Sunday, February 19, 2012

Riding a Bull, Skydiving, Bungee Jumping and More

Have you ever wanted to ride a bull for 8 seconds, jump out of an airplane sky diving? How about bungee jumping? Do you think that these sound exciting or fun? I have friends who have done them all, and a couple of them a few times. I have not. I would not. I will not.  However this last week (The weekend really Fri/Sat) the $15 a day challenge had me wanting to do something "fun", maybe not as daring, but "fun"--and for me it felt just as daring.....(and silly)

A Road trip. Waste gas. Spend some money. Have fun at the expense of frugal. (What am I teen that doesn't know better? I felt like I needed someone to tell me NO! but I was the only adult in the room....have you been there?) We are talking about $80. Still. According to my self-imposed "rules" that is over 4 days worth of envelopes. Now remember that I am no financial expert, simply a wife and mother who is "trying" to balance out frugality and fun, fitness and food. I'm starting to realize that sometimes they lack in similarity. I seriously considered folding up this Blog. Why should I write about such things when I can't motivate myself to follow my own game plan.

Then it dawned on me. Just like FITNESS if you are doing exercise you are moving toward your goal. Walking is good, move the body and you are moving in the right direction. FOOD is a choice, choose clean and healthy and you will have more energy.....(it is easy to be daring and choose cakes, cheeses, and a high fat piece of is. I don't have the answers, as food and fun are my "sky diving") Lean towards the right choices. Energy and health need to become more important than instant gratification.

Choose well. FRUGALITY is not being cheap. It can be fun. I've successfully completed this challenge before. I know it can be done.  This is a new day.

Cleaning out the freezer, fridge and pantry this week. I started already this morning taking inventory.

Deep freezer: 2 months supply of broccoli and corn (frozen from last summer's farmer's market), Hot dogs (10 packages), Large Frozen Turkey, boxed pizza, bacon, 4 pkgs of chicken, chicken tenders, venison, hamburger, sliced roast beef, bagged vegetables:artichokes, brussel sprouts, green beans....

Pantry: Flour, sugar, baking supplies, packaged pudding, lots of noodles, canned soup....popcorn, bbq sauces...really everything that I need except speghetti sauce. :)

Fridge: Yogurt, Milk, Eggs, Water, Juices, Butter, Cream, Lettuce, Spinach, Condiments, and more.

We are blessed this week. Cooking from scratch. Beginning again.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day #7- $15 a Day Challenge

Today is Day number 7. The 7th day of the $15 a day challenge. I did fabulous until day 5. I still had cash money in the envelopes until then. Then I needed more than a few things from the grocery store. Who thought we would go through the drinks: Milk, water, juice and coffee like we did. While at the store I picked up dishwasher liquid and dog food. This cut into day 6 cash as well- but we still haven't touched the balance in the bank-still using cash only.

Then yesterday I simply did what one shouldn't do <gulp> I went through a drive-thru. I wasted money for convenience. It was really a matter of having to be 2 places at once, having to feed the family, and making it to the 3rd place all in a matter of 15 minutes. So I used the rest of day 6, and day 7 money.....and now I have today to get through with no cash or reserves for the week.

The lesson here is be prepared. Eating out wastes money. It does. Make sandwiches in advance, or carry snacks in the car like granola bars, pretzels, and mints. This might have held us over until we were able to get home to make a meal. (I know the crock pot is my friend, but I was running 10 minutes behind in the morning). How do working Mom's do it? I'm so used to having as much time as I need to bake from scratch, cook with ingredients from the pantry and generally take my time. Being rushed to get it all done, in time to meet every one's needs is a skill. Doing it without the drive-thru is a talent. 

Today, I have no more cash in the envelopes. Today I cook from the pantry and make do. Tomorrow the envelopes replenish and we begin again. Here's to hoping for a surplus from the cash stash next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's with Trisha -Guest Blog Post- Love & Abundance, A Lesson from the Woods

The following post was written by Today's Guest Blogger: Trisha Rockwell. Trisha's blog can be found at:

Today is Saint Valentine's day.  A day of love.  Romance.  I think of batting eyelashes and unspoken intentions.  Young love.  After 15 years of marriage and children running a muck at home, the romance feels a little lacking. 

How does abundance relate to romance and love?  What is nature telling me here in the northeast about love and abundance?  It's telling me that the fullness and richness of abundant love is lying just below the layer of snow and ice.  The promise of fulfillment in the soft and comforting moss that lines the rocks and the trees.  It's easy to forget that everything we need is right at our fingertips when life feels full of demands and responsibilities. 

The promise is right under the layer of snow.  When I push my finger into the snow and clear a spot of it away, I can see a layer of green grass ready to bask in the sun as the snow melts into needed nourishment.  Abundance is knowing that you always have more than you need.  Abundance is knowing that you are more than enough.  You are smart enough, beautiful enough.  You exceed the boundaries of enough just because you are. 

Be open to the opportunities for abundance.  Allow love to shine it's light on you today.  Acknowledge it, breathe it in, feel it.  It is yours.  Accept it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 3- $15 a day Challenge

                          "Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose." Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is Day 3. I'm just back from the early morning workout at the gym. I did not particularly want to go this morning. It is cold, it snowed over the weekend, and the coffee smelled like it wanted to be carried to the comfy chair--not out the door to the treadmill.

I went. I actually drove through the parking lot with the intention of going back home rather than parking. That's right, I drove all of the way to the gym and considered not staying....but I did, and I feel better for it!

The month long $15 a day challenge sometimes feels like this to me too! I have my envelopes, $15 in each for the week, my intentions are there......but then the Dairy Queen opens, or a child needs gas money, I want to go to the thrift shop (Why? To bring more stuff into the house? When I'm trying to downsize!) or Valentine's Day arrives and I feel obligated to buy a card, candy or both.  My response to all of the above and more is NO! Just say NO! If it fits within the $15 a day, and there is ample food for the table, gas in the work car, and all of the necessary items are accounted for...then maybe--but not until! Like getting dressed driving to the gym, and wanting to not on a self imposed cash budget takes intention. It isn't enough to put the cash in the envelopes, and then not follow through on a daily basis. I may not see immediate results from this morning's workout--but I will feel it! I think the envelope system, $15 a day, works the same way. I may not see immediate results, but I will feel it immediately.

Day 3. I gave $12 towards the family gas fund. Anyone have an electric car? Is it worth it? A lot of money is put out in the gas tank in our home.

We have a $3 surplus for the day. So we are up to a $5 and change surplus for the week so far. It is a silly amount in the grand scheme of things. However, if I can store up savings from $15 a day by managing it well by making that my focus I will never touch the larger balance left in the bank. Just like food, it is portion controlled. Pre-packaged in envelopes with $15.

So far so good. Day 3 was a success.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day 2 - $15 a Day Challenge

Today is Saturday. The Saturday before Valentine's Day. Many of my friends are going "out" in celebration. It is hard to go "out" on $15-So we are improvising. I made a pan of meatballs in the cast iron skillet, along with a large pot of speghetti. A lovely side salad of romaine, with parmesean and light dressing. A movie from the local library for free. The promise of popcorn later this evening, as we watch Saturday Night Live. The pup, Miss CHANEL, is curled up next to my chair, and we are super content to watch the snow fall outside of our window.

Would I have  liked to have gotten dressed up and gone out..maybe. However, being content, and still staying on the $15 challenge is way more satisfying. We are planning for our vacation today as well. We love to travel. Traveling on a budget, and finding ways to go for low cost, or free, is what makes it all of the more satisfying. Storing up extra cash while on the $15 a day challenge, allows us to travel more without as much concern.

We did really well today-day 2 of the $15 a day challenge. We have a $5.28 surplus. Since we went over $3 yesterday we are only $2.28 ahead for the week. I did organize the house today and found many items to put on Ebay. Planning to list this evening and watch them sell. This will go directly into the emergency fund. How much is in your emergency fund? We would like to have ours built back up before we leave on vacation. Day #2 was a success.

Happy Valentine's Day weekend- We are enjoying ours on $15 today :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 1 of the $15 a Day Challenge

Today is day one of the $15 a day challenge. I found myself at the grocery store because I'd forgotten to purchase a case of water, juice, and romaine lettuce yesterday. My husband requested haddock for dinner tonight, so I found a package for $7. (I expained that I had salmon already at home, but he insisted.) So, I spent $18 total- which is $3 over budget for the day.

Sitting with the checkbook, balances, and game plan can be daunting. At least I think it can be. When one of you wants to save, and the other is content to spend it is especially daunting. (Sometimes the spender is me, I will admit) However, knowing what you owe, or don't owe, is important. This will let you know for sure the amount that you have left to save, share, or spend. This week we are coming off of a lot of traveling, so I'm looking forward to being home more and making this challenge work.

Bread making this afternoon. One loaf of whole grain wheat bread at the store is $3-$4. I should be able to make another 5 loaves from scratch with the ingredients that I have left.  That is a nice savings, and healthier too. Haddock, romain salad, baked potato and a slice of fresh bread this evening.

Total today: $18 ($3 over budget)

Planning to gather "Stuff" to list on Craigslist, Ebay and Gazelle. Hoping to earn the $3, and then some, back before the evening is over. Going over budget is a great motivator to increase income-even if it is only $3. It's minding the small amounts that add up to large ones-whether leading into the black or the read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No Spend Month: Begins February 10th

I've managed to live on cash in envelopes before. It isn't something that I haven't tried-that I don't know if it does. It works, and it works really well! We have more income than we did when I tried it before, but our living expenses have actually decreased. This should give us a bigger surplus you would think. It hasn't. We have just increased our spending because we could. That stops today.

Friday begins the NO SPEND Month. (technically I am preparing for it today)

Preparation and Planning begins with a savvy shopping trip to the grocery store. I want to get the most food and supplies that are possible for the least amount of money. I will shop at the local ALDI store, The local Crash and Dent store, and every purchase every grocery stores' loss leaders that we use. (Those items that are marked waaaayy down in the flyers just to get you into the store.)

Once the food is purchased we will bring it home and write out menus for the week. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. (Hoping to spend under $200- this is to stock the pantry, fridge, and cupboards for the Month! Feb 10th - March 10th) Remember to buy in bulk: Eggs, Flour, Maple Syrup, Corn Meal....pantry staples. So that items can be made from scratch.

On Friday both vehichles will be topped off with gas-filled. Miles will have to be watched, because the $15 a day includes putting gas in the car.

Next, on Friday we will fill 7 envelopes with $15 in each one. This = $105 Total for the week. $105...that is plenty. Every day you have a new $15 to spend on anything that is important. Or you can save it as surplus. I have an envelope in the back called : Fun Money. I put the extra from the week in that envelope. If there is a surplus, say $20, then the Mr. and I can go out to dinner at our local diner for the early bird special ;) No, I don't add the extra from the week to my savings account, because it is my fun money--and I believe in being rewarded for a job well done.

The money is replenished $15 in each of the 7 envelopes the next week, and every subsequent week.

There may be a week that something comes up, and you have to borrow from the next day. It happens sometimes that you are borrowing from yourself. (At least it isn't a credit card that you are borrowing from :) Things like kids sports fees, school pictures, Doctor co-pays, medicine....these are necessities and we take them out of the checkbook, not the $15 a day. The $15 a day is there to fill in any food staples that you run out of, add gas to the car, and incidentals that come up. The whole goal is to have something left from the surplus in the bank account (from your source of income), after the $105 cash has been taken out,  at the end of the pay period to put in savings.

So if for example (this is not our income, and may not be yours, so please adjust it accordingly :) you make $505 a week. Take out the $105 = $400 - $200 bills= $200 left for the week in surplus. Let it sit and plan to save it at the end of the week. Grow the emergency fund and/or the vacation fund with the surplus.

One benefit from doing the no spend month is creativity in cooking and reinventing leftovers, healthier eating from scratch, the satisfaction of making it through a week with an envelope surplus.

We are starting this Friday February 10th. Join us, or follow along if you'd like. Frugality Posts Galore this next 4 weeks...

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Town Clock

When I was a little girl it was fun to play on the back porch of my aunt's house in the middle of the summer. We would tell stories, sing songs, catch fireflies, and swing on the porch swing until we were sleepy.

That is when I noticed it for the first time...the glow of the town clock at dusk, from the stoop of my aunt's porch. It was the color of a full moon, high in the tower of the church steeple. Sure and strong it stood, keeping time. Tick, tock. It is still there today, although I haven't gazed at it long enough to notice if it is still keeping time. Many from those days years ago are no longer with us....but the amber glow of the round clock tower up in sky remains. It reminds me of the stories, fireflies, porch swings and what is truly important in life-family memories.

I haven't looked long enough to see if it still keeps time. (or even lights up like the moon) I think it's time I slowed down enough to notice.

* Dinner around a family table is time welll spent
* Play a board game with your children-you will never regret it
* Ride a bike, go for a walk, swing on a swing with your spouse
* Visit your old restaurant
* Get outdoors-even to just sit in a hammock, chair or back porch step

Take time to notice the little things....because the little things are where memories are made, and a lifetime is formed. We are blessed, truly blessed.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Egg Timer Cleaning Challenge

 EGG Timer Cleaning.

PART 1 (11 am)

You can accomplish a lot when you know you only have to clean something for 20 minutes! One room at a time, 20 minutes in each space. On your mark, get set…..GO!
If we were being timed to see how much food we could put into a shopping cart for FREE, and given only 20 minutes to do it, we would clean off the shelves!! Let’s approach our homes this way in regards to cleaning.

How long does it really take to vacuum the stairs? Make the bed? Throw in a load of laundry? If you hustled you just might be able to do all three in 20 minutes ;) Just think if you stayed in one room, instead of trying to go to the laundry room, kitchen, and bedroom within the 20 minute span.
Motivated by my brand new handy dandy Rooster Egg Timer, that I purchased from the Thrift Store for .29 cents- I am setting it for 20 minutes a room.

20 minutes. That’s it. How much cleaning  can you get done in 20 minutes??

(Be Back to report)

PART 2 (3 PM)

We have two staircases in our old house. Vacuum both sets in 20 minutes was the goal. Set the timer, and began the challenge. It went FAST!! I knew the timer was ticking so I hustled. (I kind of got a workout too lol) It took just over 15 minutes. Not too bad.
The dishes needed done. We have a portable dishwasher (did I mention our house is huge, and old). Goal unload and reload the dishwasher, attach it and press start. Also, clean out the sink. 20 minute goal. I did this in 12 minutes….12 minutes!!! Really?? That is all the longer it takes? Blessed with an extra 13 minutes between the two tasks, I moved on to the laundry.

20 minutes to Take from the dryer, put into the basket, put the wet in the dryer, insert a new load, fill detergent, press start. Fold laundry, take it to each bedroom. (maybe put it away….see mine usually sits on the bed folded….must break that habit…so adding put away) My egg timer went off before I was done with the laundry. If I didn’t take it upstairs and left it in the basket, then I would’ve made it ;)  However, that’s not the point…and I did have banked minutes… maybe I need ½ hour to do a load of laundry from separation, loading, washing, drying, folding and putting away. (assuming there are dried clothes in the dryer to be folded-wet in the washer)
Now this morning as I type this post on egg-timer cleaning, I look around the room to discover that it is time to do it all over again. Egg-timer cleaning is a daily challenge. Clothes are worn daily, dishes are re-used, and the vacuum needs run. Daily. An egg-timers work is never done.

Time for the challenge.