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Adventures in Fasting, Part 1

April 24th, 2018 at 09:33 am

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor offering advice to anyone. This is my experience alone and hope that someone might find it interesting or prompt them to do their own research, as I have.)

Hello! For various reasons, I led myself down the path to experiment with Intermittent Fasting. Basically, it’s voluntarily not consuming food for a period of time- it can be hours or days. I have been practicing a form of this for years- “Skipping Breakfast”. I was operating with an eating window of 11-7 most days. For me, even when I eat ‘clean’ during the time frame, I will only be full for a couple hours and then the cravings hit. I was snacking all afternoon. After dinner (whether it was high protein/low carb or lots of veggies and big portions, whatever method I tried), I HAD to have something sweet or salty. Or both. I’m not overweight, but have gained 5-10 lbs in the last couple years (I’m a small person) and have a belly pooch. I need to get a handle on this before perimenopause!

My research led me to many sources. The most exciting to me is finding Dr. Jason Fung. He has many You Tube videos and podcasts. He has had success treating diabetics with fasting to get their blood sugar under control. There are many others- Michael Mosley made a documentary on fasting using the 5:2 method, for example. Of course, fasting has been done for thousands of years, as part of religion and healing- Hippocrates and others, so it's not really 'new' but it's been all but forgotten by the medical profession. There are a lot of different programs for fasting. I think that’s what is cool- one can do their own research and figure out the best way for them as an individual.

I’m currently in a 38 hour fast. I stopped eating at 7pm on Sunday night. I’ve only consumed water, coffee with a splash of heavy cream, herbal tea and homemade chicken broth with extra sea salt. (There are differing opinions on whether consuming anything other than pure water is a ‘real fast’). Last weekend I fasted for 24 hours and 22 hours with no issues, other than some tummy grumblings which passed in a few minutes. I had a harder time on this longer fast - major headache, fogginess, white-coated tongue. Pretty sure my body was detoxing and repairing yesterday. I slept great last night and woke up tired, but no headache. I meant to stop the fast at the 36 hour mark (7am) but now that the worst is over, I’m getting more energy and mood is great. I’m going to play it by ear and see how I feel during the day. I do have a smoothie and nuts if I need them, and all kinds of food in the work café.

I’m excited to see how this goes for me. So far I’m enjoying this process and learning about myself and what I am capable of. I am finding that it’s more mental than physical. I will make more posts on this subject soon, along with new insights. I’d love to hear your experiences if you have tried fasting.

Keeping up with my retinas

April 11th, 2018 at 02:48 pm

Hmmmm today I logged on and see my new avatar loaded, the one that wouldn't work last week! Weird! So now I'm showing my 'beach cat' body! (Do you see a cat on a beach? Or the cat with purple wig, which was my original picture?)

On Monday, I went to the retina specialist for my 3 month checkup. My retina is healed and still attached, woo hoo. Now it's time for the second surgery, to remove the silicon oil. The earliest available is May 9. I was hoping it could be sooner, but it's fine. He is going to perform a laser procedure on my other eye at the same time, as that retina is thinning, so I won't have an emergency later. I'm excited to get two things done at once.

I'm doing great on groceries. As of yesterday, spent $93.21 out of $330. It's time to cook more food, so going to Safeway to get a special on rotisserie chicken (saving bones and carcass for broth), plus some frozen broccoli and hamburger patties. I bought the small bowl of fruit at the work cafe. Pineapple, green grapes, orange segments, honeydew and cantaloupe. Plus some pumpkin seeds! I got a bangin' deal last weekend on a small piece of halibut. It was marked 50% off but rang up 75% off.

MONEY: Chase paid me the $300 bonus for my new checking account, but not the $200 for savings yet. Which is weird, because I fulfilled the savings requirement right away, but not the checking yet. Hopefully I won't have to make a stink about it... I have some mature savings bonds to cash next month, so I will visit my local branch and complain if I haven't received it by then. I still have not been able to get a focus group gig, or any online surveys worth anything. I wonder if I pretended that I made minimum wage and had 3 small children, if I would generate more interest? But why aren't any companies interested in a middle age woman with no debt and a lot of disposable income??

Weekend almost over.

April 8th, 2018 at 07:10 pm

It's been a good weekend, although the weather is crappy. Very rainy. At least I wasn't motivated to spend money on plants.

Yesterday I went to the movies. It's been awhile- at least a year. My BF wanted to see "Ready Player One". I enjoyed it, although I'm not really into video games and avatars and all the artificial/computer generated characters.... it had a lot of great 80s music. We had theatre popcorn, but i brought in beverages.
For dinner, we had bacon cheeseburger sliders and potato and radish salad.

Today I cooked: rice in instapot (have frozen veggies to add to it), chicken and mushroom alfredo with bowtie pasta, and zucchini & almond butter brownies. That should last us lunch and dinner for a couple days. Tuesday or Wed night will make a quiche and a big green salad. I have my coffeemaker set to brew coffee in the morning!

Wrap up- month of March and 1st week of April

April 6th, 2018 at 01:32 pm

For March, I exceeded my grocery/food goal by $29.00. Most of that was due to taking my BF out for a birthday dinner ($26 with tip). It was worth it!

My food goal for April is $330. So far, I've spent $53. That included getting a new bottle of EVOO and raw almond butter which are staples of the pantry and should last awhile. On Monday, after my retina appointment, I am treating us to our favorite pizza from Shakeys. A medium runs $20, but they are generous with the toppings so it will last two meals.

I did well this week regarding meals. Everyday I had plenty of food options at work, so I didn't spend a penny in the work cafe. Usually my big bowl of fruit is a wise purchase because it's a tremendous value, but I haven't been eating much fruit since doing my cleanse. Quiche is my go-to for lunch. This week I use grated parmesan cheese as a crust, then for the filling I used crumbled bacon, feta and jarred bell peppers. YUM! I also made basmati rice in my Instapot. Some of it was turned into Cilantro Lime rice.

One thing I'm stoked about: I pulled my coffee maker out of the pantry (after 4+ years) and brought my own coffee to work two days in a row! It's pretty good; much better than the weak stuff in the breakroom. I already had beans I bought from Amazon, and two bags of my favorite Kona coffee from my last vacation. I combine the organic decaf, organic regular beans and the pricey Kona stuff as I please and grind it fresh! I even have a couple cups left over in the fridge to heat up on the weekend.

What else... I have been saving my squeezed lemon/lime halves in a ziplock in the freezer. I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet... maybe blend them up in the vitamix this summer to make lemonade? I can also thaw and zest them for recipes. I already have a bunch of citrus peels in vinegar for cleaning.

Happy Weekend!!

Blog settings help, please!

April 3rd, 2018 at 11:54 am

Can anyone tell me how to delete and add a new profile picture? I can delete it, but when I upload the new file and click "update", it's either blank or the old one is there!!!

Friday Frugalia

March 30th, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Woo hoo, free food at work! First, doughnuts. They are giant monstrosities. I'm off sugar and gluten during my cleanse, but I cut two pieces (they are at least double/triple the size of typical) and wrapped them up for my Guy for a special treat. Also, someone brought in hard boiled eggs. I had one with my lunch and taking another home. I also purchased my bowl of fruit for $1.35. Pineapple, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, topped with walnuts. That will be great to snack on this weekend.


Some of the donuts. Almost too pretty to eat!

After work, going to the store to get a Free Safeway soup and a small container of mixed greens for $2. After my big salad rant the other day, I decided that I need to have a specific recipe(s) for my salads and then I'll buy just what I need, instead of getting a bunch of whatevers without any plan. Avocados are on Friday special for $1 so I'll buy one to have with my planned Salad entree.

I haven't figured out what meals I'm going to make for next week. Rice and potatoes will be involved since I have a lot of those!

Almost forgot: getting $10.04 from Mr. Rebates next week, for deposit into Spavings.

Have a great weekend and Happy Easter!

My thoughts on Salad

March 28th, 2018 at 01:08 pm

Yep that's right. SALAD. I'm rethinking a lot of things in my life that I believed were the 'right', 'healthy' things to do/have/consume.

SALADS. I'm done with 'em.

Okay, not really done with them forever. But I am done with having them as part of my daily diet. Here's why.

1. I'm reducing the stress in my life. Embracing minimalism. There's so many ingredients to buy and keep track of (if you want to make a proper salad)! Various types of lettuce, cut up veggies, nuts, croutons, bits of cheese, maybe dried or fresh fruit, eggs or chopped chicken, salad dressing.... everyone is into BIG SALADS that have all the vitamins and minerals you need. For me, it's too much work to prepare and store the ingredients. Lettuce and greens have a very short shelf life and often start wilting or getting mildew-y within a couple days. And having all the different storage containers to keep everything in. GAH!

2. The cost of fresh ingredients, especially the highly perishable produce. For a 2 person household, I often can't use it up before it goes bad.

3. You gotta wash and dry all the produce well and store it in an airtight container, or ziplock with paper towels and squeeze all the air out. I don't want E-coli or whatever else.... even the bagged produce or premade salads, that are supposed to be triple washed, often get recalled for contamination. There was a recent recall on plain old romaine lettuce.

I do love salads. If I see an enticing recipe and I'm in a certain mood, I will make them occasionally, maybe on the weekend. Or if I find a particular combination of components that I don't mind eating over and over until they are used up. For the time being, I am going to eat cooked/steamed veggies that I can prepare in advance and heat up with whatever else I'm eating. Some fresh, some frozen, whatever works for my schedule and budget.

What say you? Have you had similar epiphanies with food or anything else in your life?




Argh! Dang focus group!

March 27th, 2018 at 10:39 am

I received a voice mail yesterday to call in regarding a focus group. Not one that I applied for through the website, but sounded ok: $100 for an hour discussing Retail Shopping. I called as soon as I got home and it was full already. She said there's another one for Finances. So I spend about 10 min answering all the questions. At the end, the screener said I'm partially qualified, but will have to discuss a couple of my answers with the client to see if they are acceptable, and if so they will call me back. I'm sure that is the way they let you down nicely.

Great news: my FICO score is up to 815! It's usually 800+ but dropped recently due to charging my hospital bill. Paid that off!

I'm still waiting for my $500 bonus from Chase.

Haven't tried selling anything lately.

I wanted to put an extra $700 away in savings for being frugal in March, but decided on $400. I can always add more later. For April, my goal is another $400. (These figures don't count the Chase bonus money.)

I am getting my monthly massage after work. Really looking forward to it!!

I will stop at QFC before my appointment to pick up a Kroger gift card. I earn 6% back on AMEX and use it for Fred Meyer groceries and gas. After the massage, stop at F.M. and pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner today and tomorrow.

Frugal moves

March 25th, 2018 at 01:27 pm

It's been a great weekend. Woke up Sat morning to a dusting of snow, and it melted by afternoon. The sun has been peeking out throughout the weekend and really improves my mood.

Here are some frugal steps I've taken over the last few days:

- I pulled a new college ruled notebook out of my stash and named it My Frugal and Health Journal. I need one place to keep track of everything, in writing, on a daily basis.

- Made chicken stock in my Instapot from rotisserie chicken carcass.I love this because it takes less than an hour. Using the slow cooker, it's at least a 12 hour process. I also have a big ziplock in the freezer, that I add any veggie scraps or random chicken bones to, for future stock making. I try to drink at least one cup of my broth a day (add some water and warm it up.) It's so healthy for you! And keeps my hunger at bay between meals.

- Grocery: Fred Meyer: .99/lb asparagus, pastured eggs sale $4.99 dz, box of sliced mushroom 1/2 price, frozen veggies for $1. Even though diet soda was on sale, I did not buy, as I'm doing a cleanse and soda is not allowed, so no need to spend on it now.

- Grocery Outlet: I rode over there with my man. He was going to the hardware store in the same shopping area. I saw many things that I don't need right now but will go back later (like foil, grass fed ground beef, frozen veggies). I bought him some snacks: organic popcorn for .99 and gluten free crackers. I picked up a little bag of beet chips for me, also some chicken meatballs and Nathan's hot dogs for my lunches.


-This weekend I cooked ahead: made 'crack slaw' (ground beef/cabbage/onion sauteed with coconut aminos and sesame oil), roasted sweet potato and broccoli, made 'risotto' with cauliflower rice (I riced it myself) and mushrooms, steamed asparagus, cooked basmati rice.

-I mended one of my socks. It was a brand new pair that I put on yesterday. After a couple hours I realized a toe was poking out. Frown It is part of a Costco multi pack that I've had for a long time. I pulled out my little sewing kit and stitched the hole up. Not pretty but should make it last for a bit. They are really soft and cute socks too.

-I cancelled all my Amazon Subscribe and Save subscriptions for April. Decided I could do without them for a month. Saving about $50.

- Returning a few tops I ordered from Old Navy.


Purchases made:
- New home phones. Our last unit is about to die (can only talk for a few minutes before battery runs out), so i found a set of 2 (main unit with answering machine and one additional) on Amazon for under $40.

- Supplements. Trying to eat better, detoxing from junk food and keeping my energy up. I decided to invest in some quality supplements from an author and Doctor that I trust and respect. She was having a 20% off sale so I bought 60 day supply of them.





Looking at my finances

March 20th, 2018 at 07:47 am

I'm still taking the steps to get all the requirements filled on the new Chase accounts. I linked the savings account to my Capital One, so I could set up the $15,000 transfer. Next I logged onto my employer's payroll website to add the Chase checking and set up direct deposit of $125/week ($500/month). Now I wait....

Last night, I studied my 2017 Year End Summary for the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred (my main credit card.) It was very enlightening. My total grocery spend was over $5900. (This is what amex considers grocery; the stores that they give me 6% cash back on: Safeway, QFC, Trader Joe's are the ones I shop at that qualify.) That amount also included gift cards purchased at the grocery. The only way I could try to break the GC amount down, was to log onto my Amazon account. I added $1000 of their GCs to my account in 2017. Wow!!! I took advantage of my Prime membership way too much! Now I have Amazon's
VISA card, which earns me 5%, so there's not much incentive to use the gift cards, unless I get bonus fuel points from the grocery.

Still on my quest to earn more money on the side. I've been trying to qualify for some focus groups through a local company, but they haven't contacted me about anything recently. I'm bummed; one of them would have paid $875 over 10 1 hour visits. At this point, I'd be happy to get $100 for a one hour session. I have signed up online with a few mock jury-type websites. Also, Smart Panel, which pays $110/year for them to track your internet usage on phone and PC. That one pays in Amazon gift cards, which works great for me.

$500.00? Yes!

March 17th, 2018 at 04:42 pm

I took advantage of the Chase $500 bonus on new checking and savings today. Was able to use the promo code and setup the account online. It's a bit of work to set up the external accounts and wait for them to be verified. I have to transfer $15,000 from Capital One to Chase for the savings requirement, which remains for 90 days. That earns me $200. (I'll be losing $56 in interest from Cap One but earning $200.) After that, I only need to keep $300 there. For checking, I must set up direct deposits from my employer of $500/month. I earn $300 for fulfilling the checking requirement. After 6 months I will close the accounts.

I'm excited, because once I receive the $500, I will add that to my Surgery fund for a new balance of $1,040.

Saturday savings

March 17th, 2018 at 01:35 pm

This is a good day so far. I got up early, made chicken stock in my insta pot. Took under an hour! I cleaned my master bath, including the shower. Which is usually such a chore due to the hard water stains on the glass doors. However, I have found a practically free and easy way to get the mineral deposits off!!! Are you interested?

Ok, here is the secret: the mesh bags from produce like lemons or potatoes. It has the right amount of scratch, but gentle. Use your cleaner of choice. Mine is white vinegar (with citrus peels soaked in them) sprayed on the glass, let sit for a couple minutes, gently scrub (ball the mesh up like a bath pouf), rinse. For the shower floor I like to use Barkeepers Friend with the mesh. I've switched over to all natural cleaners a few years ago.

After that, went to two grocery stores. Only bought a few items but got great deals. At Fred Meyer, a salad kit that was marked down from 3.49 to 1.99, then I had .45 coupon. Picked up a container of heavy cream, a ripe large avocado, free range eggs ($$ but worth it to me), ginger root and an orange bell pepper on sale. Next, Safeway. I had a club card deal for two corned beefs for 1.99/lb, picked those up and some sausage patties. Since I spent over $10 I had another club deal for $2 off. Uncured ham lunchmeat marked down to 1.99, a head of cabbage, ben & jerry's for 2.88 (I think the cartons are getting smaller Frown ), and a tiny french baguette for .99. Used a 10% off coupon received from S.O. getting a flu shot; only saved an additional 1.83 but the coupon was about to expire. total grocery spend was $27. Said no to Girl Scouts at both stores. (I'm very happy this is their last weekend).

I deposited the money I made from my jewelry sales. Calculated my income/expenses through the end of the month, and due to my decreased spending and that I get 5 paychecks this month, I think I'll be able to sock away an extra $700 into my savings! Next month I hope to do an extra $400. The April figure is pretty optimistic, since I am starting auto deduction of $125/week on my payday into my Capital One account. It's a big goal but i should get close.

Have a great weekend!!

Pre- Friday!

March 15th, 2018 at 03:03 pm

It's warm and sunny in the Pacific Northwest. I love it!!

I made $200 selling more jewelry. A silver coin, a pair of earrings with tiiiiinnnnny diamonds, and 3 rings, one had particles of diamonds, all had gemstones.

Surgery payback fund is up to $540.00.

I bought a bowl of fruit this morning at my work cafe. $1.35 for about a 2 cup capacity. You can also get a larger bowl for $1.80. They have a nice variety and you can fill it to the brim! The strawberries and pineapples were washed and cut; saves me so much time. I also picked out some red grapes. I take them home and we can snack on them for a couple days. It's a bargain. I love it in the summer, when they have cherries!

My food budget as of today is : $169 out of $350. I am picking up a rotisserie chicken for dinner tonight, and on Friday taking my best friend to a birthday dinner. The restaurant will be doing happy hour so I will eat off of that menu and drink water (can have wine when I get home!)

I failed on the "zero on clothes" for March. My friend gave me a Friends and Family 25% off for Athleta, which I looooove but their clothing is $$$$. I looked online and only found one item I'd like but it was $128. 25% off and tax would make it about $105.00. Well I couldn't justify that, but they are in the same family as Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. I started checking out the other sites and Old Navy had great looking stuff and everything 40% off. I bought 9 items for the same price as that one jacket. I haven't received my order yet, but surely I won't like at least half the items when I try them on, so will be returning some with the prepaid label. I also had $22 on a gift card, so I can deduct that from my spending.

I'm using the excitement of these new spring clothes to keep me motivated on eating right and exercising!

Trying to Sell Stuff is frustrating

March 14th, 2018 at 10:55 am

I don't know how people do it... I listed a couple items on OfferUp and local FB Buy/sell and no success! On a positive note, this is strengthening my resolve to stop buying so much stuff.

I'll hold onto the designer handbag and try again in late summer. I'm going to take more jewelry in tomorrow to the place I went before. This time I have some rings that have diamonds and gemstones, not just plain gold or silver pieces like the first time. It will be interesting how much they value them. I will be more selective about selling these.

I went through some of my Mom's boxes and found a box of pennies and a few other coins. Some of them were fairly old. I sorted and put aside pennies that were 1960s and older. She also had a Susan B Anthony coin,and a buffalo nickel from 1920. Also, three $2 bills! Very cool and I'm keeping them. The rest of the pennies and other coins I rolled and have $5.00 to add to my "extra income" fund.... I need to come up with a clever name for it.

So far:

Extra income fund:
$335.00 - jewelry sale #1
$5.00 - coins
$340.00 TOTAL

Spavings Fund:
$61.11 -balance
$50.00 - AMEX blue cash reward
$111.11 TOTAL


Developing a weekly meal system

March 6th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

I've been thinking about this for years- a system to organize and prepare my meals that's more efficient and doesn't involve me cooking every night. (I'd like to add that there are only 2 people in my house, and the other one will eat just about anything and be happy!) Here's the latest I've came up with:

Sat/Sun: (for Sun-Tues)
- look in fridge/pantry for ingredients I have, check out grocery flyers for what's on sale, then shop for what's missing. Cook 2-3 entrees (for lunches at work and dinners).
- Prepare 5 'salads in a jar' to take for lunches. (I just tried this idea this week!! Brilliant!) I'll explain this if anyone is not familiar with it (see end of post)

Wed: (for Wed- Fri)
- buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store on way home, to eat the next couple days.
- prepare 1 additional entree

I think this will work for me, as long as I don't get tired of eating the same meals for 2-3 days- which I typically do not. I only have to plan, shop and cook a couple times a week, which saves me time and gas.

I'll report back next week with how it went for me. Would love to see others' ideas on what they do.


*Salad in a jar: use a regular size canning/mason jar. Put dressing in first, then firmer items like cut up veggies, cheese, nuts, protein; finish with greens on top (you don't want the greens to touch the dressing and get soggy.) When it's eating time, dump everything into a bowl or plate, mix and chew! Easy.

Makin' extra money

March 1st, 2018 at 12:28 pm

The time is drawing near for me to pay my credit card that I charged the hospital bill on. I'm transferring the money from my online savings, so no sweat there, but I feel the need to 'make up' for spending this money. Even though the expense was totally beyond my control. That's how I roll.

This is my list for recouping some of the money, from easiest to hardest.

Making Money:
1. $900- Sell EE savings bonds: I have bonds that my Mom purchased over the years in the 80s. She passed away 4 years ago. Her and I are co-owners on the bonds. I've been cashing them in once a year as they mature. They earn 4% so I don't want to cash in early. I'll have to wait until 2020 for the last ones to mature.

2. $100 ? - Online surveys... I haven't signed up for any yet; going to research over the weekend. This should be easy to do while vegging out at home.

3. $200 ? - Sell unwanted gold/silver jewelry - I inherited my Mom's jewelry. I don't wear any. Of course there are a few items that have sentimental value, but the rest I have no interest in. I have selected a few items and will take them to a couple reputable local dealers. Hope to get $200 or more, but I have no idea really....

4. $80-$100 - Sell a Dooney and Burke handbag. I've already listed it on Offer Up a few months ago and got several weird inquiries so I removed it. Will try my local city Facebook buy/sell pages.

Saving Money:
1. $500+ - Don't buy clothing and house decor- I would typically spend $100 or more per month on stuff out of boredom or 'I deserve it'. So if I don't buy, it's kind of like earning.

2. $200 - Suspending my massage membership for 3 months. I belong to Element Massage and have a great therapist there. I already suspended it for Jan- Mar. I will resume a couple months and suspend it again. I really enjoy my massages and not willing to give them up completely.

3. $200 - Change to cheaper cell phone service. I currently do prepaid Verizon. It's $49/month and I get great service. I need a company that uses the Verizon network due to where I live. I found one called Red Pocket. I can get a plan that would work for $20/month. It's a pain to switch and port number, and what if the service is bad. But I can save more than 50% so I should try.

4. $150 - Participate in a focus group. I signed up with a local research company. It's inconvenient to drive into Seattle on a weeknight, and hard to qualify for the surveys. I'm only willing to do it for a minimum of $100, or $150 if it's a 2 hour survey.

That's my list. It won't cover all my expenses but it's a good start.


wrapping up February

February 27th, 2018 at 08:37 am

It's been an ok month. Once again, did not meet my Food budget goal. I'm at $294 as of today, and planning to buy several items at Trader Joes. I've only had 6 no-spend days this month. I don't have a goal related to that though. But zero on clothes and cosmetics!

Yesterday was follow up with my Retina specialist. It's been 6 weeks since my Vitrectomy. He said my eye is healing, retina is attached, vision has improved in spite of having the oil bubble in place. (20/70), which is better than pre-surgery (meaning when my retina was torn and detached...) So I have 6 more weeks til the next appt, and if all is well I will be scheduled for the next procedure, to remove the oil bubble. "we're halfway there!!! Ahhhhh Livin' on a Prayer!!" (channeling my inner Bon Jovi). He examined my other eye and that retina is thinning, so down the road I will need an in office procedure to laser the retina.

I'm working on eating better (reducing the carbs, avoiding processed foods), walking more and doing a workout called Classical Stretch. It's a unique method that combines strength, cardio, taichi, stretching, all no impact and with no added weights. Those things, along with my happy light and days getting longer, are helping to boost my mood and energy.

So, onto March.... my least favorite month of the year. It's long, no holiday, rains all month long (in Seattle)... over the next 2 days I will work on my goals for the next month.

My AMEX 'Hustle'

February 23rd, 2018 at 02:30 pm

I've been meaning to share this for awhile.... probably not the first one to think of the idea. When I tell my friends they are pretty impressed!

Calling it my Hustle because it's very trendy on the blogs to talk about a Side Hustle. I don't have other ways of making money, besides my full time job. So I try to think outside the box to maximize my cash back. I guess you could call it a Lazy Hustle.

I have the AMEX Preferred Cash card. The biggest benefit is the 6% cash back at the grocery store, up to $6000 year. I've never come close to maxing that out, which I want to do (without being wasteful) because that's a guaranteed $360.00, less the $95 yearly fee.

Besides the obvious buying groceries, I also purchase gift cards for other businesses I frequent on the regular. This is mainly Starbucks and Amazon for me.

Now here's a more clever one, if I do say so myself. I have both a Fred Meyers (Kroger) and Safeway close to my home and each has a gas station. I also have QFC (another Kroger) a little farther away. I buy gift cards for the stores (Kroger at QfC, Safeway at Safeway) so I earn 6% back at each gas station. I don't get 6% back at F.M. because it's categorized as a discount store. So I use the gift card purchased at QFC for anything I buy inside FM AND their gas station.

Conservatively I can earn an additional $100/year by doing my Grocery Gas Station hack, if I do it consistently. I earn even more by using the QFC card for FM store purchases (they sell clothing, home goods, electronics etc). It covers the annual fee! It's a bit more thinking to keep track of my GC balances but I just cut up blank address labels and stick them on the front of the cards and update the balance with a pen after each use.

The other idea, which I haven't done yet for some reason, is to buy Netflix GCs and load them on my account. That would earn me about $15 more/year.

So, any other ideas from Cash Back experts??

Weekly wrap up

February 23rd, 2018 at 10:57 am

It snowed yesterday. Anywhere from trace to 2 inches in my area. Of course, since I live in the Seattle area, any appearance of the white stuff causes panic. In this case, it was justified because temps went down to 20 after snow, so we had roads and hills of ice, oh the fun! (sarcasm). I was 2 hrs late to work so I skipped lunch yesterday, and will today, to try to make up some time. (I am an hourly employee.)

Other than that, it's been a pretty boring week. I did pretty good with my meal prep last Sunday, got me through Thursday lunch. I will surpass my grocery budget of $280 ($10/day), as I only have $6 left for the month. Oh well.... I think it helps to have a goal, to be mindful, even if I don't meet it.

I'm starting a new category of savings, called Spavings. I read about it on some other blogs (Budgets are sexy was the original)... I'm going to take any cash back incentives and put them into my savings. For 2018 so far:

$21.11 MR Rebates check
$40.00 Chase Amazon cash back
Total: $61.11

I had a massage yesterday. I sure needed it! I usually get at least one per month, but due to my eye surgery, I postponed. My therapist was kind enough to loan me a head cradle while I was recovering from the vitrectomy, and I returned it and we caught up while I was getting my service. She and her husband are going to Maui next week- doing one of those time share deals to get free hotel and rental car. They are one of those type that can handle the pressure for 90 minutes and don't feel bad about saying no... it sounds like a nightmare to me! I am jealous that she will get some sunshine. I can't wait for spring... or at least the temp to get into the 50s...

My SO wants to go to the Seattle home show this weekend. Normally I would love to... but 1. I just finished my kitchen project and am not eager to do another project of any kind, 2. I have no $$$ budgeted as I have to pay $3000 for my eye surgery OOP. Jack wants to go to research his next project, which will be some kind of path on the shady side of the house. Which sounds pretty boring to me... but if he buys me dinner afterward, I'm game!

Stock Market Correction

February 8th, 2018 at 06:11 pm

Received a Mr. Rebates check for $21.11 and deposited into my Capital One savings.

Now, onto the stock market and the craziness of the last few days. All I can say is "Finally!" Then I say, "Oh no.... okay don't worry". (I mean, what good does that do?) But really, as of today, the Dow is back to where it was in early December. Is that really a correction? So it's down 10% but it was crazy high. A lot of my stocks are still closer to their 52 week highs than the 52 wk lows. I love a good sale, but it needs to go lower before I take advantage by buying. What do you guys think?

Depression setting in...

February 6th, 2018 at 10:40 am

Well, it's winter and typical Seattle weather (cloudy, rainy, so little daylight) so I would be feeling a bit down anyway, but....

(Pausing to pull on my Complainy Pants)....

The gratefulness of saving my eyesight via surgery for detached retina is wearing off. Weekends are great, because I can putter around the house doing chores on my timeline, lay down/nap as much as necessary. I barely get through the workday, and then home to lay on the couch and listen to/watch TV and attempt to get ready for the next workday. Having one blurry eye just makes me MENTALLY tired, because my brain is constantly having to compensate to even out my vision. I'm happy that my eye is healing but I feel like all I can do is count down the days/weeks until my next surgery.

I know what I need to be doing to help myself. First is exercise. I have been holding off because there are a lot of restrictions and I don't want to hurt my eye, but also many things I can still do. My belly is getting soft and I know I'm losing muscle tone. It's really hard to get motivated to start. So that is on me.

The next is diet. I did well last weekend by preparing a few meals to eat this week, but that only lasts partway and then I'm back to trying to put something nutritious together when I am so tired. I need to allow myself permission to get take out occasionally and rely more on convenience foods. But that eats into my "spending diet" goal to reduce my grocery costs.

Last on my complaint list is the medical claims. Luckily, I have $3000 maximum out of pocket for this year, and the company contributed a little to my HSA account. Now the claims are coming in, and I already put most of it (over $2300) on my credit card which I will have to pay off next month. I have the money sitting in my savings account, but dang it, it makes me mad because I have to spend that money!!! I set yearly savings goals last month and I won't be able to meet them because of my stupid eye. Also, I bumped my HSA deduction to the maximum, so that's $60/week going there, and I won't be able to reimburse myself for my out of pocket costs until the end of the year.

Oh one other thing. I did my taxes and I owed $45! So crappy.... one more expense that I didn't expect.

Thanks for letting me vent.

January Spending Diet wrap up

February 4th, 2018 at 05:49 pm

First, I changed the name of my blog. Salamander was my nickname as a kid, so "salamander saves" sounds cool and snazzy to me!

I didn't meet my goals, but in spite of the unexpected eye surgery, I did pretty well.

Grocery spend- Goal $250- Actual $287
**Since I spent 5 days laying around with my head toward the ground and not going shopping, I thought I would accomplish this. On 1/28 my guy drove me to Trader Joe's and I stocked up on things, and bought more convenience foods than normal, since I was still pretty tired.

No spend days: Goal 15- Actual 14
close!!


Quick post-op check in

January 26th, 2018 at 02:17 pm

Hello! I'm doing well after my surgery, which was on Jan 16th. I didn't have time to research the procedure ("vitrectomy"), which was probably a good thing, because it looks really gross. I didn't realize that it was actual SURGERY, where I'd have to take off all my clothes, have an IV, etc. (Thought it was on the level of Lasik... silly me!) I was comfortable and didn't feel anything during the procedure, and all the staff were friendly and answered all my questions. I had to spend 5 days and nights with my face toward the ground (called Posturing). Sleeping that way was the absolute worst!!! I rented equipment to help with that. Now I can sleep on my left side, but absolutely cannot be on my back. I have a silicon oil bubble in my eye, which needs to press on the retina (which is in the back of the eye) to help hold it in position for about 3 months. It will require another surgery to remove the oil. My eye is still red, watery and dilated (helps the healing process.)

This is my third day back to work (not full days). My vision is cloudy, due to the oil bubble, so I have to get used to it. I am getting better everyday, and so thankful that this technology exists to save my sight. Smile

I'll post my results from my January Spending Diet (ha ha ha) after the month is over!

Yep, I was right (unfortunately)

January 16th, 2018 at 09:07 am

I have a detached retina. Surgery in a few hours. Family and friends are stepping up to assist me, which is such a great feeling. I won't be blogging for at least a week while I recover. Thank you for the positive thoughts!

Good news is I will be forced to relax at home for at least a week, and I get a 10% discount for prepaying my out of pocket cost at the hospital.

I'm scared about my eye

January 15th, 2018 at 11:37 am

I have an eye exam this afternoon. Worried because one afternoon last week, in the car on the way home, I noticed there was a blurry/cloudy spot on my right eye. It's like when you rub your eye and your contact slips and gets scrunched on one side, only I don't wear one in that eye. I tried washing it out with water and lens solution. I'm worried that it's a detached retina. Of course, self-diagnosing on the internet is a bad idea, hence the dr appt. Please think good thoughts for me!

On a positive note, I had FOUR No spend days last week! And my kitchen backsplash is installed and grouted! I'm thrilled with it. Last step is the drywall person to stop by and repair the area where there used to be tile and now it's all wall. After that, I'll be able to really clean and make it sparkle!

Weekend to-do and spending diet

January 12th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

I've had 3 no spend days this week (M, W and Th). (Today also, most likely). I'm pretty proud of that!!
That's a total of 5 no-spend in 11 days. My goal is 15.

My grocery spending is $97.57 out of my $250 budget. So far, I'm right on.

My new kitchen backsplash is being installed right now. I had new granite counters put in November and waited to pick out the backsplash material. Then, various delays, including my tile being out of stock, contractor getting sick etc. It should be done by tomorrow! That is the extent of my kitchen project. I'm not including that spending in my diet, because it would have been taken care of last month.

My diet and exercise are going well. I'm starting to feel a little slimmer (but not going to weigh or measure for awhile because I'm trying to focus on other benefits). I am still tired in the morning, in spite of getting 8 hours of sleep, but have more energy in the afternoons, and hunger is better controlled. I can tell that my upper body is getting stronger with all of the tricep push ups, downward dogs, side planks, etc that are prevalent in the Piyo program.

So for the weekend, I will clean and reorganize my kitchen, cook some meals for next week, do my workouts and relax.

Spending Diet update

January 9th, 2018 at 11:46 am

1/5 - $14.12 for family size papa murphy pizza (4 meals)
1/6- 23.38 food (groc)
1/7- 33.59 gas, 6.37 food
1/8 - 0
1/9 - $92.91 for colon cleanse system, 29.29 groc

I have been thinking of doing a colon cleanse for a few days, so this is not an impulse purchase. It falls into one of my exceptions to spending: medical/ health. I'm not getting the results I expected on my other plan,so I will switch to the colon, then back to the "Fat Flush". I'm still doing my Piyo exercise and eating clean.

Over the weekend, I was at Fred Meyer getting groceries and I was drawn to an endcap in the health aisles. There were 50% markdowns of my favorite natural soap brand "Zum". There were soaps, travel kits and soy candles. The company uses all essential oils and everything smelled so yummy! And 50% off! I put two items in my basket before saying to myself, "Hey, what the h**l? You're on a spending diet!!" I replied, "Yes, but these are my favorites at half off! They will all be sold out by Feb 1!!!" Miraculously, I put them back and went back to buying my planned vegetables. I am pretty happy with myself! I think this type of interaction is a "ah hah" moment and the main purpose of a spending diet.

So.... I don't think I will meet my goal of 15 "no spend" days. But this is not a bad thing. First, it is still making me pause and really think about what I'm buying and if it's necessary at this time, or can I wait, or make due with what I already have. Second, if I'm forcing myself to overbuy on food, it could go bad before I have a chance to use it. So I'd rather go shopping more often, but buy less of the perishables so I minimize waste. (Does that sound like I'm justifying not meeting my goal??? Probably.... but I'm still going to get as close as I can!

Friday!!

January 5th, 2018 at 08:57 am

It's been the longest short week ever...

Here's the recap of my spending diet:

1/1 0
1/2 $6.25 lunch
1/3 $25.16: lunch salad, gas, groceries
1/4 0

My company has an on-site cafe and it's pretty awesome. Most of the food is organic. There's always something healthy to eat at the salad bar. I can get a good sized salad for under $5.00. The best deals are in the morning. Two eggs and sausage runs $2.25. There's a fruit/oatmeal bar that has flat cost of $1.35/ $1.80 depending on bowl size. When I have fruit in my diet, I get the large bowl and fill er up- it holds over 2 lbs so it's too good of a deal to pass up!

On a roll

January 3rd, 2018 at 09:37 am

Edit: I only had one no spend day.... forgot that buying lunch in the work cafe, using my badge, is still a purchase! Doh!!! Frown

My new years cleanse is going okay. I (re)learned that I can't do smoothies for 2 meals. I need real chewable food!!!!* I usually skip breakfast, so I'm going to do one smoothie mid morning, then have lunch/snack/dinner. My workout is going well. So far they are about 20-25 minutes long. It involves a lot of tough yoga moves like planks, which is really working my upper body. I thought I was in okay shape before but I am humbled. This is going to be a good experience for me.

* I often daydream that I am one of 'those people' who can live off of delicious smoothies and eat a vegan diet, with lots of cheap ingredients like oats, beans and rice. The reality is that I need to consciously chew my food in order to feel full, and oats give me a headache and beans cause bloating and gas.

New Years Resolutions- nope!

January 2nd, 2018 at 10:26 am

So, 2018. Thank goodness the holidays are over. I realized that I dislike the HOLIDAY season very much. I no longer make yearly resolutions. I have decided to commit to MONTHLY resolutions/challenges.

So to kickoff the new year, I have two challenges! I mean, what else is going on in my life.

1. Health/Fitness: I am doing a cleanse. It's called the Fat Flush by Ann Louise Gittleman. It lasts two weeks, and involves some supplements to nourish the body and help it burn fat, smoothies, and cutting out grains, starchy carbs, alcohol, sugar, dairy.... all the usual problem foods, which I try to avoid anyway. She really focuses on getting the liver and gallbladder working efficiently. Goal is to lose a few pounds (5 would be great), lose the belly bloat and have more energy throughout the day.

(For exercise, I am doing "Piyo", which is a beachbody.com program. It's low impact, combo of yoga/pilates that flows from move to move.)

2. Finances: Spending Diet. Basically, not buying unnecessary items like: clothing, decorations, kitchen gadgets, make up, americanos, eating out. I am shooting for at least 15 'no spend' days. I have a food budget of $250 for January (for two people). My guy and I rarely eat out, but we like to consume some organic produce and grass-fed meat. He buys a lot of groceries himself, so if he needs anything it's no big deal. I'm having two smoothies a day with my cleanse, so I only have to worry about a snack and dinner each day. A snack is veggies dipped in nut butter or homemade lemon dill dip, or a piece of fruit. Easy peasy. My goal is to save an extra $300 by not buying stuff.

So those are the challenges for January, and I'm on day 2 and still optimistic! I'll update the blog occasionally this month.


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