Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Frugal Steps:

  1. Our regular babysitter is enjoying some much deserved vacation time, and I had the chance for working four days this week. A teacher friend was available for babysitting, so she earned a little extra side money, my kids had a blast at her house, and I was able to work a full four days. This gave us a taste of working full time again with a day care commute. Nope, not tempted in the least to go back to that grind! This will give us a nice cushion towards house repairs and our Roths though.
  2. We thought of buying a tent for our yearly backyard camp out and to prepare for Cub Scouts camp out in the fall, but we opted to borrow a cousin’s tent instead.
  3. We had a little entertainment money spending planned, but since I picked up shifts this week, the kids voted to spend it on a Wendy’s dinner instead last night.
  4. My sister and sister in law and I are seeing Ghostbusters Sunday and I bought matinee tickets for us online. My mother is babysitting for free.
  5. Today is dad’s 76th birthday, and we are taking him to his beloved Bob Evans tomorrow for his birthday- and using a coupon.
  6. My daughter has been making crafts we find on Pinterest from materials we already have, including this awesome fish. (By the way, I am on Pinterest if you want to check out my collection of finance, debt payoff, and frugal recipe boards).
  7. As of today, I am 100% done with this class session for grad school. I have a 92% (a B+ in this program-boo) and a 97-98% (an A) in my classes. When you are paying for education, good grades = money not wasted. If you are failing a course you are paying for, you are wasting your money!

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Frugal Stumbles:

  1. We threw out some old bananas.
  2. Our freezer is starting to lose its mind and leaked water from the ice maker, building up frost inside, which in turn made the freezer hard to close. One of the kids must have closed it incompletely and the warning beep never sounded. We got up this morning and several things in the freezer were defrosted and had to be thrown out.

Frugal Step: Make A Menu

Menu2

Monday: Sandwiches, Salad

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Beef and Cabbage

Wednesday: Leftover Beef and Cabbage

Thursday: Scrambled Eggs, Toast, Celery

Friday: Slow Cooker Spaghetti with Meat and Veggie Sauce (I dump a jar of sauce, pound of lean ground beef, onions, frozen bell pepper mix, and mushrooms in a slow cooker and let it simmer on low all day)

Saturday: Hunt and Peck

Sunday: Birthday Lunch with Grandpa

Trying for breakfast: Egg White Microwave Oatmeal (made this with my usual maple syrup only and it was great- fluffy and no eggy taste)

Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Frugal Steps:

  1.  I ended up picking up four shifts this week at the last minute.  We were lucky my friend’s teen daughters offered to come  watch the kids . My specialty in insurance has been behavioral health, though I have worked ICU in the past. Our medical teams are desperately understaffed right now, and I offered to go outside my comfortable routine and learn how to work those cases. Not only is it something extra to add to my resume, but it refreshed some of my medical clinical skills and is giving me the opportunity for even more extra work over the next few weeks. Tip: I have never regretted offering to learn something new at work.  My next two paychecks should be very nice.
  2. I also worked discharges for 4 hours last weekend. Seriously, this paycheck will be fantastic. I hope to put an extra $1000 away these upcoming 4 weeks if I can.
  3. I got a surprise card from a relative in the mail gifting me a little money (thank you!). We put that in savings towards our home repairs. We are still in limbo over our roof. There is damage mostly concentrated in the front of the house,  a few shingles in the back, as well as the window screen and the gutter. Insurance will cover patching the roof, but our roof is almost 20 years old and patching may not match exactly. Our HOA is a bit psycho and a mismatched roof can easily get us a letter stating a lien is being put on the house until we are up to standard. (They did this to us 5 years ago when we changed the landscaping in our front yard). We still don’t know how much we will have to pay towards the $7000 new roof, so we are saving what we can.
  4. I exceeded my goal and applied for SIX scholarships.
  5. I baked a loaf of bread. Cost: $0.25
  6. Work was so happy I offered to cross-train in a different department that my team lead nominated me for an award. I got some points to “spend” for some rewards, and I chose a $10 Vudu gift card and 1 Redbox rental.
  7. Do you use Ebates whenever you shop online? After I had children, my feet went up a half size and I could no longer wear heels. I have been slowly replacing my shoes since the toddler was born in 2014. I have been on the lookout for good quality black leather knee high boots. During Prime Day, Amazon had Frye boots with only a 15″ height (I’m a Hobbit and I need a boot height of no more than 15″, which is harder to find) for $84. They are normally $174. I used my Discover for 5% cash back on Amazon purchases, plus Ebates had 3% cash back when buying shoes on Amazon.  I also used $15 from my Discover cash back bonus. After all the cash back, I will have paid $63 out of pocket. Frye boots are very high quality, and these bad boys better last me a couple decades. This price is cheaper than the gently used boots I see on Ebay, otherwise I would have gone in that direction.
  8. I have been on the lookout for good quality ballet flats in black and nude. This time, Ebay had the best deals. I scored some nude Tieks for $100 on Ebay. These are $175 shoes with a high resale value. I can get cheap shoes at Target for $20, but they don’t last as long. I have arthritis , and have to wear good quality shoes. A poorly fitting or poorly made shoe can mean the difference between maintaining and losing my mobility. I heard the stretching (for when toes swell) and the flexible sole can make them good for arthritic feet, so I am giving them a go and will resell them if they don’t work with my body. I also found some gently used black Hush Puppies and I’m going to trial them too. Worst case scenario, I sell back both pairs on Ebay.

Frugal Fail:

  1. Because I ended up working so many days unexpectedly, I was not prepared for late nights and fixing dinner. We got a pizza one night. Our entertainment expenses have been low, so we are still within my $100 however. I need to prepare well for the next two weeks, though, because there will be 4 day workweeks each week through the end of July, while I help both my department and the medical department.
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Frugal Step: Make A Menu

Menu2

Sunday: Hunt and Peck

Monday: Vegan Lentil Shepherd Pie

Tuesday: Shirred Eggs with Herbs and Garlic (this is a new family favorite!), Homemade Bread and Butter, Salad

Wednesday: Italian Peasant Soup with Cabbage, Beans, and Cheese (making with leftover homemade bread and homemade veggie stock)

Thursday: Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas (yet another new favorite)

Friday: Spaghetti with Beans, Peppers, and Onions

Saturday: Kids Choice- Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets, Tater Tots, Corn

Frugal Steps and Stumbles

FRUGAL STEPS AND STUMBLES (2)

Frugal Steps:

  1. My husband spent three hours out in the yard chopping and pulling up the last of the tree roots with a pickaxe.
  2. We celebrated my mother’s birthday Saturday, and she sent us home with milk, fried chicken, and lots and lots of fruit.
  3. I worked four and a half hours on Sunday entering discharges so I wouldn’t need child care.
  4. I picked up three shifts this week.
  5. I expected a big medical bill, but learned I owed nothing!
  6. The toddler is down to needing a pull-up only during the night and for naps. We are using about 14 a week, which has decreased our expenses.
  7. We borrowed movies and books from the library.
  8. The Back To The Future trilogy is now on Netflix, so we watched all three this week.
  9. I signed up for a free 30-day Audible trial and got two free audio books. I downloaded the iPad app and am listening to Peace Is Every Step: The Path To Mindfulness In Everyday Life while I wind down before bed.
  10. My husband bought a couple video games for my son’s Christmas present at 75% off during Steam‘s summer sale.
  11. We watched fireworks from our decks while eating popsicles and playing with a few sparklers.
  12. We didn’t eat out once.

Frugal Stumbles:

  1. I cancelled my HBO Now trial now that Game of Thrones is over, but I did it several days after the renewal date, so I was charged for July. D’oh! At least we’ll try and get our money’s worth of watching movies before then. I watched Suffragette today. (it was OK, kind of slow-moving).
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Why You Need To Start Building Your Emergency Fund Now

Why You (2)

One of the most important habits I learned when I was young and broke- probably the most important- was setting up an automatic transfer every month into my savings. It took a year to save my first $1000 emergency fund back in 2003, and that meant squeezing $85 a month out of a tight budget to set aside. I won’t lie, I worked a full-time job and a part-time job while I was in school full-time in order to make it happen.

An automatic transfer to savings is a transfer that does not require you to log on every month  or walk into a bank to transfer funds. If your employer direct deposits your paycheck, sometimes they allow you to direct your check into two different accounts.  You can also do as I do and set up a recurring transfer on the same day every month to transfer a portion of your paycheck into a savings account. Doing this forces you to live on what’s left and helps to keep you from backsliding on your savings goal.

I am so glad we keep several months of expenses in our savings. Just this month, we dealt with a dead cell phone, $500 medical expense, reverse osmosis filter on the fritz, and a tree that fell on our house. We always joke that our emergency fund was our “if the house caves in” fund, and we got a small taste of that when the recent storm hit. We have insurance, but it didn’t cover everything. We already had to pay $1300 out of pocket, and there may be more, depending on the roof inspection results.

We were lucky that our tree didn’t crash through the roof of our daughters’ room, injuring or killing them both.  God forbid, if it had, we would have been able to handle the medical expenses or funeral.

If it had happened to you, would you have been able to manage it, or would you have been scrambling to deal with the financial fallout along with the emotional and physical fallout?

Not having an emergency fund is truly an emergency.

I will be honest- something terrible is going to happen to you or to someone in your family. I don’t have to be psychic to know this. It’s a fact of life. Everybody dies. Accidents happen. Illness happens. No one is immune. Your time is going to come.

The lesson- be prepared. Start preparing now.

GFM

I see so many GoFundMe shares on Facebook lately. I think it’s wonderful that people are willing to help each other, especially when a member of the community has been struck with a devastating illness, tragic accident, or unexpected death.

There are certainly some emergencies that you can never prepare for, and I am no different.  If I became seriously ill and we had not yet paid off our mortgage, it would be very difficult for my husband’s salary to cover the mortgage, a nanny, and medical expenses. That is one reason why we are focusing intently on hustling for more income, paying off our mortgage, and investing what we can. We want our family to be covered for nearly all possible outcomes.

I want you to be ready too. That’s why I say this out of love- you can’t rely on GoFundMe to cover you in an emergency. It doesn’t always pan out.

If you are starting from scratch, ask yourself this:

  • If you suffered an accident or an illness, do you have enough to cover the deductible for your medical insurance?
  • If your car was totaled, do you have enough to cover the deductible for insurance, plus enough to cover a new-to-you car?
  • If you lost your roof in a storm, could you cover your homeowner’s insurance deductible, plus the cost of a hotel for a few weeks?
  • If you or a family member died, do you have enough to cover the funeral you want or that your religion requires?  A burial plus cemetery and headstone can easily cost $10000 or more.  (The mister and I plan to opt for immediate cremation without a viewing, a small memorial at home, and scattering at sea or in nature.)

Use that as your starting point and calculate how much you have to save every month to cover it.

And while you are thinking about it, and imagining what would happen if the stuff hits the fan for you, consider getting term life insurance. I had it through work when I worked full time, and I am no longer eligible for it. I really, really wish I had gotten some a few years ago, before I developed autoimmune issues that makes it insanely expensive. Don’t make my mistake!

What about you, are you prepared for an emergency?

Frugal Crafts For Kids: Make Your Own Fairy House

DIY

Our 5 year old daughter Miss E is super artsy, and can spend hours every day coloring, drawing, cutting, pasting, weaving, and creating. We are happy to indulge her love of making things as long as it doesn’t translate into being spendy. She is usually happy with a blank artist’s notebook and drawing materials, but she does like to get more crafty sometimes.

We have three fairies made of felt, thread, and bobbie pins, and she felt they needed a home. We saw a kid’s craft episode on PBS where they made a fairy house out of an oatmeal container, and she waited patiently for a couple weeks until we finished off our giant container from Aldi.

We started by scrounging in the yard for some bark. Our sycamore tree had naturally peeling bark, so we gathered some from the ground.

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We used our giant 32 oz. oatmeal container, but a smaller one should work just as well.

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We peeled off the label, cut about 3 inches off the height, and then cut out a door. We left a piece of the door attached at the hinge.

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All we had on-hand was Elmer’s glue, Scotch tape, and paste. We tried gluing the bark pieces on with Elmer’s, but it was just too heavy for the glue. A couple pieces were thin enough to stick though. I think something a little more tacky and strong is necessary if your bark is thick.

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I brainstormed for a roof idea. I pulled an old cereal box out of the recycling and scrounged some wrapping paper that was already used and hanging around in my gift wrap stockpile. (We don’t tear off wrapping paper in our house. We carefully remove it, smooth it out, and reuse.)

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I used a large bowl from our salad spinner to trace a circle on the cereal box.

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I cut a little pie-shaped wedge to make sure our roof made a nice cone shape.

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I used the same bowl to cut a circle from the wrapping paper. I then pasted the wrapping paper atop the cardboard circle, and glued the end of the circle together to make a roof.

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We scrounged for some more natural materials in the yard. We found dried pine needles, seeds, flowers, and some huge leaves from our hollyhocks.

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We used glue and paste to cover the container with our treasures from the yard, including a seed we used for our chimney.

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