Friday, June 3, 2011

Frugal Friday/Living Well

Frugal Friday

Saturday:  I made a challenge to myself last night and today I tested it out.  I challenged myself to get through the next few days until my regular shopping day without buying any grocery items...even though we've no fresh produce in the house (aside from carrots/celery/onion/potatoes).  Packing lunches is where I find this is a true challenge.  I could go to the store...we were paid on Friday,  but I just don't want to.  It throws everything off when you shop four days earlier than usual.  I alwasys seem to come up short at the end of the pay period.  We're about to hit another heavy birthday season, 9 birthdays over the next 12 weeks.  As well this month normally sees quite a large jump in our electric bill.  They call it 'summer rates.'  We call it 'hard to keep up' months.  So putting off shopping for a few days will only stretch our dollars and that's just what we need right now.

Here's an area where I sometimes struggle.  I am a frugalite.  Sometimes I'm just plain cheap.  I had such a struggle when we were on vacation when I bought a treat that turned out to be nasty nasty medicine tasting junk.  I was going to force myself to enjoy it until my husband stepped in and demanded that I throw it away and get another treat instead.  Well he was perfectly right!  Here I was just spoiling a vacation by acting as though I would go belly up broke if I didn't choke down every last bit of that treat.  It was meant to be a splurge, something out of the usual and fun.  He wasn't having fun watching me grimace and he just didn't want to hear about how I wasted money.  I was spoiling his enjoyment of HIS splurge doing that.

So it's time to color my hair (seems like a stretch from a treat to hair color?  Just hang on and you'll maybe see where my mind drifts, lol) and I've been waiting for weeks for the hair color I like to go on sale.  Only it hasn't...Nor have any of the clearance priced items been my color.  I am at the point of feeling kind of desperate about all the gray that is shining through and in places I never knew I had gray, too!

Today I bought hair color.  It wasn't on sale (gasp).  I decided it was time to color my hair even if it meant paying full price, which was a whole $10 for the box of color.  It's less expensive to go on and color my hair NOW while half a box of color will do the job rather than start from scratch and have to use the whole box.  When I find a sale I'll stock up.  In the meantime, I'll feel pretty good about myself each time I look in the mirror instead of wondering how bad it will look in another week or two.

I steered clear of impulse buys while in the drugstore (I was there for hair color and prescriptions).  I did take time to scan the sales sheet to see if I should stock up on any item, but I saw nothing on sale that we needed.

I thought I was missing a prescription and told the girl so...She denied there were more but I insisted she look.  No, she said, there wasn't another prescription.  I asked her to look it up.  She still said, No.  I told her to please look it up one more time.  Turns out she'd been spelling the name wrong.  Once she realized that she went back and looked on the shelf again and sure enough it was in the next rack.  I'm so glad I persisted because I'd hate to have had to drive back just to get that one prescription.

It's so very dry here that I'm beginning drought measures for watering plants.  I save the tail ends of glasses of water, water run while waiting for hot water to come in and such to water plants indoors and out.

Sunday:  The morning hours were nice.  I turned up the AC the moment I got up at 5:45 to 80F.  The coolness in the house lasted until just about 11am before the AC came on the first time.  I usually begin to cut the temperature down in two or three degree increments starting at 6:45pm, so it will feel nice and cool to my husband when he comes in from work.  Later I'll lower it a few more degrees to cool the bedroom so we can sleep well.  In a week or so we'll have that 110V AC up and running and I won't bother to turn down the thermostat below 76F for the rest of the house in the evenings.

I put eggs on to boil first thing this morning.  I was planning ahead you see and decided boiling the eggs early would also allow me one of my favorite breakfasts: boiled eggs and crisp buttery toast with orange marmalade. 

I put three diced potatoes on to boil as well, for potato salad.  Some of this was for my dinner and some was packed for Chance's lunch. 

Spent the morning sorting my coupons into proper envelopes and pulling those that are about to expire. 

I went to visit Granny and stopped to pick up a newspaper.  Yes, I know it's a holiday weekend and no manufacturer coupons came out but there were store coupons for the holiday weekend.

Went over sales sheets (online and from paper) and pulled coupons to match my shopping list.  I made sure to double check those coupons that are about to expire.

Went into Dollar General this morning after visiting with Granny.  I was careful with my purchases.  I bought a galvanized 'beverage tub' to use as a planter.  I got the last one and thought I'd visit another store branch to buy another.  However, I spied the same tub in a drugstore sales paper for $2 less.  I'll see if it's the same size and if so I'll purchase one there instead of at DG. 

I needed a spare pair of sunglasses.  Due to my habit of losing or breaking them I buy less expensive sunglasses at the dollar store.  I found a pair today for $3.50.  Just as I push my clothing from town wear to housewear, I'll put the pair of sunglasses that are the most scratched aside to wear outdoors while gardening here. 

My reading glasses have really had it.  I found a pair for $6.00.  I use the non-prescription reading glasses for reading in bed.  It's much easier than trying to focus bi-focals to read while lying on my side and I don't worry if the dollar store glasses get a bit wonky.

I don't normally buy clothes at DG for myself but I did find a pretty caftan in a summery coral broomstick pleat type fabric.  It will do just fine for wearing about the house or over a swimsuit as a cover-up.  It was $12 and I thought well worth the cost.

While I was in town I went by the bank and got my grocery money.

Filled a 2 quart pitcher today with water I'd run while rinsing items.  I used that water to pour over a thirsty plant on the porch.

I very nearly bought a new pair of lampshades for the bedroom lamp at DG this morning and I'm awfully glad I didn't, reasonable as they are in price.  You see, I have one of the exact same shades on the lamp in the kitchen.  That meant purchasing just one lampshade...No it means purchasing NONE.  You see when I went to the bedroom to get one of the bedside lamp shades to see if it looked okay in the kitchen, I noticed my little desk light had a red shade of the same size.  I'll just swap shades on that little lamp as well and I've got bedside lampshades without spending a penny.

Monday:  I'd promised to take Mama out to dinner for her birthday.  No tug on the checking balance for that.  I'd set aside my allowance the last couple of pay periods to cover dinner out. 

Noticed one of the few dress shops where I'll stop to look at clothes near the restaurant.  I asked Mama if she'd mind my running in to see if they had black or white pants in my size.  They had neither one, but I found a top that would go with two pairs of pants I already had (brown and khaki) and since I needed more tops in that color family, I bought it.

Mama always asks "Don't you need shoes or jewelry or a purse to go with that?"  She's very much into 'buying an outfit'.  Me, I am more of one for buying single pieces I really love a little along instead of things I just sort of like all at once.  I'd say I get far more use from my wardrobe because of this.  I always have something at home to go with whatever I'm buying.

Mama offered me half of a big seedless melon before I headed home.  I happily accepted.  I usually buy those little baby seedless melons which are pricier but more suited to our needs. 

Fell coming in the door.  Chance always insisted if any of us fell that first we lie still and then slowly sit up and then gradually move limbs and then try to rise.  I certainly hurt all over that's for sure!  However, taking my time and slowly getting up helped me better assess where I was hurting and how to go about standing to minimize the chance of hurting more. I called Chance and he urged me to elevate my foot and put ice on it and take two Tylenol.   In the end, I have a few bruises and little tension in my back but overall I feel pretty good. 

Mine and Mama's dinner was pretty big and very filling.  My supper was cool slices of watermelon and a tall glass of water. 

Chance hasn't finished his lunch the past two days.  I didn't pack a whole brand new fresh lunch for tomorrow.  His sandwiches and fruit are kept cool all day long in a refrigerator at work, so there's no harm in offering them to him once more.  However, if he brings something home twice without eating it, I toss it into the dogs pans, because that is his subtle way of saying he just didn't find that particular item appealing.

Mama not only gave me her old magazines to read but about a month's worth of coupons as well.  I was so proud to get those coupons and began clipping them right away when I got home.  I set aside those I knew I'd be using in my shopping tomorrow and then filed the rest in the proper envelopes.

Tuesday:  Noticed the dogs haven't really felt much like eating at day's end when it's so very hot.  I tossed out all the dog food and cat food in the bowls last night after they left it, as it was covered with ants and decided I'd try feeding them in the early morning when it's cooler.  I went out at 6:30am this morning and sure enough everyone was plenty hungry and finished their meals.  I have reduced the amount I'm giving them at the moment until I see how well they eat for a couple of days then I'll gradually increase it back to their previous portions.

Chance reminded me on his way out this morning that it was the first of the month.  I groaned loudly, because shopping on the first and third of the month is a royal pain. I'd already been dreading the day as I knew it would be unpleasantly hot.  He suggested strongly I postpone going out.  I thought about it a little bit and  decided that the pattern in our small town is pretty much repeated all over.  Most of the folks wait until the bank opens at nine, then they pay their utility bills and then they shop.  I decided if I could be ready to leave before 7:30 I stood a good chance of missing most of the shoppers and I did! And do you know WHY I did?  Because today wasn't the first of the month at all, it was the last day of May! lol  Good on him anyway for making me jump into high gear to go shopping and get back home before the heat was totally overwhelming.

Shelves were very picked over after the Memorial Day weekend.  Everywhere I went clerks were busy restocking, checking to see if more stock was available etc.  I got rainchecks on all the items that were out of stock.

Four out of five stops I encountered outages of sales items.  "We stock on Friday and Saturday for the sales week ahead.  You should come on Sunday," said one clerk.  "Oh our sales end on Tuesdays, you see, so things are pretty picked over, you should shop when the sales start on Wednesday," suggested another.  I heard that over and over again today.  It made me aware, more than ever, that I am not 'normal'.  I shop the day after pay day for the most part.  I don't just run over to the stores on a whim.  I combine errands.  I'm well aware of the way most sales cycles run in many stores and groceries and am fully aware that beginning a sale on Wednesday pretty much insures that if sales are appealing, a customer will choose to walk thru their doors at least twice that week, which doubles their chance of earning a bit more from impulse purchases...Most stores offer rainchecks without a quarrel and the sales price remains the same.  I'm only disappointed if a coupon expires before I can get back to a store but that is a rare occasion.

Realizing after the third stop that I was getting low on funds and pushing my budget, I went over my list carefully once more and opted out of purchasing several items, deleted two stops from my list entirely and gathered my coupons for the next stop before I walked into the store. 

I'd offered to pick up some things for Mama while I was shopping.  I was so pleased to find she'd made me lunch when I stopped by to drop them off.  Yummy meatloaf and cornbread, steamed cabbage and roasted potatoes.  That knocked out the stop at the local diner I'd decided to do.

I just longed to buy plants for the yard and deck and porch today, but I'd spent my limit already on mulch and containers.  I drove by to look at the plants in the next town (a wholesale nursery sets up a rack outside one of the grocery stores) but I didn't stop and buy anything.  I know what my budget is and I know full well I can't spend more just now, but oh having to wait is hard!  However, waiting is one thing I find is the most cost effective way of staying on a budget.  I am satisfied that I got the two big containers at a very good price and the mulch is far more important than the plants to go in the containers at the moment.

I gave in to my urge for flowers by purchasing a $4 bouquet at the grocery.

A whole rotisserie chicken was just $3.99 at one store and well worth the purchase in my opinion.  The leg quarters made up a supper for me and an evening snack for Chance.  I added a half tomato sandwich to my meal and a slice of watermelon.  Gracious but I'm glad summer is here!  The remaining chicken will be used tomorrow for dinner.

Wednesday:  Inspired by the current issue of All You I issued a challenge to a group of homemakers I know and I'll extend that challenge here.  Spend $25 per person per week for four weeks.  This sum does not include pet foods, toiletries, or cleaning products.  Just food for the people who live in your home.  With the pantry and freezer well stocked once more, I plan to begin this challenge myself.  I'll start June 13, which is our next pay period and carry through until July 11.  That will be my month.  I'll try hard to report on all my spending for that time frame so you can see where I chose to spend my $50/week for the two of us.  Granted I am well set to go through the challenge at present which I feel gives me an advantage, but I am very aware that relying too heavily on stored foods during this month will quickly deplete my stock, so I'm not going to being serving elaborate meals.  You can see more about the challenge, and enter to win the prize too if you'd like, here:

Last night after Chance came in, I was surprised by his asking if I minded if we had guests today.  Of course not!  Then he informed me a little later that our guest or guests would be having dinner with us...Well two chicken breasts quarters were not going to serve four people.  Chance wanted me to cook hotdogs and I did have a pack in the freezer, so that part of the meal was solved and the side dishes sort of fell into line.  I had buns in the freezer. Good to go right?  No... First I opened the freezer this morning and discovered we had only a partial bag of buns.  And then Alan arrived.  5 people, 8 hot dogs...three hungry men...right.  I'd bought a family pack of ground beef yesterday and had planned to divide it to freeze today.  I added in five burgers to my menu and ran into town for buns.  I combined that trip into town with  a drop off of mail at the box and garbage at the dumpster.

Froze the rest of the ground beef in one pound packets.  I always use zippered freezer bags and flatten the packets.  This helps me on two scores.  The flat packets are more easily stored, taking up far less freezer space and they thaw very quickly.

Alan was working in the yard and I wanted to keep the house cool.  I noticed late this afternoon that the Ac was pretty much running non-stop.  A glance at the thermostat revealed the temperature indoors was a couple of degrees higher than it was set for.  I turned up the thermostat which allowed the unit to shut off and rest.  I noticed it wasn't any warmer in here and the Ac was cycling on and off properly and not struggling to keep up any longer.  Having noted that I'll be sure to gradually increase the temperature in the afternoon.

Knowing that one of my favorite groceries begins a new sales cycle today, that Chance plans to be in that area tomorrow and might possibly go by there, I wanted to see if there were any 'can't afford to miss that' sales on anything.  As it happens, there was one on blueberries.  I also noted that a sales price on an item I bought yesterday didn't seem like a sale at all.  Later when we were making supper, I looked at the price on the item.  Sure enough, that sale is the regular price, advertised as an 'unbelievable' sales price.  Hmmm..It does pay to know prices doesn't it?

When I went into town this morning for buns, the 12 packs of hamburger buns were by far the best priced.  We'll be using the rest of the package to make sandwiches this week instead of using loaf bread.

Just as I've found keeping the dishcloths next to the sink stops me from grabbing a paper towel everytime we have a drop or spill, so too I'm keeping an empty plastic pitcher by the sink.  Why?  Because throughout the day, I pour in the last bits of water we may have left in a bottle or glass, cooking water from boiling eggs or steamed vegetables (unseasoned of course), run cool water into the pitcher while waiting for the water to warm enough for dishes, etc.  I average about 2 qts. 'extra' water daily in that pitcher which is more than enough to give one of the potted plants (or two) a decent deep drink.  If it saves the pump running anymore I'm saving electricity.  As well with the drought the water tables have dropped and though my well is deep, I've hopefully saved a little water.

Thursday:  Chance told me last night we had 'things to do today' his words for errands he wants to run.  Thankfully he also told me what we were going to do.  We made out a list of needs to pick up at the Home Improvement Center.  That little list saved us making an unnecessary future trip and insured we got what we needed to tend to a few tasks around the house.  We decided today that in future we'll just ask someone where every item on our list is when in that store because we walked and walked and walked today.  We did stumble upon two items on the list but that was purely accidental, lol.  We don't go into the home improvement place often enough to know where things are.

I wanted plant hangers to hang on the columns of the front porch so I could put up hanging baskets.  We found some on the end of an aisle but gee willerkers those were very pricey!  I suggested we ask if there were more some place else.  I got two for $4 each, nice heavy iron ones as opposed to the tiny one for $13 we'd seen earlier.  Whew!  That's a big enough savings to cover those two cans of spray paint I bought for the glider and the back deck table and chairs.

Fortunately every item we bought was paid for before we bought it...How's that?  We have a separate little fund in our checkbook where we set aside a bit of money each pay period to buy things needed for home repair.  The fund is empty after today's trip but we'll be making another deposit to it next pay period.  And so far this year, it's covered potting plants, mulch, weed mat and labor for the yard work I wanted done as well as today's purchases of home repair items.  Very handy to have that little fund.

Chance and I are never too certain about how Thursday evenings will play out.  He likes me to go along to practice.  I'd prefer to stay home and sometimes I do.  This week I went with him.  He wasn't sure if we'd join others and go out to eat or if we'd pick up take out.  I suggested we just plan to come home.  We've more than enough sandwich makings here at the house.

Want to know how I saved $189 today?  At the home improvement store we priced freezers.  I've been saying for years I wanted another small freezer in addition to the one we have now.  Well there they were and reasonably priced too and on the way home Chance said "I guess you should go ahead and get one..." and then it hit me hard.  Want one?  Well yes.  But do I need one?  The truth is it would be convenient to have a second freezer, but we're just two.  Our little freezer is sufficient for us.  When I said as much to Chance, he agreed.  He said he'd rather we stocked up on dry goods instead which of course, I've been buying on sale...and that is how we saved $189...

Friday:  Fed the dogs early...They didn't seem much interested in eating, so we put the food back into the canister.  I'm sure they will be hungrier tomorrow morning.

Chance hung a load of laundry on the clothesline to dry.  Goodness, with the heat outdoors these days clothes dry quicker outdoors than in the dryer anyway!

I waited until after dinner then washed a full load of dishes.

Put the chicken carcass we had left into the freezer.  We'll have a nice meaty dish of chicken noodles from that later.

Thought and thought and thought.  My meal plan for Oneg wasn't possible, but what to have as an alternative.  Chance provided a suggestion that seemed do-able if not the elegant thing I'd planned, but I've learned to listen to him about these Oneg meals.  Almost always his suggestions are a huge hit with the men, so we seldom bring leftovers home.  Cowboy Chili (not really a chili but an easy hearty meal), Pineapple Salad, and Apple Pie.  Sounds like a man sort of meal doesn't it?

Trying to save time, this afternoon, I managed four jobs in a fifteen minute span of time.  Topped the pie with streusel and put back to bake.  Emptied dishwasher, filled water bottles and browned ground beef and onions for the Cowboy dish.  I was pleased so much could be accomplished.  Of course, the ground beef and pie pretty much went along untended.  I just loved the economy of time management, lol.  It meant I could go off and sit down and put up my aching foot.

Cleared fridge and discovered we'd half a rotisserie chicken, one hot dog, one hamburger, one serving of baked beans, and 2 servings of potato salad, as well as enough tuna salad for sandwiches.  All still well within the 'safe to eat' stages.  And good reason to plan to have supper right here at home for at least the next couple of days.  We had the chicken and potato salad for our dinner midday today.

We bought a bag of ice on our way home from St. Augustine.  I had room in the freezer so we drained the water from the bag and stored the ice.  Tuesday, I took the bag of ice with me to keep groceries chilled while I shopped.  When I came home, I put half of the ice in the icemaker bucket and the other half in the freezer.  Wednesday, we pulled out the half bag and put in an insulated bag and used it for our drinks.  That half bag lasted all day long, long after our guests left.  We're still using the half bag put in the ice bucket.  Not bad for a $2 bag of ice.

We continue to turn the AC a little higher throughout the afternoon hours to offset running over much and then gradually decrease it each evening as the shade trees begin to cool off the house.

I bought quite a lot of produce the other day.  I've been careful to eat those fruits that are most perishable first (apricots and peaches, followed by strawberries) and save others for later (cherries, melon, etc).

Living Well

It's been very hot and dry.  We desperately need rain here.  It's been six weeks since we last cut our lawn and it doesn't need it now.  There will be no blackberries and corn is twisted in the fields.  It's a dry season for sure.

This afternoon I've happened upon an old tv series, The Rifleman and both episodes deal with the lack of water.  In one episode the Rifleman found an underwater spring that provided the water needed for his horses...

I could use a spring about now...

You see, I'm in a dry season too.   A season when I need to see a change in my life.  A season when I must wait for the rain to fall and replenish me as well.

And yet...There blooms the yellow rose.  And the petunias, for reasons unknown, seem to be especially tenacious, getting by with little water and scenting the evening air with that heady perfume.  I'm reminded just now to put my roots down deep and wait. I'm reminded to bloom where I am and scent the air around me. 

It's just a season...  

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