Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Goals Recap

February was a full month, with a ski week thrown in, on top of lots of school soccer, playoffs & the start of the tennis season. Work has also been a ride!

Financial:

  • Achieve savings goals (401K, Nick's 529, Sam's college)
    • 401K - on track
    • Boys college - $5k saved, on track 
  • Earn $200 in side hustle - I made $475 in February. I started listing a lot more on FB Marketplace, and dropped the prices pretty low (no fees or shipping). That seemed to work really well. Additionally, I had a settlement come through, and received a Rakuten rebate. 
  • Use up one bag of freezer burritos + a bag of cranberries. I made good progress, using up:
    • one bag of cranberries
    • Two of six freezer burritos
    • Two containers of pesto pasta
    • Two cans of green beans
Family:
  • Review college spreadsheet with Sam, & help him with his decisions - yes, and we did a college tour
  • Host senior soccer night - yes, done!
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - we did a ski trip
  • Optimize points, perks, miles, etc to keep travel costs in check - swapped Whistler for Tahoe, got very inexpensive hotel rooms thanks to M's perks, and used travel credits to book flights for an April college tour

Fitness:

  • Stretch 2x/week - 6/8 days of stretching
  • Lose 2 lbs - ugh, still no progress
  • Follow training plan for half marathon - yes, minus ski week
  • Strength train 8 times - 6/8 strength workouts, as I was more focused on running in February
  • Follow the No S diet - I only managed to follow this a handful of days in February

Personal:

  • Get together with a friend - met a friend for coffee, and went for a hike with another friend
  • Practice Farsi 10 times - yes, 20 times in fact!
  • Declutter 50 items from the house - yes, I got rid of 78 items
  • Find a pickle ball class - yes, it starts in March & M & I are registered
  • Take the class - The Science of Well Being - I'm a week behind after our ski trip, but otherwise on track
What about you? How did you do with your February goals? Any wins to celebrate, or goals you're carrying over to next month?

Monday, February 26, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

It's been a very busy week again, but having a menu plan always helps us avoid takeout & post-work chaos. 

Here's what's on the menu plan for the week:

  • Friday - home late from skiing, so I just had cheese, crackers & a pear. M had nothing, and the boys were out with friends. 
  • Saturday - grilled burgers & salad
  • Sunday - one pot lemon herb chicken rice
  • Monday - peanut chicken & noodles
  • Tuesday - leftover chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken & noodles
  • Thursday - soccer banquet (Chipotle)
  • Friday - any remaining leftovers
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Frugal Saturday

 We got home from a great ski trip yesterday. The view, coming off of one of the runs. We also celebrated Sam's 18th birthday, and that he got into another college, with a very strong program for his major. 




Saving on things we buy

  • I needed a couple of new bras, and Target sent me a birthday promo code. I saved $5, and also used $2 of Target earnings to offset the cost slightly. 
  • I ordered the boys breakfast ahead of skiing (bagels, breakfast sandwiches) at Starbucks & used rewards & a gift card to offset most of the cost. Next time, we will also bring bananas to have on hand. 
  • We used our season's pass to save 20% off the cost of the exorbitant lodge food. 

Earning money

  • I sold our Soda Stream (never gets used, because teen boys are impatient!) for $20
  • M & I both received checks for $80 each for a settlement. 

Avoiding spending

  • Can't think of anything

Eating what we have

  • Dug chicken curry out of the freezer, and had that for a couple of dinners
  • Baked up a big pan of chicken pieces, and that lasted for a dinner, and three lunches. 
  • I've been every so slowly using up the "Fancy" NYE cheese that didn't get eaten. I've been having a little bit with fruit, when I'm home for lunch. I also made an appetizer tray that featured cheese, and a few leftovers Superbowl snacks (cucumber, buffalo chicken dip & crackers). 
  • After a long run, I ordered takeout sandwiches, and Nick went to pick them up. I was very much craving a sandwich, and our fridge was pretty empty ahead of being out of town. The sandwich place forgot my sandwich. I ended up making myself a breakfast burrito. 
  • We got home late yesterday, so I had cheese, crackers & the last pear. I finished off some of the NYE crackers. 

For others

  • We reunited two lost children during our ski trip - one with their panicked parents, and one with ski patrol. 
We're heading out this morning for a college tour. Fingers crossed we have a decision soon!

What about you? Any wins to share?

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Saturday Happenings

 I'm having a mild lupus flare, so I haven't worked out in the past three days, and that always makes me antsy. Here's hoping we get clarity on our work situation next week (we're doing rolling layoffs), which is the primary cause of my stress.

We also don't know what's happening with our ski plans next week. If Nick's team wins game one of the playoffs today, he'll have another game on Wednesday. We're supposed to leave for skiing on Monday, which won't be possible. If that does happen, M & I have agreed that Sam & I will go look at a couple of colleges instead, and soak up some sunshine. We all have the week off anyway, and I desperately need the break. 

Here's the plan for today:

  • Workout class
  • Take Sam to birthday party (my baby is 18!) & pay. I'll probably bring my Kindle & wait in the car, so I can be there to sign at the beginning & end of the party.
  • Laundry
  • M is taking Nick to his game (it's 90 minutes away), since I hate driving at night
  • I'm going to work on planning the trip to Napa with my mom & sister (we're first running a half marathon, and then celebrating for a couple of days)
  • Work on taxes
  • Nick - study for the SATs
  • List 5 items on Buy Nothing
  • List 3 items out of the eBay pile
  • Prep everything for long run tomorrow
  • I'm working hard on self care right now, so adding a few things to the list:
    • Journal
    • Meditate
    • Stretch
    • Eat 5 servings of fruit & veggies
What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, February 16, 2024

Frugal Friday

Grateful I'm done with one large project (senior night), but I'm now spending a crazy amount of time helping my sister with my aunt's finances. It's really challenging, as she has no impulse control (she's special needs) & has always valued living independently. We want to support that of course, but it's clear she's spending well beyond her means. She is asking for help (and, needs it), but will say she isn't going to spend money, and the next day withdraws $200 intended for bills to pay for fast food & trips to WalMart. It's such a challenging situation & not straightforward given the need for help. She wants to turn over the money to us to manage for her, and is cognizant enough to recognize she can't do it. I'm meditating to give me more patience to deal with everything. I think often of my grandmother, who managed all of this with my aunt well into her late 70s. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used gift cards to buy myself & the teens lunch, after a long run. I eat Subway maybe once/year, but I was absolutely craving it after my ten miler. I used points to offset some of the cost. 

Earning money

  • Sold a race shirt on eBay, earning $10
  • Received a lost property payment from Washington for $46. I filled out the forms what feels like forever ago, so seeing this in the mail was a nice surprise

Avoiding spending

  • I avoided takeout on both the night I was at school & hadn't had time to eat dinner, and on Valentine's Day, when I was unexpectedly pulled into a late meeting at work. 
Eating what we have

  • Ate Super Bowl leftovers for lunches 
  • Defrosted chicken pesto pasta for dinner for myself & Sam (bonus, it was on the freezer/pantry challenge list)
  • Related to the challenge, served the pasta with green beans. I make ours with slivered almonds & parmesan cheese. 

For others

  • Every last spare minute over the last week has been spent on one of two things:
    • Finalizing & running senior night at the school (it was a huge success)
    • Helping take over the finances for my special needs aunt. It's been very, very challenging, but I've made progress & am saving her over $70/month so far, and have found an application for reduced utilities (my dad is taking her for that) & am calling her insurance agent to see how else we can increase the effectiveness of her policy at a lower rate. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, February 12, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 It's a full week, as we have birthdays, as well as Valentine's Day & I'm hosting the big senior soccer event at school on Tuesday. Our menu will look a little different than usual as a result.

  • Friday - gyros
  • Saturday - birthday dinner out
  • Sunday - Superbowl appetizers
  • Monday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Tuesday - I'm going to be prepping for the school event, so I'll grab something to eat out of the fridge, and leave the boys to leftovers
  • Wednesday - Valentine's Day! Assuming everyone will be home, but not entirely sure. We will have garlic butter shrimp (with meatballs for the non-shrimp eater) over regular or gluten free noodles
  • Thursday - gyros
  • Friday - Another birthday, so potentially dinner out
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, February 11, 2024

February goals check in

 February is racing by, so here is a quick update on how I'm doing with my goals.

Financial:

  • Achieve savings goals (401K, Nick's 529, Sam's college) - all on track, but I may need to pull a bit from savings to pay for our Turkey flights (despite now having them in flight credit)
  • Earn $200 in side hustle - I've earned $262 in side hustle
  • Pantry/freezer challenge:
    • Freezer burritos - two of 8 are gone
    • Bag of cranberries - used up in a bag of muffins
    • Chicken pesto pasta - one of two containers are used up
    • Two cheeseburgers (may need to be tossed) - haven't done anything with these yet
    • Bonus: fish sticks & corn dots - six corn dogs used up

Family:

  • Both boys college prep: SAT studying (N), AP studying (both), college spreadsheet (N) - they've done a bit of this, but definitely need more
  • Host senior soccer night - on track for this week
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - we had a fun dinner out, and are going skiing
  • Optimize our points, perks, miles to keep travel costs in check - nothing much to report here
  • Start planning Turkey trip to see M's family - I need to figure out how we're going to use our travel credits
Fitness:
  • Stretch 2x/week - I've stretched 3x so far this month
  • Lose 2 lbs - no progress on this
  • Follow training plan for half marathon - yes, I'm caught up to where I should be in my plan
  • Strength train 8 times - 3/8 times this month
  • Consistently follow the No S diet - I've had about 50% success with this
Personal:
  • Get together with a friend - met a friend for a workout & coffee, and meeting another friend for a hike today
  • Practice Farsi 10 times - 7/10 days so far
  • Declutter 50 items from the house - 42/50
  • Find a pickle ball class - they open for sign ups next week
  • Continue the Science of Well Being class - on track

What about you? How are you doing on your goals for the month?

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Saturday Happenings

 It's a lovely & chilly day today, so I'm off to get my long run done soon. Once I finish today's run, I will be caught up with the weekly distance, after my few weeks of being sick. I do not recommend missing entire weeks of training on a very short 12 week training cycle.

Here's what I'm up to today:

  • 10 mile run
  • Make a menu
  • Shopping list
  • Laundry
  • Have Nick finish THE LAST senior poster
  • Finish up a few tasks for senior night (the end is near!)
  • Work on budget for my aunt
  • Organize the freezer a bit
  • Going to dinner with all three of my boys this evening

That's it for me. What about you? Anything fun in your plans today? 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Frugal Friday

This week has been a ride on the struggle bus. The weather has been terrible, we had some damage to plants/trees in our yard due to a big storm. Work has been... ahem...really painful. My sister & I are stepping in to take over some projects from my parents, as they have been providing support to my special needs aunt & are reaching a point where that's getting complicated for them. Everything has just seemed much more challenging than usual this week. I need to go back & write in my gratitude journal, & remember some of the positives!

Moving on, a few wins for the week:

Saving on things we buy

  • I rarely buy occasion cards (I keep blank note cards at home that we use for almost every event), but picked up a few Valentine's Day cards & used a $3 off coupon.
  • I also bought Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store, as they were having a promotion. I earned $60 in grocery store credit, for future purchases. The store didn't originally register the promotion, but a quick email sorted it out.
  • Speaking of staying on top of offers, my manager noted that he hadn't received Hyatt points for our recent work stay (we were at the same hotel). I checked & found the same. I also noted that I hadn't received any of my rewards/points back from cancelling my Turkey reservations. A quick email also got that straightened out. 

Earning money

  • I sold luggage tags & earned a bit over $100. 

Avoiding spending

  • It hasn't been a very spendy week, because I've been incredibly busy with life. 

Eating what we have

  • Used the last of the Greek style baked veggies to combine with two eggs & a slice of cheese for breakfast after my long run on Saturday. It was delicious. 
  • I forgot to take my prepared electrolyte water on my long run, and the electrolytes are expensive & don't last long once prepared. Instead, I had it when I got home, as it takes most of the day to replenish everything, depending on your run distance. 
  • Sam ate one of our date night leftovers as soon as we got home on Friday, and I ate the rest as my lunch on Saturday
  • I made cranberry muffins to use up cranberries that have been lingering in the freezer forever. I had a tiny amount of sour cream leftover from a dinner, so used that in place of some of the yogurt. I also had a banana that really needed to be used, so tossed that in. And, another mom brought orange juice to our soccer event on Saturday, and some of that was leftover. I usually skip the suggested addition of orange juice, but added it & the muffins turned out great. 
  • I had chicken pesto pasta from the freezer for lunch one day. 

For others

  • Hosted a large soccer gathering, where the younger players made posters for the seniors. Given the party was after a game, we added pizza & cookies to our plans, because ...hungry teens!
  • Continue to volunteer for a very intense project at work, which I'm suited to help with, but isn't anywhere near my responsibility. 
  • Gave a neighbor a ride to/from work. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, February 5, 2024

Change in plans

You might recall that I booked flights to Turkey last week, as well as hotel reservations. Unfortunately, we found out this weekend that my MIL's brother (the one who will travel with her & accompany her on the trip, as well as M's closest uncle that he hasn't seen in 20 years or so & seeing him was a major part of the trip) has to have a follow up surgery to an emergency surgery he had this weekend. The follow up surgery date conflicts with our trip, and he also won't be able to travel in June (our backup plan). He luckily has a very good prognosis, post the second surgery. 

I called United & received future travel credit for all four of us. It's a ton of money, so I've added multiple reminders for myself to use those funds before they expire. We have a year from issuance date to change the date, so we should be able to do next spring or summer. 

We now don't have plans for spring break, but that kind of sounds like a good thing at the moment. We have a ski trip coming up in a few weeks, I'm spending a few days in Napa with my mom & sister after our half marathon, and I theoretically have a work trip to Tokyo in March. Maybe April will be a quiet month, or we'll have the boys spend some time with my parents at our house. Or, if Sam is still undecided about colleges, we can visit the last few. More to come on that.

This also leaves us without a senior trip for Sam, but we'll need to discuss that with him in more detail. We might do a family trip to Bend, which would be fun. My uncle is having a big bike ride for his 70th birthday, and both of the boys want to be there. We could rent a place & also enjoy Bend, although we wouldn't be doing any bike riding. ;-) 

It's a wild ride around here, with things always changing! 


Menu Plan Monday

 We liked the Greek dish we made last week, but we had so much rotisserie chicken that we just did the veggie portion, and served that along side rotisserie chicken. Next time, I'd probably cook the potatoes separately from the peppers, as the peppers/onions got pretty over cooked to accommodate the potatoes. Or, pre bake the potatoes partially in the microwave first. Either way, the flavor was delicious. I've used the leftovers, added eggs & scrambled them up & they are also fantastic that way.

Here's our plan for the week ahead:

  • Friday - date night for the adults, teens on their own 
  • Saturday - pizza/soccer party at our house. Adults - garlic shrimp
  • Sunday - Philly cheesesteaks
  • Monday - chicken pesto pasta (freezer)
  • Tuesday - grilled burgers (freezer)
  • Wednesday - leftover cheeseteaks
  • Thursday - leftover chicken pesto pasta
  • Friday - TBD
What about you? What's on your menu this week? Has anyone tried any great new recipes lately?

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Sunday things

Yesterday was a good & super busy day, so I'm glad we're through that! I'm a little sore from my 8 mile run, but it was better than last weekend's 6 mile run, so I'll take it! I also cleaned the house ahead of our poster making party, which was a success. People stayed pretty late, so M & I threw together a quick dinner after the party wrapped up. 

As for today, here's what's on the to do list:

  • Workout class
  • Laundry
  • Review homework with the boys
  • Make muffins
  • Work on classwork (I'm taking the Science of Well Being class online)
  • Journal
  • Practice Farsi
  • Sort out ski week plans
  • Finalize Sam's birthday gifts/plans
  • Continue working through eBay/FB marketplace pile
  • Find 5 more items to declutter (BN, recycle, etc)
Today feels like an easier day, as my three big tasks (party, long run & house cleaning) were done yesterday. I'll take it!

What are you up to today?

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Saturday Happenings

It's been very rainy here, and I need to do a long run outside. I don't think I can handle the treadmill for 8 miles. ;-) I'm planning accordingly, and it looks like it will stop raining later this morning. Fingers crossed!

M & I had a fabulous date night last night, and bumped into one of my coworkers & his partner. They were with friends who are Persian, and when I told them I was learning Farsi, they had me try some of it out. Let's just say I have plenty of work to do. ;-) We brought our leftovers home to Sam, who was thrilled to have them. 

Here's what we're up to today:

  • Long run
  • Menu plan
  • Shopping list (we're out of fruit - must get fruit!)
  • We're hosting a poster making party at our house for the non-seniors on the soccer team. The posters will be used for the upcoming senior night. 
  • M is picking up a bunch of pizzas for said soccer players. They are coming over after a game.
  • I need to pick up the stuff that's all over the house, since we are having guests
  • Laundry
  • Sam is going to a birthday party, and I need to make sure he's wrapped a gift
  • Drop off shoes at shoe repair place
  • Make muffins (time permitting)
  • Practice Farsi
  • Journal/work on class work
What are you all up to today?