<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: March, 2018
 

Archive for March, 2018

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.