Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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

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

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

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Menu plan & a crazy soccer day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me one great thing about your weekend!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A few frugal things, and splurges too

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

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

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

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

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

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Friday, October 21, 2016

A few milestones achieved, and TGIF

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

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

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

Milestone One:

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

Milestone Two:

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I've learned in 5 years of blogging

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

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

So, what have I learned exactly?

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

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

Monday, October 17, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday - 10/16

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

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Menu plan Sunday

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A peek into our grocery shopping

No pictures, because. . . I couldn't quite pull it together to round everything up after we got home. I had hungry boys on my hands - and they were starving. :-) .

I love seeing what others buy at the grocery store, so here's what we bought this week. I bought everything but the green salsa at Costco, in case you're wondering about sizes. I needed that for my homemade chicken taquitos that I freeze & pull out for a quick & easy lunch.


  • Clementines - $8.99
  • Pears - $5.79
  • Bananas - $1.39x2
  • Grapes - $5.79
  • Organic apples - $9.99
  • Peaches - $8.99
  • Pineapple - $2.99
  • Honeydew - $2.99


  • Carrots - $4.99
  • Broccoli - $5.99
  • Brussel sprouts - $3.99
  • English cucumber (pack of 3) - $3.49x2
  • Kale - $4.29


  • 2% milk - $4.89
  • Goat cheese - $6.79 (two large logs of goat cheese)
  • A brick of Tillamook cheddar cheese - $8.49
  • Organic eggs - $6.39


  • Turkey breast for lunches - $11.37


  • Torta rolls - $6.49
  • Naan - $4.99


  • Green salsa - $2.39
  • Chicken potstickers - $6.99 (I was conned into these by my 10 year old :))
Total spent = $130.95 (Costco) + $2.39 at Lucky (for the salsa)

So, what do we do with all of the food? 

  • Well, the boys have eggs & fruit for breakfast every day. Yes, I try to get M to switch things up, but he's a man of routine. 
  • I eat at work during the work week - supplied by work, so no groceries required. On weekends, I usually have fruit, a smoothie, or an egg on toast.
  • M eats lavosh bread with cucumber & feta, and sometimes a homemade muffin 

  • M & I both get free lunches at work (work week). On weekends, I typically have leftovers or a homemade taquito from the freezer + fruit, and carrots/hummus. I make M a sandwich with whatever's hanging around the fridge.
  • During the school week, we pack lunches for the kids. They have either a thermos with pasta or leftovers, or a sandwich, fruit, a small treat, etc. On the weekends, the kids have things like quesadillas, mac & cheese, chicken, etc.
  • I post my menu every week, and we have salad with every dinner. The kids drink milk, we drink water. We drink wine while making dinner on the weekend.
  • We don't typically have dessert. The kids eat a bowl of fruit in the evenings. 
  • For snacks, I either make something (granola bars, etc), or the kids have smoothies, nuts, etc. We try to limit packaged food.

Other than the potstickers, this is a very typical shopping trip for us. What about you? What do you normally buy at the store?

Friday, October 14, 2016

The windy day brings lemons

When you have a lemon tree, there are sometimes a bunch of surprises on the ground after a storm. Just a few. ;-) Now I have to figure out how to use all of them.

Also, there was a huge storm in the town where we own our vacation house. There is no power, and the news photos look really terrible. I haven't been able to get an update on our house, so fingers crossed. There have been no reported injuries, so I hope everyone in the pacific northwest stays safe & dry this weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The time I got paid to fly

We are flying to Hawaii over Thanksgiving. It's super expensive (even from the West coast). It's complicated, so let me try to break down what happened:

  • We tried a variety of "travel hacks" to use frequent flier miles, and it was impossible. So, we opted to use our frequent flier miles to cover four tickets to Portland for Christmas ($1200+ value). 
  • For the Hawaii flights, we used a companion fare (offer from having an airline affiliated credit card), and then paid cash for the other tickets. Total cost of the tickets after all of that was $1760.03.
  • I also used first class upgrades for the flight there. The upgrades are my reward for having airline status. (I achieve this status on my international work trips, and then use that to status match on my local, preferred domestic airline). I had 6 upgrades, and needed 8. Four people, x2 (the upgrades are only good for one leg of the trip). I wasn't super jazzed to put the kids in first class both ways, because, quite honestly, kids don't need to fly first class to Hawaii. That said, it's a giant waste to have first class upgrades & use them on a 90 minute flight (our typical travels). So, all of us in first class on the way there, and two of us in first class on the way home, with the remaining two travels on the upgrade list.
Of course, the airline changed the return flight a month or so ago. They actually really made it a terrible flight option - we have to fly back at midnight (the kids have school the next day) & they changed the airport. We have to fly back in on a flight that comes into an airport about an hour a way. Sucks, but what can you do. 

  • As a "apology" for those flight changes, the airline gave me $500 in credit for future flights, and also upgraded the other two people in our reservation to first class for the return flight home. Now, the difference in our transportation on our Uber back to the further airport will be about $50, so important to keep that in mind.
And, then on Monday, I got an email from the airline that they made YET ANOTHER change to the flight, consolidated & are using a smaller aircraft, which has less first class seats. And, they need four first class seats back on the return flight. Guess who now happens to have four first class seats? Yes, me. ;-) 

  • I called to find out what the offer would be, and we received a $2000 credit for future flights for dropping down to coach on the return flight. Which, as mentioned about the kids, is totally fine with us. The airport & arrival time on the return still suck. No changes there.
So, if that was complicated (because, I'm exhausted by all of this as well, and we haven't even flown yet), here's the breakdown.

Paid $1760.03 for 4 tickets to Hawaii (from San Francisco).
Upgraded 6 of the seats to first class for free, using complimentary upgrades.
Received $2500 in compensation for various flight changes.
Am left with 4 seats in first class (one way), and a net gain of $739.97. Now, if you also remove the $50 we'll need to cover in additional transportation cost, you're left with $689.97 in credit. 

It's a pretty great deal. :-) We are using hotel points to cover the majority of our hotel costs (5 nights of 7), and are paying around $1100 for the other two nights. Yes, Hawaii over Thanksgiving is super pricey! Next time, we'll plan it around another time of the year.

So, that's my frugal flight story for today. I hope they change the flight again, I've enjoyed racking up the rewards. ;-) I'll use the $2000 to offset future flights, as we travel a lot for family events, etc. How about you? Any big frugal wins to report? 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Using it up & getting things done

I was off to a slow start yesterday, so I'm motivated to check things off my to do list today. But first, a check in on my use it up fridge/freezer/pantry project!

Way back in July I posted about wanting to use up things in our fridge, pantry & freezer. Have I made any progress?

  • Lemons - well, I used all of the ones that I had that day, but more have grown! The struggle continues. :-) 
  • Two unopened tubs of Nutella - 3/4 gone. Although, TSA takes credit for a full jar. Who knew nutella was considered a liquid? I was bringing some to my mom, as she was hoping to make Nutella brownies. Anyway, Nutella brownies are amazing & you should make some. I'll use the rest of the Nutella for that, some other day.
  • Poppy seeds - (lemon poppy seed muffins)
  • 1/2 a bag of quinoa - down to about 1/4 of a bag. Hoping to use the rest in the next month or so. 
  • two tubs of pesto unearthed from the freezer, from many, many batches ago - one gone, one slotted to go into pesto risotto soon
  • 2/3 a bag of chia seeds - no progress. I need to start putting these into other things
  • 1/4 bag of Craisins
  • An enormous quantity of baking chocolate, repurposed from random bars & gifts - have been avoiding baking to try & lose weight, so no progress
  • 2/3 bag of cashew pieces (so, better for baking/cooking vs snacking, as not entire cashews) - no progress.
  • A bag of dried pinto beans (I need to cook these & freeze them for tacos). -Cooked them up today (a pain! Will never buy anything but canned again. Convenience trumps my time in this case. ;-) 
  • 8 individual packs of almonds & trail mix - no progress
  • 3 individual servings of honey peanut butter - no progress
  • 1 1/2 boxes of orzo - down to 1/2 a box 
  • 3/4 a large box of stuffing - no progress

And, here's my lengthy weekend to do list. 
  1. Menu plan
  2. Shopping list for the week
  3. Trip to Costco
  4. Trip to the produce stand
  5. Date night! 
  6. Get cash for the sitter
  7. Make banana bread - don't have enough bananas, so skipping this. 
  8. Laundry - have done 3 loads. Will do one more after soccer games are complete
  9. Saturday soccer game
  10. Sunday soccer game (x2)
  11. Budget
  12. Car rental for Hawaii trip
  13. Finalize plans for trip at the end of the month
  14. Catch up on some email
  15. Drop off books at the library
  16. Schedule for the week
  17. Carpool schedule
  18. Work schedule for the week
  19. Make taco meat - freezer
  20. Make tomato sauce - freezer
  21. Make bolognese sauce -freezer
  22. Yoga
  23. 3 mile run
  24. Sell "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Facebook group sale)
  25. Find one other item to list on FB group

A few hours left to do the rest. I think I can do it!! Woohoo! And, with that, the beans call me. ;-) 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A menu plan & a request for it to cool off

And, by cool off, I'm referring to the weather. Although, I may give up Facebook until the election is over, so that area could "cool off" as well, and I wouldn't mind. ;-)

It's way too hot here today - 85, and standing out in the sun for a soccer game (little brother subbed for older brother's team & scored two goals - it was a fabulous game). I also went on an hour walk with the kids, and all of that direct sun really took it out of me. I'm now crashed out on the sofa. ;-)

Here's what we have on the list for the weekend. I'll get some of this done today, and the rest tomorrow:

  1. Menu plan
  2. Shopping list for the week
  3. Trip to Costco
  4. Trip to the produce stand
  5. Date night! 
  6. Get cash for the sitter
  7. Make banana bread
  8. Laundry
  9. Saturday soccer game
  10. Sunday soccer game (x2)
  11. Budget
  12. Car rental for Hawaii trip
  13. Finalize plans for trip at the end of the month
  14. Catch up on some email
  15. Drop off books at the library
  16. Schedule for the week
  17. Carpool schedule
  18. Work schedule for the week
  19. Make taco meat - freezer
  20. Make tomato sauce - freezer
  21. Make bolognese sauce -freezer
  22. Yoga
  23. 3 mile run
  24. Sell "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books (Facebook group sale)
  25. Find one other item to list on FB group
And, because I like to check things off, here's my menu plan for the week!

Menu Plan
Saturday - date night
Sunday - kebabs, rice & yogurt sauce
Monday - Baked tilapia & pesto pasta
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Spaghetti bolognese
Thursday - Tacos
Friday - Leftovers or risotto

What about you?  Hope everyone on the east coast is staying safe with the weather!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Frugal Friday

It's Friday. Hurrah! Crazy work week for myself & M. :-) I'm still recovering from jet lag. It's taken so long that I feel like I must have a small cold/flu.

Before I get into the frugal stuff, can anyone explain how I can update my blog photo? The one of the beach? I have a nice updated Hawaii one that we took on our trip last year, but blogger is confusing me.

It wasn't a particularly frugal week, but a few things anyway:

  1. Changed hotel locations. Still nice, but we wanted to try somewhere we hadn't been to before (together, at least). More details on the location & activities to come! Also, our revised hotel is much cheaper, and comes with a free breakfast/day & a $100/night credit.
  2. Bought very inexpensive tickets for my parents trip to visit. $150/each, which is about $75/each less than an average ticket.
  3. Made dinner every night this week, even though I was light on plans. ;-)
  4. Used up a bunch of freezer items, including: naan bread (pizzas & gyros from them), the last of the taco meat, the remaining edamame, etc. I'm working towards a freezer clean out, so it's nice to trim back what we have. We are also having pizza from the freezer tonight. (Leftovers, to use up more of what lingers!)
  5. Filled out my expense reports in record time, as I had a few big charges on my personal card. (My choice, as I get hotel points & have a credit card through the same hotel). 
And, that's it for me. We have a standard weekend, full of soccer & kid activities. I'm going to try & squeeze in some rest, as I clearly need it. What about you? What frugal activities have you managed this week? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sometimes you need a little break

Work is really overwhelming right now (more on that later, but the long story made very short . . my discipline isn't valued very much by the organization I work in. My manager & her manager value our work, but every day feels like a need to justify your existence. It's very grating.) M's work is also challenging, and I'm exhausted by life.

The last time M & I got away without the kids was a year ago for our 10th anniversary. When we lived in Seattle, we had help much more frequently from my parents, my best friend, my sister, etc. M & I have a lot of hard decisions to make (where we are living, jobs, etc), and a crazy busy life, and no time to connect. We need time away to bond & connect & also to talk about all of our future plans & goals.

Over the weekend, I tried to talk myself out of planning anything for the two of us. There are many reasons not to. We are going to Hawaii as a family in November. I'm thrilled, but M & I will obviously have zero away time, as one of us will be with the kids at all times. We are also spending time with the family at the holidays. Ditto above. I'm so, so blessed to have the money & flexibility to have these trips, and I'm grateful. But, I need husband time.

It's not the most frugal decision I've ever made, but I decided to take advantage of my mom's newly retired status, and fly her & my dad here for a long weekend. The flights were $150/each, which is the lowest you can find. They will fly in on a Wednesday, and I can skip childcare on Thursday. I don't have childcare on Friday ever (sigh, my nanny) & the nanny has already cancelled for Monday as it's Halloween. My parents are thrilled to see the boys, and my mom has been struggling to adjust to her newly retired status. The boys are thrilled.

M & I debated all of the options, and want to stay close (aka no flying involved). I have platinum status at the Ritz, Marriott & Starwood properties, so I think we'll stay at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay for two nights. It's a huge splurge, & I think we're going to go for it. I may change my mind & book something less expensive. We'll see.

We have enough money to do this. It's hard to find the time & energy to spend time together, & I want to make it happen. We are both very excited about our time away! And now, nosy questions. How often do you have time with your spouse? How often do you actually get away from the kids for an overnight? 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Weekly spending report - 9/26-10/2

I was traveling for part of this time, so I've tried to cobble together the numbers from the credit card statement & miscellaneous receipts M left me with. :-)

  • Monday, 9/26
  • Tuesday, 9/27
    • $15 - hair cut for M
  • Wednesday, 9/28
  • Thursday, 9/29
    • $14.13 - gift for a birthday party Nick attended
    • $22.15 - Sweet Tomatoes 
    • $27.75 - Costco. No idea what this was for, as I wasn't around. 
  • Friday, 9/30
    • $7.75 - ice cream for myself & Sam. "Date night" with my eldest :-)
  • Saturday, 10/1
    • $14.50 - fines at the library. This is what happens when I'm not home & no one corrals the kids books. 
    • $9.97 - impulse stop at Trader Joes. Sam was sick, so I picked up a few things to make him soup, bread, etc.
    • $75.63 - Costco
  • Sunday, 10/2
    • $58.48 - gas for two cars

Total spent = $240.36 - I'll take it! A very low spend week for us. Yeah!!! I'm about to make a bunch of travel purchases, which will drive the cost way up for next week, so it's nice to have a low week on the books first. :-)

How about you? How did you do with your weekly spending? 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October goals

I hope the weather cools off in October. I love the crisp leaves & lower temperatures!

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish this month.


  • Stick to our budget
  • Save $2,500, in addition to our stock vests. 
  • Put $100/each in the boys college funds

  • Have one date night with M
  • Donate, sell or toss 50 items in the house.
  • Clean the garage!
  • Plan one family fun night, potentially a movie, popcorn, game night.
  • Try a new recipe that everyone (including my little guy) will eat. 
  • Find a new nanny. MUST DO.
  • Get our plans sorted out for our Hawaii trip.

  • Lose 2 pounds. 
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits & vegetables 
  • Complete 5 stretching workouts (yoga or pilates)
  • Complete 7 strength workouts
  • Complete 900 minutes of cardio. 
  • Average 1350 calories/day

  • Maximum of one late night/week
  • Work from home at least one Friday this month

  • Read four books
  • Get together with one friend
  • Plan my next girls trip

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in October?

How did I do with my September goals?

The month feels really short, given I was out of town for a week. I'd like that bonus week back, please. ;-)


  • Stick to our budget - Yes! We were actually under by $1300. I'll post a financial review of September soon. 
  • Save $2,500, in addition to our stock vests. - I saved $2,332. So, close. And got a big giant $10K stock vest this month. So, win?
  • Put $100/each in the boys college funds - yes!

  • Have one date night with M - yes, we had a great date on Labor Day weekend. 
  • Donate, sell or toss 50 items in the house. - easily got rid of 50 items, and sold a few things. 
  • Clean the garage! - Yikes, no. This is an "M" project, so I should probably review it from my to do list. 
  • Plan one family fun night, potentially a movie, popcorn, game night. - well, instead we did a date with Sam one night, while Nick was camping with a friend. 
  • Try a new recipe that everyone (including my little guy) will eat. - I found a recipe that 3 of 4 of us will eat, but not Nick. ;-) 

  • Lose 2 pounds.  - Yes! I lost 2.5 lbs. WOOHOO!
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits & vegetables - I finished with 3.5/day. The international traveling kills me, as I have to eat what's available & can't bring anything with me (not allowed to bring produce due to travel restrictions). 
  • Complete 5 stretching workouts (yoga or pilates) - I completed 3 stretching workouts.
  • Complete 7 strength workouts - Yes! I did 9 strength workouts, including 3 on my trip.
  • Complete 900 minutes of cardio. - Nope, only 600 minutes. 
  • Average 1350 calories/day - I finished at 1430, so close. 
  • Stay on track during my epic business trip - I cut way back on the sugar & alcohol while traveling, but still drank more than a normal week day, which increases my calories. I did work out 3 times, which is a new record. 

  • Maximum of one late night/week - yes, except for my trip.
  • Work from home at least one Friday this month - yes, I managed 2x.

  • Read four books - I read six books
  • Get together with one friend - I went for a hike with a friend. 

All in all, I'm very pleased with the month. I'm trying to find a way out of my London trip, and not travel any more in 2016. Fingers crossed! What about you? How did you do in September?