Monday, December 17, 2018

Almost there!

It's a crazy last week before we take off for the holidays. There's a tremendous amount of work to be done at the office, plus a bunch of family stuff on the agenda.

In positive news, both boys made the school soccer team. It's very competitive, and this was a great outcome for both kids. Sam is going to stop playing club soccer, so this was a really good transition for him after a particularly hard season of club soccer. We selected our club for the kids because it was a good mix of player development (vs winning) & many of their friends attend. Nick's experience has been amazing throughout. Sam's experience has been really challenging. This past season was the end for us. A few of the parents feel that some of the kids (mine included) are holding their kids back, and they haven't been shy about it. Their kids hear this at home, and are really negative with the kids at the lower end of the team. The coach is also much harsher as a style than I think Sam needs for his personality. (Nick, ironically, loves the harsh coaching & adores the coach.)  Altogether, sports are supposed to be fun, positive, & focused on sportsmanship. We've crossed over that on Sam's team, so he won't be playing in the spring. It will be a huge identity shift for him, and he's struggling with it very much. (There's a bunch more as to why this became a decision that I've shielded him from, but it's a must do for us as parents.) I'm looking forward to some of the soccer drama dying down, but I will very much miss the great parents who were part of the team. The other parents. . . won't miss at all. ;-)

The school soccer season kicks off in earnest with two games this week, so I have to sort that out. Then I have a holiday dinner with my peers, at my manager's house on Thursday evening. And, we fly out super early on Friday morning. So, quite a lot going on! I need to be very productive this week. I'm mostly packed for the trip, all gifts are purchased, snacks and the like are in the bags & ready for the flights. It's mostly last minute stuff left that can't be packed ahead. I also have created a draft menu for our time on the coast, so hopefully I'll be reasonably organized. It's not totally locked in, mostly because I can't recall what we have in our freezer & pantry, so I need to go & inventory a bit before we finalize our plans.

Where are you at with your end of the year plans? Is this the crazy stretch, or are you mostly ready?

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Freezer Challenge Week 4

I'm still really enjoying our freezer challenge, and will try something similar once I get to our vacation house on Friday & inventory our freezer & pantry there. I was happy to move out a bunch of stuff, and there is definitely more room in our freezer. (Although, M bought two giant bags of cranberries for cranberry muffins, so new things did get added. ;-))

Freezer challenge items for next week:

  1. 2 containers of sauce with beef tips
  2. Another container of chicken soup - this was a fail because I'm the only one who likes this type of soup, and this one has a ton of dairy, which bothers my stomach. Trying to think of what to do with it. 
  3. Gravy
  4. Stuffing
  5. Turkey - we had a turkey in the fridge that needed to be used first, so we went with this instead.

We also were able to use up a few bonus items:
  • A container of taco meat 
  • A bag of tortillas
  • Lasagna
  • A container of tortilla soup
  • A small package of ham 

I have just a couple of items for the week, as I'm trying to be realistic about what we will eat before we leave. 
  • 12 freezer burritos
  • Lubia polo (Persian beef & rice dish)

And, here's a menu that should use up most items:

  • Saturday - lasagna
  • Sunday - Lubia polo
  • Monday - Freezer burritos with guac
  • Tuesday - leftover lasagna
  • Wednesday - leftover lubia polo
  • Thursday - freezer burritos w/guac
  • Friday - we will be out of town, but it will definitely be a freezer meal from our vacation house
I will still try to get one of the kids to eat the soup that's left today, but that's a maybe for completing the challenge. Otherwise, I feel good about the bonus items & the planned things we used. What about you? Are you trying to use up anything in your freezer? How are you doing with your freezer challenge?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Frugal Friday

We didn't really do anything too exciting this week, but here are a few wins:

  • All meals from home (or free from work), with the exception of one using a coupon & a gift card. The kids played in a tournament over the weekend, so they were ravenous by the time we were on our way home from soccer.
  • I read freebie books from work, rather than buying. I haven't made it to the library recently, and was tempted to buy a book online. Instead, I read a few freebie books I get from work. One was not good enough to finish, but the other was good & enjoyable.
  • Went to see Christmas lights, as a free holiday outing.
  • Drove electric car for free all week for my commute
In big frugal news, however, I received my comp for the year from work, and I'll be getting a sizable raise & bonus + a large equity grant. The bonus is fantastic news, because I will get it before I go on sabbatical. I'll also have at least a few months at the higher salary, and equity vests. I feel incredibly grateful for the increase, as I'm already well compensated. They are making it very difficult to pull the plug! ;-) 

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week? 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Freezer Challenge - Week 3

I've been really enjoying the freezer challenge, as I'm seeing visible progress by selecting a few items each week to use, & incorporating those items into our meal plan. I don't know why I've never approached a freezer clean out this way in the past, but I will definitely be continuing.

  1. 1 container of taco meat - dinner for Monday/Wednesday  Done!
  2. Container of homemade tomato sauce - Done!
  3. Rotisserie chicken - dinner for Friday. We ended up using leftover chicken pesto in place of this, so it didn't happen. In fact, I froze extra chicken from that dish. 
  4. Chicken broth - dinner for Friday
  5. Tortillas (won't use all of the bag, maybe 1/2) - dinner for Monday/Wednesday - Done, and actually used part of another bag from the freezer. There were fewer tortillas in the bag than I'd expected.
  6. One container of soup - Done!
Bonus items:

  • 4 small burritos (lunches while I was unexpectedly at home)
  • Leftover delivery pizza
  • A full frozen pizza
  • Deli meat
  • Single serving of butternut squash soup
  • Bagel bites as fill ins for snacks after many soccer games

Freezer challenge items for next week:

  1. 2 containers of sauce with beef tips
  2. Another container of chicken soup
  3. Gravy
  4. Stuffing
  5. Turkey

So, based on my freezer challenge items, our menu plan for the week is shaping up to be:

  • Friday - we had two kinds of pizza from the freezer! Bonus items!
  • Saturday - we went out to dinner, using a gift card ;-) 
  • Sunday - Rice with wine sauce with beef tips
  • Monday - turkey with stuffing, gravy & mashed potatoes
  • Tuesday - Leftover rice w/wine sauce & beef tips
  • Wednesday - Leftover turkey, stuffing & potatoes
  • Thursday - If no more leftovers, spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - Homemade pizza
What about you? What's on your menu for the week, and do you have any freezer items you're trying to get rid of?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Soccer Saturday

It's a tournament weekend, with at least four guaranteed games, and perhaps a 5th. I'm trying to squeeze in a few things around soccer, while continuing to rest & recover from the car accident. I'm hoping I'm about 75% healed, and as long as I take Tylenol & the swelling is going down, I feel okay. If I forget to take Tylenol, all of the sudden, the pain is very present.

Here are the plans for the rest of the day:

  • Finalize baking day for my cardamom bread (I think this is going to have to be next Sunday). 
  • Start on my packing list for Christmas travels
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry
  • Produce stand
  • Costco (my husband is doing this)
  • Get an estimate for the car (M is doing this as well)
  • Decide on a menu
  • Make dinner
  • Take Sam to a soccer evaluation
  • Take both boys to the soccer game this afternoon
  • Work out. Something slow & easy, given my neck. I'm thinking of a walk during soccer warm ups. 
What about you? I need inspiration - what are you having for dinner tonight? 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Frugal Friday

Ahh, what a week. I was rear ended on my way to work on Wednesday morning, so I've been resting up at home while my neck & back heal up. It's so frustrating to feel out of commission, but I'm grateful that no one was seriously injured, and that I have a job that still pays me even when I can't work.

Here are some of our frugal things for the week:
  • Sold a few things on eBay. I made a mistake on shipping for one item (drat) & had to buy a more expensive envelope, which meant I made basically nothing on the sale. But, did make $55 on eBay sales. 
  • Continued using things from the freezer, and re-purposed a meal we didn't love into a risotto that, while not amazing, was good enough to eat a second night
  • Listed one of the kids BMX bikes for sale. Hoping to get that sold, as he wants a scooter instead. ;-)
  • Listed three more items on eBay. One of which was an ornament that I've never really liked. I wasn't sure if it was valuable, so looked it up today, & it is! Sold it via an offer for $50 this morning . Wow! Just when you think you've listed all of your valuable stuff on eBay. . . 
  • Used Rite Aid rewards to get Claritin for M, who has had really terrible allergies lately. I had a 20% off coupon, so used that for popcorn for the kids. They also had a certain candy bar 2/$1, with a $1 reward, so free candy! Picked those up for a treat for the kids. 
  • M was finally able to repair the window in Nick's room. It wouldn't close all the way, creating a chilly draft above his bed. It's now much quieter & warmer, which will help reduce heating costs.
Other than that, I've been drinking a lot of tea, using my flask for water, eating things out of the freezer, and making do with what we have around. I also gave my nanny a couple of days off (paid), as I was at home & could be with the kids. Not frugal for me, but this gives her the opportunity to fill in with other babysitting jobs. 

That's it for us. How have you been frugal over the past week?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

2018 Goals - how are we doing?

Can you believe we're in the home stretch of the year? I try to check my yearly goals often, and bake the yearly goals into monthly goals as well. But, I also find it helpful to do a last minute check in December, and see if there are any areas that require particular time & attention with just a few weeks left.

1) Financial:
  • Build/follow a 2018 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2018 "post-job budget", after. - I didn't end up leaving my job in 2018, but I'll share a budget roundup as it gets closer to the end of the year. 
  • Save another $125K before I quit - I would have been at $110K, but we opted to put $200K into paying off our vacation house, so I'm now under for the year. Additionally, we paid for air conditioning & solar this year, so I'm feeling very happy about our progress.
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - We weren't consistent on the monthly cadence, but I'm considering it an overall win: 
    • I started using a handkerchief instead of kleenex. However, my plan to get more (for the rest of the family) fell through. I now have an old sheet saved, & I'd like to sew these in 2019.
    • We installed solar! This is the biggest win in this category. ;-)
    • We paid off our vacation house! No more mortgage payments.
    • I found a recipe for my favorite store hummus, avoiding the need to buy. 
    • We discussed a rainwater solution (didn't implement) & cancelling Amazon Prime also didn't implement), so those are opportunities for 2019.
    • We can charge our electric car for free at work, and thus haven't needed to install a charger at our house. 
    • We replaced our battery powered outdoor lights with solar powered
    • We bought flasks for everyone, and have both kept them for months (a win with the kids), but have used them to replace water out while traveling. We also gifted them to my dad & nephew on a long car trip, and now everyone wants one. They are awesome, and keep water cold for 12+ hours. We bought ours at Costco. 
  • Model out a 3, 5 & 10 year financial plan - We actually spent quite a bit of time modeling out what it would take to pay off our primary residence. There's always more work to do here, but I feel reasonably good with what we have to date. I'm sure life with throw more curve balls at us, either way. :-) 

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 happened. Not sure it happened every month, but definitely had months where we had more than one activity as well, so considering this a win.
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - I'd still like to shave another hour of computer time (work, etc) off of my day, but overall, this has gone well.
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - Yes, although it was realistically one per month + a weekend getaway. 

    3) Fitness/health Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. - Nope. I've lost a few pounds for the year, but nowhere near 20 lbs. 

    • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan, & run a half marathon. - Yes! I ran the half marathon. I wasn't as consistent as I'd like, but I'll take it. 
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm at about 4.6, so close but not quite.
    • 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 - Nailed it! Already over 10,000 minutes. 
    • Complete 100 strength workouts. - Almost - at 93 for the year, with 3.5 weeks to go!
    • Complete 75 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. - I'm at 40, which is an uptick from previous years, but nowhere near 75. 

    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. - Well, when I advised my manager of my plan to leave, they offered me a sabbatical. So, I'll be taking that instead & then determining if I'm coming back part time, or at all. 

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Learn how to cut my own hair - Nope. I got two haircuts for the year & . . . paid! 
      • Learn how to make yogurt - Yes! Well, I made it once, and it went fine, but now my stomach rejects yogurt, so I haven't been buying or making it.
      • 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) - Done.

      Okay, what about you? How are you doing with your 2018 goals? Are you looking for any last wins to check off? :-) 

      Wednesday, December 5, 2018

      2019 Travel Plans & Budget

      One of my favorite parts of the upcoming year is to plan out our travels, and build a budget based on our priorities.

      We've discussed a lot of options this year, including having M join me on a work trip to London, and go from there to Paris. In the end, we decided we'd rather spend that money skiing with the kids, but will try to prioritize a Europe trip next year, when hopefully we'll have more time & flexibility for something like a week in Italy.

      Before I finalize our plans & budget, I take stock of all of our travel "assets" (miles, points, etc) as well as predicted number of flights/year. Here's what we have going into 2019:

      • Alaska Air miles - (combined across our accounts): about 200,000 miles. A round trip ticket on peak days (when we usually need to travel due to school & work) is 40,000 miles. So, this is equal to roughly 5 round trip tickets.
      • Alaska Air companion fare - pay for a ticket, get the second one for $99. I need to use this by March (book, not travel) & I want to maximize the award value by using it for our most expensive trip. This can be hard to predict. 
      • Alaska Air wallet balance - $744 of credit that can be used for future travel
      • Southwest Air - we have a $200 gift card
      • United - I have 100,000 miles, but we don't fly United domestically, so may hold out for a trip to Italy in 2020. 
      • Marriott - 25,000 points. Not enough to do anything with yet, and we don't have any hotel stays where this would work. 
      • Hyatt - 20,000 points. Ditto the Marriott comment. 

      How many flights will we take?
      Similarly, I've added up all of our expected flights this year, and I'm expecting about 15 flights. (When we travel as a family, I consider that 4 flights for this purpose). My goal for 2019 is to cover all of our flights with miles/credit. Unclear if that is feasible, but we also have an Alaska credit card, so should be accruing new miles throughout the year. It will be tight, and will require us to not change travel plans, which is something one family member (*cough*, my husband) frequently does. We'll try & be better in 2019. I'm also planning to swap some of my international travel to go through an Alaska partner, where possible, so that will also help generate miles.

      Here's what we're thinking for 2019:

      • January - we'll take the kids to a couple of day skiing outings. We're buying them skis as their Christmas gifts, so would like to get multiple uses out of the skis this season. 
        • Budget = $500 or so for lift tickets + gas.
      • February - I have a work trip to London, and then the kids have a week off for "ski week". We are planning to do a few nights at a hotel & skiing.
        • Budget = $2000, including the ski passes + hotel & food. Ski passes are crazy expensive. We'll be staying somewhere not fancy, so the hotel isn't the big outlier, but the ski passes. We're not quite skiing enough for season passes to make sense (right on the bubble), but want to be protected in the event the snow isn't good & we opt to cancel. As a result, we booked at a hotel vs airbnb (no cancellation charges) & didn't buy season passes. If we ski as many days as we think we will, we'll lose a few hundred dollars. However, if something comes up with our schedules, the snow isn't good, etc, we'll save quite a bit.
      • March - tentatively planning a trip to the beach/Oregon coast with my mom & sister, and/or my sister/BFF. The trip will likely happen, but as I think my sabbatical will begin in April vs March, unlikely I will combine this into one trip due to vacation time off. 
        • Budget = $250. (Miles for flight, so this will cover gas money & food) 
      • April - M & I would like to do an adult trip while the kids are on spring break. We'd fly my parents in & they'd stay with the kids. The flight for my parents is typically covered under "childcare", as the option without having my parents around would be to book a camp. So, different budget.
        • Budget = $1000. We will drive (looking at Napa), but hotels & wine tastings are expensive. Don't think there will be a hotel with points options, but will keep that in mind. 
      • May - my sister & friend will be visiting for a half marathon, but no travel plans
      • June - I will likely fly with the boys to my parents house (they participate in a big mountain biking tournament with my dad). The boys typically stay with my parents for a week of "Nana & Papa Camp"
        • Budget = $300. I'm hoping to cover the flights with miles. I'll give my parents money to spend during the week with the boys, and the budget will also cover transportation to/from the airport, etc.
      • July - we'll take a trip to the Oregon coast for the 4th of July. I'll pick up the kids from my parents. Additionally, the kids will likely be at sleepaway camp at the end of the month, so M & I may plan a long weekend. That's TBD based on cost of April trip. 
        • Budget = $1000. Gas, food, rental car, etc. I'm hoping to cover flights with miles. It will just be me + M, as the boys will already be there. 
      • August - I'll do my family relay, and Sam is likely to join me this year. 
        • Budget = $250. Gas + food. 
      • September - no trips
      • October - no trips
      • November - no trips
      • December - we'll go to the Oregon coast, and spend Christmas with my parents.
        • Budget = $500. Gas + additional food + rental car. Hoping to cover the flight with miles. 

      Total predicted cost for the year = $7,300. This is a very tight estimate, so I'm hoping we can be creative with flights & other options. What about you? How do you plan & budget for your travel?

      Tuesday, December 4, 2018

      December goals

      December will be a mix of a lot of work, and then a nice break over the holidays. We're heading to the Oregon coast & will stay for about a week. Looking forward to time with my family.

      Here are my goals for December.


      • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. 
      • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
      • Earn another $100 in side hustle money. 
      • Continue our 2019 budget prep, including our plans to try & lower our mortgages, and potentially paying off our vacation house. 

      • 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, as opportunities arise
      • Take the kids to see Christmas lights
      • Help the kids sell their nice BMX bikes (they haven't been in a long time, and want scooters instead)

      • Get in 31 workouts in December
      • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
      • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
      • Don't gain weight

      • Work from home 2 days
      • Work on my my "homework" from my coach


      • Plan sabbatical! Start sketching out dates on the calendar
      • Make my holiday bread
      • Read 4 books
      • Blog 6 times
      • Declutter at least 20 items from our house on the coast
      • Complete a freezer challenge, and get rid of 16 items from the freezer

      That's it for me! I need to take a look at our 2018 goals, and see how we're doing. What about you? What goals are you working on for December? 

      Monday, December 3, 2018

      Freezer Challenge - Week 2

      I did reasonably well with the first week of my freezer challenge.

      1. Lasagna. Pan 1 of 2. This will sub in for a couple of dinners this week. Done. Ate on busy nights, and M finished the rest for lunch. 
      2. Edamame. We have a bag of shelled edamame that will go well with dinner this week, so I'll add it in Done. Served with dinner. 
      3. Chicken chowder. I'll defrost a bowl & eat it for my lunch on Friday. Done. I had this for lunch on Saturday & Sunday. 
      4. Pot stickers. I'll serve them with dinner this week, although this will certainly not empty the bag. Done, and it actually finished the bag!
      5. Wontons. Same as the pot stickers. This will maybe take care of 1/2 the bag.  Done. This finished 1/2 of the bag, as expected. 
      6. Rotisserie chicken. Use one bag for risotto. - I ended up using a different kind of chicken for dinner, so I polished off that bag, but the rotisserie chicken remains. 
      7. Chicken broth. Ditto the rotisserie chicken. I'll have to get creative in finding recipes that will move more than one ingredient at a time! - Same as above. Didn't get to this during the week.
      I also used a few bonus items that I hadn't expected to get to this week:
      1. Remainder of a bag of chicken strips
      2. 2 packages of chicken breasts
      3. Over ripe bananas (turned into banana bread that I made for a friend).
      So, with the bonus items considered, I'm feeling good & enjoying the challenge. Breaking it into manageable chunks definitely helps.

      Here's my menu plan for the week, as well as the freezer items:

      • Friday - we were all on the go with soccer, so lasagna
      • Saturday - date night, and a friend fed the kids
      • Sunday - chicken artichoke bake
      • Monday - Tacos (meat from the freezer)
      • Tuesday - leftover chicken artichoke bake
      • Wednesday - Taco quesadillas
      • Thursday - spaghetti & meatballs. Meatballs from the freezer, along with homemade tomato sauce (freezer)
      • Friday - chicken risotto

      So, here's what's on this week's challenge:
      1. 1 container of taco meat - dinner for Monday/Wednesday 
      2. Container of homemade tomato sauce - dinner for Thursday
      3. Rotisserie chicken - dinner for Friday
      4. Chicken broth - dinner for Friday
      5. Tortillas (won't use all of the bag, maybe 1/2) - dinner for Monday/Wednesday
      6. One container of soup - lunch on Saturday/Sunday

      What about you? Are you doing a freezer challenge? What's on your menu for the week, and are you weaving in any freezer challenge items? 

      Sunday, December 2, 2018

      November Goals Recap

      November was a great month, that included both a family vacation (Hawaii), as well as Thanksgiving at home. Work was pretty crazy, particularly before & after taking time off. Here's how we did with our Christmas goals!


      • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. Even on vacation! We have a special part of the travel budget for groceries, and groceries in Hawaii are $$, so we'll factor that in as well. - Yes! We spent $545 of our $625 grocery budget, and $0 of our dining out budget (during the month, excluding vacation). We included our vacation groceries & eating out in our vacation budget, but I'm still happy with our tradeoffs, and not eating out any other time during the month!
      • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - We bought flasks for everyone. They were about $8/each at Costco, and we've loved them. We normally use plastic water bottles, but they don't hold up well to travel. These flasks have saved us so much money, as they keep water cold for 12+ hours. They can also keep hot beverages warm for an extended period of time, but we haven't tried it for that purpose yet. Typically on a vacation, we would have spent $25-40 on cold drinks, at the airport, around the pool, etc. Instead, we made great use of the ice machines, and filled with water & didn't buy any plastic water bottles or drinks (other than a couple of smoothies by the pool for the kids). Win! These will help us keep our drinks expenses even lower on an ongoing basis. 
      • Earn another $600 in side hustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - I made $470 in side hustle. I forgot that selling on eBay when I'd be out of town wouldn't work terribly well, so I saved most of those items & they sold yesterday (12/1). I was able to send more than planned to college/mortgage paydown, as we received a check of $828 from our vacation house mortgage after we PAID IT OFF! :-) Escrow refund. We are now diverting extra funds to be shared between college money & our primary mortgage. 
      • Continue our 2019 budget prep, including our plans to try & lower our mortgages, and potentially paying off our vacation house. - We paid off our vacation house, and spent quite a bit of time working on details for our 2019 planning, but it's still a work in progress. 
      • Start & finish my Christmas shopping - We're about 75% of the way there. Still need a few ideas for Sam, but plan to take him to Target today to look around. We did purchase the skis for the kids, and I got my other gifts that need to be mailed out of the way. 


      • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - Definitely. We had a great time in Hawaii, but also have had several puzzle nights, and everyone helped cook on Thanksgiving. 
      • Have a date night with my husband - Not in November, but we had one last night! Just a day short. ;-) 
      • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend, as opportunities arise - Nothing came up this month. I expect this to be something we chat about over the holidays. 
      • Have a fabulous trip to Hawaii - It was absolutely great. No regrets, other than having the kids miss two days of school. It's never been a problem in the past, but the school is incredibly strict, and I didn't do enough research. Despite lots of pre-planning, notification, attempts to do the work early/after, both boys have had several classes drop grades, which is really sad. Lesson learned. Hawaii itself was amazing.

      • Work out every day in November! - YES! I did 30 days of working out (a few days I worked out 2x to make up for travel days, etc). 
      • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - Yes! I really enjoyed it. 
      • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - I don't think so. I didn't track super closely, but I'd say I was more like 4/day. 
      • Lose 2 pounds - My weight stayed the same. 

      • Work from home 2 days - I did this. 
      • Work on my my "homework" from my coach - Sort of. I rushed through the work, post vacation. 


      • Plan sabbatical! Start sketching out dates on the calendar - I haven't done this. 
      • Make one new recipe - Yes! I made several new recipes - bacon stuffing for Thanksgiving, and a leftover rollup with crescent rolls. Both were great. 
      • Spend time with a friend - I don't think I made this happen. 
      • Volunteer at least 1x - Nope. November was hard. I did find multiple donation opportunities, and also went to a Dress for Success event to bring some work clothes I no longer need. 

      Altogether, I'm really happy with how November went. What about you? How did you do with your goals? On to December! 

      Saturday, December 1, 2018

      Rite Aid Haul

      I went to Rite Aid today to spend ~$80 in rewards, as well as to use a 30% coupon. I always forget that the 30% off coupon doesn't apply to on sale items, so it was less useful than I'd expected. This Rite Aid had zero ads/flyers. The cashier mentioned that they didn't receive any this week, so I had to look up some of the items on my phone, and made some errors as a result, because scanning the ad on your phone is not that easy. ;-)

      That said, I feel like I did well with the rewards & got some good stock up items. I also picked up $50 in Netflix gift cards, earning another rebate. We have Netflix (for now, we're evaluating the value of it, but use the movies when traveling, and/or for the kids to watch the occasional show), & buying the gift cards at least gives us a small discount.

      I also was interested in picking up a few snack items for the kids & stocking up on toiletries we use frequently.

      Here's what I bought at Rite Aid:

      • 24 bars of soap
      • A bag of pretzels
      • 3 boxes of popcorn (containing 3 bags each)
      • 2 brownie mixes, for quick treats to bring to friends houses (for the kids)
      • 4 kids shampoo/conditioner/body wash
      • 2 large containers of Head & Shoulders 2 in 1 shampoo
      • 13 mailing envelopes (for eBay purchases)
      • 2 containers of Olay moisturizer with sunblock (this is my every day face lotion)
      • 2 boxes of caffeine free fruit tea
      • 3 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese
      • 4 containers of the toffee peanuts (Sam is obsessed with these). I will need to hide three, and only put out one at a time.
      • 2 $25 Netflix gift cards
      Total price for this was $142.74 (tax inclusive). I used $79.82 of rewards, and paid $62.92. I also earned $14 in new rewards. 

      I realized that I hadn't earned the full rewards on a few purchases (not having the ad), so I had to make a second purchase:
      • 6 bars of soap
      • 2 more Olay moisturizers with sunblock 
      Total spent = $14.17 (tax inclusive), & I earned $16 in rewards.

      In summary, I spent down $79.82 in rewards, earned $30 in new rewards, and paid $27.09. (I'm not counting the Netflix gift cards, as those come out of a different budget). Super happy with the deals, as I was able to pick up eBay supplies, stock up on snacks & tea, and get toiletries that should see us through 2019.

      I didn't find the Chipotle gift cards at my Rite Aid, so may try to find them at another store. 

      What about you? Any wins at Rite Aid or elsewhere? My big win for the week was buying $300 in Home Depot gift cards, and earning $30 at our grocery store. We have many house projects still underway, so these will be used for sure. And, free grocery money? Yes, please!

      Friday, November 30, 2018

      Frugal Friday

      It was so nice to have the long weekend after Thanksgiving! Here are a few frugal things we did over the past week or so:

      1. Made chicken broth from bones, & used that (plus leftover chicken) for soup
      2. Found incredibly cheap turkey, stuffing & gravy on clearance at Costco ($30 marked down to $9). Made that for additional meal options
      3. Used Ebates for holiday shopping to earn cash back. If you haven't signed up for Ebates, it's a quick & easy way to earn a bit of cash back on purchases made online. (This is a referral link), in case you want to try it out, although I'm assuming all frugal blog readers are already members!
      4. Found ski pants at Costco. I avoided buying these all last year, and couldn't button my ski pants (these are pre-kiddo ski pants, and were a slim fit at the time). The cheapest I found these at a ski shop was $65 last year, and Costco had them for $22.) Goodness, I love Costco. 
      5. Bought discounted gift cards for things we'll use (Uber, flights, etc).
      6. Called Costco Travel about an issue with our rental car, and they will be sending us a $35 cash card for the trouble. 
      7. Price matched our sheet set, and will get a $19 rebate.
      8. Remembered a gift card that I had for $27 and would be expiring in December. Used it to buy a Christmas gift. Gift was more expensive at the location where I had the gift card, but was still a better deal considering the $27 in credit. 
      9. Paid for a summer camp, earning a 10% discount by booking early.

      However, in completely non-frugal news, part of the gift card value I earned was put on a local grocery store gift card. 90% sure the cashier never gave it to me, although I may have dropped it while putting it in my purse. So, $40 of store value, gone. I'm pretty sad about that, but if I did drop it, I hope it went to someone who could really use the groceries.

      Lots of frugal things this week, as well as our standard, "eat from the freezer", carpool, etc, stuff.

      Quick update on my freezer challenge for the week:
      1. Lasagna. Pan 1 of 2. This will sub in for a couple of dinners this week. - We've eaten 2/3 of this. Will eat last 1/3 tonight. 
      2. Edamame. We have a bag of shelled edamame that will go well with dinner this week, so I'll add it in
      3. Chicken chowder. I'll defrost a bowl & eat it for my lunch on Friday. - Meeting M for lunch, so this will get bumped to tomorrow's lunch. 
      4. Pot stickers. I'll serve them with dinner this week, although this will certainly not empty the bag. - I was wrong, it did empty the bag. Gone!
      5. Wontons. Same as the pot stickers. This will maybe take care of 1/2 the bag. 
      6. Rotisserie chicken. Use one bag for risotto. - planning to make tomorrow night
      7. Chicken broth. Ditto the rotisserie chicken. I'll have to get creative in finding recipes that will move more than one ingredient at a time! - planning to make tomorrow night