Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Efficiency Hack - part 1, morning routine

I try to optimize much of my life, and love hearing from you about ways you save time & money. At the end of each year, I try to identify a few areas that I'd like to change or modify, and focus on those areas for improvement in the year ahead. I've broken up my tips into a few groups, as apparently, I have a lot to say on this topic. ;-)

I find that a well oiled morning routine makes my life so much earlier. M & I do a bit of schedule shifting, to reduce our need for childcare, as well as spend more time with the kids. I go to work early, and he manages breakfast (and most of the lunches) for the kids & gets them to school. As a result, I can leave work earlier, and handle the late afternoon at home, & dinner prep while he works later. Here are some of the tips or just general plans that make our morning routine easier. You are probably doing most or all of these already, so take what is useful & share your own best tips!

  1. I get up at the same time each day. I go to bed at the same time every night during the work week. And, it's early. :-) I need about 9 hours/sleep a day to stay healthy with lupus, so this is a big priority. Waking up rested is a huge gift you can give yourself. 
  2. We have an espresso machine at home. No need for a coffee shop (I do get free coffee at work about 1x/month). We've had the same espresso machine for about 10 years, and have had it repaired once. It's lovely to have a cup (or, let's be honest -  2) in the morning. 
  3. As soon as I have my coffee, I make my to do list for the day. Once I have all of that written down, it frees my brain up from having to track all of those random items. It also ensures I'm as productive as possible. My first hour at work is typically my most productive, so it's important to have all of my tasks written down to keep me focused.
  4. We make one breakfast for the kids. It involves an egg, toast, & lots of fruit. Although we sometimes vary it on weekends, keeping our routine the same during weekdays helps M quickly get breakfast on the table, and reduces the time it takes in the grocery store, as I always know what we need to buy.
  5. I only wash my hair 2x/week. And, only once during the work week. It makes the getting out of the house routine extremely fast. I could shower at night to save even more time, but find that the morning shower wakes me up.
  6. I invested in a high powered blow dryer a few years ago. It can get my just past shoulder length hair dry in about five minutes. The difference between this & a regular blow dryer is pretty remarkable. I use regular blow dryers in hotels when traveling, as well as when visiting my family, etc. I'd say I save about 10 minutes of active blow drying time. 
  7. I have a streamlined makeup routine. As soon as I get out of the shower, I lay out my makeup. I wear the following every day: sunblock (particularly important as the medicine I take makes me even more sensitive to the sun, and I'm already quite fair), mascara, eyeliner, chap stick, deodorant. I also leave out my toothpaste & mouthwash, and put each item away as I use it. This ensures I remember to complete all of the routine, even when I'm tired. It's amazing what you can forget before you are fully awake. I'm experimenting with cutting out the eyeliner. I don't want to look overly "made up". I also have very, very small eyes, and as I age, my lids have been dropping, making my eyes look even smaller. So, we'll see if I change this up.
  8. I wear a straight forward "uniform" to work. In the summer, dresses, sweaters, and a statement necklace. In the winter, it's jeans with a cardigan & again, a statement necklace. I wear flats or boots. I experimented with packing about 2/3s of my wardrobe a few weeks ago, and have been making do with a capsule like wardrobe. I'm liking it so far. I didn't get the choices exactly right this go round, but I can imagine pairing my wardrobe back much further when I do unpack in March. It takes me about one minute to decide what to wear to work, no fuss when your wardrobe is straightforward.
  9. We tag team lunch prep. While M is making breakfast for the kids, I get out their lunch snacks, round up the lunch bags, and then he makes sandwiches. I add the fruit & veggies, and they are good to go. Again, the lunches vary little. This helps us know what to buy each week. The kids do experience some lunch "fatigue", so they are allowed to buy hot lunch once a month, and I occasionally put leftovers in their thermos. 
  10. I also make the bed & empty the dishwasher between other tasks, so we don't leave the house with a sink full of dishes, or come home to an unmade bed. Yuck. If I've done laundry the night before, I round it up from the drying rack, and have the kids put away their stuff before school. 
  11. The kids also have their own chores. They make their beds, put away their laundry, bring their dirty clothes to the washing machine, and brush their teeth. 
  12. When possible, the kids wear their soccer practice uniforms to school. This makes getting ready much easier in the afternoon. They can add shinguards & cleats & be ready to go. 
  13. I keep my stuff in the same place, every day. My laptop is charging next to my phone, along with my "to do list" notebook. I have my work ID in my laptop bag, and scoop up the laptop, phone, & to do list on my way through the kitchen to the car. No more searching for lost items as I run around the house. 

I'm typically in the office by 7:30, depending on my meeting schedule, so optimizing my early morning routine is priceless. I'd LOVE to find a way to get in a workout in the morning, but short of getting less sleep, I've come up empty on options. What about you? Any tips or tricks to share? What's your best morning routine hack you can share?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekly spending roundup (2/20-2/26/17)

Another week, more house purchases! I track my spending because it helps me feel more connected to our budget, find trends, and typically keeps tighter control over what we actually spend. Not every week, however. ;-)

  • Monday:
    • $111 - landfill (construction debris)
    • $155.83 - paint, Home Depot
    • $315 - summer camp that was almost filled. I paid for the other child using an award I bought through our school auction 
    • $10.56 - produce stand
  • Tuesday - No spend day
  • Wednesday - No spend day
  • Thursday - No spend day
  • Friday:
    • $11.93 - lights at Home Depot
    • $62.47 - paint 
    • -$29.81 - returned something at Home Depot
    • $6000 - drywall/painters
  • Saturday:
    • $13.99 - shoes for me at Costco. I really like them, but they are too big, so I will likely return unless I can find a smaller size.
    • $97.50 - landfill
    • $174 - landfill
    • $226.86 - Costco - trees, dirt, & planters
    • $132 - groceries at Costco
    • $46.53 - wine
  • Sunday:
    • -$188 - sold a necklace on eBay
    • -$511 - another necklace! Shocked by the big price.
    • -$10 - sold 20 of the kids books on a local Facebook swap
Total spent for the week = $6618.86. The sales really helped offset the house spending, which is fabulous news. What about you? Did you track your spending for the week? How did you do? 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday tasks

I accomplished a lot yesterday (yay!) & finally feel like I'm seeing progress with the move packing.

I need to tackle more chores today to get ready for the week ahead. I also didn't pack for my work trip. Two problems. 1) I'm down to a very small "capsule" wardrobe that remains unpacked for the big move. So, if I pack it for the work trip, I won't have much to wear to work this week. :-) 2) I just couldn't go there, emotionally. Really not looking forward to this trip, in the midst of everything else on my plate. But, that's life, kids! Time to suck it up, buttercup.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday de-cluttering, and we all know what that means - less things to pack, move, & then unpack! Woohoo! I also sold a necklace for $188 on eBay. Wow - super happy with the price. The money will go straight towards the *numerous* moving expenses.

Here's what's on my list for today:

  1. Sort out my work schedule
  2. Schedule for nanny, including the days when I'm traveling
  3. Go for a run
  4. Yoga, if time
  5. Bike or walk with the kids to the produce stand
  6. Wash the sheets on all beds
  7. Laundry
  8. Make more dinner rolls for the freezer
  9. Round up M's tax documents
  10. Help M pull out carpeting & staples
  11. Pack for my work trip
  12. Make dinner - homemade pizzas on naan bread & a foccacia that's been lingering in the freezer
  13. Take the kids to football practice/games. 
  14. Read for at least 20 minutes, preferrably in a hot bath.
That's it! If I accomplish all of that, today will be a huge success! What about you? How are you planning to spend your day?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Yoga, packing & cooking

Happy Saturday! I was up bright & early to take advantage of a free "happy birthday" offer from a local yoga studio. I went another time through a freebie at work, so this was my second class. SO GOOD! And, so very hard. I was really sweating. :-) Now it's time to get to work. I'm drinking my coffee (delayed) & my orange/spinach smoothie to kick start the day.

Yesterday, I spent 3 hours & dug out the planter box at the new house. It was over 3 feet deep, and contains crumbling concrete at the bottom. My back is killing me. For next steps, it looks like we will need to fill it with gravel, then concrete, then tile over it. I'll get some more "in progress" pictures, as well as the rest of the house.

For today, I need to accomplish the following:

  1. Make rolls to go with dinner
  2. Menu plan
  3. Make a Costco list
  4. Clean the fridge
  5. Buy groceries (Costco & produce stand)
  6. Pack. Ahhh, the ongoing saga contines ;-) 
  7. Move the garbage & recycling to the new house (we transitioned service locations)
  8. Clean out both freezers, and use any older items in our menu for the week. I don't want to move old stuff.
  9. Go through some paperwork, and figure out what I can shred.
  10. Do some yard work at the new house.
That's it for me! I'm going to kick start with the menu plan for the next two weeks. I need to prep some food for the crew, as I leave a week from today for Tokyo, then London. :-( 

  • Saturday - ham & potato soup with homemade rolls. I'll sub chicken for the ham, as we prefer it, and I have it on hand. 
  • Sunday - naan and flatbread pizzas, using up a variety of freezer options
  • Monday - lubia polo (freezer) + yogurt sauce
  • Tuesday - leftover soup, rolls, & spinach salad
  • Wednesday - leftover pizzas
  • Thursday - fiesta chicken (freezer) 
  • Friday - I have meetings in the city until 5 or so, which means I won't be home until late. Leftovers (if there are any), or potstickers & chicken.
  • Saturday - boys on their own. Will pick up a pizza for the freezer
  • Sunday - boys on their own. Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Monday - boys on their own. Pasta & grilled chicken.
  • Tuesday - boys on their own. Tacos (need to brown taco meat for this). 
  • Wednesday - boys on their own - leftovers
  • Thursday - boys on their own - leftovers
  • Friday - boys on their own - my assumption is that they will do pizza or go out. 
  • Saturday - I arrive in SFO around lunch time, so I'll sort something out.

What about you? What's on the menu for the week? And, do you go to yoga classes, or prefer it at home? 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Frugal Friday

I took today off using one of my comp days (woohoo!), and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm in the home stretch & time is running out for packing. I have a long to do list, but first, the frugal activities for the week!

  • Got home late on Sunday after various kid activities, & debated ordering takeout. Sounded particularly appealing, as our picky eater wasn't home. Stood strong & made dinner instead.
  • Biked to the new house 2x for various chores/errands
  • M continues to do a significant amount of work at the house. Many of these projects are pre-arranged with the painters, flooring guy, etc to save money. For example, M is ripping up the carpet himself, making trips to the dump, doing some patching, etc. This allows the contractors to focus on the projects that only they can do (well, technically M could, but not to the same level of quality in almost any case) & still saves money. 
  • Made smoothies from our oranges in the yard.
  • Got home late again on Tuesday, due to a last minute switch up in the soccer carpool because of a field change & excessive rain. Really didn't want to cook. Did it anyway. :-)
  • Noticed my preferred airline was having a sale, and used all of my confirmation numbers to validate pricing & request matches to the lowest fare. This saved a total of $76, that is now credited to my account for future purchases. I've earned back $112 over the last month or so by doing this, and will use these credits towards our summer travel. 
  • Found free moving boxes (more!) on our neighborhood alias, and used our local newspaper (free) + flyers to wrap our glass serving ware. 
  • Made rolls on Sunday, in an ongoing attempt to reduce our purchased bread. 
  • Used my day off to rip down the "awesome" plexiglass structure at the new house. 
  • Remember the prospective tenant that I showed around a few weekends ago for our landlord? He & his family our going to rent the house - taking over the lease effective on 3/15! This is great news from a budget perspective. Less so from a timing perspective, as I have a business trip right before that. Details on my move plan to come. Unfortunately, just found out this am from our landlord that the tenant's project was cancelled, and he's backing out of the lease. :-(
  • Used ALL of the leftovers in the fridge this week. As far as I know, this has never happened, well. . . ever. When I open the fridge, there are things to make meals with, but not a scrap of leftovers for me to utilize. In fact, I thought I had enough for dinner cobbled together yesterday, but the boys have been attending a six hour basketball camp, and M had been ripping out carpet. Everyone was starving. I had to get really creative to find a second & third round of options for people.
With that, I'm off to tackle my day! A few glimpses of what I'm hoping to accomplish - dig out the "planter", go for a run, pack, & maybe make banana bread! Can't wait. I love bonus days off.

What about you? What frugal things have you accomplished this week?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Weekly spending roundup - the house projects edition (2/13-2/19/17)

House projects are really, really expensive. ;-) We bought a house that was built in the 1950s, and while overall in good shape, had some very dated design decisions. We've been addressing as many issues as possible before moving in.

Rather than listing out all of the many expenses separately, I'll try to aggregate them, for my sanity.

  • Monday 2/13 - no spend day
  • Tuesday 2/14 - no spend day
  • Wednesday 2/15 - no spend day
  • Thursday 2/16 - $37.79 - dinner out for Sam's birthday
  • Friday 2/17:
    • $3.99 - movie rental for Sam at his sleepover
    • $33.13 - gas
  • Saturday 2/18:
    • Landfill (taking old supplies from the house) - $546
    • $36 - light fixtures
    • $792 - paint. I feel like this can't possibly be right. Maybe M bought duplicates & will return leftovers? I'm not even sure. 
    • $5.41 - Sam conned me into the beef brisket sandwich at Costco. He's 11 & skinny, and while I do feed him, he is clearly going through a growth spurt & gets famished within 10 minutes. In positive news, it lasted for a lunch & a snack. 
    • $100.45 - Costco, for the weekly groceries. Included bonus splurges of spinach & beets, because I'm trying to up my veggie intake. 
  • Sunday 2/19 - 
    • Sam's college ($100 was a birthday gift from my parents) - $115
    • $315 - registration for summer camp
Total spent = $1884.77 

We start to pay the contractors (painters, drywall person, & flooring) in the next week or so. . . *shivers*. What about you? Do you track your spending? How was your week?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Construction photos

Because I'm too afraid to tally up our weekly spending (seriously, all of the house projects!!!), I'll instead show some of the photos from today.

As promised, our house has a very . . . interesting master bath. There are a few problems.

  • The tub/shower has an indoor planter. . . 
  • And, a plexiglass screen/shed situation right outside the window.
Please feast your eyes on the before picture (note the super dingy lighting - also an issue). The white bar across the plants are our drapes. The painter thought that would be a great place for the master bedroom drapes. But, I digress. 

It absolutely killed me to look at that plexiglass "situation", so I committed to using my day off today to sort it out, and take advantage of M's rental trailer to dispose of everything.

It was pouring buckets today. It's not every day I choose to tear down my master bath plexiglass "shed", but when I do, I choose the best days.

I used a mallet & was able to take down most of it in 90 minutes or so. Part of it had been exposed to the elements, so the wood wasn't exactly structurally sound. There was a small section that had either been replaced, or had dryer wood, so it was tougher to extract. I'm also counting this as my workout for the day. :-) 

But, I prevailed. I got it all down, and then went to tackle the "planter box". I immediately removed all of the dead flowers (assuming it was a shallow little dip in the tub holding cute, albeit dead, potted plants,) and discovered. . .  a 2' bucket of dirt. Oh boy. Seriously. It's really deep, folks. I'm going to need a wheelbarrow to remove all of the dirt. And then what? What am I going to do with this awkward space????!! 

At least all was not lost. The shed came down. I got to take all of the pieces to the landfill. Plexiglass is dead. Of course, the fumigation killed the plant outside that was potentially going to offer some cover for the shower, but. . . can't win 'em all.

Later tonight, I may head back over with the wheelbarrow & my spade (because. . . they just painted the bathroom & I don't want to ding anything with a giant shovel) & get to work.

If you have tips, suggestions, or just mocking laughs for my home improvement project, please share. If you've ever seen anyone repair the planter shower box, please advise. :-) 

Construction projects on a rainy Monday & the shower window

I'm loving this bonus day of the weekend! Just a quick post, because I'm off to do something new & fun today. :-)

When we bought our house, there were some very interesting design "decisions". One of my least favorite is the master shower. It has both a built in planter (previously containing live plants - picture falling leaves, dust & dirt all over your shower), as well as a pink plexiglass "screen" outside of the house, near the shower. I suppose this was a good option to blocking the view into the shower from the yard? I get the need for privacy, but there were many, many other suitable options: blinds, a mature bush, filmed window . . .

I've been complaining about the shed for a week or so, and M has been busy with other projects. So, today I will go to the new house & tear down the plexiglass shed/screen. Should be fun!

In other news, I've made muffins this morning (cranberry - M's favorites) as a special treat for M & the crew at the house. I also need to wrap up our weekly schedule, email the nanny, compost all of the lovely "shower plants", prep for my interview tomorrow, and go to the produce stand. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time for all of that!

What about you? Have you done construction projects (or, demolition, more appropriately) before? Do you have a window in your shower? How do you provide privacy?

I will try to get before & after photos!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

We are 50 days into 2017

Can you believe it??? It has been an absolutely hilariously hectic year so far. My goal is to get as much of the crazy out of the way early in the year, and to relax & coast for the rest of the year. That's how that works, right? ;-)

A special thanks to Sam for keeping us all in check & reminding us that the year is 50 days "old"!

A quick look back at my original 2017 goals post reveals the following optimistic goals for the year. Commentary & progress now added.

1) Financial - Figure out our housing situation, and get it all resolved (i.e. moved, job changes as needed) before school starts. - well, this one is mostly resolved, but some of the details are still a bit work in progress, as we finalize our move. But, lots of work has happened on this one. This has, in fact, sucked up the majority of our time in 2017 so far!
  • Decide what to do with our Seattle house. Contingent upon location. - we have decided to sell, and provided notice to our existing tenants. Their lease ends in May (first of June), so our goal is to have the house sold by September. 
  • Move! - I'm about 1/2 way through the packing, but we are still waiting on a final move date. TBD based on getting renters into this house, and the home repairs/updates we're doing. 
  • Build/follow a 2017 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2017 "post-job budget", after.- This will now be a "post move/new house" budget, and then in September, hopefully a "no rental house" budget. I've mostly finalized the first, but haven't started the second. 
  • Inventory & track our various stockpiles, so we reduce waste & minimize what we need to move. - Yes, I've been tracking our stockpiles & reducing purchases in anticipation of our move.
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need on an ongoing basis. Examples I've kicked around: find an alternative to all of the ziplock bags/plastic wraps we use for kid lunches. Put a container in the shower to save water for the yard. Collect rain in buckets. Create a compost bucket for the kitchen, so it's easy to compost food scraps. All of these are meant to be permanent changes, so not focused on one time savings. - Yes, in January I started using newspapers for cleaning mirrors. In February, I've been walking or riding my bike on errands. I have also been using newspaper for packing - why have I been recycling all of this time? 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family! - we've done okay with this overall, but have been pretty busy for sure. 
  • 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.  - We've done well at making dinner together & playing many games of Uno. :-) 
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - We're doing okay. I try & turn errands into opportunities for bike rides, which helps a bit. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening)  - We've had a total of three dates so far this year, and plan to spend tomorrow together for a few hours while the kids are at a camp. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 133. This may sound familiar, as it's also a carryover goal from last year! - So this is once again the area where I'm struggling. 
    • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan. - No. 
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm more in the range of 3/day.
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio - I'm at 10% of the goal, with nearly 14% of the year elapsed. January & February are never very strong months, due to the weather & daylight savings. 
    • Complete 50 strength workouts. - I'm at 20% of the goal, so trending on pace/slightly above. Woohoo!
    • Complete 50 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. - I'm only at 5% of my goal, so way behind. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance. - This goal is changing a bit to finding a lower stress job overall, regardless of career impact. I'd like to find a job where I'm learning a new hard skill, but within my larger company so I can retain my compensation package. 
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress (until I leave) - This has been hard, overall. We are in the middle of a full team restructure. The end goal, if I stay on my current team, will be positive, but the process has been challenging.
    • Determine an end date for my job. - I'm currently applying for a new job, which will hopefully be less stress. It will definitely be little/no international travel, and no managing people in four time zones. Also, no operational on call work, with would be a huge improvement from where I'm at now. 
    • Take time off from my job. - I plan to take a week off between roles? ;-) 

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits. - I've actually done "okay" with this. I've loved getting into baking more. It's definitely a peaceful pursuit for myself. 
      • Learn a new skill. I'm thinking of learning a new language, but would be fine with anything: sewing, knitting, expanding my baking, etc. - I've been baking yeast rolls regularly now, and also tried two new cookie recipes, and a few additional new Persian recipes. 
      • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month. - I'm doing okay with this. Mostly finding time to hike & chat with a friend. I'd like to add in another activity. A potluck, a card/game night, something. Our new house has more space, so hopefully I can make this happen.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - Yes! I've volunteered 2x so far, and volunteered to host a party for our school auction, which is pretty far outside of my comfort zone. 

      All in all, things are going pretty well. . . . except for that pesky fitness. When I'm working out regularly, I'm taking care of myself. My own self care has fallen pretty far down the line of priorities while we've struggled with other significant activities this year. If I had to summarize what needs to change, I'd describe it as: greatly reduced treats/general stress eating, and greatly increased fitness. I'd like to sign up for a 5K, so I have a bit of momentum to start training for.

      That's it for me! What about you? How are you doing with your yearly goals? Anything you are knocking out of the park? Or, anything you want to double down & refocus on??

      Recipe recommendation, & happiness for the three day weekend

      M spent all of yesterday at the new house, demolition style. The house had a bunch of "built in" features we didn't want (TV in the bedroom that was built into the cabinets, built in china hutch, a 1950s speaker system, a garage with a variety of crumbling built in shelving, etc). M has signed up to dismantle everything so that the painters can patch & cover all of the oddities. We're saving about $4,000, and includes him taking all of the materials to the dump. He's been at it for a few days now - I'm so grateful he's handy!

      I did yoga yesterday (felt amazing!!! Why don't I do it every day???), took boys to & fro to soccer, went to Costco 2x (a change in menu plans, but it was worth it), listed something on eBay, and took care of some paperwork at home.

      I bought ground beef at Costco, with an expectation that I would make meat loaf. Everyone was "neutral" on it last time I made it. I decided to experiment with a different recipe, and a quick Allrecipes search turned up Baked Spaghetti. I've made Baked Spaghetti before, but the recipe has always turned out pretty dry, & nothing to write home about. This recipe, however, was incredible. I made it exactly as called for. I'll add that it's super rich. Three of us ate it (Nick won't eat things mixed together, so ate pasta & meatballs), and it will likely make 4 dinners for 3 people. The key step was to dreg the spaghetti noodles through the butter/parmesan blend before baking. It made all of the difference! If you have a smaller family or don't like leftovers, I recommend cutting this in half. Enjoy!

      Here's our menu plan for the upcoming week:

      • Saturday - Baked spaghetti
      • Sunday - chicken risotto
      • Monday - homemade naan pizza
      • Tuesday - leftover baked spaghetti
      • Wednesday - leftover risotto
      • Thursday - leftover pizza
      • Friday - tacos

      So, what's on the to do list for today?

      1. Thanks to Sam, I want to do a goal check in, now that 50 days of the year have elapsed.
      2. Yoga
      3. Laundry
      4. Make homemade rolls
      5. List 2 more things on Ebay
      6. Help the boys with their packing
      7. Take the kids to football
      8. A trip to the library
      9. Produce stand
      10. Gather all tax documents
      11. Wash all of the bedding
      12. Have Sam write birthday thank you notes
      13. Some sort of low impact cardio (my leg is still bothering me)
      14. Finish up some budgeting work
      15. Read my book for at least 30 minutes.
      That's it! Do you have any good recipes to share? What's the one thing you hope to accomplish over this long weekend (if you are lucky enough to have a bonus day off?)

      Saturday, February 18, 2017

      The month of fitness that wasn't

      I'd really hoped that February would be a month where things came together for my fitness. I started off by being sick, which meant almost no working out. Then that ended, and a ton of stress meant I turned to treats, which I'd done a good job of avoiding. I'll have more details on the stress, but that's a full post of its own. We have house stress, & M's job's work stress, plus a full restructuring of my current team, and more. . . In terms of fitness, I did manage a big hike on Sunday, but pulled a muscle in my leg - the soleus? I'd never heard of it, but let me say, it's painful just to walk around the house.

      So, I'm a little afraid of what's happening with my health & fitness, and I really, really need to get out of the cycle of turning to treats to reward myself during times of stress. Yes, I need to also find ways to eliminate the stress. :-)

      I think I can do yoga today, and have that on the agenda. My body is craving activity (finally!), so it's very frustrating to feel limited by a muscle strain. For those of you who have been pregnant, remember the muscle cramping/charlie horse? It's like that, but permanently in a very specific muscle in your lower leg. Youch!

      Life, of course, doesn't stop during stressful times, so here's what's on the agenda. Sam had a friend over last night for a birthday sleepover, and they didn't get much sleep, so I'm starting off the day with A LOT of coffee! On the bright side, it's a three day weekend. Woohoo!

      • Nick has an age group soccer scrimmage this morning, as part of the final tryouts for teams.
      • Sam has the same, but 8 hours later.
      • I need to make a menu, and a Costco list.
      • Yoga is a must
      • I also need to plan my schedule for next week, including work out time. I haven't been accomplishing this, and it's very obvious
      • Pack
      • Get rid of the things that haven't sold on my Facebook group & donate them to Goodwill
      • A trip to Costco, the produce stand, and my local grocery store
      • Make muffins
      • Start moving things to the new house (the garage, as we are still doing flooring & painting)

      On a more personal note, I'm usually a VERY positive person, but have struggled a bit with this over the past few months. It's a combination of factors, but I'm not enjoying this new phase & need to practice better self care. More baths, more walks, more yoga, less junky food, better work stress management, and less constant influx of news (because. . . that's just an opportunity for frustration).

      There have been positive things that have happened, so let's celebrate them a bit, shall we? What good things have happened over the past week or so?
      1. My manager was so impressed with my efforts over the past few months (I covered for multiple people for almost a quarter during our busiest time of the year, including her) that I received a $500 bonus. Typically, it's cash. In this particular case, it was a gift card to a spa. She wisely knew I wouldn't use it on myself unless it was a gift card. ;-) She has also insisted that I take a few comp days now that everyone is back in the office, & treat myself to a spa visit. Win/win! 
      2. Sam had a buddy over last night, and rather than getting pizza delivery (typically around $30), M picked up a Costco pizza. We still have almost half left & the kids loved it). M had the remainder of another dinner, & I had bits & bobs of each. I also made homemade popcorn for the movie, and gave each child a small bowl of my favorite chocolate (a birthday gift for a coworker). Best to give it to the kids. A frugal celebration at home!
      3. M is handling the house stuff amazingly well. Basically, he's pulling together all of the house projects, timelines, supplies, etc. I'm so grateful that this is something he can cover, because I'm terrible at it, and it stresses me out.  
      4. M & I have been stressing over the house situation - the move, finding new renters, the housing projects, timing, etc. In the car yesterday, Nick told M, "I'm so proud of our family. We worked together & accomplished something really great - we bought a house & now we can stay in our same school." Sometimes the impact of a situation can get lost on kids, so it was a nice reminder that it is a HUGE accomplishment, despite all of the stress. ;-) 
      5. I have a bunch of fun stuff coming up in April! My parents are coming to hang with the kids over spring break, and they are awesome. And, I'm going to the beach with my sister & best friend for a very much needed girls trip. Just having that to look forward to is putting a spring in my step.

      Lots of rambling in there. ;) What are you up to this weekend? And, tell me one good thing that happened to you this week!

      Friday, February 17, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      This week involved Sam's birthday, Valentine's Day, and a crazy work week. We also started getting work done on the house - the first room with paint looks amazing! The house previously had all white, & I prefer a more colorful decor.

      Here's what we were up to this week:
      • Walked to & from the produce stand & Rite Aid (same complex) to pick up our supplies & my prescription. I have to be cautious not to buy too much, or it gets heavy on the return walk. ;-) I bought: lettuce, tomatoes, mini cucumbers, radishes & wheat lavosh bread.
      • Remembered to use my Starbucks free birthday reward (Starbucks is in the same complex as well) & picked up a sandwich that M ate for lunch on Saturday. 
      • Showed our current rental house to a prospective renter. Not frugal yet, but if it means we get out of our lease early . . . ! 
      • Used saved newspapers & a few spare cleaning towels to wrap our nice stemware. Speaking of, I think it's time to donate the vast majority of this stuff. I almost never use it.
      • Found a few additional items to donate, as part of the packing process. Although not entirely frugal, having less to clean & maintain is great!
      • Used a coupon when we went out for Sam's birthday dinner. Saved around $15, for a total of $39 for four people (including tip). It's not a place I love, but he likes it. ;-)
      • M & I had a free babysitting option for Valentine's Day (just a few hours), so we had dinner at home with a bottle of nice wine we already had on hand. No out of pocket expenses, and the boys event came with free pizza.
      • Received the $36 for my eBay sale (a scarf), & put that straight into our savings account.
      • Started another soccer carpool, which reduces driving time/gas for both the nanny & us and also allows the non soccer player that day to get more homework done. 
      • Continue to manage my work schedule to minimize nanny time. This is more of a request of my nanny, btw. But, the boys have done well with me taking calls while they are at home. 
      • Baked more rolls last weekend, which is starting to reduce our expensive sandwich bread purchase at Costco ($5.99/package ciabatta rolls).
      • Used my Rite Aid plenti points to buy last minute Valentine's candy for the boys. They'd declined before because "Valentine's Day is uncool", but changed their minds at the 11th hour. While there, I shopped for a Valentine's Day card for M, but found nothing. Saved myself $6 by making my own card.
      And, not really in frugal news, but in terms of the long view, I had an informational interview with another team at my company. They do very different work than my current team, and if it plays out the way I hope, it means I could extend my employment. That is definitely financially beneficial. :-) The job involves, at most, one international trip a year, minimal global team management, and much less "on call" holiday/weekend/evening operational work. So, fingers crossed!

      That's it for us! What about you? Any frugal wins this week? 

      Monday, February 13, 2017

      Weekly spending roundup (2/6-2/12/17)

      Another week flew by - this time with the spending on the house ratcheting up! We also had a birthday in there, and have another birthday coming up this week.

      Here's what we spent:

      • Monday (2/6) - No spend day
      • Tuesday (2/7)
        • $35 - wire fee for the house purchase
      • Wednesday (2/8)
        • $237.97 - a chair for the new house, from Costco. I haven't seen this yet, so not sure if it will stay. M bought it on a whim. ;-) 
      • Thursday (2/9) - No spend day
      • Friday (2/10)
        • $3000 - fumigation for the house
        • $24.67 - a key pad for the garage at the new house. Amazingly, the house didn't come with a single garage door opener. The sellers couldn't find them. . . Or, remotes for the built in TVs that came with the house.
        • +$100 - birthday gift for the parents. They rarely send anything, but wanted us to go to lunch to celebrate the big day.
        • $87.77 - birthday lunch out with M. This is our date for February. :-)
        • $74.77 - dinner out with the kids
        • $10.50 - cupcakes
        • $19.52 - champagne
        • $9.49 - ice cream
      • Saturday (2/11)
        • $11.84 - bleach for the pool
        • $17.24 - paint at Home Depot
        • $30 - hair cuts for the boys
        • $11.31 - produce stand (radishes, tomatoes, lettuce, mini cucumbers & wheat lavash bread)
        • $110.22 - Costco, for the remainder of our groceries
      • Sunday (2/12)
        • $40.91 - gas
      Total spent for the week = $3621.21. Minus the fumigation, it's a much more reasonable $621.21. But, still an expensive week, with lots of birthday splurges. How about you? How did you do with your weekly spending? 

      Sunday, February 12, 2017

      Sunny Sunday

      The meeting with the prospective tenant yesterday went very well. I think there's a 50% chance his family will choose to rent the house.

      I also walked to the grocery store and to pick up a prescription yesterday. It was relaxing & nice to combine two errands with some exercise. I spent the rest of the day packing. Oh, my back! I also biked back & forth to the new house, so we could put up the basketball hoop from our current house. Those things are insanely heavy & required several hours of dismantling & putting back up.

      We closed out the day with a glass of wine (it was a gift, and I didn't like it that much, but waste not/want not, & I certainly wasn't going to move it) & a Persian cutlet dish (from the freezer). M made a yogurt cucumber sauce & roasted potatoes to go with it, while the kids played tennis. Nice & relaxing, at least for the evening hours. We were all really productive during the day, so we relaxed a bit in the evening.

      On to today! Both boys have futsal, so M is taking them to their games/practice while I go on a hike with a friend this morning. I love combining a social activity with fitness, so it's a huge win for me. What else is in store today?

      • Return library books
      • Wash all of the sheets
      • Sort our schedule for next week (nanny, carpooling, work, etc)
      • Wrap Sam's birthday gifts
      • Corral Nick into working on his book report
      • Make rolls
      • Make hummus
      • Call our internet provider for the new house
      • Laundry
      • Register the boys for a summer camp
      • Transfer our trash service
      • And, time permitting - yoga! My back is killing me

      Oh, and here's the menu plan for the week:

      Saturday - Cutlet & potatoes
      Sunday - kebabs & rice
      Monday - Leftover cutlet & rice
      Tuesday - Leftover kebabs & rice. Maybe with wine, as it's Valentine's Day. :-)
      Wednesday - I have a work dinner, so M & the boys will have spaghetti & meatballs
      Thursday - Sam's birthday. I'm thinking he'll want to go out to Sweet Tomatoes.
      Friday - If there are any leftovers, we will have that. Hard to tell by looking at the menu. If not, I'll make chicken risotto

      The weather is gorgeous today, and the forecast is calling for more rain, so I have a feeling we will be outside as often as possible. Yeah for a little bit of sun to break up the winter weather! What about you? What's on your agenda for the week? 

      Saturday, February 11, 2017

      Fingers crossed - it's realtor time

      Not really "realtor" time, but our landlord is out of town today, so I'm showing our rental house to a prospective tenant. Fingers crossed that this person is interested, as we are on the hook to pay rent until it we find someone else to take over the lease.

      So, what's on the to do list for today?

      1. Clean the house
      2. A trip to the library
      3. Making the menu for the week
      4. A trip to Costco
      5. Laundry
      6. Washing all bedding
      7. Wrapping Sam's birthday gift
      8. Sorting out the summer camps I bought in the school auction
      9. Going for a run
      10. Squeezing in yoga?

      I think that will be all. I do need to sort the menu, so that M can hit up Costco. So, that's it on our end! The "new' house is being fumigated, so after that, I'll have pictures! What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this week?

      Friday, February 10, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      Today will be less frugal, as it will involve a birthday dinner out, potentially lunch, and . . . champagne! :-) But, we were frugal earlier in the week. For my birthday, the boys know just what I like. I received new kitchen towels (the others are 15+ years old), & an electric kettle for all of my tea making.

      Here are some of the frugal highlights for the week:
      • Line dry the majority of our clothes (our typical policy). We do machine dry our towels.
      • Used our yard fruit to make smoothies, along with frozen spinach that was rescued before it could go bad.
      • Used a price matching tool through my preferred airline to receive a $36.78 credit for a future flight. I routinely check all of my trips to see if the prices have dropped, and request credit. I will apply this credit to one of my summer flights.
      • I was out of chocolate chips & had them on my Costco list. I wandered past the clearance section of my local grocery store & found Hershey's bags on sale for $.57/bag. I bought 7 bags & saved approximately $6 over the Costco price for the same size. 
      • I also found tortilla chips on sale at Lucky, and was able to save $.99 on the same size vs at Costco.
      • No meals out
      • Sold a scarf on eBay for $30!
      • Ran (i.e. no car, using my legs :)) to the new house to drop off a few essentials & weigh in on tree placement in the yard.
      • Using a comp day from the holidays to relax, clean the house, & celebrate with no work!
      I'm also volunteering at the school this afternoon, which I always enjoy. Happy Friday! How have you been saving money this week?

      Tuesday, February 7, 2017

      Small goal update

      At the end of December, I wrote a post on needing to set some smaller goals to keep me busy & sane while we solved some of our larger looming housing/location questions. It turns out that we have taken a big step towards solving our housing/location question, but I still like having the smaller goals. Here's how I'm doing so far, with one month complete.

      • A toiletry challenge! Use my $75 of Rite Aid plenti points, and make them last until June. I had a brief misstep when I bought eyeliner with cash vs plenti points. But, I made up for a few nights ago by using my Plenti points to buy Nick a pack of Magic cards. He gave me cash from his wallet to offset. So, I'm now clear on the toiletries spending (i.e. using no cash for 2017 so far). Whew! That was complex. ;-) I currently have around $80 in plenti points, so I've grown the stash! I've also been keeping an inventory of things we need, and we have plenty of everything. We should be in good shape for a while. 
      • Tracking all of our clothing purchases. I've tracked everything we've bought so far. Our budget in 2017 is $1500 for all four of us. So far, we've spent $251.31. The vast majority of that has gone to the boys soccer uniforms. Spent so far:
        • Slippers for me (on the shopping list for 2017) - $8.09. Happy about this purchase, as it's been a very cold & wet winter, and we have all wood/tile floors.
        • Returned a jacket at Costco $-13.02
        • Boys soccer uniforms - $306.72
        • Gloves & a base layer for Sam during a soccer tournament - $20.02
        • Returned a ski helmet & top for me $-70.50

      • Every month, look for one permanent way to cut costs. It's totally fine (and, likely) that these will be small cuts that will add up over time. In January, I discovered that I could clean our mirrors with newspaper vs paper towels. We get a free local newspaper once/week, and it comes with plenty of papers to get us through our standard cleaning. I've also discovered that I like walking to go get our groceries from the produce stand, although it's not always practical. I often go between other errands. I may try in February to replace two car trips/month with walks. 
      • Come up with two date night suggestions that don't involve an expensive meal out. - I didn't do this in January. We had no date nights. Lots of time together chatting about the house, but no time, energy or money for a date night. Instead, I've found a free date night for Valentine's Day. A local camp near us will be hosting the kids & offering a free movie/dinner for the kids. Super excited. We will have dinner at home, with wine or champagne to celebrate Valentine's Day. 
      • Maximize my travel hackingI'm not sure what 2017 will involve for work travel, but there are lots of opportunities to use points & credits for their best value & by keeping track of all of our rewards, it helps to ensure I'm using them well. - I haven't explored this. It's been crazy with the house, but this is something I plan to do. I have bought one plane ticket so far, for just under $175. I did explore lots of other options for purchasing that ticket (using a credit on another airline, etc, but the flight times just weren't practical.)
      • Make $100 selling things on Facebook. - Yes! I've sold $131 worth of stuff so far. I'm setting a new goal of $300 for the year. We actually have gotten rid of SO MUCH stuff, but I feel like the move will generate a few more options for us. 

      I love the small goals. They keep me focused on the day to day, while we work on the larger goals in background. How about you? Any small goals you're working on in 2017? How are they going?

      Monday, February 6, 2017

      Weekly spending roundup (1/30-2/5)

      Keeping track of our spending helps me understand where our money is going, identify trends & areas where we can improve, and just generally makes me feel good about our budget.

      Here's what we spent over the past week.

      • Monday - no spend day
      • Tuesday - no spend day
      • Wednesday:
        • $561.75 - enrolled the boys in camp for the February break
        • $215.99 - Sam's birthday present. A laptop for completing his homework - especially important as he starts middle school next year.
      • Thursday - 
      • Friday:
        • $579.13 - two weeks of summer camp, purchased at the school auction for a small discount. All of the money goes to the school.
        • $161.95 - art class for Nick - his birthday present. Again, purchased at the school auction.
      • Saturday:
        • -$61.79 - returned a few ski things we won't need (no skiing this year with the move & house purchase)
        • $8.34 - Costco, floor furniture pads
        • $7.99 - tortilla chips & chocolate chips at Lucky. The chocolate chips were marked down to $.57/bag, so a big bargain! They were on my shopping list (as were the tortilla chips), so it was a win.
        • $15.61 - a more expensive than usual trip to the produce stand. As a special Super Bowl splurge, I bought 5 lbs of mini cucumbers - everyone's favorite snack at my house. Who can resist, when that's the favorite snack? I also bought radishes, lavosh bread, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and a yellow pepper. 
        • $9.92 - a few other splurges at Trader Joes. Corn dogs for the kids lunches, sparkling lemonade (Super Bowl treat), & two bags of shelled edamame. 
        • $4.99 - Costco, for a forgotten brick of cheese while doing the rest of the shopping
        • $139.67 - Costco, for the rest of our groceries.
      • Sunday - $32.24 - gas

      Total spent for the week = $1675.79. A big spending week, but includes lots of childcare, plus two birthday gifts. Yikes! We need to have an inexpensive week this week to balance it out. How about you? How did you do with your weekly spending? 

      Sunday, February 5, 2017

      A post house purchase financial update

      I was a little afraid to look, but took the plunge & added up all of the numbers. In positive news, our net worth is up substantially. This is due to maxing out our retirement, receiving our January bonuses, and multiple stock vests.

      ALL of that money, save for our retirement, (and all other possible liquid assets) went towards our down payment. I know, somewhere, Sluggy is gasping for air at the additional liability, so this one is for you, Sluggy. ;-) We put down a sizable down payment on our house - $650,000. Things will be pretty tight until we get a few more stock option vests, and build back up our emergency funds again. In a good news/bad news scenario, I had a $10,000 CD that vested two days two late to be able to use towards the down payment. The bad news is that we had to scramble to find other sources of funding. The good news is that CD will now go towards a few required houses expenses (fumigation for termites, moving, etc) & then start the rest of an emergency fund until we get our next stock vest at the end of the month. We will move everything ourselves, with the exception of large/heavy furniture. We're not 20 anymore. ;-)

      We also have other crazy expenses coming up: property taxes & income taxes to prepare for. Yikes!

      How has our net worth changed since January 1st? Well, we crested the $3M mark, and are up $248K month over month. However, we are obviously VERY heavily invested in the real estate market, which keeps this girl up at night. M & I have had many debates about keeping the Seattle house, but I don't feel good about keeping so much of our assets tied up in real estate. We have a fabulous interest rate on the house, and are at a break even point on the asset. Our tenant's lease expires at the end of May, so the timing is good to clean the house, address any small repairs, and put the house on the market. My goal is to have the house sold by September. The market in Seattle (right now) is VERY hot. We will do well if things stay the same. However, it's a risk, and the current political climate is tenuous, which is always risky for the market.

      What will we do with the proceeds of the Seattle house sale? I expect that we will split the money, with half going into the market, and half going into income generating, lower risk funds. Once we have rebuilt our emergency funds & dusted ourselves off after the house purchase here, I will (again, third time's a charm) plan to leave my job & find something more flexible. This puts the timing around January of next year, but of course, anything can change.

      So, that's the housing update! What about you? How are you doing with your net worth in 2017?

      Saturday, February 4, 2017

      Saturday happenings & a menu plan

      I went to bed at 7:00 last night, because I've finally caught the plague that everyone else in the house has had. Yippee. ;-)

      We signed the papers for the house yesterday. All that's left now is to get the money wired. My money (i.e. from my brokerage accounts) was finalized today (just showed today as "cleared" in my account). So happy. It's ready to go! M's money is still one day behind mine (different brokers), so we'll need to wire his separately.

      I'm not feeling great, so I'll set a realistic set of goals for today:

      1. Call all utilities, and add our name to the account for billing purposes. We can't have the fumigation done with power/water.
      2. Build a move timeline with the fumigation, the flooring, packing & moving out.
      3. Take Nick to two futsal games
      4. Do some sort of light exercise, if I feel up to it. Unfortunately, weekends are always my dedicated workout day, so it's no good if I'm sick.
      5. Finalize meal plan (below)
      6. Make a Costco list based on menu
      7. Costco (likely M will go)
      8. Go to the produce stand
      9. Talk with M in more detail about our car plans. We own an Audi that is impacted by the lawsuit, and are trying to determine next steps. We may turn in our other car for a Nissan Leaf. The pricing on the Leaf is unbelievably good, &  we have free charging stations at work. We know a few coworkers who have one, and they only charge at work, so no increased power bill. More details to come on this one. I'd love to invest in an electric car, especially if the price is right. Right now, it's looking like we could trade in our other car & not pay anything on a Leaf for at least 2-3 years. The lease is around $100/month. The gas savings alone from those first few years would pay for the remainder of the lease. Anyway, if we proceed, I'll share the full financial model on this. 
      10. Finalize cash flow model & budget, post move
      11. Make rolls or bread for tomorrow's "big game". (Anyone but the Patriots, so Go Falcons!!)
      12. Make pizza/dough
      13. Email our accountant for a new time/date appointment. 
      14. Go through my closet/boys closets & continue to get rid of things we don't need, in advance of the packing. 

      I have a few late meetings during the upcoming week, and want to work down our freezer stash before we move. Our new house is only a mile or so away, but it's still easier to move less.

      Here's what's on the menu for the week. I've been having to adjust our menu plan each week, as we've typically gotten away with cooking just on weekends. However, Sam is a rapidly growing 11 year old, and I find that we're left with one missing meal by the end of the week. I'll start filling in with the one off single serving freezer dinners as needed.

      • Saturday - homemade pizza/calzones
      • Sunday - it's the Super Bowl, so there will be some snacky foods & soup/homemade rolls for anyone looking for more. For snacks, I'm thinking homemade hummus, artichoke dip/pretzel chips, & maybe goat cheese crostini
      • Monday - tortilla soup from the freezer + guacamole for on top/with chips
      • Tuesday - Leftover pizza
      • Wednesday - chicken pastina (freezer)
      • Thursday - spaghetti & meatballs (sauce & meatballs from the freezer)
      • Friday - it's my birthday, so something easy! Plus champagne & cupcakes, which are my only birthday gift request this year. :-)

      What about you? What's on your to do list this week? Any good menu suggestions? 

      Friday, February 3, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      Here's a recap of our frugal things for the week

      • Walked to the grocery store & produce stand over the weekend. Good for my sanity & for saving gas.
      • Continued to sell things on my local Facebook site. I made $20 by selling two jackets.
      • Sold two yoga blocks for $4
      • Made two batches of dinner rolls, to reduce our consumption of Costco ciabatta rolls. We apparently really like bread at our house. (I blame the kids, primarily). :-)
      • Submitted all of my expenses through work
      • No eating out
      • Used newspaper to clean our mirrors instead of paper towels
      • Used Plenti points (Rite Aid) to buy cold medicine for the kids
      • Waited for a sale on flights to buy my ticket for my girls trip at the beach in Portland. Also, planned the girls trip around the vacation house, vs meeting somewhere else. We'll likely get in lots of exercise, drink wine, and play games. We are party animals. ;)
      • Picked up free boxes from a neighbor for our move
      • A sick nanny means one less day of after school care. I juggled with a friend so I could still get work done. Savings of $30.
      • We have *just* enough for our down payment. And by that, I truly mean, *just enough*. We had another account we could have liquidated in an absolute emergency, but we were really hoping not to tap it. We weren't able to have a better prediction of our actual funds until this week, as we weren't able to trade stock for most of the month due to employer trading restrictions. At the last minute, I also realized that a $10,000 CD wouldn't be available for closing in time (two days too late!) It's left a lot of stress for the last minute, suffice it to say. To put it into context, our down payment is over $650,000, and we have an extra $90 left after we send the wire. Of course, we get paid the next day, have monthly upcoming stock, & have a plan for all of the rest of the bills. :-) 
      • Bought two summer camps at the school auction for a small discount. The camps are donated, so all of the money goes to the boys school programs. Given the state of funding in California, the money raised by the school auction goes to hiring an additional two teachers to keep class sizes down. Happy to donate & help the school

      What about you? Any big frugal wins for the week? 

      Thursday, February 2, 2017

      February Goals

      February is a big month, because we are buying a house! I can't believe it. Lots of fun changes ahead. 

      1) Financial - Figure out our housing situation, and get it all resolved (i.e. moved, job changes as needed) before school starts. 
      • Set a move date.
      • Get our San Francisco house rented (we are limited on what we can do, other than keeping the house clean & ready, and making it available for showings.)
      • Build a brand new budget for our lives, with our new costs & expenses
      • Find one alternative cost cutting option (last month it was cleaning the windows with free newspaper vs paper towels). 
      • Determine if we're doing any work in the house, and sources of funding
      • Build new cash flow model
      • Sell another $100 of items on the Facebook swap site. 
      • Continue to declutter so we can pack less!
      • Pack
      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. 
      • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc.
      • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) 
      • Figure out adjusted travel plans for 2017

        3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 133. This may sound familiar, as it's also a carryover goal from last year!
        • Run 12 miles in February
        • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
        • Complete 800 minutes of cardio
        • Complete 6 strength workouts.
        • Complete 6 stretching workouts. 

        4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
        • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress 
        • Work from home 2x this month.

          5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
          • Bake bread, and try a new recipe.
          • Do something social at least once per month.
          • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

          That's it for February. It will really be all about moving & preparing to move. What about you? What's on your agenda for February? Any big goals to accomplish? 

          Wednesday, February 1, 2017

          January budget recap - how did we do?

          Overall, I would say that January was a very intentionally frugal month for us. We had two large, unplanned expenses that went with the house buying. 1) paying for a year's worth of homeowner's insurance. 2) paying for the appraisal. That's, of course, in addition to pulling together the down payment for the house.

          However, within the budgets that we can control, I saw great results.

          Categories where we were under or right at budget:

          • Childcare - under by $545 (our nanny wasn't available for much of the month)
          • Cleaning - we cancelled the service, and saved $25
          • Dining out - we didn't eat out as a family in January, but there were a few random individual item purchases. Under by $104
          • Entertainment - under by $16

          Categories where we were over budget:
          • Gas - we had lots of soccer tournaments, and were over by $33
          • Groceries - over by $81. I guess offset by the reduction in dining out? :-(
          • Insurance, over by $1515. Our homeowner's policy for the year.
          • Alcohol - over by $8. We bought champagne to celebrate our closing
          • Utilities - over by $382. We paid our yearly handyman service, Next year, I should make a yearly line item for this, & pull it out of our standard monthly expenses. 

          All told, including the insurance, we were only over our January budget by $343. Great news, considering the insurance was $1500. Woohoo!! February needs to continue to be an extremely frugal month, despite the two birthdays we have coming up.

          What about you? How did you do with your January budget? Any big wins? Did you stay on track? I'd describe the dining out budget as our lowest on record!! We spent a total of $21 on dining out in January. Awesome!!!