Friday, June 21, 2024

Frugal Friday

 Medical bills are not cheap, but a few frugal things for the week...

Saving on things we buy

  • I went to CVS to pick up mouthwash, and used a variety of rewards & coupons. I picked up three of the giant Crest mouthwash containers, and spent $20.91. I earned $2 from iBotta, and another $10 from CVS, making my out of pocket a much more reasonable $8.91, or ~$3/each.  
  • There was a Fetch offer I wanted to take advantage of (Bubly water) & combine with an iBotta offer. The local store had a buy 2/get 2 free offer on Bubly. While it wasn't super cheap at the regular price, once I got the $4 Fetch offer & the $1.50 iBotta offer, it brought the price per package down to ~$1.50, which is a solid deal. 
  • When I got home, I realized that I'm $1.45 from another $4 on Bubly from Fetch, so I stopped by a few days later & picked up a single serve tall Bubly for $1.50, earning another $4 on Fetch. 
  • CVS sent me another offer later in the week, so I went & used up my $10 monthly award, and some more CVS offers & bought 4 giant Gatorades (for Sam, for work, as he's outside working all day in the heat), & Advil for a total of $4. Saw that I also saved $1 on the Gatorade from an iBotta offer, which was an unexpected plus. 

Earning money

  • I completed a survey from my local hospital, and earned $25
  • Sold reffing gear on FB & made $35
  • M & I received a $2 class action settlement. $2 - woohoo! ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • Made M a cake at home, vs buying one.
  • Picked up a new set of corn hole bags on Buy Nothing. My sister & I got a corn hole set for my special needs aunt for her 70th birthday, but it was just the boards. Now we will have a full set for her birthday.
  • I also picked up two zucchini plants & a pumpkin plant on Buy Nothing. The squirrels decimated one of my garden beds, so I'll be adding a new border to keep them out & replanting.  
  • Packed Sam lunches for the week & used some of our abundance of electrolyte tablets to reduce the need for Gatorade (he brings one a day). 
  • Defrosted fajitas leftover from my parents visit, and we had that for dinner one night.
  • Continued to use lots of garden goodies: jalapenos, lettuce, peppers, mint, Thai & regular basil, cilantro... still waiting for the tomatoes! 
  • DH & I spent his day off trimming one of our giant trees, using the extension ladder. It was a messy & time consuming project, but we're slowly getting all of the tree trimming done ourselves. We've paid for it to be done before, and it's not cheap!

Eating what we have

  • Made gyro meat for dinner one night (leftover from my parents visit, as we only ended up making one package). Had gyro salads for lunch two days, finishing off the rest of the feta cheese as well.
  • Generally I've been eating a lot of leftovers for lunch, including things like cheese & crackers (leftover from my parents visit), as well as dinner leftovers. 
  • For the days I didn't have any obvious leftovers, lunches were salads with protein from the freezer (edamame) & pantry (nuts). Plus fruit, because we had a bunch of fruit this week. 
  • Defrosted the second of the huge Too Good To Go bakery loaf of bread, and used that for Sam's lunches this week. 

For others

  • Had my first mentoring session with the student I'm volunteering with, as a college counselor. It was a lot of fun, and I can tell I'm going to love this volunteering role.
  • Saved my mom money by returning a shirt she bought my dad (it was too small) when she was here, and finding it online with a coupon code for $15 less. 
What about you? Any frugal wins to share?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Thursday Things

A random collection of things that are top of mind today...

M had yesterday off for Juneteenth, and we spend a bunch of time in the yard trimming a huge bush/tree. It was a lot of work, but it was getting close to our roof line & making a mess in the gutters, so this was a necessary project. He also drove me to the mall to return a shirt for my mom (should have chosen a day that wasn't a holiday!), which worked out well, as he stayed in the car & I zipped in & out to do the return.

I submitted payment for his urgent care visit + x-ray ($545 - yikes), and requested reimbursement. The health care thing is so much more complicated now, as M is our insurance provider, but I have the majority of the funds in my HSA. M sends me the bills (which, neither of us can review, if it's for a dependent), I pay the bill via my credit card (for points!) & then reimburse myself through my HSA. It was a lot more straightforward when I was the insurance provider & had the HSA funds. But, at least I'm getting the credit card points? ;-) 

Sam & his friends plan to drive to Los Angeles for a weekend, for their senior trip. I'm helping him review hotel options, and we are discussing all of the things a first time (solo) traveler might need to know. They are all really good kids, so I'm not worried about them, but they are all also a bit naive about traveling solo, so this should be an adventure! 

Meanwhile, Nick is bringing a friend with us to Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July, as Sam will be on above senior trip. He's been friends with this kid since 1st grade, so love that they are going to hang out together. 

Things I need to do today:

  • Heading out for my running class soon
  • Daily chores (Farsi lesson, meditate, journal, yard work)
  • Pack for our trip
  • Check in for flights. Sort out seats for M & the boys if they don't get upgraded (they are on the upgrade list.)
  • Clean the house. No one wants to come home to a dirty house.
  • Help Sam book the hotel for his trip
  • Have Sam try on running shoes & return whichever pair doesn't work.
  • Laundry
  • Read by the pool
What about you? What are you up to today? What's top of mind?

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mountain biking, golfing, & the broken finger

Sam fractured his finger at camp yesterday, and after a trip to urgent care & an x-ray, now has a rather large splint. I'm grateful it was a relatively minor injury, but the timing is terrible. We're leaving on Friday for his graduation party, followed by a week of mountain biking & golfing. Both of which are.... not really possible with a broken finger. Poor kid. 



He's back at work today, and Nick & I are back working on college applications, followed by a dentist appointment (for Nick, he's overjoyed). I have my first call with the student I'll be mentoring through the college application process.

I also need to do the chores I didn't get to yesterday (at urgent care) & start a packing list for this weekend. 


Monday, June 17, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

We have a couple of special events this (a birthday + Father's Day), so we have a dinner out + a fancier dinner this week. Otherwise, we will be working to ensure there's no food waste before we take off for the weekend. 

  • Friday - orange chicken + salad
  • Saturday - out to dinner (birthday)
  • Sunday - kebabs and rice for Father's Day. M showed the boys a few tips for making them ;-) 
  • Monday - tacos
  • Tuesday - grilled chicken & caprese salad
  • Wednesday - leftover tacos
  • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or something from the freezer
  • Friday - we will be eating at the airport, ahead of our trip to Portland. 
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Blossoms

If you've never seen a pomegranate tree before, they have gorgeous blossoms in the spring, and over the summer, the fruit starts to develop. They are ready to pick around Thanksgiving time. Looking at the tree today reminded me that all of the blossoms are maturing at slightly different rates...each on their own time table. It was a nice reminder, especially for me, as I'm always looking for predictability & uniformity in life, which, as we all know, is often not the case!









Are you a fan of pomegranates? I have minimal patience for getting the arils out of the fruit, but absolutely love them, as do the boys. 


Saturday, June 15, 2024

June goals check in

 As with every month it feels like, June is whizzing by! Here's how I'm doing on my goals for the month:

Financial:

  • Create revised 2024 budget, & estimate taxes owed from severance. - done
  • Earn $300 in side hustle - $164/300
  • Monthly pantry/freezer challenge: use up fish sticks & bag of cranberries - I've used up a bunch of freezer items, but not these two in particular
  • Work on plan for United credits with M's mom - no, and realistically, any planning we do will likely be in the fall
Family:

  • Help Sam with college roommate assignments  - done
  • Spend a week with Nick on college prep - done, although we need a lot more than a week for this
  • Enjoy all of our June fun: Sam's graduation, time with my parents, Sam's party & our long weekend in Las Vegas - we had a great time with my parents & at Sam's graduation. The other two events are still to come.
  • Finalize the rest of our summer plans - yes!
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - We have had multiple corn hole matches
Fitness:
  • 10 stretching workouts - 8/10 so far, as I've been battling hip tightness
  • Lose 3 lbs - no progress so far, but I am holding steady, despite house guests & lots of events
  • 12 strength training workouts - 6/12
  • Follow the No S diet - I had three successful days last week, which is pretty much the limit of my progress
  • Run 70 miles - 39.47 miles, so on track

Personal:

  • Get together with friends - I've gone to coffee with a friend 2x, and hiked with two other friends
  • Practice Farsi 20 times - 9/20, as I didn't do this when I had guests
  • Declutter 100 items from the house - 41/100
  • Meditate daily - I didn't do this when I had guests, but have meditated 6 times this month
  • Continue exploring various jobs - yes, I look daily at a variety of future options
  • Start college counseling volunteer project - yes! I am now matched, and we have our first call on Tuesday. 
What about you? How are you doing with your June goals? Share your progress, so we can cheer you on!



Friday, June 14, 2024

Frugal Friday

 Nothing too exciting happening on the frugal front this week, but there are always a few ways to save, if you are looking for options. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $20 grocery store reward to stock up on packed lunches for the boys. Sam started work this week, and Nick starts next week. 
  • Sam is filling in on our relay team in August, as someone had to drop out. I previously booked my flight using miles (as part of the large travel shuffle a month or so back), but with two people, it was less expensive to use my companion fare. I still had one leftover from our previous credit card. I booked the two of us (using Alaska wallet credits, so no out of pocket spending) & had the miles returned to my account from my original ticket for just myself. 
  • I'm going on a hiking trip with a friend in September, and Delta is the best airline option. It's one of the only ones where I don't have credits or enough miles for a ticket, of course. However, I asked M, and he happens to have Delta miles from a few work trips. Transferring the miles comes with a ridiculous cost, so he booked the flight directly for me in his account, making the base ticket free. I then went in & used my very small amount of miles (3,000 from an unknown trip) to upgrade to "comfort plus" one way (and, more importantly, hopefully I won't have to check my bag if I can board earlier). Then, I went & purchased comfort plus on the second leg, for $31. So, full cost of the flight was $31. 

Earning money

  • Sold a Lego set & a watch on eBay, and made $130.

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up curbside lemons from Buy Nothing.

Eating what we have

  • Packed lunches for Sam this week. Bonus, used the Friday Freebie electrolytes in his water bottle, as he was outside running around in the sun all day this week. 
  • I met a friend for lunch one day, and had leftovers of lunch the second day.
  • We continued to use up lots of garden items in our meals (basil, mint, garlic scapes, lettuce & jalapenos). Can't wait for the tomatoes to ripen!
  • We've been eating through the leftovers from my parents visit, and there was very little cooking required this week. Hurrah!

For others

  • Nothing too exciting. A lot of the usual: gave stuff away on Buy Nothing (always love when I can fulfill an "ISO" ask), collecting grocery carts, & a little volunteering. 
  • I was matched with my first high school senior, for the college counseling volunteer role. Very excited to kick that off. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Thursday Things

I met up with a couple of friends this week (lunch with an old coworker & a hike with an old friend who I haven't seen in forever). It was really lovely to see them both. I also had a doctor's appointment on Monday. I am starting to get a feel for what type of week I prefer, and I do prefer to have outings spread out a bit more than I did this week. Next week, for example, I have none of the above on the calendar (although we leave for Portland on Friday), but I'm also trying to work around the schedules of everyone else, as they are much busier than I am. It's so funny to discover new preferences for yourself, when you have time to evaluate what you like a bit more. I'm always learning a little more!

A random list of things, in no particular order:

  • I've sold two higher value items on eBay this week. Yay!
  • I got matched up with my first student for my college counseling volunteer project. Very excited to kick off our year long mentorship together.
  • Nick & I have been making slow but steady process on the college application process. He plans to apply to quite a few colleges that require additional essays (vs the Common App, which shares essays, reducing the work). Nick's least favorite subject is English/Lit, so he's incredibly unenthusiastic about this. ;-) I'm helping by asking open ended questions on things like, "which experience have you learned the most from? Who inspires you? What's been the hardest thing you've ever done? Why have you selected your major?" Anyway, we're both realizing how much time it all takes. 
  • We've been eating a ton of leftovers this week, and I'm grateful to have them on hand, post our house guests. Less cooking for me! It has also meant that I have time to make caprese salad as a side, using up lots of garden basil. Can't wait until the tomatoes are ripe.
  • I desperately need to clean the house today. In my dream world, I assumed that once I wasn't working, house cleaning would be much less irritating. It's true that I don't have to squeeze it in & race through it in whatever small time window I could carve out. But, I still don't enjoy it! 
Share your random things with us!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tuesday Happenings

 We're slowly getting back into the groove of life (and, summer) now that school is out & my parents have returned home. We still have plenty going on in the months ahead, but this week is filled with Sam working (his third summer at a sports camp). 

Nick & I are working on his college list, and narrowing down the schools he would like to apply to. We're also filling out a spreadsheet with all of the application deadlines, any school specific requirements, costs, etc. We made a little progress yesterday, but it's quite an involved process. We did take a break for lunch, and I treated him to Panera (his favorite), as I had a coupon code & a gift card. That aside, Panera's prices.... oh my! Definitely expensive for what you get. Today will be lunch from home! 

As for today, my to do list is quite long, as I catch up on missed chores from last week, and try to get ahead on a few other tasks. Here's a snapshot of what I'm hoping to accomplish:

  • Daily to do's (journaling, Farsi lesson, meditation)
  • Yard work. I try to do a minimum of 20 minutes/day. I could spend hours & not make progress in our yard, but some is better than nothing!
  • Call around to find an in network PT option for my back
  • Research inexpensive (or better, free) options for yoga. 
  • Pick up a prescription. I went to a spine doctor yesterday, and he was optimistic that with a few weeks of a prescription treatment, plus PT & additional yoga, my back problems might get to the point that they stop bothering me. The problem is degenerative, so it will get worse as I age, but feels I might get some relief for a few years, at least.
  • Help Nick with the college process. I need to decide how to spend our time today. I think I'll have him work a bit on the essay prompts, while I edit his document he put together for his letters of reference. 
  • List Sam's bike for sale. We will sell his bike here, and if he would like a bike at college, we will find something inexpensive on FB market place. We don't have a way to transport his bike easily to college, and given college bike thefts, would prefer to get him something that will be less of a target for a thief. His current bike was a reimbursement from insurance, after he was hit by a car in middle school, so it's quite a nice bike. 
  • I'm meeting an old coworker for lunch.
  • Sort out our 4th of July plans.
I have a much longer list, but if I get this done, I'll be thrilled! What about you? What's on your list for the day? 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 We had a full house for our meals until yesterday, with Sam's girlfriend + my parents joining us. I'm trying to plan meals to use up what we have left, to reduce waste.

  • Friday - I made chicken fajitas & guacamole
  • Saturday - M made grilled chicken & rice
  • Sunday - just me + M, and we had leftovers. I had a gyro salad, and he had a salad with grilled chicken on top
  • Monday - leftover burgers
  • Tuesday - leftover fajitas & guacamole
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken & rice
  • Thursday - orange chicken 
  • Friday - TBD
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Frugal Friday, or Sunday

I forgot to schedule this to be published on Friday, so I'm a little late. It's not really much of a frugal season at our house right now, but a few wins here & there.

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $20 store reward to pick up things we need this week. Our menu & shopping list are bigger, with two other adults dining with us. The teens will also be home for more meals, so we're trying to plan accordingly. The local grocery store is pretty expensive, even with the $20 off. I bought: two packages of tortillas, two packages of tortilla chips, four packages of cheese (2 sliced, 2 shredded), four containers of sparkling water, frozen fries, four peppers, two containers of raspberries, 1 six pack of diet soda, salsa, & hamburger buns & spent $45.58 (after the $20 coupon). I had a free offer for the soda, and the sparkling water was buy 2/get 2 free. I also won another $1.50 in future rewards from the game they currently have going. I'll cash those in next time I go to the store. The soda is for my mom, as we don't keep soda at the house (or, drink it, really).  

Earning money

  • Nick has stopped reffing, so I sold a pair of reffing shorts & two pair of socks for $15 on FB market place, and some gifted perfume for $30. Nick insisted on keeping another pair of the reffing shorts (they have pockets) for tennis. That's all well & good, but they are a youth small, and are real shorty short style on him. ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • I treated Sam to Subway (he loves it) on his last day of classes. They had a BOGO offer, so I also got a sandwich. I used a gift card for all of it. I don't typically order foot longs, but that was part of the deal. I had it for lunch two days in a row.
  • Hung up the free graduation banner I picked up on Buy Nothing last summer. I'll save it for Nick, and then pass it along. 

Eating what we have

  • Sam's girlfriend ate dinner with us two nights in a row, and I'll never say no to extra teens at the dinner table. I rounded out a last minute grilled chicken dinner with a larger salad, cut fruit & I reheated a foccacia bread we bought on Saturday. I brushed butter and coarsely ground salt over the top. Yum.
  • For the other dinner with a bonus guest, I defrosted a second container of taco meat, so that fed us all for two dinners. 
  • We've continued to use up lots of fresh garden produce: garlic scapes, mint, basil (purple Thai & regular), and two kinds of lettuce. Yum! The dastardly squirrels keep eating my strawberries, and dug out an entire squash plant. They drive me bananas!

For others

  • I finished my volunteer training, which included a large section about preventing & reporting sexual assaults on minors. It was really difficult to get through, but I understand the importance of knowing about it, so you can appropriately report concerns. I'm now done & ready to be matched with a senior. 
  • Gave away a bunch on Buy Nothing, continued my regular task of returning grocery carts to the corrals (they damage cars! and block spaces! and make it harder for seniors to get into and out of their cars). It's the little stuff. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The clean up + impromptu pool parties

I was so proud of myself yesterday - the house was sparkling clean. Floors steam mopped, entire house scrubbed, floorboards dusted, the works! So, of course Nick let me know that a few friends were going to come over. A few friends turned into another impromptu pool party. Those dirty foot prints on the floor definitely make the house look clean. ;-)

Seriously, though, I'm so grateful to have this time to enjoy the boys & give them the space to have friends over. I cut up an entire Costco watermelon, busted out some snacks & fruit I bought for the week, and M picked up two Costco pizzas. 

My corn hole set finally got some action, and our new pool football was also a big hit. My music selections were less of a hit. Shocking! :-)

I've gotten the house put back into shape (mostly) again, and am ready to go pick up our guests in a bit. M is grilling burgers tonight, and I'm making the peach/basil/mozzarella salad. I also picked up potato salad from Trader Joes, to make life easier. 

It's supposed to be mid-90s today, so I'm also working through a giant stack of swim trunks (Nick's friends borrowed, so luckily we have a bunch to share) & pool towels. Maybe we will get in the pool this evening.

Hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 It's another wild week, as Sam has graduation on Thursday, & my parents arrive on Wednesday. Here's what's on the menu for the week.


  • Friday - salmon 
  • Saturday - coconut shrimp + salad
  • Sunday - tacos
  • Monday - grilled chicken
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - grilled burgers + caprese salad
  • Thursday - gyros (quick dinner that we can make after graduation)
  • Friday - chicken fajitas, chips & guac
  • Saturday - grilled chicken & Persian rice
  • Sunday - leftovers

What about you? What's on the menu at your house this week?