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Splurge Complete

April 24th, 2007 at 06:54 pm

So I bought it. New shiny laptop. Itís replacing my desktop. I can take it traveling for work, or use it in bed, or sit in a cafť and use it. It was getting close to the time to upgrade or replace my desktop, and I use the computer a lot, so it feels like a decent splurge, instead of an extravagant splurge.

Being on Weight Watchers has got me eating really good food. Good in both senses: healthy, and tasty. IĎm eating a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, lots of fish, even some shrimp. Lots of artichoke hearts, hummus, parmesan. Sautťed zucchini, beans, yogurt, whole grains. Flavored oils, vinegars, tapenades. Iíve lost 13.2 pounds in 7 weeks, exciting enough to be motivating, slow enough to feel solid. Iím also cooking more, and still buying lots of basic ingredients instead of convenience foods.

I host poker Friday. Iíve lost the last two times by playing very sloppily. Then Saturday I drive four hours to my folkís place in Clearlake. So Iíll be social, and productive. Along those lines, I removed the TV from the bedroom. Itís a baby portable, broadcast only, that used to move around, but became parked in the bedroom. I found myself watching bad, bad TV. So much in life to do thatís either fun or taking care of business, and I didnít want to keep wasting time. I still love my Netflix (to get some good TV shows!) and have shows I love, I just want to watch by choice not habit.

My new laptop also doesnít have one of the games I used to play all the time. I always feel good when I take an action to change something thatís been worrying me.

Getting Ready to Splurge

April 19th, 2007 at 07:43 pm

In March I didnít spend as much as I thought I might have. My big three day weekend trip to Santa Rosa that included rack of lamb, escargot, and a historical register hotel was $420. Other than that, I spent $1140. $84 on dining out, the first month off The Challenge (not including the rack of lamb!).

After all that moderation, itís time to buy a laptop.

Man, my home-made frozen lunch ended up being great. I will definitely continue making them. I think the next batch will be the whole-wheat pasta, with chicken thigh meat, artichoke & red pepper tapenade, and green beans.

Thrifty Still

April 15th, 2007 at 05:15 pm

I made myself some frozen dinners today! Iíve never really been into frozen meals, but now that Iím on Weight watchers I have fallen into the trap, because itís a handy way for me to know how many points Iím eating and itís also handy if Iím pressed for time. I used to not buy any unless they were 99 cents or less and were NOT mainly pasta (I can put pasta and sauce in a cottage cheese tub), but since Iíve been on WW I have been buying $1.99 ones.

Well, I was irritated at paying for convenience, as well as overly processed, probably overly salted, and arguably over packaged food. So today, I took five used trays, and divvied up some frozen shrimp (grocery outlet), whole wheat pasta, steamed spinach, Trader Joeís artichoke heart tapenade, and parmesan cheese. I have five frozen lunches, and not only am I happy with the ingredients, these are much cheaper. Even with the shrimp, I think Iím less than a buck, at the least under $1.25. I told a friend I was planning on doing this, and her response was heartening-not ďI thought you could spend money now!Ē but ďThatís so you.Ē

In other thrifty news, I took an old contact lens case, and put facial moisturizer in one half and foundation in the other, and I am totally thrilled with the portability and size. Iím flying to Sacramento tonight, and anything that makes travel more streamlined is good. Iím also packing my dinner; this time Iím checking my baggage, but last time I packed my dinner I actually put salad dressing in a hotel shampoo sample bottle for my salad. The whole liquid/flying thing could either really irritate me, or I can be creative. Working to make sure oneís meal has no liquids or gels is a challenge. This time Iím checking baggage so I can bring back good Trader Joeís food.

This and That

April 12th, 2007 at 10:07 pm

Random

Iíve figured out that in mind, I like being able to buy things more than buying things. In my mind the last month Iíve idly thought of buying some things, and chose not to. Just the lifting of the challenge means I can spend a lot more, but I havenít. The mental freedom, though, is what I like- I could buy a lot of stuff even though I donít.

Broke folks donít have that optionÖeach time a person with every penny of his income spoken for idly thinks about buying something on a whim, he canít even idly entertain the thought. He has to not buy the paperbacks, the trinkets, the fresh flowers, the sushi. Iíve passť don buying so many things recently, but I had a choice. Just food for thought for me...I like freedom and choices more than I like spending. I gave myself permission to spend as much as I wanted on books, and it turns out as much as I wanted was $31. But the freeom, that was priceless.

Iím still doing Weight Watchers, still totally committed, still a slow loser, and still enjoying not overeating.

Iíll be going to Portland in May, for somewhere around a week, and Iím looking forward to it. One thing I could do more of is get out of the house, for sure. Iíve got my health and a car and spending money, and I manage to spend too much time indoors, not hanging out with friends, not enjoying the outdoors, not watching bad TV. So Portland will be good, and last weekend I was social, and this coming weekend I have another social commitment. Man, I would have never thought when I was younger that I would have had to work at hanging out with friends?

My folks are in Fiji-how cool is that? I suppose in a way Iím jealous, but actually itís more something I want to emulate. Iíd love to spend my retirement travelling. Iíd love for the welfare business to be seasonal, so I could travel four months a year. Iíve switched form thinking England in the fall to Mexico-definitely time to start nailing some details down.

So, Itís the Month After

March 26th, 2007 at 05:59 pm

This month I have spent more than on My Challenge, yet I have also felt very in control of my spending.

My folks are going to Fiji for a month, New Zealand for three months, Australia for three months, and Bali for three months. There was a big going away party in Novato, so My Guy and I drove down for the weekend. A very unusual expenditure for me, even pre-Challenge, was staying in a cute little historical register hotel. It was very charming, and I really enjoyed it. It was $120 a night after taxes, which to me seemed reasonable for a fancy pants hotel (rated number one on TripAdvisor, which is how I found it). So that was definitely an extravagance, as well as a fancy dinner we went to one night.

On the other hand, when we went to Costco in Santa Rosa to see what was going on, we walked out spending $28, on four items including some fluorescent bulbs ($11.19 for 6, $8 instant rebate-cool craziness). I went to target the pother day, and over and over again saw items that I could buy, and probably were reasonably priced, but I didnít need íem, didnít want íem. I am packing my lunch every day, and I am about to try on a whole bunch of hand-me downs from a buddy. I tried to get bubble bath and all were to overpriced for me, even at TargetÖI could ďaffordĒ an $8 medium size bottle, but I can use homemade bath salts until I find something that feels more reasonable to me.

March is a three paycheck month for me, plus I am getting my tax refunds, so itís a plush month, and my spree money may be around $350, and that includes a really great romantic weekend and some shopping at my favorite thrift store. I am at peace with that. Oh, and I got a bra fitting at Macy*s (somehow that, along with trying escargot for the first time, made me feel like Iím growing up - at 36) and got three new bras. Funnily enough, I was braced to spend a fair amount, but I got three for $66-there was a sale. And the bras are pretty fabulous.

I canít really explain, even to myself, my lack of posting. Clarifying my thoughts around consumption and expenditure is very good for me; I really get a sense of what is important to me, and can spend without guilt. That is so satisfying, spending without guilt.

I go to Los Angeles for work this week, and donít return until late Thursday, so even though I feel posty, I probably wonít get an opportunity.

Busy is Good

March 16th, 2007 at 10:44 am

Out of town this weekend, out of town last weekend, fun but busy. This week for work I am out of town twice, next week out of town for three days. I get frequent flyer miles, and I get to shop at Trader Joeís, and I get to see my dad, so the trips are all good for different reasons. However, it does seem like Iím away a lot. A good thing, because sometimes when Iím at home I just putter and do actually do anything.

I am still on Weight Watchers, week three. I am a poster child for very slow weight loss, 1.2 pounds week one, 1.0 week two. And I really was going by the book, tracking every single point, eating lots of healthy foods, avoiding processed and crutch foods, drinking water, etc. However, instead of being really worked up-which I was a t first - I did realize that I am appreciating being in control of my eating.

When I quit smoking and drinking, I realize now in one sense I was done the first day. I was an absolute mess, yes, however, from day one I got to be a non-drinker, non-smoker. I didnít know how to be a non-overeater; I have to eat, I couldnít go cold turkey. I kept thinking if I could just lose 50 pounds overnight, then be a wreck internally for a couple years, Iíd like that.

So now, with the point system on Weight Watchers, I do feel like I have a nice way to ďknowĒ Iím not overeating-not over points-until I develop more internal mechanisms to know when Iím hungry for food, when Iím hungry for something else, when Iím full.

As someone has pointed out, the gym might be better for weight loss, and thatís probably where I need to head if I want better, faster with loss. However, I am enjoying food now and feeling much more in control of it, and that is a win for me.

Havenít finished My Challenge annual totals, I know Iím negligent.

Last weekendís trip wasnít much, just gas money, in the way of cost. This weekend I feel a little excited that My Guy and I will be able to stay in a nice charming little hotel; very reasonably priced, but certainly not something I could do a month ago. I am also going to try to get a bra fitting at Macyís, and do a Trader Joeís run. Whoo hoo!

Just Checking In

March 4th, 2007 at 04:18 pm

March 1: did I go crazy and buy lots of stuff? No, not really. I did feel a sense of giddiness, but I didnít go shopping. I made a $50 donation to charity; that solved the money burning a whole in my pocket issue. I took My Guyís car to the shop for him on the 2nd and Iíll be paying; it needs work that wasnít a priority to him, but now that I have more room to spend, I knew Iíd feel more comfortable if the work got done. Itís a nice gift to My Guy, too, in that he has lower income right now; although itís by choice so that he has extra time, he does still need to watch his money.

I joined Weight Watchers on 02/28/07 (yes, my $39.95 membership is coming out of Challenge money), but I was thrilled to be able to discover that it is not nearly as restrictive as I thought, and I was able to take My Guy out to Mexican food, and I spend a whole $21 total. I know thatís not a whole lot, but on the Challenge it was almost an entire monthís dining and entertainment, so it was a spree of sorts.

Other than that, no crazy spending. I have bought a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and other foods, but I am looking forward to see what happens to my grocery budget; Iím really curious how much it goes up past My Challenge average of $97 a month. I think that a lot of my spending habits are with me to stay.

Am I a Freak?

February 27th, 2007 at 06:12 pm

Okay, so I just put it together. The first day after My Challenge is the first day I am planning on being a Weight Watchers participant. MeaningÖ.I canít go out and have a ďItís Been a Year and Now I can Spend Like CrazyĒ amazing Sushi and Tempura Dinner. You think Iíd have allowed a week of freedom, except that I really like the idea of February being such a start month for me . I quit drinking eight years ago, quit smoking six years ago, both in February, and Iíd like February to be the month I stop overeating, too.

I did get my hair cut today, $55 including tip, very expensive, but I love the cut and really like the woman who cut it. I knew it wouldn't be cheap. She cuts a friendsí hair and does a really great job, and I had been meaning to find a good person to commit to. I like being able to trust someone. Like my auto mechanic; I could probably find cheaper, but he is solid and honest, pays his men a fair wage with benefits, and never takes advantage of my lack of car knowledge. Quality can be worth paying some more for. Scheduling the hair cut was the expense that made me realize I was committed to not cheating on the Challenge; I could have gotten a cut two days later and had it not affect my Challenge, but I didnít want a big change in spending post-Challenge.

I also made a Costco run yesterday, filling up with gas and getting some other goods. Again I could have waited three days but My Challenge has not been about not spending, itís been about not unconscious spending, and I bought good solid stuff. Broccoli and TP!

No Posts Because

February 12th, 2007 at 01:12 pm

My folks are in town!

D & D are visiting prior to leaving for Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Bali. My travel bug was definitely caught from my dad; he was born in East Africa, and has traveled many continents for various reasons; missionaries' child; Air Force; wandering hippie.

My dad just retired at 69, and if all goes well he and D will be world travelers for the next few years, spending from a month to many months in places, depending on the cost and how much they like it.

That is a dream retirement, for me. A goal to work towards; they arenít doing this rich, just very focused. I will meet up with them in a couple places; unfortunately I canít follow them everywhere.

Also I am managing to almost catch a cold, or to catch a light cold. I*t gets a little tedious.

Nothing much on the spending front; entertainment will be a little high due to visitors, but Iíve got excess in other areas.

It is really very odd that I have sixteen days left on My Challenge.

Used Clothes and New Fruit.

January 28th, 2007 at 11:50 am

An underrated plus of thrift store, garage sale, or hand me down clothes: I know how theyíll hold up. With new stuff, sometimes Iím surprised at how things that look like they have solid construction pill, or dry permanently oddly wrinkled (collars!), or fade, or somehow fall apart. With used clothes, I can tell the clothes can take a wash or two.

Results of recent (2007) hand me downs:

Flannel old-school nightgown

2 sweaters

A dress

2 pair sneakers

1 pair shoes

A skirt

2 pairs corduroy pants

3 or so blouses

Bathing suit


Plus, in a ďpossibleĒ pile: a bathing suit, a dress, and 2 pair pants. I keep a ďpossibleĒ box; I try on the items every six months or so. If it doesnít fit or I donít decide to wear it after the item has been in the box 6 months, itís gone. This way I donít have to decide immediately, and I donít end up with things in my closet Iíll never wear-too tight, too loose, or just isnít a color or style that floats my boar.

Yesterday I bought grapes-red and green, strawberries, and cherries. Even though itís January and the fruit wasnít perfect, it was all very good, and I at it in the bathtub and watching some record TV. Such a small thing can bring so much joy. Post-challenge I plan to allow myself to spend more on fruits-getting some organic stuff sometimes, and also, getting the fancier stuff. Right now I buy a lot of apples and oranges, pears and sometimes grapes. I plan to be a pineapple queen.

Today I drive to Sacramento. I donít have to fly, thank goodness. I donít mind flying, but the cost, even though it doesnít cost me directly, always irks me-we have a small airport up here in Eureka (itís actually a half hour north of Eureka in McKinleyville). Plus, a huge concern, I kept getting fogged in (or out)-itís annoying to miss an important meeting that way. Itís a 5-1/2 drive, but that can be soothing-the scenery out here in Humboldt (to Mendocino, to Lake) counties is incredible. Iíll be back Monday night. I plan to eat a lot of fruit on the way! Itís also nice to be able to take a bunch of food-I donít like checking baggage for a one day trip, but it does drive me nuts to not have my 12-1/2 cent cans of club soda.

Oh, and I got $10.13 from recycling yesterday-my biggest run yet! Whooooo!

Rich!

January 26th, 2007 at 06:40 pm

I got a check for $17 in the mail, a check I can actually count as income on My Challenge, and it is huge in Challenge terms! Seventeen dollars is a lot of money when ďregularĒ income is $1026.

(The money was from SurveySpot, for a variety of surveys over the year that I cashed out. If I get extra money from something I could get if I was on Minimum Wage, I count it-online surveys are okay, because I budget for the Internet.)

Iím feeling a bit of pressure. Why? I just read the SavingAdvice.com newsletter, which listed a link to my page on it, and Iím just a tad nervous about new people peeking in. I hadnít realized theat my 2006 $20 Challenge win might lead to some extra visits. Itís hard to reconcile the desire to have exciting posts all about how wondrous frugality is, when some times it just comes down to: I make do and donít buy.

I get up, pack my lunch, put on my thrift store or hand me down clothes, do some pretty simple hair and face care that is probably not as close to primping as it should be, and maybe walk to work, maybe drive in my car. Work and eat my little packed lunch, perhaps while playing Boggle (scored at a garage sale for $2 a few years ago). Then I walk or drive homeÖstraight home. No errands usually, no shopping, no picking up something. I never shop recreationally (except for garage sales). I try to limit grocery and household shopping trip to one big one a month, though we do a couple fill ins for produce, or a canít miss deal, or a special ingredient for guests or a potluck. (I never run to the store for something we are out of-if I donít have it, it can wait.)

I get home, and enjoy being at home. I read a lot, usually used books from the bookstore (sometimes I get trade credit), garage sales, thrift stores, buck-a-bag book sales at the library, and swapping with friends. Perhaps Iíll hang out with friends; fabulously free. I listen to music; my CD collection has enough of my favorites that I now only buy one or two a year. I watch limited cable channels 2-13; it costs us $10.25 a month, and man, I waste a lot of time watching the limited channels I have-Iíd go nuts with regular cable. I like being on the computer; I do splurge for cable internet.

I can go days and days without spending anything. This week I filled up with gas, other than that nothing. Itís a little boring to talk about, but itís not boring to live, and itís very restful.