are in the planning phase!!!!!

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Learn how to cut my own hair - Nope
      • Learn how to make yogurt - Yes!
      • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month. - While I haven't achieved once/month & have actually spent less time on small interactions (walking, meeting friends for lunches), I've done a few get togethers over longer weekends, etc. I did a girls trip in April & July. I also have a few friend lunches scheduled over the upcoming months, but this is an area where I can do better. 
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - I've been pretty sporadic on this one, and need to find a flexible volunteering role. 
      • Complete a Dream Bio (stolen from Frugalwoods) - I started this, but haven't finished. 

      How are you doing with your goals, with the year just a smidge over half way over? Anything you want to focus on for the second half of the year?

      Sunday, July 22, 2018

      Finally found blog comments & a quick update

      Oh, Blogger. . . For about the past six weeks, all of my comments have been directed to spam. I've been posting sporadically lately, so wasn't shocked that no one was commenting, but I eventually got suspicious & had a ton of comments sitting in the unpublished spam folder. No idea why they were all marked as spam. Hopefully they are all back & I've sorted it, so I can do a better job of reading & replying! It was nice to catch up with everyone via comments. :-)

      The house is in WAY better condition today, after I spent a huge chunk of my day yesterday cleaning. I also feel so much better, now that the house is coming along. Here's what's on the list for today:

      • 5 mile run or pace walk, depending on whether I eat breakfast
      • Pick up a book I have on hold at the library
      • Mop the entire house. We have no carpeting, so the full house needs to be mopped 
      • Continue to look for surfaces around the house that are coated in a layer of dust. Clean.
      • List in room air conditioner for sale
      • Package shoes for return
      • Plan work week + family week
      • Plan 1/2 marathon training schedule for next week
      • Talk to our neighbors about their tree. Really dreading this one. They have a giant fir tree that is about 75% over our property. We wouldn't mind at all, but the area of our property is where our pool is at. We've had to replace the filter 3 times in 18 months, and we spend at least 90 minutes a day on top of the maintenance (sweeping, cleaning) to keep the needles out of the pool. They've indicated interest in getting rid of the tree as well, and we will offer to split the cost, but it's still an uncomfortable conversation.
      • Have the kids call my parents & catch up
      • Ensure Nick writes thank you cards for gifts he received
      • Deal with all of the ski stuff that came out of duffel bags (bags were used for camp) & then shoved into the back of the closet
      • Take the kids to a swimming party

      That's it from our side! What about you? Have you ever had to have an uncomfortable neighbor conversation? What are you up to today?

      Saturday, July 21, 2018

      I had "the conversation" with work

      For those of you who have been long time readers, I've been planning to quit my job & find something much more flexible for years. In fact, before we moved to California & I stumbled into this job, I'd planned to quit my job of 15 years, take some time off & find something flexible.

      So, I finally did it. I had a conversation with my manager that I was planning to leave the company. I was very honest with her, as she's been incredibly supportive of me & my career. I wanted to give her a long lead time, as filling positions like mine can take a year. We had a very good conversation, and I feel so relieved to have had it. She offered to try & create a part-time role that fits my interests, and we both agreed to think about what that could look like. We also discussed end dates for me doing this role in my current capacity. My feedback was that I'd strongly prefer September, but think it's unrealistic given that my main people manager left a few weeks ago. We discussed January as a very end date, with some flexibility between now & then in order for me to stay that long.

      It feels both surreal & so amazing to be honest with her & get feedback. She understands that I'm not interested in a big giant career, with international travel & a team of 30 right now. I shared that my job took so much of my energy & time, that I don't have enough time for myself or my family, & I want to change that. That's not who she is (she's a hard core career person), but we both respect each other a great deal & I feel so happy that I don't have to avoid conversations about our performance reviews, or career, or my pending promotion, etc.

      In other news, my real life continues. We had air conditioning installed, and it's amazing. Our house gets very hot (sometimes 90+ if we've had a series of hot days). The A/C guys finished yesterday & my house is an utter disaster. To compound that, the kids rolled back from 12 days summer camp yesterday, couldn't enter the main part of the house (because of the construction) & dumped everything in our laundry room. . . I have a lot to do today. ;-)

      Here's the list!

      1. Revise menu for the week based on what we have around
      2. Go to the produce stand & the grocery store
      3. Go for a 4-5 mile run
      4. Sweep
      5. Mop
      6. Dust (there is SO much dust in our house right now due to the construction)
      7. Deal with the mail
      8. Figure out how to exchange a pair of shoes I ordered
      9. Clean the bathrooms that 5 guys used for two weeks, wearing dirty work boots. It's a little. . . dirty
      10. Donate books
      11. Clean the kitchen
      12. Laundry (like, 5 loads)
      13. Wash the sleeping bags & hang them outside to dry
      14. Have kids put away all camp items
      15. Deal with our sofa sale
      16. Read my book by the pool for 20 minutes? ;-)

      Okay, and with that, here's what I'm thinking for #1:
      • Saturday - hot dogs, corn & salad
      • Sunday - kebabs & rice
      • Monday - leftover pizza (kids) + curry (freezer leftovers) for the adults
      • Tuesday - leftover hot dogs
      • Wednesday - leftover kebabs & rice
      • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or spaghetti & meatballs
      • Friday - tacos
      What about you? Any big news? What are you eating this weekend?

      Friday, July 20, 2018

      Frugal Friday

      It wasn't much of a frugal week, but here are a few things that happened:

      • Avoided buying groceries until yesterday. The kids have been at summer camp, and I had an overnight work event on Wednesday, so we were able to keep costs down.
      • Drove the electric car to our work event. It was so nice not to have to pay for gas. Also, Pescadero is so beautiful! Will definitely be back with M & the kids some time.
      • Semi related to the first point, but I drank my coffee without milk (just powdered creamer) all week. I didn't want to make a special trip just for milk. I now really appreciate the milk in my coffee that much more. 
      • Received a credit for a meal on our vacation last weekend.
      • Found a buyer for our old sofa
      That's pretty much it for us! Looking forward to getting back to our routine this weekend. It's been chaos here with two full weeks of construction, the kids out of town, a vacation, an overnight work event for me, and just generally a wild & crazy packed schedule. I'm looking forward to some down time & getting back into a routine. 

      What about you? Any frugal wins to report?