Saturday, December 30, 2023

2024 Budget

 Every year, I look at our spend from the year before, evaluate what might be changing, and try to adjust our budget categories to better reflect planned spend for the future year.

2024 is going to be a year of big changes, with Sam going off to college. A few changes as a result of this:

  • We still stop saving in his 529 account
  • We will pay for his 2024 college expenses from his 529 account
  • We'd like to save the remainder of his college expenses (for the full four years) in 2024, if possible. This will allow us to focus on Nick's college expenses in 2025+.
  • Sam will have fewer expenses (minus college), such as club soccer, other sports, college prep fees, etc. 
As a result, we'll be lowering our category for the boys spending. 2024 will be the first year we pull from the 529, so we are expecting that to cover all of Sam's college expenses for the year. 

  • We are tentatively planning for another large international trip, to see M's family, if at all possible. We will also treat this as Sam's graduation trip, and add on a few days somewhere with just the four of us, if we can swing it. 
  • We will be heading to Whistler in February, for our last family "ski week" trip. We will take Nick somewhere in 2025, if it works out, but ski week often conflicts with soccer playoffs, and as a senior, he will not be likely to have the time off. 
  • We expect to have several college tour costs, as well as the trips back & forth for Sam. 
  • M & I would like to do at least one trip together, with potentially a long weekend as well.
  • I'm taking my mom & sister to Napa for a half marathon in March. I'm using hotel points to cover about 1/2 of the stay. 
Most of our remaining categories are expected to remain the same (this is only the spend side of the equation - our savings goals are separate), although I would like to do better with our clothing spend in 2024. The teens needed quite a few new things, but there was also some extraneous stuff, with our trip to Dubai, and my trip to France. We can cut this back in 2024. 

What about you? How are you thinking about your budget categories for 2024? 

Friday, December 29, 2023

Frugal Friday

 It's been a pretty quiet week on the frugal front, but here are a few small wins. 

Saving on things we buy

  • We won a few gift cards during some of our family games over the holidays, so I uploaded those to the various apps, to ensure we don't lose/misplace them before we spend them. 
  • Used a $4 CVS coupon that was expiring to purchase a package of on sale pistachios. I paid $.66 out of pocket.  

Earning money

  • Nothing to report

Avoiding spending

  • We used a lounge access credit at the airport in Portland at a small restaurant (they don't have an actual lounge). After we finished lunch, the waiter let us know we still had a large credit, so we got some protein bars for the road. 
  • M & I were both upgraded to first class on the short flight home, so we pre-selected our free meal options & treated that as our dinner, which we enjoyed with a free cocktail. 
  • Used the Amex gift card for a lunch out, while M & I were on our mini getaway ahead of the holidays. 
  • Picked up a few things we were out of (flour, sriracha, & oat milk) & used the Amex card to cover the cost. 

Eating what we have

  • Defrosted soup to have for lunch one day with a pear I found in the back of the fridge, ate a protein bar from the pantry for breakfast & added a bit of summer sausage (Xmas prize gift) to add some additional protein. This was before we made it to the grocery store, after our trip. 
  • I officially have no bananas in my freezer, and am trying to keep it that way. Made a batch of banana muffins with the overly ripe bananas that weren't eaten before our trip. 

For others

  • Made a last minute food bank donation, to round out our contributions for the year, as they were having a 4x match. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, December 28, 2023

2023 Budget Recap

I always track & review our spending at the end of the year, to bring awareness to what we're spending, make adjustments & go deeper into categories we are surprised by. 

Similar to previous years, our spend is dominated by our top four categories. All in all, this makes sense, as we try hard to spend aligned with our values, track our spending, & minimize spend for things we don't think we need. That said, we are in an expensive season!

Reminder: we paid off our house, so that's why you don't see a mortgage as one of our top spend categories! This is also capturing only our post paycheck spending (e.g. doesn't count for pre paycheck tax deductions, 401k savings, charity & the like.) It's probably a bit confusing, but since that money is automatically removed, we pretend like it doesn't exist. Our paychecks (as well as bonus & stock compensation) are what's left over to spend. 

Top four spend categories include:

  • Taxes. This includes federal, state, & very, very expensive property taxes. This is our #1 budget category, & double the size of our next biggest category. A few thoughts. Our property taxes are not changeable while we live in this house. Our income taxes are highly variable due to our compensation plan at work. This makes it near impossible to have the right amount deducted throughout the year.
  • Travel. This was a year with LOTS of travel spending. No regrets. :-) Second biggest budget category.
  • Boys. This was our biggest increase in year on year spending. We had: SAT prep, Sam's executive functioning tutoring (ramped up at the end of last year), college counseling, college application fees, club soccer & tennis, school sports, other random miscellany. We expect this line item to drop quite a bit in 2024, as Sam is done with college counseling, SAT prep, & club sports. We will be paying for his first year of college out of his 529 account. 
  • Boys college investment accounts. We intentionally maxed these out, to prep for the years ahead.
All told, the top four categories constitute 74% of our total spend for the year. 

The rest of our categories looked pretty much as expected. We spent less on food (groceries & dining out), but more on clothing (all of us got new stuff ahead of Dubai, the teens have grown a lot & now have very specific clothing requests, etc). Clothing is a category we'll keep a tighter eye on in 2024. 

On the savings side, we met/exceeded our savings goals across all of our categories (retirement, boys college, investment accounts) & increased our net worth by 10%, despite a rather sizable drop in our house value (according to Zillow). 

While there are plenty of areas we can do better in & want to focus on in 2024, I feel good about our financial progress in 2023 (helped greatly by me continuing to work beyond what I'd planned)!

How about you? Have you tracked your spending for 2023? Any surprises, areas that went well, or areas you plan to trim in 2024? 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Menu Plan for the Week

 It's a bit of a haphazard week, with not a lot of scratch cooking after the holidays. But, here's what we're planning to have for dinners.

  • Tuesday - we ate our free flight meal, and then went to bed when we got home, so that was easy
  • Wednesday - grilled chicken (freezer) + spring rolls
  • Thursday - salmon & salad
  • Friday - date night?
  • Saturday - burgers (freezer) over salad
  • Sunday (NYE) - charcuterie tray, and steak + roasted squash & green beans

What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

2023 Goals - How Did We Do?

 It's that time of year, where I look back & evaluate how I did with my goals. Altogether, I'm pretty pleased with how 2023 played out. It wasn't at all like what I expected, and I'm still happy with the decisions, the progress, the fun, & how we dealt with challenges. 


  • Stick to our budget - we did "okay" with this. Some wins, some losses, but generally achieved our savings goals & things worked out well financially. 
  • Monthly freezer/pantry challenges - I had a few good months, but wasn't consistent. I was able to keep our grocery bill under budget, which was my ultimate goal, along with reducing food waste.
  • Plan & execute "leave work" budget - plan was ready, didn't leave.
  • Figure out college funding plans - mostly there. Waiting to see where Sam ends up & total cost.
  • Earn $1500 side hustle - $1875
  • Use up travel credits & status wisely - Yes, lots of wins:
    • Redeemed a free hotel night for our Colorado college tour
    • Used Southwest gift cards & credits for the Colorado tour
    • Used Marriott points for December stay
    • Used United upgrades for: flights to Newark + Dubai, flight to London, & received a few gift cards from coworkers as thank yous for sharing upgrades. 
    • Used a club lounge award on December Tokyo trip, and greatly enjoyed the perks. 
  • Save $24k in boys college accounts - we saved $29,000.
  • Save $100k before I leave work. We ended the year at $270k added, given I stayed longer. We are planning to cash flow about 2/3 of college (rest from college accounts), so this money is now ear marked for those expenses. 


  • Plan one fun activity per month with the kids - we had several ski trips, college tours, a few fun dinners out, a trip to Dubai, family wedding & parties, etc.
  • Help the boys with "life" stuff (license, college, SATs, etc) - huge progress on this. Everyone has their license, Sam has finished the college application process & gotten into some schools, and they've both taken the SATs. 
  • Have two dates with M per month - yes, plus a trip to Las Vegas & Hawaii together
  • Schedule quarterly calls with M's family - we did two calls, and our trip to Dubai

  • Lose 15 lbs - I lost 7 lbs before France, but gained back 3 lbs, thanks to a very inconsistent schedule in Q4.
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet - I did pretty well for 75% or so of the year
  • Close rings 330 days - I switched watches & no longer have this tracking, but I'd say I worked out 90% of days in 2023.
  • Make the most of my fitness options - consistently used my Orange Theory membership
  • Stay on top of my health - yes!
  • Do something social with friends once per month - lots of fun walks, hikes, a pickle ball game, workouts, & coffee meet ups, a very adventurous relay, plus the fabulous trip to France.
  • Invest time in my volunteer roles - not nearly as much as I wanted
  • Experiment with fun activities, that may take a more active role when I'm done with work - I honestly made minimal progress on this.
  • Continue to make kind deeds a regular part of my life - as always, this is a work in progress, but including these in my weekly wrap up really helps remind me.
  • Enjoy the first few months of not working - Ha, no. 
That's a wrap! How did you do with your 2023 goals? Any wins to share? 

Friday, December 22, 2023

Frugal Friday

It's been a pretty nice week, with more schedule flexibility (lots of people are already on vacation) & a quieter week in general. We're leaving today for Portland, where my parents will pick up the boys for two days of "Nana and Papa camp", and we will have a few nights together, as our Christmas gift to each other. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I typically use plain greeting cards for all occasions, but wanted Christmas cards for a few gifts I was sending. After pricey the wild cost of individual cards (the kind that hold money or a gift card - I'm gifting to a lot of teens!), I opted to go for a six pack. There was also a coupon in the aisle for buy two cards, save $3. I wasn't sure it would work, because I was buying a multipack, but happily, it did. I bought six cards for $3. Perfect. 
  • I used expiring CVS & Rite Aid rewards to buy four boxes of tea, and a pricey hair product for $3.21 out of pocket. I'm hoping the hair product helps to tame my frizz (I'm trying to embrace my natural curls vs straightening my hair). 
  • Priced out cheapest airport transportation option. In this case, given trip length & we will have four people + bags, and parking at the airport is cheapest. We will save about $20 vs taking a ride share.
Earning money

  • Just our regular W2 jobs this week. Nothing exciting to report here. 

Avoiding spending

  • M & I planned an "at home" date on Friday, and enjoyed a glass of wine while we made dinner together, and caught up & laughed. Of course, two teens randomly joined us at various points of the evening, despite saying they wouldn't be home for dinner. It was great, because Nick came home first, asked me to make him chicken, which I did. He got out of the shower & didn't have time for dinner, at which point Sam rolled in, looked at the set table & food & said, "oh great, you made me dinner." 😂 Indeed. Anyway, date night at home vs out. 
  • Used the Amex gift card for an appetizer & drinks ahead of a friend's holiday party. 
  • The boys opened their gifts from us (M & I don't exchange gifts) & we hung on to all of the gift bags (some of them have been around for years!) & kept the tissue paper as well. The tissue paper will likely make its way to becoming eBay packaging. If it's in good enough shape, it will be used in another gift bag. 
  • Used the infamous Amex card to pick up $40 worth of groceries at Trader Joes. It's largely snacky special event food that I have tucked away for NYE. Speaking of the Amex gift card, it has $150 left, so it's quickly drawing to a close, unfortunately! We've gotten a lot of mileage out of it this year. 

Eating what we have:

  • I've had some creative lunches, using up things in the fridge. Of note was the leftover soup with a hamburger bun as a side, and the quesadilla with a diced chicken patty inside. 
  • I also ate leftover sliced fruit that I found on the counter, when coming home from a workout class. It turns out Nick forgot about a tennis lesson (he does private & group lessons, as part of a non-profit he volunteers for), & ran out of the house without finishing. 
  • Somehow, a bag of pancake mix made it into the pantry (don't know where it came from), so I made the boys pancakes as a Sunday treat. With chocolate chips, because of course. They were delicious.
  • Used the last of my overripe bananas in the freezer (we've finally broken the trend!) & made muffins. My freezer is currently officially banana free, which is quite unusual. 
  • Similarly, we still have tons of cranberries in our freezer, so I made a double batch of cranberry muffins. 
  • Made the last of three chicken filets (freezer), and had those for lunches with the teens, & defrosted chicken stew for another quick lunch. 
  • I set aside three items to give away on BN that we won't eat before the expiration day. One was a multi pack of ramen from Trader Joes that we didn't like (and, we love most of their stuff), and a large bottle of unopened ketchup  & mustard.  

For others:

  • Helped out a neighbor with some packages she wanted picked up
  • Gave a (secret) gift to another neighbor, who is in need
What about you? Any wins to share?

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

2023 - a year in review

 Not particularly financially focused. It's been a wild ride this year! 

  • There were six international trips. Four work trips (3 Tokyo, 1 London), two personal trips (France for my sister's 50th, and our trip to Dubai to see M's family). 
  • On the subject of travel, there was also a lot of domestic travel. M & I went to Hawaii & Las Vegas, we went skiing a few times (Tahoe), we visited my parents 3x, attended a family wedding in Eastern Washington, went on a college tour in Colorado, and we are heading back to spend a few days over the holidays in Portland. 
  • Nick got his driver's license. Our time spent chauffeuring people to errands, practice, work, volunteering, friends, parties, etc is basically zero at this point. What a game changer.
  • Sam finished the college application process, and has gotten into multiple schools. We're now in a waiting game to hear from the rest, and see where we land with overall preference, majors, location, & cost. 
  • I finished the Hood to Coast relay, as per my 2023 goals, and that was an adventure, particularly given that I (unknowingly) had COVID!
  • I gave notice at work, found out that my role would be substantially changed (for the better), & opted to stay. Of course, my role is changing again (drastically), but I won't have details for at least a few months. It's possible that this second round of changes could result in a layoff or an undesirable role. More to come, always, on this front. 
  • M took my nephew to Las Vegas for his 21st birthday, joined by my dad, uncle & my sister's party. All attendees report that it was an epic time. 
  • M & I had the most fabulous & restful trip to Hawaii. As always, the time together is priceless. 
  • Lake Tahoe got a ton of snow last year, and we spent New Years shoveling snow & skiing. So much snow shoveling!
  • The girls trip to France was a huge highlight. We explored Paris & the south of France together, explored vineyards & just generally had a ton of laughs. 
  • Dubai was such a great experience, to get time with M's family & I'm so happy we made it happen. Sometimes the cost is just worth it, and this is the case. M's mom getting to see the boys for the first time in 12 years, me getting to meet M's sister & niece for the first time ever... no regrets!
  • Nick made the varsity soccer team & JV tennis team, and has been playing & enjoying the experience. 
  • Sam wrapped up his soccer experience, after 12 years of playing on various clubs. He's thinking of playing intramural soccer in college, so we'll see what comes next. 
  • Both boys had summer jobs and were gainfully employed at a sports camp. They loved it and enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of spending money. 
It was an absolute whirlwind of a year, and I'm grateful for the health of my parents & family, that we got time to see M's family, that the boys are doing well, and we continue to stay happily married. That's more than enough! We feel very lucky for this adventure, and are doing what we can to soak in our time together with the boys. 

What about you? How was 2023 in your world? 

Monday, December 18, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

It's a very, very rainy Monday here! We need the rain, so I will embrace it. :-) Here's what's on our menu plan this week.  

  • Friday - this was originally planned to be an at home date night, as neither teen was going to be home. Everyone ended up being home at some point, and people rotated through the table. We had wings & salad.
  • Saturday - M & I went to a friend's holiday party. The boys had taquitos (Sam) & Nick went to Chipotle. 
  • Sunday - M grilled chicken (in the rain) & made rice. 
  • Monday - tacos
  • Tuesday - leftover grilled chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover tacos
  • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or chicken pesto pasta (freezer)
  • Friday - we are flying to Portland, and the boys will be with my parents. M & I have reservations at a steak house near the hotel. 
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Sunday things

I didn't manage to sweep yesterday, and I'm pretty sad about it, as it's raining today & making a mess with the leaves. However, we need the rain, so I'll take it, regardless! Wish I'd made the time to sweep yesterday, though!

We went to my friend's holiday party last night, and it was so much fun. I met a bunch of people I've heard about through my friend, the food was delicious, and there was lots of laughs. It was a really nice group of people, and just the right size to facilitate conversation.

Tomorrow is the beginning of finals week, although Sam is already done with 3 of 5 finals. Nick still has 5 remaining. Lots of studying occurring at our house this weekend!

Here's what's on the to do list:

  1. Go for a run (switched to inside, thanks to the rain)
  2. Package up shoes for recycling, as M is going to the one place nearby that recycles athletic shoes
  3. Laundry
  4. Register for workout classes for the next few weeks
  5. Help Sam with college tasks
  6. Review homework/assignments with both teens
  7. Start packing for trip
  8. Make muffins 
  9. Work on training plan (running) for the next few weeks
  10. Package up two returns
What about you? What are you up to today?

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Saturday Happenings

It's been a week at work! Super grateful the week is wrapped up. I don't want to jinx myself, but I expect next week to be a much quieter week, which will be an absolute gift vs today.

Here's what we're up to today:

  • Workout class this morning
  • Sweep leaves. An endless amount of leaves!
  • Laundry
  • Wrap few remaining gifts
  • Finalize 2024 goals
  • Nick has tennis volunteering
  • Help Sam with a few outstanding college tasks
  • Holiday party at friends house
  • Budget
That's it. What are you up to today? Hope you all have a fabulous day!

Friday, December 15, 2023

Frugal Friday

 I'm largely recovered from jet lag, and getting back into the groove. That said, I didn't do my normal weekend meal planning, prep & organization last week, so it was a wild week! Here are a few frugal wins. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $10 off a $50 purchase at the grocery store, and paid for the purchase using the Amex gift card. 
  • I haven't replaced my underwear in 15+ years, and it was more than time. Ordered and tried one pair & really liked the cut/fit, so used a $25 off a $75 purchase coupon, as well as a buy 3 pair/get 5 free at Victoria's Secret. I was also able to get a few sports bras to round out the purchase. All told, I got 8 pair of underwear & three sports bras for $77, which was a great deal. 

Earning money

  • Sold a watch & a shirt on eBay, making about $65. 
  • Gave away the last of my travel upgrades to a coworker, and they gave me a gift card as a thank you. 

Avoiding spending

  • In a frugal fail, I had to be at the office by 7:30 3x this week. It was not great with my jet lag. As a treat for one of the days, I picked up Starbucks on the way. My "avoiding spending" win is that I was incredibly tempted to do the same another day, but managed to avoid it. 

Eating what we have

  • Ate my leftovers + part of Sam's leftovers for a weekend lunch
  • My neighbor ended up with the wrong Chipotle order, so she gave me her burrito. It wasn't what I normally order, but I removed the tortilla to make a "burrito bowl", added sour cream & salsa, & it was delicious. 
  • DS17 forgot his "to go" breakfast on a late morning, so rather than tossing it (not my preferred breakfast), I ate it instead. I saved 1/2 for lunch, because I don't need as much food as a teen boy!
  • Ate orzo from the freezer for dinner, x2 (served it as a side dish with chicken)
  • Made coconut shrimp (freezer) with samosas (freezer) & salad (not freezer ;-)
  • Had multiple configurations of leftovers for dinners

For others:

  • Bought four gift cards for teacher appreciation week (our PTSA has a raffle basket that you can donate to).
  • Gave away a few of the boys nicer jackets (now outgrown) on Buy Nothing, as well as a pair of ski pants. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, December 11, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 Jet lag & not feeling well is a pretty yuck combination, but here we are. I'm trying to rest up & feel better, and get my energy level back. As a result, it hasn't exactly been a stellar few days of cooking.

  • Friday - Nick had a soccer game, Sam was out with a friend, so it was just me + M. I made salmon for M, and and the rest of the Greek food from Thursday night.
  • Saturday - spaghetti & meatballs + garlic bread
  • Sunday - At a friend's house for a holiday event.
  • Monday - chicken pesto pasta (freezer)
  • Tuesday - tacos (freezer)
  • Wednesday - leftover spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - chicken patty sandwiches
  • Friday - coconut shrimp & gyozos + salad
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Sunday Things

 I didn't end up going to my workout class again yesterday, and slept until 8 this morning! I hope I'm on the road to recovery. We ended up having a lovely dinner with the boys, and followed our December tradition of randomly opening one gift, and having a glass of sparkling cider while listening to Christmas music. The boys opened their gifts from each other & we had some laughs. You really have to embrace this time together, as your kids get older! Nick got Sam cologne (a top choice for teen boys) & Sam gave Nick a limited edition Maclaren shirt I found while I was in Japan. Everyone was pleased. Nick is very, very picky, so seeing him wearing the shirt today confirmed that it was a good score. ;-) 

I went on a 2 mile (slow) run today, dusted off my training plan for the rest of my half training, and freaked out a little, as I'm so far behind. Since September, I've had: two trips to Tokyo, a trip to London, trip to France, and Hawaii. Lots of fun vacation time, and three international work trips, totaling more than three weeks of work travel. Jet lag is not my friend & doesn't exactly pave the way for consistent running, so I must get back into the swing of things. 

I also made my cardamom bread for Christmas today. I'll glaze it and then put it into the freezer until we leave. I made a bonus loaf, as we won't get to see my nephews this year due to spending the holidays in Arizona with their dad. We are all really bummed to miss them. We are going to see my older nephew, when we head to Arizona in January for a college tour, so grateful we will catch one of them!

I cleaned the house today, which was in pretty dire shape after my trip. It's not perfect, but it's looking a lot better for sure!

Nick had calculus tutoring, tennis volunteering & Sam met up with friends. I'm off to do an easy dinner. We were originally going to meet up with friends for pizza & a Christmas lights bike tour in a cool neighborhood near us, but neither M nor I are feeling good, so we want to recover a bit more. Easy dinner will likely be orzo (freezer) + coconut shrimp. Nick is not a fan of shrimp in any form, so I'll make chicken for him.

Hope you all had a lovely & productive day!

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 I'm still struggling with jet lag & a cold, so fingers crossed I'm back to normal soon. I skipped a workout class yesterday & didn't cancel in time, so if I'm willing to forego the late cancellation fee, you know I'm not feeling good! 

Here's what today holds:

  • Workout class - although, I'm going to take it very easy today
  • Finish the rest of the Christmas wrapping
  • Book a few appointments
  • Do some returns
  • Clean the fridge
  • Laundry
  • Review homework with both teens
  • Come up with a menu plan & shopping list
  • Sweep leaves
What about you? What's on your to do list today?

Friday, December 8, 2023

Not really a Frugal Friday

I'm back from my longest ever business trip! It ended up being super useful, and a great experience, but so incredibly long. I flew back yesterday morning, and since I don't sleep on flights, that meant that yesterday was a real "phone it in" type of day. I ordered Panera for lunch (delivery), and had Nick pick up Greek food on his way home from soccer practice. The only "frugal wins" I can add are that I used a gift card for Panera, and a $2 off coupon code for the Greek food. 

I did buy a few things while in Japan. Uniqlo was quite cheap, as the Japanese Yen is currently down against the dollar. I was able to pick up a few Christmas gifts for the boys. 

I also submitted all of my personal expenses for my trip yesterday, which means I'll get the money back very quickly. Hurrah for that.

Today is going to be an interesting day. I was planning to attend a morning workout class (I was apparently very optimistic when I booked this), but I don't feel good. I've been fighting a cold for the last 10 days or so, and plan to maybe just go for a walk instead. I have a BUNCH of work to do, so I need to get that done & then the house looks like a tornado has been through it, I need to finish putting clothes away, do laundry, wash some bedding & wrap some Christmas gifts. No rest for the wicked!

What about you? Did you have a frugal week? Share your wins, as mine were very sparse!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

December Goals

Here we are, already at the last month of the year! As always, plenty going on to keep us busy this month. I'm on a long international work trip, we head to my parents house ahead of Christmas, and then we're doing a family ski trip to close out the year. 

Keeping all of that in mind, here's what's on my goal list of December:


  • Use up three "hard to use" freezer or pantry items
  • Tally up our savings from travel perks, rewards, etc & our financial plans
  • Set 2024 budget
  • Close out 2023 budget
  • Make $100 in side hustle
  • Finish all Christmas and ski plans
  • One fun activity with each teen
  • Date night with M
  • Have two meetings with each teen
  • Help Nick with his college prep
  • Deep clean one item/area of the house


  • Run 40 miles
  • Follow the No S diet
  • Maintain diet & fitness plans during work trip
  • Complete 10 strength training workouts
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Work in the yard 2x
  • 5 days of Farsi practice
  • Do something social with friends
  • Give away 20 items on Buy Nothing
  • Successful Christmas baking (cardamom bread). Let's hope for a great rise this year!
What about you? What's on your goal list for the year?

Friday, December 1, 2023

Frugal Friday

 I've been in Japan for most of the week, so this isn't the standard list, but a random array of frugal things we've done lately. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used CVS rewards to pick up a few small gifts for the teens, as well as some snacks & mouthwash. I spent $30 & earned another $8 back. 
  • Used my Amex gift card to buy baking items we needed for Christmas. I also redeemed some iBotta offers, saving another $5 or so. 
Earning money:
  • Listed a bunch of stuff on eBay
  • Finally received $1,000 from my bank for a savings offer I completed. Now that's done, I will transfer my savings back to a higher yield account. 
  • Earned a small bonus at work for a project I've been delivering this year. 
Avoiding spending:
  • I used hotel points to book a two night stay for myself & M (our holiday gift to each other), when we fly to Portland. We stay for a couple of nights while the teens enjoy my parents, and then we all meet up on Christmas Eve. I saved around $500 vs paying out of pocket for the two nights. 
  • I've been grinding my teeth at night, which is causing near constant headaches during the day. I remembered I have a very old (20+ years) Invisalign retainer, and using that has reduced my headaches tremendously. I was going to buy a retainer to prevent grinding from the dentist, so this was a huge win. 
  • M & I went on a date, & used our Amex gift card to cover the full cost. I will miss this when it's used up!
  • Used Rite Aid rewards to pick up a couple of pizzas for a teen lunch. 

What about you? Any wins to share?