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Archive for September, 2013

This Week

September 29th, 2013 at 05:59 pm

This week:

1. A frugal weekly meal plan (taking advantage of things already in the fridge/pantry plus a few extras):
- polenta and salad
- big salad and garlic bread
- general tso's chicken and cabbage
- socca with zucchini
- very sweet salmon and rice and broccoli
- chipotle chicken stew
- something from the freezer and salad

2. I paid an extra $73 toward the mortgage principal. On track to pay off in early 2019.

3. I cleaned out the car - vacuumed the rugs and cleaned the film from the windscreen and cleaned the dog slobber off of the rear driver side window.

4. We went to our local pizza place today and had a great lunch! (We had a LOT left in the dining out budget this month; the rest will go toward the mortgage).

5. We had a busy day yesterday with F's morning soccer game, then a wedding (which D photographed) and then F went to a birthday party. The couple got married in the mountains and then mountain-biked to the reception. Our gift to them were the helmet-cam rental and then D will edit the video (he edits video for work) for them. F was the flower girl; she loved that all of the grandmas told her how cute she was!

6. Tonight it's F's soccer practice in the park; there's a new girl on the team who has never played before (and just signed up Friday night!). Planning on getting one of the other moms (I love Susan!) to join me doing skills stuff with her. She's a sweet girl - I hope she has fun!

Husband has a New Job!

September 27th, 2013 at 01:28 pm

Since my husband D moved to this country, he's been self-employed (he was a web designer although in Europe he was a journalist and did internet content creation)... as of Monday he is now an employee with a full-time doing website content for a non-profit (writing again! plus making videos and tweeting etc).

Here are the cons:
- I am now doing a lot more in terms of keeping the household going (tasks we shared before) because I am still self employed and have more flexible hours (but I still work a full day - some of it after F goes to bed)
- F is trying to adjust; she had both parents home by about 4:30 pm, now it's just me (although yesterday we made cupcakes, and I play games with her and hang out with her while she does homework which is the same as before) - she missed her dad yesterday afternoon after school and I held her and she cried (but he comes home at 5:30 - so it's not THAT bad!)
- They want him to go to a conference in November and he doesn't want to go (and F doesn't want him to go)
- Less vacation time - so when we visit my parents in March, D will go home on Monday and F and I will stay the rest of the week - we're taking the train back - fun!

Here are the pros:
- The adjustment to only having one parent around would probably be worse if it was me with the new job and D was home
- D gets to do the kind of work he wants to do, trained to do, is happy doing and he no longer has all of the headaches of being self-employed
- He is working with people now - it was hard for him working alone
- They pay for his health insurance (woo hoo!) - about $200 saved
- He's earning about $10,000 more a year (woo hoo again!) - part to retirement accounts, part to paying down the mortgage!!

Vet Bill

September 25th, 2013 at 07:56 pm

Our dog came in the other night with a bloody foot - traumatic! It was obviously really painful, and I tried to wash it gently to figure out what was wrong. After I got it cleaned up, I noticed a really raw spot and slathered some neosporin on that.

I took her to the vet the next morning because I was afraid of infection. It turns out her dew claw got caught on something and was pulled completely off (ewww!).

The good news: it came off completely which meant no procedures were necessary.

The bad news: $95 vet bill (which included the antibiotics and pain medication and office visit).

The other good news: we have budgeted for things like this, so it doesn't break our budget.

The other, other good news: our dog is feeling much better, not limping anymore.

The question: is pet insurance a good idea? Do any of you have it? Is it worth it? Is it expensive?

Raising a Non-Consumer

September 25th, 2013 at 07:49 pm

As I drove F and her friend S to their horseback riding lesson the other day, I listened in on their conversation in the back seat. S was talking about all the things she wanted to buy. (She is very into American Girl dolls and wanted lots and lots of books which is not such a bad thing). F couldn't think of anything she wanted. I think this is partly because she doesn't see advertisements on television (she only watches videos ad-free). [Sidenote: it makes it very difficult to buy Christmas presents for her!]

And then she said to S: "Why do you need to buy books? Why not just get books from the library?"

S was pretty adamant that she needed to actually own the books, but F thought it was silly if you weren't going to read them again and again. (She does, of course, have some books, but if she owned every book she read we'd run out of room in the house!).

The conversation reminded me that you start pretty early as a consumer or non-consumer. (These girls are 8 years old).

Frugal Weekend

September 21st, 2013 at 03:01 pm

A lot going on this weekend...

Today (Saturday) we had F's soccer game in the morning, then we headed over to the Renaissance Fair at our local living history museum (we have a family membership, so we didn't pay; brought a picnic lunch and just bought drinks at $1 each; we may go back tomorrow, too). This evening we're going to a get together to benefit the CASA program (court appointed special advocates for kids in foster care); we're happy to make a $25 donation. There's a place for frugality and a place for giving.

Tonight F's friend is sleeping over, so it's pizza night. Tomorrow: turkey bacon and french toast. And then back to the Renaissance Fair! Actually the only thing that weirded me out about the Fair today were the outfits. There were some that were definitely Renaissance, but a lot were just slutty corsets and bellydancers-meet-braveheart (??!!). Ah well, there's a joust and a jester and the kids probably didn't notice the vampire (yes, a vampire!).

OK, I get to relax for exactly 14 minutes before we go to the CASA get-together.

Some Nice Snowflakes

September 19th, 2013 at 03:05 pm

It was a good week for snowflakes:
1. Got a $15 Swagbucks Amazon card (will be used to buy things we need anyway - I get all of the bday gifts for F's friends from Amazon - and the amount saved will be put into the IRA or to pay down the mortgage)
2. Got $55 for teaching my spinning class (IRA/mortgage)
3. Got a notice from the publisher of my book that they are direct-depositing about $89 (IRA/mortgage)
4. Got $300 (!!!) from my parents for our Tenth Anniversary which is today! - we'll use this to pay for the new built in cabinet

No chance of actual snow here yet, though...
Actual weather: tons and tons and tons of rain! In fact it just hailed here at our house, but now it's sunny and beautiful.

We went out for lunch for our anniversary today (they have a prix fixe special at a fancy restaurant in town - $17 for three courses). Tonight we're having a normal dinner (soup and salad) but I'm making an apple/blueberry crumble for dessert.



Still Working on Home Improvement

September 14th, 2013 at 11:51 am

So far I've spent about $150 on the various home improvement projects around our house. This project was basically a freebie (bought chalk at Office Depot - used a rewards coupon).

Before we had a corporate-y looking whiteboard.

I had the scrap wood in the garage and it's coated in chalkboard paint. I cut a bit of wood for F also, and she made her own little portable chalkboard. She's been playing with it all morning!

Thoughts for Monday

September 9th, 2013 at 07:33 pm

I am subbing for spinning tomorrow and my friend Liz just asked me to sub for her weightlifting class at the end of the month. Happy to do it, but once again I haven't gotten any money from the gym in a while (got paid in August but it was for July). I need to ask Liz if she's been paid...

In good news: F found a new book series she loves. I already ordered the second and third in the series from our library.

Other good news: D took the job he was offered. It's a pay increase, but he's also working more hours. Overall, it's a really good thing because I think it's just too stressful if we're both self-employed.

Even more good news: Since I paid the rent for the office, there won't be any difference when he's not there with me anymore. I already rent one office space. My plan for D's old space is to rent it out, too (but on a more limited basis since it's sort of part of the conference room - I was thinking I'd charge a nominal monthly fee - like $50 - and a few people could share it using a google calendar). Need to ask around on facebook (already have one person interested - it's a great downtown location, perfect if you live a little way out of town and just want to be downtown once in while or need a conference table occasionally).

More good news: My business reimburses us for our health insurance, but now D's job will reimburse for his portion of the insurance, so that's more money I get to keep in the business.

And, finally: We made a modest purchase today of buttons for the new cardigan I knitted for F... will share photos of the cardi soon! (Once I sew the buttons on!)

Continuing Education

September 6th, 2013 at 02:59 pm

I have to do a ton of continuing education for my profession. I have to maintain my state architecture license (12 credits a year), my AIA membership (18 credits a year, most of those related to Health Safety and Welfare and some Sustainable Design units), my California state license (a disabled accessibility course) and my LEED certification (30 units related to sustainable architecture every two years).

My goal is to make the same credits count for every accreditation I have to maintain. So far all I have left to do is the disabled accessibilty course and two more sustainable architecture hours.

I'll have to pay $60 for the accessibility course, but ALL of the other units have been FREE! I've managed to find free courses for everything! (Mostly through McGraw Hill which publishes Architectural Record magazine). The easy way out is to go to lunches ($20 a pop) and seminars ($$$) but it's less costly and takes less time to do the free online courses.

Got a Price for Living Room Cabinet and My New Candy Fix

September 4th, 2013 at 03:47 pm

I was really scared to contact anyone about a living room cabinet because I thought I couldn't afford it. (I already exhausted ready-made options - I have a fixed width since it's between our wall and fireplace and nothing off the shelf fits in there. And I found "budget" cabinets online for - gasp! - over $500 - not even good materials!).

Some friends gave me recommendations for cabinet makers who are all super-high-end, but I somehow remembered that my friend's husband has a custom cabinet business. I see them mostly at parties since we met through mutual friends who no longer live here. And she and I both are volunteer chairs for the Folk Art Market. We don't hang out, and our kids are different ages, but she's so sweet. But Matt does high-end cabinets, too, and I figured I couldn't afford him.

Well he's giving me a deal in exchange for helping hang it and for referring some work to him if I'm happy with the result. So nice! It'll be $300, custom, all wood! Can't wait to get our living room fixed up - it looks a bit like a college dorm right now.

And I've discovered my new candy fix for my 3 pm energy dip - handful of pecans with a few chocolate chips mixed in. Yum!

Statistics for August and Zero Waste Week

September 3rd, 2013 at 03:45 pm

This month compared to the same month last year:

- earnings up 38%
- expenses down 12% (and seriously, our lifestyle is the same)
- savings up 346% - yay!

Also - it's Zero Waste Week! http://www.therubbishdiet.org.uk/
My wonderful friend B and I decided to do it together (we've been emailing all day). Today for breakfast I had: leftover rice and the rest of F's juice (which usually goes into the fridge and later is often sent down the drain). For lunch I had an avocado that was on its way out, some leftover fruit from our picnic on Sunday and other stuff that was not going to waste.

I also froze some cilantro in water (cilantro cubes!) to be unfrozen later for guacamole or whatever.

For dinner we're having fish with salad, and on the side the leftover potatoes from last night, but I'll smash them slightly and put in the oven with olive oil to re-brown. Yum! And it uses up the potatoes.